Friday, May 30, 2008

Sunny Day Roots, Shoots and Fruits

More Big Beautiful Radishes ~ picked today

Would you look at those big radishes above! They are French Breakfast radishes. I don't think I've ever grown such big and tasty ones before. And I don't even intentionally "thin" my crops either. It must be our extended cool Spring weather this year. Usually our Springtime lasts only about 2 weeks and it is already hot by May. This year it rained and was very cold over Memorial Day weekend when it is usually hot and sunny. Well, my cold crops liked it anyway.

Today was a sunny and mild day. A perfect day to work in my garden. So I did. I weeded and weeded and weeded! Had to hand pull many intrusive weeds from in between my lettuce plants and beets. Annoying and prolific weeds. That's what I get for using my own homemade compost and not making sure all the weed seeds are dead before I apply the compost to my garden soil. Well, at least I know that the soil is very fertile. Lots of nitrogen by the looks of the greenery growing in between my intended crops.

Mesclun Salad Greens (with weeds in the background)

My baby mesclun mixed salad greens are ready to harvest a little at a time, but first I had to get all of the weeds out of the way. I don't like to find weeds in my salad. I will plant more lettuce and mesclun in the empty row next to this one in a few days to keep the greens coming.

China Choy Cabbage ~ a new crop for me

Above you can see a new crop for me, China Choy Cabbage. It is not ready to harvest yet, but the baby leaves would probably taste good added to salads. I usually grow regular green and red cabbage during the fall and winter, but since my soil is so loose, I never get actual tight cabbage heads, just leaves. So I decided to try a different kind of cabbage this year. I thought it would be good in stir fries this summer.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard ~ a rainbow of taste

Hanging in my porch produce scale is 3/4 pound of Bright Lights Swiss Chard. I cut several outer leaves off of of my largest plants and brought them inside for my dinner tonight (if I ever quit playing on the computer and go make myself dinner!). I thought I might serve them sauteed in a little olive oil, garlic and green onion and over some nice hot rice. Maybe add a few pine nuts for garnish. A light vegetarian meal. These colorful chard plants I bought at the local nursury last March. That's why they are so big now compared to the plain green chard plants that I started from seed. I will harvest those in a month or two.

Young Green Bean plants opening their "solar panels" to the sun

My green beans finally broke through the surface of the soil yesterday! They will grow fast now that the weather is warming up. I love fresh green beans. These are Provider Snap bush beans. They don't need staking or a pole to climb. Very tasty. Each year I let a few plants keep their seed pods until they mature and dry out. Then I save them and plant them next year. Works out great and saves me money. I find that the seeds adapt themselves to my garden environment and actually seem to grow and produce better each successive year. Mother Nature is so cool!

Dual Graft Cherry Tree ~ Bing and Van cherries

My cherry tree is almost ready to harvest. I need to get out there and beat the birds, squirrels and deer to my sweet cherries. You can see the protective bird netting in the photo above. Having the cherry tree be a dual graft tree, two types of cherries grafted together, was a really good choice for me. The two types pollinate each other and it saved me from having to buy two trees to get cherries. We dug one hole, planted one tree, prune and net one tree, and get two kinds of cherries. Good deal.

Airing my Clean Laundry

A sunny day demands laundry be hung on the line. I try to use my clothesline whenever the weather is nice and warm. It saves money and propane, is good for the environment ("green" is in), doesn't heat up the house in the summer, gives me some exercise and I think it just looks kind of homey to see clothes hanging on the line. I guess I am pretty easily entertained...

So that was pretty much my day today. I need to go make my dinner now.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rainy Day BBQ

Foggy view from the deck

I promised you some photos from our rainy Memorial Day BBQ party at our neighbor's house here in the mountains. Above is the view from their deck looking into the woods.

Jack and Bob at the bar

It was very cold and damp out there on the deck. Luckily they had those patio heaters (see above photo) and a cute little wood fire pit thingie to keep us somewhat warm. (see below photo)

Fire pit thingie ~ producing profuse smoke

The location was beautiful if a bit cold and foggy. The food was pretty good. The wine was plentiful. Lots of people showed up.

Here's a bit of color I found in their front yard.

Yellow Yarrow

Hopefully next year will be more sunny. Weird weather we are having here right now. Very weird.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rainy Morning Harvest

Sweet William Flower Bouquet and Artichoke freshly picked in the rain

It's raining, grey, foggy and cold here today. Very strange weather for a Memorial Day Weekend. Usually it is sunny, clear and hot.

