Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Arbor is Finished!


When we first moved into this house, we quickly realized that the patio was not a functional spot for sitting in the evening because clip_image001there is no shade and lots of direct sun.  After much planning, we decided on an arbor that we could grow grapes (for eating and wine making) and hops (for brewing) on that would provide shade and food.  The hops variety is known as ‘nugget’ and we put in Concord, Niagara, and Catawba varieties of the grapes.  I really wanted a Canadice because I wanted a good eating grape that wasn’t white and that one is supposed to do well in our climate, but we were unable to find it.  Jacob has developed super human strength and other incredible skills as he has dug three foot holes – on digging the first hole and running into something solid we realized that we were not the first people to build an arbor here, lugged enormous pieces of lumber from trucks to upright positions, and has survived clip_image001[7]having the ladder fall out from under him (the arbor is very strong and can now apparently support a fully grown Jacob).  Yesterday, he got the cross beams up and secured while I was at work so I got to come home to this beautiful and completely finished arbor!  And now we wait for the plants to grow… 

Friday, June 18, 2010

June in the Garden

clip_image002I was looking back at the pics of the garden from a month or so ago and was surprised at how much has changed.  Our asparagus continues shooting up feathery spikes which we need to straighten up so they are not taking over the garden path.  The peas are finally starting to produce but it’s a bit of a slow start.  The snow peas are kicking butt in the production clip_image001department although some of them are covered in tiny bumps and I don’t know why.  The garden peas are having some trouble.  They are an heirloom variety known as Thomas Laxton and the pods currently are maturing as mini-pods (they only have 1-3 peas in them) which is frustrating if you have to shell them to eat them!  I have to do a bit of research to solve these issues.  The melons have all germinated and are happy but not big enough to be climbing yet.  The cucumbers took us by surprise because they have grown by leaps and bounds and we’ve clip_image002[5]already had to put in tomato cages for them.  The strawberries continue to try to give us goodies but we know we have to yank off runners and flowers so we can have a good crop next year.  The peppers are doing well, we even have a blossom on one.  Unfortunately a few transplants didn’t make it, so we have to supplement by picking up a few more plants at market this weekend.  The lettuces are really taking off, so salads are completely doable for us clip_image002[7]now – although salad dressing is another story altogether.  The carrots are growing nicely and I have to figure out when we can start harvesting those.  The cauliflower keeps getting munched by bugs so we are spraying them with an eco-friendly product we got from Lowe’s but it keeps raining and washing it off!  We put some zucchini out which is doing well along with some sunflowers that are trying their best to survive the transplant.  I wanted to just grow them from seed outside but something promptly dug up and ate the seeds the one time we tried that.  The spinach has pretty much all bolted before we could even really harvest anything which is a bit disappointing.  I guess we should have started those earlier.  The potatoes are growing nicelclip_image002[9]y, although we haven’t completely filled their squares back up because the tub we were holding extra dirt in filled up with water (lids are definitely the way to go!), so our harvest may be a little smaller than it should be.  The tomatoes are growing nicely as well.  The struggle we are having is with beans.  They just don’t want to germinate for us!  We should have about 15 plants for each of the three varieties and currently our dry bean variety (appaloosa) only has one plant! clip_image002[11] I’ll be doing a replant this weekend and keeping my fingers crossed (third time’s the charm right?).  The onions are looking happy as always but we have had some bolting so we’ve been cutting off the flower stalks and hoping the bulbs are not affected.  The raspberries have probably doubled or tripled in size and are producing berries now – the yellow ones are the best!  I find myself battling the Morning Glories on a regular basis to keep my raspberry bushes healthy though and we have an anthill that has decided to target one of the bushes so a lot of the berries we try to harvest there are filled with bugs – yuck!  The harvests aren’t huge (roughly an ounce at a time) but keep in mind that these are first year plants.  The bird netting we put over them seems to be keeping away the birds and neighbors so we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will get the most out of our meager harvest.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Best Burger EVER!!!

clip_image002Sorry it’s been a while since the last post.  Life has been a bit crazy.  We finally found a yeast that appears to be sourced in the U.S. and is distributed by Frontier in bulk, so we will be placing an order for that shortly.  In the meantime, I rented the book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day after Mother Earth News featured an article about it.  The book encourages making large batches of bread dough and just breaking off pieces and baking them when you want fresh bread.  The recipes are very simple and easy to understand – something that is certainly not the case with every bread book.  We used the packet of yeast that I caved in and bought the other day to make up a 2/3 size batch of the 100% whole wheat bread.  It rose!!  Yippee!!!  So for dinner, we tore off a big hunk and made up 6 hamburger buns which baked up beautifully.  We had grass-fed ground sirloin burgers (no seasoning or anything) that Jacob cooked up on the grill.  We had a side of mashed potatoes with our homemade butter, Snowville Creamery milk, and some salt and pepper along with a side of fresh asparagus from market.  We used organic ketchup (we will make our own  in the future) and had some fresh romaine lettuce from the garden (picked about 30 seconds before consumption).  These sure aren’t your standard McDonald’s hamburgers!  I’ve never been a huge burger eater myself, but these were absolutely wonderful!  The meat was moist, and the bun held together but wasn’t tough, and the mashed potatoes were good (but they tasted different to us since it was our first time eating yellow potatoes as opposed to the red ones we bought in the wclip_image002[5]inter).  I was surprised that we noticed the difference between the varieties!  The asparagus tops were good but we’ve had that asparagus around for a little while so the ends were a little woody.  For dessert, we had vanilla bean Velvet ice cream (our indulgence, at least it’s made in Ohio) with fresh market strawberries.  Delicious!!