Friday, December 28, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
|Boston Public Market|
|A variety of products at the Boston Public Market|
|Garden in the courtyard at theBoston Public Library|
|Gardens at Wolfe's Neck Farm|
|Gardens at the House of the Seven Gables, Salem, Massachusetts|
|Gardens at John Adams and John Quincy Adams home site in Quincy, Massachusetts|
Friday, November 16, 2012
|The Pearl and Mr. Cuteypants|
Another night, I had some of the chickens inside my fenced garden to do some clean-up work of frost-damaged bean plants. I put up a temporary fence to keep the chickens away from growing plants and to direct the chickens to sleep in the guinea castle my husband built in which the guineas refused to sleep. Somehow, because I put their favorite chicken, pictured below beside them on the roost, in the pen inside the garden, they figured out how to get inside the walled garden, inside the temporary fence, and into the guinea house.
|They got into the guinea house, but do you think they could figure out how to get back OUT of the garden in the morning?|
One evening, as I walked across the yard, I was astonished to see the guineas fly across the yard and onto the roof of the house. They seemed as surprised as I was by their sudden ability to fly to such heights. They walked around for awhile on the roof, and, despite my worries that they wouldn't figure out how to get off the roof and would stay there, squawking, all night, they did manage to figure out how to get off the roof.
|This is when I started worrying about whether or not they could figure out how to get off the roof...|
My husband saw The Pearl running across the yard, with Mr. Cuteypants following behind him. Poor Mr. Cuteypants looked away, and The Pearl stopped running. Mr. Cuteypants rear-ended The Pearl, resulting in a squawking mass of feathers flying into the air as they scared each other. I saw Mr. Cuteypants trip over a root and fall on his face.
Mr. Cuteypants doesn’t scold our dachshunds either, but he knows deer don’t belong in the yard. How he knows all this but he cannot figure out how to fly on purpose is beyond me. The existence of guineas, with their crazy behavior and wild punk rock spiked neck hair, are, along with dachshunds, proof that God has a sense of humor.
This week, The Pearl redeemed himself for eternity for all his antics by chasing a hawk out of the chicken pen. A hawk descended into the pen, and all the chickens ran into the chicken house. Mr. Cuteypants flew out of the pen in agitation, but The Pearl fought against the hawk, scaring him away where he tried to recover his pride about twenty feet off the ground in a pine tree. The Pearl flew up near the hawk, continuing the attack, and the hawk flew away into the woods. Of course, at bedtime, I had to hold up the fence so The Pearl could slip under the fence and back into the pen with the chickens.
Monday, November 5, 2012
My three-year-old daughter wanted to carry the egg, which she did, and to hold it (we didn't go directly to the house) for awhile. I tried to get her to lay it down, but she wasn't interested in doing that, and I didn't want to make an issue of the egg. Three-year-olds can be careful, right?
Then the predictable conversation occurred: "I not break it, Mommy." "Okay, good. Be careful!"
"Uh-oh Mommy, I break it a little bit. There's a crack. It not open up." "Okay, be careful!"
In the interim I was trying to get a fence up so the chickens didn't destroy my garden, and was shooing away a chicken that was pecking at my Brussels sprout plant.
"UH-OH MOMMY!! (egg streams through the fingers). I breaked it!!"
Monday, October 29, 2012
|One of my babies is puzzled by this flower as we enjoy the spring bulbs|
|Bulbs decorate the winter garden. The white plastic protected the winter vegetables, and it must be a warm day because the lid on the cold frame is open at the rear center of the photo.|
|Daffodils turn towards the sun, and unfortunately for the situation of this flowerbed, that means they turn away from the viewer of the flowerbed|
Sunday, October 21, 2012
|Healthy rye grass fertilized by chicken manure|
|Stunted rye grass in newly cleared area|
|Last year's cover crop of wheat. The chickens enjoyed the grain!|
Monday, October 15, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Sunday, October 7, 2012
|Photo Courtesy of Bonnie's Plants|
Monday, October 1, 2012
|Sedum 'Autumn Joy' with guineas in the background|
|I have no idea why this iris is blooming now, but I do enjoy it|
Monday, September 24, 2012
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
|The wine cooler keeps sauerkraut and wine at a perfect temperature|
Friday, August 24, 2012
The guineas are not, as I had planned, roaming the yard and eating ticks. They want to live with the chickens and won't use the nice home my husband built for them. I only have two of the original six guineas left; a blacksnake killed three and one hung itself on a protruding nail inside the guinea house.