I did manage to play in my wet garden a little and picked a nice artichoke and a bunch of colorful Sweet William flowers to brighten things up in here. See them above in my produce scale on my front porch.

Today the 3 of us, Bob, Jack and me, will be attending the annual Memorial Day BBQ bash that is hosted by one of our neighbors. The event is usually held outside on the beautiful grounds of a lovely mountain home a few miles away from here and a few hundred feet higher in elevation than my home which is at approximately 3000 ft. We will be climbing up the local hills here to about 4500-5000 ft high, which means that it will likely be even colder and more rainy up there today. Snow was predicted last night at the 6000 ft level.

So it will be a different experience for us today. I am sitting here wearing a warm sweatshirt when a few days ago I had on tee shirts and tank tops trying to stay cool. I have laid out a nice pullover sweater to wear to the BBQ party. Must finish this blog post so that I can have time to get ready to leave soon.

Partner Bob picked me a lovely bouquet of roses from his garden and brought them to me this morning when he came by to collect my trash and recyclables to take to the local dump. What more could a girl ask for, a man who takes her trash away and replaces it with sweet smelling beautiful flowers...

Sweet scented Roses from Bob's garden

Enjoy the weather whatever it is where you are today! I'll take my camera to the rainy BBQ and see what interesting photos I can capture for future blog posts.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Let Me Radish You!

Fresh Picked Radishes from my garden

I still haven't weeded my cold crops. My beets, carrots, radishes and lettuce, chard and spinach are all surrounded by very healthy and fast growing weeds. I plan to get out there tomorrow after I am done with my massage clients in the morning. Tonight I harvested the first few radishes of the season shown in the photo above. They are called French Breakfast radishes. I like them because of their mild flavor, their cylindrical shape and their two-toned red and white color. The cylindrical shape allows them to be sliced in nicely uniform little discs for salads.

I brought them inside and washed them up:

Clean beautiful little radishes!

The radish greens are also edible, and some folks add them to salads, but I really don't care for their taste, so I just save them to feed to my chickens. They enjoy them very much.

I do enjoy munching on a few very fresh radishes as an hors d'oeuvre with a glass of merlot. I think they taste best fresh from the garden with the green leaves still attached:

Wine and fresh picked veggie ~ a gardener's delight

Just the beginning of many garden joys this season! I plan to share them all with you.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Morning

So maybe some of the garden strawberries made it into the house... least long enough to have their picture taken with their neighbor the artichoke.

A few days ago I blogged that I was eating most of the luscious sunshine filled strawberries right in the garden and hadn't collected many to bring into the house. Well, the above basket harvested a couple of days ago is proof that at least some strawberries saw the inside of my kitchen. So far I have harvested about two pint baskets full. There are more ripenng in the sunshine. I grow them in a 8ft x 4ft raised bed that they share with my surviving artichoke plant. Which as you can see does produce a few edible artichokes each spring.

So far this morning I have:

1. Picked strawberries

2. Watered the boysenberries and blackberries

3. Been surprised by a small and timid snake sunning himself on my front porch

4. Made minor updates to several of the websites I maintain

5. Done various house and garden maintenance chores

6. Received over 330 spam emails in my inbox when I opened it this morning

So I took the time to write an email to my ISP support department asking for help to stop the barrage of spam emails. It seems that some jerk has been using my email address as their return email address on thousands of spam advertising emails that they have sent out over the past few weeks. As a result, all of the "undeliverable mail" notices and even a few complaints get received by me at that email address. I figured it would pass in a few days, but so far it has not. It is really annoying. It pisses me off that someone would steal my email address and use it like that. No answer from my ISP support dept yet, so I thought I would vent about it here.

Updating the websites is fun and it relaxes me. I am sitting here in my cool office avoiding going outside to weed my gardens and plant more veggie seeds. Yesterday, I mowed for about 90 minutes with my new used lawnmower. It works pretty well, but I was sure tired, hot and very very dusty when I came in afterward. I got my shiny new mower all dirty and dusty too.

Well, I need to do a few more business related tasks before I venture out in the midday heat to work in the garden. So off I go.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Saturday, May 17, 2008

98 Degrees in the Shade

2:10pm and 98 degrees in the shade of my front porch today

Suddenly it's hot around here these past few days! Very hot and humid all day. Sunny and beautiful, but so hot that I didn't really want to do much work either inside or outside today. So what did I do today? Well, I will tell you...

