Spring has arrived

The first batch of peas didn't sprout, but the second batch is now in the garden.  The potatoes have now been planted and the dog hasn't dug them up to play with them yet.  The spinach, mustard, and carrots are doing well and we've been harvesting spinach for salad.  We planted rhubarb but some animal has eaten it, so I don't know if it will make it.  I'm ready for some warm weather.  We've had enough snow for now.


My Garden Starts to Grow

There are seedlings in my window once again.  They're poking their first leaves above the surface and stretching up toward the grow light.  I love it.  The lemon and lime trees are blooming in the greenhouse and smell heavenly.  All the green living things inside provide stark contrast to the icy, snowy outdoors.

Channa masala is bubbling on the stove.  The dog is napping upstairs, on the bed.  I just finished a day of working at home.  Apart from the cold I'm coming down with, today has been a nice day.

Besides the seedlings, I have my projects.  I'm planning our next adventure and trying to learn several languages to prepare for it.  And I have done at least some cardio and strength training every day thus far in 2014 to prepare for the spring Ultimate season.  It should be a fun season.  Chris is even going to help me with sprint training once the snow melts.


It's the Sweetest Time of the Year

Everyone is bringing in their leftover Halloween candy to work.  It's wonderful.  We had our end of season ultimate frisbee tournament over the weekend, so hopefully I worked some of the extra calories off.

And, if you ever want a use for all the cabbage at the farmer's markets in the fall, I've become a big fan of making okinomiyaki ever since we got back from Japan.  Here's the recipe I've been using.  This year, we're headed to the Baltic, so hopefully I'll come back with some Swedish, Finnish, Danish, or Russian dishes.


The Leaves are Falling But There's Aren't Any Acorns This Year

Cayenne peppers are still growing in the greenhouse.  I've also been getting herbs and dwarf citrus trees to put in there.  We got a small space heater to make sure it stays warm enough.  There's a lot more work to do in that room, but for now I'm really happy with it.

Next weekend marks the end of our frisbee season.  And then we're in good shape for the holiday season.  Christmas shopping is done.  We've scheduled a winter vacation.  I'm glad all of that is squared away since work is crazy busy.  The good news is that I'm telecommuting more, so not having a commute is really nice.

Anyway, I'm still here.  And I have pictures to put up from a recent trip up to Vermont.  I just haven't gotten to it yet. Here are a few:

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August

This is what I look forward to all year long. I want more tomatoes than I know what to do with.  Which means, It's almost canning season.  I'm excited to have more salsa and sauce for the pantry.  I've also saved some tomato seeds, some lettuce seeds, and will have some green bean seeds for next year.

Next year, I will definitely grow more butternut squash plants.  I will also plant the rest of the squash later in the year to avoid vine borers.  And I want to plant fewer sun drying tomatoes and more paste tomatoes.  Although I can't say I'm unhappy with all the sun dried tomatoes currently in our freezer.


Being Prepared

Every year, June is a lush time in the garden.  Everything is green and growing and well watered.  The bugs haven't quite come out in force yet.  And the possibilities are endless.  Then, disaster strikes.  This year, the eggplants are slowly losing a battle with flea beetles and I've spied a few squash bugs.  Soon, the cucumber beetles will strike and the tomatoes will contract some sort of wilt.  I've come to count on these occurances.  But the difference this year is that I'm ready for them.  My organic bug spray is mixed and ready.  The crops have been rotated since last year and the soil has been enriched by compost.  And, perhaps best of all, I have back ups.  I let the suckers grow on my tomato plants and when they were about 18 inches tall, I cut them off and put them in a bucket of water.  They're starting to root.  So when the determinant varieties are done or some of the plants have succumbed to disease and pests, I can just tear them out and replace them.  Frost comes late around here, so there'll be plenty of time for another crop.  We'll see how it works.  In the meantime, the green beans are quite prolific.  I'm wondering if I need to start another crop or if they'll keep going all summer.

Garden Update

There are winners and losers in the garden.  The tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are very happy.  The tomatoes have already needed staking.  The leeks are doing alright.  The green beans have some leaf damage but are overall okay.  The summer squash are happy.  The winter squash is being eaten, as are some of the cucumbers and the melons.  I planted a large container full of radishes, carrots, and corn and that hasn't worked as hoped.  The radishes have lots of green but no bulbs and have blocked the light for the carrots while the corn seeds were eaten by the birds.  Some people thought growing container corn was a silly idea anyway.

