Things are trucking along quite well on the ‘ole urban homestead this June. We are happily reaping some of the rewards from our perennial plantings last year. The two cherry trees have enough fruit to snack on between breaks in yard work. The artichokes have been prolific! We had a feast of them last night for dinner. I left about half of the artichokes to flower, and we ate the other half. One of the new purple artichoke plants has a lovely bud forming that might be too pretty to eat.

Ants, ants, ants! We are completely overrun outside with ants and it grossed me out to no end. They are farming aphids all over the artichoke plants, which is why I ended up allowing half of the buds to flower. Spraying them down with a diluted dish washing soap liquid seems to get rid of them asap. But it’s there fried little black bodies that continues to creep me out. We have been working on the patio out back and have discovered many nests of them out there too. Shudder…

The red currant bushes are just dripping with berries and they make a great treat smooshed over toast. If I really had my shi.. stuff together I would make muffins or something. But we shall see. This patio work is kicking my butt.

The arugula is flowering, so does that mean it’s days are numbered? I wonder how to collect the seeds off? We have been eating heaping mounds of salad with every meal. My pathetic snap and snow peas manage to produce just enough to top the salads off. Hopefully the runner beans will show them up with larger harvests.

My tomato seedlings seem to have made it! I kept dousing them with diluted fish fertilizer once a week, then leaving the clear lids off so they would dry out. After about three weeks they seemed strong enough to move outside. It’s been a week since I planted them in the raised beds and they seem to making it after all! Thank god – I would have been sobbing if I ended up having to buy starts. After trying to grow five really interesting varieties of heirlooms, it would just seem like such a catastrophic waste.

There is a new mystery on the homestead as well. What the heck is this?? The first time I saw it, I thought maybe a loose dog threw up on our front yard. It starts out as bright yellow dust-like substance, then balloons up to a puffy pie, then turns from bright yellow to beige. Is this something related to the ants? Is it a weird mold or mushroom?

Off to celebrate a hard day’s work with a hard earned pint at the Oaks Bottom Brewery. God I love living in Portland. You can’t swing a dead cat in this town without hitting a stellar brew pub option.

UPDATE: The mystery is solved! Apparently this guy calls it the “dog vomit slime mold”, which very accurately describes the substance. It appears there is no way to get rid of it. So I guess there is my answer.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson