Friday, September 24, 2010

Oh deer.

I have been away from my blog for awhile...and my garden. It turns out that working, caring for a 3 year old, and our house takes up 30 of the 24 hours that make up my day.

We have harvested our spaghetti squash and we are waiting the two weeks needed to cure it. We cannot wait to dig in. We are pulling ridiculous sized zukes and crookneck squash out and our patty pan just found it's groove. Our parsnips went through an AMAZING transformation in the matter of what I swear was a week, but it looks like that experienced a month's worth of growth. Our fall crops of carrots, lettuce, acorn squash, cucumbers and spinach are growing beautifully. We have another round of strawberries coming through and we will be pulling the rest of our potatoes this weekend.

Now for the OTHER news. Our strawberries have been topped. Our butternut squash has been topped. As I sat chatting on the phone with a friend one day, I looked out of our huge picture window that looks over our garden and saw.... a HUGE BUCK staring at me through the window. The doe was STANDING in one of my raised garden beds!!! I jumped out of my seat and went running. My friend was concerned since her 30 week pregnant friend was running and screaming at deer and she wondered if she should call 911 now since she figured someone (me) was going to get hurt in this pursuit. I swear I was trying to channel the energy of a cougar, that was all I could think of that would eat the deer. Of course, living on an island, we tend to have an absence of predators. As a result, I am sure the deer ran because an oddly-shaped human was screaming and yelling at them. So that is the end, for now. That night I informed my husband that we needed to electrify the yard. Poor guy. It is always something.

On your average day, I am a huge fan of Bambi and his other cervid friends; however, when they start in on my butternut squash. It is time to take action. Sorry Bambi, the Curtis salad bar is closed. Grrrrrr.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fall is in the air

Howden Pumpkin

As I stepped out into my garden this morning, the feeling of Fall was in the air and as I started to peek around, I noticed that my garden was feeling it too. The earliest of our pumpkins are starting to turn that tell tale orange of Fall. 

Sugar pumpkin

Our final dose of strawberries are standing proud and ripening and the Orangetti spaghetti squash vines are dying down while the squash themselves are showing off a beautiful orangey-yellow hue.

Seascape Strawberries

Orangetti Spaghetti Squash

Patty pan

Who knew the vegetable garden would bring such wonderful color this time of year? Our zucchini, yellow squash and tomato plants took a serious beating a couple of weeks ago. We had 4 days of fog followed by 2 incredibly hot days. I think they went into shock. They were well watered, but the foliage just about disappeared. As, I walked around today, I saw that some of the plants were giving it another go. What a treat!
Cherry tomatoes

Black Beauty Zucchini

Crookneck Yellow Squash

Raising leaves here and there brought several wonderful surprises. Our acorn squash plants have about 7 little squash now. I am really keeping my fingers crossed for these since they are a family favorite. In addition, our Butternut squash plants are producing a few squash as well, but they haven't been doing the best this year so I am afraid that mentioning them will kill them off somehow. As a result, mum's the word. Our cucumber plants are happy and producing and this family cannot get enough of them so we are excited to see this crop flourish. Our little peppers are trying their best without the heat, but we are happy to get what we can.

Bush Acorn Squash



There is a little bit of comedy in the garden. Just this week, a cantaloupe popped up. Poor little thing probably doesn't stand a chance, but it was worth a try!!


Finally, the deer. At least I am assuming they are deer. The have moved on to some of my other plants. They did not heed my polite warning. Now they will force me to get creative...mwah ah ah ah!
Here are a few signs of their presence:

Chomped off strawberry leaves

Stripped raspberry plants

In August, the garden is providing more than food.  Our little space is giving the gift of change and color, new life and hope of a second chance, comic relief and a little grief to make the gifts richer and appreciated a little bit more. And now the sun shines.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Breathe in love, breathe out fear

As I was watering my garden today, I was counting my spaghetti squash: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8ish and hoping for more. Then I looked at my zucchini plants which have amazing little clusters of new growth, HURRAY! Over to the acorn squash and we have the first signs of an actual squash there...fingers crossed.

