Jenny Lind Melons

In addition to the heirloom tomato seeds we bought in Pennsylvania last spring, we also picked up a packet of melon seeds. Jenny Lind melons are a variety of cantaloupe from the 1800s, and we gave it a try on a whim since it was described as cold-hardy. We always had trouble getting melons to ripen in our relatively short growing season, so this seemed like a reasonably good bet.
We picked the first one at the very end of August:

As you can see, they have a funny shape. The bump on top is not the end that connects to the vine, by the way. 
The inside is also different:

It’s a cantaloupe, but it’s green instead of orange. (This one has already had its seeds scooped out.)
I’m not a huge melon fan — with the notable exception of melons we grow in our garden. These are sooooo sweet and juicy and fragrant that they’re really a totally different thing from the sad melons you get in a restaurant fruit cup or from the grocery store.
This didn’t disappoint! It’s delicious, especially served w…

Both Sides of My Skin — On Sale!

ICYMI: I wrote a book of short stories:

If you haven’t read it yet, now’s your chance! Annorlunda Books is having a 50% off sale at Gumroad, where you can download the ebook for just a couple bucks. 
To do that, you’ll need the coupon code BACKTOSCHOOL to use at checkout. 

Heirloom German Gold Tomatoes

Last spring we spent a week traveling across Pennsylvania, visiting some parts of Amish country. While we were there, we purchased several seed packets of heirloom fruits to try. But since we had already started our seeds for the year, they had to wait until the next growing season.
Fast forward to today, when we finally get to see what a German Gold tomato actually looks like:

These are enormous heirloom tomato from Germany. They are a gold variety with bright red streaks along the sides, making them very colorful (though we picked the first ones way too soon, not realizing that they would redden up). 
The flavor is really good — mild, juicy and well-balanced. And since they’re so big, they’re perfect for stuffing:

This one practically took up my whole salad plate and was filled with chicken salad. It was a perfectly filling meal! I’m also thinking these tomatoes could make a pretty salsa, too, but mostly we’ve just been slicing them for sandwiches and eating on the spot.

Raspberry Lime Rickeys

Our main raspberry harvest is just about over for the summer (though we should get a second flush of our everbearing variety in another month or so), but two weeks ago we were still completely inundated with them. We have gallons of raspberries sitting in the freezer, but I also found another great way to process a bunch of them: raspberry syrup, which is then added to one of the prettiest drinks around:

It’s really easy to make. Just bring a cup of water and a cup of sugar to boil, then add 2 cups of fresh raspberries. 

Bring the mixture back to a boil briefly and then take it off the heat. Let it steep for at least 30 minutes before straining into a pint jar:

The straining process is pretty slow, but it keeps (most) of the seeds out. Raspberries are so delicate that they break down into a nice, thick goop pretty easily.

Once the syrup has cooled, it’s ready to use for mixing some drinks! To make that easier, I highly recommend a flip-top spout lid designed for Mason jars. We also u…

Bunny and Toad

Yesterday while Kirk was mowing the lawn, he accidentally flushed out a couple of creatures who jumped out the way to escape certain doom from the blades of the very loud machine. Kirk turned off the mower and took a peek under the cucumber vines.

It wasn’t one, but two little animals getting out of the way. This baby bunny is very young. Last weekend it was still in its nest, which Kirk partially dug by accident while dealing with a weedy portion of the garden. 
We have seen a couple rabbits in the yard all summer, and they’ve nibbled a few items — notably the beet tops. Mostly, though, they have only been interested in the big patch of clover growing on this year's fallow sections of garden. Since we no longer have an outdoor cat to take care of critters, this is a great way to peacefully coexist. We’ll probably plant a decoy clover section on some portion of the garden every year, especially now that we’re content to do slightly less intensive growing.
Anyway, the nest of babi…

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…