Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Field notes from home

By Yulia

Last year, May and part of June turned out to be the busiest months for us here. This year seems to be repeating the pattern. We've been very busy the whole
month of May, hence not too many blog posts. Of course it is the time of planting and tending the garden, but it is by far not the only activity we have been involved in lately. Yes, to be able to continue to move forward, multitasking is a must for us living here. Planning, fixing, doing, redoing, growing, cutting down -- creating our space here, takes a lot of effort. It builds not only physical, but also mental and emotional stamina. Being in the process of it all, right in the middle of this creation, it is, sometimes, very easy for us to forget how much has been done, how much we have done to make it happen. But there are times when we stop for a moment and take a look around. Wow! A lot has changed since we first arrived here.
Allow me to take you on a walk around our place and show you what is happening:
A beauty.
We've been eating our own green salads for over a month now. Sometimes I harvest salads and sometimes I harvest hearts! Yes, the violas will also be eaten.
Planted a few heads of rhubarb brought from the grandparent's. Thickly mulched it with straw to keep the weeds down and the roots cool.
A few plants are self re-seeding in our garden, like this borage. Called cucumber grass in Ukraine. It's bristly and smells like a fresh cucumber. We add it to our salads and juice it. Later in the season it will produce vibrant purple flowers, which are beloved by the bees. Calendula, ground cherries, tomatillos, red orach and dill are also popping up all over the place. 

Lavender is soon to flower. 
Elder is starting to flower. Last year, I dried it for tea, but this year I also wanted to try something  new.
An elderflower champagne that is. I used Susun Weed's recipe that I found on Youtube. It was very simple and quick to make, hopefully it is also tasty. 

Can you spot those valerian plants in front? Are they supposed to be that tall!? I'm not sure if you can tell, but they are about 1.5 meters high. We have some wild valerian growing by the spring and it is definitely not that big. 
Apples, apples, apples...we have over 20 apple trees growing on our properties. We didn't plant them. They were already here when we arrived. This year almost every single one is loaded with fruit. We shall see what the harvest is like this year.
Strawberries are also doing exceptionally well this year. Last year I added a few more varieties and they are also flowering a lot. We are expecting strawberries in about two weeks.
Pictured here is our plant nursery. It is in the process of being moved, yet again. This is my third moving it, but I think this time I found just the perfect spot: it stays cool during the hot summer days and it is well sheltered from wind. I've been adding a lot of freshly planted pots to our nursery lately. For some it has taken just a few weeks to emerge, Catalpa, Norway Spruce, Ponderosa Pine and Red Alder are among them. And I am happy to finally see a single (at least!) Siberian Cedar (the one with edible cedar nuts)  making its appearance. I've tried to grow them more than  a few times but have failed every time. Perhaps, more of its siblings are not too far behind. Do hurry up, please! It takes years and years, until the tree starts producing any nuts. 

One of our sweet chestnut trees is doing very well.
We have 3 serviceberry trees planted and this year was the first time that they bloomed. Now they are full of  green berries. We have never tried them before, so it will be a real treat once they ripen. 
Hesperis Matronalis is hugging the pear tree. These flowers are tall and fragrant, especially in the evenings and  on cloudy days. To the left of them is clary sage waiting to greet the world with its purple flowers.
On Monday was a holiday here, so it was spent gathering herbs. These are hanging to dry in our kitchen. 
Two years ago I planted a single seed packet of chamomile, today it is proudly taking over my herbal bed. It reseeded last fall and is looking as lush as ever. 

That same chamomile was harvested to dry. It will be made into tea during the winter time. 
This sage was grown from seed. It was planted less than 2 years ago. And look at the beauty it has become! 
 Michael has been working on changing the wooden siding on our house. The north side, which faces the street, is done. This project has made Michael very popular at the village. Every person walking by complements his work! This photo was taken  before the shutters were installed.

This photo was taken at 9 pm, so the colors aren't that great, but you get the idea.

Toma is always nearby!