Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Please Pass the Peas


 I needed to tackle the job of picking some of my peas this week.  I've been getting a few here and there, but a lot of peapods have plumped up recently and I wanted to get them picked before the holiday.  The warm weather has helped the vines to really take off.  This pic shows the vines have outgrown the fence and are reaching up into the sky.  I left quite a few pods to fatten up for a later picking. 


 This shows how many peas I picked in about 45 minutes.  This is not a small basket. 


 I planted 2 varieties of shelling peas, along with a snowpea variety.  The top picture is "Frosty".  The pods are slightly smaller, the vines are shorter, the peas are a good size, but boy are these peas SWEET.  I popped one in my mouth and it was fantastic! 


 The "Wando" variety is quite a bit bigger.  The pods are huge, the peas are huge, the vines got over 2 feet taller than the "Frosty" vines.  They are still delicious, just not as sweet as the "Frosty" peas. 


 Last year, I lost a lot of vine growth to rabbits snipping off pieces of the top before I got my garden fenced in.  This year, they were safe and sound inside the fence.  I also grew them on a much better trellis system than before.  You can see I got a really large bowl of peas out of this one picking.  I also spent about 2 hours shelling peas in order to get them frozen while they were very fresh.  With peas, freshness matters.  The peas happen to be sitting on my copy of "Super Natural Every Day" by Heidi Swanson, which I would recommend. 


I rolled all my peas in inoculant this year and presprouted them in trays of water before planting them to reduce seed rot.  I can see a big difference in the amount of peas I got this season.  In our house, fresh peas are like late spring/early summer's candy, and we eat almost as many as we pick.  There are a lot worse things you could eat, that's for sure. 

Do you grow peas in your garden?  Do any make it to the freezer or do you eat them all fresh?  I'd love to hear about it...

Monday, June 27, 2011

First Harvests

cut broccoli heads

 Today I cut my first broccoli heads.  They are pretty big, but I guess I should have got them a few days ago, because they started blooming.  There are only a few blooms though, I think they will be okay.  I have suddenly got a craving for broccoli cheese soup...we might have that for dinner this week.  There are several more broccoli plants out in the garden for later days. 

banana peppers

 Amazingly, I got 2 banana peppers already.  I don't think there will be any more for quite a while, but it's fun to have some so early.  I love the smell of them. 

garlic growing with scapes

Besides tackling a bunch of weeding in the garden, I decided it was time to cut the scapes off of my garlic.  If you don't remove the scapes, the garlic bulbs will not get as big as they could.  I got lots of garlic last year, but I waited too late, and the foliage died back too much.  I had trouble finding them.  This year I will check and get them sooner. 

cut garlic scapes in a basket

 I cut them all off, and I will put them in the fridge.  They will  keep a long time in the crisper in your fridge.  If you like garlic, you will like scapes.  I am going to look for more recipes for using them this year...I will be sure to share them here when I find them.  As I cut them, I kept getting whiffs of yummy garlic smell. 

cut garlic scape close-up

They grow in a natural curl for some reason, but they are stiff.  They are permanently bent is this position that they grow.  The big ones in the basket that are straight are from the elephant garlic.  Since they are not really an actual garlic, it makes sense that their scapes don't do the same thing.

Do you grow garlic in your garden?  What do you use the scapes for?  If you grow broccoli, what do you do with that?  I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Wedding (Not Ours)


 I didn't have the opportunity to post yesterday because we were gone without computer access for most of the day.  DH was in a wedding, and I got to tag along.  I didn't mind so much, because I got to dress up nice, which I don't get to do very much, and usually there is some good free food and dancing.  DH is the last guy in the long line of groomsmen here. 


 However, I found out being WITH someone in a wedding can be very BORING.  This is the face I make when I have to sit for hours waiting... No, I just thought this pic was funny.  I did have to wait a lot.  I got to take the firebird and go shopping for a while, that helped.  I came back in time to sit and wait some more for the ceremony to start.  (Side note: DH laughed really hard when he saw this picture, he said my son makes this face all the time.  I guess he's right.  Hmmmmm...)


 This is me smiling because the waiting is over.  Now we can party.  I am happy about this. 


