managing the produce

DSC_0013My vegetable garden is in full production this time of year, and I’ve come up with some strategies to not waste a bit of it.Tomatoes, Pillows, L & T Homecoming 001Tomato pie is a favorite. It gets a layer of goo over it before I cook it, but that wasn’t a pretty picture.Dill veggies, apple crisp, kitchen 022Green beans, daikon, and cucumbers all get thrown into the same brine. I don’t trust my canning skills, so I just put them into the fridge. I also toss hot peppers into an empty jar of pepperoncini (save the brine). This preserves them until we get around to eating them.DSC_0059I make pesto out of the basil and freeze what I don’t use.

Salsa and IngredientsI keep a big bowl of salsa in the fridge all season long. We eat it with pizza, eggs, pasta AND Mexican food.DSC_0036Lastly, I just chop it all up to add to salads, sandwiches & cooking. Whatever’s left over gets frozen and added to soup in the fall. What do you do to manage the produce?

Advertisements

Tiger Lilies

Every year I look forward to lily time, and these are my favorite. I don’t know their real name. In our family, these are Grandma’s Tiger Lilies.

DSC_0019 (2)

Grandma’s Tiger Lily

 

This is Grandma in 1930 at age 18. I see my mom in her.

Grandma

Anna Burger Age 18

 

This is Grandma and Grandpa holding a baby me in 1963. Grandma & Grandpa

And this is Grandma with her siblings in 1978. They are all gone now.Grandma & SibsThis picture was taken on Grandma’s farm in Fawn Grove, PA. This is where the tiger lilies came from. My mom took some (as she is wont to do) and made them a part of her yard. When I moved here 22 years ago, she shared, as she is also wont to do.

 

DSC_0024 (2)They are tall; many of them are well over my 5 feet 7 inches.

DSC_0021I’ve planted them everywhere.

DSC_0077I want to have plenty to share with my children.  And grandchildren . . .

a ruckus and a fracas

We have a bird house full of baby house wrens, and they are the noisiest baby birds I have ever heard. As they have gotten bigger, their noise is nearly constant and is audible from all over the yard. I Googled “noisiest baby birds,” and house wrens were often listed. So it’s a thing.

I took a video so you could hear them:  Our noisy baby house wrens

DSC_0020There was one baby who clogged up the exit hole. His is the voice most often heard.

 

DSC_0017Does he look a little grumpy to you?

 

DSC_0021_LI

 

 

 

the summer day

My husband spotted two Luna Moths the other day. They had just emerged and were drying out.

DSC_0010 (1)

I’ve only ever seen one before, despite that fact that we have cherry, willow, and persimmon trees (all of which are host plants), on our property.

DSC_0008 (1)

Note the grape-sized persimmon for scale. This is a BIG moth.

DSC_0023 (1)

They don’t have mouths and will live only one week.

DSC_0024 (1)

I’ve been given 54 years already: what riches. It makes me embarrassed to squander even a moment. I like how Mary Oliver said it: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

 

love spring

I haven’t seen a hummingbird yet,  April 29, which is late for me, but Spring is in full bloom here in South Jersey.DSC_0031Some of the Columbines are over 4 feet tall.  Sigh. I remember when Columbine was just a flower.DSC_0033Aren’t they pretty?

DSC_0037 (2)The bed by the front porch looks to have a promising year.DSC_0040 (2)The bed by the driveway looks pretty good, as well.DSC_0043The raised bed herb garden has some winter survivors as well as popsicle sticks promising good things to come.DSC_0045And here, my dears, is what my beloved party garden looks like on this very day. A sad, sad remnant of our glorious fall season together, as witnessed below.DSC_0006But, happily, my Sad Clematis has hung in there.DSC_0046Love Spring.

winter lessons

lanternWinter has finally come to South Jersey. We had about 7 inches of snow over the weekend and it’s not going anywhere because it’s COLD!

titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

When I went out to feed the birds this morning, I noticed that they were much more tame than usual. Usually they scatter as soon as they see me coming. But today, they didn’t budge until I was about 3 feet away.

sparrow

White Throated Sparrow

I’m guessing the frigid temperatures and blanket of snow have made food such a priority that their usual skittishness is tempered.

nuthatch

Red Breasted Nuthatch

So, after I fed them, I grabbed my camera.  I took the above pictures in about 5 minutes, and then left them to the serious business of eating.

