Whirlwind

This past month has been a whirlwind between work, home, and more work.  But here’s what I’ve neglected to share in a nutshell….

I survived my first April as an admissions event planner, presented for the first time at a conference, and saw Bill Nye the Science Guy at a crazy Engineering College Fair.

We’ve harvested peas, carrots, salad radishes, strawberries, canned berries, and finally, FINALLY planted all of the tomatoes in the side gardens and the back garden.

We watched one of our favorite classes graduate–we’re so proud of all of our “SB Daughters”!

Figured out that when you combine the Michael Buble, Coldplay and Yellow Ledbetter Pandora radio stations magic happens…who knew?

And we’re starting to see the signs of summer harvest.  Hoping to have some delicious goodness up here on the blog soon

We joined a CSA with friends from work.  I’m so excited to see what this means for this summer–so far, delicious cabbage and eggs.  This week peas, strawberries, more eggs, and salad.  Pictures to follow.

JGL is teaching me to golf.  It’s not pretty–yet.

Because I’m trying new things and being braver, I broke down and got myself the whiskey barrel planter I’ve always wanted.

And the biggest news on the horizon is that we’re attempting to tackle some inside projects–bathroom first, and then we’ll see where we go from there.  Lots going on, and still more to do!

Arrival of the Peas

While I didn’t get a chance to grow as many pea plants as I wanted to this year, the ones we did are finally starting to produce.  Peas, in my humble opinion, are truly nature’s candy.

In less than 24 hours, I’ll be snacking on these sweet peas and will truly be on vacation from work for almost three weeks.  I’m really excited to be able to do more here at the house, and specifically do more here in the kitchen!

Long time coming

I know, I know…it’s been way too long.  After the cricket incident, I was having a hard time getting out to the back forty to do much of anything.  That paired with the extreme heat we’ve had, and our gardening “efforts” have been lack luster.

Hope was about to be lost when we realized that the tomatoes in the kitchen garden had pretty much run their course.  And much to my delight, it wasn’t too overgrown, and it wasn’t too terribly buggy.  Close to no crickets–I was excited!  So last weekend we ripped up all but two tomato and one pepper plants, and put in some peas and some butternut squash.

I’m excited to see how the “tee-pee” method works with trellising the peas, and I’m very excited to have the butternut squash closer to the house…no one’s sneaking away with them this time around!

Air Conditioning Wars

We have AC wars in the L household.  I’m always cold, JGL is always hot.  On the rare days I concede to actually turning the AC on, I’ll set the thermostat at 78, and somehow it will dip down to 76-77 when I’m not looking.  It’s a playful “war,” but one that will undoubtedly go on for the rest of our years together.

The paper described the heat of this weekend as being “oppressive,” and Little Miss I Never Go Anywhere Without a Sweater is actually hot, and thus the AC is on in the house.  Which I hate to admit, but I was eternally grateful for yesterday as we spend the better part of the morning ripping out the remaining pea plants, creating tomato cages from fencing, tilling up the new plots and planting more beans (burgundy and more october beans).

By the time we were done with all that work (add in a trip to Lowes since the tiller burnt out a spark plug), we were huffing and puffing and sweating so bad I thought for a minute it was anywhere between the years 2000-2003 and I was running around a blazing hot field hockey field, debating on whether or not I was going to throw up.  It wasn’t pretty.  At all.  Couple that with tube top gardening at its finest, and you had two of the classiest people in Amherst County right in our back yard.  But in the end, the garden is looking awesome–the Rutgers Tomatoes are filling out and if the weather stays hot we’ll hopefully have tomatoes on the table soon, silks are coming in on some of the corn, and the flower buds on the cucumbers and acorn squash are almost there in terms of opening up.  We’ll soon be drowning in produce, and I cannot wait!

Pair that with the incredible rain that started 15 minutes after we finished up, and we’re in good business right now.

Until we start messing with the AC controller again 😉

Oh Companion Crop of Mine

It seems like the garden is changing and morphing every time I step into it!  We finally got it weeded out so it looked respectable again, and I was able to stake up the tomatoes that need it the most–we need to procure more stakes this weekend.  But we have distinct and soon to be ripening tomatoes all over the place (up front and out back!), and we’re both excited to have that first grown-ourselves tomato of the season.

The thing I’ve been tickled the most by this week is our corn–the “tassels” have started to emerge on the first two rows we planted, and our pole beans that we planted in and amongst the corn is in fact starting to trellis up it.  The ones where I gave the corn a month head start seem to be doing a bit better than the ones I planted the seeds together, but hopefully they’ll start to catch up soon. 

 On the books for this weekend includes taking out the last of the peas (the snow peas went away late last week), and finding goodies to replace those spaces.  We have some purple podded bush beans that could go in, but any suggestions would be much appreciated 🙂

And updated pictures are up!

Shuck this!

I like to think that I’m well-educated and mindful enough to know how long something takes to make and how much it will make.  So when I took that picture of the beautiful basket of peas last night, I thought to myself, “we’ll shuck these bad boys while JGL watches Lost, it’ll take no time at all, and then we’ll have peas for tomorrow and peas to freeze!”

Exactly halfway through the epic and long series ender of Lost later, I was just finishing the shucking, and hadn’t even made my way to freezing; there was also exactly one pound of peas sitting in front of me.  One freaking pound.

