Showing posts from June, 2013

Flower Friday: June 28, 2013

Another rainy week makes for fewer bouquets — again, it's no fun to bring in flowers once they've been drenched in a thunderstorm. Still, here's what I managed to put together before the lightning and thunder each night.

Lupines, delphinium, and shasta daisies.

Poppy, Veronica "Royal Candles," yarrow, and white lavender.

Veronica, hosta, yarrow, and delphinium.

Calendula and Munstead lavender.

Picture Perfect Peas

The long, cool, rainy stretch we had this June was just right for the peas, and now they are ready to harvest. This week I picked the first round of pods:

The photo really isn't doing justice to the gorgeous green color that these are in real life. These beautiful, long pods are all "Penelope" peas that we got from Johnny's. They are plump and sweet, and just about every pod is perfectly filled:

We've never had such beautiful peas. The big pods contain big peas, and that goes a lot farther than harvests of smaller peas we've had in the past:

It's hard to tell in the picture, but this is a full serving bowl of peas — enough for probably eight people to have a big scoop at dinner. That's a lot, considering that it represents only a small portion of the pods still waiting to be picked (I was interrupted in my harvesting by lightning and will have to gather the rest another afternoon).

After blanching and freezing those peas for storage, it looks to be a…

Freezing Eggs

Now that we are well into our longest days of the year, the chickens are laying a lot. We are getting three or four eggs each day, which adds up to about two dozen per week.
That's about twice as many as we can typically eat.
But it turns out that you can freeze eggs pretty easily, and that's what we've started to do:

The easiest way is to break the yolks and stir several eggs together (without whipping air into them). We do about six at a time into a liquid measuring cup, and stir in a big pinch of salt (which is supposed to help keep the yolks from getting to jelly-like once they are frozen). Then we just pour the eggs into the cups of an ice cube tray and pop into the freezer.
The only tricky part is not slopping the egg over the sides of the cups. No matter how slowly you pour, inevitably a blob of egg white will plop into the cup and make it overflow into its neighbors. Not too big of a deal.
I also found it a little challenging to twist the ice cube tray to pop them…

Flower Friday: June 21, 2013

Happy summer solstice! The flowers in these bouquets have definitely rounded the corner from spring to summer as well. Fewer formal garden bulbs, more free-form wildflower types.

Poppy, salvia, and yarrow.



Delphinium, lilies, blanket flower, and rose "Golden Celebration."

Salvia, blanket flower, and yarrow.

Salvia, lilies, delphinium, and yarrow.

Foxglove and lupine.

Herbal Apothecary: Making Rosewater

This year our rosa mundi rosebushes are starting to fill in nicely and have come into bloom now that we've finally had a little warm sun:

They smell wonderful, and look great, so I am somewhat ambivalent about the next step:

Yesterday morning I picked al the petals off of all the open flowers to use them to distill some rosewater. I collected this bowlful, but there look to be many more flowers waiting in the wings, so I am hoping to repeat this process once or twice more this spring.
Once the petals are gathered, I put a brick in our tall stock pot, and filled the space around it with the rose petals: 

Then I covered the petals with enough water to reach the top of the brick (they float, so I had to push them under as much as possible).  A small glass bowl sits on top of the brick to catch the rosewater: 

The idea here is that when the heat is turned up and the water with the rose petals starts to boil, the essence of the roses rises with the steam. To collect the vapor, add the…

A Day's Harvest: Dinner and Dessert

What a gorgeous day to be in the sunshine, picking veggies and fruit for dinner! Thanks to my car being in the shop, I had a preview of summer vacation today, and it was lovely. As are the pickings:

Today I brought in strawberries, peas (unshelled in the photo), asparagus, a few snap peas, and broccoli. 
To these items Kirk added some fresh pasta and a creamy Parmesan sauce:

A delicious pasta primavera!

Minus the strawberries, of course. These we snacked on during the afternoon, and the kids polished the rest off for dessert. Maybe next time I can hide some to save for more strawberry ice cream.

Predator Protection Trial and Error

This spring we tried a few new things to keep our crops safe from animals and insects that would like to swipe more than their fair share. One promising idea was using plastic fruit containers to keep squirrels away from our ripening tree fruits. But after all of our blustery days of downpours this month, most of those containers ended up on the ground:

I wouldn't mind just snapping them back in place, but the real problem is that they often brought the fruit down with them. I'm not sure if this is a flaw in the system overall, or more of an issue with apricots being kind of delicate in hanging on the tree (at least, this has been true for us — it's not the first time we've accidentally knocked one off the branch before it was ripe). 

