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Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

June 20 in the garden

 

carrot_flowersfuture carrots

carrotslast year’s carrots

rhubarb_artichokes_0some of the last of the rhubarb

harvest_june20_0typical picks these days

berries_cherries_0blueberries and cherries!

harvest_june20_3one of the first full fava pods

Today was the first day I felt that well of excitement that comes with the anticipation of days of full, real garden harvests. The fruiting plants all had quite a growth spurt last week and I’m seeing a lot of tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers forming.

So far this spring we’ve been eating plenty of rocket (one of my favorites and luckily it’s doing so well this year!), arugula (which is starting to bolt pretty quickly now), lettuces, kale and cilantro. The past week or so we’ve been enjoying artichokes, and are just now starting to be able to crunch away freely on sugar snap peas.The fava beans are filling out, and I think it won’t be long now til I’ll be able to start really picking. We discovered our love for favas last year and couldn’t get enough of them.

The crows have been helping themselves to the cherries this year, but they’ve been nice enough to let us get to at least a few handfuls. And the first few blueberry clusters are ripening.

Today I planted more seeds, filling in every nook and cranny of space that was left – parsnips, carrots, beans, spinach, more cilantro, more zucchini. I don’t think it’s too late (or in some cases not too early either I hope).

Still dealing with aphids on some of my kale plants. Strangely, it’s the only plant that seems to be a target. After pulling last year’s kale plants I thought I might have a fresh start, aphid-free.

The eggplant leaves have been getting chewed by flea beetles. This is the first time I’ve ever dealt with flea beetles. They’ve been few enough that it’s been manageable, and luckily their only interest has been the eggplant. Picky eaters, these bugs are. And the basil has had something chewing it’s leaves, but no matter how much I inspected, I never seemed to find anything – until one night last week I found a bunch of earwigs on the plants! To my surprise, it turns out they feed on many types of plants. Those creepers of the night.

I’d love to know what’s happening in your garden, if anyone wants to share.

 

 

 

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garden chat

hoophouse_april

Little by little our spring veg garden is coming along. I’ve felt really relaxed about it all this year, and it’s been coming together naturally and at an easy pace. I am sure I’ve overlooked some things, and still need to do a bit of direct sowing, but I think I’m almost finished planting starts. A lot of them are in the hoop house, soaking up the extra warmth. The hoop house is almost weeded of the grass that runs up the sides (in the sections not shown in the photo) , which got pretty thick this year, and the garden is holding us over with kale, small treats of arugula, and the last few carrots while we wait for new greens and peas to start picking up the pace.

cucurbits_basil_april

I just planted cucumbers and squash last week. In the past I have tended to plant them a little too early. I’m hoping the timing aligns, so that once they are ready to go in the ground, we are past the threat of excessive soaking rain and coolness. I saw the first sign of basil germination yesterday. I wish I might have started basil a little bit sooner! I like to grow a lot of basil each year, in a few successive plantings. I did pretty well last year, and we still have a little bit of pesto in the freezer to look forward to. One of my favorites.

tomatoes_april

Since moving the tomatoes from the house to the hoophouse, I am seeing visible growth by the day. Some of them seem to have doubled in size since this photo was taken less than a week ago.

rhubarb_april

I keep talking about making a rhubarb galette or pie of crisp or what have you. It’s time to actually do something about that.

fruit_trees_april

We were able to take the fencing down from 2 of our fruit trees this year, as they are finally tall enough to reach out of harms way of nibbling deer. A deer can strip a little tree of new growth pretty quickly. We expanded the fencing around the other 2 trees and all of them are looking pretty happy for the changes. We should have quite a few pie cherries this summer, and I think we might have our first small set of plums this year.

carrots_kale_april

This is a fairly regular harvest these days – though more so on the greens than the carrots.

carrot_tops

What’s happening in your part of the world? Are you growing food this year? Anything you’re particularly excited about? A funny little thing I’m looking forward to is parsnips. This will be my first time growing them.

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eggs

kale

eggs and greens are a match made on earth.

 

eggs_1

eggs_2

eggs_4

I learned something new last week. A crustless quiche is one of the easiest, tastiest, most satisfying meals to throw together. And it’s equally suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Pretty much perfect, right?

With springtime eggs and greens in abundance, this is an affordable, nourishing meal that even my not-so-egg-friendly man enjoyed quite a lot.

 

eggs_5

eggs_6

My friend Amber‘s chickens have been laying on the regular again, and I’ve been so lucky to have received quite a few eggs from her recently. They are seriously the best eggs I have ever had, and I’ve had a lot of fresh eggs! Her chickens are no doubt happy, healthy girls.

Our garden doesn’t offer a whole lot this time of year, but we can always depend on kale. It loves the cooler weather and is super delicious and abundant right now.

 

On the day I made this quiche, we were even lucky enough to share this meal with my chicken keeping friend.

 

No-crust kale, cheese and mushroom quiche

2 Tbs of butter

1/2 – 2/3 large red onion

12 ounces kale, chopped

5 medium crimini mushrooms, chopped

7 fresh eggs

3 cups grated cheese (I used pepper jack)

1/4 tsp sea salt

fresh thyme and black pepper to taste

 

In a large sauce pan or skillet, sautée your onions in butter until soft, then add your kale. Sautée the kale until brilliant green and softened.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat your eggs.

Add grated cheese.

Add the onion and kale mixture.

Add chopped mushrooms, salt, thyme, pepper.

Combine well.

 

Pour the mixture into an oiled 10 inch pie pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes – until the eggs are set.

Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

 

This meal is even more delicious with toasted sourdough… recipe coming soon.

 

And just for fun, cuz I’m like that :) whoever can first name the leafy plant coming into the top of the frame on the kale image above (2nd from top) – I will send you a gift! :)

Hope you all had a great weekend xo

 

Update: It’s an artichoke! I’ll be in touch soon, with those of you who guessed.

PS asonomagarden, your email doesn’t work so please get in touch if you’d like to receive your gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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vernal equinox

equinox_6a_pruneThe Stanley Prune is starting to flower. Maybe we will have our first fruits from this tree this year. There were tiny bees – which I think were mason bees – buzzing around the new blossoms today.

feb25_apricot_blossom_0Flowering apricot. The prettiest pink.

equinox_5The first of the sugar snap peas, with so many more to plant! We’d like to grow more of these than ever this year.

equinox_2One single tomato seed has sprouted. Just today.

equinox_6We have been hitting the weeds hard the last couple weeks. This is the best time, while the ground is soft and they are relatively small still. They grew like crazy this year, with our mild winter.

.

Winter was pretty mild – even for here – and spring has been coming gradually and gracefully. I am so grateful for this time of year, with warmer, longer days; meals outside again, with fresh herbs at an arms length; coffee time in the sunshine; camp fires in the yard; digging in the dirt. I feel like an emerging young plant – sort of sleepy still from the dark of winter, yet bursting with life and ready to bloom. I won’t even start with my excitement for summer!

 

Happy Spring friends, even if it doesn’t quite feel like it yet where you are.

xo

 

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snapshots

oxford

august_4_0

stone_0

work_table

herbs

hardware_drawers

tomatoes_aug11

Garden, kitchen, studio. These are the places I seem to spend most of my time recently. The garden is just doing it’s thing these days, making lots of food. There is a lot of food coming out of our relatively tiny growing spaces! Our main meals are almost 100% homegrown right now. The realization never gets old, that an entire meal is homegrown. I can really geek out on that sometimes, it’s just so satisfying.

The studio has been a busier place recently, and I have so many things I thought I might get done up there this summer – from painting the floor and some of the dark beams overhead, to building a new table. How does one renovate a space that is overwhelmingly occupied? I haven’t figured it out quite yet.

Speaking of the studio, my friend Camille, the talented craftswoman behind Red Onion Woodworks, has put up an infusion studio tour on her blog, Wayward Spark, if you’d like to check it out. And be sure to see her her beautiful raw edge cutting boards. I have been on the verge of treating our kitchen with one of her boards for so long. They are all one of a kind natural beauties, so if you see one you love, it’s best not to let it pass you by.

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pickles_0

pickles_1A recent rainy day presented the perfect opportunity to finally do some pickling. I’m growing Boston Pickling cukes this year, just for this reason, and they have been producing pretty well. I’ve been stalling on this project for a while. Being my first official foray into canning of any sort, I admit I felt a tiny bit intimidated. The worst that could happen though, is I would lose a few pounds of cucumbers. So!

pickles_2

pickles_3I followed the garlic dill pickles recipe from Marisa McClellan’s site, Food In Jars. This is a quick pickle (she recommends letting them sit 2-4 days before eating), so you won’t have to wait for weeks to try them. The only modification I made was I added 1/2 tsp coriander seed to each jar. I also followed her guide for salt substitution, and used the sea salt I had on hand in place of pickling salt.

pickles_5

pickles_6These were pretty simple to put together, just as I was assured they would be. The hardest part was just waiting for the water to boil to sterilize my jars, and then again for the water bath.  I realized halfway through sterilization, that I shouldn’t be using the canning pot on a glass cook top (indicated on the pot, and in part, because the base of the pot is not flat), so we moved outside onto a propane camp stove for the water bath. The water bath process can be skipped if one wants to keep their pickles in the fridge, but I’d rather have the fridge space.

pickles_8

pickles_7I waited about 36 hours to pop open the first jar. And it’s true, this is a great pickle! Classic dill pickle flavor, with quite a kick of heat. If you like it spicy, I think Marisa hit it just right (I think my 1/4 teaspoons were overflowing a little). If spicy is not so much your thing, you will want to tone it down on the chili flakes.

