The beauty of nature is that it just exists. It doesn't put limitations on itself but tries its best under whatever circumstance it happens to be in at the moment. This thought brings to mind the flower that grows from the crack in a rock. Humans think to themselves, "How did this flower grow here?" The flower grew because it never thought, "I can't." This line of thinking came to me Friday night while volunteering at outdoor movie night at my daughter's school. Unfortunately for the people working with me, I never made it into the shower that day. Somehow that seems to happen often while caring for a two year old. My trusty hat adorned with the logo of a college that I never attended works great in these moments - covers the greasy hair and makes me look smart. Although smart was not how I was feeling as the concession table was swarmed with sugar and pizza seeking students and parents. Keeping track of what the parents actually bought compared to the amount of candy that their children had initially grabbed had my adding skills in a tizzy. Frazzeled and a little stinky is how I felt quite honestly. That's when another mom showed up to help. She popped into the hustle and bustle looking all calm and collected, showered, and dressed far better than my yoga pants that hadn't acutally been yogaed in that day. Keep in mind that I really like this mom, but at that moment my thought was, "Yup, she's THAT mom." The very funny thing being that later on in the everning she mentioned my blog and said, "I didn't know it was yours at first. You're THAT mom." I was in shock! She THAT mommed me right back! This is when I realized how much smarter the wee flower is in comparison to a human. Imagine how different the world would be if the flowers and trees constantly compared themselves to one another as do we humans. Silly humans! Oh, and thanks for providing me with material for this week's blog Dawn!
Have I ever mentioned how much I love mums? I do. I really, really do. Some women feel the need to buy a hundred pairs of shoes but not this chick. When mum season arrives, I want to have overwhelming amounts of them in all different colors. They make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside and just plain happy. Who couldn't use a little more happiness in life? Also, how lucky am I that neighbor Steve buys me a huge pot of mums every fall?
Remember how the pallet garden structure took a hit during the great tree trimming? Well, Tom made up for it 100%. I like it even better! Now if only I could have gotten my fall crops to survive. Guess the hot dry weather didn't agree with the lettuce, turnips, and kohlrabi. The new crop of carrots may have survived had I not sacrificed them to the caterpillers. Better luck next year I hope.
The silvers, browns, and purples of the fall season.
I need to clean my cabinets because we trimmed our trees. That may seem like weird logic but proves to be entirely true. Remember that issue I mentioned in a former post concerning too much shade over the garden because of the overgrown tree? Well, tree trimmer Jim visited and took drastic measures. Drastic as in my yard looks completely different and there is more light than I ever imagined possible. So much light that my kitchen and bathroom, both of which have windows at the rear of the house, are now bathed in light. While I appreciate the extra light it drew my attention to the fact that my white cabinets are not nearly as white as I had thought. Three kids living in the house means that I wipe the cabinets down often but apparently not well enough. It's kind of like when you only realize how dusty your house is once unexpected visitors show up. Maybe I should have garden baby wash them since she sure loves bubbles!
Now back to the trees - the root of my sudden need to clean. The canopy of leaves that shadowed my itty bitty backyard is 100% gone. Gone as well are the cute arches over the pallet garden which took a hit from a falling tree limb. Luckily, however, the fall plant babies survived. The husband promises an even better design to replace the arches using...can you guess? Branches from the tree of course! I think it will look quite charming when all is said and done. As for the state of things now...far from charming. The yard looks much like a person rudely awakened by someone throwing back the blinds - kind of shocked and confused.
Admittedly I was upset by the shocking transformation but now I see the good that will come from this. One, tree trimmer Jim promised that my trees will come back stronger, more evenly shaped, and probably faster than expected. Second, I see a perfect spot for a chicken coop! Garden baby and big sister Bella will absolutely love having their own chickens. Third, Tom and I have come up with some really great ideas on how to expand the garden and make it more productive. All will be well. Our backyard oasis has a bright future ahead of it...literally!
