Monthly Archives: August 2014

garden update: pumpkins and potatoes

016

014

007

017

No major changes in the garden lately, though we’ve picked a few more pumpkins. Unfortunately, two of those pumpkins (big ones, too) were completely rotten. I was able to pick them up and throw them so they exploded. This was a very exciting event for Hythe. He loved the exploding pumpkins, and it was almost worth growing them for his reaction. We did get one which we carved into a jack-o-lantern and another which is in the root cellar, otherwise known as the well house.

All the potatoes are dugnow, and some more lettuce, arugula, and turnips were planted. Winter squash harvest is happening too, and most of this bounty is going in the root cellar for now.

We will be eating lots of potatoes and winter squash this fall and winter!

high jinx at our house

Today has been a lively day at our house.  The two year old has been in rare (but adorable) form.  It started when I took the laundry out to the line this morning to dry.  I left Steven inside playing with a game (with his sister nearby).  When I came in a few minutes later, Steven had pulled out the half loaf of bread and torn each slice in pieces and thrown them all over the kitchen floor.  A short time later when I was making lunch (which was not sandwiches), the children were playing cards while they waited.  But, Steven in a few short, unsupervised minutes had opened the door to the wood stove and was depositing all the left over ashes he could reach onto the rug.  And a few minutes later, he poured his cup of water out on the leather chair.

Later, while making supper, Steven pulled all the paper towels off the roll when my back was turned. And, then at bedtime, he flooded the bathroom by pouring cup after cup of water on the bathroom floor.  I did not notice because I could only see him playing and happy as I helped the other children get ready for bed and the faucet was running so I did not hear the water hitting the floor.  Whew!

Steven was not the only troublemaker today, though.  Hythe got up in the middle of supper to play with the new kitten.  I asked him to put the kitten down, wash his hands, and come finish his supper. A short time later, while we were nearly finished with supper, I realized the kitten was mewing more and more loudly and pitifully.  I asked where the kitten was and Hythe indicated it was nearby.  I asked him where he had put the kitten when I told him to put it down, thinking he might have shut it in the house when it wanted to be outside (we were eating outside).  Hythe gestured to the front of the house.  At the point, Evva got up to go look for it, and I asked Hythe again where he put the kitten.  His innocent face looked at me and he shrugged.  Just then, Evva found the kitten . . . shut up in the grill.

Anne told me tonight when I was putting her to bed and she was lamenting the fact that she had to grow up, “Childhood is just such a great opportunity.”

 

garden update and swap

turtle head

010

goldenrod

ironweed

015

016

As much as I hate to admit it, things have turned to corner toward fall in the garden and in nature. Apples are ripening, the fall flowers are out (my favorite color combinations), the summer garden is dying off and the fall garden is getting greener, and pumpkins are being harvested! The fall flowers are the best! The meadow by our house is full of goldenrod, ironweed, cardinal flower, Queen Anne’s lace, turtlehead, and others. It is truly glorious.

I’ve harvested about a half bushel of acorn squash and a few butternuts, but the piece de resistance (excuse the omission of the accents) was the first large pumpkin from the garden. Unfortunately, it looks like these pumpkins will all be ripe well before the jack-o-lantern making time of late October–which was the reason Hythe wanted pumpkins in the garden in the first place. We might just have to have September jack-o-lanterns. I’ve explained it and he seems ok with that. He is also looking forward to pumpkin pies–as the first pumpkin had a few rotten spots on it, so it only stayed on the porch for a few days before going in the oven. I’ve been making quite a few apple tarts (or galletes), and now the children are expecting pies every night. But, fresh apple sauce is sufficing.

005

005

006

004
Found these in the garden, left after I picked them up empty from a house and then went to weed the garden. They got left and have been “decorating” the garden since. I need to get them to the recycling bin, but I like the stories I can make up in my head when I see them about why they are in the garden.

003

Turnips, carrots, beets (those rabbits have munched two rows and I’ll need to replant), lettuce, and radishes are coming along very well. The potatoes have all died now, and we’ll dig the rest this week, I think.  I need to do some weeding too!

