the summer day

My husband spotted two Luna Moths the other day. They had just emerged and were drying out.

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I’ve only ever seen one before, despite that fact that we have cherry, willow, and persimmon trees (all of which are host plants), on our property.

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Note the grape-sized persimmon for scale. This is a BIG moth.

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They don’t have mouths and will live only one week.

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I’ve been given 54 years already: what riches. It makes me embarrassed to squander even a moment. I like how Mary Oliver said it: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

 

my favorite things

I’ve been thinking about my favorite vegetable to grow, harvest and cook, and to my utter surprise, it’s swiss chard. It’s super good for me; it has vitamins K, A and C, and it is anti-inflammatory & has anti-oxidants.DSC_0031As a plant, it’s easy. It always grows; I’ve never had one die on me. It forgives me if I don’t pick it at just the right moment. It keeps growing all summer, and it’s pretty. DSC_0048It’s simple to prepare. I rinse the leaves off, pile them up, slice them lengthwise 3 or 4 times, then chop it up.DSC_0056 I saute it in olive oil and water with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (because red pepper flakes are good with everything). It’s tasty just like that.  But I make a ton of it and keep it in the fridge to do this:

  • add to eggs and omelets
  • spread over sautéed chicken & top it with swiss/parmesan cheese
  • spread on top of pizza
  • add to any kind of pasta
  • add to soups and beans
  • toss into salads
  • spread onto toasted bread (with or without cheese – oh never mind – WITH cheese)

So I have to give an A+ to swiss chard: healthy, easy, simple, delicious.

love spring

I haven’t seen a hummingbird yet,  April 29, which is late for me, but Spring is in full bloom here in South Jersey.DSC_0031Some of the Columbines are over 4 feet tall.  Sigh. I remember when Columbine was just a flower.DSC_0033Aren’t they pretty?

DSC_0037 (2)The bed by the front porch looks to have a promising year.DSC_0040 (2)The bed by the driveway looks pretty good, as well.DSC_0043The raised bed herb garden has some winter survivors as well as popsicle sticks promising good things to come.DSC_0045And here, my dears, is what my beloved party garden looks like on this very day. A sad, sad remnant of our glorious fall season together, as witnessed below.DSC_0006But, happily, my Sad Clematis has hung in there.DSC_0046Love Spring.

creativity 2 – make mistakes

I never know where I’m headed when I create. Whether it’s a meal, a quilt, a garden, or a blog post, I just have to jump in and see where it takes me.

Sometimes I make something great that doesn’t work.grilling-june-garden-hummingbird-009Despite heroic measures on my part, I was unable to overcome the effects of gravity; the plants kept falling out of the frame. So I gave up.

Sometimes I make something bad that works.dsc_0127I wanted to try free motion quilting, but I knew I wouldn’t be very good at it. I did it on the back side of my daughters bolsters – the side that goes against the back of the couch – so no one sees it.

And sometimes, I just have to keep trying until I get it right.grilling-june-garden-hummingbird-059BEFORE – Here’s a little seating arrangement under a cherry tree. After years of cleaning up petals, pits, and poop (the birds LOVE those cherries), I took out the seats.may-backyard-prom-003AFTER – I used the pavers to make a little wall, filled the area with soil and made a cute little garden instead. Now all of the cherry tree debris just disappears.

too big for my britches

It started with a sad clematis.Sad

Then I noticed a lilac had taken over the party garden.

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The lilac in happier times.

I decided to dig up the lilac and put the clematis in its spot, where it will get the sun it so desperately needs.

So I dug. And I pulled. And I snipped and clipped. And I dug.

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This is after day 4. Party garden disrupted. Wall collapsed. Tools strewn about. Lilac stump not even budging.

