Garden Daybook 7/25/13

bee on V. bonariensis 1small

We are blessed to have a hive of bees in a huge maple tree in our yard. We can hear them buzzing throughout the gardens, moving flower to flower, pollinating our vegetables and fruit. I found this worker bee collecting pollen on the Tall Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) in the asparagus bed. They always make me smile!

garlic dried small

Last week I dug all the garlic and hung it in the garden shed. This week I managed to find time to clean, chop, and dehydrate the garlic that was “too far gone” to hang and dry. I had enough chopped garlic to fill 5 racks in the dehydrator. I dried it at 105° for about 6 hours or until it was crispy – probably longer. I ended up with 4 cups of beautiful dried garlic. Yay! I know this seems like a mountain of garlic but we use a LOT of garlic! We use it for canning soups and tomato sauce, in pickles and salsa and other things I can’t remember right now. We use it in something just about everyday. I can also grind it to make garlic powder. Gee! Do you think a quart will last until July 2014?

parsley rottedsmall

OY!! This is how my 2013 parsley crop looks. The entire bed of parsley has totally rotted! I have never had this happen in my 40+ years of gardening. I walked out to the garden to pick a handful for the herb class I taught on Tuesday and found the plant – or what was left of it – flat on the ground and rotted at the stem. The root is soft all the way through. AARAUGH!!! I dehydrated a big jar of parsley last summer and have quite a bit left – guess I should use it with care!

lettuce bolted w chickenssmall

Longer days and heat have made the lettuces bolt. It has stretched taller, has bitter leaves, and clusters of immature seeds at the top. I like to leave it alone and allow it to bolt and then collect some of the mature seed to replant and then pull the plants for the chickens. Because we had LOTS of lettuce bolt I pulled some with immature seed for the chickens. They LOVE it. If you look at the picture you can see the seed heads at the left. My chickens say “Yum!”

July 24 apples small

The fruit seems to love the moisture and heat. This is the first time this tree has produced apples. I think I have found – oh maybe – 6 apples. WooHoo! They have a few spots on them but overall they look healthy.

July 24 Asian pears small

Our Asian Pear tree is loaded with fruit. I have found Asian Pears tend to overbear (set too much fruit) so I thin the fruit when it is very small. If you have never tasted a just picked Asian Pear you need to find a find a nursery that sells them and give them a try. They are drip down your chin JUICY and exactly why I love growing our own fruit. Our tree is about 5 years old and so far seems to bear heavily every second year. We can pick enough to feast on fresh pears, can several quarts, and even make several pints of pear juice for winter oatmeal.

July 24 elderberries small

The elderberries are loaded with huge heads of flowers – which by the way smell heavenly! All those tiny flowers will turn into tiny elderberries. When the berries turn dark purple and ripen, I cut the heads, and load them into my stainless steam juicer to make elderberry juice. I use the juice to make elderberry syrup and jelly. I love elderberry jelly. Spread on a crispy piece of toast and topped with a slice of crispy bacon – it is heaven in your mouth! Elderberries are easy to grow but keep in mind that each plant grows about 7 feet tall (or more!) and spreads at least 4 feet around.

July 24 grapes small

The grapes are hanging heavy and, surprisingly, seem to be relatively healthy even in the heat and humidity. We grow several varieties, all seedless. Well – we do have an arbor covered with a wild grape (thank you, Emory for the plant!) in the back garden. Wild grape jelly – from juice made in the steam juicer – is sooo much better than store bought grape jelly. It has a richness to it that I find comes only from wild grapes. Think crispy English muffin, butter, and wild grape jelly. Oh man! It is good!

In the vegetable the potatoes and tomatoes are struggling, some of the cabbages have literally dried up, and the parsley has rotted. But – on the good side – the peppers are loaded with fruit, the sweet potato vines are rambling over and out of their bed, the onions are still growing well, and the okra has finally decided to put on growth. Most of the garden is managing to grow despite the weather. We’ll preserve what we can and be thankful for it.

Hey from the farm,
Fran The Country Cousin


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