Monday, June 22, 2009

The Desperate Gardener

In the last few days I have mowed around the garden, trimmed around the garden, and pulled weeds in the garden. So why does it still look awful? Everything has grown so big with the abundance of rain. The potatoes vastly outgrew my ability to hill them and now sprawl for a couple feet either side of the potato bed. The tomatoes have shot up. I need to buy more stakes to tie up the rest of them. I need to harvest lettuce and chard. And the garlic... I just can't decide what to do there. I may have to harvest one or two to decide if I think they're really ready.

The compost bin back behind the shed is full, and I'm sick of hiking out there every time I have a handful of weeds. So I have started a mobile compost pile in a trash can. I have read pros and cons for this sort of thing. But so far, I am really liking it! The trash can I used is a plastic one with wheels. So I can pull it around behind me as I travel from bed to bed! After the equivalent of one day of use, it is full. The weeds have been my best crop so far this year. If I run out of other things to do, I may chop up the stuff already in the can with a string trimmer. Although I filled it to the top, so I'd probably have to take some out to do that. But it would probably be worth it. I could fit more in the can and it would break down much faster. I'll keep you posted. (You'll note in the picture that I haven't punched air holes in the can. I'll get to that...)
Here's another bit of desperation... I had planned to build at least one more garden bed, but just haven't had time. Meanwhile I've had several homeless plants sitting in a flower bed, being devoured by slugs. So, I threw down a couple bags of soil in the garden and planted right into the bags. It's ugly, and I'll have to be sure to water and fertilize those plants (unless, you know, they keel over). But I figure come fall, I'll just dump that soil into the new bed. Here is a terrible photo of my embarrassing gardening.
Yeah, wow... I can't believe I just posted that picture. I may have to change the blog name to The Garden Confessional...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Goats In The Garden?

Please meet Cinnamon and Sugar (no, we didn't name them). They are our mini goats. They are year old sisters, a mix of pygmy, nigerian dwarf, and nubian. We bought them last spring, but they had been living with their breeder. Today we drove two hours into Pennsylvania to pick them up. We live in suburbia, so they didn't come here. They moved in with our friends Sarah and Rick who have more animals than anyone I've met, including about eight other goats, mostly pygmy.

Cinnamon is the more gregarious sister. She is also the mouthy one. After an uneventful drive into Pennsylvania, we got to listen to a lot of lip from Cin on the way home. Apparently, she did not want us to speak, especially me. And she did not want us to stop. You know, for red lights and such. We compromised. No talking, but we stop for lights.
Sugar is more shy than her sister. She also has a delicate "maa" compared to her sister's "MAAAAA." She is also clever. While Cin was getting to know (read: distracting) the other goats at the new place, Sugar was snarffing the food at the new place.
You'll probably hear more about Cin and Sugar from time to time. Especially if they get out and eat Sarah's flowers. But that's not going to happen. Right?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Seeking: Chard Recipes

Okay, so... this is the first year I have grown chard. I decided to grow it for purely superficial reasons- every year I have drooled over other people's lovely photos of swiss chard, lit from behind. Swiss chard: stained glass of the veggie bed. The thing is, I'd never eaten it. Now that ours is getting into the swing of things, I need advice on how to use it! So far I have only sauteed it with garlic and olive oil (not a hit with the kids) and in a stir fry (nobody complained). So, how do you use it?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Garden Surprise

When we moved into this house, just over a year ago, I brought along a couple clippings of creeping jenny. They sat in water on the counter and eventually rooted. I stuck them in one of the flower beds and the little suckers too off. Then they overwintered and started up again this spring. And now, I have chanced upon them in flower! I have never seen creeping jenny in flower before. The flowers strike me as quite large compared to the average leaf size. How exciting!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day- June 2009

I've been feeling like there's not a lot happening in the garden right now. There are a few new blooms, and several things just on the cusp of blooming. So there's a lot of anticipation on my part. Have a look around...

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is kindly hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Thanks Carol!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

SOS: Save Our Spuds!

I noticed this in the potato bed the other day. I've been trying, since then, to figure out what it is. Is this Late Blight? I'm not sure. The way I would describe this is different from the descriptions I've read. I'm growing three varieties. This showed up in the red variety (Red Norland? I forget...) first, but now I see one of the German Butterball plants is affected as well. The potatoes have grown robustly all season and are currently up to my waist and flowering. If this is something that will destroy the crop I may cry. But the sooner I know, the bestter. So I'm hoping that someone more experienced/knowledgeable than I can give me a yea or nay on this. What say you?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adolescent Onions

Is it wrong to admit that when I saw that my Walla Walla onions had advanced to this stage of development, my feelings were reminiscent of those I experience when I notice that my children have reached new milestones? I hope not.

I failed to record when I planted these onions. (But I can tell you the weather was terrible when I, literally, jabbed them in the ground. I thought I would lose them all. But happily, no!) And I don't recall when I'm supposed to harvest them. They're not ready yet, but things are certainly looking good. buzz.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


There hasn't been a whole lot to report from the garden lately. It has rained and rained and rained lately. The potatoes are now up to my waist and have begun to flower. The Yellow Finn potato flowers are white, while the Red Norland flowers are purple, sort of a mid-lilac. They smell wonderful. I had no idea potato flowers had a scent, but I don't know why they wouldn't.

We had a pounding storm this evening, but if it looks like a possibility tomorrow I will try to hill the potatoes on more time. They have grown so tall so fast that there is currently a lot of exposed stem. The more of that I get covered up, the more potatoes I get to brag about later. We'll see what happens tomorrow. This is the rainiest springs I can recall.

