April 30, 2009

Treasure

Thank you Jim and Marie! What an amazing gift. They have an asparagus bed that is 20 years old and it puts forth this bounty and much, much more every year. Their health is holding them back this year, so "guest" harvesters are coming in to help out, and the payment for this help couldn't be any more rewarding! The bonus is that you get to spend time with them as well, which is always a blessing.

DH brought this heap of asparagus home after stopping to help them out earlier this week, so we've been indulging ever since. So far we've roasted it with olive oil and S&P, and we've steamed it with lime juice. Next, I'm going to try an asparagus quiche. I'll be putting the picture and a recipe on a new companion blog to this one, called "Favorite Garden Recipes". At least I think that's what it will be called! Other companion blogs will be up soon regarding some of our our favorite things. Links to all will be on this blog, so keep a look out if you're curious!

Well, this is all then.

April 27, 2009

Planting All Over the Place

All around the house, we've been putting in seeds and transplants and hoping that this wild weather doesn't wreck it all. There is just a slight little rivulet in the garden as we speak, and more rain is on the way.

In the front we planted seeds of dwarf sunflowers, spearmint, morning glory, and of course the hyacinth bean seeds. Many of our perennials are up and growing and we are struggling to keep the voracious deer from eating things down to the ground - like my favorite little Columbine-ugh! Recent transplants from Uncle J and Aunt P included lavender and dianthus for the front beds, and near one of the backyard bird feeders, we planted a butterfly bush, plus a daisy plant that was surviving against all odds in the back of Uncle's pick up truck! Thank you both again!

The seeds that have been sown directly into the garden are peas, sugar snaps, Helios and French Breakfast radishes, and pole beans. Soon to go in the ground are these little beauties:

On the way to us from Seed Savers.Org is a shipment of German Butterball and French Fingerling potatoes - pictures above are from their site. Both are organic and both sold out! We ordered them in February and asked for them to be shipped this week. A co-worker of DH says that comparing the German Butterball potatoes to Yukon Golds, is like comparing a VW to a Mercedes. Oh my- can't you just see the steam coming off of them as we pour them into a bowl for dinner and toss on a little butter and parsley! Lord willing!

P.S. A request - prayers would be appreciated for my step-brother undergoing brain surgery this week.

Well, this is all then.

April 25, 2009

Promise

Such wonderful things to come! The first blooms on our lilac bush are so close to popping out!

All of our rose bushes are coming back to life. Amazing how this happens among a tangle of seemingly dead canes. It truly thrills me.

And wondrously, the asparagus is pushing up through the cracks in the dirt, and with today's light rains, I imagine that it will be ready to lop off and enjoy very soon. This is a brand new bed, so we won't look for pounds of the stuff, but the fact that it took, and is producing, is marvelous!

Here's the recipe for the asparagus salad I made for Easter Dinner - terrific!

Asparagus Salad with Feta Cheese and Dijon Vinaigrette

2 lbs. fresh asparagus
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced or 1/8 C minced white onion
1 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
About 1/2 C olive oil (add until dressing is the consistency and taste you prefer)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/3 C feta cheese, crumbled

Trim tough ends from asparagus, cut stalks into 2 inch pieces, blanch in hot water or in the microwave, and then plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. You want them to be tender but still crisp. Remove asparagus from the ice water and dry thoroughly by wrapping in paper towels.

To make the dressing, whisk together all remaining ingredients except for tomatoes and feta. You can also make the dressing in a shaker jar or a small food processor.

Toss together asparagus and tomatoes; drizzle vinaigrette over top and mix gently; sprinkle feta over top and serve. Makes 8 servings.

