Category Archives: gardening

The Garden is Still Growing

I haven’t been to the garden as much as I’d like lately. Naoto has been running down to harvest tomatoes and basil and herbs on an as-needed basis, but yesterday, we were both home and free to go together. As usual, our plot is a jungle of tomato vines, but this year, it’s also a jungle of overgrown herbs and nasturtium! Look at that nasturtium!! I just can’t believe how the plant took off. It seemed like it wasn’t going to do much but now it’s huge and it has lots of flowers inside the big poof a leaves. I just found a recipe for nasturtium pesto, so I think we might experiment with that soon…which is good timing because our basil is done. Some of our tomatoes were slow to produce this summer thanks to the white fly infestation that plagued the garden. But we’ve gotten a decent harvest from our Juliet and a few other heirlooms. We haven’t been overloaded with tomatoes like we have in the past, but it’s definitely enough for us to feel good about plot 6 this summer. I picked a bunch of zinnias, nasturtiums, and marigolds to make a little bouquet for my desk. The zinnias are as tall as me and still going strong. And in other happy garden news, my tiny carrots are coming in! I planted them kind of late in the spring and they were quickly overshadowed by the tomato plants, so I didn’t have very much hope for a harvest, but I think it’s going to be decent! I’m not quite ready to pick them all, but I wanted to do a little test. This variety is supposed to be only 2-3 inches big. We’ve never had luck with root vegetables, so I decided to try a tiny kind and I think it worked!

How is your garden growing? Any other ideas for my nasturtium bounty?

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Mid-Summer Update from Plot 6

 

We had a stretch of very hot and humid days a couple of weeks ago, making gardening a dreadful chore. Thankfully it rained a lot during that time, so the garden was on autopilot for a couple days.The good news is the rain washed off some of our white flies. The bad news is some of our early Black Krims split due to the uneven watering they received during the huge rains. So, no tomatoes yet, sadly.Naoto is really excited about the edamame growth. The edamame has gotten really tall and there are beans on them! I’m excited because I finally have a nasturtium flower among all the leaves. (You can see the orange flower peeking out on the left.) My lavender is still not blooming so I transplanted it last week. I think it was being shaded by my wayward zinnias. (I planted the zinnias in the center of the garden but the seeds moved during the big rains this spring.)

Our dill is huge and I need to look up some recipes to use a bunch of it. We’ve harvested so much parsley and basil already. It’s pesto city around here!

And the chamomile is growing like crazy but I missed harvesting the first bloom so hopefully another will come soon. I want to dry it and use it in a cocktail recipe and maybe some tea (though chamomile tea isn’t my favorite. I am a black tea or bust kind of gal!)

I cut some zinnias from the plantings around the garden. They’re “cut and come again” so hopefully people will help themselves as I did and we will have some continuous blooms around the garden, for ourselves and for the bees and butterflies. Zinnias make me so happy! They’re all so different and colorful and carefree (which is the opposite of how I feel today after dealing with my iPhone and photo storage all day…the good news is, my phone is busy uploading pictures so I have no reason not to finish my last book of the month tonight!)

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A Dispatch from the Forest Park Community Garden

Sorry for the radio silence this week. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been preparing the Forest Park Community Garden for the Forest Park Historical Society’s Home & Garden Walk. It’s the first year we’ve been featured on the walk and well, we had a lot of work to do! The garden usually looks fine, but we wanted to get some plantings done and clean some stuff up before we had official garden walk visitors. Some people in Forest Park don’t even know we have a community garden, so we wanted to be on the walk to raise awareness, increase our visibility, and hopefully get some new gardeners and people who want to be involved with the garden. The garden is officially ten years old in 2019 so there’s definitely some areas to refresh and improve, but money and man hours are always our challenge. We’ve been slowly rebuilding older plots and trying to repair things as needed. But July is really a great time to feature the garden because things are growing like crazy and most of our 55 plots are looking good! It was fun to show visitors what people are growing and how each gardener organizes his plot. These pictures were taken on Tuesday while I was doing some chores at the garden, but on Sunday it was sunny and hot. A few of us spent the day at the garden to host the tours and, even though we spent most of the day under a tent, I got a little sunburn. It’s been so hot here, and it’s supposed to be near 100 the rest of the week…thankfully it rained a ton today because the plants were starting to get dry and sad. This little future swallowtail is living in my dill right now. He’s a welcome visitor. So far this summer, we have harvested a ton of basil (pictured at the top) and some dill and parsley. (As always, I’m kicking us for not growing more spring vegetables but it was such a weird spring!) Our tomatoes are battling white flies again, but we have a few on the vine, so hopefully we’ll have a harvest soon. Naoto’s edamame is growing like crazy and our chamomile and carrots are doing just fine. It’s always an adventure in Plot 6 and around the garden!

