This Morning’s View, While Weeding

I donated some weeding time to our church auction a few months ago.  This morning was weeding day for the kind friends who purchased my services.  I love to weed! It’s relaxing and I love seeing an area of the garden pop out and shine. I enjoyed it even more than usual today because this was my view:

Peace and tranquility at it’s best!

and a nice finished product at the end!

Well, almost finished, I made a few more passes over this before I was done.

Enjoy everything today!

Love,  Michele

Whats Happening in the Garden-September 1st

Today is September 1st. How is that possible? I can’t believe this summer has flown by so quickly! My kids start school on Wednesday so we’re very busy running around, buying the last minute supplies and shoes. We’re going kind of light on the clothing shopping this year but everyone needs a few new things. I am about to head out to the mall with my teenage girls so I may be recalling that last statement in a few hours!  🙂 It’s fun to get ready and anticipate new teachers, new friends and the return to predictable routine. In our case the routine will be intense this fall with soccer, dance and golf, something for each of my kids, along with church, scouts and lots of other community commitments.

Since I just posted an update a week or so ago things have not changed too too much out in the garden. Here are a few quick photos from the past few days:

The cabbage looks beautiful! I’m excited about this because usually I’m at war with the slugs. Maybe we won the battle last year and the victory is still fresh.

The carrots are also coming along beautifully! This type of carrot (scarlet nantes) does well without being thinned too much so I did it a few times early on and then let them go. There’s also a few rows of a rainbow blend variety. Their white, yellow, red and purple. I’ll post a few photos of them soon. 

The pumpkins are turning color.. 

Here’s a sad and rather stressful part of our week. We had to cover every herb and vegetable because the Mosquito Control people sprayed throughout our part of the city. I put us on the “no spray”  list but, really, we live in a dense neighborhood and I know that that was an exercise in futility. I still had to make my point and feel that we were doing our best to keep the pesticide away as much as we could. If I decide to venture into more opinionated, political topics I’ll be writing more about this. I would like to focus on the benefits of  organic gardening sometime soon. It’s hard to write those types of focused posts during school vacation with my kids bouncing around.

And finally, a step out of the garden to a pretty shot of the moon over the harbor. Michael took this last night with his new little camera. It seems to take great photos and he’s having lots of fun playing with it. I’d share what model of camera it is but he went out and took it with him. He really likes it! That makes me happy!

so, Happy September and Happy Labor Day weekend! Hope you all enjoy these last few days of summer and find some time to get outside. It’s a gorgeous New England day here…as soon as I can get those girls out of the mall, I’ll be in the garden!

Love to you all,

Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden — August 24

I’m a bit behind on my “What’s Happening” update.  Packing and going to camp in New Hampshire took lots and lots of time. We didn’t exactly rough it (other than sleeping in tents) on this camping trip. One of the huge, huge benefits of camping at Calumet is that you can eat in their dining hall or on their beach for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With so many kids, we usually cook many of our meals at our campsite, but since this year’s trip was just for three nights we enjoyed the luxury of eating inside. That said, I still had a zillion loads of wash to do and lots of things to put away and catch up on. So, here we are, the soccer and golf seasons have started for my high school kids and fall is right around the corner. I’m trying to make the most of my garden time!

We have zinnias scattered around, I love the bright orange zinnias!

Here’s some mesclun that I planted on Saturday, I hope it keeps growing at this rate so we can enjoy it soon!

We have several pepper plants producing fruit. Peppers can be a little tricky for me, so this makes me happy.

I think there will be salsa in the next few days!

We have lots of Roma tomatoes. I froze a few gallons (whole) and made pizza sauce. We eat fresh tomatoes non-stop so we can never have too many.

The pumpkin vine is creeping quickly past the chicken coop.., Michael put that light there to help us remember not to step on it. Good idea!Here’s one of the pumpkins! There’s another one that’s this size (about fifteen inches long) and at  least a couple of smaller ones. Pumpkin carving will be extra fun this year!

Here’s my disaster, the cucumber beetles have pretty much wiped out the cucumbers. I did try hard to use a large size photo to show you. First the computer couldn’t seem to export this photo to my blog, then it wouldn’t size correctly. I don’t care, in the  interest of transparency, I’m sharing this smaller photo so you can see what happened. I need to pull the plants and add something in, maybe kale or brussel sprouts if I can find some plants. I need about ten more hours in my day! and next year remind me to take a break from the cucs!

In the chicken coop, this girl has suddenly taken to pecking at my foot. I don’t know what’s up with that but it hurts! Our egg production is better than it was a few weeks ago.  Here’s the strange thing: around the time that I posted that we had an egg deficit, one of our chickens started to look  unwell. This happens sometimes with older chickens, they stop eating and start to look tired and glassy eyed. They just seem to be ready to pass on. Well, we had a buff orphington who was going through this and I was trying to shore her up with some extra vitamins, food, and water in a corner of the coop. Strangely as soon as she died (very peacefully) the chickens started laying again. Three eggs that day, and we’ve had an average of six a day since. Any thoughts on this chicken keepers? Share your thoughts in the comments below please!

