Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Daydreaming of Summer

I was cleaning up some photos today and I got to see all the pictures I took last summer of my garden. I always try to document my garden so I can compare it later. It is fun to look back and see the progression of my work.

Summer is such a vibrant time. Oh the lusciousness of it all. When I look out my windows right now the garden is brimming with spring ready to burst, but it is still all buttoned up. Frankly right now all that I see is a whole lot of mud with little hints of green. It doesn't help that I have been digging up all the remaining sod in my back yard to make more planting areas, and less grass that no one wants to mow. We have a lot of mud, mud an more mud.

I remember last summer just as it was heading into fall. I remember being so sad that the season was leaving. I remember looking around my yard and loving what it had become. I remember a certain sadness that I had never felt before at the change in the air. Up until now I can always say that I have had happy, cozy, feelings of renewal in the fall, and quick excitement for the coming winter. Last year was different. For the first time I was very seriously mourning the departure of summer and the slowly creeping cold. I think this marks a very important change in me. I will always love all the seasons of the year but last year made me realize that I have crossed over from a winter girl to a summer girl. I am no longer a snowboarder, I am a gardener.

My kids are starting to share my excitement even though they might not want to eat most of what I grow yet, they love to talk to me about what we are going to plant this year. I love thinking that my garden is a magical oasis for them. I have had so much internal debate over digging up my remaining lawn and with the winter mud being the last straw, I realized that they do enjoy playing on the garden paths more than the lawn. In the summer the sun is too intense most of the time where the lawn is and a garden will grow nicely while providing them cover for imagination and shade for their eyes.

My goal this year as I have planned where to plant and where to dig is to reduce our need for outside veggies. I am going to try harder to provide enough for most of our fresh eating. I have my seeds that I ordered from here all safe and sound in the basement and I should be prepping my planting areas soon with finished compost. I don't start seeds early, I only purchase seeds for the plants that will germinate and grow in my area straight in the garden. Those are things like sweet pea, beans, zucchini, nasturtiums, sunflowers, greens, radishes, beets and pumpkins. I buy my tomatoes, peppers, basil, and cucumbers as starts every year. I don't have the room or the patient attitude for growing my own starts, maybe someday when I have a much bigger garden I will get into that. For now it is much more cost effective for me to buy starts.

This was my new bed that Hubbs built me last year and the bean tee pee that I put in. Last year I grew scarlet runner beans on it but we didn't care for them on the plate. So for this coming year I am going to grow a regular green bean that is supposed to grow tall enough to cover the structure. I loved the way it turned out and am excited to use it again. I just transplanted all of the herbs from the garden box and put raspberries there instead. I'm not sure if I will like the way it will look as much but my raspberries needed a new home that would help them grow. Herbs can grow almost anywhere

Last year when I was building the vine tee pee I displaced quite a lot of sod as I put pavers underneath. I am not good at throwing away yard waste so I put the sod to use as the new planting area seen in this picture to the left of the sidewalk. I just took some cardboard and made the size I wanted on the existing lawn, checked for sprinkler heads, then flipped the displaced sod right over on top of the cardboard to make it all mounded up. Then I covered it all with a few inches of finished compost and edged the grass around it to make it look neat. After that I pretty much planted right in it. I planted a few perennials like globe thistle, black eyed suzan, and lambs ear. I also planted a gooseberry bush that should be really fun to cook with when it bears more fruit, as well as some Siberian iris, and teddy bear sunflowers. The whole thing was very golden by late summer so this year I need to add some other colors. I was so happy with the way it turned out but I was a little nervous as I was making it. In the spring, when I garden, it feels like I am just going crazy in the yard. It always feels a little like I am a mad scientist throwing some garden debris this way and that. Then it comes together magically the end and people think I have some great talent or know what I am doing.

My littlest was always stealing tomatoes. As much as I wanted to be upset about this I couldn't as it is one of my greatest wishes for my kids to love tomatoes as much as I do. I remember being a teenager and getting up really early in the late summer to go practice my diving at the local pool to get ready for swimming season. Then when I got home I was always so hungry and craving a nice tomato sandwich. Yup, just bread, mayo tomatoes and salt. That would be my breakfast at 7 am, and if I was really feeling crazy I would toast my bread.

A view from the front just outside the gate. I have worked for 4 years trying so hard to fill my gardens in as they were so boring and bare when we bought the house. Last spring I was looking around for the first time thinking, "I have to start dividing and giving some of my plants away." It was really an odd feeling because it had felt like such a poor mans scramble for so long and then all of a sudden BAMB, too many plants!

This is looking just the other way than in the picture above. I can hardly believe my eyes when I look at these pictures as it still just shocks me that my flower garden is so full. I almost described it as complete, but I am not sure if there ever is such a thing as that in the garden.

My pretty house and her flowers. So lovely. Oh summer why do you ever have to go away?

More flowers from the front. It is a close up of some of the wonderfulness I am looking forward too. I find myself buying cheap bouquets of flowers this time of the year when I do my grocery shopping as I am longing for the color, and smells of the flowers. Last year I had yet another ah ha moment when I remembered why I wanted to plant so many flowers. I remember in college a bunch of girls that I knew moved into a house with a bit of a garden and one of those girls said to me, "We had flowers to bring in all summer long." I thought to myself that I would have that one day. I realized last spring that my garden was full enough that I could finally bring in flowers all summer long, and I did.

