Thursday, August 27, 2009

In the Garden...

My mom in law has been asking me to blog about our garden. So, here it goes...

Whoa. Let me first write a disclaimer. It wasn't a very good year, nor was it pretty. Hence, no pictures.

We grew swiss chard, cabbage, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, one bean plant that yielded exactly one bean, cantaloupe, watermelon, a raspberry bush, and a rhubarb plant. Oh, we also have strawberry plants, banana peppers and green peppers.

We did a no till garden this year. We hope to improve the soil each year without chemicals, etc. We killed the grass with layers of newspaper, then sowed in our seeds/plants. The soil has grown fescu grass (and weeds!) for the past 10 or so years. The soil isn't terrible, but it's not rich either.

We planted everything late, as in mid-to late June I think. We didn't have any rain the month of June and it was H.O.T. The months of July and August have brought lots of rain and a few mild weekends. On average, the sun has been hot when it's out and we've had temps in the 80's.

The pepper plants yielded well, but the fruits have been on the small side. The tomatoes are doing great now that they are established. The orange tomato plants are thriving and producing well. The swiss chard was great, but we've not kept it cut down so the leaves are too big. The small ones we cook with are delicious, though. The raspberry bush and the strawberry runners are well established and, though we'll end up moving them later, they are doing well in the plain ol' dirt! The cabbage has had sporadic bugs - mostly when the rain was here. We used organic chemicals and picked them off by hand. Our Black Star hen follows us around when we are outside and she loves the garden. Charley fed all of the juicy green bugs to her :). The cabbage
is not ready to harvest yet.

The herbs are doing really well and I'm going to move them to a small "kitchen garden" by the house when our landscaping is established, hopefully this fall.

Next year we hope to grow corn and maybe start some tomatoes early.

John is much more mobile now, at 18 months. He loves to "help" outside, although it's still so hot during the day to stay out too long. I'm looking forward to the cooler fall weather when we can plant outside together, etc. Although our front yard is level, for the most part, we still don't have grass to play in. So, we are looking forward to that soon!

With all of the rain, the squash and zucchini have not done well. In fact, they began to produce and then bugs or too much rain demolished them. The plants are green, but there is no fruit.

On a final note...we picked our first watermelon too early! It was so sweet, though. Just not red and ripe! We have 4 or so more to harvest. We're waiting until the last possible minute to harvest them, though! And, the same goes for the canteloupe.

The best 'lope we've had this summer has been from Mom Neal's garden stand in Wheaton, IL. It was so delicious...and HUGE.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Suds

I never thought I'd be one of those crazy parents that thought their child was the most beautiful, most talented, most intelligent...but, alas, I do. I think he's amazing in every way.




Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Tales

After having gone through all the hell that the joke that is called the Foster system could possibly provide, I find that watching re-runs of the show The Guardian is quite helpful in defining our countries' way of dealing with child neglect and abuse. I watched an episode yesterday, eager to escape into tv-land.

The feeling that I come away with after watching The Guardian is much like how a guy walks away from a movie like 300 (I think that's the name), tough, re-energized, feeling like he can take on the world. (At least that's what I think I've gathered from my husband and brother-in-law.) By the way, I just felt exhausted mentally and emotionally after watching 300. But, that's another tale.

Back to yesterday...I came away from this particular episode thankful beyond words that our family of 3 is so blessed with two sets of grandparents that love us more than we could even imagine. (I have 18 months of love for my child under my belt, they have more than 30 years.Wow.) We feel success, self-confidence, humility and so much more because of the love that those 4 people show us. And, that's not to mention our extended families who lavish love on us, too. Daily, I think about the 7 little ones that we brought into our home over the course of the 4 years that we were part of the foster system. I cannot begin to imagine the lack of love that I experience that is so prevalent in their lives. I am thankful for my God - that He gave me the kind of life that so many dream about. And, we are so grateful and thankful for the people that love us enough to care for us so openly and tangibly.

Okay. Climbing down off my soapbox now.

The past month has been a welcome relief from the anguish of hammering and loud construction. My folks were here several weeks ago, Charley's folks were here this past weekend and my folks (newly retired! Yay!) will be back again this weekend! The painting, gardening, cleaning, babysitting and so much more has been my saving grace. The dads worked on window trim, window sills, etc. while the moms loved on John, made dinners, cleaned up dinners, and painted, painted, painted. Amidst all of that we have made numerous trips to the garden to gather cucumbers, a few now-ripe tomatoes, some herbs, swiss chard, etc.

We have had so much rain this season that our squash, zucchini, etc. are not producing.

Charley makes yummy swiss chard...sauteed in a little olive oil with onion, garlic, and red cooking wine.

We are gathering eggs daily from our hens. Hmmm....let me amend that...we are now down to 1 hen, our Black Star. She is currently forlornly clucking at me from the front porch step. We tried free-range without fencing...we locked our hens up at night though. However, our 2 Buff hens who were so sweet, have now met their Maker by means of a sly fox. He sits in wait in the woods several yards from the house, and when the hens go take their afternoon siesta in the shade, he strikes. Our neighbor told Charley to stake down our one remaining chicken and put me on the front porch with our gun and wait for the fox to re-appear. Mmmm...not likely going to happen, that scenario. We'll have to envision that one in our imagination.

So, we are down to one hen. She is lonely. Our other neighbor said she's scaling back on her laying hens and will give us a few to replace our girls. We really couldn't keep up with the eggs that our 3 girls were laying, though! We hope to be able to give away or sell our excess in the future.

And, I need to mention that we have kittens. Yep, 5 babies were born about 4 weeks ago. They are in a box on our front porch where their mother cares for them so lovingly. It's been sweet to watch John interact with them. He is not afraid nor his he too rough. He is an amazing child and this mother is so proud that he is my son!

As fun as this rambling is...my fingers are tired. I'll sign off now.

I'll leave you with a few images of guess who!? Shoe shopping...





I pray for each of you daily!

Love,
Jackie