What’s Happening In the Garden– September 10

I am hanging on to summer, that’s what’s happening here. With fall on our doorstep people keep saying that fall is their favorite season. I’m sorry, I just can’t join them, I’m a summer girl, that’s all there is to it. IMG_3094That said, the mums are getting ready to pop, which does help a little with the transition.
IMG_3093The oregano is still beautiful. I gave this a good cut back a couple of weeks ago. I’d like to dry some to enjoy this winter.
IMG_3091We still have plenty of green tomatoes. I’m hoping that the sun that’s forecast for today and the heat of tomorrow will help these along.
IMG_3089 The romano beans took off and are climbing. Next year I think I may start some of these earlier in the season. IMG_3085 This cute little gourd just peeked out and surprised me. I need to scrounge around and see if there are more hiding along the fences.IMG_3084 We still have zinnias!IMG_3083 And here’s the asian cucumber that I planted from seed in late July. It kind of took off. I don’t see much fruit but there were several bees flying around it pollinating the other day. It may still happen.IMG_3081 The morning glories reseeded from last year and are happy in the herb garden.IMG_3079 IMG_3076We have several banana peppers to enjoy. I may try drying a few of them.IMG_3073 Broom corn, so pretty! Next year we’ll plant a nice strong row of it and make some serious brooms. IMG_3070 Lettuce, with broccoli next to it. I’m kind of surprised by this broccoli. I wonder if it’s one of the few plants that likes being close to the chicken coop. I’ve been reading about broccoli and learning that it responds well to the high nitrogen content of chicken compost. The trick seems to be growing nice leafy plants before the flowers form. I think we may be on our way here. I’m growing these at work too but I believe that the heat on the rooftop caused flowers to form before the plants really matured. We deadheaded those, then composted and fertilized them heavily with poultry manure a week or so ago, so I’m watching and hoping that they’ll take off.IMG_3066We have lots of tomatillos, another nice surprise. I froze several over the weekend. It’s as easy as taking off the outer skin and putting them into a freezer bag. This week I’m planning to make some salsa verde, and I’ll likely freeze a nice gallon bag or two of them for the winter.
IMG_3061The foxglove is back in all it’s glory! I love this plant. It will probably reseed all over the place!
IMG_3102This is tucked into the front border on the outside of garden… is it ragweed or goldenrod? Pat at Commonweeder (one of my favorite garden blogs), just talked about this yesterday. I’m not sure, but I think it’s goldenrod.
IMG_3057And I’m already missing the black eyed-susan. It’s hard to see them go.

How’s your late summer garden doing? What were your biggest surprises this year?

Tell me about your garden, I love to hear from you!

Happy still summer! Enjoy Everything!

Michele

What’s Happening In the Garden- August 7

Let’s see, where to start…After lots of rain early on the weather has been beautiful for the past couple of days. We’ve had a few perfect garden days. I love, love, love those days!

IMG_2528Here’s one of our very recent freecycle finds! I’m pretty excited about this. We’re hoping to collect rain from the roof of the chicken coop to water with. That should save some time and money!

IMG_2533The tomatoes are coming along slowly. I’m hearing a lot about “lots of foliage but no tomatoes” from friends and family. I think the heavy rain we had early in the summer is to blame. In spite of my efforts I have a good amount of blight out there and I think it’s largely caused by the rain bouncing the fungus right up on to the plants from the ground. Does that make sense? 

IMG_2537Tomatillos… they are just so darned cute! Now I have figure out how to eat them. 

IMG_2540Cosmos above the Brussel sprouts…a nice pop of color but their out of control!

IMG_2541 A few peppers… we’ll see. Their kind of a late August crop.

IMG_2542The cabbage is coming along too. It’s slightly shaded by the cosmos so I keep moving them (the cosmos) to other areas. This cabbage has been munched on a little bit. I probably need to put some slug traps out there.

