Garden in Spring

Hello friends!  Welcome to Springtime!  I don’t miss the snow very much.  It snowed through this month.  I HOPE it is finished.  I’m ready to garden!  I’ve already begun pruning, and we put some Northern Pecan trees, as well as a couple of more Carpathian Walnut trees in the ground.  We also added Blueberries, Black raspberries, Nanking cherries, a Butterfly bush, and some various plants to attract pollinators.  These include Comfrey, Bergamot, Yarrow, Hyssop, Russian sage, and Baptisia.

Here is a short video of an early Garden “Tour.”

I hope you are enjoying this time of year wherever you are!  Wishing you all a beautiful day.

Wendy

Another Friday with Finn

Yes, it’s been awhile.  I’ve moved twice in the last two years….just from one “Town Mouse House” to another.  We’ve spent a good deal of time fixing up the “Country Mouse House.”  This year, we concentrated on the gardens and planted a wee orchard.  Of course, our goal is to continue to find ways towards better self-sufficiency.  Growing more fruit could help us do just that.

Here is a little peak at what Finn is doing right now:

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What a life he has.  He does have a very expressive face, as well.  Here is Finn with a smile:

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Now that we have the Finn update, I’ll fill you in on the orchard.  We already inherited several types of OLD apple trees.  Among them are crab apples, and what appear to be Golden Delicious.  The main type of apple tree bears a fruit that resembles MacIntosh apples, but they seem to be a bit sweeter.  We put a tree in the ground several years ago and forgot about it.  Last year, it was filled with apples.  It is a “Columnar” tree, and almost just as soon as it fruited, the fruit vanished.  It is a fairly tall tree, so Farmer Joel decided it must have been the work of a giraffe :D.

This year, the trees we planted were: 5 heirloom apple, 2 pear, 2 cherry, 2 paw paw, 2 mulberry, 2 walnut, 2 hazelnut.  We also planted 4 blueberry bushes and 3 red currants.  Of these, it looks like we only lost 1 walnut, the 2 hazelnut, and 1 or 2 of the currants.  Since we already had 4 blueberry bushes, we hope to increase our blueberry yield.  Blueberries are very popular in our family, as you know.  We also already have established gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, and rhubarb.

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That’s our little orchard.  We put chicken wire cages around each tree, as well as mulch.  We’re hoping to increase the number of trees next year, but not by such a great number.  As Farmer Joel was digging the holes(I did help with some of them), he was muttering something about being able to live long enough to actually eat some of the fruit and nuts.  Hehehehe…….

Plant your food trees and shrubs and perennials this spring – don’t wait!  The sooner you do, the sooner you will reap the fruits of your labor!  Also, you have the whole winter to plan where you’ll put everything.

Since we are in the Northeast, we had good luck with the trees we ordered from Fedco, as well as from Raintree.  Enjoy the nice weather while we still have it.  And happy weekend!

Wendy

Jammin’

Hi there!

(I actually started writing this awhile ago, never quite finished the post, but I DID finish the jam.  I am embarking on the Apple-Canning-Adventure soon…)

We are jammin’!  Making some blueberry jam, that is.  Since we have a (recently diagnosed) diabetic in the family, I am trying a new way of making jam.  That is to say, a sugar-free recipe….

I’ve tried a new type of pectin.

It comes with two packets – One is the actual pectin and the other is Monocalcium Phosphate(calcium to help activate the pectin).  First thing I did was to mix the calcium with 1/2 cup water to make the “Calcium Water.”  That has to be kept refrigerated if you don’t use it all up.  There is a recipe sheet inside box which is very helpful.  I have used so much sugar in the past, and I don’t know how one would can rhubarb without it, but we are doing blueberries now, so….

While the jars, seals and lids were sterilizing, I started the recipe that came with the pectin.  I used:

3 cups Mashed Blueberries, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons calcium water, 1 C apple juice concentrate.

