Sunday, June 30, 2013

Take THAT You Cabbage Moths!

Way back in May I blogged about the screened frames we were building in an effort to keep those little white cabbage moths from depositing their eggs (that turn into worms -- eeeuuww) on our Brussels sprout, cabbage and broccoli plants.

Last year we used Sue's method for keeping out those dratted insects.  (That would be Sue, vegetable and flower gardener extraordinaire of Sue's Garden Journal.)  She puts plastic hoops covered with Agribon over her raised beds.  I stole her idea (she was so generous in sharing how to do it with me) and, by Jupiter, it worked extremely well to keep the cabbage moths out of our brassicas.

The one catch was that Sue's raised beds are in sand which enables her to hold the Agribon cloth securely down on both sides and each end by covering the ends of the cloth with sand.  We have grass between our raised beds and after much trial and error (mostly error), found the only way we could secure the ends was by screwing a lath of wood through the Agribon to the side and ends of each raised bed.  But this was too much of a hassle to take off and then put back on again each time I wanted to get into the bed to pull weeds or check maturity of the crop.

This week we finally got the screening stapled onto the frames (BFORE the moths have appeared on the scene, thankfully) and they are now installed on the beds.

Here's a picture of three of the screened frames on the raised beds.  The taller ones are three feet high.  We made two of them for beds of Brussels sprouts, and one for a bed of broccoli.  The smaller one (in the middle above) is only two feet high and covers a bed of cabbage.

This is a closer look at one of the beds of Brussels sprouts.  The cages have screening over the top and all four sides.

Will they work as well as the Agribon did to keep our veggies worm-free?  I sure hope so.  Time will tell.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Am So Stoopid!

I could just kick myself in the patoot (if I were limber enough) for wasting most of yesterday afternoon on a big project that was totally unnecessary.

I was eager to get my "new" TV set up in my quilt room.  ("But why?" she asks herself.  "You haven't spent any time in there for-EVER!")  This new TV I've acquired stands two inches taller than the old relic I've had in there.  So that meant I'd have to raise the shelves above where it will sit.  This was not a happy thought because 1) I'd have to unload everything from the shelves, and 2) I'm short so raising the shelf would mean more stretching and more frequent hauling out of a stool to reach objects that would now be two inches farther out of my grasp.

This is the old TV and shelf placement.

Empty shelves ready to be removed and hiked up to their new spot.

Shelves raised, new TV in place and nearly everything else put back where it belongs.

If you look closely at the TV set, you'll see that the front of it rises a little higher than the shelf edge behind it.  That's because when I measured it, I didn't take into consideration that it is only the very front part of the TV that wouldn't fit under the shelf in its old, lower position and that same front part of the television set DOESN'T EVEN GO UNDER THE SHELF!!

Talk about not carefully looking at the whole picture.  Dumb and dumber!  All by myself.

I think I'll sign off now and go see what else I can find to waste time on.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another Quiet Day on the Homestead

What was my day like yesterday?  Well . . . 

First thing in the morning I cleaned the bathroom.  (We only have one, thank gawd.)

Baked a pan of Blueberry Buckle using some blueberries dear friend B was kind enough to give me after I whined and whined talked about the fact that our less than bountiful crop last year didn't even last us through the winter months.

I went out into the garden and harvested a whole lot of radishes and a good big bunch of scallions.

Made some egg salad to go on the side of our big lettuce/spinach salad for lunch.

The night before I had decided that I would plant rows of corn in the pumpkin patch and let the pumpkins run amok around the corn stalks.  I know this is an old-timey way of doing it, but I've never tried it.  (Picture above taken through afternoon fog.)

I got a little over half of that project done when it started to rain.  Oh well, it was time to go in and get lunch on the table anyway.  It rained hard in the afternoon (about 6/10th of an inch according to our gauge).  Much too wet to go back outside and do anymore garden work.

Taking advantage of time inside, I got a new batch of kombucha going, then made a bunch of Mexican Tortillas for the freezer.

