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A Garden Tango

IMGP6424 My garden and I have done an awkward dance all summer long. Never on the same beat… our tempo completely off. A spastic horticultural tango if you will.

And then this past weekend… I finally had the time, energy and proper shoes that brought us together like the partners that we are. I spun from bed to bed in my red farm coat as the wind blew mightily. Probably a good thing we don’t have neighbors within eyeshot.

Earlier this summer I decided to exhibit at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair in Devon, PA. Normally at that time I would be caught up with orders from the Flower Show, excited about spring, winter sowing and getting ready to plant. This year I was in full production mode for my business and then away for a two week duration.  So much happens on a farm, with children, and animals in two weeks. My “away” time limit was reached and I learned that it was too much at this point, at this time in our lives. I never got caught up… all summer long I was one, or two or three steps behind- in so many areas. My garden went in late… some things didn’t go in at all. Then the rains came. Seedings were washed away while the organic weeds that I cultivate so beautifully grew and grew.

My focus never zeroed-in out there. I was away dancing with other loves like children, family, friends and art. I even flirted with running and taking better care of myself. Gasp! Every now and then the sprinkler was turned on when I could remember.

So Saturday I had the opportunity to stand back and appreciate what happens when I’m not paying attention… when I am not in control, when someone else is leading.

# # # # Newsflash # # # #

It still grows and it produces what its supposed to. Even with my full dance card this summer my partner kept up the beet. (snicker). We could easily have scored a 30 on Dancing with Your Vegetables that blustery afternoon, in my opinion.

 

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IMGP6432A little olive oil, salt and pepper then into the oven… carrots, onions, blue and red potatoes. Delicious.

 




Resources for Vegetable Gardening

My reference library gets bigger every year. I’m a sucker for a good book… especially of the gardening kind. As much as I love trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals, I am a nuts over growing vegetables and eating meals fresh from the garden. Here is my list of vegetable gardening books that I would highly recommend:

The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible  by Edward C. Smith- All in one general reference book

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew- Valuable for gardeners with small plots

Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza- No dig gardening. Love it.

Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte- How to make the most of companion planting.

1001 Garden Questions Answered by Alfred C. Mottes- An old reference book (published in 1939) that I love.

Grocery Gardening- Great growing tips as well as recipes from friends that I met on twitter.

Serving Up the Harvest- A “go to” book for seasonal cooking.

Storing the Harvest-Great info on how to save, put up and freeze your seasonal produce.

I’m sure I’ve missed a couple but I will update it as they come to me. Do you have a favorite book that you would like to recommend? Please do!

 

 




The Potager in July


The view from the studio.

My how fast the summer is going… I can’t keep up. The potager is growing nicely this season although I have been rather inconsistent regarding watering. I can’t believe how parched the ground is. Let’s hear it for the sprinkler! I live on the gardening edge and water from ABOVE… gasp! Please don’t notify the gardening police, thank you.

I made a few planting changes this year. The entire back row of the design has been planted to asparagus and I’m looking forward to having a perennial section that will not need replanting next year. Thankfully this family loves fresh asparagus and I must admit that growing up I had never seen fresh asparagus. My only memories of the vegetable were once a year on Christmas Eve- a mushy, smelly substance out of a Campbell’s soup can.  Eegads. Imagine my delight at lightly seasoned blanched stems with lemon and butter. Ahhh.

Two sour cherry trees were planted this spring on either side of the bistro set. Farmboy loves a sour cherry pie and I FINALLY found two Dark Star cherries locally. They produced the most wonderful fruits this year. Maybe enough for a couple of pies but they never made it inside the house. Let’s just say between Farmboy, me and Gracie the dog (yes, Gracie) the pies didn’t stand a chance. Maybe next year…

Today I had our first tomato of the season in a tomato and basil sandwich. I should have photographed it… but I ate it instead. I believe the variety is Crimson Cushion. Delicious. Nice color, low acid and velvet-y flesh.

Hey, I did photograph it with today’s harvest! Broccoli anyone?

I think this post will get me over the blogging block that I have been experiencing. So much to see, do, paint, plant, cook and draw its hard to stay focused. Needless to say- lots to blog about- so come back, pour a glass of wine or iced tea and stay awhile with me and Toonces. Tell us what has been keeping you busy this summer!

Toonces doing his best to look sophisticated.




Summer is ramping up… and I’m already worn out.

Whew.

May was a whirlwind of activity.

Will one of you sweethearts remind me of this next year?

All of those snow-filled days last winter amounted to one very pent up gardener who was ready to dig up the entire yard this Spring just to enjoy being warm, outside and being active.

I now understand why Farmboy loves the winter so much. It represents rest. As soon as the soil wakes in the Spring the rush for planting begins. The crops getting in are the biggest priority for the month of May. Farmboy comes in from his IT job, changes clothes, grabs and bite to eat and then heads out. Numerous nights during the month we would meet in bed at midnight- exhausted from deadlines, orders and planting.

Just as we breathe a big sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks that the crops are finally in… albeit late, it’s time to cut hay, cultivate, mow as well as pack the trailer for my next show (Allentown Art Festival this weekend) and do three nights a week of lacrosse practices.


The potager layout… before.

This year I decided to splurge and purchased one of those handy Mantis garden tillers for the vegetable garden. It is very light-weight and its narrow width works well in the small beds of my potager. Speaking of which, the potager is almost completely planted… I’m thrilled! I think this year it will be a delight for the eyes and the tastebuds.

Getting started with planting.

I always “plan” to put a “plan” on paper before I start planting… but I never do. It feels like painting when I am out there planting on the fly- thinking about lines, shape, color and repetition. At least this year I do have rows marked and I plan to do an “after” drawing of what is there for next year’s reference. I have threatened everyone that they will “rue the day” if they touch my plant markers as this is the first year that I am actually using them to keep track of which varieties grow/taste better than others.

The Mr and Mrs.

I’m thrilled this year to have an Eastern Bluebird family in a nesting box right under the studio windows on our rose arbor!  It has been such a joy watching the coming and going of those busy parents. The male will come right out to the potager when I am there and perch on the pea trellises or tomato stakes. After years of never even seeing a glimpse of the elusive New York State Bird… its wonderful to have a family of them living here next to the garden.

Outside the studio window.

So friends, thanks for stopping by. I will soon be posting some recent paintings that I’ve been working on, a great list of vegetable gardening references, potager progress, and a fun French-themed dinner menu you will not want to miss. Now let’s all get to work on enjoying the upcoming LAZY days of summer as demonstrated by Pongo the cat.

Pongo taking his afternoon nap.

 

 




German Harvest Basket

For my gardening friends out there… you must have one of these baskets! I found mine at the Philadelphia Flower Show last spring and enjoyed using it all throughout the summer. I love it because you can rinse your veggies off out in the garden before bringing them in the house/kitchen. I was using a picnic basket before and all of the dirt came in with the veggies. Now, my veggies are dirt free, Baby. I also like the industrial look of this basket. Today it is in a chair in my kitchen in front of the french doors with green tomatoes ripening in the sunshine.

I cannot remember who I purchased this basket from at the show but they are available here. Enjoy and have a fabulous friday!




ABOUT

Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.

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