Saturday, December 29, 2012

The 2012 Garden - at the end

As 2012 draws to a close, I thought I would take you back on a journey through the last couple of months in the garden.  Sorry I have not posted as I went along, but things were pretty hectic this year.

So, here is how my garden turned out:

I made multiple plantings of peas this year - started picking in April, and picked the last peas in mid-November.  It takes a lot of planning to do this.  Also, you have to ensure that you plant so that when there are blossoms, there are bees.  I made sure to have some mason bees out (the rosemary blooming early always draws them in).   I also made sure there were lots of flowers and herbs blooming late so that there were still bees around to pollinate in late October.

We had a bumper crop of pie cherries this year -more then we could possibly use.  I love cherry pie!  We had a cherry pie for Christmas ( had to use Truvia because of my diabetes) and everyone thought it was great!  We have gallons of frozen cherries, and I gave to friends and neighbors another 10-15 gallons.

I wish I could share the smell of the Marionberries we had this year.  this was another bumper crop.  I had a co-worker come over and pick several gallons.  I envision even more in 2013 because of the vine training I have been doing.  All told, we probably picked about 8 gallons of berries - from 4 plants.

These are headed for marionberry cobbler - and vanilla ice cream!

One of several planting of peas

Bok Choy blooms - had lots and lots of seeds I gathered this year!

The beginning of the tomato craziness - this is in mid-June (potatoes to the left)

By the middle of July, the tomatoes had grown way past the six foot mark - 13th street nursery was one of the few places I could find 8-9 ft bamboo at a reasonable price - I bought pretty much all they had!  Bamboo and zip ties - that is how I supported the tomatoes this year.  It was quite a sight!  People drove slowly by, walked by, came up to the door to ask about the tomatoes.  what a year for tomatoes!

And you wonder why I wasn't able to find time to blog...  Honestly, every time I came home from work, I was out either picking berries, or tying up tomatoes!

I also had to finish the front fence on the east garden next to the berries.  I had a lot of supervision from the cats.
Either Puppy likes the warm walkway, or thinks he needs to keep an eye on me.

Of course, getting up there was one thing, getting down was another.  It involved an 8 foot 2 x 6 to make a ramp for her, a lot of encouragement, and a lot of whining on Macies part.

Just as a reminder, this is the apple tree I planted from a seed 15 years ago - this was the most apples we have ever had from it, and only the third year it has borne any.  As you can see below, we got enough apples for about 4 pies.  Last year, we only got enough apples for 1 1/2.  So for Thanksgiving I made a apple cranberry pie - it was delish!

In August, canning beans started to be a every other day chore.

I canned a total of 38 quarts, 18 pints, and froze about 4 gallons of beans for veggie soup.

Picked our first crop of Blueberries from the plantings I had made in early spring. Jess was glad to get those, and Amaya helped check for more every time she came over.

In July, we helped to welcome the newest additon to our extended family - Remi  Sullivan, the daughter of my nephew Zac.  they live in Kelso - it was quite a long drive up there, but worth it!

Peppers started really producing in August, and kept on until late October.  As soon as they were ripe, Jess got them to cut up for raw veggies.  Will have to plant more next year!  I hardly got any...

Celebrated my daughter Gwens birthday this summer with a chocolate truffle cake - with our raspberries.

Amaya enjoyed the cake also!
When I lived in Greece, the street vendors cooked lamb kabobs over coals, supported by concrete blocks or bricks.  I have been wanted a bbq for sometime (preferably a Weber) but don't have $700 lying around for the one I want, so this is my kabob cooker ( and steak cooker) on the cheap.  I bought a firepit on sale ($25) - and some firebrick.  Bought a bag of charcoal for getting the fire going, but have been using up the wood from cutting down the hedge 3 years ago - so I guess it is a type of fir.  Anyway, we spent the summer experimenting with different types of kabobs.  Yum!

Homemade pita bread, yogurt, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion - roasted lamb.  wonderful!

Here was another version with potatoes - lamb was marinated in olive oil, garlic ( which we had just harvested, and rosemary.  

Here is Amaya (age 3 and a half) helping me wash anise basil so that I can dry it.

She really gets the whole salad spinner process!

I grew two different kinds of dry bush beans this year.  Jessica's job was to clean them and sort them

It helps to have someone who is a bit OCD for jobs like this.  The only one I have tried so far is the tan ones (Annies bush beans from Nichols).  they have a great flavor - kind of mealy like a potatoes, and didn't take that long to cook up.

And of course, there was the tomatoes - most of which went into dried tomato chips, salsa, and canned tomatoes.

We probably ran the dehydrator for three straight months - doing one to two batches a day.  Sad to say, Jess only has a little bit of dried tomato chips left...  She is trying to ration them.  

