Elderberries

The elderberries are already ripening and it seems awfully early to me, I seem to remember that they normally do not ripen until late August or early September, perhaps my memory is just fuzzy.  In any event I have such a bumper crop this year that I thought I would make an attempt at home made elderberry jam.

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This evening I was outside in the garden with the dogs and noticed the elderberry tree shaking and saw a Mocking Bird hopping from branch to branch and pulling the fruit off the tree in delightful abandon.  This made me smile and to be honest shake my head at the same time.  While I am glad that I am helping to feed the birds (in addition to the feeders that I keep filled) it means that for the next several weeks while the fruit is available to the birds my laundry will be in jeopardy thanks to elderberry bird poop.

I rethought my elderberry jam plan, just as every year I rethink my home made grape jam plan as I watch the Blue Jays happily feasting on the bunches of black grapes that clamber all over the trees on the side of my yard.

I am pretty much a sucker when it comes to wildlife benefiting from the produce I grow, as I had mentioned I have a Carolina Box Turtle that now lives in my vegetable garden and feasts on the tomatoes that have fallen off the vine.  Last weekend when I was picking my tomatoes I actually began examining them and finding any small flaw on them rather than thinking I would simply slice it off I designated it a “tortoise tomato” and tossed it to his feeding area.  I reckon I am going to have one fat and happy tortoise this year.  Like I said, I am a sucker.

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Tomatoes!

I have my first baby tomato forming.  Admittedly it is the size of a gooseberry right now but now I cannot wait for my first cheese and fresh tomato sandwich.  SONY DSC

By the way, I know there are a few aphids on there but hopefully the ladybugs and their babies will be along momentarily to take care of them.   (If they don’t show up soon I’ll just knock the aphids down with some soapy water before they can do too much damage).

Also the broccoli is coming along nicely.

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Although I have to admit that I am concerned that it is going to get too hot for them in the near future and they will bolt.  If that looks like it is going to happen I will just harvest them as they are bound for my husband’s nightly salad anyway.   I can’t wait to go out there in the evenings and graze on the goodies growing.  It is my favorite kind of dinner, picked and eaten right out there in the garden.

Veggie Garden Update

Thanks to the regular rains that we have been having everything is going great guns (including the weeds unfortunately, I really need to get the beds heavily mulched).

The Tomatoes in the first bed already have flowers on them.

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Second bed (the seedlings you see by the pepper plants are direct sown radish) I have already begun harvesting lettuce leaves for my husband’s salads every evening (I use the “cut and come again” method of harvesting rather than harvesting the whole lettuce).

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The onions, carrots and peas are doing well

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and my herb bed at the edge of the patio is looking lovely.

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From back to front Blue Sage, Lemon Balm, Chives and Bronze Fennel.

Once the husband gets that Chipper/Shredder that he has been lusting after I should have lots of mulch to suppress the weeds and keep me from having to do the back breaking task of pulling them.  Not that I mind it all that much, there is something very therapeutic about weeding, you just think of something that has annoyed you that week and take out your anger on the weeds.  Works for me.

Those Who Can Do etc.,

So of late I have not been blogging about gardening I have actually been outside, you know, gardening.  Once the veggie garden was finished then it was on to flats and flats of flowers which I purchased from the FFA chapter at my husband’s school.  My initial purchase was soon followed by another as the sale began to wind down and they reduced their 36 plant flats to $5.00 each, a bargain that I simply could not resist.

This year I have decided it is all about the pollinators, and therefore chose plants that I knew would keep the bees and butterflies happy.  So I got the following: 1 Flat each Zinnia, Cosmos, Gazania, Angelonia, Purslane, Impatiens, Begonia, Ageratum,  2 Flats each Marigold, Rudbekia,  Dianthus, totaling a mind-boggling 504 plants which had to go somewhere (come to think of it it is no wonder my back hurts.)  In addition to those I stopped by Roses and picked up two six packs each of Tourenia and another plant that I use every year and cannot for the life of me remember the name of.(ETA Portulaca).

So to begin with some went in the bed by either side of the patio, others went in the front bird bath bed

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Impatiens and begonia went into the shade bed under the treesSONY DSCThen I set about planting my containers.  I have two color schemes this year, Purple and Gold (for East Carolina University my husband’s Alma Mata) and Red, White, and Blue (patriotic colors for both myself and my husband). Here is one of the Purple and Gold containers

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and here is one of the Red, White and Blue ones

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I have the pots arranged along either edge of my driveway and once they come into full bloom they should look spectacular.  The remainder of the plants went into hanging baskets, planters on the shutters and the vegetable basket planters that I created last year.  More went into containers on the front patio and the remainder were tucked into spots that were available in the front flower bed (more of those later).  I now just have one flat left, mostly the remaining Rudbekia and a couple of white Dianthus that are in need of a home but I am sure I will come up with something to do with them.  Now I really do get to sit back and watch it all grow.

The Veggie Garden is Done Man!

(With apologies to “Don’t tell Mom the babysitter’s dead).  Here are all four raised beds now fully planted.  First bed.  From back to front: Raspberries, Bell peppers, Heirloom tomatoes (Mr. Stripey, German Queen) Roma tomatoes, Bell peppers, Better Boy tomatoes, Sweet peppers,  Better Boy tomatoes, (the peppers and Better Boy tomatoes are from my husband’s school FFA program). Outside the bed planted along the chain link fence – green beans and Birdhouse gourds.

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Second bed from back to front: Broccoli, (from husband’s school FFA program) Oak leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, Arugula,  Spinach, (all raised from seed in my greenhouse over the Winter) Tomatoes, Bell peppers, radish over seeded in the area.

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Third bed Right to left: Garden peas, carrots, green onions (front) leeks (back)SONY DSC

Fourth bed right to left: Red cabbage, Spinach, Shallots, Garlic, Arugula, Brussels sprouts.

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So the real hard work is over. Luckily the beds are placed so that once positioned correctly the sprinkler waters them all at once. Now all I have to do is keep on top of the weeds, make sure I water if there is a dry spell, and, as my dear departed Daddy used to say, “sit back and watch it grow”. Fortunately that is one thing I am very good at.