I have a TV in my quilt room (pictured above) but it's been dying a slow death.  (Don't know why this is.  It's only 29 years old.  Really.)  Sometimes the only sound is annoying static.  When there is actually audio to go with the picture, it's either really LOUD or so faint I can hardly hear it.  No happy medium.  I told Papa Pea I'd like to replace it with a TV like we have in the kitchen.  That TV is an old model (but only 15 years old) with the VCR built right into it.  (Yes, we're still using VCR tapes.  Haven't yet graduated to DVDs.)

What a good guy he is.  He found one on E-bay nearly identical to our kitchen TV (but newer -- only 12 years old!) and pictured above.  We hooked it up in the kitchen where I was working all afternoon and I test drove it.  It seems to work perfectly.  Good picture (and sound!), records and plays back without a hitch.  So now we'll transfer it to my quilt room . . . and maybe donate that 29 year old relic in there to the Smithsonian.

Funny, but I can't remember clearly what I did last night after dinner.  Probably came back here to my desk and read some of your blogs, etc.  I do know my eyelids kept falling shut when I sat down in the living room with Papa Pea before calling it quits for the night.  Must have been the quiet day that exhausted me.

What was your day like?  If you were lucky enough to be home on your homestead all day, I'll bet it wasn't much different than mine.

"Happy Endings" Goes To . . .

Many thanks to all of you who entered the drawing for the quilt book, Happy Endings - Finishing the Edges of Your Quilt.

I had Papa Pea pick a name out of the bowl I'd put all entries in and the winner is . . .

 I hope you'll get some good use from this book, Katie.  If you'll go over to the Contact Me button on my right hand side bar and send me an e-mail with your mailing address, I'll get the book off to you asap.

 Our lilacs are finally in full bloom and this is the first bouquet I cut for the house.  I snapped this picture at a little after eight o'clock last night.  Looking out the window behind the flowers you can see the heavy fog which came (again) to visit us after our rain in the afternoon.

This morning is giving us some sunshine already, but the dew outside is nearly heavy enough to warrant hip boots.  (Sure wish I could send you some of our good moisture, Tombstone Livestock!)

Congrats on winning the quilt book, Katie, and I hope all of you have a good day.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Playing in the Garden Yesterday

I had two patches in the field garden that were still bare so in one I planted three more short rows of corn.  It's very close to my big planting of corn so I think it will be fine.

The other patch has pea trellises on either side of it so I put a hill of red kuri squash there.  I figure by the time the squash vines really take off, the peas will be done and I can pull out those vines to give the spquash room to roam.  One hill will be plenty because I only want a couple of red kuri plants this year.  Last year I planted way too many.  They produced prolifically and we ate squash about until it came out our ears, I gave as many away as folks would take and just last week tossed the last two into the compost pile even though they had only a slight bad spot or two on them.  (Even the chickens were tired of them because they'd had them regularly all winter.)  So this year I'm trying to be much more sensible and not plant so many.  (Me?  Sensible in the garden?  Ha.)

Yesterday I also hilled our four rows of potatoes for the first time this season.  I didn't get 100% germination on the seed potatoes I planted this year, but it's better than last year.  I wonder if part of the problem is that I've been using seed potatoes from the last year's crop for several years now.  Saves money but maybe I need to break down and purchase some new ones for next year.  You know, introduce some "new blood" into the potato patch.  (Yuck.  That doesn't even sound good.)

Above is one of the rows before hilling.

Same row after the hilling was done.  It's really weird when you think of it.  Just when the plants are starting to get big and tall, you go and cover them up with a bunch of dirt.  Then they emerge from the dirt and start to reach for the sky . . . and you do it to 'em again.  Poor plants.

I also got the pumpkin patch tilled up and ready for planting.  Even up here, the last full week in June is a smidge on the late side to be planting pumpkins, but our weather has just been too cool before this.  I'm crossing my fingers (along with a lot of other folks) for a long fall this year so the late started garden will have a chance to mature.

One thing our cool weather has been good for is salad greens.  We have never (ever, ever) had such flavorful lettuce, Swiss chard, kale or spinach.  We've been having a big salad once a day nearly every day for weeks now.  Can't beat that for a nutritious, healthy, flavorful meal.

I'm happy to report we are having some warm weather now, and I'm finally starting to see a growth spurt in the garden.  Except maybe for the pepper plants I transplanted to a cold frame covered bed on June 7th.  I'm pretty sure they are smaller now than when I set them out. 

