Tag Archives: Gardening

Simple Joys

21 Aug

Hello, world!

I feel badly that I’ve abandoned my fledgling blog for the last few weeks, but I’m also not positive that there will be an immediate righting of that ship. šŸ˜¦ My husband and I are preparing to move out of the country (but not permanently), and every one of my OCD personality characteristics and anxious tendencies have gone straight through the stratosphere in going through this process.

Seriously. I’m getting on my own nerves. But… when I woke up at 3am last night and started thinking about my bank account and how I need to deal with that (I’m currently on a plan that requires me to use my associated credit card at least monthly in order to avoid account fees, and using that credit card in Europe will then incur international fees, thus nullifying my attempt to avoid fees), I am glad that I have lists made and tasks scheduled so that I don’t have to try to remember everything that I need to do.

In light of my brain that is working overtime (but not getting smarter, just more tired), I’ve also been aware of the difference that the smallest little thing can make. For instance, the joy and curiosity of the “junge” (indulge me as I practice my German: it means boy) playing, making faces, and waving at the security camera outside our grocery this morning may have made my day! He was so free, truly, and for a minute, I actually wanted to play in front of the camera, too. Instead, I came home and dealt with my telecommunications company regarding putting my cell phone (“handy” for those looking to brush up on your German) in suspension mode for the time that we are gone. Trust me, that boy was having more fun, but he did give me such joy!

The second miracle of the day happened as I walked up the path to our house. Several wee baby eggplants! We started the eggplants a bit late, and I had convinced myself that our fair house sitters would solely reap the benefits of the eggplant row in the garden. Ratatouille and eggplant parmesan, here we come!

20120821-095241.jpg

Do you have other creative ways of using eggplant? We just purchased several eggplant from the farmer’s market this weekend, so we will soon feel like its all eggplant, all the time, I fear. Not that in 2.5 weeks we really have that much time to gorge ourselves on eggplant, but I’m always in the market for new recipes!

Be well world, and thanks for your patience!

Project Landscape

10 Jul

The big week is finally here!! And it’s underway, though not in a particularly attractive way:

20120710-151336.jpg

A nice young man from the nursery came to begin killing our current grass yesterday. Sorry, grass! It wasn’t personal, I promise! The above pile of dirt was delivered this morning for Mike’s little side project. He’s installing a french drain along the right side of the property (yay.). The man who delivered the dirt was one of those people who could restore faith in humanity, even among the most cynical among us. Seriously, he was one of the most considerate, efficient, easy-to-get-along with, and polite people I’ve ever run across. All that and he was an incredible dump truck driver! He prompts me to want to remind you that if you can make your purchases from a local, small business, you totally should!

I am hopeful, however, that this is the smelliest part of the installation. In case you didn’t know, a big pile of dirt is really stinky. I won’t go into what it smells like, assuming I’m in polite company, but trust me, its not pleasant. I am looking forward to the less smelly parts: the peonies, the abelia, the ferns, the lilies, and all of their friends! šŸ™‚ More to come…

Garden’s Progress

6 Jul

It is almost unspeakable how much joy this small little bit of dirt and seed have given me in the last 3 months. From the time I saw the first evidence of germination, through all the dirty fingernails (sometimes I just start messing with them before I think to get the garden gloves on), the delicious basil, to my first squash casserole (and I have never been a big veggie casserole kind of girl, but this was out of sight; it’s another post, actually; it was THAT good). I’m trying not to dwell too much on the actual fruit of the garden but on the sheer life of it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say how much I love it that we have actually based WHOLE MEALS on what has come from our yard!

These 1st 2 pictures were snappedĀ on 28 April, 2012:

Ready for planting

tomatoes and basil, grown from seed together, and some became inseparable!

The following pictures were taken today, 6 July 2012: Amazing!!

20120706-122501.jpg
Squash (up front) and lettuce in the rear
20120706-122541.jpg

Mint (up front) and imperial black eggplant in the rear

20120706-122605.jpg

Basil (can you believe we eat this almost every night we cook at home?!?) with an errant tomato plant that seeded itself among the basil (it felt a little caprese coming on, too!)

Roma tomatoes (up front), Peacevine Cherry tomatoes in the rear)

Cherry tomatoes, almost reporting for action!

You are the *Iris* of my Eye

22 Jun

Months and months and months ago, when I started sketching out our landscape plan, I sought input from Le Hubs. Much to my surprise, he did actually have input! He wanted iris in our garden! So… Iris he shall have.

“Iris” refers to nearly 300 different species of showy flowering herbs, grown from either rhizomes or bulbs depending on the climate. They thrive in a wide variety of climates, and are easy to grow. They prefer at least 1/2 a day of sunshine, although they may also like some shade if it’s really hot. They aren’t especially particular about soil (although its ideally at a Ph level of 6.8 if you are into that sort of thing), either, as long as its well-drained.

