Encore Performance

IMG_3636 by MotherMe

Two years ago, I bought this “Bleeding Heart” from a community plant sale.  I dutifully took it home, put it in a shady garden spot, and watched it wither away to nothing.  The following year brought neither hide nor hair of this cool-weather plant, and I assumed it had been lost forever.  However, I spotted something pink in the shrubby brush that is my main shade garden this spring.  Lo and behold, the bleeding heart has come back!  Its blooms are now gone, since this picture is about a month old, but the plant looks lush and green.  Maybe it was just lost among the weeds.  In any case, welcome back, little plant.  Hope to see you again next year.

Peas Please

I had a very modest but very delicious crop of peas this year.  We planted a row of about 15 plants on St Patrick’s Day, and another row two weeks later, on my birthday.  I can’t say it was financially worth the effort, but it was fun to pick our own and shell them.  And we definitely had more success than last year, so that’s something.

This is the second harvesting.

Pea harvest

I think we averaged about one or two pods per plant. Not particularly bountiful, but the peas are still tasty. The kids had fun shelling them, and that was also a good “job” for them to help with. They did all of them on their own.

Shelling peas

We counted how many peas were in each pod. The fewest number of peas was two. The most was five.

Shelling a pea

I was very impressed that the kids stayed on task and finished the whole bowl. O4 started to get a little bored at the end, but S6 and I helped her finish the last three pods. All three of them had exactly four peas inside.

Shelled peas

Some of these went into my salad for dinner, and the rest are about to go into alphabet soup. I’m also toying with planting a fall crop in a different place, to see if they do any better.

This Poor, Neglected Blog

I don’t know why I get out of the habit of writing here.  Sure, I have absolutely nothing vital or even remotely interesting to say, but that’s not the point.  The brain exercise ought to at least keep me coming back.  My noggin feels smarter when I blog.  Okay, maybe not smarter, but definitely clearer.  Writing is healthy.  It’s good stuff.  I should do it more often.

This past weekend was a strange juxtaposition of tragedy and celebration.  I spent Friday and Saturday alternating between a funeral for my cousin and a wedding for our good friend.  It was rather bizarre, truth be told.  I also attended Mass twice in one day.  I haven’t been to Mass since … well, since the last funeral I attended.  Or maybe the last wedding.

As the weekend unfolded and I had to make decisions about what things to attend (rehearsal dinner or calling hours? Pictures at park, or mournful luncheon?), I found myself gravitating towards the funeral functions.  I didn’t want to be at the wedding, making merry.  It felt more comfortable to be at the funeral home, surrounded by weepy people and rapidly-emptying boxes of Kleenex.  (They were real Kleenex, by the way.  I checked.)  Now, what is wrong with me, that I’d rather focus on gloom than gaiety?  Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that the clothes you wear to funerals are a lot less revealing.  Black is more flattering than, say, lamé (not that I’d ever wear lamé anywhere.)   Or maybe I’ve become a negative person who prefers sobbing in a dusty funeral parlour to the artificial pageantry of an all-out wedding reception.

(Or maybe I may have just answered my own question.)

Anyway, all that’s behind us, and now we can focus on really important things, like planting seeds and getting the garden ready for the growing season.  I hope we don’t go another round with the bunnies and deer, but  I’ll give them a damn good fight this year if we do.  Meanwhile, things are already looking greenish.  Spring is here, honestly and truly.  I have some plants coming up, many returning from last year, some of which I never thought we’d see again and some of which I have no idea where they came from.

Check out these sweet little flowers in the backyard:

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And look at this gorgeous bloodroot, which came from who-knows-where (I didn’t plant it, that’s the thing)

Bloodroot

These adorable little perennials are displaying up front:

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In the woods across the street, there are many other pretties making their annual spring appearances:

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Of course, it wouldn’t be spring without the bluebells. They’re up and getting ready to put on the late-April show.