I bought a newer used lawnmower (I can't afford a new one!) from a local man who lives a couple of miles down the road. He delivered it to me this morning. I saw it yesterday at his place and decided I liked it enough to buy it. Fairly new, ran well and was a good price. I checked it out and made sure I knew how to work all of the controls and then took it for a spin around my yard and down the length of my 3 acre property. It runs pretty well for a lawnmower and is easy to maneuver. It's a bit smaller in size than my old one, but bigger in horsepower and also in cutting width. I need a good lawn mower/tractor around here to cut down the weeds so I can walk around and also for fire prevention. Fires are a real danger every summer up here in the dry foothills.

So here's my new little lawn tractor:

Not exactly a John Deere, but it is green...

And here is the old one that no longer runs well enough to be reliable and useful to me. It's a good brand name, but the mower is now 22 years old and I am the third owner. It is tired. And I am tired of struggling to get it started and keep it running just to mow the weeds down 2 or 3 times each summer. Still makes me a little sad to replace it with a new one. I grow attached to my appliances. Hard to cast them off. I have relationships with each one and I mourn their loss.

Tired old machine. Kind of sad to replace him...

Then after I received delivery of the lawn mower, paid the nice man and took it for a spin, I needed to get out in the garden before it got too hot and uncomfortable. First I needed to decide what I needed to refurbish my drip irrigation system. So down I went to our local hardware store to buy the parts I needed from Bob. I got various drip fittings, couplers and sprayers, along with 100 feet of drip line and a tangle of the small "spaghetti" line. Oh, and you'll see the chocolate mint treat for the gardener in the photo, too. I need to keep my energy up, after all.

Drip line and accessories

After purchasing the irrigation supplies (and my candy treat) from the hardware store, I visited our local organic farmer's membership store which is located just behind the hardware store in the middle of our small town. It is a membership store that runs on the honor system. Each member pays a yearly fee to shop there and that gets you the combination to the locked door. We pick out our locally grown organic produce, weigh it on the scale provided, write up our own order, and drop our money with the order in the payment box. I usually bring my own canvas tote bag to carry home my veggie loot, but the bag I had with me was already full of irrigation supplies. So I used a recycled plastic bag that members donate and are kept in the store.

Great stuff, organic produce. I grow a lot of my own, but I don't grow everything I need. Check out the variety in the photo below:

Garden peas, spring onions, salad greens & spinach, summer squash,
juicy strawberries and a bag of sun dried tomatoes .

Earlier in the day Jack brought over his weekly contribution to my compost pile (which I will deal with tomorrow morning), and he also brought me some fresh cut oregano from his herb garden for me to tie into bunches and hang dry on my special herb line on my front porch. It's a very low tech drying line. A piece of garden twine strung between two porch posts. The location protects the herbs from beign eaten by deer and rabbits and also protects it from any possible rain showers as it is under the porch awning. With this heat wave, this batch of oregano will be dry and crumbly very quickly.

Oregano drying on the line

Later in the afternoon, following an unplanned nap on my living room couch in the sweltering heat and humidity, I finally got outside to my garden to plant my green bean seeds and also do a little weeding. While there I strung some more garden twine for my snow peas to cling to and climb, and I had fun getting myself all wet starting to refurbish my garden drip watering system. I built that drip system for my large raised bed garden in the summer of 1999, so it needs a little attention by now. Many of the spray heads are clogged up or just worn out. The big lines need flushing out so the debris will not clog things up etc. Lots of work for the next few days. It is a fairly inexpensive and easy care way to irrigate my garden though. Works pretty well most of the time. No photos of the peas, beans or drip system yet. Sorry. I know how exciting that would be for you...

Well, that was most of my day today. It is finally cooling off here in the house. Maybe I will go take a nap or read the paper and relax now. Rest up for tomorrow's chores.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mother's Day, Baby's Day

4 Weeks Old and very alert

Here are a few more photos of partner Jack's new granddaughter Annelise. Her Mom (Jack's daughter) just sent these to us today. The above photo was taken one week ago on her one month birthday. The photo right below these words was Mother's Day, this past Sunday. Annelise is all dressed up in her girly finery to celebrate the holiday!

All dressed up for Mother's Day

Now we get to the really really expressive cute ones. I love these next two photos. This first one below looks like Annelise is excitedly explaining something important. She is so expressive and full of energy...

"Now listen very carefully..."

And maybe even a little mischief...She looks like she has a secret to tell but is waiting for just the right moment. I totally love that captivating smile.

