August 29, 2011

Lazy Gardening, Cosmos Blooming.

I haven't had much energy these past few days. I'm not exactly sure what it is but I have severely neglected the garden to say the very least.
A very kind friend on a gardening site send me seeds that I've yet to try previously. It was very generous. I've had a lot of really nice friends recently sending me seeds to help me grow a wonderful lush patch of earth and it really means so much to me! Specifically my friend Sadie Sams! She has sent me Eggplant and Kohlrabi, in addition to tons of flower seeds that I am really excited to try out. My favorite out of all of them are the Red Sunflowers. I've never seen them around here at all.

The few cosmo seeds that I scattered under my front window are finally blooming! I hope a few more open up, and I'll take a photo. They are shades of magenta and lilac. Cosmos are such cute little flowers, they grow up tall about 2-3' and then have very sweet delicate little flowers. Very colorful!

One of the packet of seeds that I was sent by my friend at MyFolia that I am especially excited to try is the "Purple Cape" cauliflower. This variety is meant for colder climates as I hear. Overwintering is something I have never made an attempt at but it is how to grow this particular cauliflower, so I will give it a shot! Nothing like a new adventure in gardening. Kale is another plant on the list that I have no grown before, which I now have the opportunity to grow.
I HIGHLY recommend anyone check out MyFolia, there are tons of kind and caring people there that LOVE to swap seeds! There is even a map showing you where the seeds traveled from to you, and a note for the person receiving the seeds if the sender chooses. It's very awesome.

I just enjoyed the first cucumber of the season. It was so tasty! I forgot to take a photo, as it is very dark out but I don't think it was ready yet.

August 24, 2011

Photo Update: Lemon Flowers, Baby Pumpkins, & Siamese Cucumbers

Improved Meyer's Lemon Flowers
I love this photo! This is the lemon tree I purchased for $10 on sale. Yay! I am really happy to see the flowers, I think they are REALLY pretty.
Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin
I am so excited to see the first pumpkin finally pollinate! The plant produced a few female flowers however at the time there were no male flowers on it or other plants. Thankfully the pumpkin pot in the front yard flowered profusely with male flowers, and suddenly I had a golfball sized baby pumpkin. It is now the size of a grapefruit!
Siamese Boston Pickling Cucumbers
As you can see in the photo, I have 2 baby cucumbers connected! They both look pollinated, it just looks like they sprouted off the same stem. I have heard of this before on MyFolia!!! I believe it is called a mega-bloom.

A very bottom heavy Boston Pickling Cucumber
This cucumber looks very bottom heavy. I've never seen one like this, and I'm not sure if it is an issue because it wasn't completely pollinated.. But the thing is the bottom looks much larger than those of others.
Orange Habaneros
To add a bit of color to the post, my habaneros are ripening like crazy!! Yum. They are perfect to give away as 1 goes a long way for some people.

Word of the Day.. ouch! & Greenhouse Brainstorm

My hand is still very sore, but life will go on!

I've been a bit busy lately, and slow. I smashed my hand in a door about a week ago and have been trying to continue on as if it's okay, but it's not!! I'm sorry for my absence!

I don't want to make this off topic, as it is a Word of the Day.. but it's a bit lackluster I do admit.
I am planning a project! It is pretty ambitious but I am soo pumped to give it a try. My plan is to build a small greenhouse out of hopefully re-purposed items. It needs to be adequate in size however I want to be able to take it apart and move it when the time comes to leave this rental house. I hope to use PVC pipes as the structure, as it is easy to stick together and take apart as long as you have proper connectors.
My intention with this project is to grow enough food to provide for my parents, as well as plenty of surplus to donate to the local Food Bank. There is also a church in my town that does a a weekly lunch for anyone, free of charge and it would be fantastic if I could provide healthy, nutritious food to the people in my community. The food bank currently has a greenhouse that they grow food in, but it doesn't seem like a sufficient amount to help everyone in need. There is always a need for food and there always will be.
I myself have had to pick up things at the local food bank and I'm not embarrassed by it. I am a 22 year old and I don't make much more than minimum wage so I understand how important it is to eat healthy and have good food but maybe not always having money to buy it. As a child, my parents understood this and reached out for help when they were in need from the food bank. While there are fresh veggies included in the food you receive, it is very limited and seems as if there are excesses of some items and not enough of others. I hope to try and grow a healthy and colorful variety throughout the year to offer as many vitamins and nutrients as possible.

