Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let it grow, let it grow, let it grow

Well, since we didn't get any snow this year, or any cold weather for that matter, our first garden post is a good deal earlier than last year. We kept waiting for the cold to come and finish off the final remnants of our last year's garden, but it never did. And I am still nervously watching the ten day forecast for any freak April freeze that could destroy what we have planted. But it looks like we should be pretty safe. I hope so, cause things are coming up like there's no tomorrow.

Here's a little tour if you are interested. As you come through our front gate you will be greeted by these sunny poppies that I planted last April.

Yes, you heard that right- last April. I planted them along with the sunflowers, but the sunflowers grew so fast and big that these little guys didn't stand a chance in their shadow. After we cut down the sunflowers, they tried again, and managed to grow some leaves before "winter" hit. Then they just waited patiently for several months until this spring, when they were glad to see I decided against twelve foot monster flowers and exploded into life. They have made an impact I guess. I was walking the other day about six blocks from my house, and a woman I had never seen greeted me with a "Hey you! You're that lady aren't you? That lady with the poppies!" I had to laugh.

Along the other side of the fence are the green beans and of course zinnias.

I had saved some dried beans from last year's crop and was very pleased to see them spring up right away this year. I felt so frugal, you know, saving a buck-fifty or something. And also very pioneerish. I mean, if the worst happens, I know that I have an infinite supply of green beans to feed my family, right?

Our potted plants have increased in number and variety.

It's kind of bad that we live about two blocks from the best nursery in town, because it is always tempting to stop by on the way home, just to grab one thing of course. Yesterday, Steve brought home a fig tree!

I never know what that man is going to bring home next.

This is a funny little tree that is very special to me.

Once when my mom and dad were visiting a cousin in California, they noticed her curly willow tree and really liked it. My cousin gave them a cutting to bring home with them, and it rooted and grew like crazy. When we moved away from that house, they took a cutting with them and planted it at the new house, where it is now a rather large tree. My older sister wanted one too, and took a piece home with her. When she came to visit last March, we asked if she could sneak a few cuttings from her tree in her baggage. They survived and this is the result in just a year. It's the tree that keeps on giving.

My irises made a much better showing this year than the last.

And I know, like we didn't have enough strawberries already.

Our planter boxes are similar to last year- radishes, beets, lettuce, chard, brussel sprouts, onions, peppers and of course tomatoes.

What we planted in the farthest box was kind of an accident.

We had been steadily adding to our compost for over a year, and it was finally ready to add to the garden. The last box had a lower dirt level so I threw it all in there and mixed it up. I guess we didn't let it compost fully or something, because after a couple of weeks we started seeing serious growth going on, and it wasn't weeds. I do not exaggerate when I say there were at least fifty tomato plants starting up, well over fifty squash (at least we think it is squash- could be cantelope or cucumber as well) basil plants, sunflowers and zinnias and even two or three peach trees from discarded pits. (The big bush is my rosemary that survived the winter nicely.)
We toyed with the idea of letting it all just grow and see what would come, but remembering last year and the explosive growth of the squash and tomatoes, we decided to let the squash (or cantelope or cucumber) win the battle early. I did transplant the peach trees though. They are so cute and I am curious to see if anything will come of them. Gardening can be such an adventure!

As I was coming in from watering, I just had to snap this shot.

All my little kiddos boots all in a row, ready to put on little feet that can't wait to help mommy dig in the dirt. Do you like Christian's little yellow boots? My older sister gave them to me because she was done having kids. Do you think I should give them back?

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When life gives you strawberries

So the local grocery store was selling strawberries at .79$ a box this week. I love strawberries, the kids love strawberries, and even more, I love cheap fruit. I bought a dozen boxes. This seemed like a lot, but we also love jam, so after gorging ourselves on fresh ones, I made what was left into some delicious strawberry, vanilla bean spread. But it only made three jars, and something in the back of my mind kept nagging me that I wouldn't be finding .79$ strawberries again any time soon. I checked the store flier, and it was the final day of the sale. Panic! Steve had the van and wouldn't be home until after they closed! I gave him a call and asked him, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, to swing by the store on his way home and grab a few more boxes. No big deal of course, but if he had the time you know. He came home an hour later, with this.

I was a little dumbfounded. I mean, 24 lbs of produce!!! This in addition to the twelve I had already purchased. And produce that rots perhaps more quickly than any other. Well, it was a challenge I accepted gladly.

This is a picture of my kitchen early this morning.

I called it 'still life with strawberries'.

This was my kitchen a few hours later.

It seemed to ask "Is it really worth it?".

This is my kitchen currently.

It says to me- "Fifteen jars of jam, 2 gallon bags of frozen berries for smoothies, 1 lovely bottle of strawberry syrup, a large pan of 'fruit leather', the remnants of some tasty strawberry lemonade we made for lunch, not to mention four pounds of fruit remaining to enjoy. I think you could say it was worth it."

Anybody got some shortcake? I'll bring the berries.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tornado distraction

We are having tornado warnings again today. Those things never used to phase me until last April and the bad storms we had. Now I jump every time the wind blows the door shut, and I try not to think about the fact that we have no basement in this house. So, to distract myself, I will blog a bit in between staring at the weather channel.

I thought I should make some mention of my baby turning one last week- well almost two weeks ago now. I tried to get a good photo shoot of him for the occasion, but he is so wiggly that they are kind of blurry.

He took his first wobbly steps on leap day, but still much prefers crawling. That is sooner than all of his brothers by about five months. I guess he has a lot of keeping up to do.

Happy birthday sweet boy!

I have also not mentioned the fact that we just returned from the craziest road trip on record. We went to Florida with my sister, her hubby and all of our kids (ten in all) in one fifteen passenger van. I am trying to decide if I want to write up all the details on that. Needless to say it was an adventure, but I can't believe how much fun we had, even with all the chaos. If I don't get around to posting, here are some pictures from my sister's blog.

I am already starting to dig up the yard for this year's garden. I can't believe it is time to think about planting again. We had such a mild winter that some of our plants are still going out there- swiss chard, cilantro and strawberries all winter long! How weird is that? I think our front yard is secretly a greenhouse.

Well, I think the warnings are over for a while- so I can breath a bit. Call me crazy, but it's just a little unnerving when your weather service is telling you that severe, tornado- spawning thunderstorms are imminent in your area. I think it's something about the word severe, or maybe imminent, or it could just be the phrase tornado-spawning that's getting to me. Who knows.