garden

Early Summer in the Garden

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Morning fog and remnants of rain from the night greeted my sleepy eyes as I peeked out the window, as I do every morning. The force that pulls me to the garden was strong, as I find after a good rain, before the sky has cleared, just as the mornings of golden light speckling the earth fill me with the most simplistic happiness and warmth.

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There are still signs of a fading spring, but the undeniable growth of summer is even more prominent now. It’s a sad state to say goodbye to a spring never to return, but knowing that another will inevitably follow in the year to come. By this time each year in the garden, I’m nearly overwhelmed by the anxiety of being behind in vegetable growth. When did I plant? Did I start soon enough? Why aren’t there more tomatoes growing yet? It’s an inevitable stress that follows me through the gardening seasons, and I urge myself back to calm, to remember that things grow in their own time. The obvious bromide to give into.

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Despite urgings to stay inside where its warm and dry, I was accompanied by my two little girls, who have come to love traipsing through the gardens nearly as much as I. I wonder how they see it through their eyes, from their lower, more innocent perspectives. Then, distraction pulls the thoughts from my mind and I’m wholly present again. If ever there was a wonder why one succumbs to the whims of gardening, it’s safe to say that clarity of mind is a drug of its own.

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Mid-April in the Greenhouse

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It’s been a process to bring life into the greenhouse this year. With a toddler at my feet and off and on days of rain, I find myself drawn here more than not, regardless of weather or even if there’s a kiddo nearby. I’ve come to love this space, as you can imagine, and the morning light is nearly poetic. I find myself drawn outdoors, pulled to this space as if entranced. Spring is a magical beast.

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The fiddlehead ferns have emerged from beneath the greenhouse, and being the lover of ferns that I am, I’ve allowed them to stay—for now.

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My mother-in-law, daughter, and I had a plant shopping day a few weeks back, and the fuchsias that haven’t yet been planted around the garden, are finding homes to stay in the greenhouse. Of all the ones we’ve planted out, this is the only with a bud. These flowers are the only annuals I buy each year, and I am overjoyed to see them burst forth with life in just a short time.

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I walked into the greenhouse just the other morning—like I do most every day—and was suddenly struck by the individual characteristics emerging from the seedlings I’ve been watching emerge. When most seeds finally separate and push through the soil, they most all look very similar. If you wait and notice in a few short weeks, their unique colors, shapes, and forms begin to appear. I tried staying and tending to my tasks at hand, but found myself so distracted I went back inside for my camera, needing to fill the visions quickly forming in my mind.

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I’m adamant to include an abundance of flowers and vegetables alike, and these floret seedlings are shaping up beautifully.

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Spring is here and showing off all its beauty, not only in the greenhouse, but around the garden, our property, and town. It’s distracting indeed, but a welcome distraction that I fully appreciate this time of year. It’s a time where my mind is completely filled with thoughts of plants, planning, and dreaming as big as I can to fill my garden beds.

I’m amping up produce production as much as within my capability this year, and sharing the experience with my little girl, as well as my older two, has been so delightful. And each day that the rain breaks for us, we find ourselves pulling up our boots and treading through the wet grass to see what’s new since the last time we looked, even if that was just a few hours ago.

Spring at Havenwood

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“Spring won’t let me stay in the house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.”

- Gustav Mahler

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About six new fruit trees to the property this spring, not including trees I’ve propagated (new growth from the peach and pear trees have been abundant!). Once the bare roots hit stores, I’m scooping them up left and right. In order to fill the acreage we have and to work toward sustainability (nothing rigid, just loosely increasing production and yields based on what is feasible during that time in my life and the season) I have to be increasingly mindful of how much I put out to improve and grow what I want. I’m constantly on the hunt for sales, what’s best to buy that time of year, where I’m buying, and so on. I have also become increasingly knowledgable in propagation, and patience, when growing from seed.

Spring around here is absolutely beautiful right now. Everything has bloomed about two weeks later than last year, but there’s an abundance from all the additions between now and then. From the fruit trees to bulb flowers to the vegetable garden, there’s something seemingly magical to be found in every corner. After a week of gloriously warm sunshine, the rain has come back. This morning, the kids and I bundled up to head outside during a little drizzly rain. We made it just before it poured, which was immediately followed heavy winds and sunshine. Spring is here at last!

We have many projects on our list for this year, and all I can really think about is continuing to improve the garden space, add as many trees as I can, and truly beautify the space. It’s a slow and steady process, but one I’m happy to commit to and invest in.

Spring Garden Harvests and "OH NO's!"

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Our first spring at our Havenwood Garden has been a lesson and a treat! But aren't all the best gardening stories?! I mapped out the space, planted everything from seed, added two new garden beds and a cold frame as we've welcomed spring this year. At our previous home, I had my micro climate dialed to perfection, so I've been adjusting bit by bit as we figure out this new space this season.

