Strawberry season

It’s official: Our own little strawberry season has drawn to a close. The last of the berries have been picked and there are no more to be had.

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You wouldn’t think this would bother me much, given as how I don’t like un-jammed strawberries, but I am curiously sad.

The Man We Call Dad adores strawberries, as does our dear friend B (who knows exactly who he is, and reads this blog, and probably is wondering why I’m teasing him with pictures of strawberries he won’t get to eat, seeing as how he lives on the far west end of town and we live in the east).

We had a surprisingly quick strawberry season this year. Last year, the berries came a few at a time over several weeks, not enough at once to contemplate making jam.

This year, they came fast and furious, cupfuls at a time, and completely finished a mere week after they first started to blush. And once again, not enough to make jam.

But little by little, our strawberry patch grows. I have hopes that someday in the not so distant future, there will be enough strawberries for eating and jam making, and both The Man We Call Dad and I will be able to enjoy sweet berry treats from our very own backyard.

mango chutney

In the meantime, I have been blessed with an abundance of fruit in our weekly CSA box and with the help of a well-loved book on preserving, have done up some mango chutney, and now with a little canning done and a batch of chocolate chip cookies cooling on racks in preparation for an end of year party for the grade 8’s, all feels right in the world.

 

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Well, hello again!

Life has been rocketing along everywhere I look. In the garden, the first daisy of the season has bloomed, making a small flag of crisp white petals flying high over a sea of green and leftover brown from last year’s garden.

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Elsewhere, the yard has been sprinkled with tiny flecks of blue and white as the forget-me-nots are in full flower, both the blue ones and the white ones. They used to grow down near the creek at my grandmother R’s house and have always been a particular favourite of mine since childhood.

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In another few weeks once the bloom has past, I’ll be mowing them down for another year as while I adore the scattering of tiny blue flowers, I’m not so keen on the messy foliage they leave behind. Once they’ve gone to seed, they’ll be cut back and eventually smothered by other things coming into their glory in the garden.

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My favourite flowering spirea (whose name is, appropriately, bridal bush), once it’s tiny white flowers are done, is a lovely dark green cascade underplanted with stonecrop and cowslip and a dark-leaved lovely whose name I forget. For now though, the spirea is covered in little white flowers with perfectly round petals which it is prone to dropping onto anything nearby like confetti.

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Every time I go outside, I find something new greeting me with a cheery “Hello! Did you miss me?” and I am hard pressed not to answer back as I run my fingers over stems and leaves, bend down to sniff flowers, and dig my hands deep in the soil that will soon be providing farm-fresh nourishment for our little family. I may only have a small suburban yard, but oh, I do love it so!

Green growing things

Not that long ago, I started to fill the greenhouses with flats of soil and seeds sprinkled with water and topped with plastic greenhouse lids. It is an exercise in optimism, starting a garden from seed. You start with the most humble of ingredients, keep them warm, trust them to do their thing.

And then, in the blink of an eye, they do.

It never fails to fill me with awe and wonder and joy when I see little green growing things poking up out of the dirt.

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Got grapes?

Two years ago, we planted a grape vine. The first year, it grew rapidly and we were thrilled with the lush foliage despite the lack of grapes. That winter, the rabbits found it and cut it down almost to the ground despite what I had thought was a good wrapping job to protect it.

The second year, it grew rapidly and we were thrilled that it had survived. The leaves were thick and glossy green, and it quickly reached well over my head. But there were no grapes. That winter, I pruned it back and then wrapped it beyond all good sense, and the rabbits only found the furthest extremities and it survived well.

This year, the Japanese Beetles invaded. Beautiful in their jewel-toned shell, they are voracious and they ate the grape leaves down to just a skeleton. I shook them off into a bucket of soapy water, I crushed them with my pruning shears, I said many bad words every time I caught them copulating on the leaves they had just reduced to lace, and I despaired of ever getting grapes.

Lo and behold, this year, there were grapes.

The day before yesterday, I started thinking that maybe I should start harvesting the grapes. Round and juicy, turning purple, but not quite sweet enough to eat. Not yet. Another day or two, perhaps. I wasn’t sure, since grapes are so new to us. We’ve never had them before, you see.

Apparently, we won’t be having any this year, either.

When I went out to pick green beans for our supper last night, I checked on the grapes. Or rather, I tried to check on the grapes. Unsuccessfully. Someone likes their grapes a little on the tart side, apparently, and they stripped the vine of fruit. Of the ten or so bunches of grapes that were so merrily ripening away, there are precisely 3 grapes left, and they all have bite marks in them.

Next year, I just may have to declare war. The Great Backyard Critter War. Who’s with me?

 

A little sunshine…

Today dawned early with a sky that lightened not into that beautiful cornflower blue that I love so much, but into a solid grey mass hanging heavily overhead. After some yoga and some oatmeal, the skies decided to let down and it has been raining ever since.

It saps your energy, that rain. It isn’t the sort of rain that thrills you with the power of the storm. Nor is it the light, misty mildness of a spring morning that can’t decide if it is fogging or raining. Instead, this is merely a relentless shedding of water, cold and heartless, and uncaring whether you have an umbrella or not, or whether your fingers are chilled to the bone.

It is a most decidedly unfriendly rain.

I miss my blue skies. I miss the warmth of the sun. So do the sunflowers growing outside the kitchen window. Mammoth Russian, they are, and mammoth is an appropriate name for them. They tower several feet over my head with stems as thick around as my wrists and flower heads that stretch a good 30 cm or more across. They are giants, these flowers of ours, and so bright and cheerful, they could rival the sun.

It is hard to get a sense of scale from this photo, but trust me when I say this flower is huge, each leaf larger than my head, the whole plant standing a good 2 meters in height. A rival for the sun, indeed, and a little bit of brightness on a rainy day.

Friday’s Little Thing: Watermelon!

I like gardening. I like watching leaves turn green. I like watching flowers bloom. I like watching the songbirds as they visit the feeders or the bird baths. I even like watching the squirrels and rabbits as they explore our little patch of green. But most of all, I like growing edibles.

This year, I expanded the garden and grew several new things that I have never grown before. One of those things was watermelon.

Yesterday, our lone little watermelon fell off the vine. It’s rind is a lovely deep green colour and it looks absolutely perfectly watermelony… except for its size.

Isn’t that just the tiniest, cutest little melon you’ve ever seen?

Given its diminutive stature, I was positive that it would not be anywhere near ripe. I cut it open at the kids’ urging, and to my great surprise, it was a beautiful pink inside.

And it was a very sweet little mouthful.

:: Friday’s Little Thing is a moment in time I wish to remember. Please feel free to join me in sharing your own moments and link to them in the comments. I would love to see them! ::