Category: Garden Talk

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit

The sun rose a little over an hour ago. Here at Serendipity Farmhouse this is our time for prayer and reflection. On this great national holiday, my mind comes naturally to these words.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This year, the meaning of these words has been restored and renewed – at least in part. Here are two shining examples:

Life Prevails

Liberty Triumphs

As the sun continues to rise, there remains a quiet and peaceful calm. My beautiful Spouse has declared “holiday routine” for the entire SFH staff. For all of us, today will provide a special opportunity to enjoy that third enumerated right which the Declaration states was endowed by our Creator –

“the pursuit of Happiness”

Pierre LeChat has buried himself in a pile of cookbooks looking for new recipes for the soon-to-be-world-famous, recently renovated SFH Test Kitchen. The ever-vigilant Mr. Monte has made his morning security rounds and is taking a well-deserved nap. In a short while, Blondie and I will start preparations for today’s holiday Feast. And that feast, as it is every year on this day, will be festive, filling, and flavorful. Behold! Here is the traditional SFH 4th of July menu.

Although today will be relaxed and restful, the latter part of June and the first few days of July were filled with a multitude of chores related to completion of the SFH TK renovation. There has been organizing, cleaning, ordering a new stove, and preparing for the 2022 preserving and canning season. In fact, the harvest has already begun. So far, we have picked over two pounds of green beans, several jalapeno peppers and tomatoes, and the first pods of okra.

Because our green bean harvest is the largest ever, we have had a chance to freeze the surplus beans (three bags so far). We’ve never done that before, but it turned out to be quite simple. We used freezing advice provided at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website. For green beans, we used the instructions listed here.

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The SFH TK renovation, although not complete, is already making life better here. Several years ago, we had to store away our Breville juicer and have not had the opportunity to partake of the wonderful “green juice” we used to make. The art of juicing was introduced to our daily routine by our friends Rob and Carol Hoffman. Now that we have easy access to the juicer, and because many vegetables are available to us from our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, we have once again been able to make “green juice” a morning standard.

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Neither the Declaration of Independence nor our Creator gives us a right to “Happiness”. Rather we are endowed with the right of “pursuit of Happiness”. Here at SFH, we always try to remember that distinction. Sometimes, things other than “Happiness” come our way. For example, when we came home one day last week, we found that a storm had caused some destruction to our vast SFH gardens and arboreal treasures. Compared to what happened to our neighbors’ house two weeks ago, when a large Maple tree crushed a portion of their roof, the damage we had was entirely insignificant. – –

It’s at times like this, that our “Liberty” and the right to pray when and where we want becomes so important. In other countries, that is not the case. We must remember that the rights we celebrate today were won for us by brave men who were inspired by “divine Providence” to say:

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Happy 4th of July!!!

 

Feast Day Garden Talk

May 15th, the Feast of St. Isadore – A report and accounting of our labors at Serendipity Farmhouse.

This is May 15th, the feast of St. Isadore. It is fitting and proper that on this day we make this report. That’s because we’ve asked St. Isadore to be our patron for all things agricultural, horticultural, and in all efforts involving physical labor. Our last full public report was made in 2018 (Report to St. Isadore). Much has happened in our gardens since that report and, despite a few setbacks, we’ve had many blessings. It now falls on me, Blondie, the Chief Gardener, to carry on the SFH tradition of rendering an accounting to St. Isadore concerning what we’ve done with the God’s gifts.

Part I – The Herb Garden Gardens

The first herb garden my Hubby constructed several years ago was initially a great success. However, each succeeding year the garden became less productive. We had heard that Black Walnut trees could be harmful to nearby plants, so we did some research. Sure enough, articles like Black Walnut: The Killer Tree confirmed our suspicions. Those ‘killer trees’ produce a chemical (juglone) that is toxic to most plants we had in the herb garden. Consequently, we’ve heeded the article’s advice: “Gardeners who have large walnut trees near their vegetable gardens should consider an alternate site.” This year, Hubby has set up a second herb garden located far from the offending Black Walnuts.

In the process, we’ve noted that some of our older raised beds are getting “long in the tooth.” They are warping and no longer hold together on their own. Hubby has temporarily reinforced the boxes with short fence posts.

Thanks to my dearest friend Nancy, I have a new, high-quality pot for a new mint plant.

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St. Isadore, of course you know Mr. Monte holds you in high regard due to your kindness to animals. This year, he made his first venture into farming. Rather unsurprisingly, he chose to start his agricultural career with Nepeta Cataria (commonly known as catnip, catswort, catwort, or catmint).

Part II – The Vegetable Garden Gardens

When we last reported to you, St. Isadore, we only had one vegetable garden containing four raised beds, each with two sections. Later, we fenced in a new vegetable garden containing two raised beds. Hubby was never happy with his fencing job on Vegetable Garden #2. All he had to drive in the posts was a 3-pound sledge. That just wasn’t good enough when going up against some of the clever and defiant rocks that abide here on the vast Serendipity Farmhouse estate. Rather than holding up the fence, the fence posts were held up by the fence and most were crooked.

Because we needed to move most of our herbs to a new location and because we wanted to increase the number and varieties of vegetable crops, we decided to add two more raised beds to Vegetable Garden #2. Under my expert supervision, Hubby engineered the garden expansion. He even went so far as to obtain a 12-pound heavy-duty hand post pounder with handle.

When we attempted to order raised bed kits similar to the ones we already had, they either couldn’t be found or were unreasonably expensive. We opted instead for two galvanized steel raised beds, which were slightly larger than the old ones. – – Two identical boxes arrived on the same day. Both boxes had identical instructions – Hubby got to work. The first box was completed in fairly good time – about 45 minutes. Hubby exclaimed he could assemble the second box in half the time! Two hours later ……… – – What caused the problem?? The contents of the two boxes were different. By the time Hubby assembled half of the box, he realized that he would have to disassemble everything and start from scratch. He also found that one key piece was broken. Dang!!

St. Isadore, although Hubby got visibly angry, to his credit, he said no bad words. – – Eventually, he developed a workaround solution and completed assembling the second box. – – Here are some pictures of the garden expansion and assembly.

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Part III – Plantings

There’s not enough time to go into detail on all the different plantings this year. Here’s a condensed recap: the garlic we planted last Autumn is thriving; we expect scapes to appear soon; and our vast SFH vineyard has had an exceptional start. We avoided the ravages of frost and wind, and all of our other plantings are doing well. A more detailed report can be seen here.

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Part IV – Flowers and Plants

Finally, with the exception of our rhododendron, all of our plants and flowers are doing well. In fact, the Irises in Mary’s Garden have been doing too well and we have to keep thinning them out. Hubby mowed over the remains of the discarded plants last year, and we thought that was that. Nope, they decided to invade the lawn and are growing in multiple patches. I guess they like it here.

That concludes our report, St. Isadore. We’ve tried to be good stewards of what God has bestowed on Serendipity. The fruits of these labors constantly bring us joy.

The Annual May Crowning – May 13th