Come Into My Garden: 3.1

I say it every year:

This time, I’ll keep a notebook all the way through the last harvest.

I’m not going to say that right now. I’ll just begin, because even though it’s snowing today, the work has begun.

raspberries

For several Springs, we’ve hesitated on a tree order. It’s a big commitment. It means that we expect to stay here a while, or that we’ll do grand things to transform this land, and may not be around when the fruits of our labor one day appear. But, we’re in this for more than just our personal rewards. Every year, we have made the tiniest of baby steps in transforming the eroding, muddy hillsides of our wee plot into what we hope will be a flourishing food forest someday. This year, it feels already as though we’ve taken a great leap.

We transplanted berries that had been suffering, and gave them more sun and some new friends to hang out with. We planted cranberries (!!!!!!) and willows in the wettest of the wetlands, and a pie cherry tree in the most perfect place ever (in ten years). Lavender, tarragon, oh and dahlias into the place where the Jerusalem artichokes were literally choking out everything else. Now, the latter have their own bed.

All this on a gorgeous sunny weekend, and tonight it will be 25 degrees.

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It still felt safe to sow peas, though, if not any other seeds, and when I started to prepare the bed, the scuffle hoe caught on something. It turned out the entire bed was filled with forgotten parsnips! Our first harvest of the year! If you’re wondering how I could forget about an entire bed of parsnips, I have this to say in my defense: we had a tremendous deer problem last summer. They came through and ate all the tops from the parsnips when they were young, down to the ground, along with almost everything else in that section of the garden. I gave them up because I figured they wouldn’t be much bigger than fingers, if they had a chance to grow at all, since the tops had only barely begun to re-sprout when winter came. And now, I have a five-gallon bucket’s worth of root candy.

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Oh, the sweetness of over-wintered roots! Unbelievable.

It gives me such hope for the growing season to come.

Here’s a quick and lovely thing to do with parsnips:

  1. Peel and slice whatever quantity suits your needs, and put the sliced parsnips in a wide skillet
  2. Add about a tablespoon of butter per cup of sliced parsnips, and water to cover
  3. Simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the parsnips are tender
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, some minced swiss chard and parsley, and simmer another 5 minutes, or until your greens are wilted. If your parsnips aren’t candy-sweet, you can add a bit of honey with the water and butter, and it will caramelize to fantastic effect.
  5. Enjoy!

Oh, and there’s this:

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And, when the mist departs mid-morning, the forest is aglow with red budding maples.

Sppprrrrinnnngggg!!!

Come Into My Garden :: 5

lettuce

So, I don’t know if it’s the lack of a farm cat (RIP Kitzman), or just a surge in the chipmunk population, but all three rounds of the winter squash seeds we’ve planted have been dug up and cached by those jerks. Oh, and three packets worth of sunflowers. I’m starting both in flats now, and hope the squash will have enough time.

peas

We live about 1/3 mile up a dirt road and exist in an entirely different zone than our neighbors at the bottom of the hill. Only just this week did our peas require anything to climb on. This past weekend, I visited a friend just a wee south and east of us, and she served fresh-picked peas in our lunch-date soup. This has me experiencing some pretty intense zone envy, but I know we’ll catch up soon.

noradishes

Okay, so here’s a thing. These are my radishes. Four weeks in. No bulb. No…radish. The greens are a treat for the goats and all, but I really did want some radishes to pickle. I guess it’s time for a soil test. And yes, weeding is on my to-do list for the week whole summer.

Seeded

Blue Hubbard squash (three times) eaten
Sunflowers eaten
Cucumbers
Delicata squash

Transplanted/Planted

Gilbertie tomatoes x 14
Blue cherry toms x 8
Various Heirloom slicing toms x 8
Red Celery
Basil in ludicrous quantity

Harvesting

same as last check-in, minus the dandelions
Daisies
Irises
thinnings from the beet patch

Plans for this week include planting out the peppers and cabbages, and crossing our fingers that our CSA has winter squash starts.

What’s happening in your garden?

Come Into My Garden :: 4

It seemed a fitting way to return.

lemon1

Regrouped.