We had so many chives this year, I decided to try something new.  We have had great success with basil and sage butters, so tried chive butter.

I like it spread on homemade bread, but it is good stirred into pasta also.  I even threw in some bread crumbs to get all the bits from doing this, then froze the crumbs and used them later for coating fish.  that was yummy.  I try to not waste anything.

Part of the fall crop of carrots ( most of which is still out in the garden keeping cool) and the last of the beans for veggie soup.

October meant the grape harvest was ready...

Forgot to show the currants earlier - we had a great crop this year...

Radish seeds  - they just need to dry and then be harvested

Cucumbers did well - my plan to grow them on an incline seemed to work well, and we got a steady supply of cukes for about 3 months.  Jess was so sad to see them go.  she had a greek salad every day for almost three months (cucumber, tomato, feta and olive oil)

That is all the pics I have for now.  In October is started to rain, but we were able to pick the last tomatoes in November right before thanksgiving.  I started building some new raised beds in October - took me until December to finish them with the horrid weather.  I had to pull out all the drip line for the tomatoes, the fencing along the driveway, built three 12' x 3' x 3' beds.  Just in case anyone is wondering, it takes about 120 buckets of soil ( 5 gallon size) to fill one bed.  I know - I spent several weeks in between rain storms running out, uncovering the dirt pile (4 yards of soil mix) to fill them.

Happiness right now is going through all the seed catalogs that are filling my mailbox.  I have all my seeds for 2013 - but might see something new I want to try.  My big push now is to redo two of my beds for a new project - build a seed starting tower with lights ( in the garage), and be ready to plant peas in about 8 weeks.

I know winter has just officially started, but spring is just around the corner!

Have a happy new years - be safe!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Where have I been?

Taking care of the garden!   without help from my kids (they moved to college), it has been all me this summer.  Add to that a new job which has really tired me out, and I have just not had any time to update the blog.  But, I have another two-three weeks of beans, tomatoes, raspberries, peas, cucumbers - canning, freezing, mulching, pruning.  And then I might have a breather and can update you about my 2012 garden.  Hopefully, you are out there doing all of this also!  I have some new great websites to share that will save you $$ - so watch for a posting in a few weeks!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

The early June Garden - Slugs, beans and raspberries

Yes, I said Raspberries!

May 29th I was picking strawberries and glanced over to the raspberry rows, and was surprised to see some ready to pick!

I've been kept busy picking pyrethrum blossoms and drying them - an every day task right now

I am also trying to get to the spinach that bolted - this is just a small portion.   I am going to steam it, then put in food processor and pour into ice cube trays and freeze - then I can add it to soups, dips, etc.

June 2nd - started picking a large bowl of raspberries about every other day

One of the reasons I like to grow my own raspberries

Harvesting three different kinds of peas

Last weekend (June 1st) I admitted defeat in the first go round with the slugs in my bean patch.  The beans that had got an early start and were starting to climb had escaped their ravages - but the second succession of plantings had been nipped off just as they came out of the soil.  Horrid slugs!  It was raining so much sluggo wasn't working - and I kept forgetting to put out the raw potato slices, which works best at trapping them.  So, I had to run to 13th street to see if they had any pole bean starts left.

Entrance to 13th Street Nursery

Yeah, they still had some pole bean starts!  I bought 12 - planning on planting extra against the risk of more slug attacks.  

I wasn't the only one stocking up on veggie starts - I was so glad I already had my tomatoes and they were in the ground.  Although 13th street still had a good selection last weekend. (Good thing I got there right after they opened before it got crowded)

One of these days I want to try my hand at bonsai, and 13th street has a great selection of starts and established plants

Here is one half of the shade room - this is where my granddaughter likes to come to pick out mosses for between our stepping stones

Right outside the shade room - a huge selection of herbs - some hard to find, and more veggie starts

The other half of the shade room - I need to come in and browse around when I have time, since I still have a shady spot on the other side of the grape arbor to plant.  I love having excuses to visit the nursery.

Ornamentals and blueberry plants in front.  For a small nursery, they seem to pack a lot of stuff in here.  Dedicated owners and staff keep everything looking nice and they are very helpful.

Say hi to owner Karen Maki if you go in - she is usually running around watering, pruning, or answering questions.

Annuals at 13th street - I have so much fun in this section!

So, I bought my beans, came home and planted them, finished planting the dry bush beans I have - and now all my main planting is done!

Now, to keep ahead of the weeds, pick the rest of the spinach, replant lettuce and radishes, keep the berries picked, finish mulching the rows - well, you get the idea!

It rained all week here in the Willamette Valley, so at least I didn't have to water.  but a clear day dawns and I can get lots of stuff done this weekend!  Hope you have fun in the garden too.