Beating Back the Flower Coup

After talking last week about the zinnia coup in the garden, I got in there this week and started to fight back. I was feeling immensely guilty about ripping some of them out, but along came a fellow gardener who was eager to transplant them into hers. I hope it works. After all the rain, there were a lot of weeds to take out as well.

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The weed pile was impressive…

I had quite a few tomatoes, a cucumber, and some peppers, which made for a nice harvest. There was also a large white turnip, whose seed was somehow mixed in with the radishes. I’ll be cooking it with some of the carrots I still have from earlier this year.

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Part of the harvest…

I am excited at the possibility that I may be able to make tomato sauce this year. it is so much better than anything I can buy. The tomatoes are in their August doldrums, but still bearing.

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The San Marzano tomato plant is pretty loaded, but also succumbing to the fungal wilt that’s in our soil. I hope to get quite a few before it stops bearing.

Other things look good, too. I’m particularly pleased with the sage plant.

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Those shameless zinnias photo bombed the sage!

In the next couple weeks, I’ll do some more clearing, make a few decisions, and start putting in seeds for the fall garden.

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All in all, there are still plenty of zinnias for bouquets.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep enjoying the zinnia crop.

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This week’s flowers for the house…

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Returning to Flowers

Well, I got back from the wilds of Central Illinois, but only after changing my flight to accommodate the summer nor’easter that blew through the mid-Atlantic states Friday and Saturday. It gave us about 7 inches of rain, which on top of other rain this month shoots us to more than a foot for the month of July.

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The flowers in my garden are full of bees and butterflies and goldfinches. It’s a wonder. I need to pull some out, though as they are shading vegetables.

Things are back in order again here at home with clothes unpacked and put away, the fridge restocked, and the garden visited. I am going to have to rip out flowers, there’s nothing more for it. At least around certain plants that they’re shading.

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I picked some cool colors and some hot colors. In the hot bouquet, I cooled things down with blossoming mint and artemisia ludoviciana or “silver king.”

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the bouquets. I made two large ones, one of which I gave to a neighbor, and two smaller ones. I was able to put flowers in the living room, at the workspace and in the bedroom.

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I may take this bouquet in to work tomorrow…

So my home is full of garden flowers, just the way I like it!

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The living room bouquet smells of mint and rosemary, which is a nice addition.

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A Little Tour of the Whole Garden

The garden is doing well. I have had tomatoes, a cucumber, some beans, and some peppers of late. There are, of course, lots of flowers.

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You’d hardly know there were vegetables in here…

I dropped a protective can over my late-planted okra, which is being eaten by an evil lagomorph.

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The rusty coffee can: beloved by gardeners, despised by those who have only seen Beatrix Potter illustrations…

My eggplants are beginning to recover from the yearly flea beetle attack and my sage is thriving and beautiful.

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Wait until you see the eggplants in a neighboring garden…this is sooooo lame.

Last weekend, I planted some fall crops–peas, lettuce and turnips–and built an enclosure I hope will keep out the voles and the rabbits. Nothing has come up yet.

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I’m hoping I can use this as my bean enclosure next summer. The survival of the peas will tell.

A few tomatoes are ripening, and I am hoping the surrounding flowers will distract.

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Distraction? Maybe…

Normally I head right to my garden and stay there, but today I took a little tour. Goodness there are some lovely gardens here.

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Get a load of those eggplants…

There are also novel ways to hide tomatoes from bird, vole and squirrel depredation.

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Wrap them up in orange netting!!!

And melons as well.

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Wrapped in several layers of bird netting.

There are lovely flowers all over.

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Goodness…

Some are deliberately planted and others are part of the garden produce.

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Some of the gardens are beautifully interplanted with flowers and vegetables.

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And Derrick and Jackie are not the only people with owls in their garden!

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This little guy looks as though he will not tolerate predators!

I didn’t do much today except take pictures and drop a can over the okra because I was waiting for my Elfa installation in the kitchen. Wowsers, it satisfies my workplace and cookbook storing needs!

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Now I just need my bar height chair to arrive! This is perfect for working and having a little coffee…

Next weekend I will be heading to Illinois to visit my family, so will not likely post or read your blogs most nights. But I’ll be back in touch the following week!

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Bees and butterflies were feasting today.

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At Summer’s Height, Fall Planting

It’s getting to be the time to plant second crops, depending on where you are. Fall planting means planting to eat in the fall (or winter), and a few things can start going in now. This morning I had arranged to meet Jane at the big Plot Against Hunger garden to tidy up the borders and shake out seeds from flowers that are done–poppies, larkspur, love-in-a-mist.

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These are the seed pods from the love-in-a-mist. Eventually they go a golden color and scatter seeds far and wide.

I was late and forgot my camera, so all the shots are post garden. Mike, who has kept our ollas in the large garden filled, came around 10:00 am and helped us finish up in the large garden. Jane had to run to get to the farm market to drop off a boatload of produce, including some spuds she’d grown in her garden.

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Jane is fabulous. Not only did she dig these potatoes, but she scrubbed them clean for AFAC clients!

There were also tomatoes, squash, onions, and a lot of parsley as well as peppers. Yay, Jane!!!

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A feast for someone!

I also collected some tomatoes from the small Plot Against Hunger garden, a large pepper, and some peppers from my garden for delivery to another farm market tomorrow.

