Late Spring Garden Chores

We had AMAZING weather today, 70’s and sunny with a little breeze.  While my husband took our two youngest to the beach, my oldest (in disgrace, needing to make amends) daughter stayed home to help me with chores.  (In return for missing the beach outing, she got to play with her cousins tonight while her dad and I went out.  Otherwise, she would have run errands with us.  Boooring!)

She and I weeded bushels of weeds (mostly clover and wild mustard garlic, an invasive species around here.)  We mulched the strawberry patch and the potato can with straw.  I pulled up the 2011 swiss chard (it finally started bolting!) and we planted zucchini in its place.  I planted pole beans (calypso, royal purple pod, and scarlet runner) around my corn sprouts, and a few clusters of vine squash every few feet in the same patch- this is traditionally called a “Three Sisters” garden bed.  The beans will use the corn as a trellis, and the pumpkins will act as a living mulch to shade the ground (which will keep moisture in the dirt!) and to suppress weeds.  I’ve heard these can look VERY untidy, but I’ve never done it before!

I planted the corn a few weeks ago, to give it a head start before the beans start to climb.  Also, corn has an anti-germinant in the seed: other seeds won’t sprout if they’re near a corn seed.  (Which is why you can scatter fresh corn meal on the ground to stop weed seeds from sprouting, so I’ve heard.  A useful thing to scatter under a bird feeder!)  I built a another one of my quick hoop houses with wire fencing, Reemay permeable row cover, and binder clips, to try and keep the birds out of my seeds and raise the temperature a bit.  Our crows are fearless this year- I can’t leave my basket of seed baggies outside for a few minutes without someone tearing through and eating everything!  I lost some bean seeds, all my butternut squash seeds, and some pumpkin seeds.  My nephew lost his sandwich the other day, though, when he walked away to play with a ball.  Poor guy!  Now my girls start screaming “CAW CAW!”  every time they see a crow get near.  Knowing how long crows can hold a grudge (through multiple generations, long past the life of the original bird you offended) I’m a little leery of frightening them too much.  So I’ll just try and safeguard my seeds!

Sourdough Pancakes

The first batch of sourdough pancakes were a success! Easy, too. In a NOT metal bowl, mix up 2 cups flour, 2 cups buttermilk, 2 tbsp sugar, and 1 cup unfed sourdough starter. (Using a recently fed starter will give you less tangy pancakes.). Cover and let it sit overnight. This is the sponge.

In the morning, mix together 2 eggs, 1/4 cup melted butter or vegetable oil, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1 tsp baking soda. Stir it into your sponge and cook on a hot, greased, griddle.

These were fantastic! Everyone had 3 or 4. Next time I’d add less salt- I used vegetable oil, and would cut it back to 1/2 tsp. If I used salted butter I’d cut it back to a 1/4 teaspoon. The original recipe was for waffles, with a side note to cook them on the griddle for pancakes. I’d cut the oil by half ( and use 2 tbsp) which is a normal amount of oil for pancakes.

This recipe made probably 25 4″ pancakes. Pancakes freeze great, though :). I can’t wait to try this with some whole grains!

The original recipe came from the King Arthur Flour website. Recipe is here.

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The Sourdough Starts

Grandpa sent me home with a jar of his sourdough starter- today is in inaugurational baking! Six fat baguettes are in the oven now.

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A Walk Through the Garden in May

Spring planting is this close to being done.

Walk with me.

hanging basket

I don’t recall the name of this little flower right now, but it’s keeping my hanging basket looking a bit perkier while I wait for the fuscias to come into bloom.

bok choi in a pot

Potted bok choi- I tucked it in a part shade corner of the patio to help keep it cool. These starts were surplus from my sister’s spring plantings, and I had to compost another dozen that bolted before I could get them in the ground. These were the runts of the litter, and haven’t bolted yet. Hardly a mouthful between the three (except for slugs and cabbage moths- it feeds their mouths just fine I can see!)

rugosa rose (wild rose)

Wild rose- rugosa, I believe. These were a Freecycle find- I dug them out of her yard in the Fall, and then stuck the canes in buckets of dirt to overwinter and grow roots. They went in the ground Spring of 2011. There was only one flower last year, looks like we’ll get a much better show this year! They smell amazing.

