Posts Tagged With: garden

Outdoor kitchen




I saw an idea in a magazine, not sure which one but probably Urban Farmer.
We made it a reality.

The idea was having an outdoor sink near the garden and compost. Normally I would bring in vegetables to the kitchen, clean and cut them for preparation. This results in the compost bin filling up often the same night and dirt on the counter (especially root vegetables!)

Having the sink outside allows me to prep the food there. I toss the cuttings into the compost bin behind me and use the water to rinse and scrub the veggies right there. I was going to just use a hose to run over to the sink but Paul ran me a new irrigation line so I have running cold water from the sink itself. The sink I found for $10 at a thrift store.

Heaven for a gardener!

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Privacy side fence

New neighbors moved June and our quiet neighborhood has been overtaken by barking dogs and  a boy’s temper tantrums. I am not sure to be happy they are renters and not owners (and hopefully won’t stay long) or sad they are not home owners and might care more about their impact. It is out of my control I guess and I am glad that we put up this privacy fence.  The lower dark part of the fence was there when we bought the house and we just added the lighter top bamboo to make it a 6 foot fence.  In May we bought the humming-bird plants and honeysuckle and put them in the ground here.  The plan is for this to become a living wall to help buffer the visual aspect but maybe some of the sound too. I’ll post follow-up pictures below over time to show the growth. I am thinking it will take a year to fill out.  Hopefully it will be lush with yellow and red alternating flowers if we did it right!

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Revealing the May Garden

So I’m sitting here in bed, in the dark… trying to not wake Paul while searching for something intriguing, empowering, or witty to say about the garden with only 18% battery left. Ah, I will just let it be what it is. I will just post the pictures so I can keep track of what is growing in each month.

All I know is that it taps something deep and lost inside of me, maybe lost inside of most of us. The sun on my skin, the warm soil between my toes, the green stained hand that smells of tomatoes. This is what really keep the world moving around and what keep me rooted.

“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.” -Mary Sarton

Some of the carrots are big enough to eat. Some, not all.  That is a story for another day.




I found a volunteer potato growing in the compost. Also the first pepper from the garden was picked the end of May ( one great for mole).



Strawberries (and raspberries) started popping up all over the property towards the end of May and are small delicious bursts of tangy sugar.



A husband is sprouting up next to the artichokes too!



Harvested the first beet the last week of May. The asparagus is dwindling down to a few sticks every few days.



Fuji tree with many baby fruits!




Squash blossoms with a baby zucchini attached. Such a delicate flavor with just a bit of goat cheese slipped inside the petals and baked.



My first pickle that looks like it can be used as a weapon.



The first tomato appeared early May. By end of May all have flowers, and about half the plants have some fruits, even the many I grew from seeds.



Baby pomegranate tree is fruiting!



Tomatilloes exploded with the heat and flowers early May and husks that are filling by end of May



The tomatillos are in pots and doing well here in full sun.



Peach tree with only a few fruits.


Hatching locusts leaving their creepy body shells all around.



Too hot for kale- everything bolted. I was gong to let the kale go to see but the aphids took over. There were the only plants in my whole garden so far that became infected with any kind of insects so far.



We discovered an apple tree along the side of the house. Turns out the squirrels already knew.



Blueberries continue to slowly, ever so slowly, ripen.  I can eat one or two every now and then.



Birds of Paradise were in full bloom all month. The one on the corner started a week or two in advance. By end of May they are shriveled up.



What broccoli looks like in the heat…meaning over 80 degrees.  Bolted and flowered. I am going to see if I can snag some seeds and plant again in fall when cooler weather is here.


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Plantlets from seeds

I went a bit overboard this year on gardening.  I decided to save planning for next year and just grow stuff and see what happens.  I am prepared for a learning curve. I will just take whatever happens as information.

I planted seeds….lots of them. I figured maybe 50-70% would grow.


A couple of weeks later things are looking really good.


Another week later, I realize every seed is a very happy plant.


I didn’t expect so many to grow.