P.S.  Don't forget to check out the quilt book give-a-way in yesterday's post.  Comments close tonight!   

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Quilt Book Give-A-Way

Here's a gem of a book that I'd like to send to a new home.  No way would I be letting go of it if I hadn't discovered that I've somehow acquired two copies of it.  (You say I need a little more organization in my quilt room?)

The book?

The book is Happy Endings - Finishing the Edges of Your Quilt by Mimi Dietrich.  I can attest it's a very helpful book with clear illustrations.  It covers finishing your quilt without binding, using mitered corners, rounded corners, bias binding, scalloped edges, prairie points, and ruffled edgings.  That's just a sampling of what you'll find in this book.

If you think you may like to add this book to your collection, just say so in the comments.  To make things interesting, please also tell all of us if you make time to quilt and/or sew year round or do you find you only have time for such during the more inclement months of winter.  (And if you do quilt year round, I want to know your secret!)

Let's make this short and sweet.  I'll close comments tomorrow night, Wednesday, June 26th, and post a winner drawn from names entered sometime Thursday.

Happy Endings to you all!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Slow Sunday

I'm blaming the level of (non)activity around here on the weather.  More dampness and fog.  Lots of fog.  Matter of fact, we're under a Heavy Fog Advisory.  (What?  Like we should be careful it doesn't fall on us?  Or we could be hurt bumping into it?  Okay, so my sense of humor has been affected by all the recent dampness.  I'll stop trying to be funny.) 

We haven't had any rain drops falling today (we did overnight), but the air is very saturated with moisture and although I could go out and do some weeding in the raised beds without donning thigh-high muck boots, I've chosen to stay inside.  As our girl Scarlett said, "Tomorrow is another day."  Or, "I'll think about it tomorrow."  Or something like that.  I know the weeds will be there when I do go out.

I did take a tour of the garden about an hour ago to get some fresh air.  Lo and behold, my bean and corn seeds didn't rot.  They are both valiantly poking up through the soil.  Yay!  Now if we ever get some sunshine again, I'm sure they'll spurt forth like all gangbusters.

Looking for another picture, I came across this one I took a couple/few weeks ago.  Papa Pea is on the next to the top rung of our biggest extension ladder (extended to the max) trying to untangle a small rope and pulley we had over a branch which holds a sunflower seed feeder for the birds.  Good thing he's not afraid of heights, huh?  I actually got a titch dizzy tilting my head back, back, back in order to point the camera straight up and capture the shot.

That's all I've got for today, Troops.  I'm in the middle of trying to clear off the surface of my desk.  Now that I can almost see the top, it's apparent I'm gonna need a dust cloth . . . maybe even a bucket with soap and water for wiping before that.

Oh!  Good thing I just looked through that last little pile on the right hand corner of the desk top.  I have a quilting book that I'd like to pass on to one of you.  I'll post a picture of it within the next couple of days so you can check it out and see if it's one you'd like to have. 

Hope you had a good weekend and have a mah-velous week coming up.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Waiting (Wading?) It Out

We're in our second day of a cocooning effect of rain and fog.  If the weather men are right (isn't there an oxymoron in there somewhere?), this huge storm front hovering in our area will be with us well into next week.

At this point, our immediate area is in no danger of flooding damage (although there are warnings out for points not far from us), and for that we're thankful.

Of course, now I'm wondering if my as-of-yet unsprouted seeds in the garden will rot in the cool, saturated soil.  Beans and corn are my main concern.  I guess it was good that I didn't get my squash and pumpkins in before this soggy weather hit, huh?

But there's more than one advantage to this weather.  For one thing, it provides a good chance to catch up (maybe even get ahead?) on inside chores.  That is if I can stay motivated and moving (let alone awake) because when the rain is coming down and the fog is so thick I can't see farther than 20 feet outside of any window, my energy level seems  missing sluggish.

Not that there isn't plenty to do.  It's been ages (or seems that way) since I've spent any amount of time in my quilt room.  Besides actually quilting in there (oh, yeah, I remember doing that!), it's also where I repair clothing, do alterations and mending so the table with the two sewing machines on it is stacked with projects along those lines.

