Thursday, June 30, 2011


Planting an early variety of tomatoes has paid off...There before you is my Gold Nugget tomato of the season! The next day I had 2 more, followed by one more. Which of course meant that I had to pull one of the spring onions and a few pretty Thai basil sprigs.
And enjoy my first taste of summer...
The next set of early tomatoes- Silver Fir (named for their neat needle looking needles) are starting to turn red. Thankfully there are plenty more spring onions and the basil is filling in nicely!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cat nip

Several years ago we received as a gift, a relief carving of St. Francis of Assisi. He is known as the patron saint of animals and since we have quite the clowder of cats, there is bird feeder out all winter long and a bird bath all summer, I thought hanging the carving in the garden was a nice touch. Today I had to chuckle when I realized that I had hung it right next to the container of cat nip. Not only does he intercede for the protection of our furred and feathered friends, but apparently in my garden he keeps an eye on their treats as well!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


So far so good on the bonsai. It has been outside for about a month. And while I can't say it has gotten much bigger, greener or healthier looking, it is still alive. Since this is my first foray into bonsai, I am relieved to say that I have kept it alive for more than 6 months. I know they are supposed to live for decades, but I have to start somewhere!Following the advise of the bonsai gurus I have placed the tree in a gravel and water filled tray to help the plant hold moisture and keep a more even temperature since the tree is in so little dirt that there is a real possibility of it drying out.
I haven't found quite the right surroundings for it though. Since part of the artistry of bonsai is creating the illusion that even though the tree is small it is very very old and when viewed up close and with no references to size it should look like a full size tree, I have so far failed in this portion of bonsai tending. The Easter lilies surrounding it over shadow the delicate little leaves and minute size of the tree. As I continue to develop my garden I will have to keep my eye out for new varieties, sizes and colors of plants to help create an environment suited to my bonsai. I hope to eventually have a little corner where the bonsai can reside with several layers of pebble filled trays with other plants in correct proportion to help accentuate and add interest to the bonsai. Perhaps I will have to start that bonsai azalea or forsythia so I can have flowering trees in my forest!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


All winter long I browse through catalogs and books, searching for just the right plants and day dreaming about that glorious late winter day when it is finally warm enough to dig in the dirt. Then it is time to plant seeds and watch as the little seedlings turn into plants. Finally the day arrives that I can clear away the winter debris put the little seedlings outside. Then the full force of spring arrives. With cold days, hot days, cloudy days, sunny days, days on end of rain. The little plants just sit in the ground looking cold and seemingly pouting that the weather can't make up its mind. The end of May rolls around. Suddenly we are getting more sunshine than rain. There isn't a chance that frost is going to creep in at night and burn the tender leaves. And things begin to grow.
Then one day in June I go out into my garden and realize that stuff has finally taken hold. There is more plant life showing than there is bare dirt. All of the plants are full and green, the herbs are spilling over their pots, the tomato plants have blossoms and baby tomatoes and there are flowers open to welcome in butterflies and bugs.
I love gardening.

Monday, June 20, 2011


Yep. A purple topped turnip. The seeds came free with one of my orders and I thought "why not?" My first turnip harvest ever. They grew well, the young leaves were tasty in egg dishes, I think I'll plant them with more care next season.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I know, I know, I've been slacking. My garden hasn't though!

As I plan and work in my garden each year, I realize that I am adding more and more plants that do double duty. This is an example of one of my latest small floral arrangements (so far I have managed to get about this many flowers once a week!)The large pink and white geraniums and purple and yellow pansies are garden work horses. They flower before most other things, are easy to obtain, and are edible. They are also easy to propagate, so I can buy a plant or two, and with a little effort, keep them in my garden for years. They are also edible and add a fancy touch to salad and sorbet!
The yellow spiky ones are columbines. I bought one in the middle of the summer last year because it was past its blooming peak, perennial, and on sale cheap. It out did itself this spring with sprays of flowers brightening the garden for over a month. They aren't edible for humans, but the cone shaped flowers are good for attracting humming birds and bigger butterflies/moths to pollinate and brighten the garden. They don't last very long as cut flowers, but since there are so many on the plant, and their interesting shape adds a lot of character, I think columbine will also be a part of my garden for a long time to come.
Also tucked into the vase are lavender flowers and thyme. They both smell wonderful and can be eaten. When I'm feeling adventurous I may steep some of each in sugar syrup and see what kinds of wonderful cocktails I can make with the infused syrup. I use both the greenery from the plants and the little purple flowers of each to add some body and scent to arrangements. I made some lovely bath salts from lavender leaves and epsom salt. I've learned my lesson though, next time I will put the leaves in cheesecloth because so I don't have to pick them all out of the drain mesh.
It's still a little too early for most veggies, but it is prime time for sugar snap peas. I'm not sure why I always have such a difficult time getting them started, but they have finally started growing up their trellis, and I have had a handful of these heavenly little sweet crunchy morsels. Hopefully I will get a few more before the heat kills the tender vines off. Since the plants don't last through the heat of the summer, when the heat really starts to hit I put the beans in the ground so when the peas die off the beans will be big enough to immediately take over the trellis.Another early veggie that is finally hitting its stride is the cabbage. They have been hiding under row cover to help prevent their being eaten by cabbage worms and I finally uncovered them to let them finish filling out. The head in the picture is about the size of a tangerine. The kind I grow is called pareils and only get about the size of a grapefruit. Since I put them in in two batches, this means that I have single dinner size heads that mature over a 2 or 3 week period. Right now it is looking like I will get about 6 heads. Braised cabbage and coleslaw, here I come! I added a few cucumber seeds and squash seeds in the spaces between the heads so when the cabbage comes out the next veggies are ready to take over their spots. Someday I will have it worked out that my garden produces something all year round, with cold frames holding lettuce, cabbage and chard for the winter; peas, cabbage and spinach for spring; and squash, beans and tomatoes for summer. Then as those die off the next round of greens go in until its time to pull out the cold-frames.
All and all the the plants in my garden seem to need to have at least one virtue beyond beauty in order to earn a place. Being edible, attracting pollinators and interesting critters, growing at a time when little else will grow and being good for cut flowers means I get the most bang for my buck and best use of space. Waste not, want not!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Greetings all. Today I harvested my first 2 bulbs of soft neck garlic. I'm finding garlic to be a wonderful thing to grow. I get to put it in the ground when I pull out my tomato plants and I put it out of the ground when I want to put my tomato plants in. They keep pests away and are lovely and tall when everything else is short and needs protecting. Also I picked the scapes of my hardneck garlic. The scape is the blossom stem, kinda like chives on steroids. Its super strong tasting. They are great in pesto and potato/pasta salads. Oh my cabbages are finially starting to make heads, first time they've made it this far. Usually some sort of monster gets to them first. Its very exciting, to me at least! I'll try to put up more pictures soon but this heat wave has been keeping me inside as much as I can stand.