• Tag Archives leeks
  • Grounded. At last.

    Spring                                                                       Planting Moon

    Yes!  Planted under the planting moon even if I couldn’t get the bloodroot up for the bloodroot moon.

    We have Wally and Big Daddy onions in, 100 sets each.  Three rows of beets:  Bull’s Blood, Early Blood and Golden.  Pickling cucumbers and Dwarf Gray Sugar Snap Peas.  Of course there was bed prep, too.

    With Kate and I wandering around holding this limb and that a bit tenderly I kept getting the image of a dinner bell, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, perhaps someone playing a little Stephen Foster on the grand piano.

    Of all the gardening chores, planting is the most magical to me.  That tiny seed.  A beet, a cucumber, a pea.  Those small plants, a fat onion, or a thick leek.  Couldn’t plant the leeks today because the ground is still frozen at about 3 inches down.  How about that?  April 27th.

    Had to cancel the Chicago trip due to Kona’s vet bills.  Keeping dogs is a choice and keeping 4 is the same choice 4 times over in terms of food and care.  Choices I have made and make cheerfully.

  • A Force of Nature

    Spring                                                              Bee Hiving Moon

    In these months, when I go to bed, the full moon shines in our bedroom window.  It keeps me awake sometimes, gazing at it, feeling it, absorbing the ancient wisdom it offers.  All those prayers and hopes and wishes flung its way over the millennia.

    The last two nights the full bee hiving moon has lit up the magnolia.  Its white blossoms have begun to droop and fall away but in the glow of the moon its fire blazes up again, a quiet torch illuminating the dark.

    It’s cherry blossom time too.  One of our cherries blossomed yesterday afternoon,

    Kate has been pruning, weeding, clearing away debris as I visited the eye doc, did tours and today worked on Latin.  She’s a full gardener now with her own expertise tied to her energy, her wonderful work.  She gets a lot done.  A lot.  And always comes inside with a sense of having left it all in the orchard or the vegetable garden or among the perennials.

    Meanwhile I’ve kept glaucoma in check, showed objects related to communication and swept through 14 verses of Metamorphoses, Book III.  Work in its way, of course, but I can’t say I prosecute it with the same vigor as Kate.  She’s a force of nature, out in nature.

    Mickman’s comes on Monday to start up our irrigation system.  We need the water to support the veggies that we plant.  Especially in this drought.  On Wednesday when I went to the eye doc I stopped by Mother Earth Gardens, across from the Riverview Theatre.

    We now have four six packs of leeks, one of shallots, one of green onions and pots of rosemary, cilantro and basil.  The last couple of years I’ve started these myself, but not this year.  They won’t go in the ground until Sunday or Monday, so they can get watered right from the start.

    Lots of tasks now:  clean the air conditioner, clean out the bee hives, install our new fire pit, cut down a few trees that impinge on other activities.  Some of them involve the chainsaw, so I’m happy.


  • Making Pot Pies

    Fall                                                       Waxing Autumn Moon

    We had our final straight from the garden meal last night.  Roasted potatoes, onions, fennel, carrots and a lone beet.  Raspberries for dessert.  Marinated chicken for protein, not from here.

    Today I cut up the leeks, cooked some chicken breasts, carrots, celery, peas and corn (none of these ours), and cooked the leeks in salt water for five minutes.  After shredding the chicken, a roux thickened the broth with the vegetables.  The shredded chicken went in the pie crust, then the leeks (our own), and after that the thickened broth and vegetables.

    A rolled out pie crust for a top to the pies and they went in the oven.  4 chicken/leek pot pies, frozen now, treats we can have when we get back from South America along with raspberry pie.

    Had an aha about our garden while cutting up the leeks.  We’re not feeding ourselves in any significant way with our garden, though we do eat several meals a year with our own produce and fruit.  What we can grow, and the leeks, garlic, heirloom tomatoes and heirloom potatoes are good examples, are specialty vegetables that, even if we wanted them, probably wouldn’t be available and would certainly not be available fresh from the garden.

    We preserve tomatoes, store potatoes and onions, garlic and honey.  Kate makes currant jam and wild grape jelly.  We have raspberry pies frozen and now the chicken/leek pot pies.  We also freeze chard and spinach.  Our garden supplements our diet in ways that would not be possible without it.

    It also gives us a joint project, a place we can work together, while keeping us in touch with the Great Wheel and the ways of the vegetative world.  We get a lot from our garden.

  • The Final Harvest

    Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

    Going out today to collect the rest of the rest of the harvest.  A few potato plants I missed the first time around remain.  Leeks, those Musselberg Giants.  Some carrots, some chard.  Beans.  Rain has appeared in the forecast for the first time in weeks.  A good thing, but it reduces the clear days for harvesting and mulching.

    When I get those leeks inside, chicken and leek pot pies come next.  I’ll use carrots and maybe a potato or two.

    Still no news from Saudi Arabia.  The weather has cooled down in Riyadh, only 93 today.

    Been pushing to finish the fourth book of Game of Thrones, but will have to give up on ending it before the cruise.  Too many words, not enough hours.  I’ll have to finish it in a deck chair. Darn.

  • A Melancholy Garden

    Fall                                                  Waxing Autumn Moon

    In spite of the 80 degree plus weather it felt like a fall day outside.  The sky blue, the clouds white, the sun weak.

    Collected the potatoes.  After Mark carried the harvest inside, I put the potatoes on slatted wooden shelves that slide into our root crop storage system.  They went into the garage stairwell for a couple of weeks of higher humidity curing, after which they will return to the pantry and await their turn in the pot.

    The garden beds have begun to empty out.  Most of the tomato plants are down, the garlic left in July, carrots, for the most part, harvested.  The major crop still left in the ground is the leeks.  These are Musselburg Giants and they have grown thick and tall, dark green leaves on top, so much thicker than those pencil lead thin plants I started in the hydroponics.

    Fall gardens have a melancholy feel.  Plant matter turned brown, fruits and vegetables collected and eaten or stored.  In northern climates a garden’s year has its temperature controlled limits, after mid-September growth slows and begins to stop.

    By October most things have stopped growing altogether.  By November even the hardiest plants have either disappeared underground with food stored for the winter or given up struggling with the cold nights.


  • Sunday

    Fall                                                             Waning Harvest Moon

    A gorgeous fall day.  A little Ovid in the morning, a nap, a flu shot, drop off audio books at the library, help Mark practice parking.

    The bonus of the ongoing visa madness is that he may be able to take, and hopefully pass, his driving test.  That would give him a driver’s license, a second i.d. and ticket to an international driver’s license.  He could then rent cars in Saudi, get around on his own.

    Kate bought four 10 pound boxes of peaches and has made peach pie, canned peachs, mint peach-raspberry jelly.  She also picked more of our raspberries and made two raspberry pies.  We’re going to freeze these pies.

    When I harvest the leeks, I will make chicken leek pot pies and freeze them, too.  That way, when we get back from the cruise, we’ll have some tasty home grown and home made treats ready for us.  Greeting ourselves when we come home.

    Time has begun to run down hill, gathering steam heading toward the Port of New York.  I’m excited, eager.  Ready.

  • Bee Diary: August, 2011

    Lughnasa                                                                   Waning Honey Extraction Moon

    Checked the honey supers this morning.  On the two package colonies that I do not intend to overwinter, we have approximately four full honey supers.  That is, we have for harvest the amount of honey they would have needed for the winter, close to 200 pounds.  Figure that 40 pounds is not recoverable due to drips, stuck on honey comb even after extraction then that should leave around 16o pounds to harvest.

    If we chose to sell it at, say $7 a pound, that would create around a $1,ooo in sales after keeping some back for own use and gifts.  After the bee packages at $60 each and amortizing the honey extractor, supers and hive boxes, syrup, hive tools, smoker, pollen, queen excluders, honey jars, top and bottom boards and telescoping covers, we’d still be in the red for the first three years.  Don’t know what we’ll do with it this year, probably give away a lot again.  It’s good for barter and gifts for sure.

    Artemis Hives has produced honey two years in a row now, an artisanal honey created by bees aided by the beekeeper, me, and the bee equipment and harvest partner, Kate.

    Looking at the gardening year in total we will have a good, not great honey harvest, a good potato harvest, leeks, beets, chard, beans and possibly a decent tomato crop.  Kate has good success with her zucchinis and the decorative gourds have bloomed but produced no fruit yet.  The gardening and beekeeping year will wind down in September, just in time for us to finish our cruise preparations.  Caring for gardens and bees requires a lot of face time with the plants and hives, visits to nurseries, attendance at Hobby Bee Keeper meetings, not to mention all the work of harvesting and putting food by.

    I’m at the point in the year when my enthusiasm has run out a while ago and the only thing that keeps me active now is the need to finish, to harvest.  When it’s done, it’s over for the year.


  • Pick and Plan Eating

    Mid-Summer                                                        Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    Kate and I have decided on a pick and plan eating method.  That is, we’ll pick fresh vegetables, then build a meal around what we have.  I picked this morning, for example, green beans, beets, golden and bull’s blood, lettuce, dill, and 7 garlic bulbs.  We still have onions from an earlier harvest, so there’s the basics for our lunch or dinner tonight.  In addition Mark has picked hundreds, maybe thousands of currants and Kate spent yesterday starting the preservation work.  She’s test drying some, making jams and jellies.  We’re well into the first significant harvest period though we have had strawberries, lettuce, kale, spinach and onions already.

    The tomatoes I started inside, which looked puny early in the season have grown tall and begun to bloom.  That means we’ll get heirloom tomatoes in addition to the two store bought plants.  Through integrated pest management I’ve beaten back the yucky scourge Colorado beetles on the potatoes .  Boy are they gross.  Little fat jabba the hut creatures until they get their wings. The leeks have begun to thicken, not much, but some.  The potatoes have blooms and that signals the beginning of tuber growth underground.  Lots of onions getting bigger, carrots, too.

