Thursday, June 17, 2010

Food protection

What can I say... I don't like sharing my food with the birds. We had our first harvest from our strawberry patch this year and part of it we, unintentionally, shared with the birds. I wouldn't have minded it so much had they eaten the whole berry. But NO they only take a peck out of one and then move onto the next. And thus proceed to ruin half the crop of berries for that day. They then come back again the next day for the next round of ripening berries. Hmmmph! Very annoying! So my honey made a cage with chicken wire and that has (for the most part) kept those pesky birds out. BUT THEEEEN, we ran into those slimy slugs! UGH! They do pretty good damage too. But, at least they tend to eat the WHOLE berry. So quite often you'll find stems with no berry on them at all. And although I don't like sharing my berries with the slugs either, at least they are content to ruin one berry at a time per slug. Or so it seems. I did work on an old timey treatment to keep the slugs out and that was the use of crushed egg shells. I laid them out on half the strawberry bed and those berries that were on that side seems to have fared better then the ones that didn't get the eggshell treatment. So, there you go. And organic way to treat slugs! YaY! Now I just need to collect up more egg shells! (Those of you around these parts, save your shells and give them to me at church! pretty please! )

And so the strawberries are basically done for the season and we are now waiting on the blackberries. This year we have a TON of blackberries on the vines. The few that we got last year were HUGE! And since these are thornless blackberry plants they are super easy to pick. I decided to get ahead of the birds on this one and bought some bird netting to put over our plants. I saw an article (in Better Homes and Gardens? not sure about that) about how to protect your fruit crops whether trees or vines, from birds. I liked what I saw so I decided to try it here. It actually looks pretty good in an interesting sort of way.

Those are 9 ft. metal rods that are coated in a plastic. You pound those things into the ground and then place the clay pots on top of them. Then you lay the bird netting over the clay pots. I bought a 28x28 sheet of bird netting and it covered the space I had very well. I need to figure out how to weight down the netting. Right now I think it's okay because there is such an overhang that I can sort of wad it up. But, the birds are pretty stinkin' smart and they might figure out that they can walk under the netting fairly easily. (That's sort of what happens on occasion with the strawberry cage. I actually found one in the strawberry bed when I went out to take pictures of the garden today!) So anyhow... I'm thinking maybe some of those rather large metal washers. I could maybe sew them along the bottoms of the netting every few inches or so. But, let's see how it works as is, first. ;-)

So the tomatoes are coming along nicely. We've got some cherry tomatoes set already and the cucumbers are setting as well. The Arugula is pretty much done for the season. They have bolted already as has the radishes. But the other greens and lettuces are still going strong. And the carrots seem to be growing just fine as well. I'll probably pull out all the lettuces and greens by mid July if not sooner. And then I'll plant the fall crop of them at the end of August with the green beans.

And there you have it. Our summer garden. And the really good thing is that we haven't had to water the garden at all this season. At least not yet. If we don't get some rain tonight I may have to turn the water on in the garden tomorrow morning. Anyhow... not bad, not bad at all.

So how is everyone else's gardens doing?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Springfield Days


It's that time of year foks, where people gather outside along the curbs or driveways to set up their chairs in an attempt at getting their opportunity to enjoy front row seating for the Annual Springfield Days Parade! As you can see, people are milling around on our drive way. But you don't see anyone sitting out on our porch. And that is because this year, as last year, I volunteered to head our church's (now) annual cake walk event. So, although I have visions of having a porch party with all our friends sitting around and sipping basil lemonade and watching the parade go by. They have yet to be lived out. Perhaps next year. ;-/ It's sad because we have such the perfect porch for that activity!

So, my honey walked across the street to hang out with our friends at their house and took these pictures of the parade going past our house. And I was at the fair grounds at the pavilion hosting the First United Methodist Church of Springfield's Annual Cake Walk!

And we had kids of ALL ages enjoying the music and the fun! This kid here won a cake and proceeded to pick a cake that he soon found out, was the cake that his wife donated to the cake walk! And don't think age slowed him down any when his wife told him that. He promptly said "Well no wonder it looked so good!"

The whole weekend was filled with games, food, contests of one sort or another, rides and flea market stalls! Our church also sponsored an Antiques Show & Tell. And there was even a small write up about it in the Omaha World Herald! Alas, the Show & Tell wasn't as big a success as our Cake Walk. But, hopefully next year we'll get a larger turn out.

So, all in all, fun was had by many in our little town of Springfield. And this Thursday our Springfield Day's Committee will meet again to begin planning for next years event. Oh, the fun never ends.....

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. ;-)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fresh from the garden...And a tornado!

Yum! Yesterday I picked our first batch of Strawberries that were not damaged by birds! (don't ask me about the damage done by the slugs!) We got a nice basket full of berries and had them for dessert last night. We topped our home-made vanilla ice cream with the yummy berries and... unfortunately, we were so excited about eating, that I forgot to photo the dish! But trust me when I said they were remarkably yummy! My honey built a strawberry cage to keep the birds out and it's working! Now we've discovered a few teeny-tiny slugs eating our berries. I read somewhere that if I put down egg shells they slugs will not cross over them. So, I've got a bunch of egg shells that I'm going to lay out under the plants and hopefully......keep fingers crossed!

Last Saturday we had some friends over for dinner. As always, we had great food. But one of things that I tried out that day was Lemon Basil syrup. I made the simple syrup and added two bunches of basil to it and let it cook for a minute or two. Then strained the basil out and added two cups of lemon juice to the basil simple syrup. I then put that syrup into a bottle and when the time came to serve drinks, I used chilled mineral water to a 1/3 of a glass of the syrup and topped it with basil flowers and it was delightfully delicious! Of course the basil came out of our garden too!

And because we've had such strange weather... our greens and herbs have already begun to bolt. The weather has been so back and forth. We'll have 90+ degrees for a couple of days and then we'll go back down to 70's for a few days and back and forth. As a matter of fact, we have had our first Tornado sighting on Tuesday! About 5 miles south of us. And I was out in the thick of it because I was out driving around trying to locate my honey! HE rode his bike into work and when I looked out around 5p.m. it was bad! High winds, clouds that looked totally dangerous and the air smelled funny. Anyhow, I took off in the car thinking I'd try to find him along the highway on his way home. I got out on hwy 50 and went about 3 miles and ran right smack into a wall of rain and hail! I couldn't even see half way out to the hood of my car! I ended up inching my way slowly, slowly, slowly. There was no way to see across the hwy to see if he was on that side of the road. I eventually made it to the intersection of two hwy's where I thought he might be, when my phone rang and it was him telling me he was home! Evidently a stranger in a truck gave him a ride home. That stranger was on his way to Louiseville which is where the tornado sighting was! Luckily, there was no damage from the tornado but it sure was hairy making my way back home! Thankfully, my honey got a ride before the marble sized hail had started to come down! I had no idea that we were about to get any thing like that! I believe it's time to plug in our storm radio!