It may be hard to see by the photo but this used to be a half barrel FULL of strawberries. That was till the deer got to it. It sits about 10′ from the corner of the house. I believe it was a deer and not a rabbit because on the ground next to this are more strawberry leaves. Surely a rabbit would have hit them first. Normally the deer are content topping my willows and keeping the grapes pruned. This is the first time one has left evidence of venturing this close to the house. Is nothing safe from these ravenous animals?
I often get up long before I have to start getting ready for work to browse the garden. The morning is cool and the birds are out in full chorus. I do the container watering at this time, harvest what I can and just enjoy the morning. This morning on my rounds I came up with some of the early raspberries, the first couple of blackberries, a couple of handfuls of blueberries, currants, the first of the gooseberries and the last of the strawberries. What an awesome breakfast!
The dill is just getting large enough to take a small harvest. This batch went into a couple of small paper bags to dry. The bags will get a shake once or twice a day to insure even drying.
Looking on the counter I see today’s haul. A dozen or so jalepenos for hot poppers, a quart of raspberries, a handfull each of blackberries and strawberries, a couple of zucchini and a few green tomatoes for frying.
The Weatherbug calls for the possibility of rain today. I’ve known about this for a couple of days but I’m not buying into it. There have been promises of water before and here we sit not a drop. Just a few miles either north or south of us seem to get it but often it misses us. So… I am watering anyway. Not a lot, just an inch or so to soften the soil a bit. It is so hard in some spots now any rain would just run off anyway. I can almost hear a distinct ‘ahhhhh’ coming from the garden as I turn on the water.
I am putting the propagation bench (see the archives) to good use. A coworker gave me some rose cuttings last week from her miniature rose bush. I have 5 in cups on the bench. Another 5 black knight butterfly bush cuttings are also trying to root. I also have some basil that never made it to the garden growing in cups. It actually looks much better than the stuff outside. I’ve been harvesting it along. I got enough day before yesterday for a pasta salad that I love. mmm.
On to the brownies…
I picked this recipe up from the net. I made a batch with a couple of minor modifications and OMG it is THE best brownie I’ve ever had (if I do say so myself 😉 ).
Chocolate Raspberry Squares Recipe by Robert Rothschild Farm
1/2 cup Butter, unsalted
2 oz. Chocolate, unsweetened
1/2 tsp. Instant coffee
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Flour
1 cup Fresh raspberries
1/2 cup Walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. Flour
6 Tbsp. Flour
3 Tbsp. Butter, unsalted, melted
Garnish Robert Rothschild Red Raspberry Gourmet Sauce and fresh raspberries
3 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 cup Brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For brownie layer: Combine 1/4 cup butter, chocolate and coffee in a small sauce pan and melt over low heat. Cook and reserve. In electric mixer bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup butter and sugar. Beat to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat just until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and flour. Pour batter in a greased 9 inch square baking dish. Bake for 12 minutes.
For raspberry layer: In a small bowl, combine the fresh raspberries, walnuts and flour.
For top layer: Combine brown sugar, flour, cocoa, vanilla, eggs and melted butter in a small bowl. Reserve.
Remove brownie layer from oven and distribute the raspberries and walnuts over the top. Drizzle the top layer over raspberries. Return to oven and bake another 20-30 minutes.
To serve, spoon some Red Raspberry Gourmet Sauce on a dessert plate, place a raspberry square on top of sauce and garnish with fresh raspberries.
When I made them I left out the coffee and raspberry sauce, substituted almonds for walnuts (didn’t have any walnuts) and probably used about 1 1/2 cups of fresh (just picked) raspberries. They turned out very moist and you could really taste the raspberries. I think they were even better the second day. This recipe is a keeper.
Today was the first official strawberry picking. I had reduced the bed by 1/3 when I put in the everbearing bed so it didn’t take me nearly as long to pick. Its a good thing, my back has been giving me a fit with regards to bending. I keep forgetting I’m not 20 any more. 😉
I started another batch of alfalfa tea today. This is my first year using it and I did a little experiment. I treated part of a row of raspberries, salad burnet and a few others. The difference was most noticable in the salad burnet. The plants I treated were much darker green than their neighbors all other things being equal (that I can tell). The recipe I settled on is 4 cups of alfalfa pellets to 5 gallons of water. I put this 22 gallon trash can out at the edge of the garden next to the underground composters (I added a second one recently). This stuff gets pretty nasty smelling and in case it gets knocked over I didn’t want it close to the house.
The plan was/is to use this half barrel for a couple of sweet potato vines (Porto Rico) and a flower or two. The other day I noticed that it is full of volunteer echinacea seedlings. There is a small patch of purple next to this planter and this is the first time I’ve had seedlings come up. I’ve transplanted about a dozen or so already but there are dozens more.
The blueberries are a bloomin’. Normally it is a little colder when the blueberries bloom. Rarely do I see any honey bees out yet but the yearly visit from my lone bumble bee should be starting up any time now. She can often be seen doing her best to pollinate the blueberries. I do everything but build a shrine to her. She is my hero.
The first blooms of the season on both the June bearing and everbearing strawberries are starting. The currants and my Miss Kim lilac are both loaded with what will be future blooms. The tulips are up and in full bloom. I only have two of them and ended up cutting them last night as we were supposed to get a bad storm. Thankfully it missed us.
This is mom’s creeping phlox. I took a start of this from mom’s place after she passed. It has lived in a 3 gallon pot for the last 10 years. I supposed I could separate it out and put some in the ground. When is the best time to separate phlox? Have I missed it this year?
One of my new Brown Turkey Figs has some spots on the leaves. I picked the one at the top of the page up at a local place (Jungle Jim’s) and about a week or two later noticed these spots. Any ideas? I tried googling fig and spots but every entry maked fig. 132, fig. 87 etc came up. I went with figs but that was of little help. And why the heck are all of these University publications lacking photos? With digital cameras as cheap as they are these days can’t we get some pictures on those fact sheets?
I just love zinnias. So far they have escaped mildew.
The dill seeds are forming. I planted this patch of mammoth dill last year and it came back from seed this spring.
My first official garlic harvest. Ok, my second but the first one didnt’ count. The heads aren’t the largest but I had just planted them this spring. I may try planting some this fall and see if I can get larger heads next year.
A future strawberry.
Every year I dehydrate some red and green peppers. I make a spanish rice seasoning mix (tastes a lot like Rice A Roni) that uses dried peppers. I also use peppers to make relish, stuffed peppers and of course fresh eating. mmmm
Strawberries, mulberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries in that order. Perhaps next year or the year after will include some gooseberries, currants and cranberries from the plants purchased this year. Actually we may get a couple of currants this year. I mean to remove all of the blossoms from the new plants but by the time I noticed the one I missed it had small berries so I left it on.
The strawberries are just about wrapping up. We had a pretty good haul this year. I haven’t done the math yet but I know we didn’t have the loss due to the wet weather that we had last year. Most were frozen for later but we had a lot of fresh eating. As the strawberries go the blueberries are starting to ripen. The blackberries will be next in line.
The mulberries in the two wild mulberry trees have been ripening over the last couple of weeks. I think this has helped keep the birds out of the strawberry patch. As soon as the mulberries started coming on I noticed that the bird damage to the strawberries stopped. I don’t mind sharing but they seem to like to take a couple of bites out of one then move on to another.
I’ve picked 4 cups of ripe mulberries and have my eye on a Spiced Mulberry Jam recipe. Sounds simple enough and only make 3 jars so if we are not crazy about it we won’t have 15 jars sitting around gathering dust. We’ve had mulberries every year here and for about 10 years at mom’s and I never took the time to gather them. The tree at mom’s was so big you really couldn’t reach the berries. The trees we have here are small and I keep cutting the one back so it is only about 12′ high but loaded. I have tasted them off the tree and they are ok but nothing to rave about. I’ve heard they make a good jam so…
I noticed one raspberry vine actually has a couple of blossoms and small berries.
