It’s Cherry Season!

One of my favorite times of years is when the cherries are ripe on the tree and ready for picking. We have two trees, but we can only get to one of them due to overgrown ivy (can I just say that seeing ripe cherries on a tree is torture when you can’t actually reach them?)

cherry blossoms4_smaller

Flowers on the cherry tree in February

Our first year in the house, friends who were visiting pointed them out and we spent an hour shaking them from the tree and collecting them in buckets. We repeated the drill again last year and a couple weeks ago. While my 3 year old was excited to help, the baby wasn’t as excited and cried the entire time.

cherries and blackberriesedited

Blackberries and cherries

What can you do with 60 pounds of cherries?

The first year, I made cherry jam and marmalade. It was my first time using pectin and I was not prepared for how quickly it gelled. Usually I use green apples, which seem to be more forgiving. While I still have to stand at the stove and stir, if I have to step away for a minute or two, I can without ruining a whole pot of jam. Needless to say, my first venture into pectin didn’t work out at all. I can’t even get it out of the jar. If someone tries to attack me, the cherry jam could be a useful weapon.

Last year, we dried all of the cherries. My husband soaked them in brandy first. We still have some, even after a year.

This year, we’re venturing into cherry wine. I love wine; after all, I drink enough of it. We fermented a good share of our plums into wine and we’ll do the same with the cherries. Currently we have 10 gallons of cherry wine fermenting, along with a blend of cherries, plums and the first round of blackberries we’ve picked. After I pull out the nylon bags with fruit bit and transfer the solution into a secondary fermentor, I’ll add oak chips and maybe cinnamon sticks to give it a bit of a kick.

Cherry wine fermentingedited

Cherries fermenting in the primary fermentor

Since I haven’t made wine at this scale before, I’m nervous as to how it’ll turn out. Hopefully fine, but we’ll see. It could be awesome or absolutely terrible.

Next year we plan to plant a couple more cherry trees, maybe a different variety. Variety is the spice of life right?

 

 

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The end of the season

Everything is dead in the garden. Well, not everything. The sunflowers are having their last hurrah. Since I planted them late, they didn’t grow quite as tall, but are still enjoying the last warm days nonetheless. The last of the cilantro is flowering and going to seed, and I finally dug up the one single garlic bulb that managed to grow this year.

The garden in more verdant times.

The garden in more verdant times.

At this point, I’ve pulled up the bird netting and let the chickens have at the garden scraps (although they got a bit aggressive with one of my strawberry plants, those jerks!). They’ve cleared away most of the scraps.

New garlic bulbs are in the ground, covered in straw for the winter. Kale, lettuce and chives are in the ground under a makeshift cold frame made from a glass shower door we found on the property. In the vegetable garden, the waiting begins.

Now is the lull between the harvest and when the first seed catalogues come in the mail. It’s the time to dream about next year’s garden, assess what crops worked this year, and plan what to grow next year.

While the plants and organic matter are breaking down, it’s the soil’s time to rebuild. Although it doesn’t seem like much is going on, in reality a ton of stuff is happening beneath the soil, all of which is important for the health of the soil and the health of the plants that will grow in it next year.

What a difference a few months make

Looking at my garden today, I was overwhelmed by how much everything has changed in the matter of only a few months. What started out as a few starter plants and seeds has become a jungle. The cilantro, which I let go to seed, has fallen over under the weight of the coriander seeds, while the sugar snap peas have reached the end of their life as well. The lettuce and spinach have bolted, I’m getting tons of cucumbers–even lemon cucumbers which I just about gave up on.

The garden in May 2014

The garden in May.

The garden today.

The garden today.

 

The new garden, today.

The new garden, today.