Where Have I Been?!?!

Well, it’s been a busy summer with four sets of visitors over a five week period. I have been taking photos so I’ll finally share them here. These first several are from mid July.

We stopped mowing a wet section of the field (on the left) last summer. The section on the right we stopped mowing this summer. It is interesting to see the difference.

By the front porch. The lone daylily looks pretty with the beebalm.

In front of the sun room.

We noticed a volunteer sassafras tree under the mahonia last year. The japanese beetles have been hard on it but it’s hanging in there.

Zinnias from the garden. I love this little vase our daughter made for us last year. I told her I wanted it to mimic tree bark and she delivered.

The orange coneflowers in our native garden started blooming in mid July and the flowers still look beautiful six weeks later. These photos are from July.

Dave bringing in the onion harvest on July 21.

These bitter melon are ridiculous. We could pick this many each week. I still have some in the freezer from last year. I gave some of these away. Dave took another large basket full to a coworker last week. I’ve frozen some and might freeze more. We learned from our daughter that you can take some of the bitter taste out by blanching them in water with a tablespoon of salt and baking soda.

These photos are from July 27.

I went to Polyface Farm on July 28 to purchase some meat and took the above and below photos on my way home. Polyface is in Swoope – just west of us..

Poor Len. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I hope we are keeping him comfortable with meds.

The only photo we got of our visitors. I’m on the right with my sister Melissa and my niece Mary.

Such a pleasant surprise to find these volunteers on August 11 at the base of the spruce tree between the house and the shed – an impatiens and a coleus.

I harvested these peppers on August 14.

I think it was back in July when I took some bricks and defined the beds around the plants in front of the shed. I think it turned out pretty nice.

Joe Pye Weed in the native garden on the morning of August 15.

Making our yummy tomato sauce on August 19.

I’m so sad that we have to take down this beautiful ash tree (on the right). The emerald ash borer has gotten to it so it can’t be saved.

$3000 poorer and down one beautiful shade tree. I will probably spend most of the day they take it down elsewhere.

Don’t like ending on a sad note, but here we are. I hope I keep up my posts with my photos as we enter the fall. It has been a very wet spring and summer. A little on the cool side, too. I’m hoping the valley will have some spectacular color this fall. Hard to believe it is almost September!

The Summer of Fruit

Another sweet watermelon

Zinnias in the kitchen garden

purple hulled cowpeas

The pollinators love this Sedum in the front bed.

Little Tansy flowers.

Dried cowpeas

We even harvested a ripe fig this afternoon. We need to move this bush. It doesn’t get enough sun. Just have to figure out where to put it. It will be interesting to see if we get more than just these two figs. The others are still very small and green.

I think fruit has done so well this year because we did not have a late freeze in the spring. They’ve had a long stretch of warm weather. That is coming to an end. The last two nights have been in the 40’s. Very cool for this time of year.

A Cool August

Catching up with the photos on my phone. We’ve had unseasonably cool weather. I’ve been wearing flannel!

We were excited to harvest our first watermelon a couple of weeks ago.

It wasn’t quite ripe. It was okay and will ask our neighbor about how to determine ripeness. We got the seeds for these Crimson Sweets from him a couple of years ago.

I bought this geranium from Elk Run Farm – a vendor at our Saturday Farmers Market. I think it is called apple blossom.

This is our first cantaloupe. We thought we were late harvesting it since the bugs had already gotten to it. We’ve found that the bugs are a good determination of ripeness. We’ve harvested others that have a strong scent but when we cut into them they aren’t quite ripe.

A Melon Petit Gris de Rennes – a sugar-sweet French favorite! We just have to be diligent and get them at peak ripeness before the bugs do!

Saving seeds – the cantaloupes (actually I think they are technically muskmelons though I’m not sure of the difference) and the large brown seeds are from bitter melons.

I love this African Violet. I was admiring the way the sun hit it a few mornings ago.

Our rain garden during a heavy rain.

Our harvest from yesterday. Lots of bitter melon. No one but me seems to go for it. More muskmelons, Doe Hill peppers (a small, yellow, sweet variety), green beans and apples. I made an apple pie and apples sauce earlier in the week and these went to Doris, our neighbor. She says she peels, slices and freezes them to use in the winter time.

Bitter melon on the vine.

The Staunton Historical Foundation holds noontime walking tours the first Friday of the month. Usually we are in the historical section of our downtown but today we went to Montgomery Hall Park which is about 4 minutes from our house. We took a hike in the woods during the rain. This is a wall from a bank barn. The barn burned down in a blaze many decades ago. The hike was led by an archaeologist. It was very interesting and fun to go tramping in the damp woods.

Just a pretty view.

 

Pear Harvest

Last nights harvest. Those are 13 bitter melons in the background.

