Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Berries, berries, and more berries...

I love berries.  It doesn't matter if they are grapes, cherries, Saskatoon, thimble berries, raspberries, chokecherries, currants, buffalo berries, naking cherries.  They can be wild or domestic.  I will use them to make pies, jam, or wine.  Quite a few just go straight to the belly. 

I am slowly making progress in my orchard.  Last year I just had berries from the naking cherries and currents.  This year I have cherries, naking cherries, currants, raspberries, two little sand cherries, and best of all 5 buffalo berries.  I still need to see progress from the plums, mulberries, black berries, and chokecherries.   It would also be nice if I got more than two sand cherries.  I must say a new orchard is a good way to teach an impatient gardener patience.    

The production from the cherry tree may be the demise of the chokecherries.  We bought the cherry tree on a lark.  I never thought in a million years it would survive much less produce a bunch of cherries.  Chokecherries grow wild here.  The ones in the orchard were only purchased because they were part of the Grandma Jam Pack Plants sold by the local county conservation district.  (I am not a grandma, but I love to make jam.)  The chokecherries may be looking for a new home this fall if I find more cherry trees. 
 I'm not sure what I'm going to do with naking cherries.  Next year I should have enough to really make something, maybe brandied cherries or jelly.   This year I finally had enough currents that I should be able to make a small batch of current jelly. 
Am I the only person bonkers for berries?  Does anyone else have an orchard?  If so what do you plant and what do you do with your harvest? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Holy Hollyhocks...

Back in the day, when we lived in Lead, I had a garden filled with beautiful hollyhocks.  I so loved them.    When we built our cabin in the woods, hollyhock production stopped.  I suppose we just don't get enough sun in the woods.  Still I have tried every year for the last 11 years.  Lo and behold, this year I have hollyhocks. 
 The hollyhock above is Peaches & Cream.  I never thought I'd get it to grow, much less bloom.  The deep red hollyhocks below are from seeds given to me by my Mother-in-Law.  I am so excited that I finally got them to bloom.  I have always admired hers. 
 I am so happy with my new garden additions.   Now that I've finally got them going, hopefully, they will continue to prosper.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The bees are busy...

 After a busy weekend in the kitchen, I decided to wander around and take note of the bees. They are also preparing for winter.  The flowers are abuzz with their activity.


 I am not happy about this hornet's nest under the deck, but I will wait until winter to remove it.  I am saving wasp paper.  Someday I know I will find a good use for it.  If you have ever looked at the paper up close it is amazing.  Too bad they are such a pest.

I was trying to get a close up of some of the bees that were entering the hive with bright balls of sunflower pollen on their back legs.  That is when I learned a very valuable lesson. Do not go around taking photos of bees with your hair down.  Some poor bee ran into my hair, I tried my best to get him out, but not before getting stung.  It ended badly for both of us.   It is true if you put an ice cube on the sting it helps. 
Other than the excitement caused by having a bee caught in your hair, not much else is going on.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I went from sitting on the porch drinking coffee to...

I went from sitting on the porch drinking coffee, to running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  Everything was ripe for the picking and you can't just let that slide.  I harvested my herbs: chives, basil, mint, chamomile, and garlic.  I pulled up my onions and carrots.  then I picked my beans and a perfect pepper.  This is the first year where I actually had garlic to harvest. 

I have to say I'm in love with my little garden.  Next weekend I'm thinking some of the sweet corn will be ready.  I can't take credit for the sunflowers, the chipmunks planted them.  They defiantly add to the scheme of things and I'll be sure to plant some next year.

My other project was harvesting my sweet grass plot next to the pond.  Words cannot describe how aromatic it is.  I had enough for four braids.  That is the most I've ever harvested.   Long ago Mom got me a few sweet grass braids for Christmas.  I put them on the windowsill and I'm pretty sure that is what Heaven smells like.  I became obsessed with creating my own sweet grass plot.  Thanks to some plugs my sister gave me and a few from the local greenhouse, I now have a successful patch.
I spent the weekend creating. With the help of my husband, we crushed some grapes to sweeten my Tantalizing Tatanka Wine.  He also helped me braid four sweet grass braids (he is a good braid holder).  I jammed out and made 16 jars of raspberry jam, 8 jars of chocolate raspberry jam, 8 jars of strawberry rhubarb jam.  Hopefully this year will be a repeat of last years successful canned stew vegetables.  I was able to can 8 jars of stewed vegetables and 4 jars of beans.   I made my weekly batch of Anne of Green Gables Lemonade Concentrate.  Then used some lemon juice and the freshly harvested chamomile to make the spray on hair conditioner from my spa day.   Although I'm exhausted I am very pleased with the productivity and proud of my little garden patch.  
What do you do with your harvest?  Do you eat it immediately or preserve it?   What has been your most successful vegetable and herb this year?   Do you have any recommendations about what I should do with my mint and basil?  I hope you are all enjoying your gardens as much as I am.

Friday, August 9, 2013

walk with me in the garden...

There isn't a lot going on.  I'd like to think I have a mature garden and weed each bed about twice a year.  We have been lucky and we get a good rain once a week.  The very opposite of last year's drought. 

Right now my garden chores consist of watering the vegetable garden and the green house.  I also put out fertilizer and turn the compost pile, which reminds me, I should feed the worms this weekend. 

With that said, pretty much all I've been doing the last few weeks, besides my few chores, is walking around enjoying the flowers, oh, and picking berries.  I hope you grab a cup of coffee and walk with me in the garden...

  I hope you enjoyed the tour.  Let us go back to the porch sit, chat, and sip coffee.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

something old is new again with signs...



I saw the above quote last week and fell in love with it.  I couldn't get it out of my head.  I wanted to incorporate it into the garden.  Then I saw photos of people using old shovels for birdhouses.  The light went on.  Years ago I found an old shovel left in the forest by a firefighter and drug it home.  My husband questioned its potential at the time.  Lo and behold! Time flies and with help from an old barn board and some paint, the shovel is again useful.   I am very content with the product. 

The little sign on the saw blade is just for fun.  My husband found the blade with his metal detector.  I couldn't help putting the blade to use and the saying seemed to match.  Then I attached it to another old shovel handle (I have no idea where I found that one).  Of course it had to go in the compost pile:)     
I'm pretty happy with my sign making endeavors, though I have to say my hands are a tad shaky for painting.   Below is my first sign.  If you want to read about its inception click on this link:  

I think I am done now.  For a while anyway.  I do enjoy putting quotes in the garden. Which is your favorite?

circa 2011 The ORIGINAL Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop