Monday, July 22, 2013

Tales from My Garden

This year's vegetable garden has been our best yet.  With a busy family and full time daycare, I could never seem to keep up with my garden and it showed.  Now that daycare is closed and my focus can be put more on my family and home, the garden has done pretty well.  But not without some challenges...
These little stinkers really did a number on my cabbage and brussel sprouts.  I am determined to keep an organic garden so tried many different things.  I tried picking them off by hand.  I tried hot soapy water.  I tried a chili pepper spray.  Lastly, I tried a mixture of flour and baking soda.
As you can see, the last mixture cause even more damage to the plants.  While I no longer found the cabbage worms and caterpillars... the leaves of my plants were just torn apart by the holes and then the harshness of the last mixture.  We finally agreed it really was more stressful than it was worth (we don't even like cabbage this much!) and pulled the plants out to make room for fall crops.  I now have a new appreciation for organic farmers and fully understand why organic costs so much.  It sure ain't easy!  I have no idea how a farmer would be able to manage a field of cabbage without pesticides but it is nothing short of a miracle.  
We've had many more joys than sorrows though... this was our very first year planting potatoes and watching my daughters dig them out one by one by hand was such an amazing experience.  It really helped us to fully appreciate our food more as well.
When we made the potatoes for dinner time, each girl was very mindful of not wasting and being sure to save any leftovers.  It amazes me how simply knowing what is involved in growing the food can change our attitude.  I hope these lessons stay with my girls as they get older.
My blueberry bush is also doing well this year, although it doesn't produce very much.  I learned my lesson from years past and now have put netting over the top to keep the birds from eating all the berries.  I am going to plant a few more of these bushes so we can get more yield and make some jams, pies, etc.

We have a lot of oregano and mint.  I did not plant basil this year and I'm regretting it so I'm going to make sure I remember next year.  The oregano has been a staple in our kitchen this summer and we're very thankful to be able to take a simple walk out of our backdoor to get herbs and vegetables whenever we need them.
Our first zucchini came in and it was a big one!  We cooked it this evening with dinner and the taste was so fresh compared to the ones we buy in the grocery store.  It truly was from garden to table under an hour and its that type of thing that really fills me with gratitude and joy.

We have one cucumber getting pretty big but have not yet had any from the garden to eat.  This one vine decided to climb its way up a tomato plant stake on its own so the cucumber is hanging downward as it grows.  The girls thought it was pretty cool that the plant "made a decision" to climb a certain way.

Lettuce has been plenty.  We can get as many salads as we want each night and have a bit too much.  Tomorrow I am going to drop some off at our local food pantry now that I know they accept fresh garden food.  

We are still waiting for many things:  carrots, corn, squash, pumpkins, raspberries, eggplant, okra, cauliflower (which isn't looking too great), cantaloupe and cucumbers.  We've enjoyed green beans, onions, potatoes, lettuce, wineberries, blueberries and zucchini.

This was our harvest for today.  

The wineberries are obviously wild and not from our garden but they are so plenty we consider them a big part of our produce.  We enjoy them all summer long and they have been spreading in the woods behind our house.  The girls love going and picking them in little bowls and running back into the house to show me how many they found.  This is what they brought to me today!
They have become quite the little chefs in the kitchen.  The other day they made their very own fruit salad with them.  
 And tonight, Keira found a recipe online for Wineberry Coffee Cake and they all worked together (without  me!) to make it.
It blew me away... they even cleaned up their mess (mostly)!  While we've been eating A LOT and my diet has been blown this summer, I am very thankful we are enjoying fresh, whole foods together.
How is your summer garden doing?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Home from the Shore...

 We are home from a beautiful trip to Long Beach Island.  The weather the first half of the week was just perfect and I was able to enjoy plenty of days at the beach with my girls.

Brian came up halfway through as he said he had too much work to do and unfortunately the weather didn't stay as nice but we still had a great time.

We love visiting the lighthouse each time.  I get a bit claustrophobic so after learning the hard way last year, I opted to stay at the bottom and take photos while the rest of the family hiked up to the top.  A great choice for me because I got some wonderful shots and the kids loved seeing me at the bottom when they reached the top.

We also took the girls to see a production of Peter Pan.  It was very cute and the girls liked taking photos with the cast at the end of the show.
For me, I just love the beach.  Its simple, beautiful and slow.  The girls spent their days making new friends and creating sandcastles.  I could sit there day in and day out watching the tide.  Next year I hope to do so for two weeks if I can make it happen.