Playing With Dirt

When I start to feel overwhelmed is when I most often need to stop what I’m doing and go play in the dirt for a bit. This last weekend was the last “free” weekend I had before three consecutive weekends of large commitments (which means three straight weekends of no time in the garden). This introvert is already feeling a little worn at the seams, and I’m trying not to let the stress swallow me.

My “free” weekend wasn’t really all that free, and it hardly afforded much time to decompress in the garden — it consisted of a lot of shopping and baking for my sister’s bridal shower, which is my first big commitment this coming weekend. I’m excited for sure, but, wow — planning an out-of-town party is exhausting. Especially when you’re an overachiever and insist all the foodstuffs are homemade. I’m lucky we have a spacious chest freezer, otherwise I don’t know how I’d manage!

My lovely bride-to-be sister requested lemon-blackberry cupcakes, so I made two dozen homemade cupcakes, plus homemade lemon curd my that mom and I will fill them with before frosting with blackberry buttercream. I also made sourdough bagels (one more batch is in the works) and two loaves of peanut butter bread. The leftover lemons were just enough to make a pitcher of lemonade for Jordan and I to enjoy in the evening, which was a very nice treat indeed!

In the evening, once the heat of the day had cooled slightly, I was finally able to grub about in the garden. My first dahlia is about to burst into bloom, the beans are going strong, the peas are shooting up, and the pickling cucumbers are just coming on. Summer is flying by in leaps and bounds, the garden relishing the sudden heat July has brought. I haven’t gotten to take a weeklong staycation like I’d hoped, but there’s always next year.

I’m starting my mornings slower these days, trying to soak up as much summer growing time as possible — cooking oatmeal on the stove while tending to my seedlings on the porch as the sun peeks her face through the trees. I so enjoy seeing how much they’ve grown each morning. And there’s canning to look forward to — pickles and kraut and apple sauce and peaches. My heart is very full these days, and even though I feel stretched a little thin, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Mid-July Garden Tour

A small but triumphant first harvest!

I might have made my last post sound like none of my plants are growing — that’s definitely not true! I’m just a perfectionist and hold myself to impossibly high standards. So I thought I’d give you a little tour of what’s currently happening in my garden!

Up first we have some bush beans — both purple and green, lots of nice 3-to-4-inch long beans, most are not quite ready for harvesting, but I have picked a few! And by “some bush beans” I really mean “a lot of bush beans” — I’m incredibly impressed with just how many beans these plants are putting out. I believe I planted 12 plants in total, so I’m crossing my fingers there will be enough for canning some dilly beans.

My cucumbers are also producing more than I anticipated — I’ve got lots of teeny tiny cukes growing on the vines — too many to count — plus one monster pickle I discovered hiding among the leaves. I’m thinking next year I will trellis the cukes rather then letting them sprawl on the ground.

I only bought two starts this year, an Anaheim pepper and a tomato. The tomato only has one green little guy on it so far, but the pepper plant is doing really well and looks like it will be a good producer this summer.

My cabbages are coming along well — they’re getting a little munched, but nothing too horrible, I don’t think. My parents were impressed that I started them from seed, as they never had any luck and always bought starts.

The onions, unfortunately, have all died, I think. Except for maybe two. I think they needed some mulching and more water. (Plus the dog kept walking all over them, which didn’t help.)

And my dahlias! Ah, the dahlias. I pinched them back a few weeks ago, which felt so wrong,  but most of them have happy little buds formed on them now, and I’m very pleased with how they’re coming along.

What’s happening in your garden right now?

Patience, Failure, and Fall Garden Planning

It seems too early, doesn’t it? Here we are, just coasting into summer, and I’m jumping right into fall garden planning.

When I started my seeds in the spring, I was disappointed that I’d started late, and I felt sort of like a failure — the tomato seeds I started hardly got bigger than an inch, and neither did the eggplants. The pumpkins grew too fast and grew leggy, and I had to start over. The failure was always magnified after scrolling through Instagram at the end of the day and seeing others’ beautiful, lush gardens. I feel left in the dust by people I don’t even know.

If anything, it’s been a good reminder to do what I can, with what I have, where I’m at; to be patient and present in my own garden; and to actively choose not to “live” through the pixels of someone else’s garden on a screen. Comparison is the devil. And even though it can be hard to put those feelings aside sometimes, I’m still learning from observation.

Case in point: my mom, the farmer’s kid, never taught me about succession planting, let alone the idea of planting a second crop of  hardy vegetables for fall a harvest. (To be honest, I don’t think she even knows about it.) I learned about it though those same gardeners I envied on Instagram — and it got me really excited, because it’s a chance to start again and put aside the failure I felt.

I promptly researched frost dates in our growing zone, and I took a little lunch break trip to Lowes to get some seeds. I know probably I won’t get everything sown that I’d like to try growing for my first fall harvest, but I can sure try! So far I’ve sown beets, kale, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, and turnips, and I plan to sow mustard greens, more cabbages, and Swiss chard this weekend.

And, finally, the geranium that was left outside all winter is suddenly sprouting new leaves — yet another reminder that growth does come from failure.

The Annual Rotary Rummage Sale Pilgrimage

I’m a sucker for a good rummage sale, and last year my daily commute to work was peppered with small yellow signs advertising the Clark County Rotary’s Annual Rummage Sale. After seeing the signs on nearly every block, I was convinced Jordan and I had to go.

It was hosted at a local high school, and each classroom was filled with different categories of items for sale: kitchen, library, bulk clothing, crafts, shoes, lawn and yard, antiques, furniture, etc. We arrived a couple hours before it ended, and it was clear things were a little picked over, but we still found a few nice things, and the volunteers were making deals left and right; they just wanted to get rid of everything at that point. It was a good enough rummage sale that we decided we would go again next time it came around.

Fast forward to this year (two weekends ago), and we decided to get there when the doors opened at 8 a.m. to maximize our chance of finding some good stuff. There was already a long line of chattering people excited about the good deals awaiting inside. We were given a map of the school that outlined which category was in each room, made a rough plan of attack while we waited, and then away we went!

It was a mad frenzy as people dashed from room to room, and it honestly reminded me a little of shopping at the Goodwill Outlet (aka the the blue bins). Arriving when the doors opened definitely paid off, though, and we made out with some great things!

  • Two skeins of sock yarn, plus another random skein, $4 total
  • Victorian cat stamps (for Jordan to use in his classroom), $1
  • Largish Great Harvest jar with plastic lid (for my spare SCOBY!), $2
  • Tin biscuit box (for seed storage), $2
  • Various books and a movie, $5 total (I found a copy of Backyard Homesteading, which has been on my to-read list for quite some time, so that was pretty exciting!)
  • Scattergories and Pictionary, $1 total
  • A reusable shopping bag stuffed with clothing from the “Bulk clothing” room — this was a room full of tables of clothes sorted into piles by category. You could buy a reusable bag for $10 and stuff as much in it as you could. I found quite a few sweaters, a few things to resell in my Posmark closet, and Jordan found some nice shirts for work.

But by far my favorite thing I got was from the antiques and collectibles area — I negotiated this beautiful chrysanthemum painting (pictured above) from $50 down to $30! Sure, a little spendy for a rummage sale, but I’m willing to pay for nice art that I’m absolutely in looooove with. Plus, we painted our living room last weekend, and the yellow in the painting complements the color of our walls so well. It really makes the place feel more homey and “me.”

Do you shop rummage sales? I’d love to hear your best scores!