44. (Really) Late Summer Gardening

Today is one of those absolutely perfect late summer/early fall days.  The sun is out, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and the cold temperatures of this morning have given way to warm, almost hot conditions this afternoon.  In other words, it is an absolutely perfect day to get out and garden.

Fall may have technically started earlier this week, but my garden didn’t seem to get the memo.  While I would normally start pulling plants at this time of year, everything seems not only to be in full bloom, but also sprouting new buds!  So rather than pull plants, I did some weeding and pruning that will make the process of putting the garden to bed a little easier a few weeks from now.

And because I had so much fun in and amongst the gorgeousness of some of my plants this afternoon, I had to share a few photos . . . As much as I curse my roses every single time I need to deadhead or prune, when they are in full bloom, I just can’t get enough of them . . . which I suppose is why I keep planting more and more of them in my garden.

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And the dahlias are absolutely gorgeous right now.  For some reason this year they weren’t ravaged by slugs despite not using any sort of slug bait or slug deterrent.

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By far, though, I spent the most time amongst my tomato plants.  Right now, they look a lot like a metaphor for my life . . . branching out in every and all direction, some stalks bearing copious amounts of fruit, other none at all.  Must like I’m pruning back parts of my life that haven’t/aren’t bearing much fruit, the tomato plants needed a good prune too.  And they got one!  And no, I didn’t use tomato cages.  Which in retrospect I now have a great appreciation for.  Why didn’t I use them??? Simple.  A year or two ago, during one of my great garage clean-outs, I tossed all the cages we had inherited from the family that owed our house before us (they were great gardeners that maintained a large vegetable garden).  I’ve put other things in the place where I once stored them, and wasn’t sure where I’d put them after this year.  So I thought I’d let the plants go and see what happened.  I didn’t think they’d end up in this much of a tangle!!

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As for the melons . . . well, I think they’re just about ready to pick.  If only the local squirrels/raccoons/ground hog would stop eating the baby melons (and pumpkins for that matter), we would have had a bumper crop!  But as it stands, we only have 2 left on the vine, a few more little ones that likely won’t have enough time to mature before the cold weather hits, and quite a few tiny ones that have been knocked off the vines.

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It’s days like this that have to be absolutely savoured . . . they’re the ones we’ll miss most when the weather turns cold and damp and the sunlight isn’t quite so bright.  Hope you’re out and enjoying every last drop of today!!

24. A Beautiful Day From Start to Finish

There were beautiful moments sprinkled throughout my day today.  And while most of these moments occurred with the kids (is there anything better than seeing the smiling faces on two little kids when you stop mid-bike ride for chocolate croissants at our favourite bakery?), I did also get to spend some time in the garden, where there were quite a few moments of beauty (the aforementioned bike ride exhausted the kids sufficiently that they needed some rest, affording me some much needed time in the garden).

I started off with the intention of cleaning up the “jungle” that had become my tomato plants.  I find this section of the garden so fascinating, mostly because I purchased these tomato plants for about $0.50 each.  I bought them on a whim, mostly to see if I could revive them, even just a little bit, and because I thought the kids would enjoy picking cherry tomatoes.  Well, turns out, these plants have thrived!!  While I did thin them out a bit, for the most part, these plants are producing, and so, I left them as is.

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I also wanted to clean up the melon plants . . . but again, as I started in on them, I realized that there were far more fruits on these plants than I had originally though.  I’m amazed watching how the skin on the cantaloupes are turning from a smooth green, to the rough, beige skin we know them to have.  And, is there anything cuter than a tiny baby watermelon????  If the raccoons/groundhog get to these, it will be war . . . And of course, the sugar pumpkins are starting to grow now too!

And then there are my roses.  As I weeded around my rose plants, and tied back some of them to the fences to train them, I decided I must really enjoy torturing myself – even the thorns on new rose growth are seriously prickly!  But is there anything more stunningly beautiful than a rose???  And when those roses are tucked in amongst the melons???

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As the summer draws to a  close, I’m starting to make notes on what worked this summer, and what didn’t.  What I want more of next year, what I want less of, and what I don’t want at all.  Over the course of this week, I’ll be taking pictures to remind myself in the spring what the garden grows into, which will help me as I plan what plants to purchase as next year’s gardening season gets underway.  And of course, I’m working out what bulbs to plant this fall!!

21. Surprises in the Garden

So, I’ve been a little remiss this week when it comes to my garden. I’ve been meaning to get out and clean things up all week. But deep down I think I knew I had so much to do out there, the few minutes here and there that I could have spent gardening, just didn’t seem with bothering.

That being said, it is a bit hard to ignore the veritable jungle the back “vegetable plot” has become. Well, mostly because melon vines are using my flowers as supports and are starting to grow out and onto the lawn ….

While we have harvested some cucumbers and peppers and tomatoes so far this season, and of course lots of herbs and kale, we haven’t seen much evidence of the “fun” things growing – and by fun, I am of course referring to the sugar pumpkins, cantaloupes, and watermelons chosen by my son to plant.