The problem with this is I am still a very poor young adult. I do not have money to spend on supplies, nor the gas to find things for free from craigslist. My passion for gardening and for helping others won't let this die. I will come up with a solution, it will just take time.

August 20, 2011

Sustainability Starts At Home: Steps YOU Can Take

These days, there are a huge number of reasons why people are choosing to try and switch over to a more suitable or sustainable way of life. To get a better idea of what this means, I'd like to first introduce the definition of sustainable.

1 : capable of being sustained
2 a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged <sustainable techniques> <sustainable agriculture> b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods <sustainable society>
By this definition, sustainable living would be living in a way that relates to using and harvesting resources so that they will continue to be here for many lifetimes to come. Just a few of these examples include food, water, fiber, fuel and energy. 
It seems a lot more people are concerned with this topic especially because of many recent events featured in the news and media. Many issues are coming to light in the world, and individuals are wondering what they can do in their own homes to try and make a difference. While the planet will NOT be saved purely by doing these few simple things, it can be very helpful in the long run if we all try to practice some of them diligently.  
To Avoid GMO foods, Grow at Home! 
This is simply the easiest way to avoid foods that have the added gene to resist roundup weed killer. 
There are many many resources for growing gardens indoors (Such as the BathroomFarmer
It can also be fairly inexpensive to get started at home. Recycle food containers to make mini-greenhouses, and plastic bottles to grow plants in. They can also but used as a drip irrigation watering system for potted plants as well as those in the ground. 
Simple fill a plastic bottle with water and either poke small holes in the bottom and place it on the ground, or push the opening of the bottle deep into the soil so it will slowly drain. Both work well, but some soil conditions may not work with one or the other so test out both methods!

Avoid Plastics as much as possible!
It is much easier these days to avoid plastic than you may think. There are now reusable water bottles that include a filter for water INSIDE. While you do have to change the filter, this is much less waste than if you were to simple drink bottled water.
When you go to the store, ask to use your own bags for your items. Most of the time people don't even buy a considerable amount of groceries yet they still get a plastic bag. If you have a purse on you, why bother getting a bag for your drink and candy bar?! All you need is a recipe that shows you paid. Actually, if it's possible, see if they can keep that, TOO! Some will just give you sticker to say you're good to go. I'd rather have a sticker than a yucky chemical soaked recipe any day of the week. 
Tying in gardening, when you grow your own lettuce mix it tastes SO MUCH better, and you save the plastic bag it comes in! Many vegetables are packaged in plastic, and it wastes fuel to make as well as to drive the produce to the store. Reuse those plastic bottles & food containers!!
Share Books, Newspapers, and Magazines!
This will cut down on the number of paper products being purchased. There is also the option of viewing many of these syndication type papers on the net for either free or a small monthly fee. Usually less than getting an actual paper! Magazines tend to be a waste of paper for vain and selfish reasons. Many would love to see what you have to pass on, sometimes when it's even out of date. There are also doctor's offices, libraries, school libraries, and other resources that would love to read what you no longer have an interest in. Why support constant destruction? 

