Monday, July 3, 2017

Good kind of Frozen

A month ago, we hefted our old freezer upstairs and moved the last of the frozen things from last year (cherries, apples, zucchini) into a new freezer we got from a friend. It was a big commitment because we had to downsize, but with Leo gone and Anwyn leaving in a year, it seemed like good timing.  I sorted through everything in our old 1970s freezer, which had with light and a hinge that no lolonger held the door open. Since I was downsizing to a freezer half the size, I told myself I was doing well to let some food I had grown and processed go.  Carrying it up the stairs was an epic odyssey of skids and door removal for the whole family, and we were all revealed when we heaved into the trailer. Mike ripped the door off so no child could be trapped in it, and it was ready to go to the dump.  In the end, I was glad to see it go.

The new freezer had an exciting hum, was small, and fit well. Unfortunately, it did not work well and over the period of three days everything in it defrosted.  I was sad about the veggie burgers, baking, and especially the ice cream, but what I really missed having all the things made and ready to go, and having all the home grown produce I had. We are always making smoothies with our frozen berries, our own pesto, and pies.  Having no freezer was a big deal to me because it cut off the bounty. You know you have an excessively strong relationship with food when...

Since we were buying a new freezer, we decided to avoid our usual used appliance (I didn't want another failure) and buy a new energy star appliance.  It helped me feel like less environmental damage came from throwing out two freezers. We priced out various models and got a stand up one which is large and nice, but a bit loud.   All of this corresponded with the early crops in the garden.  We had no freezer when we ate asparagus and all the early herbs, and I would not have frozen my lettuces. But just in time, the freezer arrived to store homemade pesto, haskap blueberry chutney and jam, and a large ziploc of  rhubarb. It is funny how happy it makes me to see each item go in. If it were not for my environmental streak I might hold the door open just to see the awesome.

I just got off work three days ago, and two days ago Mike finished the city walk, so I was driving and working more the loving the yard.  But today and yesterday I spent the morning out there, loving the flowers, reading, and picking berries.  I can already feel the rhythm, with iris finishing and peony in full bloom, just as the lilies are starting. You can enjoy the views with my yard by looking at Mike's photos. Each spot I go, I think about what it will be like over the summer and what I'll enjoy about when I eat the bounty in the winter.

I love the yard.  The food and flowers are an unbeatable combination and the space is tranquil and relaxed. Now that the freezer is up and going and the caner is ready, I can enjoy the best kind of frozen that fruit and veggies can have.

On Saturday, the city walk day dawned misty, and I sat out on the back patio and watched layers of the yard gradually come in to view.  It reminded me how much I enjoy my gardens and love time to myself with the plants and the quiet.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Serious eating

As the lilies go into serious bloom each year, the serious eating also starts.  We had pancakes this morning with raspberries and saskatoons from our yard, I had our strawberries for snack, and supper was a taco salad featuring our greens, our tomatoes, our zucchini, and our single ripe pepper (thanks greenhouse). I also picked two types of cucumbers, beet greens, dill, and onion stalks today.

Anwyn and I were sitting out in the backyard this morning just soaking in the beauty.  The peonies are finishing up, but there are lots of other things blooming, particularly roses, lupines, delphiniums, sedums, and lilies.  The front has four colors, all versions of orange and yellow, with a mix of day-lilies, tiger lilies etc. The back also has some errant orange which I should dig up, and lots of pinks, whites, and maroons. Lilies are such great cut flowers, and  they will bloom in various forms for the next couple of weeks, ending the time when massive swaths of perennials bloom in the yard.

My sisters start arriving with their families in the next several days, and almost everyone will be here except my parents.  Mike made a video for you, Mom, so you can see what is up right now in the yard while everyone else is here in person. I hope I get to see a picture of the garlic you just dug, even if it was a bad crop due to heat.  I need to dig mine this week, too, and I am expecting the same crummy state for my early garlic.

The cherries are changing color, and one of the trees has an infected branch that I need to cut off once it freezes.  I always want to eat them as soon as they change color, even though they are much sweeter later.  We'll see how all the small cousins do with them, as they are very low hanging fruit. The apples are higher, and the ripe raspberries and strawberries should give the grazers a focus.  Teela is hoping to arrive in time for the peas, and it is looking good.  I think I will have my first pods later this week.

Mike is busy laying down additional soaker hoses for watering.  He set up our two boxes on the south side of the garage and house last summer, and is irrigating the strawberries and one front bed this year.  We have so many beds now that the three rain barrels only keep up for 4 days without rain, and we've had little rain for a couple of weeks.  Hopefully this will reduce serious time spent watering, and focus more of his time on the serious eating (and, of course, video production).

My only unhappiness is that our local rabbits have finally discovered our yard.  We found scat, and one sent of my bean plants went from blooming to stubs in one night.  You can see it in the video. Hopefully the bunny doesn't find a way into the backyard where most of the veggies are, or notice the north bed of salad greens. It is exactly the sort of place that Peter Rabbit would pig out.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Finally, fruit

Every year I wait for my strawberries to come in. For years, some would look ready and the birds seemed to get them just before they were ripe.  I was super sad until it became clear the birds were actually Leora.  Then with ordering, cajoling and constant vigilance it was possible for the others in the family to get berries (although still not usually the first ones).

Leo is getting ready to graduate and leave home after the summer, and she just got her second ever job.  Although all her plays have finally finished (I have never seen her care more than playing Juliet at the Persephone), she still has lots going on. Mike and I got home last night and we ate the first two berries.  It made it so clear, and bittersweet, that Leora is leaving.

The yard had another good week this week. Last week asparagus was completely done, and I picked a bit more rhubarb this week, but now I will wait till the fall.  We are eating lots of greens off the shade bed I grow in the driveway, and the herbs are awesome.  I really like watching the garden bound forward in growth - reminds be of the early teenager years. This week I did a lot of training plants on vertical growing surfaces, and I pulled out the last of the major baby elm seeds.

Perhaps the most exciting part (other than the first new strawberries in 17 years) is the flowers. My backyard is right in its best stage, and the front yard is about take over and show off for over a month. In the back, irises, bell flower, roses, daisies, geraniums, and a wide variety of other flowers are blooming. Mike and I have counted over fifty different types. In the front, Mike is excited about his orange irises and orange roses, which hang out side by side in the heart shaped bed. Soon the lilies and  money wart (ground cover) will be out. My favorite in the front right now is the thyme path (predictably purple instead of the warm color palette). All photos can be viewed here.

I (and in this case I mean Mike) have been taking videos of the yard once a week this year to chronically changes. Check out this week's video.