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It is a little tricky because you need to use 2 pans and time everything just so.  The end result doesn’t taste like jam you would buy, because it is not as sweet.  It tastes more like spreadable fresh blueberries, kind of like squishing them up in your hand.  That suits us just fine, because we love eating them fresh…..now a distant memory until next summer!

(I also froze quite a few so we can still enjoy blueberry pancakes and muffins this winter!)

Have a lovely day!

Wendy

WENZ – Day

Happy Wednesday!

My niece and nephew-in-law(is that an actual term?) paid us a visit a week-and-a-half ago.  They helped pick about 5 quarts of blueberries, as well as some blackberries and plenty of vegetables.  Here are some of the gourmet dishes they whipped up with all the goodies:

Dark rum mojitos (mint)

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Salmon with salad (lettuce, arugula, tomatoes)and garlic chive mashed potatoes (chive and potatoes)

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Mini berry tarts (blueberries and blackberries)

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Lots of deliciousness! 🙂

I have been inspired to put on my chef’s hat and apron and get to work!

Have a beautiful WEDNESDAY!

Wendy

 

 

Blueberry Update

Oh my goodness!

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When I was a little girl, my mother used to read this book to me.  It was one of my favorites:

It later became one of my children’s favorites as well.

I really enjoyed picking blueberries today, kind of like little Sal.  I think I ate just as many as I put in my bucket!  Here are some more pictures:

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The berries were not mushy, they were just right and I only picked the very blue-est ones.  I then washed them and laid them to dry:

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That settled it!  I just had to make blueberry pancakes!  Just use your favorite pancake recipe and add the blueberries once you spoon the batter onto the griddle:

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If you don’t have a favorite recipe, here is mine:

1 C plain flour

1 C whole wheat flour, rolled oats, or cornmeal

1 2/3 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1-3 Tablespoons sugar (organic or maple preferred) depending on your taste

2 eggs, beaten

2 C milk (it could be almond milk or coconut milk if you have trouble with dairy)

1/3 C oil or melted butter

Whisk ingredients together.  Pour batter to the size pancake you like on a greased, hot griddle.  Add the blueberries.  Wait until bubbles form, flip the pancakes over until cooked through but not burned.  Enjoy with or without syrup.

If anyone has any tips or wisdom about blueberries, please share!

Have a wonderful day!

Wendy

“Tangled Up In Blue”(berries)

Today’s post has to do with blueberries.  We have 4 blueberry bushes, which are each over 6 feet tall.  I can’t really tell you how that happened, except that we did cut them way back a couple of years ago, only to have them go through a lightning-fast growth spurt.  WE LOVE BLUEBERRIES!  BUT….SO DO THE BIRDS!!!!!  In fact, those cute, innocent looking critters seem to consume every last blueberry before they even turn BLUE!  They love the GREENberries.  Well, while we don’t mind sharing, we would like to have some for ourselves this year.  Yummmmm….blueberry pancakes, pie, cobbler, jam….So, we decided to cover them with bird netting.

One word of advice, if you choose to do this, do NOT wear a button-down shirt.  My buttons kept getting stuck in the netting.  Plus, we used four rolls of 14′ X 14′ netting, and it was sometimes hard to unroll  without getting all tangled up in it, making us feel something like this:

 

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At any rate, we got the job done, thanks to Farmer Joel(pictured here with one of the rolls of netting – no tangling yet!)

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We tried to help it up and over the bushes with the cardboard tubes they were rolled on:

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As you can see, the tubes were bending, it started to rain, and as I was trying to take photos the netting was still getting caught in my buttons!  But, never fear, even though we left a few access points for the birds (i.e. branches that would not fit up under the netting), I think we got the bushes pretty well covered.

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If you do this at home, be sure to have your handy-dandy landscape-fabric pegs at the ready.  They help anchor the netting into the ground, making bird access very difficult:

CIMG2279I just had to take a picture of the pretty little nearby  weed wildflower 🙂

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So there you have it!

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When the blueberries ripen, we will pick them and let you know how they are!

Wendy

“……the only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keeping on like a bird that flew, tangled up in blue.”     Bob Dylan