A Moment In the Garden

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. ~Gertrude Jekyll

Here’s to a nice weekend in the garden, knitting, catching up with friends, and basking in the calm before another busy week.  I hope you have an enjoyable weekend to, and I’ll see you back here on Monday with some big news!

 

Growing Up

Despite the return to cool and rainy weather we had for the past week and a half, my garden continues to grow.  I ate my first home-grown blueberry this week, and it was divine.  We have been blessed with a prolific raspberry patch whose output is difficult to keep up with.  And I really like raspberries!  We’ve taken to picking and freezing them immediately, and I see a batch of freezer jam in the near future.  Anyone have a favorite recipe?

As for my plantings, everything seems to be doing very well indeed.  The peas are about finished, and checking for pods has become a daily routine for PB.  Her vocabulary is growing right along with the garden, and this morning she kept saying “Peas? Peas? Peas.” as we walked over.  She knows how to pick and eat them, which I love.

The green beans are reaching for the sky and have started blooming.  The two grape tomato plants both have small green fruit, as does one of my two artichoke plants.  I am pretty excited about that one.  I sowed a third crop of spinach and chard, and the seedlings seem to have loved all the moisture, sprouting in record time.  Now if only we could have a little peek at that summer sun again.  I have a long list of summery activities I’d like to try, but it needs to warm up just a bit.  Wearing my handknits in July is fun and novel, but I’d rather be lounging in the shade on a warm day knitting than wearing a wool shawl and drinking a latte while knitting.  Plenty of time for that later.

And lastly, I have a question for you: what is this and why is it bleeding?  I’m guessing it’s some sort of fungi, but I can’t help thinking it’s rather sinister and creepy.

Around the Farm, Backyard Style

When we were preparing to move cross-country last summer, I was feeling a bit bummed out that it meant I wouldn’t be planting a garden at our house, after all.  I had grand, albeit imaginary, plans of installing raised beds alongside our driveway, the only spot on the property that received a good amount of sun.  Nevermind that we were on a pretty homogenous suburban cul-de-sac where such a thing may have been considered an eyesore.  Instead, I settled for some container plants and annuals in the flower beds, and got to packing up our belongings, looking forward to our new life in Oregon.

We moved to a town I had not been to, into a house I had not seen.  It was quite a leap of faith, and in hindsight I wonder why I wasn’t a little more unhinged about the whole situation.  Sweetie will probably tell you that I was a little crazed, that I dug in my heels a few times and declared that I didn’t want to move at all, what with a new baby and all.

In the end, it has turned out to be the best place for our little family, and my dreams of a raised bed garden were granted!  The best part? I didn’t have to do any of the digging or clearing, as they were already here.  So this spring I excitedly got to planning a garden, my first, and have been enjoying watching things grow and change and enjoying the bounty all around.  For there’s not only the vegetables I planted, but a bounty of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and herbs to enjoy as well.

Without further ado, may I present Sonia’s #1 Garden Adventure, July 2011:

Beets. From seed.  Amazing.

Beans, peas, and corn, trellised with a makeshift arrangement of repurposed bamboo poles and kitchen twine.

Articoke!

Cherry tomatoes.

There’s also a couple of types of cucumbers, chard, lettuce, spinach, a cantaloupe, and a pumpkin, plus some volunteers from the compost bin that are most likely pumpkins.  That’ll be a fun surprise!  It’s amazing how much food can be grown in a relatively small space, particularly in a back yard.  We have gotten so far from the source of our nutrition in a lot of ways; it feels good as one family to be making some of our own food in our own space.  Not only is the end product good to eat, the hours of work and tending to get there are great entertainment for me as a gardener and mama of a curious toddler!

PB has been so funny around the garden.  She loves to pick the peas, berries, and sample the leaves of all the greens.  Digging is fun, especially now that the seedlings are big enough to withstand her tools.  Most recently we taught her how to hold the sprayer so she can help water the garden, which is great, wet fun.

How does your garden grow this July?

Peas and Happiness

 

 

 

 

 

The day we planted the pea seeds was fun.
Waiting and watching for the first sign that they were about to poke through the carefully raked soil was sweet anticipation.
Watching their tender green leaves struggle up through the soil and reaching out to the sun was exciting.
Leaving for 10 days and coming home to really big pea plants with blossoms was a thrilling surprise.

My first pea harvest is a moment to mark on the calendars, people. This is the first time I’ve had a real garden space, so picking a vegetable that grew from a seed in my own backyard is beyond thrilling.

Just this morning PB and I were strolling through the garden beds checking on things, as you do. One moment she was by my side, the next she was standing by the pea plants munching on a snap pea. I love it!

How does your garden grow on this Monday?

