I spent a lot of time preserving last week. I also enjoyed my flowers as I went to and from the garden.
My table looked like this for most of the week. Early in the week, my sister shared beans, corn and peaches from her place. The tomatoes keep ripening on our vines and other veggies do, too.
This is how my outside table looked late that same night.
Rob dug out my drying racks and I pulled the onions. We had many more, but we have been eating, sharing and preserving with them. We have plenty left for winter use.
I used quite a few mild and spicy peppers to make a pepper sauce, canned whole and diced tomatoes and made bruschetta in a jar.
I used lots of odds and ends of food up. I made the rest of the tomatoes that wouldn’t fit in a canner into pizza sauce. I will make pizza soon or freeze it.
Bananas became banana bread. You can also see the melons I picked—Ha Ogen. We have had several from our bushes and there are more ripening. They are like a honeydew in many ways, but maybe a little firmer. Peppers were put into a big pot of refried beans. The last bit of a Costco chicken was boiled to make broth, then made into chicken and noodles. Because we’ve been preserving so much, some meals have been less than stellar, so it’s been nice to get time to make a few that are more tasty.
The yard and garden look terrible because they are so weedy. Once I get through this busy preserving time, I think they will be getting some serious attention. I’m glad the weather has cooled down—it’s so much easier to work out there😀
I turned all my ripe tomatoes into pizza/pasta sauce this week. That is one of the most time consuming things I preserve, but also one of our favorite things to eat.
I shredded and dried zucchini. I also did get some thyme and basil dried and sorted out the thyme stems from it and put it away. I have been organizing my food storage a little when I have a few minutes.
We are going into a heat wave this week and it’s supposed to top 100 degrees for several days. I’m not sure what that’s going to do to the garden, but likely nothing good….
I was able to get most of the newly planted veggies to sprout, so if I keep them well watered I will hopefully keep them alive through the heat so I will have fall Lakeside spinach, Marvel de Seasons lettuce, Joy Choi Boc Choi and more. You may notice I put old lettuce leaves over the carrot row in hopes they would hold moisture in. They still haven’t sprouted. Neither have the green onions or snow peas.
The Quick Start cabbage, Pinetree cabbage mix and Hybrid broccoli blend are coming along nicely. I watered them this morning before church and just did it again this evening. They were already dried out. There’s also lettuce in there.
This basil has been cut several times. It’s lookimg a little heat stressed but I’m hoping to make pesto again. I’ve frozen several ice cube trays full already this summer. We love, love, love it!
I’ve also been weeding. I gave this raised bed a complete re-set. I pulled old snap peas, lettuce, an amazing pile of weeds and put strawberry runners back up into the bed. They had grown down below by the concrete! I left some cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. I will add lettuce when it cools.
I’m pretty far behind with my weeding but I won’t get much done this week. We will be helping at church every morning because it’s Vacation Bible School week. Rob and I are in charge of the snacks again this year. We have a team and pre-packed 160 paper bags of prizes and snacks today after church. We are now set for 80 kids Monday and Tuesday, with the ability to quickly pack more if needed. We will finish packing bags later in the week once the numbers stabilize.
I need to run up to another county one day to do some judging for 4-H food preservation and it’s going to be quite hot. This is a good week to do those other activities because I would absolutely not be weeding in the heat anyway😀. What I have done has been in the very early mornings and has taken me quite a few days to accomplish, as I just do a little each time I can.
We went to a small local parade with my sister and family. Both grandsons were able to go and they enjoyed the big trucks and rescue vehicles. My nephew was super excited about getting things at McDonald’s. We were on the sidewalk by it. So he kept going in there and buying food for the babies….we didn’t need to do lunch! He had it covered.
The garden is really starting to take off, and I’m spending most of my free time out there.
After having only enough raspberries to eat fresh last year, I’m delighted to be picking the ripe ones every-other-day and have been able to freeze several cookie sheets full of berries for this upcoming winter. I’m also getting Marion (black) berries to freeze.
