Why I Can’t Go on Vacation in the Summer

I very much dislike going on vacation in the summer. Not because it’s too hot and humid to be outside. Not because any typical vacation spot is crowded with everyone else who is taking a summer vacation.

I can’t go on vacation in the summer because of my garden. Yep, you read that correctly.  I can deal with a few days here or there but I can’t be away for more than 3 or 4 days.  I learned my lesson.  I left for some hiking in the mountains and visit with my baby niece and returned to a dry, crisp bed of peas.  I didn’t set the water timer for the garden because we have newly planted trees that replaced dead ones and they desperately need to be watered to develop roots this summer.  So I had to choose…the expensive newly planted trees, or my garden.  I figured my garden could handle a few days without water.  I was wrong.

So this is the last of my early summer veggies:

The last of the early summer veggies

 

Luckily, the zucchinni, tomatoes and cucumbers seem to have done just fine, as are the small watermelon and butternut squash plants.  I had a little chat with them and promised them I would not leave them without water for that long again this summer.  I think they forgave me.  We’ll see in the coming weeks.   🙂

 

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Dear Bunny Visiting My Garden

Dear Wild Bunny who is visiting my garden,

This letter is from its caretaker, its warden.

 

I don’t appreciate all your nibbling and biting.

Don’t deny you have been here, I have a sighting.

 

In the setting sun, I have seen your brown fluffy fur,

Your perked up ears, and your cuteness sure is a lure.

 

But I fear you are eating so much it is making you fat.

You should go on a diet-what do you think about that?

 

You see, those veggies are for my family and I.

Oh now, don’t you slump and pretend to be shy.

Bunny chewed kale

I have seen you eating my lettuce, spinach and kale,

Even my latest most delicious green beans, my holy grail.

Bunny chewed green bean

You may be cute, but don’t deny it is you little one.

For I have plenty of proof of the mess you have done:

Bunny Poop

Yes, there it is near my garden, your pebbles of poop.

Now that you are caught, here is the scoop.

 

I beg you to find some wild food in the woods,

To retreat, to go elsewhere, to find some others’ goods.

 

For remember, I grew up in a Portuguese home,

Where rabbits were for dinner and not for a poem.

Rabbit_Stew-3

 

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Green Garden Gallery

While I love the fresh and healthy aspect of eating food from my own garden, I also appreciate the fact that there is no waste, no packaging, no travel/gasoline/petroleum or CO2 emissions involved in my food.  My blueberries don’t come in a cardboard or plastic box, my green beans don’t come from across the country, and my peas don’t come in a plastic bag.  I save seeds from year to year, add some compost from our food scraps, water it with our rain barrel’s water, and let the sun shine down on the wonderful tiny patch I call heaven.

These are the ultimate green goodies!

Here are some recent photos that my 6 year old took of me and my garden.  It’s absolutely wonderful to go out back with the kids and pick our dinner for the evening.  I don’t know if my girls will ever go back to store-bought produce after eating these crisp, crunchy ones!

We’ve had this blueberry plant for about 3 years now and this is the first year it has produced any fruit.
Good things come to those who wait!
Update: Slight problem – something has been eating my blueberries lately! When we go to pick them first thing in the morning, all the ripe ones are gone…could it be the birds? Or the squirrels? Or the resident groundhog?
Nothing better than eating green beans an hour after you pick them!
Just hanging around…
Me and my peas!
Here is our littlest one excitedly helping me de-shell some peas.  We’ll see how long that lasts.
Still more to go…
Snow peas getting ready for stir frying

Hope you are enjoying your own harvest so far this summer!  If not, then I hope you are at least enjoying your weekly visits to the local farmer’s market to get some fresh produce.  Mine has been a great resource for things I am not growing yet (zucchini) or that have come and gone already (strawberries, spinach, lettuce).

Some of you have asked me to write a post about pesticides and what I do about garden pests/diseases.  I don’t use any pesticides!  I let nature runs it’s course and only interfere with water and sometimes water and vinegar when needed.  I’ll write a more complete post about this soon with some more ideas of how to tackle your pesky garden pests.

Happy green gardening!

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Signs of Spring

Signs of spring in my backyard even on a cloudy day!

Blueberries!
Fig tree
Mixed garden (peas, tomatoes, chives, cucumbers, zucchini)
Another mixed garden with rain barrel in background (not a wine barrel!)  🙂
Peas and sugar snap peas with some lettuce and other things mixed in!
The key now is to keep the wild rabbits and groundhogs away.  Any tips?
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Figs, Figs and More Figs!

Since my last post was about excess plastic, it seems fitting that a post on the excess figs in my freezer follow.  After all, my 20+ pounds of figs have been stored since August/September in my reusable plastic containers and bags.  However, a few of the plastic bags got tears in them from two little ones smashing them with their fingers and poking them with their play kitchen utensils, so into the trash the torn bags went.  I felt very non-green at that moment and was wishing I had enough glass containers…and enough room in my freezer for 20+ pounds of figs in glass containers.

Did I mention I had 20+ pounds of figs leftover from my two fig trees in my backyard?  I say 20+ pounds because I lost count around there and only labeled some of the containers before freezing them a few months ago.  I gave many more pounds away to friends and family who love figs and eat them right off my trees and to coworkers in my office.  It was quite a year for figs here!

So what the heck do you do with 20+ pound of figs from two beautiful fig trees in your yard? Why, you make fig jam of course!

So I started with thawing them out of the freezer (this is only 8 pounds of the 20+ pounds of figs):

Thawing figs

Add some sweetener (I use sugar since it helps the jam set better than other sweeteners):

Some added sweetness!

Then I boiled it for a while (I forgot to take a photo of that step-sorry!).  I cooked the figs for about an hour before adding the pectin and sugar at the very end to help thicken it up.

Then I filled up the clean canning jars, put lids and rings on tightly and submerged in the boiling water for 10 minutes to get them to seal.

Then you let them set for 24 hours before putting them away in a pantry for a year (or decorating them to give to kids’ teachers, family, etc. for Thanksgiving or Christmas!)

 

All done! Eleven beautiful sealed jars of fresh fig jam from my backyard to carry us through the winter and into next year!

Know what the funny things is though?  I get to do this canning thing all over again tomorrow!  I still have 8 pounds of figs in my fridge that I couldn’t use today because 1) my gigantic pot wasn’t big enough to handle all 20+ pounds of figs at one time and 2) I ran out of pectin.  So much for being prepared!

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