Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Harvest Monday and Other Stuff

This is the only picture I have to show for the last week of harvesting from my vegetable garden.  This lovely baby bok choy went into a stir fry which we enjoy very much around here.  There should have been other photos taken of the spinach salad Sarah made with strawberries & walnuts.  Or my lunch today which was a salad of mesclun and freckled romaine.  Or the tossed salad last week.  None of those had their picture taken but the harvest of greens from the garden is in full swing now.  No need to purchase lettuce from the store or bok choy for that matter. 

As to the other stuff my gardening time is taken up with mulching.  The 5 cubic yards of mulch is slowly diminishing.  This afternoon I weeded and mulched around the pond.  Wednesday I will hope to complete the glen garden.  Whatever mulch remains in the pile will go to refreshing the new beds that were mulched last fall.

And finally on to sightings.  Last week it was the hummingbird tapping on my window though I haven't seen him since.  I know he was eating bugs but he is risking getting stuck.  Each summer there are several occasions when we find hummingbirds with their beaks stuck in our screens.  I gentle tap releases them but I always wonder how long they've been there.

This morning at the bird feeder was the rosy grosbeak.  I attempted a photo but he was gone too soon.  The towhee and his partner are frequent visitors under the hostas.  No sign of the phobe yet this spring.  Of course the regular year round residents are happy that I keep the suet feeder and sunflower feeders full.

A four legged sighting reported to us by our neighbor is an eastern coyote.  Apparently it looks like a fox with a longer tail and longer legs.  We haven't seen it yet here on our hill but it won't be long.  I'd be glad for it to come get the bunny which has started eating the creeping phlox again. Those plants should be so much bigger but the bunny keeps them pruned too close.

There are other harvests to check out at Daphne's Dandelions.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Tap, Tap, Tap

What was that tapping at my window?  How long before I was aware of the tap, tap, tap?  When I glanced to my left to see what bug was trying to come in, lo and behold not a bug at all, but a lovely ruby throated hummingbird.  I think he wanted me to know he was back for the summer.  I think, too he wanted to know where his feeder was.  Now I need to post on the hummingbird map that I have sighted one here in Windsor Mill, MD.
Photo from http://www.pinebarrensanimals.com/birds

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Those Little Bells

A spring time favorite flower for me is the Lily of the Valley.  These are special for their fragrance so I make sure to pick them to bring in, and

they are special because of where they came from: friends and family.  When we moved out of our house in Columbia in 2003 I told the new owners I would be back to dig up some of my perennials once I had a garden to move them into.  Well, it took longer than we expected to build this new house but when we moved in in Fall 2005 I knew that the spring of 2006 would be time to return for the plants I'd left behind.

Lilies of the valley were one of those plants.  These had come from the garden of Dan's grandfather Huffman in Franconia, Virginia.  There was no way I was leaving them behind when we moved.  When I dug them up finally that spring I got black eyed susans too so now this bed of lilies of the valley is also a very large bed of black eyed susans.  I planted them on the north side of the house because that's where they were at the old house. They are not as lush as they once were in their old location so I've since taken some transplants to the pond garden and know they will spread there.

My other clump of lilies of the valley came from our former pastor.  She offered these after we had moved in.  These bloom first and seem to be growing better on the west side of the house outside Dan's study.  They bloom first so I pick from them to bring the fragrance into the house.

 

Finally the trees are almost fully in leaf.  The last are the beech which have lost the brown fall leaves and are now opening new ones.  This is the view from Dan's study door with the last blooms of the dogwood against the new green of the woods.  It's a blue sky day after many days of much needed rain!
 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Harvest Monday - First Real Greens!

I know these two photos look almost exactly alike but they were taken on two different evening this past week when I harvested enough new salad greens (mesclun, speckled romaine and spinach) from the garden for salads enough for three.  Nothing beats the taste of newly picked lettuce in a salad.  Saturday's salad was the main course and featured marinated and sauteed steak over top the greens with lots of other toppings and a dressing of choice.  I chose ranch, Dan chose poppy seed and Sarah chose blue cheese.


Lots of other harvests can be viewed if you head over to Daphne's Dandelions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Asparagus Soup


 Joining Robin at Gardener of Eden for Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard.

Here's a favorite spring time recipe for asparagus soup.  It's been a very long time since I grew my own asparagus but I have always loved eating it in the spring.  I came upon this recipe in the Fulton Elementary Cookbook which was the school I used to teach at.  The cookbook was published in 2002 and I was given a copy by one of my students because his illustration was selected for the cover.

