a November garden

What a strange garden we’ve had this year. Hardly any peas, beans or melon, not one single carrot, but lots of tomatoes, basil and oh my goodness, the tomatillos! And radishes as big as the human heart. I am not joking. Potatoes, yes indeed. And just the perfect amount of delicata squash to get us through the winter. We harvested the last of our bounty just the other day. It was a long, strange growing season this year, lovelies. How did your garden grow?

 

big and green

What’s big, green and full of crab grass? Aah, yes, the garden. Despite the out-of-control weeds in some areas, the garden is actually looking pretty good. Or pretty green and full of hope anyway. It’s hard to believe with all the heat and sun this summer that we haven’t yet harvested ONE red tomato. Or really much of anything else besides basil, beans and a handful of sugar snap peas. Soon enough we’ll be inundated with tomatoes and I’ll be begging for new tomato recipes, right? Please?

There is beauty in this August garden of green, no?

How is your garden growing, lovelies? Are you harvesting anything yet or are you (impatiently) waiting for something delicious to magically come from the earth like me?

slow gardening

You know about the Slow Food movement, well I’m here to tell you that there’s another movement in the works: Slow Gardening. We’ve made minor progress with our garden this year and everything has taken seemingly for-ev-er to get done. Let’s just say that this Mama is (finally!) understanding that everything naturally slows down with little ones underfoot and in arms. And this is OKAnd this is OK. And this is OK. Although it was 90 and humid this weekend (what, northern Michigan?!), it’s still been freezing a bit early in the mornings so that has helped me to find some contentment with feeling behind with my gardening work. I’ve seen neighbors covering up their seedlings at night and I’m thankful I don’t have one more “baby” to snuggly tuck in at night.

Plus my gardening helpers are really cute with their sweaty, dusty little heads so I’ve got that going for me…

And really, I just looked back at last year and we had also JUST planted the majority of the seeds this very same week. Sigh of relief! Phew.

Planting a Rainbow

Yahoo, we got the last of our bulbs in the ground before our new little birdie arrived! It was one of those post-baby jobs that seemed almost Herculean as I pictured holding an infant while helping Wren dig, place and bury without flailing wet dirt all over her new little birdie friend. Whew. Done.

We were especially inspired this fall by one of our favorite books: Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. We read it every week, at all times of the year. It seemed to really make a lot of sense to Wren this fall, however, since the beginning is about a child planting bulbs with her mother and then waiting all winter long for spring’s warmth and sunshine to sprout the rainbow.

Wren quickly developed some fairly particular “rules” about planting bulbs, which I had a difficult time following. God forbid I kneel on HER knee pad or get any dirt on it, the bulbs cannot stay in their “sleeping bags,” which meant she HAD to remove the papery husks (?) from the orange tulips and azure allium, and the hardy cyclamen bulbs HAD to stay snuggled up together as a family, which meant that ideally there were three or four cyclamen bulbs all piled up together. I had to do some fairly tricky “hey, look at that over there!” maneuvering to separate them before hiding them with a little bit of dirt. I was caught a couple times… it wasn’t pretty.

We said “good night” to the bulbs as we covered them up with some more dirt, put our tools away for a while and went back inside, feeling hopeful and relieved. Whew. OK, baby you can come now!

tomatillo crush

She first fell in love with gardening when our peas came on strong and I couldn’t keep her away from the trellis. Then there was the red hot flame of potato farming. And this week, lovelies? The seduction of the fruit-filled lanterns of the tomatillo has proven to be too much to keep this little birdie tied down to any root vegetable. I can’t really blame her. They’re like beautiful little Chinese lanterns dangling at just the right height for her cherubic hands to reach. A challenge to reach some, but most just need to be spotted and plucked.

So what will we do with our tomatillo bounty? Thanks for asking… We might make some roasted tomatillo salsa like last year, but I’ll reserve a bunch to make our favorite easy-peasy, delicious posole (tomatillo, hominy, chicken stew) that I found in Cooking Light several years ago. One of those go-to recipes that I don’t even have to glance at anymore. I just grab the ingredients and start throwing it together. What recipes are tried-and-true to you? Do you have a favorite way to use tomatillos? Please share in the comments area. I would love to know; we’ve got a few to spare.

topatoes and beets, oh my

I think the little birdie just might trade in her dancing shoes for farming “topatoes.” And I might just join her. I had no idea growing potatoes would be so fun. Maybe it’s so gratifying because we had no idea what was happening down in the dirt. It’s not like other vegetables that you can easily monitor every day to see how things are shaping up (or not). With the potatoes, we just decided one day we ought to dig down and find out. Crossing fingers, we dug and easily upturned some beautiful little guys. “Topatoes!!!”

Some of the tigger melons (or delicata squash?) from across the garden were starting to crowd out the beets so we harvested a bunch of those too. I can smell some roasted veggies in our very near future. Autumn, we are happy you’re here! Do any of you like to do anything in particular with your beet greens? Treat them like kale or chard? Any ideas?

Licking our lips in northern Michigan…

finally

It doesn’t just seem like the snow piles just disappeared. They really did. And what happened to spring, anyway? Yesterday’s summery 83 and sunny crashed that party. So my peas are not ready for 83 on a regular basis. They seem to prefer a milder spring. But they’re making a lovely appearance, aren’t they? Finally!

In other gardening news, the little birdie and I planted several more rows of different seeds yesterday. Melons, squash, beets, carrots, dill. She’s pretty focused for about 3/4 of a row of the bigger seeds, like tigger melon or delicata squash seeds. The carrot seeds–so tiny, even for tiny, nimble hands–not so easy or interesting for an (almost!) two tot. She just wanted to toss them up in the air and see them rain down. Can’t really blame her, but it will be an *interesting* carrot crop this year.

And I’m thinking that we will have a nice salad for a Memorial Day picnic… crossing fingers here.

What’s growing in your garden, lovelies? Have you had any fresh asparagus yet? Yummy. XO ash

P.S. Yes, it does seem a bit trite to blog about lettuce growing in our backyard when there’s so much devastation and heartache in Joplin. I’m feeling very grateful to have a home that is safe and sound, a healthy family, and another beautiful day to be alive.