semperfiona: (holly snow)
...and that's true love and homegrown tomatoes." -- John Denver, "Homegrown Tomatoes"

There's something amazing about eating home-grown summer tomatoes in December. They're not quite as nice as when picked ripe from the vine, because I picked them green two weeks ago the night before the first hard frost of the year, but considering that I only got a minimal number of ripe tomatoes in July, August, September or October, the overflowing basket of ripening tomatoes on the windowsill is pretty awesome. And eating them for lunch every day is even better. The trick is to be just patient enough for them to ripen completely, without allowing them to go on over into rotten. Most of the time I'm hitting it right.

Planting

May. 16th, 2015 04:22 pm
semperfiona: (castle)
Went to the Sugar Creek garden center this morning and acquired several new plants: basil, rosemary, lavender, three varieties of tomatoes (Roma, Sungold--yellow cherry style -- and Old German--a red/yellow striped slicing tomato) some phlox, a few decorative perennials with purple foliage called Persian Shield, some strawberry plants called Hulaberries that produce white berries supposedly flavored like pineapple, and the weirdest thing of all: a Ketchup and Fries plant. It's a cherry tomato grafted onto a potato root system. We could not resist it.

But I am still going to have to go to another garden store. Despite their really cool variety of plants, Sugar Creek didn't have my favourite of the varieties I planted last year and I want it again: Cherokee Purple. Giant dark red/green to true purple slicing tomatoes with a delicious intense flavor.

Something we didn't buy, but will probably go back for: a shrub called Nishiki Willow. Long branches with white and pink leaves at the tips. They'll look fantastic against the brick of the house, but I just planted flowers in the place they would need to go, so we'd have to move those first, and we didn't think we had time to plant everything else we bought and still do that too.
semperfiona: (castle)
The yard is not having a good spring. When the griffins arrived a couple weeks ago we noticed that the English ivy up the walk is to all appearances dead. The volunteer oak by the front steps doesn't look very alive, but it might have some live buds. The baby swamp oak in the verge, which had survived being topped by some asshole last year, has no buds at all.

I mentioned the dead rhody but I'm not counting it because it's been dead for a year and dying for a while before that.

But today, I had the biggest shock yet. I noticed that the Granny Smith apple tree was about to bloom, and then I looked at the peach tree, which should have bloomed already, and realized that not only has it not bloomed, it has no buds either. Further investigation shows that all the twigs I tested were budless, stiff, and snap when broken. Dead, dead, dead. I almost cried. I may yet.

I have had this tree for seven or eight years. It's always bloomed beautifully and set lots of fruit, but except for last year they never made it to harvest. One luscious crop of peaches. Just one.
semperfiona: (maple)
One that looks nice. And not too expensive.

I have an empty spot in the border beside my house where a rhododendron bush used to be, and I'd like to fill it with something. But given that the rhododendron died--I think it got too dry and hot over there after the big tree in the verge fell over in a storm and was removed some years back--and the one at the other end of the border is dying, I don't think replacing it with a rhododendron is a good idea. I might also consider evicting the other rhododendron in favor of something more likely to thrive.

The space is maybe twenty square feet (5x4 or so), east facing and not shaded except by more shrubberies to the north and south, and reasonably well drained. Height-wise it could grow to about fifteen feet before it blocks a window, though any new plant at the other end needs to be shorter--maybe max eight feet. I live in the city of St. Louis. Climate references for the area probably list a bit more rainfall than we actually get, since storms have a habit of tracking the rivers and often miss us completely while they soak the rest of the metro area.

Remaining plants in the vicinity are (north to south) a white dogwood surrounded by a magenta azalea, [insert shrubbery here], three big burning bushes, a none-too-healthy pink rhododendron, and a thriving thirty-foot holly tree. There are some ivy and hostas surrounding the base of the holly tree.
semperfiona: (bright flowers)
At this very moment, on a chilly afternoon in the second week of December, I am eating lovely ripe homegrown tomatoes from our summer garden. In fact, (viz. the first line of that song) yesterday I had one for dinner with bacon and lettuce.

Those who live around here will remember that we had a killing frost back at the beginning of November. Ain't it amazing. We picked all the remaining green tomatoes, of which there were many, and stuck them in a colander. They have been gradually ripening ever since, and I have been greedily eating them!

Stuff

Aug. 13th, 2008 03:43 pm
semperfiona: (Default)
Called Christine this morning. It's been a while since I had talked to her, and I recalled that her baby's due date was Aug. 1. Lo and behold, she's currently in the hospital. But no baby yet. It's not so overdue as all that, since they'd changed her due date to Aug. 6, but they did a test yesterday that showed that all the amniotic fluid is gone (?) so she was admitted for induction. She's not getting dilation, however, so if the current drug doesn't induce dilation she'll have to have a cesarean. Either way, there should be a baby within 72 hours.

