Monday, July 26, 2010

Jorene's Perennial Gardens- July 25, 2010

In the full sun bed, my beautiful white lilies and shasta daisy are no longer blooming. There are currently seven perennials and a bush blooming in the full-sun perennial bed: Russian sage, campanula blue-eyed blonde, purple and white Echinacea (coneflower), white phlox, blacked-eyed susan, and hibiscus (rose of Sharon) blue satin. I sheared the spiderwort located in front of the clematis. I have red that this will encourage new foliage and flowers to rebloom in the fall. I have never been so lucky, but does keep the perennial bed looking clean and organized.

This photograph is a close-up of the hibiscus (rose of Sharon) blue satin. I planted it Fall 2008. It did very little during 2009. There were hardly any leaves on it, and it did not bloom. In fact, I was nearly convinced that it did not survive the winter. However, I left it in the ground, and it is doing wonderfully this year. So far, there have been several dozen blooms on it. It will eventually grow to be a bush that is about 8 feet tall. As it grows, I will transfer some of the perennials that are near it to other locations on the property so that the hibiscus will have plenty of room. This bush is very useful for late summer blooms. By the time it stops blooming, the blue and purple aster in the sun bed will be in full bloom.

In the naturalized bed, the red and maroon Jacob's Cline Monarda (bee balm) is nearing the end of its bloom cycle. However, the butterflies are still enjoying it immensely. Whenever, I look at this perennial, there are always dozens of butterflies on and around it. I highly recommend this perennial for a naturalized area where it has plenty of room to grow. My bee balm perennials started as little plants but are now taller than me. I have to continually divide them and give them to friends to prevent them from overtaking this flower bed.

In the friendship garden, the yellow rudbeckia (brown-eyed susans) are in full bloom while the red-orange and orange day lilies wind down their bloom cycle. This is my favorite time of the year for this perennial bed because, as previously noted, I just love the mix of red, orange and yellow that this combination of these day lilies and brown-eyed susans provides.

In the partial shade garden, the purple clematis are no longer blooming, but the rudbeckia goldsturm (brown-eyed susan) and yellow thread-leaved coreopsis (tickseed) are in full bloom. I just love both of these flowers because they are deer resistant, care free, insect resistant, and long blooming. They are equally at home in the perennial bed and in a naturalized setting, and they are a great choice for late summer color. These perennials are surrounded by large dark green and smaller yellow-green hostas.

This is a close-up photo of the brown-eyed susan and coreopsis.

The lobelia (cardinal flower) that I planted this Spring is in full bloom. I love this perennial in the naturalized setting where it is usually red. I originally thought this purple variety would be perfect in this full shade spot to add height and interest and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. However, as you can see, it currently needs staking because the stalks were just laying on the ground, but the perennial appears to be healthy. I am going to research this issue because they should not need staking. Hopefully, I can figure out this issue by next year.

Five hostas in the shade garden have become casualties to the deer. It happens to the best of us, and it does not actually harm the plant. It just looks ugly. This perennial bed is right up against the woods on the far side of the house. The deer can easily sneak in, have a meal, and sneak out before I even notice. Ken sprays an organic deer guard on the hostas for me, but when we have lots of rain, it washes off fairly quickly.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Full Day in the Kitchen

With the garden starting to come in steady now, I have begun preserving a lot of our harvest to store in the pantry. Today, I put a full day of work in the kitchen, canning, juicing, pickling and cooking. Today's harvest has, from left to right, zucchini (Golden and Striata d ' Italia), patty pan squash, cucumbers, beets, corn, potatoes, swiss chard, fall apples, and transparent apples.

The zucchini was grated and bagged for zucchini bread this weekend when I have guests at the Lodge. The patty pan squash was sliced, rolled in egg and flour, and fried in bacon grease. Everybody in our family loves it this way, but then what's not to like about something fried in bacon grease.

With half of the cucumbers, I made 6 quarts of pickle spears. I still have 8 left to eat with salads and raw. Of course, I'll probably have another half dozen ready to pick tomorrow. Looks like more pickling is in the future.

