Monday, May 25, 2009

Nature Deficit Disorder??? NO WAY!

I'm very interested in the ideas behind the book Last Child in the Woods and the "Nature Deficit Disorder" that is so prevalent in today's society...and I'm determined to fight it here at my house. We do sometimes have to force my oldest to go outside, but after she's out, she inevitably gets engaged and has a wonderful time. Here's a photo of one of our finds outdoors this AM. Isn't he cute?

Dewberry Harvest...

I've gotten one big, juicy dewberry so far from my new bush. It was so yummy...much sweeter than a blackberry...and muuuch bigger! Here, see for yourself...


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day...

We added a new berry to the OAH this afternoon! The girls (with the help of their PaPa) got me a huge "Austin Dewberry." It's around 4 1/2 feet tall & already producing, so I'll be exploring uses for Dewberrys in the next few weeks! If any of you have had them, please share recipes and preservation tips!

We've also been harvesting a bowlful of strawberries each day. I've learned that propping the berries up on the leaves helps with the rolly polly problem and keeps them off the wet soil, which has also proved to be detrimental.

Although the onions are not ready for a mass harvest, we are pulling one here and there to use and they are wonderful. I'm contemplating preservation methods for these, so please share if you have tips in this area, too. I plan to dehydrate some for quick additions to soups and stews and also chop some up for freezing. Of course, we'll eat lots of them fresh.

The potatoes are almost ready to harvest as needed. At first, we'll get new potatoes then we'll just dig them up a plant or two at a time. I've found that this is the best way to keep them from spoiling and they just keep growing as they wait for us to harvest.

Tomorrow we'll harvest our peas! This is my first ever successful crop of peas. I learned that I've always planted them WAY too late. I went by the Farmer's Almanac this year for my early plantings and boy has it paid off! The girls have enjoyed some of the peas right off the plants..they are amazingly sweet. I've even more excited that there are lots of new blooms so I know our harvest should continue. How do you preserve peas without a pressure canner? I'm saving $ for one, but they are so pricey. It doesn't help that I don't trust the cheaper ones with the weight...I'd prefer a pressure gauge so I'm sure our canned food is safe.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Time to set some traps!!

Ahhhhhh...beautiful tasty strawberries! I've been babying these little plants for two years now. My goal is to use strawberries as groundcover wherever possible. There's only one problem with my strawberry plan and it lurks beneath all those lovely strawberry leaves...

Look closer....

Yes, the problem is quite close to the soil, but it's not those unexpected orange peels. Nope...those are the SOLUTION to the problem. Here, let me pick one up and let you see what's beneath...


Yup...ARMIES of Rolly Pollys (or Pill Bugs). Now, I've researched these little buggers and found that many people claim they are not harmful to your plants as the "only eat decomposing plant material." I beg to differ! They devour my red, ripe strawberries and I know it is, in fact, these little guys because I find them embedded in my berries...munching away and looking smug!

I've been told that it MUST be slugs, so I set out slug traps (beer in a burried cup) and didn't catch a single slug.

Finally I read that you could put orange peels and banana peels down in the affected area and collect Rolly Polly covered peels in the AM hours to be relocated or...ahem...otherwise taken care of. (Can you keep a secret? I put them in a plastic bag for a few days then add them to my compost pile. Please DO NOT tell my children this...they would never forgive me for such cruelty to their favorite little buggy!)

I know, I know...these cute little balls of wonder are loved by virtually all children, including my own...but I cannot overlook strawberry stealing. The peel traps are a nice, organic way to at least put a dent in my pill bug population.
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