Saturday, July 22, 2017

Why I grow peas

In a lot of ways, peas are a lot of trouble:  
First, they need a support trellis to do well.  There are varieties that say "BUSH", but don't believe it.  All peas like support.
Secondly, they are a very early vegetable, so you have to get out early (I'm talking February) and get the ground ready to plant. Everything was so wet this year, that is was well into March before I got peas planted, but once they got started, they have thrived. Plus they only do well when the weather is cool, so they have a short season.

Third, they require shelling.
and it takes a lot of pea pods to make a bowl of shelled peas.

But on the plus side, there are things that we only get to enjoy for a short time once a year.  One of our family favorites is creamed potatoes, carrots, and peas. Here's a nice easy recipe:

1:  Chop about two cups of new potatoes into bite sized chunks.  Usually we have new potatoes that we can dig and we don't even have to chop them because they are just right about the time the peas are ready.

2. Chop about two cups of baby carrots into bite sized chunks.  If you have little carrots in the garden, they are best.
I boil the potatoes and carrots with a little bit of salt until both are soft.

3.  While the potatoes and carrots are boiling, make a roue:

Melt about 1/3 cup butter
Stir in about 1/3 cup flour

Stir in about a cup of milk until it is smooth.  Then cook until it has a gravy consistency and add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour cooked potatoes and carrots, and raw peas into the hot roue, and cook just until peas are bright green.
Even picky non vegetable eaters seem to like this, and I look forward to making it every year.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Spare time in the Summer

Summer time is busy time, but there's always time for more than riding the motorcycle, swimming, and entertaining grandchildren.
While this might seem excessive to someone, we do have six children who grew up eating jam, 22 grandchildren who are all jam eaters, and a few friends that we also share jam with.  Raspberries are at their peak right now, so I may not be done yet!
Although we are officially retired from sign making, an old friend asked about a sign, so we came out of retirement for one last sign. Still need to do "some" retouching, and a final coat of Verithane.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Grandchildren and Summertime

One of the nicest things about summer is we get to see our grandchildren a lot more. 
We live on a small private late that would be totally pristine if it weren't for us.  There are hundreds of bullfrog polliwogs and Stickleback fish around the shore and we buy Dollar Store nets so the kids can catch them.  We allow them to catch and put them in a five gallon bucket while they are on the job.  Once we all get done swimming and playing in the water, we release everything they have caught back into the lake.
Leeches are a sign of a healthy lake - We like to catch and release leeches also - they're creepy but fun too!
We have an assortment of life jackets, and they all understand that they don't go on the dock or near the water without a life jacket until they can demonstrate good swimming skills.
My daughter and her husband own a house on the other side of the lake, and it's a right of passage for the grandchildren to "swim across the lake with Grandma".  We are always happy when they are able to swim well enough to do that.
Learning to dive is the next step!
Boating - and learning to row a boat are part of the fun.
So is learning to paddleboard with Aunty Amy,
Learning to fish with Uncle Tony,
And there's the Bulldog.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Garden Update July 5, 2017

The old saying is your corn should be "knee high by the 4th of July".  Some years that's tricky, but this year, we are well beyond the knee high mark!
It grows dramatically when we have sunny days.
We use a lot of onions so it's nice to have them ready to use. 
Cucumbers are starting to bloom
The dill will be ready when the cucumbers are ready to be made into pickles.
I'm leaving the tomatoes in the greenhouse, and they seem to be doing well - no ripe tomatoes yet, but lots of green ones.
Raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are producing lots of fruit.
The apples are really looking great!
Both edible pod and regular peas are producing nicely.
I have a bunch of small kohlrabi ready to pick.
And squash and pumpkins - if all goes well, I should have a huge surplus of many different kinds of squash.
The green beans and I have been fighting off the slugs, and I think we are finally ahead of them.
Today I trimmed about half of the grapes.  I hate that job as I know virtually nothing about how to prune them.  My late friend, Steve Smith used to prune them for me, and he painstakingly separated every single vine and had a formula for leaving buds.  Ron watched a movie where they had a vineyard and he said they trimmed all the leaves once the grapes had formed.  I had a real estate client one time who owned a grape orchard and he said "it's easy, just trim them to where a harvester can pick them at 36" height.  So I use a mix of all those methods - basically pruning them savagely where they intrude into the driveway and the garden, chopping off every vine that points down, and clipping the ends off every vine to leave visible grape clusters at about 36" height.  I think the key for me is to have enough that it doesn't matter how I prune them, there will be grapes!
The flowers are mostly either in bloom or budding and ready to bloom.  It will be very colorful around here in about another week.