Tried seeding some comfrey in float trays day before yesterday.
Planted out some more broccoli from Walmart.
The strawberries are in bloom.
Planted out some more leeks.
Dug up some raspberry starts for trade and to send some to Mallie.
Planted out the wintergreen and huckleberry from ebay. Not impressed with the teaberry but the huckleberry is probably ok.
Rec’d and planted out the 2 red currant. They are looking pretty good. Nice large plants from Jung I believe.
The mint, echinacea, calendula, sage, valerian is all sending out new growth. the bee balm, catnip and St. John’s wort are fairly large as are the yarrow
I was out in the garden a couple of times this year so far. I was able to get in before the last set of rains came and plant some early veggies. Then came the torrents. My seeds are probably over in the church parking lot by now. At least the parishioners will have fresh veggies.
I have been slowly trying to build up my fruit supply. I ordered 6 more raspberry plants (I put 6 out last year) and put them in pots (ground too wet by the time I got them). I did get the 25 Ozark Beauty day neutral strawberries in the ground though. The 2 filberts and 1 gooseberry (lots of thorns, never tried them, hope they are good) went in to containers as they came in. I am going to end up putting the filberts in half barrels and will deal with the gooseberry if anything comes of it.
The rhubarb I planted last year is coming up and the blackberries are sending out leaves. I have 260 leeks in float trays, a head of elephant garlic and a couple dozen shallots waiting for the soil to dry. I have some walking onions on order and that is all I am waiting on this year.
I have carved my non perennial garden from about 40×60 to two spots. One is 12×15 and the other is about 15×40. Just enough room for some of the annual veggies. One area is fenced in as I can’t get the beans, spinach and lettuce over about an inch tall with the rabbits around here. They usually don’t bother the tomatoes and peppers as long as I allow some weeds to grow in the garden at planting. If I till it bare they repay me by eating what ever I put in the ground.
The local high school put an announcement in the paper calling for residents wanting to play in their greenhouse. They have a beautiful 2 year old greenhouse and for $10 we can sow seeds to our hearts content. It gives the kids something to take care of and gives us green house space for the next month. A good time is had by all. If everything I have sown comes up I’ll need to till up that church parking lot
A quick look at the Weatherbug yesterday morning planned my evening. It was calling for rain yet again this weekend and if I didn’t get some tilling done it would probably be too late by the time the garden dried out again. So… in the ground went some direct seeded lettuce, radishes, spinach and beets along with a row of peas from my Great Aunt Mallie. The lettuce, radishes, spinach and beets were broadcast in 3′ wide rows about 15′ long, radishes, spinach and a little lettuce in one and beets and lettuce in the other. When the radishes and lettuce come out it should be time for the green beans to go in. I also tilled some ground for 6 more Heritage raspberries and everbearing strawberries I have on order.
As daylight was leaving I decided to start digging the hole for my inground composter. I got the idea from a Mother Earth News article I found on the web. A large metal trash can is buried almost completely and composting materials are added as you have them. The article talked about a 2 can setup. I decided to start with one can now and the other can wait. I was able to get the can in the ground and get the holes punched in the sides and bottom. I scattered some broken cement block pieces in the bottom of the hole for drainage. My only concern is that the hole will fill with water during a good rain. I may be able to find out soon as we had some rain today. It was much easier punching the holes in the can (using an old screwdriver and hammer) when the can was in place than before it was set in the hole and soil packed around the outside. I purchased some flat black paint to give it a good coat once it dries off, that should help keep the temps up. I am hoping that since the top will be black and the bulk of it is buried the soil temps will help keep the biological processes going during the winter. All in all it was a VERY productive day.
This morning before the rains came I was able to get the rest of the garden tilled. I also planted the rest of the leeks for a total of 264. Not bad for an order of 60 leeks. Many are very small and may not make it but we should have leeks to spare for pretty much everyone we know