Archive for July, 2010

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wrapping up july in the gardens of plenty

Friday, July 30th, 2010

When July began, we were inundated with lettuces. Everywhere. I couldn’t pick them fast enough! That is why they became the July banner. And the fireflies were out every night. Along with the heat. And humidity. July has been HOT. 90°F+ for many, many days with very little rain. I don’t remember the last time July was this hot.

Who’s looking forward to getting their water and electricity bills in August? Yeah. They’re gonna suck. We have one little tiny AC unit that we broke out to use in the bedroom, and I can’t believe how many nights in a row we used it. Eesh. And the near-daily garden waterings. Plus trying to save our lawn, which was a failure. Our grass took its bow at least a few weeks ago. Craig is psyched though—mowing is awesome when you don’t have to do it.

July has been a month of learning for me. I delved deeper into blogging and talking to other bloggers. I started participating in more online discussions with other writers and really focused on visiting other blogs that are incredible. I plan to organize my thoughts more and share, share, share! Soon!

I also started to dip my pinky toe into being more social online and getting to know other gardeners. Stepping out of my comfort zone has been awesome. Even if it was slightly anxiety-ridden for me at first. I get shy. But I also gain confidence. I am learning so much, and it is so rewarding to share information and swap life and garden stories with ilk! And not just other gardeners, but other amazing women and men out there who are invested in self-discovery, in mindfulness, in celebrating the simple pleasures of each day. I love this.

On the gardening side of things, all of this interaction has really helped me, too, because my little plenty this year has been suffering quite a few setbacks. And other gardeners have been awesome with sharing their advice. First there were the squash vine borers. Then there were the red leaf lily beetles. And now I’m battling some sort of tomato fungus that I don’t think is late blight, but rather septoria leaf spotting.

Ick, again.

After 3 years of awesome gardening, I have really had to step back and think about what I am doing. I know you can’t prevent all pests and diseases, but I somehow thought I was immune because I garden organically. Not the case! Turns out I should have been more vigilant, especially last year, to look for signs of pest and disease. Well, silly me… I was far too busy planning my wedding and then enjoying the first weeks of newlywed-dom and then went off to Europe for my honeymoon.

Yeah, well, turns out there were a ton of warning signs going on in my garden that I was clueless about! Wedded ignorant bliss!

If I had payed closer attention to my squashes last year, I might have noticed the onset of squash vine borers. I think I had them last year, but the case wasn’t crazy severe. They overwinter in your soil, though, and so I have had these icky buggers on hand for quite some time. And thinking back, I am pretty sure I had a septoria problem last year, too. But I just chalked it up to crappy tomatoes because New England had sooooo much rain last summer. Slugs were the biggest garden problem! So I just thought my tomato plants were waterlogged and hangin’ in the best they could. I have most likely been harboring septoria in my soil.

Ewwww. Makes me feel like a bad gardening mamma. I got distracted. I got a little too giddy about my success. I failed to read, research, and take preventive measure like rotating my crops and turning my soil.

Just like life, eh? It is so easy to get carried away, get distracted, forget to practice gratitude and be humble. Well, now it has caught up to me, and I am paying for it with a subpar harvest thus far this summer.

It is okay, though. I can take it. It happens to the best of us.

I am experiencing so much, and I feel so present to be able to learn from my mistakes. And not all is lost, which is the best part about the garden. It WANTS to grow. The garden WANTS to flourish. Like the kid in class who knows the answer and has her arm strained up to the sky, begging for the teacher to call on her. Ain’t nothin’ gonna break her. So I take so much comfort in the tiny little garden successes these days. They are amazing.

Here are a few worth sharing as we wrap up July in the gardens of plenty.

first cantaloupe

Here is my first cantaloupe! This is my first year attempting to grow melons.

trellising watermelon with slings

My sugar baby watermelons are big enough to sling. I am using old knee-high stockings to cradle and support them.

watermelon sling

So exciting to see them grow bigger and bigger! This sugar baby watermelon is the furthest along.

july corn

My 4 corn stalks are right on schedule!

july corn

One is way taller than the others, but here’s hoping...

july corn

Here comes an ear!

ripe roma

After waiting and waiting, my first roma tomatoes are finally ripe!

ripe romas and cherry tomatoes

Romas and cherry tomatoes

first tomato harvest

We had our first real tomato harvest this week.

me and romas

bush lake beans

Our bush lake beans are still producing in full force.

cucumbers

Our cucumbers have been doing very well.

me and cucumber

sugar snap peas

The vines are withering in the heat, but we are still picking sugar snap peas.

zucchini july

Don’t call it a comeback! Despite the collapse of most of my squash plants, a few are still hanging on. We have new zucchinis growing.

All in all, it could be worse, right? I am thankful for the good and the bad. It is summer, after all, which is simply wonderful.

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Posted in The Growing Season | 4 Comments »

painting in shifts

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Busy week. Lots going on. My mind is mush. I am desperately trying to finish a painting job—our side steps outside off of the kitchen. I got the trim on the railing done a few weeks ago after what seemed like forever scraping and sanding. And now I’m just down to finishing the actual steps. I put one coat of primer on last weekend. Then another coat on Monday evening after work. Last night was the first coat of paint.

Just one more coat to go! In what seems like such a long project. Today is our 4-year home-owner anniversary, and sadly, this is not the first time I’ve painted these steps since we moved in. They receive pretty much all of our in and out traffic. Painting steps is for suckers! Come the first snow shovel of the season, and there goes all the paint scraped right off again.

