The Edible Garden is In!

It’s all in…mulched and ready to grow…

I’m trying square-foot-type gardening, partly because I don’t have much faith in some of the peppers I started—not much root to them–and went out and bought some bigger ones, meaning I ended up with 12 bell peppers of assorted types, and 4 sweet banana peppers.  Same with the tomatoes:  I planted 3 better boys before the monsoons hit and they looked pretty bedraggled when it was all over, so I bought 3 bigger ones.  There are also 1 sweet cherry 100, 2 romas, and one husky.  There’s a lot of basil, some sage, rosemary, parsley, and oregano, as well as the broccoli and onions I planted in March.  I put down some carrot and beet seeds around the blueberry bushes…and don’t forget the bush beans and pole beans.   If it all grows, I’ll have plenty to eat and give away!

We’ve mulched around the entire house and it looks great…

I planted some wave petunias in an old stump (ala Pinterest), and surrounded geraniums with marigolds in the old wash tubs…

This lovely Sweet William is peeping out from under the daylilies..

When the rain finally returned, we brought out the houseplants and porch furniture…

 

Now, it’s just maintenance…and a fair bit of luck…

Peace

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Verdant

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2 of our 3 bluebird houses have nests, but I haven’t seen any bluebirds, and I hope the spatsies aren’t squatting there.

The pool area is ready for the pool.  When that big blue behemoth goes up, it will block the view of that garden.  Casey does love his pool, though, and I know the grandkids will be putting it to good use.  Here’s a close-to-the-last look:

My edible garden has 2 sweet cherry 100’s, 1 big beefsteak, 3 better boy tomatoes;  3 california wonder and 4 big bertha bell peppers; 2 tee-pees and 1 trellis of pole beans;  a short row of bush beans;  too many zucchini and yellow straight-neck squash;  2 or 3 sunflowers in the back.  The oregon sugar snaps, the baby kale, and mesclun are about to finish up.

For the last couple of years I have had zip squash and I have no idea why.  This year, I’ve gone overboard, figuring if I lose half I still have more than enough. Plus, I’ve been doing it “right” and giving them plenty of room, so we’ll see how it goes doing it “wrong”.  I always had tooo many zucchinis at our other house when placing them close, and if that’s my result,  I’m prepared to deal with it.   We’ll see.

We had removed an infestation of overgrown throw-aways from the east side of the house and it had become an eyesore.  I decided we should make it about the birds and bees, planting butterfly bushes, lavender, pineapple sages, and hanging birdfeeders from the existing trellis.   I’ve got some morning glory seeds in the ground that I envision climbing merrily up the back.

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The window on the left is where my desk-chair sits and I spend an inordinate amount of hours staring out at the birds, so now I’ll have the addition of butterflies.  The final touch was to add one of my hummingbird feeders;  it’s a little low right now, but I’ve seen a couple of hummers nip in.

view from my window

view from my window

I especially enjoy this planting part of gardening, when I wake up all my muscles and tune up all my senses.  There’s a lot of healing in just touching the earth, placing the tender plants in their spots, adding a lot of hope and water—and maybe some miracle gro, if you’re so inclined.

Keep growin’..!

thyme, thyme, thyme…

I divided the thyme yesterday;  4.25 clumps were potted up nicely, and a small sprig was put in the Wardian case.  I hope to be able to keep them growing throughout the winter, possibly gifting one;  they dry out easily inside, though, and I don’t want to stress the giftee with guilt if suddenly they turn to dust…  Of course, it’s very tasty dried, so you really can’t lose.

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First I gave it a haircut…a nice trim netted plenty of fresh herb for cooking…

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I had to pull the entire plant out of the container, throw it on the ground, and jump on top the spade with all my might to break it up into pottable portions…

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I like thyme in sauces and soups, seasoning chicken and fish.   Mix it up with oregano, rosemary, or basil for a bouquet garni or use it alone for a flavorful vinegar infusion.   It adds a spicy scent to potpourri.

Thyme is traditionally considered an herb of courage.  In ancient Greece, it was believed to confer strength and bravery to all who who used it, so soldiers would take baths in it, as well as massage their skin with thyme oil.  Historically used as a medicinal herb,  it has been said to cure fevers, dispel melancholy, and prevent nightmares, among another indications.

Here’s what’s for dinner tonight:

Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms

Ingredients:

8 ounces/4 cups finely sliced cremini mushrooms

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon

Maldon/kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt Small clove garlic, minced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

4 sprigs fresh thyme stripped to give 1 teaspoon leaves (I will use more, probably 3 tbs)

1 pound linguine

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, or to taste (more for me)
Freshly ground black pepper
Directions
Slice the mushrooms finely, and put them into a large bowl with the oil, salt, minced garlic, lemon juice and zest, and gorgeously scented thyme leaves.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions and drain loosely retaining some water. Quickly put the pasta into the bowl with the mushroom mixture.

Toss everything together well, and then add the parsley, cheese and pepper before tossing again.

Eat with joy in your heart.

The growing…

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Well, that seems like the fastest season ever—my grandkids came and went like a storm…a good one that drops rain just where it’s needed and leaves a rainbow on its way out…  The first evening they were here, back on July 8, I helped them plant a couple rows of zinnias.  We pretty much dropped the whole package in a little trench and the seedlings were up within a week.  They seem to be on hold now, and I’ll thin them out soon, but I have the faith to see them as blooming reminders of our creative powers, at any age.

