Oranges Supremed and Preserved || Hitchhiking to Heaven
Garden, Preserves

June in the Garden — And a Preserved-Oranges Update

Does it feel like summer where you are? June started out weirdly cold and rainy in Northern California, while we were basking in warm Alaskan temps. I am raising an eyebrow in the direction of our wonky climate changes.

The day before we got home — the only day when there was no one here to watch over our place —  a deer broke through the fence and had a day-long feast. Do you remember what the nasturtiums looked like last month? Now they are trashed. (So much for pickling a bounty of pods later this summer.)

The deer also ate my new raspberry bushes (that broke my heart), a few sweet pepper plants, a rose bush, and several tomato plants. Thank goodness we planted container veggies on the gated front deck. I never thought I’d be so happy to see these ugly plastic buckets.

Go, celery, go!

The ground cherries are awesome. I’ve yet to eat my first, but I love their hardy, low-growing ways. They are thriving in a wine-barrel planter with a tomatillo for companionship. (The tomatillo is towering over the ground cherries, so it’s not visible here.)

The deck of my little studio/shed is a tricky gardening spot, with difficult soil, lots of native scrubbiness, and plenty of shade from a big Bay tree that drops its resinous leaves everywhere. Planter boxes come in handy.

Do you plant annual flowers? I almost never do, preferring to give my yearly energy to the veggies. Instead, I look for perennial bloomers, like these million bells (Calibrachoa). They come in a ton of great colors and they’re super easy to grow. I just wish the slugs didn’t like ’em quite so much.

I never get tired of lavender. I’ve been tucking it in everywhere, in pots and in the ground. This is the dwarf Hidcote variety, perfect for the narrow edging in front of the studio. Such a deep purple, too.

Daisies aren’t my favorite flower, but this tiny Santa Barbara variety (Erigeron karvinskianus — whew!) will grow almost anywhere, including in our hard clay soil. I am grateful to them for filling in where nothing else wants to.

Hello cutie! (The titmice are bringing their new families to the bird feeders. This one’s just getting the hang of it.)

I wonder why the deer didn’t eat our salad greens. Maybe it was full by the time it got to them. This bed is one of my favorite things in the garden right now. I seeded it heavily, so almost every day we go out and pluck a meal’s worth of young greens from the roots, giving the others room to keep growing. We started harvesting from this small (4′ x 3′) bed about five weeks ago and there’s not yet any sign of shortage or slacking off.

As you probably already know, humans are not the only harvesters of salad around here. Yesterday the pigeons and I had a conversation that went something like this.

Me: Look at this mess!

Quince: I didn’t do it. (Looking at Yuzu.)

Me: Yuzu, did you do this?

Yuzu: I didn’t do it. The dog did it.

Me: We don’t have a dog.

Yuzu: Maybe we should get one.

Smart-ass birds. Look at Quincy’s dirty beak. He’s not innocent, but he’s still irresistable. (He’s also completely healthy now. Yay.)

One last thing — a bit of preserving business. Do you remember in March when I made those supremed, preserved oranges, packing half of them in a light sugar syrup and half in light agave? I said I would open a jar of each in three months and then again in six months to compare the two. So here’s the three-month report: They are identical — at this stage I discern no differences at all in color, texture, or taste. That surprises me! Let’s see how the open jars keep in the fridge. That is, if I don’t eat them too fast to tell. They’re quite good.

I’ll give a report on the six-month old jars in September.

Happy almost-Solstice to you!

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  • Reply Dawn June 16, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    So, so glad Quince is healthy! What a relief that must be.

    Deer. When we first moved to our new home last year, I’d see them out the window and coo at my husband, “Oh look, Honey! Aren’t they so beautiful?!” Now I see them and think, “Great. There’s the frickin’ deer again.” All of my veggies are in planters and pots on the deck, but the daylilies that were already here will never bloom because every time they get a bud, the deer chew it right off. Deer.

    • Reply Shae June 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      Yeah. Deer. I’m with you on that. I still think they’re beautiful, but I’ve totally started looking at them squinty-eyed, like, don’t you even think about it, or else. But . . . or else what?

  • Reply meg June 16, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Your celery is fantastic! I’ve never grown it~ for some reason it looks like an impossible veggie to grow. I have no idea where I got that random idea. So sorry about the deer! It is all looking fantastic regardless!

    • Reply Shae June 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      Meg, it’s not just you with the celery thing. I keep hearing from people that it’s a difficult veggie, but this is my second year growing it with 100% success. I know a lot of folks think celery is . . . meh. But I like it, and it’s even better right out of the garden. I hope you try it!

  • Reply Aimee June 17, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Oh, those darn deer! I’m so sorry they’ve had such a field day with your garden! Thank goodness you have all the container veggies going on! Looks like things are thriving over there – your celery looks great, those ground cherries are taking off, and your lettuces look fantastic.

    The flowers are lovely too – and I did not know that million bells are perennial! Thanks for that tip!

    I am so glad to hear that Quincy is healthy and that he and Yuzu are doing well. They seem very happy with their new digs and particularly with their chef and menu. :) What a face Qunicy has – such a handsome devil!

    I’ll be curious about those oranges in another 3 months. Great post!

    • Reply Shae June 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks, Aimee! I’ll tell Quince that you’re an admirer. It’ll probably puff him right up. But he might be a girl! We’re so curious to see whether he decides to lay an egg. :-)

  • Reply kaela June 17, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Oh, Shae! Those gorgeous nasturtiums. :( I do love to see the deer, but I would be heartbroken too.

    I am currently waging a battle of wills with some nocturnal creature that keeps attacking my hanging strawberry planter; not only is it destroying the plants, but it’s spewing dirt EVERYWHERE. There is much swearing going on. Sigh.

    I must say, since I do all of my gardening in containers, that I love, love, love my Earth Boxes. They are spendy, but so awesome. Plants don’t get waterlogged in heavy rain; they don’t dry out even over a hot, sunny weekend away; critters can’t get into the dirt because of the covers; and you can roll them on casters to anywhere on the deck. My tomatoes are the happiest plants out there right now.

    • Reply Shae June 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      I know, Kaela, it’s so sad! Did you figure out who your strawberry-attacker is? I would so love to try an Earth Box sometime; thanks for the encouragement in that regard.

  • Reply twobythesea June 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

    It is amazing how persistant the deer are. I suspect it was more than one do do all of that damage. One time I was having a post replaced and the workman left a tiny space in the fence and the same thing happened overnight! They got the strawberries big time. Fortunately the Nasty’s will come back. Oranges look amazing!

    • Reply Shae June 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

      Pat, the deer are intense and you are probably right that it was more than one. We’ve been seeing them in pairs or small groups, including two very big and suspect bucks that were lurking around one of the garden gates just after we came home. Thanks about the oranges. They’re good!

  • Reply trashmaster46 June 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Sorry to read about your garden. Hopefully the nasturtiums will come back soon. We don’t plant a lot of flowers just for flowers either – it’s got to be edible or at least be a big bee attractant first, then we’ll see what space is left for “just pretty”.

    • Reply Shae June 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      The nasturtiums are fighting their way back and I think they’ll generate enough pods to re-grow next season, but not enough for me to harvest at the end of the summer. Guess I’ll have to go begging from friends again. Thanks for reminding me about bee-friendly plants. I notice that they love the lavender, so that’s great. I try to plant for the hummingbirds, too!

  • Reply elizabeth June 19, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Those deer are almost as naughty as my chickens! Somehow they keep getting in and rooting up my veggie plants!

    • Reply Shae June 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      We have to be endlessly vigilant with the deer. They’re always inventing new ways to get around, over, or under the fences!

  • Reply Olga Kotova June 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    It is so interesting to read about the life of the garden. I enjoyed this post.

    • Reply Shae June 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks, Olga, for meandering in the garden with me.

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