in the garden :: flowering, planting, defending...

last year this tree had nine apples on it, this year we've counted about sixty!

we regularly find old marbles and bits of broken glassware when we dig up a new area of the yard

I uploaded the photos above about a week and a half ago, before we had all the tomatoes and peppers in and when the irises were just getting going.  now all of those plants are in the ground and the irises have just one or two representatives remaining, having passed the torch onto the peonies and coreopsis and lavender.

it's a good thing I started so many tomatoes and peppers this year.  though we didn't initially plant all 47 tomato plants and 32 peppers (honestly how could we?  our whole lot is just about .33 acres and well over half of that is the house and garage and driveway, side and front yard...) we have found ourselves plugging in replacements here and there over the past week as several plants (entire plants!) have been taken by little burrowing creatures.  we're thinking it is either moles, voles, or chipmunks.  or maybe a combination of the three.  it turns out not having a feline around to keep those critters in check makes a world of difference (oh Ziggy, you are so missed, in so many ways).  and so, 2 brandywines, 2 amish pastes, 3 red marconi sweet peppers, some cabbage, chard, and a parsley plant later...... we got a havahart trap, a sonar mole/vole deterrent, and some castor oil granules that are supposed to keep them away.  two days in and it seems that maybe it is making a little bit of a difference.  for the first time in a week or so, today there were no plant victims out there.

of course, the furry little rodents aren't destroying everything.  there are lots of greens, the berries are looking good, peas are flowering, garlic scapes have already been cut,  pumpkins and squashes and cucumbers are up, beans are up (though need to be reseeded in one area where I believe peter rabbit and his brethren have been happily snipping at the tops of the sprouts...), the flower beds are filling in nicely and the tomatoes are ready to be strung.  it is such a promising and happy time to be gardening, mid-May.

fingers crossed that those defensive strategies of ours keep the furry ones from claiming many more of our plant babies for themselves.

kale, chard, broccoli rabe, and collards

elderberries in back, blackberries in front~ both spreading nicely

tomatillos! or, as I like to call them here in the blight-heavy southeast: 'salsa insurance'
Claire's 'big Max' pumpkins

this year we added four of these 4' cylinders, two for butternut squash, two for cucumbers

flowers! (larkspur, amaranth, tithonia, zinnias)

 happy gardening!


late spring swap :: (live and in person)

oh my.  every time, every single time- I come away from these thinking it can't possibly get any better and that no way can these incredible people keep coming up with more variety and more fabulous goodies (and that they don't get bored but keep coming back to my swap parties!).   but it does, and they do.  and do you see how beautifully everyone packages their stuff? my goodness!

this afternoon 14 swappers convened in our backyard and we ate and drank and connected and then finally, we swapped.  this time around I contributed sets of photo cards, some plant starts, a couple dozen eggs, a bottle of maple syrup, and some salve.  Mike made the two pollinator boxes pictured above.  I came away with Irish Cream, rosemary-infused honey, loads of lip balm, a digestion support tincture that was combined with a stick of first aid salve, body butter, strawberry-rhubarb jam, blueberry relish, and two awesome (and functional!) wall hangings made by a friend by transferring photos to wood.  Mike chose some orange/tea tree cleaner and another one of the wall hangings (it's possible I swayed his first choice and urged him to grab that little blue wall hanging for me after he drew #1 from the jar and I, after absent-mindedly forgetting someone when we drew numbers, traded my own #3 for her #14, because what kind of host would I be if I didn't).

I am honored to have a core group of swappers (and so loving the new faces joining in) who keep coming back and help keep this thing going.  each time I learn a little something about how to pull it off more smoothly (though often I forget those things until after subsequent swaps) and I think we're getting to a place where (even though swapping close to 150 items takes a good chunk of time- between 2 and 2 1/2 hours) it is feeling efficient and fun for all involved.  if only I could remember to go around at the beginning and have everyone tell a bit about what they brought instead of briefly going over the logistics and then diving in.  I suppose I get a bit amped up once everyone has finally arrived, set up their things, and numbers have been drawn.  I start feeling a bit of that jazzy hostess-energy and like I need to get things started so we can get down to business.  if you happen to be at the next swap, please do gently remind me to chill out and take the five minutes to go around the beautiful circle of ladies (and gentleman) to allow everyone to talk a bit about what they brought.

in the mean time, I can't wait to dive into this box of beauty.
friends, that is a whole lot of goodness right there.


mother's day weekend

it's that time of year again.  LEAF (Lake Eden Arts Festival- an amazing festival that happens twice a year about 10 minutes away) was this past weekend and since the kids at art perform I get a free pass for the day.  Mike was working, but Claire and I made a FULL DAY of it.  there was kettle corn and bungee bouncing and rolling in the giant hamster ball thing (which to me looks hot and uncomfortable and not really so much fun).  she got to see her favorite children's hip hop performer, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, and afterwards we had ice cream for lunch (goat cheese with bing cherry for me, please!).  then we listened to Martha Redbone and there was some pizza.  there was swinging and sunshine, friends and good music.  it was fun and exhausting and occasionally overwhelming.  there was, as always, an incredible parade full of puppets and circus performers and drumming.  and in the end, there were some spicy noodles for mama and a cookie for her, eaten during a fire show where she got to watch the wonderful children's librarian from our local library (who happens to be one of her favorite people) spin fire.  and then it was 9:45pm and we were so close to seeing Xavier Rudd (who I hadn't seen since she was still in my belly) so I talked her into staying a bit longer and listened to about a half hour of his show with her asleep over my shoulder.  of course that meant we got a late shuttle back to the car and didn't crawl into bed until midnight (!), but all was well.  after all, it isn't as though we do this kind of thing every day.

and then of course, Sunday morning.  I woke up after papa got home from work and when I went into the kitchen I was sent away.  so I took to the hammock and by the time he was done with his secret doings she had woken up and together they served me 'breakfast in hammock' (something I could really get used to).  she proudly poured my coffee and told me how it was her idea to put the OJ pulp into my yogurt.  minutes later, Mike came out with baby Broccoli carrying breakfast for her mama.  Claire got quite the kick out of that and I thought it was a very sweet thing for him to do.  we passed the rest of the day reading, gardening, and then playing and having pizza with friends.  

*weekending with Karen and the gang