Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Blueberries!  I can't believe it!  My five little bushes (almost sticks when I got them) are actually providing us with berries!  I made muffins the other morning.  Today I picked double that amount, filling a small canning jar.  They are so sweet right off the bushes, a few don't make it to the house! 

bushes before second picking

today's harvest - June 25, 2013

Bluecrop Blueberries
I make blueberry muffins quite often.  Not just with my own berries, but ones from the grocery store.  I just freeze the entire plastic containers, take out what I need and rinse the berries before using. 
Frozen blueberries are great to snack on too!  
fresh blueberry muffins
Here's the recipe. The liquid part isn't listed as exact measurements because I never knew the recipe to be that way!  It works out fine my way though.

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 cup white sugar (more if you like your muffins sweeter, but no more than 1/3 cup)
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Stir those dry ingredients together.

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
milk (how much is explained below)

I use a measuring cup where the 1 cup line is a bit below the rim, so I measure the oil, stir in the egg, then fill to the very tippy top with milk.  This give just the right amount of liquid for the muffins.  If your measuring cup is different, use 1/3 cup oil, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup milk. 

Pour this liquid into the dry ingredients, stirring gently.  Ever so gently,  over-stirred muffins are tough!  Then gently stir in 1 cup blueberries (can be frozen berries, no need to thaw), careful not to break them, which is easiest if they are frozen. 

Scoop into muffin tins (you will get 12)  greased only on the bottoms (muffins need to climb the sides of the tin), sprinkle tops with granulated sugar, and bake in a 400 degree oven.  How long?  Oh, check in 10 minutes!  Remove from pan (cool muffins will stick). 

My son likes no berries, so I bake a few with just plain batter. Sometimes instead of blueberries I dice a banana and use that.  You can add nuts too. Replace part of the oil for some apple sauce and small pieces of apple.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Apple Socks, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Peas and More

Apple "socks" don't work.  I ordered "nylon maggot barriers" from Territorial Seed a month or so ago.  They are supposed to create a physical barrier to coddling moth larva and apple maggot flies.  I was extra careful to snug them on really well, and instead of tucking the ends around the stem I put a twist tie.  So far I have lost 3/4 of the apples to coddling moth larva anyway.  There is no mistaking the damage they leave behind!  You can see it right through the "socks."  Next year I bring out the poisons, which I had hoped to avoid.

"Socks" on baby apple
coddling moth damage
I picked the first lemon cucumber yesterday!  My daughter and I ate it before I remembered to take a photo!  There will be another tomorrow.  They are so good!  The taste of home grown lemon cucumbers and tomatoes can't be beat.

The tomatoes are going crazy.  Oregon Spring is in the lead if you count size of plant and number of fruit, but Big Beef was the first to form fruit.  The cherries must have hundreds of blooms!

Oregon Spring - sorry it's sideways, they get warped if I try to rotate them and post on this blog
Super Sweet Cherry
The peas are finished.  I am disappointed in the Lilly Miller brand I planted this year.  The formed peas before the pods were big enough to harvest, and then a lot of them only had one or two peas in them.  I wanted to eat most of them as sugar snap peas, in the pod, but I didn't get nearly enough.  Last year I was giving them away!  They were new for 2013, but I think I should have used the 2012 Territorial Seed ones instead.  I am supposed to sow more in July for a fall harvest.  July?  I just pulled the other ones out!

We have a new addition to the family!  A kitten.  He showed up on our carport last week, mewing in the heat, thirsty and extremely hungry.  Naturally we brought him inside.  I posted a Craigslist ad, and the next day found his owner.  But... between the time he got lost, and found by us, the woman had told her little boy the kitten had "gone to heaven" and had replaced him with two new kittens!  To be fair, she was told he'd been hit by a car.  But, her husband said "no way," to getting this one back. I wonder what she would have done if we had thrust him back to her?  The shelters are all full with kittens, and the county one has a respiratory infection running through the kitten kennels. So, it is unlikely he would have made it into adoption.  His name is Benny, short for Bensonmum (movie: Murder by Death). He is three months old. Edward the Goldendoodle wants to eat him.  Seriously.  It's a game of musical pets around here!

