Peachy Days

Red Haven free-stone peaches 2021

We were blessed with twice as many peaches this year. This Red Haven peach tree was planted last year and produced a full 5-gallon bucket of peaches for us in that first year. This year our little peach tree really went to town, giving us many sweet moments to savor.

2-year-old Red Haven peach tree ready to pick.

Pete had to build supports for the limbs that were so heavily laden, that the tree would have fallen over or it would have had broken limbs without them.

10 gallons of fresh peaches

We harvested two full 5-gallon buckets of very sweet tasting fruit this year.

Peeled & sliced peaches in bowl.

I blanched them in boiling water for 2 minutes so that the skins were easily removed. Here is the fruit peeled and ready to put into glass jars.

15 quarts of sliced peaches

We are blessed with 15 quarts of the sweetest sliced peaches off of our little 2-year-old Red Haven peach tree. Yummmmm. Our pantry is happy.

Picking Today

The winner for biggest size today in the garden was a 6.4 lb green zuchinni squash. He is sticking his head out of the middle bucket, a really big guy measuring 18″ long with a 5″ diameter. This is what happens when I put off picking for a couple of days. There are quite a few crookneck squash in the bucket on the left. The bucket on the right is full of beets along with a single head of lettuce and eggplant.

Harvested lots of cucumbers today, including big guys for relish making. Mediums to be sliced for bread and butter chips. Then good old dill pickle jar sizes. You can see that they are sorted by size. It is safe to say that pickling season has now begun.

I was pleased to see that the blackberries have begun to ripen. It looks like it will be a nice crop this year if the weather cooperates. It was a couple cups of berries, which isn’t bad for the first day of picking.

The first group of jalapeno peppers were harvested today and the green peppers are slowly but surely increasing in size too.

Chokecherry Picking

We went with two of our friends in Spokane WA to pick some wild chokecherries. There were four of us and after about an hour of picking together we had filled a 5 gallon bucket. After cleaning, it measured out to 72 cups of berries and about 6 cups of stems and leaves.

My recipe made three batches, one of chokecherry syrup and two of jam. We are now two very stocked-up choke cherry families.

Herbal Cultivation

We have a herb section in the middle of our garden as we grow fresh spices for cooking along with teas and tinctures to keep us healthy. I started off mainly wanting to have fresh herbs to cook with. Now, we have a library of reference material on herbs by reputable herbalist and we are much more interested in the healing capabilities and qualities derived from our herb garden.

The hardest part for me initially was figuring out how to identify the sprouts as they came up. I’d kill them as I weed until it got easier to recognize them. Almost all of the images available online are of blooming, fully mature plants which do not look very much like a mature plant when they sprout out of the ground. I really wish that the seed packets would put pictures of what the sprouting plants look like. The cultivation success rate improves along with the ways we utilize the herbs as we learn more about them.

It is important to figure out which herbs are annuals needing careful seed retrieval to replant and which were easy self-seeding varieties. Also, which herbs are truly perennials hardy enough to survive our winters in the Inland Northwest climate. Do I need to protect them with a straw covering over winter? If it dies over winter I put straw over the next year to see if it can survive. It has become easier as we dedicate areas for each herb allowing the perennials room to grow and the annuals places to drop their own seeds.

The herbs established in our garden so far include basil, borage, caragon, caraway, chamomile, dill, elderberry, horseradish, hyssop, lavender, mints (lemon balm, peppermint, spearmint), mullein, oregano, parsley, poppy, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, valerian, yarrow. Following posts will show information and photography of each one of these separately along with information about successfully cultivating.

Canners BEWARE

Avoid Costly Error

Fellow canner’s beware of “Chinese” canning jar lids advertised as being “Mason Lids” on Amazon.

These two jars of cherries were processed in the same boiling water bath, the one on the left is a Chinese lid and the one on the right is an American “Ball” lid. In a boiling water bath, the Chinese lids expand — raising up like a balloon, then wrinkling and creasing as they cool. Chinese lids are sized to fit a standard American-made canning jar, but, are sadly much lighter weight and totally unreliable. If you choose to buy these light weight “Chinese lids” you will very likely loose portions of your harvest. I ultimately had to repeat the water bath process with American lids, in order to seal the jars.

Faulty Lids

Our local farm supply store has not carried any canning jar lids this year so I have had to turn to online purchasing in order to get canning done this year. Here are links to what I bought on Amazon which I returned for a refund. Do yourself a favor and avoid these manufacturer’s like the plague.

AOZITA 100-Count, [WIDE Mouth] Canning Lids for Ball, Kerr Jars – Split-Type Metal Mason Jar Lids for Canning – Food Grade Material, 100% Fit & Airtight for Wide Mouth Jars

96 Pieces 70 mm Canning Lids Jar Lids Split-Type Lids Reusable Leak Proof Storage Solid Caps Metal Canning Jar Lids Compatible with Mason Jar for Pickling Canning Jar Lid Storage (Gold and Silver)

Unfortunately, I ordered the cheaper foreign manufactured canning lids on Amazon which taught me this lesson. The lure of cost savings is not worth the amount of lost product and time it entailed. “Made in America” is what I am going to purchase from now on. We spend a lot of energy growing fruit, pitting and processing it to put into our the pantry each year. Gardening and food preparation is one of the blessings in our lives. It is frustrating when a foreign manufacturer takes short cuts, that destroy our work, making the job so much harder.

Beans, Lettuce, Squash & Herbs

green beans 02

Here is some information about today’s harvest from our garden. We purposely plant an abundance of crops in a quarter acre vegetable and fruit “orchard” garden, with the intention of donating to friends and family in need, along with local food banks during the summer.