IMG_2544I planted a little bit of swiss chard over the weekend. It’s so pretty! I hope it settles in and takes off.

IMG_2546Here we have asian cucumber, with chard to the right,  a sad little zucchini plant tucked in and cauliflower right behind it.I haven’t had luck with zucchini here or at work this year. The squash borers were hard at work everywhere.

IMG_2551 Dill in the foreground (the dill volunteers all over the yard) with relocated cosmos and some romano beans coming up in front of the fence. The beets in the bacdground may become beets after all. I wasn’t sure a few weeks ago but their looking okay.

IMG_2555Shallots are curing… I need to store them in a cool dry  place. Their a bit smaller than I expected but after researching it I think that may just be the variety.

IMG_2530Eggplant… well… I don’t know… I think it needed more sun. To be honest we don’t really like it so it’s not a huge loss. I think the garden knoll is enjoying it though.

IMG_2556I’ve been pretty distracted this summer so I feel some loss about the garden. Part of the problem is my tendency to sit on this deck and enjoy the view 😉

I’m okay with that.

Enjoy everything!

Michele

 

Overnight Pickles

I published this post last August and I’ve noticed lots of visits this week from people googling overnight pickles, so here it is again!  These are wonderful!  

I’m an aspiring canner but I haven’t got it down yet. In the meantime this is a wonderful way to make pickles. They’ll probably keep for a few weeks in the fridge if you don’t have a crew like mine who eats them all before you have a chance to test how long they’ll last!

Overnight Pickles

4 cups of water

1/2 cup of white vinegar

3 tablespoons of pickling or kosher salt

2 tablespoons of sugar

garlic cloves (3 per quart jar)

1 teaspoon of mustard seed or 1 tablespoon of pickling spice

dill seeds or fresh dill

8-10 pickling cucumbers

Wash and quarter pickling cucumbers (or slice into rounds if you prefer) and pack into quart or pint jars. As written, this recipe makes 2 quarts and one pint, I double it to make five quarts.  Make a brine by bringing the first four ingredients to a boil and then cooling. Once cool, pour into jars over cucumbers and add spices, garlic and dill. Close jars and refrigerate overnight. They’ll be ready the next day!

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and a favorite at our house. It’s perfect for this time of year when there are lots of cucumbers to use up.

Enjoy!

Cucumberly Neighbors

My very sad excuse for a cucumber this year… holy moly what happened here?IMG_2126 The very lovely cucumbers that our dear neighbor Becky sent over… these are real cucs!IMG_2125 What my youngest daughter did with one of the cucumbers just above (she even took the photo, she was so cute )  😉 IMG_2119 This, Mom, is a cucumber!IMG_2124

Guess I’ll try to grow them down in the garden again next year..

Thank God for great neighbors!

Enjoy everything, especially all of your homegrown cucs!

Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden-June 30

Good Morning! Happy Sunday! The sun is out and I’m ready to rock and roll out in the garden this morning! We’ve had pretty crazy weather here in Salem, Massachusetts. It’s often been sunny out, but then it rains. Then it rains torrentially, then the sun comes out. Then we have a thunderstorm. Then it’s sunny. It’s been pretty weird.

Since we’ve had so much rain we have lots of fungi scattered everywhere. This grass was freshly cut yesterday afternoon and by this morning this guy (and several of his friends) had appeared.IMG_1954

Down in the garden, the staked tomatoes are staked. I’m going to do a bit more pruning today. I’m taking away the bottom branches in hopes of keeping the diseases off of the plants. I wish I’d done a ground cover. If I find salt marsh hay in my travels today I may still add some in around these plants.
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Good morning girls! IMG_1960

Tomatillo, that I started from seed. They were spindly, sad seedlings and I thought that they were a lost cause but I plunked them in anyway and here we are. I think I’ll spread them out a bit and see what we get. IMG_1968

