Feeling Like Late Summer

We thought the cucumbers were slowing down. Wrong!

A female monarch on our blue foamflower. I wonder if we will finally see a monarch chrysalis this year. In the past, I’ve only seen males. Males have a black spot on their hindwings.

August 2020

We planted this about three years ago down by the spring house. This is the first year it bloomed. Only three blooms that I could see. Hopefully, more next year.
Meadow petunias in our native garden. This plant is starting to spread itself everywhere!
Our native garden was planted in 2017 – three years ago. It is between the house and the garage. This is the way we walk to enter the house via the back door.
We added a row of blocks on either side of the driveway so no one drives off the edge where the conduits are. The other areas are a slope of rocks.
Well it didn’t take long between getting the new driveway and having a gully washer of a storm – about four inches in two hours. Many homes and businesses in the downtown area were ruined. The newspaper reported about $3 million of damage. We just had a bunch of rock moved downstream. We’ve moved some of it. Billy Young stopped by a few nights ago and said they’d move the rest when it dried up. Hmmm, that could be months from now if we continue in this wet weather pattern.
Our second batch of sauerkraut. We have our second batch of sour pickles bubbling on the kitchen counter now.
We’ve been busy with our harvest. Planning to can more tomato sauce this weekend using a mix of our tomatoes and those from the farmers market. We’ve had cool weather this week – 58 degrees last night – so I don’t know how well they will continue to do.
These are elderberries. It’s hard to tell how big they are. These are smaller than a pea. They can be half this size. The rain has kept them plump. I’m making immune boosting syrup with them.

Summer Heat

This is a photo from earlier this month of the kitchen garden. We had fairly moderate weather until last week when we hit 90 degrees. Yesterday was a scorcher.
Sometimes Darcy needs a little quiet time too.
Smokey and I have been meeting up on the back deck every morning for some loving. I’m allergic so I just stroke him with my one hand and try not to let him rub up against my legs. I largely fail at that. I always wash afterward.
Orange and purple coneflowers
Smokey has not trained Darcy like Frida has. He usually runs away from her whereas Frida will stand her ground.

More about the driveway soon!

Cabbage!

Starting first with a foggy morning photo of the barn garden. The elderberries are blooming and the onions are ready for fresh picking. We’ll harvest all of them in about a month.
Making kraut from the two we harvested. Just cabbage, garlic scapes and salt.
This little Northern Red Oak was growing in an awkward spot so we moved it to the backyard. It doubled in size in about a month – a fast grower.

Celebrating 36 years together

This is the barn garden in the evening light. It’s been a lot of work, but it looks great and we are excited to keep it in good shape. Dave harvested lettuce and spinach early this morning. Also in this garden are onion, garlic, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes. I had to include some flowers – maybe you can see the marigolds and dwarf sunflowers. Seeds for butternut squash and green beans are sprouting and we are waiting for the okra, cowpeas and bitter melon to show. I don’t think I’ve missed anything. More peppers and tomatoes in the kitchen garden along with the cabbage. I made stuffed cabbage with some of the large outer leaves last week.

Cool Spring

It’s been a beautiful, long, cool spring. While so many others have been bored during this stay at home spring due to COVID-19, I found myself busier than ever. It’s been nice being outside tending my garden with temperature mostly in the 50’s and 60’s during the day. I have a lot of photos to share.

March 31
a lone tulip among the Virginia bluebells
pear tree blossoms
We have since had a couple of frosts so I’m not sure we will have any fruit this year.
April 1
I made elderberry syrup from some elderberries I dried a couple of years ago. Hoping to regulate my immune system.
April 5
I’ve been making face masks for family, friends and Damian’s coworkers at FedEx. It takes me about one hour and 15 minutes to make two masks and I try to make two every evening. I also made my sister a couple of scrub caps because she has been involved in COVID testing at her hospital.
April 7
I guess most of my posts include a photo of Darcy and or Frida. They play though not in the way Darcy wants to. Basically, Frida stares at Darcy and twitches her tail and Darcy goes wild in a ‘why won’t you play with me’ kind of way.
April 8
Violets and dandelions – pretty weeds.
I don’t mind them in the grass – I just don’t want them in my flower beds because they take over.
Our redbuds and dogwood trees bloomed for about a month because of the cool weather. Usually, they bloom for a week or two and then we get a few days in the 80’s and the blooms quickly fade.
A wicked thunderstorm blew through our part of town early this morning. It snapped some of our pine trees.
April 16
We are trying bee keeping again. Not sure I mentioned last year that our two colonies failed. We have high hopes with this one because it seems so robust. It was nice of our friend, Sue, to give us a swarm from one of her colonies.
I’ve spent a lot of time in my potting shed this spring potting up marigolds, tomatoes, peppers and dill. These are my marigolds. Now, a month later, they are twice as big and blooming! I hope to get them in the ground this weekend when it looks like the weather will be in the 70’s and remain that way.
A cleaned up potting shed
April 24
The ferns are so pretty when they first sprout.
As are these heucheras sprouting from a mossy stump.
I thought having grow lights would be a good idea. I had stopped growing peppers and tomatoes from seeds because of moving them inside and out. Having the grow lights only meant that we had bigger and stronger plants to move. I know now that I started them too early.
May 4
I don’t often include a photo of myself.
I’m making hermit cookies to send to my mom for Mother’s Day.
May 8
I think I’ve mentioned before that I love columbine because it looks good from Spring to Fall. It’s really spreading itself around the garden – and patio – so much so that I’ve dug some up from between the brick and transplanted it along with some heuchera and woodland stonecrop into the front yard flower beds.
May 10
Mother’s Day cookout
May 14
Smokey Roo wanted to be included, too!
This rocker is on the top floor of the mudroom. There are two rockers up there and no one sits on them other than the cats.
May 15
A little painting I did in my Perpetual Nature Journal. According to the Humane Society “opossums can be beneficial for your garden, eating snails, slugs, insects and sometimes even small rodents. They’ll even clean up spilled garbage and fruit that has fallen off trees.”

