Tuesday, June 28, 2011

June Jam - Music and Strawberries

One might say that our little New England town is on the sleepy side. If that is the case, June Jam is the yearly wake-up call, a Saturday afternoon-into-the-evening outdoor live music event at Musterfield Farm. It seems that the whole town turns out to listen to a variety of local musicians and bands, catch up with neighbors and hang out on the grass with a picnic. I can't recall any other time where I've seen 3-year-olds, high school students, forty-somethings, and maybe-just-a-tad-older folks all dancing at the same time.

I'm sad to say that I did not attend June Jam this year. Instead, I was working on a different sort of June jam all together. Saturday afternoon, I was out strawberry picking at Edgewater Farm, and later that evening, Adam and I prepared the berries for freezing and jamming. Adam thankfully did most of the berry prep for freezing - wash, cut off tops, set in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and put in freezer. Meanwhile, I sliced up enough strawberries to make 8 cups, enough for one batch of jam using the last box of lower-sugar-needed pectin. I put the sliced strawberries in the fridge to macerate overnight, and made jam on Sunday night.

A profusion of vegetable growth - picture taken post-weeding

Also, on Saturday, I worked on addressing the grass situation. No, not the grass on the lawn - it was too wet to mow. But the grass in the garden - that needed to be taken care of, wet or dry. Two out of three raised beds were growing vegetables in addition to grass, and I picked some peas, chard, lettuce, arugula and scallions. I thinned some carrots, as well. Above you can see one of the beds I had planted in April-May.

A less successful garden bed - all the light green you see is grass.

The third bed was planted later in early June, and I was very disappointed in the germination of seeds in this bed. The brussels sprouts that I transplanted in early spring is doing fine, but other than that, the bed looks pretty sad. Out of 16 radish seeds planted, only two came up. I will have to replant this bed, once I finish clearing the grass out. Good thing that the days are long - there's plenty of work to be done.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oh, Happy Day - It's Summer!

On the first day of summer, my garden gave to me... A handful of strawberries.

We just got back from vacation late last night and I ran out the door this morning, late. So, it wasn't until dinner that I had a moment to look at the garden. I picked my handful of strawberries, cleaned them up, and ate them in short order - it was wonderful.

Then I ate greens pizza cooked on the grill and rushed back out the door to a night meeting. No photos, but I wanted to share my excitement of strawberries and the first day of summer.

Happy summer and happy gardening!

(Photos and recipe for greens pizza to come later this week.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Seeds have been sown, chickies have grown...

I spent a lot of time this past week getting my gardens and my neighbor's garden prepped and planted for the summer. We are headed out on vacation on Wednesday, so I was definitely feeling a bit of pressure to wrap up the spring planting. No thanks to the mosquitoes and black flies, I managed to hack away at my neighbor's garden in 1/2-hour chunks before running inside to avoid the flying hordes.

I may not look smart, but I can surely get those skeeters.

In a fleeting attempt to control the mosquito population, we've been putting the chickens out in the yard while we are at home. They do go crazy for mosquitoes and any other flying insect, but I don't really believe that six little chickies are going to make much of an impact. The pen is just two pieces of wire panel that we got as a side gift from Freecycle (Adam went to pick up metal roofing and the landowner asked Adam if he wanted any wire panels in addition -- yes, please!). The wire panels lean against each other forming a circle and I placed a window screen on top to keep Yellow from escaping the pen.

Free-standing open air chicken pen - not predator-proof

They love it, and I'm half-tempted to build them a little chicken tractor so they can stay outside all summer. The latest issue of Mother Earth News says I can make one for $200 bucks, but I'll just need to learn how to weld first! (Sorry, I don't think I'll be welding any time soon - gardening is enough of a hobby to keep me occupied for years.)

Fresh from the garden this week:
Salad greens!! including Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, mesclun and a few types of lettuce.
Mint - I made some awesome refrigerator tea with fuzzy mint, chocolate mint and black tea.
Chives and scallions