But I WILL make them look real pretty for at least a few weeks. Unless Craig keeps forgetting to use the back porch to go outside. He walked out on the stairs outside the kitchen at least a few times last night while the paint was still drying. Finally, he posted a sticky note for himself on the door.

porch note

It worked—and not the getting eaten part.

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Posted in Household Management 101 | 1 Comment »

herbs make great centerpieces

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

It has been so much fun thinking back on my wedding, which was one year ago on the 19th. Craig and I had a lot of fun planning our wedding and putting together a celebratory weekend without spending a ridiculous amount of moolah. One of the ways we saved a ton of money was growing our own herbs that we then potted and used as table centerpieces and decoration. These also doubled as our wedding favors, as guests could choose a potted herb to take home.

We grew parsley, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. The parsley, thyme, and oregano I grew from seed, and I bought rosemary starts because, well, rosemary is gorgeous! But rosemary takes quite a long time to grow.

After starting the seeds indoors, I put the trays outside for a few weeks late last spring and then potted the herbs in 4″ pots I got a great deal on at A.C. Moore (4 for a $1).

potted herbs for centerpieces

potted herbs for centerpieces

Herbs... hangin’ out in trays by the tomatoes and eggplants.

I used trays that I got from asking nicely at Home Depot and Lowe’s to put the pots in. These worked so well to transport the herbs by car to our ceremony location in Northern NH up in the mountains at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel. We put the trays in the back of our car and even with the usual jostling involved in travel, they held up great. Once we were at the hotel, I sunned the herbs outside for a day before delivering them to the ballroom.

wedding herb centerpieces

We arranged some of the pots on the tables along with river rocks and votive candles.

wedding herb centerpieces

I had made labels for the herbs incorporating design details from our wedding invitations and wedding website.

wedding herb centerpieces

On our wedding day we hiked to the summit of Mt. Washington and got married at the top. At our reception that evening, we named the tables after mountains we had hiked together that we loved.

wedding her centerpieces

The staff did a great job decorating. They also used some of the potted herbs for the long buffet table.

Total out of pocket cost for the centerpieces, decorations, and favors combined was around $60 and covered the cost of 120 terra cotta pots, soil, seeds, rosemary plants, river rocks, and candles. Not too shabby.

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Posted in Reduce Reuse Recycle, The Growing Season | 34 Comments »

red lily leaf beetles can suck it

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Who do these beetles think they are, anyway? Every year they take up residence in my front garden and have a smorgasbord with my asian lilies. And every year I think I will outsmart them!

Oh, silly me.

Our encounter starts out innocent enough. I will be walking by the front flower bed and casually observe how well my lilies are growing! Getting taller each day! The leaves so green! Yes! This is great!

chomped lilies

Hold up. What’s with the missing edge of the leaf?

Crap! I’m losing already! The red lily leaf beetle has launched a sneak attack.

Well, screw you, buddy. I’m going to get all organic on your ass and find a new way to defeat you!

So I do a stupid amount of research and decide to make my own homemade beetle juice cocktail, and after multiple sprays I think I have won the beetle war.

Until I go away for the weekend and come home to find this:

chomped lillies

Crap. Crap. Crap. I leave you lilies alone for 2 days! 2 days! You will rue the day,
red lily leaf beetle!

And then they just outright start mocking me. Whereas I could never catch them in the chomping act before, now when I walk by red lily leaf beetles are feasting and pointing and laughing at me. No amount of lily flicking will do. I know I am supposed to pick them off and squish them dead, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I don’t want to touch them. So I flick. And spray. And flick. And spray some more.

And then I tire of the daily exercise.
chomped lillies

Soon I just pretty much give up on my lilies. Guilt sets in.
chomped lillies

I tell myself I have to let it go as I painfully watch the red lily beetles chomp, chomp, chomp on every last leaf. And then to add insult to injury, they languidly start gorging on the lily buds that are valiantly still trying to grow.

I stop looking at the front flower bed altogether. We are in a bad drought as it is, and that flower bed has gone from awesomeness to eyesore in a matter of days. Don’t want to know about it.

Until it rains overnight and the next morning a burst of this strange fuchsia color catches the corner of my eye as I’m scurrying to my car in groundhog-day-mode to get to work.

I force myself to look. And suddenly I’m clapping my hands and running back inside to grab the camera.

asian lily

My asian lily made it! It bloomed!

asian lily

It’s got holes everywhere! Petals are missing! I don’t care! It’s totally disfigured and absolutely lovely.

Even when you’ve given up on your garden, it may just surprise you.

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Posted in The Daily Balance, The Growing Season | 89 Comments »

here’s to ripe cherries
and cherry tomatoes

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

With all the things going haywire in my garden this week (when squash vine borers attack!), it’s amazing to walk around and see signs of progress, change, and yumminess. So here’s to celebrating the good in the garden.

Our cherry trees are finally ripening!

ripe cherries

The robins love these tart little black cherries as much as we do. They are going fast.

And we picked our first cherry tomato!

ripe cherry tomato

Don’t eat it all in one sitting, right? It lasted about 3 seconds off the vine. Craig bit off half,
and I ate the rest.

We all need a little good. Like little cherry snacks of goodness from the garden.

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Posted in The Growing Season | 3 Comments »

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