My blueberries aren’t very prolific this year, but I’m getting some and also got some from my mom’s bushes. I have some of those left over, so I will be fine with what I can gather. I’m going to really prune those bushes this year. They need it. Then next year’s crop will likely be better.
We have so much good cabbage that we are eating it almost every day and have given away quite a bit as well. I have picked and processed most of my broccoli and after getting a few more side shoots, I will pull those bushes. They are about finished.
We have 3 cheddar cauliflowers and they are almost ready to pick. There were also 2 purple ones. They didn’t come out very big and one has been eaten and frozen and the other is still in the garden.
We’ve been picking a few cherry tomatoes of various kinds. These are Sungold, but we also have gotten a few Sweet Million (red), pear (yellow, pear-shaped), and a grape variety (red). There have been just a few round, red tomatoes so far.
So far, we’ve been able to have enough lettuce with all the succession plantings we put in. The hot weather is brutal on it, though, and it tends to get bitter this time of year. I do have some small lettuce coming along and hope to get more in this week.
There’s lots of basil.
….onions, celery and pumpkins.
The green beans are blooming, so it won’t be long. I’m getting lots of zucchini and dill, but the cilantro has bolted. There’s one more small patch and I’ll plant more.
My bright idea of growing nasturtiums up this trellis isn’t working, but I still love the flowers. I need to buy the trailing mix, but instead threw down any saved seeds, old (like 2016) packets, etc. that I could find.
There are dahlias everywhere, from last year. I have zinnias and marigolds scattered here and there, as well.
Every day, I spend a little time out on my deck, just enjoying the flowers I have planted out there, and looking out over the garden.
My gardening year is far from over. I’m still putting in succession plantings of many things. My latest planting of fresh summer squash/zucchini, lettuce, zinnias, and carrots is mostly up. I mean 7 carrots is enough, right? NOT! I’ll be planting more this week:)
This week, I went to a U-Pick strawberry patch, all by myself:). I know he would have enjoyed it, but I was so glad he wasn’t there when I saw the (seriously) 150+ people who were swarming the field. I got enough for a batch of jam and some to freeze for smoothies and some to eat fresh. It was hard to find ripe berries, actually. After seeing the people come and come and come, I could see why. I may try again soon, or just make out with what I got.
I think Malcolm is trying to wink at Papa. He loves “bahberries.” In fact, I stepped outside for a minute the day I brought them home and came back only to see the floor littered with little green tops–he’d eaten as many as he could grab. We got those picked up and I turned my back and …….yep! We had to clean the floor again. I’m so glad he didn’t get sick.
The garden still takes quite a bit of time each day. It’s growing so well, as are the weeds. We are eating lettuce daily and sharing with many. The peas are almost ripe. I mean they maybe would plump up if a certain little boy wasn’t out there stripping off any that look like they are growing….It warms my heart to see him enjoy them so much and like Rob says, “He’s eating vegetables, we can always buy a bag of peas at the store.” I’m pretty sure we will get a big batch one of these days–it will be beyond what he can eat.
We are harvesting a few snow peas every couple of days and my cilantro is bolting. I’ve been using the lower leaves anyway in salads and marinades. I will pull that out and let the next planting be used very soon. I put more seeds in the ground but have none yet. I may need to replant.
The compost heap on the right has been emptied completely. I’ve been working on it for a while and now we have started dumping new scraps in there. I have side-dressed the celery, some cabbage and cauliflower and some onions with part of it, as they were struggling where they were. These 3 buckets are all that’s left to disperse and I have plenty of places that could use it. There’s never enough compost! There is one more bin that needs emptying on the other side of the garden.
Malcolm has spent hours and hours working on this project and pouring his buckets all over the place. It’s so cute! I’m glad to have this bin finally empty and he still has another bin to get into in a different place. Otherwise, he just digs holes in the garden. That works, too.
We went to the library this week and watched a preschool show. We also signed up both Malcolm and my nephew, Jake for summer reading.
It was party week. We attended a graduation ceremony Friday, a grad party Saturday and a birthday party Sunday afternoon. I haven’t cooked a whole lot this past weekend.