An Award, Times Two

Jackie, of Jackie's Secret Garden (shhh, don't tell!), and Daphne, of Daphne's Dandelions, both recently awarded me this blog award- my first (and second, depending upon how you view things).

I am belatedly posting my thanks. I do apologize for that. My mind has been wrapped up in a big writing project lately. In accepting this award I am supposed to:
  1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
  2. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  3. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
I have had a terrible time trying to decide who to pass this along to. Plus, I'm afraid I haven't been reading as many new blogs recently due to my writing project. So, fifteen new blogs is a bit out of reach for me. Here is my handful of picks, plus my reasons for picking them.

Wade and Jimmy of The Weekender for their inspired recycling, and because they totally crack me up.

J.C. of My Sunny Happy Garden for letting me peek over the shoulder of a gardening contemporary in Malaysia. Plus, I get to giggle over things like learning of their Giant Hypermart stores.

Matron of Down on the Allotment because I love her photos and commentary; but also because she's got the chutzpah to title a post Matron's Tits (it's about birds).

Heather at Idaho Small Goat Garden because she inspires me, and because I love that she put linoleum in her new chicken coop.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

U.S. Botanic Garden in D.C., Part 2

A noisy, windy storm has come upon us tonight. Hopefully we'll have power long enough for me to post a few more pics from DC.

This is a view of part of the Rosa Garden with part of the Conservatory in the background. Can you guess what my kids were most impressed by in the Rose Garden? The lemon thyme between the stepping stones (which appears as a yellowish-green in the closer bed in this photo). Who'd a guessed?

What do you think of these hairy striped pods? Yeah, I dunno either. Whatever these weird things are, there were three colors of flower. The flowers are weird too. They look like they're upside-down, even when they're not. Here's what I mean:

I'm sure this crazy plant was labeled somewhere in the garden, but not where I found it. I'm sorry I can't tell you what this one is. This argyle garden lies along the walkway from the outdoor gardens to the main Conservatory entrance. If you had described this to me and asked what I thought I'd have said "Eh...". But in person this was a lovely garden. Cute even. I like the mix of textures.

Next up, a view just inside the Conservatory. This area was filled with "useful plants". The cocoa trees were in here; but let me tell you, the chocolate exhibit was nowhere we could find. And the picture on the website of the amazing purple and red cocoa pods- not here. Only the tiniest, ittiest-bittiest flowers on the cocoa tree trunks. They were so small I didn't bother taking a picture. And yes, the flowers and pods form directly on the trunk. Neat, huh?

I actually didn't take very many pictures inside the Conservatory. In the next shot, look for the giant bamboo. I love that! But dang, I just don't think I can find a spot for it here...

The next photo is from the "Jungle" area of the Conservatory. I was attempting to get a shot of a tall leaf frond in the background. But school groups kept walking across my view so I just snapped a shot and hoped for the best. Luck was not with me. I'm including this picture here mainly so I can complain about rude school children. Is that wrong of me?

Okay, this last photo is from the "Deserts of the World" area. I took this shot only because this is such a bizarre cactus. I am not a fan of cacti. It's really not their fault. It's me. I'm a clutz. If there is a cactus anywhere in a building, I will trip over my own feet and fall into it. I almost refused to walk through this exhibit. But I faced my fear, and now you get to marvel at this oddity. When I saw this, I expected it to move. And when I saw the little flowers on it, I kinda expected them to talk. I don't know why. I'm only admitting this to you because we're friends...and...I didn't really think it through very well....

At any rate, that's pretty much it for the botanic garden. Hopefully next time I'll be able to go through it more slowly. And if you get down there, send pictures!

U.S. Botanic Garden in D.C., Part 1

Whew! Well, we survived our whirlwind visit to DC. I did manage to get to the Botanic Garden and brought back a few photos. Interestingly, the kids seemed most interested in the outdoor Regional Garden that features mid-Atlantic native plants. It is not exactly a manicured garden- but there are lots of unusual plants surrounding a small creek and pond. This first picture shows the bridge over the little creek with the Conservatory building peeking through in the background.

This next pic, to the left, shows some sort of Beardtongue in the foreground. You may be able to read the first part of the name if you click the picture to enlarge it. Just behind the beardtongue is funny little flowering bush. I really wanted to get a shot of the name tag for that bush. Unfortunately, I had a great deal of trouble trying to balance on one foot while trying to hold back the shaggy bush away from the tag with my other foot. You win some and you lose some.

I missed the tag on this orange flower. I know I already know this one, yet for the life of me I can't recall it. I believe this is one of the natives often recommended for butterflies. I am not really and "orangey" person; but every once in a while I run across an orange flower in a shade I adore. This is one of those flowers. It really popped in the landscape, without assualting the senses.

These yellow Sundrops were... luminous (that sounds better than radioactive, right?). Seriously, they absolutely glowed and I would be more than a little surprised to learn they did not actually glow in the dark.

Okay, that's all I have time to post now. But more will follow later...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Just A Taste...

... of the sights from DC. I'll post more in the morning.

These were in a container just outside the entrance to the Conservatory at the botanic garden. They have to be the most optimistic flower ever. They glowed. The colors were just dazzling.

I have no idea what this ruffled trumpet is, but if you do please tell me. I was fascinated. The plant reminds me a bit of eggplant. I'm not sure why!

These were labeled "Smooth Purple Coneflower." The flower stalk is very tall, the flower head is large, and the petals are quite wispy and blow about in the wind. They are lovely set against a green background, but would likely get lost in a mixed border.

That's all for now. More soon!