Monday, September 24, 2018

Weekend Getaway

Two weekends ago Ed and I took a quick trip to the 20th Annual Pawpaw festival in Albany, Ohio. It was our first pawpaw festival, but I'm hoping it's not our last. It was great fun.

We left on Friday morning in time to spend the afternoon floating on a small lake in southeastern Ohio casting for bass. It's called belly boat fishing and requires nothing more than kicking your feet (with fins) to guide an inflatable "boat" to wherever you think the fish might be biting. I call it belly-laugh fishing as I found myself grinning the entire afternoon.

We spent Saturday morning wandering around the PawPaw festival, a gathering devoted to all things pawpaw: ice cream, beer, lectures, vendors, competitions, music, trivia, cooking demonstrations, and storytelling. It was Ed and me, and hundreds of other pawpaw aficionados.


We have a dozen or so pawpaw trees scattered around Farm Dover, but are always interested in learning more about this amazing native fruit that tastes like a custardy cross between a banana and mango. Only one of our trees has actually produced fruit, but we remain hopeful that most of the others are getting near fruit-bearing age (4 to 8 years). This year I found pawpaw fruit for sale at Rainbow Blossom and bought enough to make two batches of pawpaw ice cream.

If you haven't tasted a pawpaw, you are missing out on a delicious life experience. Keep your eyes peeled for pawpaw trees growing in the wild, plant some of your own (I've got seeds I can share), or head to the Ohio Pawpaw Festival next year, September 13-15.

Pawpaw ice cream
(from The Splendid Table)


2 cups pawpaw pulp (or more, if you have it)
1 cup sugar
2 cups cream
2 cups milk


Combine the pawpaw and sugar. Stir in the cream and milk. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according the manufacturer’s directions.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Greetings from the Garden(s)

Oh what a summer we have had – full of good things (except for a few million hungry Japanese beetles).

It is now September and the yard grass is still growing at an alarming pace, but the fields are turning brighter by the day as the wild goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) bursts into splendid clusters, growing among the higher-than-my-head turkey-footed Big Bluestem native grasses.

I've heard from more than one friend that they believe they are allergic to Goldenrod, our state flower, but I have news for them: you can't be. Goldenrod is pollinated by insects and only wind-pollinated plants can cause allergic reactions. However, lots of Ragweed (Ambrosia artemislifolia) is blooming now; the pollen explodes as we brush past the towering plants now leaning into our paths. A single ragweed plant can produce about a billion grains of pollen per season. That's a lot of Ahcoos!  

The big garden is a bit wild these days with pumpkin vines growing every which way, including up and over the fence. The prolific yellow squash has finally calmed down to a reasonable number of daily crooknecks. I pulled out the cucumber plants today, not because they were not producing, but because they were still producing and I couldn't bear to figure out what to do with the 20+ cukes that hung on the vine every time I entered the garden.

I crawled around the pumpkin vines this morning seeking lost potato plants and found a few handfuls of red potatoes that had avoided harvest before the jack-o'-lantern vines covered them up. I also pulled up two big turnips that I planted mid-summer, leaving a dozen more to fatten up.

In not-so-good news, my tomato plants were pathetic this year, looking all straggly and producing the saddest tomatoes ever. My neighbor, Jon, tells me I need to add lime to the soil. I'll either do that for next season or give up and get my tomatoes from him – as his are amazing.

Onion and shallot harvest
Delicata winter squash

Besides the pumpkins and some newly planted radishes and lettuces, the garden is about to transition into a quieter phase. Only the sweet potatoes remain to be harvested and I won't do that for another month or so.

sweet potato vines

Let's talk about zinnias. Mine are crazy. I had harvested seed from last-year's flowers and scattered them thickly in front of my garden gate and in one of the raised beds by the cottage. Every day I cut handfuls of the cheery flowers and every day more appear. I think of the abundant blooms as controlled chaos. I dare you not to smile when you see all the butterflies and bees flitting from bloom to bloom.

The second raised bed has been replanted in strawberry plants, which did not produce berries this summer as I plucked the white flowers as they appeared, allowing the plants to grow bigger and to hopefully produce lots of berries next May. I'll need to spread straw between the plants next month, tucking them in for the long winter.

My bee garden continues to fill in and is fulfilling its purpose of attracting lots of bees and butterflies. Maggie sent her beehive, crafted by her father-in-law, back to me and it has found a new home amongst the native plants. Margaret Shea of Dropseed Native Plant Nursery came by last month to consider how I could move some of the plants this fall to create space for a stone path into the bee garden. She also had ideas for expanding our yellow garden at the back of the yard and adding to our woodland gardens.

My herb garden, just off the back porch, provides me with daily entertainment. I harvest herbs and use them fresh or dry them – turning them into teas, seasonings for olive oil, and winter-use herbs.

My very own tea blend: mint, chamomile, lemon balm, and rose

The pineapple sage has just started to send out red blossoms that the hummingbirds are loving.

In other (non-gardening) news...

Ed and I are going to be grandparents and we are just beside ourselves. Maggie and Nate are expecting a baby girl in early November. I am already dreaming of all the things I want her to experience here at Farm Dover. I'm sure she will be a great helper in the gardens.

Jack is home from Berlin for a visit. Much to our delight, his lovely girlfriend, Kasia, came with him. She leaves tomorrow from Chicago to fly back to Berlin to start fall classes; Jack will be here for another two weeks –  I have a chore list for him a mile long.

Jack and Kasia making perogie
Mary and Brian are the proud owners of a retired greyhound dog, who hasn't quite figure out how to go up and down stairs (and they live in a 4th-floor walk-up loft in Brooklyn). Saltie is learning about stairs, but in the meantime, I think Brian is carrying her up and down four flights.

Ed and I have a couple of short trips planned for this fall. We want to be close by when Baby Pinney makes her appearance.

All in all, life is very good. And I am grateful.