Monday Catch Up

Today is a recovery day.  I typically stay close to home on Mondays to play catch up (and slow down) after the weekend.  I’m feeling a bit tired but oh so happy for all the time spent with friends, old and new, in the luxuriously dry and sunny weather.  As you can see, PB was very serious about those hula hoops, as were many of our BBQ guests.  I’m pleased to say that almost every adult at the party gave hooping a try, and it was so much fun!

Our first strawberry has turned the corner on its way to ripeness.  I think it’s going to get eaten very soon, along with any neighbors who follow suit.  PB has already sampled a couple of white berries in anticipation.  The rest of my garden has really exploded too.  I need to get some poles up for those beans and peas, and it’s time for a first harvest of chard, lettuce, and spinach.  Weeds and mint are starting to stake their claim in and around the raised beds, so it’s time for PB to learn how to help pull weeds!

Tonight I’m looking forward to a quiet evening spent catching up with my knitting.  In all the excitement and activities, I hardly touched my knitting all weekend!

 

 

Of Food and Flora

Quince blossoms

Fennel?

There has been a little bit of cooking and time spent outdoors this week, the latter happening in the small windows between downpours.  It’s been a wet week, which is good for the plants (tough on my seedlings, though) and a little hard on this at home mama and toddler duo.

I made it to the farmer’s market twice in the last week, which excites me beyond what seems reasonable.  Who gets so excited about vegetables, anyway?  Oregonians, that’s who!  It’s such a festive, happy place filled with live music, gorgeous local food and flowers, and excellent people watching.  On Saturday I bought lettuce, radishes, tiny carrots, and swiss chard, which means we’ve been eating salads all week.  Somehow in all the excitement I didn’t do much “regular” grocery shopping, and with all the rain never wanted to go on a big shopping trip.  So it’s been greens and pantry things (soup, pasta, grilled cheese), homemade pizza, and a little potluck with a friend who made the most delicious sweet potato risotto.  And then I just had to make a half-batch of the strawberry rhubarb crumble after scoring some strawberries at the Wednesday market.  That day I was so desperate for some fresh air that PB and I sat in the drizzle and shared a burrito for lunch at the market. I guess we’re adjusting to our new climate fairly well!

The sight of brightly colored plants, blooming berries, and my daughter tromping around in the mud outside, as well as the smells of cooking, jasmine tea, and knitting inside definitely help.  It’s supposed to be a relatively dry and warm weekend, so I hope to get back outside and play!

I hope you have a colorful and tasty weekend.

In the Garden

My mom has been in town this week, helping me get my garden in shape for the growing season.  There has been weeding, churning, mowing, raking, digging, and sowing.  I am so excited and thankful for the progress that has been made.  There are seeds in the ground!  Seeds that will hopefully turn into delicious food for our family: spinach, kale, romaine, red lettuce, peas, carrots, and beets.  This is a first for me (aside from the occasional container tomato), and I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn.  For now I’m basking in the spring sun and checking my plantings regularly, looking for signs of growth.  PB has been a big help, too.  She loves climbing up into those raised beds and digging around.  I think it’s great, but I am a little worried she’s going to eat a slug or two this summer…or maybe she’ll raid the herb garden instead.

Of This & That

button bin at Stitches, all a-jumble like my brain today!

Some thoughts, updates, and bits of information, list style:

Knitting& Crafty Goodness

  1. After yesterday’s post, I took another look at Shalom and realized things weren’t as bad as I had made them out to be. My errors weren’t irreparable, and after just a few minutes I was back in the fast lane.  Today I will divide for the sleeves and get going on some soothing stockinette.  This is likely where I will be distracted by a new project, but that’s the way I roll.
  2. I happened across a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Workshop dvd at the library last week, and have been enjoying her antics every afternoon.  PB’s naptime finds me on the couch with a cup of tea, my knitting, and EZ.  I thought there wouldn’t be too many surprises, but that lady has shaken the ground on a few things I knew for certain to be true.  For instance, did you know you could just throw in a backward loop cast on stitch as an increase, avoiding the fuss of those pesky m1’s?
  3. There’s a new issue of Rhythm of the Home up!  There’s also a new issue of Mothering out, and they have announced they will not be publishing print editions anymore.  Sad, but a sign of these digital times, I suppose.
  4. Kathy over at While Tangerine Dreams has been up to a whole lotta creative goodness.  Go check out her new Dream Consulting and Backwoods Mama Sewing Camp.  That lady is such a delightful inspiration! Kathy, I’m waiting for Backwoods Mama summer camp at your house!