We lost our main strawberry bed last year but the other beds are doing well and we're actually getting a decent amount of berries.  The slugs and squirrels are getting their share too, unfortunately.  The oldest grape vine looks like it will produce grapes for the first time.  Our cherry tree will once again give us a few dozen cherries but no more.  One apple tree will give us some apples.  Our plum tree has developed black knot.  This is very sad.  We've cut out the infected parts and will have to keep close tabs on it to see if the problem persists.  Hopefully, we won't lose the tree.

I'm still hopeful and we have a lot growing in the garden.  But sometimes nature can show you how little your best laid plans mean.  We'll see how the rest of the season goes.


March

Earlier in the month, we went to Cancun.  We mostly enjoyed the sun and the beach, but we also took a trip to the Mayan ruins of Tulum.

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My garden is gearing up for the season.  This year I'm trying to grow leeks as well as the usual suspects of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.  My cilantro seedlings are doing surprisingly well.  My spinach, on the other hand, has been dug up by squirrels trying to find acorns in the pots.

Frisbee season has started again.  It's been nice to get out and run around.  We even had gourmet club last weekend and it was good to see everyone again.  The theme was Jewish food in honor of Passover.  I'm so happy it's finally spring.


We're Back

The Japan trip was fantastic.  I've posted pictures and will soon add captions.

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And now that we're home, suddenly it's the holiday season and we're in the rush to get everything ready for Christmas and work done before the end of the year.  I'm getting my wisdom teeth removed on Thursday just to add another twist to the month.  Fortunately, most of my present shopping was done before I left, so there's one less thing on the to do list.  Here's wishing you a very happy holiday season!  I'll post again soon.


Check Back in December

I am not happy that it's been so long since my last post.  In fact, I have many things that I should have posted, including some really nice pictures from our trip to Assateague Island.  And yet, things have been busy and I've had other projects.  And, unfortunately, this post is not the end of that trend.  I'm going to be busy through the end of November.  However, if you remember to come back in December, I promise I will devote time to catching up with my blog posts.

Hints of Fall

Yesterday was the first day that the breeze felt a little cooler and the sun seemed a little bit lower in the sky.  The winter squashes have started forming on the vines.  Fall isn't quite here but now I feel like it's on its way.  Last week we went down to North Carolina to enjoy some time at the beach and then up to the Chesapeake Bay. I'll have to post pictures later.  Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to take a picture of Loki's first meeting with a crab, but her checking out fish is also entertaining.

That was the last trip of the summer and now I'm settling in to a weekend of canning.  We have lots of tomatoes and peppers to be turned into salsa and sauce and the farmer's market has cucumbers on sale that are just begging to be pickles.  Sadly, one of our tomatillos is just about dead so, without a partner to cross-pollinate with, its healthy companion plant may be putting out all those flowers for nothing.  I'm already planning improvements for next year.

In the meantime, Chris and I are busy planning our trip to Japan.  I'm trying to learn Japanese and just finished a book on kanji.  I'm hoping that the more I can learn now the more I'll get out of the trip.  I'm also planning to read the Tale of Genji, which is considered by many to be the first modern novel and depicts life during the Heian period.


It's Hot Outside

Supposedly the heat wave has broken.  It's still hot out.  The garden seems to like the heat, though, as long as we turn on the water every now and then.  So far we've picked about a dozen cucumbers, 6 japanese eggplants, 3 yellow summer squashes, and 1 cayenne pepper.  We have a number of tomatoes that are in the process of turning red but aren't there yet.  It's late for them.  Last year, we had tomatoes in June.  But this year we have corn!  The corn hasn't grown very tall yet but it does have ears on it, which is very exciting.  I'm just hoping the harvest keeps coming.


How to Choose a Nursery Veggie Plant

When choosing perennials, I tend to go to the garden store and choose the largest and healthiest looking plant I can find in the size pot I can afford.  It has done me well.  However, this past weekend I went to the garden store to fill the holes in my vegetable garden caused by cut worms, suddenly wilting tomato plants, and other casualties, so my perfect plant search followed different rules.

With veggie transplants, bigger is not better.  If it already has flowers, pass it by.  It has taken me a while to admit that this is true, but these annuals have a life cycle and you don't want a plant that is already at the flowering and fruiting stage.  This will result in a smaller plant and less fruit in your garden.  Look for small and healthy.  Vine plants should only really have one true leaf before transplanting.  That way, they aren't root bound yet and will thrive once in the garden.

