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Garden Diary

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This Week 2017


November 5 - 11

A this-and-that kind of week.

Sunday I went to Bouman Stickney Farm Museum for a program inaugurating their new smoke house, built last Spring as an Eagle Scout project. Drove about 25 minutes to get there, only to find a sign on the door that due to unforeseen circumstances the program was canceled, sorry for any inconvenience. Turned around and drove home. Next program will be Sinterklaas on December 5. Don't think they'll cancel that one.

On Tuesday we went and voted. There's some activity for write-in candidates for the school board. First time I have seen electioneering outside the school where we vote. Also first time I've seen a state trooper in the gymnasium where we vote - apparently requested in case things became contentious. Also a line shuffling forward to get to the voting booth for our district. Slowdown because many people did not know quite what to do to write in a candidate, needed assistance, and afterwards had to fill out / sign a form that assistance was given. Update: Turns out the state trooper was there because last year there were parking issues - voters vs aggravated parents attending a football game.

Then on Wednesday morning

there was a young buck calming resting on front lawn.

After lunch I raked leaves off the path to the Forest Deck, filling tubs to go over the cut back bananas after shoving mothballs into the mulch around them as a vole & chipmunk repellent. Dug canna and moved into garage.

Thursday and Friday I moved just about every remaining tender-to-frost potted plants into the garage, which is now even more difficult to move around in. Cars are O.K., it's people who have problems.

By Saturday morning we had a foretaste of winter - the low temperature was 22 degrees Fahrenheit overnight.

Anything still outside overnight got hammered
by the frost, quite obviously.

I've started on this year's fruitcake baking.

And so went our week.


October 29 - November 4

Sunday was a rather rainy (3 inches in 24 hours) and windy day. So when the garden club went apple picking at the Snyder Research Farm on a chilly, windy, Monday (no option for change of date)

there were lots of apples on the ground. Which may not be retrieved due to E. coli contamination concerns. But we managed to pick 934 pounds of Suncrisp apples for the food bank. And picked more for ourselves.

Also 38 pounds of tomatoes plus 13 pounds of tomatillos (and tomatoes for ourselves, also tomatillos for them as wanted some) as that plot was going to have strings cut / poles pulled / plants cut back that afternoon. Cabbages from a research plot had already been harvested, a huge bin's worth, so about 100 pounds were taken for the food bank, some for us. Barely made a dent in what was there.

And a researcher had brought a large picnic cooler of cranberries from a south Jersey farm that we were welcome to take some for ourselves.

Sunday's wind had knocked down a couple of my bananas so on Tuesday I cut down the rest of the bananas.

After Wednesday's knitting Paul and I went out to lunch.

Thursday I had someone come and clean the dining room carpet. Actually, I called and thought I'd get an appointment for next week but someone was working sort of in our area and could be there that afternoon.

All the thermostats are now installed. All four work fine for heat. Thursday was warm enough that Paul could restart the air conditioning. Two work fine, one that didn't he corrected. And the fourth thermostat is O.K. for heat but not air conditioner. Paul is considering the situation. And we have time before air conditioning is required.

So far, with the produce I brought home from the research farm I have made cranberry pear chutney, peach tomato salsa (hot peppers that a friend shared, hot is the operative descriptive word), and dilly green tomato pickle. More produce still to process.

And so went our week.


October 22 - 28

We leisurely continue with our seasonal changes.

On Monday I washed the greenhouse roof, then all the water to the three outside faucets was shut off.

Having turned the heat back on Paul decided to replace all four thermostats. The new ones, which arrived on Monday, are programmable. It's a little more complicated than popping off the old ones and slapping on the new ones. Good thing he knows what he's doing to rewire them.

Instead of knitting on Wednesday it was garden club. Poor lecture about forcing bulbs (she spent more time talking about showing forced bulbs at the Philadelphia flower show than about how to force the bulbs.) After which we had a luncheon - four soups and homemade bread.

Thursday was progressively more overcast so

we changed our autumnal outing to Friday, driving to Millburn NJ South Mountain Reservation park for a picnic (a thermos of soup, a shared pita sandwich from the IGA of ham, Swiss cheese, black olives, sweet pickles and honey mustard, SnapDragon apples, and - of course - chocolate chip cookies)

followed by a stroll through the woods on the fairy house trail.

