Friday, September 30, 2011

What's Growing Now in Our Garden

I had to take a skip and share what's growing in our garden now, September 30th.  Funny thing is, we've grown more on our chaotic, ill designed garden plot full of mostly weeds here in Washington State than we've ever grown in our carefully laid out 1/4 acre or back yard plots in Alabama, Texas or Arkansas.  I'll chalk it up to the 16 hours+ of sunlight a day during the summer season.  I can't wait to see what a well fertilized and irrigated garden will look like next year.  WARNING:  I will be calling upon some folks to help with the huge harvest!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beginnings of a Farm

Scotch Broom Invasion
I guess I should really start from the beginning.  We bought this house on 7.8 acres sight unseen from San Antonio, TX.  We have an outstanding realtor, and she sent videos, pics, etc.  What we just couldn't get past was the barn.  It's like a second house. I could just see the kids swinging in a tire from the loft, stacking it full of hay for the winter, having harvest parties in there.  Yep, I was sold.

So, after a long drawn out foreclosure process, we finally closed on the property in January 2011.  The very first thing to do was to pull up, cut down, excise, burn and sweep the ashes of all the scotch broom invading the land.  If you've never had to deal with scotch broom. . .well, pray you never have to.  My husband gained 10 pounds of muscle on those suckers.  They are the size of a baby tree.  When your trying to dig them, you punch the shovel all around the base until you hear a little popping noise, and then you know you've freed the roots.  We found out from the extension agency that so long as there's no seed pods, you can burn the remains.  So, we did - all 5 open acres worth.  They still pop up from time to time, but keeping the place mowed puts them in check. 
When the scotch broom had been taken out, we were ready to contain the garden.  Just sayin, if you really want to fence a garden to keep out critters like deer and rabbits, do it right the first time.  A five foot fence will not do the trick.  You will have to extend that up with chicken wire or something and dig a trench around the base to bury more chicken wire.  And, don't even get me started about voles and moles.  They are a pest to the umpteenth degree.  The only cure for voles is a really good hunting cat.  Ours (pic included) is the best.  She brings in at least one, if not more, a day.  Our golden retriever loves to hunt them, too, but she's a little sloppy.  Ah, well, she's a city dog, like me, just trying to live the dream.  As you can see here, she does catch one from time to time.

 Next post I'll tell you about preparing the ground and planting the trees.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pumpkin Blossoms are Yummy

I grew up in the deep south.  One thing that always grew in our garden was squash.  Lots of it.  But, I never knew you could fry and eat the blossoms.  Now I live in a climate where I can grow one of my favorite veggies/fruit - pumpkins.  Almost a quarter of my garden is full of those amazing round balls.  I learned from a gardener that you should pick the male flowers as they bloom once you have a couple of good pumpkins on your plant so that the energy all goes to growing the gourd. 

The blooms are so lovely, and I hate to waste, so I found a recipe for fried squash blossoms and gave it a try.  Yum!  I like fried squash, but these were so light, crispy and delicate.  Here's the recipe I settled with:

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • sprinkle salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • about a dozen pumpkin blossoms
Take the stamens from your blossoms and dredge them in the egg.  Then dust them lightly with the flour and baking powder/salt and pepper mixture.  Fry them on medium high in Canola oil. 
It takes no time flat till they're ready to eat. 

This morning I decided to try a little variation of my own:  I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons sugar, and a dash of nutmeg to the flour mixture and left out the salt and pepper.  It was pretty tasty.  Then, I decided to drizzle them with honey.  Well, that did it!  Delicious!  Try it with your blossoms and tell me what you think.

An Introduction

First off, I come from a long line of farmers, but if you really want to know the truth. . .I'm a city girl.  I hate to admit it, and my father and grandfather would probably shame me from their grave.  I thought by marrying a military man I would be able to escape my farming roots.  Ah ha aha.  Unbeknown to me, I married a man who just can't help growing things.  Every place we've been from Alabama to the Pacific Northwest, we've managed to plant some kind of garden.  In TX it was first a 30x30 plot. In Arkansas it was a 20x20.  In AL it was a quarter acre.  In San Antonio it was a container garden.  In Korea it was bonsai trees. 

And now, in Washington State it is a 80x80 whopper garden with an added couple of acres worth of 32 fruit trees (if we can keep the deer from eating them), 5 rows of raspberries, 2 rows of blackberries, and about 15 blueberry bushes.  Oh, and don't forget the chickens - 27 of the little critters.  We inherited a lot of it, but we've done our fair share since January 2011 of adding to. 

So, this blog is all about our adventures.  I am all about community (also from my small town roots), so join us on our journey.  I'm sure there will be days for laughing, crying and, hopefully, some celebrating along the way.

A Poem by Me to start us off


Dirt  from my garden has a mind of its own -  
Caking under fingernails, corroding pores.
Seeping in silently, dulling senses,

Blocking the inside world out,
Bidding me think of nothing but
Pink cherry blossom and pear,

Incessant humming of mason bees pollinating
Each tiny stamen as they balance carefully
On delicate spring petals.

This calloused sun bakes the dirt in so deep
Not even ceaseless lather can silence its
Wooing, cajoling, begging, insisting

That I stay outside and
Dig, plant, prune, weed, mow, feed, grow.

I am a farmer’s daughter who left for the city only to return
To the call of dirt

Stuck beneath my nails, and I can’t even dig it out,
Not with a dozen malls, or a hundred cars, or
A thousand skyscrapers.

I cannot excise it though I’ve scrapped with precision,
Dug and cut until the blood ran down like droplets of rain
Watering my resolve to return

To pregnant meadows flush with new growth,
To gardens neatly planted in green rows,
Staked and weeded, ready for picking.

My hands are stained with dirt, and I cannot hope
To wash them now.