We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bowl

Excuse me the title, but when Acadia showcased her Queen Monster Tomato my mind had yet to make the leap from Shark Week and bigger boats to farming and jumbo tomatoes.

And when I say we’re gonna need a bigger bowl…

I mean with all hands on deck and tomato juice flying and canning jars bubbling away and our floor running red with the carnage of so much flesh being torn limb from oops, sorry.  Darn shark week muddling my metaphors.

Argggh, who needs sharks?  I’ve got a couple of  scurvy lasses willing to flash their knives in the name of preserving food.

And while all hands were on deck for slicing dicing squeezing and chopping,

a funny thing happened to me.  In the midst of all this my pulse, racing with the pressure of back to school and outgrown sneakers and unfamiliar schedules and shark attacks, started to beat just a bit smoother.  And my brow, furrowed with the worries brought on by a new middle-schooler and a calendar to be updated with activities galore, relaxed back into my forehead.

So what does one do with an abundance of relaxed emotions and a couple of backyard apple trees that chose this year to produce hundreds of glamour-shot worthy beauties?

Easy.  One leaps deftly from canning tomatoes to grinding out applesauce.  And once again our workers sliced and diced and ground away

all in the name of putting up enough sustenance to keep us well throughout the harsh winter to come.  Oh the joy of walking past the crumbling destruction that is our flooded basement and into the storage closet that now houses this bounty —

(Note to the nay-sayers:  Yes, one can survive on tomatoes, applesauce and jam alone.  But just in case, say hello to our back-up plan:  Operation Vegetarian Katniss.

Silver Bells, Cockle Shells, they’re all just fine without me

While I’ve been busy with a bunch of this

and a whole lot of that

I haven’t had much time to pay attention to what’s going on in my own backyard.  Yes, you’re seeing right.  It’s time for the Aerial Squirrel Olympics.

And the garden, while not defying gravity, is worthy of some medals of its own.  Fat snap peas hang from stalks that sail skyward

We’ve had fresh salad every night

The strawberries are ruby red gems of tasty goodness

Even those I have neglected are putting out.  Ignore an onion long enough and she’ll do something to attract your attention —

Likewise the weeds.  I knew it would pay off to put off pulling this guy.

And just like that the summer is sailing past, and it is time to hang up the jump ropes and the swim goggles, wish the veggies good luck with their battle against the weeds, and load up the car for the jumbo July road trip.

We’ll catch you from the road.  ‘Til then…Wagons East!

What I don’t know about chickens

Chicken:

Not a chicken:

Hang tight. We have just about reached the end of my knowledge about chickens.

They have beady little eyes.

The color of the eggs they lay is directly linked to the color of their earlobes.  Impressive sounding, right?  At least until you get to the obvious follow-up question.

So no, I do not know how one locates a chicken earlobe.

I also do not know how the eggs decide who will go on to become a big chick and who joins us for breakfast.

Nor do I understand what drove the children to spend copious amounts of time passing weeds into the coop.

Perhaps it had to do with the pathetic state of farm strawberries this year.  Hail damaged and dusty, we picked barely enough to squeak out 4 jars of jam  Hardly enough to get us through the summer, let alone the school year, but I am not concerned in the slightest.

Who needs cowboy-hick-farmland berries anyway?

Not us.

We are partial to their beautifully bountiful backyard suburban cousins.

Blame it on the Rain that keeps fallin’ fallin’

Ahhhh.  Hello my beautiful sunny iris.

If you squint just right it don’t you think it almost looks like that smoking hot orb that used to hang in the sky above this fair land?

Forgive me the sarcasm.

It’s not as if I’m one of those cheery sunshiny types.  I don’t need the sun to make me smile.  I like dreary rainy days that dispense permission to lounge in sweatpants with each thirst-quenching drop.

But enough is enough. I’m getting kind of cranky.

Maybe that has something to do with swim team practices in the cold rain and my inability to differentiate between a character-building, commitment-keeping lesson and being a mean parent.