So I looked at the poor picked over veggie plants and chose the best ones I could find.  They were 40% off, so I got a few extra, just in case.  This morning, it looks like they're settling in well.  Let's just hope no more calamities strike my garden.


Here We Go

And the garden issues for the year are forming.  The cucumbers are looking a lot better after I pruned and sprayed them to treat their case of powdery mildew.  On the same day I also picked 5 cucumbers, so I'm hopeful they'll get through this.  But now a few of my tomato plants are wilting with no reason and growing lots of extra root initials (I think from stress).  I pulled out 3 plants and got rid of them.  Maybe that will save the rest.  I haven't even gotten any tomatoes yet!


Garden Lessons

Peas just aren't worth it.  They're a pain to trellis, the pods are hard to spot, shelling takes forever, you have to plant a lot to get a decent side dish, and they need their own space since they come just a little too late for me to want to harvest then replace with a summer veggie.

Bell peppers aren't prolific enough to justify the space.  At least they haven't been in our garden.  Ditto with eggplants.

Melons do not succeed in our garden, for whatever reason.  I blame the bugs.

Cabbage and other cool weather crops don't like DC weather and get eaten by bugs.

Potato plants also don't give a whole lot for the space they take up.  But they are fun.

Fresh lettuce is great but cleaning the leaves is time consuming and starting them from seed can be tricky.  Some of the seedlings will die for no apparent reason.


Ready for Summer

The garden is coming along nicely.  I picked our first cucumber on Sunday.  I'm already picking the raspberries and wineberries and the blackberries in the park are turning pink.  We have lots of green tomatoes and lots of flowers in the garden.  Now, I wait.

Yesterday, we went out to see the parade of the tall ships out of Baltimore harbor.  Unfortunately, we were not in the right place to view the parade and only one of the tall ships came our way.  It was still a beautiful day on the Chesapeake Bay.  I'm a bit sun burnt this morning.


The Pride Before the Fall

Now is the time when the garden is promising and exciting.  Everything is growing!  There are cucumbers and tomatoes just a week or to from ready to eat.  Any time now a groundhog should attack or who knows what.  For now I've stopped the cut worms so they've eaten some but not all of the corn.  I've wrapped the vines with tin foil so the vine borers can't get at them.  And I've sprayed the leaves with a homemade organic bug spray.  And now we water and wait.  I want a tomato!

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Post Hunt 2012

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Yesterday was the 5th annual Post Hunt.  I've been looking forward to this one for a while because we had to miss the last two.  This is a zany puzzle-solving scavenger hunt that draws thousands of people for a fun afternoon and is one of the best events all year.  We had a great team and really enjoyed the hunt, although there was a lot of ground to cover this year.  We scoured the streets for 10 foot tall bowling pins, found the dreaded red number, went to the web (well part of the team went and part of the team found a really nice shady bench to sit and wait), used our knight moves, and found the palindromic number, with time to spare to stop for lunch.  We were off to a great start.  However, after finding the right page in the magazine for the endgame, there were a few mis-counts that led to frustration and we did not win $2,000.  If fact, although we eventually counted accurately, we didn't even get as far as calling or texting 202-degrees.  Ah, well.  There's always next year.


Strawberries

May 5th the first ripe strawberries were plucked from the garden.  Sadly, we need to put down some straw because the bugs are finding them before we are.  However, I'm still happy to have red, ripe strawberries outside.  Other than lettuce and herbs, this is our first harvest of the season.


Spring Projects Never End

We don't have that many sunny spots in our yard.  You'd think we'd get to a point where the gardening would be done.  For some reason, every time I check something off the garden list, something else gets added.  Wait, there's a little more room in that corner.  Or, I think that spot may actually be sunny enough for another berry bush.  My wish list is long.  Maybe first I need to be successful with what I have planted.  My lettuce has not been impressive this year, despite patiently growing them from seed.  I haven't even picked any spinach because it's been so small.

On the plus side, the veggie garden is more protected.  There's a new fence with features to make even the groundhog steer clear.  And, we have a fox now.  Well, we have a fox that stops by at least weekly to bark at our dog.  The fox barks, not Loki.  It's a very strange noise.  Hopefully a resident fox will make little critters think twice about coming near our yard and stealing our plants.  It hasn't stopped the squirrels, though.  They've already been taking bites out of our green strawberries and leaving them around the yard.