mystery flower

One of my mystery plants- it grew into a tidy clump of leaves last year, and it looked so intentional that I left it to see what it would become. This year, when the weather warmed up, the clump expanded and became looser, and sent up tall flower stalks. The flowers are bell shaped and green/white, ripening to a rosy lip. No clue what this is, but I’ve seen some bees buzzing around, so I’m happy with it!

pink rhodie

Pink rhodies. It’s rhododendron season right now, and I LOVE IT. You’d be hard pressed to find a yard around here that doesn’t have at least one of these bushes.

new fig leaves

New fig leaves. I’ve had ONE fig from this tree, in 2010. In 2011, there was one fruit, and my daughter pulled it off the tree (unripe.) I admit it: I cried. My mom has enormous fig trees, and I always get the lions share of the harvest, but still: I want my figs!! Ha.

cabbage

Cabbage. Really, this year has been the best so far for cole crops, which isn’t saying much. Most of my seeds either didn’t germinate, or produced seedlings too stunted to bother planting. Knowing me, hope springs eternal, and you’ll find me hopefully planting seeds again next Spring! Actually, I’m going to plant seeds in the ground this Fall and see if they do better. (See? Hopeless optimist.)

asparagus fronds

Asparagus, all grown up. This crown went in the ground Spring of 2011- I probably won’t harvest until 2014, to give it time to get stronger. There were brothers and sisters planted, but they didn’t survive the crew of helpers who dug up our yard when the water main broke, and we laid a new one. (I love and adore those helpers!)

strawberry blossom

Strawberry blossoms- planted Spring 2011. We got a small harvest last year. I should have picked the blossoms off, but my kids were SO excited that I just let them go ahead and set fruit. These are also from Freecycle, and I won’t be looking for plants *with dirt* on Freecycle any more- they come with some pretty gnarly weeds!

mystery plant

Another mystery plant. It popped up last year. It’s bigger this year, but still not doing much. Could it be chamomile?

potted zucchini

Zucchini in a pot. Another surplus start from my sister’s plantings- I haven’t put out my squash seeds yet! Maybe she has the right idea, although I’ve been told that squash really doesn’t like being transplanted. I’ve never had good luck with transplanted squash at any rate, but remember: Myrnie= cockeyed optimist.

potted cilantro

The girls helped me plant, and we got a bit rushed at the end as they asked for more and more seeds to help me plant. I really thought this pot was green onions, but it seems to be cilantro. Or maybe it’s parsley? Well, it will be pretty obvious in a few weeks, anyway.

oregano

Oregano, planted Spring 2011. I need to read more about this- it doesn’t smell or taste like dried oregano, I’m really not sure how to use it!

covered corn patch

The corn patch, with a Reemay blanket to help heat the soil and keep it moist. I put the corn seeds in the ground Saturday, and I’m going to wait for them to sprout and grow just a bit before I put my pole beans in around them, and vining squash. Yes, I’m doing a “Three Sisters” bed this year. It’s going to look atrocious, I know, but isn’t it an organic gardener’s rite of passage? I think so!  This is where my basil, tomatoes, and tomatillos lived last year.

spinach and onions

Onion sets, and spinach. I’m hoping they play nice together in this little patch.

bush pea patch

My pea patch- I kept the hoops covered until this week, when the blossoms came. Time to get pollinated! I’m leaving the hoop house as an experiment- these are bush peas, but they DO have little tendrils that want to grab onto things. This will hopefully keep them upright and away from slugs and wet dirt. I’m not sure what harvesting will be like- anything above the hoop house will be a breeze. Anything under…I think I’ll leave to the girls and their weeny hands. Maybe that’s how we’ll divide the harvest this year- last year my girls and their friend ate the entire season’s crops while they played. I really don’t mind, I LOVE that my kids graze in the garden, but it would be nice to have some peas for the kitchen too 🙂

beets

Sad beet patch. No comment. Moving on. (I nearly pulled everything out the other day, but I love beets, so I’ll give them some more time.)

bolting rainbow swiss chard

Last spring’s rainbow swiss chard planting. Umm. We never ate it. Have I mentioned how bad I am at remembering to cook dinner with what’s in the garden? We’re good at snacking and preserving, but the day to day meals not so much. I’ve got to get better at that!

garbage can potatoes

My yearly garbage can potatoes. I have a few different kinds in there, they’re going gang busters with this warm weather this week! (We’ve jumped from 50’s to 70’s. It’s marvelous!)

volunteer

Volunteer ajuga. It’s in a stretch along the side that is sorely neglected- the dirt is terrible, and it’s full sun so the clay is rock hard in the summer. Nothing but horse tails and blackberries grow there! I want to put a good four to 6 inches of compost mulch on it this spring to improve the soil, and transplant raspberry canes this Fall.

volunteer irish moss

Volunteer irish moss. I giggle when I see it for sale, $6/gallon, at the store. I love it, and leave it wherever it decides to grow.

cilantro

More cilantro, in a half barrel planter by the street.

the front yard

The front yard.  We’ve come a long way, we have a long way to go!

