Diary, musings on life, people, interests. Posting my poetry

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Location: Lacey, WA, United States

I have a Certified Artist/Teacher degree with the National Society of Decorative Painters. Taught decorative painting, color theory, calligraphy and other art related classes for 12 years. I enjoy using my artistic talents, especially to update furniture and repurpose found items. I am married to the world's most wonderful husband. We celebrated our 48th anniversary this year (2016). We have raised six children, three boys, three girls. Have 10 grandchildren. Through the NSDP I have paintings in the White House, Blaire House and Smithsonian Institute. I was given the honor of being the Chair of the Pacific NW, "Breeze and Brush" Decorative Painting Convention. What fun we had! I like keeping healthy and enjoy life. I love humor and people. God has been good to me!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My Summer Garden

I haven't had a vegetable garden since I was in my late twenties (just a few years ago!)  If I remember back that far, I planted peas, lettuce, carrots and beets.  My lettuce failed miserably, but the kids loved going into the pea patch and eating the peas fresh off the vines.

With this thought in mind, and with all of our children grown and raising children of their own.  I decided that i would like to have a small garden again.  I was convinced our cats would certainly enjoy the experience too, something else to supervise!

I picked the end of our large back yard, against the neighbor's fence.  You can see it started out pretty drab and ugly.  The picture was taken after it sat, at this stage, all winter.  So now it's spring and time to clear the sod and rocks, put up some weed barriers, amend the soil and get started.  Most of the sod I had already cut and moved to the front to fill in a large area where we had removed Juniper Tams.

From the carrots I had grown in my garden, of years past, I recall having made a lot of carrot cake and the beets I had specifically planted so I could make pickled beets.  I knew the kids wouldn't eat them.  I have since gotten a recipe for 'beet cake'.  You use cubed beets instead of fresh apple. It is the same texture as fresh apple cake, with cinnamon and cloves added.  The red beet color bakes out and you cannot tell the cake is made from beets, it tastes wonderful, especially when served with whipped or ice cream.  So the kids got their fill of beets and were totally clueless!  I also have a 'beet jelly' recipe that tastes for all the world like grape! 

I was a widow at the time and gardening brought a peace and satisfaction to my hectic life.  I had five children to care for and it was a good experience for them also.  I lived next door to an elderly widower named Harry.  Harry had a huge garden in his back yard that butted up to the fence at the side of our house and extended down a third of the length of our back yard.  Oh what a gardener he was!  Harry graciously shared a lot of produce and some of his beautiful flowers with me.  I was blessed not only with a wonderful neighbor but also given a lot of good gardening tips.

While I worked removing rocks and loosening the soil, my husband, Don, sank sturdy plastic weed barrier into the soil between the garden and our neighbor's yard, he then lined all along the fence with old cement blocks we had.  This barrier worked wondrously well all summer.

Just the work that went into getting the garden ready for planting took weeks.  The preparation is just as important as the actual planting and tending of a garden.  Putting in the weed barriers saved me hours of work weeding.

If I were in the country and had room for a large garden I probably wouldn't have had to worry as much about setting up barriers.  I have a friend who lives in Tennessee, Helen, who has a fantastic garden.  

Helen grows so many things and she works hard preserving everything they grow.  Her shelves are lined with beautiful jars of 'love' for her family to enjoy.

I couldn't believe the amount of rocks we had in the soil.  I removed several buckets full and will use them later.

Carrying buckets of rocks around, especially across a large back yard to the storage area, negates having to go to the gym for your weight lifting work-outs.

Tossing rocks into buckets improves your basketball skills.

You can see some of the plants lined up along the edge of the garden area waiting to plunge their feet into the newly amended soil.

Having good soil is so important in gardening.  We have been in our home for a lot of years and even the soil was getting old.  I added good quality compost and a few bags of gardening soil with fertilizer mixed in to give the plants a good start.

Of course our supervisor, Mylo, made sure the job was done right.  He walked through the dirt to test it for me.