We picked a pear a few days ago and let it ripen on the kitchen counter. Juiciest and tastiest pear I’ve ever eaten.

We went out and harvested what Dave could reach.

A Little Harvesting

Yesterday morning was absolutely gorgeous. We did some much needed harvesting.

We grew purple pole beans thinking the purple beans would be easier to see. Not the case since the vine is also purple. Though aren’t they beautiful!

Our July felt more like August and now August is feeling more like September. The temperature was in the 50’s Saturday night. Lovely sleeping weather but the tomatoes don’t like it. We are seeing a lot of die back in one of our plants so we harvested the tomatoes to send up to my mom. Hopefully, they will finish ripening for her. So she doesn’t have to wait, we also bought some ripe tomatoes from the Farmers Market on Saturday. Dave took up quite the load of tomatoes for her this morning (on his way to work) which might last her the two weeks until next time.

We have a lot of bitter melon on our vines. It too has slowed down in ripening. I was hoping to let these get a little fatter but we are expecting cool weather this week – 70’s mostly – so I just went ahead and picked them.

Frieda came over to investigate

and pose.

Oregano, thyme and rosemary

I stuffed the bitter melon with ground lamb seasoned with the fresh herbs, sea salt and onion. I then baked it for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. I thought it was very good. Damian thought it was too bitter and Dave wouldn’t try it.

We’ve had so little rain this summer that this was a very welcome sight this morning. We had at least 3 hours of steady rain. Hallelujah!

First Half of July

Southern Magnolia

I’m reading Seeing Trees by Nancy Ross Hugo and photography by Robert Llewellyn. Enjoyable reading and the photos are spectacular. Click on the arrow in the above photo for a neat video clip.

July 9th was the full moon. I think this was the day before or after.

Some of our harvest.

Pine bark harvested from one of our trees wraps around the sunflower stems in a mason jar. I got the sunflowers from the farmers market.

Emmylou and her chicks. They are on the wrong side of the fence!

Boulders or Just Very Large Rocks

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They brought in what I would call one boulder and two very large rocks. This is how they got them off the truck.

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Kale, herbs and onion. Some for mom and some for us.

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Our neighbors cows.

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The calves look like dogs when they run around.

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The landscaping crew is very meticulous in their work.

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This boulder is large enough for two people to sit on. I foresee it being more of a cat lounge.

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The large rock on the right was already here. They moved it from where the soil is dark on the left side of the photo. The contract says the boulders will be artistically placed. I rather liked where it was before but I’m open to this new arrangement.

 

Thoughts on Gardening and a Cozy Nook

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It seems like this year the garden is looking better and we are a little more on top of things than the past couple of years. We didn’t do much planning. I think I overwhelmed myself with the planning in the past. We decided to reduce what we planted and to not make much of a plan as to where things would go until we were ready to plant. That seemed to work for us. I also think having the chickens in the gardens all winter and into the spring really kept the weeds down. We’ve also been getting leaf mulch collected by the city at Gypsy Hill park and mulching, mulching, mulching. I’ve also relaxed a little about what I have to get done in the garden. I generally spend at least a couple of hours a day puttering around, cleaning up and weeding. Yes, a much more relaxed approach is better. I think I was trying too hard before.

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I know I’ve shared this room before. It has gone through several transformations since we moved here 3 years ago. I think I shared the new metal shelving we put in earlier this spring on the left side of the room. You can see it in the photo at the top of this post (left background). We call it the kitchen nook. Above, is the right side where I recently added the book filled cradle, black wicker chair ( found roadside), quilt topped table and the leaf green painted stool and chair pad. It’s a cozy little nook and I love how the sunlight streams in late in the afternoon.

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Today’s harvest – 3 beets and 3 carrots.

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A volunteer calendula.

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From garden to table in less than an hour. I simply sliced the beets and carrots into a little water, butter and grated fresh ginger and simmered until tender. Very tasty with slowly braised beef brisket.

Evening in the Barn Garden

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The onions appear to be doing well.

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One of the elderberry bushes.

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Not many blueberries on our bushes. We need to look into why that is.

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A butternut squash seedling.

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I think this is an okra seedling. At least that is what I remember taking a photo of.  Somehow this doesn’t look like what I remember. Will have to check tomorrow. I think we need more sun and heat for these to really take off. Same for the sweet potatoes. June 1 (June already!) – yes, the above is a beautiful little okra seedling – can’t wait to eat some freshly harvested okra sauteed in lard with some freshly harvested onion.

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Our volunteer marigolds. I’ve never had them volunteer before. I’m thinking it is due to the very mild winter we just had. Or maybe it was seed from a special plant. We’ve been growing and saving seed from a french heirloom variety (Naughty Marietta) for a few years now.