And...I get DH back, cause his groomsmanly (I made that word up) duties are finished.  All the waiting made me tired, and I was exhausted when we got home.  Weddings can be fun, but I am glad that today is a sunny, pretty day, and I can get outside and garden.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dreaming of Hostas to Come

 
This is a nice shot of my shade garden.  This is the only shade bed in my entire yard.  The edges of it could even be called part shade...which is why I put the yellowish hostas in the edges.  Lately, I have been thinking about expanding this area.  I know this isn't what DH wants to hear, but I think this will be the area that gets moved out for next year.  If you look in the picture, you can see a space between that tree and the bed, where there is currently grass.  I think that is the perfect width for a path.  I have been working on a path through my front flower beds.  I am thinking now that the path in the front will come around the house, meander through the shade garden and connect to the cement patio in the back.

So, I will need to create a new bed that goes around the tree somehow.  Something like a long oval or crescent shape that bends to compliment the shape of the current shade bed.  When the new bed is complete under the tree, the space that is left between the two beds will be the path.  A new flower bed means I can go buy a bunch more new hostas.  What else do you think I should put in it?  What varieties of hosta would you recommend?  I am fond of larger ones, and especially the really, really blue ones.  Maybe I could do a bed of all blue hosta varieties...what do you think?  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Midnight Madness!

Today I went to the Midnight Madness sale at a local greenhouse.  I had never attended this sale, but I knew it was a big deal when they said they would be closing the whole day to prepare for it, and only open 3 hours in the evening.  I got there 15 minutes early, and already the parking lot was full and people were overflowing onto the street.  I knew I had to be there though, because they advertised 50% off most of their perennials.  So, moving forward in my quest for total yard domination...I made some purchases. 

john cabot climbing rose

I have been on the lookout for a good climbing rose, to grow over the new arbor DH is going to build me out of recycled/repurposed white window covers I got for free at a garage sale.  It is a John Cabot rose, which doesn't mean a whole lot to me yet, but I think I've heard of that one, and it is hardy...enough said.

astilbe

I used to have a lot of astilbes before the move, but only one made it, for some reason.  I got this berry-colored beauty to help remedy that situation.

citronella heuchara

I have started collecting heucharas.  This is citronella, I believe. 

cherry rudbeckia

Another goodie...a cherry rudbeckia....hard to beat in simple beauty. 

whirlwind hosta

I have plans for expanding the shade garden a little next year, so I added this hosta, "Whirlwind" to my collection. 

earnest markham clematis

I like clematises...but usually their big price tags keep me from getting any more.  This is 'Earnest Markham', and it has a pretty scarlet color. 

asparagus fern in tree

This is a HUGE asparagus fern I got for only 7 bucks.  I bet I can bring this one inside over the winter and keep it alive too...

black and blue salvia

I got this one for a song...it is a salvia.  It is called 'black and blue'. 

green envy coneflower

I believe this is my 3rd variety of coneflower, I saw it at the fair a few years ago.  It is 'Green Envy', I believe. 


Finally, this is a sad, forlorn, poppy.  It was only 99 cents, and I know it will come back fine next year, as long as I can keep it alive for now. 

I got all this for under 80 dollars!  This is a LOT of plants.  Now I have some digging to do.  Do you hit up any late in the planting season sales?  What deals have to got this year?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Color Change Poppies?


 Okay, so I planted this really cool poppy plant in my yard...I got it at a greenhouse.  I love the orange/reddish blooms with yellow centers.  I've never had poppies before, but I definitely like them and will grow more in the future.  However, just recently, it started making yellow flowers too! 


I'm not sure what to make of this, except maybe that what I thought was one poppy plant, is really two or more poppy plants growing really close together.  I guess I'm not complaining, because I like both colors...Can anybody that grows poppies chime in here on their thoughts?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My! You're a Furry Bird...

It's funny that it's Father's Day, but it's my Mother's Day present that caused so much commotion today.  My son got me this cute window bird feeder for Mother's Day, and so far we've had a visit from an occasional cardinal.  Not many of the birds have noticed it yet.  However, somebody else must have noticed it, because this morning, I found him in it!


Actually I saw the branches waving around and wondered what was going on since it wasn't windy out.  Then I saw Mr. Squirrel poised to leap.  My first thought was that when he landed on it, the suction cups would give and he would hit the ground from 8 feet up. 


He made it and the bird feeder did NOT fall off.  Those must be really strong suction cups.  He did an upside down acrobatic flip and squeezed himself completely inside the feeder, with just the tail sticking out a little, like a flag.  When I rapped loudly on the glass with my knuckles, he flew out in a hurry...twitching his tail and making angry squirrel noises that I could not hear, but nonetheless knew he was making.  He sniffed furiously for a few minutes, and couldn't seem to figure out why he couldn't smell what the danger was. 


