Okay, I made 6 large tubs of strawberry freezer jam today and I'm not sure I ever want to see strawberries again until next spring. I followed the instructions on the pectin package, but I think it's way too sweet. I'm guessing the amount of sugar may have preservative powers, but geez. I like my preserves a little tart. I might give most of these away and try again with a different recipe. Anyone out there have a good one that's not quite so sugary? The one I tried was 2 C mashed strawberries to 4 C sugar, 2 tbls lemon juice and the pectin.
Any other ideas for what to do with all these strawberries? Divaq, how 'bout you? Have you found any inventive ways to use them up? I might have to have a roadside stand!
I have posted pics of my garden FINALLY. I could LETTER in procrastinating!
I made strawberry frozen yogurt today with the ice cream maker because I had 3 gallon ziplock bags FULL of strawberries picked today. I'm going to make freezer jam tomorrow with the rest of them. I steamed some of the broccoli that had bolted a little and it tasted incredible! I was afraid it would taste off or bitter or something...but it was sweet and the most vibrant green I've ever seen. A little olive oil, salt and pepper and it was quite the experience. I'm glad I tried it!
I also had a spinach, arugula and dill salad the other night. That was lovely. I absolutely love harvesting and eating what I've grown. Few other things in life feel so satisfying to me. I'm going to eat a little more of that ice cream I made in a minute.
I put enough strawberries in the cuisenart to end up with 2 cups of smashed strawberries. I added about 2 cups skim milk (all I had) and about a cup of plain whole fat yogurt, 1 cup sugar, a splash of vanilla extract and mixed it all up. It was set up a little in 30 minutes in the ice cream maker and then I put it in the freezer while we chipped more logs in the woods. Now, it's the perfect consistency. Yum! And not too high fat. Of course, I would've made it with cream and whole milk if I'd had them both in the fridge!
Oh, the aphids love my trumpet vine and honeysuckle. They can't think of anyplace they'd rather be. All across the land, the tiny aphid call trumpets "go to C's garden and you will be rewarded" and they come in droves. I spray them off and they laugh at me as they crawl back onto the blossoms in greater numbers. I spray them with insecticidal soap and the surviving aphids laugh as their compadre's dead bodies turn the blossoms to sticky black slime. Why oh why must they taunt me? I don't mind if a few feed on my plants, I can share. But holy mother of god they attack! The ladybugs we bought and released on the trumpet vine were ALL GONE by the next morning. Again, the aphids laughed at my feeble attempts. It's my fate to live with them. I am learning to be patient! Ha!
On an unrelated note, D and I made six loads of wood chips the other day and I dumped half in the veggie garden to finish covering bare soil between beds and the other half under the hammock in the grass between three huge douglas firs to start the "grass smothering effort". Eventually, I will add soil to the area around the trees and plant some shade tolerant things there. It will be a little hammock haven. Then, I would love to create a bed in front of the deck too. I think I will just mound up good soil on top of the actual soil a la Anne Lovejoy's method, rather than try to ammend the rock hard clay soil that exists there.
I'm excited to pick out the plants that'll go there. I know I want it to mimic the look of natural plant communities as much as possible. I know I want mostly natives and other plants that flourish here. I know I want a lot of evergreen in the mix so it looks good all year. I want lush, green, naturalistic plantings and an irregular shaped bed. I want anything that will attract hummingbirds and ANY other wildlife. Any ideas?
Well, this is the second time I've tried growing broccoli. After the first attempt, I didn't plan on trying it again. I don't love eating the vegetable enough to put up with it, I thought. The first time, some creature ate through the stems and they all flopped over before I could harvest. This time, I found a pack of 6 plants at the ACE hardware store near me and they looked so beautiful I thought I'd try again. And...they bolted before I could harvest them. It hasn't even been very sunny or hot here. What is up? I think I'll pull them out and plant...well, that's the problem...can't decide. Oh! I've been wanting some onion plants, so that's what I'll do. Hope I don't have a problem finding some starts. It seems like I don't have a lot of luck finding them when I want them.
I need to build my fourth raised bed and fill it soon. It's silly to have it almost built and then not follow through. The logs are lying there in formation. I just need to dig some trenches to set them in and fill it with some soil mix.
Then, what should I plant? Maybe for now I'll just plant a cover crop until I figure out what to plant.
The strawberries are driving me crazy. There are millions of them ripening all at once, but RIGHT when they are ALMOST ripe, robins (I've caught them in the act so many times that I'm convinced they're the major culprit) get them or they rot and get moldy. I pick bowls full of the almost-ripe-enough ones and they just don't taste great. I've frozen two gallon ziplocks of them. Maybe I'll make strawberry ice cream soon with my ice cream maker. Even almost ripe strawberries would taste good in ice cream! *Sigh* I have GOT to build those row covers for them! I do love to procrastinate!
Those damn robins, by the way, sit atop my topsy turvey tomato planters and crap strawberry seed poo ALL OVER the planters and the tomatoes! As if to say, "I'll eat your strawberries you slaved over and then I will CRAP all over your tomatoes as a an extra bonus!" Wee!
I'd like to pull out a few rows and replace with asparagus. We don't need so many strawberries. I think maybe currants might be nice, too, I don't know. Honestly, until I get a canning element for my stove I don't want to plant too much of anything! It'll all go to waste!
