Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Favorite Gardening Quote

I was reading a book recently (I wish I could remember which one but I read TONS of books and didn't note the title/author) and came across this gardening quote:

"The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow."

And I do believe this is true. I'm just a beginner but I've already found, in my limited experience, that my garden does better when I'm checking in on it daily. It's actually my favorite part of the day - just cruising by all "my plants" to see how they did overnight and how much they've grown. For me it's truly exciting. I pick a few weeds, water if necessary, check out all the bugs and their goings-on, and smile at the progress. I also dream about all the yummy food that will be produced with the future produce....yum yum.
(image borrowed from the Allotment Blog at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates never know what you're going to get. I bought what I thought was deep, dark purple petunias and guess what.....

They're red.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Flower Inspiration & Weekend Work

I love this time of year! It is just so beautiful. Suddenly you start to see people outside again....walking, biking, running, gardening, hanging out. The trees and flowers are blooming. It's so great, especially after such a hard winter!

So last week I broke down and bought some fresh flowers. They've been on display on my kitchen table and they've been inspiring me. The colors are fresh and joyful. It may not come through in the photo because of the drab color on my kitchen walls (came with the house!) so you'll have to trust me on this one....

In part because of that inspiration, I went out to buy all the things I needed to plant my window boxes for the Spring. Here is one below. The front plants are those deep, dark purple petunias. The plants in the back are called "Dusty Miller".....I don't really know anything about them but I fell in love with the color of the foliage. Just this morning, I went out and noticed that a couple of the petunias are about to pop. I can't wait for that!!!

Side Note: If you want to let your toddler help you plant window boxes, beware that what should take you about 45 minutes will take about 16 hours (after all the spills, clean up, starting over, etc.). I'm just sayin'.... :-)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Resident Hawk

Today I want to share some photos of our "resident hawk". She first came to visit us about a month ago and has stopped by about once a week since then. I love it when she comes....she's so interesting and BEAUTIFUL to watch. She hangs out on a branch for maybe 10 minutes, has a look around, and then flies off. The protective Mom instinct in me does come out, however, and I worry about my permanent bird residents whenever she's around. Still trying to come up with a good name for her.....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Where are all the people?

So today was a perfect weather day in sunny Charlotte, NC! It was around 75 degrees most of the day. After picking up my daughter from school, I made dinner and we, of course, ate outside. It was just heaven after months of rain. My neighbor told me today that we've had 22 inches of rain since the beginning of December. (most of it is in my backyard!). Since we're dog sitting for a friend this week, we decided to take the pup for a walk after dinner. Sophie rode her bike. About halfway through our walk, she stopped peddling and just sat in the middle of the street. My husband and I both asked her "what's wrong"? And in the sweetest voice imaginable she asked us, "Where are all the people?".

I don't even know what else to say. If I ever had any doubt that she's my daughter, all those doubts would have been completely annihilated with that one question.

Sophie, honey, I wish I knew.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Diggin' In The Dirt.....FINALLY!

My beloved Rosemary plant.

That new row of spring onions.

My furry soul mate, Kenzie.

The Cucumber lover, Hubbell, with his favorite toy.

One of Sophie's sidewalk chalk drawings.

So, we finally had some beautiful weather and enough sun to dry up our backyard a bit. Guess where I was on Saturday? That's right....out back, with my hands in the dirt. It was wonderful. I'm already well on my way to meeting some of those lofty goals for 2010. First, in my raised bed, I planted a red cabbage plant, 2 broccoli plants and 75 spring onions (you could only buy them by the 1/2 pound and pound). That second photo above is my row of spring onions. Hee hee....I guess I never could "draw" a straight line" but they look so pretty don't they? I was told they'll be up and ready in about 3 weeks. And I read online that I should cut them at about 6-8 inches tall. Yum yum.

I also planted a chamomile and a lavender plant. They're small right now so I can't wait to see how quickly they grow and how big they'll get. I can already taste the yummy tea.

Lastly, I planted a Bee Balm plant that I came across in my favorite hardware store (local....Renfrow's Hardware in Matthews, NC). I went out today, on Monday, and this crazy plant has already grown bigger. This isn't something I had planned to buy and plant but I couldn't resist once I saw it. I love bees and I hope this plants attracts a lot of them. We'll see...

