Is it really almost September? Already, the white anemones in our front yard are in bloom, the last of our plants to flower before fall and winter come. Other than the heat wave we had recently, the summer has been pretty mild. Too mild, maybe, since our tomatoes plants are still only laden with green fruit.

This has been an unusual month for me. I guess something is out of whack with my system, and my body is letting me know it. Usually I feel fine. Hopefully it is nothing to be alarmed about, but the advice nurse at the clinic scheduled some tests and an appointment early next week. At this point, I’m happy to go.

I inspect the garden every day. Although we were sad to loose our backyard trees earlier this year, the garden is flourishing. I’m often surprised by even the day to day changes, and especially the details. Take a look:

Have a great weekend!


Little Garden Visitors

Chloe and I play out in the back yard almost everyday. This year, early in the season, we bought several flats of fund-raiser plants from a neighbor. The growing color back there is wonderful! I’m also happy to report several mini-green tomatoes, zucchini, grapes and green beans peeking out from under their abundant foliage.

Yesterday, we saw an unusual amount of butterflies visiting our yard. Their drunken fluttering makes Chloe nervous, so she likes to have me close by. Unfortunately they were practically impossible to photograph. So we turned our attention to these little garden visitors instead…

Honey bee, back legs laden with pollen
Male “12-Spotted Skimmer” dragonfly, back view
Mason bee (I think)
Male “12-Spotted Skimmer” dragonfly, front view


Farmer’s market

Yay for the farmer’s market! We went on our first visit of the year today. As usual, it was great fun wandering the many stalls, meeting up with friends, watching our kids stain their faces with fresh berries, and basking in what felt like the first real sun of the season. Also, Chloe is now old enough to enjoy the fountain, and Lorenzo was good enough to show her how it’s done. They had a grand time.

Maybe it was all that sun, because I feel wiped out! Thankfully, we got the last of our veggie starts in the ground today. Now we just wait for the delicious bounty that is sure to come (that is, if the slugs don’t get to them first!).



Our next-door neighbor had a heart attack last week. He died yesterday. We will miss him. He was quite old, but it is still a shock. Now we wonder what will become of his little house, and have our fingers crossed that another good person moves in. Our other next-door neighbor is also in her eighties, but her son lives with her. We had a little scare last summer when she came over with blood on her face and shirt and David rushed her to the emergency room. You just never know what is going to happen.
Remember the fallen trees in my backyard? And our worry that two of our neighbors remaining dying trees would fall on our house? Well, they are being removed as I type. Thank goodness. Now I might be able to sleep during windy nights, instead of lying awake, worrying that one will come crashing down on our house. That makes 11 down or removed trees. What used to look like this is now nothing but a large expanse of sky.
David built another raised garden bed in the backyard, where one of the fallen trees once grew. Since there is nothing to block the sun anymore, we are going to try to make the most of it. We’ll plant our usuals – tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, cucumber, basil, green onions, carrots and various herbs. But this year David wants to try leeks and garlic, and I’m considering eggplant and cantaloupe again.
When my mom was out here, right after Chloe was born, she bought me two little potted cyclamens. One died, but the other hung on for over a year. Then it, too, finally died. I put it out on the back patio while cleaning one day and then forgot about it for a while. Last week I noticed it hadn’t completely died after all. There were a couple new shoots sprouting. I’ve brought it back inside again and hope I’ll be more mindful of it this time, and try to remember to water it more often.


My little patch of dirt

Another beautiful, mostly sunny weekend. We spent some time amending our raised garden bed and raspberry canes with organic compost, planted a row of spinach and removed two of our four grape vines. The previous owners planted them way too close together and they have yet to produce any truly edible clusters of fruit. That is the hardest part, taking out established plants, with no place to transplant them. Hopefully this will allow the two remaining vines to flourish. With grapes, almost 90% of the vine needs to be cut back every year and canes only fruit their second year. I know I’ve been too much of a softie in the past, but I hope to do better this year.

Meanwhile, we decided to try starting plants indoors with a grow light. We may have started too early, but the little seedlings are doing really well. Here’s hoping for a bountiful and early harvest!

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Free from Starbucks – Coffee Grounds

I asked David to do the unthinkable today and stop at Starbucks. All this grey cold and rain has made me a little blue and I sorely needed a perk-me-up. Thus the power of a (decaf) caramel macchiato.

Near our house is a really cool old building that used to be a drive-thru Coffee People until Starbucks bought them out and shut them down. I’ll admit, however, they did a really nice remodel, and managed to keep the building’s original shape. Plus, the new cafe has a cozy indoor seating area that the old one didn’t. Anyway, on our way out David noticed a bin underneath the counter that had bags marked “free.” I asked David how in the world he noticed them down there and he said something to the effect that he has a sixth sense when it comes to free stuff. I think that is true. The bags contained used coffee grounds, something that I’ve heard a lot about since learning to gardening a few years ago.

Although we save our grounds to compost, we would never be able to acquire the scale of grounds that Starbucks’ must produce in a single day. We took two bags. Here’s what the label says (although their’s is written in all caps. Someone needs to tell them that they don’t need to yell):

Used Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds are a nutritional additive for your soli. During the brewing prodess most of the acidity is removed, leaving used grounds with an average PH of 6.9 and a carbon-nitrogen ratio of 20-1.

Add grounds directly to your garden…
Apply this “green” material as a side dressing to nitrogen-loving plants, including most perennials and allium plants. Balance the nutrition of your soil with “brown” materials such as leaves or dried grass.
Or to your compost
Combine with “brown” materials in your compost pile. Use grounds within 2-3 weeks of brewing to capture the most nutritional value.

For more information on usage and benefits you can also read Sunset’s Starbucks Coffee Compost Test or visit Starbucks’ Composting page.

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Mums and Kale for Fall Color

David and I went to Home Depot recently to find some new flowers for the little patch of garden next to the front steps. In the background is an old garden rose, but we’ve designated the front area for annual “color spots,” that we could have fun with and not spend a fortune. Usually we try only to buy perennials, except with our vegetable garden.

For Fall we’ve decided to go with gorgeous and cheery ‘Rhapsody’ garden mums paired with ‘Kamome Red’ ornamental kale. Instead of red, the heart of the kale actually looks more purple/magenta which is similar to the color of the mums. I love the balance of flowers to foliage and the contrasting textures. I feel very grown up for choosing this combination. I think a lot of people dismiss ornamental cabbages and kales as ugly or boring, but this pairing really brings out the beauty and uniqueness in both.

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