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The Lanai, 2019

Hello from freezing Forest Park! It has been so cold! This weekend it got down to the low 50s and, while it’s great sleeping weather, it’s not great weather for sitting outside. It’s also been rainy, so at least my plants are happy and everything is still alive as of this week. Our lanai furniture set-up is the same as last year, but we have lots of different flowers and I decided not to make any rainbows this year. It didn’t translate well from the sidewalk below, anyway. Oh, and last summer, Naoto painted the floor so it’s a steel grey now instead of that weird pale green. We really like it. We’ve barely been able to have dinner outside because of the cold weather, but we’ve enjoyed plenty of mornings out there reading in the sunshine and cool breeze.

I got this fantastic almost-neon begonia at Empowering Gardens and it’s so bright and full, it even pops from the street below.

Last year, I mentioned that I can never find good yellow and orange flowers. This year, I have plenty of orange and orangey-red flowers, but still no yellow. I’d love to add some yellow in with those bright pink petunias. Hopefully I can find something good while I’m out later today.

We also have some climbers and radish sprouts growing from seed and I transplanted some mint from the community garden, so hopefully we’ll have enough mint for cocktails soon since it tends to spread like wildfire…

That’s all from the 2019 lanai…it’s supposed to warm up eventually so I’m looking forward to spending some days and evenings outside. Naoto and I are already planning our Tanabata celebration in a few weeks and I’m sure it will be blazing hot by then!

 

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Plot 6 in 2019

We have had SUCH a weird, cold, and rainy spring! Our poor garden plot was pretty neglected until last week when we took advantage of a warm, sunny day to finally plant some seeds and our baby tomatoes. I wish I had taken a picture of our plot before we cleared it off. Because of our late fall trip to Japan last year, we missed the end of the gardening season and then it started snowing shortly after we got home. Our plot didn’t get cleaned for the winter, so I had to tear out dead tomato plants and dried herbs this spring. And we had a giant hemlock plant growing in the center of the plot. Thankfully, I was able to remove it, roots and all, so hopefully more hemlock doesn’t reappear this summer. What a nightmare!  This is what our plot looked like the other day…we’ve had some rain since, so hopefully some of the seeds are sprouting! We planted seeds for edamame, Welsh onions, thyme, basil, bush basil, chamomile, dill, and nasturtiums. And we transplanted four tomato plants (Brandywine, Black Krim, Mortgage Lifter, and some Japanese-but-really-Russian? tomato that Naoto picked out) and our rosemary plant from the seed swap. The walking onions, garlic, and parsley all came back from last year. We still need to stake the rest of the tomatoes, and put up some markers so we don’t accidentally pull some of our seedlings. I have a little map of where everything went, though with all of the rain we’ve had, I’m sure a lot of the seeds travelled! I do regret not planting the tomatoes closer to the center of the plot, but hopefully we can keep the jungle tame enough…

How is your gardening going?

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Seed Swap 2019

A few weeks ago, Naoto and I attended the 9th annual Forest Park Community Garden Seed Swap! We’ve been going for quite a few years, both as gardeners and volunteers. It’s the perfect spring kick-off and a chance to meet other gardeners and start thinking about our plots for the summer. For the second year in a row, Empowering Gardens did a presentation for us, this time about soil and seed starting. They brought rosemary seedlings for everyone to take…mine is currently wilting in my kitchen. Please send it your thoughts and prayers. Other than our rosemary, we picked up a lot of herb seeds (thyme, parsley, basil, and shiso,) some more edamame, and arugula. And I picked up some pretty poppy seeds that I’m going to attempt to plant in the communal area at the community garden. Of course on top of all those herbs and edamame, we’ll be planting our usual tomato jungle…it’s inevitable.

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St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019

Last weekend, we walked in the Forest Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the Community Garden again. Every year, the garden chooses a vegetable or a flower seed to hand out.Last week, we had a little winter garden happy hour at The Heritage and then we met up to pack Swiss chard seeds to hand out at the parade. We usually pack about 2000 envelopes to hand out, but this year we ran out of seeds and had to substitute with some lettuces at the last minute. It was really a great day for a parade on Saturday. It was about 32 degrees (Fahrenheit) and sunny with a chilly breeze. When I first started walking with the garden, I thought people might scoff at seeds, but people get really excited for the seeds. Last year, some drunk lady almost ripped my arm off because I missed her and it’s not uncommon to hear “SEEEEEEDS!” as you walk along handing packets out. It’s so much fun! Naoto walked with us and he was so cute. He kept telling children to eat their vegetables. Another parade in the books…next up is our seed swap on Saturday. If you’re in the area, please stop by! Go here for details and free tickets.

