Spring Blooms

Though I ended up working past dark (good thing I’m not afraid of the dark!), I completed my garden work this evening. All those tomato and pepper plants are safely ensconced in the soil – surrounded by a generous helping of Miracle-Gro garden soil – and ready to drink in the rain my Beloved tells me is expected overnight.2015-05-05 21.26.35

While I was working in the garden, my Beloved was also busy outdoors, spiffing up the shrub and flower beds around the house’s perimeter. When we next spoke, he surprised me … he had cut a stalk from the azalea bushes on the north side of our house and presented it to me! (See above picture.) Continue reading “Spring Blooms”

Eradication Meditations

The saga of my garden continues. A couple weeks ago, I posted about my concern that last year’s raspberry canes I pruned (drastically) back in February weren’t going to sprout new canes. There’s good news to report on that front! Not only have they sprouted nicely but they look to be thriving! I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a partial victory on this! See the picture below.2015-05-04 20.14.16When my Beloved announced over the weekend he was going to purchase tomato and green pepper seedlings and maybe a few other vegetables for planting, I was both surprised and goaded into action! Until now, he had more or less ceded the raised-bed garden space to my care … but I wasn’t going to refuse his sudden interest, no, no, no! So I knew I had to take immediate action! Continue reading “Eradication Meditations”

Raising Canes . . . Maybe

Back in February, I posted about a day when I made a specific appointment to prune the raspberry bushes in my garden. I mentioned my reluctance to perform the task because I believed the productive plants might – given my notoriously purple thumb – take offense at being pruned and simply refuse to produce another crop! About two weeks ago, I took a hopeful gander at the raised-bed garden. I’m afraid it wasn’t good news.raspberry 1While I can’t confirm that said canes have actually given up the ghost, I’m beginning to worry. While the usual complement of weeds have begun to flourish (and propagate without any assistance), if there are new canes sprouting, I have not spied them. I will go out tomorrow and confirm. Granted, the temperatures may be fooling them into thinking it’s still late winter! Continue reading “Raising Canes . . . Maybe”

Red As A Raspberry

With Spring 2015 now less than a month away, I decided today to take advantage of a break in the winter weather (it was sunny out and 45°). I trekked out to my raised bed garden (which I’ve posted about before) carrying the pruning shears with me. The delectable, ruby-red raspberries had a date with the chopping block!using-raspberry-ketoneAnyone who knows me well is familiar with my love of raspberries. Almost every morning I sprinkle about ¾ cup of raspberries over my cereal … and for me, even though the pattern rarely varies, I think of this daily delight as a little bit of heaven. Raspberries are just that good! Continue reading “Red As A Raspberry”

Where’s Wilbur?

Autumn is definitely in the air. As I’ve grown older, my appreciation for the season has increased. Several weeks ago, I spied a spider outside one of my office windows. It was large … and scary. Then last week, I noticed the web was there but the spider had disappeared. (My first hope was it hadn’t sought shelter and managed to come inside my house!)

Today, I peered out a second office window to discover a similar spider ensconced directly at (my) eye level! The creature has spun a beautiful, wide-ranging web just four inches from the window glass. I snapped this photo through the glass with my iPhone, so the quality isn’t great, but sufficient for my example.2014-09-22 15.16.48Naturally, I decided to learn more about this particular spider and come to find out, one of its common names is Writer Spider! The species name is Argiope aurantia and there are other common names:  black and yellow garden spider (how descriptively original!), corn spider, and golden garden spider. I, however, will stick with the name Writer Spider. Continue reading “Where’s Wilbur?”

Unlocking the Gnome Genome

FROM: Gartenzwerg by EddyDD

With all that’s going on in the world right now, it’s a fitting day for whimsy …don’t you think?

Anticipating the arrival of my European relatives in a couple weeks, I couldn’t help but think about my Germanic roots and how those roots have influenced my life, probably in ways I know as well as via my subconscious.

Gnomes are a whimsical creation of German origin, so I’m told by various online resources. The Brothers Grimm (who else?) included their tale number 91, The Gnome, in one of their collections of fairy tales.

