June is now behind us, and July is starting off cool and breezy. Perfect weather, two days after a tornado moved through our county and caused a little chaos. We are nearing the end of the Invasion of the Cicadas, which can't come quick enough for me! Gardens are producing, and the Farmers Market offerings are growing by the week. Today I was finally able to get some gooseberries- my jam making plan is finally going to happen!
I also bought my first kohlrabi. Growing up my parents always had a garden in the summer, and my dad always grew these (my mom was from Germany and it's a common vegetable there) but I, being a kid, saw this weird looking THING sitting on the counter and decided I didn't like it. Now that I am all grown up I am going to try this versatile veggie and discover what I've been missing all these years. I'm going to play with some dressing ideas and probably make a fresh and citrusy slaw, so stay tuned for that.
Driving home along the back roads I snapped a few pics of the beautiful countryside in west central Iowa. Ditches filled with lilies stretch on forever. Many people in the city don't even realize the daylilies they spent good money on in garden centers are actually a common wildflower.
The Iowa wild rose has finished blooming but the thistles, even though they are a weed, are still very beautiful and attract lots of flying visitors for a sweet snack.
One of my favorite things about living in the country is the incredible amount of food that's just everywhere. Wild plums line the road sides. Abandoned farms often have apple trees, old rhubarb and asparagus patches. Mulberries, gooseberries and wild blackberries are everywhere, if you're brave enough to wade through the tall grass and woods to get to the delicious treasures.
Today as I was driving home something off the side of the road caught my eye. Green leaves, flash of red. I stop, back up and I can't believe my eyes- it's a Nanking cherry! Guess who is coming back with a couple of buckets? My brain has been in cherry overload ever since. My childhood home had a Nanking cherry tree and my mom made many pies over the years, so I'm thinking pie, jam, cakes, sauces........
Our little container garden is doing fantastic! I picked the last of the lettuce and the first HUGE harvest of basil, which makes me very happy. While I know fresh is best, when it's the long cold Iowa winter, dried basil comes in handy too, so I dry quite a lot- enough to last all winter. The Serrano chilies are coming along wonderfully, and loads of blooms on the Habaneros. It's time to replant something in the lettuce and kale pots, and I'm thinking bush beans. Lots and lots of blooms and baby tomatoes are all over the tomato plants, including the volunteers. That's very exciting to me. The corn........still not sure what to expect there. Zucchini are not getting pollinated so I might not get as many as I'd hoped. The lentils......are just a wild and crazy fernlike plant. I have no idea what that will look like, but it's fun to see what it does.
As July unfolds at the lake, we'll be seeing tomatoes and peppers and lots of other good things from the farmers market. I hope you will check in from time to time and see what we're up to at the Little Lake House.
** Gooseberry picture courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.