Alas, the only one we have left on the tree is this one that never made it into a container in the first place. I thought about removing the remaining containers last weekend, but decided to ride out the experiment instead. 
It cou…

The Grape Trellis

The grape trellis is finally finished, and the vines have been trained and pruned. Things are finally taking shape:

We're training the vines in a pretty classic style to have a central leader with arms trailing out along the trellis on either side (known as a 6-arm kniffin). You can see here that this vine only just reaches to the top of the second rung this year, but in the future it should have three arms on each side fanning out from the center. (You can also see that we attached a new rain gauge to one of the posts — it has gotten a workout recently!)

The posts of the trellis are 4x4 pressure treated (sorry, but cedar was like five times as expensive, and we like to pay the mortgage regularly) posts. They are 8-foot posts, three feet of which are sunk into the ground. Kirk dug a 40 inch hole and backfilled it with six inches of stone for a base, leaving five foot posts. Then he repeated that step eleven more times. That’s lots of digging, and I didn't help with any of it.…

Flower Friday: June 14, 2013

When it rains every day, it's hard to get out to bring in flowers — way too messy when they are dripping wet. Only two new arrangements this week, even though there are lots of flowers in bloom outside.

Foxglove and peonies.

Delphinium, valerian, globeflower, yarrow, and columbine.

Our Trendy Garden

I suppose it's trendy to have a garden and chickens at all, to be eating locally, and blah blah blah. But we're soooo (inadvertently) much cooler than just that. I present to you our ombre potato boxes:

Because ombre is everywhere. Fingernails, fabric, dubious hair dyeing, and even more dubious home decor. Oh, and apparently dessert.
Not to be outdone, here's a closer look at our accidentally awesome (if you care about that that sort of thing) potato boxes:

Our ombre effect is achieved with pine boards of varying ages. The very bottom two are taken from old fencing pieces (or maybe pallets? I don't even know any more, that's how old and multiply-repurposed they are). The piece second from the top is new pine, but was added to the box a few weeks ago. It has turned golden in the sun. The top piece is newest of all, and was just tacked onto the box. 
Over time these will all fade to the same old color, as I imagine the ombre trend in general will do. But for this on…

No Buying Veggies Challenge Update

Yesterday I walked through the garden and realized that we have more to harvest now than just salad greens and rhubarb. Those things are great and all, but look what I found:

Chamomile flowers are ready be picked. These should last all summer long, and eventually I should have another nice, big jar of them to use for tea and some cosmetic purposes.

Our first few strawberries are just another sunny day away from being ready to eat. This one is a little pink on the bottom, and still a little too firm — but we're close to having fruit!

I am most excited of all that some of our peas are ready. The ones here in the photo are a couple days away from being ready to pick — the pods are are still flat on one end. I was able to pick a bowl full of fully ripe pea pods, though, which I shelled. They made a nice, surprise addition to dinner:

Kirk made a curry with Swiss chard, chicken, and the peas. There is also cilantro on top — another herb that's big enough to harvest now! All those f…

The June Perennial Border

Tropical Storm Andrea dumped a ton of rain on us last Friday, which did a number on the perennial border. I expected this: Peonies are gorgeous, but they don't do well in the rain. In general, the white flower garden requires more fastidious deadheading, because white petals turn to brown in a blink. 
Knowing that the rains would clobber a lot of our spring blooms, I made sure to snap some photos before the rain. Early June is one of my favorite moments in this garden:

Here you can see that some giant white peonies are already flopping over. I have them in a hoop, but I don't think it's a tall enough one to handle the weight of these flowers. You can also see red climbing roses poking up above the peonies and small white geraniums. These need to be trellised, and should eventually fan up the side of the window.

On the corner of the border you can see another rose bush trying to climb without a trellis. When we build one, it will go up the corner of the house. Also in view…

Flower Friday: June 7, 2013

Lots of peonies this week! It's that time of year, but I also did a rescue operation on a bunch of them. They look great now, but it's supposed to dump a good 3-4 inches of rain here tomorrow afternoon, and that will pretty much destroy all those layers of petals.
There are also lots of dusty pinks and muted sunset tones, which shows more of the color scheme I was working in the cutting bed plants.

Poppies and globeflower "New Moon."

Same poppies and globeflower as above, but the bigger poppy has lost its petals. The pistil and stamen are so interesting with its purple pollen that I think it actually improves the arrangement.

Pink irises.

Siberian iris.  (I swiped these are from the perennial border.)

Pink iris, strawberry foxglove, columbine, and globeflower.  (This iris is the one that was still open a few days after I cut the original stem in the photo above. I am hoping the foxglove continues to open up the stem so the color "travels" a bit higher.)