Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peaceful Morning

Today is the first day of my week-long home. Who says you have to travel somewhere to get a little R&R?

I slept in a little, woke up to sunshine and birds singing, slipped on my flippers and snuck outside to say good morning to the yard. Since most normal people are at work this week, the neighborhood was very quiet and peaceful. I watered the beds that needed it, dead-headed a few old blooms, and snapped a few pictures.

My "Empress of India" nasturtiums have been blooming solidly the past week or so - stunning colors.

Very excited to see the first baby female butternut squash on the vine - hopefully when this little lady finally blooms she will take fruit and start plumping up.

And of course, who wouldn't swoon to wake up to this sight?

I have a feeling these days off will do me good!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

CSA: Week 8

It's been roughly two months that we've been picking up our CSA shares from Eaton Farm, and this week they really seem to be coming into the "summer crops". We had a bell pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, potatoes, onion, garlic, swiss chard, carrots, beets, and eggs.

The basket was much heavier than usual - quite a haul!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Ethics of Digging Wildflowers

I've always admired the wild orange daylilies that grow rampant in southwest Ohio during the summer months. Their brilliant orange old-fashioned blooms and slender lime green foliage can be seen cascading out of roadside ditches all across the tri-state area this time of year.

I've been to several plant nurseries the past few years and have never actually seen these specific flowers for sale. Once I get fixated on something it's hard for me to let it go, so the past couple of weeks I had hatched a plan to covertly pack a shovel and some containers into the car and go on a little "adventure" of sorts.

Well, I was on the way home from our local Lowe's this afternoon and slowed down the car to go over some railroad tracks. As I rolled through, I looked to my left and happened to notice a patch of orange daylilies growing rampant right next to the tracks. There was no house immediately nearby, and it was obvious that noone laid claim to this land or these flowers. This spot was only 30 seconds from our house, and I knew that if I were ever going to act, now would be the time.

Zipping home, I packed up my tools and quietly drove back to the spot. I scoped out the sidestreet to make sure there were no people outside to give me a hard time. Once I found a spot to park, I started working fast. Within minutes I had dug three nice clumps of lilies and was back in my car headed home.

I'm not the type of person to routinely do risky or adventurous things, so it was comical to feel my heart thumping. It would have been nice if the theme to "Indiana Jones" was playing in the background.

So my question is, is it ethical to "share the wealth" of wildflowers when it is clear that they aren't on someone's property or in a protected park area? After all, I am giving them a good home - probably a better one than the rocky oily patch by the railroad tracks.

Either way, I planted them in the front sunny bed and am hoping they will establish themselves and be carefree and happy for years to come. One more locally-sourced addition to the yard!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Eye Candy

In celebration of the beginning of summer, I thought I'd share some of the beautiful blooms that I've been admiring lately in the yard...

Echinacea "Firebird"

Nasturtium "Empress of India"

Blanket Flower "Gallo Peach"

Evening Primrose



Hyssop "Sunset"

Lavender "Provence"

Daylily "Siloam Double Classic"

Hosta "Blue Mouse Ears"

Eating Crow

They said it couldn't be done...they said I was doing things the hard way...they said it was crazy to grow rhubarb from seed...well feast your eyes on this...

...and this is only one of five plants that are thriving. I think it's safe to predict that beginning next year I'll never have to pay for rhubarb again.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

CSA: Week 7

This week we have some freshly dug potatoes, a nice medium-sized zucchini, and a cute personal-sized head of cabbage.

So far this year, I have been blown away by the quality and quantity of produce that we receive each week. Eaton Farm is bringing the goods!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A-Movin' and a-Shakin'

Things continue to snap-crackle-pop with the garden. Every single square inch of those raised beds is jam-packed with foliage, blooms, and goodies.

The lemon bee balm started blooming yesterday - such a unique tiered flower. It brings a nice touch of lavender color to the herb bed, not to mention a sweet peppery aroma.

I pulled my carrots this past weekend - both the Red Core Chantenay and the the St. Valery. I couldn't believe how long the St. Valery were - I'm used to growing the short and stubby Chantenay. I've found that the best way to wash/peel tender garden carrots is to just scrub them with a scouring pad. It takes off the outer layer of peel without wasting too much carrot. I made a pasta salad yesterday using my carrots, as well as the CSA broccoli, cauliflower, and green onions, among other things.

The squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and melon are all out and doing well. The zucchini has gone bananas this past week, despite the cucumber beetles that are chewing lacy holes through the leaves. I'm hoping the plants can just tough-it-out until the beetle hoard subsides. I don't want to have to resort to using anything to kill them.

The tomatoes are truly outrageous this year. I can honestly say I have NEVER had tomatoes this tall, bushy, green, and downright happy. I'm sure this is mainly a function of being planted in the ground as opposed to a container, but I have to think that the good dirt and hot weather have contributed as well. Heck, the Sungold Select has already grown taller than his bamboo stake - not sure how I'm going to support him beyond that! I've been using the soft rubber ties left and right to keep the plants from blocking the walkway. There are blooms on all plants, and this week I have seen small tomatoes on all plants as well. I can finally see the green tomatoes clearly from the kitchen window - a sure sign that summer is here.

Some "baby photos"...


Sungold Select II

Mule Team


Aunt Ruby's German Green

I'm beginning to take after my mom - every evening after I get home from work I throw on some junky shoes and do a cruise of the yard, saying hi to all the plants, checking on who's happy, who's a little droopy, who's blooming today, and who's getting ready to unveil. I ruminate over the day and meditate on how much I love having a yard of my own. Future plans are hatched as I imagine what would look nice here, what might be happy there, and what an area could look like in five or ten years.

It's been an exciting couple of weeks as I've recently accepted a new job working from home. The timing seems perfect, as it's getting to be the time of year where I hate having to leave the house and the garden. Part of my baseline anxiety comes from having to make the daily trek into the artificial world of the corporate office - stale air, clinical fluorescent lights, droning overhead music, and uninspired dense co-workers.

Pretty soon, whenever I'm feeling writer's block or having trouble concentrating on my work, I will be able to just grab the laptop and spread out on the back deck with the peaceful shade bed or take a few deep breathes on the front porch, sitting among the flowers as they soak up the midday sun.

I've been feeling really good lately and am hoping that this is the beginning of a new phase in life where I realize that I don't need to drag my ball-and-chain of worry everywhere. The worry serves nothing and only feeds on itself until I'm unable to concentrate on the things that I love. I don't ask for much - I just want to be content, mindful of all the truly wonderful people and things that I'm lucky enough to have in my life.

CSA: Week 6

A little late posting this week's CSA share - we had a busy weekend. Check out the cute baby zucchini and yellow squash!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Inaugural Jam

Yesterday my husband and I made the trek up to Stokes Berry Farm to pick some strawberries for jam and fresh eating. We ended up picking about 20 lbs of Earlyglow...

...yes, 20 lbs. I tend to get carried away when picking is so good.

When I got home I made two batches of strawberry rhubarb jam and two batches of plain strawberry jam. A total of 20 half pints and 12 pints - it is SO good, it almost makes you want to shed a tear.

Heating Up the Garden

Thought I'd share a few pictures of peppers hanging coyly on the vine...

...the first Jimmy Nardello sweet...

...and a cluster of Purple Jalapeno - they were not kidding when they said PURPLE...

Also, as a bonus, the first tomato of the season - Mule Team is leading the pack!

CSA: Week 5

This week the emphasis was less on greens and more on BEETS, BROCCOLI and CAULIFLOWER :-)