Thursday, June 19, 2008

Going Green: Time off in the Garden

After weeks of rain in the Midwest, we have finally had one whole week of sunshine. It has been in the high 70's each day with a light breeze. Weather like this almost makes you forget that the hot stuff is on the way.

This is the reason I love the month of June.

The kids and I took the morning off to spend time together and play outside. Because it's been dry, we decided to do some watering... the old fashioned way. To water my plants, I usually fill a 5-gallon bucket and put it near the flower garden or the vegetable garden and ask my children to choose one of the 17 plastic watering cans in their toy box. They water the plants, they water each other, they water me. As a matter of fact, I'm sure I've grown as a result. (ha. I'm such a shorty.) We have fun, and they help me to notice all the small changes in our plants since the last time we were out.

Spending that time -- they are much more observant and thorough than I am -- made my wonder whether it was time for a garden update. I checked the blog, and LO! It is.

After a healthy run -- clearly the best spinach year ever on record in this house -- all the spinach has finally bolted. We had one variety that lasted a really long time -- I wish, now, I could remember what it was called. But, it is done and setting seed. I will probably have one more really good harvest -- enough to make a big batch of wilted spinach with slivered garlic a'la The Barefoot Contessa. I could eat the whole bowl of it, it's that good.

The lettuce, though, is going strong. This wet, cool, long-lasting spring has been a salad-lovers dream. In the past, I always planted mesclun, but this year I opted for Green Leaf lettuce. It is so nice to just go out and pick a whole head of it for the evening's salad. You can't get any better than fresh lettuce, and it is so good, it doesn't even need dressing.

In worse news, my sugar snap peas have been totally decimated by the cutest baby bunny I've ever seen. Why does the creature ruining my peas have to be so darned lovable? It makes it impossible to be angry. I even sat with my daughter about 6 feet away from the thing (about the size of one of her shoes) while it ate an entire plant from root to tip. Total pea harvest =5.

We have several vegetables in flower, and as long as our bunny friend doesn't get to those, we should be okay. They are: tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, and green beans. There are seedling basil and cilantro plants in the garden that are looking quite healthy, too. So, the next month should be a fun one for cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs.

Our flower garden has also been fun to watch. Our roses are in full bloom, although we lost one planting near the arbor in our backyard. We replaced it with two clematis vines. So, keep your fingers crossed. Our petunias from last year seeded themselves, so we have a mixture of pink, purple, and white petunias popping up all over the place.

In the wildflower garden, there are day-lilies, tiger lilies, bluebells, and forget-me-nots. It makes for a few pockets of color, but the big bloomers, like the bee balm, purple coneflower, brown-eyed-susans, sunflowers, and cosmos are waiting for warmer weather. They have a good number of buds, though! So, it looks like we're promised a colorful July.

That's all from the garden! I hope you don't mind if I head out again with the kids. You just can't pass up a day like this!

Midwest Mom

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