Strawberry Fields Forever
Not doing much but drawing and farming. I can’t show any drawings because my editors will kill me. So, here’s farming.
We don’t grow our own strawberries because the vermin get most of them, and the berries do much better at the farm down the street. That tiny white dot is my mum.
Here we can pick fresh berries for $2 per quart.
We have plenty of blackberries and huckleberries growing wild on our farm, and will have buckets of them in about a week or so. Then, a berry dish with liqueur and cream. Yum. Can’t wait!
I call a walk in the garden “grocery shopping”. I just take a bag and pick what I need.
If you are going to live out here, you’d better like greens. Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens, beet greens.
I also grow celery, which takes so much better than store-bought. The small flowers smell green and peppery. They are also edible, but getting tiny critters out of the nooks and crannies is more trouble than it is worth, sometimes.
First harvest of beets, turnips, snow peas.
Snow peas are selling for $7.99 per pound at the Whole Foods store. For $1.50 worth of seeds, and $1.69 bag of soil amendment, I’ve grown almost ten pounds worth on one short row. They are very easy to grow and they freeze well, and they look pretty in any kind of garden. Since they have high yields, they are great for urban flower gardens.
Chamomile is another very easy to grow plant that costs a ridiculous amount as an organic treat.
The daisy-like flowers fit any flower garden. Most store-bought chamomile has only a fraction of the flavor and scent of home-grown, because most is made from leaves instead of the flowers. It takes no special care to grow this plant.
Just pluck the flowers, lay them out on a paper towel set over a wire rack. Let dry for about a week. Store in a sealed jar. That is all it takes to make your own chamomile tea.
If you have a clear glass tea pot, it’s fun to pour the hot water and watch the flowers open as they rehydrate.
After growing your own, you will never want to buy the bland store brands again.
First harvest of potatoes, and some golden plums.
We bought old wine casks, cut them in half, and plant taters in them. This cuts down on hungry vermin damage. Of course, we have to rotate the harvests every few years, so I guess I’ll plant flowers in the casks next summer.
I had a bunch of extra seed potatoes growing in a pile of mulch at the back of the orchard and ran into a rattlesnake there the other day. I reached down to pick up a potato a vermin had dug up, and the snake rattled at me not two feet from my drawing hand. My career flashed before my eyes.
You need to stay on your guard out here.
I let the snake have his way with my potato patch. I like to think it’s eating mice and potato-pinching squirrels.
Beet greens with pickled beets and pickled eggs, with local asparagus.
It takes a couple of years to harvest asparagus, so I buy from other farmers for now.
I don’t pickle my own beets either, because it is not cost effective. But it’s easy to pickle the eggs. Just use the reserved beet juice and put peeled, hard boiled eggs in the beet jar for at least one night. They are delicious and look very pretty on the plate!
Lots of people throw out their greens, but they taste a lot like spinach. I saute them in olive oil with pepper and salt. For extra flavor, you can add pork or bacon. This is a very refreshing warm-weather meal and takes minutes to prepare.
I like beet greens much better than turnip greens, which are a but fuzzy.
Many greens taste like spinach, so I don’t bother to grow spinach anymore. Swiss chard is hardier, and lives for years. I don’t know why everyone with a bit of land doesn’t grow it. It costs a fortune in stores and is about as hard to grow as grass.