Island Time Kayaking

Casey’s view of the world

Garden is Plum crazy!

August4

We are under attack from our plum tree.  Who knew one tree could produce so many plums.  So I will busily be making plum butter to can (I use it and broil kielbasa sausage in it, it is lovely), slicing them in half and freezing some, as well as pureeing some and freezing it in quantities to make plum sorbet, it is an odd color (lemony brown), but I quite like it.  It almost tastes spiced with cloves and cinnamon without adding anything.  Tart and sweet and creamy, our guests have raved about it too, so I will continue.  I also make a plum berry pudding.  It is a beautiful thing too with these little plums.  The recipe was from Bon Appetit.  Since the plums are so small I make a flower on the bottom / top.  The nice thing is that I can make a bunch of them and keep them in the fridge when we have several full houses in a row with no carry over guests.  The bad (but good) thing at the moment is that we have had several long term guests (13 night and now 11 nights), and the ones at the moment are gluten free so a bread pudding isn’t going to work very well.

Also our garden is still producing strawberries and raspberries, the strawberry patch has done well enough to do several breakfasts so far, and the rasperries have too, it is so nice to go out the back and pick your own produce.

The grapes, all will have tons of grapes on them this year, and I think we will actually get some butternut squash.  Last year we didn’t get any.  We planted two English cucumbers and one plant has several flowers and three cucumbers, the other, a couple of flowers.  Our tomatoes have not thrived but we are getting some fruit.

We made a new bed under Lauren’s window as we had move the compost bins we just dumped it into that bed.  We planted lettuce, chard, and basil, but we have several squash plants and tomato plants that have grown, as well as some pepper plants and they are thriving.  Apparently the compost bin didn’t get hot enough to kill the seeds.  We aren’t complaining though.

The akeebia has some fruit on it, it hasn’t ripened as of yet though, I am kind of excited I want to know what it tastes like and what my fod possibilities are.

The rose garden has been our focus so our vegetable garden has been a tad neglected.  Our goal after the rose garden has been finished is to get water back into the garden so we can have our drip irrigation again, our plants would be so much happier!  That was the one summer our garden did outstandingly well.  We watered every day at 4am for 15 minutes, and then after a really hot day we would water at 10pm for 10 minutes.  Everything was so lush and sweet and fast growing and productive.   Our last step for the rose garden is going to be a delivery of compost top dressing and I think we will get enough to do our garden beds as well and get a jump on the next season.

Rose Garden Paving

July30

This is a project long in the making.  We finally started it a few weeks ago, but then we were delayed with weather, sickness, and the untimely delivery of our stones.

First thing was to tear up the "sod".  The rose garden used to be just a side lawn that wrapped around the house, then we made it shorter by extending our living space, and also fenced it off, and added more roses to be more officially designated as a rose garden.  The grass died every year in this area, was beautiful and lush until about mid-June when it would be toasted to a crispy critter by the afternoon sun bouncing off the house.  Not the optimal plan, and it was not that appealing to hang out in because it was so brown.  So we decided to tear out the grass and lay cobblestone pavers.

I was sick with bronchitis and a sinus infection so Nathan went out with our garden tiller and began removing the sod.  This area never had a problem with drainage as other areas in our yard does and we quickly found out why.  Under the sod was a thin layer of top soil and then gravel.  That might have some reason as to why the grass died every year, the soil couldn’t have held that much nutrient, there wasn’t that much soil.    This was a dusty dirty job.  It took about two days with several breaks and only working in the morning and evenings when the sun wasn’t blazing down.

Then came a general leveling.  Not a true leveling as we didn’t want to excavate the gravel that was there or bring in more gravel and have the pavers be any higher.  Next we made a frame out of 2x4s and leveled that from the highest point.  We did dig that point out a bit as we discovered it was higher than we anticipated to the lowest point.  This probably was the most important part., if the frame wasn’t level the sand wouldn’t be level and then the pavers wouldn’t be level.  After it was level enough (we didn’t want it absolutely level, we wanted it to slope generally away from the house), the sand hauling began.  Nathan would load the wheelbarrow with sand that was delivered near the carport and haul it around and up a ramp into the frame and dump it.  I would then rake it out and try and eyeball level it.

After we thought it was generally full enough and level we used a level and a scree to level it based on the top of the frame.  Basically it was an 8ft 2×4 with a thumb on one end that rested on the top of the frame, the other end had the level attached to it.  Then Nathan and I would on our hands and knees comb the sand trying to level it.  We filled in low spots and took down high spots until we had it level.  With tampers we tamped it down to help insure it didn’t shift too much as we started the next step, laying the pavers.

We chose a pattern that has three sized stones and looks more like a random pattern, but is an actual pattern.  The hardest part has been carrying all the stones from the parking lot around the house to the garden.  The actual paving went faster than we hoped and looks wonderful.  We are now all done except one last corner where the gate at the front of the house is.  We are making two steps from the rose garden level to the main yard level so we didn’t lay those last stones as we will be extending out and doing the steps too.  Oh and the heat.  We were hauling those stones around with record temperatures.  We moved quickly in the morning and could work until nearly noon when the sun would come around the corner of the house, and then in the evenings from about 7pm until 8:30pm or so depending on Lauren’s mood.  The day we got the most paving done we reached highs of 104, it was not cool by any stretch of the imagination.

Our plans for the space evolve and change every time we are out there.  It is such a nice space.  After our next wedding we hope to do the walls out of the reddish brown bricks we already have and then to find a nice cap to top the wall.

Spring

April30

It is really here in full bloom.  The weather is improving, we have had some incredibly nice days.  The garden is coming along, and we are focusing more of our efforts on the exterior of the inn than the interior this year, so we welcome the nice days that we can be outside.  Spring here reminds me that the inn used to be surrounded by orchards and in the forest this time of year you can see the remnants, a pear tree here,  a cherry tree there, growing tall and gangly among the evergreens.  The rest of the year you don’t notice them as much, but when they are in full bloom you can see them in all the splendid glory.  The downside is that because they are so tall and gangly you can’t reach the fruit!  The birds sure enjoy it though.

Every morning we are woken with the sounds of birds chirping outside, such a beautiful sound.  With all of our feeders scattered around the property we see them throughout the day as wel eating.  We have quite the collection of Blue Stellar Jays that hang around.  A guest told us that they bring good luck.  They are always welcome!

I am reminded though at night of my chidlhood when we sleep with an open window and I don’t hear frogs singing.  For the majority of my childhood we lived near a creek and in spring the tree frogs would all be singing and croaking, it is such a lovely sound to fall asleep to and I don’t hear them here.  Every now and then I might here one random one, but not very often.

We have planted seeds in our veggie patch and have planted a lot more densly than we have in the past, we will see how that goes for us this year as far as yeilds go.  We also started our next crops from seed indoors and they should be ready to go out in a week or so.  Our asaragus doesn’t seem to be doing too much, but I am not sure what exactly it is supposed to be doing, I would imagine it is suppose to be growing, but I am not certain.

Well off to do some projects outside while the weather is nice!

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