Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sunrise, Sunset



I fell off the blogging wagon.  Actually, the garden got neglected as well.  It began with shopping for shoes.  
 Then school uniforms.  Pencils, crayons, paints & paper.  Socks.  A thermos.  Last chance visits to the zoo
and trips to the park.  Chasing the toddler who's really a runner.  Then the morning rush out the door, tending to the needs of the little ones at home, busy afternoons of homework and cooking.  It was an accomplishment just to bring in some chives to throw in with the rice.

I didn't harvest the basil.  I didn't bring in the green tomatoes before the first frost.  The last of the green beans are just turning into compost right where they grew.  

We did get some zucchini, eventually, and used most of it.  We kept the strawberries picked and even have a few bags in the freezer.  I dug one out yesterday and made a smoothie.  We do have several bags of frozen raspberries, waiting for me to decide to make some pie.  

Next spring, we will try again.  Next summer, I will try to harvest better.  The kids are begging for pesto pasta and I am so regretful that I didn't process that basil into bags of frozen pesto.  

In the meantime, we are so blessed to live in view of a great mountain that gives us spectacular shows more often than not, especially on our coldest days.  Both of my Mount Rainier pictures were from yesterday, December 11.   Now about paying off that neighbor to trim back their tree....

Monday, July 15, 2013

Green Beans are Here

Today, I picked our first green beans for the season.  I brought in my pickings and decided, out of curiosity, to weigh them.  I got one pound, 1 ounce of beans today!  Quite a big bowl for our family.  I will be hard at work every day for a while now, keeping the garden beans picked as they get ready.   Remind me next year to grow only pole beans.  I'd rather pick beans standing up than crouched down on the ground!

We are still waiting on our first zucchini.  A couple had promise, but they died off before they grew big enough to harvest.  I think we might have one ready in a couple of days.  

We have picked 7 little red tomatoes so far, from the Northern Delight and Glacier plants.  Oh, and one from the Sweet Million Cherry.  We really enjoyed fresh tomato slices in sandwiches today.  They are so sweet and juicy, but little at about 2 inches diameter.  I have learned to grow small tomatoes in our climate.  They ripen up faster and more reliably.  No pictures yet.  We just eat them too fast.  The Stupice tomatoes might be my "big" tomatoes this year.  They keep growing and are still all green.  It will be fun to see how big they do end up getting and we still have plenty of time this summer. 

We are keeping the raspberries picked, plucking them off when they are just a bit under-ripe.  I wash and drain them, spread them on a towel to dry, then freeze them on a tray.  Once frozen, I bag them up and put them back in the freezer.  Once I have enough, I plan to make a raspberry pie.  (Yes, it takes a while when your berry patch is as small as mine!)  I am keeping them frozen in case that fruit fly has already laid eggs in them.  At least by freezing them, I keep any potential creatures from further developing in the berries.  There will be some sugar in the pie to make up for the tartness of the slightly under-ripe berries. One way to save the harvest.   I'm also still letting the kids pick whatever they want to snack on while they are playing in the yard.

I guess that's it in my garden for today!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Not to Brag, but...

We will have tomatoes in July!

We had a few hot days and a lot of warm weather, which I predict will give us our earliest tomatoes since I started gardening.  If all goes well, these should be ready soon!
Northern Delight Tomatoes

Glacier Tomatoes

Sweet Million Cherry Tomatoes

Blue Lake Bush Bean Plants
 The bush beans have a lot of blossoms so we're hoping for a good harvest of beans soon.  The scarlet runner beans have already grown taller than their cages.  They really should be grown on poles or a taller fence, but the 4-foot cages are what I had at the time.

Scarlet Runner Bean Plants

Vegetable Garden View

Another Garden View

Sweet Million Tomato plant is almost 4 feet tall

The peas are totally done for the year.  The hot weather did them in, but in exchange, we have blossoms on the cucumbers and zucchini, as well as plentiful tomatoes.  I should pull out the pea plants and put in some lettuce for the summer.  Once those tomatoes are ripe, it would be nice to have fresh "home-picked" lettuce to make some great summer salads. 

