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Showing posts from August, 2016

Yellow Jacket Attack!

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Last weekend I was watering the garden (the drought continues) when I noticed a few small bees flying about. That’s not terribly unusual near the fruit, and since I am fairly comfortable around bees now, I didn’t pay it much mind.  
Big mistake.

It turns out that there’s a nest of yellow jackets in the blueberry bed, which you can see above. I watered the blueberries first, then stepped over the nest (an error I realize now, but obviously not at the time) to water the raspberries. 
And that’s when the yellow jackets decided to attack.
I got stung and backed away, but one got up under my shirt. And kept stinging. 
I did manage to get inside the house before tearing my shirt off (you’re welcome, neighbors!), and pretty much dashed upstairs for immediate Benadryl. 
Meanwhile, Kirk shook out my shirt inside, which released that angry yellow jacket and terrified the children. He managed to shoo it out the door without further incident.
So six stings later I wasn’t feeling so great. I’m no…

The Himrod Harvest

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We’re missing a lot of big-ticket fruits and veggies in the garden this year: no peaches, nectarines or pears, thanks to pests last year and a badly-timed cold snap in late February. No cucumbers or green beans, thanks to a voracious (but since removed) groundhog. And everything is suffering from the drought, which is still a major player in the 2016 garden. 
Despite the issues, our grapes are doing relatively well, since they tend to prefer drier conditions (not this dry, of course, but they’re holding up). We have two vines each of four different varieties, and Himrod is the first to ripen:  

Himrod is a white grape bred to do well in the Fingerlakes region, so it makes sense for our northern garden. It’s sweet with a musky-tart skin, and it’s a variety made for eating, not winemaking. Ours are seedless.
Because they ripen so early — and because all our grapes are green at this point — we haven’t timed the harvest properly in the past, and the birds got a lot of our white grapes. T…

Heirloom Tomato Tasting

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It’s been slow going for our tomato plants this year. The cold, cloudy spring and dry summer have basically put our plants on pause. Still, they are growing — albeit at a glacial pace — and producing. They’re just several weeks behind schedule.
When we lost most of our vining tomato seedlings, we replaced them with transplants. To cheer ourselves up, we took advantage of the opportunity to sample several new-to-us varieties. Here’s our first basket:

Not pictured: our Amish paste and Paisano tomatoes, which are all still green on the vine. We also planted a new variety called “Mexico,” but the one reddish one wasn’t quite ready to be picked yet. Below is one of everything except Early Girl (the small red one in the 10 o’clock position above), which is a perfectly okay tomato if you like the grocery store kind.

Above we have the more interesting ones for tasting. Top row, from the left: Black Krim, Rose, Red Brandywine. Bottom row: Yellow Pear, Sungold, Green Zebra.
Kirk and I sliced t…

Edible Souvenirs

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Back in mid-July we went on vacation. (With such a big garden and several animals, the likelihood of me ever making that statement again seems slim — we really should save our vacationing for the off-season.) We drove all over Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, and it was great. 
When we travel, we’re not super into souvenirs, though we do tend to pick up some edible ones. This time we bought prickly pear syrup with the intention of making our own prickly pear ice cream (we had some in Prescott, AZ, and it was really good!) and some Southwesternized gin and tonic concoctions. But alas! We forgot about the liquid rule and it got confiscated at the airport (very nicely,  I should add, considering I also left my phone in my pocket and we were generally completely brain dead after 12 days in the desert).
What did make it home was a package of stoneground blue corn meal and Hopi tea that we bought at the Hopi Cultural Center from the couple who harvested and dried them. We haven’t used them yet, …