And OBVIOUSLY, Don't use Energy you don't NEED
When you are at home, do not use lights that are not necessary. If you enjoy lights outside your home, purchase small solar panel outdoor lights. There are tons of options (that are visually appealing, even!) that don't cost a lot of money. Most times, you don't even see the solar pad in the light. 
When you are home alone, only leave the light on in the room you are occupying. No one needs a fully lit home. Don't leave the outdoor porch light on unless you absolutely have to, but you probably won't after you get solar outdoor lights. :)

I know these aren't much, but it can add up. If everyone stopped and just thought about their personal impact on the world I think this would be a much better place. Think about how your actions effect other people, and consider how you would feel if it effected your own self or family.

August 19, 2011

Zone 8 Gardening.. AKA "Dude, Where's my Summer?"

Amusing title, isn't it? Sad thing is, it is absolutely true. This summer in my lovely zone 8 area, we've had virtually zero days above 80 Fahrenheit, which is also 26.7 Celsius for all my Marvelous Metric friends. Shout out to the UK, and the western park of Canada! You my friends, may also be in a zone 8 area.
Anyway, this is AUGUST for crying out loud. Where is my summer? It was cloudy and blag on the 9th, my birthday. I am prepared for at least a few days of heat, whereas my tomatoes on the other hand seem to really love this weather.

As the lackluster summer starts to come to an end, and I hear more and more reports that we will have a cold and all together tough La Nina winter again.. I wish for a green house and some crops that will grow beautifully during the chilly season. The few very cold months we have can sometimes be a bit brutal and I am really thankful that the Pacific Northwest does not drop in temperature more than it does. It could be much worse! Wind is more often than not the worst enemy around these parts with the vast number of trees known to grow here.The heat lovers that are not annual will be coming inside soon, my peppers and honestly unsure of my artichoke still. It could easily be potted up but I worry about hurting it.
My Brussels sprouts are getting heavy mulching even though they sweeten up with frost. I'm also searching for seeds for frost hardy vegetables, including the purple sprouting broccoli I hear is a wonderful crop to grow here. I'm not sure if I could get over the purple heads though.. there is also purple cauliflower, which I read turns green when cooked. SO weird!! I'm searching for some cold hardy cabbage as well.
Brassica family seems to really thrive in this area is cared for right.
Winter Squash is next on my list, with Spaghetti Squash in the lead!! I am so so excited for this plant. I only obtained 4 seeds and sadly one singly little guy sprouted. This one will be treated like my baby, that is for sure. I absolutely need to research a bit more about the care of these but it is called a winter squash, hopefully it's for a good reason. Butternut squash is another I am interested in trying as it is also a winter squash variety.
Not all members of the Cucurbita family are hardy in the winter so it is very important to check what kind you are planting and when.
Many of the Allium family can be sown in this season, late summer and successfully grow through the winter.

Most of this I have not tried. This is my first winter season trying to garden, and I will most definitely report my successes as well as absolutely failures. I'm not sure which way it'll go, though. Might be more failures than successes ;)

We interupt this regularly scheduled Word of the Day to say...

I love you very much, as I've talked about before. I wish I could have spent more time with you, or gotten you a nicer gift but you mean a lot to me!

The Word of the Day is Distracted!!
Because I have been non-stop lately. I hurt my hand by shutting it in a door (brilliant!) and have been neglecting a lot of things. The pumpkin in front is flowering, the cucumbers are growing like mad and I'm sure there must be a pea or three or ten to pick. Yikes..

August 18, 2011

The Whole Picture: My yard at a glance, Garden from afar

I'm very unorganized.
This is the scene when you pull up the driveway of my home. My little personal corner of the natural world. The shed is home to my boyfriend's "man cave" in which he has a stereo and a recliner, ha! Next to it we have the can used for misc garden tools and whatnots. There is a small bed along the fence, with peas and popcorn planted but they're either small or covered in the shade in this shot. You can make out the string tied to the cherry tree, all with a viney plant of some kind attached. Boston Pickling cucumbers, Sugar Baby Watermelon (this one will probably do nothing for us..), and Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkins. Barely visible is the trellis i fashioned from string and sticks. The green beans are going to overtake and concur the entire thing. Most of the rest of the garden from here looks like a large singular green bush. That is fine with me, I dont care if people can't make out what I am hiding within. Less issues with unwanted vegetable pickers, in my opinion.

