Category Archives: Cherries

Asparagus, Daffodils and More

It’s an early spring here in Michigan. This week my husband noticed asparagus shoots popping up. I didn’t get any photos of it but I wanted to give a heads up to anyone living in our area who grows asparagus or hunts wild asparagus to watch for it. As I looked back over previous posts I noticed that in the past few years our asparagus has started coming around the last week of April or the first week in May so it’s two to three weeks early this year. I didn’t want anyone to miss out.

I did, however, get lots of photos of daffodils and some others things that are blossoming.

There is so much to love about daffodils.

They are a reliable, low maintenance, perennial.

They will grow in full sun

or wooded, wet, shady areas.

An early bloomer, they come in a variety of shades that say “Welcome to Spring”.

They also vary in size.

They continue to multiply each year so eventually they may need to be thinned by digging some up. The best time to dig the bulbs is in the fall. They can then be transplanted or given to friends.

They grow in harmony with other plants so keeping the area weed free is not really necessary.

We didn’t wait until fall to transplant these. Instead we dug them with a good size root ball (keeping the soil surrounding the roots/bulbs intact). We then dug a hole large enough for the entire root ball, placed the plant in the soil and filled in around it. You can see they brought some of their companions (mayapples) along with them.

Last but not least they top the list of being deer and rabbit resistant.

It’s kind of hidden amongst other plants but my primrose has more blossoms this year than it has since I first planted it. I am so happy with it that yesterday I picked up two more of these plants (one with purple blossoms and one with yellow) to keep this one company. (I should not be trusted in a store that sells garden plants. LOL!)

The forsythia have been in full boom for over a week now. It seems they are much earlier than last year because when I looked back through my photos my album from April 20, 2020 has photos of them beginning to blossom.

They create an impressive array as the backdrop for the pond. From a distance neighbors and passers-by enjoy the blast of color amidst the greens and browns that monopolize the landscape this time of year.

But walking along the berm surrounded by these brilliant yellow blossoms is an experience to behold. It felt like a natural high with my husband using the term uplifting to describe it while I found it breathtaking.

The cherry tree next to our deck began blossoming the week and while it’s delightful to see it is way too early. With snow and freezing temperatures in the forecast for next week we can expect a less than optimal cherry crop this year. I’m not ready to write it off completely though. I will hold out hope for a least one homemade cherry pie or crisp. ūüôā

Thanks for visiting. What’s blooming in your area?

Coveting The Cherries

As quickly as spring turned into summer, strawberry season turned into cherry, blueberry and currants season.

IMG_5283

As my husband and I sat on the deck yesterday, looking at all of the cherries that needed to be picked, he commented that he was surprised that we hadn’t seen any robins eating the cherries. I told him I would pick cherries tomorrow.

Along toward evening Scout needed to go outside and as I opened the door to take him out a robin flew out of the cherry tree. It had a ripe cherry in it’s beak and flew on top of our neighbors house so I could watch it¬†eat it’s prize.

It is now game on Рto see who can get the cherries first.

As soon as Scout was done with his business I¬†got busy picking cherries. We didn’t have a cherry crop at all last year but the tree seems to be making up for it this year.

IMG_5287

I picked about a quart of cherries while the robin sat on the neighbors house and chirped at me. As darkness began to fall the mosquitos chased me inside.

I picked another two quarts this morning. For now I am just freezing the cherries but as soon as this extreme heat wave is over and we turn off the air conditioning I will be baking a cherry pie.

There are still enough cherries left on the tree for me to pick a couple more quarts and the robin to have it’s share as well.

IMG_2927

(The above photo was taken in 2016)

What is your favorite kind of fruit pie?

A Berry Good Year

Strawberries aren’t the only berry that we have an abundance of this year. Home grown cherries, blueberries, and currants have also found their way into our diets.

Although our cherry tree suffered quite a large fruit drop, and we split the crop about 50/50 with the robins in the neighborhood, I was able to harvest enough to make a cherry crisp and¬†today’s dessert, a¬†cherry pie.

