30 June 2011

last and first

Recent salad made with the very last of my Simspon Lettuce, and some of the first Cherry Tomatoes.
The lettuce had been cut weeks earlier and kept in the fridge between damp paper towels. All the other lettuces in the garden have bolted and grown into towers; I cut their tops off because I don't need flowers and seeds this year, but I like the tall plants.
They're pretty against the house.
On the other side of that bed my Chard is getting quite large!
The Beefsteak Tomatoes are all still green, not even a hint of blush.
They're look much healthier than the tomato plants I grew last year. I have high hopes for some capresi soon.

mint results

No more Mint tea for me, although I might still make it for my husband, he loves the refreshing taste. And I'll keep growing the plants, if just for the lovely scent when I brush against their leaves.

The problem is they affect the baby; it passes through my breastmilk. I should have figured herbs have strong effects on people, otherwise why make a tea of it? I did notice that after drinking a fresh mint tea with my breakfast yesterday I had a slight headache, like I get sometimes from coffee. For the baby it was worse.
She had trouble sleeping all day; she'd be obviously tired and go down for a nap only to waken again fifteen or twenty minutes later. Over and over again. By evening she was exhausted, but also more keyed up, moving her arms and legs around energetically even though she sounded tired and kept yawning. After we'd tried to soothe her fussiness for two hours my husband asked what I'd eaten that day and asked "is mint a stimulant?" so we looked it up. Not only did it keep her from sleeping well, it also made her go poo all day long- I swear I changed over eight poopy diapers. And it must have affected the taste of my breastmilk, too, because she would want to nurse but make disgusted faces after sucking a few times and then suck on her hand instead, very unhappily. I actually pulled out a bottle of expressed milk from the fridge and tried to feed her that (because it was from days earlier and wouldn't have the mint in it) but we've not been successful yet in getting her to take a bottle, so that failed too. Let me just say it was a very long night.

By three am I think it was out of my system because the baby finally took a nice long feed without making "yuck" faces and then fell into a deep sleep. She's been very tired all day today but much more herself. She makes happy smiles after nursing, seems much relieved- but apparently is having bad dreams about yesterday because she cries and looks sad in her sleep!

Poor baby! No more mint! Or any other herbal teas, for that matter. I'm still curious about making tea from other herbs in the garden, but will wait until the baby's not nursing anymore. If she's that sensitive to a handful of mint I don't know what the other plants would do. Looked up a few things and definitely hibiscus is not safe!! Not going to any chances.

28 June 2011

mauraudering cat

has been killing voles left and right. I found these two soft little creatures on the porch
and gently disposed of them. Later that day the cat came walking across the yard with a third one in his mouth! He sat down with it and when I looked back a few minutes later just the tail was there and he was licking his whiskers.

27 June 2011


First Tithonia flower!
I wasn't expecting it yet, as none of the plants are higher than my knee and most are actually pretty small. I don't know why they're all short when last year I had two big, tall plants...

26 June 2011

mint tea!

My first attempt making fresh tea from my own grown herbs. And I'm not really a big fan of tea. Everyone clamored to try the Chocolate Mint
so I picked a few handfuls.
Here's what it looked like afterwards.
I don't have a teapot (or even a kettle to boil water in) so I tried an alternate method, of putting the torn leaves in a pot, pouring the cold water over, heating slowing to a boil, and then straining it. The recipe I followed suggested 2 Tablespoons of fresh herb to 1 cup of water. Added a drop of honey.
It was very refreshing!
Next I'm going to try making tea from lavender and maybe hibiscus flower...

today's pickings

I am amazed how big and fat the Cherry Tomatoes are. Not many ripe yet, but they are soooo good. I can't wait until we have handfuls per day and I can top a pizza with them. Right now it's just snacks.
Nice big bunch of Beets today. After mowing the lawn I mulched half the beet bed with the grass clippings; the plants wilt a bit in heat of day and the round red bulbs of root are emerged from the soil; I don't want them to loose flavor from the heat.
simmering merrily in the pot

24 June 2011

things happening

I haven't had much chance to get out and photograph in the garden, but things are happening there in spite of my neglect (at weeding and plant-tending in general). The Hosta are all blooming; the front-yard ones with delicate purple sprays and the back-yard ones with pretty white flowers. Morning glories are climbing my patio fence. On the back fence some Hibiscus are starting to bloom. I have one large Sunflower plant and three smaller; the rest just didn't grow. Not nearly enough to make a bold statement...

