Ellaberry Gardens
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June 2013

Ellaberry Gardens' June 2013 Newsletter
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"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." ~~~ Henry James

"Summer nearly does me in every year. It's too hot and the light is unforgiving and the days go on way too long." ~~~ Anne Lammott

Summer is upon us, folks.  It's just about here.  It's beautiful afternoons of sunshine and swimming and flowers and bees and pavement that will blister your feet and sunburns and miserable heat.  I'm a huge fan of the writings of Henry James and of Anne Lammott.  And they're both right.  Summer is beautiful and it is also miserable.  And for those of us who like to spend even part of our days outside, our summers are a definite reminder of how beautifully brutal Mother Nature can be.  

No matter how you feel about summer, as things heat up, please be careful out there.  I got heat stroke last summer for the first time.  It was scary.  And I never would have believed how true it is but you do not, cannot, feel it sneaking up on you. It sticks with you for a long, long time.  And it's terribly frustrating to be dealing with a year later. I've been warned it could linger much longer.  So stay hydrated.  Pace yourselves.  There's no tomato in the world worth you falling ill.  And especially if you work your gardens alone, please don't push it as the temperatures rise.  Take care of yourselves. You're the only one of you.  And I want you to be out there with me for a long, long time.   

Thoughts on Being Resilient

I have been known to say that my two biggest obstacles as a garden educator are 1) getting folks convinced that our growing season here in NE OK is longer than from April 15th until October 15th and 2) keeping new gardeners encouraged after their first (often self-perceived) failure. If there were just one thing I could choose to offer each and every one of you, it would be a strong sense of resiliency.  I have been thinking and reading on this for a while now. And I'm beginning to believe that folks are somewhat predestined to a sense of resiliency; or they just are not.  We all face hard times and most of us push through them with a renewed sense of purpose and direction.  But there are those who struggle significantly harder when faced with a setback (in the garden or anywhere in life.)  Why is it harder for some than others?  Well, I'm no psychologist or geneticist so I don't have any concrete answers. So how can I help you be more resilient? I really don't know for sure. But I do have some ideas.

Lower your expectations.  And do it often.  I don't mean give up on your garden as soon as something goes wrong.  But if you find hornworms on your tomatoes, instead of tearing out your tomato plants and declaring that you're done with gardening forever, try to use the opportunity to learn about the lifecycle of hornworms and let yourself be in awe at the power of their little jaws and the beauty of their form and their absolutely perfect camoflauge.  Learn how to try to prevent them next year.    Because, no matter what most folks will have you believe, there will, in fact, be a next year.  So you don't get tomatoes this year?  So what? Big deal.  You'll have your tomato year.  And it will not be every year.  Just is what it is.   

Get real with yourself.  Are you working your garden and taking care of your animals alone?  I am for the most part.  My husband builds stuff for me and helps when I find myself in a crisis or ill or absolutely desperate.  And the kids have little interest.  So, very much for the most part, it's my thing. Alone.  Just me. So I've had to get real about what I can and am willing to do out there.  I'd love to grow every ounce of food my family eats.  In theory.  But I also love to go out to lunch with a friend every now and then, go shopping with my momma, read, write, play in the kitchen, talk with my kids, visit with my cousins, take care of the inside of my home, have a date night with my husband and just chill.  So I don't grow all of our food.  I do what realistically fits into my life.  I highly recommend keeping it real.  You owe no explanation to anyone for how much you do or do not do outside.  So get real.  With you.  Preferably before you spend way too much time and energy and money on projects you don't have the time or energy or money to keep up with.  There is nothing about urban homesteading that is a competition.  It's deeply personal.  So keep it that way. And give yourself a break.

Plant yourself some hardy perennial herbs.  Select a sunny spot in your yard (or on a deck for some nice containers) and plant rosemary, sage, and thyme.  Maybe add in some garlic chives or mint or lavender.  These plants will more than likely bless you no matter what happens to your "follow through."  If you find out in July that you just cannot tolerate the heat and you give up on watering, chances are, once they're established, you'll find that these herbs hang in there for you (especially if they're in the ground.)  If the idea of having some plants that are relatively care free but still offer food and culinary value thrills you, consider adding a few more.  Comfrey, sorrel and lovage would thrive in some shadier spots.  Yarrow, wild violet and wild strawberry do well with little to no attention and are beautiful and medicinal/edible.  Get to know what will make it without your input.  Plant some of it. And then let.it.go.

If you're dealing with health issues, get real about it.  Gardening has been touted as a cure all for mental health, physical health and sometimes even spiritual health.  I call "hogwash" on this because it is NOT everyone's path to wellness.  But if it is your path, and you're unable because of your health to do it a certain way or your idea of the "right" way, you're just going to have to readjust.  And there are ways. Build raised beds that are much taller.  Or find/build/buy a sturdy table upon which you can place a container garden.  Or find a way to grow herbs on your windowsill.  Or find something else that makes your heart happy and do that.

