I don’t have a green thumb like Jen, but I do want to do something with my yard (beyond “keep it alive” and “don’t destroy the nice stuff the former owners started”). We’re doing a CSA share for vegetables again this summer/fall, so I don’t need an elaborate veg garden (or even a modest one). I would, however, like to fill in some blank spots with plants of our own. Partly because our summer yard needs more seasonal colors, partly because I want to do something like this with the girls, and partly to prove to myself I can do it? Last year we half-heartedly planted seeds without any thought behind it, and I think they just became snacks for the bunnies. Here are the plants I’m considering:
- Scarlet Bee Balm, above, which is related to bergamot, which I like in my tea. I love the color and my yard has no red!
- Herbs, maybe? Some herby things? We have chives and mint growing. That’s all I know.
- Purple Cone Flower (for Holly, the purple queen)
- Sugar Snap Peas (the only veg I plan, because they’re so snacky and we only get small bags of them in our CSA)
I also want to start a compost heap. Because we just plain oughta.
The 30 Day Photo Challenge is an effort to share more of our lives with you, our readers! We’ll be posting daily (or, you know… close to daily!) on different themes.
August is a make it or break it, go big or go home kind of month in my garden. The tomato harvest comes on strong, the phlox and blackeyed susans are blooming, the ironweed are inevitably reaching the roof and tipping over because I forgot to stake them, and T and I ask once again, WHY DIDN’T WE PRUNE THE TOMATO VINES WHEN WE HAD THE CHANCE?
It was a hot July, lots of 100 degree days, and some of my annuals have perished. But what has survived has bloomed with gusto:
I harvested about a pint of cherry and grape tomatoes today, plus 2 big tomatoes. The girls will be home to harvest tomorrow, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they pick closer to a quart. That is, if D doesn’t eat them all straight out of the harvest basket.
More photos after the jump: Continue reading
Posted in Memoir, This Is Not a Lifestyle Blog
Tagged fairy garden, garden, gardening, harvest, home, Life, lifestyle, Midwest, Midwestern United States, real life, tomatoes
You know those weeks when the transmission breaks on your car so you’re stuck at home and it seems like every time you turn around the baby is eating dog food or rocks or rocks shaped like dog food and the older kids are pummeling each other because they’re playing some pretend game about cats and horses that don’t get along so the rules of the game basically require them to wrestle until they cry and then you make them apologize but immediately after they say they’re sorry they start meowing and neighing at each other which is how cats and horses say they’re sorry, of course, and so immediately they’re rolling on the floor again and you start to yell at them but then you realize the baby has disappeared so you keep yelling as you’re sprinting down the hallway to make sure she isn’t choking on a Polly Pocket head because for some reason all the Polly Pockets are amputees and most of them are headless and even then, their tiny rubber clothing is practically impossible to pry on and off, and so you scoop up the baby and announce that you are GOING FOR A WALK and lo and behold, it is block sale week in your neighborhood so you find a couple bargains and then you see it, a fabulous vintage table with a white porcelain top, no price tag but you can totally imagine it in your kitchen, it’s got one drawer and a cute crystal knob, and yes, it actually is for sale but you don’t have enough cash, of course, and you can’t go back for it with the car because broken transmission so you tell the lady you’ll think about it and walk home and then there you are, at home, eating popsicles, thinking about that cute vintage table, wondering if you are crazy to be imagining putting the kids back in the wagon and going back to write a check for a table you absolutely don’t need but really, really adore, and meanwhile the cats horses choking pummeling cycle is starting over again.
Maybe I am having that week. Maybe you are too. If so, I recommend that you buy new comfortable chairs to put in your garden, scan the room for choking hazards, tell your kids you are taking the recycling out, and then just sit outside for 3 minutes of quiet by yourself in your new comfortable chair.
New comfy chairs.
Green zebra tomatoes. We are SO HUNGRY for tomatoes. And after several years of mediocre tomato harvests, we are THRILLED to have happy, healthy plants this year.
Rudbeckia and phlox (the old fashioned kind, not the creeping kind).
The happiest window box I have ever planted. Nothing fancy, just about $5 worth of cheerful annuals crammed in.
What’s blooming this week? ? Check it out!
Shasta daisy, hollyhocks, clematis.
Summertime is garden time in our family: fireflies and fairies live in the garden. We go out to the garden to pick tomatoes for salads and mint for mohitos, to lounge and drink cold home-brewed beer on warm evenings, to watch the bluejays and cardinals and finches and woodpeckers. The girls are learning to identify the flowers and birds; they pick fistfuls of pansies and Sweet William and we fill tiny vases and shotglasses for centerpieces at the kitchen table and their picnic table.
I started gardening in Iowa, the summer I moved into the adorable shack. While the tiny house was less than ideal in severe weather, it had a pretty (if neglected) perennial garden with an old-fashioned climbing rose, and a large space for a vegetable garden. I had almost zero experience gardening. My mom plants loads of pretty annuals every spring, sometimes she grew tomatoes in pots on the deck, and one year as part of a school science project we grew tomatoes from seeds that had been in space. But the Iowa garden was the first space that was really my own, and it was Iowa, after all: didn’t corn basically leap out of the earth in Iowa? Surely not much expertise would be needed to grow a few tomato plants in such rich, Midwestern earth.
This may have been my only assumption about Iowa that was absolutely correct: our gardens there were gorgeous, lush, with enormous tomatoes and fabulous lettuces and overflowing containers of pretty annuals. When T and I began house shopping after moving back to Michigan, we were hooked: space to garden was a must. Our gardens here have been through a variety of reincarnations; the latest version includes the fairy garden, of course, and a sitting area nestled in between raised beds with trellises for hops. My gardening style tends toward what I might call “crowded cottage garden:” I like my plants tucked in close to one another, leaves and blossoms overlapping.