And so went our week.


October 15 - 21

A week of lovely sunny cool weather. The front that came through brought wind along with the lower temperatures.

And on Monday a largish branch came down across driveway.

Once a month I do a book review for my website. October, it will be "Gardens of the High Line." So on Tuesday I took the bus to Port Authority, where Susan met me. We walked the High Line, I spent the night, and bought 3 bagels before returning home early Wednesday afternoon.

Walking the High Line, north from Hudson Yards.

IThe cool weather also meant that on Friday morning

I made the first fire of the season in the wood burning stove.

Then Saturday was Paul's computer club meeting. As typical, I came along and crocheted away the time. Then we went out to lunch at Viva Mexico.

And so went our week.


October 8 - 14

On Wednesday we went out to dinner at the grill room of The Frenchtown Inn to celebrate our anniversary.

Everything is coming up pumpkins - little ones and big ones, mostly orange but also white ones, clustered on street corners, front porches, benches.

On Friday we rearranged the great room furniture to its winter configuration, and Paul brought up the smaller wood rack and stove accoutrements from the basement. He moved more carts of firewood from driveway to wood storage area. We filled the upstairs wood rack

Saturday was one of Hunterdon County's very infrequent electronics recycling days. We took a flat screen TV that has not worked for about 3 years, a printer-copier-scanner that will copy but insists the black ink cartridge needs to be replaced even when a new one in in place when asked to print, and a 20 year old computer.

And so went our week.


October 1 - 7

Another quiet week. Paul took down the screen doors for the two pairs of French doors to the deck. Some days he's been moving a couple of carts of firewood from the storage area by the log splitter, on the driveway, to the winter firewood storage area conveniently under cover next to the house by the basement door.

Tuesday I was one of the eight or so garden club ladies who went to the Research Farm to pick for the food bank. Perhaps you remember when I told you about picking peaches in the summer. This time it was mostly Grimes Golden apples and some Asian apple-pears. All told we picked 1,125 pounds of fruit for the food bank.

Then we were allowed to pick for ourselves. I picked crab apples (they're infrequently in the rows as pollinators.) The next day I made two batches of crab apple butter, one spiced with cardamom & nutmeg, the other with cinnamon & cloves.

I asked Geoff about Iron Mountain peaches, that I had seen at one of the Garden Conservancy's Open Days Garden in September. He said they have 2 trees, and yes they're ripe now. Very late peach. He took me to the trees and let me pick. I've made a batch of peach butter with saffron, and am deciding what to do with the remainder.

We were also allowed to pick tomatoes for ourselves, a wildly varied assortment from the Great Tomato Tasting plot. I made a batch of Marcella Hazen's fresh tomato sauce. Also picked green tomatoes for chow-chow.

There was fog on the river when I drove into town for my Wednesday morning knitting group.

And so went our week.


September 24 - 30

Last Sunday was the New Jersey Mycological Society's Fungus Fest - identification, cultivating, crafts from paper making to dyeing yarn, culinary demonstrations, more. Always interesting.

The last couple of days have been cooler, more typical of late September. But it has been so hot and dry that leaves are falling without much color. Next Thursday is the full moon. If it is cloudy and we slide past without a frost that could mean another month frost-free. I can tell it is cooler - the cats are more cuddlesome.

Wednesday was the once a month garden club meeting and Wednesday is always the yarn group meeting. Garden club topic did not interest me so I went to knitting but then continued on to garden club for the board meeting discussing programs for 2018.

Saturday I moved the potted bananas, some begonias, and other more tender plants indoors or into the greenhouse. Paul turned off air conditioning and took down the bedroom skylight curtains. In the afternoon I gave a program on Holland in Tulip Time at the county library.

And so went our week.


September 17 - 23

Domino continues to enjoy the catwalk Paul made for him. Previously he used to jump from the landing railing over to the window ledge.

I celebrated the first day of autumn by raking four tarps worth of leaves and dumping them in the compost heap.