I hope we get some red strawberries soon.  I've held off on buying the ones in the grocery store in anticipation of the ones growing in my yard, but I'm getting impatient.


Bracket Broken Beyond Repair

Chris has already won our March Madness pool.  I'll have to wash the dishes for a week.  That's what I get for picking Murray St. to win.  But if you can't pick who you want to root for, that's no fun.

I'll post pictures of my windowsill soon.  Spring has come early and my seedlings are no exception.  Outside the fruit trees are budding, the strawberries are spreading, and the berry bushes are getting their first leaves.

So what will be growing in the vegetable garden this year?

Polybig Tomato

Principe Borghese Tomato

Manyel Tomato

Brandywine Tomato

Trip L Crop Tomato (the seeds were free)

Roma Tomato

Tomatillo

Red Bell Pepper

Cayenne Pepper

Dusky Eggplant

Ichiban Japanese Eggplant

Basil

Cilantro

Lettuce

Spinach

Minnesota Midget Cantaloupe

Sugar Baby Watermelon

Blue Hubbard Squash

Acorn Squash

Eight Ball Zucchini

Yellow Squash

Picolino Cucumber

Spacemaster Cucumber

Snow Peas

Corn

Leeks (maybe)


Cookeville Photography

There are a lot of great photographers nearby and you don't even have to look in Nashville.  To find the photographer  in your area in Tennessee that's right for your event, you need to consider a number of things.  For instance, if you're looking for a wedding photographer, do you want a photojournalistic style or something a bit more artistic?  If this is for a family portrait, do you want it to be formal or informal?  If you're looking for a fun Cookeville photographer with an artistic eye, I would recommend Furman Photography.  I have a couple of his pictures hanging on my wall and I love them.  Check out his work at http://www.georgefurman.com/.


Back Home

We're back from Italy.  We had a great trip and saw Etruscan tombs, the ancient Roman city of Ostia Antica, the Capitoline Museum and much more.  Now, after travel and the holidays, it's time for life to get back to normal.  As usual, while we were traveling we took lots of pictures.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We're good at recycling.  And we try to reuse as much as possible, although composting has been a failure.  What I want to do more of in 2012 is reducing.  If we don't buy it in the first place, that's the best of all options.  To that end, I've been trying to cut down on the number of things I buy that eventually need to be recycled.  We have a water filter and a SodaStream, which cuts down quite a bit on the need for bottles.  We've switched to bars for soap, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizing lotion, and shaving cream, which also cuts down on plastic.  And we've started canning, which uses reusable jars instead of the one-use metal cans from the store.  And I'm trying to rely on canned, frozen, or cool weather veggies this winter instead of buying fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers just because they're available all year in the grocery store.  Hopefully I'll keep it up, but I already miss fresh tomatoes and it's only January.  At least we're doing something.  It's a little progress.  We use much less electricity and water than average  according to our utility bills.  And yet there's still so much more we can do.  I want to try to buy more in bulk.  I want to compost successfully.  I want to not buy a single can of soda in 2012.  I want to get back in the habit of bringing and using silverware at work instead of the disposable plates and utensils in the lunchroom.  Every little bit helps.


Making Christmas

This year we made Christmas presents.  It was a fun project and I was amazed by the final products of what we gave and received.

Chris had an idea of building a Tardis (from Doctor Who) box.  So he tried his hand at woodworking.  And after many hours using hand tools to chisel door panels, we got some electronic tools that sped the job up a bit.  The result is a spectacular box and now I've requested that Chris make me one too.

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For my part, I knit a purse and made a quilt.

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And I tried my hand at glass etching.

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It's really easy.  You just need to get a special glass etching solution.  Then you take contact paper, trace what you want to put on the glass (I used a stencil) and cut it out with an exacto knife.  Then carefully remove the backing and stick it on the glass, being careful to smooth out any bumps.  The glass etching stuff goes on the holes you made in the contact paper, and then you wash it off a few minutes later.  That's all there is to it.

With all these Christmas presents, Loki didn't help at all.  However, she was very happy when she got homemade dog biscuits on Christmas day.

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Home Again

I just got back from vacation.  It was a much needed break and now I'm ready to head into the holiday season.  Some of the pictures are posted at http://jessicaek.typepad.com/photos/carribbean.

