Saturday, May 7, 2016

Swinging into Spring

I spent the day jamming.  Like so:

It's been a chilly and cloudy and rainy week here--the April showers thing apparently took a rain check (see what I did there?) and arrived in May instead.

First, I tried to fight it off with some yarn, like so:  

But that didn't help as much as you might expect.  

Because even though I have about seven uncompleted projects, I tried to start a new one, but then ran into problems, so I stopped.

I tried again, ran into problems, stopped.

The only remaining question is, will I be crazy enough to try for a THIRD freakin' time.  I'm not sure, really.  I might be.  It depends on whether I want to procrastinate on any upcoming grading--which I shouldn't do, because if I've learned anything in life, it's that papers and exams don't grade themselves.  They just don't.  You can wait for elves to show up and do them, but you'll be waiting a while.

So I decided to tap into the frozen blueberries I had from last summer--ye gods, I had a lot--and work on making jam.  Except I ran into the same problem I've run into with blueberry jam before: it's reluctant to "set."  Thus leaving me with a substance more like blueberry syrup than blueberry jam.

Don't get me wrong.  Blueberry syrup is just fine, and given that I've been eye-balling a new pancake recipe for a couple days now, I'll be just fine.

But I did want to know why this kept happening, because I'm like that.  I want to know why.  The best guess I can offer at this point is, freezing the berries may up the water content a bit.  Because the only jam I have this problem with is blueberry, and the only other time I had this issue, I used frozen berries (I think).

So, it may be blueberry syrup.  As I said, I'll be just fine.

I would also like to say that I honestly didn't think every single kale seed that I planted would sprout.  Really, I didn't.  Suffice to say, I'm looking at a lot of potential kale this spring.  Like so:

Picture a 4'x4 raised bed with two more rows that look just like that, and you've entered my world.

Kale freezes, right?  It has to, as far as I'm concerned. 

I was also pleasantly surprised to realize that my potatoes have all done quite well, both in the tower that I built and in the other raised bed.

They're looking like so:

The situation is a little bit better than it appears in this photo.  Setting aside the fact that I am, as I've repeatedly stated, a pretty crappy photographer, the potato plants are kinda buried under the pine-needle much.

I used pine needles because word on the street has it that potatoes like acidic soil.  So far, that seems to be true.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I'm also looking at the possibility of being buried alive in broccoli and tomatoes, because yes, all those seeds sprouted too.  In the case of these sensitive souls, though, I know better than to count my chickens (like that mixed metaphor?), because I've been in this situation in previous springtimes, and along about July, I begin screaming in rage as these little beauts die.  But for now, here they are, looking good:

That's the broccoli on the left, and the tomatoes on the right. 

I've also tried growing garlic this year, and it seems to be doing okay... for now.  I wasn't sure what would happen with it--and I'm still not, actually--because you're supposed to plant it after the first frost, because it needs the cold weather.

So I did what I was supposed to, and then it went up to 70 degrees in November.  Oh, and then again in December--remember Christmas in the Northeast, everyone?--and so the garlic did what any sensible plant would do and put up leaves which then promptly ran the risk of freezing.

But in the end, they seem okay.  I've got them in a grow bag next to the house, and this last photo is in fact a two-fer, because I also wanted to show off the fact that my peonies are finally looking pretty good. 

Those are the peonies on the left, the garlic on the right.

I've been struggling with the peonies, because I had to find the spots that would get enough sun for them to do well in the spring, without croaking in the heat in the summer.

I think I've found the right places for them.  Finally.  Fingers crossed. 

And yes, that's a lot of garlic in the grow bag, but I say again, I thought--nay, expected--that some of it would die.

Perhaps my thumb is greener than I realize.

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