Wednesday, September 21

Tomatillo Salsa

September Update-Portland Community Garden

First Pumpkin of the fall season
The Tomatillos are finally ripe and falling off the plant.
This is Lemon Squash. They are small miniature Squash about the size of a large orange.
Pretty multi-colored Zinnia
A green Pumpkin
One of many heirloom tomatoes that need more sun.

Tuesday, September 20

September Flowers

After working on our plot the other day, I admired the flowers in the other garden beds. I found a variety of beautiful late summer flowers to share with you.

Monday, September 19

Maine Community Garden Update September 19th

This was today's harvest at the community garden. The watermelon vines have died, so we took home some small watermelons. They should be much bigger than this but the kids are just as happy with individually sized melons. Also, some corn, peppers, asparagus beans and cherry tomatoes. We'll watch the weather for predictions of a killing frost and will pick the rest of the tomatoes and peppers before then. I want to let the rest of the tomatoes and peppers turn red on the vine if possible.

Friday, September 16

All About Elderberry Videos

Rebecca of Hedgeliving recently posted a series of videos about Elderberry on Youtube. She gives some great information and tips on making syrup from elderberry. I really like her method for removing the berries. Check out her other wonderful videos on wild medicinal and edible plants as well.

Thursday, September 15

Wildcrafting Elderberry

Last week, the wild elderberries were ripe and ready to be picked. My dad, my son and I set out to harvest the tiny berries. We found two varieties-one with reddish purple berries and one with a dark purple, almost black berry. The stems on the reddish berries were also purple, while the black elderberries has green stems. We simply cut the heads off the bush and put them in buckets to bring home.
We gave most to my aunt to make into jelly. In return she gave us one dozen jars of the finished elderberry jelly.
My kids and I took turns taking the berries off the heads. This is a tedious job and I have not really found any easy way to do it. First I wash the berries. A fork can be used to rake the berries off, but it seems easiest to just pull them off by hand. I've tried freezing them and the berries do come off easier, but get more of the tiny stems which then need to be picked out. We also make sure to pick out any green berries as these are toxic.

I boiled the berries and then strained to make a juice for syrup. If I wanted to make jelly, I'd use the same process to make the juice and then proceed with jelly. For syrup, I simply add sugar or stevia and cook until it is the right thickness. I keep it in the fridge. The juice can also be frozen.

I froze the remainder of my berries to be used over the winter in a variety of ways.

Wednesday, September 7

The Grotto, The Natural Santuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, Portland, Oregon

The Grotto is a a special tribute to Mary the Sorrowful Mother of Jesus and includes 62-acres of gardens. A grotto was formed at the base of a 110 ft basalt cliff where an altar was constructed. The grounds also include several chapels, a visitor center and a beautiful meditation chapel that was built in 1991 (pictured). The chapel includes glass walls.
The gardens are primarily shade gardens and include a wide variety of trees, hostas and other shade loving plants and shrubs
This tiny chapel honors St. Anne , the mother of Mary and was built in 1934. It now contains many Madonna paintings from around the world.
The Rose Garden. Since 2003 the garden has expanded through Mother's Day donations from supporters who have planted roses in honor of their own mothers.
The bronze doors of the Chapel of Mary. The chapel seats 500 people.The Grotto hosts a Christmas Festival of Lights each year which is a popular family event in Portland. Every year the event welcomes 50,000-60,000 people.
Seating by the Grotto cave which is approximately 30 ft wide by 30 ft deep. Over 30,000 people visited the first outdoor Mother's Day mass in 1930. Mass is held each Sunday May through September at noon.
The Grotto is built on two levels that are connected by a 125 foot (ten story) elevator.
A water feature in the Grotto.
The Peace Garden one of the many Grotto gardens. The Grotto is maintained entirely through gifts and donations and receives no financial support form the church.
One of many statues in the Grotto

The Grotto was founded by Father Ambrose Mayer (1883-1971) who prayed to the Virgin Mary for his mother's life promising that if she was spared he would one day undertake a great work for the church. The land for the Grotto was purchased for $3,000 from the Union Pacific Railroad Company . The initial asking price was $48,000.

Monday, September 5

Labor Day, Portland Community Garden

Watering was a top priority today as summer weather has finally hit us.
 Bells of Ireland that were started this year, but they will grow larger and  flower next Spring.
More squash
A pretty splash of color in the late summer garden
Using coffee bean bags (burlap) to suppress weeds is popular here. You can leave as is or add a layer of mulch on top.

Sunday, September 4

Oregon Wine Country

Russian Sage at the White Rose Winery
Wine country is 25 miles from Portland
Beautiful views of the vineyards
Dahlias at the vineyards? I saw a great many of them planted in containers

Late Summer Visit to the Portland Rose Garden

This is one of the oldest public gardens of its kind in the United States. The garden was founded in 1917. There are over 10,000 plantings of 500 varieties of Roses. The garden is free to the public.

What to do when it is just too Darn hot to Garden?

It has been a very hot summer everywhere. From what I have been told it is normal to get 100 plus days from the months here from  May to Oct...