Once our blueberries started to ripen they were disappearing faster than we could pick them. The robins have an advantage of being able to sit on the fence and wait until each berry turns just the right shade and then pluck it from their stem and enjoy it as a meal. We on the other hand show up once a day to pick whatever berries might be ripe, then save them in the refrigerator or freezer until we have enough for a meal. Thus we decided early on that netting the bushes would be necessary if we wanted to harvest any blueberries.

IMG_1517

My husband pulled out this roll of netting that he found in somebodies trash a couple years ago. Last year we were happy to have this stored away, when we found it necessary to net the entire squash bed to save them from the deer. We have since fenced in the field gardens, so the deer eating squash, pumpkins, corn, etc. is not a concern. Cutting up the netting to protect our blueberries was a no-brainer.

The blueberry bushes are small enough that we could drape the netting over the whole bush.

IMG_1518

Even as I wrapped the bushes these thieving little robins attempted to steal our bounty.  Although it appears that this bird is trapped under the net, it is really sitting on the outside on the opposite side of the bush. IMG_1523

Since netting the bushes, we have picked and frozen nearly 4 quarts of blueberries and they are still coming on. There will be blueberry pancakes this year.

IMG_1556

Unlike the robins that seemed to be deterred by the netting, there are a couple of these little birds that keep going at it. They are pretty clever, as they can find a small opening and are not afraid to go in under the net. I’m not sure what type of bird it is but I think it looks like a female Orchard Oriole. http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/564/_/Orchard_Oriole.aspx

You might not think of a couple quarts of cherries or blueberries as being an abundance but where the term really applies is currants.

IMG_1512

 

Right now we have two red and one white currant bushes that we are harvesting. We have harvested an estimated 12-15 lbs. Currants are not a very popular fruit in our area and I suspect the following reasons. Currants are very tart. Although they are very productive, they are a chore to pick. They are very seedy, and they are a chore to clean.

I also think that people are unaware of the nutrition they offer, http://www.livestrong.com/article/444249-what-are-the-benefits-of-red-currant/¬†¬†¬† most notable their vitamin C content, and I think that people don’t know what to do with them.

IMG_1554Since the currant wine I made last year was a hit, I started with making wine with white currants and strawberries.

I then made juice with the rest of the white currants and put it in the freezer. I have  also been making juice with the red currants that we have picked, but rather than cook the currants before mashing and straining the juice, I put the raw currants in my Nutri-bullet, blended them up, then strained them. (the chickens love the remaining seeds and pulp) I did this because heat kills the precious vitamin C. I sweeten this juice with honey and we have been enjoying this with our breakfast.

I also made a batch of currant jelly.

IMG_1555

Currants have enough pectin that it is not necessary to add any when making jelly. I ended up with 5 1/2 pints (or so I thought). When you make jelly, that does not require pectin added, testing the jelly for doneness can be tricky. Using a candy thermometer is not an accurate measure, as I found out. 24 hours after I made this jelly it still had not set up. I let it boil for quite a while after it reached 220 F  on the thermometer because it did not appear to be sheeting on the spoon yet, but I was also afraid of it burning.

So a few days later I poured all of the (almost) jelly back in the pan and cooked it down some more. This time I left the candy thermometer in the drawer and decided to use the spoon test,¬†and watch for the jelly to “sheet” off the spoon.

IMG_1600

After I got it to a boil I started doing the spoon test. It was coming off the spoon it drops.

IMG_1607

As it boiled it became thicker and darker in color. It was still dropping from the spoon and I was still concerned about it burning or getting too sticky. So I was continually raising the spoon and letting it drop off. Doing this with my right hand and trying to snap pictures with my left (just as it was dropping from the spoon) was a bit of a challenge.

IMG_1623

At this point the drops were getting wider, more “sheet-like” so I let it go for a couple more minutes and then decided it was ready. I put it into jars, put the lids¬†and rings on and gave it¬†a 5 minute water bath.

IMG_1628

I ended up with 4 pints. After 24 hours they were much more jelly-like. I do think they could have cooked even longer though. I guess I should have follow the advice of one of the blogs I read that said,” when you think it’s ready, keep cooking it.”

I have certainly learned that there it an art to making jelly. I say¬†“Kudos” to anyone who has mastered it, and while our jelly slides off ¬†our PB&J sandwiches this year I will affirm my vow to get it better next year.