phenological events July 071st pea harvest
5th broccoli heading
7th elderberry flowers
8th milkweed flowers
9th sweet clovers
11th harvest broccoli 12th blueberries blush
The harvest has kept me very busy. I leave the basket by the screen door. Trips to the garden are made just as soon as it dries out from recent thunder storms. Hours are spent, picking and packing. How can one begrudge the bounty?
The broccoli is starting to back off, so I am harvesting the side shoots, and the beans have reached the summit of their yield. I am averaging 5 lbs every 3 days. A pound of beans averages a pint in the jar. I have packed 20 lbs so far. This might seem like a lot of beans, but if you do the math and figure I need maybe a pint of beans per week, I still have a ways to go before I can pack enough to get us from fresh pick to fresh pick. I lost count of the broccoli, the majority of it is now downstairs in the deep freezer. It is midsummer, and there is ripeness everywhere.
In the mornings, the only songsters are the fledglings, and each day the songs dwindle....a sharp contrast to the spring concerts of May. At mid day, the katydids and the cicadas trill, and their song fills the wood instead of spring peepers. The turning point has come, the apex of summer is upon us.
While waiting for the canner to reach temperature, I doodle ideas on paper. Slowly the project takes shape. The beans have inspired me to make a bean bag.
Lately, I don't know why it happens, but my yarn seems to resemble whatever vegetable I am processing. It happened earlier in the year with the Pea Harvest.
I started to wonder about which came first, the veggies or the yarn. It was the roving that caught my eye a few weeks ago when I was in Gettysburg. This is more yarn that is from the Drafting Zone. I love the way it is prepared. It spins easily on the Great Wheel. That is why I purchased it. I was not wild about the color, but the shop only had a bag of this golden color, along with a bag of hot pink. I couldn't imagine looking at a 1/2 lb. of hot pink slipping through my fingers, so I got the gold.
This is green bean, nickel, baby gourmet (of which the chipmunk ate 2/3 of the planted seed) so I am mixing it with Goldito, baby French wax.
Now, my mother reads my blog, Hi Mom!, and I am sure she will be examining the liquid on the head space in those jars (as will some of the other crackerjack canner's who read this blog). You all will probably notice that it is below the recommended 1/2 inch. I plead guilty to this, and have only one explanation to offer--I was spinning while the processing was taking place, and it probably reached temperature too quickly. My mother is not the type to criticize...she would simply give me that sideways glance with a wink, and say, "Just be sure you use those jars up first." Note to self: You probably should not try to multi-task when one of the tasks involves canning.
Yesterday, I spent the entire day in the garden. When you spend a long time in the garden, you see life happening, up close and personal. It is beautiful. I pulled the peas (and saved the purslane for Judy's pigs). I planted carrots and turnips for fall harvesting. I saw the reason my blueberries are not turning blue.
So many different birds are bringing their fledgling's to the bushes....as if to instruct them as to where they can get a readily available food source. It is no wonder I don't get to sample a ripe berry. I will have to cover them if I want any.
By the time I was ready to go in, the bees were already sleeping on the coneflower. I thought I would just walk over and check in on how the string beans were doing.
I picked beans for at least another hour. I will need to can these right away. The garden takes precedence over everything. Projects languish--suspended in time. There will be no delay in harvesting and processing a vegetable that I have nurtured to its prime. The garden rules. Let the canning begin.
Did you stop by for a walk on Wednesday? Yea, nobody was home. It was raining anyway. I try to walk and post on Wednesday, Judy of Smatterings started it all. I think it is a good idea. I tend to walk more in the winter time, and leave the woods in summer for the bear, snakes, ticks and other critters. I miss the woods, but I have been walking down to the river and out in the garden.
My apologies to the Bangles...
All the old onions in the field ~ they do the sand dance ~ don't ya know?
If it rains too hard ~(Oh-A-Oh)~ they're falling down like a domino...
And they break their necks ~ set their tops ~ soon the bulblets start to grow...
They waste no time ~ (Oh-A-Oh)~ set their root ~ then they multiply.
All the plants near the growing space say: ~(Onion-Onion-OOO-AAA-Onion)~ "Walk like an Egyptian..."
I cannot help but sing this song when the Egyptian Walking Onions fall over. I think my variety is of the Catawissa Strain, believed to have originated near Catawissa, PA. They are sometimes called tree onions. They are such fun. And don't they look great in a bouquet?
The onions I picked today will soon be walking their way to Judy (heads up Judy, they are ready now!)
Lorraine has nominated me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger! Thanks Lorraine! Since Meresey likes to rock out to Big Rock Candy Mountain she is my first nominee...(see Meresey, you are not the only dork! I too admit to dorkdum!)
now I'm off to walk down to the Post Office.... Line your feet astreet, bend your back ~ Shift your arm, then you pull a clock!
So it was, that I received a nice package in the post.... ..from the UK.
It contained a sample of Balwen wool from Jessica's Balwen sheep. You can see a picture of them if you go here. I like the way they look like they are wearing white socks. Balwen Sheep have previously been listed by RBST as "at risk", but are now classified as "vulnerable".
According to the Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep Society: "Balwen Welsh Mountain Sheep originate from one small area of Wales - the Tywi valley. Because of this, during the disastrous winter of 1947, the breed was nearly wiped out. The breed was at its lowest ebb, with only one ram surviving. During the 1950’s and 60’s a steady increase took place, and in the 1970’s people outside the valley began to take an interest in the breed. The Balwen Welsh Mountain Breed Society was formed in 1985."
It was a good learning experience for me to have the opportunity to work with the wool. Difficult to photograph, the color is a nice blend of browns and blacks. There was also some kemp, which added to the character of this interesting wool. The staple measured approximately 3 inches. The wool is graded as 'soft/medium' with a micron count of 32.3.
