Saturday, July 15, 2017

A True Summer's Day

Mother Nature must have gotten tired of hearing all my whining about needing warmth and sunshine for the garden.  This may be the only day of it we'll get this summer (!), but warm it was!  I think we must have hit 90 degrees in the garden because the thermometer on the north side of the house in the shade read 79.8 degrees.  It felt like an oven out there, but it may have been just what the garden needed.

I took a couple of pictures from Papa Pea's upstairs office window to give you an overview of some of our growing areas.  Above are the 26 raised beds, although a couple are hidden by the cold frames.

Over to the right a smidge is the field garden.  That bare looking spot with the bit of greenery in the middle is my pumpkin patch.  We've been talking for a couple of years of plowing up more area for the field garden as I don't have as much room as I'd like for rotation of crops each year.  

The strawberries are coming on so hot (really hot today!) and heavy, hubby has suggested we take out about half of them.  This is just the third year for the three varieties I've planted (only the second year we could harvest them) so I want to keep track of quantities and flavor for at least another year before eliminating any of them.

Our three haskap bushes have really sized up.  That's the three of them with three rows of blueberries (hiding) and the raspberries behind them.  I think they're lovely and would even be attractive for landscaping.

And the quantity of berries is heavy this year.  But most importantly, how do they taste?  Awful, just awful.  I've been talking with someone who's had experience with them for several years and he tells me I have to find the right variety for our location in order to get berries that aren't so sour they make my eyes cross and ears wiggle.  Papa Pea seems to think the berries might make good wine.  But who the heck around here has time to learn how to make wine?  Not me.  Nope, I'm not taking on one more new project until I have so much time to spend in my quilt room that I'm bored.  (Tee-hee, won't ever happen.)

Dear husband helped me pick the strawberries today in that blazing heat.  Some of them are currently in the dehydrator in the form of (experimental) fruit leather.  Some made it into a Strawberry Cream Pie.  I sliced up some for fresh eating.  Depending on how the fruit leather turns out, I may make more tomorrow or I'm thinking of trying strawberry juice for the first time.

Tomorrow I have three more heads of broccoli ready and I'm not sure how many heads of cauliflower to harvest and prep for the freezer.  The haskap berries may get picked, too.  (Raise your hand if I can send you the whole batch of them.)

We actually took the day off yesterday.  Yep, we did.  We did only the necessary chores, spent a leisurely morning sipping liquids and reading in the living room.  It was so nice to do that at a time of day when we both weren't yawning and falling asleep.

In the afternoon, we took a ride to a lake neither of us knew much about and learned the lay of the land there.  We checked out the public landing (and a very nice one it was) where it would be easy to launch either our sport boat with motor or canoe to spend a day puttering around the lake.  Actually being as big as the lake is, it might take us more than one day to adequately explore it.

While we were standing on the nice dock that went out into the lake, down the shore we spotted a buck deer come out of the woods and wade out into the lake.  He meandered along the shore line for a while sometimes going into the water so far it was up to his belly.  We'd never seen a deer in the water like that.  A moose, yes, but never a deer.

Busy day again today, and with the heat we're not used to, I'm drained.  I don't even have the oompf to go into my quilt room tonight.  It's a shower first and then I'm hitting the couch.  Y-a-a-w-w-w-n!


Michelle said...

Now I'm even MORE jealous of your garden!!!

One cannot have too many strawberries; load up your freezer!

Vera said...

What a lovely example of a raised bed system you have, while mine is definitely what raised beds should not look like! But it is my first year with working with them, and I am having to learn a lot of new things for this market garden project so my attention tends to be scattered. I sometimes feel like a little train going round and round a circular track, huffing and puffing away but not seeming to get anywhere.....

Mary said...

Your garden looks lovely! Our spring & summer have been hot and dry. The only things thriving are the weeds. Can't even get squash to grown more than a couple inches.

2 Tramps said...

Your garden is simply beautiful! You two are amazing! We have been out in our canoe in a lake and saw two deer playing in the water and then a buck came swimming past us - a magical thing for sure.

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - Da freezer is done loaded up! Took two trays (experimental) of strawberry leather out of the dehydrator early today and it was so good I now have seven more trays drying. The eighth tray was at the suggestion of my husband . . . haskap berry leather with LOTS of honey in it! We shall see how that turns out.

Mama Pea said...

Vera - M'dear, you have nothing to feel bad about as you have a HUGE garden area this year and I think you're doing wonderfully! Besides, we all have to fumble around and make changes until we find what truly works for each of us. Your little train is doing great things this year, that's for certain.

Mama Pea said...

Mary - Thank you! Ah, yes, the weather . . . it has such a strong influence on our gardening efforts. Hot is one thing, but if you can't water enough (and it's hard when it's so hot), that spells trouble. Hoping your weather moderates for the rest of the summer.

Mama Pea said...

2 Tramps - Thank you! We aren't amazing, just tired. ;o) (I keep complaining to my husband that my core is sore!) At the end of some days, that's what it feels like.

You saw a buck deer actually swimming in the lake? What a unique experience! (If a deer can swim and propel itself through water with those four skinny legs, why can't I using my arms and legs??)

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

I have raised bed envy. I really do.

What do you do with all those haskap berries, if they are so sour? -Jenn

Mama Pea said...

Jenn - What to do with the haskap berries? Good question. We'll do a little more experimenting with them. Got 'em in the first place because they're supposed to have even more antioxidants than blueberries and all kinds of other good qualities. (Great, but if you can't stand to eat them . . . ) I have fruit leather made with them in the dehydrator as we speak. Maybe make fruit leather with half haskaps and half strawberries? They supposedly make wonderful jam, but I'm afraid I'd have to put so much sugar in a jam to make them palatable so I don't want to do that. Hubby thinks they might make good wine, but no one in our household is a wine maker. Daughter makes cordials and she says she'd be willing to experiment with them for that if I buy some vodka. So the jury is definitely still out on them, but we'll just have to see if they stay or get yanked out!

MrsDuncanMahogany said...

Oh your gardens!!! I swooned when I saw the photos! I truly did! :) One day I hope to get some land so I can do just that, plant until I can't plant anymore.

We are hot too. Stupid hot. Too hot to do anything until the sun goes down and by then we are yawning too.

I was toying with the haskap idea but now I think I will stick to my raspberries. They don't say that in all the seed and garden catalogues I peruse, just that they are good antioxidants!

Hope the heat isn't too bad for you today - we are hovering at around 32 Celcius with the humidity. Ugh.

Susan said...

Everything looks so wonderful. You make it look so easy (that is because we are not privy to the behind-the-scenes antics) There are so many things I would love to plant but, as this is not my final residing place, I don't want to put the effort in and have to leave it behind. Unless I can outlast the gravel pits, my property won't be worth much.

Goatldi said...

Lovely as always! I adore strawberries hint. Re:blueberries. Bumper crop this season when I got my plants about 3-4 years ago I purchased those specifically earmarked for our location. They were plump and sweet
Yummy. Now I am enjoying them from the freezer.

Mama Pea said...

MrsDM - In this day and age, the more food we all can manage to grow on our own little piece of property is a vital step in the right direction.

We're really perplexed at this point regarding the haskap berries. The press on them is soooo good, but in reality . . . ? We're wondering what we're doing wrong.

We had that one nearly too hot day, but went right back to rainy, gray, overcast (buggy!) weather. Had a downpour (short) yesterday that made it impossible to pick strawberries. Hope to get it done today once the haze lifts and plants dry off. Hope your unbearable weather settles down soon!

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Yeah, I should take a picture of my totally grubby look at the end of each day and you'd see how much effort goes into what goes on around here! ;o)

I got a chuckle out of your term "my final residing place." I first read it as if it were your "final resting spot." You know, like six feet under! (Tee-hee.)

Mama Pea said...

Goatldi - Thank you, ma'am! Our blueberries are still in the small, green stage but there are a lot of them out there.

Sending boxes of strawberries. We have plenty . . . and you know how careful the P.O. is with boxes marked "Fragile." ;o)

Rain said...

Hi Mama Pea! :) Oh, wow, I'm jealous of your heat!!! Really...I think summer has restarted here too just from yesterday. Your garden looks so amazing. One day I'd love to have it so organized with the raised beds like that. I'm guessing it was a work in progress, or did you and hubby put all those up one season?
Wine making? YES! :))) I actually have done that before, and had all the equipment back in the day but we really need to find a good supply of fruit for it to be worth the time to start again. and cheese...Rainy Day Wine Making lol...

I'm glad you got out to the lake. It's something we haven't done enough of ourselves this year due to the weather, but we did head out yesterday when our friend was here. We saw a deer crossing the lake once a few summers back. At first we thought it was a beaver, but when we took out the binoculars, we saw the buck, it was quite something and a new lesson, I didn't think they swam in deep water!

Congrats on all the strawberries!!!

Mama Pea said...

Rain - Gardening has always been important to us so we wanted to get our garden started on this property as soon as possible.

As you look out onto our gardening area, the area to the left (where we have our older fruit trees, blueberries and raspberries) had tall evergreens on it. We hated to do it, but they had to go. The area where the raised beds and field garden are was a gravel parking lot for large trucks. We cut down the trees and scraped off the gravel. We knew the soil under the gravel would be bad so the raised beds were the only way to go. They were built the first year and the next year we plowed up ground for the field garden. We had black dirt hauled in but it lacked humus and nutrients so we've worked on building it up each year.

If we ever manage to get into wine making, you will be our go-to guru!

We wanted to take our sport boat out on that lake this week, but (sigh) things keep cropping up that are getting in the way. Soon, though, soon!

Rain said...

I think it is sad to take down trees, but you know Mama Leigh from 5 Acres says "Food First" right? I think gardening is fun and for me this year it's more fun than functional, but in the future it will be a big part of our lives, diet and budget-saving. I would have done the same thing. I think raised beds are a great idea. Building it up each year is very smart.

I know what you mean about things cropping up and getting in the way...we are dying to go fishing. It just seems on the nice hot days, we only want to enjoy our porches and yard and the pets that we keep saying "we'll go next time" time doesn't seem to happen these days though!