April 22, 2009

Vine Time

Ready, set, go!! For those of you that received Hyacinth Bean Vine seeds from us, now would be a great time to put them into the ground. Plant them just as you would any other type of bean, and be sure you leave plenty of room for this to spread and climb. If you recall, we decided to go with the idea of having everyone plant at roughly the same time, and then we'll compare how they grow in other areas around the U.S. You can wait a little longer to start if your weather isn't cooperating, but do it soon so we'll be able to better compare the outcomes. The only one who will certainly have to wait would be little sis in Alaska! She might have quite a feat trying to get into the frozen ground to plant, but she says that there are definite signs of spring even there. However, the growing season in AK is amazing since they have nearly 24-hour daylight in summer months, so she might be quite a contender if she gets them planted. Now, should we have a prize for this contest??? Any suggestions?

Hey, it's not too late if you don't have these seeds. Contact us and I'll do my best to get some to you. There are a few left, so don't dilly dally here. Let the contest begin!

Well, this is all then.

April 18, 2009

Neither Rain, nor...

...snow, nor heat , nor gloom of night..." or so the saying more or less goes. We didn't have anything but the rain, which also means mud. But we didn't let the rain or mud stop us from doing the garden chores that were on the list for the weekend. Just put on your wellies, forget about your hairdo and get out there and get wet. I vowed that this year I would participate in more of the outside work involved in gardening, and I really feel that after helping to make three, thirty-foot fencing trellises, I'm done for the season - obligation fulfilled. DH is shaking his head no, so maybe I will be drafted a few more times!

That is some hard work, but I wasn't doing the hardest part, which was pounding 15 stakes in the ground with the manual post driver, which weighs nearly 20 lbs, and is lifted and slammed onto the top of each post until it goes far enough into the ground. Let's just say I'm glad to be a girl today! The tools we used, including the post driver are shown here. You can't make it out in the picture, but included in the pile of tools is some ear protection, since the sound of the posts being beaten into the ground is resoundingly loud. Your ears are rather numb afterward unless you protect them!


This fencing is actually concrete reinforcing wire and came in a 150 foot roll. We didn't need all of it, so my Uncle J will use some of this too. Like I said last season, gardeners are good at sharing!


Pictured below are the finished rows, which are all inside our electric fence. They will be home to peas, cantaloupe, squash, watermelon, sweet potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and even our tomatoes. Yes, it's an experimental year for sure. We're trying to see if there is anything that you CAN'T grow on a trellis I guess!

On a final note, we say Happy Birthday to my nephew in sunny CA, and my Aunt P who lives close enough that we could deliver a little carrot cake to her to help celebrate. See there, if you move to Iowa you get cake from us on your birthday!

Well, this is all then.

April 17, 2009

Makin' Hay While the Sun Shines

This is really part two from my last post about mowing and then moving the clippings to the garden area for mulch. We'd been thinking of buying some bales of hay to lay down between rows, under tomato cages, etc., but now it looks like we have more than enough from our own property. I don't know if this is hay, or straw, or what, in a technical sense, but we sure did have a wagon load of it! DH did most of this hard work, and I helped near the end of the process, as my back muscles reminded me the next day. He rigged up this combination of a 2 x 4 and a tarp on the back of the mower, raked the cuttings onto the tarp, and then hauled them over to make this impressive pile!

Now let's hope we can get this applied to the garden before it becomes a mouse hotel. Don't EVEN get me started on mice...

Well, this is all then.

April 15, 2009

Boy Toys

He hauls, with his favorite new garden toy - works so much more efficiently than a wheelbarrow with a constant flat tire. Thanks Santa Claus! The first use for the cart was putting mulch around the asparagus bed before the weeds take hold.


He tills, with a tiller that is more familiar this year and worked like a charm - unlike last year when it took 3 grown men to figure out how to turn the thing on! We bought it used and the manual was long gone. But this year, with ease, the whole garden is beautifully tilled and ready for the next phase - planting!


He mows, with his trusty rider that started right up, after being stored in the shed all frigid winter long - maybe our streak of things breaking down is ending?? We've recently had everything from cars to weather radios go on the fritz and it was such a relief to hear the hum of that motor! DD made instant mulch for the garden by "rolling" the cut grass with the mower. Now we'll use the cart again and get the mounds moved over to the garden. Let the work begin!!

Well, this is all then.