After such a hard job he took a nap in the sun.

The Sweet 100 tomatoes, lemon and regular cucumber plants and the zucchini and yellow crook-neck squash are planted and given a drink of water to get them started.

The garden area was perfect for holding in the heat of the sun and protecting the plants from wind.  In the Pacific Nothwest the main concern is not having enough sun, for a long enough period of time, so the vegetables can grow to full size and ripen.

I have to admit, I was like a new mother, I was out checking on my 'babies' every day.  This is actually about three weeks after planting.

I was so excited that they were actually growing and I had to forcibly restrain myself to not water them too often.

You can't imagine how excited I was a few weeks later when the zucchini plants started blooming, and small zucchini started forming.

I will spare you the other 150 pictures taken in between the ones I posted.  My husband is so thankful for digital photography.

Here are our squash, zucchini and cucumber plants, vibrant and healthy.  Some of the produce is on the stone edge.

I remember reading a saying that went something like "A person is closest to God when gardening." We tend and feed our plants but it is God that makes them grow just as He does for us.  He wants us to be healthy and vibrant too.

Picking the first zucchini and cucumbers was so fulfilling for me.  It is so true that there is a season for everything.  Don't waste the seasons that God gives you to live and enjoy!

It was so rewarding to actually have my tomatoes ripen to the point where we could pick them fresh off the vine and eat them, they were as sweet as candy and our grandchildren loved them.

Our cat, Blue, spent a lot of time with me outside working in the garden.  I wouldn't actually call it 'work', it was a pleasure and a great learning experience.

Of course the garden was so small that taking care of it was very easy.  The peas grew and produced wonderfully well.  Delicious fresh off the vine or cooked.  My lettuce is still growing well.

A sample from our garden, Bibb lettuce, peas, Sweet 100 tomatoes, cucumbers and Lemon cucumbers (the round white and yellow ones).

I love cucumbers and had not seen the Lemon variety.  I grew them out of curiosity and came to find that I prefer them.  They are crisper and milder and taste exactly like regular cucumbers.

I used this picture as the cover page in the vegetable section when I updated a cookbook I had done for my children in 1993.

Three of our granddaughters came for a weekend visit in August.  They brought their 'Ugly dolls" with them and the dolls enjoyed an afternoon Luau by grandma's garden, between the peas and crook-neck squash.  They had a great time!

I learned that yellow crook-neck squash starts forming several weeks after the tomatoes, peas and zucchini.

What a pretty contrast they make against the red and greens.  They were also delicious.

I have an ample supply of vegetables in the freezer now and have added them to soup, spaghetti sauce and stir fry.

I saut'eed zucchini, squash, tomatoes and onion in an oil and butter combination.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste, let them cool a little, ladle into freezer containers and freeze.

The vegetables can be eaten as is if you prefer.

Here's the garden at full-growth stage.  The tomatoes got so tall they were starting to fall over.

Toward the end of the season I picked yellow/orange, orange and green tomatoes and ripened them inside.

The Lemon cucumber plants tend to spread out all over the place, I even found a vine had grown up into the tomatoes and the cucumbers were hanging like pears.

The vines stopped producing, they're wilting and old
The leaves are now yellow and speckled with mold
Warm memories in pictures of summer to share
But fall is approaching, there's a chill in the air
The sun hangs much lower in the crisp October sky
Time to clean up and tell the garden goodbye.

Mylo enjoyed his days in the sun, wandering between the plants and playing with fallen tomatoes.  Now the shadows are longer and after checking out the back yard he heads for the warmth of his bed.

Carol removes the spent vegetation, pulls out the roots, works the soil and adds fresh compost.

The lettuce is still growing well at the end of the bed.  The yard waste receptacle is full.

The squirrels are enjoying running through the fresh dirt and burying their treasures of corn, peanuts and various seeds.

I'm already looking forward to spring and next year I'll plant some beets!



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