The beets were washed, blanched and the skins removed. I'll fix these for Liam's dinner tomorrow night. I'm not fond of beets, so Liam gets them all to himself. The eight ears of corn were blanched and cut from the cob for freezing. I love to add corn to soups in the winter. The potatoes were put in the crockpot with a pound of green beans Jorene picked yesterday, along with a ham bone. We had these for dinner tonight and they were delicious.

Next is my favorite vegetable, Swiss chard. It is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, with high concentrations of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. I use it in omelets, pizza, soups, and salads. My favorite way to prepare it is sauteed with garlic and onions with a handful of nuts. This is one of my Rainbow Swiss Chard beds, which it shares with beets and onions. I'll offer one tip about harvesting Swiss Chard. Don't weedeat around the raised bed the night before you plan to harvest Swiss Chard. I had to rinse the leaves three times to get all the little bits of grass out of the wrinkles.
I have two varieties of apples in the tubs. The first has thinnings from a fall variety. A friend asked me to help him thin his tree and in return I could keep what I picked. They are tart and firm, but make a great baking apple. I made two apple pies for some guests last weekend and they loved them. I'll freeze the rest of the apples for pies later in the year.

The second tub of apples are transparents. I juiced these in my juicer and made over 7 gallons of juice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chicks - Week 9

More pictures of our Freedom Ranger chickens, Pekin Ducks and White Holland Turkeys. I really love these Freedom Ranger chickens. Their foraging capabilities is much better than the Cornish Cross. I can't wait to see how the meat tastes, which will be soon. I plan to start butchering later this week.

One curious thing I noticed lately about the ducks is that they act as bouncers for the group. The seems to always be two chickens trying to decide who is the alpha chicken. A duck will actually get out of the pond, run across the field and break up any fights. It's never the same duck. I think the ducks in general don't like fighting. It's funny.

We also added 13 more turkeys to our farm last week. I plan to raise them for Thanksgiving, butchering them around 16 weeks. This will put them in the 20 - 25 pound range when dressed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jorene's Perennial Gardens-July 12, 2010

The veronica royal candles, nepata walker's low catmint, spiderwort, and purple clematis in the full sun bed have all ended their bloom cycles. There are currently seven perennials and a bush blooming in the full-sun perennial bed: Russian sage, campanula blue-eyed blonde, purple and white Echinacea (coneflower), blacked-eyed susan, and lilies, shasta daisy, and hibiscus (rose of Sharon) blue satin.

This photograph is a close-up of the full-sun perennial bed. It contains, from left to right, clematis and spiderwort (which are no longer blooming), purple echinacea (coneflower), and russian sage. Low growing Pat’s Select ajuga is in the foreground. Purple echinacea is an all-time favorite in many perennial beds because it is deer resistant, long blooming, and attracts butterflies and birds to the garden. Additionally, its black roots have been used medicinally as a blood purifier; echinacea vitamins are widely available in most drug stores.

I am also very happy with the way the campanula blue-eyed blonde has performed this year. It bloomed earlier this year, and I cut the spikes that the flowers bloomed on at the end of their bloom cycle. Now, the plant part of the perennial has bloomed again.

In the naturalized bed, the red and maroon Jacob's Cline Monarda (bee balm) continue to bloom. As previously noted, monarda is a superb choice in any naturalized bed that gets full to part sun because they are care free and deer resistant. The flowers are very attractive to beneficial butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. The leaves can be used to make a delicious herb tea.

In the friendship garden, the red-orange and orange day lilies continue in full bloom. It is amazing how long the flowers in this bed have bloomed, especially since my other day lilies have nearly all finished blooming. Additionally, the yellow brown-eyed susans have started to bloom. I love the mix of red, orange and yellow that this combination of these day lilies and brown-eyed susans provides. The gorgeous double blossom orange day lily which has beautiful ruffly petals continues to bloom as well.

A better photo of the double blossom day lily that I wrote about in the last blog.

Finally, my first sunflower bloomed. They usually do not bloom until September, but I guess the extra-hot summer triggered it to bloom a little early, Regardless, it always makes me happy when I look at my sunflowers in bloom.