After scouring the wool, I spun up a few different samples...some I will keep, and some I will send back to Jessica so she can see what her wool will look like when turned into yarn. I also saved a little bag to share with some of the spinners in my library group, so they could examine it as well.
I found the Balwen fleece to be fairly coarse, and somewhat wiry. I spun it woolen, so it was a bit fuzzy, and it still shows a luster. The yarn produced is strong, and would certainly wear well. It would make a wonderful outer garment, but I would not make anything that would be worn next to the skin. I also think it would be great for felting. I have set some aside for that purpose.
While I was working with this fleece, I was thinking about the sheep in the field over in the UK. I found little bits of moss in the fleece, and wondered about the pasture where they grazed. The Internet is a great tool. Without it, I probably wouldn't have "met" Jessica, or her sheep. Who knows if I ever would have had the chance to spin up a little Balwen? When I took the class about Spinning in the Old Way, we discussed how a spinner living (lets say the 18th century) in America, would have only spun the wool from just a few breeds of sheep, because of the availability. They were pretty much limited to what the farmer was raising. I am not limited. With the Internet, it is possible for me to experience spinning wool from a sheep that grazes in a pasture half a world away from me. I like it when the blogosphere spills over into real life.
The broccoli is starting to come in. I find that if I try to pick and freeze just a little bit every day, it is not such an overwhelming task.
About 3 pounds a day is just right.
They do look like little trees, don't they?
The collar is now finished on the Jawbreaker Cardigan. I still have to sew in the sleeves and side seam. And sew the button on. This is the last project that I will ever do using Jacks wool. It is somewhat sad to be finishing it. The wool feels wonderfully soft and cushy.
So, upon my homecoming, and the many weeds that were waiting, an article from slashdot caught my eye. It was about a Hortibot.
The article explained that a Hortibot could "manually pick weeds, spray, or remove them using flames or a laser". Hummmm. The Hortibot could be trouble. I have a hard time letting my husband weed, let alone a robot. After all, the definition of a weed is:
A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially one growing where it is not wanted, as in a garden.
How does the Hortibot distinguish between a weed and a desirable plant?
Which brings me to this:
Purslane. I have lots and lots of purslane growing. Some would call it a weed. Some would call it food. And very good food, or food that is very good for you. Purslane contains ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) ...that is one of the Omega 3's! It is also very high in vitamin C. But, I have not ever eaten it ...yet.
There are recipes for Purslane. I was recently invited to be a part of a recipe exchange, (as my contacts have discovered!) I don't think a recipe for Purslane Gazpacho would have been a hit.
Today, I tried some Purslane. It wasn't too bad! Sort of salty and sour, like the little yellow clover I used to chew on when I was a child. Maybe I will be brave and make the Purslane Cucumber Salad. Heaven only knows, I will have tons of purslane in the weed basket tomorrow!
The fawn was here today..it is spending more and more time with the doe. Growth is noticeable, and confidence is apparent. I love watching it run.
Sometimes, while the doe is grazing, the fawn will take to having running fits, and race all around.
The hot weather is bringing the summer flowers into bloom. The elder flowers are full, and milkweed's pinkish brown blossoms, fill the surrounding area with an intense fragrance. Sweet clovers open along the roadside, along with the wild daylily.
And there has been knitting. I am almost finished with the Jaw Breaker Cardi. It needed one button. I've been playing around with making some buttons. I may settle on this one, shown on the swatch.
Bees....they are worth their weight in gold. I like it when they visit my flowers.
They are attracted to colors like blues, purples, violets and yellows. They need the nectar and the pollen. They need the protein and the carbohydrates.
It is very simple, really. The flowers cannot visit each other, so they need the bee to transport their pollen in order to reproduce. Mutualism. Pollination. We depend on it for half of the food we consume...or so it has been estimated. Makes me think we are just a little bit dependent upon the bees. Makes me want to plant more flowers.
Since it has not been used in a long time, it needs some breaking in. Actually, the breaking in time applies to both the spinner and the wheel I believe...but I am enjoying it! This Canadian Production wheel is fast. It eats wool. And oil. I have not "cleaned her up" yet. But I discovered that she purrs like a kitten ...or as Grace would say, like a Harley. Don't believe me? Have a listen....
This is snowbird...not my favorite variety, but they were available and I planted them 3 inches apart in double row that was 25 feet in length. I planted them back in April. Sixty something days ago.
After waiting all that time for them to grow, picking was an enjoyable task, the weather was perfect, nice and cool. Peas like cool. The bed of oswego tea, or bergamot..or do you say Monarda...anyway..there is a big raised bed of bee balm directly next to the peas. The Monarda is blooming, and the hummingbirds were all over it. I hid in the pea patch while I was picking, and watched the courtship pendulum dance of the males.
The females seemed too busy pollinating to watch the males, who were making an increasingly wide arc, until it was almost a half circle. They were dipping and diving and showing their ruby red throats..which looked quite nice next to the red of the monarda.
The first picking of peas yielded 3 pounds and 2 ounces. Not bad, but not as good as I would have wanted. I will not grow Snowbird again. The flavor is nice, and I munched on a few peas fresh from the vine...there are always a few that don't make it into the house. I also gave a bag to a neighbor who happened by as I was picking.
There was also a bit of spinning this morning...88 yards...spun on the Great Wheel, and plied on the Ashford. It came to me in the form of roving, Judy passed it to me from Delly Delights, but was prepared by the Drafting Zone. It didn't have a name, so I am calling it "pea harvest".
phenological eventsMay 2013
1st quince blooming
2nd American Redstart
Articles in Print