I was going to post lat weekend about the garden but I was so busy working in it that before I knew it, the weekend was over and I was busy with the week. This is a long holiday weekend in the U.S. though, and today is not an especially nice one to be outside—cloudy and chilly—but it hasn’t stopped me exactly from going out for brief periods just to fix some twine a rabbit bit in two or to prune back the neighbor’s lilacs that are creeping through the fence. 

Before you say, oh lilacs! they smell so good I love them so much! know that I am allergic to them and, pretty as the flowers are, one whiff and I can’t breathe. The neighbor doesn’t prune or otherwise take care of the lilacs in any way and so they get taller and more out of control as the years pass. I send half-hearted death wishes at them every spring but it doesn’t appear to have any effect on them. Except for one, which is half dead and half vigorously alive; that’s what half-hearted death wishes do I guess. I can’t really wish death on anything, but maybe I need to go all-in with the lilacs  and not worry about it. Except there might be some kind of karmic repercussions like if the lilacs die my neighbor will plant an enormous tree that will end up shading most of my garden. 

Last weekend was hot and humid and my last chance to plant beans and squash according to the moon calendar. So I was out there with the sun beating down on my hat and watering the beans with my dripping sweat. I’m not kidding about the sweat. At one point after a few drops fell into the soil I actually looked up at the sky to see if it was raining. Nope. It was the sweat of my brow.

So the pole beans all got planted next to stalks of corn that are now about 4-5 inches tall and in between the long rows of corn and beans I planted pumpkins. I also planted regular green beans in a different bed, and Akira and Jacob’s cattle beans in yet another bed. And in another bed I planted so much zucchini I might regret it. In my defense, I was thinking about all the sweet relish we will be able to can and save for winter, something we did not have enough to do last year. Plus I want to try making fermented zucchini pickles this year. Please remind me in August when I am posting photos of giant zucchini, that I brought it all on myself.

Friday was an auspicious day for planting root crops. I attended an online spring gardening webinar a couple weeks ago and a local market gardener said that to save space in your garden, plant radish and then sow carrots on top of them in the same row. Radishes are larger seeds that get planted deeper than tiny carrot seeds, and she said that by the time the carrots germinate (they take a long time), the radishes will be well up and getting pulled for eating before it gets too crowded for the carrots. Oh, an experiment! I’m in! I planted a row of radish seeds, covered them up, then put carrot seeds on top, lightly sprinkled soil over them and watered. I’ll let you know if it works!

carrot sprouts

Speaking of carrots, I have about a dozen beautiful looking green tops in the planted box my squirrel friend tore apart. Ki neglected to dig up one corner and, behold! carrots sprang up! I am very happy my planter box experiment wasn’t a complete loss.

Last weekend the samaras from Silver Maple in the front yard were helicoptering everywhere. Maple samaras are edible. Different kinds of maples have different flavors. I only know what the silver maple tastes like. Collecting the samaras was not hard. I sat on my front porch with a bowl and picked them up. Some of the ones flying off the tree were even kind enough to land in my bowl. I spent about an hour removing seeds from pods and that evening when James was baking bread, he put a cookie sheet of seeds into the oven to roast. The seeds are mildly nutty and are good in salads. They would probably also be good tossed into soup before serving or in a tofu scramble. I’ve heard you can make a seed butter from them but I have no plans on trying that because it would take much more time than I care to spend to get enough seeds to make it worthwhile.

maple seeds
roasted maple seeds

My freezer currently has a big bag of cut up pieces of frozen rhubarb in it and more will be added before the season is done. I love rhubarb so much, I even like it fresh raw, though it is so fibrous I prefer it cooked into jam without any sugar. James is not a fan of tart rhubarb, but I am hoping this year I might be able to convince him to make a strawberry-rhubarb crumble. Mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

With the garden all planted, it’s time to change focus to encouraging growth and containing the chaos as best I can. 

Outside the garden, I am getting into the foraging thing. I went for a lovely long bike ride yesterday out to a nature preserve/bird sanctuary I hadn’t ridden to in several years. As I was pedaling along through the preserve I realized that there were staghorn sumac all over the place. I had read about them a few months ago and how delicious they are. They are too far along to enjoy leafy sprouts, so I will wait until fall and try out the flowers. The only difficulty is that the preserve is a 35-mile bike ride away. I will need to either figure out a way to bring home a pile of flowers in a backpack, or find some closer to my house. Surely there must be some closer to my house? Something to be on the lookout for!

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12 thoughts on “End of May Garden

  1. Love this new theme you have here, Stefanie. All the best with your new blog. Love the header pic and the name too… A Stone in the River… 4 Ripples 🙂

  2. So intrigued about the maple samaras. I didn’t know about them. We love to use roasted pumpkin seeds in salads and I imagine these could be used the same way. Love reading about your garden adventures.

    1. It’s a lot of work to get a small bowl but it is fun and worth it to take advantage of free food! Apparently different varieties of maple have different flavors and flavor varies within the same species too. Mine is a silver maple and has a vaguely nutty, almost sesame seed flavor.

  3. I love dried sumac berries though I’ve never had success at doing that with the stuff that grows wild around here. Sort of like drying currants. Just never seem to get anything but the seeds. I don’t particularly like them fresh though. The berries are quite tart. If you like rhubarb, then you’ll love the fresh berries… However, I don’t like rhubarb. But dried and mixed with thyme and sesame and a little fenugreek, sumac is really good.

    1. Oh thanks for the information about your sumac berry experience! The foraging blog I learned about them from suggested making an iced tea “lemonade” from them. I will have to try to dry them and make your spice blend too. Hopefully I can find some closer to me than a 35-mile bike ride away 🙂

    1. Oh Jeanne, I loved My Side of the Mountain when I was a kid! I dreamed of running away to the mountains near my house in southern California where we would go camping sometimes and living in a hollowed out tree 🙂

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