But never mind a couple of wet, whiny kids, we’ve got strawberries bursting out of their patch–

My favorite flower flax is flexing its, um, floral-ness

And speaking of things that are taking delight in this everlasting deluge, there’s this, er, thing

This unidentified random weed that I neglected and it grew and grew and just when it started towering over me and hungrily licking its chops it burst into lovely light pink blossoms and now it’s not that scary anymore. In fact, I’m renaming it ‘flowering bush’ and inviting it to stay.

This is the garden.

Unfortunately, that big bare spot to the south represents the broccoli, pepper and eggplant sprouts that, like my shivering swimmers, proved not to be fans of icy rain.   But it’s okay, because I’m sure these guys will fit in just fine–

They look so hearty and tough.

And I’ll just bet they don’t complain to their mother even though she’s hardly the one who voluntarily begged to be signed up to swim.

Outside.

In Colorado.

In stupid old unpredictable May.

Mouse Skulls and Mother’s Day

Do you want to know the best thing about this plastic baggie full of mouse skeletons?

It’s not my maternal pride over the obvious CSI skills my daughters’ exhibit.

It’s not knowing that our neighborhood owls are eating well, controlling the mouse population, and selecting our pine tree for the repository of their pellets/gifts.  Though all those things are clearly good things.

No, the best part about this cluster of doom is that it was not my Mother’s Day gift.

Because while I appreciate the heck out of every thoughtful token my daughters have bestowed over the years, it would have taken considerably more energy then I’ve got to muster up the necessary ooohs and ahhhs over this bag o’ bones.

In between dissections, the little naturalists did make themselves available to do mom’s bidding.  They scowled and declined happily lent a hand.  All it took was a subtle reminder that IT IS MOTHER’S DAY THAT’S WHY.

And in honor of Mother’s Day the hammock was to be hung.  I held the image all day as I seeded and weeded, knowing that soon I would be rocking gently beneath the trees.  Relaxing.

Sure enough, there was plenty of relaxing on Mother’s Day.

I know what you’re thinking, but you’re crazy.  It’s enough for me to simply watch my offspring relax with a good book.

Besides, between the children reading in the hammock and these love doves being all lovey dovey

And strawberries putting out their flowery best

And rhubarb so ripe it practically crisped itself,

And our future salads poking through to say hello

The day was perfect.

Especially since the mouse skulls weren’t destined for my room.  They were for the 2nd grade teacher.  Because nobody musters up excitement over mouse-parts-in-a-bag like a teacher.

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

The question, of course, was the one I posed in a round-about way last week:  How do you protect your sprout-lings from the cold winds that blow?

You can plant the seeds.

You can nurture the little guys as they poke their heads into the world for the first time.

You can shower them with smothering love and affection as you watch them grow with pride but soon enough they will be begging to be set free, demanding to stand on their own out in the wild blue yonder

Oops.  Wrong sprouts.

Pardon the mistake but that’s bound to happen when you take parenting advice from a gardening site.  Which I have.  I read that in order to prepare your sprouts for the real world, you must blow on them.  This simulated mini-hurricane hardens your sprouts, making them stronger, thereby preparing them for the strong Colorado winds.

Or big bad life lessons, whichever nemesis applies.

The answer is blowing in the wind.  Or blowing on your plants.  Or letting your kids out into the world despite the fact that it can be a dark and scary place.

And so it was that our veggie sprouts began their training regiment of standing up to the fan.

And I, with a kiss and a forced smile, relinquished my sprouts to a panel of 12 judges.  The girls bent calmly into the wind.  They put themselves out there, faced their music, and wham bam 13-hours-in-a-gym later, they came away intact.

Not just intact, but ecstatic.  And bedecked with ribbons.

Here are the videos–

Kira’s Freestyle took first place for her age division.

Acadia’s Freestyle took first place for her division.

Kira’s Pairs Freestyle also took first.

March Madness and Garden Insanity

You’ve seen the videos I’ve forced upon you.  My girls can jump.

Though to the dismay of their basketball-loving father that has not necessarily translated into an interest in basketball.  Given the circumstances, Dave did what any sport-loving guy would do; he called for back-up.  It’s good to have nephews.