001

Finally, I put together a package for a blogger in Alaska last week and mailed it off. I was participating in a blog swap organized by Amanda. I did this in the spring as well, and it was lots of fun to think up homemade gifts to send. This time, I sent flower seeds from my garden (larkspur, poppies, calendula), some walking onion sets (not sure how they will do in Alaska), a lavender sachet, garlic-herb salt (made with garlic and herbs from the garden), soap, and a hand salve.

apple picking, siblings, and stings

009

015

016

Yesterday evening we went out to pick apples in the orchard by our house. One variety is ready and we picked nearly all of them. The trees here are unsprayed–a bit of an abandoned orchard, though it is not old (only about 15 years). It is severely deficient in phosphorus, and the trees are on dwarf stock so they are very short and easy to pick. There are about 10 varieties in the orchard, all planted by William’s aunt.

Anyway, halfway through supper, I suggested we go pick the rest of the Winter Bananas, the first apples to ripen. As with so many expeditions with children, it took a bit longer to get out the door with the bushel basket and into the orchard. Anne went upstairs to put on pants and found one of Evva’s small stuffed animals under her bed and so claimed it for herself. This caused a small kerfuffle. Evva did not want Anne to have the stuffed dolphin and Anne basically said “you have more stuffed animals than I do, so since this one was on the floor, it is only fair that I take it and keep it”. I told Anne that was not how life worked–you couldn’t take peoples’ things just because they had more than you.
Hythe then started counting how many stuffed animals each girl had and stated what the difference was.
Anne: Wow, Hythe, you just did mathematics!
Hythe (face full of wonder and excitement): Mom! I just did magic!
Me: Oh, buddy, she said you did mathematics, not magic. Still, it is almost the same!

010

008

So, somehow, Steven ended up with the dolphin, Anne ended up in tears, but we finally all ended up in the orchard mostly with smiles. William taught Hythe how to pick apples properly. Everybody picked an apple to gnaw on–sweet, juicy, crisp, tart. It was really enjoyable. We picked nearly a bushel when all of a sudden, Evva, who is usually so quiet and controlled, started screaming hysterically. She pointed at a yellow jacket on her dress. I brushed it off and it landed on her chest. William ran up, picked her up, and ran home with her. At that moment I noticed how many yellow jackets were flying around. I told the other three kiddos to stand very still, and I looked for a nest. Very quickly I found it–a very small hole in the ground 12 inches behind Anne. I don’t know why or how, but no one else got stung and we ran home too. Evva, of course, had been stung twice.

Pictures before the stings:

011

012

August is flying by

002

009

022

025

This month has been unseasonably cool (though this afternoon’s humidity and mild heat make me almost not write the former), with lots of rain and grey skies. When the sun does come out, we seem to want to be out in it as much as possible–enjoying the green-ness and summer while it lasts. We are eating many meals outside, playing games outside, working in the garden, playing in the sandbox, swinging, playing in the creek. Well, our children are doing most of the sandbox and swing play, while William and I do most of the work in the garden (and mowing of the grass).  I love to look out and see these little ones playing, being silly, and enjoying the freedom of childhood.  Hythe will give his silly smile, wrestle his little brother.  Most play outside is rambunctious, but occasionally I will see a few of them in quiet play–like this chess game.  After Evva won, and they forgot to put the game away, I caught Steven having a wonderful time sitting at the board and throwing all the pieces, one by one, into the grass.  We are now down a few more chessmen.

