Category Archives: Garden Stories

And so it begins…

“Mom, they’re back! Come here and look at this!”

My heart fell. It’s mid-June, so I knew that “they” could only be one thing. Reluctantly, I went into the boys’ room. I found Joe staring out his window at the rose bushes and my heart fell further.

“See that shiny?”

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Yes. Yes I did see that shiny. That shiny, evil, Japanese beetle that so tormented us last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. And–you get the idea.

“Those are the scouts,” I told Joe. “We have to try and get rid of them before they can alert the troops.”

Armed with soapy water and two eagle-eye scouts of my own, we patrolled the roses, the vineyard and the fedge. Thankfully, we found only a few…but I’m sure there are more out there.

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“It’s time to start morning and evening patrols again boys.”

“I can get in the small spaces,” said Jake as he burrowed under the vines.

“I’ll hold the soapy water,” said Joe as he squirted dish soap in the water.

And me? I’ll be determined that this year will not be as bad as the last few…my confidence is starting to flag.

Shiny scouts are here
Swarming over the roses
Creeping on the vines

 

 

Fresh Fruit…?

Last year, there were kiwi flowers on one of the first vines we planted. There weren’t many, but we were so excited. At last!

But…then the beetles came. In waves. In hordes. A blanket of shiny, greenish, brownish ick destroying our vines, our buds…our spirit.

Now the buds are back. I don’t want to count my berries before they fruit…but they are everywhere on the vines and, with a little luck and milky spore, hopefully the Japanese beetles will not be as bad this year.

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Flowers started forming
On last year’s kiwi vines
Teeny, tiny buds appeared
At last! On fruit we’d dine!

But then, in hordes the beetles came
And blanketed the rows
Holding on with sticky feet
Those munching, crunching foes

Our defenses were no match for them
We put up quite a fight
But still, they beat us easily
That horrid, evil blight

Again, small buds are forming
We’re hopeful that this time
The milky spore has done it’s job
And on fresh fruit we’ll dine!

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A Little Patch

May I have a garden, Mom
One that’s only mine?
A little patch is all I need
A corner would be fine

I want to plant 9 carrots
I’ll watch them while they grow
Two broccoli, one cabbage
Are all the seeds I’ll sow

I’ll have to put a path in
And build a little fence
An arch for beans to grow on
A “Welcome” sign makes sense

May I have a garden, Mom?
One that’s only mine?
A little patch is all I need
In the bright sunshine

Oversleeping

As I wandered around outside yesterday, I noticed some odd behavior. While the grass is greening up nicely and some of my lettuce is sprouting, the rest of the crew has hit snooze on the alarm clock one too many times.

My lilac is budding out, as well as my rose bushes. But the kiwi, trees and almost everything else missed the memo. IT’S SPRING!

Wake up my friends, wake up!
Smell spring’s fresh air at last
Stretch your bright green leaves
The time for sleep has past

Come kiwi vines, come berries
Break out the freshened shoots
Your rest has been a long one
It’s time to use those roots!

Those trees out in the pasture
Are budding left and right
They’re small but strong and mighty
They’re ready for the fight

Oh kiwi, grapes and berries
Please join us all today
It’s time to show your mettle
Get this season underway!

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Lilac bush

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Rose bushes

 

Enemies Beware

Thorns protect the sacs
Prickly, pointy and piercing
Enemies beware

Hundreds patiently wait
Feral, ferocious and fierce
Villains be warned

An army soon will emerge
Callous, cut-throat and cruel
Invaders be ready

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The Test Group

Because it’s SO gorgeous…and warm…and sunny, we decided to take the seedlings out for a little fresh air and direct sunlight.

They looked happy once they were released from the stuffy indoors. They gazed longingly at the freshly scratched soil in the kitchen garden. They begged me with their green leaves to get them in the ground.

“Ok,” I told them. “But just a few of you.

I planted a tomato that had started to droop. I dug a deep hole, planted it past the first set of leaves and lightly covered it with straw.

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The seedling looked so big in its little pot and seemed so puny once in the ground.

Next, a sad and sagging broccoli plant went in the ground. It too looked so small once settled in the garden. It got the same treatment as the tomato with a blanket of straw to keep it warm.

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I sowed some lettuce, orach and choy in a raised bed just off the deck. Then, I planted my large oregano smack in the middle.

