Why do these flowers in an empty hotel mouthwash bottle melt my heart? My heart is in a puddle on the floor because my son picked these while on vacation to put in his room. To me they are a sign that my little science boy carries a love of nature within him. He even brought them home despite the 4 hour car ride because he didn't want them to be thoughtlessly thrown away by the cleaning staff. Maybe they are now a bit dry and withered but they still sit in the kitchen as a reminder of a happy and super fun week. When their time comes to a close we can place them in the compost to help nourish plants to come.
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
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!