We are still getting a few strawberries each day as well as raspberries.  The raspberries are looking OK so far, just a little damage from the stink bugs.  I encourage the kids to eat whatever raspberries they can find as soon as they ripen, and so far we've been able to keep up and avoid fruit fly damage. 

Yesterday, I harvested some savory with preschooler's help.  We dried it for about 18 hours at about 100 degrees in the Nesco food dehydrator until the leaves were crispy.  Husband peeled the dry leaves off for me and put them in a zipper bag for storage.  Now the goal is to remember to use the savory.   We should dry the oregano next. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Land of the Giant Strawberries

Giant Strawberries Held by Eldest Child

Wow!  These strawberries are huge!  One of them (on left) even looked like a double berry.   I believe these are the new Totem strawberries I planted this spring, but one or two could be Hoods.  For some reason, a few of them decided to be giants.  The majority of the berries were regular sized.  We have been watching these grow out there in the patch.  I let them sit on the plants for one more night last night, just hoping the bugs or slugs wouldn't get to them as they finished ripening.  First thing this morning, we went on a strawberry hunt and I picked these giants.  Not a blemish.

The lesson to this story is:  Don't pick off all the blossoms the first year you plant strawberries!  Why does all the information out there about berries tell you to pick off all the blossoms the first year???  I get that you want the plants to get nice and strong.  I did pick off the first several blossoms for each plant, but after that, the plants were so large and healthy, I thought they could surely stand to produce some fruit, so I left the rest of the blossoms.   I must have gotten them planted early enough in the spring to grow fruit the first year.  So fun to still be picking strawberries after the Seascapes have slowed down for the summer. 

In other news, last weekend I did go buy a half flat of raspberries and put up 4 pints of  raspberry freezer jam.  I also bought a half pint of strawberries for another batch of freezer jam.  I liked the first batch made a couple weeks ago so much, I knew we needed more.  I used the low/no sugar pectin to make lower-sugar jam as the amount of sugar called for in jam with regular pectin just seems overkill to me.  It is fun to let the kids eat the berries we grow, without too much rationing, so I've decided to buy what we need for processing and enjoy our fresh berries just to eat. 

While at the farmer's market, I saw they had tomato and pepper plants on sale for the season.  I could not resist!  Picked up a Hungarian Yellow Wax pepper and an Early Girl Tomato.  Got them planted tonight.  The pepper is in a large pot on the patio and the tomato is tucked under the eaves on the south facing side of the house in my "Tomato Alley".  The tomatoes I ordered from Territorial have been growing like crazy and we have bunches of green tomatoes already.  Will update with pictures soon. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Raspberry of 2013

We have been watching this raspberry grow.  It was the first blossom on the plant and the blossom I posted earlier.  We watched it start to turn yellow, then pink, and finally today that raspberry red.   I was out in the yard with all three kids.  Baby-now Toddler, had already finished off what was left in the strawberry patches and was wandering the yard looking for more red to eat.  I stepped away from him for just a moment to check out the raspberries.  Upon discovering this one looking ready to eat, I called all the kids over for a look.  I had my eldest "test" the berry by gently tugging to see if it would release easily or not.  She plucked it off the bush and handed it to me.  I pulled it easily into four equal pieces and we all shared that first raspberry.  Toddler immediately began making the sign for "more".  I don't know, it was still a bit tart for me but the kids exclaimed that it was great!   Toddler kept looking around for more and hovered by the snapdragons growing nearby.  I think he thought the red blossoms were more fruit! 

These raspberries, I must admit, have been causing me much stress.  What with worrying about the impending arrival of the spotted winged drosophila fruit fly and frequent sightings of green stink bugs, I am having a hard time enjoying growing these berries.   I have had to remind myself that this is simply a hobby.  This garden has nothing to do with my livelihood.  I can easily pop down to the farmers market, buy a flat of berries, make some freezer jam, and be done with it.

