Home

Jammin’

2 Comments

This growing season saw a bumper crop of strawberries. The result was lots of fresh berries for snacking and tons for jam making, lots of jam! The blackberries were starting to look really good toward the end of May. I had high hopes for a good blackberry harvest based on the number of blossoms and the large size of the developing berries – and JAM!.

The blackberry harvest started out strong. When I was home more berries made the freezer bag than we used for fresh eating. During my out of town work assignments the ratio was reversed. I still thought I had a chance to load up the freezer but the local birds discovered my luscious, juicy and organically grown berries. I would see dozens of berries that needed another day to finish ripening only to discover them gone, missing – nowhere to be found the next day. Evidence of birds sitting trellis wire was abundant. I guess next year I will have to invest in some netting.

Friday this past week I needed to clear some freezer space for my wife. I had partial freezer bags of blackberries, strawberries and some wild dewberries. I spent an hour and a half scratching the living daylights out of my arms and legs as I braved the thorny dewberry patches only to be rewarded with less than ½ gallon of berries! They have great taste but they are, oh so small. I decided to make a mixed batch of berry jam! Problem solved, room in the freezer and a 9 +  jars and jam! I say 9+ because I fill a jar of the foam skimmings’ and the bottom of the pot for my wife. She makes an interesting oatmeal frittata with egg whites and tops it with the lower grade jam. Still tastes great but doesn’t look as nice in the jars.

Garden chores out of the way for today consisted of removing 5 tomato plants that gave their all against this brutal summer that Houston has been suffering through. I replaced them with some grafted varieties and hope to get them well established during the tail end of summer. I hope to have tomatoes through Thanksgiving again this year!

My son and his friend kept the garden well watered including all of those pesky weeds. I should have provided some more detailed instructions on weeding while watering – an alliterative activity that aids the garden. That said….I have been pulling weeds like crazy! They have made a nice layer in the compost bin. I added about 6 inches of leaf mulch and 10-12 inches of grass clippings on top of them. The pile should really heat up now!

I pulled the leaf mulch out of my second bin. I am nearing the bottom of that bin and found some nice finished compost. I spread about 8 – 5 gallon bucket loads of the compost into the bed holding most of the tomatoes and cucumbers. Today being a three t-shirt day in Houston I will postpone spreading the remaining compost for another day…..none of the upcoming days look to promising in the next week so I guess I will just have to suck it up through a few more days and shirts until the job is done.

Thorny, scratchy and very tasty wild dewberries.

Thorny, scratchy and very tasty wild dewberries.

 

Kathy's Frittata - Her first bite was followed by these words, "Ewww seeds, but tasty!"

Kathy’s Frittata – Her first bite was followed by these words, “Ewww seeds, but tasty!”

TTFN

Bishop

Photos and Garden News From Home

4 Comments

I am still a long, long way from my garden. My son Joe arrived home and resumed gardening duties – watering(rain has helped him) and picking – he says he can’t find any cucumbers….I think he needs to bend that 6’4″ frame a little more and check a little lower!

We opened the gate to friends and neighbors to swing by and pick whatever they wanted. In our absence we have checked in with some of our harvest crew. Unfortunately not all are well trained! They seem to recognize ripe tomatoes and do a very adequate job with that duty. When it comes to harvesting my limes…..the skills seem to be absent. Coach Hendrix swung by the house and picked a couple of limes and dropped them off at her father’s house to accompany his cold beer. I can just imagine his surprise as he pops the cap on an ice cold beer, takes the knife to slice a wedge or two, only to discover that he has a green Meyer Lemon……You see, I don’t have a lime tree, never have, but apparently the green Meyer Lemons look like big fat limes right now! Coach Hendrix received a jar of my lemon curd this past season but her name is now scratched off of the “who’s been nice” list! I may forgive her……I think she knows that I love good IPA’s from several of the local breweries!!!!

Thank you Joe for giving me a fix. Just two more days and I can get my hands all grubby and show you where the cucumbers hide.

Celebrity Tomatoes

Celebrity Tomatoes and some Chard

Cucumbers - I am sure there are some hiding!

Cucumbers – I am sure there are some hiding!