We have tomatoes! This is “mortgage lifter.” Their said to reach three pounds and taste wonderful.  I’m very excited about these! Notice the little velcro ties? I’ve never seen these before so I thought I’d give them a try. So far so good. IMG_1966

The brussel sprouts look happy…IMG_1972

as do the shallots.IMG_1971

And another sweetie tomato seedling that I’d given up for lost. Plants are more resilient than we think sometimes!IMG_1969

Cabbage, with cosmos for color…. Someone thought the cosmos were a weed yesterday, lol. He put them back. IMG_1975

More fungi… at first glance I thought that this was one of my long, skinny friends with a stripe on it’s back. I was pretty happy when I realized that it wasn’t.
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Cauliflower is flowering. I’ve never grown cauliflower before and we love to eat it!IMG_1981 Bush beans are coming along nicely.IMG_1980 The snapdragons self seeded to help light up the chicken coop steps. IMG_1978 The peas did their thing… they climbed in spite of the wind and rain!IMG_1985 Horseradish…IMG_1983Banana Pepper..
IMG_1994 Bee Balm ready to flower…IMG_1992 and a greeting by the shyest cat in the world when I came back inside. See, family and friends, Mittens does exist… just a few of us ever see her.IMG_1997

Time to get out there! There’s weeding to do!

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

What’s Happening In the Garden-May 31

We’re rolling right along out there! The impending heat today was a great incentive to get things deeply planted and watered yesterday. It finally feels like summer is here in Salem!

The potatoes are coming right along. I’ve been adding soil to these as they grow. This pot is full (I hope) of early red potatoes. I’m a little worried about that Japanese Maple. There are tiny buds but no leaves at all yet. It seems a little late?

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These are newly planted (last week) Adirondack Blue potatoes.IMG_1490I’ve been working on pots and containers in preparation for our high school graduation visitors next weekend. Hopefully this will fill in in the next few days.
IMG_1492Tomatoes are in! We went for a large variety this year. I’ll have to do a separate post on that sometime soon.IMG_1493Peppers, cabbage, brussel sprouts and shallots. Please notice the complete lack of perfection here. I just don’t allow myself to get bogged down by that. I would never get anything done.IMG_1495Lettuce, cauliflower and bush beans planted at the end.IMG_1497One lonely zucchini plant can grow into the space currently used by the lettuce. I had such horrible squash bugs last year that I swore “no zucchini”. Of course there is a tiny bit of zucchini.IMG_1499The chicken coop window box is in!
IMG_1500Sweet peas are creeping up beautifully.
IMG_1502And we have iris!!IMG_1504This is a German iris. IMG_1506And of course, siberian.

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Maybe there is just a little bit of perfection out there, but not because of me!

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

Happy Easter! It’s Time To Plant The Pansies

Usually I’ve planted some pansies by Easter, but this year between the late snows and our crazy schedule I almost didn’t make it.

This morning I managed to pick them up at the garden center, just in time.

Be not afraid!

Their very hardy and they’ll be just fine!

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Every March when I put them out people roll their eyes and tell me that they won’t make it, but they do…

IMG_0457

Give this pot a week or two and it will fill in with a mass of happy little pansy faces.

You can even eat the flowers if you’d like to!

Have I mentioned that spring is here?

Happy Easter!

Love,

Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden–October 10

It really feels like fall out in the garden. I can’t say that I love it, I’m a summer person, but it is beautiful here and the Holidays are right around the corner, then the snow, and then spring will be here.. sorry.. I’m getting off track :).

Okay, out to the garden! Here’s our white pine tree undergoing it’s annual fall browning. It may look a bit sad but this is just part of  it’s  fall process. You can read more about the conifer life cycle here in this article by Margaret at A Way to Garden, one of my very favorite gardening blogs. The conifers will be just fine, they really will!

We still have a few hints of summer,  like mesclun.

and some sage.  I need to dry some for the winter.

The tomatoes are hanging on. This tomato plant volunteered from last year and grew all over the asparagus bed.

