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Sunday
Aug312014

Into the woods. 

Let´s make it a tradition to start with a picture of a pretty grown-in path, because, well, pretty. And yes, this is another one of these "we went on a walk and I took pictures" posts. You see, we are doing a leash training with Ludwig which means many walks as a family... thus the repetition. But lets face it, my blog is repetitive anyway. Case in point, I am working on another garden post - about how I planned and first planted the walled garden. Is there anything in particular you want to know? Just leave a comment. 

Anyway, the woods! I love them. The woods surrounding our village are all private land... many of our neighbors still own long acres of timberland. In fact the part you see in these pictures used to belong to our house but the previous owner sold it all. Sob. We dream of buying some of it back one day. 

It´s mushroom season. We came across three people today with large baskets full of the stuff. It´s funny how the locals don´t care about their fruit crop but go crazy for the mushrooms. I wish we weren´t so helpless at collecting mushrooms. We don´t know where to look and if we happen to come across a mushroom we have no clue whether it´s edible. For all I know, the one above is deadly, right? Don´t answer that.

This is the pond in the woods where I go swimming all the time. I am usually all alone because there are only two other people in the village who dare to do so. The majority thinks it´s scary. Wimps, all of them. 

The lake comes with a small cabin that dates from a time where this place was more popular with the locals. The cabin is maybe a little gross inside but very photogenic outside. 

In other news, it turns out that stinging nettles make quite a nice border. I won´t try that in my garden though. 

Also, the elderberries are ripe. I meant to make jam today but didn´t get around to do it. Let´s hope they aren´t done by next weekend. Happy (almost) September!

Sunday
Aug242014

In the house, in the garden. 

It definitely feels like autumn around here. We´ve been lighting a fire in the stove in the evenings again. As great as it is that the house keeps cool over the summer, it´s super chilly in here once the temperatures drop.

Marlene, our grumpy old cat lady, likes the warmth of the stove as well.

Still making passata!

Green tomatoes (hopefully) ripening on the windowsill. These are from the bushes affected by the blight which thankfully hasn´t spread to the other bushes so far. Phew.

I am putting one bed after the other to sleep in the vegetable garden. Bittersweet. Still left are heaps of cabbage, carrots, a little chard, potatoes and the remaining tomatoes.

The David Austen roses I planted along the chicken fence are in full bloom again. They are so pretty and smell heavenly. These are so expensive that I only let myself buy one per season, but little by little we´ll have a nice collection!

The walled garden is enjoying the cooler temperatures and frequent rain showers. And I enjoy gardening again now that the mosquitoes are mostly gone! Have a happy week.

Wednesday
Aug202014

Late summer.

The weather this past week has been pretty much perfection - at least in my book. I guess it´s coldish for August but as long as it´s sunny I´ll take it. I love the crisp air and the smells of late summer. We took a long walk last Sunday and I thought I´d share some pictures. 

I love this landscape so much. Also, the light was unreal. 

We went to Connemara in Western Ireland for a holiday when I was a kid and I remember that from our rented cottage, all we could see were green hills where sometimes a single white horse would appear. I thought that was like in a fairy tale. Twenty years later, same situation in Eastern Germany. Who would´ve thought. 

I have a deep love for wildflowers. Tansy is one of my favorites. I remember I picked it the day after we moved to the village. Everything was in deep chaos and it was so comforting to have something, anything pretty in the house. We moved on August 23, so it will be our three years anniversary on Saturday! 

Then we came across this guy. I now desperately want a freckled horse. The villagers have dubbed our house "Villa Kunterbunt" (the German name for Pippi Longstocking´s house) so it only is appropriate, yes? 

Ludwig was quite smitten as well. One day Ludwig, one day! 

Sunday
Aug172014

Harvest time.

Since we had a few rainy days this week I decided to make the most of it and started a big canning/preserving session. All in all it took two days and now I am exhausted. Here are my lovely tomatoes which are coming in plentiful right now but I think the blight will put an sure end to that very soon. Sob. I make some sort of "lazy passata" out of them: chop tomatoes roughly, bring to a boil, puree and fill hot into jars. I´m not sure whether this is actually food safe (EDIT: You are probably on the safer side if you add citric acid and use a pressure canner!), but we ate this concoction all last winter and nobody died. It is great on homemade pizza and even better in this heavenly tomato sauce with onion and butter. 

The carrots this year are out of this world. So tasty and pretty. If you are interested this variety is called "Robila". I´ll definitely grow them again next year. I turned this lot into a huge pot of carrot soup and then made another pot of zucchini soup (not pictured, but so many zucchinis, ah!). Both soups went into the freezer for cold winter days. Also, chard. Chard chard chard. I blanched some of it to go into the freezer as well.

As for the preserves, I made: Mirabelle compote and jam, blackberry jam and plum butter. By the way my recipe for plum butter is very simple - mix 3 kg destoned plums with 500 g sugar and let sit over night. On the next day put in the oven at 180 degrees and let it simmer for 3-5 hours until it has the desired consistency. You can add spices like cinamon or cloves but I like it better pure. 

I also made two huge loaves of bread (not with ingredients from our garden obviosuly, but I was in the kitchen anyway) and a sheet of plum cake - all of it went into the freezer. Did I forget something? Probably. I am exhausted. 

Next up: Pears, apples and even more plums. Hooray! 

Monday
Aug112014

August days.

Let´s start with a jumping dog, because this picture totally made my day. Ludwig sends regards.

We are having a week off, and it feels much deserved. I am trying to take it easy so that it´s not all work but also some much needed rest and relaxation. I took a two-hour-long nap today, so that´s a start. I had hoped for a nice long holiday this year - you know, that concept of actually traveling somewhere and spending time on a beach or something - but it didn´t work out.

Anyway, it´s not so bad here. The weather has cooled down a bit, and I love it. I am so, so looking forward to autumn. It´s been a long hot summer and I am ready.

This has nothing to do with autumn, but here´s a picture to proof that yellow in the garden is actually a good idea.

This is in the veggie garden. You may remember that I banned all red and orange colors from the walled garden, but these make a great statement in this space.

Speaking of the veggie garden, this savoy cabbage is as big as my head. Even bigger, I´d say. The cabbage is doing fantastic this year.

We have started to harvest the tomatoes. Most plants are looking good but much to my dismay quite a few have catched the late blight. Ugh. Every gardeners nightmare. We need a green house, is what I am saying. 

Scarlet runner beans. Not as impressive as last year, but still nice. We grew them along the fence this year and I have a feeling our neighbor is not amused. Oh well. 

Also, the plums are ripe! I am planning to make lots of plum butter later this week. 

And now excuse me while I am trying to enjoy the last days of summer.