Five year old Felix watched.  He commented and talked stats and aside from a notable absence of beer and nachos it was game-watching perfection.  The fellas even took a break at half time to play a little hoops of their own.

And then the ladies stepped in to show them how it’s done.  My girl’s got some serious ups.

But enough with the silly game playing.  It’s March, and madness or not it is time to do some planting.  When it comes to work in the garden I am an equal-opportunity slave-driver.  I pressed all my indentured servants into compost spreading and plot prepping.

I put the girls to work.

I put the boys to work.

Heck, I would have put the mailman to work if he weren’t so darn speedy in that little weather-defying truck of his.

Thanks to all of these helping hands, the south garden has been seeded for snap peas, lettuce, onions and spinach.  Now we wait, and hope that March decides to keep its snow to itself this year.

Our new garden window is practically bursting with trash creatively re-purposed plastic containers.

Hope springs eternal in the form of this nascent plantings, but alas . . . you can’t count your veggies before they sprout.

Well Good Morning to You Too

Oh.  Hello.

I didn’t see you there.

No, it’s fine.  Of course I didn’t think that just because I took a little time-out that the world should stop turning.  I mean, there are lunches to be made and dictators to topple and yes, teeth will continue to fall out and hey even the sprouts are defying logic and breaking through the chilly dirt.

And ho, what’s that I feel? Are these tendrils unfurling from my own stiff limbs as if spurned on by the heady scent of sun-kissed dirt?

Hibernating? No, not me.  For there is work to be done.

And I’ve been busy.

Doing, you know, stuff.

Important, stuff.

Like, making sure my youngest is dressed to fight dragons.

And prepping Grandma for some good, old-fashioned village – pillaging.

Well gosh, now you’re making me feel like all I’ve been doing is trying to be a viking.  But you know they have cool ships with handsome, half-clad men rowing in time to jaunty sea shanties?

And ocean breezes that would gently blow through my luxurious locks.

The glint of the sun winking off a newly sharpened hatchet.

The squawk of an albatross in search of an Ancient Mariner…

Hey, shame on you.  Do not encourage my digressions.

For there is work to be done once dragons lay slain.  A newly acquired village will need tidying.  And so it was that the local population was enslaved and put to work waking up the sleepy garden.

They raked and they hoed and eventually the garlic showed through, it’s sweet tendrils reaching towards the light of the weak spring sun.

They whispered sweet nothings of encouragement, coaxing irises from beneath frozen blankets.

The raspberries too would prosper under new management.  The field, an unwieldy brier patch of mayhem,

was hacked into submission.  A viking must insist upon order from her berries.

No more would raspberries be left to wither on the vine.

And the viking goddess (that’d be me) saw that it was good.  And so it was that she posted sentries in the treetops . . .

And high-tailed it back inside.

For her hands were getting cold.

Garden Update June 3, 2010

I haven’t seen an aphid, a slug or a snail, the notorious arch-enemies of spinach, but someone’s been eating my spinach…

That’s ok, because the lettuce is so soft and sweet I’m fine to let the mysterious muncher have the majority of the spinach.

The pumpkins are promising —

A self planted carrot —

Cucumbers

Potatoes

Yellow Watermelon

Butternut squash

Super sweet sugar snaps

Hearty looking strawberries —

Gone Fishin’

The Greener Biener Takes A Break

I’ll miss you dear readers,

It’s for you that I write

But the call of the wild (that is, my backyard)

Is too strong to fight

Schools out for summer

I’ve cut back on house cleaning

Yet my time packs right up

With picnic-making and sun-screening

And there are weeds that need weeding

And ice cream to eat

And bikes that need riding

And filthy bare-feet

The children are clamoring

Long forgotten is school

They run through the sprinklers

And jump in the pool

Between following the kiddos

And watering the plants

When it comes time for typing

I’m finding…I can’t

But I’ll be back soon

With stories for sowing

‘Til then, Happy Summer

And to all some good growing

**** As always, thanks for reading.  The Greener Biener is taking a sabbatical, but I’ll be adding garden updates from time to time to chronicle the progress of our home-grown veggies.

Hope to see you again in the fall.