To make matters worse I bought some little plantlets  from the local nursery.  Two boxes worth to be exact to make up for what I though what wouldn’t grow, but did. About 25-30 plants actually. I am in much deeper than I intended.

So I gave some plants to friends.

Still, I have too many.  I planted them all anyway. I had flowers developing in plants that are still in their little 6 packs!

So as of last weekend (April 21), all plants are either in the ground or in the pot they will stay in all summer.

On Sunday night, it was getting dark and I was running around plopping tomato plants and peppers in every remaining garden spot I could find. With only 20 minutes of light left and no more garden space, I still had 12 tomato plants in their starter packs to be planted. I found a spot that we use for a work area and the ground is probably too rich with old horse manure and they are planted too dense to grow well.  In the ground they went anyway. I can pull the ones that seem like they will fall behind.

This is my surprise garden area….mostly because it was “Surprise, there was not a garden here 20 minutes ago and now  there it is” .  Also it will be both a surprise if any of them grow and since I mixed up the tags for these plants it will be a surprise to what kind of tomatoes they are ( I have 3 kinds from seeds).

Such rogue gardening.

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I tripped and got new irrigation

I had just finished up some yard work and  was dragging a hose across the yard by draping it across my shoulders.  A loop of the hose tapped the top of the irrigation system that happens to be very old ( to the best guess it could be 25 years old). The little catch caused me to trip a little and then I heard spraying water.  I turned to see a leaking pipe. 😦

It took Paul a couple of days to rip it all out and put in new. We knew it needed to be done when we moved in and sometimes things just jump up in the foreground when they don’t want to wait anymore.




The soil was packed and root filled. We needed a pick and didn’t have one. We have one now. Despite that, he is smiling while working. His neat finished product below:


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Petal pink star jasmine

I smelled them before I saw them. A cloud of heavy syrup so thick you could spread it on your waffle. Like a dog in a cartoon, I followed the wispy scent trail through the local nursery (Floras) to these jasmine plants.  I saw the ridiculous amount of flowers on these plants with only a few token leaves protruding out from the heavy buds.  There were only 3 plants. I snatched up 2 and put them on my wagon before even looking at the price tag. The bonus is they are affordable! Before leaving Flora’s I found 2 pots that were suitable for these plants and headed home.  Even though home is only 1/2 mile away, the two towers of jasmine filled my hot car with olfactory sunshine.

I love orchids and really enjoy a blooming tree, but outside of that I am not a flower lover. Mom would toil for hours in the hot sun planting hundreds of bulbs, they would flower with a gaudy show only to disappear a short time later.  It takes work to plant anything and I have felt that my appreciation is lacking for flowers with only serve the bees.  After all that work I want something that I can eat or that will last a while. Orchid flowers can last 6-12 weeks and one orchid produces one of my favorite things: vanilla.  Garden veggies can produce beautiful flowers like the artichoke, tomato, and even the  subtle bean plant can produce a surprisingly beautiful delicate flower. Then after the flower comes great food and this drives me to put in the work.

But there is something about jasmine that is different. It’s smell travels and it sneaks up in places you don’t expect. It reminds me of when I have stepped in dog poo…except pleasant of course.  But it is the same sequence…what is that smell? where is it coming from? then instead of disgust you find yourself  sniffing flowers near you (nope, not that one…) and so on until you find it. It has a heavy honey clean scent, one that I can’t get enough of in the garden yet wouldn’t want to wear as perfume.

I looked up their bloom times and it says:

Late Winter/Early Spring
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Mid Winter

Now this is my kind of flower! It is a bonus that it has evergreen leaves. It has been used in aromatherapy going all the way back  to 4500BC. Referred to as “Queen of the Night,” jasmine blossoms are often gathered at night  by moonlight when their scent is strongest. It can also be very invasive, so I will be enjoying it in all it’s glory on this trellis from it’s pots. I think everyone should get a jasmine plant for their house/deck/yard/garden.  They grow in full sun or heavy shade and can stay in pots. The nice thing with pots is that you can move them inside when the weather gets too cold for those of you living in places that freeze. Who wouldn’t love a jasmine plant wrapped around a stake in the corner of the living room in a cold wintery day?

