End of the Summer Garden

This year’s garden wasn’t especially pretty but we did get a lot of food out of it:  cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, green beans, carrots, kale, onions, cabbage, chard, pumpkins, potatoes, summer squash and a nice assortment of herbs.  Not a lot of tomatoes, though.   Still yet to ripen:   apples and corn.  All the fruit-  cherries, raspberries, and apricots-  were eaten up by the birds, I think.  Somebody ate them and it wasn’t me!   We didn’t have gophers this year but that little white butterfly that lays gray eggs on cabbage-family vegetables which hatch into voracious green worms-  we had plenty of them.   The grape vine was very pretty but never had any grapes.  Maybe next year.  Here’s a few photos: pumpkinsgrapevine


Not Quite Eden

Flo as a Toddler-  RIP

About a month ago I was sitting in my backyard in the morning sunshine.  The veggie garden was flourishing,  the flowers were a riot of color, mostly purple,  the hens were laying well and a nice assortment of biblical birds (doves and sparrows, mostly) were visiting the feeders.  Mrs. Rabbit and the Farm Dog seemed to have made peace and things seemed just about perfect-  Edenic,  in fact.

But I soon realized that it’s not time for Eden yet on this earth.  The first clue was an invasion of gophers.  One by one,  my vegetables began to disappear:  A whole row of onions,  an entire patch of lettuce,  my entire zucchini crop as well as the cilantro and chard.   The corn,  green beans, tomatoes and most of the pumpkins are still unmolested but I am not too hopeful.  Every morning I go out to let the hens out of their coop and survey the latest predation.   The gophers chew the roots off at ground level,  leaving a wilted plant that will soon disappear down the gopher hole.  Very sad.   I have replanted everything in pots on the patio.

Then two of my hens fell sick.   Flo died but the other ailing hen-  my favorite Rhonda-  looked to be at death’s door for a week but thanks to many answered prayers she has recovered.   I had suspected Flo was poisoned by nibbling foxglove but I thought she was getting better,  but nope.  Rhonda looked to be next but I found some remedies on the Internet and I think she’s ok now. She has always been a little lop-sided and I guess she’s a special-needs hen.

So,  it’s not Eden,  no matter how much love, affection and attention I put into my garden and my animals.  Things still go very very wrong.

Genesis 3:18  “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you…”

Spring Garden!

I think I can declare this year’s garden PLANTED!  Now it’s just a matter of watering,  fertilizing, weeding and eating.  The winter was very dry at first and I was afraid we’d have water rationing this summer,  but we had a rainier than usual spring so I am optimistic that I can water the garden without any worries.


The hens are doing well, although we had a foxglove incident that makes me shudder to think about.  I always have foxglove in the yard,  which as we all know,  is quite poisonous.  However,  none of my animals ever ate it, not even Mrs. Rabbit,  so I figured the animals were exercising their God-given common sense.  But maybe chickens don’t have this feature…   Anyway,  I looked one morning and the foxglove showed definite signs of some serious nibbling.  And Flo was acting oddly-  not eating and wanting to sleep.  But, thank the Lord,  they all recovered and we put a fence around the foxglove to prevent future mishaps.  It’s so easy to make a dumb mistake that can kill your animals.  We generally get three eggs each day,  sometimes four.   During Lent I froze a lot of eggs by blending them and storing them in small containers but the results are not very appetizing.  I’ve been feeding them to Lilly the Farm Dog.

Farm Dog at Work

Yay! Tomatoes!

September Tomatoes!