I did make gluten-free hamburger buns early in the week. They came out great. I made pulled pork sandwiches for us and the college group I cook for weekly. I used extras for sandwiches a few times.
We loaded up on $1.99/lb boneless-skinless chicken breast and thighs today. 3 packs in all. I froze them in meal-sized portions. I popped some Mexican-inspired marinade on some of the chunks to use tomorrow for SW chicken salads for the college group and some to freeze. Milk was $1.29 for 1/2 gallon so we got 2 of those. There were sausage rolls for $1.99 and those kielbasas for $1.99 each. I grabbed a few of those.
We passed up the $5.99/package tator tots. Seriously? It wasn’t even a big package. We got 10 lbs. of potatoes for about $5.
I’m already having an easier time stretching my time between grocery store trips, due to the abundance of lettuce in the garden. I’m also still loaded up with home-canned food and things I froze last summer. This is a wonderful time of year to be cooking and there’s so much more growing out there. I love it!
I made a mega-batch of spaghetti sauce this past week. I used some to make lasagna for the young adult group and us, and some for spaghetti. I was able to utilize my canned tomato products to make it.
I was making meals for someone and they got a container, as well. For those meals, the food was frozen, for access later on when it was needed by the person.
I made a triple berry crisp from our frozen berry stash. We also made pork chops, brown rice, a chicken-pineapple sauce for the rice, chicken legs, snickerdoodle cookies, and lots and lots of salads.
I needed to clean out the camper freezer and fridge as we were getting some brake work done on the camper. I use that fridge as my spare one. Those items were put in a cooler until the camper returned a few hours later–mostly extra eggs, cheese, etc. The freezer was emptied and I’ve been using the items, as some had been in there a long time. The rest are in the chest freezer to be used soon and I will start fresh loading it with items for our next camping trip. There was a large bag of frozen shrimp in there and I’ve been eating a little each day. It’s almost gone, but it was sure tasty! Little Malcolm loves it, too, and eats his share.
This is only a small portion of the lettuce that is ready now. We are eating it frequently and I am giving it away to anyone who wants any. I even sent some over to the neighbor in a bucket and started laughing when I saw my bucket clipped to the fence, emptied out afterwards!
We visited a preschool party at the library with Malcolm. He had a blast and we learned about possible preschools for next fall. He received 2 free books, made crafts (crown), got that ring pop sucker he’s eating, and played some games. He’s been asking me if we can go back to that party! We checked out some books while we were there.
He saw Clifford, the big red dog.
While the camper was away getting it’s brakes fixed, Rob and Malcolm pressure-washed the concrete where it sits. It was awful. Rob did most of it, with Mac yelling at him for a turn, then Malcolm finally got his turn at the end. It was a terrible mess of moss and dirt. I swept it while the boys were fetching the trailer. It was a lot of work, but we are so happy to have that done.
Rob took senior pictures for a close family friend’s daughter. They came out amazing! I went as well, along with Michaela, Jake, Malcolm and the girl’s younger sister. We went to a park nearby where they have a wonderful garden with roses and other lovely plants. We took a picnic and some frisbees and had a nice time with all the kids after pictures were taken.
Rob has talked twice at church about his trip to Bangladesh. On Thursday evening, it was a group of adults who came out to hear the team speak and see pictures. I needed to take cookies, so Jake, Mac and I made snickerdoodles. The second occasion was for the children’s church and he talked to them today. They had gathered money and school supplies and Rob told them all about the trip and how the supplies were given out and how much they were appreciated by the kids. 15 suitcases of supplies were taken–craft projects, school supplies, crayons, coloring books, aprons and pot holders for the women staff, prayer journel notebooks and pens for the men staff, etc. It was a blessing all 15 made it, along with the clothing ones, too!
Through this and more, we have tried to take time to stop and smell the roses, and other flowers, too. Almost every day, Malcolm grabs my hand and says, “Gama, come see the fowers.” He then takes me around and shows me every one he likes. It’s precious. I’m also treated to the newly sprouted squash he and I planted, a green tomato that has shown up, and whatever else he can find. Even the 3 flowers that are dying–“they look sad.” I hope he never loses his enthusiasm for gardening.
With some nice, warm weather, the garden is really starting to take off. So are the weeds:). I’ve been spending hours in the garden, trying to keep it under control. I’m still planting a few things and I’m weeding as often as I can. We do a mixture of raised beds and a large in-ground patch of garden.
I’ve been thinning the carrots and beets. It’s not my favorite job, so I’m just doing a little bit each time. On the right are the tomatoes. We have Glacier (extra early), Oregon Spring, Oregon Star, Carmello, Fantastic, Roma, Roma Cordova, Sart Roboise, Queen of the Night, Sungold, Sweet Million Cherry, Yellow Pear, Long Keeper and a few more.
Some melons have actually come up. I’m amazed. They often don’t. I’m trying a kind called Ng Ogen and Oregon Delicious Canteloupe.
The cabbages and broccoli are getting larger.
We have several different kinds of cabbage. We have Quick Start, Copenhagen, and a mixture with all colors and sizes. I’ve planted a cabbage in all the blank spots where things didn’t sprout all over the garden. We will have a ton once they head up.
We have Romanesco broccoli and a Hybrid Broccoli blend growing.
I have a few peppers blooming.
There are Jalafuego Jalapeño, La Bomba Jalapeno, Ancho, Lola (a long green kind), Blot (a striped sweet), Yellow and Green Bell, Carmen (long red), Anaheim, Jimmy Nardello, Yellow Hot Hungarian Wax and Serrano. There may be more, but that’s what I can remember. I use them for salsa, cooking and I freeze lots of little diced pieces to use in the winter. I have canned some pickled ones in the past, as well.I add a jalapeño to my dill pickles sometimes. They are in wire cages because I find it helps them to not topple over once they are loaded with fruit.
In the background, you can see the pathetic patch of Blue Lake Bush green and Carson yellow bush beans. We have filled in the gaps with new seeds and I noticed just this morning that some of those are coming up already. Rob put some netting over them to keep the crows out!
There are some pole beans coming up. I planted mostly Blue Lake Pole and a few Purple-Podded Pole. Some are on a wire panel, and the rest are against the fence at the back of the garden. The ones that were planted a little later are still in the ground, but the first ones are growing rapidly.
I also got a small patch of corn planted. I’m excited to see if it works. I bought an short-season variety.
I’ve been cutting lettuce for a couple of weeks now. You may notice a few peppers in the midst of the lettuce. They will grow once I remove those heads. I do a lot of succession planting in all of my garden areas.
The Maestro shelling peas are in full bloom now. I look forward to picking and processing them before the full garden comes on. The last couple of years, I have been replacing the pea patch with a fall crop of cabbage and broccoli and plan to do the same this year. We will start those baby plants a little later.
I have lemon cucumbers up. There are a few Muncher slicing cucumbers up, but not many. I did add a few more seeds a couple of nights ago. The pickling cucumbers are not up, so I re-seeded them. Except, of course, the volunteer pickling cucumbers that have burst up where they were last year–right in the middle of some zinnias and dill seedlings….:).
Last evening, I finally got to cleaning out and planting my 2 raised beds on the side of my house. That place gets very hot, due to it’s location and the concrete driveway it’s by. I planted Dragon’s Egg cucumber, Lemon Drop and Sugar Baby watermelon (got to keep trying even though watermelon is sketchy here), Purple tendril sugar snap peas, a yellow climbing snow pea, some Honey Drop Peppers, Jenny cantaloupe, the Long Keeper tomatoes, and some extra basil plants I had. I added some Drunken Frizzy Headed lettuce and called it good for now. There are strawberry plants in parts of those raised beds and I left those, of course. You may notice all the unusual varieties—our daughter Lovana bought most of these seeds and I planted them. How exciting to try some new, different varieties. We will see what we like!
Veggies are not the only thing I grow in my garden! My helper is looking a little sheepish because he just pulled up (and is possible eating) the 2 onions we were saving right where he is standing…they clearly aren’t there any more. Some broccoli is no longer where it once was, either. And, just wait until the cherry tomatoes get ripe–he loved them last summer. There is no worm or bug that is left alone. He also keeps taking his shoes and boots off and sinking into the soil like any good thing that wants to grow. Water is liberally sprayed around with the hose, and we have had to rescue little onions from being washed away. Another favorite activity is dumping weeds into the compost. He fills his little bucket and begs to dump it in the heap. I just have to watch that the lettuce isn’t an easy bucket-filler:). Life is not boring around here and I have to stay on my toes at all times! I love that he has this opportunity to play in the dirt along with me.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to garden. Rob’s first job on returning from Bangladesh was to set up the sprinklers in the garden. I was watering with watering cans and a hose while he was gone. Once he popped that water on and the garden was soaked several times, it grew even more quickly. Some things seemed to double in a matter of a couple of days.
I spent quite a bit of time, while doing that watering, thinking about ladies all over the world, specifically some I recently heard about in Kenya, who walk for 2 miles to bring water to their vegetable patches. I felt such an appreciation for how easy I have it here and the abundance of water here in the Pacific Northwest that allows me to grow such a large, prolific garden. I spent a lot of time feeling grateful and blessed and praying for those who have it harder than I do in so many ways.
Rob went off on his big adventure last Friday. Lovana and I are holding down the fort here. We decided to let the babies play on Saturday for hours. When they were getting too interested in the garden, i.e. stomping on my plants, I bribed them out with ice cream. Works every time:) I used cones we’ve had on hand for at least a year, and some sale vanilla ice cream and they felt like they had a really big treat, for just a few cents.
The little white dot in the corner of the raised bed is a butterfly. Zai was so happy and excited to see it flying around and spent quite a bit of time chasing it, but never caught it.
Most of the last couple of weeks have been used to frantically get Rob ready and get things in ship shape order here, as much as possible.
I made 2 kinds of soup and have been eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner to make life easy. Tonight, I made hamburgers for dinner, and chili for tomorrow night, and split a pound of hamburger for that. I stopped by the store for a few items, but did not do any large grocery shopping trips at all before he left. I will cook a little more in a few days, but also plan to use may home-canned soups, frozen items, etc. to make life easier. We aren’t going to need to buy much this week, either. I’ll do a bigger shop again when he gets back.
He made sure the tiny tiller worked in case I want to use it while he’s gone. He made sure there was gas in the lawn mower. I’m spoiled. He always gets those kind of things going for me, and then I do my thing–like mow. I hope to do that in the next couple of days. He downloaded the Sunday school power point for me for both Sundays…things like that. I just appreciate him all the more while he’s gone as I do all the dishes myself…..
He did not get all the laundry caught up, and I assured him that even though he does most of it all the time, I did still know how…..I’m actually fully caught up with it as of this minute..
I’m filling my time up with all those chores and hours and hours of garden work, along with working several days this week. I like to be busy, because I miss him and the time passes quickly when I keep myself occupied.
I have heard from him several times. He made it there safely, after a 30-hour journey. He travelled through several airports, time zones, and a few countries. All the luggage made it, too. Whew! This is some kind of fried banana, he said. I wondered when I saw this picture if he was eating fried socks or something–ha, ha! We’ve had very brief communications–enough to know he’s safe, sound and happy. I’m excited to hear all about it when he gets back. In the meanwhile, I will keep praying for him and the team he’s with and keep holding down the fort here, with help from my family, who are taking turns coming here to help me several mornings:). This is a busy place!
The garden is starting to grow at last! I got some radishes, which seems like a small thing until you realize I plant them often and rarely get anything to harvest. This time I thinned them much better than usual and it paid off. It was also rainy and cool, and they love that so aren’t very spicy.
There have been many changes in the garden over the past few weeks. Lettuce is growing. In fact, this lettuce has almost doubled since I took this picture last week. Tonight, I picked 3 leaves from a green plant to use on my burger. It starts….
All of these Japanese Irises have been dug up and removed. Compost was added and squash and pumpkins will be planted there with the intention that they will grow into the flowerbed and back behind where all I have is grass and mint. I would like to dig out more of that grass one of these days. I’ve been doing a lot more shovel work this year than normal, and it’s paying off.
On the left, you can see my little celery plants. You can also see a partial tray of onions. They are all planted now–some there and some in other areas. The tomatoes are in as well, to the left of that area.
Last year, I had a goal to make some areas easier to keep clean, so I laid down some bark dust, weeded diligently, etc. Those areas are better and were much easier to clean out this spring. Hopefully, I will get a few more places conquered each year. Although these irises were very pretty, and a lovely yellow color, they were almost impossible to weed and were becoming over-run with those weeds.
Of course, the dandelions are having no trouble spreading all over, especially when two super cute little boys blow the seed heads all over whenever they play together:). So, I’ve been digging those plants out with a shovel whenever I have a few minutes.
I’ve filled in the rest of this raised bed with leeks. I’ve also tucked in some pepper plants, and those are Valentine grape tomatoes you see on the left.
The area on the right is planted with green and yellow beans to can. They have not come up yet, as it’s been a cool, wet week again. I dug down and they are sprouted, so they will pop out with the upcoming warmer weather, I hope. There has been a crow trying to eat them, so we shall see what’s left.
I get a little more done each day, so I will hopefully have more to report about the garden very soon.
The weather has turned! It’s finally sunny and warm this week. I have really been wanting to till the garden. I had some help getting the tiller started and a refresher on how to manage it and did quite a bit today. This is our mid-sized tiller and I seem to be able to manage it just fine.
I won’t be able to plant until it is worked up again in a couple of days, so I’m glad the weather is supposed to stay nice for a while.
I also got some weeding and clipping done in the flowerbeds. There is SO much more to do, but at least I got a start. I was able to get quite a bit into the yard debris bin and hope to fill it up this week. Since they take a bin full each week, included in our garbage service, it’s always a goal to use that part of the service whenever I can. It’s also a nice way to challenge myself to keep on working away, bit by bit.
Rob found an amazing deal on bags of bark dust, garden soil and got some steer manure/compost while he was at it. We’ve been spreading that around here and there as we get a spot ready, and used some of the compost to enrich the garden. I have 2 sections of my home-made compost ready to spread once it dries out a bit. It’s too heavy now for me to handle.
Normal cooking continued: Sausage Spaghetti Pie (green peppers, onion and sausage sautéed and put on top of spaghetti/cottage cheese base with mozzarella on top) for us and young adult group, salad, peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies for the freezer, lots of leftovers, home-baked chicken nuggets, chicken and pepper filling for burritos, gf wraps from a Bob’s Red Mill mix, and jars and freezer containers of fruit, veg, etc. I’ve been working on emptying the fridge of leftovers and produce and am continuing to work through the pantry and freezers. It’s just not that long until the garden will start producing and I need room to put the freshly preserved produce!
Our microwave broke and Rob found another one quickly at a hardware store we’ve used and loved for years. We got a medium-priced one, and it’s amazing that it does 4 things–air fries, convection cooking, toasting or broiling(not sure), and of course, microwaves. I’m excited to see what I can do with that. If I only use the microwave feature, that’s just fine, as well–after all, I was trying to buy a microwave:)
We took Malcolm for a drive Sunday afternoon. We ended up at the beach late afternoon, so stopped in at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, used our membership, and he enjoyed himself for the 45 minutes we had before it closed. He just needed to get out of the house, as he’s had a cold, and well…Rob likes to drive:). What can I say? It was a great afternoon.
I anticipate that I will be outside as much as I can find the time for as long as the weather stays nice because I’m so eager to get some work done out there. Meals will probably be quite simple, and I’m not sure if I will bother shopping or not. It will be fun to see how the week shapes up!