But oh, how excited I was to grow my own.  Before the SWD fruit fly.  My current plan is to simply pick the berries just before they are ripe.  The idea is that the fly lays its eggs on ripening fruit, so if you pick the fruit and eat or process it right away, before it is fully ripe, you won't see the larvae.  Sure there might be eggs in the fruit, but you won't notice them.  Let the fruit sit or ripen up for a few days and you start to see those tiny worms.  Maybe that's why the farmer's market and supermarket berries are always a little under-ripe, aside from making them easier to transport.  I guess this will be OK.  The kids don't mind them tart and they will be fine for cooking with. 

As for the stink bugs, I guess they just suck on the fruit.  Fine, as long as they aren't leaving larvae behind, I will try to keep them off my mind.  But I have considered going out there with our electric bug zapper/swatter and frying a few of them.  Husband reminded me that might singe the plants so I'll have to be careful.  I'm certainly not going to spray pesticides, as I have bees and ladybugs hard at work out there.  And I guess you don't want to squash stink bugs for fear of the smell. 

But again, before I get too worked up about it, remember it is just a hobby.  Pests are part of the deal. 

An awesome part about gardening with the kids is showing them how to really be human.  It is so human to plant a garden, harvest, to know what each plant can be used for.   Just today, my eldest noticed the chamomile flowers in full bloom and exclaimed that is must be time to pick the chamomile and make tea.  She harvested her little pile and this evening, after dinner, I showed her to pluck the blossoms off and fill the tea strainer.  I showed her how to hook the strainer over the glass and brew the tea in hot water.  She enjoyed her own tea with honey, shared with preschooler.   I just feel such a connection to generations past when doing these simple traditional things with my kids. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

We Have Peas

The snow peas have arrived.  I was wandering around the garden on Sunday and was surprised to see some past-ready to pick peas already!  I quickly grabbed a bucket and picked as many as I could see.  More on Monday and more today.  I was out playing with the kids and preschooler complained of hunger, so I handed him some peas.  It is really convenient to have snacks available in the yard. 

Tonight, for dinner, we had turkey enchiladas with some garden fresh cilantro and parsley mixed in.  Along with a freshly picked lettuce salad topped with garden fresh snow peas.  My late night snack was freshly picked strawberries (picked after putting all the kids to bed....yes, I love the long days!) mixed with vanilla yogurt.

One of the cucumber plants has a blossom.  I have several tomatoes growing.  Glacier tomatoes are looking very well.  The yellow crookneck squash plants are really waking up and the beans are still growing.   A few raspberries are getting a yellow tinge, which means ripening to red isn't far away.  Everyone is looking forward to the longest day!  

Friday, June 14, 2013

June Gardening

It is mid-June and we have nearly reached my favorite day of the year:  The Longest Day!  With the long days, everything (sometimes I refer to them as "everyone") in the garden is growing quickly.  I have spotted some pods forming on the shelling peas and the red-runner beans have sprouted and are growing at lightening speed.   We've had plenty lettuce for super-fresh salads and I finally pulled out the leeks and extra chives.

Today I went out with some copper soap spray and treated my tomato plants.  I noticed a bunch of black spots on the Northern Delight plant and I'm so worried it might be early blight.  I am really hoping the spray wasn't too late.  The Glacier had a few black specks as well but the other plants look fine.  So now we will be on a once a week regimen of copper spray for the tomatoes.  It is WAY to early in the season to put up with sick plants, so if Northern Delight doesn't appear to recover, I will just run down to Carpenito's and pick up an Early Girl to replace it with.

I also planted two new Basil plants I picked up at Carpenito's yesterday when we went in to buy a whole flat of strawberries.  The kids keep my berries well picked, and I can't complain since they are eating their fruit.  It just doesn't leave me with much to work with.  So I used the flat of berries to put up 8 pints of freezer jam and three freezer bags of whole berries (to use in smoothies).  We still have some extras to make strawberry shortcake tonight.  I will have to update with what I use to make gluten free shortcake, but I have yet to figure that out.