They don’t especially like to be planted deeply, about 12-24″ apart. They may need some help in getting their root systems up and going, so watering up front is a good idea. After they are established, however, they are usually pretty hardy. Feed them with a 6-10-10 fertilizer about 2x each year (in early spring and about 1 month after their blooming ceases), and you will have some happy flowers!

I am most definitely enjoying the theme that the flowers and plants we have selected are by and large hardy, easy, and quite pretty! Installation in T-3 Weeks!

1st signs of fruit

6 Jun

Aristotle said “in all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” Indeed, right? I felt the thrill of that marvelousness yesterday when, following the storm, a small flower of a future tomato emerged. This thrill is one of a first time gardener, seeing the first sign of fruit on a plant that has emerged from a seed as small as a speck! I feel so proud! It’s almost like seeing a child take his first steps! (I know, not really, but I ask for your indulgence here)!

20120606-142802.jpg

20120606-142852.jpg

Every Sunday, we have a little routine, almost a hand-me-down tradition in my family. Sundays=burgers! I love the routine of it (did you know that having the same breakfast every day reducesĀ stress levels?), not that I need more excuses to have french fries… We enjoyed these lettuces with our veggie burgers on Sunday. Perfect! Seriously, I really can’t think of anything more delightful or fulfilling than being able to enjoy the garden bounty. Until, that is, these future tomatoes come into my mouth!

Hostas

1 Jun

As we prepare for our landscape installation, I’m trying to educate myself about the flora that I will soon be charged with caring for. We already have several hostas in the front beds, but I’ve honestly never put much work into them at all. A friend was moving and had some in containers that she wasn’t able to take with her, so I inherited them, and after planting them, I’ve really let them be. Fortunately (for them), that is pretty much all they require! šŸ™‚

Hostas are shade tolerant (although they like some sun, just not too much) herbaceous perennials, and they come with beautiful foliage. Hostas were once called “plantain lilies,” as they were once thought to have a heritage associated with lilies, but that has been debunked. “That’s just patently not true” is how one hosta expert said it. Hostas are originally from Asia (as it seems that most of the plants I’ll be installing are), and arrived in North America in the 1800s. Up to 45 species may be out there, although there is a lot of discussion about how relevent that is, given how frequently hostas (and plants in general) are cross-bred and in bred and all that good stuff. Let me tell you, people sure are opinionated when you start in on hosta-speak! Hosta-people are very passionate about their pretty plant – not that that’s a bad thing.

The “empress wu” variety is the largest at this point, with a leaf measurement of 61 cm, sometimes reaching 4′ in height. There are also many varieties that are classified as “miniature.” Varieties known as ‘Sagae’, ‘Liberty’ and ‘June’ have been consistently popular for several years.

“Sagae” hosta, image courtesy of MN Hosta Society

“Liberty” hosta, image courtesy of Hirt’s Garden

;

;

;

;

;

;

;

“June”, image courtesy of New Hampshire Hosta society

What do I need to know to grow happy hostas?

  • Prior to planting
  1. Amend the soil, including about 1/3 of the original native soil, 1/3 peat or similar and/or 1/3 pine bark.
  2. Select a location that gets some sun, preferably in the morning, but significant shade as well.
  3. The hole in which the hosta is going to live needs to be as deep as the root ball and 1.5x as wide.
  • After planting
  1. Fertilizer: 3-4x per year with a 10-10-10.
  2. Water: Hostas native environments gets 50-60 inches of rain, so water is necessary. Up to an inch/week in addition to the rain.
  3. Transplanting/Dividing: not required, but best in spring or late summer after the peak of the heat. Hostas are resilient, but they get stressed out and stressed out plants are nobody’s favorite things.
  4. Mulching: not required, but using pine straw as mulch can help ward off slugs (one of hosta’s primary enemies) and using double shredded hardwoods can aid in water retention (good for hostas, bad for people).
We still haven’t selected which varieties will make their home in our landscape. Any favorites out there?

20120601-171911.jpg

Homemade, (almost) home grown Caprese

25 May

One of my goal this year is to grow food we can eat. To that end, we started a bunch of plants from seed (there is a post brewing on that), including sweet Genoese basil and a couple of varieties of tomatoes (including “strawberry tomatoes,” the likes of which I’d never heard).

20120524-211505.jpg

Mike and I are also very fond of homemade cheese, and we made some super- easy mozzarella last night. Our tomatoes are not yet in bloom, but our basil sure is sweet!

Cheese is a lot easier to make than most people think. It’s really just a gallon of milk, some citric acid, some rennet, and some salt. Heat it up a bit, stir it a little, wait a minute or 2, stretch it, chill it, and you’ve got your very own homemade mozzarella. We got started with a cheese making kit, which I’d highly recommend. We are soon going to embark on making hard cheeses, but cheeses like mozzarella are super easy, and even tastier than they are easy. Honestly, the hardest part is finding milk that isn’t too pasteurized (but the Buford Hwy. Farmer’s Market is another post all to itself!).