The Parris House, What’s Growing – Late Summer 2016
It’s been a little while since I’ve written here. There’s been a lot going on – lots of work to catch up on, some health issues to attend to, plus summer is just a very busy, busy time here at the Parris House. This is because we grow things, and every year we add to our growing repertoire. Once thing to be very clear about here: we do not have a farm. Far from it. We have a 1.3 acre lot in a National Historic District, a village setting. We have 1.3 acres total and, it’s important to point out, I’m not sure our growing ventures take up even 1/4 of that acreage. My point here is that growing things is not just for the heavily landed. Growing things is for anyone who is so inclined, including apartment dwellers. My son and his girlfriend live just outside of Philadelphia in apartments. They just made the most delicious looking homegrown basil pesto. So, no excuses…get growing. It’s late summer now. I think we can safely say here in northern New England that fall is right around the corner. And yet, there’s still a lot of harvesting and preserving to be done. I took a walkaround, camera in hand, here at the Parris House in order to share a little pictorial tour with you. First, let’s talk about the bees.
This is my first year beekeeping, and yet…unbelievably…one hive has done so spectacularly that I have already been able to take six frames of honey off and still have enough to leave for them in the hive. Whether there will be more this fall, I do not yet know, but since I was not expecting any this year, I consider myself fortunate. I named my hives Fleur-de-lis and Hippy Dippy. Fleur-de-lis has been the stronger, honey producing hive. Hippy Dippy, perhaps true to its name, is a bit more relaxed, and even saw fit to go nomadic and swarm in late June, leaving me with a hive that had to begin again with raising a queen. I never saw a psychedelic VW microbus leaving the hive, but the evidence points to a late June swarm. At any rate, I love them both. It’s like having tens of thousands of pets in a very compact space. The unexpected honey harvest, however, small as it is, left me with the just as unexpected need to get a home food processing license in order to be able to sell some of it. Tovookan’s Honey is born.
Why Tovookan’s? Well, you’re going to have to wait awhile for that story. When the honey is jarred, labeled and ready to launch, we’ll talk about that.
I see my bee girls working all over the yard. They’re relentless in their quest for nectar and pollen.
Busy as a bee on burdock.
See that creature way down inside this squash flower? That’s one of our bees.
The Parris House bees are not the only ladies working hard to put food on the table. We’ve still got these girls, and they’re still (albeit in a bit of a lull right now) providing us with the multicolored eggs we and our egg customers love. $3/dozen. Get ’em when you can.
Having said that, the hens are getting older now and we’re thinking some baby chicks to freshen up this flock will be in order in the spring of next year.
So…grapes. In all honesty, the grapes are a crap shoot. Will we get grapes before the birds and Japanese beetles have their way with them? We have no idea. I confess these fall to the bottom of our priority list, and maybe they shouldn’t.
The Parris House garden is a bit off from what I had originally planned. It got late in the season and instead of growing seedlings like I normally do, I got plants. And I got them late, which means I had to pick from what was left at our local greenhouse. This left me with not-my-usual-assortment and yet…it’s going to be great. We are already harvesting kale, lettuce, hot peppers, and summer squash. The pickling cucumbers are just starting to come in, which means I’d better get the canning jars ready (and also with my newly acquired home food processing licensing, I can sell pickles, relishes, jams, etc. also). Additionally, the tomatoes are dangerously near to ripening which will mean days of preparation for canning and freezing. The pics of the garden are numerous so here they are in slideshow format.
In spite of the still ripening produce in the garden, here in Maine, previews of fall are everywhere. The Parris House apple trees, although in an “off” year, are still loaded with fruit that will make amazing pies, apples sauce, and other delicious dishes in just a short time now. Again, there will be hours in the kitchen spent preparing them for jarring and freezing.
There is wood to be split and stacked…
A composter to be tended and turned…
Home built composter made from pallets by my conservation biologist son, James.
Our neighbor’s field has been hayed…
And everywhere I look there are the signs of late summer in the types of flowers and plants in the yard and garden. Yes, the garden. In some cases I do not pull the “weeds” because I know the bees are feeding on them.
So that’s what our little village lot is growing this summer-in-to-fall. We have big plans and a long way to go in making our parcel as productive as possible, but year by year we learn and improve on what we’re doing. If you have pics of what’s growing on your slice of heaven, be it an apartment balcony, a tenth acre urban lot, or a 400 acre farm, we’d love to see them.
Happy growing. – Beth
- Parris House Wool Works