Peck of Perfect Peaches

My parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew recently visited from Wisconsin. Since South Carolina is known for its peaches, a trip to Fisher’s Pick-Your-Own Orchard in Greer, SC was in order. There, we picked a peck of peaches (also known as the small basket).

From June 1st until the middle of September, twenty-seven varieties of peaches will cycle in and out of season at Fisher’s Orchard. We happened to hit the first peaches of the season – June Gold.

We were greeted at the stand by a woman with sassy white hair and a sweet southern demeanor.  She told us that the best peaches were in the orchard across the road, down the path and around the corner. Off we went!

At the end of the path, we found trees dripping with ripe peaches. Many fallen peaches were left to perish in the grass beneath the trees.  I wanted to gather them up and do something with them. But what? It seemed like such a waste of perfectly good peaches.

So, what do you do with a peck of peaches? The first day, we sliced a few and ate them.  We also made a peach cobbler. Several days later, we made a peach pie. The warm slices of pie heavenly paired with vanilla bean ice cream.

Ten peaches from the peck remain and I’m not yet peached out. Peach ice cream perhaps?

Peach Pie

Ingredients

1 (15 ounce) package pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
1 egg, beaten
5 cups sliced peeled peaches
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  • Line the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate with one of the pie crusts. Brush with some of the beaten egg to keep the dough from becoming soggy later.
  • Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl, and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the peaches, and mix gently. Pour into the pie crust, and dot with butter. Cover with the other pie crust, and fold the edges under. Flute the edges to seal or press the edges with the tines of a fork dipped in egg. Brush the remaining egg over the top crust. Cut several slits in the top crust to vent steam.
  • Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is brown and the juice begins to bubble through the vents. If the edges brown to fast, cover them with strips of aluminum foil about halfway through baking.


Glorious Green Beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite vegetable, next to garden fresh peas, is green beans. I’ve grown green, yellow, and even purple “green” beans. The purple green beans turn green after they are cooked, by the way. This is disappointing in a temporary tattoo, 45-record cut from the back of a cereal box, Cracker Jack prize, Bazooka bubble gum comic, x-ray vision glasses kind of way.

The above photo is of my first crop of green beans this year. Is this what they mean by a drop in the bucket? It’s enough for two people and that’s all that matters! Now, what to serve with these beauties? How about a farmhouse supper of pork chops, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans, and homemade bread? Nothing balances out the health benefits of fresh green beans like pork and carbs 😀



Another Blooming Monday

My heart is singing!

These plants are now blooming in my gardens…
bee balm, hibiscus, hydrangea, hosta, tiger lily,
purple coneflower, and rose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Seeds to Veggies

Raised bed garden photosIt’s been two months since I planted my raised bed garden. It appears that the seeds and transplants love their new home! I’ve harvested radishes and a few peas (very few) and have several yellow and green zucchini to pick SOON. What to do with zucchini? It’s great… at first. Perhaps I will post some zucchini recipes in future posts.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the tomatoes continue to thrive. In past years, I’ve had problems with Verticillium Wilt (a soil-borne fungus that inhibits the plant from taking in water). It can stay in the soil for many years and is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate. This is why it is important to rotate your garden crops every year!

I believe that my tomato wilt problem started with heirloom tomatoes that I started from seed many years ago. Heirlooms just don’t have the disease resistance that hybrid tomato plants do. That’s unfortunate, because heirloom tomatoes are so beautiful – tasty too. My hope is that the new soil in the raised bed will not become infected. The thing about this disease is that the tomato plants will look great one day and will suddenly wilt the next. In my experience, this happens right before some of the first tomatoes ripen. Tragic and heartbreaking! There is nothing that can be done to stop the disease once it starts. All you can do is harvest as many tomatoes as possible before the plant bites the dust. If you’re lucky, you’ll get enough for a couple of BLT’s.

I’ve noticed that my raised bed vegetables grow almost twice as tall as the plants grown directly in the earth. The extra height means that I need to get out there and stake the plants before they bend and break from their own weight. So far, that’s the only disadvantage I have discovered about raised bed gardening. I love this weed-free, little-or-no-bend method of gardening!



Previous posts about my raised bed garden:
Cool raised bed corner braces.
Constructing the raised bed garden.
Garden progress after three weeks.
Progress of garden after three weeks.

Seed Balls

Made you look!

Seed balls – or seed bombs – are guerrilla gardener ammunition. Basically, they are mud balls made of clay, compost and seeds. After they dry, guerrilla gardeners (garden activists) stealthily toss the seed bombs in areas that need a little love – abandoned lots, around sidewalk choked trees, and in vacant medians. After a couple of rains, the seeds germinate and beautiful flowers appear in once dreary areas. By the way, I’m pretty sure that it is illegal to plant seeds on land you do not own. I’ve seen worse things littering abandoned lots, haven’t you?!

For those of you who fear the law, seed balls are also an interesting way to share flower seeds with your friends. Make a batch, put them in a groovy container or package, and give them away!

NOTE: The women in this video use red potters clay. If you have good old fashioned red clay soil, use that instead.

 


Radish Gone to Seed

radish gone to seedThis is what happens when you let a radish go to seed. I planted some a few months ago and noticed they were getting leggy. I decided to let them grow to see just how tall they would get. The answer is approximately 5 feet.

