Archive for the ‘Around the Garden…’ Category

When my grandfather bought his first house, a grand old Victorian in the heart of Yonkers, New York, he couldn’t wait to make everything “just right.” The previous owner, though, begged him at the closing not to do anything to the gardens for exactly one year. Not really understanding why, he obeyed the seller’s wishes. Over the next year, he witnessed a dazzling display of perennials ebb and flow with the seasons, from the first bright spring tulips to the final shade lovers of the fall, and finally the ornamental grasses swaying just above the snow in the winter wind.

I also have received such an inheritance, and although it may not be as useful or tangible as money, each season around the hill has left me filled with wonder and curiosity, and most importantly, gratitude towards the previous owners, Mr. and Mrs. H. (Of course, Mr. H., I could’ve done without your “home repairs”, but that’s another story entirely!) Check out below the gifts I’ve received over the past year…

Thank you Mr. & Mrs. H., wherever you are!


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With my first “real” garden fully underway (I don’t count last year since we got such a late start in the house), I’m finally able to sit back, with calloused hands and tanned shoulders, to actually harvest some of what I’ve been growing!

June 23rd's Harvest

We’re kind of in a bit of a lull right now, as the very early radishes and lettuces are now gone, but we’re still waiting on the true warm weather vegetables. In the meantime, I got a small bunch of carrots, what is almost the last of the sugar snap peas, some green onion and spinach. The spinach has been remarkably heat resistant – much more so than my arugula and other greens. I noticed some seed stalks, though, yesterday, so it’ll be gone by this weekend.

I loved having my own sugar snap peas, but I feel a little disappointed in them. They didn’t really produce for as long as I would’ve hoped, and now I find myself lusting after the crisp taste of fresh snaps, right off the vine. And that, friends, is a taste you can never get from the supermarket.

I was worried about the onions – we had a warm spell, followed by a frost before it warmed up for good. I was concerned that they were going to send up seed stalks (a few did) and not form bulbs, but I just dug up a test one (which is where the green onion came from) and it looks like its starting to form nice, solid, juicy bulbs. Thank goodness — the boy desperately wanted onions, and I don’t know how I would’ve told him they weren’t going to work out.

Yea, I know...they're hybrids...I'm a hypocrite.

The carrots turned out fairly well, and there’s still more coming. I chose a “Short n Sweet” hybrid (I know I always go one about heirlooms but these has exactly the qualities I was looking for) because my soil is very rocky and a little heavy. The traditional, longer carrots were out, so I’m glad I found these. I called them “my accidental carrots,” because they took so painfully long to germinate that I all but gave up on them. I mostly stopped watering them, until one day, about a week later, I noticed the tiny seedlings sprouting. I obviously began watering them then! And, nevertheless, they seemed no worse for the wear. I think some plants are much more hardy than we give them credit for! Sometimes, its the ones I abuse and forget about that give me the best harvest. Go figure…

On a personal note, I wanted to devote much more time to keeping up the blog once the garden was settled in, so it only stands to reason that I got picked for an eight week grand jury duty term this summer! (Meaning I may have to stay late at my job some days, or worse…come in on Saturdays!) I’ve been trying (more or less) to stick to an every other day posting routine, but this monkey wrench may make it hard to do. So, if I miss a day, I didn’t forget about my readers in blogland, I’ll have new things for you as soon as I catch a moment! Till then, happy gardening!

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Twas the day of the solstice, and all through the yard,

The plants were all growing, including swiss chard.

The sunflowers watched over the garden with care,

In hopes that the watering can soon would be there.

The onions were nestled all snug in their bed,

While tomatoes got ready to turn all bright red.

The boy played some songs on his old guitar,

While I had a rest, and a drink from the bar.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter.

Away to the garden I ran like a flash,

All through the forest of maple and ash.

When, what to my wondering eyes near the gate,

Appeared the old groundhog – the one that I hate!

With his dirty brown coat, and fuzzy small nose

That crinkled up as on his hind legs he rose.

And then just as quickly, that little pig,

Put down his paws and began to dig!

He snorted and dug underneath my whole fence

It was all I could do to stand and look dense!

“Now groundhogs, now beavers, now birds and you deer,

Get out of my garden, and away from here!”

To the edge of the yard ran that old pest,

“Now leave this place, you unwelcome guest!”

But into the garden my lil’ raider went,

And ate so much food I should’ve charged him rent!

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

He jumped that old fence, ran away with a bound.

And dressed in all fur, from his head to his tail,

He wiggled his butt and the wall he did scale.

After he left, I ran to my garden,

And cursed up a storm, if you’ll beg my pardon.

I ran to my plants and set up a blockade,

And said, “That little bugger thinks he’s got it made!”

