July Garden

This time of year is exciting in the garden – the tilling, weeding, watering, and waiting has paid off and we are harvesting now.  While my tomatoes are all duds, the plants have wilted and died, I do have some successes this year.

okra

The okra is flourishing – I planted Hill Country Red from Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa.  I love to make gumbo out of okra, I also think they would make beautiful stamping tools, when dried out.

pumpkin

The two pumpkins – Pumpkin Musquee de Provence are growing rapidly.  Right now they are about basketball-size and propped on top of pieces of block foam to keep them from rotting on the damp dirt.  They should be a lovely dark mixture of green and orange when they mature.  The kids are most excited about the prospect of growing one’s own pumpkin and are dreaming up ways to use it.

kale

I had two kale plants that survived the winter, thanks to leaf mulching, and being nestled against the south side of the house.  They have once again absolutely exploded!  You can see the size of the root from the mammoth kale that did not survive the winter, here.

corn

One of the other fun experiments this year, has been growing corn in the front yard.  This is Japonica Striped Maize, an ornamental variety from Japan.  As of the most recent count, we have five ears of corn.  The kids have been delighted at watching the corn grow taller than them, and grow purplish tassels.  I figure they will make great autumn decor, or still life subject matter for my classroom.

One of my favorite things this year, has been watching my volunteer squash grow.  These two came from seeds in our compost, so I am not entirely sure what they are yet.  I think the white one is possible a white acorn squash and the green is a zucchini.  We will wait and see!

Spring Gardening

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We tore out a section of our railing in April.  We left the section around the door, but the resulting space is along the walk to the house is quite wonderful – no more walking all the way around a paint flaking, rusty, shaky railing to get to the yard.

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After removing the railing, we immediately dug out two new beds.  I planted parsley, fennel, marigolds, purple basil, nasturtium, and sage.

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My other big front yard project has been adding two raised beds.  We filled them by the light of an almost-full moon, while listening to Prince, on the day we heard of his untimely death.  Night time gardening, when else can you get uninterrupted time to play in the dirt, when you have young children?

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The idea for the beds in the front yard came from the book, The Edible Front Yard, by Ivette Soler.  I have focused on planting edibles that we A. love to eat and B. look nice.  The kids have absolutely loved checking the status of the plants, weeding, and helping with watering.

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The same day I planted items in the front beds, I received a shipment of live plants – hops and rhubarb.  I also tore out the giant kale root from last year’s giant of a plant.  I’ll have to look for the photo I took of the behemoth.  The root is a good indicator of how much kale likes my front yard – two plants came back from last year and are ready to start harvesting already.  A happy thing for me, but a sure sign that this past winter was not a harsh one at all.

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This is how we have been spending our afternoons after school – outdide, as Q says.  We built a bigger better sandbox for these two diggin’ fools – more on that later.

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Now that crazy April is over, we will be doing more of this.  I am so excited for summer this year – talk about enjoying the long days and sleep-filled nights, now that Q is almost 2 and G is almost 5.

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The other best part of the beginnings of warm weather in Iowa?  Biking!  We have been getting out on bikes every day without rain.  We hit up Mullet’s one evening for dinner and enjoyed the scenery along Gray’s Lake on the way home, with a detour for DQ.  This mama is ready for summer!