Baby baby baby nom nom nom!

***

Jennie is also in the hospital today; she's just had an abdominal surgery intended to prevent gastric reflux that could eventually have caused rejection of her new lungs. All is well so far, she's out of surgery and in recovery.

***

One of the things I was concerned about when we left for Huntsville last week was that the peaches on my tree were thisclose to being ready for picking. I was delighted, on our return, to find that they had ripened to almost perfect, and the tree was still loaded down with peaches.

The tree has been in my yard for six or seven years. Each year, it's been covered with blossoms, has set a plethora of fruit, but something has happened between spring and harvest. There were the birds and squirrels. There was the big windstorm that blew them all down. There was the freeze right after blooming. But this year, they made it all the way to the end.

We started by picking up the windfalls and freezing the good parts of those. We picked a few more and made up baskets for the nearest neighbors, along with a few cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden (we have cucumbers coming out our ears but for some reason the squash plants all died almost immediately). It felt so good to give away our very own produce.

But this morning, between when Tammie left for the hospital to sit with [livejournal.com profile] transplantmom and when I left for work, Someone or Someones Unknown picked all the peaches left on the tree. GRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Reminds me of the time we came home to find that Someone had chopped the top off of our baby oak tree. It was all of eighteen inches tall, and Someone lopped it down to six. In the long run that may have been good for the tree, as it now has little branches where it used to just be vertical, but hello? Is not your job to prune my trees.

***

Rosa's first day of third grade today. Such a big girl she is now! But still excited to go back and see all her friends.

They have an incredibly long list of school supplies, and very specific: must have 2 purple, 2 blue, 2 red, 2 green and 2 yellow notebooks. D'you know, there was not a single solid-colored notebook to be found at Wal-Mart Saturday? I ended up clearing out the stock at Schnucks.

And then there's the room supplies: Clorox wipes. Paper towels. Kleenex. Apparently the school district can't afford to supply these, so the parents have to. But even Parkway Schools had such items on the list. I swear I didn't have to bring such things when I was a kid (cue rant about walking to school uphill both ways in the snow).

***

The ex called the other day to tell me he wanted to enroll Rosa in PSR classes on Monday nights this year. I had two problems with that: 1) Monday is my custody time, and 2) girl scout meetings are on Monday nights. I'm really not willing to take Rosa out of girl scouts. He suggested putting her back in the troop she was in during first grade, but I was vastly happier with the one she is in now. Much better organized, actually accomplishes things, and all her friends from school are in it. So he did some investigation, and has two other possibilities for her. He found a Sunday morning PSR class which she might be able to do (depends on the parish and total enrollment, etc) or he can homeschool.
semperfiona: (joy)
Doing somewhat better this morning, though not very productive. One of the other employees checked in a change that has broken the application in such a way that I can't run anything. On the other hand...it gives me time to post a picture of the Backyard Blackberries.



These are the crop from yesterday morning. We have been delightfully deluged in berries this year. So far we've got almost two full gallon-size ziplocs of them in the freezer, we've baked one blackberry oatmeal crumbly thing, we've eaten bowls of fresh blackberries with sugar almost every day, we've given some away, and they're still coming.

Blackberries have been a small daily joy through this otherwise rather difficult summer. This weekend, there will be pie. And probably blackberry ice cream as well.

Four or five years ago, Tammie gave me two thornless blackberry bushes in those one-gallon pots you get at Home Depot or Lowes. I planted them in the corner between the garage and the sidewalk.

Not much happened for a few years. Last year we had a total accumulation of about one gallon of berries at the end of the season, having picked 3-5 berries a day and eaten very few of them. I made a pie.

This year, though, they've gone berserk. We fenced in the general area where the plants are growing, to keep the dog out of them, and have let the volunteer canes come up where they will. At the end of summer we'll need to cut back the old canes or the area is rapidly going to become impassable.
semperfiona: (bright flowers)
[livejournal.com profile] lavendargrrl and I just ate the first tiny harvest from our garden. A handful of peas and one tiny tomato each! They were lovely.

I'd really been missing tomatoes. I don't know how many meals-out we ate this weekend, and nary a tomato to be found. I had no idea how much my little world would be darkened by the absence of juicy red tasty goodness.
semperfiona: (castle)
I've washed my feet twice today, but they still feel dirty. Chris and Rosa and I spent the better part of the afternoon attempting to whip our backyard into some semblance of order. We put up a fence around the daylily bed that had been severely trodden by the dog, and along the fenceline that she has worn a path into, and surrounding the thornless blackberry bramble. We planted Rosa's Easter bulbs, two packets of snap peas and a metric butt-tonne of onions. Next week or the week after, we plan to get some tomatoes and maybe pole beans. The chainlink fence on the sidewalk side and the poultry fence on the grass side have got to be good for something, and what's better than training yummy veggies to grow on them?

