30 May 2012


It has been a week of pies. We made a discovery- Mulberries. You know, like in the song All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel? I'd seen these bushes all around the neighborhood and never paid much attention to them. Then we saw a guy at the park eating the berries with his kids and asked him about them. Mulberries. Perfectly edible. They look like blackberries but smaller.
My daughter insisted on picking enough for a pie. So we did.
This pie looks particularly dark because I was out of white flour and made an all-wheat flour crust. It has a surprising flavor once the berries are sugared- kind of like grapes! And once cooked they have an interesting chewy texture. It's good, though. And nutritious!
I also made more bread this weekend- with the recipe I photocopied out of Jenna's book Made from Scratch. I made a loaf and a braid, but my braid cooked out flat so you can't even tell that's what it was. I kneaded the dough a lot longer this time and the bread had a very nice texture, but still doesn't rise as much as I want. O well. At least the kids were happy having it for sandwiches and spread warm with honey.

29 May 2012

more honey

I've been trying out more "special honeys". Went to a different farm stand and I saw some varieties that aren't available at the other farm stand we usually frequent, so I picked them up. Got a wildflower honey, a blueberry honey and a buckwheat honey.
You can see the different colors here. The wildflower honey is light but kinda reddish, the blueberry honey a bit darker and more red, the buckwheat honey quite dark.
The blueberry honey is popular with my daughter- it definitely has a fruity flavor with hint of blueberries. The wildflower honey is sweet but with a sharp astringent aftertaste. People tell me it's good to eat local wildflower honey if you suffer from seasonal allergies. The buckwheat honey is dark and rich in flavor like the avocado honey; it is sweet but a little bitter by itself. However it's great on waffles or pancakes (I've been using it exclusively instead of maple syrup!) and this jar is already half gone because I used some to make my own barbecue sauce for pulled pork- the first time my kid liked and ate my pulled pork. Yum!

(I might not buy honey from that particular market again though because I was annoyed that after just a little time the ink on the labels started to rub off. The back label had lots of suggestions for how to use the distinct flavors of each honey in cooking but now I can't read it.)

27 May 2012


This is my first ever Rhubarb-Strawberry pie all from the garden. Picked so many Strawberries we all had some for breakfast, then I sorted the rest and cut some up for pie
with this bowl overflowing for fresh eating.
Here's the Rubarb older daughter helped me pick. The stems are kinda skinny, so I took one fat one off a plant that already got enough picked for the season...
Here's the pie shell filled and ready to have the top crust put on.
Oooh, it was so good! as you can see we ate most of it before I got a chance to photo the finished product.

26 May 2012

pink ferny

My flowering-fern plants are already starting to bloom! The foliage doesn't look too great, though, a little dry even though it's been raining steadily the past few days.
this one of all the others has different leaves, solid not ferny. I don't know why the aberration.

25 May 2012

coming along

We're steadily eating Rhubarb, Peas and Strawberries. The Peas are almost done, the Rhubarb I might get two more pies out of, and the Strawberries are coming on full blast. The rest of the garden is coming along too. My little Pepper plants are flowering, and the Tomatoes. This one Cherry tomato plant has its first fruit forming!
The Broccolis looked like this about two weeks ago
now they're huge and the heads are beginning to form! No sign of budding on the Brussel Sprouts across the way, though.
I've got the most beautiful big Lettuce heads ever, but many of them are starting to bolt, too, so it's time to cut all the heads and store in the fridge for a few weeks of salads.
The Green Beans are starting to climb. I'm worried the supports I put up won't be sturdy enough.

24 May 2012


I think my Garlics are mostly a loss. I'm disappointed, the plants were so beautiful this spring. They were turning yellow and falling over so I figured it was time to pull them, but a lot had mildew. I tried drying them in the sun but it rained intermittently so even though I brought them in the house and put back out when it was sunny, still got some moisture on them.
Today I rubbed off all the outer skins with dirt and mildew, but of the entire crop only this small handful looks salvagable and even then I'm not sure it will be okay to eat. Plus as peeled as they are I don't know if they'll cure properly either.

I think it happened because the winter was so mild they just kept growing and growing and then matured during the rainy spring, instead of maturing during the drier summer. If we keep having mild winters I might have to plant them in early spring instead, so they mature near the end of summer?

23 May 2012


Weeding the garden yesterday I noticed a few purple shoulders under the prickly leaves, so I pulled some Turnips. My first ever. They seem to have done well in spite of the foliage riddled with bug-holes. I proudly showed them to my husband and he was duly impressed, even though he didn't recognize what they were. We don't really eat turnips much in this house, but I tried a few recipes out on my family before planting them, and hope to find more we like!