And then...I turned to look at my strawberry plants and the tops were almost all gone! What was previously a dense bed of leaves two days ago, now had only 3 or 4 leaves left and everything else had been snipped right off. What immediately came to mind were deer, which we DO have on the island, but we have NEVER seen in our yard. The crazy thing is that they only chomped on the Tri-stars, they completely ignored the Seascapes (which have strawberries on them!). They really had to do some fancy footwork to get back to the area where this bed is and now I am TERRIFIED for the rest of the garden!! This is my plea: Attention all deer, please stay out of my garden. We have had a wonderful balance living together in harmony and I promise to leave the berries across the street just for you. But, please, I am begging, PLEASE stay out of my garden. Thank you for considering this.

To add to this little nightmare, my son walked up to me and said, "Mommy I was digging and there is some wacky, icky stuff." Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath.  So I waddled (that is what I do) around the corner and saw all of the dirt out of my newly seeded flower bed. "I wanted to get the weeds out for you", said my lil' gardener. Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep breath. "Thank you for wanting to help lil' man. Can you please help mommy put all of the dirt back into the flower bed?" Bygones.

Breathe in love, breathe out fear. Grab a ripe cherry tomato, pop it in your mouth and call it a day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Game on!!

Yesterday, after having a minor meltdown about the state of the garden and finding footprints, I decided to go take a serious inventory.

Weird things are afoot and I need to start doing a little bit of research. The older leaves of my zucchini and spaghetti squash are kaput; however, they do have quite a few new leaves coming up. This gives me a little bit of hope. 4 of my baby spaghetti squash were punchy and soft. I cut them off and chucked them into the "compost pile". The roller coaster of emotion is wreaking havoc on me. I did harvest 4 healthy-sized zucchinis, 2 yellow zukes and 1 crookneck and noticed that more were following, so that crop isn't completely out of commission, yet. The spaghetti squash look like forgotten Hollywood starlets, tapped out and wilting. Join me up the roller coaster track. The pumpkins are doing very well and my crazy hybrid spaghetti squash is thriving.  We haven't tasted it yet, that will come after the fair.

There is a lot going on in this picture. 

1) Do you see the tomato plant that is at the bottom left of the screen? Yes, that is all ONE tomato plant and you are only seeing half of it. Next year our tomato plants are going in the ground. They will not be in containers. 

2) Do you see the bamboo scattered all over the top half of the bed? These are there to keep the raccoons off a la "Whale Wars". They won't jump up into protruding sticks will they? I mean they might, but then the noise will be so crazy that it will wake me up (I am a very light sleeper and currently up most nights thanks to the bambino in my belly) and I can run out there with my flashlight and yell at them like a crazy lady. I know the neighbors are looking forward to this display; my husband will sleep through the entire thing. You probably see the pinwheels as well?!? Leftover toys and party favors that kept the birds away from my sprouting carrots! 

3) Along the bottom and the bottom right, you can see my sad squash plants. I tested the soil and the moisture level is ok. What do these poor things need?

4) What you can't see in this pic is that there are hundreds of little seedlings under all of that bamboo!! Turnips, parsnips, spinach, pole beans, lettuce and carrots. My inside window seat is filled with 10 broccoli starts and 10 cabbage starts that are flourishing. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

So "Game On"! This is all a learning experience and we are already planning for next spring. Raccoons don't scare me and I will keep on planting even when I don't get the yield I dreamed of in the spring. The fresh summer squash, peas, lettuce and tomatoes make it all worth the time and energy. As Lewis Grizzard said, "It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato." Oh yes, and wish me "good luck", I entered some garden photos at the SJI County Fair. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Heat and pests

The garden has been flourishing and we have been appreciating the bounty of summer squash, chard, lettuce and cherry tomatoes for a couple of weeks now. However, the heat of summer finally came and my garden completed wilted. There was water! There were nutrients! Our summer squash is losing it's zest for proliferation. What is a girl to do when she was just hoping that she would have an endless supply of zucchini?? There has only been one batch of zucchini bread made and the rest has been grilled and eaten!

Also, we have had some visitors in our garden as you can see on the left side. A cat or raccoon is my guess, which is not good. I will have to cover it VERY soon to keep these guys out. Every other space is too prickly for them thanks to the squash. Ok, just looking at this picture is making my skin crawl.  I have to go investigate and make sure they are not using my garden as a LITTER BOX!!! Ugggggh!!!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Planting again...