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Out on the newly-screened front porch, we had a clear view of the bees and birds as they perched on the coneflower and daisies.  It was a good time to learn how important those players are in the botany of desire—and the essential lesson that bees are not aggressive, stinging, bad guys, but rather just the opposite.

I’m headed back to school next week—Next Week!!   There are a few holes in the garden that I’ll fill in with beans, peas, and spinach, but most of the work now is being done in the kitchen…tomato salads, pesto, and grilled peppers and squash…

The tomatoes are prolific right now, so I’m currently dedicated to eating them, but slicing and/or eating them like apples isn’t quite enough to keep up with the abundance.

Here’s a recipe I fixed yesterday, gone today…  It’s from an old article from 8/4/00 titled, “Too Many Tomatoes?  Make Salsa!”

The Mediterranean:  Chopped tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives and Capers, with red wine vinaigrette.

I will be making this little gem today:

Greek Salsa:  Chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, black olives, feta cheese, with red wine vinaigrette.

The red wine vinaigrette is simply half red wine vinegar, half canola oil (or olive if you like), garlic, oregano, basil, or other fresh-snipped herbs, pepper and mix.

Try this one, too:

Corny Bean Salsa:  chopped tomatoes, corn kernels, black beans, minced Jalapeno peppers with cilantro-lime dressing.

The delicious dressing is made by mixing up a half-cup lime juice, half-cup canola oil, and mixing in granulated sugar, garlic, and chopped cilantro to taste…

Mmm….

 

The edible garden is planted…

What a beautiful week-end!  It was super-productive for us, also…

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I love that exhausted feeling after a full day of planting, sitting on the back porch looking out at the lush, green that will now grow…

3 Better Boy, 2 Roma, 2 Husky Cherry, 1 Sweet 100 tomatoes

6 bell peper

3 yellow squash, 2 zucchini

pole beans, bush beans, sugar snap peas

10 Basil

1 oregano

cayenne pepper, cilantro, tomatillo

pearly thyme

arugula, buttercrunch lettuce

fern dill

pineapple sage, honeydew sage, common sage

lemon grass, lemon verbena, lemon mint (melissa)

geranium, marigold, black-eyed Susan vine

3 nasturtium

Spring planting is my favorite part…well, eating the fruits of the planting is almost as satisfying…but never again do I have the control that I have in the Spring.  Soon enough the symmetry is spoiled and I move this and add that to cover the open spot or cut back the overgrowth, but today we all just sit hopefully, enjoying right where we are…

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P.S.  It’s time to put out your hummingbird feeders!!!

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First Post from Spring…

 

The birds are  having their usual Spring Noisemaking Competition every morning;  the yellow of forsythia is taking over from the daffodils while the magnolia waits to unfurl.  Taking its time, –and who are we to hurry her?–Spring has returned.  Think of the magic she’ll do before she gives up her reign in June!!   The rain totals are over the top, saturating the earth and toppling trees down the path.  Still, when it’s all stopped and dried, the blue sky will be vibrant and the green verdant, the air will be fresh.  And we, too, will start again planting.  Not quite yet, but soon.

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Last weekend we walked the property line, checking for signs that the perennials made it..or not.  It was a long, cold, lonely winter, little darling, and I was a little worried about some of last year’s freshman class:  blueberries (3 of 4 look fine), raspberries (all good), and dwarf crape myrtle (looking iffy).  Best of all, the asparagus is all up!!!

I moved my seedlings out to the back porch and they’re still holding on.   In fact, during the torrential rain the other night, the roof leaked very nicely into their pots…   Our average last day of frost is 4/15 and the way this year has gone, I’m expecting anything.  I’d like to get some peas in the ground, and I promised Eliza I’d grow her some carrots, so soon as the mud is dirt, I’m gonna throw out some seeds.

Maybe we can’t plant, but we can always plan and I’m going to make a lot of changes, as usual.  In the meantime, we pruned the wisteria and grapes—a much-needed clean-up for both.

Begin again…planting and sowing.

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Before the Deluge…

Spring gave us a deadline..again…  Knowing that the Rains would arrive around Thursday, we started planting…

I am pretty excited about my new lavender hedge:

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18 hidcote lavender 12inches apart around a 7×7 bed.  I didn’t feel adventurous enough to try a knot, but I think it will make a fragrant hedge for pineapple sage and whatever else ends up growing there.

The peas are doing wonderfully, so we planted a new row and decided to let the zucchini and yellow squash sink or swim…

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The tomatoes are making themselves at home—that’s 2 better boys, 1 early girl, 2 la romas, and 2 sweet cherry 100’s.  I’m still not sure where the red huskies are going to stay, so they’re still on the porch with the herbs and more tender plants that wouldn’t like the soon-to-be 40-degree temps.

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The beautiful weather kept us outside for the first part of the week, and we had it pretty much under control when the relentless clouds and cold came back carrying copious amounts of rain.

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 The cloudy rainy days have at least gotten warmer, and really the garden doesn’t mind.  I’m still anxious to get out and get at it… 

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