Clematis, maybe: I used to have five of them growing up the chainlink fence; three are still alive and maybe I'll replace the other two.

Rosa made us ravioli for dinner, and then [livejournal.com profile] reannon and her Kiddo dropped by after their day out at Earth Day. [livejournal.com profile] tempesttea came later too, because Tammie called and said the word of Pudding at her.

We all played a round of "In a Pickle", which I had bought for Tammie for her birthday. Rosa won.
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)
[livejournal.com profile] beckyzoole asked, and I had meant to post anyway, where did we get the Vampire Squash?

Last weekend, Tammie and I went down to Roger & Hunter's for a couple nights to attend TammyG's baby shower. On the Sunday, we all went to a Garden Festival at Bakersville Pioneer Village run by and located at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. There were vendors selling everything: yummilicious handmade bread and cinnamon rolls, garden plants, herbs, quilts and more. And heirloom squash. We bought three different kinds: Vif d'Etampes ("vampire"), Casper, and Jarrahdale. I shot some pictures of them before and during the cutting-up.

I also bought two strawberry plants and two raspberry canes. The strawberries got repotted last night; they're going to live indoors. The vendor swears they'll produce all year indoors--and if they don't, well it was only a coupla bucks. The raspberries will go outside to join the blackberries that were so prolific this summer.
semperfiona: (Default)
For the first time in several weeks I had and remembered a dream this morning, or maybe it was two dreams. I'm not sure what the segue was between the separate segments, if there was one. I think having spent the weekend creatively made a difference.

I have noted my mood is much better since Friday or so. It's not that I was depressed before, but I'm actively happy now. I've even gotten going in the morning much more easily, and arrived at work on time two days in a row! I know that doesn't sound like much, but I had been dragging more and more, arriving later and later, until there were a couple days last week that I didn't arrive until nearly ten a.m.

My weekend of gardening has been very therapeutic for me. I'm so proud of my work, and just getting intimate with Mother Earth is wonderfully refreshing. I have to remember this lesson, and not let other things separate me from my creativity. Now for my next trick--get back to writing morning pages every day and start doing the weekly Artist's Way tasks again. I think I am going to restart completely, since I've lost the thread of it.

On to the dreams.

I dreamed I had been arrested and thrown in jail for selling drugs, along with an older man I did not know. In the cell, while we awaited our interviews with the police, he tried to convince me to confess. I knew I was innocent, and that he was trying to get out of it by blaming me.

My turn for interview came first, and I went with the policeman to his office. He was asking me about my finances, I guess trying to prove that I had more money than my job--at the police station!--would account for. I told him about paying off my mortgage a little extra each month, and really boring things like that. I also told him that the other man had been trying to make me confess but I didn't do anything. A secretary told him "She's a four," which had something to do with my pay grade at the police station. Then he asked me what my DSN was (it's an acronym used at the SLMPD and means employee number). I said "2577". I don't remember whether that is actually my old DSN from when I worked for the SLMPD, but it could well be. After a while they let me go. As I walked out I saw the other guy being taken in for his interview.

I went down to the parking garage to get my car, and on the way I saw him leaning out of an upper window as if he were about to jump. I yelled, "Don't jump!" and his head withdrew. When I got to the parking garage, he was there in a car opposite mine. I thought at first that he was going to ram my car for my having told on him. But no, he pulled back and I saw that the car was an ancient opentopped behemoth, three rows of seats crammed full with seventeen kids--yes, exact number, not exaggeration--and a wife. The older girls and his wife were wearing those stiff bonnet-caps that the Mennonites or Amish wear. He said to me that he had been married and divorced five times. I suppose it was by way of explaining the extreme number of children or the necessity for ill-gotten funds from drug sales, or both.

Then suddenly I was in my garden with [livejournal.com profile] curgoth and [livejournal.com profile] neeuqdrazil. My saxophone case and some other miscellaneous junk was piled against some of my new plants. I think if there was any connection between this and the previous dream it was that I thought the other guy had done the minor vandalism as revenge. I was concerned for my saxophone, but cg reassured me that it would be fine because it had been inside the case. We started complaining about a new edition of the Amber books that had been bowdlerized beyond recognition, while planting something grassy with long purple plumes similar to pampas grass.
semperfiona: (Default)
Another day of gardening pleasure. Rosa and I planted the flowers this morning. She especially enjoyed pulling out weeds. Then we went to Home Depot and bought three baby trees: an apple, a peach, and a dwarf cherry. I planted all three of them this afternoon, with Rosa's assistance. She helped refill the holes with dirt, crumbling all the clods. She helped water--and watered herself rather thoroughly into the bargain. I spread mulch around my new trees and some of the things I planted yesterday. Now I think I'm going to rest from gardening for a couple weeks (except for mowing the lawn, of course). After Black Road I hope to do the pond. I want water lilies and a little waterfall.