I finally pulled all of my husband's flannel and wool shirts out of his closet and washed them.  (Wanna bet it will turn really, really cold now and he'll be looking for a couple to wear?  Heck, he'd probably like a flannel shirt to put on right now in this gray, damp period.)  Anyway, I want to press all of them before putting them in the out-of-season clothes storage area for the summer.  That pressing matter (hahahahaha!) will keep me out of mischief for a while.

Our little tourist town is packed to the gills with vacationers not particularly happy with the current weather conditions.  I certainly can't blame them.  But there's no lack of things I can choose to do until this weather changes and I can get back outside again.  I just have to get off my rusty-duster and dive into some of the projects.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Late Day Thoughts

 1.  Gardening is HARD work.

 2.  There are not enough hours in the day.

 3.  If I sit down (and am not shoveling food into my mouth), I fall asleep.

 4.  Summer time is when I have the most innovative ideas for fantastic things to eat and drink.  And the least time to prepare them.

 5.  My house seems dirtier in the summer months, but I have very little desire to clean it.

 6.  How can I claim to be busy in the winter time when I don't have outside chores that fill the majority of my day time hours?

 7.  Why do I think food purchased from a store is ever the least bit tasty when food  straight from the garden is indescribably DEE-LISH-CIOUS?

 8.  How can I work in the garden all day and get oodles done, but not one thing I planned to do?

 9.  Winter and snow has its own pristine beauty, but summer bursts with L-I-F-E!

10.  Why should I take a shower every night when I'm just going to get gritty, grimy and  dirty again tomorrow?

Pig Pen

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm Wearing Out My Sweatshirt

It's not from wearing it so much, but rather from putting it on and taking it off so frequently.

Our weather has been wildly fluctuating from really warm to really cool.  Plus we've been having on and off showers for a couple of days.  Yesterday we got 1/2" (along with some powerful thunder boomers) which was good because we've not had any moisture for some time.  Today's rain measured only 2/10ths of an inch.

Garden report . . . 

Our strawberries are blossoming their little heads off and I was thinking we'd have to set up the sprinkler because they definitely need the moisture to make berries.  Now they should be okay at least for a while.

The shell peas aren't quite big enough yet to grab on to their trellis.  But they should be happy in the cool weather.  Come on, you little legumes, grow!

My first radishes, planted 23 days ago with alternate rows of lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach, should be forming crispy, crunchy round orbs . . . but they're not.

Surprisingly, the zucchini seeds are sprouted and doing well . . . inside their own little greenhouse.

The Brussels sprouts look good.  They're about 8" tall.

The bed of salad greens is finally coming into its own and we now have enough for our daily tossed salad.

The forecast for tonight is down to 38°.  Okay, I'd call that cool enough. 

Where's my sweatshirt?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Repost Brought on By Rhubarb

Here's my "Remembering Rosie's and Rhubarb" story I first posted way back in 2008.

* * * * * * * *

I really, really like rhubarb and whenever I'm cooking with it I always think of Rosie's Cafe.  The first few years my husband and I were married, we lived 55 miles away from where I worked full-time and he worked part-time while going to school full-time.  It was a good hour's drive one way.  Occasionally on our way home at night, we would treat ourselves and stop at Rosie's Cafe for a quick dinner.  The small restaurant was owned and operated by three sisters.  Rosie was the waitress and the other two sisters worked in the kitchen.  This was in the early '60s and all the food was made from scratch and good.  There was a printed menu but there was always an "evening special" utilizing fresh produce and meat that was available in the local farming community.  Eating at Rosie's was a great experience.  I often dream of going back there, but the sisters would all be 100+ years old now . . . and probably not doing much cooking.

Now, pie has always been my very favorite dessert.  As a new cook, I had heard that making good pie crust was a real art so was a little gun-shy about trying it.  Instead, I purchased packages of Betty Crocker's "pie sticks" (they looked just like quarter pounds of butter) which you rolled out and, tah-dah, there was your pie crust.  One day my dear husband said very kindly, "Hon, until you have time to learn how to make pie crust, why don't we just skip the pies."  Well.  I could take a hint.  No pies went in or out of my oven for some time.

