How It’s Growing Over Here

Happy Sunday y’all! I thought today I would update you on what’s going on over here! This time of year is always so busy, and it doesn’t really stop until about October when our apples are finished for the year. The kids are out of school for the Summer, and so are their friends. So there’s a lot of play dates and sleepovers happening. The garden activity is ramping up; there are now things to harvest, and as I mentioned last week, weeds to keep at bay and critters to keep out.

This year has been especially exciting because we have trees and bushes fruiting well for the first time!

Our three baby blueberry plants won’t produce this year. Maybe next year will be better.

But our elderberries that we planted last year have several bloom clusters on them, so I hope to get a few berries from them in late summer. I plan to make some natural cough syrup with them and some calendula flowers I have growing on our porch!

Our mulberry tree usually produces, but this year the berries have been ridiculously plentiful AND flavorful. So I got out a tarp, laid it underneath the branches, and shook. I got a few quarts from that first harvest, and there are plenty more ripening for another! Our first harvest went to making mulberry jam, which came out very seedy but yummy. I threw the remainder in the freezer while I contemplated how best to use them! So far, I am torn between muffins, buckles, pies, and liqueurs. But I think we will have enough to try them all! That’s the kind of thing that REALLY excites me!

We also have a peach tree that my middle son swears he planted from a peach pit he found when we first moved into this house 4 years ago. Last year was the first time it fruited but the squirrels picked every last green peach, bit into it a few times, decided it wasn’t good, and threw it to the ground. This year, I feel like maybe they learned their lesson, because there’s still a ton left on the tree. Time will tell whether they will be good peaches or not, and I hope they will. We can sure put away some peaches!

Then we have our black currants, which were a gift from a friend in our congregation. This lady is a serious homesteader, whether she knows it or not. She lives in town where she has a modest sized yard. I would say it’s about a quarter of an acre, maybe less. She lives alone, so she has converted most of her yard into growing space. It takes my breath away every time I go there. In February 3 years ago, I went to her house and she handed me two 5 gallon buckets full of sticks. She said they were black currants. So I asked her, “How do I plant them?” I was seriously puzzled in my feeble brain as to how these simple sticks with no roots could become bushes. She simply directed me to dig a hole, put 4 or 5 sticks into it, and cover it over. I knew she knew what she was talking about it, but still, I wondered. I followed her directions one freezing cold February afternoon. My daughter and I worked till our extremities were numb and then waited, hoping our efforts had not been in vain. Sure enough, a month later, there were buds and then little green leaves. Next year, there were flowers, but very little fruit. This year: black currants by the handful. Big, black, juicy, berries. We don’t have a ton this year, so I want to use them wisely. I haven’t decided what to do with them yet… but liqueurs are looking pretty good, especially for their medicinal value.

It looks like our two apple trees will produce very well this Fall. Last year wasn’t a good harvest at all, but the year before was amazing! I preserved enough apples to last both years! So I’m wondering if that’s going to be the pattern.

And that’s about it as far as fruit is concerned. I think next Spring we are going to transform the small hillside by our house into a strawberry patch.

Gardenwise, we have been enjoying small harvests of salad greens and radishes for a while. There’s nothing like a salad made with fresh greens! I would take a cup each of spinach, lettuce and arugula, add in some avocado, black beans, corn, and some homemade salsa for a crazy good salad lunch.

A couple of turnips have ripened and been picked. They are delicious raw! English peas are ready to be picked, which excites me. I LOVE fresh peas! And lo and behold, we already have a freakishly early lemon cucumber. That was surprising!

I would recommend having a garden to anyone, regardless of the size or variety of plants you choose to have. It’s like a constant treasure hunt. It de-stresses me to be close to the earth and see the goodness around me. It’s exciting to try new varieties of vegetables that you don’t get at your grocery store. It makes my heart soar to see my kids in the garden doing simple things like picking peas or finding baby cucumbers, and getting excited about it! And then there are the numerous health benefits of just eating REAL HEALTHY food!

Try it! It’s a great step in the homesteading direction!

What do you plant in your garden? Are you more of a fruit or vegetable person? I’d love to hear your comments!

Till next week, take care, and enjoy being in that homesteading state of mind!

Meg

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