Thoughts from a women’s conference

I’m lucky to belong to the largest women’s organization in the world.  Seriously, seriously, lucky.  There is a huge strength when women come together to work and learn.  (I’m talking about the Relief Society, the women’s organization in the LDS church.)  

 

We recently had our annual conference- the theme was taken from a recent address from President Dieter Uchtdorf, one of the apostles of our church.  He spoke about the little forget-me-not flower, and how as a little boy, a war refugee, he would look at that little flower that is so easily forgotten, and hope that God hadn’t forgotten about him.  He used the five petals to teach us five things that we should never forget.

 

First, “Forget not to be patient with yourself.”  I have to accept that I am not perfect, I’m not SUPPOSED to be perfect.  Neither are you.  Expecting perfection is depressing- you won’t ever, ever, every measure up.  We can be patient with others, and we can be patient with ourselves.  Accept where you are in your journey, and know that if you are moving forward, God is pleased with you. 

 

I’ve been trying recently to remember this about others, too.  I can’t change who my children are.  I can’t change anybody, but I can choose to accept them where they are, accept their quirks, and choose to love them.  We can’t confuse our journey with anybody else’s- we receive the experiences that we do, and we all learn our own lessons.  Inspecting someone else for imperfections is pointless- we’ll leave that up to God!  We can be grateful for the small successes in our lives- success is a path built on small achievements.  So much of life is just staying the course, being patient, and moving forward.

 

Second, “Forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice.”  Staying up all night, losing sleep, with an infant who needs  you is a good sacrifice.  Staying up all night to sew a dress and make a matching hair bow so your daughter will look cute in church tomorrow…no.  Probably not a good reason to lose sleep!  We need to remember to commit our limited time and energy to what matters most.  This is near and dear to my heart right now, since I recently spent two weeks overhauling our entire house, trying to organize it to reflect what is important to my family.  I got rid of SO MUCH STUFF.  My life is so much better.  My family is absolutely sick of hearing about it, I’m sure.  I’ve been geeking out for months now.  

 

Third, “Forget not to be happy now.” The woman who spoke about this showed us a neat little trick. Assign a the value of 1, b the value of 2, etc..  Now, add up all the letters in the word “Attitude.”  It equals 100!  Attitude is EVERYTHING.  It is 100%.  We could waste our lives waiting for our someday- I’ll be happy when I’m skinny, when I’m married, when I have a house and a yard, when I have more money, when my kids are grown up, when I have grandkids…..it’s terrible, you could truly spend your ENTIRE life waiting for something to come along and make you happy.  

 

I’ve been feeling poorly the past few years, because I just never get chosen as a soloist.  I audition.  I get my hopes up.  I feel like a fool.  I compare myself.  There always seems to be a music major, probably from BYU, standing in the wings who gets the spot.  Her voice is bigger, her stage presence is bigger.  I’m just mousy (according to one woman I auditioned for.) 

 

 I applied to the music school as an 18-year-old college junior, and they told me to come back when I was older.  I wonder, did I give up my spot as a soloist when I turned to the business school and accounting, instead of spending my 4 years at a university building up my vocal strength?  Did I just never have it in me to begin with, no matter how badly I wanted it?  But, that business degree supported us in our early marriage.  It expanded my mind, and helps me be a true partner with my husband (who is also an accountant.)  I think it was worth it- I don’t want to spend these years waiting someone to tell me that I’m good enough.  (Although, I do believe this would be easier if later, when speaking to the ladies who WERE chosen as soloists, they didn’t spend weeks complaining about the time commitment.  As a perennial runner-up in the vocal competitions, from middle school on, this is a long time pet peeve!)  

 

Fourth, “Forget not the why of the gospel.” Why do we do what we do?  What is the purpose?  The purpose is to keep our covenants, and some day return home to be with our Heavenly Father.  That’s why I do what I do.  

 

Fifth, “Forget not that the Lord loves you.”  Never.  Never forget.