What A Difference A Month Makes!

Happy Summer! The season is officially here, and I am so happy! What a difference a month makes, especially in an area where there are four distinct seasons. It’s been a busy couple of weeks!

Remember the beautiful trails, the Audubon’s Bent-of-the-River, from last month’s blog? Well, a month later, look at it now! We have been hiking several more times over the last month, and it looks different and even more beautiful, each time! 

This is an overlook from the birdwatching tower, that we did not go in before. Look how alive the area looks now – so green and blooming! I took this photo on a late afternoon, no filter.
Hello, sweet bird!
So peaceful and green, the riverbank looks so different from a month ago. I wish you could hear all the birds singing!
Last weekend, my daughter and I were so excited to notice several ebony jewelwing damselflies! They are so pretty, that they look like something out of a fairy tale!

At home, I have also noticed more birds have returned, as well, including my beloved hummingbirds. We were worried when they showed up, but inexplicably disappeared suddenly (several of my friends noticed this, too). Fortunately, they seem to be back! This little guy had “breakfast” with us one morning. 

Just an FYI, the bottle is red, not the contents, and the food is changed frequently.
This little guy comes daily, and perches on my trellis. Sometimes I think he is watching us!
Hello, Love!
Everything’s coming up rosie! My flower beds are alive with color.

The season started out really rainy! We had so much rain at the beginning of the month, that water began to puddle in the front of the yard. Frogs moved in, thinking we had a new pond! In addition to green frogs, we also have peepers, toads, and tree frogs. The sound they make is like a little symphony! 

I’m looking forward to seeing fireflies dancing in the woods and yard. We should see them in a few weeks. Did you know the reason for their decline is because of the chemicals many people put on their lawns? This is a photo from late last June.

Fireflies use the soil, duff, and leaf litter to overwinter and lay their eggs, and their larvae eat snails, slugs and caterpillars. Putting chemicals on the lawn and using insecticides results in a decline in these sweet little insects. Too much outdoor lighting can also affect their numbers, so turn your porch lights off during firefly season!

I recently also got my vegetable garden planted. I was worried at first, since the weather has been warm during the day, cool at night. Putting vegetables into cold soil is a problem, since cold soil can bring on issues like blossom end rot in tomatoes later in the season. Remember to water early in the day, avoiding overhead watering, to keep down plant diseases that occur when water is left on leaves overnight.

Grow, little seedling, grow!
PEAS, PLEASE! Aren’t those little markers the cutest? They were made by a local artisan.

This looks to be a great season! Every day I am harvesting peas, which were planted in March as soon as the ground was thawed. I’ve got several types of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, snowpeas, arugula, carrots, squash, cucumbers, swiss chard, radishes, and watermelon planted. 

Garlic will be harvested in a few weeks, though I really do plant it more for the scapes than the actual garlic. MaryJane first introduced me to garlic scapes in her first book, so many years ago, and I have been hooked ever since! On the other side of the property, corn is coming up, and we’ve got blue potatoes to look forward to harvesting. Everything is planted from seed. Planting a garden from seed is not only economical, but you also know exactly how your food was planted (I do everything organically). I also feel such a great sense of pride when harvesting food for my family that I planted, beginning with seed. I think this is going to be a great season, much better than last year, when we had all the smoke coverage from the horrible Canadian wildfires!

We recently attended an outdoor college graduation party in picturesque Bethlehem, for a dear friend’s daughter, who is also one of my daughter’s friends.

Our girls met when they were little, as Daisy Girl Scouts, so long ago. The party was held on a working  farm. In addition to running a CSA, a farm store, and Pick-Your-Own, March Farm also rents out beautiful landscape areas for events.

It was a picture-perfect day, and the party was held under the shade of large, beautiful trees, including a weeping willow, and next to a large pond where guests could take paddle boats out into the water. A pizza truck provided a scrumptious lunch for everyone, and my friend, who threw the amazing party for her daughter,  baked dozens upon dozens of homemade cupcakes, (that looked like works of art and tasted like cups from Heaven) for dessert. My friend Erin always amazes me at all she does, and is the best baker I have ever met (her daughter is just as wonderful). I think when we are able to witness friends or family grow from a child to an adult, and see what great things they do, it is such a blessing! 

My daughter’s boss recently gave us a handful of rhubarb from her garden. I have to admit, despite being an Advanced Master Gardener, my interaction with rhubarb has been very little, but I have always loved anything made with it because I love its tartness, especially when paired with sweet. While the leaves are toxic, the rhubarb stalks can be green or red, depending on the maturity of the plant. I had strawberries on hand, but not enough of either to make a pie, and any recipes I found sounded too sticky or sweet, or full of dairy such as buttermilk, including quick breads (my daughter is allergic to cow’s milk).

Y’all know I love a good quick bread, so I made this, working off of my recipe last year that I created for my cherry bread. The result was delicious (and quickly disappeared)! My version is moist, not too sweet, and perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee.

Suburban Farmgirl Strawberry-Rhubarb Quick Bread

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp Himilayan pink salt

¾ cup organic sugar

¼ tsp cinnamon

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

Cut 4 stalks of rhubarb into pea-sized pieces, equal to one cup, and combine with one cup of fresh strawberries, cut into pea-sized pieces, tossed with 2 additional TBSP of flour. Set aside.