Other people are moved by this little flower as well:

  : “…and Jasmine, your very notes turn these dry pastures into verdant plains of solace when the work of straying mission collects and finds its peace on hilltops…”
Thomas Moore: ““Plants that wake when others sleep / Timid jasmine buds that keep / Their fragrance to themselves all day / But when the sunlight dies away / Let the delicious secret out / To every breeze that roams about.”
M. T. C. Cronin  : “star jasmine caught like a miniature swimmer in the blue glass bowl of the sky asking all the other flowers why they have dropped their petals..the star jasmine will not sit and joins the nervous creeper on the fences doodle-edge and freezes the drunk cat with its stark white scent…my nose is quite simply, in love”






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Replacing garden skeletons

So now a garden has somehow materialized in the past few weeks. Skeletons replaced by dirt, then compost, then leaves…now plants and a fence. Cold vegetables only can be planted in the winter (planted in the winter was not something I said when living in the Midwest)! The token artichoke & asparagus that came with the house, a new bed of spinach, kale, collards, some broccoli, and a bit of carrots, beets and red Batavian lettuce. A few empty beds remain which are saved for tomatoes and peppers which can be planted in the Spring. Yum!!!






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Clearing garden skeletons

Update Jan 2012: garden fencing around the garden to keep rodents & dogs out of garden. Garden is mostly planted with winter vegetables of spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, beets, carrots, and Batavian lettuce. Summer veggies like peppers and tomato get planted in April/May. Here are the best before & after pics of my progress in Jan:

Dec 2011
I decided to make some progress on the raised garden beds. Once built with the hope of a juicy tomato dangling from the end of a dark green stalk, its weight heavy on the thin stem, it’s aroma rich with sweet ripeness…now only dry wrinkled shards of fruit remain on the desiccating brown skeletons propped up on rusty wire supports. Tomato plants, artichokes in their second season, dried asparagus ferns…time to clean house.

The artichokes. Here is a story on that one. I love to eat them…in a restaurant…with loads of garlic butter. I don’t care to cook them due to the time intensive effort & amount of waste generated. There are several plants actively growing in their second season right now. They are taking up valuable real estate in these raised beds and I would rather have tomatoes, peppers, garlic, basil…really anything else growing there. Paul is very intrigued by growing them and has asked that I leave one plant so that he “can experience the miracle of the plant growing it’s little artichokes and spike of flowers”. Like a dog who you don’t spay until after a litter of puppies. Sigh. So the garden is all cleared out except for the token artichoke plant.

I pulled and cut everything out of here, took a hoe and shovel to each bed, then sifted compost onto each bed and raked in. I ended the day by adding mulched leaves as cover. It was an awesome day. I have the smell of earth in my nose and the water ran dark off my skin in the shower.

While I am doing this work I am wondering how I have come to know this stuff. I did it as a kid I guess, and I read and have picked up things at school…but it is a bit amazing to me tat I can just walk out and see what needs to be done and then know how to do it. How can something feel so far away yet so right and knowing at the same time? Fascinating.

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.” ~ John Ruskin

While hoeing I discovered more things that surprise me. Our buyers agent said “Surprises with houses are never a good thing.” I am only beginning to understand. All the beds had chicken wire baskets with the tops submerged under the soil about 1 inch. So as you hoe, the edge grabbed the wire and stopped my hoe cold. I am sure the tomatoes were put into the ground that way, maybe she never heard of cloth or screen…it made it very hard to work with the soil and I had to dig and pull all of them out. They went quite deep so this project took longer than intended. I am sure the neighbors heard some choice words come out of my mouth.

Another surprise was one of the boxes had a bunch of semi-digested white pellets lying on top of the soil. They had little flecks on them and I have no idea what they are. I might be completely fine with them or appalled, but without information they can not stay. Is is organic calcium or some toxic crap that she dumped on the soil? So weird. I removed the top layer that had these pellets on contact with the soil. Does anyone know what this was?



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