Archive for ‘Gardening’

December 7, 2010

Moving day!

October 21, 2010

Gumshoe Gardening: Season finale

On Tuesday I put on my little close-toed shoes and ventured onto my chilly back porch to do the tragic, necessary task I’ve been putting off:  ruthlessly trashing my dead garden (with the exception of my basil, which is still living(!) and which I am going to attempt to bring inside).  I’m positively shocked my plants held on as long as it did, and even more shocked that a couple of tomatoes apparently continued to ripen this week, although one of them had a weird bug-looking thing on it (yes, bug-looking, but not a bug) so I was afraid to pick it and just said oh well, it is late October after all.  A little life in the foreground, a little death in the background makes the situation seem slightly less grim when I toss entire plants into a dumpster, anyway.  Um, I mean, I composted everything…..

[The bug-looking thing is on the other side of the big tomato… I purposefully did not capture it.]

Yellowy browny leaves, smushy falling fruit, and (oh yeah), the spinach/fuchsia/pepper that died ages ago, all into the trash.  There must be a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of plants — i.e. not taking totally compostable material, shrouding it in white plastic, and putting it in a landfill — but I’ll tackle that when it doesn’t involve putting large, shedding, buggy plants into my sedan and driving them to who knows where.  Let me tell you, it was cumbersome enough walking this through muddy, slurping lawn to the dumpster across the parking lot.

Goodbye, garden.

And now, the Most Important Things I Learned about gardening this summer:

1.  Gardening is a frivolous, mercurial thing.  The weather matters.  The season matters.  The experience of the gardener seems like it should matter (and does) but when I look back on what I did, I think my spinach could have been saved, but the fuchsia and the pepper were kind of duds to begin with.  I’ve spoken with plenty of experienced gardeners whose _________ did not grow for whatever reason, and I can’t help but think that sometimes gardens just do what they want to.  There’s probably a very good reason that you see so much cat paraphernalia in garden stores.  Gardeners are just masochists who enjoy being held at the whim of various fickle creatures they hope to coax into making it worth their while.

2. Eating what I grow, even in small quantities, is extremely rewarding.  Of course my summer yield left something to be desired in the way of peppers (0), spinach (6 leaves) and tomatoes (about 18 total).  But having a stead flow of cilantro for a couple months and not buying basil all summerAwesome. I like flowers, but if I continue down this garden path I think food is definitely the way to go.  (Not to mention my first flower experience was an utter failure.)  I get happy imagining myself as one of those people with horrible problems like what am I going to do with all this zucchini? (*While I’m on the subject, I sincerely hope canning never interests me, because that sounds awful.)

3. I’m not as bad at caring for plants as I thought I would be.  Is this the same girl who killed a cactus and a bamboo plant?  Remembering to water the plants actually wasn’t that difficult once I got into a little rhythm to avoid over and under-watering. Actually, the hardest part was keeping Kieran inside while I did so.

4. This is learn-as-you-go stuff.  I let my cilantro go irreparably to flower, almost did not catch my basil before it suffered the same demise, had no clue how to pinch basil or prune spinach, possibly gave up too early on reviving my flowers, transplanted stuff too much, bought pots that were too small, etc.  But now I know how to do all those things.  And in addition, I totally destroyed a mean hoard of killer slugs and revived my tomato plant after it completely fell over from dehydration.

Thanks for reading my gardening adventures.  You can bet that if there was a promotion from gumshoe that started with a G, I’d be it.  ;)

October 2, 2010

Gumshoe Gardening: Tomato harvest

Margherita pizza is a staple around here lately. Pizza crust is easy to make, basil is free in the yard, and tomatoes are pretty cheap and usually on hand. But last night I got to use tomatoes from my very own tomato plant! This isn’t all of the tomatoes on the plant — I’m still holding out for lots of little green ones, and we left about 5 orange guys hanging.  Unfortunately the season here was ridiculously short – evidenced by the fact that I am calling ten tomatoes picked on the first of October a “harvest.”  But I’m stoked that for my very first vegetable gardening adventure I did actually get to eat something.  In fact, I ate my own cilantro, basil, and tomatoes this year, and even though my spinach went CRAZY and I gave up on it, I did at one point pick some leaves to bolster a sad, whimpy little salad.  That means out of my five edible plant nurturing attempts, I enjoyed four, at least a little bit.  Not bad for someone who completely does not know what she’s doing!!

