May 30, 2014

A. A. and O...

This post is brought to you by the letters A. and O.
Asparagus with guest Orach

After months of agonizing over a choice I made to start a new asparagus bed I can breath a big sigh of relief. I returned home to find two tiny spears poking through the soil and mulch today despite the juicy Orach that seems to have mistakenly found a temporary garden bed to volunteer in. My family and I are so excited for fresh garden salad so the Orach is very welcome. However, Asparagus is the vegetable that reigns supreme throughout the spring and well into the summer.We can't seem to get enough of it so it goes into strirfry, sauteed with onion and garlic, soups, and even fritattas. 


I'm salivating a little bit while writing this while I find my self digressing a bit from the memory of our big do-over in the asparagus department. You can't jump into a good story without saying, "What had happened was..." Actually you can and you should but I felt like adding a little drama to the tale of the withering spears.  

So what really happened was this, I got an offer from a dear friend four years ago to re-home some plants to add to several blank areas of our yard. My specialty is growing outdoor plants and most especially vegetables and fruits. My daughter and I were super surprised to receive a very long and heavy plastic bin that contained more asparagus than we could possibly eat but were excited to try filling our stomachs with.   With the help of my DF (dear friend) and my daughter we dug deep into what would be our new asparagus bed; amending the soil as we went. By the end of the summer I had reservations about the asparagus fronds because they were drying and withering. There was some beautiful creeping plant that began taking over and slowly choking the life out of every plant that happened to be unluckily in its way. This was something that came with the asparagus and I was reluctant to pull it since it had been growing with my friends plants. I never positively identified this weed and my reluctance to take an aggressive and firm hand to it cost us dearly. This huge mistake for us had us losing all of the asparagus in this bed, some herbs, and squash as well.
BUT, No Worries!!!
Last year after moving the compost bins and expanding the garden into the areas where the bins sat for a few year, we started anew. So far there has only been two spears to speak of and I am already showing no mercy to the beautiful Orach that has found its way into the asparagus's space. I plan to harvest and add more plants to this area soon. 

That brings me to our other new addition in our garden; The Amazing Honey Crisp Apple Tree!

After growing up with a Red Delicious in the back or something similar I have yearned to have another apple tree in my yard for my children and grandchildren to be. After weeks of agonizing on the perfect spot for it last fall we decided to go for front of the house fruit. This location is perfect for us to see every minute change from season to season. Being a wild-life fanatic I've enjoyed watching the blue-jays, cardinals, and robins taking turns trying out the young branches as they check out their new bird bath. This variety may not be my favorite but it goes over well with the other folks in this house. I figure it beats paying $3 to $4 a pound in the fall when my Pink Lady's are not available. 

As I write this there are several more blooms on the apple tree and the lilac has made an amazing display this year. I'll keep you posted with all of those updates and even more changes in our fussy garden. Including a pollinator play area....

Happy Planting,

Tina

May 16, 2014

Mangoes, Plants, Hoops Houses, and Raspberries...

Cold wind go away!
Let the Spring sunshine come out today.

Is anyone else getting the itch to sow something? I've winter sown, I've prepared and potted clay and ceramic pots with the help of my lovely and sprite mother. Yet nothing is ready to go into the ground. We have had such sporadic weather this year that it's not worth moving full speed ahead because there will be losses. With my energy waning day by day (a myositis thing) I just don't have it in me to go all plantaholic out there just yet. 

Unfortunately I have spoken to a couple family members who have given into the itch by scratching up the soil and putting plants in. They've both lost plants and are starting from square one re-sowing EVERYTHING! 

YIKES!!!

Each year all gardeners/farmers worth their salt try to get a jump on the season. I am no different here... What I have learned to do to save myself valuable energy, sanity, and a few coins, is to watch, listen, and learn from nature. No doubt if you are a family member or close friend you have heard about my system of planting with the leaves... Not just leaves, but blooms as well. 

In case you have found yourself planting too early I'll share my top 3 tips to save you next year which are:
  1. Cool weather plants and seeds go in when the ground warms up enough and the lilacs get their leaves and/or the cherry trees get their blossoms
  2. Have a plan for overly cold and chilly nights. If you have purchased plants like I have recently that are of the warm weather variety i.e. tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, prepare a coldframe, mini hoop house, or another space outdoors where the plants get sunlight but don't suffer from the chills.
  3. Don't depend on the weather man watch for the lilac blooms to fall before planting warm weather plants in the ground. Cherry blossoms will have dropped and started to fruit as well. Rhubarb is also ready to be eaten and tulip blooms are fading or have faded.
I am no Master Gardener (yet!) however, I have picked up a few tips here and there from master gardeners who never had such titles and some who have obtained the title and who share their wealth of knowledge on a whim. I truly appreciate the wisdom that I've gleaned from these special people and don't mind passing on what I learn that can help someone fee their family and saves time and money.
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Speaking of time and waiting to plant and sow things in the garden beds....
After eating mangoes with the family we had a discussion on how they grow, where they grow, and if we can grow them ourselves. This led to at least an hour of YouTube watching and a experiment that I hope to catalog consistently here on Garden Fuss. Below you can see step #1 in the process after enjoying the super delicious fruit that is : D
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Every year I write about our raspberry adventures. Everything from the extreme fatigue after hours of picking over several weeks, the various critters a buzz and keeping the plants healthy. As well as all the helpers the I bribe with sweet treats such as buckles, trifles, and pies.... Well today I wanted to share a pic of the super easy, tasty, and worthwhile treat called a Pretzel Salad. This recipe I was given by a close family friend. It can be made healthy-ish but where is the fun in that? It can be made with your fruit of choice which in our case happens to have been made out of one of several bags of raspberries I still have in the freezer from last year. 

I don't have the exact measurements for you but the main ingredients are:

  • Pretzels
  • Sugar
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cool Whip
  • Raspberries
  • Gelatin packet
  • Butter (melted)
This is refrigerated dessert which I don't have much experience making per say but I do highly recommend it. Now I do realize that there is no actual "salad" in this dessert. But with cold weather or warm you just can't go wrong with fresh fruit, family, and dreams of getting out and about in the sunshine.

Happy planting and planning!

Tina

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