I’ve been whining all summer about how the lack of sunshine and temperatures that rarely exceeded 65 degrees were preventing my tomatoes from ripening.   But every year,  after the typically cold and foggy Seaside/ Monterey summer comes warm and sunny September,  just like it always does.  All the tomatoes that hung sorrowfully on their vines,  shivering in the gloom,  have all begun to ripen,  each and every one of them.   I grew these tomato vines on the patio,  using those Topsy-Turvy hanging baskets.   I see these things hanging off porches all over town, all of them with dead plants.  I think to make them work you need to do the following things:

  1. Hang your planters in a sunny,  NON-WINDY location.
  2. Use good potting soil.  The roots will eventually fill the entire container and you need good dirt if you want good tomatoes.
  3. Water them everyday.   Every month or so,  add some organic fertilizer.
I used to put the tomatoes out in the regular garden and the vines would over-grow the wire cage resulting in many of the tomatoes rotting on the ground or being eaten by snails.  I didn’t have any of these problems with the Topsy Turvy baskets.  No rot, no snails,  no bugs,  no broken vines,  no hard-to-reach tomatoes… (and no sun,  for three months but I”m rejoicing in the sunshine now!)  I lost a few tomatoes to birds but I am glad to share.

Granny Squares

I’m working on a granny square bedspread for my bed.   I had forgotten how to make them and if you’ve also forgotten,  there’s plenty of good tutorials on YouTube,  such as this one.

Three Sisters Garden

Three Sisters Garden, still young

This year we planted a Three Sisters Garden:  tall corn in the middle which supports the climbing bean vines which are shaded by the big leaves of squash plants.   We dumped out last winter’s compost heap into two piles and planted the seedlings right on the compost.   For the beans we planted Kentucky Wonder pole beans and for the squash we planted pumpkins.  I started all the plants as seeds on the patio.  This photo is a week old-  things have really taken off,  especially the pumpkin vines.   On the other, smaller compost pile I planted zucchini instead of pumpkins.  That little patch was attacked by some kind of pest and I had to spray the plants with insecticide soap.   This is such an easy type of garden to plant and care for.  I don’t think I have enough corn plants to get good ears of corn because corn needs to grow in a crowd of fellow corn stalks in order to pollinate properly.  But I am very optimistic about the beans and the pumpkins.  Gardens are such a consolation. Thank you, Lord.

Here’s a link to a page that explains the Three Sisters Garden.


Years ago, when all five children lived at home,  I used to do what is called Once-A-Month Cooking.  It was very popular amongst us homeschooling moms.  I remember the publisher of Gentle Spirit magazine  used to print menus and recipes and I could hardly wait for my issue to come in the mail.  The idea is to do all your cooking one day out of the month- a big glorious messy exhausting cooking day- and to freeze the meals.   The plan wasn’t to cook 30 individual recipes but to cook five or six recipes, in large quantities,  like six pans of lasagna,  six freezer bags of chicken and rice casserole,  six pizzas,  etc.   I used to make up the menu,  collect my recipes,  make a shopping list and then, the day before the cooking day,  we’d go to Costco and buy the ingredients which would (in those days) include five or six chickens,  ten pounds of hamburger,  five pounds of cheese,  etc.  Shopping day was a lot of fun!   I’d bake the chickens that night and soak the beans.  On cooking day,  I would steadily work my way through all the recipes, stopping only to wash some pots and pans, until everything was stowed in the small chest freezer in the garage.  What a sense of accomplishment!   It was economical and efficient.  All I had to do for the rest of the month was thaw a meal and heat it up, maybe cook some fresh veggies and prepare a salad.  The meals were good and the family liked them.  Later on I added a separate baking day when I baked bread,  muffins and desserts.

As the kids grew up and left home I gradually abandoned Once-A-Month Cooking.  It was determined that the old chest freezer was an energy hog so we (sadly, on my part) took it to the dump.   Now that it’s just Eddie and me,  I realized that our refrigerator’s freezer was big enough for a month of our meals so I embarked on another happy day of cooking.  Eddie eats meat; I don’t.  I made veggie and meat versions of lasagna, stew,  chili beans and a stack of veggie burgers plus four bags of applesauce (from my neighbor’s trees) and six apple pies.  Also,  four loaves of WW bread and several varieties of quick bread.  (Not to mention a few containers of homemade dog food for Lilly.)  I did it on the spur of the moment and it wasn’t planned as well as it could have been.  I have more ambitious plans for next month!

I was thinking…. Now that Gentle Spirit is defunct, maybe I could post menus and recipes for the community,  especially veggie recipes.  Except I seldom use recipes….  Maybe just the menus, then.

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