Well, first and foremost, my first experience at the North Iowa Farmer’s Market in Mason City was phenomenal. I was dead on into the sunshine, which, minus the incessant need to squint, was wonderful – Vitamin D in full force. I had a lot of folks enjoying the samples for taste testing, and the surprise hit was the pineapple weed I had harvested that grows wild in the garden and various other spots around the farm. Pineapple weed is ubiquitous throughout the US, and I first learned of it’s medicinal properties when I was studying edible wild foods in Southeast Alaska. It  has been used for medicinal purposes, including for relief of gastrointestinal upset, infected sores, fevers, and postpartum anemia. The plant, when bruised, then rubbed on skin, provides a effective, yet temporary insect repellent. Quite a novelty! It can also be steeped to make a lovely tea.

Bird watching at Gladfelter has been so gratifying lately. To my surprise (as well as my father and brother’s) there have been a couple of speckle bellied geese hanging out – I literally stopped the truck just to gawk! Oh, anyone who knows me knows this is nothing new, however – on the way back home I did the same thing to watch Eastern Kingbirds – the only bird in this part of the country with a white terminal tail band. There have been mallards, blue wings and grebes also all enjoying the haven of the marsh.speckle bellies

I’m trying to get caught back up with my supply of preserves for the coming weeks’ markets, and also experimented with a recipe for dried drunken cherries. They are done; now they must sit a month or two before going into homemade ice cream. I made rhubarb-apple butter, jalepeno-strawberry jam and maple spiced sweet potato butter so far. I plan on having some homemade crackers this week as well, AND roasted garlic-oregano pasta. Mmm! 🙂 cherries

 

The garden itself is growing beautifully… both in flora and size! This week I expanded it by 30′ to the south to allow for plenty of room for squash and sweet potatoes – well, I’m having to contemplate the sweet potatoes and where they will take up residence, as that chunk is filling up quickly! I have planted Oaxacan green dent corn (for tamales), sesame seeds, brown soybeans, flowers, lots of squash and melons, purple string beans, gherkins, a couple beds of lettuce, and blue and Japanese sweet corn – all surrounded by a fabulous border of Dad’s special game blend (leftovers! millet, sorghum, buckwheat, field peas, soybeans) and a flowering mix of red clover, sunflowers, borage, coreopsis, cleome, coneflower and marigolds – the pollinators are going to LOVE it! Everything is mulched, and now it’s time to attend to the original portion and remulch and harvest the dwarf Pak Choy… maybe some radishes – I couldn’t help myself and ate one right out of the garden yesterday – delicious!seed mix

Last, but not least in the slightest – we have 13 new additions at Mom’s. And they are SO cute… let’s hope a bunch are hens so we will soon have our very own fabulous farm fresh eggs! There is just no going back. Mom has been diligently doting over them like a good mother hen.mom with chick

 

Since the weather forecasters aren’t particularly accurate this week so far, I am going to indulge in hanging out at my nephew’s first baseball game of the season that starts in a half hour… then it will be back the garden – I will post photos from there soon – ALSO, I am creating a website for the garden as well, and more info on that will follow in the near future.

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