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I’ve got a few peas coming up (should take pictures of those, before the bunnies find them) and some other things started in pots, like parsley and tomatoes.  All of our tomato seeds are saved from last year’s crop and/or heirloom fruit we got from friends, the CSA box, etc.  Same with peppers.  This is an experiment: I’m testing out our highly scientific seed-saving technique (which involves dumping the pulpy seeds into a small container, covering with a coffee filter, and letting them congeal into a hard film.  In the spring I peel the film off the bottom of the container, stick it in a pot, cover it with dirt, and voila.)

The girls got some seeds in their Easter baskets (Cosmos and bachelor’s buttons) and are eagerly watching to see when they’ll bloom.  Those are some fast-germinating plants, let me tell you.  We planted them maybe five days ago and already have little sprouts in our pots.  I suppose annuals have to get on with it and not waste time, unlike perennials, who can try again the following  year if things don’t work out so well.

Our tulips bloomed on Saturday, incidentally.  I haven’t photographed them yet, but we have two glorious flame-orange blooms out front.  I’d better get those tomorrow, too, before the deer find them.

Finally.

My tomato garden did not do well this year. Well, let me clarify that. The plants did well. The tomatoes did not. There are lots of fruit, but it’s all green, green green. I blame it on the weather. We had a strangely cool summer, an overabundance of rain in July, and not very much sun the rest of the season, not to mention the late blight that blew through (I did get some blight on a few plants about 2 weeks ago, which was much later than most other people around here).

But my plants held on. I resisted the urge to rip the undiseased ones out, even though there have been unripe, green tomatoes for like weeks now. And today, the wait paid off.

We picked two smallish red tomatoes from the garden earlier this summer, but today, there were big ones, and bunches of them. Okay, there were five. But that’s a huge percent increase.

Mater haul

I picked nearly two pounds of ruby-red tomatoes. And oh, my. My, oh my. They are the tastiest little buggers I’ve had all summer.

Tomatoes

So finally, the moment I’ve been waiting for practically since March, when I started these plants inside:

Home grown tomato sandwich

That made the wait worthwhile.

Garden Progress

I have to admit to being sort of uninspired by the garden this year. While last season’s garden saw the pumpkins decimated by squash borers, everything else seemed to do fairly well. But this year, a bigger plot and more variety also meant more failures and frustration. But really, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself (or my garden). It’s doing a lot better than I make it sound.

Yesterday, we picked the first cucumbers of the season. I didn’t even see them hiding under all the foliage until I went behind the plants to pick up a big stick that had fallen inside the fence. And there they were! Two cute, pinchy, crunchy, adorable little green cukes. S5 literally squealed when she saw them (she’s a pickle fan).

First cukes

And I forgot to mention that, last week, while making a barbecue sauce for pulled pork, I ran out to grab these two hot babies:

Hot peppers

They were, indeed, hot stuff. But they were very tasty simmered in barbecue sauce.

I also noticed a bunch of green tomatoes that I am pretty sure appeared overnight. I mean, we look at the garden nearly every day, and never noticed them until yesterday morning. So empirically we can assume they appeared overnight, right? Of course, I forgot to photograph them. Maybe later.

Up on the deck in pots, other things are growing nicely, too. There is parsley:

Parsley

and Pennyroyal, to keep the skeeters away:

Pennyroyal

The fuschia has bloomed, and is gorgeous:

Fuschia blooming

We’ve even planted some cat grass for Moxie:

Cat Grass

Yes, that’s a dog-shaped pot with cat grass in it.  The irony is not lost on me.

Anyway, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about gardeny things again. Next week: time to dig potatoes!

CSA Week 11

Here we are with another fabulous box of fresh, local organic produce.

CSA Week 11

Included are:

  • A very large onion (used to make spanish rice tonight)
  • two round zucchini squash
  • five six (we found one under the van) hot-ish peppers
  • two bell peppers
  • a bunch of beets
  • a pint of blackberries
  • nearly two pounds of beans
  • a canteloupe melon