I thought it would be fun to chronicle summer in the garden—here’s what’s blooming today: (photos after the jump) Continue reading
Posted in Mothering, This Is Not a Lifestyle Blog, Uncategorized
Tagged family, gardening, grad school, home, identity, Iowa, kids, Life, lifestyle, Midwestern United States, motherhood, mothering, parenting
Hey, remember when we did the breakthrough to 4k giveaway? Renee won the Pin Us To It Pinterest challenge, and she chose this fabulous fairy garden project for Lauren and I to complete.
Lauren and I are both ambivalent about Pinterest, though I have had some successes with recipes and art projects. I decided to use the concept of the fairy garden without following the instructions too literally. The girls LOVED this project. Continue reading
Posted in Mothering, This Is Not a Lifestyle Blog
Tagged blogging, family, gardening, home, kids, Life, lifestyle, motherhood, mothering, parenting, Pinterest, real life
1. I got an email from the faceless bureaucracy of my institution that I’ve been listed for “termination” from my TAship starting May 11, so unless I email them and change everything, my university life will end in six weeks. And obviously I knew that would happen, but seeing it in black and white felt strange and sad. I feel like my departure is an unremarkable event: my students don’t understand that I won’t be back in their program next year, that a new teacher will teach their future teammates and friends. Every summer means a shuffle in the TA offices, so who knows if my officemates will realize or care that I’m gone (except R, my office BFF. Shout out!). The regular rhythm of school life means people won’t notice I’m gone until next year. But for me? This is it, and it’s big, and it’s scary. Lately, I feel like I’m in the middle of a dream and I’m about to wake up to some brutal reality.
2. That would be true if I had a chance to dream, but sleep has been a precious commodity in our house. My kids have never been good sleepers. They both nightwake long past whatever fool age bullshit websites say they should, no matter what advice book we follow, and my 2yo is an early bird (which is why MN is often updated at 6 am). After our 2nd was born, we did a divide and conquer thing that has been mostly good, but lately we’ve had a hankering to sleep in the same bed at the same time, so we launched a big “YAY LET’S SLEEP IN YOUR BIG GIRL BUNKBEDS PLEASE GOD” campaign and it went fine until it did not go fine and the past four nights I can’t sleep away from them because I’m not used to it, and I can’t sleep with them. I end up on the bottom bunk with my 2yo, then my 4yo starts crying and leaves to find her Dad. So we essentially end up in the same configuration we have been all along, in different, smaller, shittier beds. Please don’t offer me advice or admonish me for our choices: I am so beyond the capacity for polite disagreement right now. Continue reading
Posted in Books, Grad School Quittas, Mothering, Pop Culture
Tagged apocalypse, Ariel Gore, Armageddon, end times, family, gardening, Graduate school, history channel, Iowa, mothering, peak oil, Quitting, sleep, weather
I’m thinking about boundaries lately.
We spent an amazing afternoon at the Naples Botanical Garden when we were on vacation last week. If you find yourself in SW Florida I definitely recommend it: very walkable (and stroller friendly), lots of shaded chairs and benches, beautiful plants (of course), and a thoughtfully-designed children’s garden.
Here’s why my girls loved the Children’s Garden: water feature to splash around in, playhouse with brooms, gated gardens with low fences and gates they could open themselves, watering cans you could fill at a hand pump, tree house with bouncy bridges and a balcony you could climb up to, small hidden garden with plants growing in funny containers like cowboy boots and toilets and purses.
Watering the plants outside the playhouse.
When my oldest daughter was a baby I worked for a local non profit organization that built school gardens and taught kids about the (literal) roots of their food. We had an opportunity to get free flowers and herbs, but the pickup was on a weekend, and since my staff was composed entirely of AmeriCorps VISTAS who were already overworked and underpaid, I decided to just go get the plants myself, with the baby. How hard could it be?
I had hoped it would be sort of a small affair, leave the baby in the car, toss a couple pots in the back, say a gracious thank you and be on my way. It was not a small affair. Potted plants filled a medium-sized parking lot. A swarm of volunteers from organizations all over town waited for the go ahead to begin loading flats and carts. Dorothy showed no interest in staying her seat and drooling on the mirrors in Hello Bee, Hello Me.
The woman coordinating the event arrived in a beautifully restored 1940s era pickup. She and her children were wearing white button down shirts and over-sized sunglasses. I held Dorothy on my hip. We both looked grungy. As the event got underway, I struggled to carry the plants and the baby but managed to fill the back of my car. There were still rows and rows of beautiful basil plants left, basil I could imagine nestled under the tomatoes in the raised beds at my school gardens. I buckled Dorothy in and started piling basil in around her. I was sweaty, hair in my eyes, Dorothy was beginning to fuss, but I didn’t want to leave without saying thank you. The kind, lovely, stylish organizer was as gracious as one would expect, and in fact offers to help. Her white shirt is still spotless, though I know she’s been carrying plants. “Oh, let me just help you get those to your car and I’ll peek at the baby,” and before I can stop her, she’s swinging open the door to my backseat and peering in through the giant sunglasses. Dorothy is screaming, snot and soil crusted across her face, a basil plant in each angry fist and another hanging out of her mouth. There are no words for this moment. I shut the door, said thanks again, drove away. What can I say? My life is not styled. My shirts are not spotless. My house is too small. But the basil grew beautifully all summer.