After a bit, he came back to eat again, and we couldn't scare him off the feeder by knocking on the glass anymore.  He ate for quite a while, and then left.  Surprisingly, he did not eat all the feed.  I went out this afternoon and trimmed the close branch that he used to leap onto the feeder.  I'm sure that won't deter him for long.  I took a short video of him enjoying his Father's Day snack.  My somewhat hearing-impaired stepson was watching TV while I took this video, so please try to ignore the volume the commercials are playing at...

video

Some people really dislike squirrels and the damage they do, or the food they steal from feeders.  I don't mind them so much, he was very entertaining to us.  Do you have any funny visitors to your garden?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lilies to Lust After


 It is the end of a long day...we did a lot of fun things, including going to a parade, checking out the rose festival in state center, and doing a little shopping.  We made our own pizzas and chilled out with a movie this evening.  But I am tired, and I have no pictures of any of those things.  Instead I have pictures of fantastic lilies.  They are one of a kind hybrid lilies from the annual lily sale I go to almost every year. 


 I took these pictures with my cell phone, so they are not as clear as they could be...but they aren't too bad. 


 Lilies are in my top 3 favorite perennial plants...especially this kind.  I love the ruffles and sparkles. 


 When I go to the lily sale this summer, I will do a more detailed post.  But for now, I leave you with these pics of some lovely, luscious, lustworthy lilies. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Visit to a Friend's Garden

 As I said before, I had a lot of time to kill in Des Moines the last couple days while my son was at camp.  Besides walking with my dog, I also took some time to relax and visit my friend's garden

 . 
I absolutely love her garden.  She has a knack for decorating that I aspire to as I grow as a gardener.  Her yard is very shady though, while my yard is mostly sun.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my sun yard.  It is one of the major factors I looked for when we bought our house, the lack of trees.  She has tons of shade and as a result, she has MANY hostas.  Everything in her yard flows from one area to the next.  I hope someday I will have enough plants so that I can accomplish that as well.  


These pictures are of her front yard.  Her yard is certified as a wildlife habitat, which I think is cool.  That is how natural it is.  She is the queen of groundcovers...I don't know if I could count all the different kind she uses. 


This is her side yard...the pictures don't even do it justice.  When you walk around her house, you feel like you are entering this little magical garden world.  She has arbors, and screens, and fences, so even though it is a smaller yard,  it feels like there is so much to look at and all these little rooms. 


Her side yard is one of the few places she gets some direct sun.  I guess that is why she hung a tomato plant here.  I personally like her way to hang a tomato up a lot better than those upside down things.  That is torturing the tomato plant, if you ask me. 


She finds all kind of cool 'garden junk' when she goes to garage sales and in stuff that people leave on the curb.  I am envious of her cool screen doors.  I'm always on the look out though.


This is a new project of hers, a checkerboard with moss.  I really like the different colors and textures of the moss she found.  I think there will be a family wedding here eventually, so she is getting things ready for that. 


Her garden always makes me feel so peaceful.  When I was there, I took my book and stretched out in her hammock to read for a bit.  Sometimes I feel more rested in her yard, then in mine.  Probably because I don't feel the urge to pull weeds in her yard.  Do you know someone whose garden you'd love to have?  Or a restful spot you like to hang out?  Tell me about it. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting Fit With a Good Friend


Today, Dave and I took a walk on a popular bike trail in Des Moines.  Who is Dave, you might ask?  My fiance, my son, my friend?  No...Dave is my dog.  Some people find his name hilarious.  I wish I could take credit for it, but it is the name he came with when we adopted him from the shelter.  I like it, but it really throws people when I am talking about him.  They think I am talking about a person.  


I took a few pictures of the scenery as we took a very, very long walk today.  Dave is getting older, but he is such a happy guy, so he hung in there.  I love this bridge...I have a thing for bridges I guess.  The river was very high, because we have had a lot of rain lately.  


The trail is beautiful.  It winds along the river, under trees, past people's backyards and extremely close to a train track for a while.  


The trail even goes 'under' the train track at one point.  This is one of the lowest points of the trail, and all the times I've been through here recently, this bend has been filled with mud from the river coming up over the edge.  


Dave is such a sweetie...it makes me happy just to look at this picture.  He can't live with me right now cause DH is very allergic, so he lives with my son's dad...but I still get to see him quite a bit.  


I never had a dog before Dave, and I don't know if I will ever be able to have another in the future.  Not just because DH is allergic, but because Dave is such a good dog, I'm spoiled for life.  I am just enjoying the times we have together now...he is one of my favorite walking buddies.

Who do you exercise with these days?  Is there a 'Dave' in your life? 
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