Some days are so perfect, I’m swept away by the beauty of it all. When I can let go of the urgency to capture and hold it and just be in it, that is the most glorious feeling in this world.
Yesterday I just about finished the spring cleaning on the back gardens. This morning we visited my middle daughter. Last summer she got married and moved to a city. Luckily, there’s some outdoor space and she and her new husband made it really inviting! They refurbished an old patio set of mine. She sewed up some fabric pillows and he filled buckets from a home improvement store with pots of herbs. We had brunch on their patio… vegetable frittata, fresh fruit and croissants. It was a great visit. I miss my daughter and wish that she didn’t live so far away (I exagerate; it’s less than 1 1/2 hours away) but it’s good to see that she and her husband are making such a nice life of their own.
Once it finally gets warm and things start growing and blooming outside, it feels as if it will last forever. But it snowed yesterday and last night the temperatures dipped into the 20’s. The magnolia blooms, still not quite opened are turning brown at the edges. I suspect the cold will take its toll in other ways but out in the yard everything looks fine and luckily, the snow didn’t stick.
There’s lots of different types of daffodils blooming in my yard now.
The seeds planted back in March are doing well except for the Milkweed. Not a single sprout in sight. The growing seedlings get a boost of a tablespoon of fish emulsion dissolved in a gallon of their water twice a week. Kale, some herbs and cabbages are set out now, during the day. The sprouted peas are planted in a potted trellis that held black eyed Susan vines last year.
The rhubarb is unfurling and things are coming alive. The fritillaries I planted are looking good but seem to have had no effect on deterring moles. My front yard is a giant mole hotel. All the roses except the rugosas are ruined, the roots eaten to nubs.
It’s raining so I’ll be spending the day in the kitchen. I have more seedlings to transplant, (they are taking over the house!), and I want to catch up on some cooking. There’s chicken broth on the stove. We buy local, free range chickens and not a bit is wasted. Even the bones are used.. burnt in the fireplace and composted.
If I have time, I might work on some needlework later and make some berry crumble with the last of the blackberries and raspberries, in the freezer from last year’s crop.
Happy, productive days!
The first daffodils opened today! The garlic has poked through and is looking nice and sturdy. Seed potatoes are coming in tomorrow.
I lost all the fish in the pond this winter. Talking to the girl at the pet store, I found out that many pond owners here lost their fish. The winter was just too cold for too long. I’ll be introducing a few fish at a time into the pond for the next month. These are feeder fish. People buy them to feed other pets. They cost a dime each. I feel sorry for the fish that froze over the winter but living for 8 years in my pond was a better fate than what they may have met as turtle food.
I’ve been really inspired by the Grow Food not Lawns movement. The past few years I’ve been transitioning my massive perennial borders and front flower beds into mixed gardens, integrating my existing plants with vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit. This combination can be beautiful and practical. Rhubarb, zucchini and most vegetables are so attractive and look great among the flowers and shrubs. Lots of flowers are edible and pretty… Bee balm, calendula, violets, nasturtiums, roses and lavender, to name just a few. Strawberries and creeping thyme are great ground covers and borders. Currant and blueberry bushes are easy to grow, attractive when they come into flower and even prettier when they set berries. Columnar fruit trees are another great option. Cabbage and kale are great fill ins. Lancinato kale has a lot of visual interest but it gets eaten up by little green worms here so I grow the Green Scottish Curled instead. Herbs offer so much in the way of flowers and color..echinacea, catnip, lemon balm, variegated mints, borage..The list goes on and this post is getting long. As the season progresses, all the little plants filling my tables under lights crowding the sunny windowsills will hopefully be big and strong and make their way into the gardens. Ideas are percolating for artful/ edible combinations and integrations. I’m hoping this gardening season is productive and beautiful for all of us!
Easter was great. Easter Monday was a beautiful day. It’s been cold and rainy since then but the indoor seedlings are thriving, sending out their true leaves. Thanks to the good advice of my blogger friends, the Friariello di Napoli pepper seeds sprouted right up after placing the tray on the radiator for a few days.
The power company took down a big maple in my front yard. It’s a sad sight.
This morning, I made some bug repellant. Having had Lyme disease and living in a state where it has reached endemic proportions, I have to admit it scares me a bit. I take precautions. I don’t want to douse myself or my dogs with pesticides so I’ve been using something home made instead. I add 25 drops of rose geranium essential oil to 4 ounces of Jojoba and keep it in a dark, glass jar. I apply the mixture all over myself before getting into my gardening clothes. Other essential oils can be added but rose geranium is reputed to repel tics. Jojoba is a good carrier. It lasts longer than a water based carrier. It’s light, easily absorbed by the skin and has the benefits of being antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and offers nutritive benefits as well. It never goes rancid because technically it’s a wax, not an oil. After gardening, all my clothes go right into the washing machine. I immediately take a shower. It’s an annoying routine but better than getting Lyme disease again. So far so good!
Today was my first snow-free day out in the gardens. I spent 6 hours in the front yard and got 4 of the 7 beds cleared. Out back is where the real work begins. I left leaves in the beds and the plants high last Fall so the birds could have the seeds. I have to laugh, I start the day running out the door to get at it and just a few hours later I’m wondering why I have so many gardens.
Poking around for signs of life, I was a little sad to see that even though the pond is dug down 3 feet, one of my fish didn’t make it through the winter. I put 12 little feeder goldfish into the pond when we dug it 8 years ago. No sign yet of any of the others. There’s lots of other things popping through though. It’s so exciting. I have a LOT of work ahead of me
Seeds are sprouting all over the place. I may have been wrong, and cheerfully so! Looks like we might have daffodils for Easter after all. Does anyone out there know if Milkweed takes inordinately long to sprout indoors? (save the Monarchs!) Also, I think my seeds may have frozen in the mailbox. Not a single pepper seed has taken. If they froze, would that have ruined them? Everything else is fine. Happy Spring!
My daughters have been calling in requests for things that they want me to cook for Easter. I don’t know how many generations have been making our family recipes but since my Mother died 4 years ago, it’s been my turn to keep them going.
Yesterday I made nut roll. There’s a lot more cooking left to do and some of the ingredients aren’t available in the regular grocery stores. I took a little trip to a town about 40 minutes away that has a strong, Eastern European community and a good ethnic market. There was a 45 minute wait to get into the shop. In line, the mood was festive. Everyone was excited about the holiday. We were all talking and laughing with each other. Since many of us were making the same traditional Easter dishes, the conversation turned to recipes and cooking anecdotes. It was fun and the time flew by!
The store was pretty big and had a lot of interesting things that aren’t in the regular grocery stores. Many of the items had labels that weren’t written in English. I got everything I needed, had a good time looking around and found a few interesting things for the Easter baskets.