I went to our town's farmer's market today and there were 4 stands! Two were selling birdhouses, one was selling metal sculptures and one was selling some houseplants. No veggies, no seedlings, no fruit, no homemade soaps or sachets or honey or ANYTHING. I wonder if I could make some money there for my excess produce. It'd be EASY to create a much more appealing and useful stand at that market. They need it!
Well, tomorrow is another weekday when I will be NOT working. Oh, it's a rough life. But, don't get the wrong idea, I have 3 multi-day training sessions to go to this summer and am traveling for most of July (not that that's a hardship, but it does make the summer FLY by even faster). I'll be back in that classroom before I can even wonder what happened to my summer! But, I am NOT complaining. Teaching is perfect for gardening obsessed humans.
Thursday was my last day with students and Friday was interviews for the fourth and fifth grade positions that have opened this year.
I have until the 25th of June and then I have to go to Bellingham for SIX days for a training workshop. The day after I get back from that I'm throwing a small celebration for my coworker who is taking a leave of absence for next year and then the next day I leave for the midwest until the 15th. That's a lot of time to be gone from my garden at such a crucial time! Thankfully, D is going to be home to water, weed and harvest. He won't eat the stuff, though, so I'm afraid some of it might go to waste. I have GOT to get a canning element for my stovetop so I can start to preserve stuff.
The peas are really tall now, but no flowers yet. The tomatoes in the topsy turvies have some blossoms but the ones in the ground don't. The broccoli, dill, spinach, and arugula look great. I need to harvest the spinach soon. I should've grown more of it. I only planted a little square of it.
The weather has been crazy. It rained quite a bit today, so I didn't have to water. Nice! I would like to get the plantings around the hammock trees done this summer, but I'm not sure if it'll happen. Every year, if feels like I wake up on the first day back at school and wonder where the summer went and how I didn't manage to accomplish the items on my to-do list.
Tomorrow, I'll be out in the woods shredding more trees for mulch for the veggie garden which is STILL not completely covered in mulch.
Never in my life have I EVER committed to writing daily for longer than, oh...3 days. This blog hasn't been any different. So, let me see if I can summarize the last week or so here to fill in the gaps. I planted 2 rows of corn and all of a sudden (it seemed like they popped up overnight) we have little corn plants. Side story: a handwritten sign at a road-side veggie stand near us says "cron" instead of "corn" each summer, so my husband and I jokingly call corn cron now all the time. It's gotten to where I almost automatically typed cron just now.
Anyhoodle, the corn plants are doing nicely. My topsy turvy tomatoes are flourishing. All our strawberries are being eaten, the bean plants have SHOT up so fast. The peas look okay, but they are a little pale and the veins are a light green color, giving them a variagated appearance. Don't know if that' s a sign that something's off, or what. Everything looks okay. Our rhodies are so amazing right now. Purple, red and hot pink are all blooming at once, as are our california lilacs and some lillies that are BRIGHT orange. It's a riot of color. I was thinking about gardening books I've seen that describe choosing flower colors that are complementary. I didn't put ANY thought into color combinations. I was too busy thinking of light and water needs. And the colors look incredible together.
My cilantro, basil and oregano have already started to bolt, darnit. I would love to find a way to grow cilantro and basil all summer without it bolting.
This weekend it's more chipping for me! We need many more cart-loads to cover the veggie garden area.
We're still waiting for the pumpkins and sunflowers to pop up. We're so behind with them.
There, I wrote. Let's see how long I procrastinate next time.
I have EIGHT DAYS LEFT until summer break! One of my students today said "I can't wait for school to be over for summer," and I had to restrain myself from shouting "I KNOW! Me EITHER!" with a crazed look in my eyes.
D and I planted pumpkins and sunflowers in the front garden plot. We can't decide what to do with that plot so we just keep planting crops of things that will cover the area up and keep the weeds down until we do figure out WHAT to do.
The soil in this plot has been walked all over and hasn't been amended much, so it's hard packed clay. Instead of tilling (this is a BIG area, here and we're getting a seriously late start), we brought huge cartfulls of a soil/compost mix and formed mounds on top of the existing soil in which to plant pumpkins. I made the piles pretty large b/c I know that pumpkins are heavy feeders. D wanted to plant sunflowers in the mounds, too, even though I told him I didn't want them competing w/ the pumpkins, but he was emphatic. He had to have his sunflowers. They ARE beautiful and the birds go nuts for them, so I'm excited to have them again this summer/fall. We planted Lumina, Cinderella and one other variety of pumpkin whose name I have forgotten. I love the cinderella ones. They are so pretty and the brightest orange color. What am I going to do with all these pumpkins? I think we'll be putting up a "pumpkins for sale" sign in October!
Our strawberries are still being eaten before they get completely ripe. I don't know what's doing it. I'd love to get one of those motion-triggered cameras set up out there and find out what's responsible for this destruction. Can't we have just a FEW strawberries? No?
I lost two cucumber transplants but had two extras on the sidelines, waiting for their turn, and they're doing fine, I think. The two tomato plants I put in the "Topsy Turvies" are flourishing, while the ones I planted in the ground aren't growing much yet. The topsy turvy plants had a good head start, though.
My clematis are doing okay. Okay as in they're not dead or dying. I can't really see any obvious growth on them. No flowers, either, but I didn't expect any yet. I haven't had to water them once since I planted them with the nice layer of mulch I gave each container. I LOVE love love mulch. I'd mulch everything if I could.
I've yet to start the bed by the hammock yet. I think I'll get to it once school lets out. Which, did I mention?...is in EIGHT DAYS!