Archive for June, 2012

June 28, 2012

Berry Heaven

by Cynthia

the fruits of july

July means blackberries!   This photo is of Apache blackberries, a domestic variety that I planted along the fence around the garden.  Along our driveway are several wild blackberry brambles, and I’ll take the taste of those little gems over these big, fat domestic berries any day. The domestic berries are like Las Vegas strippers: plumped up, sexy, and easy to get.  Picking the wild ones involves a bit of preparation. The other day I suited up to pick wild berries- no skin exposed- tons of Deet- and my gardening gloves on.   I filled up my basket and then took off my picking clothes before ambling out to the garden to pick these easy guys! No thorns, no chiggers, and huge juicy berries.  The domestic berries are so easy to grow, I don’t understand why every yard doesn’t sport a few canes.

Apache is a nice domestic blackberry that just needs some good amended soil, a bit of sunshine and consistent watering for the first year to establish its root system. Plant the canes three feet apart along a fence line or string up a support with some posts and wire.They make a great privacy screen in the summer! The canes that grow in the first year are primocanes, and won’t produce fruit. Prune them to around four feet tall. The second season, they will become floricanes, and will be producing berries. After fruiting is over and the canes die, cut those first year canes out, and tie up the new canes, which will become the fruit producers the following year. If you want to grow blackberries, or raspberries, check out your local Farmer’s Co-op next year for good plants at reasonable prices.

Here is one day’s raspberry harvest from only 5 plants!


Here is  the reason I gain weight in the summer while everyone else is wasting away in the heat; Aunt Ina’s Quick Cobbler.  It’s just too easy. Pick the berries, make the cobbler, pig out. The recipe is in the Swan Family Cookbook, which was complied by one of my industrious cousins. You can’t buy it, unfortunately. So  you won’t get to see the photo of me at four years old with my finger stuck  up my nose that precedes the section on Salads. Too bad, right?

Here is Aunt Ina’s recipe;

1 stick of butter

1 C. sugar

1 C. self-rising flour

3/4 C. milk

2-3 cups fresh fruit   ( if using peaches or apples, steam the fruit first to soften it)

Melt the butter in a deep dish. Mix the sugar, flour and milk together in a separate bowl, then pour the mixture over the melted butter. Put the fruit on the top and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top becomes slightly browned and the cobbler is firm.


June 16, 2012

Good Bug, Bad Bug

by Cynthia

   Good Bug!

This little guy was busy pollinating my garden the other morning as I was patrolling for squash bugs.  There seem to be more bees this year, which is encouraging. Honey bee populations have been plummeting around the world in recent years, a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Environmental stresses are suspected to be the culprit.  United States beekeepers  began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their hives back in 2006.  Research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health provides strong evidence that CCD is caused by imidacloprid, one of the most widely used pesticides. The study will be published in the June 2012 issue of the Bulletin of Insectology. (from Wikipedia)

We need our bees! Remember the Bee Movie? No bees, no flowers. No bees, no fresh veggies. So instead of using pesticides, I stroll through the garden twice a day smashing, capturing and stoning bugs.  The bees are so generous, not only do they pollinate plants, they sweeten the world with their golden honey.  Antonio Machado wrote a lovely poem about magical bees.

Last Night As I Was Sleeping   Antonio Machado   (version by Robert bly)

Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt—-marvelous error!—

That a spring was breaking

Out in my heart.

I said: Along which secret aqueduct,

Oh water, are you coming to me,

Water of a new life

That I have never drunk?


Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt–marvelous error!—

That I had a beehive

Here inside my heart.

And the golden bees

Were making white combs

And sweet honey

From my old failures.


Last night as I was sleeping,

I dreamt—marvelous error!—

That a fiery sun was giving

Light inside my heart.

It was fiery because I felt

Warmth as from a hearth,

And sun because it gave light

And brought tears to my eyes.


Last night as I slept,

I dreamt—marvelous error!—

That it was God I had

Here inside my heart.

   Bad Bug!!

Look on the leaf in this photo and you will find my nemesis, the disreputable Squash Bug. Its scientific name is Anasa Tristis, but when I run across one in the garden ( an everyday occurrence) I call it something unprintable. Each morning, I inspect the leaves on the squashes and zucchini for squash bug eggs. When I find them, I smash them by rolling my thumb and forefinger over them until they burst. Consequentially, my squash leaves are full of holes, but an army of newly hatched, ravenous baby squash bugs can decimate my little crop in a matter of days. If I find an adult like the guy in the photo, I smash him between my fingers. Squash bugs are a great outlet for repressed homicidal urges.  The Japanese beetles are another issue. I collect them in a wide mouth Mason jar where they careen around madly until they finally succumb to asphyxiation or shock, I’m not sure which. I actually feel a little bit bad about that, but a swift death is not an option. Smashing a Japanese beetle only signals more of their comrades to show up.  In spite of my efforts, they are making lovely lace doilies out of the leaves on my pole beans.  A healthy, chemical free garden is not always a beautiful garden, as beauty is traditionally understood. But a few scars and chewed up leaves is a fair price to pay for food I can put in my body without a worry about what chemicals I might also be eating.  There aren’t many poems about squash bugs given their less than inspiring nature.