We went to a family wedding this weekend when William’s cousin got married on the farm. It was a lot of fun, and one of my favorite things about it was the outfit Evva chose to wear (seen in top pic): polka dot dress (“polka dots are supposed to be for fun parties”), a red straw hat (my grandmother’s), a fashion-knit scarf (hand-knit by someone–not me), and her new umbrella (gift from Daddy for the large rain storm that was predicted to happen during the outdoor wedding).

in the garden, early August

007

008

 

The garden is really producing right now, but it is also the time of plant death as insects and disease is our warm and wet climate overwhelm the garden plants. I am an “organic” gardener, in that I use organic fertilizers, cover crops, mulches and not pesticides or herbicides. I don’t do much for insect pest control other than squish the offenders. I don’t do anything for disease control other than try to time my plantings to hopefully be nearly at the end of their production before disease pressure builds up too much. This year has been pretty average, but August is usually the time of death for my garden. My tomatoes have are completely dead, within a week, from late blight. I harvested enough to make a few batches of sauce to freeze, lots of tomato sandwiches and salads. There are a few more that I will harvest tomorrow, but that will probably all. I pulled the rest of the beans up today because while there were still blossoms on the plants, the bean leaf beetles had completely taken them over. They were struggling so hard to produce only a few beans per plant that they did not care about keeping allowing any new beans to grow. It reminded me of the smart mothers who have only one child, realizing that more than this would sap all their energy and they would not be able to live (a decent life). In my first garden at my grandparents house, my grandfather insisted beans could not be grown without Sevin dust. I did not want pesticides, but when I was not looking, he would scoop up a handful of Sevin and sprinkle my beans. Today, I understand the thought!

013

The potatoes are dead or dying and I’ve harvested just over a bushel–with at least half left to go. We are eating them at every meal. Same with the onions–not nearly as many, but I’ve gotten about half of them out.

010

014

012

013

Powdery mildew has started on my beautiful winter squash and pumpkins. This bed has been such a pleasure for me to witness–the very insistent growth, the large green leaves filling the garden, the amazingly bright blossoms that are open in the morning. They will not last much longer, but there are lots of acorn squash, butternuts, and green pumpkins coming on. I think (hope) they will be able to finish ripening. Those large, bright blossoms always made me want to pick, stuff, and fry them, but I’ve looked in them and each one has at least 2 bees. I’d rather not evict them.

In September, the garden seems to come back to life again, and I hope the same to be true this year. I’ve just planted turnips, carrots, radishes, lettuce, and beets where the beans and potatoes were. Garlic will go in then, too, and perhaps some cover crops.

Apple season is starting as well, with the Winter Banana (at least that is what we think they are) ripening. I picked a bushel with the boys this week. They are perfect (and unsprayed, so I don’t mean they look perfect)–sweet, tart, crisp. I am not sure what I will do with them all, because they don’t store that well. We will probably eat as many as we can, give some away, and make a little applesauce. It is not quite cider making time, yet.

001

002

004

Tuckaseegee summer visit

003

006

008

015

022

024

026

027

031

We finally got up to the semi-remote property that my husband’s great-grandparents bought in the 1920s, and is now owned by his family and extended family. This property is on the headwaters of the Tuckaseegee River, with lots of National Forest land around. It is a beautiful spot, with no cell phone reception, TV, or phone line. There is electricity, but staying in the 100+ year old “lodge” (which was built by loggers, and probably not intended to stay upright for more than 20 years), is really glorified camping. The wooden floors lean, the mice outnumber the visitors, and the doors barely shut (or else don’t open). But, the kitchen has a great gas stove, which is fun to cook on, and the rooms stay dark so that children (and hence their parents) sleep in, there is a new mattress that does not smell musty, and right now, the roof does not leak–plus there is a flush toilet(!).

Anyway, we always have a fun time–fishing and splashing in the river, hiking, roasting marshmallows, and playing games (baseball or board games, depending on the weather).  We, or I should say they, did a lot of fishing, and we had an epic game of Monopoly.

Though usually, we visit with friends or extended family, this weekend, it was just us. A few people told us they planned to come up on Saturday, but the weather ultimately kept them home.  We enjoyed the river in the morning before the rain and board games on the porch during the rain.

We are hoping to get back this fall for close to a week, rather than the usual weekend. It is quite a lot of work to stay there (bring your linens, food, pillows, clothes, towels, etc.–and then wash them all when you get home), so it will be nice to spend more time. And, get to explore more places with the little ones. They have not experienced all the trails, lakes, and interesting things in the area, and William and I are looking forward to being with them to do it.