Fresh Strawberry Blueberry Lemonade

IT’S HAPPENING! The strawberries are coming in!

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All of that tender loving care popping buds, rearranging shoots, weeding, watering and loving has paid off! To read more about taking care of these precious plants check out Root and Shoot. The buds on the plants are everywhere! The strawberries are coming in so S L O W L Y right now that we are only getting a few at a time.  What is a girl to do!? Well, they’re not lemons but I make lemonade! Pink lemonade that is!

Ingredients-

Strawberries

Blueberries

Pink Lemonade mix

1. In a large pitcher muddle cleaned and sliced strawberries with blueberries.

2. Add in pink lemonade mix and fill pitcher. I usually start with some warm water to help dissolve the powder then switch to cool. Give a good stir.

Throw in some ice, and serve in a mason jar with a good book!

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For those of you who like to make homemade lemonade, I’ve got you covered.

4 cups of water

2-3 cups of sugar depending on how sweet you like it

3 cups of lemon juice- a lot of lemons

1. Juice as many lemons as it takes to get 3 cups of lemon juice. You may need to strain after to remove pulp if you have that problem.

2. In a medium sauce pan combine sugar and water on medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved

3. In a pitcher muddle strawberries and blueberries.

4. Pour the lemon juice and sugar water over the fruit

5. Stir well and refrigerate until cool.

As with the other recipe, throw in some ice cubes, serve in a mason jar and pair with a good book!

ENJOY!

Early Summer Harvest and Chicken Changes

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WE GOT POTATOES! We had a few plants that were ready to be dug up and by golly we did it! Our biggest ones were about the size of a small lemon all the way down to about a marble. Eric was so excited I made stew with them the other night. It got chilly up here with the rain, and so that was his request. We still have about half of our tater plants in the ground so hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be pulling some more.

Some things we’ll do differently ned year-

SAND! We always add a bit of sand to the soil to help loosen it up, but being that potatoes grow underground, we’re pretty sure they only grew so much because the ground was a bit too hard. We will be cultivating a specific area with extra sand and till the ground a bit more in that specific area. Hopefully with these little changes we’ll have some bigger ones!

Not too shabby for our first time growing them!

The rest of the garden is in full bloom!

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We spent a good half hour weeding and working the strawberry patch. Eric covered shoots, transplanted whole plants and worked the whole patch. It’s suddenly gotten a bit out of hand! We had a good passing storm that uncovered half of them so we had to go back out and re-cover the shoots. Quite a few had finally taken root and were ready to be “cut off” from the mother plant. You can learn more about controlling a strawberry patch in my post Root and Shoot.

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Once again our pumpkin plant is kicking butt! Hopefully these big leaves will turn into big blooms and giant pumpkins this fall!

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We’ve got some friends hanging around the gardens too. We have little pencil toads EVERYWHERE! Hundreds of them. In the grass, around the pool, in the gardens, the chicken run- EVERYWHERE! We also have a mating pair of doves in close proximity. This pretty lady hung out in our green bean sea while we worked in the strawberry patch. She probably would have let me touch her I was able to get so close. Pandora, chatting, and walking around and through the gardens didn’t bother her one bit. It’s like she knew we wouldn’t bother or hurt her.

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AND the most exciting part of the weekend!? THE BABIES ARE OUT! They have finally been transported from their heat lamp, cozy little crate to the big outdoors! They spent the first 12 hours or so huddled in the coop in a corner. They hadn’t ever seen or been on grass before and didn’t quite know what to make of it. They sat and stared at their food and water dishes across the run for hours. By the next morning they were running around like they owned the place. One of them finally took the plunge to the great expanse of their new home. They thoroughly enjoy smooshing themselves all onto one roosting baluster and knock each other off. They are now LOVING the grass and are settling in quite nicely. It’s getting much harder to tell them apart now that their big girl feathers are all coming in! No more blondies in the group.

Root and Shoot

We love our little strawberry patch. Thankfully it’s not so little anymore! How did we get our patch so big so quickly? The main thing is making sure the main plant is properly sunned, hydrated, and planted in good soil with the room to root and SHOOT! When your main plant does root and start budding, nip the flowers. Yes, the strawberries come from the flowers. I know this seems counter productive. Trust me. This ensures that the plant’s energy and nutrients are going to the plant itself. Last year we didn’t nip buds much and our patch didn’t expand as much as we had hoped. This year, their first few weeks of budding, we let very few berries actually come to fruition. We now have so many shoots we can’t keep up with getting them buried!

