Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Our youngest is spending the semester studying abroad in Italy. For the first few weeks it was novel and exciting, but now I find myself really missing her as well as our oldest daughter who lives closer, but still a couple of hours away.
Thanksgiving has always been a fairly simple affair in our family, as members of our extended family have other plans or live far away, and so it is generally just us four. Some years we have invited students from the department where I work to join us, and that has made the day really special. One year, when my husband was unemployed and I was working two jobs, I actually had to work on Thanksgiving Day. My husband and girls made his day extra special by taking on all the tasks of building the feast themselves, and treating me to a wonderful meal when I returned home.
As I think about it, I realize that the only tradition that follows us from year to year is to gather and enjoy the day. We have spent it in different ways. This year, my husband and I will travel to Florida and spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving with my parents. I have wanted to do this for the past four or five years but we've never felt like we could afford the trip or else had trouble getting enough time off work. This year, somehow, it all worked out. After visiting my folks and doing some touristy things we'll return home on Thanksgiving Day. Our oldest will pick us up at the airport and we will celebrate the day by enjoying dinner at a restaurant and then perhaps taking in a movie. I'm hoping we can use Skype to talk with our youngest daughter and feel a bit like we are really all together. Maybe it won't be a traditional Thanksgiving , but then again, maybe it will. After all, we'll be keeping up our tradition of making the most of the day with the circumstances we've been given, and we will be grateful. It's hard to ask for more than that.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
On down the street at the vet school are sculptures I can understand and enjoy.
After critiquing the sculptures, I decided to walk through the horticulture garden to see what is still blooming this time of year and that I might want to consider adding to my own gardens. There were some very pleasant surprises. I especially liked the grapeleaf anenome, the bright yellow strawflowers, and the heliotrope which was still attracting butterflies.
The rain is supposed to return tomorrow, so I'm glad I got the chance to enjoy some outside time today.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The bad news is that by the time I have my camera back, the garden will be pretty much finished. I regret not being able to take a picture of the bright orange Thai melons, or the first giant red tomatoes. Of course, I should be able to pick tomatoes until frost because they are so late this year, and I will likely still have beans for a few more weeks. My first planting of beans has had it, but my second two plantings are still giving me plenty to eat, freeze, and share for now. However, the cucumbers are on their way out, and the cantaloupe aren't too far behind. The corn and beets are long gone. As is the case this time of year, I secretly don't mind all that much to see things winding down. Even gardening in the garden boxes is quite a bit of work, and like some of my plants, I'm a little tired. To everything there is a season, after all.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The garden is slowing down in some ways, and just getting started in others. The corn is finished, but not after producing about 10 very tasty ears of bicolor corn. My experiment was a most definite success! I still have lots of beans and peppers to pick, and some days can barely keep up. The Minnesota Midget cantaloupe are just days away from being ready, and we have already enjoyed one of our very delicious Thai melons. Best of all, the tomatoes are FINALLY ripening. Our cool July really set back these heat loving plants and many of us thought we'd never see our first red tomatoes before frost! There is really nothing like a fresh Indiana tomato, and once again they have most definitely been worth the wait.
Thank you for reading and I'm sorry I don't have new pictures to share. Hopefully this will be a very temporary situation.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
This is probably the best time of year to be a gardener. The garden is producing well and many of our meals these days largely of what I picked only an hour before the food is placed on the table. I don't have any ripe tomatoes yet, but we've sure had some delicious green beans. I highly recommend 'Masai' as an easy to grow, tasty bean. The beans don't get real large but instead are tender and thin. So, so, good. We have also been enjoying cabbage and carrots. The cabbage are 'Mini Gonzales' and are the perfect size for a meal for two. The carrots are 'Little Finger' and I'm not sure I'll grow them again. They do pretty well in containers, but I've tasted better. The last of the beets have been harvested, and I decided to make another planting of 'Masai' beans in that container. We picked our first cucumber this week, and we are getting lots of basil. The jalapenos and two other varieties of peppers are nearly ready, and I can already taste the fresh salsa! The top picture shows the garden box containing our 3 pepper plants and some basil plants. Our trellis of 'Minnesota Midget' cantaloupe is full of baby melons. There are also 3 of the Thai melon on the vines so far (pictured below). The Thai melon will ripen to an orange color.
Nick told me recently that he thinks this may be the best garden we've ever had. I really am sold on growing the garden in the garden boxes. The amount of work it takes to produce a good quality, bountiful harvest is much less than when I planted everything in the ground. I learned a lot about container gardening last year that I applied to this year's garden. The boxes are spaced further apart, and I've added trellises. I also decided to plant tomatoes in the ground rather than containers. I also found that the zucchini do better when planted only two to a box to give them plenty of room to spread. I have to agree that this year's garden is a good one.