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And it’s Springtime.

strawberry

We began much earlier than we expected and are weeks ahead of our normal planting schedule. Perhaps, we shall grow a melon larger than a baseball and with edible flesh inside?

uppergarden

Here is the upper garden. Now in it’s fourth year, the soil is really starting to liven up. This year we didn’t have to order any additional soil, and are working with only our own compost as an amendment. Alliums are up, and we had enough garlic at the end of last year to hold back for seed. Baby steps towards our goal of reducing the initial investment into each year’s garden.

unfinished

Part of this year’s expansion includes several more beds, including a terraced winter squash hill. That pile of rocks behind the beds? That’s what needs to come OUT of our soil before we can put anything INTO it when we venture into new territory. Vermont pebbles, we call them.

peep

Here’s Peep. You should know about him because he’s our main man and border patrol. He has two broody wives so we are anticipating the arrival of fresh, downy babies in addition to our most recent births:

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of four baby goats. The sweetness is nearing unbearable, but we manage.

hyssop

This is Hyssop, proud, goofy mama of the above-pictured Granola.

oregano

Always the first to be harvested. Somehow, we never tire of oregano-in-everything.

I’ll do my best to keep up with a weekly recap:

Seeded

Beets
Spinach
Lettuces, all kinds
Carrots
Radishes
Peas, all kinds
Turnips
Cilantro
Parsley

Transplanted/Planted

Celery
Melons
Cauliflower
Eggplant
Okra (eh, we’ll see if these hold…it’s been chilly)
Onions (from sets)
Potatoes
Lemon Marigold

Harvesting

Oregano
Thyme
Chives
Green Garlic
Chocolate Mint (someone wishes I hadn’t planted it so close to the garden)
Dandelions (for fritters, wine, and syrup…posts to come!)

 

What’s happening in your garden?

Come Into My Garden: 3

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The dill is ready, but the pickling cucumbers have barely begun. Oh, well, I’ll add these little fireworks of the garden to several jars of fermented dilly beans over the weekend and sow a new handful of dill seeds into a freshly harvested garlic bed.

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Fairy watermelons? Remember these? I forgot to order seeds last summer, so it’s been two years since the season of Epically Adorable Pickles:

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That is a pint jar, and we popped those things like candy for many months.

The main excitement this week, besides harvesting green beans and inspecting the drying progress of garlic braids, is in the wee corn patch. This color? Intriguing.

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The bees, thankfully, are loving on it, and we hope for full ears of sweet blue kernels (that stay blue when you cook them!), and plenty of them. We have not yet had luck with sweet corn up here on the hill, but these seem promising.

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The japanese beetles are a force to be reckoned with this year, however, and I’ve had to pick them out of the silks with tweezers. They have a thing for the corn and tomatillos, especially, with a bit of everything else on the side.

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This weekend, the 2nd round of peas and greens will be sown. We are hoping for a fall crop of shelling peas, since the Spring round just sort of fizzled. Nightshades are only just starting to flower, so we have a long way to go this season, but here, I have enough of this for at least one cup of tea:

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…and it’s been cool enough the past few days to want it HOT!

Harvesting this week:

Lettuce
Broccoli
Green Beans (tons!)
Nasturtiums
Pak Choi
Misc. Herbs

Sowing 2nd plantings:

Carrots
Gilfeather Turnips
Green Beans
Golden and Chioggia Beets
Shelling, Snap and Snow Peas
Lettuces
Brassicas

Come Into My Garden: 2

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No, really. Come on in.

C flagged down the tree-trimmers down the road and graciously offered our driveway as a spot to dump their full load of mulch. A heavy rain storm the other night washed a good deal of it away after our teeny stream jumped its banks, but I have plenty more to reapply. A top item on the agenda for when C can use his body normally again is to dig that stream bed a bit deeper. Thank goodness I had not yet planted out the peppers…their whole bed was gone! So much topsoil…whoosh, down the hill. It’s tricky business, farming on a steeply sloping piece of land. Creating drainage is a constant, evolving issue.

