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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