Let me preface this story with the fact that I don’t remember fresh peas being served at meals when I was growing up in MA.  We would pick big paper grocery bags full of them, and promptly sit some where and eat the whole bag.  Unless I’m remembering completely wrong here (and I’m sure my mother will correct me if I’m wrong (;), peas were more like natures candy grab bag, and less of something to save for later. 

So last night once everything was in the freezer for the first round of freezing was completed (today I’ll be bagging the pound up, marking, and putting it away for later), I plopped down on the couch, literally with green thumbs in tow, and sighed.  JGL (at the commercial break) leaned over and say, “I’m sorry–I know that was a lot of work for not a lot of peas.”

And let me tell you, it was–we planted them back in March, made trellises once, and now twice, diligently put up a fence to keep critters out, and spent an hour of so last night lifting the vines on to the new trellises, picking all the way.  It’s taken three months and several long hours to get a pound of peas.  Peas that if we go up to our neighborhood big box grocery store will be 98 cents a pound, frozen (I know this because if the nature’s candy binge picture I painted for you above didn’t spell it out, I EAT PEAS WITH EVERYTHING).

I looked at him, smiled and sighed again and said, “I’m not.”

I like to think I’m well-educated and mindful enough to know long something takes to make.  I obviously have a lot more learning to do.

The Great Pea Collaspe of 2010

One of the things I love the most about Virginia are the crazy rain storms that start to make their way through this time of year.  Two weeks ago or so we had the first one of them come through, and it was a doosy.  The skys blackened up, the winds howled, and the thunder just rolled back and forth between the mountains.  It was awesome!

Or so I thought until I made it home.  By the time I made it back to the L. abode, the rain had subsided so I made may way back to the garden to see what was new.  What I encountered was all of our beautiful peas sidways on the ground.  When we first put the trellises us, we never once considered what high winds might do to them. 

We’ve managed to get them somewhat upright again, but I was still worried that they wouldn’t produce.  Tonight, I was pleasantly proven wrong 🙂

Easter Weekend

Both JGL and I are beat.  We’ve spent most of the day outside, and I’m pretty sure I have a sunburn on my back and tan lines (Forgive me, ELF!  I’ll fix them before your wedding!!).

It feels great 🙂

We took a TON of pictures today, so rather than post them all here, we’ve put them up on Facebook.  You can still access them even if you don’t have a FB account by clicking here to see the public photo album.  I’ve tried to narrate them as we’ve gone along so you all can follow what we’re documenting. 

It’s been a stunning few days, compared to last weekend.  It’s been in the high 70s, low 80s, sunny and beautiful.  JGL cleared out the carport, and we even had dinner out there last night.  More than likely we’ll be out there again tonight 🙂  The week is looking to be the same, but with some rain towards the end of the week, which we’ll need.

But here’s the rundown of what’s been accomplished this weekend thus far:

  • Fencing put up around the vegetable garden (woo hoo!  Take THAT deer!)
  • Lime worked into the soil, “back forty” re-tilled and turned, and as many clumps of grass as we can moved OUT.
  • Salad, bush beans, and two rows of corn put into the ground 🙂
  • Grass seed put on the very bare patches of lawn–watered and hay placed on top
  • Negotiations started with Neighbor about using his truck to procure mulch for the flower beds

The seedlings are looking strong, although they need to be thinned out.  I’m pretty amazed that we haven’t killed any yet, but we’ll take it–fresh tomatoes are going to taste sooo good!

But before we get ahead of ourselves, I think it’s time to get clean, pick up the house, and take a breather–I think Carson and Lucy would like to spend some quality time with us rather than watch us run around.  Happy Easter, everyone!

It's the Easter Lab, Charlie Brown!

Plan your work and work your plan

“I feel like starting each header under planting instructions with the caution, ‘Don’t crowd and don’t attempt too much.'”

The Complete Book of Garden Magic, Roy E. Biles, pg 10

Like I said yesterday, we have “being young and foolish” on our side.   We chronically take on too much, and this gardening project is no different.  We’re both wicked sore today, and finding the gumption to make it back outside to finish the job was a smidge difficult.  However, I’m proud to report that not only did we do the grunt work, we also have a solid gardening map, and the first seeds of the season went into the ground right before we called it quits.

We’re snagging the basic layout for the front of the garden from a professor I work with at SBC, and it involves creating pathways around the garden for easy access (something we’ve struggled with in the past).  We’re grateful for SB’s great notes and detailed outline on Facebook!

The basic layout of veggies that we’ve come up with are as follows: tomatoes and peppers are going to fill the front left quadrant; spinach, beans, cucumbers and zucchini are going to fill the front right quadrant; and then the back two quadrants are going to be filled with corn, peas and pole beans.  It’s the back part that I’m the most excited about because we’re going to try to tackle a major problem we’ve had in the past (creating and maintaining trellises) with a method found in CBGM (pg 161) called Partnership Cropping.  By planting the corn and peas or beans in the same row, as the corn grows the peas/beans are able to use the corn stalks as a trellis.  Since the peas and beans enrich the soil with more nitrogen than they take up, they’ll help to enrich the soil, and also the heavy nitrogen feeding corn.  It’s a beautiful partnership!

We ended our time in the garden today by planting the first few seeds–snow peas, spinach, and basil.  We celebrated our success of the weekend by taking a trip to Lowes to check out all the seeds, fencing options, and general fun that comes with that trip.  And as always, we came out with bigger ideas then when we went in with…apparently, we don’t do “don’t attempt too much” all that well.  Sorry, Mr. Biles!