22 May 2012

blue water

I have a rain barrel! It was a mother's day gift, but I was waiting to be able to give a performance report, before writing. It was easy enough to install; I removed the main segment of drainpipe that ran up the corner of the  house, set the barrel underneath on top of a cinder block, and used the flexible downspout extension piece to run from the gutter corner into the barrel. Screws from the bracket that held the original downspout went easily into the plastic of the extension piece to hold it in place. Then of course I had to get up on a ladder, clean out the gutter and pour some water to see if it would run down properly. It did! trickle, trickle, into the barrel.
And after just one day of steady rain, not even very heavy, the barrel is entirely full. The overflow spout is just angled over the edge of my patio and I put the five-gallon bucket under that and it's full now, too. And there's four more days of rain predicted. I'm going to have to get a segment of hose to run the overflow out onto the grass. The barrel holds a bit more than fifty gallons. I'm already thrilled at being able to just walk out, turn a spigot, and get plenty of water for all my delicate houseplants that go brown around the edges when given tapwater. I think they'll be much happier now, and there's plenty left for watering my garden on the dry days.

We'll see how much this barrel conserves my water use through the growing season; I'll probably still have to turn on the hose at some point when the barrel goes dry and no rain in sight, but really I'm already amazed at the potential it has given me. Can you imagine if I had a barrel on each downspout? this one is set under one of the smallest roof segments, too. You can always run the overflow spout into a second barrel, as well. I've seen naysayers claim that these rain barrels don't really help you much but I already beg to differ. If it cuts down on my water bill from keeping the garden green, and makes my houseplants happy with a clean drink, it's invaluable to me.

Oh, and I forgot to mention it happens to smell nice. It held food originally, and smells wonderfully of vanilla. I love the scent of vanilla, and now every time I'm around that corner of the garden I get strong whiffs of it. Nice!

21 May 2012


My two Echinacea plants (in different parts of the yard) have grown so tall! They're about ready to flower, too- nice fat buds forming. I'm eagerly anticipating the flowers. Sadly, of all the seeds I planted only two seedlings survived. There was rain and I'd left the seedling tray out on the bench and it got drowned. I rescued the two largest seedlings (now in little individual pots) but all the rest are gone...

20 May 2012


I usually try to resist when I go to a garden center, but this time I caved in. I went just to buy mulch but the plants were so beautiful I got a pair of ferns. I've always loved ferns and wanted some. Not sure if they can get through the hot dry summers we usually have but for now they look great! They're now planted between the tree next to my shed, behind the row of "flowering ferns" and next to the lilac bush spot. And thus my goal to get rid of the back part of the lawn has begun...

19 May 2012

young trees

Most of the little trees in pots are starting to leaf out. I really need to decide what to do with them all! Sadly, the ones that I wanted most (after the lilacs), the dogwoods, don't have any leaves yet. I'm still hoping they are just slower than the others to "wake up" but not sure they'll make it.
I planted the little Lilac behind the long garden section in front of the trees, in a bare patch where compost pile used to stand (one of the best ways to kill grass! put a compost pile over a spot. When you've moved it not only is the grass gone but the soil is enriched there as well from what seeped in).
I hope it thrives and grows into something beautiful.

16 May 2012

red and green

I have been busy and forgetting to post
but we are beginning to pick lots of fat, juicy Strawberries from the garden,
and also my first gathering of Peas! They were sweet.
While I sat and shelled the peas, the baby got to eat all the bitty ones that weren't decent size. She loved them!

13 May 2012

venus flor

my venus flytrap bloomed but I still can't tell if it's ever caught any bugs

12 May 2012


Quite a few of my herbs have started flowering; I need to go out and trim them so they stay in leaf!

The Thyme has flowered for the first time; small purplish flowers.
The Sage has beautiful violet-colored flowers

and the Pineapple Sage bright bold red ones.
The Parsley is about to flower too; I need to cut and dry some of that.


the Garlic bed has been looking very lush and a few are starting to fade and fall over so I wondered if it was time to harvest them.
I pulled some up but either I timed it wrong or they're diseased?
They don't look well. Slimy. Yucky. O well. Haven't been cooking much with garlic lately anyways...

11 May 2012

big and blue

My blue Hostas have grown so beautifully this year. Now I want more of them!

10 May 2012

new stuff

I finally planted these bulbs and tubers bought at the garden show alongside my herbs. Of course, they'd started sprouting in the bag but I still hope they'll be okay and grow for me. The fat tubers are a "flowering fern" from the Himalayas (hm, not sure if that's a good idea putting something from another country in my backyard? but they sure are pretty from the pictures I've seen).
The little fat bulbs are some oriental lilies. We'll see how they do!


My Nasturtiums are flowering!
And also, I have yellow Iris.
I didn't know I had any Iris, I just knew these leaves against the shed were different from the few daylilies that grow there. I wish they were a different color, yellow is my least favorite in flowers.... but pretty regardless.

09 May 2012

beans and more

I finally took all the rest of the seedlings (except for borage) out of the coldframe
and put them in the ground. The Green Beans got some makeshift poles and sticks for support
although I'm not sure if they're tall enough.
It looks like a real little garden now!
Also planted out a few Zucchini
and Canteloupe plants.

peppers and tomatoes

I've planted out all my Peppers and Tomatoes, finally.
The two Cherry Tomatoes went into two spaces I left in the Lettuce plot
the Brandywines and Beefsteaks in a group
next to all the Peppers.