I highly recommend the book "The Resilient Gardener" by Carol Deppe. In this book, she addresses many ways to be a resilient gardener.  I have found it to be extremely inspiring and grounding and just real.  I bought my copy because I knew I would want to refer to it again and again.  Our local library does have it though. Take the time to read it.  It's pretty amazing.

Whatever you do, vow to be resilient.  Changing direction does not make one weak.  What's that quote about the tree that can't bend being the one that breaks in a storm?  Yeah.  Don't be that tree.  Bend.  Whip around in the storm.  Get all your leaves blown off and your bark a little weather beaten.  Maybe now you're all wonky and you don't look the same.  But be determined to find your way.  You can do it.  I believe in you.  I'd love to hear your stories of resiliency.  Our community would benefit from discussing this more.  We've all had to readjust.  Ain't no big thing. We got this. And, honestly, is there any other option?

Right Now in the Garden

A typical June in NE OK begins our season of oppressive heat and scourges of pest issues.  But things have been different this year.  It's so cool that my fruit (mainly peaches and bush cherries) are ripening much slower than they normally do.  I am still dealing with spring pests (aphids and cabbage worms) and haven't seen many warm weather pests yet.  The cooler and damp weather has also brought on TONS of fungus growth in my mulch.  It has been fascinating to watch the process. 

I've had some folks say they were too late this year to get their tomatoes or peppers in the ground now and heard some fret over not having their cucumbers or winter squashes or beans sowed yet.  It is NOT too late for any of these crops this year!  Get them going now and you'll for sure harvest from the cukes, beans and squash and who knows where the rest of this year will take us with our tomatoes and peppers?  SO might as well plant!

Here's a list of my typical June jobs:

  • Fertilize plants as needed and per organic fertilizer directions.
  • Fertilize blueberries (I do this once per month from May-October.)
  • Deadhead flowers for continued bloom.
  • Keep annual herbs pinched back for continual harvests through the summer.
  • Check fruit trees for borers and treat as needed.
  • Pull any suckers from the base of fruit trees.
  • Consider summer pruning fruit trees to control growth AFTER you harvest fruits.
  • Keep an eye out for aphids! Check new, tender growth and just spray off with the 'jet' setting on hose---carefully though because new leaves are tender.
  • Time to start watching for allll the pests in the garden.  Educate yourself and begin treating as needed.
  • Wrap up harvesting cool weather crops (brassicas, greens, root crops) and plant bush or pole beans, winter squashes and cucumbers in their places.
  • Prepare for canning season to commence (do you have all the supplies you'll need?) 
  • Clean up nursery pots from transplants to use for fall seed starting.
  • Order any seeds you want to start this fall from online seed companies if you didn't stock up in the spring.
  • Weed out "volunteers" that show up in the garden and compost pile.
  • Begin paying attention to heat while working: stay hydrated, move slow, take your time, don't overwork yourself. 
  • Refer to May's to do list and make sure it got done. If not, do it now!
June planting:

6/1 outdoor planting---
  • Seeds
    • corn
    • cucumbers
    • melons
    • peanuts
    • southern peas (cowpeas or black-eyed peas)
    • squash (summer and winter)
    • sunflowers
  • Transplants
    • melons
    • squash (summer and winter)
    • sweet potatoes

 

6/15 outdoor planting---

  • Seeds
    • cucumbers
    • melons
    • peanuts
    • southern peas (cowpeas or black-eyed peas)
    • squash (summer and winter)
    • sunflowers
  • Transplants
    • cantaloupe (getting too late for watermelon)
    • squash (summer and winter)
    • sweet potatoes (last chance)

 

Recipe

As the canning year is beginning anew, it's a great time to check your pantries and use up any jams and jellies you have left before it's time to put them up again. Here are some of my favorite ways to use them up.

Baked Chicken with Jam

Place a cut up chicken or 3-4 lbs of chicken pieces in a 9 x 13 pan.  Empty one-two jelly jars of jam onto chicken.  Spread about.  Bake until chicken is done.  One of my favorite combos is one jar each plum or cherry jam and jalapeno jam.  Sweet and spicy.  YUM!  Also works great with a good pork tenderlion.  Also crock pot friendly.  Just put meat and jam(s) into crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours.

Jam "Syrup"

Place one jar of jam into a small saucepan.  Fill empty jar half with water and stir into jam.  Heat until warm and it has thinned out.  Serve over ice cream, waffles or pancakes.

Jam Pops

Place jar of jam into blender.  Use jar to measure out two jars milk or almond milk and pour into blender. Blend until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds and enjoy as the season heats up!

Jam Fruit Leather

Mix one part jam to two or three parts unsweetened applesauce.  Spread jam mixture onto fruit leather dehydrator sheets.  Dehydrate until chewy and still pliable.  Wrap up in saran wrap.  Take to the park or the pool for a sweet and yummy snack.

More ideas
here.  Have fun!  If you have any other ideas for using up homemade jams/jellies, please share them!