Health & Home

  1. Throughout the course of this winter, I was sick a lot.  This is unusual for me: I maybe get a cold once a season.  I attribute my seemingly constant battle with one sickness or another to three things: poor sleep, increased exposure to germs at “kiddie” places, and lack of consistent exercise.  Having a little one in the house changes so many things, and one of the big things is how the parents care for themselves.  It is so common for women to put themselves last on the To Care For list, isn’t it?  I thought I was doing a good job of carving out creative time and practicing self-care.  The fact of the matter is, I have felt physically run down for months.  In an attempt to jumpstart my return to a more balanced, strong physical self, I will be participating in  a 30 Day vegan Challenge.  The idea of having a group of like-minded people working through this at the same time is comforting, and there will be recipes, support, and resources all along the way.  Let me make a couple of things clear: my intention is not to become full-on vegan, nor will I be imposing an animal-free diet on anyone else in my home.  It just so happens that Sweetie is on-board with eating vegan at home (she is at the mercy of my chef’s knife, after all), and is supportive of me and my goals.  It starts Monday; hopefully 3 days in we won’t be sneaking around or fighting over PB’s yogurt and cheese!
  2. I keep seeing other bloggers writing about all the time and thought they are putting into their gardens.  We have 3 large raised beds in our backyard and 2 small ones in front of our rental house, and I would love to grow some veggies.  Trouble is, I have no idea where to start!  Until I saw this rash of fertile blog posts, I thought I could just go down to the nursery once it got a bit warmer and just choose the things I’d like to eat and stick them in the ground.  I need your book and website recommendations, seasoned gardening advice, and general good wishes.
  3. Peaceful Baby is entering into a new phase where she is not so peaceful all the time.  Tantrums have arrived; I am amazed at the intensity of her reaction when I gently tell her no. There are tears, throwing of objects, raking of nails.  Fortunately, these little people are excellent at living in the moment and moving on quickly from intense moments.  I could learn something from PB’s ability to let things go and enjoy life as it comes.

That’s all for today!  Do you feel better after putting your thoughts down on paper (or blog) like I do?

In Bloom

Not only was my knitting a little neglected this summer, the garden was as well.  I had enjoyed spring blooms with daffodils, crocus, tulips, and pansies.  When they were gone, my rosebushes and day-lilies perked up.  Then somewhere along the line, everything stopped blooming, the weeds seemed to invade, and some of my potted plants went crispy in the sun.  I suspect this transition began when we were out of town for two weeks in June.

Over the weeks I have slowly been reclaiming the flower beds and am happy to say things are looking lively again.

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Since we bought our home in 2008 I have been trying to stock the beds with hard working perennials, based mainly on what I see thriving in neighbor’s gardens.  These Black-eyed Susans are new, purchased at the garden center end-of season sale.  Now is a great time to stock up on perennials on the cheap.  I also picked up a couple conefloweres (Echinacea) at the sale.

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My favorite find, however, was a lush little pile of lavender.  I have been looking to buy lavender for two summers and could not find it anywhere!  I even attempted to grow some from seed last spring, and only have one 2-inch plant to show for it.  This is a welcome addition to the garden and is in a pot by the front door.

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It’s supposed to be searingly hot here this weekend, so I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend tending to the garden.  It’s likely I’ll be inside with my knitting near the air-conditioner.  I hope you have a great weekend!

How My Garden Grows

I love playing in the dirt.  Digging holes, planting seeds, pulling weeds, it’s all fun to me.  We bought a new house last spring, and I had a great time planting things in our yard and side garden.  I learned a couple of hard lessons about the harshness of full sun exposure, but I think I’ve got the major kinks worked out now.

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That said, I was a miserable failure at planting fall bulbs.  I went out and bought them, sure.  There was even a color scheme and everything–red, yellow, and purple tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth.  I just never got around to planting them at the ideal time.  So when I was reorganizing the storage table in my garage a few weeks ago, I was saddened to find the paper bag I had brought them home in.  There they were, patiently waiting to be put to earth, sun, and water so that they could do their little bulb jobs and grow.  About 75% of the bulbs had sprouts, and since the weather seemed to be evening out a bit I took a gamble and planted them.

I know, I know.  March is not the ideal time to plant bulbs.  Heck, I already had some daffodils coming up out of the soil!  But with a little bit of hope and a gambling spirit, I planted those babies and sat back to see if anything happened.

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The hyacinths seem to be struggling to get their bearings as they bloom while still coming up out of the earth.  Other than that, everything I planted seems to be thriving!  And thanks to the April showers and a weekend of warm, sunny weather the first flowers started blooming.

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I also planted some perennial seeds in an incubator at the beginning of April.  Lavendar, echinacea, and coreopsis.  They seem to be thriving as well, and I am looking forward to transplanting them to larger containers soon.  For now they’re still babies and need to stay in the nursery!

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We also splurged this weekend and purchased a new deck lounger with a lovely pear green cushion.  I can see myself relaxing outside with my knitting and a cool drink nearby.  Of course, I might have to fight Maxwell for it; he’s barely moved since we set it up!

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