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Swiss Delight

September 6, 2013
Cable Car to Murren

Cable Car to Murren

Recently back from our first trip to Switzerland.  We rented an apartment in Lauterbrunnen, a town located in a large valley between two mountain ranges in more or less the center of the country.  Took day trips from there via rail to Bern and Brienz/Ballenberg, with a day trip to Gruyeres via rented car.  Cable cars, cogwheel trains and plain old hiking got us to nearby towns in the mountains (Murren and Wengen) and inside a couple waterfalls (Trummelbach and Staubbach Falls).  A relentlessly picturesque panorama wherever we went.  Really spectacular.  Ate our weight in Rosti, fondue and chocolate.  Especially chocolate.

Cailler Chocolate Factory Tasting Room

Cailler Chocolate Factory all you can eat – errr – Tasting Room

E and Dad Zurich

E and Dad Zurich

E and Dad in Murren

E and Dad in Murren

I guess Zurich is OK

I guess Zurich is OK

View from apt deck

View from apt deck

View from Wengen rail station

View from Wengen rail station

Lauterbrunnen below, from trail to Wengen

Lauterbrunnen below, from trail to Wengen

Above River Aare, Bern

Above River Aare, Bern

Knife Edge Trail, Schynige Platte

Knife Edge Trail, Schynige Platte

Gruyeres Chateau garden

Gruyeres Chateau garden

Making Milch

Making Milch

Mom and E on Trail

Mom and E on Trail

Mountain Flora

Mountain Flora

Midsummer

July 25, 2013

Getting a steady stream of produce now that the weather is consistently warm: bush and pole beans, cucumbers, jalapeños, carrots, beets,potatoes and … three tomatoes.  Add to that a midsummer flower show from the previous owners’ planting of a variety of lilies, lavender and other attractors of good insects and it’s been pretty pleasant being out in the garden.

Multifurcated Carrot Cherry Tomatoesphoto-7Beans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cukes

Of course, I have had my share of pestilence this year.  Every single apple and peach stolen by squirrels.   Japanese Beetles destroyed the top leaves of my pole beans a couple weeks ago.  White flies and cabbageworms chomped on my kale seedlings.  And a pair of Tomato Hornworms went through 3 tomatoes and a number of stalks before I found them.  Here’s one of them moments before he was kidnapped and murdered.  Sorry worms, but now you’re familiar with the term “occupational hazard.”

Tom Hornworm

Red Wine Vinegar

July 2, 2013

Home made, even.  Good Italian balsamic vinegar is fairly easy to find these days and we’ve given these folks more than a few dollars over the past three years to have it on hand.  One of life’s simple pleasures and helps us look forward to salads instead of sighing in resignation.  But good (Italian or otherwise) red wine vinegar?  Not so easy to find.  So my wife believed the solution was to make our own. A proper vinegar crock and a starter – the “mother” – were purchased, as well some cheesecloth to allow air to pass through the open top of the crock.  The mother went in the crock, along with 2 cups of red wine and we set it under a cabinet on April 1.  On July 1, we deemed it ready after a tasting proved delicious.

Voila: something made from leftovers into something else.  We bottled most of what was in the crock (leaving the mother) and poured back in a half bottle of days-old wine from the fridge.  Another 3 months and we’ll have more.  Science, man!

red wine vinegar

Summer!

June 30, 2013

Summer’s in the garden.  Peas are producing, carrots, beets and beans are coming in, there’s already a couple tomatoes showing and I snipped our first cucumber today.  And the lettuce has seriously bolted.  As referenced in a prior post, my new beds have taken up residence in part of the driveway near the raspberry / blackberry beds.  Thankfully I have neighbors who are cool with the occasional brief drive around them into the median between our houses.  And I put casters underneath them so I can roll them here and there if needed.

Front Yard, Bed 3

Front Yard, Bed 3

mint is not shy

Front Yard, Bed 2

when it's 3 feet high and rising, it's bolted

Front Yard, Bed 1

New beds in driveway

Driveway Produce

The Great Cicada Shell War of 2013

May 24, 2013

photo-2

Late Spring

May 23, 2013

Eating a lot of lettuce and spinach and enjoying fresh herbs (oregano, basil, mint, cilantro, sage, rosemary) from the garden.  I put my purchased pepper seedlings, my lone cucumber seedling and all my bean (butterbeans, fava, bush (provider) and pole (fortex)) seedlings in the 3rd bed last weekend.  Seed potatoes (yukon gold and russian banana fingerling) are in the bags and leaves are almost past the top of each bag now.  Tomato seedlings are potted up and will be transplanted along with melon seedlings this weekend into a brand new bed which I’m putting in our driveway, near the bottom towards the garage.  I’ve officially run out of land that gets enough sun to grow things.  The car will just have to deal.

Carrots Beets Mint May

Lettuce Spinach Peas May

Round 1

April 16, 2013

went in the ground over the weekend: lettuce, spinach and peas in one bed, beets and carrots in the other.  Some oregano made it through the winter in the 1st bed and a bit of mint survived in the 2nd.  I say “a bit” … it took over half the bed and that’s what’s left after I harvested some and pulled the rest to the side.

Sadly, my kale seedlings didn’t make it to the beds.  Our cat took a liking to them and ate / rubbed her face against them until they were no more.  Starting seeds for Round 2 tonight: tomatoes, beans, peppers, melons and some herbs.

lettuce spinach peas

Beets and Carrots

Up And At Them

April 2, 2013

Lettuce, kale, spinach and peas are ready to go in the ground.  But the ground is not ready for receiving.  Not currently accepting new residents as it were due to Northern NJ’s cold snap .  We started to warm up last week in time for Spring’s arrival and now we’re back to low 30’s at night.  I’ll give it another week and then break out the row cover.

Pea Seedlings

Beets

Lettuce Kale Spinach

Fresh Start

March 18, 2013

Yaaawwwwwwwwwn smack smack smack

Oh Hi!  Started seeds March 2 and I’ve got 85% germination 16 days later.  Lettuce, kale and spinach so far with other veg starting next weekend.  Still in the upper 20s and low 30s at night with winter still holding on.  But we’ll welcome Spring in 2 days nonetheless.

Spinach Lettuce Kale

Spinach Lettuce Kale

Fall

October 1, 2012

Man, where did September go?  Aside from a little trimming here and there, I put the garden on autopilot for the month.  But the month was good to us and I harvested quite a bit of stuff.  First things first, though.  My solution for warding off the groundhogs and woodchucks was finally using some fencing that’s been occupying my garage since Maine.

En Garde!

It doesn’t keep the squirrels out, but they weren’t the main problem.  Combined with the use of row cover at night to cover the right bed completely and the left bed about halfway, I’ve kept pests away almost 100% of the time.  Shame that it took me so long to figure this out.  No, it ain’t pretty.  But it’s removable.  🙂

Finally had a good stream of tomatoes in September.  Also a near continuous supply of cucumbers, beans, peppers, kale and carrots.  Had 2 harvests of potatoes from the bags and they were done.  I didn’t do as well with those this season, possibly due to not changing the soil I used in the bags.  Will start fresh next season.

What else?  We had a bumper crop of apples from the tree, about 10 cantaloupes from the volunteer vine, and pints of raspberries from the vines I got from my neighbor (which we’re still getting every few days).  Good stuff.