Berry Bounty

Berry season is upon us!

This is, as they say, just the tip of the iceberg. Over the past week we have easily picked 2 gallons of raspberries, and they just keep coming. For reference, those are ceramic pint containers in the photo. So 16 of those. Jonas has been eating about a pint of raspberries a day, and we still have too many.

It’s not just quantity, either. These are the biggest, sweetest raspberries we’ve ever had. Kirk compares it to 2014, but I’ll have to take his word for it since the kids and I were in Costa Rica and missed all of the raspberries that year.

The key seems to be a wet spring followed by lots of sunshine and no drought. Not that we can control that, but we’ll certainly take it when we can get it!

These conditions create a raspberry jungle, though:

Walking in that path will get you scratched even if you’re careful, so picking raspberries is not for the faint of heart. It takes a good two and half hours to get them all because there are so many, and because you…

Turkey Day Spa

We have wild turkeys visit the garden from time to time, but this year is much more interesting:

That’s a pair of females, but they’re not alone! Between them they have 11 little poults that follow them around, just like ducklings imprint on their mothers and travel in a line:

When they saw me, the mothers hopped up on the fence. The poults soon followed:

When the little ones jumped up, they had to work a lot harder to get air, and plenty of dust flew out of their wings. It turns out that our garden is their preferred neighborhood spot for dust baths:

If you look closely, you can see five or six little hollows where the babies were getting a dust bath. The chickens do this too — they wallow in the dirt and spread it over their feathers, working it in like dry shampoo
This turkey group has got things pretty well together now, but about a week ago Kirk and I saw one of the mothers and her half dozen poults crossing the street at the hospital. The little guys were much smaller then an…

Adjusting the Office Garden

We added a small landscaping project to our to-do list this weekend: 

It was incredibly sunny yesterday, so the photo isn’t great. Hopefully you can see that Kirk added a brick edging to delineate the small flower garden in front of my office. Before, it just kind of blended into the utility yard — and that meant that tons of weeds bled over into the flower garden. Now there are no weeds at all, since Kirk took a hoe to the whole area. 

To keep the weeds out of our hair forever, we’re adding some landscaping fabric and will cover the whole area with wood chips. This will make a nice surface for the area in front of the compost bins and chicken coop, and hopefully any new weeds that pop up will be easy to pull.

The new little wall left some space to plant, so I moved the hosta and black cohosh that used to be along the side wall of the office to the front bed. I also added some pink snapdragons to fill in the gaps. 

From another angle, you can’t even see the new plants, because they’r…

Just Because It’s June

May and June are the prettiest — and most aromatic — months in the garden. Here’s a taste of what’s busting out all over this month:

Alyssum, miniature petunias, cosmos, pansies, and sweet potato vine.

Coleus, miniature petunias, impatiens, and heucherella. 

Peonies, snow in summer, veronica, and Siberian iris.


2018 Master Plan: The Driveway Quadrant

The plan for the final quadrant isn’t very interesting this year:

This entire section will be left fallow. That’s not really about crop rotation so much as it is about making repairs to many of the raised beds in this section of the garden. These were built back in 2011, and after seven years of service, parts are rotting or have warped and come apart where they were screwed together. For example:

To make fixing them easier, we aren’t planting anything here and instead will be able to move all the dirt we need to get at the joints to patch them up. 
Once that’s taken care of (probably in June, after all the planting is complete), we’ll sow cover crop of clover to add nitrogen and generally keep the beds looking nicer for the rest of the season. Next year we’ll choose a different quadrant to repair, thus working our way around the garden until it’s all back in fighting form.

2018 Master Plan: The Workshop Quadrant

Last weekend was a fairly big planting time for us, and just about all of it happened in the central "C" of the workshop quadrant:

In this central bed we have Swiss chard, early and late carrots, cilantro, mesclun lettuce, head lettuce and spinach. Most of this bed is really only in partial sun once a nearby maple tree leafs out, but that usually works for leafy salad greens to keep them from bolting in the heat. I also used some onion sets as dividers between these plantings to mark the rows.
Across the top of this quadrant are still perennial grapes and herbs. The right side and bottom are largely empty. We have a few repairs to do in these sections, and after that we’ll plant a cover crop of clover to give these beds a rest for the season. That leaves the left side, which is a much-reduced tomato section. Because the area is so much smaller, we’re not planning to do much tomato canning this year, but we should have enough for plenty of fresh eating and frozen salsa.

Happy Harvest

Though the loss of the bees was very sad, not everything about this winter was a disaster. For example, we had a large bed of winter carrots that happily spent the season underground. In this case, the warm February weather brought on an early thaw and allowed us to access them throughout the spring.
But as we were about to revamp their bed for a new planting of cabbages by April, it was time to dig the rest of them up: 

Carrots that are harvested after enduring freezing temperatures are very sweet, so these are delicious roasted plain or diced into soups. At this point they are purely cooking carrots, though, as their crunch is long gone thanks to the weird free/thaw cycles this year.
So we had a mini carrot festival this month, enjoying them in all kinds of dishes. Ginger Carrot Soup was a favorite:

To make it, Kirk sweated some leeks (another vegetable that we overwintered underground) in butter and added rough-cut carrot chunks to the soup pot, along with slices of fresh ginger a…