Summer Comes On

I am certainly eating from the garden these days, which is a great pleasure. This weekend I harvested carrots, beets, lettuces, radishes and onions.

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From what I could see, there are at least three zucchini that will be ready later this week,

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tomatoes small and large on all the plants,

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some lovely bell peppers, which seem early,

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and what looks to be the potential for a lot of cucumbers. Bread and butter pickles, here I come!!!

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The pole beans are blossoming, so I hope to have those as well.

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And there are flowers galore, especially bee balm,

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And zinnias, whose artful buds I had not taken much notice of before. There is always something new in the garden.

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I brought home a bouquet of course.

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Later this week, I will need to get some bone meal onto the tomatoes, as at least one plant appears to have some blossom rot. In the meantime, I’ll be watching the squash so I can pick them at a reasonable size!

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Much More To Do

Well, the kitchen is in!  I do like it a lot. Goodness, even though this contractor was quite clean, what a mess that dust is, even getting into the back reaches of my place.  I cleaned Friday night and all day yesterday, along with putting things in the cupboards.  In spite of my good intentions, I did no culling.  Over the next few months as I settle in and rearrange, I will doubtless get rid of a few things.  But on to the pictures:

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This is the view from the doorway. If you look closely, you’ll see the paint swatches taped to the walls.

It took twelve hours to unpack, put things where I thought they might work, haul out the trash, and paint the woodwork in preparation for putting the curtains back up and moving more furniture.  It’s been 28 years since I moved, and it’s all coming back to me…but a friend is coming over today to help with the last of it, at which point I will move back in.  Then think about the painting, which shouldn’t take long, but for drop cloths and taping…

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Fridge and sink to the left as you walk in the door. I had wanted the door handles on the right, but I wouldn’t have had access to one of the crisper compartments had we stuck with that. It’s a tight space, and we thought we had allowed, but…this will work.

The tall storage cabinet is really nice, and I have just about filled it.

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I was able to put all my canning equipment and jars in the top compartment. Whew, now it’s out of my closet.

So other than a few pieces of furniture being moved and more trash taken out, I have only to think about paint.  I’m looking at a tropical sea color or an Italian villa color.  As I stare at the paint chips, I’ll undoubtedly decide.

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Long view from the window. Next week: back to the garden!

If you’re local, the folks who did it are Cameo Kitchens in Falls Church.  All this in 18 working days!  With a Tuesday start and a Monday holiday it was 3 1/2 weeks on the calendar.  I only wish they painted, too!

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A Weekend of Sun!

We finally had a lovely late spring weekend with sun and temperatures in the low eighties. Everyone’s garden is flourishing from all the rain (and we’re expected to have three days more of it this week).

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By clearing out some of the early crops I made a little space for some okra.

I harvested lettuces, spinach, carrots, beets, and radishes and left some kale to get a bit bigger. I also have abundant herbs, which is nice. I cut up cutting celery, parsley, and some basil into a pasta dish tonight, adding some store bought tomatoes.

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Alex gave me two garlic bulbs. I will find a way to use them with some of this produce!

The Plot Against Hunger gardens are also flourishing and we harvested carrots, beets and lettuces from them this week and I added more carrots, some turnips and some lettuce to the tally. Alex will be taking those to AFAC tomorrow.

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Larkspur, interspersed with poppies on a busy corner…

One of the amazing things in the garden is the profusion of flowers. We have a lot of larkspur, the remains of love in a mist, zinnias coming on, yarrow, poppies, and some sort of primrose whose name I can never remember.

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These are some sort of primrose, but possibly not primula anything. The foliage turns red in the fall.

I brought home a bouquet which pleases me immensely. As for the kitchen, work has been done, but it doesn’t look a lot different. I am told the countertops, floor, and appliances will all go in this week, in which case, I will be very busy next weekend!

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Ah, flowers for the house again. Using one of my host’s vases!

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Seizing the Sun

We’ve become trapped in a weather pattern with rain most days. While this has been good for the drought, and is undoubtedly good for all green things and the bees, I would welcome less rain. I was in the garden working away on Sunday afternoon and it started to mist a bit. I ignored it. I was wearing a straw hat and a wool sweater (yes, in May) and wasn’t feeling wet. Kept working, looked up at a certain point and realized it was full out raining and I needed to stop working.

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My hosts’ updated kitchen has cupboards such as have been ripped out from mine.