Benny - now could you put that little face out into the streets?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Late Spring Garden Update

So, it's late spring.  With weather in the 90s it is more like summer.  I don't remember much "spring" this spring.  It was cold, then it was hot.  Lots has been happening in the garden, I just haven't shared lately!  My foot is still terribly sore, so my time in the garden has been very limited, mostly just watering.

PEAS: I tore them out tonight.  They were very disappointing this year.  Was it because I used a different brand of seed?  I plan to dig in some new compost and plant some in July for a fall harvest.  They were Cascadia, which can be picked as pods, like sugar snap peas, or left to mature for pod peas.  Last year I had enough pods to share with two different neighbors, and several large bowls full that my daughter and I sat shelling. This year the pods grew full too soon.  Many of them only held a single pea.  I planted more a few weeks later, in a different bed, but they didn't do well either.  I have four small bags of frozen pods left, and one small bag of peas.  I will plant Territorial Seed next time.  Maybe the weather got too hot, too soon for them?

BEANS: No good news on this front either. I have planted in the 4 x 4 "bean bed" three times, and have yet to have the plants I hoped for. A lot of them seem deformed too.  The ones in the recycled gate bed are better, but not much.  I see no insects, so can't figure out what's wrong. 

TOMATOES: Good ol' tomatoes, I can always depend on them!  I sure hope I can figure out how to can them!  Maybe I should get a dehydrator.  I think I will have tomatoes coming out my ears!  Even the Topsy Turvy tomato is doing well. 

Big Boy (left) and Red Brandywine - June 5
Black Cherry - June 2
CUCUMBERS:  The lemon cucumbers I was worried about are taking off.  They are the ones that were leggy, so I buried most of their vines.  They are covered with blossoms and a few tiny cucumbers.  

The "mystery" plants in the compost pile are huge plants!  The ones I transplanted are getting there, but no where nearly as fast as in the compost. Are they cucumbers?  I am not so sure anymore.  The transplanted ones look like it, but the compost pile's are more squashy in looks.  Time will tell! 

Compost Pile Volunteers
What's in my compost?  
Banana peels, tea bags, over-ripe strawberries, potato peelings, apple cores, watermelon rind, over-ripe cucumbers (thus the cucumber plants!), and old tomatoes (there are a few tomato plants as well, several I have transplanted).  Then general yard clean-up, the old pea plants, leaves, grass clippings.  

The gourds are doing well, not big enough to climb the wonderful trellis on the fence my son made.  The winter squash had to be resown.  So did pumpkins and watermelon.  My "grow in manure bag" idea is a bust.  Nothing has come up after planting twice.  I see it work online. I finally put some pumpkin seeds in a large container and they are up already.  The peppers are growing, and getting tiny blossoms, some of which I am pinching off. 

STRAWBERRIES: Something is beating me to them.  Not birds.  Not slugs or snails.  I see pill and/or sow bugs, but the bait I put out isn't getting any.  I saw a few earwigs yesterday, but the bait is supposed to work on them too.  I haven't had the chance to trim off some of the runners yet, so the bed is a mess.  I did get one good harvest, as seen below. 

BLUEBERRIES: Looking good!  Draper berries are bigger, but Blue Crop plants look healthier.  I am quite pleased with the Blue Crop plants.  They are much nicer than I expected the to be since I got them "used" off Craiglist, and they originally came for Grocery Outlet. Not the sort of place I think of as quality plants, but my neighbor has a plum tree she got there, and it's loaded with fruit. 

Draper Blueberries - June 10 (I do believe they are bluer than they used to be!)

Blue Crop Blueberries - June 5