Posts tagged: gardening

Bits of Spring

By , February 23, 2013

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Autumny things, Leaf acquisition, and Taking it slow

By , November 13, 2012

Autumn evening: Mugs of tea, a sleeping cat, reading the neighborhood newsletter, soaking feet in hot water, PBS on the TV....

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone. (Is Prairie Home Companion even still on? Gosh I haven’t tuned in in years… I loved that program…) Anyway, that’s been our Autumn — quiet, restful, and in keeping with the shift in season to colder weather and a reduced number of daylight hours (which I welcome!). F is still on leave from his job, resting and rehabbing his broken arm. It’s so nice to have him home here. We’re both just resting, which was so needed. I’m continuing to get weekly acupuncture treatments that are really helping to flush out my body and liver from 10 months of strong, toxic antibiotics — and probably also the megaload of endotoxins created by the Brucella bacteria itself… and probably also the antivirals I was on when this illness was still in its misdiagnosed-as-something-else phase… and probably also the narcotics from two really painful surgeries before that. Yikes. It’s an unpleasant process and I get impatient, but overall I’ve been hanging low and trying to let my body do its thing.

But let’s move on. The day before Halloween I got crazy (well, in a Bob Ross “Let’s get crazy” sort of way) and decided to make decorations for our house even though we weren’t going to hand out candy. I raided the rag box and made ghosts, and then drew a bat pattern and made a couple bats out of cardboard which I painted black. Then I wired some branches together to display my seasonal flags. I’m really happy with how the little flag pole came out! It was therapeutic to lose myself completely in a creative and totally frivolous activity.

While I was decorating, the neighbors across the street were raking leaves from their two maple trees. I watched with interest, because this past summer I ran out of autumn leaves for mulching my gardens and I really missed having them. I was determined to collect as many leaves as possible this autumn. I’ve never met these neighbors before, and normally in these situations my shyness overtakes me. But determined to break from my comfort zone, I walked across the street, introduced myself, and asked if they were going to throw their bags of leaves away (yes) and if I could have them (yes). And so by simply gathering my courage and asking, I ended up with eight bags of gorgeous maple leaves, ready for next year’s garden.

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And then this past Saturday, I was whipped into action by snowflakes falling much sooner in the day than I expected, so I raked up our own maple leaves, jumping in the piles just as I did when I was a kid, inhaling their earthy sweet scent — one of the few things that hasn’t changed one bit in all these years.

Some of the leaves went into bins for composting later, and the rest went onto my garden beds for the winter.

And then the snow began to fall harder…

Time to go inside for some hot vegetable soup.

And then some hot chocolate. I’ve found a good way to do hot chocolate — something I actually rarely drink. I bought a quart of Kalona Supernatural chocolate milk, froze it into ice cube trays, and when I want a small mug of hot chocolate I pop a few cubes into a saucepan with some water (because I like it on the dilute side) and a dash of cinnamon, and warm it up until steaming. Delicious! (And don’t forget to add stale marshmallows to your hot chocolate. My bag of them, which must be at least two years old, somehow made it into the moving box instead of the trash can this summer, but now I’m glad I have them! I always did like ’em better stale…)

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Later in the day, heating milk for yogurt making (I’ve learned to babysit milk, because the moment you step away from the stove it will begin to boil, rising up very quickly in the pan and spilling out everywhere)…

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And now dusk. I love the blue light of winter’s dusk and the warm, homey glow from the windows.

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What autumn activities are you up to?

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Preparing for the Snow

By , October 26, 2012

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After what has been one of the hottest, most wearisome summers in my memory, it seems that the autumn season has finally, completely (mercifully!?) clunked into place. We had our first snowfall, which began on Wednesday night by way of a steady rain. I was delighted to see this, so armed with an umbrella and steaming tea in a to-go cup, I ventured out for an enchanting night walk. And an hour after I got back, the rain switched over to snow, falling fast and blowing sideways, blizzard style. By that time the two of us and the cat were all squashed together on the couch, side by side by side, vegging out in front of PBS. A cozy, snowy night.

The next morning, we awoke to the wonderland you see above. Cold and still and silent.

I love the snow because it’s so peaceful.

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If we back up a little bit, though, Tuesday was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the mid-70s, and I was out in shorts and a tank top getting the last of the garden chores in order. It was a busy garden day and I was exhausted at the end, but the progress felt good.

Here are some pictures from my end-of-summer preparations:

The garden in early October just after our first frost nipped a few things.

Potting up the thyme to take inside for the winter

Red Siberian heirloom tomatoes -- I'll definitely grow these again

One of the leeks from the harvest

Cabbage and potatoes just harvested

The rest of the tomatoes, picked and ready to store.

Storing the green tomatoes in the coolest spot in the house (the coat closet).

End-of-season applesauce making

Bringing some of the garden stuff indoors

Tilled in our homemade compost and made a "nursery bed" for the garlic. I'll transplant them in spring to their usual spots around the perimeter of each raised bed. This nursery bed thing is a new thought I had -- never done it this way, but I'm counting on it working like a charm.

Putting the garden to bed

Dusk, my favorite

The first snowfall

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Harvesting Our Apples

By , October 12, 2012

Well it’s been an awesome year for fruit here, since our usual blossom-killing frost mercifully did not occur this spring. And so “Make more applesauce” has been somewhat of a standing order on my to-do lists of late. What a blessing, to have so much free organic fruit! My mom’s recent comment in an email made me giggle, asking me what I’ll do with all my time once the apples are through!

