Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mid June

June 20. We're approaching mid-summer and the orchard, garden, herb garden and lawn are doing well. We hosted the Sauk Centre Gradatim Club for a tour this morning and it was a nearly perfect morning. A dozen enchanting ladies walked through the orchard, noting the developing grapes, plums, cherries, and apples. Some gazed fondly at the chokecherries as if they had forgotten the puckery flavor from childhood. We noted the windy days of the weekend had thinned the apple and cherry crop. Still, clusters of McIntosh apples crowd the branches so even more thinning wouldn't hurt. The apples are walnut sized now and some even have blushed cheeks.

The herb garden's anise hyssop and tarragon are most abundant. The lovage seems short this year but is already going to seed. The new plantings of lemon balm, marjoram, rosemary, and parsley have put their roots down. The basil was slow in germinating but will grow quickly now.

We enjoyed a quick lunch of sage butter pasta this noon. The pasta was already cooked so it was a simple matter of sauteing about four stalks of sage (washed and roughly chopped) in a half cup of butter for three minutes. This was tossed on the reheated spaghetti along with shredded cheddar, Monteray Jack and parmesan cheese. With a little fresh melon on the side it was a delightfully filling lunch. No, there wasn't any vinegar in it, but there will be some in tonight's chili.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The growing season

We're well into the growing season and along with the planting, weeding, and mowing we've been welcoming tour groups to the orchard, herb garden and vinegary.

Our vinegar maker has been busy setting up new batches as well as teaching wine making classes to interested folk in the area. It's rhubarb time so Ron has offered classes in making rhubarb wine. We carry a complete line of wine making equipment and supplies as well as those for beer making. So the rhubarb wine is fermenting.

Ron indicates that about 60 gallons of wine-vinegar is in the works. When these vinegars are harvested many of them will be infused with herbs since the herbs (at least some of them) are nearly in their prime. Lovage, tarragon, dill, sage, anise hyssop, and chives are ready to be picked. We didn't get the basil seeds planted early, but they're coming up and we eagerly look forward to the basil harvest.

The orchard pollination went well with the bees doing their annual duties. Some bee keepers are concerned with the loss of bees but so far they seem to be fine here. A good swarm was buzzing and collecting water at the Koi pond yesterday.

Ron and I enjoyed speaking at the Wadena area Christian Women's meeting Tuesday night. It was a challenge to give all 100 attendees a taste of the vinegars, especially since they were just finishing dinner, topping it off with ice cream. They'd lick the ice cream off their spoons and hold them out for the drops of vinegar. What a delightful group! Since Ron and I are both originally from the Wadena area we were delighted to reconnect with friends we hadn't seen in many years.

I mentioned the Koi pond just a minute ago. The Koi have happily reproduced in the ponds so we now have Koi for sale. You might think of fish and vinegar as a culinary duo but Ron's fish are like my chickens: we don't eat them!