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This is after day 9. Looks like you could just pluck it right out of there, doesn’t it? . . . Nope

Now

Finally, two weeks later, things are looking up. The clematis is still just a bitty thing on the trellis (right in front of the blue jungle gym). But we all have hopes for a better future.

volunteers

I first noticed the gardening term “volunteers” while reading a novel. I immediately took it and made it my own. I pictured little seeds jumping up and down, raising their hand: “I’ll grow!  I’ll grow!”backyard, Dave's Quilt, Sea Isle 010

My lemon balm sends volunteers all over the yard, as does  my catnip. Sometimes I let them be, but usually I relocate them to a place that pleases me more.backyard, Dave's Quilt, Sea Isle 004

The native sedum that my brother planted in my mom’s yard (that I stole a piece of)  is spreading everywhere. Here I put a clump on an old stump. It’s happy as can be.crepe myrtle, spice jars 001

This crepe myrtle started a few years back beneath the mother tree. I transplanted it to fill up an empty corner.June Backyard 005

But this yucca is the best volunteer ever. It came from a neighbor’s yard, I suspect, because I have not seen one elsewhere. It flew over the street and plopped down in the perfect place in the corner of a street garden.

seedlings

I am worried about my seedlings. They are thin and long, not bushy and hearty like so many I see at my blogging friends’ sites: handmade.homegrown.beautiful life

I decided to get them outside into the sunshine, even though it’s early. I put them out  a bit every day for a week and just recently started keeping them out. I built a “greenhouse” for them (rocks on the sides to retain heat and old windows on the top.makeshift greenhouseThey look to be adjusting (haven’t died yet).

makeshift greenhouseI’m most concerned about my heirloom Golden Jubilee Tomatoes . . . they were SO good last year . . .

tomato seedlings

free heirloom seeds

So, not only do my local libraries supply me with all the books I can read (no small task), the Woodbury and Pitman branches here in Gloucester County, NJ also lend out seeds.

Free packaged heirloom seeds

a selection of seeds at the Woodbury, NJ seed bank

They give me free heirloom seeds; I plant them, enjoy the bounty, and give them back some seeds at the end of the season. (And no fines if it doesn’t work out.) Sweet deal!

Below are just a few of the flower, vegetable and herb seeds I picked up. All it takes is a library card.

heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs

Watermelon radish, Traveler jalapeno pepper, Monarda bergamot, Callipe blend carrots, White sage

I’m hoping my backyard looks like this in a couple of months.

companion gardening

I just finished an organic heirloom gardening class, and I am wildly excited about companion gardening. That’s the art/science/voodoo of grouping plants that are beneficial to one another. I am planning small clusters of companion plants instead of one large plot with everything lumped together.tomato, basil, chive

I can feel a full garden re-do coming on . . .

backyard love

Fall is here and it’s my favorite time to enjoy the yard:  The gardening frenzy of the spring is long gone. The sloth of the sticky summer has blown away in the cool of the autumn breezes. Fall is the time to sit on my swing and admire the season’s hard work. (Of course, I need a nice cushion to sit on, and a quilt to snuggle.)

quilt and pillows on swing
modern quilted pillowOh, and a pillow, too!

tomatoes

Every year around this time, I start to run out of ways to use up all the tomatoes. Here’s a list of my current favorites:

1) tomato & pesto sandwich
2) tomato pie
3) tomato salad with green beans & black olives
4) pizza topping
5) salsa (always)
6) halve cherry tomatoes, chop green pepper & onions & sprinkle with oregano. Keep in the fridge ready to add to: pasta, omelets, salad, soup, quiche, or pizza

Cherry tomatoes, chopped green pepper & onions with fresh oregano

Cherry tomatoes, chopped green pepper & onions with fresh oregano

How do you use tomatoes?

loving the basil

My garden is giving me more basil than I can eat, but I know how to save all those delicious vitamins and antioxidants.

I make pesto, and I use it. I spread it on half a bagel and toast it. I use it as a sandwich spread (my favorite: chicken, roasted red peppers, and pesto).When I get tired of it, I freeze it for later.