Asparagus Soup

1 T. butter
1 small onion chopped
1 T flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb. asparagus cut in 1 inch pieces
1 tsp savory
sour cream or plain yogurt
chives

Melt butter.  Add onion and saute until tender.  Add flour and stir in to cook.
Gradually add chicken broth then bring to a boil.  Add asparagus and savory and simmer about 25 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to puree entire contents of your soup pan.  Serve with dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives. (The chives and savory came from the herb garden and mentioned on Tuesday's post.)


Again I forgot to take a photo of the soup at serving time.  Here's a bowl partially finished.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Harvest Monday - Late Again!

 So one day last week I harvested from my herb bed in the perennial garden (clockwise from top) chives, savory, and oregano.  The chives were a garnish on top of a dollop of sour cream on top of asparagus soup.  Look for the recipe on Thursday!  The oregano went into an alfredo sauce of my making for ravioli.
 Sunday was stir fry night so I thinned some baby bok choy,
 and some tatsoi to add to the stir fry.
I also got this harvest of spinach for another quick stir fry of spinach with ginger and garlic.  Delicious.
The weather here is so tempting to plant out the tomatoes but I know its too soon especially since they haven't been hardened off.  This afternoon I transplanted them and four pepper plants into bigger peat pots. They barely fit under the grow light now.

See other harvests at host Daphne's Dandelions.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Mom's Garden


 My mom is a gardener and has been for many, many years.  For the last 15 years she has lived in a retirement community in Pennsylvania, 11 of those years with my dad who is no longer with us.  She gardens in the front and back of her single level cottage planting an assortment of flowers and perennials.  For vegetable gardening she has a portion of the community garden a short walk from her home.  Mom is 93 and she's still gardening!

Today my sister and I joined her to get the vegetable garden going.  Fortunately for us the grounds crew had rototilled most of her garden otherwise I'd still be there digging it up.  They couldn't do it all because of the strawberries, spinach and peas she'd already planted.

The photo below is the before.  Her portion extends to the right to where the soil seems to be tilled in a perpendicular direction and to the left where you can see some spinach growing.  It's a long rectangle.  At the far end are some raspberries that I think she inherited.  This year her plot is double the size it was last year.

The major accomplishment today was to lay out defined beds and walkways wide enough for her to get around in the garden. She uses a cane most of the time for balance so it was important to make it easy for her to walk about.  Last year she had such narrow paths which made it difficult to walk about.

Below are three narrow beds.  From left to right we have spinach (planted earlier this spring and in the fall) and beets planted today, then in the middle a long narrow row of peas planted today in a wide trench, and to the right some peas she planted earlier with strawberries planted who knows when.  The paths are wide enough for her here.  Beyond these we made mounds for her to plant hills of squash.  The soil there had been tilled so it was easy to rake it into mounds.



In this newly tilled part below I made some raised beds for tomatoes, squash, beans and potatoes in the back.  She had some compost from the horse stables which we dumped on the beds for now.  Again I left space between the beds for her to manuever easily

Unfortunately the water spigot had not been turned on for the season by the grounds crew so we couldn't water.  The soil is very dry and the peas and beets we planted will need watering soon.  Mom and my sister may have toted water from the cottage after I went home. I hope so.  It was a good day in the garden and I know we were a big help to her.

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard


 Tuesday's dinner came from the crock pot.  I went looking for a recipe in my Crock Pot Cookbook called "Crockpot: The Original Slow Cooker" as I sat down to lunch.  I knew what I had in the freezer so had to find a recipe that would finish by 6 o'clock using ingredients I had or that could be substituted easily.  This is the one I picked.
I had frozen peppers and frozen zucchini which even though the recipe didn't call for I added anyway.  It got mushy but it was chili so that was fine.  I also used 1 tablespoon of chili garlic sauce for the salsa.  At the end I added the black beans but also one can of corn.




 Before cooking.
 After cooking but before the beans and corn went in.  
Sorry no serving photos.  When it was time to eat taking photos slipped my mind.  I served it over brown rice with a dollop of sour cream on top.  
Spicy and good.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Promises










It's that time of year when there are so many promises of what is yet to come.
HAPPY EASTER!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another Birdhouse


 Do you remember the birdhouse project I wrote about here?  Well, I've made another one.  I had a friend over for lunch and a craft and we both made houses. My friend's is on the right and mine on the left.



 I used cut up pine cones for the shingled roof. The roof is outlined with stalks from sedum.  The walls are covered with split Joe Pye weed stalks, and the wreath around the hole is from tall grass.

We had a lot of fun completing our projects.
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