(And, of course, I was too busy eating to take pictures of the actual pizza…. we didn’t get to eat dinner until we got home from the Blazers’ Wells Fargo Fan Fest at 9:00!)

I’m happy to report it’s a quiet weekend.  Sleeping in, great devotions and quality time with Eric, and gingerbread waffles, followed by some much-deserved (for Eric, anyway) vegging.

We found out yesterday my cousin Taryn and her husband are having their first baby!!  Congratulations, guys. :)

September 7, 2010

Gumshoe Gardening: Life and death.

This gardening update is LONG overdue.  My apologies.

This week I am thankful — I was scared to leave for Lauren’s wedding last week because it meant that my plants wouldn’t get watered for five days!  I already knew my pepper and fuchsia and cilantro are pretty unsalvageable, but I was quite concerned for my spinach and tomatoes.  Thankfully, the tomatoes didn’t look too affected and, after a good watering, my spinach is starting to perk up.  Here are some pictures:

Crazy [unshriveling] spinach:

read more »

August 30, 2010

Monday mayhem.

It’s been an insane several days here, dealing with some things that, as Juno would say are “way beyond my maturity level.”  I’m so thankful that God uses the weak to lead the strong.  These items are a bit personal to write about publicly, but accept my apology when I say I’m sorry for being away.  Here’s what my Monday has for me today!

1000 Gifts

(Previous gifts here.)

I am thankful for…
61. A peaceful resolution to this week’s events.
62. God’s economy — those who boast in themselves have received their reward in full.
63. A lesson on trusting my intuition when I can’t think it away.
64. A husband who supports me, loves me, and takes care of me.
65. My crazy disorganized house post-painting, which I now have time to fix.
66. My little sister’s wedding in five days!
67. Getting to see Eric’s extended family this weekend and meet his grandma.
68. That Grandma Lynn’s health and memory will be restored in heaven and that her faithful husband will get to see her healthy and happy.
69. Glimpses of fall (while still being definitely summer).
70. Sisters, OR, and its clear skies and fresh air.
71. Peace.
72. The joy and excitement my in-laws always have for everything! They are the most enthusiastic people I know and take such joy in life’s simple pleasures.
73. A fresh perspective on work.
74. Hope.
75. BRIGHT pink toenails.  (I hate most pink things, but a neon manicure or pedicure is a major exception.)
76. Good-smelling things like candles, incense, and soap.
77. Our new computer!
78. Freezer meals.
79. Good photographers (*which I am not.)
80. Knowing how good a dad my husband will eventually be.

read more »

July 22, 2010

Gumshoe Gardening: Maybe I’ll have some tomatoes after all?

You know when you’re SOOO hungry, and then you try to find something to make, and all the really satisfying foods on every food blog and in every foodie magazine you’ve ever read bombard you and you decide to look for a recipe, but they all take too long and you’re SO beyond hungry and on the verge of going crazy that you decide to just have a bowl of lucky charms even though all you want is this and this and this?  Yeah, me too.

And here begins a long overdue GARDEN update.

Since I scarfed my bowl of lucky charms in 2.3 minutes and I’ve heard fullness doesn’t register for about 15, my focus is probably going to be on how much I want to eat these plants.  I want to eat tomatoes with basil and cilantro and spinach.  My fuchsia is still crazy/dying, but if I had to choose one plant to go, it would be the non-edible one… still, I keep watering it and hoping.

My tomato plant as of yesterday is starting to turn all yellow at the bottom.  It’s a mystery!  But it keeps getting taller and has little yellow flowers on it, so I feel like those, at least, are a good sign…

Spinach and herbs are doing ok, although I think all my plants (including tomatoes) may be outgrowing their containers a bit.  The little dried up yellow cilantro branches underneath the plant were my hint.  Here they were last week, before I cut off the coriander branches.  I hope the plant keeps producing even though I let them grow too long, I think…  (You can see the spinach peeking in on the left!)

Sorry about that totally weirdly-colored picture.  It makes me cringe, actually.

