Monday, July 21, 2014

In The Garden . . .

Papa Pea loves the little chipmunks.  I would love the little chipmunks if they weren't so darn prolific.  And didn't eat so many expensive sunflower seeds.  And other things.

I harvested strawberries this morning and found several beautiful berries snapped off the plants, lying in the wood shavings between the rows with telltale teeth markings on each berry where one of those cute little chipmunks had helped himself to an early morning snack.

I went into the house and posed a question to my dear husband.  "Okay," I said, 'which do you like more?  The cute little chipmunks or your fresh strawberries?"

A few minutes later, these two traps appeared in the strawberry patch.  'Nuf said.

I planted three rows of shell peas, peas planted on either side of the 16' long cattle panels used for trellises.  Two of them are pictured above.  (Do you see the half eaten strawberry in between the rows?  Gr-r-r-r!)  With our up until now cool, moist weather, you would think the peas would have grown like crazy giving me peas galore earlier than usual.  They didn't, and are just now finally flowering.

There may be hope for a bunch of fresh frozen peas stashed in the freezer yet.

I have one whole bed (yes, I do) devoted to purple poppies.  They are from seeds Sue (of Sue's Garden Journal) was kind enough to send me a couple years ago after I admired a picture of the poppies in her garden.

I am just crazy about them (I think it's the color) and captured a picture of the very first one to bloom this year.  It greeted me in all its splendor when I took my morning garden tour today.  Thanks, Sue!

We're getting some real summer weather today.  Way up in the 80s.  (Which probably sounds downright cool to some of you, but it's hot to us!)  My wash on the outside lines dried lickety-split, but doing anything that causes any kind of exertion out there brings the sweat pouring forth.  (The humidity definitely contributes to the situation.)

We didn't want anything but watermelon for lunch, and it was enjoyed in our cool kitchen.  Thankfully, our house does stay lover-ly if we close up the doors and windows early on during weather like this.

Papa Pea just came in for a drink of water and said he was now going out into the bee yard to get organized for the replacement bees we hope will be arriving sometime this week.  He also said he might indulge in a root beer float (a weakness of his) when he was finished.  I told him there's probably no better weather for it, and to go for it.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hello, My Name is Mama Pea and I'm a Slow Learner

Well, a-PPARENT-ly.

I've always grown parsley in the garden and used it a lot during the summer months as a fresh herb added to my cooking.  Since I've never had any luck keeping a pot of parsley alive in the kitchen over winter, I have regularly purchased dried parsley from our local co-op to use when I didn't have fresh.  Until last year, I hadn't dehydrated any of our homegrown parsley.  How silly was that?  And why didn't I?  Just one of those (should be) logical, super-easy things to do that slipped by my mushy gray matter.

The amount I dried for last winter's use wasn't nearly enough, and I was a bit grumpy when I had to go back to using store bought.  Homegrown dehydrated parsley is soooo much more flavorful and . . . well, GREEN.

Today I finally had a big enough "stand" of it in the garden to warrant harvesting a bunch and getting it into the dehydrator.  (I'm betting cutting it will also encourage more lush growth.)

(A little glitch, I made a mistake by not mulching around the plants.  With all our rain, the parsley got fairly splattered with mud and required repeated washings to get it clean.)

Once thoroughly washed, spun in my salad spinner and rolled in a clean bath towel to take as much moisture out of it as possible, I filled four dehydrator trays with small clumps of parsley leaves.  Wanna take a guess as to how much dried parsley I'll end up with?  A cup?  A quart?  Somewhere in between?

A dehydrator temperature of 110° and three and a half hours later:

Right in between a cup and a quart . . . two cups on the nose.  With lots more to come.  I may be a slow learner, but I'm socking away as much homegrown, dried parsley as I can this year!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No, I Ain't Dade!

Just a quick post to let you know all is well, and we've been busy as bees.  (Speaking of bees, did I mention that we lost every single one of our hives this past winter?  Yep, 'twas a hard, harsh one [in more ways than one] and none of our bees survived.  The sad thing is this summer would have been very difficult for them also, because our spring was so long in coming and then the too cool summer arrived along with fewer than usual blossoming plants . . . and we had a rainy spring which has continued into a rainy summer.  Not good environmental conditions for honey bees.)

But I digress.  We've just ended our third lovely day in a row (we hardly know how to handle it), and we've been hitting outside tasks with both hammers.  And chainsaws.  And wood splitters.  And hoes.  And other things needing to be done in the garden.  In short, we've been busting our bustles getting lots of great things done.  (Poor hubby had such a cramp in his hand at lunch today, from gripping the chainsaw, that he couldn't hold his fork!)

The strawberries are coming on in full force and we're having a terrible time figuring out what to do with them.  Such a hardship!  (I made the above pictured Strawberry Cream Pie around 7 this morning.  We did have a little help whittling it down to what's left.)

I need to go do dishes and then take a badly needed shower.  (TMI?)  I hope to spend an hour or so on the couch before bedtime snip, snip, snipping on my quilted frayed-edge project.

Another good weather day forecast for tomorrow.  Hip-hip-hooray!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Starting to Build the Ark

No, fortunately we really aren't starting the boat building . . . yet.  But we did have rain all day yesterday again.  Temps are still staying cool which we wouldn't mind at all if we weren't trying to grow a good chunk of our year's food in the garden.  Old-timers in the area say they can't remember ever having a summer like this one has been so far.