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I was just about ready to call it quits for the day, when the strawberry starts stretched their stems as if shouting, “Me, me, pick me!”

I planted all 6 seedlings in another raised bed and both seed packets. I’ve never planted strawberries from seed before. I don’t have much hope for them, but the picture on the seed packet looked so delicious that I couldn’t resist.

My two assistants worked hard. Jake dug the holes, I planted and Joe watered. At the end, we worked together to cover the entire bed with a row cover. We made quite the team.

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Frost, frost, stay away
Don’t come back until Winter
And don’t kill my plants

We’re Ready!

We’re reaching! We’re straining!
We’re stretching our leaves!
Hey sunshine! Get out here
And roll up your sleeves!

The chickens have finished
The garden is planned
We need to get out there
Please give us a hand!

We’re ready! We’re eager!
It’s time for the show!
Warm weather is nearing…
Let’s get on our grow!

Ready, Set…Grow!

I’m a little late to the game this year, but the seeds are finally started. All 68 filled and fertilized seed pods are sitting in the South facing window of the schoolroom, waiting.

In a Sunday afternoon, my assistant and I managed to get all the tomatoes, peppers, greens, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and assorted herbs planted.

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Normally, I would have stagger started the seeds, but since it’s March I thought it best to go full blast.

Are all 68 going to bud? Probably not, but we have plenty of room for them even if they do, and plenty of people we can share them with if we get tired of digging holes.

My assistant and I also planted spinach, onions and shallots in a raised bed.

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He even found a spot right next to the driveway where he planted marigolds. He thought it would be a good place for them to grow.

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My seed-starting process was a little different this year.

I bought plastic shoe boxes to hold each pot and wooden clothes pins as labels.

I’ve used plant labels, popsicle sticks and masking tape in the past. All three have been utter failures. I suppose that throwing them out in frustration when they move around and pop out of the pots is a user issue, I’m just not sure. But I’m hoping the clothes pins work out better.

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It was a long process, but my adorable assistant stuck by me through it all and even helped me carry each shoe box into the school room.

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Spring seeds are started
Chickens are prepping the soil
Let the season start!

The Preview

Summer’s coming
Muddy feet
Fresh-picked berries
Ripe and sweet

Hot sun shining
Grass turns green
Kids are playing
Squeals and screams

Kitties climbing
Garden beds
Ripe tomatoes
Leafy heads

Harsh winds blow
Rain soaks the ground
Sun shines bright
Warmth all around
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What to plant…

As I combed through the Baker Creek Seed Catalog this morning while sipping my coffee, I realized that I may have a problem.

I started with restraint, keeping my seed budget in mind. But as I made my way through the greens, peppers and tomatoes, my resolve faltered and I went a little crazy.

Luckily, I came down from the mania and had enough sense to cross out seeds I already had saved from last season. Whew!

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This year, our big focus is on greens. We, like the rest of the world, made a resolution to eat healthier and (so far) we’ve stuck to it by, sort of, following a ketogenic diet.

We eat salads with just about every meal. And while iceberg lettuce is crisp, it offers little in the way of nutrients.

Greens, purples and reds. Spinach, kale, cabbage and chard. Brussels sprouts and arugula. All super nutrient rich, leafy and delicious in salads.

We’re trying out heirloom variety tomatoes and peppers. We have a dealer for jalapenos so I’m done even trying to grow them.

I’m throwing in a few flowers just for fun. Bells of Ireland, spider flower and euphorbia are unique…at least to me.

We’ll plant a bunch of herbs this year as well. Sadly, they will not go in our herb spiral.

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Planting it around a dead tree stump was a bad idea. Even though we’ve drilled holes in the stump and poured Epsom salt water over and over again, the Bradford pear just refuses to die.

Instead, one of the raised beds we got from the neighbors will be dedicated to herbs.

We have 9 raised beds in all. 6 are filled with topsoil already. They will all eventually go in the greenhouse, but this season we’ll be using all 6.

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One will be an herb bed. Two will be for leafy greens. Another couple for strawberries.

Our kitchen garden will be filled with tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, zucchini and cabbage.

I’m both excited about and dreading planting the kitchen garden. For the past few years, we’ve let the chickens prep the garden for us. All winter they’ve scratched up, eaten pests and fertilized the soil. But thanks to the fox, that didn’t happen.

Thanks a lot Mr. Fox. Thanks a lot.

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