Friday, June 26, 2020

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
The first week of summer went by without a hitch,
and without a drop of rain!
We're doing just fine with our fabulous irrigation system
in the veggie garden.

This week, over 12 pounds of potatoes were harvested.

They have been cleaned and placed in mesh bags for storage.
It was so nice to be able to share some with friends.

 The rest of the garlic was cured and braided
for use throughout the year.

 In the raised beds,
we have cucumbers flowering and fruiting.
Guess I better decide if I want to pickle or eat them fresh.
Why not both?

One of our volunteer cantaloupes made great progress this week.
It's planted in a container and growing larger every day.
Last year, melons were grown on the cattle panel arches,
but we didn't get one cantaloupe.
Hopefully, this year will be more successful.

 Another volunteer cantaloupe sits in a raised bed,
ready to sprawl out.

 The squash vines are climbing the panel,

 and starting to form fruit.
We have three varieties planted,
this one being the butternut squash.
It's a favorite for soup making!

 The turmeric popped up this week.
So far, only one of the four pots containing rhizomes has come up.

Gladiolas were one of my mom's favorite flowers.
What a treat to have these blooming in our yard now,
and be able to take cuttings for the house.
It keeps Mimi close to my heart.

 Big K and I measured the sunflowers in this raised bed.
So far, the tallest has reached 12 feet,
and towers over my five foot three self.

 The vitex started blooming this week too.
The pollinators are loving it!

 I was able to snap a couple of photos while working,
including this brilliantly vibrant echinacea in a client's garden.

 This Rose of Sharon caught my eye quite by accident,
while I was digging up some butterfly weed to transplant.

This sea of bee balm is quite striking.
This is the taller variety, close to 4 feet or so.
It is planted very densely, which works for me,
as there is less weeding for me to do in this bed.

We have been promised some rain this weekend,
which I don't mind one bit.
It gives the garden what it needs
and it forces me to slow down and do some chillin'.

How's your summer garden growing?

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Homemade Sports Drink

We have jumped right into summer around here.
Although the temperatures hover in the mid-80's,
it feels a whole lot hotter.
One of my jobs required me to work outside in the afternoons,
and I found myself with a bad case of dehydration.
Even though I thought I was drinking enough water,
the sweat was poring out of my body so fast
that I couldn't get enough liquids to feel better.
It took me a full three or four days to improve.
A call to my naturopath validated my hunch.
She suggested that water is often not enough to stay hydrated
during the heat of summer,
especially for someone like me who works outside.

I've never been able to stomach the store-bought hydration drinks,
and they are so full of junk that they don't appeal to me in the least.
Still, I knew that my electrolytes were out of whack
and needed to be put more in balance.
A quick search led me to this recipe 
for a homemade version of sports drink
that tastes nothing like the commercial brands.
It's a bit flexible too,
as you can add other flavors to it 
and the benefits of the minerals will be unaffected.
The original recipe can be found here.

My sweet client was willing to allow me
to work mornings through the summer.
That should help.

The Mayo Clinic outlines these symptoms
of deydration:
Extreme thirst
Less frequent urination
Dark-colored urine

You might have one or all of these issues.
If you feel overheated, take a break, get out of the sun,
and get into a cooler spot if you can.
I will follow my own advice
so that I don't have another incident like last week.
It'd be a good idea to mix some of this up
and have it chilling in the fridge
so that it's ready should you need it.

Homemade Sports Drink
(for staying hydrated)

1 quart liquid (tea, water)
1/8-1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon magnesium powder
1/4 C juice (opt.)
1-2 Tablespoons honey (opt.)
I also added about 1/4 C of water kefir to my jar.

Warm liquid on stove top, then add salt and magnesium.
Stir until dissolved.
Turn off heat and let cool.
Add remaining ingredients and chill.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Cleaning Garlic

Growing garlic is one of the most fulfilling things I've ever accomplished.
It's a pretty hands-off kind of crop,
and it yields a harvest that lasts for months.
The original starts for this garlic 
were purchased at Sow True Seed
a source for open-pollinated and heirloom seeds
in nearby Asheville.

Each year when I harvest,
I put aside a few heads for the next crop.
Last year, I increased my planting area,
so I was blessed with over 30 heads of garlic.
Lesson learned from the previous growing season,
as I ran out of garlic well before the next crop was ready.
These are the best heads from this harvest,
and they will be placed in a brown paper sack to await planting in the fall.

After drying for 2 weeks,
the current crop was ready for processing.
You can see how much they change in appearance
from the first photo in this post.

 The only tools needed are a stiff brush and a pair of scissors.

The roots are cut fairly close to the bulb
and the embedded soil or mulch goes with them.
Whatever remains behind can be dislodged with the brush.

 The frayed ends are lopped off
and left long enough for braiding,

or cut them off close to the bulb
and keep in the pantry for daily use.

 There are various ways to braid,
but it's pretty much the way one would braid hair.
I tend to place the larger bulbs toward the bottom.
The discoloration on the papery cover doesn't bother me.
It reminds me that this was grown right here.

I'm thinking this bunch will last us the whole year,
with plenty to share.
What a feeling of satisfaction,
knowing there is one thing that we use every day
that we need never buy again.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Garden Friday

(Not sure why, but the spacing is off on this post
and I couldn't fix it.  Ah well...)