I don't know why my Basils haven't grown like last year; they're not even knee high but already flowering. Picked their heads off in hopes of keeping them in leaf a little longer. The few Cilantro I have are flowering too, and two of the potted Mints on the porch (chocolate mint sans flores). The other cuttings I got from neighbor- Lavender and Rosemary- are beginning to thrive and just one small piece of the Sage is still alive. I hope I can pull that one through; it would be my only loss of the trade.

Ants are crawling all over my Rhubarb which looks incredibly sad. I'm wondering if it will survive this year. I think we just have the wrong climate for Rhubarb, it likes cooler summers. The Tomatoes are coming! Lots of fat green ones on the beefsteak plants and we've just begun to start eating the Cherries. They're the fattest sweetest cherry tomatoes I've grown yet. Lettuce is bolting tall and I'm leaving it alone now as it looks decorative. Chard leaves are getting large, I need to start cutting it for egg dishes and stuff.

Hopefully soon I'll get some photos to show you it all.

23 June 2011


Found a turtle wandering across our front yard. Don't think turtles are all slow- this guy moved quickly! I had to scramble to grab him before he headed out into the street. He didn't appreciate being caught either, scrabbled his legs, opened his small threatening mouth and hissed at me. I'm sure he'd bite given a chance.
We stuck him in a small cooler and took to the local nature center at Claude Moore park hoping they could identify him for us, but we were too late and the center was closed. So let him go at the nearby pond. He ran straight for the water, dove in and disappeared.
My husband put his photo up on facebook and someone told him this is an Eastern Painted Turtle. It has a dark shell with no markings, red stripes on the legs and neck, yellow stripes on the head. I didn't turn him over to get a look at the color of his plastron. Remembering now another turtle I found several years ago when we first moved here.


I am sad/happy about the pink Cosmos flanking my driveway. Sad that only a few of them grew well enough to flower and even those are scrawny plants, so that weeds are taking over the space again. But happy that the few blooms I do have are beautiful. The are so bold and bright, and the flowers are twice as big as those on the orange cosmos plants. I'm definitely going to grow more of these pink ones next year!

21 June 2011


This is the end of last year's Garlic. I only had five heads left, but noted that each time I cut a new one off the bunch to peel, most of the cloves were bad. So decided I ought to pull them all apart and save what was useful in the fridge.
I didn't end up with much. This little jar is just a bit bigger than the tiny jam-sample jar I usually save cloves in. Some of the heads only gave me one good clove; all of them at least half were shriveled and brown or fuzzy white with mold. It was not a pleasant task peeling them all to find the good ones (I have a thing with moldy food). There weren't any nice enough to save for planting, either. So I'll have to start over next year. Maybe I'll buy a new variety...

There are still a few volunteer/last year Garlic plants out in the garden. I'm guessing they're almost ready to be harvested, just need to go out and dig one up and see. But after weeks and weeks of hot weather we finally got rain, so I've left them alone again now.

20 June 2011


My cat has been leaving evidence of his hunting skills around the porch and driveway. Usually it's small voles or a pile of feathers (I really don't like that he kills birds and would rather keep him inside but he literally drives us crazy if kept shut indoors) but this time it was a teeny tiny mouse. Very cute, even in its sad state.