Back to Rosie's.  Each spring, Rhubarb Pie was sure to be offered.  Outside of the fact that Rhubarb Pie is close to being my very favorite kind of pie, Rosie's crust was wonderful; flaky, tender, melted in your mouth.  So one night after polishing off a piece of delectable Rhubarb Pie, I asked Rosie what the secret was to making such great pie crust.  She replied that I would have to ask her sister as she was the pie baker.  In short order, one of the sisters came out of the kitchen to chat with us.  Cleverly avoiding revealing her own crust recipe ingredients, she did say that I had to remember two things.  The first was to use ice water when mixing the flour and shortening.  The second was to always make the pie crusts and then let them rest in the refrigerator overnight before rolling them out and making the pies.

So back to the drawing board I went and eventually came up with a good crust recipe.  Matter of fact, my career in the restaurant business started with going to a friend's restaurant at 4:30 in the morning and baking pies.  And, yes, I made lots and lots of rhubarb pies.   After I had my own restaurant, hubby and I contracted with a lady living somewhat south of us who had long rows of luxuriant rhubarb plants.  We bought over 100 pounds of rhubarb each year, processed and froze it so I could make rhubarb pies throughout the year.

Recently I found a cookbook that was obviously written for rhubarb lovers.  Recipes using rhubarb to make everything from beverages to jams to salads to desserts.  What fun I'm having working my way through it.  If the old wives' tale about rhubarb being a cleansing, spring tonic is true, boy, are we in good shape.

My rhubarb plant currently looks a trifle lopsided, and possibly a little over-picked, so I should refrain from any rhubarb concoctions for a week or so.  But I can still go bake some other kind of pie.  I like to think Rosie and her sisters would be proud.

* * * * * * * *

Well, here it is Saturday and I think it's been two days since I've picked and used any rhubarb.  Time for another hit on my giant plant out there in the garden.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I've Got This Thing For Rhubarb

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I really love rhubarb in most any edible size, shape or form.

I came across this "Ode to Rhubarb" blurb on a cooking site and got a bang out of it because it so describes how I feel about that much misunderstood fruit . . . which is technically classified as a vegetable, but we won't get into that.

Here's the quote:


Rhubarb!  You lovely, stringy red stlak!  How maligned you
are for your sourness, but how much the
better you are for it!
How often are you ruined, senselessly
with the addition of strawberries, as though you
were just a filler, or were unable to
stand up on your own.
How you remind us that nothing can
ever truly be sweet without being sour!
How you keep us from lazier, sweet cherry-laden desserts!
How do I love thee, rhubarb?
Truly, I am unable to count the ways.

Hee-hee.  Yup, that pretty well describes my feeling about rhubarb.

I have just one rhubarb plant in my garden but it serves me well.  So far (I first harvested some on May 29th this year and that was rushing it, but I simply couldn't wait any longer), I've made two pies, one pan of Rhubarb Crunch, one Rhubarb Upside Down Cake and put four containers of rhubarb sauce in the freezer.  (We like it during the winter on our oatmeal, or over a dollop of vanilla ice cream on a slice of pound cake.)  Also stashed in the freezer are the ready-to-go bagged up fillings for four pies we'll enjoy this winter.  I guess I'd have to say that my current very favorite rhubarb dessert is Rhubarb Cream Pie.  I've yet to make it this year, but I know I will before the season is over.

I can't think of rhubarb without fond memories of Rosie's Cafe, a small family owned restaurant Papa Pea and I frequented in the early years of our marriage.  I wrote a post about Rosie's (and rhubarb and pie crust) back when I first started blogging in 2008.  If I don't come up with anything stupendously interesting (ha!) about which to blog tomorrow, I'll repost it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

So It Pays To Complain?

Mother Nature must have heard my sad lament in this morning's post regarding our lack of warm weather in these here parts.

Our high temp today (are you ready for this?) hit 76° . . . IN THE SHADE.  It must have been at least 80° in the garden.  At least.

Unfortunately, the heat and humidity caused an explosion of our first hatch of the dreaded black flies.  We knew it had to happen and we've been almost giddily (did I just make up that word?) enjoying our bug-free time so far this year.

In a normal year, the pesky black flies first make an appearance around the middle of May.  They bite with a sting that causes one to smack one's self on one's body where contact is being made so hard it about knocks one off one's feet.  (No foolin'.  Their bite is that hurtful.)  So we've gone a whole month longer into the season this year without having to do battle with the black flies.  Until . . . dum-da-dum-dum . . . today.

They appeared in swarms.  Squadrons.  Battalions.

I started work in the garden wearing an old light, white shirt which was soon nearly covered with their hateful little black bodies.  Since most biting insects are attracted to light colored clothing, I changed into a dark, long-sleeved shirt buttoned all the way up to my neck.  This apparently was the signal for those darn buggers to attack my head.  In the ears, up the nose, in the eyes.  Yeeeow.  I couldn't stand it so gave up and put on a hat and head net.

Too bad I didn't let Papa Pea take a close-up shot.  I was indeed the fetching figure swathed in long pants (sweating), the long-sleeved, dark shirt tightly buttoned with collar up (sweating), a baseball cap and head net (sweating), and gloves (sweating) as any exposed skin was fair game for the blood-thirsty varmints.

Papa Pea was mowing the poultry pasture and I was using the gathered grass clippings to mulch under the fruit trees.  'Twould have been nice for both of us to throw in the towel and work inside today but the pasture had grown to such a height that our birds were getting lost in it.  So we both toughed it out to finish the job while trying to ignore (ha!) the black flies and just about literally being able to watch the plants in the garden grow.  "Warmth!  Sunshine!" they shouted.  We could almost hear them jubilantly reveling in the good growing weather.

Could all this possibly mean summer time has finally arrived in the north woods?

Let It Be A Challenge

We're having one of the coldest spring/early summer seasons that anyone around here can remember.  Not only have we had no real warm weather yet, but sunshine has been scarce, too.

Yesterday I came across some garden pictures taken in 2010 . . . a year we had an extremely early, warm spring.  Geesh, how depressing when compared to the (non)growth in my garden this year!

But as they say, we have to take what we get when it comes to weather and make the best of it.

I have two beds of cherry tomatoes under cold frames . . . which is the only way they'd still be alive out there in our frigid temps.  The plants were long and leggy when I put them out, but I always strip the little branches and leaves off the bottom two-thirds of my tomato plants and plant them lying down with only the tops sticking up and out of the soil.  That really helps the plants develop strong root systems and the ability to bear more fruit.

My slicing cucumbers are also under a cold frame, but there are no hearty little green sprouts from those seeds yet.

I'm not planting any pickling cucs this year as "somebody" got a little carried away during her last pickling binge, and we have plenty (cases!)  of both dills and sweet pickles to tide us over for this coming year. 

The pepper plants aren't looking as good as when I set them out, but again, I believe the cold frame protection will enable them to survive until Mother Nature chooses to give us a break and send summer growing weather.

The herb and flower bed is probably crammed too full and I'll have to lift some of the flowers out when the herb plants take hold and start to grow (assuming that really will happen), but that's fine.  For now it looks like the best bed (along with maybe the first bed of lettuce) I've got going out there.

My shell peas are up and probably even enjoying this cold spring, but I've not poked any of the warm weather seeds like beans, corn or squash in the ground yet because I'm afraid the seeds would just rot.

The strawberry plants have blossoms and the blueberry bushes are more loaded with blossom buds this year than I've ever seen them.  I'm thinking we'll also get plenty of raspberries again this year, but the patch is getting old and needs to be ripped out and new canes started in a different area of the garden.  Whether that task will be accomplished this year or not remains to be seen.

I can honestly say the majority of my time in the past two weeks in which I've been a neglectful blogger has been spent garbed in very grubby apparel communing with the (albeit cool) soil in the garden.  I've gotten in good amounts of lettuces and other assorted salad greens, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, beets, turnips, kohlrabi, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, yellow and red onions, edible podded peas (thanks to Carolyn), potatoes, cucs, peppers, and tomatoes.  Also did some planting of flowers and dividing and transplanting of same.  My panic mode is dissipating and I'm relaxing a bit so you may be hearing from me on a more regular basis again.  (What?  No wild cheering?  Not even a one-handed clap?)

