Alliums to Zinnias: a journey of two New Jersey Gardeners


Just how early are the daffodils this year?
March 12, 2016, 9:32 am
Filed under: flowers, spring | Tags: , ,

I’ll leave it to others to debate fluke mild winter vs. global warming. I’ll just point out that I spotted five daffodils blooming in our yard on Thursday, and two days later the number has quadrupled. I shouldn’t be surprised — we had them peeking up through the ground at Christmas, and temperatures hit 70 again this week.

Here’s what the blog tells me about when we first saw daffodils in other years:

2010 — March 19

2012 — March 2

2013 — March 21

2014 — April 1

Obviously my record-keeping is a bit(!) inconsistent.

Here are three of the blooms spotted this March 10:

Daffodils bloom early in New Jersey



3 signs of spring (2 good, 1 bad)
February 28, 2016, 3:12 pm
Filed under: flowers, spring, winter | Tags: ,

It’s nearly 60 degrees today. February’s not quite over, but it does feel like winter is gone.

Two more signs that spring is here, or nearly so:

Crocuses are in bloom

Crocuses are in bloom

 

lenten rose

So is the Lenten rose.

 

And we spotted that damn groundhog today.



This is winter??
January 1, 2016, 8:35 am
Filed under: garden, winter | Tags: , , ,

Going back a week: 70 degrees on Christmas Day and the daffodils think it’s spring. Weeds too:

xmas daffodils

We still had food to harvest in the garden (and there’s more to cone!):

xmas harvest

And the birds seemed equally confused about where they should be. Watch hundreds of — crows? –as they moved in a pack, lifting off almost simultaneously with a big whoosh and moving from yard to yard. They’re now gone.

birds preview

Heck, I was confused! The state shattered the record for warmest December ever by more than five degrees.



Jam from my neighbor’s pear tree
September 28, 2015, 5:28 pm
Filed under: food, recipe | Tags: ,

sonia's pearsA neighbor has a dwarf pear tree (Keiffer semi-dwarf, to be precise) that has been pretty prolific this year, and she kindly told me to help myself.

I tried not to be too greedy, but I did get enough to make this pear ginger jam and then share it with her. She pronounced it awesome, so I guess it’s one I’ll be making again (especially if she keeps offering up pears).

Here’s the recipe for pear and ginger preserves, from “Canning for a new generation; Bold, fresh flavors for the modern pantry” by Liana Krissoff:

3 pounds pears, peeled, cored and diced (about 7 cups). I can’t remember my neighbor’s variety, but it’s not the usual kind you find at the store. And they were pretty hard.

3 tablespoons finely diced fresh ginger (I’m lazy — I just grated a big chunk, more than 3 tablespoons)

grated zest of 1 lemon (oops, I skipped)

3 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice (I cheated and used bottled lemon juice)

1 1/2 cups sugar (I liked that it was so little)

Put a small plate in the freezer.

Prepare jars.

Put all the ingredients in a wide preserving pan (ok, a big pot). Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are very soft and translucent (these pears were so firm that I took a potato masher to them, leaving some texture) and a small dab of the jam spooned onto the chilled plate becomes somewhat firm (it will not gel), 15-20 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir gently for a few seconds to distribute the fruit in the liquid.

Ladle the hot jam in the jars in the usual way, water-bath for 5 minutes, make sure seal pops… Done.

I just discovered Liana Krissoff has a blog, though it looks like she struggles to keep it going. Just like most of us.



The garden before the black-eyed susans take over

The black-eyed susans are starting their annual invasion. This year the phlox are showing signs of spreading too, despite some mildew and munching by the deer. And those coneflowers!

Bees are happy, butterflies are happy, hummingbirds are happy. I’m happy!

Some shots on what is supposed to be a scorcher of a day:

butterfly on coneflower 2

phlox front

phlox and day lily

phlox and black-eyed susans

phlox, coneflower, butterfly

The lovely crocosmia are now in three or four spots, and they need to be divided again this fall (well, some of those baby bulbs dug out with fingers?).

crocosmia july 19 2015 002

crocosmia july 19 2015 006

 

side bed with red, red, white

Dividing the amsonia (below)  could add the feathery leaf structure to another spot. More phlox (white!)  needed in the center of the long front bed. Daisies from the side bed could work too.

divide the amsonia in the fall

And I WILL break up the black-eyed susans into sections, promise!

 



Weekend harvest
July 12, 2015, 7:04 pm
Filed under: garden, vegetables | Tags: , , ,

First tomatoes of the season (nicely hidden), plus broccoli and shallots. A couple of hot red peppers. Oh yeah, zucchini too.

first tomatoes of 2015

broccoli 2015

shallots 2015

 



What to do with 5 zucchini???
July 6, 2015, 6:55 pm
Filed under: flood, garden, vegetables | Tags:

5 zucchiniThe glut has arrived.

I’ve harvested five oversized zucchini from the garden in the last few day (and I think there was a sixth that we grilled). Now I need to decide what to do with them.

Zucchini bread? Chocolate zucchini bread? Even better, chocolate zucchini cake?

Work them into a lasagna I need to make for Friday night?

I’m taking suggestions.

My sister-in-law just told me about a spiralizer/Veggetti that turns (normal-sized zucchini) into spaghetti with a few twists of the wrist. Could I use a mandolin to slice mine finely, then cut them into fatter-than-spaghetti strips and make a version of Pad Thai?




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