Friday, May 28, 2010

Wild Thangs

I am ever so thankful that the long weekend is finally here...
The second I declared this my year for the hot cha cha pinks, my dear friend, Wunx, gifted me with these electric Geraniums.

At the onset of Memorial Weekend when it is ~ at long last ~ finally time to plant some pretty annuals.

 Triplets! These brazen baby foxes live right across the road from me.

Wunx is a nickname for foxes, how appropro that I should find 3 cute as a button new neighbors while scouring the landscape for a perfect place to plant the pinks.

Those fancy geraniums weren't the only thing she gifted me... Dearest Wunx also snagged me one of the new SLC Master Gardener tote bags!

I hardly deserve to haul this around. Haven't attended a meeting in over a year. Ever so busy. Plus I'm a bit of a hanger on. Living 4,000 feet higher up in the mountains, my garden world is very, very different from those talented green thumbs living down in the valley.

And, who might you be?

This young fellow is the latest mystery bird to frequent my gardens. I've been trying to master the art of high altitude bread baking ~ which can be serious rocket science. The birdies snack on the rejects and it's turning into quite the party out by the bird tree.

 Euphorbias are taking over.

I'm predicting fairly marvelous Memorial Day weather conditions. It always stops raining the moment I decide NOT to go camping.

But, I'm also predicting the gardens will be looking pretty spiffy after 3 long, leisurely days of playing in the mud.

 First Montanas are quite scraggly but the bees don't mind.

Happy long weekend to one and all.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays: Lilac Love

For more Wordless Wednesday participants, click here!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Big Bolt @ High Star Farms

* Every Wednesday, I volunteer at a local organic farm - with high hopes of learning a whole lot more about growing my own veggies.
The Arugula is bolting. Which means we need to whip up a yummy salad quick! I've got you covered. There's a recipe in here, somewhere...

When salad greens 'bolt' it's their way of saying life in the greenhouse is too hot to handle. They send up pretty flower stalks, hoping to go to seed. Their leaves turn bitter quickly -- the best solution I have for such a dilemma is to compost these beauties and start all over again.

It's a jungle in here!
Twine dropped from the ceiling keeps the heirloom tomatoes upright.

They say if you do something 7 times it becomes a comfy new habit. On my 3rd volunteer day at High Star Farms, I was already feeling like the 2 managers didn't hate me nearly as much as I originally thought. I only made one faux pas - and that was to grouse about the exorbitant cost of heirloom tomatoes. Spoken like a true cheapskate. Heirlooms are worth their weight in gold. A lot of work goes into their goodness. So, I decided to shut up and prune them properly.

Pruning Tomatoes:
Tomatoes produce the best fruit when all of their leaves are exposed to the sun. If they get too thick and bushy then they switch their sugar production away from the actual tomatoes and back into the leaves.
* Remove the suckers and leaves below the first flower cluster. Let a second stem grow from the node above the lowest flower cluster and voila! In a couple months you'll need a booth at the local farmer's market.
This week's fab harvest included fresh, baby carrots. They lounge on these screened tables after I give them a bath:
Rubbed, tubbed and scrubbed: first baby carrots.

Roasted Carrots and Arugula Salad
- Slice young carrots in half lengthwise (Remove the greens and feed them to my eternally grateful horses)
- Drizzle with olive oil
- Sprinkle with minced garlic, salt and pepper
- Roast at 400 F until the carrot tips have browned

* Create a bed of chopped arugula for your fancy carrots.
* Garnish with Feta cheese, walnuts and craisins.
* Add the finishing touch - your favorite vinaigrette.

Every Wednesday, I volunteer at this very fun organic farm ~ located in Kamas, Utah. I've never had great luck growing my own veggies so this might help me discover everything I'm doing wrong. :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Mish Mashiest of Mondays

Yes, I know, I really should mow, but I can't kill these pretty wildflowers!

After a warm, leisurely day of doing battle with the Bermuda grass, I feel light-hearted, optimistic and oh, so smart! I gambled on Monday being gorgeous, taking this day off to tackle the gardens. Mother Nature did not disappoint.

The soil is warm to the touch. Garden beds alive with wiggly, squiggly worms. Flowering trees beginning to bloom. Perennials are plump and green from these plentiful rains.