Ellaberry and the Community

Folks sometimes ask me to speak for their garden clubs or garden related events. I've presented for the Tulsa County Master Gardeners, The Tulsa Herb Society, the Jenks Garden Club, at Grogg's Green Barn, at TCC's EcoFest, at the Tulsa City-County Library and more. I can present on many things urban farming related. I'm very low tech and don't typically offer any sort of power point or other media based presentation. But I do so enjoy speaking with folks in the community. If you're interested, I can send a list of topics that range from 20 minutes to well over an hour and a half in presentation time.

If you're a non-profit, I do my best to show up for free. If you're not, my typical fee is $50 for up to two hours. If you are outside of the Tulsa city limits, there will be a small mileage fee no matter what. Don't mind not making money but I'm not in the position to be losing it.

Don't wait until the last minute! Spring/early summer is an exceptionally busy time of the year!

Contact me through the website, via email at
ellaberrygardens@yahoo.com, find me on Facebook or just plain ole call at 918-346-1760.

Services offered by Ellaberry

Until after the Edible Garden Tour and a week or so "off", I'm taking a hiatus from anything other than class, my own garden and the tour. If you had your heart set on a consultation, go ahead and email and I'll set you up with a great list of resources. And then back with our full offering of services June 17th!

June Class

Our June class is about feeding and watering your garden so it can feed and take care of you. 
Learning to fertilize and water a garden that produces food is very different than taking care of ornamentals.  You have to do than just keep your plants alive if you want them to produce food for you.  Join us for "Feed What Feeds You" to learn more.

Here is the class description: "Your plants have to eat and drink well before you can eat well. This class covers fertilizing and irrigating. We will cover why fertilizing your plants naturally is so important and how to go about it. We will cover basic composting, the fertilizing requirements of different plant families, and what natural products are available to us locally in NE Oklahoma. Also learn ways to keep your plants' thirst quenched besides standing in your yard with the hose. Mulching with recycled materials, rainwater collecting, drip irrigation, and other alternative watering methods will be explored.

Class is Thursday, June 20th at 7 pm. class fee is $10 per person. More info here and here. Please, please, please RSVP just as soon as you know you're coming!

Open Garden

We will NOT be having an Open Garden day this month since it is the same day as the Edible Garden Tour.  See you on July 14th!

Ellaberry on Facebook

I hate to presume that you want to see anymore of what's going on around here than you get in the newsletter, but just in case you do, come find Ellaberry Gardens on Facebook! I don't have a blog and I don't forsee one any time in the future---just can't sit still that long on a daily basis. But I have found that I can fit in an almost daily update on FB. I do my best to make it happen. I post pictures, quips about "farm" life, videos, and links that might be helpful to you on your own urban farming journey. And other folks post pics of their own gardens and ask questions that we can all help with! So come on over there and "like" the Ellaberry Gardens page and stay in closer touch! You can post any questions or comments you have right on the page and I'll do my best to answer them. I've found that if I don't know the answer, someone else that follows the page does. It's a lovely community!

Tulsa's 3rd Annual Edible Garden Tour
June 8-9, 2013

Our gardens on the tour this year offer so many ways to show you how you can grow some food in an urban setting.  We have a brand new permaculture planting, blueberries in pots, blackberries, raised beds, straw bale beds, fruit trees, herbs, chickens, rainwater collecting, composting and so much more to share with you! 

Our benefactor this year is the Tulsa Community Gardening Association.  I wish everyone had a yard or some land to grow some food but I know this isn't the case.  So community gardens are an important part of filling that need. We're proud to be supporting them this year.


Tickets are $5.  Children 13 and under are free.  Cash ONLY.  Thank you! 

Our garden and vendor lineup:

Crossroads Clubhouse
Vendor:
Crossroads Clubhouse
1888 East 15th Place

The Goetzinger Garden
Vendor:
Duck Creek Farms
5914 South Sandusky Ave


The O'Donnell Garden
Vendor:
Hollyrocks
4816 South Madison Avenue

The Sawyer Garden
Vendor:
Clear Creek Seeds (Saturday only)
Garden Girl Studio (Sunday only)

3719 South 112th East Avenue


To attend the tour, simply pick the address you'd like to begin at, purchase your ticket and then proceed to all the other
gardens on the tour at your leisure during tour hours; Saturday from 9-5 and Sunday from 12-5.
 


NOTE: Ellaberry Gardens is NOT on the tour this year. We had folks come by last year that were disappointed. Please come see us at one of our Open Gardens, the 2nd Sunday of every month except June, from 1-4pm. Thanks!

Volunteers:

We still need a few volunteers to help us pull this off. Shifts are 9am-1pm on Saturday the 8th and 12pm-5pm on Sunday the 9th. We need ticket takers (folks who receive payment and stamp tickets at each yard)and "yard watchers" (folks who help the homeowners manage the crowds---gardening experienced for this preferred so you can help answer our tour-goers questions! But, of course, absolutely not required.) See the updated volunteer schedule at the bottom of the
tour page.

Volunteers receive one free tour ticket per shift worked and a sweet little goody bag from me.

Email me at
ellaberrygardens@yahoo.com if you know you want to volunteer and have a preferred time slot!

It's coming together beautifully, folks! Help me get the word out!

Happy growin'!

Jenny

Turnips harvested the last week of May 2013


  

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