Strawberry season is here in Kentucky. 

Sweet sweet June bearing strawberries came a little early in Northern Kentucky.  I grow them in the city, in my back yard.  The patch is about 5×8 and my berries are abundant. 



I had been on vacation or I would have picked them sooner.  These babies were ripe, some within hours of being yuck.  So I washed them, added them to a pan, sprinkled about a half cup of sugar on them, smashed them with a potato smasher and brought to a boil.  I reduced the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes,  I let it cool and jarred it for later.  


Mmmmmmm nom nom, I could eat this with a spoon.

I found a fabulous recipe for shortcakes here.  I used her shortcake recipe and modified it a tad,  I used regular milk because it didn’t have whole and added a tsp of vanilla.

http://chefinyou.com/2012/07/strawberry-shortcake/



Seriously. Yummy. 🍓  


Appropriately on my mothers strawberry plates.  

Mulberry jam

Mulberries are everywhere in northern Kentucky and are ripe for harvest. The purple berries are falling all over town, on cars, sidewalks, sticking to the bottoms of my shoes and worse…. Being shat out by all the birds. Blue bird pooh….. Everywhere.

Unlike the song, mulberries grow on trees, not bushes. They are edible. Some varieties are white, but that is just weird to me. I wonder what whit jam would look like. Maybe some day ill give it a whirl.

With my granddaughters pink sandbox bucket in hand, I went hunting and foraging around town. Instead of looking up as I drove, I kept my eyes, down, looking for the purple mess beneath the tree I was searching. It is important to beat the birds to the berries. Although tempting, I wouldn’t recommend picking them up off the ground. The branches are high. I put a large cloth on the ground and then with a long stick, I hit the branches, causing the berries to drop. I’m sure there is a more graceful method that involves ladders and pretty buckets. I am sure that method would require me to wear a kerchief and matching smock of some sort. I used what I had, an old piece of material I would never make into something, a stick and a pink sandbox bucket. That’s about as graceful as I get.

Despite the odd glances from passers, I collected berries until my bucket was half full and it was time for me to get ready for a bbq party with my husband (Who finds this foraging of mine amusing but in a “oh there she goes being weird again” kinda way). My fingers were stained blue, a lovely touch when shaking hands with strangers.

Anyway, here is my fruitful foraging booty.

20130602-224340.jpg

I soaked them in water and then gently put them in the colander instead running water on them. The ripe berries are fragile, bursting with juicy goodness.

Then then fun part begins…. Snipping off the little green stems.

I placed the stemless berries in a heavy sauce pan. About 2 cups.

20130602-224702.jpg

I added 3/4 cup organic sugar

20130602-224812.jpg

I cooked them on medium heat, stirring frequently and then smashing with a potato smasher while they stewed.

20130602-224934.jpg

Once it was cooked down and thick, I let it cool a bit before placing in a small jar. This was for storage for immediate use, not canning or preserving although that could be easily done if you follow directions for canning and preserving.

20130602-225142.jpg

I kept some it for a nice spring salad if homegrown lettuce, strawberries and mulberries. Add almonds for a nice crunch.

20130602-225219.jpg

Organic aphid garden pesticide

Garlic oil is an excellent natural pesticide. When the aphids come to feast on your fruits and vegetables, give them some Italian cuisine.. Garlic oil.

Of course it is easy to make and I reused some items that have been looking for purpose. I don’t use harmful chemical in my hair anymore and this spray bottle was a perfect fit. I washed it well with warm dawn soapy water, rinsed and dried.

20130413-195605.jpg

Don’t forget to rinse out the sprayer too.

I fell for the convenience of some jarred minced garlic.. Yuck. I have used half the jar over the past 12 months that it has been lurking in my fridge so I didn’t need to use the extra wide jar in the picture. I just poured the mineral oil in the garlic jar. It was about the equivalent of 4 minced cloves. There is no perfect science. The more garlicky the more deadly…..

20130413-203418.jpg

Jar full of garlic and mineral oil. Put the lid on and find a nice sunny place in the window for a few days.

20130413-205242.jpg

Allow it to steep in the oil in the sun for 2-7 days.