Also today, working quickly as any mother can imagine as nap-time was nearing its end, I spread some compost between a few stepping stones to prep the areas to plant more lettuce and cilantro.  The self-seeded cilantro is starting to "bolt" but I happily harvested much of it for the freezer a week back.   My gardening must be done in small starts and fits but I do find that if I use those few minutes here and there, things do take shape.   For example, yesterday, during baby's nap, the older kids were quietly making a huge mess in the basement and I took the moment to sneak out front and pull out most of the past-bloom bluebells as well as some chrysanthemum weed.  The nice thing about the mess is, it takes them a while to clean it up, so while they cleaned later on, I prepped for making jam.

So, lots going on in the garden and home!  Time for me to look into making that shortcake. 

Shortcake update:  The recipe I used to make shortcake on Friday wasn't good enough that I want to share it with you.  However, in the past, I have used Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Bisquick and followed the biscuit recipe on the box, with a touch of sugar added.  I make them with regular Smart Balance instead of butter.  The GF Bisquick shortcakes are very good!   

Monday, May 27, 2013

Berry Blossoms and Fruit

Cascade Raspberry Blossom
 It's been a little rainy around here, but we've been getting some breaks.  I took advantage of a few dry minutes to get pictures of our berry blossoms. 

Draper Blueberry Blossoms

Seascape Strawberry Ripening
 Not quite June, and we have a red strawberry already!  As soon as I saw this berry showing some color, I dug out the bird net and netted that patch!  (And sprinkled child/pet-safe slug bait).  I know the resident robin family would love to snack on this berry.  I think I'll let the kids split it tomorrow.  There are several more showing some red out there.  Preschooler has been begging for strawberry pie.  Just another week or so and I hope to make one!

Seascape Strawberry Patch by the House

Self-Seeded Cilantro Patch in the Garden

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bucket O Greens

I planted the lettuce seeds on March 31st, and by May 17th, we had our first picking!  I actually picked enough lettuce for two dinners worth of salad for the family.  So, it took a month and a half from planting to harvest.  Not bad.  Eldest child calls it, "Home picked lettuce."

Bucket O Greens

Lettuce row growing between the pea cages

I also found a patch of cilantro which was self-seeded from last summer's plants.  It is interesting that I have found cilantro very hard to grow in the past, but this little area that planted itself looks wonderful.  I guess I have learned to let cilantro pick it's own place and time to grow.  That is the main reason I don't till my garden each year.  I weed the garden mostly by hand in the spring and a bit with the hoe, but I look around to see if anything desirable has started growing first.  If I hadn't been paying attention, I would have dug up all those cilantro seedlings and not have any to eat now.  I added a handful of chopped cilantro, garlic chives and regular chives to our lettuce salad.

The day before our lettuce picking, we harvested the rest of last year's Swiss chard and had enough to make two of our gluten free impossible quiches.  I added some leftover cooked, chopped sausage to the quiche as well as some freshly picked chives and three spears of asparagus.  We had the first quiche on Thursday and have one left for tonight, which we will enjoy with the rest of yesterday's lettuce! 

Our peas, also planted on March 31, are coming up pretty well but they still have a ways to go before there will be anything to eat.  My folks down in Oregon have been eating peas and strawberries from their garden for a couple of weeks now.  They are always ahead of us! 

I have yet to cut down all the excess chives.  They are so pretty right now I hate to do it. 

Chives with Calendula flowers

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wildflowers: Field Trip to Susan Creek Falls

On May 9th, I was happy to have the opportunity to visit Susan Creek Falls in Oregon with my family.  We were blessed with the presence of wildflowers along the easy trail.   I am not sure what they are, but if you can help me identify them, please do.   Looking at the details of these purple flowers remind me of just how creative our Creator is. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mail Order Gardening

In the past, when I had fewer children and wasn't officially homeschooling, I started my entire garden from seeds.  I had flats of tomatoes and peppers, yogurt cups with pansy and snapdragon starts.  I spent hours up-potting the starts and my basement living area with the big picture window looked like a messy greenhouse.  I passed out the extra starts to friends and packed some up to deliver to family in Oregon.  Trips down south saw the cup holders in my vehicle filled with baby tomato and viola plants. 

O.K., I am so over growing everything from scratch.  For the second year in a row, I ordered my tomato and pepper plants from Territorial.  I feel a little bad.  Like I am cheating.  But also relieved.  The plants seemed to have magically appeared.  Handed to me by the friendly Fed-Ex driver. 

