Contributors

Rach

I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.

Jess

Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.

Lissie

I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.
Gardening Hopes

My mom, Lissie, posted on facebook yesterday that gardening is an act of faith. And oh boy, that is such a true statement. You work like a dog, spend countless hours and a good bit of money and in the end you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. The whims of nature with the weather and critters really change the game yearly and the assaults are unbelievably sneaky. It takes a rabbit only a day to ravage your lettuce or an especially wet and cool summer to ruin your tomatoes that you started from seed way back in March. The fact that so many of us do it again and again and again and that there is an enormous online gardening community devoted to gardening as well as countless books on the subject demonstrate that we collectively do want to figure it out . For this very reason I can see why commercial agriculture with its use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and wasteful irrigation practices became popular. Farmers just want a guarantee that their crop is going to survive and be marketable. Obviously things have seriously gone off the rails but I really do understand the original impulse and how wondrous chemical fertilizers seemed, and why modern irrigation and pesticides were embraced.

My blog confession of the week is this: I use Miracle Gro. I know, I know. I don't use it on everything, especially not on anything we will eat. But for my flower pots and front beds? Ahem, yes. What can I say? I want them to be big and beautiful and especially the front beds need a lot of help. We have compacted clay and rock up there. The last two weeks as I've been working at planting things I've literally dug out 2 trash can loads of compacted clay and added soil amendments in its place. It will be years before those beds have workable soil and I don't have that kind of time. The shrubs that the builder put in are all horrible and spindly but we have decided to wait for end of season sales for new ones for the front. So in the meantime I have put in perennials like coralbells and false spirea, salvia and hyssop to fill in the sparse areas and then in the front I've gone with an eye-popping red and white combo to draw the eye forward. Nothing like some petunias, impatiens and verbena to look good in a hurry. I have some double hollyhocks on the way that will fill in the very back behind our crappy japanese hollies. Those and a small vitex tree are the last things I am planting this summer.

In the back, we (Bob) put in a large island with 4 big trees including two cryptomeria, a japanese maple and a crape myrtle and a skip laurel in front. We have a small nishiki willow, one elagnus and one beautiful hydrangea to round things out. I've put in some lavender, some columbine and sprinkled zinnia, four o'clocks, nigella and bishops lace all around the bare areas to try and fill them in a bit this summer and I planted some small Teddy Bear sunflowers along the front. More hollyhocks will go in the back to once again fill in while we wait and wait and wait for the trees to grow to give us more privacy. Hollyhocks are really lovely, I'm just hoping to avoid rust with them here because I had such a problem with it in Kansas.

All along our double stairwell in the back we have some big pots to block little ones from falling. Along the outside rail I've planted three varieties of morning glories. We have several other pots of mixed flowers here and there on our porch and outside the garage.

As for our raised beds, we originally bought prefab cedar boxes but we couldn't find any labeling on what they were coated with so Bob decided to take them back and build with raw wood, which we are sure will only last a few seasons but that is OK. What is nice about building our own is that we got a greater depth than we could get from prefabricated boxes and we will easily be able to modify two of them into cold frames this fall. We mixed a combo of compost and peat moss and put all the seedlings in and so far everything seems to be doing well.

We are growing several varieties of tomatoes, pole beans, a few varieties of peppers, some herbs, radishes, carrots and two varieties of chard and my most anticipated new trial of summer 2010 - charentais melons which we will grow up a trellis.

Tomatoes: Amish Paste, Golden Sunray, White Tomesol, White Currant, Black Cherry, Stupice, Souix, Paul Robeson, Brandywine, Green Zebras, and Dad's Sunsets

Peppers: Baby Belles, Jupiter, Thai Hot, Red Marconi

Beans: Kentucky Blue Wonder

Herbs: Dill, thyme, 3 mints (chocolate, apple, peppermint), parsley, chives, 3 basils (lime, thai and genovese), lemon verbena, lemon balm.

Chard: Pink Flamingo and Rainbow

Radishes: French Breakfast and Plum Purple

Carrots: Atomic Red and Cosmic Purple (both Ella choices)

*In the photo below of the raised beds, the perspective is off, there is 15 feet between the end of the slide and the raised boxes!







-Jess

 

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