It was a year of good bees and bad bugs, a hot July and a very wet August. The lawn got out of control, a flood raged, the ducks got eaten and so did some of the chickens, but not by me. Enjoy this review of some of 2018’s best.
The blackcaps were amazing this year. I had some, but the wild patch was what really kicked in. Fueled by heat and water, the berries filled out great. I made an amazing black raspberry jelly from the berries and this:
This is keylime pie with piped whipped cream and fresh blackcaps dusted in sugar. I took it to the neighbor’s 4th of July party. They liked it!
IN order to get to the blackcaps, I had to push through and trample several wild parsnip plants. Little did I know that the sap from these plants and the sun combine to give you horrific blisters. They look worse than they feel. All in all, if it’s a toss up between parsnip blisters and poison ivy, you want the blisters. They disappear in about 3 weeks.
I bees are probably the biggest success story of 2018. Right now, as of September 9th, the bees are occupying THREE deep supers and two honey supers. I pulled some honey and it’s DELICIOUS. The bees are currently working the goldenrod like mad though today’s cold snap has them hanging out inside. The appearance of many drones on the ‘front porch’ of the hive had me worried that the bees were getting ready to swarm, so I added the second honey super.
At the end of August we had a huge flood. I’ve never seen the water so high. The stream below raged. It washed part of my potato garden away and two apple trees. My neighbors and the road faired much worse.
Can you see the duck house in the middle of the pic? It used to sit NEXT to the stream. That’s how far the water rose on this day. Approximately 6 to 7 feet I would guess.
A house, north on 187 washed from its foundation
North on 187 between my home and Towanda.
This bridge had been rebuilt after the hurricane flood back in 2011 or so. Look at the monstrous pipe pushed out from beneath the road!
As I mentioned earlier, it was a year for the bees and I loved watching them forage. Here are some of their favorite nectar sources
This is milkweed. Surprisingly, the milkweed flower is structured in such a way that insects can often get their legs stuck inside the flower. I found many dead bees anchored to milkweed flowers that were unable to extricate themselves and who baked in the hot sun.
What do I love more? Seeing my gorgeous asparagus crop flower or the bees working it like mad? This year was a great year for asparagus and the second row that I installed (from babies from the first) is filling in nicely. Unfortunately, at present, both rows are filled with weeds.
They don’t really like vetch THAT much, but they do feed on it. Frankly, I just needed an excuse to load these beautiful pics.
Borage reseeds itself each year. I rarely drink water flavored with it’s cucumber-tasting leaves, but I always enjoy these electric violet flowers.
I have a kitchen garden, one that is snacked on by soooooo many creatures before me. Flea beetles DESTROY kale, beets, spinach, and arugula (their favorite). Onions are bedeviled by poor draining soil (even in the raised beds). Squash, killed by blossom rot. Beans? Trampled by the dog. Cucumbers killed by… I don’t know… something. Strawberries mowed down by deer. You don’t want to conduct your next optimism class in my kitchen garden. That said it was nice to grab a handful of herbs every now and then, or whatever else made it through the apocalypse that was my summer garden.
Watermelon (store bought) dressed with fresh mint and borage flowers
Mesclun mix sown early in the year produced nicely
Ate a couple of mouthfuls of fresh berries. Nothing like the taste of em.
One last theme…the theme of spring. Enjoy these pictures that adorn the entry way to beautiful April, May and June here at the farm.
A garden snake makes an attempt to ward off the advances of Rye (it didn’t work)
Japanese Quince against a backdrop of Forsythia. Both scions from Altoona stock.
Huh oh! I discovered this little bugger while mowing. He/she lived and is probably outside right now eating my shit.
Strawberry plants in bloom. In the lower left of the pic, you can see the garlic that I planted last year emerging. This was an excellent year for garlic.
Plum blossoms. Intoxicating aroma.
The one plum that I hate…can’t remember its name, is the only one that produced substantially (actually it exploded). I made a jelly (fantastic). Shown here with goldenrod and honey/beeswax
Look at the ballet movements of these pear blossoms. Pears blew up this year. The asian and Luscious are too wonderful. Oh! BTW, I grafted Luscious onto the Asian pear and it took!