Posts Tagged ‘garden’

what the garden looks like

The garden is taking off–despite a ruthless battle with the slugs for dominance of the lettuce and kale.




Wesley checking out the rolled-up tendril on the cucumber:


And here’s a bonus pic of the kids:


Mary’s favorite thing to take pictures of

So, as you may recall, Mary got a camera for Christmas. So far, her favorite subject–bar none–is her “yucky pumpkins” from Halloween.

We put them in the garden so that the kids could watch them break down into compost. (We have a compost heap, but we figured they’d actually be able to watch the process with the pumpkins.) Mary has taken pictures of them off and on and now she’s delighted that they’re “almost dirt!”

November 19: “Ooh, they’re really getting yucky.”

November 23: “These look almost the same. But a little more yucky.”


November 26: “They’re squishing down like balloons with the air out!”

December 1: “Parts of these aren’t orange anymore.”


January 12: “They’re ALMOST DIRT!”


Anyway, I just wanted to make sure that Mom knew Mary was putting her Christmas gift to good use–ha. She has taken other photos too, but these are her favorites.

tomato heaven

So, between our garden tomatoes and the fantastic deal on canning tomatoes at the local farm market, we had a lot of them to can. I decided to make one batch of spaghetti sauce, because I made some a couple of summers ago and it was fantastic. It’s a ton of work for a small amount of product, but I think it’s worth it. Mary agreed to help.

We got our tomatoes ready for peeling and coring, then Mary helped me by handing them to me so that I could drop them in the boiling water and then into the ice water. She was fascinated.

We got everything into the pot…then we waited. For a long time. Our house got very steamy. And the stove got very dirty from spattered tomato sauce.

Mary volunteered to taste it for me.



Here’s the recipe I used, in case you’re curious–it’s a combination of a bunch of different recipes. It’s very meat-heavy, though. If you like it more tomatoey, I’d cut the meat in half.

Spaghetti Sauce

1/4 cup chopped bacon.

4-5 onions, chopped.

2 pounds ground beef.

5 cloves garlic.

8 pounds peeled, cored, chopped Roma tomatoes. (This is the weight after they’re prepared; it was about 12-13 pounds to buy. I’d probably aim for 9-10 pounds if I were using regular tomatoes, because they’re more juice and less flesh.)

1/2 bottle of wine (I used red).

Leaves from three stems of basil.

Cook the bacon and onions until the onions start to soften. Add the beef and garlic and cook until browned. Drain off any grease. Add the tomatoes, wine, and basil. Cook until sauce reduces to about 1/3 its original volume (usually a couple of hours). This freezes well.

the tomato deluge is upon us

It’s not here quite yet. We’re still in the stage of eating most of the tomatoes right off the vine–because there aren’t that many, and it’s still sort of a surprise to see one underneath the foliage that’s actually REALLY ready and totally red. But…they’re on their way.

We have some beautiful Costuluto Genovese tomatoes (the lobed ones); some round-as-a-ball Rutgers tomatoes; some unnamed sort of beefsteak tomato that came from a plastic baggie marked, cryptically, “tomato ???”; and a mix of Super Sweet 100 and Yellow Marble cherry tomatoes.


The Yellow Marble tomatoes are my favorite plant of all time. We planted them one year. All of the other tomatoes succumbed to late blight, but the Yellow Marble ones never showed the slightest sign of a problem. Then they happily reseeded themselves all over the garden, and now they pop up every year in weird places all over the garden plot. I never pull a plant that looks like it might someday become a tomato, so we have them in with everything. They’re very tasty, too, and gorgeous. They’re an heirloom variety and not that easy to get (I just got lucky the year that I ordered them from Heirloom Acres), but if you do get your hands on some, plant them everywhere.

Some of the plants are totally out of hand. I’ve been tying them up over and over, adding stakes, adding string…and they just keep getting heavier and heavier and tipping over.

I turned this batch of tomatoes into this Bloody Mary tomato salad from Smitten Kitchen. It was awesome. I did not make the skirt steak but I bet it’d be great. (I rely way too much on Smitten Kitchen. We had this lentil-and-sweet potato curry last week–I would never have believed I could like lentils that much.)

I planted some orange cosmos this year, because I have enjoyed our pink cosmos so much (even though I don’t like pink). They’re in bloom now and they’re lovely. I can’t believe this color exists in nature, but here it is. I hope this variety seeds itself and comes back every year, like the pink ones. I am a very lazy gardener and I like things that plant themselves.


Mary helped me pick and arrange some flowers for the house. Pink. (Sigh.)

Wesley helped by giving himself a snack while I picked and tied up tomatoes.

garden report

Things are starting to happen in the garden (and in the yard).

First of all, we had a sweet visitor staying in the bush beside our porch–a mama robin, who built her nest in our evergreen bush. We’ve been keeping an eye on the babies and this morning I finally got around to taking a quick photo. It didn’t turn out too well, but I won’t be taking another, because this afternoon they left the nest!

The peas are growing–first and second plantings.

Mary’s strawberry plants are making all kinds of berries–still green, but lots of berries.

Well, one berry is ripening.

They also produce the most adorable little flowers. I am thinking about planting berries all around our house–I love their foliage too.

The mulberry bush has a ton of berries on it, too–just waiting for them to ripen!

Future jam!

Aren’t these cute? They’re either squash or cucumber–my plant marker washed off and I can’t read it. The first true leaves are still in the fuzzy “about to open” stage.

Since we have very dense clay soil, it’s hard for many of our plants to make it–their roots can’t get through the clay, or it’s too wet for them because it doesn’t drain well. So this year I’m trying a sort of modified lasagna garden. We’ll see how it goes. It’s ugly, but I figure the greenery will grow in and then the boxes from Costco won’t be such an eyesore!

Next time: pictures of my gardening assistants!

summer is here!

I can tell, because Wesley’s hair is curly again. And the kids’ wading pool is filled.

Also, the garden is waking up.

Radishes–probably almost ready to eat!

Strawberry plants starting to set fruit:

and the last of the porch plants, waiting their moment to move to the garden. We’re trying artichokes this year, but I have no idea how likely they are to thrive here.

latest knitted object

Mary wanted a “Spiderman sweater.” So we found Spiderman-colored yarn and she got this: 

It’s the child’s pinwheel sweater by Shelley Mackie (I’d link to it, but you have to sign up on Elann’s website to view the pattern). I seem to have gone a bit small on this one, so it’s more like a shrug…but she loves it!

(Note her strawberry plants, coming back from last year–she’s fascinated.)