Today, I made a strawberry/rhubarb pie. With a frozen, store bought pie shell and strawberries from my freezer that grew here on the place, and fresh rhubarb growing in the back kitchen-garden. It turned out ... well...very good!
I love having food that comes from our land. There are many perennial food crops here on the place that were planted before we moved here.
Two kinds of blackberries
Grapes (only 4 plants that are struggling but I see two clumps growing if I can keep the deer away)
And then there's what I have planted:
Asparagus that will be good for next year
Seedless watermelon from the seeds of the fruit we bought to eat last year
Spinach, tons of spinach
Yesterday, we put a short wire fence around one of the garden plots. It's a great place, built up from a hillside, with 3 tiered beds. The fence is not high enough to keep deer out, but the purpose is to keep Mickey the dog out. He likes to dig there.
Within that now-fenced area, we also have six small pine trees and some forsythias that I started from cuttings this spring. Nearby is the large wooden "box" that is our compost bin. It was made by the previous owners and we have harvested two big loads of compost from it. It's a great place to put weeds and clippings, kitchen waste, dirt and leaves.
I water it every so often. It is built with chicken wire over open areas on the bottom to allow air to circulate through it. It won't be useful until next Spring...but that is the fun part of it. Next year, the lovely, rich loamy stuff will be like a big present waiting for me to deliver its goodness to various, well-deserving plants.
When we moved here, there were many scraggly, small pines planted down in the lowest level, near the road. A great place for a stand of trees which will some day provide a lot of privacy. The trees had been ravaged by deer.
I have nurtured these trees with Miracle Gro fertilizer, most of this year's compost, mulching and watering and they are growing phenomenonally. I love them. They are one of my pet projects. I will love it when they are tall enough to screen us from the road.
To keep the deer damage to a minimum, I spray the trees and other plantings susceptable to deer browsing with a product called "Not Tonight, Deer." Great name, huh? It is "emulsified egg solids" which means it is basically rotten eggs.
I buy it online for $12 and one packet lasts me all season. I mix it up in a bucket of water and let that steep for a few days. Then I pour it into a pump sprayer through cheesecloth. I walk around and spray all my tender plantings. It doesn't take long and is enjoyable. Tonight, the batch had "steeped" so long that it smelled like pig manure.
I believe you can teach deer that the plants in your yard do not taste good and this can be passed along to future generations. I have used these rotten egg products for years and in many states, especially at our last job in CA. If you keep after it, it truly does work.
Roses? Oh, how deer love rose blooms. But if I keep after the bushes with the spray, the deer will leave them alone.
I remember when we first moved here and I thought being a gray-haired lady who just gardened was a big downward career move! But now, I am a happy, happy gardener. I can't keep up with the weeds so I don't worry about it. When they get big and tall, they are easier for me to pull anyway. If I ever do pull them!
This evening while puttering around outside, like I always do if I feel up to it, I realised that this gardening thing is similar in many ways to what I'd done all of my life. Working outside...alone...no talking...not even thinking about things, just the task at hand. Working with horses is just like this and it is very therapeutic, very good for the brain.