Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3 August 1956 “How My Garden Grows: with Vintage Style.”

50swomaningarden  I have not mentioned my garden in some time. It is coming along nicely. And though this year is an experimental year, I believe I have learned some good and bad to approach next year’s harvest.
One major issue for me has been the amount of sunlight I get. While I had extended the fence and trimmed trees to add to the veg garden towards the road next summer, I now realize it will have to go the other way. This will be fine and will probably look nicer over all. That area will become fenced as well and within that garden off the house, my greenhouse will eventually be built. The joy of starting more things early and trying many plants year round will be exciting.
So, with my lessened sunlight, I think I am still satisfied with what I have grown thus far. I tried to keep it simple and planted one half of the garden just in tomatoes. They are all heirloom varieties, and if you recall my earlier spring posts, are interesting as well. I have two rows of a green variety that when ripe stays green. I was at first worried as they grew very tall, about 5 feet now, but were not flowering. But, in the past two weeks have taken off and blooms abound as do ripening tomatoes.
tomatoesMy French Pole beans have taken off and are over six feet high now.beansThey have not begun to flower and I was concerned, but read in one of my vintage garden books that pole beans need to be trimmed at the top once they reach the top of the structure  you are growing them on (for me that is cut pieces of bamboo that I grow myself). So, I am hoping if I trim off the heads of all the new runners, the energy from the plants will go into blooms and we shall have a bumper crop of beautiful blue French beans.
My cucumbers I started indoors with my tomatoes and they are doing rather well. I have trained them to climb up the side of the house that shares the veg garden bed.cucumbervine They are doing fairly well, but I misplaced my tags so my two varieties, slicing and pickling, are now mingled and a mystery. It should matter little as you can eat or pickle any cuke really, but shame on me. cucumbersFor fun, and do to lack of space in the veg garden proper, I decided to plant my heirloom antique pink squash in my flower boxes. They got planted later than I would have normally done so, but they are thriving.squashAnd they are covered in lush bright blooms the size of a baseball.squash blossomI love the thought of eating a squash that has not been altered since the 1800’s and perhaps even Jane Austen partook of them. Squash blossoms, themselves, are also wonderful to eat as a blossom. If you stuff them with a soft cheese or anchovies and then deep fry them, they are delicious.
Now for the fruit. My grapes I adore. grapes2I am so happy that I was able to get six year old root stock ( grape stock needs to be at least three years to flower) and wish I had bought more. They are ripening and growing very well and I promise myself that half of the harvest shall go to a small batch of wine.blackberries2The blackberries are beginning to ripen. Besides the few bushes I planted, we also have a field of them through which we ride every day on our bikes on the way to the shore. I keep watching them and waiting for there to be masses of them turned their rich purple black, for pies and jams await!
We have one little espaliered apple tree. appleIts fruit is ripening. My plan this fall is to get as many apple trees as I can and plant them along the fence I installed this summer and train those to also be espaliered. Fruit trees can be espaliered or trained in many ways. This is the idea I would like to have along my fence.espalieredtree This allows one to get much fruit from a small space. espaliertree2 They can form rows or fences themselves. Or even be in an ornate pattern.espaliertree3 espalieredtree4 It is a very ancient art, but for my purposes, it will be to get much fruit from a small space and allow low areas in front of them to be planted with other things.
While on the subject of fruit, Gussie was kind enough to pick tons of blueberries from our local farm. We have had blueberry pie, fresh blueberry pancakes this morning and the rest shall be jam.
I was having a rather busy day yesterday and so wanted a quick pie to use some of the berries.blueberrypieIt tasted wonderful and though it set better after one day, it still was firm enough to enjoy in 15 minutes or so, as I put it in the freezer.blueberrypie2The rich bumps and tart sweetness of the fresh berries almost had the taste of a cobbler.
My recipe for this fast and easy berry pie.
50’s Gal Easy Blueberry Pie
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers. This is about one sleeve.
1/3 cup white sugar
6 TBS melted butter
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste (It is also good if you use cinnamon graham crackers)
Simply crush up the crackers. Some of you may have a food processor, but for we vintage gals here in 56 I used a potato masher and my hands. Then melt the butter and pour it in. Pour in the sugar and any spices. Bake at 375 F for 7 minutes and you are done. It couldn’t be easier. Press into 8-9” pie tin. Let cool. I, however, put it in the freezer while I made the blueberry pie filling.
Pie Filling
4 cups fresh blueberries (That is a quart I believe)
3/4 cup water
2 TBS flour
1/2 cup sugar
Take one cup of the blueberries and put in a pan with water and sugar and a dash of salt. Stir on high until it starts to boil. Then lower heat and keep stirring until it thickens about 5 minutes or so. Next, take the rest of the fresh blueberries and just stir them in until all coated. Now take your pie crust and pour in the berries. That’s it! You are done! Very good with whipped cream or, as we had it, vanilla ice cream. Next time I will zest some lemon rind into the cooking berries, but even without it, wonderful.
Since our staycation, we have really felt we are on an extended holiday. Our home really feels very much the summer house on the Cape. We bike almost every day to our little town or the shore. There is swimming and sun bathing, trips to the library and our local cafe’s and little sandwich shops. I have never been so happy to sweep up sand before!
Here are a couple shots of our enjoying our summer get away.
 mengussiebikes1This is Gussie and I along the canal on our way home from the beach.mengussiebeach1And here is Gussie and I at the beach. You can see our old bikes and dresses add to the atmosphere. It seems normal to me to ride in my dresses and I prefer it. It makes it so easy to slip out of them and into the cool waters ( I have my bathing suit on underneath of course).
A funny story about our old bikes. Having mostly ridden mountain bikes before my project the ‘girls’ bike I bought for my project was new to me. It took me a few trips to stop raising my leg over the back of the seat, especially as it was rather un-lady-like in a dress. It then dawned on me, “Oh, that is why girls bikes are this way” and I then stepped through, easy as pie. Then my vintage friend was over the other day, inspired by we and our old bikes, and had found herself an old vintage bike on criaglist. It was also a girls bike and after watching me get on, said, “Oh, I have been getting on like a boy”. Then, another friend of mine was over and used one of our old bikes to go with us and watched me and also commented that she was mounting the bike with the ‘boy back leg swing’. Really silly, I know, but it was one of those vintage moments when you think, “Oh, that’s why women’s bikes have the lowered top bar”.
Well, until tomorrow then, Happy Homemaking.


