Monday, June 27, 2011

Honey flowers

This evening I harvested chamomile.  Graham helped me for a bit, and afterward I told him to smell his hands.  "Smells like honey," he said.

I didn't actually plant any chamomile this year in my deck garden.  I planted a pot of it last year, and this spring it came up from seed.  Everywhere.  There is a little bit of it in nearly every pot, and I even spotted some in my driveway.  I think this fall I'll till up a spot next to the house and scatter seeds, to give it a bed of its own.  Otherwise it will completely take over my deck.

A small harvest, but it's a start.  I'm thinking about drying these and saving them for a batch of homemade soap this fall.  Maybe some shampoo bars.  It's been a long time since I've made soap, and I really miss it.  Besides, I've got to do something with all of that rendered tallow in the freezer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lotsa garden pics

Finally, after two weeks of doing nothing in the garden because of rain and mud and more rain and mud, finally I was able to spend a few hours this afternoon mowing and hoeing.  The weeds had gotten to the point where a scythe would have been handy.  There still are quite a few left, but it looks a whole lot better than it did.

So, without further ado, here is what is growing in my garden.

Broccoli, and lots of it!  I probably have about twenty broccoli plants.  I'm going to try to freeze quite a bit of it this summer.

A few pumpkins for the boys come Halloween time.

Yellow crookneck, round French, sebring and black beauty summer squash.  Yeah, I know, that's a lot of squash.  The tiny plant in the front is a round French and the ginormous ones behind it are black beauty.  They are obviously much larger than any of the other varieties.  Also, they are the only ones not already affected by some downy mildew.  Next year, I will only plant black beauty.  Probably.

Cucumbers.  Miniature white variety.

Hubby helped me put up a trellis (cattle panels, of course) for the cucumbers.  The sunflowers on the end of the bed get to enjoy the trellis too.

Pole beans in the fore-foreground, basil in the fore-midground, beets in the back-midground, and garlic in the back-background.

The pole beans are Fortrex variety.  They are starting to climb already.  The tallest is about three feet high.  I also have some yellow wax bush beans planted.

Here are scarlet runner beans at the base of my archway.

I planted a 4'x12' bed of Little Marvel shell peas.  The pods on these are just starting to fill out.  My snap peas matured faster than the shell, and we've been harvesting those for a couple of weeks now.

Rainbow Swiss chard.  I have about ten of these plants.

Hale's best cantaloupe.  The boys insisted I grow these again.  I'll try to do a better job of judging ripeness this year, and elevate the fruit off the ground so the bugs don't get them.

Here's a long shot showing a few chard in front, followed by a couple of cabbage, followed by some broccoli, followed by Brussels sprouts, followed by a lot of cabbage.  Pole beans and more broccoli to the right.

The tomatoes are doing well.  No signs of blight so far.  Knock on lots of wood.  I planted San Marzano, mortgage lifter, striped German, celebrity and large red cherry.  Thirty-four plants total.

 Cayenne, California wonder, alma paprika and jalapeno peppers.  Marigolds in front.

My golden raspberries are having to share their space with volunteer dill.  I didn't get around to planting dill this spring, so I'm letting these volunteers grow.

A few Hansel and fairy tale eggplant

Lots of cosmos, some planted but most volunteer.  I know now not to bother starting any seed indoors.  They are serious self-seeders!

For the past few weeks our yard has been FILLED with these blue damselflies.  They are literally everywhere.  I attribute it to the fact that we have lots of tall grass around our yard.  You won't see these beauties on a manicured, sprayed lawn.  Other than being lovely to look at, these guys eat tons of insects including flies, gnats and mosquitoes.  They are magical to watch.

I'm growing two varieties of Brussels sprouts this year, a few red Falstaff I started from seed and some Jade Cross I bought at a nursery.  The red Falstaff stem is on the right.

After a few hours in the garden, Benjimouse came outside to help pull weeds.  He lasted about two minutes.  Mostly he just wanted to play swords with wooden stakes, drink my lemonade and take some pictures.  

I so enjoyed working in the garden today.  Yes, it is still a weedy mess, but thanks to the rain (the neverending rain) everything is lush and green.  Hopefully tomorrow afternoon will be as lovely as this one, and I can continue plugging away at it.

Yeah, I may not be looking the best after four hours in the sun and the dirt, but believe me, I'm feeling pretty darn good.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The new recruits

I wasn't going to order chicks this spring, but then on a whim I went ahead and did it anyway.

I'm glad I did.

These women killed my chickens

It's their fault, really it is.  They might look like nice little old ladies, but deep down they are fiendish, merciless killers.  It's theirs, and the dozen other women who showed quilts at the park's quilt show last weekend.  Honest.  Cross my heart.  Totally true.

Okay, not really.

It is MY fault that 3/4 of our chickens were slaughtered by raccoons over the course of three days.  The three days of the quilt show--three days where I was working long, hard hours and coming home exhausted at the end of the day.  Too exhausted to notice their dwindling numbers when I gathered eggs and fed them.  Too exhausted to go back outside at dusk to shut them in, thinking them safe in their fenced run area.  Too exhausted to see the ground dug out from one spot under the fence, and to see the trail of feathers heading into the woods beyond it.

We have six hens left.  All of the old favorites are gone, including our broken-toe roo and our one-eyed roo.  My friendly old Delaware is gone.  All the Mr. Hairy's are gone.  My lovely blue-laced red wyandottes are gone.  All over the course of three stupid, stupid days.  All because of stupid, stupid me.  After six years of keeping chickens, you'd think I'd learn something.

The remaining hens are all locked in the coop until we figure the raccoon situation out.  My brother has promised us a 12-gauge.  Maybe we can borrow a large live trap from a farming neighbor.  I've never shot a living animal before, but I don't anticipate having any qualms in this circumstance.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cookout haiku

Dogs cook as men watch

boy blowing marshmallow flames

bellies are happy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gone fishin'

We didn't actually catch any fish.  But it was a lovely evening.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The baker crows at midnight

These will go nicely with my birthday breakfast tomorrow morning.

Blueberry Rhubarb Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1-1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup plain yogurt or milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup diced rhubarb
1 cup berries [the original recipe calls for strawberries, I used blueberries]

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, combine egg, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture just until all ingredients are moistened. Fold rhubarb and berries into batter.

Divide batter between 12 greased muffin cups. [With blueberries, it might be better to use paper cups.] Sprinkle tops generously with sugar. Bake in preheated oven at 400 F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Adapted from Joan Halquist's recipe, in "The Minnesota Homegrown Cookbook."

Sunday, June 5, 2011


You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.  And you can't raise boys without breaking a few windows, chairs, dishes, lamps, beds, cameras, clocks, etc. etc.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

In the beginning ...

... there were radishes.