Swinget turned into swing

Backyard Solutions

I’ve been living in my yard for a lot of years, and I’m learning what works for me.Swinget turned into swing

When our children outgrew the swing set my husband made, we pulled down the kid’s swings and replaced them with a swing everyone can use. I planted wisteria on one side and after just a few years we are getting nice shade.Bird bath made of recycled dish

I go through birdbaths like Snickers bars. I try to remember to empty them before a hard freeze, but the water containers always seem to leak after just a year or so.  I’ve learned that a big dish from Goodwill and a rock is all it takes to bring back the bathers.Gourd vine growing up a tree

My yard is a nice size, but gourds and cucumbers and all of those sprawling vines seem to take over everything. This year, I let the birdhouse gourds overtake the trellis and continue right up a nearby tree. The garden stayed neat, and this totally appeals to  my love of the quirky.Hummingbird silhouette

The hummingbird likes it, too.A squirrel peeking out of the the hole he gnawed in the trash can.

And the solution here? . . . Keep the birdseed in a metal container from now on.

blooming sunflower

here comes the sun . . . flowers

blooming sunflowerAfter a few days of torrential rain, today was beautiful. I saw my first sunflower bloom at coffee time.

full view of gardenJust for perspective:  The lowest finger points to the sunflower bloom pictured above. The finger above it points to the birdhouse gourds that are happily climbing every tree in sight. The finger in the top left points to the sunflower blooms (nearly 8 feet) that are in the near future.

cedar waxwingMy little darling Waxwing greeted me at dawn with his silent welcome. Even though I have studied their sounds online, I have yet to hear them. The nest withstood the heavy rains. For that I am thankful. It’s all right (do do do do do do dododododo).

garden structures and a special guest

My husband spotted him first while I was at work: a Rose Breasted Grosbeak at our feeder. SO exciting – I’ve seen them before, but rarely, and NEVER in my own back yard. Just plain old sunflower seeds on  a platform feeder did the trick. He was here for several days and I got a good look at him, the little cutie pie.Rose breasted gorsbeak at feederMy husband has been my best garden supporter this year; he signed me up for the organic herbal gardening course that spurred me on; he  gave me a gift certificate to the best nursery in town; AND he spent his birthday money to make me three of these excellent new planters.Raised bed vegetable planter

This one is sporting cabbages (I’ll pick the biggest and let the little ones continue to grow), rosemary, nasturtiums, and sunflowers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

companion gardening

I just finished an organic heirloom gardening class, and I am wildly excited about companion gardening. That’s the art/science/voodoo of grouping plants that are beneficial to one another. I am planning small clusters of companion plants instead of one large plot with everything lumped together.tomato, basil, chive

I can feel a full garden re-do coming on . . .

a winter’s tale

Mockingbirds love our yard. They spend entire spring days here, singing to me as I garden. They nest here, raising their babies and dive bombing the dog if she gets too close. I’ve watched dozens of these sassy birds over the years, but I’ve never seen anything like the mockingbird who is spending this winter here.

mockingbirdHe flies in to meet me at the compost pile every day, and by the time I’ve emptied the bucket and turned around, he’s in there rummaging around for fresh tidbits. Where does he come from, and how does he know when to meet me there? Does he hear my feet crunching the snow on the long walk back there? Is he watching the house all day, just waiting for me to head to the back? It’s a mystery so far, but I’m on the case.

gardening

I can’t keep myself out of the garden. The laundry is piling up and my desk is a mess because I am spending way too much time checking on the progress of the sweet peas and planting flowers around the herb garden.

There’s something so compelling about planting a seed and watching it sprout, nurturing the plant and then picking and eating the produce. It feels like a little bit of magic, and it makes me see vegetables in a whole new way.