First Tomato!

It wasn’t from our garden, but it still counts.

Our 4 1/2-year-old next-door-neighbor excitedly pointed to the cherry tomatoes in his family’s garden. Kind of strange, since he doesn’t like tomatoes, but he does like his garden and he’d just gotten his dad to dig up a few carrots, so he was pretty excited. It didn’t take much pleading to get him to let me have one. Mmmmm…… Flavor. So much better than the hard piece of tomato that I just ate (purchased from the store yesterday).

They bought their plants from the farm down the road, and it was always clear that they would have tomatoes first. But ours (mostly started from seed in the basement) are catching up, with flowers and even some green tomatoes. We have two that we transplanted over Memorial Day weekend into our DIY Earth Boxes (see http://www.abovergroundfarming.com for directions). The black cherry tomato plant is already taller than we are, and the Ramapo isn’t far behind. So far, no critters have invaded the front porch for a taste.

What we do have is a glut of salad greens. The Brit started so many from seed under the lights, and I fear some are still there. (At least it’s easy to get some for a sandwich). He is using garlic scapes plus some arugula that bolted to make a pesto for tonight’s pasta. But I think we have a solid month of Thai green lettuce (seeds courtesy of my sister-in-law) already ready to harvest. That’s before the mustard greens and other Asian greens growing happily in the beds. Offer your best salad ideas because this is the summer I’m going to have to learn to love it!

Finally, some shots of the garden, courtesy of a friend who stopped by on yesterday’s garden tour:

The lavender practically blocks the front path, but the bees pay no attention when someone squeezes by.

One of the many butterflies in the yard.

Garden Tour Tomorrow

And it rained today so some of the last-minute to-do things (like mow the lawn) just won’t happen. Maybe I’ll weed as I wait for visitors. Yeah, I’m on it again. Thank goodness perfection isn’t required.  I’ll talk square-foot gardening and my philosophy of flower beds: exuberance. The red-hot pokers should be spent by the end of the weekend, which is good since they are starting to clash with with bee balm that is just beginning to bloom.

Come spot this:

My Kate and Wills souvenir, direct from the U.K!

A Laid-Back View on Lawns

Found this on iVillage after I googled clover in lawns:

YARD WORK – AS VIEWED FROM HEAVEN
. (overheard in a conversation between God and St. Francis):
God: Hey, St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature;

what in the world is going on down there in the U.S.?

What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff
I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan.
Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought, and
multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms
attract butterflies, honeybees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected
to see a vast garden of color by now. All I see are patches of green.
. .
St. Francis: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called the Suburbanites.
They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and
replace them with grass.
. .
God: Grass? But it is so boring, it’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies,
bees or birds, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental with temperatures.
Do these Suburbanites really want grass growing there?
. .
St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it has grown a little, they cut it….
sometimes two times a week.
. .
God: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?
..
. St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
. .
God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
. .
St. Francis: No sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
. .
God: Now let me get this straight…they fertilize it to make it grow and
when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
. .
St. Francis: Yes, sir.
. .
God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain
and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
. .
St. Francis: You aren’t going to believe this Lord, but when the grass stops growing
so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue
to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
. .
God: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke
of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and
shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to
. keep the moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves
become compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.
. .
St. Francis: You’d better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves fall, the Suburbanites rake
them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
. .
God: No way! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree roots in the winter to
keep the soil moist and loose?
. .
St Francis: After throwing the leaves away, they go out and buy something called mulch.
They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
. .
God: And where do they get this mulch?
. .
St. Francis: They cut down the trees and grind them up to make mulch.
. .
God: Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine,
you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
. .
St. Catherine: ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ Lord. It’s a really stupid movie about . . . .
. .
God: Never mind — I think I just heard the whole story from Saint Francis!

Spring Planting

A post from back in March that I never posted, probably because I had no photo handy. And then I forgot. Now we’re eating the peas. Good thing our four-year-old neighbor has his own, or he’d be eating ours too!

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, so of course we followed that rule of thumb and got some peas in the ground.

But not that even something seemingly this simple can be free of a bit of drama: We gave up on the green plastic trellis-netting we bought in France two years ago that seemed impossible not to tangle and bought some made of nylon string netting. But this one never seemed to lay flat properly, as if somehow a link got missed. The Brit tried this way and that, but it  always puckered up toward one end. In the end, we decided we’d live with it–we still had room enough for two trellises that together will support four rows of peas.

Then it was down to the basement to start some seeds under the light. I know I vowed to only have one bed of tomato plants this year, so maybe eight plants, (plus a storage container, earth-box style). But when I started sorting out the tomato seeds, there were so many varieties and it was just too hard to narrow down the list. So I’ve got 12 varieties in pots, and two or three seeds per pot. Ramapo, Lynn’s beefsteak, black cherry, brandywine, ground cherry, those orange golf balls… If they all germinate, I will need to find good homes for so many plants! And I’ll still have to pass on a few varieties, or settle for one of each and maybe claim a bigger bed. Of course, I need to keep straight which is which. We’ve used permanent ink on popsicle sticks for each pot … but now the plastic lid over won’t fit!

Bees and Butterflies

Yes, I’m back. Sorry, life got a little hectic.

But when I look out the dining room window, I see red hot pokers, shasta daisies, coreopsis, rose campion, nepeta walker’s low and tiger lillies all in bloom, with butterflies flitting from flower to flower. Get a bit closer, and I see bees.

The front bed has gone through its yellow phase (daffodils) and then its purple phase (Siberian irises, walkers low, some alliums and not much more). Now it’s in multi-color exuberance. Maybe I should just let a few photos tell the story.