Let’s identify what a shoot looks like.

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All of those vine like things coming off of the plants are strawberry shoots! Sometimes the shoots get shoots before they are even fully established and producing. Cover them with soil leaving the tips where the buds are exposed. You can also clip the shoots and transplant them to control the patch or share them with friends. Once they are established, bigger and rooted, uncover some of the dirt and snip the “shoot.” This separates the new plant from the original one. This allows both plants to produce shoots, berries, roots and leaves without stealing energy and nutrients from each other.

Our berries are starting to come in a bit bigger with the warmer weather! Much sweeter as well. IMG_2635 IMG_2634

As you can see from the picture on the right we have a board running through our garden. It can also be seen in some of the pictures above. On the other side of the board is our green beans! This board helps contain the plants and keeps them from shooting over and taking over the garden. When left unattended and unconfined a strawberry patch could easily take over the entirety of a garden in a season or two!

Blooms Away!

The plants are a blooming! A few weeks ago Eric and I got our plants and seeds in the ground!

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Back when the maters, onion, taters, and peppers were just wittle baby sprouts!

The beds had been thoroughly limed, sanded, peat mossed and turned. We tilled and limed the beds in the fall so that the lime could soak into the ground. We limed again in March so that it could get into the ground enough that it wouldn’t burn the plants. PA soil is naturally not very acidic and needs some help. We added in the peat moss and sand at this time as well. It keeps the ground loose for the roots to grow into and adds nutrients. After we planted the tomatoes we added epsom salt around the bases to help them out a bit. They LOVE it. Once they really get going Eric found a natural pesticide somewhere that worked wonderfully last year.

We lay down a breathable, water penetrating plastic between and around the plants so we don’t have to weed. We hate weeding.

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The strawberry patch kicking butt! The big bright huge green one in the center is our all-star from last season.

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So. Many. Green Bean. Plants.

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Wide view of the first garden. The far section is a few rows of corn.

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Onions….not quite sure what we’re going to do with all of them but they’re coming in tall and strong! New addition from last year.

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Our potato plants have exploded and done way better than we could have hoped and expected. These are another new addition and I’m praying the taters under ground are just as big and awesome as the plants above.

Eric and I are in competition this year as to who can grow the better tomato plant and the better tomatoes. I post mine and he puts his in cages. Obviously my way is better. I will keep you updated as to who is in the lead and the most successful throughout the summer.

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Mater plants. The ones with the white are Eric’s. The ones in the back are mine.

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Wide view of the second garden with the pumpkin, watermelon plants and pepper plants.

The potatoes have just started blooming so hopefully by the end of next week we’ll be digging them up! Our strawberry plants have been producing like crazy already this year. Everything else will take most of the summer to maturate.

Strawberry Cake

Semi homemade, quick, and easy- this recipe doesn’t take a rocket scientist to create! Strawberry cake with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. It’s so much easier than it sounds!

Ingredients:

1 box Strawberry cake mix
1 pint heavy whipping cream
fresh strawberries
2 tbs powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
cocoa powder/flavored coffee creamer (optional flavoring)

1. Mix and make strawberry cake mix according to box directions in 2 round cake pans. Let cool completely

2. While the cakes are baking and cooling dice half of your strawberries. Remove the tops and half the rest.

3. pour COLD heavy whipping cream into bowl/mixer. Begin beating until the cream starts to thicken. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.

4. At this point you can personalize the flavor of the whipped cream. Add some cocoa powder, flavored coffee creamer, really anything you’d like. I LOVE adding a splash of hazelnut creamer. Something about the nutty goes so well with the sweet of the cake and strawberries.

5. Continue to beat until the mixture becomes stiff and forms peaks.

6. Once the cakes are cool, spread a layer of whipped cream. Add diced strawberries on top.
It should look something like this straw

7. Add the second cake on top. Spread the rest of the whipped cream and lay the halved strawberries on top.
You now have a fabulous semi-homemade strawberry cake! Perfect for summer and people will think you spent all day in the kitchen!
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