Before it turned into the unrecognizable bush.
Current day bushiness.
 I think the dense planting of my garden has helped a lot with keeping some parts shady, but the soil remains so warm! Everything thrives, and flourishes. I'm really excited! Next year I intend on planning my placement much more carefully to accommodate some plants I discovered are very space demanding.

Tomatillo Monster

Next year I intend to give my tomatillo plants their own space. They want to grow over and on top and into just about every single vegetable plant in the garden. I cannot find my strawberries, and it is giving the chives full shade. As much trellising and tying that I try, nothing prove to solve the issue. They are here, and they are going to take over the garden! At least, that is the message they've given me.

Bush Beans
My bush beans are filling up this home-fashioned trellis very nicely. There are so many tiny, itty bitty baby beans on these plants and it makes me feel just like a kid again. I remember eagerly checking the bean vines often for my mom, seeing if there were any I could steal away without her noticing. Even now, I get equally as giddy seeing a half inch long green slender vegetable starting to grow.

Jack-O-Lanterns in a pot
This is perhaps my favorite planting. These were started from seed and are growing to be huge! There were about 6 seeds planted and 5 sprouted. There is also a mini-sprout from a seed that had split. it is a plant half the size as all the others. Anyway, this is sitting under a willow tree settled by my front door. It was in the sun, but started to wilt too frequently from the August rays. Since being moved to it's shadier, cooler location the plant has thrived and not wilted once. It seems to need much less water.

And my dorky cat.
My cat Cheech is the official mouse, rabbit, and otherwise critter chaser. He does a wonderful job!!

The Word of the Day is Perceptive!

This one is a bit different than my other word of the days, but I think it is a very important one! Here is a quick definition of the word.

Having or showing keenness of insight, understanding, or intuition: a perceptive analysis of the problems involved.
This is something that I think a lot of people experience problems with. A lot of us are mindful of our own day to day lives, it's rare that we stop to think about our surroundings. I always find it odd when driving with someone, and even if they pass by something on a daily basis never notice their local landscape changing until it directly has an impact in their lives.  I feel as if it is our responsibility, as members of any community, to pay attention to the problems we often times overlook. Take a moment to think about a situation or issue in your local area that could use your attention. Are there public areas often times covered in litter? It is not very difficult to organize community clean ups, or join in on ones already organized in some areas. Starting your own community projects is insanely fulfilling, it brings such a feeling that can't be described! Even alerting officials of problems in local areas that others have not made reports of can be helpful. Not to mention the option to donate any surplus garden harvest to local food banks (and even those cans and boxes that sit there forever, they'll usually take them.)
There is a lot that can be done if only we take a few moments, even just an hour or two once a month to give back to our community. Helping out a neighbor or a local public area can be contagious but don't worry, this kind of spread won't be invasive.  

Artichoke.. I really want you to do something!!

My Glorious Artichoke, with a wall of sunflowers for shade.
Ever since I was a little girl, I remember my mom boiling up the most tasty dish ever. Usually when she'd cook it, it would be the "first course" then we would have a main dish a bit after it had settled. I recall forgetting what it was a lot as a little kid, but eventually learned that one of my favorite vegetables is the Artichoke!
When I first saw this plant at the hardware garden center (the locally owned one, at that!) I was sure it was some kind of odd fern. It was sort of brown, wilting, and had one tiny little bitty green leaf inside. 3 leaves total, perhaps no more than a foot high out of the ground. After a closer inspection, I made out the handwritten tag stating the plant was in fact an Artichoke! I eagerly ran over to my boyfriend to present it to him, and ask ever so politely if he would buy it for me. I'm just sweet as pie.. sometimes.
He happily bought it for me, as he is equally excited about the results of my gardening. He does tend to stay away from the actual garden work, but he shows just the right amount of enthusiasm for my hobby to make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Now that I HAD this poor little, wilting artichoke.. I needed to do something about it!
The young artichoke, perhaps a week old in this photo.
At first, the plant did not seem incredibly thrilled about it's new home. The outter leaves turned completely brown, and I was completely devastated in thinking I had lost my precious new addition. After doing some research, I discovered that the artichokes love lots of water. I wet the soil very well, and continued to do so until it started perking up. On a few very sunny days, the young plant actually wilted to the point where it was laying flat on the ground. I SURELY, most DEFINITELY lost the plant this time.. absolutely, I thought. I covered it with mesh and watered the sucker until I was sure now it would just drown.
Somehow my beautiful plant did not die. I grew some sunflowers in front of the 'choke to give it some permanent shade without really having any negative effects on other plants.. Just have to make sure to water well as they're both very heavy feeders.