But why do I need to order them?  Can't I just get them from a local store or nursery?  It turns out it's not that simple.  The garden stores near me do not sell the varieties that I want to grow.  For some reason, they are still stocking the full size long season beefsteak tomatoes, which I know have little chance of ripening in our chilly summer nights.  They may offer some cherry tomatoes, but only indeterminate varieties, which is fine but too many of those would overtake my small space.  They do offer Oregon Spring, but I'd like a little more variety to choose from. Or they offer the hot peppers, which I do not want to eat, or full size, which would take a lot of care to get to ripen before summer's end.  So I spend some late winter days deciding which varieties from Territorial I want to try for the year.  This year, I ordered one each of the following:
Glacier Tomato
Northern Delight Tomato
Stupice Tomato
Sweet Million Cherry Tomato
Golden Honey Bunch Grape Tomato

Miniature Red Pepper

Once out of the box, the plants are a bit wilted and look sad.

So I place them in the sun, give them water, and wait.
I have since potted these new plants in larger containers with potting soil and a bit of Whitney Farms Tomato & Vegetable fertilizer.  They are downstairs near that big picture window.  It's a neat and tidy greenhouse this year.  I'm sure they will be staying inside through May, though I will put them out on mild days to begin hardening them off for their eventual transplant to the great outdoors. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Drying Chives

As I have mentioned previously, I have an abundance of chives growing out in the vegetable garden.  I have, apparently, over-planted!  With a surprisingly dry afternoon, a baby napping, and one child at the hardware store with husband, I found an opportunity to begin to harvest the chives.

I began mostly to give the asparagus some breathing room, as the chives have been encroaching on their space.  Once I had a healthy pile of pulled plants, I decided I could not just let them go to waste.  With baby awake from nap, I had to return to duty.  But later this afternoon, husband took a break from his project in the garage to relieve me from baby care.  I snuck off to the kitchen and began rinsing and trimming the chives.  Brought up the food dryer.  At this time, eldest child found me and asked to help.  In a few minutes time, we had the chives clean, trimmed and in the dryer.  All four layers are full!  I trimmed off the tough areas that grow close to the ground and cut just so the stems fit in the dryer.  I plan to chop them up after they dry.  I was afraid that if I chopped them up before drying them, they would begin to just fly around in the dryer.  So now, at 95 degrees F in my Nesco food dehydrater, the chives are drying.  Out on the veranda, to keep the house from smelling like onions.   The drying guide says it should take 20-24 hours to get them dry. 

If the drying works out, I may package some up to pass out around Christmas time.   There are so many more huge bunches of chives out in that garden to deal with!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Recipe: Gluten-Free Impossible Quiche

You don't have to make the crust for this one.  While not quite the same as a quiche with a crust, this is very good and you can just mix it up and pop it in the oven.  Go pull some weeds while it bakes.

1 3/4 cups evaporated (canned) fat free milk
2/3 cup brown rice flour or gluten free baking mix
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp oil (canola)

About 2 cups of chopped vegetables.  I like to use any of the following: bell peppers, onions, broccoli, spinach (blanched), kale, Swiss chard (blanched), asparagus, tomato.  Whatever is available and liked by you.
About 1/2 cup sliced ham, optional.
1/2 cup shredded cheese, whatever you like.  Sometimes I use feta crumbles. 
Chopped chives for topping.

Set oven to 350
Spray a 9 inch pie dish with oil.  Place desired vegetables and ham in bottom of the dish.
Mix the first 7 ingredients in a mixing bowl with a whisk until well blended.  Pour mixture over the vegetables and ham.  Sprinkle the mixture with cheese, if desired.  Bake 50-60 minutes, uncovered, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Sprinkle with chives.  Let it cool a bit before eating.  I like it with a slice of gluten-free toast and a green salad if you want to get fancy.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

We Planted Some Seeds

Last weekend was so warm and dry, I moved up my planting date by one week.  On Saturday, the two kids and I prepped the garden area with a fresh sprinkling of fertilizer and a good cover of compost.  With the two little helpers, I planted three square feet of loose leaf lettuce, 6 square cages worth of peas (shelling and snow), and three short rows of Swiss chard.  Our Easter lunch was our "impossible" gluten free quiche with ham, a bunch of freshly picked Swiss chard and two asparagus spears, right from our garden.