After planting we came in and had corn on the cob for lunch.There are probably funnier sights than a two-year-old eating corn from a cob as big as she is, but not many. Jen called from the park, and we drove over to visit her there, but Rosa was being a pre-nap brat, so I brought her home again and she is now fast asleep.
semperfiona: (Default)
Wow. I don't know what got into me, but I've been really ambitious this weekend with gardening. I got up this morning and cleaned up the debris from yesterday before going to the Great Perennial Divide plant sale with [livejournal.com profile] indigobynight and her daughter. I bought a few shade-loving plants, and then we went to the Missouri Botanical Garden for lunch. They were having an "English Country Faire" today, with Maypole and Morris dancing and people in costume. We wandered around the garden a while, watched the dancing, and so on.

Then I left to go home, but happened to pass Gringo Jones on the way, so I stopped in. I'm looking for some statuary for the front of my house: there used to be lions there, but the lady we bought the house from took them with her. Ever since, the front has been oddly bare. I would like to have griffins, and Gringo Jones turned out to have some. I have to find out whether they'll fit on the pillars, but if they do, I'm buying them.

After that, I stopped at Home Depot and bought yet more plants. Some purple pansies and yellow marigolds that Rosa and I will plant tomorrow, and a rose to replace the one I planted earlier this year which I thought was dead. When I went to dig it up, though, it was sprouting tiny shoots, so I just planted the new one next to it.

I came home around 5:30, and planted all my new purchases except for the flowers. I was tired, but I made myself mow the back yard, too.

More gardening tomorrow. Before I fetch Rosa from her daddy's, I'll finish mowing the lawn, and then after she gets here I want to plant the flowers with her. I think she'll like that, since they're already blooming and pretty.
semperfiona: (Default)
I feel really good about myself right now. My hands and back ache and I've got dozens of small scrapes on my hands, but I feel good. I'm tired in that "excess of manual labor" sort of way. I spent most of the day outside, cutting down part of the jungle that was once my vegetable garden but became a mass of young trees, and pulling weeds out of my flowerbeds. I decided to leave some trees behind in the garden; I'm going to put in a pond, some shade-loving flowers, and a bench, and have a shady little meditation spot.

Tomorrow I'll rake up the mess and then plant some flowers in the bare spaces in the flowerbed, in hopes that they'll take over and force out the weeds. The pond project will have to wait for my next free weekend.

And the doors are all done. They look terrific. They even close and lock properly! .
semperfiona: (Default)
Rosa got into some ink somewhere and her hands are stained peacock blue. I can find no ink stains anywhere else in the house.

Putting my elbow grease where my mouth is, I just bought a push mower (without motor), assembled it, and mowed the shaggiest parts of the lawn. I am now sweating and hot and tired after only about half an hour.

I'll write later about last night's camping trip.
semperfiona: (Default)
It's been in the air all day: that muggy electric feeling that means rain is coming. It was almost 75 degrees today. I came home from work and planted the purple rose (Lagerfeld) that I bought last Sunday, hoping I'd get finished before the rain arrived.

It's rather difficult digging a hole big enough for a rose with a four-inch garden trowel. (Ray took the shovels.) As it turned out, I not only finished the planting, I played an entire session of Amber Cold War before the thunder began, and it was another hour before the rain finally came. It is raining quite steadily now, though at first it seemed to move across the house in segments: heavy rain for a minute, then nothing for three or four minutes, then rain again.
semperfiona: (Default)
That was lovely. I needed some ~culture in my life after all this cleaning and packing and manual labor. A nice little wine and cheese reception for Christine's University College friends, and a student production of Shakespeare. I'd never seen or read Twelfth Night before, so I really had to concentrate to catch some of the jokes--and my dirty mind made jokes where maybe there really weren't any, though Shakespeare is pretty damn' bawdy.

After lunch this afternoon I took a walk around the park and went shopping at the garden store--which occurred to me afterward could have passed for an artist date: the colors and shapes of the flowers were inspiring me to design my flowerbeds and garden. I didn't buy anything yet though, because I simply don't have time to garden yet, and also because I need to figure out where the sunny and shady parts are, and clean out the undergrowth before I'll know where I can put new plants.

It finally occurred to me to be surprised that I'm still able to connect to the 'net. I canceled my phone service here...but they apparently didn't realize that meant both lines! I'll have to call and straighten that out.

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