I discovered that some people grow these as annuals.. but I have no idea how they would bloom here in time. I didn't realize the amount of time this guy needed when I puchased him, and I worry that I may need to pot it up when it gets cold out. However, I have ready that if mulched well and cared for, someone in my Zone 8 could possibly overwinter (as long as the winter is not too harsh.. uh oh, I heard we're getting a visit from La Nina Again..) to produce for a few years. The artichoke is a perennial, after all.

After establishing a bit. Tiny sunflower sprouts below!

More new leaves! This is about a month after planting.
I am so excited to eat up an artichoke from my own home garden. I really hope that this plant overwinters, and perhaps multiplies. I would love to be able to divide it and share a plant with my mother. If you would enjoy a more detailed post about how to grow Artichokes, please check out this other great blog! I don't run it, or know them, but it is very useful.

August 17, 2011

The Word of the Day is Optimism!

I know, I know, motivation! Optimism!! I'm a big cheese ball. Didn't I ever tell you guys, I'm totally sappy?!
Well, I'm at a point where these very very cheesy concepts are really helpful to me. They make my day to day life a little better. My days have themes and it cheers me up, gives me a focus I suppose.

The word for TODAY is Optimism, because today is the day my boyfriend goes into his first interview (AND wishful thinking here ONLY) since losing his job. It is at a very nice establishment and we're both very excited, and hopeful that he gets the job. The pay is also a lot better than his last position so we're crossing our fingers.

Today I will be thinking happy thoughts, keeping the future in mind, and trying to be optimistic for the outcome of the day!! My mothers gardens will be in my thoughts as well, as I am praying the animals don't think I cleared them a giant poo-box.

August 16, 2011

Updated Photos of my Personal Garden!

Today was a very very eventful day for me! I finally mustered up the motivation to do most of the things I listed on my Word of the Day Post! Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera to my mother's house and didn't even think to use my camera phone. But I should take some soon, it isn't completely finished but a lot of it has been planted.

Here are photos of my garden at home. The photos farther down are the before photos of this garden.

This photo shows most of the garden

Grape Tomatoes

Early Girl 50 Day tomato.. Not sure I'll grow this again..

Raspberries Ripening

Pumpkins and Cucumbers climb up string to a tree. Awesome, right?!

Baby Pumpkin, about the size of a golf ball now.

Only about as big as a dime, but I have broccoli!!

Me! And.. Cheech's Butt.

He is camera Shy but Comfortable.

This one may be a favorite.. it's a pot, on a 5 gallon bucket, filled with pumpkins.

The word of the day is Motivation!

Today my emphasis is on motivation. Mainly because motivation is something I do not have.
Lets celebrate this day dedicated to motivation (or really, lack thereof) by trying to accomplish a few goals!
I've been absolutely terrible about completing my to do list as of late so I really do need a motivational boost. Something that worries me is that my absence of umph is due to nutritional deficiency. I REALLY want my garden bounty to ripen. (I saw an inch long pea today! So close!)
  • Weed my mom's garden
  • Take photos there, as well as my own garden
  • Take photos of my yummy canned apples (and my first time home canning!)
  • Clean this darn mess of a house!!
 Hopefully I will be able to cross some of these off of my list, and I will definitely share the results with you all!

