Saturday, May 26, 2012

Time to Grow Up

I've been playing catch up all month in the garden.  Between the ever-changeable weather and my usual laziness, it's taken me a while to gather my seeds while I may and to plant them, too.

But here's a look at the gardens at this point:

In garden #1, the new part of the bed is filling in nicely with onions, Scarlet Queen turnips, golden beets, and broccoli.  Hard to tell in this photo, I know.  So far the mint is staying within bounds, but I don't expect that to last long.

At the other end of the garden -- no photo -- I planted two kinds of cherry tomatoes, peppers, basil, wild bergamot, and chamomile.  I've also been cutting lavender like crazy the past week and a half -- twice already, with another cutting soon to come!

At garden #2, the Southern Belle and I have finally wrestled the upper bed into some semblance of order.  The onions, garlic, lettuce, and spinach all finally settled in, and we planted basil and carrots, with room left for her choice of tomatoes.  I also left her ground cherry seedlings and seeds for zucchini and nasturtiums to fill in the last section (far right).

In the lower bed, I hoed and weeded and cleaned out space for a new herb plot so that I could plant chocolate mint, spearmint, lemon verbena, and oregano.  I left the cilantro seedlings, of course!

At garden #3, my potatoes are coming along very nicely, and I have had the chance to hill them (above) and then mulch them (a week later) to give them more protection and room to grow.  In other areas of the garden, I have finally planted shell beans, chickpeas, sunflowers, ground cherries, stevia, lavender, carrots, parsnips, salsify, Brussels sprouts, broccoli raab, and golden chard.  (Whew!)

I think I can rest a little while as everything settles in, but I know there's more work to come...

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Green Below Means Grow, Grow, GROW!

This month has been a blur, and though for a while there I thought I was caught up with garden work, all of a sudden we've passed our last frost date -- and I now am BEHIND!

I've collected the last of my seedlings from my friends' greenhouse, and this week I planted broccoli and chamomile at garden #1 (at the Renaissance Man's place) as well as a new herb bed at garden #2 (with the Southern Belle).  But I still have work to do:

This flat has cherry tomato seedlings, pepper, ground cherries, and Brussels sprouts (five!).  While the tomatoes and peppers will go to garden #1, the others will get planted at garden #3 (home of the Contradance Callers.)

The Contradance Callers have also agreed to make space for a perennial herb bed, so I have lavender, stevia, thyme, and wild bergamot to plant there.  I also have some small basil seedlings (to get planted with the tomatoes) and a few starts of salsify (for the Chef Mother).  So there's no slacking off just yet!

Happily, my hard work is starting to be rewarded with fresh bounty!  The Renaissance Man's garden is overflowing with mint -- spearmint and peppermint, top -- and my lavender bushes are starting their full bloom.  The sugar snap peas I planted in March are finally producing their sweet pods, so I've been popping them like candy.  And today -- yes, mark the date, May 19, a full two and a half weeks ahead of last year's first -- I picked the first strawberry from the garden.

Here's hoping I finish planting by the end of the month, because come June, I need to start seeding flats for fall crops!

Time to grow!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Crimson and Clover

Time to harvest the flowers!  Usually it happens in June, but this year the weather has caused everything to bloom early.

What am I talking about?  Every year around the beginning of summer, I gather my rosebuds -- er, petals -- while I may, as well as roll in the clover, all for the sake of my herbal tea collection. 

My best barter buddy, the Delighted Gardener, let me know this week that the red clover on her farm was coming into bloom, so I headed out to her homestead after lunch to pick to my heart's content.

It didn't seem like much at the time, but once I spread out all the blossoms, I thought I might just have enough for this year's tea-making.  (I use clover in a couple of the tea blends I sell at the market.)

While at the farm, we wandered around to inspect other crops, and she introduced me to her heavenly-scented "Lillian" roses (named for the woman who originally had the bushes in her garden).  My friend asked if I used rose petals in my tea blends, and since I do (quite a lot!), she offered as many petals as I liked.  We proceeded to clean out many of the roses that were at their peak -- and filled a gallon bag with the perfumed scraps.

When I arrived home, I spread out the petals on two large baking sheets and inhaled the heady fragrance.  What delights!

Now to dry these treasures -- and to enjoy them this winter...

(Over... and over...)

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Saturday, May 05, 2012

Sunny Day

I'm still in the process of creating new breads for the market.  I've had several ideas this spring, but since I wanted to spread them out over the weeks -- too many new items on the shelves can really confuse even the most loyal customers -- I'm only now getting back to the test phase.

But since the Renaissance Man finished up the sundial at the market this week, I wanted to have a special bread for the celebration:

Meet my new sun bread, made with whole wheat flour, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, and a dash of lemon verbena syrup (along with other usual bread ingredients).  The flavor is hearty but mild and nutty, and I love how the slashes on top make it look like the sun's rays.

More ideas to come!

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