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In My Neighborhood: Empowering Gardens

empowering gardens inc, forest parkEmpowering Gardens is one of those unique places that makes me thankful I live in Forest Park. It is a local garden center with a mission to provide job opportunities for people with disabilities. Everyone who works there is so knowledgable and friendly. And EG offers such great plants, definitely heartier than some of the stuff at the big box garden centers. Plus, their prices are competitive, which means you can buy more and help a good cause.empowering gardens, fall pansies, fall flowers, garden center, mumsRight now, they have a gorgeous array of pansies which love this fall weather that we’re just dipping into, and tons of mums–tiny ones and giant ones in all different autumnal colors. empowering gardens, ornamental pepper, fall flowers, garden centerThey also have a few varieties of ornamental peppers, which are so cool! (I’m kicking myself for not buying this one.) They also have some ornamental cabbages, fall grasses, cold weather vegetables, and plenty more. Pretty much everything you need to give your porch or garden a boost for the new season. empowering gardens inc, forest parkHow cute would one of these be on a Halloween porch? empowering gardens inc, forest park, Naoto at Empowering GardensWe bought a couple of small mums and this really neat black plant…I need to clear off the balcony of all the dead summer stuff and I’ll share the living fall version next week. (It’s really a mess out there on my lanai!) I really wish I could trust myself to water the pansies because they have so many stunning colors! And, this Saturday, I’ll be at Empowering Gardens selling my cards at the Music, Art & Wine event! I’m so excited to participate in this event that combines my love of gardening with my love wine and music and handmade art!

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Tomato Time 2018

red tomatoes, plot 6, forest park community garden, big boyThe tomatoes are coming! The tomatoes are coming! So far, we’ve picked Big Boys, Black Krims, a Mortgage Lifer, and tons of Juliets. We’ve been eating plenty of tomato sandwiches, BLTs, and caprese salads and we added this caprese pasta salad into our menu. Our goal for the summer is to try five new tomato recipes, so one down, four to go. Once we get a good harvest of big tomatoes, it will be easier to experiment. Juliets aren’t slicing tomatoes, so right now we’re limited to salads. They are particularly delicious this year, so no complaints! red tomatoes, plot 6, forest park community garden, big boyWe haven’t had any red Brandywines yet, so…I’m waiting patiently. But I have to say, the Mortgage Lifter and Black Krims are really fantastic…we’ll be planting more of those for sure next year!

Anything ripe in your neck of the woods?

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Plot 6, Where Are My Tomatoes?

plot 6, tomato jungle, forest park community garden, community garden, raised bedHere’s a look at our garden yesterday. I’ve resigned myself that we will never have a tidy garden. We’ll just call Plot 6 a free spirit and let it be.

Our tomato plants are growing tall and going strong but we’ve hardly had any red tomatoes yet! The green ones are there, but I’m ready for a big, juicy red garden tomato! (Ok, I just went back to the archives of the blog…usually the big tomatoes don’t start coming until August so I guess I should relax. Sometimes it’s nice to have a blog to jog your memory about things.) plot 6 first tomato 2018, Juliet tomatoWe picked our first Juliet on July 9th and then we didn’t have any red tomatoes again until yesterday. tiny tomato harvest, plot 6, forest park community garden, juliet tomatoesWe’ve been cutting a ton of basil and parsley each week, so I’m going to make a tiny caprese salad with these guys later today. Naoto has been making pesto like a champ. And we harvested a big batch of garlic, too. We’re pretty set for any upcoming Italian recipes. edamame, forest park community garden, plot 6, soybeans And most exciting of all is our edamame has ALL SURVIVED this year! Not a single bunny nibble in sight! Now we regret not planting more! I’ll try to get a better picture of the edamame patch. The plants are really tall, tucked in between overgrown walking onions and some tomatoes. In fact, I believe it was the walking onions that have kept the bunnies away. Last year, I cut back the walking onions and the bunnies ate the edamame. Lesson learned.

In the meantime, I’m collecting tomato recipes in hopes that big tomato season is just around the corner. I started a Pinterest board over here to collect ideas. After this summer, maybe I can make a little tomato cookbook! If you have any fresh tomato recipes, I’d love to hear about them!

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