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!