Saturday I went to Howell Living History Farm. The plowing had been done so today they were seeding hard red winter wheat, over-seeding with pasture grasses and red clover.

And so went our week.


September 10 - 16

This has been a rather quiet week.

Sunday I went to Bouman Stickney Museum for one of their period cooking demonstration. This was a pickling presentation, 18th century.

Trees are no longer quite green. Farmers are still busy baling hay.

On Tuesday I repotted my oxblood / schoolhouse lilies, Rhodophiala bifida. Thick new white roots already formed, even though they haven't been watered since sometime in May. Put them outdoors as I repotted (there are about 10 pots), and it cooperatively rained the next day. Last year I also repotted on September 12, and they were in bloom on September 22. Just hurling themselves into flower. My daughter-in-law's mom, once told me that there's a yard in Giddings, TX that is just solid red with their flowers when they come into bloom.

No frost as yet, but there was one night down to 47 degrees Fahrenheit. Encouraging weather for oven cooking - one night I made meatloaf, another night I roasted half a chicken.

Shades of my mother saying all she had to do was like something, go ask for it, and the shopkeeper would say, "Oh we haven't had that for a long time." leaving her feeling that she was asking for a whalebone corset. There's a frozen burrito Paul likes for a quick lunch. It's gone off to join the whalebone corsets. So I got a beef brisket and cooked it low and slow with the appropriate seasonings. Have shredded the meat. Reduced the sauce and packed in small quantities. Tomorrow I will pack shredded meat in 1/2 cup lots, then freeze with a sauce packet. Burritos, tacos, enchiladas, - a 4 pound brisket shreds into a mound of meat.

And so went our week.


September 3 - 9

Let's see where we are . . .

Right now, Saturday evening, it looks like Hurricane Irma will swing to the west side of Florida. Nephew and family in Boca Raton should be O.K. Don't know if they brought the cats along to her parents place but would imagine so. Sister- and brother-in-law in Port St Lucie should likewise be O.K., and also their two sons who came over to hunker down with them. Scant news from Texas so assume all is well. No idea where our daughter et al will go when the one month rental is up, but they may not know either, at this point. At this time plans can only be made day by day.

Last Sunday was Riverfest in Frenchtown. Didn't go into town for that, but in the afternoon Betty at The Spinnery was giving a nice presentation on natural dyeing with native plants, which I did attend.

Concord grapes are finally back in the supermarket. Bought some to make grape jelly, Paul's preferred sweet preserves.

Finally completed all the entries from our week in Colorado. Links may be found here: A Week Up the Mountain at Purgatory

This weekend will give me material for five more entries. Saturday morning I went garden hopping (several New Jersey gardens in the Open Days of the Garden Conservancy program were open today) while Paul went over to our friends Ann and Bill's house so Ann could go with another friend to the Garden State Sheep Breeders Sheep and Fiber Festival. Bill, if you recall, fractured his thigh bone in a bicycle accident, is not yet allowed to bear weight, and Ann is reluctant to leave him home alone. I intended to get to the fiber festival early enough to meet them but it didn't work out that way - meant to visit only one garden but instead went to two, and then got to the sheep & fiber festival only by mid-afternoon.

.

And so went our week.


August 27 - September 2

Here are the week's updates:

Daughter, son-in-law, their youngest daughter her partner, two cats and Max the dog are in a rental house in The Woodlands. Our grandaughter and her partner are looking for a place but as you are no doubt aware rentals in the Houston area are few and far between. Middle granddaughter and her little son have their own apartment. Daughter and son-in-law have spent 6 days ripping up flooring, ripping out sheetrock, etc. It is arduous work, heartbreaking after the 4 years they have spent developing and improving the house and making it their home. They are too busy with physical work, emotional exhaustion, and insurance adjusters to additionally cope with phone calls, e-mail, etc. Send positive thoughts and loving wishes in their direction.

Meanwhile, here in New Jersey:

On Tuesday I found a very nice chicken of the woods mushroom, in prime condition. Collected two pieces this size, sharing one with my mushroom guru sister-from-another-mother.

