Stacking Functions Garden

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Garden update

First ripe tomato of the year.  Too bad I didn’t notice the blossom end rot until I picked it.  I checked the plants carefully and removed every affected tomato, and am now watering the potted tomatoes every day so hopefully that will be the end of it.

I put these small, basic cages around the blueberry bushes.  It won’t completely keep the rabbits out, but hopefully will discourage them.

Our garlic finished curing in the garage, so Adam cleaned it up a bit further, trimming up the tops and roots a bit and brushing the dried dirt off.  Then he hung them with string in the kitchen.  Here in USDA zone 4, we have to grow hardneck garlic, so it’s not possible to create the attractive garlic braids that you often see from softneck garlic.

We have a LOT of flat-leaf parsley right now so I tried the freezer method: loosely pack fresh herbs into an ice cube tray, cover with water and freeze.  Should be really easy to throw one of these cubes in a pot of soup this winter.

Other garden happenings:
– raspberries have another week or two to go yet, but have slowed down considerably
– lots of cucumbers and banana peppers — we are pickling just about every night
– green beans are also probably more than half done
– cabbages are starting to form heads!
– cilantro, curly parsley and dill are totally seeded out
– drying some chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves to attempt making my own “sleepytime” tea
– alpine strawberries are in continuous bloom; I expect to get several handfuls yet this year

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Garlic harvest

We harvested our garlic tonight.  The kids even helped.

It was a little bit of a surgical maneuver to get them out without harming the parsnips which are right next to them.  Adam got underneath them with the fork and I dug through the loosened mud (it rained today) with my fingers and pulled them out.  Then the kids stacked them up on the grass for us.

We got some big ones!  (Rowan’s and my hands)

Here’s our whole haul, drying on a piece of cardboard in the garage.  It will cure there in the garage for two weeks, and then I’ll clean it up a little further and bring it in to the house.  There is absolutely no way this will last us the winter, but we’re probably good for a couple months.  We grew some of it out in our flower beds as an experiment this year.  It looked really  nice and — most importantly — the rabbits had no interest in eating it.  I plan to expand next year.  Well, really, I plan to expand everything every year.

In other news, I lost a good 1/4 of the tomatoes on each of my potted tomato plants to blossom end rot.  My own fault for not remembering to water them daily.  Potted tomato plants dry out so much faster.  We’ve been getting a lot of rain but apparently not enough for the potted plants.

Finally, I tried making raspberry freezer jam today.  Boy howdy was that easy.  Mix some crushed up berries, sugar, and pectin, let it sit for 30 minutes, put it into containers and freeze.  It was a very productive day; we also made yogurt,  butter, and 4 batches of pesto which are also cooling in the freezer now.  Coming later this week: PICKLES!

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Sod and blueberries

I got two new blueberry plants this week (one was a birthday gift and one was a replacement that Stark Brothers sent out for one that died last year).  I know I said we wouldn’t rip out any more sod this year, but… well, we didn’t have anyplace else to put those blueberries.  Plus we had some wide open spots in the backyard that needed some grass — and the U of M advises against seeding in the spring.  So we ripped sod out of the front yard and put it in the back!

Adam’s dad was here, so he kindly helped us.  The kids also kindly helped us by taking a two hour nap.

It seemed like it worked pretty well — the main mud pit in the back yard is now sodded.  It sure was nice of us to move all those dandelions, quackgrass, creeping charlie, and a couple of grass plants from the front to the back, yes?

Here’s the new area all dug up.  I haven’t drawn out an actual diagram of it, but it’s roughly going to be: two blueberries in the back by those other plants, and then along the sidewalk will be some alpine strawberries, and then a perennial flower or two near the front.  I don’t want to plant anything edible within 2-3 feet of the boulevard because so many dogs walk past.  I’m also going to edge with some lingonberries in various places.

The blueberries are already in, but you can’t see them because they are so tiny right now.  I also got a catawba grape plant for a gift, so we’ll find a place for that this week (it’s a vine).

One final picture for you:

Who said cilantro/coriander was an annual?  I let a bunch of it go to seed last fall and now it’s coming up pretty thickly in one area.  That’s my garlic in the background.  And I’ve got a bunch of dill coming up too.  Excellent.