A Little Garden Giveaway–Take a Guess!

I’m sorry for the delay in announcing the winner of my giveaway… this getting back to school (and activities) is a tough business!

The winner is

Vera!  Congratulations Vera! And thanks to all who played. Yes, that is Michelle’s garden. It’s a large part of her initiative to decrease childhood obesity and to connect children with their food source.  I’ll  publish a separate post with more photos of the garden in the next few days. It goes without saying that I’m very happy that the garden’s benefits to children are being highlighted by the First Lady.

I thought it might be fun to try a giveaway so here we go!  The question is:

Who’s garden is this? 

Since lots of people are looking but no one’s guessing, here’s a hint, I would have looked at it through a large metal fence while on vacation this summer..

Leave your answer in the reply box just below. All correct guesses will be entered into a random drawing for a $10 Home Depot Gift Card! Now is the perfect time to look for a pot or two of perennials (on sale!) to plant and enjoy next year! You have until noon on Tuesday to enter, one entry per person please! The winner will be announced on Tuesday afternoon.

This is not sponsored by or affiliated with Home Depot in any way, it’s just a fun little contest! Please feel free to share widely with your friends!

Love,  Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden-September 8

Good Morning! We’ve made it through the first three days of school here. That always feels like a huge accomplishment to me. All of my kids seem to be happy and settling in well in all of their new environments.  I think we’re off to a great start for the school year. Out in the garden things are still perking along. As much as I wanted to have a great fall garden going, our August activities took over and I didn’t get much planted. One of the things that I love about gardening is my hope and plan for next year. Next year there will be brussel sprouts at the very least! Since I just shared that with the world I’ll be feeling very accountable next summer and I’ll find those plants or grow some!

okay, so… here’s the potatoes. I’m waiting for that last plant to die back before we pull them out. Will there be potatoes?? We’ll find out soon!

The pumpkins are ready and just in time… see that dying foliage? I think the squash borer got to them but the pumpkins can be picked so we made it!

Here’s the other one. They really are beautiful!

I’m still picking tomatoes. Roma, roma, roma… really the best tomato to grow if you want to do lots of cooking with them.

More basil! I cut it back hard a month or so ago and now there’s more to freeze and dry.

And the mesclun is ready! I’ll try to add another little bed of this somewhere. If the temps stay warm we’ll have it for awhile!

Peppers are coming along. I never grow enough to really “process and preserve” them the way I’d like to but we’re enjoying them as we pick them.

I cut the oregano way back too. I’ll cut it before it flowers and dry it in the oven. I hope it turns out as nicely as my basil did in August.

Kentucky pole beans. I keep saying that they needed poles, poor things..

A little tiny foxglove peeking out. I love foxglove! It’s nice to see a hint of it in September.

The liatris that I planted are being eaten by bunnies. Enough said. 

This guy keeps an eye on everything.. 

Here’s a view in over the fence. Please notice my complete lack of perfection.  Will someone please pull out those cucumber plants on the left? Really!! It doesn’t have to be perfect all the time, just loved and enjoyed.

And it is!  Off to a kid’s dentist appointment and then the first game of the season for my little guys’ soccer team. Go Tornados!!

Happy Saturday!  Love you all!

Michele

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

Green in the Middle, A Salem Public Schools Garden Program

This week I was invited to visit the “Green in the Middle” garden at the Nathaniel Bowditch School, here in Salem.  The garden began as part of a garden club at the school’s former location on Federal Street. Now it’s the work of a group of middle school students and teachers who participate in an after school program during the fall and spring and a morning summer program. The participants plan, maintain and enjoy this amazing space and in the process learn about subjects in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and math).

Over the past three years the students have designed and installed many great features like this spiral stone path and the bench around the Silk tree.

There are raised beds full of flowers, herbs and vegetables! It’s beautifully done!

Many aspects of gardening are being explored.

From a simple, perfect hibiscus flower…

to a variety of heirloom tomatoes that are grown from seed in the greenhouse.

A great pumpkin plant is creeping across the yard…

and a gourd is tucked in, with morning glories for company.

I found swiss chard with cucumbers about to climb over them. This is a great idea for my garden next year!

The corn is coming right along.

I also found some beautiful pepper plants. Notice the army of watering cans in the background? Lots of work is underway here!

Colorful cement blocks decorated by students define the butterfly garden.


and beautiful decorations are everywhere!

After my visit I spoke with my friend Deborah Trammell, one of the teachers who works with the program. She described some of the educational opportunities that the garden offers this way:

 “The students designed, mapped, built, planted, studied and wrote about the garden. Some of the highlights are our composter (around the corner), increase in number of raised beds, butterfly garden against wall, spiral pathway. Many of our plants are started by seed in our greenhouse. We have many heirloom varieties of tomatoes. We have made lots of food from our plants,made bird houses, seed paper,planters …soaps, sachets, linen sprays which we have sold to raise money to donate, learned about pollinators and organic gardening, mapping, construction, fundraising and hard physical work…and so many other things” 

I’d love to see more programs like this. As a parent I have a huge appreciation of the value of gardening with children. It was exciting to visit this beautiful Salem garden where everything the garden teaches is shared and encouraged. I really believe that the world would be a better place if every child could learn from a garden!

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!

Dream House

When I think of my dream house, it’s this one. I’ve gone by it for years and I’ve always loved it.

It’s right on the ocean, here in Salem. 

The borders and architecture are beautiful with just the right mix of colors and textures. Every detail is perfect.

 I love the way the pots of flowers welcome visitors all the way up the steps.

Imagine sitting on this bench and enjoying the view.

And turning around to see the beach!

It’s really a little bit of heaven!

What does your dream house look like?