|Mr. Cuteypants, the lavender guinea I rescued from the mouth of a blacksnake, described in this post.|
|Pearl Guinea, about 3 months old. His/her (don't know yet) wattles will become bright red as he/she matures.|
Friday, August 10, 2012
|Ohio farm country|
|Young boys delivering calves|
|Dry pastures in Ohio|
Friday, August 3, 2012
In my garden, the basil is growing wildly. Three tiny black seeds that I sowed in the April soil have turned into three enormous plants that are covered with leaves, and, because I have been tardy in picking the basil leaves before they bloomed, flowers. Herbs have the best flavor before they bloom, but even with the blossoms, this basil will make wonderful pesto.
I cut the plants off low to the ground, and they are already growing new leaves which I’ll make into another batch of pesto. After I picked them in the morning, I let them sit in a sink of water for a while to give any critters time to leave the plants.
After I picked off the leaves, I washed them and spun them dry in my salad spinner.
I used one bulb, which means all the individual cloves of garlic on one of these bulbs, in the pesto.
Traditionalists will be horrified, but I use cashew nuts in my pesto instead of pine nuts. They are easier to find, much cheaper, and their flavor is similar to pine nuts. The above picture shows the garlic and cashews I am about to chop in the food processor.
I add parmesan cheese to the cashews and the garlic. A food processor makes the entire process much easier.
I add basil, salt and pepper, and olive oil to the cashews, garlic, and cheese in the food processor bowl. I blend it until it’s the consistency of a thick liquid, adding more oil if necessary, and tasting to make sure the flavors are correct.
Here’s the finished product, ready to go into the freezer.
I don’t actually use a recipe to make pesto because I’ve made it so long that I don’t need one. When I was learning to cook, I remember asking my mother for recipes and she’s say, “I don’t use one, I just put in “enough.” She was kind enough to figure out recipes with me, but I couldn’t imagine how anyone could cook without a recipe.
Now that I’m an experienced cook, I understand that eventually, you cook something so many times that you no longer need a recipe. For those of you who need a recipe, here’s a good one from Simply Recipes.com. It suggests using walnuts in place of pine nuts. For a true southern flavor, try collard greens and pecans.
Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Special equipment needed: A food processor (Check Amazon.com's sales on Cuisinart food processors)
1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with pasta, or over baked potatoes, or spread over toasted baguette slices.
Yield: Makes 1 cup.
If your garden lacks basil plants, make sure to add some next year. If you want to make some pesto this year, ask neighbors or friends, or your favorite farmer at the market. Someone surely has some overgrown basil plants they’d be happy to share, especially if you give them a sample of the finished product.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
I know it is too hot to think about fall, but it is time to plan the fall garden and to start some seeds to grow into transplants to put out later in the fall. Many months of warm weather remain before the first fall frost arrives, so, in the South at least, there is also plenty of time to plant more crops of beans, Crowder peas, basil, dill, cilantro, cucumbers, and winter squash, among other heat-loving plants, before frost arrives. If your first attempt at a summer garden failed, try again. Sometimes pests that attack plants early in the season have moved on later in the season.
I plan to sow some seeds in the garden within the next couple of weeks. I will start the seeds while it’s still hot instead of waiting for cooler temperatures because the plants need to become established before cooler weather comes. If I wait until late September when the weather cools, which I have done, frost will damage the baby plants and they won’t grow well during cold weather. Older plants handle the cold weather fine, and I am able to harvest from them throughout most of the winter. In the spring, they will resume growing ahead of new plants.