I've also committed my Dad to helping me build 2 more raised beds in mid-April (right in the nick of time to plant my summer veggies and some flowers!!!!).

So as the season slowly arrives, I am up and running. How exciting! I really did think it would never get here....
Hope you enjoy some random photos (above) from our day outside in the backyard on Saturday - they're just happiness to me!! :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2010 Gardening Goals

I've been thinking about this a long time. What to do differently this year? How much to enlarge our garden? So, over the last 9 or 10 months, I've compiled a list of goals for this year's summer growing season.....

1.) ENLARGE! I've asked my Dad to help build another several raised beds. He has agreed. Our backyard has been flooded for, well, since last October or so. Because of this, we will be working very last minute to get these beds ready for planting. My last frost date is April 15th so only about 6 weeks left. So much to do!!!
2.) I want to grow a pumpkin plant. I had no idea how early you have to plant pumpkins. I've been doing some research lately and I understand I'll have to plant my pumpkin(s) in May. Wow. This is just another romantic notion that I've planted in my own mind and I can't get rid of it. So I'm planning to build an A-frame trellis to hold my pumpkin plant. And I've read several tips about different things to use for supporting the pumpkins once they start to grow. My personal favorite is nylon stockings. Wow. Yes, now that's a good use for those...
3.) Butterfly garden. One of my favorite parts of gardening is the ladybugs!!! And the bees! And the butterflies. I just adore them all. So I have decided to build a small little flower garden to attract even more of these little cuties. More to come. I still have to research this one a bit more! The bees already LOVE my basil plants. And the ladybugs just invited themselves as soon as I planted my garden (thank goodness). But I would love to attract more butterflies...I know my daughter would have the best time watching them and chasing them around.
4.) Tea herb garden. I've mentioned before how much I loved making and then drinking fresh mint tea infusions last year. So I am expanding my tea herbs. Chamomile, for sure. And lavender. And we'll see what else. But I am really excited about this one!!!
5.) Fresh flowers for cutting. There is not much better in life than fresh cut flowers in my house. But, several years ago, I learned how the flowers you buy in the market/at the store are often grown in what used to be rain forests down in Central/South America. And that just broke my heart. I felt so guilty. Yes, they'd make me happy while on display in my house. But there's too much destruction and unhealthiness behind them. I can't enjoy them anymore. So what better solution than to grow my own. I'm hoping I'm successful and I can post some photos here to show you how beautiful they've turned out and how they lend such beauty, fragrance and freshness to our home.
6.) Start a strawberry patch. I can't describe to you the disappointment I felt when I learned that it takes 3 years or so to cultivate good strawberries. That is a LONG time, my friends. But it's never going to happen if I don't start now. Have I mentioned how we already have a tiny little strawberry plant in the middle of my herb garden? Yes, it was planted several years ago. We've eaten maybe 3 strawberries since I planted it. I always thought it was rabbits eating the fruits (we have a lot of rabbits in our neighborhood!) but the more I read the more I believe it could actually be birds. All I know is someone else eats them before we do. I've tried putting dog fur around the base of the plants (to scare away the rabbits) but it didn't work. ??? Who knows. This year I will probably be much more protective of this plant since I now know that this year will probably produce the first REALLY GOOD berries. More to come.
7.) Continue composting. I just recently shut off new additions to my first compost pile/attempt. It's a large one. Just last week I purchased some rabbit pellets (a big bag) to add to my pile. So I'm guessing that one should be ready in a few months. My real issue is that we produce a LOT of kitchen scraps (being vegetarian at home, we are peeling a veggie or fruit about every 10 minutes or so) and I have a hard time finding enough "brown matter" to balance out. I can't tell you how many times this fall/winter I had to borrow my husband's car (okay, okay...SUV) to pilfer bags of leaves off of my neighbors' curbs. During the spring and summer, I'll have to work a little harder to find "brown matter" (I don't use grass/lawn clippings because it smells way too bad - don't want to piss off my neighbors!). So composting will be an ongoing goal to work out the right balance of ingredients and timing things so that the compost is ready when I'm ready to plant. I may just take another class so that I can lob about 5,000 questions at the teacher. Hee hee...

So that's it for now. I don't think I've forgotten anything. But I'll be updating my blog with my progress on these items as the next few months go by.

Oh, I forgot one thing:
8.) Get a picture of Hubbell snacking in the cucumber plant.

Okay, all done.
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