Last week was a resting week, while we geared up for his trip to Haiti.  J had a school field trip and standardized testing, so he was gone several days.  That always mixes up the groupings around here, and I tend to plan less “school work” just so J doesn’t miss out on what we’re reading.

We had a lot of music…


and a very busy restaurant, with a talkative chef:

The Chef

(here’s SweetP in her apron and chef’s hat. She’s describing what the restaurant serves: noodles, and Pepsi, and noodles, and cookies…)

and a conscientious waitress, who writes one’s order down just so:

The Waitress

(notice how her mouth is all twisted in concentration?  I love that.)

We spent some time working in the garden, watering trees and shrubs, moving the rocks out from where we’re going to put a small cutting garden of flowers, and looking for bulbs.  Look what we found!
Tulip 2011

Crocus 2011

And the fattest, most complacent robin I’ve seen in a long time.  He was listening in my front yard. Please-oh-please-oh-please nest in our flower pot.  Please?

We also had the biggest, meanest virus on our computer, and it took 3 days to get everything back in working order, although I’m still having trouble with flickr.  Let me know if my photos work (or not) for you.

Signs of Spring?

I’m looking every day for signs of spring.

There are no green shoots pushing aside the wood chips in the garden. No one has come yet to nest in the pot on the porch, although I ‘m hopeful she will.

But I can smell spring, as if the zephyr that warms me has touched it on its way to me. I heard red wing blackbirds in the field for the first time, and something unwound within me, something that had been hiding during the winter.

Is it spring where you are?

What kind of garden are you?

I’ve been thinking in terms of garden imagery lately.  I said to a friend that I’m a spring garden.

She took this to mean a garden in which lots of bulbs are blooming and everything is coming up with new life.

I meant that I am perpetually in a state of thinking that there are no tomatoes yet and I should plant more stuff.

This fall, God started working on that assumption.  Yes, there are very few tomatoes (and there really shouldn’t be tomatoes in May or February, in Colorado)… but that doesn’t mean I should plant more.  So many times I have planted more, and then in the autumn I have so many plants that I can’t even find the tomatoes, let alone all the zucchini.

So I’m working on pruning.  And weeding.  And being diligent with what’s right in front of me, instead of looking to what ought not to be there yet (like rhetorical skills from my 10 year old, or stellar narration from my 7 year-old, or an understanding of scientific method from my 6 year old.)

What’s happening in your garden?

Independence Days: Weeks 44-46

Plant Something: nothing, but I’ve got a tentative order for seeds written out.  I just need to go through the seeds I saved so I’m not ordering what I don’t need.

Harvest Something: nada

Waste Not: the DAV came by last week and picked up all sorts of things culled from our drawers and bedrooms during winter cleaning.  And my friend Amy was able to use a pair of linen pants that were too small for me– hooray!

Want Not: my neighbor Renee passed down lots of pajamas for O– he’s very happy!, and she gave me a beautiful blouse.  Also, I found some great casual bamboo pants at www.mountaingreengoods.com

Build Community Food Systems: nada.  Have you read Tough Choices: Facing the Challenge of Food Scarcityby Lester Brown?  I heard him interviewed on the BBC a few days ago about the world food crisis.  Very thought provoking.  It makes me sad to think of the price of rice doubling in the Philippines, or the soaring price of cabbage in China.  Those are staples I completely take for granted.  All the more reason we need local food options that are sustainable.

Eat the food: jam (raspberry & strawberry), pumpkin, squash, the last of our onions and potatoes, beef (we’re getting down to the end of the cow), peaches, and applesauce.

Independence Days: Weeks 32-33

Plant Something: nothing.  In fact, with our trip and illness, I barely could keep the spinach watered.

Harvest Something: more tomatoes that didn’t freeze, zinnias, and another watermelon that had been hiding under the sailboat

Preserve Something: 10 cups of pumpkin puree, and frozen tomatoes

Waste Not: I’ve been using the Diva Cup (thumbs up, if you were curious).  And hanging wash out to dry.  And composting and recycling.

Want Not/Build Community Food Systems: nothing

Eat the Food: Again, travel and illness interfered with this some.  But we’ve been eating squash, carrots, pumpkin, watermelon (ours needed another 1-2 weeks in the garden to get sweeter, but we’re eating them anyway), potatoes, tomatoes, and apples.

Independence Days: Week 31

Plant Nothing

Harvest: More tomatoes (the promised freeze didn’t happen) and raspberries

Preserve: froze the tomatoes as they turn ripe, and made applesauce

Waste Not: more hand-me-downs for SweetP (thanks, Nina!)

Want Not: Stocked up on our local staples found at Costco: butter, spaghetti sauce, potatoes (who knew?)– as well as non-local fare like nuts

Did Not Build Community Foor Systems

Eat the Food: A yummy treat were sauteed leeks, peppers and zucchini (all local) on baked potatoes– yum!

Independence Days: Weeks 29-30

Plant something: my mom brought me a trumpet plant and a mum which went in the back yard.

Harvest Something: the garden went to bed this week, so we picked the end of the raspberries, watermelons, tomatoes, zucchini, and the second pumpkin.

Preserve Something: another 20 lbs of tomatoes went into the freezer, along with 8 cups of pumpkin puree, (I’m not sure how many) bags of apple pie filling, and another batch of roasted tomato puree.

Waste Not: our friends passed along some popsicle forms, which will be full all next summer, I’m sure.  A batch of compost went under the maple tree.

Want Not: I froze some bread and rolls, as well as breakfast burritos.

Build Community Food Systems: nothing

Eat the food: I made Jane Brody’s yummy Applesauce Muffins with the applesauce in the fridge that was about to go.

Independence Days: Week 26-28

Plant Something: spinach and lettuce.  I’m not sure if there will be enough time for much before a freeze, but I’m hopeful.  This is the first time I actually remembered to plant something in the fall.

Harvest Something: raspberries, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, basil, red pepper (singular), cucumbers, scarlet runner beans, carrots, watermelon, potatoes, leeks, and one whiffleball.

Preserve Something: I pureed basil in olive oil (5 ice cube trays full) and froze 2 gallons of Tomato-Sweet Pepper soup, a gallon of raspberries, roasted peppers, roasted chilis, and I canned tomatoes and applesauce.  After I’d peeled the tomatoes, I remembered that it’s so much easier to freeze tomatoes.  Next year…

Waste Not: our friends gave us two AMAZING tree stumps… more on these later.

Want Not: we used a batch of (almost) finished compost to mulch the maple tree.

Build Community Food Systems:

Eat the food: I caught the broccoli and sausage before they went bad and made a really good quiche.  Otherwise, we’ve been eating lots and lots of sliced fresh vegetables, grilled vegetables, fried vegetables and roasted vegetables.

Independence Days: Weeks 24 & 25

Turns out I had a lot to say in the Independence Days thread when there was no food coming out of the garden, and very little to say now that the garden is bursting.  Onions, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil.

Plant Something: forgot again

Harvest Something: raspberries.  We’re getting some every day now. Tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, zucchini.

Waste Not: Hang-dry laundry, use scrap cloth for sewing projects (more on this later).  Also, I have a whole bunch (two large bouquets) of lavender I bought on a lavender farm in Washington several years ago.  I love how it looks and smells, but it’s so dry now that it sheds everywhere.  It smells great when I vacuum it up, but…  So I put it in a bag and shook as many of the seeds off the stems.  I’m have all sorts of fragrant plans for it!

Want Not: Took stock of the freezer so we’d know what we have (and don’t).

Build Community Food Systems: nothing

Eat the Food: we’re using up last summer’s basil (I puree it with oil and freeze it in ice cube trays, then store it in bags) in lots of pasta salads and soups.  More plum cake, peaches, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and Roast Tomato Soup.

First Plums

We planted two plum trees four years ago, about a month after we moved into the house.

I had meant to buy peach trees, but the bare autumnal bark of the plum trees seduced me.  I fell in love with their slender purple trunks.  So two plum trees it was.

The first spring, the birds knocked off hundreds of blossoms, and then almost all the sparse fruit.  Plum count? Zero.

Spring #2: We had a late freeze, while all the fruit trees were blooming.  Plum count?  Zero.

Spring #3: An amazing blossoming.  As the birds came and attacked the blossoms, I stopped filling the bird feeder.  The birds stopped sitting in our tree.  Gobs of plums grew and ripened.  SweetP started picking them and eating them, long before they were ripe.  I waited.  The birds returned (even without the official birdfeeder).  Once I saw birds eating the plums (and wasps), I decided it was time to pick them.

Plum count? 50 in the basket, 23 still on the tree.  Numerous on the ground and in the bellies o’ the birds.

And if you want the yummiest thing ever, make Plum Upside Down Cake.  Yum.