Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Bounty!!

It's cool inside, but it sure isn't outside. It was ninety degrees in the shade with 63% humidity, I can't imagine how women survived a hundred or more years ago all bound up tight in multiple layers of clothing.

Baby beach plum (and weeds) in protective custody.
I've been busy trying to reduce the impact the deer have on our trees.  Almost every baby tree has 4' high barrier to keep the deer from browsing.  Some day someone will look at our oddly shaped fruit trees and wonder why we ever pruned them that way and the answer would be, "We didn't, the deer did."

As I was out there cutting fence sections early this morning, the deer were hanging along the edges of the property.  I walked toward them and they did not behave as wild deer should.  They just stood there looking at me.  Some serious deer feeding is going on around here, they are not afraid.  There are two does that we see regularly, the larger buff colored doe and the reddish doe.  We see other deer sometimes, but these two are the regulars. 

One nice flower bud on top, tonight they feast!
They find my Julia Child roses very tasty, which is both amusing and annoying.  Each time the rose gets close to blooming, the buds get nibbled off in the night.  I ran out of fencing. I need to get more.

The critter count for this week is pretty high: bunnies, bunnies and more bunnies, one woodchuck (ground hog), two deer (seen repeatedly), crows (trying to steal eggs, but the girls are laying where they are supposed to and the crows are missing out), blue birds, bluejays, cowbirds, a pileated woodpecker, a snake (in the potato patch), cabbage loopers, harlequin beetles, tomato horn worms, skinks, stink bugs, dog ticks, slugs, deer flies and more.

I haven't seen the box turtle yet, he must be hiding from me.

We have had sugar snap peas for dinner almost every night this week, after having some sort of greens every night for the previous two weeks.  I spent a couple of mornings blanching and freezing greens, now we have ten meals worth of greens ready to go. Now a few days have elapsed, I should get out there to pick some more (when it cools a bit). I'll probably blanch and freeze some of the peas tonight, so we can have more variety later. 

Alpine strawberries
Blueberries, not ready!

The mulberries (no work, and they are one of my favorites!) and strawberries are ripe, the blackberries will be ready shortly.  The raspberries will be ready on about the same time as last year, late next week!

Sorry girls, no cabbage loopers this time.

The girls are laying 3-4 eggs a day.  I have been in a bit of a baking frenzy, so we have been keeping up with them.

The bounty!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Turtles, Crows and Deer, but not an Aesop's Fable

I've been rather busy, but it's the kind of busy that I have trouble defining what is actually taking all of my time.  Much of it is the garden, I head out there and whoop, two hours--gone!  Not so today.  It is starting to warm up significantly (just checked 86 degrees F, in the shade) and I'm not quite used to it yet.

I'm in the process of mulching the garden with straw, so that the weeding doesn't run my life any longer.  It also cuts down on the watering, which can also be a bit of a time suck.
Baby tomato and watermelon plants, with greens and sunflowers in background.
Three bales down, probably 2-3 to go.  Time to drive the XB over to the nursery to get three more bales.

I bought some blue potatoes at an international grocery a few weeks ago, they were amazing.  Some started to sprout pretty quickly, so I guessed that they hadn't been treated with any anti-sprouting agents that are often on potatoes in the supermarket.  I planted an 18 foot row in the back garden alongside the banana fingerlings and the Yukon golds.  The little blue guys have come up in the past 24 hours!!! 
Banana fingerling (left) and Yukon Gold potatoes

The greens are doing an amazing job in the front garden, we have been having kale and Swiss chard almost every evening, in many different forms.
Lacinato Kale
Swiss Chard

Tonight we start on the collards!  I'll do them up with a cider gastrique sauce that my husband found on the internet a few years back for one of the special meals he prepares for me.  It is brown sugar, half as much water made into a simple syrup (boil it for a couple of minutes) and then add the same amount of cider vinegar as the water, a pinch of hot pepper salt and some sort of allium (garlic, onions, chives, shallots, whatever).  The original recipe called for shallots, but I rarely have any and the markets here often don't carry that sort of stuff, so whatever I have goes in.   The original recipe also called for a bazillion steps, which I refuse to do, and have simplified it to the point where it takes about three minutes from when I pull the ingredients out of the pantry. Beyond this collard dish, I haven't a clue what else I am serving for dinner, last night we had whole wheat rotini pasta tossed with garlic, tuna, olive oil, red pepper, and red Russian kale, with beets on the side.

Red Russian Kale
The strawberries have been doing pretty well, but I've been finding a few with one bite out of them, which means my little friend the box turtle has walked his way back to my garden. I'm going to have to find him and walk him farther away into the woods this time, maybe to the other side of the stream.  Luckily, most of the strawberries are planted in another spot in the west side of the yard.
Tiny Alpine strawberries in the side yard.

The deer have pruned two of the trees that  did not have fences around them, time to get more fencing.  It (probably the doe we have seen a couple of times) ate four of the six medlars on the medlar tree, at least it had the courtesy to leave me a couple to try.

The wild raspberries are flowering, the mulberries should be ripe in about a week, one variety of blackberry (Apache) has developed a fair amount of berries that should be ripe in about a week and the other variety is just flowering. There are just a few blueberries this year, next year they should be mature enough to produce some more fruit.

My mother would be proud, I have been practicing my pie crust and have had two decent ones in a row.  I will have plenty of things to bake in pastry soon!

In another battle with wildlife, the crows have been stealing the chicken's eggs and eating them.  Luckily, the girls have finally started laying under a dome that has been out there for a while and the crows can't see into it.  We placed a plastic egg underneath to help encourage them to lay there.  It usually works.  We were able to retrieve three eggs yesterday, for the first time a in a couple of weeks.

So much to do still!