Gardening Corner
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MV Gardening Corner June, 2013

Gardening Corner
This spring has obviously been too busy.  As I started writing this month’s Garden Corner for June, it occurred to me that I completely forgot the May Gardening Corner.  Bill noticed it, but didn’t say anything.  When I think back on May, I begin to understand.  Classes no sooner finished when my brother and his friend came from the west coast for a visit for a few days.  As soon as they left, we were in finals and closing grades.  Workshops had to be to attended for next year’s classes, our parish was gearing up for its 4-day festival and then our daughter, Erin and her husband and two toddlers were arriving for a visit from Virginia.  Erin’s youngest turned one year old the same day that Bill’s dad turned 94, so you know what that meant…a family party!!  By the time Memorial Day was done, so were we.  It was a crazy month.  The animals and garden, however, continued to grow…..
raised bed
By now, the garden and orchard are in full swing.  We have harvested the rhubarb, radishes, some lettuce, some turnips and their greens, and just yesterday, many of the sugar snap peas (yum – yum).  The raised beds are doing well, the berries are gaining in strength and the orchard has set its fruit.  At this writing, growing in the raised beds we have: peas, beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes, lots of basil (two types), lettuces, Swiss chard, purple top turnips, blue kale and regular kale, carrots, beets, eggplant, summer squash, cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, and new this year, horseradish.  Bill’s Dad lives next to us and he also has four raised beds and two mini-raised beds, but at 94, he tells us his gardening days are done.  
pea tower
He will water whatever we plant though, so we do have some tomatoes, eggplant, kale, summer squash, wax beans and green beans over there.  At this writing, we are in the midst of a heat wave.  We have had high 80s and low 90s for three days now, which is good for some veggies but not so good for others.  We do have to make sure they are watered.  Bill continues to mulch all the raised beds with straw to keep down weeds, but the mulching also helps retain some of the water.
The blueberries are netted to stop the myriad of birds that have set up house in a tall evergreen right next to the berries.  They are just waiting there it seems for those berries to turn blue.  Without netting the berries, we would lose them all to our flying friends.  Sorry, birds.  We like blueberries too much to give them away to you.  
netted blueberries
The elderberries are beginning to flower with promises of some wonderful elderberry jam to come.  One of our daughters wants us to try elderberry wine, but I’m not sure if we have enough to try that, though it would be a nice experiment.  The raspberries are over three feet high now and are setting fruit; in another few weeks, we will have fresh berries to pick from their branches.  We also are trying a new berry this year, a thorn less, non-evasive blackberry, named the Chester Thorn less Blackberry (  They are over a foot high now and we are looking forward to tasting those.  
The orchard has set its fruit and it looks like we will have quite a few apples, and lots of peaches.  Three out of the four older pear trees have fruit, but the other one doesn’t seem to get enough sun.  We may have to trim the tall evergreen that frames that side of the orchard and shades that pear tree. The new red pear trees still seem to be too young to produce.  We have two varieties of plums, one a simple reddish eating plum, and one a blue plum for making prunes. There are a few regular reddish plums, but no blue prune plums yet.  
We are hoping they just need some more time to mature.  The apricots are not doing well, so we are trying to figure out if they should be getting a different type of nourishment than we are giving them.  Bill continues to mulch the entire orchard with straw as well and sprays with a multipurpose orchard spray every two weeks during the growing season.  The nuts trees (two almonds and two hazelnuts) are still growing, and Bill found one almond on one, but it will be a few more years before we see more nuts.
herbs in ground
On the herb front, I bought three new Bay leaf plants since my older one in my big garden pot died after ten years or so.  We bring it in during the winter, and I couldn’t figure out why it died until I un-potted it; It was totally root-bound.  Note to self: make sure Bay leaves have plenty of room to grow.  The tarragon has come up again, since this is a perennial, and just in time since I just finished our last tarragon vinegar that I make with some fresh cucumbers.  (You can make almost any type of herbal vinegar, simply by starting with a good white wine vinegar, putting several leaves or springs of your favorite herbs into a glass container with the wine, and let seep for at least two weeks.  You can take the herbs out at that point or leave them in to develop the flavor more intensely.)  We also have oregano that has re-emerged from its perennial sleep, plenty of spearmint that grows year after year amidst the blueberries, lots of basil for salads and pesto later in the summer,  a couple rosemary plants, some thyme, a few types of parsley, some sage, including a new pineapple sage this year and wild dill.  The chives come back year after year, and there is nothing quite like making your own potato salad and just stepping outside a minute to cut fresh parsley or herbs for those salads.
fairy roses
There are flowers coming and going now that the warm weather has come.  We were graced with lilacs and daffodils and tulips in the spring, followed by the peonies and coral bells and rhododendron blossoms, and these have given way to the lilies and the blue-laced-caped hydrangeas and roses.  This heat wave has coaxed lots of flowers into action, and we are so grateful to our loving God who has given us such a beautiful and wondrous planet.  June does indeed appear to be busting out all over!!  

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