Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This And That

in the middle of summer.

The garden is growing leaps and bounds.  Tomatoes are setting fruit .. and huge heads of broccoli have been picked, blanched ... and frozen for winter.  Raspberries are ripening .. and being picked .. though not many are surviving the walk to the kitchen ;)  It's been cool enough for the lettuce to still be producing ... which means LOTS OF SALADS!  I'm noticing the northeast corners of the double stacked raised beds grow lush .. while the southwest ends seem stunted.  Will have to adjust my planting next year to take this into consideration.

We just got back from a mini trip up to Glacier National Park ... arriving only days after the Going To The Sun road opened for the season.  This drive passes across the Continental Divide and opened rather late this year.  (I think the latest ever.) 

It seems the weather tables have turned and the inland northwest has THE best weather across the United States this summer.  Of course, we'll get our payback come winter.  The air conditioner has only been turned on once this summer ... and that was due to humidity .. not excess heat.

I've been enjoying and really using our flour mill of late.  It's become a habit now to grind enough wheat for a day or two.

I also dragged out my pasta roller/cutter after watching an Italian cooking show that featured a recipe with dough made so quickly in the food processor .. then rolled and cut quickly.  For this I am using some of my home ground flour and semolina flour ... a good mix.

The herb garden has been harvested once already with bundles of greens hanging in the garden shed to dry.  My favorite dried herb is thyme.  There should be enough time for another growth spurt and harvest.  Nothing beats fresh herbs in the summer right out the kitchen door.

Now that our daughter, Ann, moved out in May ... we are seeing a savings in electricity and food.  Coffee beans last much longer :)  Speaking of coffee ..we're now roasting beans in a hot air popcorn popper!  It works much better than smoking up the kitchen using a skillet ... and can be done outside.

Glacier National Park
What's growing in your garden ... and happening in your neck of the woods?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nice Weather

... a bit too cool for tomatoes and peppers.

My tomatoes have blossoms that keep falling off.  I think our chilly summer is the cause.  My pepper plants started from seed last March are slowly getting bigger.  Ever thankful for the bigger plants I purchased and added for insurance.  Not sure about the rest of the country that seems to be sweltering in the heat and humidity .. but would like to have some of the warmth arrive to set the blossoms.  Today I was thankful to see the bees out once again in the backyard.  Seems they were mainly collecting from the spring flowers that are now just blooming in the front yard.  I have lots of clover in the back .. and now the mustard is blooming .. hopefully this will entice the bees enough to notice the tomato plants as well.

What's blooming, withering, or being harvested from your garden?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lightening .. the natural fertalizer (huh?)

Last Years Garden
I can't wait to peek at the garden in the morning.  We had a huge electrical storm pass through that should green things up.  It's especially true if you have any metal (i.e. fencing) nearby.  I'm no scientist .. just observant.  My pole beans greened up quite nicely last year from such a storm.  Here's an article with some of the facts.  HOW LIGHTENING BENEFITS THE VEGETABLE GARDEN

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Raised Garden Beds

I like the new raised garden area.  It is, for the most part, WEED FREE (yes!).  My vole problem has turned out to be a ground squirrel (chipmunk).  Confusing .. I know.  But after studying the destructive habits and telltale signs .. and seeing a chipmunk, he is making holes all over the yard surrounding the garden.  The only direct damage inside the fenced off area are my gladiola bulbs .. half of which have gone missing .. and nice little mounds of soft dirt piled up in each back corner where they were planted below the wood chips.  And to think I scolded my dog while trying to nab the critter last week when she upturned a small woodpile.  I have found one dead (half eaten) vole as well .. that I have credited to the dog.

The downside to the raised beds .. onions are not growing well.  The top inch or so of soil does not retain moisture .. and yet it is damp deep down below the surface.   Next year I shall try filling the beds to the top with more soil so as not to cast shadows from the wooden sides, as this causes uneven plant growth to some extent ... and to apply some hay for moisture retention. 

This week the strawberries have ripened supplying about a quart each day .. enough to eat and make some freezer jam.