As I got those first seeds in the ground as our last frost FINALLY got the hint and bid adieu, I meticulously followed my garden plan and "knew" where everything was. My little white plastic labels lasted all of five minutes, of course. Who knew permanent marker washes right off those little suckers during April showers? An Instagram friend mentioned using wax pencils instead, so I'll give that a try next. 

After what felt like FOREVER, the radishes were finally coming in! But much to my dismay, however, our free ranging chickens were scratching that freshly planted bed like crazy. Lesson learned: you cannot have free-ranging chickens even if you think you shoo them away frequently. It is still not enough. They do not learn. I turned to my husband and desperately pleaded for options. "What do I do?!" Well, for now they stay in the chicken run. They're safer from eagles that way, too. I digress. 

I planted what I though would be plenty of radishes to get us through most of spring, but that beautiful bowl full, plus a few strays, were all we managed. I'm still thrilled for them though, those are my first ever homegrown radishes! Spicy and perfect on salads and thrown in most every dinner along the way. In place of the radishes, it looks like I have broccoli raab coming in, so I'm not sure what's going on there. I didn't plant broccoli raab. I did put in regular broccoli on the far side of that bed, but again, I digress. This is an experiment year whether I like it or not, as much as I'd love it to be a full-fledge, perfect 12 months of harvesting garden, let's be realistic.

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Thanks to another Instagram friend, I planted a cut-and-come-again style lettuce bed. Giving plenty of space to full heads of lettuce, I wanted those early spring salads with tender young greens, and friends, it has not disappointed. More arugula popped up than anything else, and I was surprised by its strong fragrance and peppery flavor I've heard so much about. Still, my family of four (plus baby who is not yet eating salad greens) has had more than enough to enjoy day after day. If you've never tried this, it's worth it! Even if you have a container on your patio, a small garden bed in your backyard, it takes nothing to sprinkle some seeds in whenever you remember, throw some water on, and watch the magic happen! A real treat in early spring!

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Along with tasty radishes and abundant greens, chive blossoms are endless and herbs are filling in lusciously. If gardening is not yet your thing, do yourself the favor of picking up a few pots and planting some perennial herbs. The effort is almost none and they return year after year, supplying fresh and beautiful herbs. Just throw them in with your meals in place of dried spices and you'll never want to go back. I take a small bundle of each and make herbed biscuits, pure heaven! Even if you don't dry and store them over winter, they're attractive to flower and keep out for your viewing pleasure.

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Aside from the few spring harvests, we have strawberries growing like crazy (YES!), corn has popped up, squash, melons, tomatoes, garlic from last fall, kale, peas, greens, raspberries, blueberries, and carrots. I'm perpetually feeling like I'm behind, and failing for the season, but I don't let this feeling get the best of me, I just get outside the next day and plant what I can. 

This gardening journey has grown so much over the past six years and while I know I've learned so much, I still have a long way to go. It can be overwhelming, but the reward is so worth it to just start where you are with what you have. 

Happy spring and happy hardening!

June Garden Tour

June was a good month. The kids finished school, the oldest started summer school, we celebrated the dad's in our life, celebrated my mom and brother's birthday, and have enjoyed spending time around the homestead. We've settled into life with chickens and ducks, reveling in the ease and simple joy of watching them roam while we work in the gardens. We've even made a new kitty friend.

When my dad was in town, we knocked out some much needed projects in and outside of our house. From painting the kitchen, adding a pantry space, and putting drain rock around the backyard raised gardens and greenhouse. Everything looks so fresh, clean, and new!

We quickly finished our strawberry harvest (currently waiting for the next little batch), enjoyed fresh snap peas off the vine, still harvesting lots of kale, red lettuce, raspberries, and fresh herbs. I've taken to learning more about the wildflowers that popped up this year. Saving their seeds and drying out those with herbal uses has been pretty fun. I've also been drying all the rose petals I can for jellies and dried petals for various uses as well.

June has really brought everything to life. The greenhouse is ready for an overhaul of replanting as everything is growing nice and big in there. There has been a fair share of gloom and rain, but I've enjoyed the break from heat. The gardens have seemed to enjoy it as well. There have been so many firsts as well, little things like our first heirloom green bean flowers. Lots of squash has voluntarily come up, so I've been searching for creative ways to work them into my small spaces. Oh, and we extended the front yard gardens all the way around the yard, so it's been fun filling that in.

I'm excited to see what July will offer us, but really, I can't believe we're in the middle of the year and soaking up summer already! Things are good and the hard work is paying off. Happy July my friends!