The peppers like this cool weather.

There’s lots of green tomatoes. My neighbor and I were talking about what to do with them last night.

This morning on the phone my mom said that they can be wrapped in newspaper to slowly ripen. I may try that… will keep you posted!

The cabbage are just about ready.  

There’s still some basil hanging on

and zinnias and gladiolas.

I’m wondering if the gladiolas can winter over in the ground, or should I pull them and put them away for the winter?

(I should probably pull them out)

Our trees are still quite green. we should be seeing some good fall color soon, I hope!

There’s so much clean up to do. We’ll get there, one bed at a time.

Happy fall!  Enjoy everything!

Michele

Overnight Pickles

I’m an aspiring canner but I haven’t got it down yet. In the meantime this is a wonderful way to make pickles. They’ll probably keep for a few weeks in the fridge if you don’t have a crew like mine who eats them all before you have a chance to test how long they’ll last!

Overnight Pickles

4 cups of water

1/2 cup of white vinegar

3 tablespoons of pickling or kosher salt

2 tablespoons of sugar

garlic cloves (3 per quart jar)

1 teaspoon of mustard seed or 1 tablespoon of pickling spice

dill seeds or fresh dill

8-10 pickling cucumbers

Wash and quarter pickling cucumbers (or slice into rounds if you prefer) and pack into quart or pint jars. As written, this recipe makes 2 quarts and one pint, I double it to make five quarts.  Make a brine by bringing the first four ingredients to a boil and then cooling. Once cool, pour into jars over cucumbers and add spices, garlic and dill. Close jars and refrigerate overnight. They’ll be ready the next day!

This is my mother-in-law’s recipe and a favorite at our house. It’s perfect for this time of year when there are lots of cucumbers to use up.

Enjoy!

Basil Day!!!

Yesterday I harvested and processed basil. It’s one of those jobs that looks kind of overwhelming at first but ends up being fun, with a nice reward at the end. I freeze basil in one or two cup containers that I can pull out about once a month to use as I need it. This year I also tried drying it in the oven with great results.  Of course now I want to dry every herb that I’m growing, and I’m pretty sure that I will!  I think I’ll love reaching for my own oregano, basil, thyme, dill and sage when I’m cooking in January!

The day started with a trip out to the garden to bring in my first bunch of basil. I like to cut it as I go to avoid wilt and so that it’s as fresh as possible when it goes into the freezer. This also gives me wiggle room if I have to stop to run a kid somewhere or make lunch.

I wash it thoroughly, a handful or two at a time. Sometimes I dry with towels if I’m really flying along time-wise. Usually it can sit for a few minutes to dry off while I’m working on something else.

To take the leaves off the stem I lay it flat and slice in a straight line.  I still cut some leaves off  individually, but I find that I can get a lot done quickly if I kind of “power chop” it like this.

I fill the food processer right up and add a few tablespoons of olive oil.

I pulse a few times till it’s chopped finely and adjust the olive oil so it’s well covered but not soupy.

I put it into plastic containers to freeze and it’s done! I try to fill to the top to prevent freezer burn and make good use of space. I’ve found that it will keep for up to a year. Experts might recommend less than a year, but I was still pulling basil out in June  and it was just fine.

As I mentioned earlier I also ventured into drying some basil. When I started this cookie sheet was covered with leaves (and a few bunches of leaves).  I used the “warm” setting on my oven (a GE Profile) to dry this in about an hour and a half. I set the kitchen timer after an hour and checked it every ten minutes or so. It reached a point where it was clearly ready to crumble. There was no moisture left at all!

I simply crumbled it as soon as it came to room temperature and this was the result.  It smells great and looks just like dried basil!  I’m hoping for great flavor, we’ll see!

I also made a big pot of pesto… we’ll enjoy pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes tonight.

Have I mentioned that I really, really love summer?

Enjoy everything!

Michele