Happy Day Before Summer!
We hope you enjoy this garden tour on this last day of spring 2020.

The Yukon Gold potatoes are getting ready for harvest.
We have a 3X8 bed half filled with these buttery spuds.

Although they haven't yet flowered,
they seem to be ready for picking,
as the green stems are falling over,
as is common when harvest time draws near.
The first one picked will be cooked up this weekend.

The garden expanded a bit this week.
A trench was dug from the straw bales
so that we could bury the drip irrigation
out to this island bed I'm calling The Pumpkin Patch.
There were some crepe myrtle trees planted here
once upon a time,
but they were taken down because they shaded the garden too much.
The plant you see in the background is a beautyberry,
which will help to feed our feathered friends.

Our first pumpkin popped up this week.

The snap peas are still doing well on the arches.
Each day I pick a handful for snacking or adding to a salad,
and this promotes more pea production.

For the first time since I've been growing peas,
I noticed some funky shapes among them.
As long as they still taste good, it really doesn't matter
what they look like.

beet greens

I spied a few green beans growing in the straw bales.
This is one harvest I really look forward to.
I never get tired of eating green beans.

The cantaloupe being grown in a container
shows the first signs of fruit.
The melons develop next to the female flowers.
Looks like we've had no trouble with pollination.

leek collecting rain

rain barrels overflow
So far this week,
we've gotten a full three inches of rain.
No need for the irrigation, which is just fine with me.
Let Mother Nature do Her magic!

I'll have to get a photo with me standing next to these monsters.
They are the Mammoth sunflowers
and they really live up to their name.
These giants dwarf everything around them.

I really need to get a measurement on these,
they are simply amazing!

In this area where I sometimes place seedling trays,
a few ornamental plants have taken hold.
More mulch needs to be added to cover the cardboard.



The first black swallowtail was spotted on the milkweed
in the front porch bed.
I'm not sure if you can tell here,
but, this one has a defect on the right wing.
It didn't seem to affect its flight.
Although I planted dill (one of this butterfly's host plants),
it hasn't yet come up.
It also lives on parsley, rue and fennel.
I better get to planting some more herbs!

On Tuesday, we woke up to 53 degrees.
Quite a surprise for us,
but for the plants as well.
Things will start warming up now,
as summer officially starts up.
We will no doubt be blessed with more color in the ornamental beds
and bounty from the veggie garden. 
Grateful for it all.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Garden Friday

These daisies just make me happy

 Welcome back to another Garden Friday!
Although summer is still two weeks away,
the summer-like heat is keeping things hopping in the garden.

 The squash/sweet potato/cucumber bed is taking off.
We had a good amount of rain this past week,
and the crops are eatin' it up!

I even spied the first cucumber blossom.

 About half of this 3X8 bed is planted with sweet potatoes.
Before harvest time, the leaves will be enjoyed in salads.

Guess who decided to come to the party?
This Delicata squash was one of three varieties planted at the beginning of May,
but just popped up this week.

 Daily pickings of snap peas keeps 'em comin'.

 It looks like something is snacking on the okra in the straw bales,
but this crop is one tough cookie.
There isn't much that keeps it from providing food.

The watermelon, also planted in bales,
will have to be tweaked this weekend.
I'll need to provide a spot for them to wander.

 This container of cantaloupe is being grown vertically,
but I think it will soon outgrow the space.
Such a nice problem to have!
It does make me think about next season,
and the idea of creating a couple of new beds for melons
just might be in the works.

These bush beans were transplanted last week
into straw bales and started taking a turn for the better over the last few days.
Unfortunately, this year, the bales got so hammered with heavy rain
before they were even planted, that many of them are not as solid as they should be.
It may require me to build wooden boxes for them to sit in,
so that next year they have more support. 
It shouldn't affect the growing this year.


 Leek was harvested this week and used to make a couple of dishes.
It's so wonderful to have a produce aisle 
right in the side yard.

 The oregano is flowering and the pollinators love it!

 A handful of garlic heads were put to the side,
so that I don't forget to save some for planting.
They were wrapped in brown butcher paper
and placed in a paper sack until planting time.

 Our neighbor gave us three of these containers,
leftover from some trees he planted.
They have come in so handy,
placed in various spots around the garden.
Whenever I'm weeding or pruning,
the bits and bobs just get thrown into them,
and then they are taken down to the compost heap.

 Milkweed is flowering, but so far, no caterpillars!

 Several of the sunflowers were blown over
with the wind and weight of the rain.
These lengths of conduit are a great solution.

The yarrow out by the mailbox has a hard time standing up.
I'll try to figure out a solution this weekend.

 We have grown sunflowers every summer for as long as I can remember,
but these are by far the tallest we've ever had in the garden.
Mammoth, indeed!

 Just look at the diameter of the stalks!

 Coneflowers are a favorite.
This beauty was found on the job site.

 Back home, another coneflower hosts a busy bee.

 On my daily walk, I discovered wild tickseed
and promptly started to gather seeds from spent plants.
Nature is always providing.

 Isn't this bloom just glorious?
Another stunner found on a different job site.

It's been a busy and productive week.
I'm so grateful to be surrounded by people I love,
folks I love working with,
and the beauty ever provided by Mother Nature.

What's going on in your summer garden?