Wednesday, July 29, 2009

And speaking of my garden...

Although the big news around Oregon for the last week has been the scorching temperatures (it's supposed to break an all-time record today at 107 degrees), it has been pretty darn miserable and I'd much rather share some pictures of what's been growing here at Critter Farm.

Let's start with the berries, shall we?
Fruit-wise, it's been a really good year here. The raspberries are outdoing themselves:

Aren't they lovely? We actually have more than we know what to do with. Last year, they ripened in waves - this year, it seems, they've all become ripe at once. It's been crazy:

And, then, the blueberries. My personal favorites:

We're having an absolutely incredible blueberry season:

Sparrow has been helping me pick them. Or, rather, I pick them and she eats the ones I accidentally drop:

Dottie at least waits for me to offer them to her:

This full bowl came from just 1 1/2 bushes....3.8 pounds!:

I love making blueberry sundaes with frozen plain yogurt (available now at Trader Joe's) and blueberry sauce. The combination of sour and sweet is heavenly. P.S. I really love whipped cream:

In my vegetable garden, the lemon cucumbers are ripening:

The lilac peppers are still fairly small, but the color is turning:

Some green bush beans are ready to be picked:

As are the purple beans:

I got a handful yesterday:

My third batch of peas is almost ripe. These are Alderman shelling peas:

The edamame (soy beans) are taking longer than I thought they would. There's still not much in the way of flowering going on:

Have I mentioned lately how much I love having a strong son around the farm? I appreciate his help so much. (That top bag did ultimately fall off, by the way):

I'm getting a lot of beautiful crookneck squash:

I love to lightly saute' them with garlic. They are wonderfully sweet:

Look at this little guy, he looks like a caterpillar, doesn't he? Silly cuke:

What to do with this motley crew?...

Slice 'em up:

and make pickles!:

Despite the heat, I ventured out to the garden this afternoon to see if anything wanted to come back inside with me. Today's harvest: 1 "Round Light of Tuscany" squash, 3 yellow crookneck squash, and 3 Boston pickling cukes:

I've been watching this volunteer sunflower since it first sprouted. This is it yesterday morning:

Here's that same sunflower tonight. Gorgeous:

Now see? You could hardly tell we are all melting in Oregon right now, right?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Garlic, baby!

Remember these?

Last October, I wrote a post (Knoblauch is the German word for...) about garlic and my intentions to grow it. And guess grew!

While I originally had eight varieties, only seven made it into the ground. Here they are on 2/28/09, the sweet lil things:

Here they are on 4/01/09:

Two months later on 6/03/09:

On the evening of 6/09/09, we ran out of garlic for a meal we were making and needed to pull one early. It was very green smelled great, but had a very sharp and unfinished tang to it. It actually looks like a green onion here, don't you think? But it sure helped us in a pinch:

On 6/12/09, it was time to cut the scapes off the hardneck varieties (softneck varieties don't generally grow scapes):

We made a fine batch of garlic scape pesto out of these. I have to say, the pesto was just a wee bit (understatement) strong, but if you mixed it with mayonnaise, it made an incredible sandwich spread:

On 6/20/09, I started to see the beginnings of leaves turning brown..the first sign of pending harvest:

By 7/13/09, some of the stalks had fallen over and were lying on the ground. I'm not sure this is supposed to happen. I dug a sample from each variety to see if they were ready:

They were looking good, but, to me, they still had the slight feel of "not quite ready". I decided to let them "bake" for one more week:

7/19/09: Harvest Day! And, because some of my best gardening work is done at dusk (or often in complete darkness)...: felt entirely natural to harvest my garlic this way. Hence the need for the flash in this picture:

And in this one:

The next day, when daylight returned, I was able to get a better look at my harvest:

The garlic called "Music" is the clear winner for bulb size and intense garlic smell:

The Inchelium Red came in first for prettiness and second for potency of aroma:

And while I thought my Italian garlic (a softneck variety) was the clear winner for quantity, as I was separating them, I noticed a funny thing. On about half of the plants, there were scapes. And neck between the bulb and the stalk wouldn't bend. It appears my farmer's market sold me mislabeled garlic. How exciting...I have a garlic mystery:

So, on the right, I have some garlic masquerading as Italian garlic that is really not. I wonder what kind of garlic it is. I'll probably never know.

After tying all my delicious bundles of garlic together with twine, I let them rest on the front porch bench for a bit. It smelled so good every time we stepped outside:

Now my little beauties hang in my beloved barn, drying. I need to figure out the best way to do a garlic taste-test:

Anybody want some garlic? :-):

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

For that relaxing morning cup of coffee...

Never drink it with your goats:

The curiosity is too intense:

The desire to use it to scratch that itchy spot is too great:

The reluctance to share any with the person who brought it is just too strong:

What was I thinking?