Before I sow any seeds during hot weather, I soak the soil with water. After I plant the seeds, I water them very gently, and continue to water them gently once or twice a day, depending on rainfall. Mature plants, with deep roots, need infrequent, long soakings. Seeds, which are only in the top inch or less of soil, need only enough water to keep the top inch or so of soil moist. They need gentle mists of water, because vigorous water applications will wash the seeds away.
After I sow the seeds, I put metal hoops across a garden row and I lay shade cloth across them, pinning it down with clothespins. Shade cloth is available at garden centers or at www.groworganic.com. Old sheets will work also; use something that blocks the hottest rays of the sun while allowing some light.
When the seeds sprout, I continue to keep the soil moist, but I gradually wean them off such frequent watering so they will develop deep roots. I leave the shade cloth up until the weather becomes cooler, and I gradually expose the seedlings to brighter sunlight. If the seedlings look too tall and spindly, they are not getting enough sunlight.
In the South, sow seeds outdoors for beets, carrots, collards, and rutabagas for the fall, and sow seeds of summer vegetables listed earlier. Indoors, sow seeds of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.
In August, begin sowing seeds of kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, and spinach, along with more of the previously mentioned fall vegetables indoors. Keep the baby seedlings inside and away from scorching temperatures until the weather cools.
Outdoors, in August, continue to sow seeds of carrots, beets, chard, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, parsnips, radishes, spinach, and turnips. Keep the soil moist by frequently misting the soil with water, provide shade as needed, and you should have a garden ready for harvest throughout the fall and winter.
Google “what to plant now” for a list at www.motherearthnews.com, for the entire year, of which plants to sow indoors and outdoors at different times of the year for an ongoing harvest. Through succession planting, which is having another crop ready for the garden when the previous one is finished, I can harvest something from my garden every day of the year, and you can too.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
My garden is holding up fairly well to the heat because of water conservation strategies I have employed through the years. I work every year to improve my soil because soil that contains lots of organic matter holds more moisture than sand or clay.
Mulch is my ally against drought and heat. Plant roots appreciate shade from temperatures over 100˚F as much as people do, and a thick layer of mulch insulates and cools the roots, and holds in available soil moisture. I choose cheap and plentiful sources of mulch over expensive and hard to get, and so I use partially rotten hay, leaves, grass clippings, newspapers, cardboard, and pine straw for mulch. Mulch also keeps the weeds from growing so I do not need to go out in this heat to weed the garden.
When I water my lawn and garden, I water them deeply and infrequently, and I water them only when rain does not fall. I do not sprinkle them every day because shallow, frequent watering encourages the plants to develop shallow roots that cannot tolerate drought. These lazy roots love their life of leisure without having to search for water. Like lazy humans, however, they are helpless when their water is not given to them. Deep, infrequent watering, which mimics natural rainfall, makes the roots of the plant search deep in the soil for moisture. When rain does not fall, the deep roots can find water in the soil for much longer than roots used to easy provision of water.
Drip irrigation is the best way to get irrigation water to the roots of plants. Sprinklers put most of the water on the leaves of the plants, where it dries up before doing much good. Sprinklers also promote disease by wetting foliage. I do use a sprinkler in the garden, but I try to keep it off my tomatoes and other plants prone to disease.
When it rains, either turn off your automatic lawn sprinklers, or buy a rain sensor to automatically stop the sprinklers if rain falls. I turn on my sprinklers manually when the grass looks shriveled. And please, please, adjust the sprinkler heads so you water plants instead of asphalt. I do hate driving by commercial landscaping and having my car bathed by water that’s supposed to be going on the plants.
Ideally, gardens thrive best on an inch of rain per week, so if an inch of rain falls from the sky there is no need to waste precious fresh water by watering the lawn that week. I turn on the drip irrigation to my tomatoes and run it for an hour or two once or twice a week, if it does not rain, which gives the tomatoes the consistent soil moisture they love.