Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Red, White and Blue Giveaway

Even though I'm not wishing our summer months to fly by any faster than they already do, today I'm thinking about the 4th of July holiday which will be here in a few weeks.

Traditionally, the 4th of July has been a time to celebrate and announce that one is proud to be an American.  Celebrations usually include picnics, parades, sparklers, fireworks and the display of our American flag.  This summertime holiday frequently includes friends getting together in a back yard, or often times family reunions spent at the beach or gatherings at the family lakeside cabin.

Sad to say, I've found in recent years I haven't been enthused about celebrating this holiday; I'm not proud of the way other countries view America or how they view us as members of our American society.  They most certainly cannot hold much respect for many of our politicians or policies.

Truth to tell, this feeling has put a bit of a damper on the 4th of July for me.

But this year I've been doing some thinking.  

I'm so grateful I spent my childhood and young adult years during a time of (relative) political and financial stability in our country, certainly so compared to these present days.  I remember it as a time of strong family values, the nuclear family predominated and the assurance that if a person was kind, honest, self-responsible and had a strong work ethic, life would be good all the way through retirement or the golden years of one's life.

So it is those values and proud emotional feelings of loyalty to our country that I'm going to celebrate this year.  I haven't put up any patriotic decorations for a couple of years now, but I will this year. 

If you plan to decorate your home or vacation cabin for the 4th of July,  you have a chance to have your name drawn for this patriotic themed candle mat or place mat or plant mat or however you might want to use it.

It's almost identical to one I made for myself and is approximately 10-1/2" square.

Follow the usual procedure and leave a comment at the end of this post.  If you feel like it, it would be fun to hear how your family spent the 4th of July each year when you were growing up.  We usually had a family picnic (big extended family, big picnic) in our city park, then trekked across the road from the picnic grounds and spread blankets on the outfield of the baseball stadium where we laid on our backs and oohed and ahhed watching the fireworks bursting in the sky over our heads.

I'll keep comments open for this giveaway until Saturday night, June 15th, along about 9 p.m., then draw a name Sunday morning to announce the winner of this small quilted piece.

How about it?  Anyone want a little red, white and blue decoration for the 4th of July?

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Family Portrait

Baby Pea (aka Chicken Mama), Papa Pea and Mama Pea

Well, yes, the black flies were very bad today.  What makes you ask?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Playing The Waiting Game

The subtitle to this post should be "The Trials and Tribulations of Gardening . . . and The Reasons To Do It."

I do have a vague recollection of mentioning that we were having some lovely, warm days.  Well, that didn't last long.  (Bad idea, I should never have said it out loud.)  

We're right back into gray, drippy, sunless days with temperatures barely reaching the 60s (most often in the 50s) and night time temps falling down into the 30s, or possibly only the 40s if we're lucky.

What's growing in my garden?  Not.  Much. 

 Even cool weather crops such as salad greens, radishes and peas seem to be hovering below ground hesitant to peek out until the sun finally appears.  I think I've noted visible shivering going on out there also.

Complaining about my minor difficulties in growing our own vegetables and fruits is hardly warranted when I think of so many other parts of our country where not only the home gardeners and market gardeners but farmers, too, are battling much more dire situations.

Okay, now that I've gotten my grumping and groaning out of the way, I want to inject a positive note and suggestion.

We've all seen food prices rising to new heights, and I don't believe it's going to get any better in the near future.

Even though raising whatever portion of your own food you believe you can handle is not a walk in the park, and you will face disappointments and a never-ending learning curve, I say start doing it if you haven't already.  If the market gardeners and farmers continue to lose crops, whatever you have in your own backyard will be worth its weight in gold (or at least in green beans) to you and your family.

Soon, in my neck of the woods, the nightly frost warnings will stop, the sun will reappear, my garden soil will dry out and warm up enough so I can plant the rest of the seeds I have waiting to become pumpkins, squash, beans, peppers and cucumbers.

And sunflowers will be raising their beautiful faces toward that warm sunshine!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Summer Arrives . . . And More Balance

That's the way it usually happens up here.  One day we're still slipping into our down jackets before going outside, and the next day while working in the garden wearing a sleeveless blouse I'm so sweaty by noon time I want a shower.

No, we didn't hit 100° as some of you have already, but we did get into the seventies which was the warmest we've seen it yet this spring/early summer.  I even had three of those big, bothersome, black horse flies buzzing me.  After one landed and bit the back of my arm, I was so mad I stood still until the second and then the third one landed on my forearm and I smacked 'em both!  Killed 'em dead, I did.

Today we had a lovely though cooler day and I got much planting done in the raised beds.  So much so that I'm almost too pooped to post tonight.

Also, I did come to a big decision as I was making dinner.  You've all heard me talk about gaining more balance in my life, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Toward that (elusive) end, I decided not to plant anything but a green manure crop in the field garden this year.

We should give our growing areas a rest now and then.  (Hey, that's what I'm striving for . . . a rest now and then!)  And it's been several years since we've not grown crops in the field garden.

Since this year I'm not growing the usual veggies that are planted in the field garden, ones that take up so much space like Brussels sprouts (very labor intensive so I'm taking a year off from them), green cabbage (growing only red in the raised beds), corn (I had planned on doing it this year but have changed my mind), shell peas (which I've put in another area), pickling cukes (have plenty of pickles from last year), etc., etc. . . . it popped into my head that this would be a good year to give the field garden a rest.  (And me also.)

The only dilemma is that I won't be growing our own potatoes.  A supply of which is something we'll have to figure out for this coming winter.

We'll plant buckwheat or oats or wheat as a cover crop in the field garden, till it under before it heads out, and perhaps even sow a second crop of another grain.