Will I jinx this by saying so? I think our nasty weather might finally be done. After an early spring false alarm, followed by a second bout of winter, I am ever so ready for a few hot days in the gardens.

Are you a consistent planter of flower colors? Or, are you be swayed by the newest pretty thing? Seems every year I find another new 'favorite' color.

Two years ago it was red. Last year, orange. This year's Mother's Day gift is inspiring an entire summer of hot, hot pink.

Since I only buy perennials my passing fancy with colors comes back to haunt me every summer. It's becoming such a blinding mess you really need sunglasses for a garden tour.

In spite of the iffy weather, 'twas a particularly marvy weekend.

During the downpour I laid a new ceramic tile bathroom floor!

I thank Habitat for Humanity for these skills. After Hurricane Katrina, BK and I helped re-build homes on the Gulf Coast. We must have looked like we knew what we were doing because they put us in charge of ceramic tile. (Hot Tip: The grout neatly covers up all of your mistakes.)

Meg & Bella celebrate their freedom.

Once the weather cleared, I turned the horses loose to kick up their heels. I secretly love watching horses even more than I do riding them.

Oops. I did jinx things! Now it's raining again. But, that's okay. I have faith. And, besides, I've always wanted to live in Oregon.

The Garden Faerie created Mish Mash Mondays. Isn't she a smart cookie? :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ May, 2010

Alyssum Basket of Gold

My secret agenda for this Saturday morning was to sleep as late as possible. 
Foiled again by a bee-zarre group of window peepers:
That's it. I'm investing in heavier drapes. And, perhaps sound proof walls. [When hot air balloons fire up, they're very loud.] They circled the joint, peeking into the kitchen window, too:

After coffee softened the blow of this early awakening, I glanced at the calendar and realized ~ Hey! It's bloom day! Fine time to admit to the world that there's not much happening in my chilly garden.
Happy Daffs & Bleeding Hearts

Persistent Prairie River Phlox

Buckets of Baby Hyacinth

A lawn in desperate need of mowing + two pretty doves.

And, these loud and proud heirloom Tulips!

* We've had a very tough spring. Cold, wet, misery. I've given my poor posies a pep talk. It's May, I say, but they're not buying it. We're about a month behind on the blooms this year. :(

So scoot on over to Carol's place to find gardens fairing better than mine!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

High Star Farms and the Big Ouch

Baby Turnips, this week's harvest at High Star Organic Farms. 
Try the recipe (below.) You might like it!

Wednesdays, I volunteer at a local organic farm ~ though this week it was more trouble than toil.

The naive notion was for me to enjoy one quiet, zen-y farm day, every week, where I weed and harvest and let someone else do the thinking.

If that is even possible.

The whole time I was weeding I kept worrying about all the things on my own to-do list that weren't getting done. (I hate it when I do that.) Then C handed me one of their 'garden machetes' for harvesting lettuce.

Be careful, she says, they are very sharp. Yeah, yeah I thought to myself, completely distracted. Marched over to the lettuce bed and promptly sliced my index finger almost to the bone.

Baby Sunflower rejects rescued from the compost bin, destined for my flower garden.

If I had the subliminal wish of getting outta there early to get back on schedule with my own chores, then chopping off the finger worked like a charm. Though, it absolutely didn't. Since I spent the rest of the afternoon at the clinic.

Roasted Turnip Chips
(Don't knock 'em 'til you've tried 'em.)
- Slice turnips potato chip thin.
- Drizzle with olive oil
- Sprinkle with rosemary, chopped garlic, salt and pepper.

Roast in a 375 oven, for about 15 minutes.
Flip & brown on the other side, bake for approx. 15 more minutes.

How Do You Do It?
I'm a flower girl. So, I'm sure I'll learn a lot while volunteering with the veggies. However! I am already bumping into a few confusing 'policies.' Such as thinning beets. Which I've never done. Though I thin carrots at home (for which my horses are eternally grateful.) I do so by watering the bed, to make the soil moist, then pulling the entire plant, tiny carrot root and all, out of the soil. So, the carrot neighbor has more wiggle room. Yesterday, I was told that all you have to do is cut the greens from the crowded beet neighbors and those beet roots will stop growing. Whaddya think? Is it really that simple?
PS: If you're looking to be supremely healthy, it's the turnip greens, not the turnips, that contain all the good-for-you benefits.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays: Gender Differences

"Boys are from Jupiter 'cause they're lots _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ?"

