A week ago Thursday and Friday, Tony and I put together four big-enough-to-stand-up-in cages with netting to protect fruiting bushes from birds and deer and such. And it was quite a job, though after the first couple, we pretty much knew what we were doing and so they came together quickly. And I planted within those cages six elderberries (three each of two varieties, for cross-pollination) and six gooseberries (ditto).
And a week ago today, I planted six lingonberries (three each of two varieties, mostly for variety's sake, because lingonberries are self-pollinating) and put them under a low row cover to protect them from animals.
And today, naturally, as I write this first section of the post, we're getting snow (though it isn't sticking). And it's gone below freezing a couple nights since I planted the berries, so I've been inverting empty pots over them, even the lingonberries, which are very cold hardy, because they already had several flowers on them—and one berry, which stunned me—when they were delivered.
While I've been covering my berries, I've also been putting the bottom trays of plastic pots or dried leaves from last fall over pots containing sprouting lettuce and my returning mints and mountain mints.1 I'm planning to grow most if not all of our herbs and veggies in pots on our deck, because there are so few spots on our property that get lots of sun. The elderberries are to the right of our driveway as you come up it, the gooseberries are in a clearing on the right side of our backyard, and the lingonberries are in a raised bed under trees in the middle of our backyard. All of the berries would be more productive in full sun but do fine in partial shade, and the lingonberries actually grow naturally as an understory ground cover. They get only about a foot tall, so we didn't need big cages for them.
Here's Grady checking out the lingonberries:
And here's what they looked like just after I unwrapped them:
And here's a photo of the elderberry cages with the plants under pots that I took this morning:
I had started digging in the spot toward to the left side of the pic where the disturbed ground is before I remembered that was probably smack dab in the middle of our septic field. Tony confirmed it is.
The spaces inside these two side-by-side cages might be a little tight for the elderberries. I had read online they can be planted 3 to 6 feet apart, and so I figured three could fit in each cage in a chevron configuration. The materials I got from Raintree Nursery said there should be 8 feet between them. *sigh* We'll see how they do. Right now, before they start branching and leafing out, they're just sad-looking little twigs. Same with the gooseberries, except they're sad-looking little twigs with thorns.
I saw my first male goldfinch in his goldest finery at our thistle seed feeder today.
Two weeks ago, I posted photos of familiar-looking wildflowers on Facebook and asked my botanically inclined friends to tell me what their names were. Thanks to Carl, Joyce, and Debbie, I can now label these photos here on the blog:
Glory of the snow
Virginia bluebells. I love me some bluebells, but I didn't recognize this particular kind while its flower buds were still closed up tight.
No one knew the name of this one with the small white flowers on stalks. Debbie said it has no positive attributes that she's aware of.
I know a buttercup when I see one and so didn't have to ask about this one.
On Sunday, we had brunch with Paul and Dan at Sprig & Vine. They were skeptical of a vegan restaurant, especially as far as getting enough to eat was concerned, but they both said they'd go back. I had the deliciously satisfying Forbidden Breakfast Burrito, which takes its name from the black, or forbidden, rice inside the tortilla:
The burrito also contained scrambled tofu, avocado, baby spinach, and pickled carrot.
To drink, I had a Beet Lemonade. For dessert, I got the Almond–Black Cocoa Torte, with Chocolate-Beet Ganache, Cacao Ice Cream, and Hazelnut Candy:
I felt stuffed all afternoon, but I'd do it again just the same, without changing a thing. *urp*
Here are photos of the four of us:
I started some Vietnamese basil from seeds Vince gave us in a pot the Gerbers gave me for Christmas:
We've got some of those narcissus I like with the orange and yellow centers growing in our front yard:
Late last month, I made a Basset Tracks Vegan Frozen Dessert that was pretty darn good:
As I've mentioned on the blog before, I'm going to be making my products allergan-free as much as possible. (I can't exactly leave dairy products out of my ice creams.) I made my own sunflower butter cups because the store-bought dark chocolate ones may contain traces of dairy from the production of the milk chocolate ones. And I made swirlable sweetened sunflower butter and semisweet chocolate sauces.
The vanilla vegan frozen dessert iced up a bit after I packed it in pints. Not enough to stop it from being a pleasure to eat but enough to make it somewhat less enjoyable. I'm eager to see how much the texture of my VFD's is improved when they're solidified in a blast chiller instead of my regular ol' kitchen freezer.
I've made some headway on figuring out where I'm going to make and sell my products, but it's too early to make official announcements just yet. I do have a logo that I'm thrilled with, thanks to my friend Tracy Patterson:
1I later bought some hoary mountain mint plants from Toadshade, so I've now got two kinds of MM. "Hey, hoary mountain mints. How's the hoaring?"