I ate a sandwich I had brought to eat in the garden amidst the distinct scent of wet wool in the shelter of my car and repaired home to my borrowed apartment, where I settled in reading a jewel of a mystery by Michael Innes (aka J.I.M. Stewart). I thought I had read everything he wrote, but found on my hosts’ bookshelves The Seven Suspects. I don’t know about you, but there are writers whose new books I wait for. And it is always unfortunate when I find an author who will be writing no more and whose works I read completely over the course of time. Stewart was very much alive and writing when I first discovered him, but it was a treat to find an unread Sir John Appleby mystery. I have yet to finish it, but am very near the end.

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The chaise is a very commodious reading spot, and these shelves are only a smidgeon of what’s in the apartment…

Today dawned gray and chilly, but turned out beautifully. I had arranged for a little urban hike with my friend Carolyn. We set off from my place, downhill to the river, across Key Bridge. We had decided to walk the C&O Canal towpath, but went east toward town, thinking to find the old water gate of the canal. Yes, the infamous hotel of the same name is called after the entry from the river to that canal.

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Key Bridge from the water steps.

We got sidetracked by a lovely vista of riverfront park and we followed it, because, really, who can resist a river? The day had cleared and turned out beautiful, drawing vast numbers of people who had been holed up in their homes contemplating the art of boat building.

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Some boats moored on the river walk. At left above the boats is the Watergate; at right, the Kennedy Center.

People were out on the river in boats and on paddle boards and in canoes all coexisting relatively peacefully with larger craft. If you look closely, there were also a lot of ducks and geese.

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Walking across the Key Bridge, we spotted a Great Blue Heron in flight, probably heading for calmer fishing waters. We stopped to eat at a restaurant on the river called Tony & Joe’s, where we could eat outside under an umbrella. It was fabulous.

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I also showed Carolyn my kitchen cupboards, and will now show you as well!

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Fridge on the left, sink and cupboards without, as yet, hardware.

Stove and microwave (my first ever) will fit in here.

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Tall pantry has five pull out drawers inside.

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I’m thinking this week maybe the floors and the countertops will go in, as well as under counter lighting, the sink, disposal, and other stuff. I’m hoping to reclaim my space by June 9th, but we’ll see.

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Back to the river for a view of a construction barge under Key Bridge.

On our walk back across Key Bridge, we paused to inspect a construction barge. There are repairs going on to one of the bridge arches. There’s also a large dock loaded with more scaffolding. So, while it feels as though my apartment is filled with all the construction in the surrounding area, it just isn’t so.

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A Surfeit of Greens

Salad days are here! I’m eating greens like crazy–spinach, chard, lettuce, kale–and some of the other lovely things that grow along side them in the spring, such as carrots, peas, radishes, and the occasional turnip.

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I roasted this with last night’s dinner.

The Plot Against Hunger gardens are both thriving and planted completely. The large garden has already yielded quite a lot and the small garden will be turning out lettuces and peas soon. Later, there will be carrots, tomatoes, and sweet and hot peppers.

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These lettuces have been harvested several times. I expect they’ll be bolting soon, but in the meantime, it’s all going to AFAC.

One of the pleasures of this time of year is the flowers. Roses show up in any photograph down the length of my garden.

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I’ve protected the beans from the depredations of the rabbits, but I think some wily voles munched quite a few of my beets. They must have a sweet tooth.

Some are spectacular, like these yellow ones.

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These are in a neighboring garden.

And of course, there is love-in-a-mist (Nigella something or other). I love the pink, blue and white of this and the different forms of the flowers.

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There’s something very endearing about these flowers. Jerusalem artichokes are encroaching on the right.

The kitchen, should you be interested, has been gutted. Electrical wiring has been upgraded and the plumbing inspected. It’s not pretty. Sometime this week, I expect cabinets will start to go up. The following week, let’s hope we have the floor and appliances in, but that will remain to be seen. I’m awfully grateful to be staying in another place for the duration, where I can cook my greens and relax in peace.

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I’m so grateful not to be living with this, but to be close enough to drop in and see progress.

Cheers and good wishes for the coming week!

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I’ve had the loveliest crop of radishes this spring.

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Catching Up

I can’t believe I haven’t written for more than a month. It isn’t as though the garden isn’t in full swing. I forgot the camera a number of times and then when I took it, I didn’t find time to write. So here is the update.

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It’s pretty lush in my garden right now. We’ve had a lovely amount of rain and things are growing wildly.

