Friday, September 11, 2015

Today in The Garden- Neglect

I was warned that it would happen. Once I started working outside the house, my garden would suffer. The blog would suffer. I just wouldn't have the time to deal with these 'hobbies' anymore.

Some kind of wilt has decimated the pumpkins and squash.
I had found a milk-water remedy that I was going to try,
but I just haven't found the time to rescue my plants

The warnings ended up coming true. But I really didn't realized how much I would neglect my garden.

Let me back up a little. A few weeks ago, I took the plunge. After twelve years of working for myself, I got an outside-of-the-house job. It was a huge step for me, one that I knew would be coming but that I didn't know exactly how to prepare for. I had job-hunted all summer, went on interviews, terrified, feeling completely out of practice in the 'real, grown-up' world. I landed a position. The terror and the nerves intensified, because I am utterly resistant to change of any kind. I still tended the garden, but my mind started to feel very preoccupied and unfocused.

Now that I've started the job, my time is sucked up and my mind is sucked dry. I didn't feel like I had a ton of time before I got the job; I may have been at home, but I wasn't a stay-at-home-mom in the strictest sense. I always had lots of other kids in the house because I've run a daycare in our home for the past 12 years. My daycare was my life, my passion; the days were filled with activities, runs in my big van to pick up preschoolers and school-agers, snacks, meals, playtime, cleanup, outside time and field trips. I had my daycare program set up with great structure and our days were always a controlled chaos, a whirlwind. It was SO busy! I figured that once I started working, I'd come home with lots of energy; refreshed and missing my house, missing the garden, ready to spend a couple hours gardening and blogging. I'd start a lovely, quiet evening ritual--a longed-for ritual that most definitely has NOT happened.

Glorious Red Chinese Noodle beans.
All of them unharvested, past their prime.
At least I'll be able to save some seed for next year.

I don't come home ready to garden. I come home exhausted. My brain is full. My body is sore. My new job as an assistant at an elementary school is more challenging than I thought it would be. I have had to adjust to a whole new world of clocks and schedules-- routines I no longer get to make myself. All those years that my husband told me I was so lucky to be my own boss? I know now how he must have envied my ability to run the day however I saw fit. Which included all those glorious hours I got to spend in the garden with my daycare kids. We planted, weeded, harvested, snapped photos, relaxed, enjoyed. Even if it was only a 10-minute break from our normal planned learning and play activities, we worked gardening into our day and had a fantastic time doing it. The garden responded by thriving (usually) and looking, well, happy.

The garden doesn't look so happy anymore.

Somewhere in that weedy, messy south bed is a garden.
Look closer, and you'll find dozens of tomatoes,
rotting on their vines. Unpicked. Sad.

I come home most afternoons now and instead of tending the veggies, I veg inside. It doesn't help that it's been unbearably hot the past couple weeks. It seems I've lost the magic I once had for enticing my sons to venture out with me--instead of tromping out to garden, we are more likely to lay around inside reading, watching TV, or just doing nothing. By the time I might be somewhat inclined to go and take a look at my garden, or open the laptop to write on the blog, it's time for homework, supper, and bedtime rituals, That fleeting moment of motivation, lost for another day. Usually about the time I'm brushing my teeth, after everyone else has been settled and tucked in, I have a moment of panic--'another whole day, gone! I will have to get up and do the whole working routine again in the morning, and nothing is done!' I've always worked, HARD. But this is different, this leaving-the-house thing. Leaving my gardens alone all day. I adore the challenges of my new job (I still get to be with kids and my heart is just as full as ever), and I know I'm on the path I need to be on. But my absence from home each day is showing.

Pests, having a heyday, completely un-dealt with.
They are loving my inattention to the garden!

In time maybe I will adjust to a new way of life--this working life--and I will find the motivation I need to keep up with it all. It's been three and a half weeks into the job and I am just now starting to feel like I have a little something left each evening. Well, not always. But sometimes. In the meantime, my garden has wilted under the complete neglect. The biggest problem? Veggies that need harvested and instead go unpicked, and then go past the point of edibility. That is where I feel the most shame.

