To the Outdoors!

Things have been exceptionally hectic around here.  I’ve gone back to work at a local garden center for the season and the work/life balance is taking it’s toll.  Even though some things have suffered, ie. no running currently and little creative time, I have been finding other ways to get in my happy one way or another.

I set up a make shift seed starting area in my basement in January and have so far managed a healthy crop of pansies and violas (though the pansies have yet to actually bloom which is strange) and the tomatoes are coming along quite well.

Tiny viola!

I discovered I really hate planting anything in peat pots.  They mildew and grow moss or fungus like crazy even when they’re allowed to dry out between waterings.  I ended up switching to plastic planters and as much as I hate plastic they will definitely endure several years of hard use and reuse, and most importantly I won’t have to fight off so much fungus.

Once I made the switch and moved all of my surviving violas and pansies they took off like mad!

First year growing violas from seed.

Look at those roots, baby! I also tried my hand at impatients and found out they take a ridiculously long time to germinate….like upwards of 28 days before you’ll see ANY sign that they’re viable seeds. I managed to grow a dozen or so but that was out of 50 seeds.  Not a good success rate.  I haven’t bothered with a heating mat which I’m sure would move things along, but I’ll add it the list for next year and maybe find better seed stock.

This spring has been another odd one for us here in the Midwest.  After a wet and mild winter, spring has been unseasonably warm and wet.  I’m getting very tired of being soggy all the time and to make matters worse we’ve been bouncing between high winds and freeze warnings the last two weeks.  It’s been hard on our sinuses and the plants.

But things are looking up and I’m slowly collecting plants to put in my beds.  A few new perennials, like three lime green sedums and two red hot bee balm plants to add to the collection, and the usual annuals.

The onion sets are in and as soon as the weather dries out enough the carrots will be planted along with the first rows of beans.  Gardening never takes a holiday!


A Pile of To-Dos

My goodness time has certainly gotten away from us this month!  We’ve been so busy being outside the last few weeks that it’s become a real challenge to haul ourselves in for the night.  The harvest is coming in strong and I’ve been putting up beans since June and just got started on tomato sauce these last two weeks.  I even did a batch of chicken stock!

I honestly didn’t think the tomatoes were going to come thru, but I’m so grateful it got warm enough to ripen these puppies up and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we can refrain from going thru all the sauce before mid-winter.

Even the grapes fruited this year!! This is especially exciting because they’ve been 3 years in the ground and it’s taken alot of patience and careful pruning to nuture them to this point.  Not quite enough for grape jelly but a wonderful preview of things to come.

And to top it off I’m already figuring out how many bulbs I want to put in the flower beds this fall and getting ready to put in an order for garlic and plotting out where to put the kale.  *WHEW*

If I sound busy it’s because I have been.

Fi also turned #3 and had what could only be described as “the best.birthday.ever.” (despite me having a combo of allergies and sinus ick I think I scored some major points with this year’s bash).  Can’t believe she’ll be starting preschool after Labor Day already.

You’re never more aware of the passage of time and how fleeting it is until you have a child.

As she gets older though and she interacts with the world around her more she’s discovering some pretty amazing things, like this caterpillar.

Wild Saturniid Silk Moth or Ceceropia for short. It’s the biggest moth in the US and we’ve spotted 2 in the last week! When we found him slogging thru our yard he seemed pretty tired and I figured he was about ready to find a good resting spot. This guy is about 4 in long. He managed to weave a cocoon over on one of my vinca plants over the next 2 days and it made for a fun biology “lesson”.  Hoping he survives the winter as they don’t emerge until late spring/early summer.

I also started a five week photography class and hope to do a basic Lightroom class after that and if that wasn’t enough to make me question my sanity I’ve upped my running mileage and completed a solid 7 miles on Saturday with a decent, easy pace and am planning for 8 miles this coming weekend.  Never thought I’d be where I am now but it feels strange.

Only 4 more weeks till my first Half Marathon.  I’d like to potentially run 11 miles and walk 2 of them somewhere in between.  That’s the plan and I’m sure I’ll have to scrap it the second the starting gun goes off.

Sweet Tooth

Strawberries are in full glory around here.  I was late to the fields last year so my strawberries were overripe and not very fit for jam, but I made it any way.  This year, I was far more successful when it came to picking them on time and getting them all processed.

We picked just under 10 POUNDS of strawberries which eventually worked down to 16 half pints (and one pint for the fridge for immediate yumminess) of jam, one strawberry- rhubarb pie, and lots of sticky fingers sneaking berries out of the bucket as I was washing them.  I can’t say for certain, but I’m guessing my wee beastie ate about a pound of berries by herself.

This time of year always feels so refreshing as we reconnect with the soil and growing things. It also means that the needle and thread get a short break in between harvests and grass stained feet.