Saturday, July 11, 2015

Knee high by the fourth of July

When I retired, I had this vision of my entire yard being pristine and perfect. Well, HA, HA, HA. The vegetable garden is not half bad, though. We nudged the beds apart a bit, to make it easier to navigate the pathways. Instead of trying to keep those paths weedfree, I've been weed whacking them every two weeks. This strategy makes for a trimmed look.

Within the beds, I've been diligent about weeding and mulching, so they look nice and tidy, full of the intended plants, more or less. The one BIG FAIL has been the pea/bean beds. The sparrows nibble on the pea plants, ruining the crop, so I hung bird netting over the support structure. The results were predictable: the peas became hopelessly entangled in the netting, unreachable weeds took over the edges, the pole beans could not compete. And then a big storm came through and blew the whole mess down. So I cleaned out the beds completely. The plan is to reinforce the bean poles, then replant the pole beans. I've not had much luck with fall peas, but if I do plant them, I'll need to come up with a new strategy for besting the birds.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

How much basil is too much?

Every year, when I plant herbs, I tell myself I will harvest them when their flavor peaks. And then I don't. But now that I am retired, I am doing a better job of meeting that intention. So yesterday was the day of the first big basil harvest.

Like kale, a whole lot of basil may be reduced to usable portions very easily. I chose to freeze some whole leaves, which I intend to use on pizza sometime this winter. I chopped the rest in a food processor with a bit of olive oil (1T per packed cup (about 30g) of pre-chopped basil), then froze the results in an ice cube tray, for later use in sauces, soups, stirfry, etc.

Unlike kale, I don't think one can have too much basil. It enhances almost any food. This morning, after transferring the frozen cubes to a freezer bag, I mixed the errant basil "crumbs" with a hard boiled egg. Delish!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

How much kale is too much?

I have never (successfully) grown kale before this year. Last summer, I made a late-summer, direct-seeded effort, for naught. This summer, I started plants inside. After giving some to my daughter, I transplanted eight into my garden. And they have grown magnificently.

Red Russian Kale, post-harvest, pre-weeding

Then came the question of when to harvest. Many recommended picking off the outer leaves as they became big, letting more form from within, which is also how I harvest leaf lettuce for my salads. And it turns out, one may blanch and freeze both the leaves and stems, which I did last night, with the intention of using the former for soup and the latter for stock.

But then what? Some can go into salads and stirfry and smoothies. But still. That's a lot of kale for one person. Maybe I can leave the extra on my neighbors' porches, a hint of things to come after the inevitable zucchini-apocalypse.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Aye, aye, admiral

Some years there are butterflies in my yard, and some years there aren't. This year we have a plethora of Red Admirals, aka Vanessa cardui (Linnaeus). I read somewhere that they like thistle blossoms, which is too bad; last weekend we frantically yanked up all the Canada thistle because it was starting to bloom. Fortunately, Red Admirals like other flowers as well, including Scabiosa (I think this is 'Butterfly Blue').

The only other butterflies I have seen are Cabbage Whites (Pieris rapae), never a welcome sight.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Art in the garden

My SO and I recently spent a few days in New York City. Among the sites and sights was the Highline. I didn't take photos of the plants - those may be viewed at their web site - but I did snap a few of the sculptures.

There was some "found art" in view as well.

I'm interested in introducing more art and hardscape, maybe even a water feature beyond my little fountain, to my yard and garden. This kind of display gives me ideas.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Suddenly it's summer

You go away for a few days, it rains a few inches, and the garden goes from this...

... to this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Whack, whack, whack

Spring would not be the same without the bright yellows of daffodils and forsythia. BUT. Forsythia can really get out of control if left to its own devices. An unruly forsythia shrub is especially problematic if the gardener plants them too close to the gates to the backyard (ahem). So in an effort to contain and hopefully transform the offending bushes, I told my SO to whack away at them. And whack he did.

I also invited him to reduce the burning bush to a miniature size, to give the gold mop and barberry a chance to fill out. If the filling out does not happen, we can let the burning bush return to its so-called dwarf size.

And let's not leave out the boxwood.

Now I can see out my living room window.

Once the privet at the back of the lot drops its blossoms, it's turn will come. Whack, whack, whack.