I know those of you suffering in too high temperatures too early in the season would be glad to accept a great, big crate of our cold weather if I could somehow manage to ship it to you.  Seems that no matter where we gardeners choose to call home, gardening is always a challenge because of one factor or another.  But to my mind, whatever harvest we manage to get in return for our efforts is well worth it.  Gardening clothes that will never look clean again, stained hands and fingernails that resist any amount of scrubbing, stiff and sore bodies and all . . . it is worth it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Still Slogging Away

I'm talking about the push to get the garden in, shaped up and ready for the growing season.  But I love the work.  Even though my body thinks I'm torturing it way beyond the limits of sensibility.  No worry.  I'm fine.  As long as once I stop for the day I don't try to bend over.  Or lift anything.  Or sit down.  Or try to get up.

My main reason for this little post is to show you this picture.

A really, really nice guy presented us with eight big bags of wood shavings that are so much appreciated and are joyfully being used to mulch my strawberries and blueberries.  I had given up hope of finding shavings to use this year, so you can imagine what a wonderful gift this was.  (Strange things excite a gardener, no?)  This picture is kinda weird in that it makes the bags look like loaves of bread, don't you think?  In reality, the bags are about three feet high and eighteen inches across and packed solid.  I can lift one but wouldn't want to haul it much farther than my waiting wheelbarrow.

Our temperatures are still way, way too cool for this time of year.  All the transplants I've put out in the garden look stressed and unhealthy.  I've got some seeds emerging from the soil; let's keep our fingers crossed for them.  Night before last we got down to the mid-30s and I'm sincerely hoping that will be the last frost scare until long into this coming fall.

Okay, off now to an early bedtime so I can get up with the chickens in the morning and have another fun-filled day.  I seriously don't know of anything I'd rather work so hard at than creating a garden that will (we hope, hope, hope) produce loads and loads of luscious homegrown fruits and vegetables.

But, criminy, I sure do wish Missing-in-Action-Agnes would get here to take care of the cooking and cleaning that so desperately needs to be done inside these days.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I'm Not Really Here

I'm still on my self-imposed hiatus from blogging and the computer, but since this is our third day of rain and the first of June, I gave myself permission to do this little post.

A couple of years ago, I took pictures of the garden on the first of each month during the gardening season and found it very interesting to compare them and see the change from month to month.  I decided to do that again this year so here are my June 1st photos, terribly devoid of green and growing things as they may be.  Except the grass which loves this cool, wet weather and has gotten totally away from us at this point.

Here's the nekkid pumpkin patch.  (And, yes, it will be the pumpkin patch this year, as opposed to last year when it was the potato patch.)  It's been cultivated once, but has nary a plant nor seed in it yet.  Our temps have been way too cold so far.

The field garden is starting to take shape.  Although you can't see it in the above photo, shell peas and potatoes and some flowers (both transplants and seeds) have been planted.  The strawberry patch is in fairly good shape although still not yet mulched.  The local sawmill where I've been getting the wood shavings for that task no longer has them available.  (What an unpleasant surprise that was.)  I'm still in a bit of a quandary as to what to do now and have had to weed the whole blasted patch (without the mulch the weeds are way too happy and healthy) twice so far.

I was going great guns getting the raised beds planted out, but got stopped abruptly when this thunderstorm-y, heavy rain and COLD weather moved in three days ago.

The new frames you see still have to be set into the ground after the old bed frames are taken out.  Hubby hasn't been able to work on that project in the last three days either.  Right now the new frames are stored right on top of the old frames which makes anyone who doesn't know wonder what the heck is going on out there.

The rains have brought in cold weather which we can do nothing about other than remain patient (ha!) and wait it out (gnash-gnash).  This is very much like the early summer weather we experienced for several years after we moved up here in the 1970s.  Then almost all of June was traditionally cold and wet.  We're all crossing our fingers for a lovely, long fall this year so crops have a chance of maturing.

I'm missing you all, but feeling less stress in that I do have more time each day to devote to the garden . . . and since the monsoon season has descended upon us, to the usual inside stuff that never seems to go away . . . or stay done.

Happy month of June to you all!