Flowers for summer

mixed bouquet

Last week, I didn’t plan on getting much work done, what with it being the last week of school for the kids. Sure enough, I did lunch with my daughter’s class, plus the annual outing with the kids for ice cream. Also did a trip to a library in a neighboring town, plus ran through the car wash because the girl really loves that.

And, of course, different flowers are blooming. Last week marked the end of the peonies for this year, but the rose is blooming, as are the red hot pokers, and the Monarda (bee balm) will be starting soon. Clematis is budding, too. Not expecting anything from the crape myrtles until next month, though. So what do we do with this bounty of blossoms? Well, the girl wanted to take flowers in to her teacher. Hence, the bouquet.

Now we’re back to remembering how to deal with Mom wanting to work with the kids at home. We’ll get it straightened out by the end of the week, I’m sure. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying their enthusiasm.

What are you grateful for this week?

Apples and trees

Today’s post is both a bit of gratitude, and a bit of “What’s actually going on?”

The branches sagging to the ground.

The branches sagging to the ground.

I’ve posted pictures before of the apple tree in back, weighted down with apple blossoms. We’ve picked apples from it once or twice, but we don’t usually get most of them — we have all kinds of wildlife, from blue jays and robins to deer. So when I really looked at the tree last week and saw how weighed down it was by apples, I was quite surprised.

However, never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I took the kids out to pick apples this weekend. We got several quarts of apples, and the tree still looks untouched.

Look at how many there are!

Look at how many there are!

What we've picked so far

What we’ve picked so far

Sliced apple

Sliced apple

I started off with applesauce. I’ll do apple butter as well, maybe a couple of apple pies (although the girl doesn’t like them), and some apple compost jelly (made with the peels and cores)… the possibilities are almost endless.

But I do wonder why I haven’t seen the deer around at all, much less why they haven’t lightened the tree as they usually do.

Some of what's still left on the tree

Some of what’s still left on the tree

What are you grateful for this week?

The state of the pumpkin

Although there are ears on the corn plants, the kernels are all underdeveloped. The lettuce has been out there so long that even what’s not flowering is slightly bitter (rather pretty, though). The pumpkin, though — this is my success for the year. Just feast your eyes on this:
pumpkin growing orange

Isn’t that looking lovely?

I’m also (just a bit) grateful that school starts two weeks from today.

What are you grateful for today?

The garden is growing!

I had to go out and pull one of the cabbage-mustard-lettuce things from the garden because it had bolted (as in, was taller than my daughter), but I’m pleased with how everything else is doing. I plucked red leaf lettuce for salad, harvested all two of my green beans, and took pictures of things yet to come. Continue reading

Garden pics

Here are the pictures I promised yesterday.

First, the blueberry plants on our deck. They look to be establishing themselves well. We won’t get any berries this year, of course, but next year should be delightful.
blueberry bushes in pots

The straw bales with the seedlings (before the tomato plants were added):
corn and other seedlings in straw

seedlings plus empty straw bale

Now with tomato plants in place of that empty bale above.
straw bales from above

Little by little

So I’m trying this straw bale gardening this year. It’s kind of like using raised beds without having to make them. You have to prep the bales with fertilizer to make them start breaking down, to make them a good substrate for growth. That’s actually been going better than I expected — I can see them browning up nicely in spots, and a couple weeds have started sprouting.

The few seedlings remaining are out in the garage — wilting horribly in the 80+ heat we’re having this week. If I can keep them alive long enough, they’re going  into the bales Friday evening, along with new seeds for the ones that don’t (or haven’t) survived. Should be lots of fun for my daughter and I!

The bales will probably look overplanted by most gardening standards, but I’m a firm belief in square foot gardening. I’m looking forward to the harvest, as well as all the time spent with my daughter along the way.

What’s good in your life this Monday?


So much to be grateful for today. It’s warm at last — today’s about 70. Lovely.

The seeds my daughter and I planted are coming right along. Some of them look like they’re ready to go outside (peas and beans, mostly), but I don’t have a space for them yet.

sprouting seeds

This morning, I took a picture of the budding daffodils on the side of our house. This afternoon, I took more pictures because they actually started opening during the day.

daffodil buds

daffodils opening

blooming daffodils

The croci, of course, are blooming in every color imaginable.

purple croci

white croci

yellow crocus

bed of croci

And even the hellebores are struggling out of the ground (and the impacted leaves from last fall).

hellebores unfurling

So the flowers that bloom in the spring (tra-la) are what I’m grateful for today. What about you?

The hope of growing things

seed traysBit late in the spring, perhaps, but this weekend my daughter and I started seeds in seed trays — vegetables, flowers, a couple of herbs. Figure we’ll get them transplanted the first or second week of May (assuming they haven’t all died from wilt before that).

She said she wanted a garden of her own this year. I love growing things, even if I haven’t had a lot of success with vegetables here in Pennsylvania, so I’m happy to accommodate her wishes. I even have time to prep space to transplant to.

Not raised beds, not this year. However, I believe I still have time to give hay bale gardening a shot — basically, you prep planting spots on the bales with fertilizer, allowing some time for the hay to break down and make a better planting medium. At the end of the growing season, what remains of the bale is compost, usable to prep beds for winter and next year.

That’s the theory, anyway. We’ll see how it works in practice.

The next step, of course, is to get the hay bales.

So today I’m grateful for time with my daughter, shared interests, and the thought of fresh vegetables and flowers to come. What are you grateful for this week?