At last I am alive – An afternoon with dirt under my nails.

April 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Posted in dirt, gardening, spring, vegetable | Leave a comment
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katie-in-her-garden-2013

This winter was just too long, too grey, and too cold. Some people love autumn and the changing leaves, but it’s not for me. I’m a Spring-time girl. I love watching new buds grow on trees, waiting with anticipation for the tulips to bloom, and most lovingly planting the first seeds of my spring garden.

Well here I am in DC and it’s skipped spring all together actually and is feeling a bit like summer as the temperature is 90 degrees. But I’m not complaining. I gathered my bucket full of gardening supplies and headed out to the old raised bed that we hammered together many years ago. Since then we’ve moved it to a sunnier spot and it’s beginning to fall apart, which is fine as it’s only adding history and experience to my joys of digging in my messy city backyard.

As expected, I planted a bunch of greens including collards, some carrots, rainbow swiss chard (which I cannot get enough of), and peas of course. This summer I’m keeping it simple because the plan, which has been in motion since last summer, is to completely landscape the backyard so it’s actually a place we want to hang out. The hill will be terraced with a nice spot of grass for Jack to play in at the base. I’ll have two raised beds made of stone (yay!), and we’ll have a brand new wooden fence as well. All of a whopping price tag too. Eeps. We are just waiting on the District of Columbia to approve all of the permits — for the love of god…! But yes, I’m perfectly calm about that.

So here I am, feeling alive again, and more like myself. I’m breathing deeper and soaking up the rays of the sun. I feel relaxed and just happy to be in this very moment. I live for this time of year and want to meditate life through the feeling of euphoria I get when the weather is like this. Oh sun, you powerful one.

From the Archives:

Vegetable gardening lessons I’ve learned.

Spring Garden and a secretly pregnant me…! (circ. 2011)

Spring Garden and a little baby boy! (circ. 2012)

Spring Greens and Tiny Things

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Backyard Urban Gardening Book: Grow Cook Eat

June 14, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Posted in $hit I want, dirt, diy, gardening, vegetable | Leave a comment

I find it fascinating how many bloggers have been able to make a living writing about their passions and then go on to get a book deal. A favorite blog of mine has remained Diggin Food, written by Willi Galloway who details her backyard kitchen gardening adventures from favorite-city-of-mine, Portland, Oregon. She started her career at Organic Gardening magazine which is the reason I’ve been a subscriber for the last few years. Now Willi has a book out called Grow Cook Eat. The book explores the point of planting a seed, to nurturing the plant, to yummy recipes to try, to parts of the plant that are edible beyond the most obvious parts like certain roots, stems and flower buds. I’m just so happy that Willi’s book is getting so much publicity, it’s even being sold in Anthropologie shops (and also at Amazon of course)! Talk about really getting your name out there!

Spring, Green and Tiny Things

May 20, 2010 at 11:05 pm | Posted in dirt, gardening | 1 Comment
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It’s the time of the season
When the love runs high
In this time give it to me easy
And let me try with pleasured hands
To take you in the sun to promised lands
To show you everyone
It’s the time of the season for loving…
~Zombies, “Time of the Season”

I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again…I love dirt. Instead of moving the 12×4 foot raised garden bed that is kind of totally under a humongous ash tree (yes, last year I built the bed under a shady tree and didn’t realize that the canopy would have a negative effect on growing things!!!), I’m going to plant right in the ground in the sunniest part of the yard. I dug about two feet down and removed tons of debris from the dirt—bricks, pieces of cement, rocks, quartz and filled it with organic dirt that I had delivered from a nearby farm. Within the next two weeks I will plant a variety of heirloom tomato plants and a couple of pepper plants that I’ve had growing since March. I also plan to include a bunch of beets and carrots because I believe they grow well with tomatoes (they’re friends).

As far as what is going in the raised bed under the ash tree—I researched edible plants that do not need direct sunlight and found that most herbs will thrive happily. What music to my ears; I have been planning a medicinal herb garden for some time. In the bed, I planted cilantro and sage (above) and beets and chamomile (below). I also planted basil, parsley, dill, echinacea, onions, leeks, rainbow swiss chard and green beans. I guess you could call that area a medicinal herb garden with a vegetable twist!

