Living Here – Month 1

A month and two days ago a moving truck came to our rental house on Wilson to take the rest of our things over to the new house. It feels like we’ve been living in the new house for many months and that we’ve been married for years – when in fact we’ve only owned the house for a month and a half, have been living in it for a month, and have been married for 4 months. Good. I need this year to go slowly, last year raced past a pace that I’m wildly uncomfortable with.

In the past month:

• We’ve had a moving truck in our driveway 4 times – twice on moving day and twice this past weekend when we acquired some of my brother-in-law’s furniture.
• We’ve built and planted a raised vegetable garden.
• We’ve hung up only 2 pieces of art on the walls, but also hung up a towel holder, ceiling fan, white board and jewelry frame.
• Mike’s mowed the lawn twice – with three different lawn mowers.
• I’ve cleared out 1/3 of one of our 4+ garden spaces.
• Hosted one overnight guest, twice.
• Hosted one impromptu dinner and one holiday
• Had one appliance go on the fritz (I need to call into the Home Warranty folks sometime this week)
• Welcomed one new feathered friend into the yard (Momma Robin)
• Installed a door bell
• Been to Home Depot only 5 times (okay, that number is since we closed on the house a month and a half ago)
• Made only a few trips to Sears Hardware
• Received cookies from our neighbor 4 times
• Made 3 loaves of bread

And given more tours of the place than I can remember!

Survival of the Fittest

Since the weather has been quite toasty, and I’m not a serious enough gardener yet to be doing soaker hoses (maybe next year…) the 12 hours of heat happening while I’m not home to be tending to the garden is making for a survival of the fittest situation.

It’s definitely been Sydney vs. the weeds, but it’s predominately just one type of weed that keeps appearing (4-5 a day), and disappearing as I pull them out every morning and evening. Sydney 1 Nature 0.

The pumpkins are taking off, 5 seedlings have emerged, and 2 of them are well past the point of being called seedlings! I need to thin it down to just those 2, but I’m considering placing the 3 to be thinned somewhere else in the garden since there are others not doing so well. Sydney 2 Nature 0.

The beets are still growing, though they’re a little floppy. Even though they’re only just over an inch tall, I may thin them out now and build up the ground around each beet to support the upper portion while it continues to grow. So for now it’s Sydney 3 Nature 0.

The green onions are still growing, though some seem to have fallen over. I’m going to say they’re a draw at this point.

The arugula is still coming up nicely. No real news to report there. Sydney 4 Nature 0.

The lettuce, well, it might be there. Or that might be a garden intruder. There’s only one or two. Sydney 4 Nature 1.

The strawberries are drying out faster than I can keep them hydrated. I’ve got one that’s left looking healthy. Sydney 4 Nature 2.

The beans are thriving. Most of them have large leaves and are about 5 inches tall at this point! The bean plants that were ‘thinned’ and then transplanted over to where the basil was supposed to be have all, with the exception of one, dried out (weird). Either way, I still have 10+ bean plants growing. Sydney 5 Nature 2.

The basil never emerged. Sydney 5 Nature 3.

The tangerine peppers never emerged. Sydney 5 Nature 4.

The bell peppers got delivered, and thus planted, during the heat wave, and are still wilty looking. Not dead yet. But I’m not holding my breath. Sydney 5 Nature 5.

So from the looks of it (knock on wood), the beans, pumpkins and arugula might be our survivors this season – and if that’s the case, then full attention will be turned to making those three crops as happy as possible.

Whose Berries Are Those?

While doing my daily morning check of the vegetable garden yesterday I noticed what appeared to be a pale raspberry, in the beet section. Not planted, no stem, just a pale raspberry. I plucked it up, and noticed a second, and third. As I went around the garden I kept finding more – some more red than others. I ended up with about a handful. I threw them to the side of the garden, I figured they might be tempting to birds – and the last thing that I need is birds eating mystery raspberries from my garden, finishing those and then looking around at the ‘menu’ of plants growing for their second course.

I pondered where these ‘raspberries’ came from (I’m using quotes because I’m not really sure what they are). I came up with two different hypothesis: 1. perhaps a bird or animal, on their way through my garden dropped them there. 2. my neighbor’s little son (who was throwing rocks at my sister one day through the fence) may have thrown them there.

Last night, I was up in my office doing some design work when I looked out the window and noted how the sun was hitting the tree branches around that side of the house. I looked closer, still 5 feet from the closest branch, I could make out that something that looked like the pale raspberries were clustered arounds the leaves. But none of them were red. Until I looked to my right at another nearby tree and noticed that it was covered in the red berries!

Well that almost solves that mystery. It hasn’t been particularly windy, so I’m not quite sure how the berries traveled from my south side yard to my backyard. And, I’d like to figure out what type of trees these are – mostly to know if the berries are eatable or not.

Seedling Portraits

3 of the 4 pumpkin seedlings

Close up of one of the pumpkin plants

Beets have the prettiest deep red stems. Another inch or so and it’ll be time to thin them out.

The grassy stems of the green onions

The Rocket Arugula was the first to make its way into the garden – and is still going strong.

The lone lettuce plant to sprout… or a weed, I’m not sure.

I think based on the deep hue of this bean bush’s stem, that this particular bush will yield purple beans.

A few of the newly spaced-out bean plants. Due to the complete failure on the part of the basil and tangerine peppers, instead of thinning out my bean plants, I just relocated some to the vacant plots.

One of the newly surfaced beans

Most of my strawberry plants look different from each other right now, this one in particular has a bright red stem.

Another strawberry plant

The green peppers have arrived! They’re looking a little droopy though – so I might need to stake them.

The whole garden – the dried stuff everywhere is from when Mike mows the lawn. As the plants get taller I’m going to let him mow closer to the raised bed so that I can use the grass clippings as mulch.

It’s Been a Few Days

Mike and I have had a busy few days since last I updated the blog:

I’ve been holed up in my office working on wedding stationery for the fall wedding season as well as some personal stationery for a few lucky college grads. I’m hoping that I’ll have some time this weekend to photograph some of the newly printed stationery so that I can post it to Studio255‘s website!

Mike seems to have been doing some recording lately for a few projects that he’s working on. I keep trying to weasel my way into his desk chair to press record so that I can jokingly claim that I recorded that track 🙂 It’s the old photographer’s debate: Who took the photograph, the person who set up the shot and camera settings or the person who physically clicked the shutter.

We seem to have a new yard-mate, photos to come once I can take a few: Ms. Robin was busy building her nest last weekend while I was working in the yard, and has been hanging out in her new home ever since.

The on and off heat wave + my being gone during the day during the work week has left some of my transplants full of teenage angst. I’m hoping that some watering and lots of attention this weekend will win them back over. Thankfully, I’ve been able to make time every morning before I leave for work, and every evening when I get home to walk through the finished gardens (there are plenty of unfinished ones that I’m not bothering with at the moment) and pull any weeds that decided to pop up while I was gone/sleeping. On that note, the raised bed has really kept weeding under control. I pull 3-4 little stalks that I know aren’t my plants each day, but that takes all of 3 minutes so I don’t mind.

The beans, although slow starters, have taken off with wild abandon. Looks like I’ll be researching how to thin them out for this weekend. The only pickle is that the seed packet was a mix of three types of bean bushes: green, yellow and purple. I think I can tell which seedlings will produce the purple beans (some of the seedlings are rocking purple stalks), but I don’t want to accidentally pull up all of the green or yellow beans – I’d like a variety. Since the basil is non-existent in the raised bed (thanks Helene for giving me already grown basil plants for the side garden), I might try to relocate the beans that I would be otherwise thinning out.

There may be one lettuce plant that has emerged, or it could be a weed, it’s hard to tell since there’s only one. And so much for the Tangerine Peppers that I was sooo excited about, they never came up. I might try them again next year and start them as seeds indoors first. Speaking of peppers, Burpee finally delivered my three pepper plants (I think they arrived on Wednesday), I haven’t had a chance to get them into the ground yet – so that’s priority number one when I get home this evening (we’re getting out of work early today!). A third pumpkin plant has sprouted, I’m debating whether to thin it out, or grow all three. Everyone else in the raised bed is business as usual at the moment. I’m still noticing that the South side of that bed is not nearly as populated as the North side, strange…

I’ll post some photos this weekend of the ‘new’ furniture being delivered to the house this weekend. I put new in quotes because it’s actually my brother-in-law’s furniture that we’re obtaining. He’s moving out of his college house this weekend, and with no place for it to go where he’s moving, we’re inheriting it. From what I can recall, it’ll be a dining room table, another table for the sun room, a futon, another couch, some weird mail sorting table and a pingpong table. Allegedly we have space for all of it.

What a Difference a Day (and some rain) Makes

I’m finding that you can water your plants all you want, but there’s nothing like a good soaking via Mother Nature. Twenty four hours ago more than half of my types of vegetables hadn’t sprouted yet. Even since my visit this morning there is new growth!

These are the pumpkin sprouts, from the looks of it, I’ve got two that have surfaced. My sister and I definitely planted more than two pumpkin seeds, however, I planned from the start to thin the seedlings down to two at some point, so having just two right now works for me. I saw the first signs of these guys this morning. My goal is to guide them to the West once they start to vine so the pumpkins can grow into the yard instead of the rest of the garden. We’ll see how that goes.

Still no sign of the basil. Thankfully Helene gave me several basil plants last week, so one of my other gardens has a nice supply of basil at the ready.

Here are some of the several beet sprouts that have emerged. I know from experience that I’ll be able to get sufficient growth up top, so my goal for this year is to thin the beet seedlings enough to grow some sizable beets below the ground.

At first I thought the green onion sprouts were grass coming up from below and I was irritated. But since the wannabe-grass wasn’t showing up anywhere else I decided to do a quick Google image search, and ultimately concluded that these fellows are in fact green onion sprouts.

Ah my faithful friend arugula, as you may recall was the first to make an appearance above ground. Sprouts have now emerged on both the north and south sides of the raised bed (I have marigolds down the middle).

Arugula’s friend lettuce is notably absent. Perhaps I missed that season, I know lettuce prefers cooler temperatures. I’ll give it another week or so, and if I don’t see growth, I’ll plant another set of seeds in its place.

Talk about going from “Zero to Hero” overnight! Yesterday I saw a hint of a bean or two and today I had 6 sprouted bean stalks, each over an inch tall already. Since I had a bean-mix of seeds (some for green beans, some for yellow beans and some for purple beans) I’ll be curious if one grows better than the rest, or sprouts sooner than the rest. Obviously it’s too soon to tell who’s who right now. This is also my first time growing bean bushes so we’ll see how that works out.

Still no sign of the tangerine peppers. I was really looking forward to them as I’ve heard that they are both beautiful and tasty. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’re just late sprouters!

My strawberry transplants are still doing well, I think I’ve got at least 6 currently growing (a few didn’t seem to take to their new home and one got decapitated).

And last but not least, I just got a UPS tracking email from Burpee, looks like I should have three bell pepper plants ready to transplant by Wednesday!

An observation if you will: my garden is 12 feet by 4 feet, the long sides go East-West and the short sides go North-South. I’ve got marigolds going down the center (East-West), dividing my garden into a North side and a South side. The North side is growing notably better with far more sprouted seeds. I’m wondering if this is a coincidence or there is some explanation behind it. Perhaps it’s simply that Tory may have put more seeds on the North side than I did on the South side.