Photo Friday: May Bloomers

Today I thought I would share some of the things we have blooming here in late May. First up is the catmint growing in the Wild Garden. It’s been blooming for several weeks now, and the bees are loving it. I have a pot of Tidal Wave Hot Pink petunias growing in the middle of the catmint to give a little extra color and provide a few more blooms for the bees and butterflies. The Wild Garden is full of plants that attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators.

catmint blooming

catmint blooming

The bees are also loving the spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) plants that are blooming nearby. The one in the below photo came from my wife’s house, one of many plants we moved with us when we moved to Happy Acres ten years ago. Some consider it a weed, but this native plant is easy to grow and pretty mild-mannered in our garden.

spiderwort

spiderwort

The individual flowers only last for a day, but new ones open up every morning, and the bees are busy working them for pollen and nectar. Both bumble bees and honeybees were visiting the morning I captured the below image. You can see the clusters of flower buds waiting in line for their day in the sun.

honeybee on spiderwort flower

honeybee on spiderwort flower

The hollyhocks are just now beginning to bloom. These are an heirloom variety I got from the Seed Savers Exchange called Outhouse, and they have large single blossoms in shades of white, pink and red. They’re a biennial, I set out the plants last year and they are just now showing the first blooms. The bees and butterflies should love them like the spiderwort, plus the plant serves as a host for the Painted Lady butterfly.

hollyhock

hollyhock

Also starting to bloom are the purple coneflowers (Echinacea). We have quite a few plants scattered around, and they are also popular with the bees and butterflies. They self sow quite readily, and we are always digging up new ones and moving them around in the garden to fill up any bare spots.

purple coneflower

purple coneflower

A little less showy, but just as popular with pollinators are the blooms from the culinary sage Holt’s Mammoth. I have several sage plants in the Wild Garden, including a pineapple sage that will bloom in late summer and is a hummingbird magnet.

sage blossoms

sage blossoms

Another popular plant with butterflies and bees is agastache (anise hyssop).

agastache

agastache

Over in the Sun Garden, the Brandywine Viburnum is blooming. This native plant attracts both butterflies and birds, and is deer-resistant too.

Brandywine viburnum

Brandywine viburnum

The clusters of white flowers are pretty now, but the real attraction will be the pink and purple berries that appear in early autumn.

closeup of Brandywine viburnum flowers

closeup of Brandywine viburnum flowers

More white blooms are in the Shade Garden. The astilbes are just beginning to flower, and every year they light up the shade garden when they bloom. We got these plants from our friend Barbara, and when she was in town visiting last month she got some starts to move them to her new garden in Washington state. She had already moved them twice before, from her in-laws in the Northeast to her former home in Virginia and then on to Indiana. It is nice to share plants with friends, and many of ours have either come from others or have been shared.

white flowered astilbes

white flowered astilbes

And last but not least, I’ll close with a pic of the Tidal Wave Purple petunias I have planted in an antique wheelbarrow. I brought it with me when I moved to Happy Acres from my farm in Kentucky, and I have planted it with Wave petunias every year since.

Tidal Wave Purple petunias in wheelbarrow

Tidal Wave Purple petunias in wheelbarrow

I hope you have enjoyed this look at some of the bloomers of May here at Happy Acres. I’ll be back soon with more happenings!

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Posted in Photo Friday | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Harvest Monday May 22, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. The harvests now are all pretty much different shades of green, with a little red thrown in too. The Simpson Elite lettuce is all green, and went into a wilted lettuce salad my wife made one night. The thin, tender leaves make it a good candidate for wilting, though we enjoy it other ways as well.

Simpson Elite lettuce

Simpson Elite lettuce

Red Sails lettuce is reddish green in color, and it too went into a wilted lettuce salad along with the Simpson Elite. This big head weighed around 12 ounces, and overwintered in one of the cold frame beds. Red Sails may not be the reddest lettuce around, but it has been a dependable performer for me for many years now. And how many years have I grown it? Well, it was a 1985 AAS Winner and I’ve pretty well been growing it ever since then. It is slow to bolt in spring, and hardy in fall and winter plantings. I did a Variety Spotlight on it back in 2015.

