Here at Happy Acres we are swooning about cherries. Well, we are excited about them, but not to the point of fainting. Last week my wife and I made what has become our annual pilgrimage to Farview Orchards to pick sweet and tart cherries. Last year we went about a week later, but this year the cherries were ready earlier and we went while the trees were still loaded. We came back with somewhere over 35 pounds of them, which is a lot of cherries! After pitting, we mix them up with sugar (and Fruit Fresh) until it dissolves and makes a little syrup, then freeze them. The sugar helps preserve the cherries, and when we thaw them for use we drain it off. We spent about 1.5 hours picking the cherries, and another 2.5 hours washing, pitting and processing them for freezing.
While cherries were coming in, the asparagus was going out. Last Monday was the final ‘official’ harvest of the year. We did chop down a few spears later in the week when we weeded and mulched the beds, and they got added in to the totals. I also applied fertilizer to the beds before we mulched them with straw. The final total for the year was 35 pounds. I can think of very few garden plants that give so much for a relatively small investment of time and money.
In other news, since we have a number of radishes coming in, I decided to ferment some of them. I used a mix of Helios, Plum Purple and a watermelon type called Starburst. I sliced some, and cut others into a wedge shape. I packed the radishes in a clean glass jar,along with a few cloves of garlic, and added a brine solution. I started tasting them after a couple of days, and when they taste ‘done’ enough for me I will put them in the refrigerator. I have some daikon radishes that are still sizing up and when they get bigger I will likely ferment some of them too. I’m also looking forward to fermenting some of the kohlrabi later on. I usually just eat them as a snack, and my gut loves them.
We’re getting a steady but manageable harvest of red raspberries now. I’ve been enjoying them for breakfast, at least those that make it in the house. These are a mix of Caroline and Autumn Bliss. I say ‘mix’ because the canes have grown every which way in the bed and I can’t tell one from the other! Not that it really matters, since they both are tasty and productive.
The blackberries continue to bloom, even as the earlier blossoms are forming berries. The Natchez variety has somewhat elongated fruit, and they are starting to size up. Apache and Natchez usually start ripening in July around here, though a few were ready by late June last year.
Blueberries will be ripe long before the blackberries. The below photo shows Chandler starting to turn blue. It’s one of our favorite blueberry varieties, with large and flavorful berries. That’s another reason for me to get excited.
Some of the leftover onion plants I set out for scallions are starting to bulb up. That’s a good sign, since it means the other plants are doing the same. I am hoping this will be a good year for onions, since I think I have finally selected some good varieties for our area. The scallions are all mixed up too, but I think the ones in the below photo must be Super Star (aka Sierra Blanca). They went in a quinoa and black bean dish my wife made last week. I guess they are really young onions at this point and not scallions any more.
Readers may get tired of seeing photos of Simpson Elite lettuce, but I never get tired of eating it. This lettuce holds up to our late spring heat and rarely gets bitter or tough, at least not in the partially sheltered environment I give it where it is shaded from the afternoon sun.
I got the sweet potatoes planted last week. Before planting I amended the soil, then formed a ridge with the loosened soil. I set the slips 18 inches apart, then interplanted lettuce seedlings between the slips. The sweet potato varieties I’m growing this year are Beauregard, Purple and Bonita. I have 28 plants total of those three. I didn’t set out that many lettuce plants though. I wanted to compare some of the crisphead types, so I set about a dozen total of Sierra, Cardinale and Unicum. I also planted a few of the Brown Goldring, which is a romaine type. The lettuce plants should be harvested before the sweet potatoes start vining, and I thank Norma for the idea of interplanting.
After hosting some nesting chickadees earlier this spring, one of our PVC nest boxes is now being used by a pair of bluebirds. I heard the male out singing almost every day for over a week, and I guess his efforts paid off. Here’s a YouTube selection of what the male sounds like, often described as a chortle. Once they decided on using the box, they didn’t waste any time because the female built the nest in a day. She has laid 2 eggs as of yesterday morning.
I hope you have enjoyed this look at what’s happening here in early June. To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. And thanks to Daphne for hosting this every week!