Sunday, December 30, 2012

Marshmallow World

We are in the midst of what I think of as "the tunnel", meaning the short, cold and often snowy days of winter. I didn't invent the expression, but got it from author James Michener after reading one of his books back in my teenage days. It stuck with me! I am not fond of these winter days, but try to keep an upbeat attitude as much as I can. Here are some views from my doors that I woke up to this morning:

Fresh fallen snow is beautiful to look at and I am enjoying if for the moment but will soon be outside with my spouse shovelling our very long driveway so we can get out when we need to. I suspect it will be a bit less pretty to me then. At least it might work off some of those holiday calories I've been packing in all week long! We got about ten inches of it last night, thankfully the light fluffy kind.
Snow makes a good blanket for the garden and of course it is called the poor man's fertilizer. On the down side, two years ago the garden stayed snow-covered almost all winter and it provided a nice protected area for voles to live and breed. They were terrible in the garden that year! By contrast, last winter we saw almost no snow. I believe that allowed the voles to come out foraging more and be caught by predators so they weren't much of a problem at all this year. But gardeners have to work with what nature sends us, so I'll try to focus on the snow's protective and fertilizing work!
Yesterday I received something that really cheered me up:

The first seeds of the season! I ordered these only two days ago! It is the smallest of my orders by far; I always go a little crazy with seeds but there are worse habits I guess! Best of these is the large bag of Fresh Pick green beans. I love these beans and was dismayed to find them dropped from Johnny's catalogue this year. Thankfully they were still offered online. I think these may be remainders from last year as the germination percentage is a bit less than I'd expect but I don't care, I'm just happy to have them again! I hope  this isn't the last year I can get them. It's about a month til the first seeds are started around here and I am itching to get to it! I have a new toy to try out. I bought a small heating mat for seed starting and can't wait to see if it really shortens some of the germination times. Meanwhile the arrival of those small packages of goodies plus reading and re-reading the catalogues and garden books will have to carry me through!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Harvest Monday!

I actually had a Christmas Eve harvest! One of the dishes I make for Christmas day calls for leeks, so I took a walk down to the frozen garden and dug out some of the last of the leeks.
Not many, but enough to add flavor to the seafood gratin I make. I don't think I've ever harvested a fresh vegetable on December 24, so this is quite exciting!
My day today is chock full of cooking and baking for my little family. Both sons and my daughter-in-law will be here tonight and tomorrow we will be hosting my younger son's in-laws as well. Tonight there is an evening service at church where I will be singing in the choir as well as doing a solo, so I need to have food and house ready by then. Looking forward to the blessings of the day! Merry Christmas to all and happy harvesting! Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne's Dandelions; take a look at what others have harvested this week!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Heard the Bells...

This has been a hard week for the country and especially here in Connecticut. It is difficult to be excited about the coming Christmas holiday when you think about how much suffering is going on just a few miles away on the other side of our very small state. I live near the eastern end of Connecticut, but I grew up very close to Newtown. It is a beautiful area, right out of a Norman Rockwell painting and my heart is aching for the terrible losses that town has endured.
Yesterday in church, our young pastor could hardly speak. He has two beautiful little children, so I'm sure it all hit very close to home for him. He chose to have us sing "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" with Longfellow's poignant lyrics, written during our bloody civil war, that first question where this promised peace on earth is but end triumphantly with the Hope we all hold on to through good times and bad. I am so looking forward to the spring. Meanwhile, I made some jars of Friendship Soup to give as gifts to some very dear women. The recipe can be found all over the internet and it seemed like a good alternative to the sweets overload we all have around this time of year. What holds me up at times like these, when it is tempting to despair of everything, is the love of those I am surrounded by, be it family or friends and of course, the Lord. Joy comes in the morning and spring will come again!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mid December Harvesting and Reflections

I've been scarce here on the blog lately due to a combination of writer's block, holiday season busy-ness and not much garden related going on at the moment. But today I took a walk down to the garden and harvested the last of my brussels sprouts along with a few leaves of kale, arugula, parsley and scallions.
It came to about a pound and a quarter of produce and the cool thing about that is it brought my harvest total for 2012 to 577 and a quarter pounds. This is just over 100 pounds more than we got last year! Which makes me very very happy.
As I've harvested kale lately I've noticed some kind of bug eggs on the leaves. First saw them in the early fall, but even after a number of freezes they are still present and on close inspection seem to either be sprouting into some little mite of some kind or else the eggs attract a mite. I've also seen one or two green worms and recently heard a report of a moth called a winter moth that's arriving in our area from the north, from Canada. So I thought it might be their eggs. Not sure, but they are not nice to my kale leaves. Here is a picture of the eggs:
OK, not the best of pictures, but I am not yet good at those close-up photos. They are in thick clusters and an ash gray in color. Any ideas as to what they might be?
Anyway, that's all the gardening going on around here for now. I have been perusing my seed catalogues and will soon inventory my old seeds and begin the ordering process for next year. To my dismay, the green bean variety I've loved and waxed eloquently about for the past four years is not being offered by Johnny's this year. I have to find a new variety to use since I've only located that variety with one other seed company and I couldn't tell if the website was current or not.
I hope once the holidays are over to attend to this blog just a bit more. I spent an unfruitful afternoon last week trying to redesign the look and made a real hash job of it, only succeeding in eliminating one element I actually liked. I'd like to move away from the sterile template and make it more personalized. But it will have to wait for a quiet time when my spouse or son is available to help me tackle the job. It's the kind of thing D actually enjoys and I don't.
For now I'm off to the kitchen to prep some things for dinner and then to finally get to work on getting our Christmas tree up. Working up some Christmas spirit!