Strawberry Heaven

strawberry 41A couple days ago was my first time picking  this year and it amounted to 1-1/2 gallons.

strawberry 44I picked 5 gallons of fresh strawberries in the garden this morning. Looks like I am going to be real busy with these berries this year, picking, eating, processing and canning.

strawberry 47If you are in need, call us and we will share… or you can get permission to come pick yourself. We are considering selling at a minimal price to our friends and family or maybe a farmer’s market because we will probably have quite a nice harvest this year.

strawberry 46We do love these beautiful red berries. Today, I plan on making syrup, juice and fruit roll-ups after it cools a little more this evening.

 

Pure Love

lady 02Now here is a real expert, “Lady” knows exactly how to show pure love. It is really simple. I doubt that anyone has any question about what she is saying.

lady 01Sometimes life gets all filled up with chores, duties and jobs. Things happen and everyone gets worried and all the texting and fretting begins. Then, a fresh dose of unadulterated love smacks you right in the face, fully reminding you of what is really important.

friendshipLove is what is important.

Next time I feel overwhelmed I will remember Lady’s sweet face and the power of what friendship can do.

Celebrate the Fruit Blossoms in Spring

Early Spring is the time to witness beautiful fruit blossoms which can tempt any artist into rendering their beauty. On top of that the air is full of flower fragrances, especially with Inland Northwest lilac scents drifting across the land. It is a cornucopia of eye and nose candy.

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macintosh apple blossoms
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pear in lower orchard

Our garden has apple, pear, peach and cherry and choke cherry trees all blossoming and setting on fruit. Hopefully, all the fruit will come through and provide a wonderful harvest.

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semi-sweet pie cherry lower orchard
choke cherry 035
choke cherry blossoms

Combined with this extensive array are other garden wonders soon to come; the blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Then the huckleberries up in the mountains later on. Well…. hoping for lots of canning this year.

Bleeding Heart Blossoms Surprise

Bleeding Heart BlossomMy focus was to get a good closeup shot of the bleeding heart that is blooming in the garden. I had my handy dandy camera with me. Why? Because, you never know when a fantastic photo will come your way. And, honestly a cell phone just doesn’t cut it. I was able to capture this splendid example showing how this flower got it’s name. The unopened blossoms really look like a little heart dripping some blood off the base. Wow! It may not be the most romantic name for a flower but it sure fits doesn’t it!

bleeding heart butterfly 2Then I glanced behind there, where the sprinkler was watering the corn rows at the compost pile. I noticed maybe a small hummingbird getting a bath in the sprinkler. Wait a minute… that is not a hummingbird it is a black and yellow butterfly.

bleeding heart butterfly 3When the water sprinkled, he opened and shut his wings a few times and then basked in the sun till it came round again. I’m not sure if he was getting a drink or if he was actually getting a bath.

bleeding heart butterfly 4Now, I am waiting by the bleeding heart bush and am on a mission. Can I get a good picture of him without getting the camera wet or scaring him away? It was a good practice in patience.

bleeding heart butterfly 6Then, he finally flew toward me at the bleeding heart bush. I did what any artist does, I took as many pictures of him as I could in the hopes that one would come out.

bleeding heart butterfly 6Check this out!

It pays to notice the colorful miracles all around us. Wa La!

 

Garden Seeds Arrived

garden seed identificationInto Garden Mode

This morning I had a rather fun chore of preparing garden seeds for planting this spring. Our order of seeds arrived in the mail from Seeds ‘n Such and I noticed that the envelopes did not have any pictures on them.  Arrrgh!

When it comes time to plant in the garden the words don’t really help me remember which-seeds-are-what. The names don’t always describe the plant. Collage, glueing and scrap-booking fun was in order! There is real truth behind the old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words!”

garden seed 2Last fall I saved what seeds I could, drying them and putting them in plain brown and white little envelopes. See the tomato and spaghetti squash envelopes in this picture. Notice that these saved seeds were also “picture-less”.

garden seed 3Since I still had the catalog that I ordered the seeds from, I was able to look through and cut-out pictures for almost all of our seeds.

garden seed 4After glueing them onto the envelopes we have a much cooler set of identifiable seeds for this spring’s planting.

