Spring is so busy! We run and run and still don't get everything done. I didn't blog, and we only almost made it on vacation. It took us a month before we could get to washing out the pots we recycle each year. Almost everything is planted now, and we had a lot of fun in all the busyness. We've had summer camps and swimming lessons, library days and practice driving days for the teenagers. We visited with friends and had fun fire-pit parties and July 4th celebrations. We finally had time this week to take a breath before the big harvests start coming in. Now the days are hot and we try to get all the outside work done early in the day. The kids have settled into their slower summer routine.
Summer begins with spring cleaning
We go through lots of pots every year. Most go with the plants we sell in the spring, but the ones that come back to us to be recycled and those from the plants we put in our yard and garden need to be washed and packed away to be ready for next spring. In years past this has not been a popular job, so we modified it so we could get it done fast and still have a good time.
I started by filling a kiddie pool with water. I then dumped in a bunch of dirty pots and sprayed them all down with a pressure washer. The water in the pool kept the pots from flying out of the pool while I blasted big chunks of dirt off. The pool was just uphill from a maple tree and flowers, and they were well watered by the end of the day. So was I!
After pressure washing, we put the pots into a bigger pool for a final scrub and then tossed them into the grass to dry. Since the water wasn't muddy it did not deter my younger girls from having a great time in the pool at the same time.
We also power washed all of the trays that hold the pots, and laid them in the grass to dry. The table lying on it's side in the picture was perfect for holding the trays upright so they could be sprayed out. After they dried in the sun, they were packed away to use next year. It is a big project, but with all the helpers it only took half a day.
The cut flower garden was a great idea in theory. We have lots of perennial flowers, but all the seed catalogs with their glowing descriptions and glossy photos promised me vase after vase of beautiful flowers all season long. I bought into the idea, literally. If the pictures looked good and the descriptions promised cut flowers and pollinators I bought the seeds. I started Cosmos, four o'clocks, lisianthus, 3 kinds of sunflowers, marigolds, snapdragons, fragrant stocks, dahlias, and milkweed. All were easy to start and take care of, except for the lisianthus which stayed small for months. Unfortunately, this spring's nearly constant rain made it impossible to find the right time to plant. We finally mudded them into the soggy soil and hoped for the best. They look so pretty now and we have so many butterflies and hummingbirds I think it may be worth doing again. What do you think?
The perennials are pretty too, and were no work at all!
The annual cut flower garden might be a one hit wonder but the perennials get better and better every year. The birds love them too. They eat the seeds out of my cone flowers and saliva. I suspect they eat most of the insects and caterpillars too. I am always dodging birds in the backyard. They follow me around when I water to see what bugs I disturb. Today I had a teenage robin follow me around until I finally left a puddle in a tray that was big enough to take a bath in. It's hot outside!
The harvest is rolling in now!
Fruits and vegetables in the garden need to be picked almost daily. Up to this point, much of what we've picked was eaten right off the plants while we were still outside. Now pickings are big enough that they are making it to the table to be weighed, recorded, and prepped to eat. We eat a lot of it fresh during meals, but starting about now there is more than even our big family of eight can eat fresh so we are always looking for ways to preserve it to use this winter. Last winter we did a fifty-day no-shopping challenge to see how we would do eating just out of the pantry and freezer. Stay tuned, we may do something like that again this year.
This week we got a pepper roaster. We all love the peppers in everything we eat, but it takes a long time to roast them on the gas range, and I might occasionally (or pretty much every time) set off the fire alarm when roasting peppers on the gas range. So we bought a real pepper roaster and it is totally awesome! So, the freezers are filling up and we are eating fresh from the garden everyday. I love summer! How are you preserving your summer harvests this year? Are you trying anything new? Leave us a comment below!