Saturday, May 14, 2011

I'm out in the garden...

It has warmed up enough for things to start growing slowly out in the garden. The rhubarb is ready to pick, the strawberry plants have begun to set their blooms, and seedlings are poking up through the soil. As you can see from the photograph, I harvested a very small amount of asparagus the other day for supper... the first of the season! I absolutely LOVE asparagus, cooked til just a bit crisp and served with a dab of butter and salt. I also love to make a big pot of Cream of Asparagus soup and freeze it for winter's eating... if it lasts til then. I have never tried dehydrating asparagus... I'm not certain it would be palatable, but if I get enough this year, I want to try it. I plan to cut the asparagus into 1/2 inch pieces and dry it that way, with the intention of tossing a few handfuls into the soup pot come winter. Does anyone have experience in dehydrating asparagus?
I spent some time out in the vegetable garden transplanting spinach and catnip. Every year, catnip seeds itself in the rhubarb patch, and I never catch it til the following spring. (I assume the wind blows the seed into that particular spot, as I never plant it there... it is placed down at the farthest end of the garden) So every spring, I dig each plant up and usually plant it back down where I'd like it to grow... farthest away from the 4 cats! This year, I am trying to outsmart it, so I planted it only a few feeet from the rhubarb bed. I dug up perhaps thirty plants and planted them in three rows. If I'm lucky, the seed will drift down to the OTHER end come autumn, and it will reseed where it should be.

The spinach plants were remnants from last year, and I could not bear to hoe them down to make room for the potatoes, so I dug them all up and moved them to the opposite end. Perhaps in another two weeks, I'll be picking fresh spinach!
The past two days have been spent removing the old picket fence which surrounds the vegetable garden. It has been there for so many years, and the boards... although weathered to a lovely grey... have dry-rotted and deteriorated to the point that several sections had fallen over during the winter, leaving the garden and small orchard open to the deer. The posts are all in reasonablly good shape,as are most of the crossboards (I'm trying to salvage as much as I can) but I have to unscrew each picket from every section, then remove the crossboards and flip them sideways and reattach them, then top it all with welded wire fencing. My trigger finger goes numb after a few hours of running the drill, but shortly after that, the battery dies, so my finger is able to rest while I change the battery. (Thank goodness for cordless drills) I'm a counter when it comes to mindless toil such as this, so I can tell you that there are 36 sections of fence with 16 pickets to a section; 2 screws per picket, 4 screws per each of the two crossboards per section, and that equals a lot of salvaged screws! I'll be at that for a few more days.
My neighbors, Gary and Alice, brought a few Blue Spruce seedlings down to me the other day. They had purchased a few dozen from the Conservation Department and planted what they wanted, so I was the grateful recipient of 9 large seedlings! I planted them in the back chicken pasture, and while digging, I discovered a mass of wild garlic all thoughout. A few days later, my neighbor brought me a small boxful of wild leeks, which I promptly planted in the shade near the barn. Thank heavens for wonderful friends!
There was a too-large pussywillow tree growing in my old herb garden that had been overrun with bittersweet vine, some of which were as thick around as the branches of the pussywillow. I had been trying to tame it back over the past few years, but the bittersweet was strangling the willow, and very little was surviving, so I spent a few hours cutting all that down. (Thank goodness for chainsaws)
I had a brainstorm the other morning about putting in a small kitchen garden right outside the kitchen. This will involve pulling out a good-sized yew bush and an assortment of overgrown iris, lilies and other perennials, building a small 1 to 2 foot high stone wall and stone pathway, filling it in with topsoil, and transplanting the most-used herbs right close to the house. I want to put in some tea herbs (lemon balm, spearmint, applemint, and peppermint, lemon verbena, lavender and bee balm), walking onions and welsh onions, and the usual seasoning herbs.. parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, dill... and edible flowers; perhaps calendula, pansies, marigolds, and so on.
Now, some may accuse me of having too many pots in the fire. And that's not to mention the times I have my mind set on one task at hand, and I need to go to the barn/ tool shed/house to retrieve a hammer/ screwdriver/drink of water and get side-tracked and start on something new. But to me, it staves off boredom... when I've had my fill of one thing for a time, I can start (or go back to) another project! And most things always manage to get finished, except the housework.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

First of May

Great is the sun, and wide he goes

Through empty heaven without repose

And in the blue and glowing days

More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Thoough closer still the blinds we pull

To keep the shady parlor cool,

Yet he will find a chink or two

To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic, spider-clad,

He, through the keyhole, maketh glad

And though the broken edge of tiles,

Into the laddered hayloft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around

He bares to all the garden ground,

And sheds a warm and glittering look

Among the ivy's inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,

Round the bright air, with footing true,

To please the child, to paint the rose,

The gardener of the World, he goes.

~Summer Sun by Robert Louis Stevenson