Ready to Plant

fence Gates 10
drive in gate

Gardening is a large part of our lives here in Inland Northwest. Here is a view of the garden after Pete disc’d it with the tractor last spring. It was ready to plant the next day. As soon as ski season is over, we are looking forward to working in our garden this summer again.

West Side of Garden Fence

West Fenceline (southern)
Southern side of the garden West fenceline

This is the beginning of the new west fence line which is 53 ft in length stretching out from the south side of the garage.

before of west side on the north
northern side of the west fenceline

Here is how the old fence and gate looked on the other side (northwestern) of the garage. We walked in here to pick blueberries or apples.

Old Northwest fence line removed
old fence is removed

We took down all the wire and pulled the old fenceposts/braces down, then smoothed out the ups and downs in the dirt along the fenceline. So, now we don’t have gaps between the ground and the wire at the bottom of the fence to deal with.

One Kubota tractor with a phenomenal operator can move mountains and valleys. I will never doubt the power of a man and his Tonka toy! Prior to the tractor, we left all the hills and valleys just were they were. Unfortunately, we used to have to put old logs at the base of the fences to keep turkeys out. They would come in every gap where the ground was uneven. Leveling the ground before building the fence, could be thought of as an act of forethought and planning. Wow, that is scary isn’t it? Are we getting smarter in our old age?

west fenceline posts installed
New West fence posts installed

This is the west corner going 50 ft. then turning a 45º angle for 40 feet to go around the apple tree. Covering approximately 70 feet before it makes the turn uphill into the northern side of the fence.

Mystery Fence Tool on South Side

Mystery Tool

Can you identify this mystery fence tool and what it is used for?

Fence Tool
Mystery fence tool.

I wonder what part this tool plays in the process of fence building?

Rolling-out 150 feet of wire fencing can be hard on your body. Don’t let anyone ever tell you it’s easy. First, my legs get tired from rolling out the wire. Then, biceps get a good workout from lifting it up so it is vertical with the posts. Honestly, how many times can you walk up and down a fenceline in a day before your legs wear out? I learned how to straighten the wire. It is required that you pull with all you got, then pull again. Following this, my hands, arms, shoulders, abs and legs are talking to me all night long.

Say hello to my little friend!

Wire Tensioner 01
Wire Tensioner on top wire south fenceline

The Fence Tensioner

I think I am in love. It is an old tool from Pete’s secret stash in the garage. A basic block and tackle assembly with a cogged clamp on one end that grabs the wire, and a dual hook chain on the other side. Pete showed me how to slip the chain around one fencepost, then hook the clamp end to the top wire of the wire and pull the rope. Yahoo! Nail the top in, then repeat for the bottom. This tensioner takes a wobbly crooked fence to a straight line. Sweeeeet!

South Fence
First posts in garden south side fence.
South Garden Fence
Posts for half of the south fence

Now all that is left is to staple the wire three times per post. The south side of the garden is about 150 feet long, with 15 fenceposts.

Loose Wire
Wire loose on fenceline

You can see how the wire is drooping down on the top row of wire before we used the wire tensioner.

pH test of soil samples

pH Level Test Supplies

soil pH test supplies
pH test supplies

Testing for the pH levels shows if the soil is more acid (sour) or alkaline (sweet). Testing involves measuring an amount of test solution into the test tube, then adding soil and shaking. Allow sediment to settle before comparing color to chart.

The correct pH level is the most essential building block for having good crop production. Where the soil is on the pH scale, greatly affects how the microbiology activity (fertilizers) can function. Therefore, we must initially have the pH level right before any thought of other nutrients is even beneficial.

soil pH level 6.0
pH level 6.0

This is the lowest neutral pH range test we had in this testing series at 6.0

soil pH level 7.0
pH level 7.0

This is one of the highest neutral pH ranges in our test batch. All ten test areas fell into the neutral pH range in our garden. It is probably because over the years, we have composted and put lime down as needed.

