around the farm

the parental dahlia that furnished the seeds of the new baby mystery dahlias; deep purple foliage and brilliant orange blooms…

… and the results are in! the first mystery baby, grown from saved seeds is yellow!

sunflower volunteer, having been messed with in photoshop to bring out its peachy coloration.

speaking of peaches… i had the good fortune of being very good friends with someone who picked more peaches than she budgeted for this year, and she went ahead and canned them all. all i had to do was pay her for jars of peaches, at u-pick price, and trade her some of my empty jars. since it happened during the time i was moving out of my old house, it was even more of a gift- i might not have canned any peaches this year at all without her! that is, until this past weekend, when i bought one 20 pound box from the farmer’s market and made jam and peach barbecue sauce.

every pot, pan, and bowl i own somehow came into play, maybe because i divided the peach jam into lavender-honey and ginger-honey batches, and made 2  batches of canteloupe jam as well. you laugh, but it is going to be such a nice taste of pure summer in the middle of january! for the canteloupe i added some citrus zest to both batches, one of which had a vanilla bean, and the other had ginger (both fresh and crystallized- yum).

abstract still life with sun dremched peach jam.

planting the fall garden now… garlic and lots of saved seeds are being re-planted- carrots and asian greens seeds pictured here. i’ve gotten pretty lazy with my seed saving, and never ended up hulling and winnowing any of the seeds, so i’m just doing it as i go, scattering generously since i seem to have plenty. wherever i find a little bare patch of soil, such as the potato bed i just dug, i am busily scattering seeds, hoping for the ground to be well covered to protect from erosion by the time the rainy season gets going.

meanwhile, harvesting mode is in full swing. peppers are peppering the greenhouse. a certain spicy-loving man is patiently awaiting their change of color when they reportedly become piping hot! (at least one of the varieties, though i don’t think it was this one pictured. i believe the one above is “little bell” and i am excited to have a batch of peppers to roast and freeze for adding to dishes throughout the winter.)

polyculture rules. (beets, parsley, dinosaur kale and tomatoes all mingling in this snapshot. not to mention my “living mulch” of weeds.)

tomatillos… they’re just so photogenic. and their little papery balloons are filling in nicely with the round fruits that will soon become a giant batch of salsa verde.

also photogenic is magenta lamb’s-quarters, which i hope will take over and reseed the entire garden now that it is bolting. it is not only stunningly pretty, but also very tasty and nutrient-dense in salads!

the strawberries have thrived in their bed, and the bed has filled in nicely as each plant has sent runners out and established several new babies. companion plants such as chives, thyme and oregano have homes here, and i’ve been purposely allowing taprooted weeds (dandelions) to establish themselves, though not allowing them to get carried away and go to seed- plenty of that going on elsewhere to maintain the population. taprooted weeds pull nutrients up from deeper below while preventing erosion and acting as a living mulch, and then when i do uproot them to prevent complete dandelion takeover, i leave them in place to retain those nutrients in the area, as well as add organic matter to the soil and perform mulching services. i am also hoping they will outcompete the evicted blackberries that are tenaciously trying to repopulate the strawberry bed. dandelions are much easier to pull than blackberries. friendly weeds welcome here.

purple peacock broccoli. a sprouting variety, so it doesn’t make huge heads, but keeps producing long after you’ve chopped it the first time (and dunked it in water for a while to remove the aphid infestation.) i beheaded the first round and with some purple potatoes, made some purple creamy broccoli soup for dinner last night.

guess who thinks my garden is great habitat? specifically, this migratory dragonfly species of our area seems to like to perch on the tips of the many stakes and trellises strewn throughout the garden on sunny afternoons. i hope they are preying on aphids!

and ever so gradually, the nights become chillier and some mornings we wake up to find that it rained during the night. between school beginning, jobs in flux and a new coparenting schedule, i am living day by day right now, grounding myself however i can, based on whether i wake up and find myself wearing a mama hat, or have time to wear one of my other hats. like the jam making hat. summer is a dragonfly in flight, never remaining static for long, always on its way somewhere else in such a hurry that it defies shutter speeds and other forms of capture. but i will still give it my best shot to fill both photos and jars with its sunshine to carry us through until the next time it rolls around.

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