The next few weeks will be busy, so you may not hear from me much but stay tuned for pictures from our Italy trip in early 2012.  Also, this year my family is making Christmas presents to exchange and we've been hard at work on a number of interesting gifts, so I'll be posting those after Christmas.


Rainy Day

I love rainy days.  I love dreary, dark, cloudy rainy days.  I love the sound of rain tapping on the window or on an umbrella.  And it's nice to come inside somewhere cozy after being out in the rain.  It makes me miss London.  It makes me happy that the rain will make the garden that much better.  And there's something slightly guilty but lovely about being happy on a rainy day.


Nothing to See Here

First there was an earthquake and then the hurricane came through.  It was quite a week.  All is well here and despite a day without power, some fallen branches, and a bent tree or two we really don't have anything to complain about.  It could have been a whole lot worse. 

I can't believe August is almost over!  Post hurricane, the temperature is nice and the sun is shining.  Our fall vegetables survived the rough weather.  We continued the canning experiment by making pickles and relish last weekend.

Work is still very busy and will probably remain so for another 9-10 weeks, so I'm sorry if this blog is a little quiet this fall.  I'll come back.


Little Bits of Fall

I love those days in August that let you know Fall is around the corner.  The breeze picks up and a few leaves begin to fall (although I think those are from the recent drought).

The garden has been going pretty well and we have a bumper crop of tomatoes and basil, although the rest of the crops never fully recovered from the groundhog, who is still at large.  We also got supplemental tomatoes from the local farmer's market and canned.  Now we have salsa, bbq sauce, diced tomatoes, and all sorts of lovely jars in the basement that I'm sure we'll be happy to have this winter. 

The Wildwood beach tournament was lots of fun and lived up to expectations.  It promises to be a busy end of summer into early fall and then I'm looking forward to vacation time in late fall and early winter.


Tomatoes

The groundhog has done a number on just about everything else in our garden, but the tomatoes are still going strong.  So far we've harvested 15 tomatoes.  The roma and the early girls are our top performers, but there are green tomatoes on all the plants.  Yay! 

And mom and dad got me replacement cucumbers.  :)  I was so upset that I might not get cucumbers this year but now I think I will. 

Oh, and the squash plants are finally getting their first female flowers.  We may still have a garden this season afterall.  If only we could catch the groundhog.  The trap has been set.


Mystery Solved

There have been no bunnies in our garden.  Nor have there been deer.  We found our mysterious guest and he is a particularly fat groundhog.  So far he's eaten all of our bush beans, all of our melons, most of our cucumbers, most of our carrots, half of our peppers, some of our eggplants, and some of our summer and winter squashes.  We've been trying to deter him with reflective material, dog poop and dog fur, and wire strung around the edge of the garden.  So far nothing has worked.  Now I know how Bill Murray felt about the gopher.

The one bright spot left in the garden is that he hasn't touched the tomatoes.  Those tomatoes are gorgeous.  They're already taller than I am with at least a hundred green tomatoes on them and as of this morning two tomatoes were starting to turn red.


Another Garden Bites the Dust

A deer got into our garden yesterday.  Today I picked a cucumber, but it will be the first and last of the season since the cucumber plants are pretty much gone.  The peppers have been half eaten.  Some will recover, some won't.  A few squash leaves are missing.  The tomatoes were untouched, so at least we'll have those.  I hate these kinds of set backs.


Rabbit Attack

In a time honored garden cliche, the rabbit ate our carrots.  Strangely, he also ate another melon plant and two pepper plants.  It is a setback and I'm left hoping our bunny friend doesn't return.  In the meantime, I'm anxiously awaiting the tomatoes and cucumbers that are slowly growing on the vines.


It's Hot Out Already

Our garden is doing well, although we're waiting for our next harvest.  There are some green tomatoes and tiny cucumbers that make me hopefully that veggies are coming.  Here is our jungle of tomatoes:

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And then here are some of the peppers, along with shallots and garlic on the right.

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Our squash plants look healthy, but so far no female flowers.

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Some of our eggplants are flowering.

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And then this is a bit of a mystery plant.  We know it is a squash plant, but whether it's summer or winter squash is unclear.  It is much taller than all the other squash plants we have.

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DC Restaurants

DC is getting a Shake Shack!  I wonder if the lines will be as long as the NYC one.  It sounds like this is opening soon, unlike the Wagamama restaurant we were promised back in 2008 and still have yet to see.