April 10, 2009

Happy Easter!



He is risen - Hallelujah!
Matthew 28:1-8
1Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you." 8So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

April 8, 2009

Mole Wars

There are few creatures in the world any more unattractive than this thing -

(image from Wild Cru)

And this is the beautiful thing they do to your lawn -

Special huh? And we've had these all over the back yard until recently... We discovered a gadget that seemed too good to be true, but it really does work. At least it's been working so far. It's a P3 Sonic Molechaser. You stick it down into the lawn, it runs on D batteries, and emits a noise that is apparently unpleasant to these vermin. We've moved it around the yard several times and the new piles of upturned dirt have stopped. It's a little odd, but I'd rather see this out in the lawn than a mole hill!

The battle may not be over, but we think we've found an effective weapon. BTW, last year we kept them out of the garden by spraying castor oil, which kills the grubs they're after. That worked in a confined space, but you can't really do that over an acreage. We'll post an update if the balance of power shifts again!

Well, this is all then.

April 6, 2009

A Sprung Spring

Sideways snow, high winds, blizzard conditions, daughter driving through a horrible storm to get back to campus after a musical performance with her choir, evening church service canceled - not January news, but THIS weekend!! Ugh, ugh, ugh! The oddest part of all was that where we live, it snowed for 12 hours and was blowing so much that we only accumulated a few inches, but some spots in Iowa got as much as 10 inches. This is apparently very rare for Iowa in April, for which I'm so grateful! But I'm also grateful to have had a warm fire and a dear husband to cozy up with for the afternoon, and I'm grateful that our daffodils are still standing pretty this morning! Actually my Uncle J tells me that these are technically called jonquils because of the coloring. I like the sound of that word, so I'm changing over!

My sister sent me this photo to show what spring looks like on the North Slope of Alaska!Brrrrrr... This photo is from BP in Alaska. This is a herd of wild musk oxen and my sister wanted to point out that the drilling has obviously not deterred these animals from their normal migration habits! She and I share a distaste for the politically correct mumbo-jumbo that floats around the issues of drilling.

Here's some trivia for you. The underbelly hair of these animals is gathered and used to make very fine winter garments. Here's a picture of the yarn, called qiviut, and some scarves knitted from the yarn.

This photo is from the University of Alaska at Faribanks where they run a large animal research facility and raise these musk oxen. These products are sold by them to help fund the research. Also, native Alaskans in villages all over the state, knit these qiviut items to be sold in cooperatives and gift shops. A village will often have it's own distinct pattern that's knitted into the garments. This is considered to be a very successful and sustainable cottage industry - pretty interesting stuff! But if you're considering buying a piece - save your pennies because it's premium quality and VERY expensive! It would be lovely to have a garment like this, but for now I'm just going to be satisfied with storing the word "qiviut" in my little brain for the next round of Scrabble I play - hee, hee!

All we really need right now is for the weather to be nice enough that we can stop thinking about the need for warm clothing! Sorry sis, I know you've got a while before you're at that point. Wear your hat!

Well, this is all then.

April 3, 2009

More Signs and Wonders

Another sign of spring! Rhubarb popping up through the mud and muck! Talk about a hardy plant. Have you ever tried to dig it up and get rid of it? But who wants to get rid of it? Not me!

I wonder how long it's been since you've made a rhubarb cobbler? I wonder if you've ever made one? I wonder if you'll be inspired by this picture? Let me know if you want the recipe.

I just happened to have a little frozen rhubarb left from last summer's harvest and felt inspired by the emerging plant in the garden. Since this dish came out well, I plan to make it again for a very special Easter lunch - not so special because of the food, but because of the guests. Lord willing, we'll be sharing Easter lunch with a sweet friend and her dear husband. Marie was just diagnosed with cancer throughout her body, and if you are of a mind, please say a prayer for her and her husband Jim. The message of Easter is something to celebrate every day, but right now, Jim and Marie are especially mindful of the resurrection that gives life. I wonder if you've given thanks for that message today?

Well, this is all then.