Sunday was a busy day in our garden! We opened up our Purple Viking potato box and filled our son's shopping cart with about 20 little potatoes. This is more than we thought we would get from this box since the vegetation took a serious beating from bugs and then heat. Cole was happy about each and every one and celebrated by gently placing them in his cart.

We have also crossed over from "enough zucchini to grill some every 2-3 days" to "Holy #$# we have zucchini!".  The first sign of this is that I made zucchini bread today and we are having some grilled tonight.

After we added some complete fertilizer to the open beds and removed the old trellises, I planted some more snap peas with "teepees" in place, bush beans, parsnips, turnips, spinach, carrots and lettuce.  We also have 5 each of the following starting: purple sprouting broccoli, fiesta broccoli, chinese cabbage and tundra cabbage. BUSY BUSY for a Sunday!

In addition, I also updated my gardening journal. I hate to say it but it has been a LONG time since I made an entry. So, I sat in the garden for about half an hour and looked from bed to bed to see what had changed since I had last updated. Quite a bit to say the least. The last time I had written anything was June 1! Yikes!

And now for the big garden mystery...  

We have huge spaghetti squash that are VERY green. Hmmmm. I have been trying to figure out if we bought a plant where the seeds were a cross. This seems most likely. Do you have any ideas?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Octomom of Squash

Today I was christened the "Octomom of Squash" by a friend.  This is a title that I am going to hold with pride, this year. My tomatoes and potatoes have given a less than stellar performance so far and after a friend (we'll lovingly call her Martha) just pulled over TWO HUNDRED pounds of potatoes from her garden, nothing we produce will begin to compare. We have been eating zucchini, yellow squash and carrots on the grill 3-4 nights a week. I can't complain. However, I can boast about our over abundance of spaghetti squash and pumpkins. 

Last year, I had a lone little pumpkin plant that produced beautiful little flowers, but never did a pumpkin show up. This made for one sad little boy. I couldn't bear it and so this year, I planted two varieties: Howden and Sugar. Did I mention that I planted 4 plants of each and that they are FLOURISHING!?! Each plant holds at least 8 pumpkins and the vines are taking over the yard. I am ok with this. We will have pumpkins and my son thinks I am growing pumpkin pie (his favorite) so I can handle the insanity that has ensued in our beds. Everywhere you look there is a little pumpkin sitting like a billiard on the end of a long healthy stalk with precious little tendrils grasping onto everything and anything that is nearby. Ok, so lesson learned for next year, but this year the jack o' lantern carving contest is at our house and we are providing the pumpkins!

Little Howden

Pumpkin vines taking over the sage and venturing into the yard

As if the surplus of pumpkins weren't enough to overwhelm even the most dedicated squash lover, you should see the number of spaghetti squash we have growing!!! My husband and I thought all of the beautiful little yellow heads poking out of our verdant squash leaves were crookneck and we were ready to grill, then the other night I pulled out my gardening journal and looked at my mounds again. Yup, they are all spaghetti squash. 

Everywhere the eye wanders and then focuses in our garden bed, there are spaghetti squash. Large, small, yellow, green. All are represented. On the first plant I counted 14, we have 5 plants so I stopped counting. I may have to start a barter system based on spaghetti squash.  Given my current state, I fear that I will start to dream that I am going to give birth to a spaghetti squash or a pumpkin instead of an little baby girl. True story, my son wants to be a pumpkin for Halloween. Where does he get his inspiration?

So, if you are reading this: 1) you just won a spaghetti squash or a pumpkin, 2) PLEASE post a link of your favorite spaghetti squash or pumpkin recipe.  I have a feeling we will be eating them every way known to man this fall and winter.

Oh, and a little proof that there is life beyond pumpkins and spaghetti squash in our garden:

Yellow zucchini - quarter, cover with olive oil and grill

Russian sage attracting lots of bees makes a gardener happy

One of our few little tomatoes

Oops...that is another spaghetti squash

 Ah yes, and another pumpkin playing peek-a-boo amongst the mint and sage

Again, please post your favorite pumpkin and spaghetti squash recipes to help a family in need of variety this fall and winter. I appreciate your kindness and I do advise that you lock your cars. You never know what you might find in your front seat. 


The Octomom of Squash

Sunday, July 11, 2010


For some crazy reason this is what I have on my mind.  Tomorrow we find out if our latest edition is a boy or a girl and we are excited to finally find out.