My fuchsia is truly sad-looking.  So truly sad-looking, in fact, that it seems I forgot to even take a picture of it.  Proof that only pretty things get attention…

Coming soon: Foodie post (obviously, since it’s all I can think about!) on chili-lime shrimp and fresh mixed berry pie!  And maybe on whatever I come up with tonight, since I’m feeling inspired…

July 7, 2010

Rookies, gumshoes, and fledglings.

Isn’t it funny how things can start so perfectly, continue so earnestly, and still fail (or at least falter)?

There I was on Monday, triumphantly running up and down steep hills, mimicking the roll of the waves to my right as they beat against Haystack Rock on the gorgeous Oregon coast.  25 minutes, crazy elevation fluctuation, no problem.  When I finished I felt like I could have gone farther.

Today, I ran for slightly less than a mile before having to stop.  It’s the only run in my program thus far that I have failed to complete.  I was hot, tired, hungry, and dehydrated, and my body was telling me to stop.  I figured it would be better to stop and then try again later than to hurt myself or push too hard and set myself back further.

And then, there are my plants…  wilting tomatoes, shriveling peppers, bent-over fuchsia, and slug-salvaged spinach. (Then there’s the thriving basil and cilantro, which continues to baffle me.)

It’s so easy to become discouraged!  But I’ll keep pressing on with these perhaps silly little projects because they are what I must do.  They give me a little sense of responsibility and joy in the midst of a lonely time.  They are supposed to be my calm, and I make them my storm.  Baby steps.

Here are some pictures from my 4th of July weekend in Cannon Beach, OR….

That last one cracks me up!  Little Ana distracted by making X’s in the sand, is running to catch up with the family.

We had a fabulously fun time reuniting with Eric’s parents and sister Rebecca, and got to witness the beauty of two sensational little girls (Ela and Ana) on their first vacation with their brand new adoptive parents, Eric’s uncle Ken and aunt Trudi.

“…He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ…” (Philipians 1:6)

Overdue cooking posts tomorrow, small but faithful readership.

July 1, 2010

Thursday and half a song are all I brought with me…

This week, running seems to be the only consistently bloggable “series,” so I’m just giving a general update today.  I’m not very much a foodie this week, although I did make a few good treats last week (cobbler, heart-attack buttery pasta, cheese and chive muffins) that I could blog about.   The thing is, not only has it been winding down toward the end of the month, which this month has meant an already overspent food budget, but this weekend we are going to the beach, so I haven’t wanted to restock my fridge.  And as we know, fantastic foodie-worthy food requires fresh ingredients that we will most likely not finish, and that will go bad before we get to use them!  Last night’s dinner was the surprisingly rewarding result of scraping out the fridge and freezer.  Magically, I came across some frozen chicken (I thought we were out) and decided to stuff it with blue cheese leftover from burgers earlier this week.  It was my first experience with stuffed chicken, and I’m not quite sure how you are supposed to keep everything (especially gooey, melty cheese) from escaping!  I made it on our George Foreman grill, and a few minutes into cooking had to rearrange the chicken so the slits pointed up instead of down.  Also, my defrosting failed — I accidentally put the frozen half-breasts in the microwave for 5 minutes on high instead of defrost.  They turned out a little dry, but fine.  I whipped up some oven-roasted potatoes wedges (a favorite of mine — easy and always delicious) and cooked some frozen “Tuscan” vegetables from a bag.  I wasn’t too impressed with the veggies — frozen stir-fry vegetables are good because they’re just SO convenient — I’m not going to be buying water chestnuts and bok choy often, so it’s perfect to buy them prepackaged, even if they do get a bit soggier than I’d prefer.  The Tuscan mix, though, is not a winner.  Too many varying consistencies of vegetables, so it’s impossible to cook without overcooking something. And it didn’t contain anything I couldn’t buy and use easily.  Green beans, mushrooms, red peppers, onions… standard fare.  I far prefer crunchy/sauteed to soggy/steamed vegetables, so I will try to take advantage of good produce prices this summer!

