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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. 

Wednesday
Aug062014

Early August in the walled garden. 

I am constantly complaining about how the extreme weather of this summer has affected the walled garden, but honestly it still looks nice (it´s just that it could be even nicer...). I am already scheming plans for next year - its mostly fine as is, but I think I want to introduce even more blue and white and scale back on the yellow. We´ll see.

The one bed I really want to attack is the one in the picture above. It is my annual nemesis. These asters seem to be invasive - they swallow whichever plant I try to establish there. I like asters but this is too much; they´re not *that* nice. Fun fact: We brought these asters from our garden in Vienna, they survived two moves so I am not going to get rid of them entirely - I think they´ll get a nice place somewhere else in the garden.

I took this picture very early in the morning and I love it. Low light always makes the blue tones pop. Also I am so glad that I painted the deck. It looks so much better.

And I just love that purple echinacea. They might just be my favorite perennials. Happy weekend!

 

Monday
Aug042014

More garden progress.

I imagine some of you are confused about the layout of our land. It is kind of obvious where the walled garden is, and I´ve mentioned a few times where the veggie garden is (at the very back of our long, relatively narrow land) but there are almost 1,000 square meters of our garden that I rarely talk about or post pictures of. I always thought that one of these days I´d prepare a layout plan for you, and behold, today is this day:

Yeah, I know. Impressive. But it is as good as it gets. Does that make you even more confused? Feel free to ask questions in the comments. Anyway I thought I´d give you some progress report on the part of our land that adjoins the walled garden. I am not sure what to call this space. The middle garden? The chicken garden, because the chicken coop/run is located here? Any fancy suggestions?

If you are a long time reader, you may remember that I have written about this area before - you can read this post here. To recap, this was basically a dump before we started working on it. We turned over every stone and in May last year, everything looked like in the picture above - tidy, but not very nice.

This is how the same area looks now. It´s basically "done" for now. I plan to add a few more rose bushes along the chicken fence and add to the lavender hedge that runs along the ditch. Also I want to cover this ugly beige wall.

See? Ugly. We plan to grow grapes on this wall but need to build some kind of trellis first.

To the left of the chicken coop (and in front of their second run - see plan) there´s a new bed where I planted ten white old rose bushes, delphinium, blue geranium and alchemilla. I know it doesn´t look like much right now, but I am sure it will be a different story come next spring.

Looking back at the house. I do have a few plans for the side that is to the right in this picture. You can see on the plan that I want to add two more beds that run along the ditch. I´ve been going back and forth with this but I think I want to leave the orchard as is and continue the flower beds in this area.

Standing in front of the chicken coop, looking towards our neighbor. The hedgerow we planted along the fence last spring is doing nicely. One more year or so and it will actually give us the privacy we want. Also you can see that we already started with the beds along the ditch. I have a few plants from the walled garden that I want to transfer here in autumn. About that ditch: This used to be some kind of open sewer back in the days (yeah, I know, gross). We kept it because it´s a natural drainage for our very wet land. I´m not going to lie, I´d love to see it gone, but I think once it is all done in this area it is going to look fine.

This spring, we planted a sweet chestnut in the middle of the lawn. I always felt that there should be a tree, and a massive one, because I want to do something like this. However we also sooner or later want to build a green house (see plan, where the laundry hangs now) so this might have been a stupid idea since a massive tree means lots of shadow. Anyway we are talking 30+ years before the sweet chestnut actually gets that big so I am probably overthinking. So... chestnut garden? Greenhouse garden? Please advise.