We had another garden surprise this summer outside of the vegetable garden. We were given a couple of large bromeliads that had been thrown out of a commercial greenhouse. Supposedly, bromeliads bloom only one time in their life. (I haven't yet done any research to see if this is indeed the case.) It seems these bromeliads were discarded because they've already bloomed and thus were no longer of interest. Well, either the once-in-a-lifetime bloom theory is incorrect, or someone was mistaken about them already having bloomed, because much to our surprise both plants have produced a beautiful and unique looking pink flower. The flower doesn't even look real. It looks as though it is made of plastic, and it even feels a bit like plastic. We have really been amazed to watch as each bloom slowly made its way out of the throat of the plant. Ironically, for a couple of weeks these plants sat mostly ignored on our front porch because we kept forgetting to buy pots and soil for them. I guess bromeliads thrive on neglect because they started flowering while lying unceremoniously in a box on the porch. Now they have a proper home worthy of their beauty.
This has really been a fun and rewarding gardening season so far. Much more is to come. I can hardly wait to taste the cantaloupe and Thai melons. We are still waiting for two types of beans, 'dragon langerie' and a yellow wax bean (I can't remember the name just now!). We also have two nice volunteer acorn squash plants growing in each back corner of the garden thanks to some seed hiding out in the compost. Ahhh, July...what a wonderful time to be a gardener!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The cucumbers I had to replant are finally taking off. The plants in the front are a short vined bush type especially good for small gardens and containers. The variety in the back is called 'Muncher' and is beginning to climb up the trellis.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
It is somewhat of a tradition for me to make a raspberry cream pie each year. However, since I have become a devoted weight watcher, I think I will work on finding a lower calorie way to enjoy these scrumptious treats. Suggestions welcome!
Finding the raspberries reminded me that last weekend I picked a couple of quarts of sour cherries and put them in the refrigerator to pit later. What happened is I completely forgot about them. I have yet to check on them; I am so afraid I'll find a moldy mess of cherries representing wasted effort and wasted time. Even though I am basically an organized person, I just have not been able to find a way to fully balance working full time and taking care of such a large yard, the house, and so many animals while still leaving time for other things like eating, sleeping, and sitting down for a couple of minutes without feeling guilty about all that is not getting done. Oh well--I do what I can do, and keep looking for ways to simplify. The garden boxes are a good example. It is so great to enjoy wonderful home grown vegetables without all of the weeding, tilling, and hoeing. I'm sure I'll keep discovering better ways to do a lot of things, or learn how to let them go.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The silver disk you see on the pea trellis is an aluminum pie tin I tied to the support with a bit of twine. It moves and clanks with even a gentle breeze hopefully helping to startle rabbits, birds, and other wildlife that may damage the garden. Even so, I did have one frustrating setback thanks to the band of rogue rabbits that have an encampment on our property. When I went out to the garden on Saturday morning, I was dismayed (to say the least) to find some of my green bean plants bitten in two, one tomato plant nibbled to the ground, and most frustrating of all, every single basil plant missing as though they had never existed. A quick check of the fence showed that the enemy rabbits had literally chewed through the vinyl fencing on one end of the garden. Bits of fence could be found on the ground as evidence. I couldn't believe it! That very day Nick and I visited the hardware store and came home with 100 feet of 2' tall rabbit guard fence. It took about 2 hours to install. It went up fairly easily as it fit right on to my existing quick stick posts. I'm really happy with how it looks -- from a distance you don't even notice it -- and with the fact that I don't believe it is chewable by even the toughest of rabbits.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I also recently made a very good batch of herb butter. Here is the recipe in case you would like to try it yourself. Feel free to modify the ingredients to take advantage of what you have on hand. There really is no one recipe for herb butter. Also, by adding a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese to this recipe, you would have a wonderful spread to grill on bread. Enjoy!
EARLY SUMMER HERB BUTTER
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons of minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper (optional)
When butter is soft enough to spread, blend herbs in mixing well with a wooden spoon. Chill in a sealed container. Enjoy on bread, crackers, or cooked vegetables.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The final photo is of the flower bed at the garage end of the house. This end of the bed features Dutch iris, Oriental poppies, and perennial geranium. It is such a cheerful little garden and nearly carefree. Last year, before the perennials had grown so large, I filled in the spaces with Sweet Alyssum. I learned the secret to successfully growing Alyssum from seed is to plant them early, and only barely cover the seeds. I believe I planted the seeds in mid-April. The display was just as nice as when I started with bedding plants, but of course much less expensive. I love direct seeding whenever possible -- it just doesn't get much easier than that.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Pictured are my white clematis and a riot of golden coreopsis, plus a shot of false blue indigo, one of my favorite small shrubs. In the garden boxes are the beets and zucchini which you can see are off to a great start.
The corn, beans, cucumbers, carrots, and lettuce are also up and doing well. The tomato plants had a slow start and I had to replace one of the plants today. All in all, however, the garden is doing well. I will include more pictures in my next post.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A few minutes later as I was preparing to leave, I heard the unmistakable "gobble gobble gobble" of a wild turkey. Although he must have been nearby I never did see him. We have been surprised by wild turkeys on our evening walks in the past. When a good-sized turkey suddenly flies across the road in front of you, it's a bit of a surprise, to say the least.