August 14, 2011

You put the Apples in the Mason Jar and eat it all up.

Sooo, I have a ton of apples. Like a ton would be an understatement. HUGE understatement. From one tree I have more apples than I know what to do with.
LUCKILY, John's mom gave me a bunch of jars for my birthday and I will be able to can them up. Of course, I'm making apple pies as well. That is just plain obvious. You don't get apples and not make an apple pie.

I will be trying out my first recipe from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and I'm really excited. It is the Apple Preserves recipes.

Apple Preserves
(Makes about 6 half pints)
6 cups sliced, peeled, cored apples
1/2 cup thinly sliced and seeded lemons (about 1 medium)
4 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 package powdered pectin

The instructions
Combine Apples, water and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Cover; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in powdered pectin. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add lemon slices and sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Skim foam if needed. Stir in nutmeg. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

This information is not owned by me and is copied from the Ball Blue Book without any expressed permission.

I am really excited to see how this turns out. I don't have nutmeg, so I may just stick with allspice. I will definately take photos of the process if I can. Most likely if I get John to help I will be able to. Otherwise.. Hot kitchen, boiling apples, expensive cameras... not a good idea.

The word of the day is "iogjdofihgoidfhuuuuuggggggghhhhhh"

If you need help with the pronunciation (I apologize, I try not to get into foreign dialects but the word is just oh so appropriate) then I will give you a step by step on how to say it correctly. You'll be saying it like a pro!

Step 1: Have a yard sale at 7am two days in a row, on about 3 hours of sleep.
Step 2: Work.
Step 3: Try to figure out what to do with all of these darn apples before they go bad (I want my canner to get here SO BAD!)
Step 4: Never sleep, why do that? sleep?
Step 5: Forget where you are for a bit, then realize you were just watering the cucumbers and dozed off
Step 6: Figure out what to do with all that stuff you took out of your house for a yard sale, but now don't want to take back inside or keep.
Step 7: Slouch down on the couch as far as you possibly can, then let out the noise from within.

Now onto actually doing stuff and being productive. It is REALLY HARD sometimes. Like when you want to sleep, you there is an adorable kitten mowing at you, essentially saying "You don't want to go prune. Or mow the lawn. You wanna snuggle!"
I do.. I do want to snuggle. But the garden never stops growing (unless I kill it.. I wouldn't be surprised).

EntreCard could step on a rake and I wouldn't mind.

This is just a lovely little mention to my blog friends, if you ever are looking to advertise for free please do not consider EntreCard. It used to be a very lovely resource in which you could advertise your blog for free via dropping by other people's blog. Like community advertising. They even had a currency they used there to put you ads up.

However, these days, they've decided that blogs I write are "SPAM BLOGS" so I am not permitted to join. REALLY? This is spam? A post writen about my mother, very sentimental.. Posts with photos of my garden, the post about my tomatoes. Apparently it's spam, guys! So, I know I don't have many followers but you should just leave now as all I want you to do is buy my really cheap Non-GMO seeds via an amazon link on the side. Oh, and I told you what kind of neem oil I used. I'm sorry guys, I will stop being such a bot now. :(

HA! Yeah right. If I don't get approved I will gladly move my services to project wonderful. :)

August 13, 2011

The Great Tomato Race

If only that description were more accurate.. I would be overjoyed to have perfectly plump tomatoes racing off to ripeness.. But alas! My tomatoes are all very small and very VERY green.

I don't understand what it is about tomatoes that gets every gardener going. Just about everyone one you will encounter will tell you they love home grown tomatoes, because honestly who doesn't. Juicy, flavorful and delicious, tomatoes are really great for you. They have all kinds of vitamins and great stuff in them, ( love my technical terms? I like how this site sums it up ) and if you can grow them successfully I have to tell you they bring a lot of wonderful feel good feelings. It's true! Seeing that big ol' bush of tomatoes growing outside.. there is nothing sweeter. It reminds me of my mother's garden and being a child again.