Jane’s fabulous Plot Against Hunger garden has already given about 15 pounds of produce to the food assistance center. And that’s poundage in lettuce and kale and greens! Okay, some carrots and radishes, too. More will be going tomorrow from the small garden–Tom Thumb lettuces and some carrots, as well as more spinach from the large garden.

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This garden is very productive. It’s given lots of lettuces, kale, and spinach and soon it will give beets and carrots. Later: squash and tomatoes.

So the season is in full swing. I had help today from Mike. He and his wife Gerda are neighbors in the garden and signed on to help in the Plots Against Hunger, which needed a weeding. Gerda will harvest early tomorrow so Mike can take the goods into AFAC.

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These Tom Thumb lettuces are the first thing to go to AFAC from the small Plot Against Hunger garden. Cheers!

My own garden is now fully planted. The spring crops, especially the greens, are coming faster than I can eat them, and all my salad and cooked greens recipes are starting to come back to me.

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I brought home kale, arugula, spinach, and beet greens from thinning. Salad days!

The flowers have been out–irises, columbine (aquilegea), now roses, and love in a mist (nigella).

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I love these! And they’re just getting started.

And mallow. It is such pretty stuff, but wildly invasive.

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I am the culprit who introduced this to the garden and now lots of people are having to pull it out!

Marcel, a gardener I hadn’t seen since last fall came today and when I wandered over to see him, he cut some of his peonies for me. I gave him a lettuce head from my garden. He said he was having a friend for dinner and would eat it tonight. Meanwhile, I have these lovely, amazing and fragrant flowers for as long as they last.

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There was no way to do these justice with the camera. Of course I had packed all my large vases, but the water glass was perfect.

I am in the midst of packing up my kitchen for the remodel. I have been quite apprehensive about it, but that’s because I like a calm, orderly home. Supposedly the whirlwind will hit on May 15th. Since I may not have internet access enough for blogging while the remodeling is going on, if I don’t write next weekend, I’ll probably be absent again until the end of the month. But don’t worry. I’ll most likely be gardening.

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Nature and the Nursery

Last weekend I got together with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. Saturday was warm and partly cloudy and we decided to drive out to Manassas to walk the battlefield at Bull Run. It was a nice hike and we got to catch up with each other’s lives while noticing the spring landscape.

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A farm house and outbuildings were on the hill here. They survived the battles, but apparently burned in the early 1930’s.

There was green coming up under the trees.

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I loved seeing the new grass, but there were so many dead trees!

Along Bull Run, bluebells had come up in little swaths.

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These were close to Bull Run.

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The landscape looked stressed. We are very near drought here in Virginia and I noticed more than the usual amount of dead trees. The bluebells were also a bit stunted, about half the height they are normally. There were a few spring beauties as well, looking themselves, so some things had not been adversely affected.

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Normally these are taller plants, not so compact. It could be that they are a different variety than what I usually see in the woods.

On the way back, I asked Penny if she would mind stopping by Merrifield, which is a large nursery and garden center. I didn’t have anything in mind to buy, but I go there sometimes just to smell the plants and the earth and see the colors of masses of blooming things. Once I bought live ladybugs here to eat the aphids off my roses.

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NOBODY was in a bad mood here…

Penny was up for it. The first thing we saw as we parked was a forklift carrying two cherry tree saplings in bloom. Pretty cool. I didn’t get a picture of it, because I gaped at it in delight for too long. I missed a second chance later because I was carrying my purchases. In my mind, the only visual better than a forklift carrying cherry trees in bloom is a truck full of watermelons.

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I did capture a vehicle hauling a lot of bamboo. Whoever plants that will rue the day…

There were a lot of flowers out: potted bulbs, flats of pansies and other early flowers, begonias, gerberas, ranunculus, geraniums.

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There were vegetable garden plants as well. I picked up some parsley, cilantro, sage, and lavender. I also got a pink gerbera and some snapdragons. I’ll plant them all out sometime this week or weekend.

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I grabbed a Radio Flyer to haul our purchases around in.

Penny had strawberries on her mind and bought a box of plants as well as some garden herbs, lettuces, and flowers.

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She’s got plans for these strawberries, if the birds don’t get them first.

We headed back to her house where her husband had been trying to fit the carrier for their kayak on their new vehicle. Apparently it wasn’t very successful, but a glass of red wine on the porch made it all better, especially when a neighbor with a sweet dog joined us. We took turns petting the dog, sipping wine and telling stories. All in all a nice way to spend a spring day!

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My purchases, snug in their box…

 

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