The green beans just keep coming, ready to grow and be picked continually, not noticing my disappearance. There are a few harvests yet to come; the carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatillos. They whisper silent promises; "We are still here. Tend to us, there is still time!" There is also the exciting prospect of the cold-weather crops and the hoop houses I planned for last spring.

This bed still looks lush. A happy bee nestles in a marigold.
Peppers and sweet potatoes grow happily without me.

I remember when people who worked outside the home told me they simply didn't have time to garden, and I never fully believed them. I thought maybe it just wasn't important enough for them to prioritize their time. However, now that I'm gone most of the day, and now that the hours I am home, I need to tend to all the normal family-and-kids-stuff, time is severely lacking. If I can figure out a way to prioritize the garden, especially during the weekends (which seem to be just as busy as weekdays), then I may be able to figure out the trick.

There IS a way to grow food while working outside of the home. I know there is a way, because many people are doing just that. I vow to figure it out; I am up for the challenge. Garden, hold on! I have not forgotten you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Crisp Onion & Zucchini Pizza

Got pesto? Got zucchini and onions? Try them all together on a pizza and be ready to fall in love!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Food Forest Update; Quiet Steady Growth

From the street, it's becoming obvious that this is no longer
a typical urban empty lot.

If you didn't see my original post about the Food Forest, click here to see how I got to be present at its 'birth'. What was once just a simple empty lot has begun a transformation beyond my wildest dreams...and it will only get more lush and beautiful as the perennial plants and trees reach maturity.

Since I first wrote about this magical place, the Young Urban Homesteaders--the dynamic couple who dreamed up the whole plan--launched their own website and included a page about their long-term vision. They described what a Food Forest is better than I ever could. You MUST click here to take a look!

Here are a few photos I took this weekend showing some of the changes and growth in this humble and beautiful place.  

Sunflowers and amaranth thrive along the borders.

From the far corner. Hard to see in the photo, but the hazelnut, pawpaw and seaberry trees are growing tall. You can see the raspberry trellis that the Young Urban Homesteaders have added.
All the food plants (FORTY whopping varieties) are thriving!

Wow, look at this! A sturdy, natural arch for the grapes and hardy kiwi plants to climb.
I can hardly wait to see this beautiful structure fill out with life.

Strawberries along the entire front edge of the lot.

The first of what will be many, many sunflowers this summer!

More updates to come as this former empty lot becomes a tiny forest brimming with wildlife, plants, and food. :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Today in The Garden- Six Blossoms

Early in the morning, there was a huge yellow blossom on the Jack-Be-Little pumpkin plant--by afternoon it had closed in on itself and revealed another blossom underneath it. Throughout the day we looked closely and found a few other flowering surprises.

There is something indescribably exciting about spotting those first blossoms. While the whole garden is hard at work, growing and greening in all the rain, these 6 are the star of the show for today...


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lamb's Quarters Poppers

It's time for you to discover lamb's quarters! 

A common 'weed' that is also known as goosefoot, fat hen, and smooth pigweed, lamb's quarters is a plant you may have overlooked. Tasty and abundant, and common nearly everywhere human beings live, it is the perfect forager's find. The leaves taste incredibly similar to spinach, and the raw stems taste like asparagus.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Forager's Find- Mulberry

For a long time, I hesitated to include mulberries as a Forager's Find because, well--they are everywhere! Is it really foraging if you only have to walk a block or two to find them?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Mulberry Alley- A Simple Gift from my Husband

I've had mulberries on my mind a lot lately.

I've been working on an informative blogpost--one that I never knew I wanted to write, until I realized that a lot of people don't know what mulberries are. I've been eating mulberries by the dozens every day since they began ripening last week. They are always something I've always taken

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Death of A Chipmunk

It's just a chipmunk. Its death should be inconsequential. I wanted it to die, after all. I wanted lots of the chipmunks who have set up residence in our yard to die. As long as I didn't have to do it--or see it.