Every time I read (or re-read) one of these fairy tales, I’m reminded how absolutely unfiltered these stories are. This amuses me because I know literature for children today covers certain allowable themes while other themes are way off limits. I think Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm would be aghast at today’s strict and puzzling approach. Continue reading “Unlocking the Gnome Genome”

Gardening Perfection

My raised garden bed is directly next to our driveway. Every single time I drive down the lane (slightly less than 400 feet to the street), I pass by that garden bed. Every single time I return home and bring my car up the lane and into the garage, I pass by that garden bed once more. The picture below is from a couple years ago. The blacktop driveway is visible in the background at top.

Whenever I drive by that bed of late, I am greeted with denunciations and scolding. Now the garden obviously says nothing at all, but each time I pass by, the voices in my head get louder and more abusive. (Oops … did I just admit I’m hearing voices? Just ignore that little slip, okay?)

The picture at left reflects a neat and flourishing garden. As I said earlier, this is an old picture. Today is the first time this growing season that I’ve actually worked to groom the plot. What was once a nicely-trimmed garden space has become (to my shame) once again entangled with weeds.

On the bright side, I’ve harvested some strawberries this season, but due to my battle with slugs, I’ve mostly harvested frustration and discouragement from that section this year. The slugs rarely consume an entire berry, but take a large chunk from one side! Also, the older plants are starting to die off, and even though new shoots are sprouting, I’m asking myself whether or not I want to continue with it. No one could ever describe me as a fair-weather gardener. I suppose I’m more of a first-Monday of the month gardener. Continue reading “Gardening Perfection”

How Now, Brown Cow?

About one o’clock this morning, I came suddenly awake. My son had entered the bedroom, turned on a peripheral light and said, “Dad, do you know there are cows in the yard?” I’m not sure my Beloved did much more than roll over at the news, but I climbed out of bed.

FROM: http://animalpictures.us/cow-brown-picture-id-311

Apparently, the dog (at the other side of the house) was barking while son and wife were upstairs lying in bed. When the dog continued to bark, son came down, let the dog out a back door and noticed other dark figures milling around in the moonlight.

ASIDE:  I need to issue a disclaimer here. I did not capture the above picture with my camera-phone. First of all, it was dark. I know the cows from the neighbor’s pasture … wandering in our yard after midnight … are brown cows. However, I’m not entirely sure if this is the exact breed of brown cow I saw. (There are 800 cattle breeds worldwide! Who knew?) Though I’ve looked at those cattle numerous times, I’m pleading ignorance; in looking at them, I guess I haven’t really seen! Give me some slack please − I’m a city girl. Continue reading “How Now, Brown Cow?”

Strawberry Yields Forever

All right, y’all! There’s strawberry pie for anyone who can get here before it’s gone! Yes, yes, I’ll dress it with whipped cream when you’re served. But you’d better get here soon because my grandson and his roommate were eyeing the pie before they left to see a movie. They’ll be back, and I suspect, will enjoy this as a midnight snack.

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Now don’t look too closely at the pie … in my preparation, I didn’t make the Martha Stewart effort to have all similar sized berries. And slapping the whole mess into the pie shell, well, that’s pretty much the way I did it. I’m generally a slacker when it comes to presentation, so it may not look as pretty as Martha’s, but I expect it’ll taste as good!

I don’t have a huge strawberry bed. The plants I set in 2009 have mostly died out, but I set in a few new ones every spring and they’re going like gangbusters. I’ve managed to keep the slugs at bay … so far.

2014-05-31 19.15.35

Here’s a picture of today’s harvest. That’s a fourteen-inch square box lid and the berries are three or four deep in the box. That’s the crazy thing about strawberries: it’s either feast or famine.

Because I’m not a natural gardener − I prefer the lounge chair or a golf course for my leisure time − strawberries are the perfect crop for me. I can enjoy a generous harvest without having to break my back tending and coddling the plants!

I also have a raspberry bush that’s beginning to display the promise of a generous crop (soon). After four years of cultivating raspberry plants and having them die every year, I was pleased that I could finally coax one of the bushes to maturity and it’s looking good. Like the strawberries, though, harvest appears to be a feast or famine. Last year, we managed to get about two cups full of dime-sized raspberries. I’m hoping we’ll do better this year, but time will tell.