Gardening During the Coronavirus Crisis

Something new for us this year – growing seedlings under lights. So far it is going well. It definitely beats trying to do it just by a windowsill. This way the seedlings don’t get all leggy. And while you can’t see it, we got a warming mat to put under the pots to help the seeds sprout.
This is in the master bedroom.
These are Chinese Five Color hot peppers. They promise to be a beautiful plant and I plan to put a couple in pots near the house.
We also planted other peppers, tomatoes, dill, marjoram, cosmos and marigolds.
Last week we had some limbs trimmed off the elm tree in the backyard. It had a lot of large broken branches hanging from it from the bad ice storm we had in 2018.
A perk from this was the wood chips the arborists left behind. I used it to cover the cardboard I’d laid down in the kitchen garden a year ago. This is the path. I also finished putting leaf mulch there on the top left of the photo. I hope to put flowers and or native grass there. That area is under the eave so it has to be something that doesn’t mind it dry.
The cardboard was there to kill the grass. I’m trying to reduce the grass, especially in areas where it is difficult to get the lawn mower.
This is a photo I took on February 26. It is the last of the onions we grew in 2019.
Besties

So far, social distancing because of the Coronavirus has been good for our garden. Last week we planted lettuce, carrot and spinach seed. Over the weekend, we planted onions and potatoes.

I should note here that our winter felt like a prolonged spring. Very strange. They say blooms are 3 weeks early this year.

Making Corn Tortillas

It probably wasn’t a good idea to make corn tortillas the night before Thanksgiving but we wanted to share it with our kids. I made the ropa vieja (shredded beef), salsa and refried beans ahead of time so that was good. We made the carnitas and rice and, of course, the tortillas that evening. Everyone helped in some way.
Luca and Dave share a dad joke.
When I bought this mixer I never thought I’d use it to grind corn we grew ourselves.
Using a tortilla press to flatten the ball of corn into a tortilla.
We had to nixtamalize the dried corn (bloody butcher, an heirloom variety) first. That involved heating and then soaking it in calcium hydroxide overnight.
Yum. They are very different from store bought tortillas. Heartier and more flavorful.
Dave ground some of the dry corn into cornmeal and I used it for the cornbread and sausage dressing to go with our Thanksgiving turkey.
Colleen and Sam
Frida and Darcy are checking each other out.
Here is a photo of the whole gang. We went to Gloria’s Pupuseria before going to Redbeards on Friday evening.
My sister and her two daughters visited us Saturday through Sunday AND NONE OF US TOOK A PHOTO!!! This is not the first time they’ve visited and I kicked myself afterward for not taking a photo. Ughhhh!!!
Catching up with some other November happenings – we finally planted the garlic. You plant a clove and get a head of garlic from each one. You have to keep the bed covered with some sort of mulch. Here we used leaves gathered along the sidewalk of Trinity Episcopal Church in town. Those leaves were destined for a plastic bag and I hate to collect leaves from our own property. Want to leave those for the bugs.
We also used those church leaves for the one crescent shaped bed in the front yard we cleared earlier this fall. This bed was so full of weeds that we decided to clear it of everything and start over. Not sure what we will plant here next spring. It may be all annuals so we can make sure we removed all the weeds – especially the tenacious wire grass.
This is the other crescent shaped bed. We didn’t get to this one. Maybe next year. So happy to have three volunteer trees in this bed – two oaks and I think the other is a crabapple.
I just had to take this photo of a pumpkin patch on route 340 in Stuarts Draft.

Fall Color and Reflection

I hear it over and over again – women saying they love the fall because of the colors and the crisp, cool weather. I love the fall and spring for the mild weather and I also love them because they signal change. I love living where we have four seasons. Another reason I like the fall is because the days are getting shorter so my evenings are more relaxing. I’m not outside weeding or doing other garden chores to stay out of the hot sun of day, but still suffering through our heat and humidity that lingers into the night. I look forward to getting a shower and into my pajamas soon after dinner and spending the evening reading, sewing or sketching.

I noted the first fall we were here that we don’t have much fall color on our property. I have a cold and so was sitting quietly in my sunroom late yesterday afternoon and realized that while we don’t have a lot of bright color I was still enjoying the muted tones of early fall. So I grabbed my phone and went outside to photograph some color.

These aromatic asters bloom until first frost. This purplish blue color is a favorite of mine.

I’ve come to love columbine – it’s delicate spring flower and pretty foliage through summer and fall.

Tupelo tree – also known as black gum or sour gum

white oak

Dogwood tree

Redbud tree

Serviceberry tree – see the gold leaf in the upper left corner – this tree is just starting to turn. It’s kind of hidden behind other trees in our front yard so I keep missing it’s June blooms and golden fall leaves. Will try to remember to keep an eye on it.

This is one of our volunteer oaks in the front yard. I think it is a burr oak.

pear tree

Southern magnolia tree

Sassafras tree

Gooseberry bush

Rose hips

Sedum

Purple coneflower

barrenwort or bishop’s cap

Onion Harvest

I harvested the onions this week. It would have been nice to let them cure a little longer outside, but we are still getting a lot of rain and I was afraid they’d start to rot.

a few had started to flower

We got about 70 lbs. We store them in the basement – keeping space and good airflow around them.