I made more food for our friends Ann and Bill. (I think I told you when I made food for them before we went to Colorado.) She doesn't like to cook. He fractured his thigh bone in a bicycle accident. Anyhow, along with pulled pork, spaghetti sauce, and coleslaw I provided a plum cake - Italian blue plums are back in the market. There was enough batter left over for a small cake for me and Paul.

Last night we went over to their house for dinner - Joan, our mutual good friend from knitting and garden club, had made dinner at her house then she and her husband Ron had brought it over for all six of us to enjoy. A convivial evening but miserable drive home in the rain and the dark - Pennsylvania's wiggly roads are better taken in daylight.

Having e-mailed and spoken to the owner of the British White cattle, on Friday I met her, the cattle, and had a stroll through the pastures. We spent about two hours in among the cattle, talking about them and also other things. She pointed out Francis, the herd bull, and said he was very calm and friendly. Held up the wire for the electric fence and we both went into the field with Francis, some cows, and two very young calves. Francis eyed me and started scuffling up dirt and clumps of grass with his forefoot. Diane chided him. I decided he knows her, he doesn't know me. He's not pleased and I'm a little nervous. So when Diane again lifted the wire I stepped outside. Francis was happier. And so was I. The other field, with cows, steers, and yearlings, had no such issues.

And so went our interesting week.


August 18 - 25

I know this is not the usual Sunday to following Saturday "week." There is a reason; on Friday, 18 August we flew to Durango, Colorado where our son-in-law picked us up and drove us to Purgatory. Kid you not, that's the name of the ski resort where they have a quarter share in a lovely condo.

And here's what we did on the days between coming and going that we were there.

On Saturday son-in-law and Paul used the UTV to go off-roading on the California Gulch Trail outside Silverton.

This was the weekend that apparently was a Colorado mushroom fest here at Purgatory, and in Durango, also Telluride, and no doubt elsewhere. Though the event was fully registered I was able to inveigle my way in and joined the Purgatory morning mushroom foray where the 70 or so people divided into three groups, each with an experienced guide to identify the mushrooms edible, inedible, poisonous that we found. And finished with wine and refreshments at our starting point, on the deck at Dante's Restaurant (open in ski season only) elevation 10, 503 feet.

In the afternoon I participated in the mushroom tasting event, with samples provided by several Durango restaurants.

On Sunday we four went off-road again, on the Black Bear Pass trail.

Rated 6/10 for difficulty,

.

and 10/10 for scenery. Elevation at the top is 12,850 feet. Let air out of tires down to about 24 psi for better grip adhesion. Patches of snow the size of a large room still remaining. Wonderful alpine wildflowers. Steve, wonderful man, was very patient about stopping. Even had a small folding step-stool to assist me in getting back up and into the vehicle.

Monday we went to the Durango library for the solar eclipse event, 80% in the area. Also to the Durango fish hatchery, the Durango wildlife museum, and additional places such as Yarn Durango, a very nice yarn shop. I had crocheted my way through a scarf on the flight out and needed more. Plus, my daughter liked the pattern so she bought some yarn and a crochet hook. We ended up going there a second time too.

One evening we went to the Bar D cowboy chuck wagon for dinner. Afterwards we drove up behind / above the lodge to a wide spot in the road, well away from the lights of Purgatory. Clear night. I could not find the constellations in the mass of so many stars.

This is getting rather long. Enough is enough to give you an idea of the wonderful time we had at Purgatory-should-be-named-Paradise.

And so went our week.


Thursday, 17 August - The hard drive on my PC went non compos mentis about 10 days ago. Efforts to revive it failed. Jim of River Net Computers in Frenchtown, New Jersey, was able to clone it onto a (Mensa-ready) replacement upgrade to a 1 terrabyte solid state drive. Now trying to catch up with things before leaving for a week's vacation. Come back in late August, when This Week will once more get back on schedule. Meanwhile, here are some images to sustain you until I return.

Cervenka Farm had a cornfest, benefiting two local fire companies.

August is when the peaches are ripe.

Eight of us from the garden club went to Snyder Research Farm and picked

20 boxes, call it 600 pounds of peaches for a food bank
(and then some for ourselves.)

It was also time for the 30th annual Walking Pilgrimage that
passes on our road on their way to the Frenchtown Bridge.

