Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

April 26, 2023

The Great Outdoors

I can't stress the title enough--it's been such a relief to hang out in the great outdoors, well, if you can call our 1/16th acre yard "great".
After an extremely long winter and chilly spring (the high today is only in the low 60s), we've been soaking up as much time as we can out in the sun.  Our garden is mostly planted, and I've been peeking every day at the pea and lettuce sprouts poking through the ground.  And my zinnias are doing well indoors, and will probably make the trek out this weekend.
We finally built and planted the raised beds this year, and are trying out the square foot gardening method. hoping to maximize what we can grow in our teacup of a yard.
I'm hoping my prayer flags bring good luck and abundance to the garden, especially the cucumbers, which never do well (darned beetles, but then again, they have to eat too--so Buddhist of me).
The chives are doing remarkably well, as usual this time of year.  They're starting to show signs of blooming.
Oddly, everything seems to be blooming all at once this spring in PA.  Even my forsythia, which usually blooms in March, still has blossoms on it, and my lilacs are getting ready to open.

Lest I forget about the kids, our yard has turned back into an outdoor playspace.
Thankfully the boys and their friends have not yet gotten their hands in the garden.  This broken pirate ship (an alley find) has kept them interested in the sand table.  Shipwreck!

For now, my shoulders relax and we breathe in the fresh air when we venture to our little piece of the great outdoors.  Come on 'round the back door for a cup of coffee or tea if you're in town.
Enjoy your weekend!

March 13, 2024

Growing, Changing

In a world where each day seems to last for years, I see time slipping away as winter melts into spring again and my baby is not so babyish anymore.
Oddly, when Soren was 20 months old he still seemed so little to me. First time around, I suppose.
Soren at 20 Months Old
But Jabbertalker here seems so much more aware of things than I remember from Soren at that age.
He can sing entire lines of songs (in his own way, of course) and even says "I Lee Lou" (I Love You).  He's different in terms of his ability to focus on details and finer tasks, unlike his brother who was (and still is) a dynamo of grander physical energy.
Soren at 20 months.  That crayon was most likely broken within seconds of taking that photo.  And wow, do I ever miss that toddler.
Along with the boys, I notice myself changing and growing, maybe not in the best of ways.  I sometimes feel angrier and more resentful at having so little time to pursue my interests.  My sewing machine hasn't been touched in months, and there are so many home projects that have fallen by the wayside.  I know, boo hoo, that's what I signed on for when I became a parent.  But I do believe that a happier family is one where the adults have some non-parenting time too.  It's hard when extended family is not close by and are occupied with other responsibilities and pursuits. 

In other growing news, we finally got the raised beds in, which we've been dreaming about for years.
We're trying the square foot gardening method this year, which hopefully yields a tidier and more productive crop.  Last year's garden yielded a lot of greens (it was an early planting after a mild winter) but was quite unkempt and hard to tend, especially when mowing the grass.
I'm eager to get out there and finish the job, adding some organic supplements to the soil and then planing peas and spinach.  Let's hope we're on track for some warmer weather here in the Northeast.  I'm sure tired of being cooped up inside.  May your day be fair and sunny!

September 19, 2023

Under Glass

As much as I adore autumn and its cool air, colors and pumpkins, I do get a little sad thinking about the garden and how much I'll miss it.  A major impetus for becoming a homeowner 6 years ago was to have a yard of our own to tend and enjoy.  I love plants, and think I'm somewhat successful at cultivating flowers and vegetables.  Well, mostly.  Avert your thoughts away from the "potato harvest" of last month. :(
Anyway, despite the love I have for our home, its lack of natural indoor light is depressing (you may have seen me struggle with indoor photos of the kids and other stuff here on the blog).  We have windows with Eastern and Northern exposures, (and with narrow window sills to boot), so we don't have great light for most houseplants and herbs.  The kids really don't allow for indoor gardening anyway, but I do miss having African violets in the windows and tending a little school of plants.

Rather than pine over my would-be plants, I thought Soren might like to create a terrarium garden to display in the kitchen, where we do get some morning sun.  I used a bunch of stuff we had on hand, like gravel, a spray mister (thanks Tara!), and a jar (I switched it out to a larger one mid-way through the activity since the one in the photo it was too small).
I picked up a few low-light terrarium plants at a local garden store for under $5 and thought we could use dirt from the backyard in case we wanted to add some insects or worms at some point (potting soil isn't good for that).

The activity couldn't have been easier (I think the hardest thing was trying to keep my camera clean), and what kid doesn't like to be told to go dig in the dirt in the name of science?
To begin, we put about an inch of gravel on the bottom of the jar.  We actually used some leftover bonsai soil from Chris' dormant dream of cultivating a bonsai collection. 
Next we put about 2-3 inches of soil on top, dug straight from the yard.  Then Soren made a few small holes in the dirt where he wanted the plants to go.
After he situated the plants, I filled them in with dirt to hold them in place.  He tamped them down, then added some finishing touches, including shells, river stones, a plastic dinosaur, and of course, a Lego mini figure.
Once it was in place, we watered it, misted the leaves with the spray bottle, and put the top on.  It now sits in our kitchen, with daily tending from its keeper.
Hopefully it will add some life to our long winter. If anything, at least the Lego man will have fun re-enacting Jurassic Park.