But this morning dawned with the promise of a sunny day so we were out splitting wood at 7:25.  Our blessed Firewood Fairy brought us two more loads of logs yesterday.  We guesstimate he's given us about $800 worth of wood so far.  We are indeed fortunate and grateful and appreciative.

Our strawberries are finally starting to come in . . . about a week later than usual.  (Kind of curious they are not nearly as sweet as they should be.  Lack of sunshine?)  I knew some needed to be harvested today but it was late afternoon before the plants dried out enough for me to pick.  I also harvested a big bunch of kale and a good sized bowl of baby Swiss chard, Osaka purple mustard and mizuna mustard.  I've been sauteing a skillet full of one green or another (or a combination of a couple) in a small amount of bacon fat with a chopped scallion or two to accompany our eggs we have for breakfast nearly every morning.  The serving of beautiful, fresh greens just makes me feel STRONG!

Yesterday (during the rain) I got some time in my quilt room to work on a flannel blanket/rug I'm making for our granddog to use when he's here.  It doesn't look like much right now, but will shape up as I get more done on it.

It's done using the frayed-edge technique (picture above taken from a book) and it should have a cozy feel to it when finished.  I did some more work on it tonight after I took the picture of the strips on my design wall earlier.  It took much more time to cut out all the rectangles than it is to sew them together.  Now the process is going really fast.

The weather people are saying we're to have another day of sunshine tomorrow so you know we'll be doing some more wood working.  Our large wood shed is just about half full . . . what a relief it will be to have it completely full.

I've noticed I've lost a little bit of weight lately.  I'm still eating like a horse, especially with good vittles starting to come from the garden, but I think I've been working like a horse, too, so it all balances out and still allows my decrepit assortment of work pants to hang a little loose.  Better loose than tight with all the bending involved with gardening and wood working!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Win A Few, Lose A Few

Rats.  I think I have a bad case of downy mildew.  Or rather my broccoli plants do.

It's obviously all over for this plant.

This one is still looking robust but . . . 

. . . symptoms of the disease are showing.

Downy mildew is caused by halyoperonospora parastica.  (Aren't you glad to know that?)

Optimum conditions which favor the disease development and spread are:

~  Night time temps of 46° to 61° for four
or more successive nights
(Check, got that.)

~  Day time temps of 75° or lower
(Check, got that.)

~  High humidity
(Check, got that.)

~  Fog
(Check, got that.)

~  Drizzle
(Check, got that.)

~ Heavy dew
(Check, got that.)

~ Overcast days
(Check, got that.)

~ Spore spread by wind or water
(Check, got that.)

I've never had a problem with downy mildew before.  These broccoli plants were purchased at a greenhouse because, you might remember, I had a terribly low success rate starting my seedlings this year. I've never used anything but seedlings I started myself for veggies in the garden, so I'm wondering if I could have brought the spore in with the purchased seedlings since seedlings are supposedly very susceptible to the disease.  Although, I realize the spores could have been just hangin' around, and since our conditions have been perrr-fect for them this year, that could have kicked them into gear, too.

It's not the end of the world for us, but can you imagine a truck farmer who has a whole field infected with halyoperonospora parastica?  Ugh.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Are We Skipping Summer This Year?

We're continuing to have our cool, very wet weather.  And the projected forecast, as far as they are projecting, is for more of the same.

These are the facts, folks.  I'm not just whining.  Here it is nearly halfway into July, and the temps are still dropping down into the 40s overnight.  

Truth to tell, I'm kinda surprised things are doing as well as they are in the garden.  (The weeds, of course, being super-adaptable, are growing like . . . weeds.)

The plants in the garden do look lush and green . . . or it might be mold, I'm not sure.  But they're not really growing as they should.  Kinda just sitting there.  Waiting for some warmth and sunshine.

At least the impatiens in my window boxes are doing exceedingly well, non-sun worshipers that they are.

The plants in the two pumpkin hills in the pumpkin patch are no bigger than the weeds alongside.  (Pretty pathetic, huh.)  'Tis definitely not a good growing season for squash or pumpkins.  (Bird bath has stayed nice and full though.)

The continual (at least it seems that way) rain is sure putting a crimp in our wood working.  Let alone the fact that the wood we do have already in the wood shed isn't doing much drying without sun and warm summer breezes.

Besides our wood supply, there are many things (like the re-roofing job . . . ugh) we could/would/should be doing outside, but the weather simply isn't cooperating.

We've had to find something constructive to do inside (which, believe me, wasn't too hard) so we've been using the time to build shelves in the basement.  Years ago, we purchased some (supposedly) heavy-duty plastic shelving units, but have been really dissatisfied with them.  Or maybe we just try to store items on them that are too heavy.  You would think they could withstand the weight of cans of paint, jugs of motor oil, boxes of plumbing supplies (okay, maybe those are a bit hefty) and such, but they haven't.

Well, these sturdy wooden shelves we're putting up now will do the job! 

It snowed, snowed, snowed all winter and now it's raining, raining, raining all summer.  I know everyone around here is hoping our real summer weather has got to start soon.  If it doesn't -- well, gee -- we won't have a chance to grump and grouch about any uncomfortable heat at all this year!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Strange Question?

I'm wondering.  Am I the only person who has never had a professional . . . 

. . . manicure?  

Nope, I've never ever.  Not even once.

So how about a professional . . . 

(Oops, sorry wrong picture.)

As I was saying, how about a professional . . . 

. . . pedicure?  Never done that either.

I'm not sure what brought this burning question to the forefront of my mind, but I'm curious and would really like to know.

Have you??