Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rainy Week at the Garden

It is supposed to rain all week so I don't anticipate we will get the garden much. Here are some pictures of where we are so far. Some lettuce came in (as well as a volunteer tomato). Onions are starting to look ragged so the the thrip is likely starting up. Need to get the kaolin clay sprayed on soon (when the rain stops).

Radish shoulders are popping up and probably ready to be harvested. Rhubarb is going strong. Picked some to give to mom while she was visiting this weekend.

Chamomile is bursting out of its bed. Hubby deadheaded it this weekend, and I have a whole tray air drying right now for tea. Yum, yum!

Here are our semi-volunteer potatoes. I say semi because I planted them last year and they never did anything because our soil was still heavily clay at that point. After drastic enriching this spring these potato plants popped up right where I planted them last year. Hubby is hilling them with a box at the moment.

Volunteer sun-box mint is taking over. We plan to remove the box but then there will be a mint/chamomile death match. 

We have some beans that survived. Hubby put the floating row cover up this weekend to protect them from the evil Mexican Bean Beetle (my main garden nemesis). 

Our hydrangea survived! It has started to bud and then we had a hard freeze and it all turned black. But it looks like it is doing great now. 

First raspberries are coming in. They didn't make it home.

And our blackberry bushes are trying to escape the cage we put around them. It is now almost 7 feet tall. I feel like it wants to eat us. At least the blackberries are ripening.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Making Rhubarb-Apple Jam

Since our rhubarb plant is now 3 years old we are trying to make a concerted effort to actually use it. The first year we didn't take any since we read that you should let it focus on putting out strong roots by not picking any. We could have harvested a ton last year because it was plenty big, and we did take some, but not as much as we could have.

And so, we made jam. I have always wanted to make jam and now we have a reason. We used this recipe from allrecipes ( I say "we" but hubby actually did all the work). The process was very easy and only took the following:

3 cups of diced rhubarb
3 cups of peeled, diced apples (preferably organic)
2 cup of sugar (we used turbinado but you could use white)
1/2 cup of water (although we had extra rhubarb so we added a few more tbsps of water)
1 tbsp of cinnamon
1-2oz pkg of pectin

Cook the rhubarb, apples, sugar, cinnamon and water down for 20 or so minutes. Mash it with a potato masher if it still a bit lumpy. Then throw in the pectin, boil for 5 mins and you're done! We are going to put it in fridge and freezer, so we didn't process it in a water bath but you easily could.

I thought the expense of the pectin would make cooking your own jam somewhat cost prohibitive since it is about $4 a box but look how much this made! The jam itself turned out brown because our rhubarb is the Green Victoria type not the red. Luckily someone else posted about this on allrecipes, so we were prepared for it to be this less-than-appetizing color. Still tastes great...almost like a tangy apple butter. We will definitely make this again; although, this will hold us for a good long while.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quick Garden Update

I've been a little remiss in posting but here is a quick update of the doings in our garden:

Our "Prime Jan" (supposedly bears on first year canes but doesn't) blackberries are finally starting to come in. They are ferociously dangerous. You can't see it well in the picture, but we caged it in last year to keep it from sticking us to death. Stupidly we planted two of these monsters about a foot apart. Now it has formed a cone of thorns, so we will probably only brave the outer edges in our berry picking. In retrospect we should have ordered a thornless variety. Hopefully they will taste good and be worth the pain.

Our raspberries are also starting to come in. We won't have as many as last year but I am okay with that. I am actually still a little raspberried out.

Our chamomile is so big now I need to start deadheading it, so I can make some tea! I do wish the flowers were bigger (as they are supposed to be in German chamomile) but it is awfully pretty....and so satisfying to see such a full plant so early in the season. 

Onions are looking beautiful. In the foreground you can see some grocery store green onions that were part of a package we bought and didn't use in time so we planted them in the garden. We have done this before and they almost always take root.

I think the row on the right is the Butter Beauty and the row on the left is the Burpee Bibb. The stray one in the right upper corner is my one romaine that germinated. :sigh:

Rhubarb is getting big. I keep kicking myself that we didn't move it to the center of the square when we had the chance but at least we can grow some radishes next to it before the leaves are too much bigger and crowd everything out. This fall it WILL be moved! In the meantime we are going to try our hand at making jam.

And some beets! I planted some with homemade seed tape that I learned how to make from that clever gardener Garden Betty (seeds glued to toilet paper at evenly spaced intervals) and we planted some the regular way. The seed tape ones actually germinated better and are so beautifully even!

And finally....drum roll....we have a kohlrabi!!!! Or at least what we think is a kohlrabi. We have never grown this before and we have never seen a seedling or weed like this before so it must be it! Ideally I would like the rest of the seeds I planted to germinate but I will take just the one if that is all I get.

 Oh, and the asparagus we thought we killed when we built our new bed, guess not. Nature finds a way. The one stalk growing between the bed and the walkway is already trying to put out a fern (that spindly thing off to the far left of the picture). The annoying thing is that while we have asparagus, we never have much asparagus. We had hundreds of asparagus seed pods on our fern two years ago and it takes two years to come up so where is it all?