August 2, 2023

You Say Potato, We Say #Fail

Oh, we tried.  But our potato experiment of 2012 ended not with fluffy, mashed spuds, but in a pile of potato-less mashed dirt.
As I dramatically deleted this bookmark--the impetus of it all (take THAT delete key!)-- Chris was sadly pulling apart the remnants of our potato bin.
It was a failed experiment.  Maybe we have crappy soil, a poorly-lit yard, or it was too dry early on this summer, then too wet.  Whatever the cause, this is what we'll be snacking on today, the fruit of 9 potato plants.  Or probably more accurately, slightly larger versions of our starter potatoes.
Chris calls the one below the "fetus of a potato."
We noticed the leaves turning brown about a month ago, then not growing much.
While we're not brown thumbs, we certainly aren't gardening experts, despite the proliferation of our tomatoes and basil.
Live and learn, and then make potato canapes.  We might just have enough!

May 28, 2023

Three Days

It's been three days of heat, dirt, and water, as well as some gardening, lawn work and laundry.
Hope you're enjoying these three days, and remembering those who've served our country. I'm thinking of families who have lost loved ones. My heart goes out to them today, especially that their sacrifices are often dwarfed by "the official start of summer."  Thank you to my grandfathers, uncles, cousins and friends who have made our country a safer place.

May 1, 2023

Currently Enjoying

So that risk from February in the garden paid off. We've been enjoying fresh greens and radishes for over a week now.
I made a fantastic spinach and pea soup for dinner tonight
Simple recipe: saute onion and garlic, add stock, a potato and boil. Then add a bag of frozen peas and any garden greens you have. Puree when the peas have just cooked.
and there are plans for salad, salad and more salad tomorrow.
We have quite a few volunteer tomatoes and cilantro plants coming up, as well as peas, carrots and arugula.  I'm hoping to get some peppers and larger tomato plants in the ground this weekend.  I can hardly believe it's garden-time!  I meant to get some photos, especially of the potato bin that Chris built.  Here's a pic from Easter Sunday to suffice.
It's an ugly thing, but apparently one can grow 100 lbs of potatoes in it.  Find the instructions here.

So how does YOUR garden grow?

February 22, 2024

Vegetable Dreaming

All this uncharacteristicly warm winter weather has emboldened me; I've decided to get my hands dirty and work out in the garden.
While I am probably foolish to think of planting so early, I have a hunch that those $1.86 packets of seeds will pay off.  And if they don't, well I'm just out ten bucks.
Of course I'm not talking corn or tomatoes here, but hardy crops like spinach, arugula, Swiss chard and radishes.
After a little sweat and toil--which felt really good--I prepped the soil, added some Bumper Crop (good stuff!) and planted a few rows.  Oh, I relish the hopeful thought of some backyard greens in a month or two.  Wish them luck!

August 10, 2023

Wordless Wednesday: Harvest

Despite the neglect we've shown our garden in the past month, it's certainly rewarded our early-season efforts.
What have you grown this summer?  Is your garden faring well?

April 15, 2023

Weekend Musings

It's finally that time of year when the outdoors is looking especially pretty spectacular again--hyacinths, budding trees, longer days, you get the idea.
There are also lots of springtime events going on, like egg hunts, Easter festivities at the local Pennsylvania German Heritage Farm, and even a train ride with The Bunny that we might make it to over the weekend. Plus we're making headway on our vegetable garden, so that may need some tending too.

Despite being pretty tired lately, due to my doctor finding that my iron levels are depressingly low (I'm remedying it with supplements, thankfully), I really want to try to make some springtime crafts.  I'm thinking maybe some more coffee filter flowers, like the ones we made last year, which are always an easy project
or embroidering a companion piece to last year's springtime radish
or trying something new like this cute wreath from A Vision to Remember.
I keep thinking that this is what we must do with all those plastic eggs we acquire someway, somehow!

Naturally there's always cleaning, child-minding, and other stuff to do like working on the quilt, knitting a baby sweater, felting a mobile for the nursery, and getting around to finishing the baby pants that I started this week, using one of The Mister's old shirts.
So much to do, so little time, and so darned tired!  What's up for your weekend, friends? Hope you have a lovely one.

September 26, 2023


Yet another growing season is coming to an end, so yesterday we began tidying up the garden and harvesting what was left of our summer crops.
We plan on planting some more spinach and leafy greens to hopefully enjoy into the fall--sadly the ones I sowed a few weeks back haven't done so well in the late summer heat and lack of rain.

We ended up pulling up some pretty good-sized onions, both red and yellow, which we were pleasantly surprised by. I wasn't sure how they'd do, having never grown them before.  The brussels sprouts were also harvested, and I don't think we'll grow them again next year.
They take up a lot of space and don't yield all that much. Plus Mr. Geek was kind of grossed out by them--they look like small tumors leeching off of a phallic-like spine.  Yes, he has quite a Clive Barker-esque imagination. He's using a hacksaw to cut the little buggers off, though he and Soren ended up plucking them in the end.
I'm drying the purple beans for next year's planting, or maybe for cooking into a soup over the winter.
Lots of green tomatoes--any good recipes?
Soren certainly had a nice time playing with them along with his trucks.
I put the tomatoes on the windowsills hoping that they'll turn red. That worked pretty well last summer.

The garden was a moderate success, overall.  Next year I'd like to nix the brussels, thin out the tomatoes and widen the bed.  I'd like to try cucumbers again, despite their demise courtesy of the cucumber beetle.  Definitely more lettuces and peas.  Maybe we'll do potatoes too.
The applesauce party last night was a success! All the jars sealed--hooray! I need to cook and can the rest of these beauties into some stewed apples that will be delicious over oatmeal this winter.  Or perhaps vanilla ice cream?

How I wish that harvest time wasn't so brief.  It seems like I'm frantically trying to capture all of the deliciousness of summer in a few weeks. I still would like to freeze peppers and corn, but methinks I just won't get around to it.

How are you trying to hold onto summer, culinarily or otherwise?
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