Tuesday, July 22, 2014

finally a garden update

It has been a couple of weeks since I posted and even longer since I posted pictures.  To be honest my battle with the weeds is not yet won and who wants to see pictures of weeds.  I have had some help with the weeding.  Caitlin was home last weekend and pulled some weeds and my sister, Lisa has been over several times to help.  It is great to have company in the garden.  First a little update and then some pictures.

Mother Nature has made gardening challenging this year to say the least.  We had a harsh winter, cold wet spring, rain, bugs and now no rain.  The garden has some successes, some disappointments and some things that are still to be determined.  Most of the plants that I started from seed that got into the garden earliest seem to be doing well.  There were plants in cups waiting for the weather to cooperate to allow for planting that quit growing and probably should have been transplanted into bigger cups while we waited that eventually died.  Some of those same small plants got planted in the garden late and it will be interesting to see how they do.

Only about 3/5 of the sweet corn seed got planted.  We did get a decent stand even though it went in late.  My plan was to do a three sisters experiment.  In the three sisters corn is planted and once up pole beans are planted next to it and the beans use the cornstalk as a pole to climb up.  The third sister is a vine crop that is planted amongst the corn.  The vine crop, winds its way through the corn providing shade for the root zone of the corn and beans and weed suppression.  In our case the vine crops were started in the greenhouse in the spring and they went in when we could.  Some of them are doing well.  The pole beans have just been planted.  They may not amount to anything and there might not be enough of a season left for them to mature into a crop but I had the seed and thought I would give it a shot.

I only got about half of the tomatoes planted but there are some of each variety.  Just not all of each variety.  We are getting tomatoes.  And a few are getting red.  The new version of tomato cage is working well.  I have more to make but I am liking them.

I planted leeks and Brussels sprouts for the first time this year.  Lisa is growing half of the leeks at her house in her raised beds and there is a row here at the farm.  The Brussels sprouts are doing okay. A few holes in the leaves and no sprouts yet but I think they need a long season.  I have never had much success with carrots but this year they seem to be doing better.  They are hard to weed and I really appreciate that Cait ended up with that row to weed and she did a great job with them.

The zucchini and yellow squash are starting to produce and so far that is the only crop in the farmstand.  A few have sold.  Last year they were planted in a patch with the other vine crops.  This year I put them in rows and they are a lot easier to harvest.  I do have some fruit with blossom end rot.  I am doing research but wonder if our week where we had 6 inches of rain is the culprit.  There are lots of fruit that are not affected so I am glad for that.

The new cranberry plants are looking good.  The blueberries that I transplanted are a mixed bag.  They have been struggling in their original location and my attempts to acidify their soil did not seem to be working.  This spring I moved them.  I had three varieties with two plants of each variety.  Two of the varieties are leafed out and appear to be doing okay.  Both plants of the third variety are doing nothing.  I have not had the heart to give up on them yet but it isn't looking good. The sand cherries are coming along.  The ones that were nibbled off have new leaves and the tomato cages wrapped in chicken wire seem to be keeping them safe.  The elderflower plants are doing well and the gooseberry, which was also nibbled off looks like it may make it.

The nut trees are part of the to be determined list.  They were bare root and did not get in the ground as soon as they should have and then water has been an issue.  I am not sure if they are getting enough.  I guess we will wait and see.

Last year we had apples for the first time.  This year one tree has a bunch of small apples but the other has only a couple.  I have heard that some trees only bear every other year so a little more research is indicated.  The plum tree that had a few small fruit a couple weeks ago now has bigger fruit.  We got a nice crop of raspberries.  Cait and I picked some when she was home and I will share a couple of pictures that she took of our haul.  I have been picking more as they ripen and I found an interesting jam recipe that I am going to try making after a trip to the store.

We also had some volunteer plants.  Last year the cilantro went to seed and somewhere in the part of the garden still overcome with weeds I can smell its fresh scent.  There are a few small vine crops and some tomato plants that are coming up so it will be interesting  to see what they turn out to be.  We have one big plant that appears to be a sunflower that we left growing.  Now for a few pictures.

Does this look like a sunflower?



Three sisters, corn and pumpkins, no beans yet.

Brussels sprouts

potatoes are flowering

Lisa's two rows of filet beans. 

some of the sweetcorn.

yellow squash

sweet potatoes


A couple of red paste tomatoes

Some green tomatoes

 Thanks Caitlin and Lisa for helping with the weeding and thanks Mom for doing the trimming with the weed eater. 

I don't have a picture of it but I think the neighbor's deer came to visit.  Yesterday I was walking back out to the garden to battle more weeds and I saw a movement near the edge of the grove and caught a glimpse of what appeared to be the backside of a deer darting into the tall corn in the field next to the garden.  I had mentioned to the neighbor earlier this year that I had seen a deer on the edge of his grove and he commented that he thought it had been eating hay with his horses all winter.  I did not see any new plant damage.  Our edamame had been really badly eaten earlier and I had blamed the rabbits, but maybe it was the deer.  We have two big dogs which I would have thought would have discouraged deer visitors.  Sigh.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

the fifth of July

Yesterday, Saturday, the day after the big holiday, my sister and I made a trip to the lake where our folks have a cabin.  We picked Saturday because that was the day that our brother was also making the trip so we would all be there at the same time.  It worked out nice.  The weather was beautiful, we had time to do a little shopping in town and had some great food.

For lunch we had pretty typical summer party food.  I have no pictures but my mom makes a mean taco salad and it is something that I don't make so it is always a treat.  My dad was manning the grill and we had brats, along with potato salad and a couple other salads and fresh melon, strawberries and grapes and Lisa's macaroni and cheese. (recipe Sweet corn mac and cheese

For supper we had a chance to use a hamburger gadget that Jack brought along to make stuffed hamburgers.  A patty is placed in this mold and there is a top that when pressed into the patty makes a depression that can then be filled with a fun stuffing.  A second patty is placed on top of the stuffing and then pressure is applied again to make a thick patty which completely encloses the filling.  The patty is popped out of the mold and Jack, with help from Lisa, took a moment to go around each burger pinching the seams to discourage leaking of the filling and then they went on the grill.
This patty is getting stuffed with mac and cheese and chili

Stuffed and plain patties on the grill.
We stuffed ours with Lisa's mac and cheese and we added some chili to one.  They turned out great.  Jack did a great job on the grill.  The hamburgers were cooked perfectly.  The filling was the right temperature and even though they ended up shrinking a little during the cooking they still hung over the edge of the bun.  All in all a  very satisfying sandwich and fun to do. 

My sandwich.
A few more food pictures.

Lisa's boozy watermelon appetizer (melon, run and mint)
my contribution, cupcakes in patriotic wrappers
steamed zucchini topped with crab salad