Sunday, August 29, 2010

Garden update August

I finally got around to mulching the raspberries last week. The straw makes for easier weeding, better moisture retention and really just a cleaner looking raspberry patch. I also transplanted like 35 earlyglo strawberries into the patch and got another row prepared for fall transplanting of yellow raspberries. After all of that nonsense, including rerouting a number of rogue pumpkin plants that had started strangling raspberries, I put a fence around the whole thing and put in a semi-permanent sprinkler to help keep things happy during the hot days.

I also harvested an armload of peppers, mostly "Yummy Bell" and "Purple Bell"... The orange yummy bells are the sweetest I've ever tasted. Like candy more than veggie. I promptly found a source for their seeds and ordered 30 seeds for next year- woohoo! They're super hard to find.

I've got roughly 45 baby asparagus plants started in this wooden flat, now. I'm still not sure where they'll go when they're bigger, but I can't wait for the three years it'll take them to mature!

My final snap shot is another black krim tomato. I can't get over the complex flavor, texture and color of this tomato! Hands down my favorite heirloom variety. Mmm. I ate this one with a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt. Delicious!

Ducks, ducks, ducks

There are few things that our ducks love more than playing in the hose on a hot summer day. We had temperatures consistently over 90, week before last, and so this became our morning routine. They would run around trying to catch individual droplets and then stop to preen and flutter in the spray.

Summer doldrums brought boredom for the ducks as well as the rest of us. They quickly learned to combat their boredom by raiding the cherry tomato plants! I couldn't help but laugh heartily when I discovered my lady-ducks hopping up and down to get green cherry tomatoes. The males were clueless. As usual. Haha.

I also finally got the baby duck to eat from my hand. We're 90% sure she's a female (yay!) so she gets to stick around, despite being a constant stressor due to the males' obsession with ganging up on her. Ah well. Tonks still won't eat from my hand ever since she and I got super intimate after the hawk got her last year. A week of changing bandages, cleaning puncture wounds and clipping feathers seems to have turned her permanently off of me. With justifiable reason, obviously.

The Garden's Delights: Pears

In traditional "mobile device blogging" fashion I wrote this two weeks ago and am only now remembering to click "publish"... Ah well.


This morning I checked our pear trees and discovered ripe pears! Hooray! I quickly devoured one (Bartlett i think) and handed another off to Jeremy. These trees are 100% au natural so the fruits are covered in pits, holes and scabs but daaang. It was totally worth the trouble it took to inspect each bite for worms. Delicious! Up next to ripen are the seckle pears, my favorite!
Our pear trees are true antiquities likely planted anywhere from 50-100 years ago. They are diseased (naturally) and very very tall and hard to harvest from but with a long handled basket grabber (from the Ann Arbor ReUse center- yay!) we've been able to harvest plenty of pears.
Since writing this, the seckles have ripened and once again I am left wondering why anyone would grow anything but seckles! They are small, true, but a fresh seckle is like candy! Sweet, musky and perfectly textures, they are amazing fresh and even better in tortes! I'll have to post my favorite pear torte recipe once I return from my current vacation to New England. ((edit: I do realize that in order for seckles to successfully produce they must cross polinate with at least one other variety, so yes, there is justifiable reason to grow other varieties: to get ripe seckles! Haha.))
For now, have a cat in a pear tree!

(Harrison was very happy to have some leash time the other day. He loves to climb!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Making room for Mara des Bois

I really would like to phase out most of my garden strawberries next season...

I've been babying my Mara des Bois daughters by giving them their very own little raised bed. I haven't trimmed the weed block yet so it's a little sloppy. My goal is to get three more of these in, one for earlyglo, one for surecrop and one for honeyoye strawberries. That'll free up on of my pentagonal beds for sparkle strawberries to spread. I may phase out surecrop altogether before next season though. I wasn't very impressed with their taste, though they produce very large pretty berries.
As my Mara des Bois produce more babies I'll probably pot up and sell my other garden varieties. The Mara are definitely my favorite! Sparkle is a close second though so I'll keep them around, though I may put them down by the raspberries.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tomato madness

Tomatoes! So many of them! Yesterday I harvested hundreds of them. I already wrote a massive post about this and it was devoured by the vast vacuum of the interwebs. Humph.