Four days, thousands of people, walking 57.5 miles from Great Meadows, New Jersey
to American Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Adults, children, babies, priests.

.

I will be back in a bit over a week. Until then . . .


July 30 - August 5

I hear cicadas in the daytime, katydids at night. A buck in velvet was on the slope behind the house early one morning. Goldenrod coming into flower in roadside meadows. Intimations that summer is edging over the crest and starting to wane.

I change our bed sheets on Monday. Many of my friends do the same. Tradition?

Lovely when I can hang them outside to dry. In our Brookfield summers Katzy used to spread the sheets on the lawn to dry. Which would also whiten / bleach them.

Local corn is deliciously available. First it was bicolor, now white.

Corn with chanterelles. Quite nice.

Saturday the Watnong chapter of the rock garden society had its summer picnic
at the Cross Estate Gardens. Good time had by all.

The chapter provides entree and sides, members bring
appetizers and desserts for petit dejeuner sur l'herbe.

.

I brought buttercrust pound cake, served either with lightly poached peaches or sour cherries.

And so went our week.


July 23 - 29

Tremendous rain Sunday night, torrential before settling down to "merely" steady rain. On Monday morning the run-off channel was flowing (which it does just a few times a year, when there's this kind of heavy precipitation.)

Monday, I went and got my hair cut. It's been long for a few years, now time for a change.

Wednesday was garden club - making bird houses from gourds. Not interested. Took pictures instead. After the meeting there was a board meeting, reviewing the plant sale we organize each year at the art festival. It was my first opportunity to use the bento box I got for my birthday. And since the fire station social hall has electrical outlets (well, duh!) I brought my Magic Bullet and made a mango lassi to go with lunch.

Here's a link to the entry on my web site, if you're interested: Gourd Bird Houses

Thursday I drove to the South Mountain Reservation in Millburn, NJ to take a walk on their fairy house trail. Fun.

Here's a link to the entry on my web site, if you're interested: Fairy House Trail

There's something else beside my bananas that thrives on hot humid weather. Deliciously edible chanterelle mushrooms are popping up in our woods, enough that I'll saute and then freeze some. Yummy!

And so went our week.


July 16 - 22

The weather continues tropical, not to say torrid. Temperatures in the high 80s / low 90s Fahrenheit, humid too. And rain. There's 1.25 inches in the rain gauge from last night's precipitation. As you can see from the picture my bananas are loving it.

Donut peaches (the cultivar is 'Saturn') are available at the local orchard. Paul's favorite. The early yellow peaches have been in for a while but they are cling stone. Good for eating, but I prefer free stone for preserving. Told Mike I want a half basket of seconds for that. The first cultivar, 'Red Haven', will be available end of the week. Later I'll get white fleshed peaches (cultivar might be 'Belle of Georgia', or is it 'Snow Queen') for peaches in a lavender infused syrup.

I remember when I was a little girl in Chicago my mother used to can a bushel of peaches and a bushel of pears. No idea where she bought them. Do remember that once she put some up with apple brandy in the syrup. The liquor had a really bad taste. The nasty flavor went into the fruit, but the syrup was like a delicious peach brandy. She said that dinner guests would say "I'm really full, couldn't eat another piece of fruit. But may I please have some more of the syrup."

Saturday was a garden expo at the North County branch library. Given the weather it was fortunately an indoor event. Various displays and presenters about orchids, cacti and succulents, native plants vs invasive plants, honeybees, butterflies, county parks, basketry. Pleasant.

And so went our week.


July 9 - 15

It's been hot. Humid. Rain. The 7:00 p.m. rabbits regularly come by to nibble on the lawn.

Early peaches are available at the local orchard. And sour cherries, for preserves: brandied cherries, sour cherries with red wine jam, sour cherry berry red wine jelly.

Last week some of my stitch sisters from the Wednesday morning knitting group at the Bridge Cafe had lunch to help me celebrate my birthday.

Paul's computer club meeting on Saturday. I joined him, and crocheted while they have their meeting. Then lunch at Viva Mexico.

Someone was to come on Friday to clean the chimney for the wood burning stove. So of course it rained. Which is why he came on Saturday afternoon.

And so went our week.


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