19 June 2011

red globes

Pulled a half-dozen Beets to cook with tonight's dinner. They're not really full-sized yet but have nice shapes. Most of the plants have their round roots shouldering above the ground; I really need to get out there and mulch the entire patch so they don't loose flavor from the heat.

green again

Still picking Green Beans. Half of my plants are nice sized and healthy, the other half (next to the strawberries) never grew large and are more bug-ridden. I don't know why the difference, and I don't quite have the energy to find out. But even the stunted plants are producing beans. Today I stuck a blue plastic tag (the kind that comes off a food package) on two plants to mark them; those I won't pick the beans off but let them mature to make seed for next year.

14 June 2011

end strawberry

The Strawberries are nearly done. I think this might be one of the last pickings, and it was just enough to dish in a bowl alongside some banana and cottage cheese.
The other way we've been eating them up is simply by themselves, freshly washed- or put into smoothies. I never got more ambitious than that.

13 June 2011

more beans!

Green Beans are really coming on! In spite of the fact that several of the plants have gotten bug-eaten and never grew large (and I'm too time-crunched with the baby to hunt down the culprits) we're still getting a good picking every few days. Pretty soon I'll have to mark the healthiest plants to save seed from; these all grew from my own seed and I'm eager to repeat that success next year.

lettuce end

All the Lettuces are bolting now. The Romaines have already shot up tall and the ruffly Simpsons are starting to grow upwards, too. I cut five Simpson heads off that were still hugging the ground, and brought them in to soak up cold water in a bowl
hoping it will leach out enough bitterness we can still get a few good salads out of them. I'm sad that so much of the lettuce will waste; there's still two dozen heads out there! But the heat has changed their intentions; instead of producing crisp delicious leaves now their aim is to reach skywards and produce flowers...

10 June 2011


Most of my porch herbs are growing like crazy. The little Oreganos are spilling out of their small pots; I need to repot or find them some garden space soon.
The Mints are all flourishing, even this one that was just a stick after it got moved has sprouted a bunch of new leaves.
The Parsley and Basil are doing well there, too- after adding some coffee grounds to the soil whatever was eating up my little basil has left it alone. Cilantro died, but I have a few others in the garden so nevermind. The only Cilantros I have are the volunteers among beets and carrots, though. The ones I planted deliberately around the peppers never grew.

09 June 2011


We ate our first Beet a few days ago. It was yum! This big old one that grew back from last year's patch.
The smaller, abundant Beets are almost ready for eating, too. Their spot looks a bit cluttered right now; needs to get weeded again...

08 June 2011


Even though the garden's been rather neglected, it's still feeding us. More Lettuce than I can find what to do with, and now the Tomatoes are starting to come on. Still all green. The mystery trio turned out to be Cherry Tomatoes, and they're still the biggest, healthiest tomato plants I have. Is it because they got started an extra two weeks early indoors? or because they already got a thick mulch of grass clippings, to hold in moisture and discourage weeds?

The Strawberries are starting to slow down, but today I also picked enough Green Beans to make it part of a meal! I didn't even know the beans were producing until I saw some on the plant while I was bent over strawberries today.


The Daylilies are flowering! They seem even taller and brighter than ever before.

07 June 2011


I'm never surprised to find volunteer Tomato plants springing up in different parts of the garden, but this one somehow grew all by itself in a planter on the front porch!
Not only wondering how a seed got there (all the vegetables I grow are in the backyard) but also how it thrived so long, when nobody's been watering those planters and sheltered on the porch they don't get much even when it rains.

06 June 2011

carrot head

I've done a bit more weeding while the baby naps, just twenty minutes here and there. So if you've even wondered what Carrot plants do in their second year, I've found out with the rest of those over-wintered ones (no longer edible).

They grow into monstrously tall ferny plants (taller than my tomato cages)
and sport wide flat flowers (actually big flat heads made up of many tiny flowers).
I yanked them all out of the tomato plot. They were pretty interesting-looking, though.