The bucket tomatoes did really well so next year I will grow them again. To renourish the soil I have chosen to compost directly in the buckets in hopes that it will become beautiful soil by spring. Wouldn't a time lapse video be interesting?
Please, no more photos!
Alas it is that tricky time of year when summer is not yet over but the back-to-school hustle and bustle makes you realize that fall is right around the corner. Plus, we have pumpkins turning orange in the garden - a brilliant color that screams fall in my eyes. In anticipation of the new season I have also planted new seeds in the pallet garden after freshening up the soil with a store bought organic mix. This is something new for me since I usually throw in the gardening towel by this time of year. New seedlings are already popping up! How excited am I about these new plant babies? Probably far more excited than any nongardener could possibly understand.
Seeds for Fall
My Very Favorite Fall Flower - Mums!!!
Oh Garden Baby...wait a bit for that wooly hat!
Adventure time! Last week my family and I vacationed in Williamsburg, Virginia and had a magical week together. Our garden, currently referred to as "The Jungle," was left in the hands of our very capable neighbor Miss Hannah. When it comes to teenagers, she is one of the very good ones. She spends hours with my children spinning elaborate stories and choreographing stunning sword fights to go with each tale. The swords may actually be sticks from the yard but in the minds of imaginative children they are gleaming weapons well suited to a castle knight. We are truly blessed to have Hannah in our lives and very thankful that she took good care of our garden. As for the runaway gardener, I jumped at the chance to explore gardening colonial style. Take a peek at these pictures I snapped with my phone while chasing 3 children running along the cobblestones...
What's happening along the Green Brick Road? Well, as I mentioned in my last post and also above the garden has officially turned into a jungle. I even saw an actual tiger emerge from the depths...or probably it was our cat Bunny and I should drink more water while working in the hot sun. What we truly do have happening is...
Fiery peppers turning red
Compost surprises revealing their identities.
Compost surprises that still have no identity. For real, what is this thing? We have more than one of these misshapen pumpkin/melon thingamibobs.
Tomato and pumpkin plants taking over the neighbors yard. I owe them double rent for sure! Rent in the form of tomatoes that is.
Carrots and kohlrabi! Yay!
Poor garden baby overwhelmed by the weeds and in distress that the raspberries have disappeared. No fear garden baby! Weeds are only flowers to another and the raspberries will soon return.
After biting into a disappointing peach purchased from the grocery store, Mr. Husband decided that we were due for a trip to Brown's Market. We tucked the kids into the car and off we went! I still remember picking peaches, strawberries, and cherries with my Grandma and hope that my children will remember these experiences as well. It was a great day and I am thankful for these special moments with my family.
So here's the thing, my garden sure is pretty but it is also chock full of mistakes. If you have ever read the "About" section of this blog, you may recall that never did I claim to be a gardening expert. I have proof supposing that you have any doubts fluttering through your head. Please join me for a confession session.
Oopsie #1 - Overcrowded Tomato Plants
In Surprise Cucumbers from the other week, there was a brief mention of my tomato issue. In a nutshell, I thought some plants were dying so I popped in new plants directly next to the original plantings. Well, those poorly looking plants took a surprising turn for the better and never did perish. The result? My neighbor's house has a beautiful tomato plant hedge capped on one end with the one surviving yellow squash plant and a couple of aggressive compost pumpkin plants interspersed throughout. There are some green tomatoes hidden among the foliage, but I wonder if they will receive enough light to ripen properly. Chopping down a pefectly healthy plant just seems like a crime but perhaps that would have been the smarter option since I would much prefer lots of beautifully ripened tomatoes. Lesson of the day - pay attention to plant spacing recommendations! Also, never underestimate the power of nature.