Strawberry Recipes

1511114_1ad89df7 Two years ago, we planted 15 strawberry plants.  Last year, we were fortunate enough to have strawberries to enjoy fresh as well as some extra to use in strawberry margaritas when friends visited.  This year, we're pulling in over a pint a day.  Eating strawberries fresh is great, but you can only eat so many until the rest go bad.  What should you do with all of those other strawberries?  Here are some ideas that don't require any cooking at all:

Strawberry Lemonade - Put 1 cup of hulled strawberries, 1 cup of sugar or Splenda, and 2/3 cup of lemon juice in a blender.  Blend until smooth then let sit until foam dissipates.  Put in a pitcher and add 2 cups of water and 3 cups of club soda.  Serve over ice.  Alternatively, you can pour the mixture from the blender into a container and freeze it, so you can continue to enjoy the taste of fresh strawberries later in the summer.  Servies 10 or so

Frozen Strawberry Mousse - Separate an egg and whip the white for a minute to form a foam.  Add 1/2 cup of sugar or Splenda and mix it in.  Then add in 2 cups of strawberries.  Use a hand blender to mix for a full 15 minutes.  Make sure this is in a very large bowl because it will fluff up quite a bit.  Pour into a container and put in the freezer for at least an hour.  Scoop out and serve like ice cream.  Serves 8-10

Freezer Jam - Take 2 cups of mashed strawberries and add 3/4 cup of sugar or Splenda.  Then mix in half a package of pectin (they have some specifically for freezer jam) and pour into containers.  Let sit for about an hour and then put in the freezer.  We haven't tried this yet and we may try to make traditional jam instead, but this does seem like a nice option.


First Harvest 2011

Our garden is on its way!  So far we've picked 2 dozen strawberries (with many more on the way), 5 very tiny radishes, 1 1/2 cups of pea pods, and enough lettuce for about 9 side salads and around a dozen sandwiches.

Currently, we have small green roma tomatoes growing.  Last weekend I picked off all the suckers on the tomato plants and that was a sad task considering how healthy those suckers already looked.  We also have a couple of very, very small green peppers on the way.  Our squash and cucumber plants are flowering. 

The blackberry bushes are blooming and the raspberry bushes have buds.  There are about a dozen cherries forming and also about a dozen gala apples.  Our plum tree has lots of little plums but last year it dropped all of them so we're hoping this year some hang on.  The grape vine we planted is just about to leaf out and 3 of the 4 blueberry bushes we planted recently are doing well (1 died for no apparent reason).  A weedwacker from our neighbor's lawn service took out most of our new black currant bushes, but we're hoping 2 of the 6 may still recover. 

I know it's early in the season, but I'm already looking forward to when we start canning.  I'm convinced that this will be the year we'll have enough of something.  We planted 19 tomato plants and 21 pepper plants, so here's hoping they live up their potential.  I have less hope for the watermelon plants and I'm rather disappointed in the spinach.  Next year we might not plant it.

The herb garden is doing well.  Our chives and sage are flowering.  Our rosemary made an attempt at a rebound after a cold winter and did not survive, so we replaced it with a small arp rosemary plant that should be more cold tolerant.  The basil plants are doing well, but I need to pinch off the tops so they get bushier.

I have found new entertainment going to other garden blogs online and seeing how their gardens are coming along.  There are also some friends nearby that garden and I'd love to start our own garden club where we share advice, extra plants, and seeds.


Fruits and Vegetables

 We've been doing a lot of work in the garden and enjoying this beautiful spring.  I've taken one of the empty beds in the garden and filled it with some native flowers that used to be in taking over our herb garden.

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And now the herbs have more room to spread and grow.  The sage and chives are doing particularly well.  I'm hoping for the rosemary to revive.

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And here is the garden.  It is growing nicely.  I don't have a close up of the peas but they are doing the best.  We've already picked one batch and hope to get another soon.

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The tomatoes are also doing well.  Some even have a few flowers.  I'm just so proud of these guys.  I've been working on growing them since January and it's nice to see them thriving in the garden.

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The squash and cucumber plants are starting to flower as well, although it seems a bit early for them.

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Loki is enjoying the backyard.  And there are lots of flowers this time of year.

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Our fruit trees are also starting to do their thing.  These, hopefully, will become apples.  I'm hoping to get more than the two apples we got last year.

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The cherries are also starting to form.  They should ripen right after the strawberries.