Just two nights before, we were surprised when Toby took off down the drive like a shot. We couldn't imagine what was going on, but he was down the drive and across the road (without stopping to look both ways) in a matter of seconds. Soon, Nick saw the reason. Toby had spotted a young deer and was in hot pursuit. He chased her until he was tired of the sport and then came back home. We were quite suprised by our dog's sudden interest in deer hunting, being that we are not hunters, and prefer just looking at deer to shooting at them. I guess Toby just couldn't deny his instinct this day. We've been told his mother was quite an excellent deer hunting dog. She would have been proud.
So, these are my accounts of our recent close encounters with Indiana wildlife. I'm sorry to say I have no pictures of the critters to share, but we won't forget about then anytime soon.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Whether because of the unpredictable weather, all the other activities going on in the community that day, or just a lack of publicity, there were very few visitors to the opening day of the Fort. It was disappointing, but we made the best of it. I used the time between visitors to weed the herb garden and contemplate some additions to it. Many of the plants didn't make it through the winter and the beds are looking pretty sparse. We also used the time between visitors to help put up a twig fence around the Three Sister's Garden, and were pleased with how it turned out.
Sunday was spent at home mowing and trimming. There is still so much to do, but it is starting to look nice. When everything is mowed and trimmed, our yard looks like a park and we enjoy it so much. This spring has been so wet, however, that the grass has grown like crazy and mowing has been no simple chore.
Here is a picture of a teacup planter Nick got me for Easter. I filled it with a parsley, Thai basil, and sweet marjoram plant given to me by my youngest daughter. I think it turned out so cute. I will keep it on the picnic table as long as the weather is nice.
I finished planting onions today, and also got the last of the deadheads off the showy sedums. It feels good to get some chores crossed off the to-do list. Even thought there are still a lot more jobs we need to get done, we made a lot of progress this weekend and feel good about how things are coming along. Plus, it's not even Memorial Day yet, so plenty of summer is left to come. I'm glad.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Most of my garden boxes are planted now, and I'm in waiting mode. The only plants I've put out so far besides the cabbage are three different varieties of peppers that were given to me: Fushima, Slim Pim, and Early Jalapeno. The tomatoes are hardening off on the porch and can go out any time. Of the seeds I've planted one variety of cucumber has sprouted (Muncher), the carrots now look like delicate blades of grass, and the beets are off to a good start. I'm still waiting for the first planting of green beans and turnips to germinate, as well as the Minnesota Midget cantaloupe, and Trinity sweet corn. I am hopeful that this weekend I will finally get the chance to get my onion plants into the garden. Progress is being made, slowly but surely!
There is so much left to do in all the flower beds, but even they are off to a pretty good start. I've done a lot of weed pulling so far, but need to devote an entire afternoon to this not so pleasant task. There are also some dead flower heads and stalks that need to be pulled out of some of the beds, especially from the Showy Sedum plants. I could finish that job in about 15 minutes if I could just get started. Oh well, it will get done in time. At least now I can look forward to occasional visits from the curious hummingbirds as I work among the flowers. It's nice to know they appreciate the gardens enough to nest and stay here all summer. They are certainly welcome.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
If you are ever looking for a unique gift, be sure and go on-line shopping at the animal rescue website, or any of their sister sites that also support important charities. I noticed that the animal rescue site currently has a number of unique yard and garden items available such as yard flags, indoor and outdoor mats, and plant stakes, and many are on sale. Also available are apparel, jewelry, and pet items. When you click on an item for more information you are also told how many bowls of food or vaccinations are made possible by your purchase. Many of the items also benefit craftsmen in third world countries who depend upon the sale of their goods for their livelihood. Shipping and handling is reasonable, too.
Why just shop when you can shop and help others at the same time? Be sure to take a look when you can.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
This past week I discovered a nice stand of French tarragon that survived winter in my back door herb bed, and was happy to see that the chives are starting to emerge in the large herb garden adjacent to the vegetable garden. They still have some growing to do before I will start to harvest the green spears, but it won't be long. Right now they are kind of curly and close to the ground, but soon they'll stand upright and be about 11 or 12" tall. This dependable herb is very easy to grow. You can start chives from seeds or buy a small plant at the nursery. Chives are a perennial and also self seed, so your harvest will grow each year without much effort. Use chives to add a delicious touch to many different dishes. A member of the allium family, chives have a mild onion flavor. Most people are familiar with sour cream and chives on baked potatoes, but chives can be used to give a tasty flavor to many other dishes such as vegetables, salads, soups. I really like them on cooked carrots. Stir a tablespoon or two of chopped chives into a softened stick of butter and you have a quick, tasty, and attractive herb butter. Stir in a clove of minced garlic and spread on a split loaf of French bread for a most excellent garlic bread.