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Very similar to the last installment’s garlic photo, but can you spot the difference? I harvested yesterday and ended up with this:

scapes

Today, I will fill the two-gallon crock with scapes to ferment, and another generous portion will go into yet more batches of pesto. Beyond that, I’m out of preserving ideas, so will do my best to grill and saute my way through them in the next week or two, and maybe make a compound butter. Any other scape ideas?

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Finally, a week of solid rain and these guys took off. Pickling cukes, you will be mine.

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1st and 2nd generation broccoli and cauliflower. Almost time to start the seeds for a fall planting…crazy!

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This is the blue jade corn. It’s an heirloom variety that only grows to 3 ft. tall, so I’m not sure where we should be by the fourth of July…certainly not knee-high; maybe, mid-shin high? If so, we’re almost there. I am especially excited about this variety because it is a sweet fresh-eating corn that is a deep blue that stays blue when you cook it, unlike those disappointing purple green beans that leach all their beauty when heat is applied.

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Speaking of green beans, we went all green all the way Providers this year. Hoping for a really great haul for the freezer. I tried dehydrating them last summer…awful! So many things dried very well, but green beans? It’s like they just can’t rehydrate, even in a soup.

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The 2nd planting of onions has gone in. I trenched with a hoe and laid compost in before planting. It’s a very efficient method; two flats out in no time. We ran out of room in the onion bed, so there will be a row keeping the celery company. Celery! I wish I had more than one little row of it, but that one row is looking fantastic. Celery + rain = friends.

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The buzzy time, when the sun is hitting the lower garden directly and the bees throw a party.

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And this just because there are never enough chicken pictures. Henrietta escaped the poultry fence. I lured her back in with strawberry tops.

Joining Heather of Beauty That Moves, I’ll do my best to keep track of my weekly harvests. This week, we’re bringing in:

-garlic scapes-lettuce
-arugula
-oregano

What’s happening in your garden this week?

Come Into My Garden: 1

I’ve been laying low this week, but I have been around…I spent some time here, waxing poetic, and then some time here, exploring Roots. I also started a summer internship I’ll tell you more about later, so there’s been a bit of a reshuffling of routine, but I think I’m settling in now (just in time for school to let out, of course).

There has also been the mad rush of Spring gardening, and I realize I should be recording more than just a few quick notes on the calendar.

shannonherrick1

And yes, I really should have started this earlier, but better late than never and all that. Before-and-after would have been nice, too, since we’ve broken much in the way of new ground this season. There’s still a long way to go, though, even beds still to be created for this year, so lots more to share in the weeks to come, I hope!

beanteepee

This is our new friend, the Bean Teepee. How we’ve lived here for three summers already without a bean teepee, I have no idea. A rainbow pole bean mix has been planted, 6 bean seeds per pole.

potatoes

Also new this year is the way we planted the potatoes. Last year, we put them in raised beds, but didn’t have enough organic matter around to add to the bed throughout the season. 10 pounds of seed yielded enough harvested potatoes to last us until February, but we can do better. This year, trenches were dug, layered with compost and seed potatoes, then covered in straw. 4 varieties totaling 12 pounds.

cukes

These pickling cucumbers are coming up where there was a mess of blackberry bushes and milkweed last year. The hillside still needs a lot of work, but is mostly clear for the squash that will go in this week.

garlic

Garlic, I love you. Easy and beautiful. I check every day for signs of scapes, but probably have a few weeks to wait. We are quite a bit behind some of our local farmers, because we don’t get as much sun up here on the hill in the woods.

tomatobed

This…well, this is the tomato and pepper patch, can’t you tell? At least, it will be by the end of this weekend, if the weather cooperates. Consider this a Before

tomatoes

We grew some glorious starts to put into the After; I must say I’m quite proud of these. They are opalka paste tomatoes, of which we have several flats awaiting their new home…

greenhouse

…along with these bazillion other friends who are wishing we didn’t have anything else we needed to do besides create the spaces to get them planted out. Yes, the squash and melons are beginning to yellow for want of nutrients…just give us one. more. week.

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Aaaaaand…yarn update today! Here’s a little something special I spun up while visiting Dayna at Madison Wool last weekend. It’s up for grabs along with a few traditional plied yarns. Enjoy!