Saturday, June 20, 2009


I made a delicious discovery as I took Toby for an early morning walk on Friday. Raspberries! For weeks I have been watching the wild brambles go from bare, to being loaded with hard, green, and then pink and red berries. At last, some have turned dark purple. Even though we were in a bit of a hurry to get Toby's "business" taken care of so I could head off to work, I had to stop and pick a few. Everyone knows that the first berries of the season are the most delicious, and I wasn't about to miss out. Later today when it is not so hot out I'll go pick a bowl full. The only down side to enjoying free wild raspberries is that many of them are surrounded by poison ivy or poison oak. Chiggers--those invisible buggers that burrow under your skin and make you itch like crazy--seem to hang out around raspberries, too. However, the wild berries are tasty enough to make wearing long pants, long sleeves, and bug spray worth it, even with temperatures in the 80's.

It is somewhat of a tradition for me to make a raspberry cream pie each year. However, since I have become a devoted weight watcher, I think I will work on finding a lower calorie way to enjoy these scrumptious treats. Suggestions welcome!

Finding the raspberries reminded me that last weekend I picked a couple of quarts of sour cherries and put them in the refrigerator to pit later. What happened is I completely forgot about them. I have yet to check on them; I am so afraid I'll find a moldy mess of cherries representing wasted effort and wasted time. Even though I am basically an organized person, I just have not been able to find a way to fully balance working full time and taking care of such a large yard, the house, and so many animals while still leaving time for other things like eating, sleeping, and sitting down for a couple of minutes without feeling guilty about all that is not getting done. Oh well--I do what I can do, and keep looking for ways to simplify. The garden boxes are a good example. It is so great to enjoy wonderful home grown vegetables without all of the weeding, tilling, and hoeing. I'm sure I'll keep discovering better ways to do a lot of things, or learn how to let them go.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How does your garden grow?

My garden is growing great! The combination of rain and sunshine is working its magic and the plants are really taking off. The zucchini is especially impressive, growing by leaps and bounds within only a couple of weeks (compare the photo below to the one on my post of May 26). I'm also amazed by how the 'tall telephone' peas have grown. After an extra shot of fertilizer they started ascending the trellis at a rapid rate and have already rewarded us with a small harvest. We've also enjoyed lettuce, cilantro, and some beets from the garden.

The silver disk you see on the pea trellis is an aluminum pie tin I tied to the support with a bit of twine. It moves and clanks with even a gentle breeze hopefully helping to startle rabbits, birds, and other wildlife that may damage the garden. Even so, I did have one frustrating setback thanks to the band of rogue rabbits that have an encampment on our property. When I went out to the garden on Saturday morning, I was dismayed (to say the least) to find some of my green bean plants bitten in two, one tomato plant nibbled to the ground, and most frustrating of all, every single basil plant missing as though they had never existed. A quick check of the fence showed that the enemy rabbits had literally chewed through the vinyl fencing on one end of the garden. Bits of fence could be found on the ground as evidence. I couldn't believe it! That very day Nick and I visited the hardware store and came home with 100 feet of 2' tall rabbit guard fence. It took about 2 hours to install. It went up fairly easily as it fit right on to my existing quick stick posts. I'm really happy with how it looks -- from a distance you don't even notice it -- and with the fact that I don't believe it is chewable by even the toughest of rabbits.

Here is a picture of another uninvited visitor to the garden. With all the rain I am having some trouble with slugs and snails. This one received a reprieve, but others have not been so lucky. To protect the hostas in the front of the house from being eaten alive, I have been spraying them with a mixture of 1 cup ammonia to 1 gallon of water. This remedy was recommended by the staff of Stream Cliff Herb Farm near Commiskey, Indiana, that we recently visited. I hope it will do the trick. I hate how my beautiful hosta get full of holes from slug and snail damage this time of year. I'll let you know how it works.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm happy to report that my first bottle of chive blossom vinegar has been strained and bottled. It is the most beautiful shade of pink with a wonderful flavor to match. I can't wait to use it on fresh cooked greens or maybe even in some homemade salad dressings. Now I feel inspired to make up a batch of mixed herb vinegar. Perhaps a blend of oregano, basil, chives, thyme, and maybe even garlic would be good.

I also recently made a very good batch of herb butter. Here is the recipe in case you would like to try it yourself. Feel free to modify the ingredients to take advantage of what you have on hand. There really is no one recipe for herb butter. Also, by adding a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese to this recipe, you would have a wonderful spread to grill on bread. Enjoy!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons of minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper (optional)

When butter is soft enough to spread, blend herbs in mixing well with a wooden spoon. Chill in a sealed container. Enjoy on bread, crackers, or cooked vegetables.