Tag Archives: Gardening

Swenson reds lead our grape season

P1020194We love grapes, and my husband has planted several varieties in the sunny garden that is also our cat’s outdoor dominion known as Effieland. Our Swenson red grapes (pictured) are mostly ripe with some still ripening; the Himrods (green), Canadice (pink), and Flame (purple) are close behind. This evening, we picked, rinsed, stemmed, and froze 4-1/2 pounds of delicious Swenson reds.

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Two-hand harvest

The petite egg is the first our six girls have produced: a good sign more will follow. The small apples are Queen Cox.

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Salsa harvest

These jalapenos will ripen soon.

Almost-ripe jalapenos

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Brandywine tomatoes and jalapeno

Brandywine tomatoes and jalapeno

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Sunflower harvest

We cut the dry sunflower blooms today and laid them out to dry. Within a week or two, we'll harvest the seeds.

We cut the dry sunflower blooms today and laid them out to dry. Within a week or two, we’ll harvest the seeds.

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Oregano and its benevolent wasps

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I’ve circled the industrious Thread-waisted wasps (they’re almost as hard to see outside near the bush as they are in the picture), who benefit themselves and us by pollenating our oregano. To see the wasps, click the photo, then click in either of the red circles–the one on the left is actually a bit better.

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Bud swell

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Our lilacs budded yesterday: a happy, unexpectedly early—though our grass was already returning and already green—harbinger of an early Spring. Today, I began noticing all the withered blooms of past seasons, and branches without buds, and determined to undertake pruning them, however many days it would take, until there would be space for the new blooms without their being surrounded by withered undergrowth.

I spent about an hour and a half on two bushes today, and made some visible progress before the wind came up and chilled the back of my neck—not a welcome sensation while I’m still on antibiotics for a sinus infection. The frustrating thing about my project was the difficulty of snipping away only completely dead sprigs; the sprigs with buds on them frequently grew on the same branches, close to the dead foliage. I tried to cut away only the dead foliage, but sometimes failed to notice a thin shared branch, and wound up snipping off a sprig with green buds.

My pruners are sharp; they don’t leave room for second chances, but respond, as cold steel will, to erring and cautious hands with equal precision. This thought caused me to spend most of my pruning time contemplating the Reformed doctrine of election. Two twigs on one branch: one destined to bloom, the other to perish. Two sinners, perhaps born to the same parents, one elected to salvation, one to condemnation. The theme recurs over and over in the inerrant Word of our inerrant God.

How grateful I am, that God does not err as I do! I miss a bud on a branch I meant to preserve but carelessly cut. God does not accidentally consign to condemnation a soul He has predestinated to salvation. Ever.

And I look to our lilacs, and I think, “Hang in there—bloom day’s coming. . . .”

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An unusual form

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Delicata squashes normally are long, like zucchini, only huskier. A round delicata can result if its blossom chances a visitation with pollen from a pumpkin plant. Since we have delicatas and zucchini, but no pumpkin vines, a neighbor’s pumpkin pollen was presumably transported by wind or an insect.

Whatever its means of coming about, we thought it very cute, but my husband thought it would be even cuter with a face, which he provided. I agree, and I just like the whimsy of having a delicata.

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The popcorn field

The corn field, ready for harvest

The popcorn field, ready for harvest

 This photo shows a bucket of strawberry popcorn cobs with husks still attached; the kernels in the blue bowl have been shucked from the cobs with the toothy little metal device next to the cobs. The items are atop the stump of the large dead poplar my husband cut down last weekend and hauled into his shop with the tractor and chains for table duty.


This photo shows a bucket of strawberry popcorn cobs with husks still attached; the kernels in the blue bowl have been shucked from the cobs with the toothy little metal device next to the cobs. The items are atop the stump of the large dead poplar my husband cut down last weekend and hauled into his shop with the tractor and chains for table duty.

 This is the best popcorn we’ve ever tasted. Even the unpopped kernels are crunchy and easily eaten.


This is the best popcorn we’ve ever tasted. Even the unpopped kernels are crunchy and easily eaten.

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Tassels

Tassels are the harbingers of our Red Popcorn. We're going to have a popcorn farm!

Tassels are the harbingers of our Red Popcorn. We’re going to have a popcorn farm!

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Out and about our own back yard

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Spirea garland 3.31.13

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The day warmed to 70° and cloudless sunshine, and my husband desired to survey the state of various buds and blossoms, and garden plots tilled and waiting to be seeded. As we walked around our yard and field, meadowlarks, quail, killdeer, ravens, horses, geese, and pine cones sang, cawed, neighed, cackled, and crackled.

The baby nectarine tree, planted in 2011, boasts an impressive cluster of pink blossoms; pear blossoms of the same vintage are very close to emerging, and Pinot Noir and Concord grapes have reached bud swell. Lilacs are in bud, and the Spirea garland is in its brief but dramatic full bloom. My husband estimates the mature flax will bloom in about three weeks; he also noted new seedlings have spawned and could mature and bloom in June. I love the beautiful blue flax flowers.

This year’s garden scheme will include some large plots of red popcorn, turnips, peppers, and lots of flowers. Tiny lobelia and jalapeno pepper seedlings have emerged in a covered seed starter in my husband’s study.

I’ve tried to break in our neighbors gently to certain realities: the reality, for instance, of semi-aridity, and the reality that we are not lawn lovers at all, much less lawn lovers interested in the extravagance of watering a one-third acre front lawn that requires mowing and edging. They would likely have figured this out anyway, seeing my husband on his tractor part of the past four Saturday afternoons, plowing and disking our entire front yard. Their suspicions would have taken another lurch forward next Saturday, when he runs the roller, which he resourcefully fabricated for his tractor, over our former lawn, which was, after all, completely given over to cheatgrass. Unlike pretty bluegrass favored by lawn people, native grasses compete hardily with cheatgrass—and mule deer, the bane of local gardeners.

To our next-door neighbors, who confine their labors on their perfect lawn, rock gardens, and extensive rose beds to their waking hours three seasons of the year, I confided our plan to seed our front yard with beautiful, tall, drought-resistant native grasses: Bluebunch wheatgrass and Great Basin wild rye. At one point, neighbor Donna was gesturing so vivaciously that I felt it was necessary to remind her that she was holding rose shears.

Ah, summer. . .

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