Strain the mess into a mesh, catching the garlic oil in clean jar. When needed, I add 1-2 tablespoons to 13.5 ounces of water in my spray bottle. Shake well. Test on a small area of your plant and check in a day or two to make sure the plant is not damaged. If it is okay, mist the plant with the diluted garlic oil/water. Bugs don’t like it. Even the good ones like lady bugs who eat aphids so check every couple days. A good burst from the water hose the day after spraying the plants helps too.

Planting garlic cloves throughout the garden also helps to deter the pests. Garlic in the garden means no more need for jarred minced garlic.

Planting marigolds around the garden works too.

20130413-210452.jpg

This image by chicagonow.com shows how the garden can be bordered with marigold. I am doing this but it’s too early. They are no bigger than sprouts right now.

20130413-210644.jpg

I am an urban homesteader

I am an urban homesteader. I grew up in a city but we happened to live on a bigger chunk of property than most of our neighbors. My father was raised in Central Kentucky and he often had vegetables growing in our backyard. We had room for planting. We had woods, and a creek and even a clay “mountain”. We also have the Ohio river and just a five minute ride south, we could find ourselves in the “country”.

I am living in the same city I grew up in. Out of my kitchen window I can see the Cincinnati skyline, the Reds stadium and the tall skyscrapers of business and technology.

So I find myself, in midlife figuring out what’s really important, learning that God already made everything I need, I just need to know how to put it all together.

Simplicity and wholesomeness is the best way. When I need things or use things,I wonder about the God intended purpose for it. I need, bread, God made wheat. Better still, God sent Jesus to be the bread of life. I need vitamins and minerals, God made fruits and vegetables. It is that simple.

My little urban garden is turning out quite well. It’s the best therapy for stress.

20130329-215117.jpg

My pole bean project is looking good

My seedlings are still inside waiting until it is safe enough to go out to the garden. I have marigolds in the egg cartons. I will plant them throughout the garden to keep pests away.

20130329-215231.jpg

20130329-215240.jpg

My strawberries and beans are doing well in their newspaper pots. The strawberries came in the mail today from starkbros.com they are a bit jet lagged. They will get better with TLC

http://www.gardenofedengoods.com/2011/03/recycled-newspaper-pots.html
Above link is the tutorial I used

20130329-215428.jpg

Bean pots

20130329-222337.jpg

Regrowing

Regrowing

There are several foods that can be regrown from the parts you don’t use.

For example

20130325-172606.jpg

Onions and garlic are easily regrown. It looks yucky right now but the pieces are reestablishing themselves as a growing thing. Onions live to regrow, just leave a bunch in your pantry too long… They will show you just how much they like to regrow.

I have placed the scrap, the rooted ends of green onions in a dish to strengthen roots. I keep the saucer wet. place the rooted ends in the water. In a few weeks, these will be placed outside in the garden. They will regrow.

Amazing how perfect our world was created don’t you think?

1 week old

20130329-221618.jpg
I added an onion 🙂

I also like to grow rosemary on my windowsill. It’s always ready for a snip

20130329-222230.jpg

Container Blueberries

I am going to try growing blueberries in a container. I have a 5 gallon pickle bucket that was washed clean. I drilled holes on the bottom and sides. I have two plants so that thy will produce berries. I have been told that one won’t berry.

I first put a layer of composting the bucket. Then I added about a half cup of Epsom salt because blueberries like acidic soil. I added more soil and then that’s when I had to go and do something weird.

Blueberries like full sun, which in my backyard they will have. We take a lot of weekend trips and I am worried about my plant getting enough water so I devised this genius plan (will report later if it is really genius). I took an empty 20 oz soft drink bottle, washed and de-labeled. I drilled a small hole on the side near the bottom. I buried the bottle and filled it with water. My assumption is that the bottle will slowly release water when I’m not able to do so.

They look sad now but I think they will like their new nutritious i am home,e. plus I am keeping them in the basement until it gets war, enough to move outside

20130324-191534.jpg

20130324-191545.jpg

Keeping the cap on slows the water release. Once I move them outside, they will get a healthy dose of mulch as well.

One month old

20130425-180409.jpg

They are getting leaves 🙂