A pH test measures the acid and alkaline levels and then assigns a corresponding number somewhere between 3.0 to 11.0 as the results.

Neutral pH or Slightly Acidic pH

There are two basic plant groups. One prefers a “neutral range” of pH levels anywhere between 6.0 to 8.0. The other group prefers a “slightly acid soil” in the range between 5.0-6.0.

If soil test results reveal numbers out of these two acceptable ranges, then application of either limestone or alum will be needed to correct it. Remember, to get the pH range right before adding any fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus, potash).

Delapidated Garden Fenceline

garden fence
garden fence from house

Realization

The garden fence became delapidated with the accumulated snow weight this winter. When the snow melted it became obvious. There is no way around it, we had to replace the fence. Dang!  This is a view of the 1/4 acre garden that we plant every year.

north side garden
north side garden fence

Over the winter our garden fence started to sag and lean everywhere, till we had placed just as many braces to prop it up as there were fenceposts. Here is a before picture of the North side fence with all of it’s braces. You can see how saggy it all is. Guess it really is needing some help isn’t it?

fence turns
fence turns

Evidence

This image illustrates how over the years, we have added fence as the garden expanded by simply going around big rocks or trees. There was no long term plan. Laying out fence in any kind of straight line was not a concern so much as simply keeping the deer out of the garden. It is a good thing we are not competing in any Home and Garden contest because comically, in the existing leaning lines of fence, there is not even a single 90 degree corner in it. Hmmmm. We tried to lay it out with 90 degree corners and just finally gave up and are aligning focus on straight runs with removal of all possible obstacles. Thank goodness for the Kubota…. thank you Dan and Ann!

south side garden
south side garden

The south border of the garden is the longest continuous stretch of fence at approximately 150 feet long. It is going to also be the straightest stretch of fence in the new. You have seen all of the “before” pictures in our garden fence line replacement project. Now, you know what the Woelk’s in Elk do during quarantine, letting the ultra violet rays kill all the Covid 19 virus cells as we sweat.

Retirement Woelk Style

RetirementPete06

What does retirement Woelk style, look like? This World’s Best, trophy holding, Woelk just retired…. completing 31 years at Kaiser Aluminum Trentwood, Spokane Washington plant. Friday was his last workday. He has 4 weeks of vacation before his “real” retirement starts. So, he is actually “on vacation” so, this is really his first week of vacation. Doesn’t look like vacation to me, does it look like vacation to you? Hmmmmm.

RetirementPete05 RetirementPete04

In all honesty, I am glad he is getting the tractor fixed because we need it to finish getting the garden in, but honestly, this is NOT how I picture  retirement or vacation. Not even close.

RetirementPete03 RetirementPete02

This Machine Has Needed This

Every nook and cranny of the machine has been inspected, cleaned, greased and put back together and now he is taking apart the front-end to find the noise it made. Hopefully, it will stay fixed all season after this thorough go through. This is a Kubota we bought from Ann and Dan when they moved to Arkansas. I pray for safety and protection for him every morning. We own stock in Band Aid and Tylenol now.

RetirementPete04 RetirementPete02 RetirementPete01

Retiring Woelk Style isn’t Normal

Who Cares? I’ve never really cared much about normal anyhow. I’m Just As Guilty As Pete…I am working in the garden this week. Got the strawberry patch transplanted and spaced so they are not overcrowded. Hoping to be able to replenish the strawberry jam, strawberry syrup and strawberry juice this year. Un Huh! I will put up the before and after pictures of that in later posts.

Will get on the berry bushes and fruit tree bases clearing next so that they stay healthy and should be ready for when the tractor is back together and ready to plow and disc the rest of the garden so we can seed. We already have the other starts in the house waiting to go in.

But, I already had steamed asparagus for breakfast this morning. Yummm.  Our roses are budding, fruit trees are blossoming,  iris are getting ready to do their thing. Love the warm weather and the hummingbirds, life is great in the fast lane here in Elk. Never thought this ski bum would say that, did ya? Neener neener neener!