Get a load of the lettuce and spinach: Above, before I picked it and below before I devoured it! I heard lettuce and spinach are difficult to grow in the DC climate because our springs are typically brief and the leafy greens prefer a slow, cool and wet spring. Since we’ve had a bit of that mixed with a smattering of heat the greens turned out fabulous, healthy and bountiful. Next year I will plant the entire raised bed with spinach and lettuce to have a whole season of greens.

I am perhaps the most excited about the pea pods that have sprouted. I planted the pea seeds on St. Patrick’s Day, and here we are nearly 60 days on the nose with tons of pods ready to be picked. The plants couldn’t have been easier to grow. They loved the cool weather but also soldiered on during the humid days to produce magnificent pods. Hurray for a great start to a hopefully healthy and abundant season of edibles.

Delights of the Garden

August 10, 2009 at 12:29 am | Posted in dirt, gardening | Leave a comment
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01_garden_0809Above: Amana Orange tomatoes ready to be picked. On the right: Brandywine tomatoes.
Above: A green bean on the plant and in my hand.
Above: Green peppers. The longer you leave them on the vine, the more red they will become.
Above: A fatty cucumber and a baby pumpkin.

Oh yes, hi, hello…I officially do not suck! My garden is really growing and I am ecstatic!! Just look above at the Amana Orange tomatoes that are stunning. The green beans that took me three or four tries to grow after my cats ate the leaves, then the rain drowned the seeds have beans on the plants…BEANS! The green and red pepper plant has mini cute peppers on it. The viney cucumber plant as one big fat cucumber and a little one coming along. Last but not least, a sweet, tiny, adorable pumpkin has sproated. I will pray to the garden gods that it will grow big and fat for fall. Yay, hurray! You grow little garden, grow!

Special credit to the title “Delights of the Garden” which is from Desmond Williams‘ album from 2002 off of ESL. It’s downbeat, worldly electronica sounds still remain a favorite today. Listen to bits here.

Garden Update: Weeds, tomatoes and white spots

July 19, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Posted in dirt, gardening | 2 Comments
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In addition to the vegetables growing tall, my backyard was totally consumed by weeds. I just can’t seem to keep up with them. Before I know it, I have nasty, tall weeds taking over. I spent a good part of Sunday pulling each one-by-one. I don’t have the heart to put any sort of weed killer on the ground since it’s bad for water run-off and the environment in general—and the poison would be just too close to my future dinner.

The Amana Orange tomatoes bloomed much later than the Brandywines. Here is proof that I will have a medley of tomatoes in the days to come.

The sunflowers continue to bloom so well. Now there are off-shoots of smaller flowers that have grown from the main plant.

My only concern at the moment is about my gloriously long pumpkin plant. Out of nowhere the plant has developed white spots. Google says this is a sign of fungus and offers a variety of advice. I’m hoping to still be able to yield a few pumpkins come Halloween.

Garden Inspiration: My parent’s house

July 6, 2009 at 11:45 pm | Posted in dirt, gardening, life | Leave a comment
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Visiting my parents is kind of like staying at a B&B. It’s a place I go to get away from the city, enjoy delicious cuisine and relax at night by the outdoor firepit. My parents live in a charming, turn-of-the-century four-square in Gaitherburg, MD (about 20 miles from Washington, DC). The only downside is that I still have to do my dishes.

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03_doodads

A woman once said to my mom “you can never have too many doodads in the garden” and we have never forgotten that.

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05_lillies1
Every year they have a gigantic vegetable garden from which I draw my inspiration. You can commonly find: heirloom tomatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, chives, radishes, swiss chard, carrots, zucchini, pumpkins, various herbs, peas, greenbeans, and peppers.

06_swiss chardAbove: Rainbow Swiss Chard, a hardy green—much like spinach except it grows happily for most of the year.
07_tomatoesTomatoes are beginning to grow. Marigolds are used to steer rabbits and deer away who dislike the scent.
Leeks are beginning to go to seed, but aren’t they beautiful. On the right, a gigantic golden zucchini plant.
Onions (I think) and carrots are sprouting up!
A radish plucked from the ground.
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