This will eliminate a lot of my time spent in the garden.  Thinking of having just the 27 raised beds (and the strawberries and asparagus bed and fruit trees and a couple of other smallish plots) will free me up for other pursuits this summer.

Now if I can just come up with an excuse to avoid painting all that outside trim of the house that's on my list . . .   

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Finally Sunshine!

As usual this time of year, I'm going a little overboard baking with rhubarb now that it's available in the garden.  (I do love rhubarb!)

Made my favorite rhubarb cake day before yesterday and Papa Pea ate the last piece with some milk after a hearty breakfast this morning. 

We had a visit today with the four-year old twins my daughter has every Saturday.  The little guy loves stalks of rhubarb dipped in sugar, but Chicken Mama gave him a small dish of honey to dip into today, and he thought that was pretty good.  The little gal suggested I should bake a strawberry pie when I told her I was going to bake our (calorie-laden) Rhubarb Cream Pie.  (She's not a rhubarb fan.)  She's gonna have to wait another month or so for any strawberries from this garden.

And I did get that pie baked but not until late this afternoon.  Now it's cooling in the refridge and won't be sampled until tomorrow.  Can hardly wait.

We had more gray, drippiness until mid-afternoon when the sun broke through the clouds and our temperature soared into the high 60s.  Our warmest temp so far this spring, I think.

Tomorrow and Monday are supposed to be sunny so with the help of my Under Gardener (that's Papa Pea), I'll be getting the recently received fifty new strawberry plants in the ground.  And lots of emerging weeds out of the ground.

Still waiting for the planted onions, radishes and Sweet Peas to show their little green sprouts.  They've had plenty of moisture now so with a bit of warm weather, they may make an appearance.

Hope you're all having a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Short Garden Tour

This tour will be relatively short because there's not much happenin' out in the garden yet.

We've had two days of rain now and a layer of fog was heavy when we got up this morning.  Now about two hours later, the fog has mostly lifted but a mist is still falling.

We had our first meal of asparagus night before last.  Wahoo!  More will be on the plate tonight.

I wanted a dousing of rain on my chives before I started prepping them for the freezer.  Got that.  Now I need to wait until they dry before cutting.  But they're certainly ready.

This is the bottom half of my two remaining strawberry rows.  (I'm standing about halfway down the rows.)  The Cavendish plants I ordered to replace the Earliglows I tore out last fall were shipped yesterday.  They will go in a row to the right of the rows showing.

I've read for best flavor you should not cut your rhubarb stalks until they are 12" long.  After this rain, there will be rhubarb cake on our table very soon.

The garlic is coming along nicely.  If you look at the bed to the right of the garlic bed and off the far corner of it, you can see (almost) what's left of the blueberry bushes after I took out all the Witches' Broom fungus.  The remaining bushes have slight buds showing, but no leaves so far.

The haskap bushes are leafing out like crazy.  That's one of the two Borealis bushes in the foreground and a Berry Smart Blue behind it which is now over five feet tall.

Looks as though this will be another inside day, but that's fine.  We did need the rain.  Our temp was 43° first thing this morning.  Not warm, but better than in the 30s as we have been having so it's all good.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

An Unrainy Rainy Weekend

At least so far, that's what it's been even though we were prepared for rain all weekend.  As I write this Sunday morning, I know it's not over yet and the sky does remain gray, heavy and cloud-covered.

Our temps continue to go down into the 30s and low 40s at night.  Our few sunny days have felt wonderful, but not as warm as might be wished for. 

Yesterday morning I took several items I've gathered in my recent cleaning and reorganizing to our resale shop.  On the way home I couldn't keep my vehicle from turning into a local greenhouse/garden center that opened this past week.  (Just to browse around, you know.)  A bit of a breeze (and the low temp) was keeping me and the several other customers hugging ourselves for warmth.  But all of us seemed so hungry for the beautiful blossoms and growing greenery.  The rows of pansies set outside and the tables of more tender plants inside the greenhouse  were so tempting.  I almost came close to bringing home some of the pansies, but (somehow) held myself back and will wait.

Although I planted my three raised beds of onions (one and a half of yellow Stuttergarter Riesen and one and a half of Red Comred) this past week and a trellis of Sweet Pea seeds, that's all the planting I've done.  I'm even foregoing trying to start anything under cold frames this year.  (At least I've held out so far.)  Sometimes I think seeds and plants I "baby" along don't do as well as those planted after warm gardening weather truly does arrive.  Stand by to see how long this resolve of mine holds true.

Papa Pea cut down two of our original semi-dwarf apple trees last week.  We've come to the conclusion (exhibiting the slow learner syndrome again) that our semi-dwarf trees will not last forever, and he did find the two he took out to be about half dead right down through the trunks.

My bed of garlic is happily growing and looking good.

Exactly one year ago today, we had our first cutting of asparagus.  Although we have lots of spears up and growing right now, and I probably could cut enough for one meal today, I'm going to be patient and hold off harvesting any just yet.

Last year our first rhubarb harvest was on the 27th of this month, and I do believe that will ring true again this year.

Chives are ready, ready, ready to be harvested and processed into containers for the freezer.  I hope to get the first batch of those done today.

I spent a good portion of the day yesterday in my quilt room experimenting with a prototype for a felted wool Christmas ornament.  With a lot of my handwork projects, I take an idea from something I've seen and put my own twist on it.  So many projects look so simple, but turn out to be much more difficult when I actually put the materials and my hands to it.  Ever noticed that?  Dang.  But I enjoyed myself the whole time and definitely have the enthusiasm to do more along the same line.

Now to make us a big cottage cheese and fruit salad and see what the rest of this day brings.  Hope this last day of your weekend is super!