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And here are the plums.  We haven't gotten plums yet, but this is by far the healthiest of the fruit trees so I'm hoping we'll get fruit this year.

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And of course, I'm waiting for these strawberries to turn red.  I know it's earlier than usual, but it's been a warm spring.  France's strawberries are already ripe and are three weeks ahead of schedule.

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I can't believe we planted these only a couple of years ago.  They are doing really well and I'm hoping for lots of berries.

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That's our garden update for now.


Loki Recovering

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Last Friday Loki gave us a scare.  She was walking stiffly and her stomach was distended.  We rushed her to the animal hospital where they x-rayed her, prepped her, and then she went right into surgery.  We are very lucky we went straight to the hospital because her stomach had twisted and if left untreated the condition would very quickly have become fatal.  The vet untwisted her stomach and she spent the next two days at the hospital recovering. 

She is now home and starting to get back to being herself.  She is on a restricted diet and she will not be allowed to run, jump, or rough house for the next 3-4 weeks.  We're just so happy to have her back and see her tail wag again.  She's going to be alright.  The vet stapled the outer wall of her stomach to her ribs, so hopefully that will prevent this from happening again.

I mention all this because twisted stomach is a condition that sometimes happens to large dogs, so owners should be aware of it and on the lookout.  It happens very quickly, sometimes due to eating and then exercising and sometimes without apparent cause.  If this happens, get to the nearest available vet as soon as possible.  Also, it is worth considering pet insurance.  This emergency comes with a hefty bill for surgery, recovery, medication, and follow up visits.


Lesson Learned, Sort Of

Everything is planted and we've mulched it with grass clippings.  So far the bugs have been few and the rain has been plentiful.  As you may know if you have read previous posts, we started everything way too early.  Seeds were started in January and plants were put outside two weeks ago.  The peas were put outside as month old plants around St. Patrick's Day.  Veteran gardeners cautioned me to wait, but I was eager to push the season. 

So what was the result?  Well, nothing died.  The peas suffered from some frost burn and the tomatoes still aren't looking very happy.  Why would they?  They shouldn't be out yet.  Currently the things that look healthy and thriving are all the cool weather crops.  They are doing really, really well and the radishes are even bulbing.  The rest are merely enduring until the weather gets warmer. 

So what have I learned?  I should follow the gardening books more closely.  I may not have murdered my plants by starting so early, but I didn't gain anything by it either.  There is a lot of information out there about what plants do best when and I'm not doing the plants any favors getting them out there early.  They will grow when the time is right.

I'll probably still push the season a bit next year.  Maybe not by as much as I did this year, but I don't think I'll be able to resist starting spring as early as possible.


Surprising Salad

I thought I knew when fruits and vegetables were in season.  I eagerly anticipated the first asparagus of the spring.  I know June is for strawberries, and August is for watermelons.  Apple picking starts in September and the time to eat winter squash starts in October.

Therefore, I found it to be such a surprise when I started gardening and realized how much I still didn't know.  Lettuce grows in spring and fall, yet tomatoes and cucumbers grow in the summer.  How is it that my go-to salad consists of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers when they don't grow at the same time?

Now that I'm trying harder to eat things in season, this poses a bit of a dilemma.  We've been making Caesar salads lately (and started using a yummy yogurt-based dressing), since they don't contain summer veggies.  A friend of mine has salads featuring dried fruit and nuts.  I've put a shade tent over my lettuce in the hope of keeping it from bolting before I can get some cucumbers.  And then, later in the summer, my salads will be more like Greek village salads; without lettuce.

It's just a little thing, but when everything is available all year in the grocery store, you never really think about it.


How Does Our Garden Grow?

Okay, it may be a little early, but the garden is in.

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I think it looks quite nice.  And this year everything in that garden was purchased as seeds, except the cayenne pepper plants, which were started from the seeds collected from last year's plants. 

I'm very impressed by the variety of things we're growing, even if we don't grow much of any one thing.

Vegetable - eggplant, tomato, hot and sweet pepper, cucumber, watermelon, zucchini, yellow squash, blue hubbard squash, radish, carrot, lettuce, spinach, pea, garlic, shallot, potato

Herb - basil, sage, rosemary, mint, chive, thyme, lavendar, cilantro, parsley, oregano

Fruit - apple, plum, cherry, strawberry, currant, blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, grape

The plum tree, apple trees, cherry tree, and peas are started to bloom.  Now let's hope there's no frost.