Independence Days update: June 4, 2012
Above: 'Kinemontpas' lettuce on the left, 'Pirat' on the right. These are the butterhead lettuces featured in the salads we've been eating.
On June 1 I heard the first cicadas of the year. Like everything else this year, it’s happening three weeks or so early. Except that I have only seen one Japanese beetle so far. Usually by now Japanese beetles are clustered thickly on rose-family plants and on other plants they like. Perhaps they are on the rugosa roses in the back of the back yard, someplace I haven’t been since I mowed around them 2 weeks ago. The mole population is high; I suspect the moles, little grub-eaters that they are, are feeding well off the grub cycle of Japanese beetles. Keep up the good work, moles!
Very little rain here in the last four weeks. The good thing about lack of rain is the grass slows down, so I can spend less time mowing and more time on more enjoyable, and fruitful, garden work. The bad thing about lack of rain is needing to water the vegetable garden. Since it’s been warmer than normal on top of drier than normal, I’ve had to add a lot of water. Even then the butterhead lettuces have suffered. They are finished for the season. Luckily I also grow more heat-tolerant lettuces that will be in future salads.
On to the report!
Planted: Midnight Black Turtle dry beans, an edamame-type soybean, and black-eyed peas.
Harvested: the height of the spring harvest season has arrived, early as everything else is this year, so this is a long list. Lettuce; bok choy; one variety of garlic; snow peas; shell peas; shiitake mushrooms; apricots; two kinds of plums; dill; nasturtium flowers; anise hyssop; spearmint; peppermint; New Jersey tea; lavender. We’ve been eating the remaining heads of store-bought Chinese cabbage, or I would have been harvesting more of the greens I’m growing as well.
Preserved: I froze some of the plums, in hopes of getting enough to make plum butter this fall after it cools down sufficiently to not mind heating up the kitchen. I dried the anise hyssop, the mints, the New Jersey tea, and the lavender.
Waste not: I’m learning how to use the apricots and plums, despite all the apricots and all of one plum variety being inhabited by one or more worms. (When you grow your own organic, unsprayed stone fruits, worms are hard to avoid.) What works is to cut open the ripe fruit, remove the pit and inhabitants, and then wash each fruit half well to remove the part next to the pit that the inhabitants messed up. Ripe fruits so processed taste as good or better than any purchased fruit. Interestingly, the ‘All Red’ plums, a small round plum, have no inhabitants so can be eaten straight off the tree, while the ‘Hollywood’ plum tree has its fruits inhabited. Why the difference in insect inhabitation? Offer any guesses as a comment! We’ve pursued the usual activities such as composting, plus Mike plugged more logs with oyster mushroom spawn and spread the remaining spawn into more of the wood chips in a small shady area next to the house. I’ve lost a few excess pounds, enough to fit into a favorite 28 year old silk skirt that I’m planning to wear to the summer weddings to which we’ve been invited. We still haven’t used the AC.
Want not: long ago the top to the above-mentioned silk skirt fell apart, so I looked for a suitable dressy top at the Scholarshop, a local shop selling donated clothing to help fund college scholarships. I found and purchased an excellent top set for the skirt and have all the rest of the items needed for the outfit already, thus avoiding purchasing anything new for the occasion.
Eat the food: salads featuring home-grown lettuce, dill, and nasturtium flowers. Stir-frys featuring home-grown snow peas, a few shiitake mushrooms that have popped up despite the weather being warmer than they like, and frozen Jerusalem artichokes from last year’s crop along with the remaining store-bought Chinese cabbage. A delicious mustard-style potato salad, with wasabi substituted for the mustard.
Build community food systems: I’ve been answering a friend’s questions on composting.
Skill up: I think learning how to make the insect-inhabited plums and apricots edible qualifies.