Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
-Louisa May Alcott
It has been a while since I have posted. Life has a way of sneaking up on you and making the days advance so quickly, a month has past before you are really even aware. The daily routine of work, meals, household chores, and raising a child, blend and meld into a cohesive web of sameness. All of the sudden its been two months since I have written anything here. I have not been idle however, and I have not neglected my endeavors that are within the scope of this blog.
Firstly, let me start by saying that my chickens are jerks. Well, one of them is a jerk. Maven, the smart red star, has gotten into the garden a couple times. I have it fenced off with chicken wire, but she finds her way in, mostly from something being placed too close to the fence. The other hens will run around, trying to find a way in, pissed that they are left out of the buffet.
|She scratched up all the hay in between the rows!|
Too bad she didn't scratch up those weeds.
|And of all things, eats the crap outta my peppers!|
Maven is also careless. She trampled a few onions and some chard. There were droppings around I had to get rid of, lest they burn my veggies. Its hard to stay mad at her though, she comes running when called, is always friendly, and like the others, gives me eggs without fail. So I forgive them.
|Beautiful brown eggs from the red stars.|
The other day, Maya and I went to a U-pick strawberry field about 10 miles away from our house. There was no one else there except a zillion ripe strawberries. We picked for about an hour. Well, I picked, Maya ate them. Don't worry though. This field is organic, just not certified. Not all farmers can afford the cost of certification, but, like this farmer, value growing organically.
I love living up here. There is nowhere that I have lived before where people actually trust each other enough to leave a scale and a lock box to put your money in. This is not the first place I have encountered that employs such faith in the good in man, but, it is another addition to a list that is both restorative and inspiring.
We ended up with a haul of 17lbs of Hood Strawberries, which I promptly processed. I froze most of them, but did make some strawberry, and strawberry rhubarb jam. I was completely out of jam, so this was absolutely perfect timing. That was my first canning attempt this year. The strawberry jam I made with pectin, and the rhubarb I made with an older recipe that used a lot of lemon to set up. Interesting stuff. I love that it is easy to start and learn the basics, but there is a challenge in its mastery.
|This is what 17lbs of strawberries looks like|
The garden is progressing. Yesterday I found my first tomato! It is a Borghese, and my biggest plant. All my veggies seemed to have stalled out, but then I feed everything with epsom salts. Apparently, they just needed a little boost. Lesson for next year, amend more. A lot more.
My beans are finally starting to grow and climb. I built trellises for them using bamboo from my yard. Use what you got!
|Go beans go!|
|Dragon Wax Beans|
This is probably the thing I am most excited about. The ground cherries. I have never grown them before. I have never even tasted them before. Hell, I had never even heard of them before researching seeds for this season. Who could resist fruits in husks that keep for a month and taste like vanilla and pineapple? Not me. The picture below is four plants. I have 10 in the back garden, and another 10 in the front yard. These in the back yard are much bigger as I planted them first, and already have about 15-20 cherries. I am thinking ground cherry jam, pie, syrup, compote, crumble, ice cream, hmm, what else...
|Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry|
|A freaking ground cherry!|
All my trees are growing massive amounts of fruits. Well, all except the fig tree. It was pruned early spring and hardly has any fruit at all. It has grown a lot though and is looking fuller and healthier, so I am expecting a much larger crop end of summer. Good thing they fruit twice a year! The plum tree is just ridiculous. The pic below is about 1 square ft of plums. Both apple trees are FULL of apples. The pear tree is looking healthier than last year, and has probably twice the fruit.
Yesterday, we picked cherries from one of the cherry trees in the front yard. I actually climbed up that tree and picked all that I could. It was sad to see clusters of 15-30 cherries just out of reach. These cherries were perfectly ripe, large, and plentiful. All in all, we picked 10lbs. Not bad for a tree that we were told we would lose everything to birds and squirrels. Haha animals! We win!
I also have about 60 sunflowers planted on the side of the house, along with more dragon wax beans, and yellow wax beans. We expanded our strawberry patch by about 15, so we have about 25 strawberry plants all bearing fruit, though I have only picked a couple handfuls.
I have in the works, a couple potato towers, compost tea, and many, many canning days. I will post tutorials, and what is working and what is not as I go!
10 lbs cherries
4 oz beans
8 oz strawberries
489.25 lbs to goal