Whisk together 1 large egg, 1 tsp vanilla, ½ cup of oat milk, and ¼ cup of organic  coconut oil, or other oil of your choice. Fold into the dry ingredients, and mix together until all is moistened. Lastly, fold in the rhubarb and strawberries. 

Fold into a greased loaf pan. (I prefer glass, like Pyrex).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool quick bread completely before removing from the loaf pan and slicing. ENJOY!

I also know it’s officially summer when we can sneak off to the beach! It was a balmy, breezy day recently – just perfect!

Such a treat after all the cool, wet weather! The humidity was low, the sun was high, and the water was cool, but not too cold to dip into. I adored being at my “happy place”! I love the ocean sounds, and walking up and down the shoreline. Walking in the sand is great exercise!

At home, on the porch, my potted herbs and flowers greet us every morning. I love geraniums, because of their classic, “it’s summer” look (they remind me of my childhood) and ease of care, but I am also IN LOVE with the beautiful pot of Osteospermum flowers that my daughter bought for me. 

Also known as African daisies, these stunning flowers have only been available here in the states since the nineties. I love this specimen’s gorgeous, purple and orange buds! 

In the front herb garden, herbs such as thyme, sage, mint and oregano are doing very well this year. I have an abundance of herb plants, so each morning I am picking a bit and flash-drying them in my dehydrator, to use in winter when fresh herbs are done. Picking herbs early in the day ensures the best flavor, and dehydrating them is economical (have you seen the prices on spices and herbs these days? Yikes!) but also keeps fresh, great taste. Some cooks prefer to freeze fresh herbs but I find dehydration tastes just as good and preserves the wonderful aroma and color. Once dehydrated, which only takes a few hours, I crush the leaves and store in an airtight container or jar. I can also put my dehydrated herbs in pretty jars to give to friends at the holidays.

My “girls” are laying more eggs with the longer, sunnier days, as well. 

My favorite pet hen, “Baby” loves to snack on clover blossoms.

Inside, I also always look forward to a few summer crafts, as well as summer knitting and sewing projects. This summer, I am going to finish as many “WIP”s” (works-in-progress) as I can. I have several knitting projects I want to finish, and I’m sewing up a cute, quilted patchwork table runner in summer colors for my coffee table. Sewing clips are a game changer!

My friend, Linda, gave me a tin of these wonderful clips! My sewing is so much more enjoyable without struggling with pinning! They hold fabric together better than pins, and are so fast and easy to use.

Linda says these clips from wawak.com are the best ones, and are at a great price, to boot. I wish I had known about them a long time ago!

I’m ready to embrace the summer season, how about you?

Trooper says, “I’m ready, Mama!”

Tell me, what’s going on with you? What projects are you working on, and what’s growing in your garden? I love hearing from my fellow farmgirl friends and readers!  Leave me a comment and let me know you stopped by!

  1. Margaret King says:

    I loved this article, Nicole. Our garden is coming on slowly, but recent warmer weather has helped everything come alive.
    My most recent project was a “Job Jar” (I made it a “Positive Sayings” jar. Our ladies group from church got together to make them out of colored craft sticks, then tied little ribbons to the tops where our leaders husband had drilled little holes. Then we placed them in 1/2 pint jars. They are so colorful and can be a fun gift to give to a favorite friend.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Margaret, thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed the post! I love your “Positive Sayings” jar craft! What a great idea! The warmer weather will make everything “pop” – I can’t believe from morning to morning how much bigger the tomato plants and other veggies are! I can’t wait to have lots of good things to harvest! Have a wonderful start to summer! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Bernadine Graham says:

    The bread looks absolutely delicious! I’m going to try it.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Bernadine! It was soooo good! It only lasted a day at our house, (though we shared it with two friends, as well). Let me know what you think! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Sheila LaPoint says:

    Hi Nicole, my you are one busy Bee! I too am going to try your Bread recipe. I have my annuals all potted and planted and this year I bought some Chamomile and have it growing in a large planter so I can pick it and dry it for winter time tea, I also have my basil planted so I can make pesto and freeze it. I love summer when it comes in Vermont it is such a short lived season I enjoy every moment of it. I too am working on summer crafts. I love love your little dogs hat.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Sheila! It sounds like you are a busy farmgirl bee, too! My chamomile is just about to bloom in the flowerbed – I see the flower heads forming but no flowers yet. I bet you are getting the big heat wave we are having, too, so I am betting by the end of the week with all this sun, I will have flowers. How do you make yours into tea? I would like to try that, as well. I also make lots of freezer pesto at the end of the summer. So delicious! I buy my pine nuts at Costco – they are so much cheaper than the grocery store and they freeze well. My little dog loves his hat, too. He is practically bald on top of his head, lol, so it keeps him from burning. What summer crafts have you got going this year?
      Enjoy the summer! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Kim B says:

    I bought a pot of the Zion Sunset osteospermums this year too. They are so pretty!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kim, aren’t they wonderful? We got a new “plant vendor” nearby that says they came from Pennslyvania (I am convinced the best flowers come from Pennsylvania)! Have you ever overwintered them? I overwinter several annuals; my potted red daisies are now three or four years old. I think I will try with these. They are so full and blooming! I just love them. Enjoy! Thanks for reading and commenting! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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