I found that as soon as I finished making these, I felt excited about sharing them. I especially can’t wait to give some to my pickle loving sister.

I can see how people get really into canning. It’s a fun process, and the results are so satisfying. I am already looking forward to more. Next up? Maybe some tomato jam.

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31st july

tomatoes_blues

August is so close; just about here. The season is changing. The blueberries are almost cleaned out, both by discovery by birds and the simple fact that they are done producing for the  year. But the tomatoes are coming on fast and the bullfrogs fill the night air. It’s always a little bit bittersweet, when the nights start to get longer again and the ground begins to look parched and worn.

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going wild

garden_path_july13

leek_flowers

wild_1000_3

Hi folks! I’m over at Tend today, talking about my wild garden. Come on over if you’re interested.

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all in a day

wild_berries_0aRed huckleberries, fuchsia berries; and a single, insanely fragrant blackberry.

grass_seedGrass seed in dappled morning light. The foxglove is almost done for the year.

dappledWhere we sometimes sit for morning coffee.

echinacea_0Echinacea is blooming. Snapdragons too.

arugula_flowersArugula flowers.

garden_path_july13Our wild jungle garden. It really is kind of wild this year!

july13A day’s harvest.

driveway_gardenHome.

crescent_moonRising crescent moon (with vulture circling nearby).

bear_1And a black bear. No big deal.

This was the kind of day that unfolds moment by moment. Definitely my kind of day. From coffee drinking to berry picking, weeding to watering, trellising to harvesting, food making to kitchen cleaning, mowing and picture taking – the next thing I knew the sun was setting and I realized I had spent the whole day doing what ever presented itself, moment by moment. How simple, right? But really, I felt so satisfied. I’m working on this “be here now” stuff. I know it’s so cliché, but there really is something to it.

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mason_bees_0

I have a fun, simple project for you this week, and it will most likely cost you nothing, take you just a few minutes to make and will create habitat for garden pollinators. It’s also an enjoyable way to observe nature at work. With a little pile of scrap wood we made a few mason bee houses for our garden and yard, and a couple to give as gifts as well.

mason_bees_3

Mason bees are small, cute, oblong, fuzzy little bees that make efficient pollinators in the garden. They can be blue-green, or dark-colored like the one pictured above. This little lady is not the first to make a nest in this hole in our unfinished door frame.

The female mason bee gathers nectar and pollen and stashes it in the back of the hole until there is a sufficient food store for her young. Once there is enough food to supply the larvae, she lays an egg on the food store and then seals the egg in with a bit of mud. She then brings in more pollen and nectar in front of the previous mud layer, lays another egg, covers it with more mud, and stacks like so until the cavity is full. Once the cavity is full, she seals the hole with a final layer of mud. Maybe you have seen these mud filled holes and wondered what was in there.

Here is a link to more information on mason bees, if you are interested in learning more – http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/inse006/inse006.htm. I think these little bees are pretty fascinating!

mason_bees_2

We have an endless supply of scrap wood from our various home projects and are always looking for functional ways to use it up. We cleaned up some sections of 4×4, cut an angle at the top to accommodate a little sloped roof, and then drilled 1/4 inch diameter holes in the outer rows and 3/16″ holes down the center. We used all the depth we had in this case, and drilled almost to the back of the 4×4. Typically, larger diameter holes are recommended (5/16″), but maybe our bees here on the coast are pretty small, or maybe they actually prefer smaller than the recommendation. The hole in the door frame is about 1/8″ in diamter, for example.

We used sections of old fence pickets for the roof (not totally necessary, but shelter from rain is nice, right?) and as a backing to make mounting it easy.

Apparently, it is best to hang the house facing east or southeast, for morning sun. The face of that door frame above is pretty much dead south, so a little variation from that recommendation probably won’t break the deal.

mason_bees_1

I’m looking forward to observing these bees more closely. We really enjoy creating habitat for beneficial species of all kinds at our place.

How do you invite beneficial insects to your garden?

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