Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace." ~ May Sarton

To me, the hardest part of gardening is past. What's left is the quiet, meditative tasks of watering, weeding... and waiting. Oh yeah, and bug picking. 

Wee baby kale quickly grew from this...

into this! A veritable sea of green. Each morning I wade through the thigh high kale, picking only the largest leaves, leaving the smaller, younger ones some more growing time. By gathering this way the kale will continue quite happily to provide us with super healthy greens throughout the summer.

Harvested and ready for rinsing and caterpillar detection. Yes, creepy crawlies are a huge part of organic gardening! They love the chemical free produce almost as much as I do. Thankfully, I plant enough to share.

I'm always very careful as I crawl through the kale each morning, trying very hard not to disturb the spiders hard at work. They're some of my most helpful garden pals. There  is nothing more beautiful than a meticulously spun web sprinkled with morning dew. :)


Sweet and lovely pea blossoms have morphed into crisp and super delicious sugar snap peas. We split our daily harvest and munch, munch away. 

Crunchy peas dangle, tantalizing, just begging passing fingers to pluck. And oh, the sweetness. Yum.

Each morning I also pick lettuce for our evening salads. By breaking off only the large outer leaves (the same method I use with the kale) the plants will produce for me through much of the summer. There's nothing tastier than freshly picked garden lettuce, so tender and full of flavor. Add some sweet red peppers, crispy cucumbers, organic hemp seeds and some freshly toasted garlic sunflower seeds to create a healthy and super yummy summer snack.

"But if each man could have his own house, a large garden to cultivate and healthy surroundings ~ then, I thought, there will be for them a better opportunity of a happy family life." ~ George Cadbury

Pumpkin plants reach for the sky. These need to be thinned to the healthiest plant in each bunch... as of yet I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. I struggle with this every year. How to decide which perfectly healthy young seedling to sacrifice? Ugh... maybe I'll have the girls do it for me. Again.

Adorable baby peppers

A little tip I learned several years back ~ plant your pepper plants close enough to touch. They thrive on the contact and before I know it I'll have a "bush" dripping with peppers. There are usually way too many to keep up with, so I dice and freeze them. I'm trying a new, sweeter variety this year...

 For whatever reason, the conditions for germination weren't met, and my first batch of green beans didn't come up. So, I tried again knowing that beans aren't only super healthy for people, but they replenish the soil in a wonderful way. I soaked a bowlful of organic kidney beans overnight and popped them in the ground the next morning. This time, success. In one day they went from nothing to this...

then this...

and finally this! Pretty amazing, huh? That growth was in about 8  hours time. If I had had the time (and patience) I probably could have parked myself in the garden and watched them unfurl! 

"A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. " 
~ Doug Larson

Perfectly perfect itty bitty tomatoes. These will turn orange and deliciously sweet. Riley Mae and Scott eat them by the handful. I'm more a fan of cooked tomatoes myself.

I spent a lot of time researching companion planting and the best flowers to use as insect deterrents. Nasturtiums, just beginning to flower, may become my best friends this year. See that sneaky little cucumber beetle lurking in there? Trouble.

Marigolds are also super beneficial,  an especially great companion for tomato plants. They help to keep away the hornworms and other pesky critters that are sure to make an appearance any day now...

Each year I have a fair amount of trouble with slugs. Overnight they decimate marigolds, petunias and sunflowers. This year I tried something new. A couple of weeks ago Scott, Jordan and I spread sand around the perimeter of the garden. The results? So far, fabulous!! We've only found one slug munching on a marigold and my flowers have gone unmolested. Not bad for a $15.00 load of sand. :)

"Gardens are not made my singing "Oh, how beautiful" and sitting in the shade." ~ Rudyard Kipling

And so, that is the progress of the gardens (thank you Jordan for more gorgeous photos!). I've assigned garden rows, and bright and early every morning you'll find us lugging watering can after watering can up to the thirsty plants. Picking the random weed and scouring for destructive insects is also part of the job description.

It really is amazing how quickly plants grow, a mini miracle I get to admire each and every day.  I find myself wandering out there, just because, on a frequent and regular basis. It's so peaceful and grounding back there, but the quiet passivity is merely an illusion. Those little plants are hard at work and before you know it we'll be snacking on crisp cucumbers, sweet summer squash and (fingers crossed) cabbage and brussels sprouts! I can taste them already...

Happy Sunday. :)