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.

Lilac good days006

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.

DSC_0001 (2)

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

roots)

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.

garden structures

I finished my main vegetable garden excavation and rebuild (pictures soon) using untreated scrap wood my husband has saved from our many house projects. That kind of got me loving the idea of using up the rest of the scrap wood by making structures for the garden.

Here’s my first little project – a trellis for my Heirloom Cardinal Climbers. homemade wooden trellisI’ve read two biographies of Frank Lloyd Wright lately and am feeling quite architectural. Who knows what else I will come up with?

I got the Cardinal Climber seeds from the great library seed bank we have in my area:  Library Seed Bank  Can’t wait until they get growing!

 

spring garden

I am doing a lot of plant watching, lately. This time of year it seems that the weeds grow while my seedlings sit and pout.

I did have a new plant bloom this year:  yellow flowering ground cover

Me: “Mom, did you give this to me?”

Mom: “Yes.”

Me: “What is it?”

Mom: “I don’t know.”

inside

Things are looking greener, even in my attic. I’ve had great success sprouting a dozen or more different kinds of seeds in my makeshift greenhouse setup.  Adequate light is definitely a problem, though. When the first sprouts appeared, I put them on a cookie tray near the window. I used two shoe boxes to prop a light over them, but they are still thin and leggy.Seed sprouts and a lighting setupI used some cork I had to segregate the different seeds from each other – folded up aluminum foil would also work. I’m hoping the sun comes out soon; I think that would do these guys a world of good.

Sprouts Segregated and LabeledHere at my house we have a little habit of sending each other messages through our spice jars. Here’s my wish for all of us. . .Spring message spelled out in spice jars

gardening resolutions

Even though I’ve been gardening for more than 15 years, I still feel like a doodling newbie. THIS year, fresh from an organic heirloom gardening class and armed with heirloom seeds, is the year I take it seriously.seeds, gloves and markers for plantingI’ve already planted a dozen different types of seeds. I have them in cheap-o plastic greenhouses in my attic. My office is in the attic, so I have a heater up there; the greenhouses are next to the heater.greenhouse near heaterThere isn’t much light, so I put a fluorescent light on top. I turn it (and the heater) off at night. light on greenhouse

I’ll let you know how it goes . . .

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 . . .