I’ll trap him, I’ll slap him, I’ll send him away,

And strengthen my fence to keep his friends at bay!

I sprang to my fence, with rocks to fortify,

And lined them all up to reach up to the sky,

I said with a laugh, as he ran out of sight,

“Stay away all you animals, don’t even take a bite!”

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So, probably because I’m a giant garden-geek, I decided to go a search of Google Trends, to see what people have been looking for relating to gardening.

Seems like those Brits have got us beat, since the term “gardening” is searched the most in the United Kingdom, with the United States coming in third after Singapore. Kudos to the US cities with the highest search numbers…  Portland, OR (#4), NYC (#6), Irvine, CA (#9) and Seattle, WA (#10).

In all collective world regions, the phrase “garden” has been relatively constant over the last six years, waxing and

The results of a Google Trends search for "arugula" over the last six years

waning with the change in season, as you would probably expect. It gets more interesting, though, when you search by more specific terms or locations and years.

Maybe we truly have become “The United States of Arugula,” because a quick Google Trends search of “arugula” shows a pretty substantial increaseover the last six years.

Are Middle Americans becoming foodies all of a sudden, or perhaps just trading in the Golden Arches for a little garden greenery? (No offense Middle America, I still love ya!) Meanwhile, searches for “brussels sprouts,” no matter what kids think of them, have increased steadily.

This one is a little but more subtle, but searches for “roses” have definitely decreased in the past few years. Come on boys, I know its a recession, but can’t a girl still get a little lovin’ once in a while? 

Unfortunately though, for reasons I can’t understand, searches for the phrase “gardening” have been decreasing every

year. What gives? I hope its not because search trends for “take out” are going through the roof.

The one ray of hope is the fact that those of you who are still searching the phrase “gardening,” are also searching for “heirloom seeds” like they’re going out of style – take that, Monsanto! Anyhoo, that’s probably enough garden-geekiness for one post today…time to work on moving New York from number six on the top searched gardening list to number five… 🙂

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The garden is getting to be into full swing these days, and doing fairly well. We finally got some rain here in the Hudson Valley this past weekend, and my rain barrels were (mostly) filled. It was the kind of summer storm that rolls on fast over the hills, picking up moisture from the creeks and leaving steaming mist in the valleys in its wake. Lightning pierces the sky so brightly that it might split in half from the force. Of course, such storms are almost inevitably followed by a sky so crystalline blue you wonder if the whole thing was just a dream. While I was waiting out the storm, I found this great report that certainly be of interest to any Hudson Valley gardener. (If you’re not lucky enough to be in the Hudson Valley – I found this through the County website, and many other counties have commissioned similar write ups – check your local government’s website) Anyhoo, the report deals with a lot of interesting climate issues that are facing the Valley today, and is definitely worth a quick look.

Storms are always a great opportunity to take a minute to catch your breath from the action in the garden and take a quick mental survey for anything you may have too much of, or perhaps forgotten to plant. So far, in our garden we’ve got:

  • two each of six varieties of heirloom tomatoes, three each of two hybids
  • four each red and purple bell peppers, serrano chiles

    My harvest, 6/8/2010

  • sweet corn, two varieties, two blocks each (hybrids)
  • a few baby carrots
  • a patch of red and yellow intermediate day onions, a small pot of chives
  • a patch of radishes
  • eight (some slightly cabbageworm damaged) broccoli
  • for fruit, a (very) small strawberry patch and a grape vine
  • two (I think) each of white eggplant, four each of purple eggplant
  • four bush cucumbers
  • a small sunflower patch
  • three each of eating pumpkin vines
  • oregano, dill, parsley, basil, rosemary
  • two to four each of mesclun mix, buttercrunch, romaine, red sails, spinach, arugula
  • two each of green and yellow summer squash

Its been a lot of trail and error so far, but I think for the most part, everything is going well. My champions are the sugar snap peas, tomatoes, basil and corn. The ones lagging behind include the onions, squash and broccoli. Of course, for the rest of the plants, there are many shades of success and failure as well. Here’s a look at what’s been going on in my garden lately.The raised bed on the right in the photo is from last year, while the one on the left and the fence are new this year.

The main garden...

Even though the door got  a little messed up, it still serves its purpose pretty well. I actually have grown to really like it – so much so that I don’t think I’d even want it to be fixed anymore – because I think it really well frames our sort of quirky personalities. (Kind of makes me feel like I’m in a Salvador Dali painting, though…)

My trusty red wheelbarrow is kind of cheap, but it helped me move a whole garden’s worth of compost over from the other end of the yard, so I felt like I had to include it in the scene. That’s pretty much it for today, I’m working on some projects for the site that I hope to have up soon so be sure to check back. In the meantime, what are you growing in your gardens this year? Is anything working much better or worse than the other plants?

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