    Big-Stone Mini-Golf deserves its own entry and I’ll get to that either later today or tomorrow.

  • Bee and Garden Diary

    Mid-Summer                                                                                          Waning Garlic Moon

    Today I performed partial hive box reversals in all three colonies.  The second hive box of three gets rotated to the bottom and the first or bottom box rotates up to take its place.  This means that all the hive boxes have to be moved, so it is a labor intensive activity, especially so now that some honey has begun to be stored.  One hive box was very heavy, my back a bit reluctant.  Having done that I checked the top box on colony 1 and the top two honey supers in colonies 2 and 3.  None of these have much honey.

    Since I put queen excluders on 2 and 3, I pulled those off, intending to leave them off for a couple of days.  At the hobby bee-keeper meetings I’m told this is a common way to get the bees to move up into the honey supers.  I’ll put the queen excluders back on maybe Wednesday.  Since I reversed the bottom and second hive boxes, there’s not much chance the queen will get up there.

    So far the bee season seems to have hurdled the early cold and rain and settled into a more normal pattern.

    The potatoes and leeks both have mounds around their stalks now, blanching for the leeks and more space for the potato plants to produce tubers.  A lot of gardening tasks are very time sensitive and these were among them.  When the potato plants flower (now), they begin to set the tubers.  As the leeks grow, only the parts covered by soil will blanch, turn white, and be useful for cooking.  As the young apples begin to grow, the bags have to go on before the apple maggots come out to play.  Also now.

    The bees, too, require definite care and different kinds of care all through early spring and summer, then less attention around now, when the honey flow begins.  Later in August will come extraction, then preparation of colony 1 for overwintering.  Gonna try one more time.  Colonies 2 and 3 will move out near the truck lane, into the sunny part.  That’s for next year.

    Our tomato plants started from seed have begun to mature, though they are far behind the two plants Kate bought at the green barn.  Those plants have blooms and green tomatoes.  It remains to be seen whether we’ll get any tomatoes from the others.

    We’ve harvested one full planting of spinach, several of lettuce, some sugar snap peas and just this week, lots of strawberries.  We have onions, carrots, beets, more lettuce and spinach, plus pole and bush beans all underway.  There are cherries and plums in the orchard in addition to the apples and the raspberry canes are in good mid-season form.  We’re going to have a good season as we continue to learn how to use our garden to complement and supplement what we buy at the grocery store.

  • In the Garden

    Beltane                                                                           New  Garlic Moon

    One of those nights last night, unable to get to sleep, still rolling around awake at 1:00 a.m.  Up a little bleary.  Wrote  few e-mails, then out in the orchard, first.  I’ve had tent caterpillars on two trees.  Each time I have removed the tent and stepped on it or crushed the worms.  This is non-chemical pest control, a route I prefer and, as long as I’m not running a commercial operation, one I can pursue.

    Now I wander in the orchard, looking at seed pods (fruit) beginning to develop from the last of the blossoms which dropped this week.  I’ll try to find worms and moths before they do 2011-05-17_0805early-spring-2011damage and as long as I can I’ll follow pinch and destroy.  After that, I think, right now anyway, that I’ll go with Gary Reuter, the bee rangler for Marla Spivak.  I’ll just put up with wormy apples.  This is partly out of regard for the bees who have enough pressure of them and they don’t need an added pesticide load from our orchard, but it’s more out of a commitment to no pesticides, grow strong plants and let them fend for themselves.  It’s worked reasonably well for me so far.

    (before the fall)

    After the orchard the potatoes were next.  Now that the soil has warmed up the potatoes have begun to grow, their dark lobe shaped leaves appearing atop a fragile looking stalk.  At this point the basics of potato culture involves mounding earth over the stalk as it grows.  That’s what I did today.  In the long raised bed where I have most of the potatoes this year, I also have a bumper crop of asiatic lilies and tulips.

    I planted this bed originally as a cutting garden, years ago.  The same fall the bed was built I went out to the Arboretum to a lily growers sale and bought Minnesota hardy bulbs.  They’ve been in that bed ever since, maybe 10 years.  Boy, have they enjoyed that bed.  They’ve started lilies all over the place.  That means that as I mound the potatoes I have to move around the lily bulbs that have generated.  I hate to just throw them away because they’re so hardy and have been with me so long.  I’m trying right now to raise vegetables and flowers in the same bed.  That’s also worked reasonably well for me.06-28-10_earlylilies

    I also mounded the leeks as my last action in the garden this morning.  In the case of leeks the mounding blanches the stalk, keeps it white underground and increases the usable part of the leek.

    That done, I’ve come inside to work on my Latin.  Pentheus, now, Book III:509-to the end.