Being a kid in the summer sun is so magical. I love my kiddos so much and hope from the bottom of my heart that they are able to make those special memories here in our yard that will carry them through the rest of their lives. I have many memories from the various gardens of my childhood, the way that they felt will always stay with me. Those happy memories that I used to make as a child in the garden come back to me in the smells and textures of my own garden.

I planted some pumpkins in the front of the house in a flower bed out in the middle of the lawn that has been hard to grow stuff in for various reasons. I learned last summer that pumpkins don't get enough sun out there, but lucky for me a little squirrel (so I think) decided to replant one in the back by my vine tee pee. Well that pumpkin loved its new home and grew, and grew, and grew right along the concrete wall on top of the concrete patio. We had an empty sandbox sitting there and I didn't even know there were pumpkins on the vine until one day when my kids moved the sandbox. Before I knew it they chopped all of them off except one and it became my prized white pumpkin!

I don't have to look at all of these photos at the start of spring to remind me that I need more land. Deep down I need more land to garden. I need the room to have the garden to grow 40 tomato plants and 10 bushels of potatoes. It is one of my deepest dreams to have a large enough garden to home can all of my tomatoes and cucumbers every year. Right now I am only able to plant enough plants for a batch or two plus fresh eating. I need to get out and keep at my digging as I am almost 60 percent done turning over sod. Hopefully I can get some pictures of it plus some pictures of my kids, as at least they have been loving the mud!

Round Here Something Radiates

I just spent about fifteen minutes typing up some grand thing to say for the people that look at my blog. Then I deleted it.

I don't need to explain the thoughts in my head, or write about why I am trying to do certain things here. I am posting because it has been a long time. We have grown up and are still growing around this house and good things are happening. We are doing our first year of Kindergarten and it has been fun but more of a learning process for me. I find that I have to learn how to manage my time and how to let certain things go so we can do what is really important.

We have been having a month or so where someone is under the weather. Right now we all have some sort of nasty little cold. There has been a lot of herbal tea, soup, and more TV than I would like but we are surviving. Today I only have half a voice and it is surprising to me how serious the kids know I am just my my eyes.

I have been busy this year making a lot of wooden toys to use for our school time. I tell them a lot of stories and sometimes we have fun setting up the scenes and acting it all out. I have had to re-arrange my life and my house a little bit to have a place for all of these creations. I liked the end result more than I thought I would. I enjoy seeing all of the bright toys sitting on the bookshelves.

A big thing for me happened a couple of months ago, I finally got my husband to install the large farm sink I bought 4 years ago when we moved into the house. It was problematic as the sink is a different dimension that the old one and we can't just get a new counter top for a reasonable price as the old one is completely custom in every way. So just a little sink project has turned into a huge debacle. So the new sink is in and I love it but it is not on a pretty counter. I will keep dreaming but for now I am so happy to have a more functional sink in our tiny kitchen. We even went as far as to install a water filter directly to the line so as you turn your cold water on for a nice drink woalla! Fresh tasting water right out of the tap. What can I say, it is getting luxurious around here.

With all of this new sink came some other fun things in the Kitchen as I have been baking our bread with a San Francisco sourdough starter. I have been using the organic flour you can get at Costco and it was rising like a dream. It was super nice, predictable and fast (for sourdough). When we did our NO spending month in January and part of February I had to use some regular flour for a while  (due to running out of flour unexpectedly and having no money to get new flour) and it started to rise less and less and my breads were predictably turning into bricks. When I had used all of that flour and was able to go back to my regular flour my bread has begun to resemble its old self. I found it an interesting experiment to say the least.

A few pictures from around my house are here in this post as it is always interesting for me to look back on them a year or more down the line. Can you see that branch thing hanging on our wall back there. When my dad gave me my scroll saw, that was the first thing I made out of some scrap pieces from a piano we tore apart in the basement when we bought the house. We use it now as a little place to set up our seasonal displays. Due to my feelings of not wanting clutter and how small our house is I was having a hard time finding a place for our nature table. Now we just use the branch and the desk. The branch was not an easy first project for my scroll saw but hey, that's just the way I work I guess. Most of the time I just jump right in and sink or swim.

This is almost how my kids room looks now, of course it is the one room that changes the most. I still can't believe I have three kids crammed in that little room. Sometimes I get really frustrated that our house is so small but then I remember that it is really good too. We are close and we don't have a lot of useless stuff. This small house has taught me that I can be happy with less, and that if something is going to be brought into my house, I better love it. It has been a process but I often think of what my mom said to me one time, that living in a small house and sharing rooms with her siblings made her family closer.

Of course the cram of three kids in one room wouldn't be possible with out this great toddler sized bunk bed that my dad made for my kids. We didn't want a full size bunk because it would have filled most of the room as well as the concern of them falling out. When I stand by the one we have my shoulders are at the top bunk, and the mattresses is as skinny as a crib mattress. I love this little bunk bed as it is sturdy and made out of real wood. I also love how I can snuggle them on it because I just fit, head to toe length wise.

Things are always changing and that is good. We have fun most days and we are gearing up for warmer weather. We didn't really have a winter and so it has felt like spring for almost a month and a half now. I have been working on some pretty big garden projects and am excited for some upcoming adventures.