Last night was pretty exciting around here.  We found 5 asparagus spears ready to harvest.  One for each of us!  OK, so we made baby share his.  I sauteed the spears in peanut oil with a bit of salt, then added a sprinkle of brown sugar and cooked them until nice and caramelized.  The candied asparagus went over well with kids and adults alike.  The asparagus was a side to our basil pesto pasta with chicken, peas and broccoli.  The pesto was from the frozen basil cubes husband and I made last summer.

We will wait a while before planting any of the summer vegetables, but we do hope to see some lettuce or peas popping up soon.  There are several more asparagus spears growing out there.  I think I will start a tally to record exactly how much asparagus we can get this year.  Nine so far!

Friday, March 29, 2013

I Had Asparagus Last Night

Last night, there was still enough light after dinner to send the children outside to play.  After putting the baby down to bed, I had some time to play too.  I assigned the children to pulling weeds as I went about surveying the growth of the asparagus.  I found two spears tall enough to cut.  After getting the older two into bed, I set about stir frying my two lovely asparagus spears.  I remember when I first put the roots in the garden, I was questioning myself if I really wanted to plant something that would take so long to see results from.  The answer is, I am so glad I did. 

We have some new alpine strawberries scattered around the original strawberry patch.  They don't make all that much fruit, but what they do make, they spread throughout the spring, summer and fall.   I don't mind the kids picking whatever they want from the alpine strawberries.  I remember when preschooler was not yet two, he would go about the yard, saying, "zezez."  His way of saying strawberries.  It breaks a mother's heart that he now says, "strawberries."
I had the hardest time getting chives to start in my garden.  I think it took a few years before I could get any seeds to sprout, and even then the plants looked to tiny and useless.  Now they are abundant and I need to start thinning them out to make room for something else.  Unless I want to get a table at the farmer's market.  "Get your chives here folks!"

We harvested our over-wintered kale!  I steamed it, which may have not been the best way to go.  The kids didn't like it.  I forgot the soy sauce.  But we ate it up anyway.

The Swiss Chard is taking off again.  Lots of new growth.  It's going to go into my Easter quiche on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy to Harvest!

What a joy to harvest an entire side dish right from my own little garden, in March!  Beets, pulled from the garden in the afternoon and roasted for the evening meal.   I planted these beets last summer and they had been sitting in the garden all winter.   Also, one shallot!
 How I roasted the beets:
I peeled them, cut off the leaves, and cut the larger ones into little chunks about the size of the smallest beets.  Then I got out a little ramekin and poured in about a Tablespoon of Colavita Balsamic Vinegar and maybe a teaspoon of canola oil.  Then a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper.  I whisked that up with a fork and then drizzled it on the beets and tossed it all together.  I had the oven preheated to 425 F and placed the seasoned beets in my little casserole dish.  I think it took about 45 minutes for them to finish.  I started checking them after about 25 minutes, poking them with a fork to know when they got tender, but it does take a while to roast beets.  Pretty yummy!

So, what drew me out to the garden yesterday?

I wasn't planning on harvesting anything.  This past weekend, I stopped in at the grocery store with preschooler for some last minute items and was lured by the June strawberry starts they had on sale.  Yes, how terrible to buy my plants at the grocery.  But I had the fleeting chance to be out among civilization and who knows the next time I could make it to the store without one baby strapped to me in a front pack and two hyper children pulling at the cart.  So, I bought the plants then and there.  Six Totem and five Hood starts.  It should have been six Hoods also but I was in such a hurry, I failed to notice that one cell was empty.  Oh well. 

So, the hyper children "helped" me hoe, spread compost and fertilizer, and finally plant the new strawberry starts.  Baby woke up from nap halfway through the process, causing me to dash out to the van for the stroller so I could strap him in and let him watch us finish our gardening before the rain started up. It was in the midst of preparing the strawberry plot that I noticed the beets, and in an effort to clear some space, I popped them out. 

