"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Favorite Flower

Sanguisorba minor (Salad Burnet)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thinning and Weeding

This past week has found us on our knees busy thinning and weeding in the gardens. We are trying to get everything thinned out straightaway this year as the gardens are about three weeks behind due to this spring's cool rainy weather. Our veggies need to have every opportunity to grow over the next 2 months...time is not on our side. That's OK though, I enjoy the challenge and Mother Nature does not have the endurance to go 12 rounds with us.:)

When we worked our beets the other day I made sure to save some of them for the freezer.

This mess of greens, roots and all, will be used cooked, in soups, and even added to the occasional smoothie.

Two minutes of blanching, run some cold water on them, gently squeeze dry and they are ready for the freezer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I am excited to see that our little honeyberry (edible blue honeysuckle) has finally developed a few fruits for us this season. Honeyberries, with their frost tolerant flowers, are known for their ability to fruit early, a couple weeks before strawberries, and with a little luck they will even produce on 1 year old bushes. Ours has taken quite a few more years than that but then again we have uprooted and moved the poor bushes on several occasions which no doubt has set them back a bit. From what I've read they will produce berries for well over 30 years so I am willing to be patient. Some varieties are supposed to produce anywhere from 3-5 lbs of fruit per bush when fully mature...ours has about 20 berries on it.

The plants require cross pollination so at least one other, preferably more, different and compatible varieties are necessary for fruit set. Although our other bush is very small, produced no flowers to speak of, yet we still have these berries on the larger plant so they are obviously able to self pollinate to some degree as the flowers are (I think) hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs). Life will find a way I suppose. If memory serves me, I believe our bushes are Berry Blue and Blue Belle. There are many varieties and not all are compatible with each other.

I'm excited to start taking cuttings for propagation and hope to have more than a few bushes in the near future. Theoretically, this Siberian honeysuckle should be a perfect addition to our berry patch as they are not at all picky about the type of soil they are grown in and can be hardy from zones 2-8 and -40°F.

So anyway, I hope to become more involved with this particular plant now that it's obvious they will indeed grow and produce for us. I plan on purchasing a few more varieties next spring and also hope to focus on propagating some of my own through cuttings and maybe even seed. The plants are not cheap so I had better start saving my pennies.:)

The berries have a sweet tart flavor that I really like.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Hodge-Podge of Garden Pictures

I thought I would post a few pictures, nothing too exciting, as we are pretty much still waiting on the weather to warm up and dry out before we can finish planting and really hit the weeds hard. Things are starting to grow in the spring salad garden, the cool weather has slowed everything down but the lettuces are progressing slow and steady. We have had so much rain of late that the slugs are starting to become an issue, not much I can do about that especially considering they are all such little buggers this time of year.

My wife working in the greenhouse on a rare sunny afternoon attempting to determine the difference between weeds and flowers. I pulled all of our personal tomato plants out for some fresh air, they are getting a bit tall and gangly. No matter, I almost prefer them that way as the long stems make it easier to plant them deeply allowing more roots to form along the stalk. No wise cracks about the Topsy Turvy, it's not ours.:)

Our giant cape gooseberries are finally starting to fill out as are the various cucurbits...the peppers on the other hand are growing oh so slow and in desperate need of a little sunshine and warmth.

Our older currant, gooseberry, and josta bushes are about as full of berries as I have ever seen them, they must like this weather.

The main garden is half planted with root veggies and various brassicas but we are still waiting for warmth and dryness before planting any of our tender crops.

While it's hard to see, this is a picture of some fava beans, weeds, afilia bush peas, kale and spinach thrown in for good measure, and more weeds. One of these days I am going to do a post on why I love weeds and what a great value I perceive them to be for our gardens, if controlled properly.

Parsnips and red and green Belgian endive

The below picture depicts a row of potatoes next to a row of garlic. As soon as the potatoes came up we had a lot of frosty mornings to deal with so I used pots to cover them, all 100 plants...put the pots on in the evening and take them off in the morning. Just today I cooked up some of last year's perfectly fine potatoes for breakfast and also boiled some up with other root veggies for the chickens, we're not exactly in desperate need of new potatoes so perhaps patience in planting would be prudent next season.

Wild onions that I borrowed into our garden are beginning to flower, they like us, unlike our boughten ramps that have pretty much died off...too cold, too wet, not acidic enough, I'm really not sure = no ramps for me.

Liquorice flavored chervil with a few pansies in the background...some of our first flowers of the season besides the wild ones and those found on the fruit trees.

A patch of scallions with a little sea kale growing in front. All of our sea kale plants survived the winter and it will be interesting to watch them grow, flower, and with any luck become a permanent member of the perennial/self-seeding group of garden plants that we work so hard to establish. With any luck I will be planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucurbits, and corn out this next week...weather permitting.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Our little house in amongst the green.

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