Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Raspberry Jam

2011 has been a productive year for our raspberry bushes.  In fact, it is the most consistent producer we have each year.  This makes me wonder if I should add more bushes next year.  If anyone grows brambles that work well in the Chicago area, let me know.  I'll probably add at least one variety to our garden next year.

This year we made three raspberry crisps, eight half pint jars of jam, and ate countless more right off the canes.  We also had an Oktoberfest party last week, and the bushes kept a dozen kids occupied for about three hours.  When they went home, I bet they pooped a raspberry.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Raspberry Crisp

We've been picking about three cups of these every two days.  It's more than enough to make about three raspberry crisps every week.  I don't know what eating that many crisps is going to do for my health, but I have sure been enjoying this years harvest.

About 7 years ago, I bought one heritage raspberry bush for $12.95 from our local garden center.  Since then, I have split it numerous times and let it spread to two 8 foot long and 3 foot wide hedges.  Most years, we have gathered about 15-18 pounds of fruit.  If you live where raspberries grow wild, you might be able to pick a handful here and there.  But nothing beats the production and enjoyment of these!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Winner of the crazy tomato contest!

Same tomato.  A lot more pain.  Doesn't it look like it hurts?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Going Lawnless and the 4th of July

I am tempted to go lawn-less.  Or at the very least, to have a low maintenance lawn.

Ideally, I would much rather grow our micro-farm and eliminate a lawn entirely.  But it's hard when you have a 4 year old.  I feel obligated to create some space for her (and her sister to be in two weeks) to run around and play.  I suppose we could go to the park one block away and run around.  But it's nice to be able to do that in the backyard.  For some reason, having a lawn as the center piece of both our front and back yards seems as American as the 4th of July.  Besides, what would the neighbors think if I dug up my front yard and planted a vineyard?

Yet, wouldn't it also be nice to be able to do this:

I can think of a lot of educational benefits to using our space in this sense.  It would also be a giant step toward self-sufficiency.  And any time our kids wanted to "run around", well, they could do so a block away.

The other issue is time.  I have other priorities right now.  So the time is not now.  But as each spring comes and goes, we have less and less grass.  I am able to carve out another garden bed out of our sod or raise one right on top of it.

For now, I haven't touched our front lawn.  In fact, in some cities, there are laws that prevent one from having a vegetable garden in the front.  But if we are eventually going to sell our current home, I hesitate to start excavating the street side of our house.

Don't get me wrong.  I don't think having a lawn is evil.  Though, why is it so hard to get rid of it?  Why is it so important?  Why does it seem as essential as celebrating the 4th of July?  Why do I mow it, water it, then mow it again the next week?  This cycle seems senseless.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I know it's only August, but I can't wait for fall.  We grew sugar pumpkins last year and harvested over a dozen.  I think we still have some pumpkin soup in our chest freezer.  It tasted yummy, but there was only one problem.  Lot's of fiber. :\

We added another variety this year.  Hercules.  I'm hoping to grow The Great Pumpkin.  I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Butterfly Weed

We planted butterfly weed this year.  We have had butterfly bushes for more than five years.  But caterpillars are not attracted to them.  We needed a host plant.  Viola!  A butterfly weed.  So far, I haven't seen a Monarch on our weed - only on our bush.   Anyway, I will keep you posted on our journey.

Morning Sun Flower

This poor lady is leaning.  She leans toward the morning sun and her weight is causing stress on her stem.  I hope she doesn't snap.