Red Sails lettuce

Red Sails lettuce

A more recent introduction to our lettuce lineup is Pele, a 2016 Wild Garden Seeds introduction. I first grew Pele last year and immediately fell in love with its color and texture. It’s no slouch in the kitchen either, with crunchy and mild tasting leaves. The one in the below photo overwintered in the cold frame bed right next to the Red Sails from the above photo. Presumably named after the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, it made a fiery red addition to our salads last week. This one weighed in at a bit over 11 ounces.

Pele Lettuce

Pele Lettuce

We’ve hit the 21 pound mark on asparagus this year. I don’t know if we will get the 30 pounds we got last year, but with a couple of weeks to go we should wind up close to that. Last week I forgot to show any asparagus pics. I don’t want to be guilty of neglecting this important spring veggie, so I went out to the patch and apologized to the plants. My wife steamed a nice bunch of spears for Asparagus Mimosa, which we feasted on one day for lunch. It’s a simple treatment, just steamed asparagus, hard cooked egg, a few capers and a drizzle of good olive oil. We usually have this dish several times during asparagus season, and I can see me fixing it next week as we cut the last spears of 2017.

Asparagus Mimosa

Asparagus Mimosa

I also started another jar of fermented asparagus pickles. This is the third jar I’ve made this spring, and I made it like the first one (which is long gone) with a few cloves of smashed garlic and a couple of dried Aji Angelo peppers. For the second jar I added garlic and dill weed, aiming for a dill pickle taste. Though tasty, I think it would have been better adding dill seed instead of fresh dill weed, which is how I prefer to make my cucumber pickles. This third jar fermented quickly, and I put in the refrigerator after three days of fermenting. It’s a good way to use up those smaller spears, which ferment quicker than the bigger ones but still stay crunchy. More of the asparagus went into a frittata yesterday, and we have given some away to friends.

jar of fermented asparagus pickles

jar of fermented asparagus pickles

Also in the green category, I cut the small head off the buttoning broccoli plant. It weighed barely 2 ounces, and hardly made an appetizer. The other plants are not showing any signs of making heads yet, so it will be our last taste of homegrown broccoli for a bit.

small head of broccoli

small head of broccoli

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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May Garden Update

I’ve been busy the last week or so getting things planted in the main garden. Saturday I got the bush squashes planted, which was about equal parts summer and winter types. I planted some of my favorite summer squash varieties like Striata d’Italia, White Scallop and Enterprise plus relative newcomers Clarimore, Bossa Nova, Sunstripe and Flaminio. I’m also growing the heirloom Costata Romanesco zucchini, which I haven’t grown in a number of years. Starting the seeds inside really gets the plants going early, and you can see the Striata d’Italia plant in the below photo has taken off since I planted a week ago. I have found that it pays to get the squash going early before the heat and squash bugs arrive.

Striata d'Italia plant

Striata d’Italia plant

The winter squash varieties include Cornell’s Bush Delicata and Honeyboat delicata plus the hybrid Pinata delicata I’m trying for the first time this year. We like our delicata squash here, and it would be nearly impossible to have too many! Butternut types include Early Butternut, Metro and the 2017 AAS Winner Honeybaby. I also found room for a couple of Mini Love watermelon plants, another 2017 AAS Winner, which has a bush habit and produces ‘icebox’ sized melons.

Mini Love Watermelon plant

Mini Love Watermelon plant

On Tuesday I got one bed planted with tomatoes, a mix of small fruited types and slicers. I was able to mulch with newspaper before I put the cages around the plants, but I haven’t had time to finish spreading straw yet.

caged tomatoes

caged tomatoes

Between the tomatoes and the fencing, I prepped the bed where I will plant the pole beans. I still have to get the trellis up, though that won’t take too long. This bed is four feet wide like the others, but it’s going to be a tight squeeze once the beans are up and vining all over. I may be doing the limbo to get in there to harvest!

spot where pole beans will go

spot where pole beans will go

Speaking of beans, last week I planted a short row of Derby bush beans. They got great germination, and are off to a good start after breaking through the soil. They should give as an early taste of snap beans while we wait for the pole beans to come on.