Is this a weed? Michael and I have been going back and forth about it for a few weeks. I have to admit that I think he’s right, it is a weed. But I like it.

The kentucky pole beans are growing. Next time I need to remember that they need poles. I think they’d be happier.

And finally, the potatoes. Their supposed to wilt and die just before their ready to harvest. I added soil as they grew but I’m worried that I didn’t keep up with them. I think we’ll check to see if it worked in the next week or so. I will be thrilled if we get a potato out of this pot!

I’m looking forward to drying some of this rosemary and thyme. I tried to dry bananas last week but they didn’t turn out as well as the basil did. We may try some apple slices.

There’s my update! How’s your garden growing? Share, share, share!!

Love,  Michele

Basil Day!!!

Yesterday I harvested and processed basil. It’s one of those jobs that looks kind of overwhelming at first but ends up being fun, with a nice reward at the end. I freeze basil in one or two cup containers that I can pull out about once a month to use as I need it. This year I also tried drying it in the oven with great results.  Of course now I want to dry every herb that I’m growing, and I’m pretty sure that I will!  I think I’ll love reaching for my own oregano, basil, thyme, dill and sage when I’m cooking in January!

The day started with a trip out to the garden to bring in my first bunch of basil. I like to cut it as I go to avoid wilt and so that it’s as fresh as possible when it goes into the freezer. This also gives me wiggle room if I have to stop to run a kid somewhere or make lunch.

I wash it thoroughly, a handful or two at a time. Sometimes I dry with towels if I’m really flying along time-wise. Usually it can sit for a few minutes to dry off while I’m working on something else.

To take the leaves off the stem I lay it flat and slice in a straight line.  I still cut some leaves off  individually, but I find that I can get a lot done quickly if I kind of “power chop” it like this.

I fill the food processer right up and add a few tablespoons of olive oil.

I pulse a few times till it’s chopped finely and adjust the olive oil so it’s well covered but not soupy.

I put it into plastic containers to freeze and it’s done! I try to fill to the top to prevent freezer burn and make good use of space. I’ve found that it will keep for up to a year. Experts might recommend less than a year, but I was still pulling basil out in June  and it was just fine.

As I mentioned earlier I also ventured into drying some basil. When I started this cookie sheet was covered with leaves (and a few bunches of leaves).  I used the “warm” setting on my oven (a GE Profile) to dry this in about an hour and a half. I set the kitchen timer after an hour and checked it every ten minutes or so. It reached a point where it was clearly ready to crumble. There was no moisture left at all!

I simply crumbled it as soon as it came to room temperature and this was the result.  It smells great and looks just like dried basil!  I’m hoping for great flavor, we’ll see!

I also made a big pot of pesto… we’ll enjoy pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes tonight.

Have I mentioned that I really, really love summer?

Enjoy everything!

Michele

National Museum of the American Indian–Just a Peek at the Garden

The garden at the National Museum of the American Indian…

yet another great place to take a little break in Washington DC!

Clearly, I enjoyed this trip!

Happy Sunday!

Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden- August 8, and a Little Check In

I’ve been so busy for the past ten days or so. I feel like I run through the garden, pull a few weeds, pick something and keep going. Next week looks like it will be kind of quiet and close to home. No one is at camp, no big commitments. I’m hoping to cook, bake and  freeze produce. I may even try to do some canning again. If any or all of this happens, you’ll likely be reading about it!  Here’s a quick view of the garden this morning.

I’ll start with the green monster at the moment. I did get a new, larger rug (I’ll post a pic when I do finish this project) and I’m thinking about hanging the old one above the love seat. I’m watching the trash for just the right garden gate to hang here but I haven’t found it yet.  I’m working on it…one thing at a time. I’ll keep you posted if something great happens here!

We have just one more gladioli blooming. I was hoping for a dramatic presentation right along the fence but so far this is really slow. 

This Morning Glory appeared and surprised me. I didn’t plant Morning Glories this year and I was missing them. I don’t see the Scarlet Runner Bean plants that I did plant here? guess the Morning Glories won the war.

The cabbage is a little bit chomped on the edges but I think it will be fine if we keep a close eye on it.

The pumpkin plant is taking over the corner! I love when that happens!

We have one pumpkin and I think there are a few more hiding in there. If nothing gets to them we should have some for Halloween.

Zinnias are happy, and that bolted lettuce needs to be pulled 🙂

Here’s a wider shot that I just took a few minutes ago. 

I love this time of the year!!

Hope you get outside and enjoy everything!

Love,  Michele

A Walk Through the National Garden

Last week I wrote a post about my visit to the Children’s Garden at the US Botanic Garden. Here are a few photos from the rest of my visit. It was unbelievably hot that day and I had all of the outside gardens to myself. The conservatory was climate controlled, of course, and just beautiful.  If I lived or worked in DC I’m sure that I  would visit very, very often.

The garden is located  just to the right of the capital building, at the end of the National Mall.

Inside the conservatory there are surprises everywhere.