Strawberries are in.  Beets are (mostly) out.  Compost bags are used up.  It's going to get busy around here. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter's End

 Our sweet little crocus flowers are in full bloom now, tucked into the edges of the back yard where the children can discover them while at play. 
 The Witch Hazel tree along the back fence is also blooming and gives us a reason to head out on these cold days, across the lawn to smell it's strange yellow flowers. 
 I love this little row of crocuses out in front of the miniature daffodils I planted a few years back.  It is such a joy as a new gardener to see these multiply a bit more each year. 
 Preschooler convinced me to photograph his favorite plants in our yard, which happen to be toadstools growing among the moss.  Actually, most of our back yard is moss at the moment.  Something that doesn't bother us in the least.  It gives the kids a cushion when they fall.  Which happens.  A lot. 

Asparagus is growing, giving me a reason to get out there with some slug bait, and soon!  The asparagus is such a magical gift.  From a little bare spot in the garden, a delicious food suddenly appears.  No inedible leaves, no extra bits.  Just pure food, rising up out of the soil.  The whole family loves it, much to my surprise.  The children will actually ask for more!

So that is today in my garden.  

I am currently contemplating buying fresh strawberry plants, maybe a June bearer so we can get in a full harvest before that terrible new fruit fly wakes up for the summer and starts ruining our berries. 

Two years ago, I planted raspberry plants and last year was our first year to harvest.  Then that terrible fruit fly spotted wing drosophila attacked ruined my dreams of fully ripe raspberries being harvested from our garden.  We had a few good pickings before we discovered the larva in the berries.  I kept the news from the kids and let them continue picking at will when they were in the yard, but I stopped picking berries for our table.   

So now I wonder, do I just cut out the raspberries and grow beans there instead?   Do I give it another try and hope our freezes a few months ago took out the population of flies enough to give us a reasonable picking?   And so, that I why I am for the first time considering June bearing strawberries.  They would ripen before the spotted wing drosophila really woke up for the summer, as they like to breed at higher temperatures than we typically get in June.  We wouldn't have the fun of such an extended harvest, but we would have a better chance at unblemished fruit (I did find a few "larva" in our late summer strawberries last summer), and we could freeze or make jam with the extras.   Whatever I decide, it is always fun to study those seed and plant catalogs when it's still below 50 outside. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What's Growing in January?

 So, today is January 1, 2013.  What could there be growing out in the garden?  What is ready to harvest?  More than one might think.  But bundle up and harvest quickly because the weather outside is chilly.  A quick peek and I found some beets ready for digging, tucked among our plentiful parsley.  I've found that beets keep fine in the garden until the weather warms up and they start to bolt (go to seed).  Once that happens, they start to get woody inside and not so good for eating.

This kale plant is not phased one bit by any of the low temperatures it has faced so far.  What I find more interesting is that this particular plant is over a year old.  I chopped it down last spring to harvest, but left the roots in the ground.  It sprouted back to life from the old roots!

 Swiss chard.  I planted it because it's said to be a good cold weather crop.  But then I just watched the plants grow for a while, unsure of how to eat it!  Finally I got brave and harvested some for eating. 

 I blanched the leaves in boiling water for about two minutes, until they shrank down.  Then I put them under cold water and drained them.  Next I chopped them up. I mixed up a batch of eggs for for crustless quiche (also known as impossible quiche) and poured it over the chard leaves with chopped ham, just like I would with any other veggy I put in quiche.  I topped it with feta cheese and baked it about an hour, and a new favorite was born in our house.   I'm the only real soup-eater in the family, otherwise soup would be an easy place to use chard.  The baby leaves are also great in salad. 

Can you believe this rose?  Picture taken December 30th, 2012.  No kidding.  Must be the south facing side of the house that keeps it going.  Gotta love that south side.  

Just me, curled up on the couch this cold first morning of 2013, with my cup of coffee and brand new Territorial Seed Catalog.  Getting perhaps a bit too inspired by their color photography and energetic descriptions.

Happy Winter Gardening!  Anything growing where you are?