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Some of the small tomatoes…

Mike and I cleaned up the small plot garden and then moved on to our own gardens to work. I added bone meal to some squash in the large Plot garden that had blossom rot and planted some flower seeds for the fall in the gaps in our flower fence.

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Some of the tomatoes I picked a bit early to defeat the voles, as well as some onions curing and a green tomato that fell from the vine. Our bricks are being repointed, which is why the window is taped and there’s a contraption outside it…

In my own garden, I did some harvesting–a lovely zucchini, peppers, lots of cherry tomatoes and juliets, and a few beans. I held off on taking the chard. I’ll go back for that if I run out of veggies this week.

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Quite a few peppers! Not the best photo, but I was packaging them for tomorrow’s drop off.

I made an enclosure for peas and salad greens using screen from the former bean enclosure. It may be a little early to plant peas for fall, but only a couple weeks. I put those in along the sidewalk fence and added salad greens in front. Then I planted a long row of turnips both in my garden and in some open space in the small garden. I’m thinking I’ll try to plant some beets and carrots later. My carrots were legion this year! I’m still roasting them and enjoying not buying produce from the store.

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This week’s bouquet of zinnias, sweet pea, artemisia, carrot and mint…

My cucumbers are coming along, and the scallions I planted a while back are coming up. I’ll be looking forward to those, too! And of course, I cut flowers. It seems a bit odd to be thinking about fall flowers and crops at high summer, but if you want them, you need to plant! Next week I’ll get pictures of the actual garden instead of what I’ve taken out of it!

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The view from above. So glad I get to pick these!

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Of Gardens, Kitchens, and Books…

Flowers are taking over my garden. They were smothering my little eggplants, which really couldn’t take much more after the flea beetles got at them. They were hovering over the pepper plants, too and shading some squash in the back. The thing is, though, I think they may be good for the tomatoes: camouflage. Birds and other thieving creatures won’t get to the fruits before I do because there are other red and colored things all over close by that can’t be eaten. Is this sowing chaos?

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The garden after weeding, mulching, watering…have I mentioned it’s dry?

Yesterday, I went to the garden to cull flowers, weed and check out what was there. One tomato plant was in trouble from blossom rot and my hope for zucchini had also rotted on the vine. I worked away happily (I am on vacation this week, partly to get the kitchen in order and partly to do other things I can’t seem to get to while working, getting the garden to fabulous being one) for more than four hours and liked the result.

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A few tiny cucumbers coming on give me hope of bread and butter pickles…

Today I went back and added composted leaf mulch. But before that, I threw down some bone meal on the tomatoes and squash and some organic fertilizer for good measure. The bone meal could take care of the blossom rot, if that’s the correct diagnosis.

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This is the plant with blossom rot. It may be getting over it if this batch is any indication.

I also transplanted some of the zinnias I removed from the garden and put them outside the fence for our sidewalk border. I hope they survive.

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The bees love the zinnias.

The small Plot Against Hunger garden has some massive tomatoes coming on, as does the large plot. There was also a summer squash in the large plot and a perfect zucchini in the small plot. Obviously, these plots have a better mineral balance than mine. We’ve given a lot of produce to AFAC this year so far. Jane did a lot of succession planting and interplanting with the early crops, and all the chicken manure we put down in February or March seems to have done its magic.

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Other tomatoes are mixed with zinnias and hiding near winter squash.

Over the weekend I painted the kitchen something called shore house green, which looks more like robin’s egg blue to me. There was some bad language at the edges where cutting in or masking is necessary. The edges aren’t perfect, but it’s okay. I painted the wall where I currently have a desk something called suntan yellow, and I really like the combination with the blue.

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When I opened the can of paint for this, I started laughing, I liked it so well.

After the garden today, I went up to the Container Store, where I had a counter and shelves designed last week with their Elfa system. I took pictures of the kitchen (being me, I had already taken precise measurements, but forgot, for instance, the HVAC vent up close to the ceiling) and we made some adjustments to the design. I’m paying for delivery and installation, having already used up my bad language quota during the painting. Suffice it to say, it’s a bar height counter I can use for work or breakfast, with some shelving above. I’ll show it when it’s installed.

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This is where the bar/shelving will be installed. I use my metal fuse box cover as a place to post notes.

Since all work and no play would be bad, I’m also reading and recently finished a book I enjoyed immensely. It is called Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. Holy smokes. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a book so much. I’m following it up with Julia Glass’s A House Among the Trees and will let you know how that is when I’m done.

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I really like the way this blue makes the window pop.

But Lillian Boxfish. She’s an 85 year old woman who takes a purposeful walk through Manhattan on new year’s eve in 1985. She was at one time the most highly paid woman in advertising as well as a poet and writer of self help books. She takes the reader through the New York of the twenties (Prohibition did not stop cocktails), the thirties–yes something from most decades. She is witty, astringent, clear-eyed, and open and her walk takes her past landmarks that all resonate with an event. The narrative moves easily between past and present and the writing is solid. Lillian has some insights about life, some surprising, and if she were my neighbor, I’d be dropping in on her.

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My banana peppers are loaded. I think Lillian would like banana peppers.

Tomorrow, I’m having lunch with a friend (did I mention we’re having some spectacular weather? Low eighties, no humidity, sun) and may take a kayak onto the river. Vacation at home is heavenly, even with chores…

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Soon, I hope to stop buying beans from the grocery. Though I’ve been picking these young and putting them in omelets…

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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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