BUT WHY, I must ask, is it often times so difficult to get that beautiful lush bush of tomato vines?! If it isn't blight, it is rot. It it's not rot, it's bacterial wilt or fungus or a strong wind blows them over OR THE DOG ROLLS OVER ON THEM. Something about tomatoes.. gardeners have a real tough time with them. My mother, on the other hand... she had the bushes and bushes.

My own glorious red orbs of tastiness are having problems all their own this season. First, they were very sad looking when purchased as starts. Next, they got a bit crowded in their spot and needed separating. THEN, they got too tall and willowy and absolutely needed to be staked.
This is of course when the fun really started. The stems got black spots, leaves developed spots and so did the tips of flowers. Not many fruit set. Many branches were pruned because of spotting. 
Neem oil (the product used is shown on the left for reference) and water mixture was applied, it was mulched, and lots of care has been taken with it. Eventually with all the maintenance fruit began to form. My largest is the size of a golf ball, and greener then the grass that grows here. Many cute little grape tomatoes are set, and I'm excited for those to ripen as well. I THINK I saw the glimpse of orange on one, but really would not like to get my hopes up. I'm sure you all understand.

Since banning my boyfriend from smoking in the garden area, and the neem treatment, things are looking so much better. I am a fan of learning as I go, so if anyone has any suggestions or helpful comments about growing tomatoes I would love to hear! I am in the Pacific Northwest, and the growing season is now as long as most others. Our summers are not as hot, and are often rather damp. I hear many people have issues with ripening their tomatoes. Comments will happily be passed along, and great solid advice will be quoted and reposted with credit on blog posts.

My mother is my Hero.

The title really sums it up, if you're not interested in reading my sappy post. I know it sound like-totally cliche to say that my mother is my hero. It is absolutely true.
My mother posses all of the characteristics I think everyone should work on. She doesn't yell, she is patient, she is willing to teach, and she loves to share stories. She has vast amounts of knowledge, and she seems to ALWAYS know the answer to any question I could ever ask. As a kid, I remember that if she did not know the answer, she would FIND it for me. I remember spending days at the library with her as she would research our family history. She would sit for ages in front of the old newspaper reels, searching for names and stories about long lost but most certainly not forgotten relatives. While she would do this, I would spend time in the kids section or any other topic I could think of that tickled my fancy. Sewing, gardening, and history. My mother was always so wonderful at nurturing any hidden talent my sister and I chose to discover. I myself even won a few ribbons in county fairs because she urged me to enter cookies we'd make together.

As early in life as I can even remember my mother has always had a beautiful garden. Vegetables and flowers, all well cared for and lush. I remember buckets holding green beans and tomatoes on the side of the shed, a web of string holding them all up. She used to have so many flowers, my favorites were the snap dragons in the back of the house as a child. Those things grew like weeds, and they never stopped growing ever after we stopped planting them. Usually red and yellow in color.

When we moved into a different house, I could tell one of the first things my mother wanted was a garden. SET garden space. It is exactly what she got, and it grew wonderful vegetables every summer. Tomatoes would come up every summer without any being planted. Beans and carrots and corn were always in abundance as well.

Now that my mother is not moving around as well as she used to, the garden is no longer lush. There is no beautiful abundant vegetable garden. Not a single snap dragon, nor the usual petunia. The grass is always yellowish, and the only maintenance done is what they can convince a girl who does chores for computer work. It really makes me sad.