I loved this Pink Powder Puff, Calliandra emarginata

 and this beautiful view.

There are educational exhibits.  

And there are orchids. Here are a few photos for my friends who grow orchids…

I loved the beautiful pots of succulents and the great benches.

I need one of these butterfly benches!

The First Lady’s Water Garden looked very refreshing.

As you know, I love Echinacea… this variety is called Big Sky Sunrise.

The garden was a perfect respite from the DC heat.

I’ll be sure to return the next time I’m on Capital Hill!

What’s Happening In the Garden- July 28

We’ve had pretty unsettled weather here this week. Lots of thunderstorm warnings and showers. We did have drought early in the spring but from my perspective our summer has been pretty typical.  Plenty of sunny days and rain at reasonable intervals. I think that our water table may still be down a bit from the spring and a slightly lower rainfall amount overall. I’m very worried for gardeners and farmers across the US who are experiencing their most severe drought in many years. If you missed it yesterday be sure to check out the post that I re-blogged from A Healthy Life for Me about how hot weather affects the garden.  While your there be sure to check out the recipes too!

Here in the Salem Garden, things are coming right along. The Black-eyed Susan and Echinacea are in full bloom. I remember the neighbor who gave me my first clump of Black-Eyed Susan saying that they are “like sunshine”.  They really are!

This single  Sunflower popped up on the edge of the yard this week. I had no idea it was there. We didn’t plant it on purpose it just reseeded from somewhere. What a nice surprise!

Here’s our first Zinnia bloom! I should have plenty for cutting in a few days.

The pole beans found the fence and trellis. I’m wondering if they need a more pole-like structure to climb on.  

This large plant is Horseradish. This is its second year and it has come into its own. I need to weed around it and add some compost.

It’s time to make some pesto! I’ll try to freeze some this week. I did clip back those flower buds after I took this photo. Be sure to clip the flower buds off of the Basil daily. It makes a big difference!

We have red tomatoes! Yay! A little wilt too. These Cherry tomato plants are across the garden from the Roma. I find Roma tomatoes to be a very disease resistant variety, but I’ll be sure to pick from the Cherry plants last and wash my hands well before I touch the Roma again. I hope that helps to prevent it from spreading, at least for a while.
The first gladioli is blooming! Hopefully we’ll see lots of these in the next week or so.

Time to get outside! There’s lots to do!

What’s growing in your garden?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Enjoy Everything!!

Michele

What’s Happening In the Garden– July 20th

It’s time for the Rose of Sharon to bloom!

These are  everywhere right now.

Mine are extra special to me because my sister sent them in an envelope a few years ago when they were about nine inches tall.

We had two Rose of Sharon trees growing in this little spot. We moved one last fall (more on that in a minute)..

This one needs to be moved out away from the Hemlock tree, centered to the left, and the area cleaned up.  Our neighbors took a very large arborvitae tree out of that corner recently.

Sounds like a good fall project!

Just below is a photo of the Rose of Sharon that we moved. It’s kind of hidden behind the swing set and fell off of my radar screen in the hot, dry weather.

Now it’s a bit yellowed and worn. This is a good reminder to water often for at least a year or two after transplanting a tree or shrub!

These are quite hardy so I’m sure it can be saved but I need to get on it and stay the course.

Over in the garden, the carrots are coming right along.

See the little cleome plants in there that are still re-seeding from a few years ago?

Michael put one pumpkin seed in the ground “just because” and here it is!

I saw bees pollinating it recently. I’m hoping that it’s not too late for pumpkins to grow on that vine. I’ll keep you posted…

The snapdragon that I planted in front of the chicken coop poofed up!

The asparagus is now a beautiful fern. We just couldn’t eat any more asparagus and there are  other veggies to enjoy.

The red day lily is blooming. I love this color!

The plant in the center is a pretty chrysanthemum. We’ll see it blooming in a few weeks.

And the butterfly garden is thriving. It’s always a little wild and in need of some thinning but the butterflies seem to love it!

What’s blooming in your garden this week?

Share in the comments section… I love to hear about how things are going for all of you!

Enjoy Everything!

Love,  Michele

Grandma’s Garden in Delaware

We were in Delaware a few weeks ago, visiting my mother-in-law.

There’s so much to do down there, beaches, shopping, great places to eat… one of my favorite things about our trip is always her beautiful garden!

The garden is breezy and fun, it’s always changing!

This year the larkspur was wonderful. We caught it after its peak but it was still beautiful!

There’s also dill and echinacea  and other surprises…

Birdhouses…

and ornaments…

This is how rosemary grows in Delaware.

Remember my little rosemary plant from the other day? I was so proud of wintering over a one foot tall plant.

Maybe the little angel is helping.

Her dill has always reseeded and flourished, it took me forever to just let mine go.

I used to look at this dill and wonder how it happened.

Herbs grow on the deck too.

This guy keeps an eye on everything.

Here’s our view during morning coffee or after time at the beach.

It’s always hard to leave, but we’ll be back to enjoy it again soon!