Beans

We have one 50 foot row of green snap beans in the garden this year and they are just starting to come on, here is what we picked this evening. Peter and I sit at the dining room table and clean them. We end up with a total of 24 cups in our big metal bowl. Next we wash them, and blanch for 3 minutes. Using our Foodsaver, we vacuum-seal in portion-sized packs and freeze.

Lettuce

Fresh salad is always a welcome part of our diet, Buttercrisp lettuce picked today.

Squash

Two types of squash are harvested today, the zuchinni and yellow crookneck . We have already saturated close family and friends with lots of the zuchinni excess and I will be cooking zuchinni bread and cakes today. It looks real probable that there will be lots of zuchinni squash this year, so if you need any come and get it.

Herbs

Today the herbs being harvested were sage and basil which are already washed and in the dehydrators and are filling the house with wonderful scents. I’ll take pictures of them harvested this week sometime.

Nelson Creek Fire, Elk WA

We are in the path of the wildfire named “Nelson Creek, in Elk WA”. It started downhill from us about 2 miles away on Friday afternoon burning down our neighbor’s home and garage across from the Inland Grange on Nelson. Their propane tank blew up and the fire traveled uphill rapidly coming right at us on Casey Ln Evacuation notices type 2, were issued.

On Friday even though the fire department went into immediate action to contain it by using multiple county crews, trucks, water trucks, helicopters, prop planes, and even a jet plane. It got right up to our next door neighbors property perimeter requiring retardant on the west and northwest adjoining neighbors properties. Friday was thick smoke and lots of air traffic directly over our home. Check out how close to the trees those pilots fly WOW!

We got a surprise visit from Jake at State Farm, really, Jim and John I think because we have State Farm house insurance. They drove in working with the fire crews to assess fire preparedness. We evidently passed and they advised us to start sprinkling water around the house to deter embers from igniting. Then, immediately the electricity goes out, so we run generators to put water around.

Saturday some of the smoke was clearing, There are still crews working the fire and hot spots still being put out. The air and ground teams were still hard at it. These pilots carrying water drops and retardent drops are so very gutsy and professional.

The jet, prop plane and multiple helicopters just barely cleared our hilltop coming over the top of our house and on to the neighbors next door.

Sunday less crews trucks planes and helicopters. Pete drove out to get our mail and saw our neighbors had their yards burnt and one even lost a truck that was parked in his yard.

We were all lucky that none of us were hurt and we didn’t loose our homes. We are going to have a lot of cleanup to do.

Garden Flower Zen

dahlia blossoms

The work seems easier…

as my eyes feast on the beauty surrounding me in the garden.

A stroll through the garden provides bright colors and fragrant discoveries painted by blooming flowers planted throughout. I may be weeding but my ears are soothed to hear the song of many birds and bees buzzing by. The time spent is full of surprises like an occasional ladybug, butterfly or dragonfly! Flowers are an essential part of an artist’s garden. I cut flowers almost every day to make our house feel alive in summer.

It is amazing what you discover when writing a blog. Looking through the photography of the garden, I see that we plant 20+ types of flowers in the garden on a regular basis. No wonder, the bees like our garden so much. I could probably write a post about each variety from the various picture’s shot over the years that show the growth progress, colors and best angles. But don’t worry, that is not the intention of this post. The goal of this post is to show you what flowers we grow in the garden as an introduction to further articles that show more intense information about each variety.

  1. Alyssum, a ground-cover that I like to plant around other bigger guys.white alyssum ground cover blossoms
  2. Bachelor Button, a frequent bloomer gives a touch of color wherever they are.bachelor button blossoms
  3. Baby’s Breath, a small white flower used in bouquets.white baby's breath blossoms
  4. Bleeding Heart, the bush springs up just as the snow melts with heart shaped blossoms appearing as we ready for planting. Notice Mr Butterfly on the top right.bleeding heart blossoms
  5. Carnation, the cinnamon scent of these blossoms make it a pleasure to snuggle them with your face every time you pass by.red pink and white carnation blossoms
  6. Coneflower, a hardy bush that grows up tall and spreads arms wide showering the garden with yellow blossoms all-summer-long. yellow cone flower bush
  7. Cosmos, a favorite wildflower blooming throughout summer.lavender cosmos blossoms
  8. Crocus & Daffodill, 2 short time early spring guys who pop their head out of the snow, with heads that turn to follow the sun.purple crocus blossomsyellow daffodill
  9. Dahlia, comes in a multitude of bright colors, shapes and sizes.pink dahlias
  10. Daisy. We had daisies and red roses at our wedding.shasta daisy blossoms
  11. Geranium, I have to take into the house over winter.red geranium
  12. Gladiola, a flower that I love but so do all the gophers, an on-going war.red gladiola
  13. Iris, is planted all around in and out of the garden. The deer seem to leave it alone, most of the time.bearded iris blossoms
  14. Lilac, lavender spring bush blossoms with a heavenly fragrance.lavendar lilac blossoms
  15. Marigold, 2 years ago I scattered a coffee can of dried flower seeds. Wrongfully, thinking were no good. But, they were just fine, notice the height of those marigolds.tall marigolds
  16. Poppy, a wildflower self seeder.pink poppy blossoms
  17. Roses, one of my favorite flowers.pink rose
  18. Snapdragons, are very fragrant and colorful blossoms.snapdragon blossoms
  19. Sunflower, pale yellow, orange, to brown. Check out the bee zooming in for a landing here.golden brown sunflower
  20. Zinnia, splashes of color all summer long.