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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Planting the Spring Garden for the Fall's Pantry

So beautiful!

It's SPRING! The lilacs are in bloom. The Rochester Lilac festival just ended. One of these years I'm actually going to go to it.
Lilacs are my second favorite "flower" in the whole world. They have such a wonderful scent and are here for such a fleeting time.I just love them as my yard here shows...

After blooming, remember to prune 1/3 of the bush away.
This is the only time you get a chance to do it.

But it is spring and it is time to get down to the business of what are we going to plant now to fill the pantry in the fall. My gameplan this year involves the usual suspects, LOTS of tomatoes (I typically put up about 72 cans of tomatoes alone, not to mention pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, summer sauce, bbq sauce, etc.), some peppers, lettuce and beans. This year I also planted corn for the first time in a long while. I planted four rubbarb plants and it looks like two of them have survived. Additionally this year,  I put 100 strawberry plants. When I plant my garden, I general think about what I can get around here cheaply from the farm markets and the pick your own orchards. I then figure out what is still going to cost me an arm and a leg even there. Strawberries will still run you at minimum $2.50/pint and $3.25 at a pick your own and $3.50 if they pick them. 100 plants cost me about $14.00 so the cost savings are excellent and as I still have volunteers sprouting up where my old bed was, I know they will take well even in my clay based soil. This year I think we will try to make strawberry ice cream for the first time as I still have a massive amount of strawberry jam left. (Athough it doesn't get any better than warm strawberry jam over vanilla ice cream!)

 In addition to the garden, it is time to start looking at the fruit trees and the berry bushes. I have a sour cherry tree that I keep hoping one of these years to get a decent harvest (last year it got black spot and I lost many of the cherries). It has a lot of cherries budding so here's hoping.

Cherry tree blossoms and emerging fruit

It also looks like the raspberries made it through the winter. Raspberries have been a bit difficult for me to grow for some odd reason. I have this wild blackberry bramble that causes havoc everywhere it touches down (even the roots have thorns) but after years of trying to irradicating it, one year it produced over three gallon bags of berries. I  have a love/mostly hate relationship with it as it doesn't produce berries every year. But it's the raspberries I've lost in the past when we've had rainy springs but it appeared that they weathered it through. The blueberries are still hanging in there. I didn't expect them to make it after last year's dry summer. The grape vines also came alive! I thought I lost those as well but they are back. Yeah! I still have the two gooseberry plants. Hopefully I can get two more and maybe have enough of a harvest to actually make jelly this year.


The herbs are going gangbusters in the herb garden. I've had an herb garden since I was about 15 years old and I just love them. In addition to the typical herbs, I've also grown lemon verbena, salad burnett and hops. After five years, it appears that my "annual" salad burnett that has come up every year has finally given up the ghost as it was there earlier this spring but the frost we had seem to have done it in.
The oregano is my garden bully and as much as I give it away, it keeps coming back. I'll do a separate blog on the herb garden itself. It's my pride and joy.

What I can't grow on the "farm", I will go to one of the many orchards around here to pick my own.
Pick your own is a great way of filling the freezer with wonderful cherries, blueberries, plums, raspberries and apples if you don't have the space to grow these in your garden or your garden's supply isn't adequate.
Below is a listing of when these things are available in the Rochester/Niagara area of western NY. This is totally lifted from one of my local pick your own. Locate any pick your own on the web for dates for your area:

May 5th-June 10th

June 10th-30th

Sweet Cherries
July 4th-August 1st

Sour Cherries
(The best pie cherries ever!)
July 15th-August 10th

July 4th-Sept. 1st

Red Raspberries
July 4th-October 10th

Black Raspberries
Early July

Red, White & Black
July 5th-August 5th

Peaches (Yellow & White) 
Mid July-Early Sept.


Late August-Early September

Late August and September

Sept 1st-Nov. 1st


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