As for gardening…. there’s another depressing topic.  Literally three hours after I posted my last triumphant Gumshoe Gardening post, I was driving home talking to Eric, and he told me my tomato plant was falling over.  After ruling out violence and wind (the stalk was curved over and nothing was broken), I staked the plant with a metal rod I found upstairs (part of a shoe rack we’re getting rid of).  Then I did some research.  I suspected, and still kind of suspect, over-watering. The pot the plant is in sits on the ground, and though it has holes under it, water might have been sitting inside unable to get out well.  However, I took the plant out of its pot to try to get at the problem and treat root rot, if necessary, and the soil did not seem over-damp at all.  The roots were white and smelled fine, and they were growing around the base of the pot but weren’t over-crowded.  So I put it back and am going to wait a little while before watering anyway.  In the mean time I will hope I didn’t needlessly traumatize my poor little plant.

Other than those things, here’s what’s been on my mind:

  • Looking forward to an Independence Day beach trip with Eric and his family, including uncle/aunt/cousins and newly adopted cousins!  It will be a great family get-together, as well as our 2-year engageaversary. <3
  • Trying to spruce up our budgeting system.  Perhaps a post on this next week?
  • Also trying to figure out a housework schedule that actually works for me…  so far there are several that do NOT work.  Being a homemaker + insert any line of work, hobby, etc. is confusing.
  • Anxiety, unfortunately.  There’s a reason this blog is about taking things one step at a time.  It’s been working for running, food, and gardening, but unfortunately there are plenty of other areas in my life that worry me silly.  Some are for good reasons, and some just aren’t at all.
  • Attending my parents’ (my home) church last week was such a blessing — a wonderful sermon on Rahab’s story in Joshua 2 that demonstrates God’s merciful pattern of salvation.

Happy 4th of July to everyone, if I don’t post before the weekend!


June 29, 2010

Gumshoe Gardening: Brynna – 1, Slugs – 0

A whole week has passed since my slug fiasco.  I’m very happy to say that after I launched a full-blown attack with a full arsenal of supplies, my little spinach plant is more or less thriving.  Caution: graphic pictures of death to follow.

Here’s a gross little slug trail (top left to bottom right):

And here is a slug Eric killed with salt:

And here is the ridiculous-looking fortress I made…

And one week later…. my happy plant (with also happy pepper friend)!

When I discovered that my spinach was being eaten, I immediately set the container on top of another container to keep it off the ground and make the slugs do more work.  Then I did some frantic research, and I discovered that there are several normal household items slugs don’t like: salt, which I promptly sprinkled around the edge of the lower pot; copper, which I found in the form of pennies and laid on top of the salt; and eggshells, which slugs apparently don’t like to crawl over because they hurt their little bellies.   I had just used some eggs, so I crumbled three shells and spread them around the salt.  So far, this three-fold attack seems to be working, and the slugs are leaving my plants alone.

My other plants are growing, too — most noticeable is my tomato!  I need to stake it sometime soon.  I just read that you’re supposed to stake them immediately after transplanting so you don’t later damage the root system… oops.  Here are some pictures of the thriving family:

I’m not sure why my fuchsia is drooping so…  there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with it, and the flowers keep growing, but it won’t stand up!  Any thoughts?

Perhaps next time a tomato-staking adventure?  And prayers for no more garden pests!

June 22, 2010

Gumshoe Gardening: We’re under attack!

Yesterday  I went out to the porch to look at my garden’s progress (turns out they don’t grow too noticeably day by day), and I noticed a suspicious-looking hole in one of my plant leaves.  Trying to be optimistic, I didn’t think much of it.  Yes, it could be a predator who lurks in the dark waiting to sabotage my garden, I thought, but my plants had been there for all of three days, and they are in containers, not a huge bed of dirt!

But today I went out again — and now I am very discouraged.  Two entire halves of leaves are eaten off of my spinach (the poor guy only has a few!), and other leaves have little holes, too.

I suspect slugs.  Can anyone confirm this?

Also, I have no idea what’s going on here:

The bottom-most leaves of spinach are coming out flimsy and colorless.  I am almost sure I have not over or under-watered, and there is plenty of root space.  Could I have traumatized those roots by transplanting, I wonder? Will they get better?

And the last mystery:  light brown splotches on my fuchsia leaves.  I’m at a loss here…

Gardening gurus, please help!  I’m not 100% committed to organic if pesticides are the only way for me to actually grow anything — what works??  I might go slug-hunting tonight…  which I will absolutely post about if it happens.

Some super easy, delicious recipes are coming soon!