I picked hundreds of cherry tomatoes also. This picture is really only half of them. I wimped out after an hour of crawling between vines and vowed to forever plant tomatoes farther apart. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Three sisters Photo update

The three sisters garden has gone wild, taking over the field and producing several pumpkins which are currently turning orange. There are a couple blue hubbard squash in there too. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A, asparagus all around

I finally connected with the craigslist lady yesterday and came home with a sack full of asparagus babies and a mysterious artichoke plant which I traded for eight baby alpine strawberry plants.
When I picked up the plants, the lady wasn't there. She'd just left them trustingly on her porch and I picked them off, dropping off the alpines and some cash too.

It wasn't until I got to the car that I notices the artichoke looked very much like a Shasta daisy. After some serious texting, I met her back at her place to make sure it was artichoke. It's a thornless cultivar called emerald, so the young leaves do look very much like Shastas but they're ever so slightly more severely toothed. This photo (I nabbed it off google) satisfied my skepticism and now I can't wait to watch it grow into the 5' tall, 6-8' wide monster it's supposed to be! I'm going to be putting it in a huuuuge planter so I can move it to shelter in winter. The planter is actuall a food-safe plastic muck bucket so I'm pretty sure it's big enough- at least 40 gal.
Now to plant asparagus!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A is for...

There is a local woman who is supposed to be selling me 40-50 asparagus plants this fall if I ever get ahold of her again. She also, in her online advert, says she has artichoke plants. How exciting, huh?
I had no idea artichokes were thistles! Now I think I must get some to try to grow them! I'd keep them in containers, of course... :)
Anyway, just something wacky crazy I'm considering.

Mystery Bramble!

I shopped the clearance table at our local Plymouth Nursery yesterday and came home with a number of fruiting plants and pretty much no cash.

My purchases ended up including three gooseberry bushes (I forget the variety but they are a variety for fresh eating, so they're sweet), two ebony king thornless blackberries (early producers), a fifty cent lavender bush and this little mystery bramble.
I'd never seen a bramble grow like this and I'm still uncertain about what it is. It has thorns and pickers like a gooseberry (hairlike little thorns interspersed with large evil looking daggery thorns), leaves of three like a raspberry, and broad very slightly lobed leaves like a blackberry bush!
I thought it might be a dewberry since it's trailing, but those double thorns just don't seem right. The lady at the nursery sold it to me for $2 since it was in sad shape and tagless, and I told her I'd bring her some berries next year. ;) Let's just hope this doesn't turn out like Little Shop Of Horrors.... I've named it Audrey2.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My little musician

I had some company earlier while I was plunking through Debussy's Children's Corner. This little guy made me yelp out loud when I saw him. It was pretty freaky to see a bug of this size clinging precariously to the wall directly above me.

He was much happier once I got him outside. I actually remember hearing a katydid last night and thinking it sounded too close. Hmm. I guess this solves that mystery!
I wonder if he plays duets...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gargantuan Pumpkins

Our pumpkins have gotten HUGE. Okay, compared to the crazy big hybrids available today they're not really gargantuan but they are big for heirlooms. I can't wait for them to turn orange. Hopefully they'll do so before the wedding.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fence post day!

Decided to dig our fence post holes with a traditional clam-shell shovel. Whew! What satisfying work! Especially since I had the company of my wonderful soon-to-be DH. :)

We got almost all of the holes except for the ones that are spaced gate-specifically so we don't end up having to re-dig the gate posts. Going to pick up donated gates later today as well as a borrowed sledge hammer to smash at the dratted shed foundation we uncovered while digging. Of course it's right in the path of our perfectly straight fence line. Grr.

Thinking about a larger scale...

The past two weeks have been full of gardeny delight. Between snacking non-stop on beans, enjoying cucumbers and squash aplenty and of course tomatoes, I have had a seed planted in my head.
This season has been fun and educational for me and I've decided I'd love to take it to a larger scale for 2011.

(i've just been joined by my housecat, Harrison. Hmm. Not sure how he weadled out of the house but he sure is cute!)
Anyway. I want to mini-farm next year rather than garden large scale. I want to produce food for others and since I've never truly had a stomach for the market crowds I'm thinking a small-scale CSA with like ten members. The plan is to grow primarily in raised beds and containers using local composted manure from my horsies.
In addition to veggies I'll have my raspberry and blackberry patches as well as my duck eggs and possibly even sheep products if I can get my butt into gear before fall. I'm also considering contacting my landlady (yup, I rent!) and consulting chicken possibilities, as I'd very much like to raise wyandottes for meat and eggs. Hmm. Maybe she'd sign off on it if I provided free eggs or something...

Well. Those have been my thoughts. This entry is pretty disjointed but in my defense I'm juggling a kitty who very much wants to go ride on the back of a farm duck while gnawing on it's neck. Lol.