Just breathe…FINALLY! After two months of smoky skies, worst air quality in the world, and dim apocolyptic scenery, we are finally seeing numerous days of sun, with a little rain! The smoke isn’t far, and if the wind blows right, then we can catch a smell of it on the breeze, but it has been a week now of mostly clean air. It is amazing how quickly you can start feeling normal again, and how truly awful it felt to be smothered in that thick coating of smoke. Although fire season is far from over, we can breathe easy for a while, as can most of the communities around us.
This week K and I have explored the yard every day. We have harvested cucumbers galore, tomatoes are starting to ripen, another batch of HUGE strawberries have made for nightly treats and our carrots were finally picked! Perhaps all the tasty fresh vegetables have also helped in lightening our mood and bringing more positive vibes. Last night K and I spent the whole evening sitting outside, looking over our yard and chatting. It was the first time that we have spent an entire evening enjoying our yard since the spring. It was amazing!
After neglecting the yard for a few months due to the smoke, and only checking on it minimally, it was in fairly good condition considering. We did manage to weed once, and do a few mini harvests over the last two months, but really, the yard is doing way better than I could have imagined it would. Our strawberry plants are so well established, and providing the most beautiful, LARGE, strawberries. They are red all the way through, unlike store-bought ones, and are so rich in flavour that I will never be able to eat a store-bought strawberry again. Our peppers have been more successful this year than any of the years we have grown them. They are large, thick and flavourful. We have found the forever home for our future pepper plants. I have been chopping and freezing a bunch so we have some for stir-fries and other dishes through the winter. The tomatoes have finally started ripening, and they are delectable! Juicy and tasting like my childhood when I used to eat tomatoes out of my gran and gramps garden. The cucumbers are producing so fast I cannot keep up. We have been sharing the wealth with our friends and family…and have been getting some help pickling. My grandma took a grocery bag full and will be making some delicious mustard pickles/veggies for us. She told me she was throwing in the carrot & pepper that I gave her as well. Soooooo looking forward to getting some of those!
The winners this year though are our carrots. I am not sure words can explain what we received for a summer of neglect. Other than water, we left the carrots to grow…longer than some of them should have. We definitely had about half split, but Ellie has really been enjoying those, so no waste. When we decided to pull them, we figured they would be a good size, but we did not expect the size that we got. They were GINORMOUS! Despite half of them splitting, I still got about the same amount of carrot as last years haul. I cleaned them and chopped a bunch to freeze for the winter. We also ate a few as we wandered the yard, bugs bunny style. MMMMMM…so crunchy and tasty….I wish we had time for a second harvest, but the way our weather is, I am thinking we are going to have an early fall this year.
Now that we can finally be outdoors, K and I have been tending the yard again. Getting weeds out, trimming our stump, and working on a few projects. While we were weeding, I realized how large my blackberry bush has gotten. I did not expect it to get so big this year, so I hadn’t planned on building a trellis until next year. Well, I have now built that trellis! I didn’t have enough wood to do a traditional grid trellis, but I had a lot of scraps. So I built the frame, gave it a few supports, and created a bit of an artistic, abstract trellis. It turned out fantastic and looks great in the garden.
Now, I should have done some research before planting my blackberry bush, but I didn’t think to do so. It was an impulse buy, and I didn’t really have anywhere to put it, so I plunked it in the ground, out of the way of where we were developing. Turns out it may not have been a very good location. From what I read, you should not plant them near strawberries or tomatoes….it is about 3′ from the strawberries and about 5′ from the tomatoes. Also, it should be in an area that will get about 10 hours of full sun…it is getting about 8 right now, but it is also planted next to a cherry tree, which will shade it once it has grown a little larger. I guess I will be pruning the cherry tree a little more than originally anticipated. But, because of how amazing it looks, I am going to leave it. I will see if it starts producing some fruit for me in the next year or two, and if it doesn’t start producing by 2019, then I will either transplant it (if possible) to a better location, or I will take it out, get a new plant and follow the proper planting procedure. I guess time will tell!
Today, K and I started working some more on our path. We are just about ready to start building our wall, and will spend the September long weekend cementing in our posts. I may have another post before I am ready to share the progress on the new wall, but I promise to show post about the new wall by the end of summer. We are going to have our path done by the time the weather shifts…even if it breaks our back!