Derby beans coming up

Derby beans coming up

I planted the brassicas about a month ago, and they have grown up fast. I have broccoli, cabbage and kohlrabi planted in that bed, with a bare spot at the end where I plan on planting okra soon. The bed is next to the garlic, which was planted last fall.

beds with brassicas planted

beds with brassicas planted

I’m pleased with how the cabbage plants are looking, since some of them were a bit small when I set them out. I’ve been spraying with Bt and Azadirachtin to keep the cabbage worms under control, since I have seen lots of white cabbage moths flying around lately.

cabbage plants

cabbage plants

In other garden news, the peas I planted back in late March are now starting to bloom. They are all edible podded types, and I am hoping they will start bearing soon before really hot weather gets here. We shouldn’t have much longer to wait.

peas blooming

peas blooming

Yesterday I planted more tomatoes in the kitchen garden area. Again, this is a mix of small fruited types and slicing tomatoes. It was so windy I didn’t even try and get newspaper down, so I will have to come back and do that later. That’s Captain Lucky in the below photo, a potato-leaved green-when-ripe slicer that did quite well for me last year. I’m using an oversized remesh cage here (22 inch diameter) and planting two plants in it. Other smaller cages are planted with single tomato plants.

Captain Lucky plants

Captain Lucky plants

Next up on my to-do list will be getting paste and processing tomatoes planted, and putting up the trellis for the pole beans. I also need to mulch the squash and tomatoes before the weeds get going. I hope you have enjoyed this look at the garden here in May, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA!

 

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Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Harvest Monday May 15, 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. It’s getting to be salad season here, with lots of lettuce coming in from the garden. I cut some baby lettuce I had growing in a window box planter, a green cut & come again variety called Bionda a Foglia Liscia. The tender leaves wound up in some fish tacos I made for lunch one day. I tend to prefer a more sturdy lettuce for most salads, but I think the baby leaves work well for wraps.

Bionda a Foglia Liscia lettuce

Bionda a Foglia Liscia lettuce

Another cutting of lettuce went into a main dish salad. In the below photo there are two small heads of Outstanding lettuce. The one on the left was grown in the cold frame, while the one on the right was in the greenhouse. Many of the red lettuces don’t color up as well in the greenhouse, though in this case the difference is really striking.

Outstanding lettuce

Outstanding lettuce

I have several window box planters with pac choi and mizuna growing in them. I also have more pac choi and mizuna growing in a cold frame bed and the greenhouse. I have to move them in the greenhouse at night to keep the critters from eating them, though I could cover them with netting instead. They aren’t quite full sized yet, but I cut a couple of the Mei Qing pac choi and some of the Mizspoona leaves for a stir fry.

pac choi and mizuna in planters

pac choi and mizuna in planters

harvest of pac choi and mizuna

harvest of pac choi and mizuna

I also made a cutting of kale from the greenhouse, but when I cooked it up it was starting to get strong tasting and the leaves were a bit tough. It’s had a good run and given us lots of kale the last few months, but it’s time to pull it up and replant with something else. I do have some spring planted kale growing, and it should be ready to cut before long.

greenhouse kale

greenhouse kale

And last but not least I cut some arugula I have growing in salad boxes in the greenhouse. It’s a mix of Apollo and Speedy, plus a new one (for me) from the Seed Savers Exchange called Enrico Rao. The arugula went on a pizza I cooked up Saturday night to finish my two week stint of cooking.

arugula for pizza

arugula for pizza

Also on the pizza was grilled asparagus, homemade tomato sauce plus cheese and olives. It had a sourdough crust I made with wholegrain White Sonora Wheat. It’s my take on a recipe in Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day, actually a melding of two recipes, one for a sourdough crust and one with 100% whole wheat. Once I finish tweaking my version I will have to share it here. I rolled the crust out as thin as I could on a piece of parchment paper then slid the crust, paper and all, onto a hot pizza stone in the oven. I’ve come to think ‘less is best’ when it comes to a pizza crust, and this is my way to keep the crust thin and not have any issues getting it in the oven. The asparagus is buried under piles of arugula, and the pizza is topped with thin sliced provolone cheese.

pizza

pizza

Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!

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