The apple tree in the backyard is Red Delicious variety, but the apples are really not good for fresh eating, however they make great applesauce! So F and I harvested them all recently and I’ve been picking away at them, cutting out the wormy parts, peeling them, chopping, and then cooking and canning them.

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What kind of fruit are you harvesting this autumn?

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From Nature With Love

By , September 6, 2012

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Fresh from our garden. Luscious!!!

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Around the Garden – July 19th

By , July 20, 2012

Yesterday was a special day. July 19th is the official death date of my best friend Sonja. It will forever be “that day.” It’s been eight years since her death, and finally it doesn’t hurt anything like it used to. That awful pain has released its grip on me. I acknowledge the date with sadness, of course…but the sting of it has largely gone. If I pause to remember that terrible phone call, and the sequence of it all and how I felt, it still hurts very much. Of course it does. I’m sure it always will. But it doesn’t clutch me and drag me to the underworld like it used to; I feel so much more in control of the memories and my emotions about it all.

If you are currently toiling through grief, it is a very hard path. And it will get easier. It doesn’t seem like it ever will, but it will.

When I was in the middle of that searing grief, I was convinced it would never end. It did. You will never be the same person after a journey like that (you’ll be stronger, for one thing), but the pain will let up.

So yesterday I spent my July 19th working in my flourishing garden. What an uplifting, life-affirming way to spend that day! It was very hot, in the upper 90s, but the clouds moved in which made it much more bearable. And my strong, healing body held up so nicely, even in that heat… even through six hours of hard physical work. Instead of feeling miserable in my body, I felt strong and healthy and agile. After more than two solid years of feeling like absolute shite, I had sadly forgotten what “normal” feels like. I’m getting re-acquainted with normal!! It was so enjoyable!

Anyway, here are some pictures:

[left to right] Jaune Flamme, Black Russian, and Black Cherry heirloom tomatoes:

The peach on my 3-year-old tree is getting bigger!

I grew some Black Kabouli bush garbanzo beans this year as an experiment. It was a success, and it told me what I needed to know. They’re very easy to grow, even in areas of lower soil fertility and water levels. I haven’t yet cooked them up, but overall I’d rate them as ‘8.5/10, would grow again.’

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Everybody needs… places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength…

– John Muir

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And a Few More…

By , July 12, 2012

Here are a few more garden pictures that I wanted to show you, since I was over there yesterday. It was a brilliant weather day — not too hot, not windy, and just humid enough to make the air delicious and soft. Mentally and physically however, it was a total bummer day, so being in the garden felt vitally important! It’s such a grounding and life-affirming space, that wild and abundant garden. There’s some really intense energy flying around right now to put it diplomatically. Can you feel it? Intense situations, frustrations, and pivotal decisions abound! Nature spaces are the antidote — I’d make time to visit one if I were you.

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So what you have here are the first tomatoes of the year — Black Cherry, and the orange one further down is Jaune Flamme, both heirlooms, and both really awesome. The Jaune Flammes are always my earliest and most reliable tomatoes; Black Cherry is a new one this year, but so far I’m definitely impressed.

I put up this bean trellis on Sunday; I really love it. It creates the feeling of a cozy outdoor room, and maybe if the beans get big enough they’ll provide some welcome shade from the afternoon sun.

And here this is our living room right now. In flux you might say!

As I write you this, I’m eating a beet that I pulled out of the garden yesterday. Steamed whole and eaten plain with just a bit of sea salt, how can something BE so delicious!?

Writing to you!…

Wishing you well on this beautiful, summery night!

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A few from the garden…

By , July 10, 2012

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In My Garden – Early June

By , June 8, 2012

A new dressing of black gold (compost)

This isn’t what early June normally looks like for us — as I’ve mentioned before, we’re at least 3 weeks ahead with everything this year because of the unusual warmth. I’ve already harvested all our delicious lettuce, and everything is growing beautifully! Well, except for the things that aren’t. We have a population explosion of roly polies this year. I thought slugs were my nemesis — well they’re nothing compared to the destructive capabilities of these flippin’ bugs… and they move a helluva lot faster than a slug ever could. They’re machines. You plant – they destroy. Every year there’s always “a thing” — no matter what. Your tomatoes don’t grow, or the zucchini plants are stunted, or it’s too cold for the peppers, or the spinach isn’t happy. Or whatever. It’s just part of gardening. You expect it, but it’s a surprise each year what the failures will be, but also what the successes will be. Nature is mysterious, and I think she likes to keep folks guessing. Anyway, hopefully this year’s only “thing” will be the roly polies. They have ravaged the zucchini and cucumber seedlings; one day there’s a zucchini sprout, next day there’s a stump. Frustrating!

Zucchini stump

I don’t like buying starts from the nursery because they’re expensive, and don’t usually perform very well, but mostly because they often bring disease into my garden which ticks me off. It’s like kids at a daycare — they’re all sneezing and snotty nosed. So I picked out the least-mildewy of the cucumber starts at the nursery (below) and planted them with fingers crossed that they’ll really take off and flourish!

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But all that aside, the rest of the garden is doing beautifully!! I love just looking at it and puttering around in it. What joy it brings me!

Broad beans

Peas & garbanzo beans

What’s your garden doing?

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