For more Wordless Wednesday participants, click here!

The Bulb Brigade

 Monsella Tulips

 When the chilly days of April arrived, they must have decided this was a fine place to sit a spell. Because the only thing reflecting the true season is the calendar hanging on my office wall.


May has been unseasonably cold, wet, windy... though it's not all negative. Thanks to my tough as nails spring bulbs.

Oh, I'll never beat Mother Nature at her well-honed game but my mountain gardens are reaching a point where they can give her a good run for her money.

 Gladiator Allium

Bulbs, it seems, are this gardening gal's best friend. I coax, coddle and cajole spring blooming perennials, to no avail. They'll wait to flower when the soil warms up ~ in the mountains that could take until June.

 Blue Star Flowers refuse to photograph well but they're quite cute along a walkway.

Allium Schubertii looks like I stole her from the Starship Enterprise, but I still think she's kind of cool.

Bulbs, on the other hand, don't seem nearly as dependent upon warm weather. By the end of April they start blooming no matter how hard it snows. (Sometimes they bloom underneath the snow!)

Replete Daffodils 
(See below: Advertised as a stunning pink and white combo - don't fall for those catalog pics!)

Replete Daffodils - in the catalog.

If you live in a challenging environment, maybe give bulbs a second look? They can turn the very worst garden into a talk of the town, spring blooming extravaganza.  (When I say 'worst garden' I'm referring to my place, not yours. :)

* Hot Tip: Plant 20 cheap daffs for every cool bulb you invest in. That way hungry critters won't discover your great grub.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


Daughter, L, et moi on our first [of many!] adventures.

Oops. (I said to myself.) I did it again. (And, I don't even listen to Britney Spears!) I'm talking about how it's Mother's Day. And, it's still early. So, I wonder if the stores are open for absent-minded Moms like me who reassured sweet daughter I'd visit Nordstrom's and buy a new dress for Mother's Day brunch.

Only there was a plant sale. And, then another plant sale. Oh! As long as I'm down in the valley I should go buy the horses their favorite treats. Oh! And, the dog needs some stuff. Oh! And, well, there you have it.

On the upside, I scored a super healthy Pineapple Sage.

And, a happy Cocozelle mini zucchini...

Plus, the Grand Monarchs are blooming...

Powerscourt Gardens, Ireland ~ another one of our big adventures.

Perhaps she'll be so smitten with my Hyacinths that she won't notice I'm wearing the same dress I wore last year. And, possibly, the year before.

Happy Mother's Day to one and all.  
PS: If you bump into my daughter today please put in a good word for me. I mean well. I really do!

Friday, May 07, 2010

First Harvest @ High Star

Bok Choy, fresh from the High Star Organic Farm greenhouse.

Wednesdays I get to see how the other half lives. By other half I mean coddled organic veggies, safe from high winds and cozy warm inside the High Star greenhouse. It's just not possible to grow such pretty veggies in my own wild and woolly gardens.

I volunteer at this organic farm every Wednesday, where my zen-y chores include weeding ~ small intruders in the raised beds vs. the monstrous weeds that invade my own gardens.

High Star Organic Farm is at higher elevation than my frigid gardens, but it's a sauna inside these greenhouses.

I got roped into this assignment by innocently saying hello to the owner at a horse show about 2 months ago. It was a combination of me never being able to say no, guilt over the fact that Master Gardeners are expected to do community service projects though I never do...

Plus, volunteers get a share of these scrumptious veggies. Like I'm gonna pass that up.

First harvest included these fresh-picked radishes. I don't even like radishes, but they look so pretty I may need to expand my horizons.

Radish rejects go to Jake, our mascot. If he'll eat them, they must be marvy.

Have you ever wondered about the truthfulness of restaurants who claim their oh, so pricey menu items were fresh-picked, from local growers, that very day? In the case of fine dining in my tiny resort town of Park City, Utah, I now know for a fact that is true.

'Cause I picked 'em! And, I gave 'em a bath, too.

Bok Choy & Radish Coleslaw
  • 1 head fresh bok choy, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh, chopped basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green tops of fresh green onions
  • 2 tablespoons Litehouse brand light coleslaw dressing
* High Star Organic Farms is a brand new biz located in Kamas, Utah. In about another month they'll be strutting their stuff at the local farmer's markets.