Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spring

The children and I have been discussing and observing all the little critters that call our garden home. We classify and divide the "good bugs" from the "bad bugs". Earthworms and lady bugs should be handled gently because they are our friends and helpers. Big hairy spiders are safely escorted from the living room wall out to the backyard and instructed to eat the Nasties snacking on our tomato plants. We have (at least!) two garter snakes patrolling the perimeters and keeping the compost pile rodent free.

In stark contrast are the cutworms who are decidedly NOT my friends. Although I'm a little squeamish about bug guts, I have no qualms with viciously popping them between thumb and forefinger upon discovery. Did I mention I do not like the cutworms?

Apparently we're providing comfortable accommodations for our lady bug friends as they are busily going about the business of beetle love here on my very best pepper plant.


We hope you have enjoyed your stay. Come back any time.

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It seems as if Spring has decided to finally arrive and stay awhile. Our first strawberries are ripening!

I ate the strawberry she's pointing to today and it was delish! My Mother-In-Law and I have a longstanding joke about a personality trait we share. We both enjoy collecting the accouterments of whatever interest we're pursuing as much as the actual practice of said hobby. For example, she and I both own approximately nine million dollars (each) of scrap booking, stamping, and card making supplies. In total, we've produced maybe 4 cards. If you do the math, that means that each card is worth several thousand dollars.

To draw parallel to my garden, today I ate a $100.00 strawberry. And yes, it was THAT good.

I promised Samantha she could have the next one as she is my most steadfast garden helper. Much more benevolent then her mother, she offered instead that we might all six share it.

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Our garden seems to be particularly 'volunteer-mystery-squash' friendly. Which is ironic since the ten or so squash seeds I purposefully sowed have had only about a 50% success ratio thus far. It's amusing to see a shriveling powdery leaved seedling surrounded by 5 random fat and thriving volunteers. The Green Thumb Score to date - Mother Nature : 1, Stephanie : 0.

Unruly squash grow so well in our yard that we even have lawn squash.

Not sure how this guy ducked the mower, but good for him!

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After a later then usual dinner tonight the boys snuck out the back door at the mere whisper of the words "school night". Even as the minutes past bedtime ticked by, neither Shawn nor I could bear to call them in. Strange how the bickering stops and the brotherly love blossoms as soon they are supposed to be getting ready for bed!

We have a canal that runs behind our property. Up until recently it's been dry, but now it's running full and what is more fascinating and full of possibility to little boys then mud and water?



They climb on the palette to check out the canal.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In the beginning



We inherited a beautiful garden plot from the previous owners of our new home. Despite the fact that I know absolutely nothing about gardening, I'm attempting to grow stuff anyway. I've managed to keep four little humans alive for nine plus years, hopefully I can produce a few zucchini. In typical Stephanie style -- damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!



I planted most of the nursery transplants May 7. My experienced gardener neighbor laughed a little at my 'eagerness' and assured me everything would likely freeze. Oops. Since planting we've had a mix of typical Utah spring weather. In the 70's, then in the 90's, then in the 40's (sigh) all in a two week span . I have a few pumpkin plants that angrily threatened to drop dead of cold, but they are hanging in there.

In the garden so far:

Carrot seeds (just sprouting)
Basil sprouts and one Basil transplant
Thyme sprouts
Mint transplant
One Cherry Tomato plant
One Roma Tomato plant
Bell Pepper (several varieties of green and red)
Strawberries
Zucchini
Pumpkin
Acorn Squash
Butternut Squash
Cantaloupe
Eggplant

I still have a grape tomato plant to put in the ground and Bean bush seeds. So far we've only had three casualties -- squash seedlings. I started them indoors and they got super leggy, unlike the few seeds I've directly sowed. Most of the long leggers did just fine once transplanted but a few got snapped off near the base either by the wind, some buggy, or a bird perhaps?


My happiest strawberry plant. They seem unphased by the cooler weather. I bought two varieties. One type is sending out runners like mad and the other is busy making the first batch of little berries. Every plant has now sprouted new growth. Yay! I haven't killed the strawberries (yet).

The peppers also haven't minded the cold. The largest transplant (and older by probably two weeks?) has already flowered once with a little pepper on the way. It looks like several more flowers are budding as well.






The little pumpkin plant that could. You can see the cold damaged outer leaves and then all the new healthy growth in the middle. I wasn't sure if I should cut off the damaged foliage.

I have a patch of ground by the back fence that the children and I spread with wildflower seed and backed with a row of sunflowers. I made the mistake of adding not-fully-composted compost to the plot. So now I have a whole slew of random squash volunteers in my wildflower garden. I can hardly bear to pick them. This is just a small sampling (maybe a tenth of the area) *after* thinning a few:



I've also got a little annual flower bed. I'm not sure I did the right thing by planting under two of our fruit trees, but we've dubbed this first year 'the experimental season'. If everything dies then I guess we'll know not to try that again, right? The marigolds and peonies seem quite happy but the begonias haven't fared as well. Nothing has completely turned up leaves and quit on me though.



The children have enjoyed 'helping' me in the garden. Derek weeds and enjoys my daily updates about how everything is growing. William conjures up ways we'll eat the eventual fruits of our labor. Patrick chases butterflies, squashes grasshoppers, and transports our many earthworms from place to place. Samantha aims the hose while I squeeze the trigger. Life is good.