Peppers and Leeks

Peppers and Leeks

Strawberry Towers

Strawberry Towers

Sweet Potatoes spreading nicely.

Sweet Potatoes spreading nicely.

Joe does a nice job snapping photos with his iPhone….Thanks again Joe!

TTFN

Bishop

Waiting on Garden Photos

2 Comments

I have been in California since July 3rd and won’t return until the 24th. I have left others at the house in charge of my vegetable patch. I am hoping for the best. Even though I left good instructions I think my garden misses my dirty hands….. It’s not that others can’t do what I do but I would suggest that my soul and the soul of my garden have a stronger connection. I am missing my visual fix, my fix from the garden/earthy odors and the fix I get from sampling the bounty.

My son Joe is at the house now….I asked him to send some current photos……he said he would –  when got around to it. Now I suspect that was  a literal comment and he is hunting for a “roudtuit”! Once he finds it it I am sure he will then send me some photos for my visual fix!

Here is what I remember….. and what I need to see more of!

Wine Barrel Composter

Wine Barrel Composter

Gate to my Garden

Gate to my Garden

The pole bean arches with some red blossoms.

The pole bean arches with some red blossoms.

The May 10th tomatoes picked in the dark. Dark at 10:30 AM. Yes AM - today's storm is very dark. 4 inches per hour of rain heading our way!

The May 10th tomatoes picked in the dark. Dark at 10:30 AM. Yes AM – today’s storm is very dark. 4 inches per hour of rain heading our way!

One of the many blackberry clusters.

One of the many blackberry clusters.

Celebrity Variety - 4-5 inch size and does well when it is hot.

Celebrity Variety – 4-5 inch size and does well when it is hot.

Some of my Swiss Chard

Some of my Swiss Chard

All is not lost…..I have been up and down the state of California traveling through those commercial sized gardens and orchards. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, citrus, avocados in the orchards. Fields of strawberries, tomatoes, grapes, onions, cabbage and more. Last Friday I sat a the in-laws place watching polo on some of the most verdant grass you have ever seen!

Prince William galloping across the verdant grass on his way to scoring a goal in the 2011 match in Santa Barbara.

Prince William galloping across the verdant grass on his way to scoring a goal in the 2011 match in Santa Barbara. From the in-laws patio!

Joe – I am still waiting!!!!!

TTFN

Bishop

Jams, Jellies and Jars

3 Comments

I just pick up an issue of “Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications” titled

Canning

preserving+freezing+drying.

I was in awe of how my limited jam and jelly efforts are/were compared to the world opened up in this issue.

Canning Issue

Canning Issue

Let’s start with the jellies

  • Blood Orange-Vanilla Bean
  • Habanero-Mint
  • Apricot-Rosemary
  • Flower Petal – I made Rose petal jelly – pretty but lacked flavor, search edible flowers for potential petals
  • Ruby-Red Grapefruit
  • Jasmine Tea
  • Grape Juice – not unique
  • Rose Wine Jelly with Pink Peppercorns
  • Balsamic Vinegar-Ruby Port

I am not including recipes – US folks can probably find this issue, if you can’t send me a request and I will accommodate y’all.

Jams were next and I saw some very mouth watering combinations.

  • Cinnamon-Peach
  • Sweet-Basil Peach
  • Chipotle-Peach
  • Bourbon-Peach
  • Caramel Apple
  • Sweet Cherry
  • Peach
  • Cinnamon-Spiced Triple-Berry
  • Gooseberry-Mango
  • Nectarine Mango
  • Honey-and-Thyme Blackberry
  • Tomato-Basil
  • Dried Apricot-Fig Jam with Anise
  • Strawberry Margarita & yes it includes a 1/2 cup of Tequila and a 1/4 cup of Triple Sec
  • Cantaloupe Jam with Vanilla

I have a vision of returning to Houston and creating some amazing Jellies and Jams. I am on a garden break and my son’s good friend and former teammate is keeping the greenery alive and hopefully enjoying some of the bounty…..the long extended heat wave in our area has slowed a lot of my harvest. Old faithful cucumbers should overwhelm him….as long as he keeps them irrigated!

My return at the end of July may include a hunt for some Fredericksburg Peaches!

TTFN

Bishop

%d bloggers like this: