When nature comes to your window, it's hard not to take an interest. This mama spider settled in earlier this summer, so we've avoided washing this window. (Well, to be honest, we haven't washed any of the windows this summer, but we'll chalk it up to wildlife conservation efforts.)
Kerry A. Thompson
Most of our potato plants are winding down their growing season, having been ravaged by a variety of pests. We've harvested another three pounds of Burbank Russet potatoes, making our yield about five pounds so far.
I had never actually seen a potato growing in the ground until yesterday. Getting my hands dirty digging for potatoes that were big enough to harvest was like looking for buried treasure. It was an exciting moment when I'd spy a round beige dome half-buried that was big enough to be pulled out. Five pounds of potatoes may be the same amount as one bag you buy at the grocery store. But these potatoes grew from seed potatoes that we planted ourselves and watched grow, so we won't be calling this experience "small potatoes"!
Although garden abundance sometimes turns into the cold summer soup, gazpacho, Tom turned our garden gifts into a despacho tonight instead.
Tom could feel the life energy of the recently picked vegetables emanating strongly. How lucky we are to be able to grow some of our own food!
Our organic, non-GMO seeds came from High Mowing Seeds. If you're interested in the details, these are the varieties we planted:
Since last summer, Tom's been busy setting up a rainbarrel, composter, and garden system at our new house. We started with new gutters and then added the rain barrels last fall. Tom built the garden beds over the winter. The last piece assembled was the composter, to which we add kitchen and yard waste and have nutritious compost to add to the gardens.
We've just posted our first video and it describes the details of our "Rain-to-Roots Story." You can find it here, on our Sustainable Green Life channel on YouTube.
With our two 50-gallon rain barrels that remain mostly full at all times, we haven't ever come close to needing to use town water for watering our gardens. The four watering cans fill with overflow from the rain barrels with each storm and we use them for daily watering of the garden. If we need more water, we use the diverter hose to fill the watering cans again, so we always have an excess of rainwater at our ready.
I read an article today that gave me even more ideas about ways to stretch my knowledge of iced tea brewing. It also inspires me to learn more about herbs and perhaps add them to our garden offerings next year. Click here for extra refreshment: Medicinal and Refreshing Iced Herbal Teas for Summer.
Kerry A. Thompson
Picking our own lunch is so much fun. We've been watching our first head of broccoli as it's been growing larger over the last few weeks. When we've had gardens in the past, we kept waiting for a grocery-store-sized head of broccoli and waited too long to pick it. Today, the broccoli looked like it was the perfect size (about the size of two handfuls), so Tom brought it in for lunch. Its petite size made a delicious appetizer for two, cut up and eaten raw with ranch dressing. Apparently broccoli plants like their soil in the 65- to 75-degree range, so mulching and cool water are said to help you grow broccoli in warmer weather without it "bolting" (going to flower) too soon. We will need to use those tips in growing the rest of our broccoli to enjoy more appetizers soon.
Kerry A. Thompson
We planted our Gardener's Supply Company raised beds with their first seeds and seedlings in late April, about a month before the danger of frost would be over. We had transparent covers that fit over the beds to keep the small plants warm and the soil damp, while allowing for plenty of sun to encourage them to grow. The plants enjoyed their spring spa retreat and grew and grew and by late May, the tallest plants were touching the covers. What was under those covers for a month has now come to light and the neighbors are starting to understand what is going on in our front yard.
Our first try at growing vegetables from seeds, courtesy of High Mowing Organic Seeds, has been very successful. In the case of our Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato plants, we were about eight plants too successful.
So far, everyone has put their tomato plants in their front yards so they will remember to water them, so with our own front-yard garden carts and the neighbors' tomato plants, we've inadvertently started a front-yard gardening trend while building our growing community. There are a lot of children in the neighborhood too, so they'll be able to see real food growing out of dirt instead of in plastic packages. You can't beat that just-picked flavor, so we hope the memories of fresh-grown vegetables near home will inspire them to plant their own gardens when they grow older.
The first blossoms of our rolling garden are showing on our Pacific Beauty Calendula (Calendula officinalis). We hadn't heard of this flower before we saw it in the seed catalog. We chose it as a nice companion plant to vegetables and to help deter unwelcome insects. We had planned to put two of these in a square foot, but it looks like this tall beauty in the Sunflower family would like the space for herself. The petals of this flower are edible and in dried or ointment form, it is also used for medicinal purposes. I found this interesting article from the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine in Asheville, NC about the many medicinal uses for the calendula flower. It's also planted in pots for ornamental purposes and is a favorite in summer bouquets.
Tom and Kerry
We're two people trying to do our best to bring about the change we want to see in the world.