"Ha! Got ya!"

She sure has grown! A real cutie! Grandpa Jack is so proud.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some Catching Up!

Porch Table Flora - Petunias still blooming!

Wow! It has been almost 2 full weeks since I last posted anything in this my personal blog. Time for me to do a little catching up I guess.

Since I last wrote I have been recovering from a nasty head cold that had me feeling very fuzzy headed and weak. I had no energy to do my daily things, nevermind any of the seasonal projects that present themselves this time of year. Well, I got over the head cold late last week and then had another bout of headache and sinus pain early this week. My theory is that the heavy pollen that has been around me lately triggers some of my sinus headaches. Mix that with stress and some early menopause hormone fluctuations and I get very painful 3 day headaches. Ahh, but they have finally gone now, for awhile anyway. I have had a bit more sleep and little more energy these past couple of days since my head has stopped hurting.

So last Sunday I finally planted the basil seedlings that partner Bob gifted me with last March. Until very recently it had been too cold to plant them in the garden, so I had been nursing them along on my porch table. They were anxious to get into some nutritious soil, so I planted them in my raised bed herb garden along with one of my curly leaf parsely seedlings. They are doing fine as of my garden "rounds" this morning. I'll post some photos of the herb gardens another day.

I also have been protecting my fruit trees and berry vines with coverings of bird netting. A tedious job, but if not done, the birds and other critters will eat every piece of fruit before I can harvest any. I still have a few more trees to go. I have already harvested a couple of handfulls of strawberries. Very small. Very tasty. Not many made it all the way into the house.

Early last week Bob gave me a nice mixed bouquet of flowers that are organically and locally grown right here in our little town. He offers them for sale in his hardware store (the local general store), North Fork Hardware, and the flower growers, Three Springs Flower Garden, offer them by monthly subscription to many individuals and businesses in our area. The mix of flowers changes as the summer season progresses. Last year I received a summer long subscription of flowers which provided me a new bouquet each week. This year, I requested a break from the subscription flowers as my pollen allergies seem more severe this year and these particular flowers seem to have a lot of heavy pollen that sadly brings me nasal misery. Anyway, even though I did have to place the mixed bouqet of flowers outside on my porch table, I did appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the flowers and the generosity of the gift. See the bouquet in the photo below. There are daisies, gallardias, sweet williams and some I am not sure of.

Mixed Flower Bouquet

Then later in the week, Bob's Mom, who lives very near me, dropped by for a visit bearing a huge bucket of sweet smelling, bright red roses in very full bloom. A friend of hers had given her a whole bunch of these wonderful roses and she decided to share some of them with me. (I think Bob may have hinted that I really liked roses a whole lot...) See them in the photo below:

Mother's Day Roses from Bob's Mom

Then about 2 days later, in a fit of romance and spontaneity, Bob was out grocery shopping and spied a dozen long stemmed red roses just starting to open their buds. They didn't have that homegrown heavenly rose scent, but each rose bud was perfect, deep red and beautiful. The gift of a dozen red roses for no special occasion at all from my guy is one of the most romantic gifts I can think of. It made me feel very special and loved. The photo below does not do their beauty justice.

Romantic Red Roses from Bob

So I received many wonderful flowers last week and had them around me until just yesterday. A wonderful way for me to celebrate Mother's Day and remember my own Mom who dearly loved her flowers and her gardens. She taught me to love them too.

Today I managed to get out there and plant summer squash and cucumber seeds. I planted 24 Northern Pickling Cukes, and 3 each of Dark Green zucchini, Raven (also dark green) zuke, Clarimore Light Green zuke and Early Yellow Crookneck Squash. All my seeds were purchased from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, my favorite organic seed supplier.

I also weeded and prepared the garden bed for planting my green beans hopefully tomorrow. Much more hand weeding must be done in between the lettuce seedlings and root crops that I planted a couple of weeks ago. I can hardly see the seedlings in between all of the healthy fast growing weeds out there.

Well, that's enough catching up today. I will write more about my garden, home, pets, social activities and dreams of my heart, etc. another day soon. I have some nice photos to share too.

Thanks for reading all my mundane stuff. It's all part of my Mountain Harvest Basket.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Friday, May 2, 2008

My New Favorite Country Song

Just Got Started Loving You - by James Otto

I love it when he calls her "Darlin' Girl". Makes me swoon...

Great deep voice. I love it! Just had to share it here.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket