Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saving a "Crystal Palace Gem"

Shining star of the back yard
She is a Gem, indeed. Not sure where the Crystal Palace comes in, but when the landscape is rather bare, the colors of it often in shades of tan or brown and there aren't many flowers around, a plant like this saves the garden.

She loved her location this summer after spending the winter in the house as a slip, then a small plant, then a very gangly plant.

Not all of these slips will make it, but we are hoping
for a dozen or more.

Now with frost on its way for certain, this garden star must be saved and perhaps even multiplied for next summer.

Plants were dug, pruned back and potted.  They will winter over in the garage.  The mountain of prunings went into a long, flat tub with damp, loose composty earth.

Next summer she will again shine across the whole garden stage, clumped in vivid chartreuse and shocking red-orange.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tomatoes on the Water

Not from my Bend garden, but a gift!

Scripture says cast your bread.  I know what it means. But all these many years when my garden was plump with a variety of ripe tomatoes, I've been giving them away to friends--casting them on the water, so to speak.  Tomato plants went as well.
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So when asked the other day about where all the bounty of tomatoes came from, I had to say it was a long story.  The shortest version is that a friend had too many and was willing and able to drive three hours to Bend where I live.  The fact that she was coming anyway does not discount the gift.  It merely reinforces the perfection of the timing.
The first seven out of the hot-water bath.

To have nearly 80 pounds of lovely tomatoes delivered to your tomatoless household is bliss beyond words.  

Forget the bread.  Just give whatever it is you'd like to received. It will come back to you when you are in want of it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sun in a Basket

Several dozen little heads and a few big ones, too.  These are going back to
the birds (and the squirrels, chipmunks, deer, ground squirrels and mice).
How much sun, sunshine, sunlight, does it take to make a sunflower? How many hours of powerful energy were absorbed in these many seed heads. From their tiny beginnings as seeds from heads like these, the sprouts became plants and grew from April to September. You do the arithmetic. I'll just stand in awe of the Divine Knowing that manifests here. As sunflowers. As sunshine in a basket.

Monday, October 19, 2015

We Won (We Think)

Sometimes you get the tree.  Sometimes the tree gets you.  So the hard-fought-for win may still have its challenges.

About 1/3 of the pie finished

When we sold our Portland house, we left behind a monster hidden in the yard.  The buyers had no clue about the horsetail (equisetum)--at least not for a month or so.  Bend yards do not have horsetail.  I knew we were safe.  But our sellers left behind a monster hidden in the front yard under the chokecherry tree--surface roots with suckers.  They began to pop up shortly after we moved in, but because of the attention to settling, the chokecherry suckers went untended.

By spring the density of the suckers had reached critical mass.  My trusted hand hoe was the weapon of choice. It bounced off the earth like a toy.  Hidden by less than an inch of soil, massive roots were the foundation for the suckers. Now the real combat began.

The easy part!  The hard part was so hard the luxury of photos
was not part of the pie.
Divide and conquer I've heard.  The pie-shaped ground under the tree went into quarters. One quarter a day was a reasonable goal. But the wooden spaghetti did not give in easily. One quarter pie a day was exhausting. On the fourth day, I cried "uncle" and asking hubby for help. Some roots were as big as my wrist. We (hubby) chopped, sawed, and clipped all the visible roots down at least six inches into the soil.  The removed roots filled two yard debris dumpsters.

Space for the birds to eat.  Wondered why there were no
ground feeders last year.

This summer a mere handful of suckers sprouted in the pie. Our fears that we might be killing the tree were unfounded. The chokecherry produced white flowers in the spring, but far fewer "cherries," and therefore less mess on the sidewalk. The leaves came on green and then fudged into chocolate by mid summer. The final score as of Fall seems to indicate a truce. We're counting that as a win.

Moral to this story:  The easy way (snip and cover with bark mulch) is the hard way.  The hard way (remove the underlying problem) is the easy way. The second truth of the story:  Karma happens.  There's bind weed outside our back fence marching into our yard!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Stinkin' Good!

2" in diameter and smaller.  Little ones I left whole.
If life gives you green tomatoes, make? What life in Bend delivered to me in the garden was green tomatoes too small to fry but perfect for pickles.  Years ago I had eaten a pickled one that had seriously caught my attention. Garlic! Salt! Tangy tingles! Hadn't tasted a pickle so good since.

Normal pickles are made with vinegar. Spectacular pickles are fermented!  That was the key I had missed.
Three heads of garlic for this recipe: Wild Fermentation by
Sandor Katz

Grape or oak leaves for crispness
The only difficult part is waiting for three weeks for them to be really good.  Fortunately, they needed to be checked everyday and sampled to verify their progress. Terrible job, but someone has to do it.

The day they were terrifically finished, I put them in jars for the fridge and to give away.  That was the day of complaints!  Bad smells, I was told, really bad smells, like dog farts.  And we had house guests arriving in two hours.  Not acceptable, I was told. Hooray! These pickles are stinkin' good!  Airing the house is one of the things I get to do today.  Small price to pay.

A two-gallon crock and dried dill weed.

Finished pickles.