Oopsie #2 - Poleless Pole Beans
When you fail to actually install poles for your pole beans, they will become evil villians that choke out any tomato plants or marigolds that happen to stand in their way. The less villanous tendrils will form clumps of interesting yet fruitless green knot balls. In a weak attempt at control Tom and I installed, and I use the word "installed" lightly, two long branches. See how beautifully and sky high the beans climb? Clearly we should have made the effort to find more. Speaking of branches, allow me to share my next mistake...
Oopsie #3 - Giant Tree
Do you happen to see that tree in the background of the picture above? Don't get me wrong, I very much love that tree and the one beside it as do my children. Cutting them down is NOT an option. However, I would have been wise to consider a generous trimming of them earlier in the season. The shade our trees provide is fantastic for the play area but not so beneficial to the garden. Next year my trees will be getting a hair cut! Anyone know a qualified tree trimmer that will give them a chop without jeopardizing their health?
Oopsie #4 - Getting Sentimental About Rusty Metal
In a past post, I cannot recall which one, I made reference to my 500 year old tomato cages. My Grandma gave them to me and I have hung onto them diligently while keeping my tetanus shot up to date. It would appear, given that my tomato plants have continued growing as if no support or barriers are even present, that my antique cages are past their prime. Can you even see them in there? Did the plants eat them for an iron boost? Improperly supported tomato plants will grow but they sure do make for a messy garden. Also, tomatoes end up resting on the ground only to rot before ripening. They sometimes topple over and break and/or cover other plants near them. Things have gotten wild along The Green Brick Road! Help!
Oopsie #5 - Lack of Follow Through
Invaders! Talking about employing some organic pest control is one thing but actually following through is what keeps the buggies away. Sigh. A moment of weakness here, sometimes all this DIY stuff is overwhelming and it seems that there is never enough time in the day.
Oopsie #6 - Dwelling on the Bad Stuff
That's it! I cannot talk about mistakes any longer. There is still plenty of good in this garden of mine. We are able to eat from our garden, see pretty things, and learn about the amaziness of nature. These things bring me tremendous joy and make all of the work well worth the effort. Feast your eyes friends!
A Pesto Experience
How could I nearly forget about the pesto?! We had gobs of basil so I decided to whip up a batch of this green delightfullness following the recipe over at The Yummy Life. It is DELICIOUS! Fair warning though, this pesto will leave you in strong need of a breath mint.
Just last week when my dad brought me beautiful cucumbers grown from the plants I gave him I complained that my garden had grown none. Well, I was wrong. While searching for pumpkin babies to photograph, I discovered some not so little cucumbers hidden between the vines and under the large leaves. A look back to my planting map shows a Marketmore Cucumber in the back corner of the bed. I forgot! This my friends is one of my favorite parts of gardening - the surprises! Sometimes, for instance, a plant looks like it isn't going to make it but comes back and does very well like the tomato plants in my borrowed bed. They looked so poorly for a while that I planted new plants directly next to them which explains the overcrowding, lack of fruit problem I now face.
In other garden news, the Tavera Beans provided a lovely side for dinner one evening. Garden baby wasn't all over them in raw form as you can see. She preferred them much better cooked lightly and dressed with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse salt. We are also picking raspberries everyday and have gotten a few ripe tomatoes here and there. The peppers are doing pretty well also. The large amount of rain this season has brought us has me a bit worried about the bucket tomatoes. The soil is constantly wet and the plants are looking yellowish. I'm thinking that I should have drilled more drainage holes and placed the buckets on a frame of some sort that would allow the water to flow out easier. Always something to learn when gardening!
Scenes from the Garden
During certain events in life it is easy to imagine that the world is on pause because you can’t imagine that anything more important is going on than what you are experiencing at that moment. Garden baby, as I mentioned in my last post, picked up a nasty bug. When writing that last post I believed she was on the road to health but instead she landed herself in the hospital for another surgery and a few days on IV antibiotics. She seems to be doing much better and the world did not stop as evidenced by my garden…or should I say jungle.