Well, tonight I went for a quick peek to see if there were any tomatoes ready for picking, and to check on my roses that are being totally overshadowed by said tomato plants, I found this!!!!

 

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Yup!  A lone watermelon!  The kids of course were desperate to pick it, but we decided to leave it on the vine and see if it will grow a little bit more!!!

18. To Plant a Garden

As the Audrey Hepburn quote goes . . . which I know I’ve used before on this blog . . .

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”

The downside to being up north for so long was that my garden got a little bit neglected.  While The Husband took great care to make sure all my plants got the water they needed and that the lawn was well cared for, he has proclaimed zero interest in the tending to flowers and shrub aspect of gardening.  And so, with the heat we’ve had and all the lovely water The Husband gave them, my plants have all gone through, what I will politely term “a massive growth spurt”.  And yes, from that you can read into the fact that the tomato plants may be threatening to take over the entire backyard . . . the watermelons and cantaloupe are using everything they can find as props to climb upwards (including, but not limited to delphiniums) . . . my prized new climbing roses are duking it out with the pepper plants and cucumbers for climbing space along the fence (the roses appear to be losing) . . . and there’s the fact that the invasive weeds from a few neighbouring properties seem to be thriving in the absence of my obsessive removal of their runners . . .

While I did a quick tour around as soon as we got back on Sunday, I haven’t had time to go back and seriously examine what needs to be done (the above all came from cursory glance, so heave knows what I’ll find when I start rooting around) nor to get going on any of what needs to be tended to.

Today brought buckets of rain, and so, no gardening was undertaken today either.

But, after we got home from friends this evening, I had a few quick moments to wander around again, and check in on a few of my favourite plants.  Of course, most favourite rosebush did not disappoint.

But the knowledge that there is so much more to be uncovered, so many more things to see, so much wonderful work to be done has me quite excited . . .  So I will be going to go bed tonight, dreaming of tomorrow and the joys that I know I will find hidden in my garden.

 

Finding Joy in My Garden

I’ve always loved spending time in the garden.  My mom kept a gorgeous garden at the house I grew up in, and over the years I have had the pleasure of attending lots of garden talks with her.  I was so excited when the Husband and I bought our house – I couldn’t wait to start my own garden.  But as many good intentions as I may have had over the years, my garden just never really took shape.  Until this year.

Since the early spring, I found myself searching images of English gardens on Pinterest, reading plant catalogues from my favourite nurseries, and planning how I might change my garden.  And once planting weather arrived, I’ve spent more time than ever planting, weeding, and tending to my garden.  And I’m loving every minute of it.  So much so that I even skipped the gym on Monday just to spend more time gardening (although who wouldn’t want to spend time amongst these beauties??)

 

This year, I’ve even found space for a little veggie garden behind my back flower bed (this was obtained through a mis-guided attempt to “trim out” the dead branches of a cedar hedge – we ended up taking out the hedge, putting in a fence, and tripling the size of the back flower bed).

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Yup . . . roses, kale, pepper, and melons all planted amongst each other . . . not the most conventional, BUT, I am hoping the roses will grow and provide a nice cover to the fence.  And I let the kids pick what plants they wanted . . . so we have kale, and peppers, and melons.  And tomatoes.  Lots and lots of tomatoes . . .

Anyway, in my nightly searching on Pinterest, I came across the Audrey Hepburn quote above, and my obsession with gardening this year started to make a bit more sense . . . At at time in my life when I’m filled with more hope and excitement for the future, it’s no wonder I’ve been loving my garden.

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The other upside to all this gardening has been how it’s gotten me excited about cooking again.  With all the craziness of the kids’ end of year stuff, I’ve been relying on staple recipes that I know I can make quickly and that I know the kids will eat (quickly).  This year, thanks to the coach, I discovered Richter’s Herbs, and purchased from them an awesome selection of herbs which I now have growing on my back porch.

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Every morning, the kids and I go out to water our herbs . . . but also to cut some to add to the salad I make for my lunch each morning.  These herbs have been put to good use in our dinners lately too!  Earlier this week I made a wicked pesto sauce that I served with pasta for dinner, and last on Friday I made a crowd-please app for a pre-party I had at my house.  It’s the easiest app you could ever make, takes literally 5 minutes to prepare if not less, and everyone seems to love it . . . here’s my take on it:

Easy Peasy Goat Cheese App

  • Servings: lots
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • soft goat cheese (I used a smaller quantity for this, but you can use as much or as little as you’d like)
  • 1 shallott or a few green onions
  • chives
  • ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Place your goat cheese in a small serving bowl or dish that fits the size of goat cheese that you’re using.
  2. If you’re using green onions, wash and peel the outer layer and then finely slice the white and green part of the onion.  If I use a small amount of goat cheese, I might use 2 or 3 green onions.  If I’m using a larger amount, I’d double that and use 4-6.
  3. Sprinkle pepper and red pepper flakes over the cheese.
  4. Pour olive oil over the cheese so that it pools in the bottom of the bowl around the cheese.
  5. Keep in the fridge until about 30 minutes before you plan to serve it – then take it out and let it warm up a bit.  Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.

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