How in the world did that tiny radish support the greenery above it? Seems impossible, doesn’t it? It stood tall in spite of its seemingly inadequate root system and was not downed by wind or rain even though we’ve had some violent storms recently. It even managed to find the energy to grow delicate white flowers with faint pink edges. Those flowers have since gone to seed. It’s as if the plant was saying, “Even though I’m on my way out, I’m going to make sure that a part of me lives on.” Spunky!

People are a lot like the radish plant. We are capable of amazing things in spite of the forces that try to prevent us from achieving them. Though, unlike the radish, we don’t realize that we are stronger, wiser, braver, and more lovable than we give ourselves permission to believe.

Straw Bale Gardens

straw bale garden photoA friend of mine brought the concept of straw bale gardening to my attention the other day. (Thanks, Sharon!) Very interesting. I did a bit of research and noticed that it is more common than I had imagined. I believe I will give this a try in the fall. I have a feeling that lettuce would thrive in straw bales.

Here’s how straw bale gardening works:

Buy a few bales of wheat straw (hay also works but contains more seeds) and set them in a sunny spot. Stack them one or two high. If you have mobility problems or if you just don’t like bending down to garden, two high would be ideal.

Ten days before you plant your garden, thoroughly soak the bales with water. If the weather is warm, you will have to do this more than once. The water will cause the bales to heat up considerably, which is harmful, even deadly, to plants and seeds. No fear! After 5-7 days, the bales will cool down and will be ready for planting a few days later.

Now for the fun part – planting your seeds or transplants. Sow the seeds directly in the straw. For transplants, dig a hole and set the plant in it. Add potting soil around the roots.

Fertilize the plants, water on a regular basis and watch your garden grow!

If you want to purdy up your straw bale garden, plant annual flowers or herbs with your veggies. I recommend nasturtiums (the flowers are edible and look pretty in a salad) and marigolds (to deter pests).



Rhubarb Punch

Rhubarb photoOn the far end of their lush, weed-free, perfectly tilled garden, my grandparents grew the most beautiful rhubarb I have ever seen. Boosted by rotted cow manure, the stalks and leaves were enormous and resembled exotic tropical plants – hardly something that would grow in Wisconsin.

Rhubarb is a unique vegetable and doesn’t seem like it would be highly utilized in the kitchen. (Yes. It is a vegetable; not a fruit.) Well, my grandma was rhubarb crazy! She used it in pies, tortes, cakes, jams, breads, bars, and even punch. In fact, punch is my favorite use for rhubarb. The boiled down, strained rhubarb juice concentrate, combined with a splash of sour mixer, ginger ale, or lemon lime soda, has a pungent, tart, yet sweet flavor that must be experienced to be appreciated.

A rhubarb drink doesn’t sound like it would be tasty, does it? In fact, it sounds downright awful! Believe it or not, it is quite delicious… one of my favorite summertime beverages.


Rhubarb Punch

6-8 cups rhubarb (chopped)
1 cup sugar (or to taste)
4 cups water
12 oz. frozen lemonade
1 quart sour mixer, ginger ale or lemon lime soda

Cook the rhubarb and water until the rhubarb becomes soft and mushy. Strain juice from rhubarb. Add frozen lemonade and sugar. Stir and refrigerate. To serve, fill glass 2/3 with rhubarb concentrate and top off with soda. A fresh strawberry makes a nice garnish!



My Friend the Rat Snake

I stepped out of my truck yesterday and noticed an adult rat snake looking at me from the edge of the woods. He (she?) was about two feet away. Another rat snake was nearby and quickly slithered off before I could photograph it. I was slightly alarmed by the sight of this duo. Mostly, I was pleased. These beautiful creatures are free rodent control!

I have all kinds of large, mysterious holes in my lawn and flower beds. I’m pretty sure they are chipmunk holes. I also have vole/mole trails throughout my yard. While these animals are cute, I’m not especially fond of the fact that they are tearing up my yard and flower beds. I will never intentionally kill or trap them. However, I am not at all opposed to them being eliminated by predators.

By the way, unless you are a mouse, mole, chipmunk, squirrel, bird, or egg, there is no need to fear a rat snake. They are not venomous and do not harm people. Please do not kill them just because you find them creepy!  The rat snake is your friend.


Free Mulch!

using leaves as mulchEvery autumn, Mother Nature provides me with free mulch.

My hostas love it! So do I. Free does not mean that it comes without a price, however. The price is labor, dust covered skin and mucous membranes, and a fair amount of sweat. I live a glamorous life, folks.

Many trees shade my yard… and those trees drop MANY leaves. Grass refuses to grow in the shadows of the trees. So, rather than fight nature, I decided to work with it and created curvy hosta beds over the patches of baked, bald clay. When I mow (in the fall, mowing is more about picking up leaves than clipping grass), I bag the chopped leaves and spread them in the beds. Over the past seven years, the leaves have transformed into rich, beautiful, black gold.

Last June, my parents and my nephew came down from Wisconsin for a visit. There is a lake about 10 minutes from the house, so we decided to go fishing. Before we went, my nephew and I collected night crawlers from the hosta beds. It only took us about 15 minutes to gather more than enough for our fishing outing. My nephew was amazed when I swept my hand across the leaves to clear an area of leaf mulch and worms-a-plenty squirmed on the surface of the soil. Unfortunately, the lake wasn’t as filled with fish as my hosta bed was with worms. We caught (and released) one tiny fish that day.


Books about Composting