Sunday, August 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ August, 2010

On this bloggers' bloom day, the shiniest flower in the garden was my dear friend, Gloria, author of Dakota Garden.

She and hubs, Ted, were in town for a conference so naturally I had to throw a slumber party. We gabbed, non-stop. Poor Ted could barely get a word in edgewise!

I was so fearful that she'd stand in my garden, all dejected, thinking... Wow, this joint looks a whole lot prettier online. 

Because ~ honestly? It does! In the real world, there's just no hiding those pesky weeds. Or, the spots where flowers eagerly curled up and died.

Plus, there's not much rhyme or reason to this place. If it strikes my fancy, I'll probably plant it. Whether it should live here, or not.

Anyhoo, Gloria, Ted and I had a grand time. Nobody croaked from the din-din I prepared. (Breathing a sigh of relief.)

And, after a giant panic attack, prior to their arrival, I figured out that meeting blogging friends, in the real world, is two tons of fun.

PS: She asked that I disguise her if she ended up in my blog. So, dear Gloria, how's this? :)

To see what's blooming elsewhere, check out Carol, of May Dreams Gardens, inventor of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tomato Time @ High Star Farm

This summer, I had my worst luck - ever - with heirloom tomatoes. Let's just blame that on over confidence. Poised for huge success with fancy, new containers in a sunny, protected spot, I expected blue ribbon results.

I'd saved up a whole winter of coffee grounds and egg shells. (Nitrogen, calcium and phosphorous makes for some very happy tomaters.) But, then I made the fatal mistake of blogging about it.

Had no idea my veggie garden nemesis, Mother Nature, reads my blog posts. She swooped in (on June 16th!) freezing pineapple sage, baby bell peppers and the most delightful delicacy of all, Black from Tula heirloom tomatoes. [Note to self: watch the weather reports.]

Normally, I would have started over. It takes more than one cold night to foil my plans. But, this year I'm volunteering at a local organic farm so why bother?

No amount of TLC in my sorry gardens can match the luscious bounty produced in this greenhouse. [I get to nibble the whole time I'm harvesting. How sweet is that?]
On my last harvest day at High Star Farm I picked 18 pounds of tomatoes and I barely made a dent. That got me thinking about what conniving little buggers tomato seedlings can be. In springtime, seedlings look small and innocent, inspiring you to plant twice as many as you really need. Come August, those tiny plants have evolved into monstrous vines and you've got tomatoes coming out your ears.

Here's 2 hot tips for handling the harvest:
1) Grill the big ones: Thick slices, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with Parmesan and Asiago cheeses, garlic and parsley. They taste so yummy, you'll run out before you know it.
2) Dry them in your oven to save them for a rainy day:

Oven-Dried Tomatoes
  • Slice small tomatoes in half, slice larger tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt ~ this improves flavor and speeds up the drying process.
  • Set the oven to 175 - 200 degrees (F).
  • Slowly roast until they feel pliable, kind of leathery. It could take anywhere from 3-6 hours, depending upon the size of the tomato slices.
To Rehydrate Dried Tomatoes:
Soak in water for 1-2 hours or toss directly into soups and stews.

PS: If these ideas don't snap your socks, send those extra tomatoes to me. :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays: Sweet Bella

My Bella ~ named for the vampire bite marking on her pretty neck.

For more Wordless Wednesday participants, click here!

Monday, August 09, 2010

I Do Declare...

"Look at them. Look at them! How can they do their job if you won't look at them?"

That was the frustration I'd hear from our neighbor, Mrs. Lampe, when I'd walk past her house and not comment on the pretty flowers. I was in grade school at the time so naturally I wrote her off as a crazy, old lady. [Who resonates pretty well with me, these days, as I evolve into one and the same.]

I was thinking about her as I said a fond farewell to this weekend's house guest. Who did not even glance at my flowers while she was visiting.

I don't know how you can miss my flowers. They're everywhere. But sometimes we get so wrapped up in our over-burdened lives that we tend not to see all beauty that surrounds us.

And, I will confess ~ I can't be too peeved at M for ignoring the pretty parts of life. Because I've been doing the same, darn thing. All summer long.

It's remarkable to me, how easy it is to see what everyone else is doing wrong and how making those same observations about my own self is next to impossible.

Not sure what possessed me to make this the year to Get Everything Done. To finish ALL of the landscaping. To do ALL of the repairs on this fixer upper house. To train both horses. Inspire Bad Dog to become a model citizen. Learn how an organic farm works...

That infernal list goes on and on. Well, it did. Until I tore it up last night. About 5 minutes after I heard the nightly news guy mention that autumn is just 45 days away.

Yup. Two stranger than fiction epiphanies in the span of five minutes:
  1. The local anchorman reported something meaningful.
  2. I've frittered away my entire summer being productive! 
This has got to stop. There is no room in this lazy gal's life for such a serious work ethic. Therefore, I'm declaring this the week to do none of the things I'd planned to do. Even though they really need doing.

So, who's up for a play date??? I can have the horses saddled in no time...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Southwest Monsoon

Hazel's Hollyhocks are diggin' their new home.

I've got soggy potato chips. You know how they get all soft and squishy in humid parts of the country? The air is normally too dry for that to happen out here.

Oh, and skeeters, too. Skeeters! In a high plains desert! 

Laura Phlox, purchased in honor of my daughter's lovely name.

It's been raining, every evening. Not a little drizzle. We're talkin' thunder, lightning, hail, torrents, you name it, we're getting it. And while I know that's a good thing it is absolutely messing with the bone dry status quo. We get most of our moisture in the form of snow in winter so when it rains we hardly know what to do with ourselves.

Exceptionally waterwise Yarrow with even more waterwise wild Asters.

Plus that brings humidity. Humidity!

I mean, let's be clear, here, soggy potato chips are a tragedy in and of itself.  But being all drippy wet when you're out working in the garden? Humidity was the reason I left Minnesota in the first place. That and the skeeters.

Big smiles, everyone, more rain is forecast for today.

My flowers, however, are jumping for joy.

Sometimes I chuckle at the concept of waterwise flowers. Sure, these gals can survive just fine with minimal water but it's kind of like us and the 5 star vs. 2 star hotel dilemma. Would you prefer pampering or roughing it?

Rebel Daisy infiltrating the Lavender and Coreopsis.

* The Southwest Monsoon is a real, true weather pattern that sends rumbling storms across our parched landscape, saturating the earth and waking up all kinds of pretty wildflowers. It's been AWOL for the past few summers but things are greening up quite nicely with these plentiful rains.

These wild storms tend to blow off all their steam at higher elevations, before they reach the meadow where I live.

Tip: Water sticks to water. In the desert SW, when things have been exceptionally dry, the first rain runs right off the top of our hard-packed soils, creating scary flash floods. In the dry season, the best time to water your garden is right before it rains...

PS: Dear Midwesterners ~ Please send mosquito repellent. The sooner, the better.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wordless Wildflower Wednesdays

Locals: Find these pretty wildflowers on the trail to the lake at Guardsman Pass.

For more Wordless Wednesday participants, click here!