Today, I spent the morning tearing out a cauliflower plant that had gone awry, to be honest it was an experiment and that experiment failed. I also tore out the remainder of our pea plants since the heat completely killed them. Our Green Arrow shelling peas are WONDERFUL and we ended up with three quart sized Ziplocs full. I am trying to determine if I should plant some more peas right now. Any advice about this?

But back to babies, our garden is FULL of them! Baby tomatoes, Baby pumpkins (Who knew we would have so many!?!?) , Baby spaghetti squash (A LOT of them!), Baby Zucchini, Baby Yellow Squash, Baby strawberries and blueberries and Baby Butternut Squash.  It is a fruit and vegetable nursery out there!!!

Since we have a lot of open ground after clearing out our peas I have to go to through my Territorial Seeds catalog and order my fall/ winter crop. This week I will also plant some pole beans starts and decide what I am going to do about my potatoes. They look really sad. Incredibly sad. Our garlic and onions were pulled early due to the fact that a couple that I pulled were showing signs of rot. Too much water courtesy of Mother Nature. We have a decent crop, they are just small since they were pulled a little prematurely.

That is all for today. And by the way, shelling peas CAN give you a green thumb!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Who knew that one little vegetable could make a 3 year old so happy?  I decided to post this photo again with a Haiku tribute.

Vines climb to the clouds
Sweet, plump and a taste bud treat
Juicy, verdant peas

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Let the sun shine

We have had an incredibly un-sunny June...and May if we are really going to get into it! My poor tomatoes are trying their hardest to unfurl their leaves and not give into the wind and cold. We have had some serious insect battles that I have not won, but it appears we came to a draw for now. My cucumber plants withered away from mold and I had to yank them all out last week and put in some new starts. Finally, I chose to yank all of my onions and garlic since I pulled a tester and they were rotting since we had so much rain. Waaaa Waaaa Waaaa.

Now for the good news.

Yesterday was sunny and today is sunny and by george, we have sun and high temperatures (low 80s) forecast through next weekend.  Ok, garden. Start your engine because it is time to RUMBLE!  I am so full of confidence that our true growing season is about to begin that yesterday I planted new cucumber starts along with cantaloupe, nasturtiums, more marigolds, 3 varieties of lettuce, and carrots.  I am feeling renewal!!!  While I am being a bit of a "Debbie Downer" a lot of wonderful growth has been happening. Take a look.

My pumpkins are flourishing this year.  Their precious little curly-q tendrils are starting to reach out and there have flowers. Flowers with BEES in them! Ahhhhh.

This is the crowded jungle where my zucchini, yellow squash and orangetti are growing. We were battling aphids and squash bugs. But from the looks of things, I think we are in control for now.

Pea madness. Every day for the last week I have been perching with my son on the edge of the garden bed and eating peas for at least an hour. He will only eat peas outside. Who can complain? One day we sat with a friend and shelled, chatted and tasted for two hours. Love it.

These tasty treats have been our ticket into the garden every morning. My little man goes to our picture window and looks for some red, ripe strawberries to snack on as a morning treat. He has been amazingly patient during the waiting process. Sometimes he will go 2-3 days without strawberries, waiting for them to ripen.

My acorn squash experiment appears to be going well. Fingers crossed.

Pretty soon we will not need to buy a single zucchini from the Farmer's Market.

Pumpkin flower

Yellow squash soon to be eaten!

Rainbow chard is hiding out. We almost forgot about it!


These are the tasty peas we have been snacking on. I think they are beautiful.

Yes, I am suffering from pea fascination. I love the symmetry.

Our garlic that was spared. Not first rate or market worthy, but, it will taste good when we use it!

Marigolds are doing their job in the garden: beauty and bug detractors and bee attractors.

Testing to see if our carrots are ready. They are getting there and ooh la la the taste is amazing!

The following pictures are from our front porch. It was being terribly neglected since all of my time is spent with the veggies. This week I decided to spruce things up, so the little man and I took a trip to the local nursery. Thank goodness for my little helper.

Delightful dahlias. 

Garden madness in full swing.

Final thought. I know it is referred to as a "green thumb", however, I think of mine as brown since I don't think I will ever see the day when I don't have some amount of dirt under my nails. 

Dirty nails. Shelling peas. Sneaking strawberries. Vegetables on the verge. Fresh lettuce every day. 

Let the sun shine.