The tomato plants are huge and overgrown, the compost pumpkins have grown into large plants that are threatening to take over, and the pole beans are a tangled mess. The tomato plants in my borrowed plot of land are more foliage than fruit so I believe some pruning is in order. I have no idea how to prune a tomato plant so luckily LDSPrepper posted a great video on how to do just that. Guess I will give his tips a whirl sometime this week or else we will have to experiment with tomato leaf salad rather than actual tomatoes.
As for the rest of the jungle, some heavy duty weeding will have to take place and possibly the installation of something taller for the tangled pole beans …possibly a pole. Since my zucchini and yellow squash plants have perished for mysterious reasons (Kidnapping? Assassin?), the pumpkin intruders in that plot will stay. Some of the others will have to go or else my garden will turn into a pumpkin patch. I do love pumpkins but I was really hoping for a more diversified garden!
The sign pictured above sits to the left of our back door and it just seems fitting at the moment. Garden baby picked up a real stinker of an illness and we have been battling it for a couple of weeks now. With getting her well as my top priority, chores in and around my home have settled onto the back burner. Luckily for the garden our area has received rain here and there so the plants (most of them anyway) are still chugging along. The beans and peppers do show signs of a pest intrusion though and my zucchini and yellow squash plants have all disappeared except for one. The health of a couple cucumber plants may be in peril also . What should this frazzled gardener do to save her precious plants? I am hoping that a little research this week leads me to an organic solution for my green friends and that garden baby feels well enough to work her magic with them as well.
Soon to Harvest
The Scenic View
"Rain, rain go away. Come again another day," so says the song anyway. My garden welcomed the rain this past week and a traipse through the paths led to many happy finds. Well, mostly happy anyway. How about those mushrooms above? These fungi are everywhere except in the fairy garden where they would be perfect. Take a look at what else is popping up along the Green Brick Road...
They are finally blooming and oh so pretty! These gems are edible too but I have yet to try them. Too pretty to eat.
The marigolds planted from High Mowing Organic Seeds are starting to bloom and neighbor Steve brought me some beautiful geraniums. My grandmother's poppies bloomed during the rain but I still caught a glimpse.
Wee tomatoes, itty bitty peppers, and hints of beans and cucumbers to come. The pallet garden looks just dandy and we're picking strawberries and raspberries. The ugly? Scrawny zucchini that may or may not produce, rabbit nibbled spinach, and holes in the beans. Naturally I only photographed the pretties...
Fairy Garden News
Disaster has struck the fairy garden! I kinda knew that I should have coated the fairy houses with something awful and toxic but was trying to avoid it. As a result, our houses look prematurely weathered. On a positive note, we have some new entries!
Last but not least!
At first glance the poppy plant is raggedy but closer inspection reveals its beauty. What will that green cone become? We will soon find out. Stay posted!
Where would the world be without imagination? Actually, I can’t even imagine it! Would people have accomplished anything without it? My mother gave me perhaps one of the best gifts of all by sharing a love of reading with me. Books are really the perfect tool for fostering imagination, “The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” – Matilda by Roald Dahl.
Some of my favorite places to travel via the turn of a page are whimsical and magical lands like that in which a fairy might reside. And so, when I saw a picture of a fairy garden a couple of years back, my heart soared. I had to have one but for some reason or another it has taken me until now to make it happen. Though my ten and a half year old science boy son did not take to the idea as much as I had hoped my Bella girl is in it with me. Nina is more like the giant that all of the fairies fear as she attempts to walk the tiny gravel path and lift the tiny houses for inspection. We have only just begun but now is when we can really call upon our imaginations. That acorn cap? How about making it a little bucket for a wishing well? Used popsicle sticks from summer time treats? The perfect fence! This project makes me feel like a kid again and one that I hope keeps my children kids just a little bit longer.
Strawberry Cupcakes via Cooking Classy
Welcome to The Green Brick Road. My name is Valerie, and I invite you to join me and my family on our gardening adventure. We hope that you will learn with us and grow with us. Pun intended!