  1. A friend of mine has a vintage bike and I love it, I've been wanting one for years, maybe one day eh :)

    Mom in Canada

  2. Thanks for the pie recipe! Yummmmm. I love your bikes. I know what you mean about the girls style. I remember as a kid thinking the boys were cool by swinging their legs over to mount their bikes but now that I'm older I'm ready to trade in my mountain bike and ride like a lady.

    I hate to offend you and I don't mean to start a big discussion but I do wish you and Gussie would wear helmets when you ride. I know they're not 1956 but it may be an exception worth considering. Just my 2cents.


  3. sarah-you are probably right, but we are almost never on an actual road or we ride on the sidewalk and get off if a pedestrian comes and we walk our bikes across the street and we rarely go very fast. When I think of how I used to ride my bike back in my MT bike days it is worlds apart. Also my hubby was in a bad accident years back being hit by a car on his bike and was not wearing a helmet. THe doctor said had he had on a helmet he may have snapped his neck. So, you are probably right in the long run, but maybe I am just too 56 to consider it and I know all the others around me in cars are more 2010 with lattes and cell phones in their hands and changing their ipod and satellite radio stations and texting and doing everything but paying attention to the road, but I just don't seem to put the helmet on but duly noted thank you for your concern.

  4. I think back to the days as a kid where everyone rode bikes around the neighbourhoods, being gone for hours at a time and "gasp" we never wore helmets.....now wearing helmets is the smart thing to do........

    Today we want to wrap our kids up in cotton and as a result they spend most of their time indoors.

    My boy's do not wear helmets to ride up and down the driveway.......when it comes to riding on the road or sidewalk yes they do.

    When we were camping in Jellystone park (yogi bear campground), they went without helmets and were just fine.

    I am scared more of texting, coffee drinking, cellphone talking people on their rush to get to work and run a stop sign then anything else.
    In Ontario, cellphone use in the car is banned, but you think people listen, nope you still see them blatantly using them.

    Ironically what we did as children, or our parent's did as children would ultimately in today's view most likely maim, harm or seriously injure our children.

    What's changed in a generation????????
    I wish my boy's had the freedom I had as a child, or as my mom/dad did.......where a kid could truly be a kid :)

    Mom in Canada

  5. mom in canada-so true! It is odd the things we Do worry about, such as helmets (which are valid in certain situations due to modern driving I agree) Yet, we blindly let children learn the 'values' of laziness and waste and debt. We allow them to become teens and go off to college and instantly get credit cards and student loans. We don't mind when they shove endless chemical and hormone ridden food in their face. The actual silent and rather scary real fears seem to be all but compeletly ignored. I, too, long for the innocence of the past. There is so much good in the modern world but I wish we had the sense to realize we can also ADD the positive of the past, bring back basic human decency, kindness, manners, responsibility, respect for one another. Whenever I contemplate my own possible child, I think how I would like to make for him a world of innocence and responsibility like the old days, but the second he was out with other children it would all be out the window, video games, excessive internet use, texting, sexting, always on the phone, or in front of a screen, drunken parties and a variety of popular music and video that really are rather appalling in a 1956 context. Sad, really.

  6. It's interesting how "safety fears" always crop up around products that can make a company money. We're taught to wear helmets and fasten our kids into safety seats and kill germs with antibacterial soaps and secure the future with life insurance policies and regulate our more dangerous moods with drugs and therapy.

    But if you can't market a product to the fear, nobody gets worked up about it. We'll go out and buy sacks of hormone riddled junk food and use electronics loaded with heavy metals and PCBs that will make the world toxic for our grandchildren, but we won't leave the house unless we're armored in two-ton SUVs with airbags poised to cushion us on all sides.

    Meanwhile, there is something to be said for style, dignity, and self-respect. We might all be safe from head wounds with our helmets and knee-pads on, but if the price is a world in which we go about looking like clowns, is it really worth it?


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