Potatoes are here!

Gardening in WA has been a huge learning curve for me. In WI I would throw seeds into the ground, walk away and eventually stuff would grow. EVERYTHING grew there because of the heat and the sun that lasted about five months out of the year; the rest of the year was dedicated to ice and Baltic winds. Nonetheless, I began to feel like a gardening pro out there due to the status and prolific nature of my garden.

Then I came to the Pacific Northwest, eager to get my garden on. It’s a bit more tricky now that the sun doesn’t come out for as many consecutive months during the year and the heat doesn’t melt your face off. Needless to say I didn’t even attempt eggplant or bell peppers out here unless I wanted to gain maybe one dinky eggplant after watering it for three months. My butternut squash plant yielded a whopping three squash while I once plucked 15 squash from two plants a few years back (in WI, that is).

I did grow a few new items that I haven’t attempted in the past and, well….I’m still learning. My potatoes did well, other than the fact that some lil’ pots on the root were the size of a chicklet. Still, I dug up half of my plants and gained a colander full of dirt-covered, waxy yellow potatoes. Chloe helped me and it couldn’t have been a more exciting birthday gift for her. I love for my kids to see how we grow food in the middle of the city. As a side note, our chickens have finally started to poop out their eggs! Omelet anyone?

A season of plenty

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These days my  breath is foggy during my morning coffee with cream. The creaky wood floors in our home chill my bare feet now that the air has dipped into the 50’s. I love the autumn. I am eating my purple cabbage with farm fresh beef and homegrown beets and carrots. My kids zip up yellow and red sweatshirts and slip on purple Wellingtons over stripped socks.

Today we visited the library to hear pumpkin stories and pick up another bag full of children’s books. Soon these colors of orange, red and yellow will all die and turn to brown and black. The dead brown will cover the landscape and I will sit inside my chilly house wishing we had a fire to rub my hands next to.

Recently I ordered a book for my daughter’s birthday (which is tomorrow) and I am thinking of ordering another for myself. I love the poetic description of colour in each changing of the seasons. It reminds me to love the changes of the year even while living in Wisconsin where the winters weigh heavy.

My garden will soon die leaving us to buy our vegetables at the store (instead of picking them from our back yard) and our family will hibernate inside for the next five to six months. For now I’ll juice the apples from our tree and throw our massive butternut squash into a lovely curry. We can think about Winter another day. Enjoy the colours of autumn.

This is what I’m enjoying today….

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Leaf-hair masks

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Farm fresh milk with cream on top

 

Dirty garden carrots

Dirty garden carrots

 

 

Our pumpkins are turning orange

Our pumpkins are turning orange

 

 

My dusty gardening boots

My dusty gardening boots

 

 

Apples sitting ready to be juiced

Apples sitting ready to be juiced

 

 

I still have tons of peppers waiting to invade a fresh mozza pizza

I still have tons of peppers waiting to invade a fresh mozza pizza

 

the end of a season

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Rustle of wind in the leafy trees

Wine and an outdoor fire at the end of the day

Wild Salmon from the Atlantic

Smelly, dirty children with blueberry stains around their mouths and sweat stuck to their skin

Husband with a tall and broad frame moving next to boy as he rides his bike without training wheels

Girl with clumps of summer in her hair playing la la with her favorite friends, her fingers!

Furthermore: Fatty Bombalatty

Apple tree which dumps a dozen apples on our sidewalk for the kids to pick up and eat two months out of the year

Sunshine that melts into your skin. Warm. Indulgent!

Lavendar from my garden. Garden. Garden. Tomatoes, purple and red peppers, eggplant, strawberries, onions, cosmos, roses, squash, pumpkin, carrots, beets, zucchini, mint, basil, rosemary, cantaloupe, raspberries, cabbage, nasturtium…. Accomplishment!

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Line drying

Picnic Table dinners

Windows open at night. Underwear for pajamas. Bare feet. Flip flops.

Sweat

Tan skin

Freckles

Fire flies

The fear of impending winter and more snow than is necessary….

Life is sunny and open windows. Neighbors are seen and heard. Crickets lull us to sleep and flowers fill their air with essence. It’s summer! The end of summer.

This may be the last one here for us!

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Day 18: How does your garden grow?

cutting a pumpkin for Oliver

cutting a pumpkin for Oliver

There are days when I think of all the work we have done or still need to do on this house and I am totally overwhelmed. We got our home as a ‘fixer upper’, to put it mildly. We have fixed and fixed and fixed, yet there is still more work to be done. However, we have transformed our little money pit into something quite lovely. I’m in agreement with those people who buy houses and slowly begin to make them beautiful. There is something very holy in creating aesthetic beauty and I believe in making beauty out of ashes. I just didn’t know the ashes would be over three years high.

The first year we moved here it was all about working on the inside of the house. Then by the summer time I was so pregnant with Chloe that I couldn’t even think of the outside of the house. I sure did notice it though. We had weeds growing in our back garden that were taller than Matt who is 6’2″. So we just hacked away at the weeds and covered them with a plastic tarp. “That’ll do ‘er for now!’

Then the following year I ached for a garden after visiting Tacoma and seeing a lovely little back garden that a friend had worked years to beautify. He grew every kind of veggie, mixed hot compost (an art all in itself) and about four types of berries, plus flowers galore . I was locked in when I saw how sweet and restful it was. There is a freedom that comes from growing your own food. It’s liberating to go into the yard and pick your dinner.

When I came back to Madison I was on a gardening mission. I grew a lot, and learned a lot, that first year as I pulled up the yard all by my lonesome and planted away. I planted squash and pumpkin (only inches apart- I didn’t know!), tomatoes, spinach, chives, lavender, cosmos, sage, rosemary, basil….blah blah blah. It was crazy how things grew. The compost was the kicker. It mutated my food and flowers so that they grew to epic sizes. People would say, “I’ve never seen cosmos get that big” The stalks were about 3″ in cir.

Every year I plant more and dig up more of the ground. I am taking back our garden, even though a neighbor’s menacing trumpet vine threatens my veggies very existence. But that is another post all together…. And every year I learn more about gardening. The other day I was working in the yard, getting discouraged by the number of trees the previous owner allowed to grow out of control when a woman walked by and said stated that we had quite the make over going on in our yard. I sighed and told her she should have seen it when we first got the house. She mentioned she has passed our house on foot for years now and has seen the progress and that it looked so great. She was also a professional gardener and told me how to deal with those !@#$ trees. In all it was extremely encouraging to hear her perspective since I’ve worked so hard at turning this literal rubbish heap (I’m always digging up buried garbage) into something beautiful and refreshing.

Today I was digging more ground in prep for the spring planting and was so thankful that I have this plot. I love gardening and growing things. It’s something tangible for me to see and touch (and eat) and gain gratification from knowing that I made this, or made it grow. It’s the activator in me that wants results and not many things in my life give me fast results. Raising children shows you slow results just as investing in people’s lives shows slow results. But I get satisfaction and rest from my garden when I can sit next to it in the summer time, watching bees pollinate my goodies and slowly seeing little buds develop into treats for our dinner table.

What are you thankful for?

Showing Chloe our worms

Showing Chloe our worms

Tulip Garden

Tulip Garden

Last summer's sunflowers

Last summer's sunflowers

Green, green, green!

Green, green, green!