Now listen, y’all. Two young men are going to see that movie (I think they’re seeing the latest installment of X-Men) and be back here in a flash. If you expect to get a slice of that pie, you’re burning daylight! Hope you make it in time.

Weeds Begone!

It’s that time of year again. As a relative newcomer to the “joys” of gardening, I’ve posted before about my efforts at husbandry. (Actually, I’m slightly surprised I remembered that ancient history … I mean, Dude, it was like two years ago!)2014-garden

In one of my posts, exactly two years ago to the day, I pictured my raised bed garden spot and in another post, I pictured the horrifying overgrowth of weeds that has caused me no end of frustration. Now that it seems Spring has taken hold (notwithstanding this morning’s 36° temperature), I’ve been noticing lots of blossoms on my strawberry plants. Each one is a reminder I should begin tending to their care.

Since my grandson was also in my care today, I decided this afternoon would be a good time for outdoor activity. An hour in the garden wasn’t going to be long enough to eradicate the weeds that have sprung up since last Fall, but it would be a start … so I told myself.

Three and a half hours later (with the sun going down), I captured the above picture before moving inside to make dinner. (Can you tell I’m slightly OCD?) When I planted our first garden (lo, those many years ago … 2010), my challenge was the Bermuda grass. Hoyt Axton used to sing about working one’s “fingers to the bone.” I understand that song by personal experience! I’m not sure I’ve ever worked at anything harder or longer than getting rid of the Bermuda. (I’m not saying it’s completely gone yet, but I’ve made a monumental effort, which continues.)

Today’s challenge wasn’t Bermuda grass. There were multiple other stubborn weeds though. One which had proliferated was a shallow-rooted but invasive weaver that twisted itself around and through the strawberry stems and everything else. It could be coaxed away, but if I was too insistent, the tender strawberry plants came with it. Worse, with each yank, I could see quarter-inch seed pods dropping into the soil!

Then there were the little bunches of delicate three-leaf-clover plants (lusciously green and when they flower, the petals are yellow), shoots of onion grass, something else with flowering heads that resembles rabbits-foot clover. I know I didn’t get them all out by the roots, so I’m resigned to seeing more of them at some future date.

As I worked today, I listened to God’s still small voice whispering through the wind, reminding me of the analogy I’d made in an earlier post:  comparing weeds to sin. Now even if you’re not a Christ-follower, you know about sin, right? For Christians, sin is that despicable thing which impedes our fellowship with God. But even non-religious people know something about “what evil lurks in the hearts of men.” (The Shadow knew.)

My understanding of sin deepens every time I engage in garden work. As I pulled to remove the entwined stems weaving themselves in and around and through every other thing in the bed, I couldn’t help but be reminded how sin inexorably invades our hearts, sometimes to the point of sucking all the love, joy and peace out of our existence. Like a weed, sin chokes us.

Each time I handled one of those weeds and watched its delicate seed pods (or maybe just seeds?) fall into the soil, I was again reminded how tenacious sin is, how insistent it is to take hold and destroy. Oh, we humans try to “do better,” “walk the straight and narrow,” “turn over a new leaf,” but sin has embedded itself. We can struggle against it, but like little weed-seeds, the habits of sin don’t let us off so easily. Root out one despicable sin and it crops up in a different iteration.

For Christians, we do have the resource of Christ through his Holy Spirit. What a blessing!

As for the garden bed in my yard, I’ve scaled back my plans and expectations. Last year’s tomatoes were a huge disappointment due to rotting from the roots upward. The green beans never seemed capable of generosity and the peppers had less than reasonable production. I had plenty of zucchini and much was saved in the freezer, but it’s still there today! Zucchini bread? Not a big seller at this address.

I’m learning to acknowledge my limitations. Although I’ve occasionally enjoyed working in the soil, I have yet to decide whether it’s the novelty of Spring or not. (I tend to think it may be.) I will keep at it … especially for my strawberries and the raspberry bush (partially visible on the right in the above picture).

But as with the great poet Robert Louis Stevenson, my garden − the one to which my heart is truly devoted − involves cultivating and tending verses. Therein, I am content.