As long as I've lived, I've never seen my mother take a day off. She is always taking care of something or someone, even when she is not feeling well herself. She is so dedicated to making everyone else happy and feeling well. I can not believe how selfless she really is, and always has been. My mother is my hero because never does she complain or annoy anyone with her problems. She is always willing to listen and lend advice to anyone that needs it. My mother is exactly how I want to be when I have kids. Patient and open, always accepting everything that comes along. Not showing the panic, and always having things under control. The only time I knew times were tough, it was not because of her, but because of my father stressing out! My mom always had a plan, always was determined it seemed. Even if she didn't, she always fooled me. I think that is how it should be.
That isn't to say I've never seen my mother stressed out.. I just still do hold her to that image we hold our mother's to as a kid. It's because she really is like that, though. She is human, and she does have stress and is not perfect. But I love her and it doesn't ever make me feel any differently about her than I do.

August 11, 2011

The BEFORE photos, My home garden.

I'm going to share with you a few photos of my garden, before. I am hoping to have a few moments tomorrow to take the after photos, but I am holding a yard sale so I might just get busy. Anyway, they'll be up very soon.

This photo shows the garden without anything planted in the larger portion, but front you can barely see a few tomatoes and a few raspberries. Nothing much there, though. We tried to plan this space for it to be as useful as possible, as it wasn't very large. We did end up, after planting our first purchases, expanding the garden as our habits of buying seeds and starts was too hard to fight. We added about 2 additions rows, where in this one is is about 5x 3 rows in the empty area. Did I mention, very crowded?! Everything really filled this space up. But you won't get to see till later. :P

This photo shows most of the area filled up, with jalapenos, tomatillos, and a variety of other plants. There are also seeds planted, and areas ready for pumpkins. I can't wait to share the new photos, the garden looks so different. It looks so naked in these shots!!

Corn is growing huge, oops!

With perfectly good intentions, I purchased seeds to plant in my mother's garden. She hasn't been doing anything as the last few years she isn't able to move around like she used to. Unfortunately I've not had as much time as I would have liked, and now it's August. MID August, almost. Fortunately for me, my parents are pretty awesome sometimes and they really just want the free fruits of my labor, so they said it would be okay for me to construct a makeshift greenhouse over their garden area. It already has a wooden frame around it, so it shouldn't be that bad really. The issue is I'm not sure what materials would be best for the job.
My boyfriend mentioned that he could attempt to build a green house, but I think I'd rather keep that one at home for myself. This one will most likely be with relatively found material as I don't have much money to spend and they don't either. Perhaps I'll attempt to do a project and see if I can come up with a few hundred to build them a nice one. I REALLY want to be able to help my parents out in a good way.
On a related note, my spare bedroom is overrun with corn! I put the seeds in peat pellets thinking I would have time to stop by on a day off, but didn't get to. Now I have corn showing true leaves and growing almost sideways. I had to bring in another lamp in order to keep them growing straight. I do intend on growing tomatoes indoors this winter so it's kind of nice to see how my spare room handles it. I got my mom the corn that I links, and I think she'll really like it. I got it because it said it had a short maturity time, and I do only have 88 days until the expected frost. Like I said, I started late!! Hopefully I can get the greenhouse in time.

A new seed has been Sown.

I am very excited for all of the new projects I'm starting recently. My 22nd birthday has only just passed, merely days. My seeds are sown in peat for my mother's garden, and my own is thriving and full of life. The gift John's mother gave me for my birthday will go to great use, a brand new pressure canner. It is 23 quarts, and it couldn't get here at a more fantastic time. Soon the apple tree will be ready to harvest, as the branches are sagging with golden ripe apples. She included a flat of pint jars, and a flat of quarts so I even have something to get me started.
 The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving  will be my new best friend this summer and fall. I really do need to find some more jars, though, as I know that 2 flats just will not cut it.

I am REALLY excited to try out growing spaghetti squash! My seeds have only just shown root sprouting from them, so hopefully they will get larger soon. I want to try the squash so badly but still never had. The corn is also going crazy, and if I don't hurry my space bedroom will be a forest as opposed to a makeshift plant nursery.