Tag Archives: tomatoes

The power of sunshine.

Sunflowers, Sungold tomatoes, baby figs and basil and hollyhocks – It’s summertime! I’ve been feeling it, and seeing the effects of heat.

 

First, the bad news: My beloved osmanthus/Sweet Olive could not transition to life without lawn water, and was ultimately killed by years of drought. Below is the last scene of its root ball being rolled into a truck. I will never forget this Garden Friend who gave me so much joy. If I ever live where it rains in the summer I will plant another one as soon as I move in!

Let’s get this next unpleasant picture out of the way, too, of Puncture Vine – the bane of my childhood bicycle tires and bare feet! This particular one was growing in the Central Valley, but I also saw some of this weed in my neighborhood yesterday! Its stickery seeds are certainly a product of summer sun.

My favorite rose at church

I’ve picked so many green beans, I was able to make two batches of Turkish Green Beans, a great luxury. This dish freezes so well, it’s ideal for using up the basketsful you get at peak of harvest. The evening that I was preparing the beans was one of those sweet times in summer, when the breeze and the neighborhood sounds of birds and wind chimes and happy voices are coming through the open window, the kitchen window, and I am satisfied and content, having made good use of my garden, at least this week.

All the carrots I harvested had been stashed in the fridge and I eventually made some coconutty soup with them.

There is one exciting thing that happened in my garden that is less directly related to the power of sunshine, and that is the hatching of bluebirds in the birdhouse! I had never seen a bluebird before, but I’d bought a bluebird house, and other people who did that got bluebirds where they’d never seen them before, either. So…

Last spring chickadees nested there, and they might have again if I had thought to clean out the house. They checked it out this year and found their old nest all soggy, and departed. I cleaned out the house, and next thing you know, there are bluebirds nesting in it!!! I took a few pictures and videos of them growing up, until the parents began dive-bombing me, and I left on a trip. This early one is the best that is a still shot. And now they have flown!

Even when I am lazing about in the mountains or hanging out with my children in faraway places, people like Kit keep making use of the sunshine and flora of summertime to make welcome-home bouquets like this:

When it was Kit’s birthday I cut some Queen Anne’s Lace at the creek and put the stems in different colors of water. The red and the green had an effect, but the blue did nothing.

Ground morning glory
One of Kim’s hollyhocks

Last and mostest, the Delta Sunflowers! They have passed eight feet tall now, and I can’t get in between the side branches to get an exact measurement. The poor things are like gangly teenagers, growing so fast and lanky that their lower branches snap off and lie down, but so far the sap is getting through by some means and those stems aren’t wilting.

I feel very proud of them when I come home in my car or from a walk, the way their exuberance displays the best of summer and the power of the sunshine.

The fullness of spending and leisure.

A pair of blue jays were playing in my manzanita and pine when I came back from my walk this foggy morning. I hadn’t seen any here in many months. Oh, down by the creek I do, not far away; I don’t wonder that they prefer to hang out where there’s even more going on, more things to eat. True, there are no manzanita bushes or Canary Island Pines by the creek; maybe they came here for the the dried manzanita berries under the bush.

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Anyone who has been following the Iceland poppy contest in my garden will want to see what I think is the winner of the endurance trial. It is probably an indication of how cool our summer has been, that one plant stayed alive all through August and accomplished a lonely bloom on September 7th. Surely it is the last! — and the plant does appear to be shriveling, as its companions did a few weeks ago.

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In the vegetable boxes, mice, as I suppose, are eating tomatoes. I don’t seem to have energy to find a deterrent to these nightly raids; I do know that the mice probably need the fruit more than I do… but it’s an ugly mess they are making, and the solution is probably to pull out the Early Girls that are the favored item on the mouse menu. With the weather we’ve been getting, it’s not likely that the tomatoes will get as ripe as I require, anyway, and I have seen some appealing recipes for fried green tomatoes lately.

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My front yard re-landscaping might be completed this month. Right now we are waiting … the hardscape is finished, these pictures showing the work of two weeks ago.

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And back in the back yard, I finally bought a bench for the corner by the birdhouse, and Soldier happened to be here soon after to assemble it for me. Look how tall the native currants have grown up in that corner! As soon as the rains begin (God willing, they shall) the calla lilies will start sprouting enthusiastically and I’ll have to pull them out, eternally.

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Soldier’s whole family was here for part of a day, and Liam worked in the playhouse, making a pie (so he said) out of flowers and herbs I told him he might pick for the purpose.

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Autumn Joy sedum is still looking beautiful, as it has for at least nine months now, and the acanthus is sending out new flower stalks.

 

 

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As I’ve been writing, and drinking my tea, the sun came out. Now it seems possible that I might get myself out to do some cleanup in the garden. Today I am going to soak my pea seeds, and hope to plant them tomorrow.

I have a feeling that it will always be a challenge, keeping up with all the things I want to do and need to do in the garden, not letting the housework go too neglected, reading and writing and praying, loving my friends and family, communing and working at church…. Life is very full. Today is very full. I looked for a closing quote to express something of what I’m feeling, but could find nothing more suitable than these lighthearted admonitions.

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. ~John Gunther

That one I’ve already taken care of.

Spend the afternoon. You can’t take it with you. ~Annie Dillard

And this one is next!

 

Our Kind of Fall

Reading as many blogs as I do has the subtle effect oP1110742crpf making me want to bring my neighborhood in line with the music that autumn plays in most other places. For example, I found a November poem that is all about the violent wind, when we usually have to wait a month or two later for that sort of thing. It didn’t fit with my reality.

It’s definitely Fall here, but our notes sing a quieter background harmony, linking us more obviously to summer. Even the window art at the grocery store is mostly sunflowers to go with the pumpkins and turkeys.P1110762

All of the pictures from my garden were taken on this sixth day of November. A strawberry is ripe, as “ripe” as ornamentals get, but is decorated by a few of the telltale fallish pine needles that are slowly covering everything in that part of the yard.

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The sign for the orange cherry tomato is hiding deep under the exploding foliage, and I can’t remember if it is a Sungold or a Sunsugar, but the fruit is still ripening, and nearly as sweetly as a month ago.

 

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Mr. Glad stopped us on the way to Vespers last week to take this picture of clouds in a blue sky. Not rain clouds, sad to say. The grass has that November look, from having dried up and then been rained on a little, not enough to create any new green color. Our autumn is drier than usual, which is a hard kind of gentleness.

 

 

 

P1110759The furnace has been turned on, which means that we keep the windows closed, though with the days mild, and the air so fresh and soothing, I wish we could. I just have to go fully out of doors if I want to get into the natural atmosphere.

It’s still not really cold enough to have a wood fire, and we haven’t had a frost yet, as you can tell from the tomatoes. P1110774

These are the hens and chicks near the new planting bed out front. I set out all the new ground-cover starts this week, and some of the thyme is blooming still.

October is the P1110772month to plant peas of any sort, and this year I bought sweet pea (those are the flowers) and snow pea seeds, but I never got around to actually putting them in the ground, which means that the failed flowering fennel and the nasturtiums are free to paint an impressionistic scene. The background music is called “Flowery Fall.”

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Tea and Tomatoes

Turkish tea fr Kate 9-2014Kate brought me the most amazing tea from Istanbul. I keep sniffing it and trying to discern what all those exotic smells are — no label tells me anything about it. And I’m kind of afraid to make a pot of tea and end up disappointed, because you know how herbal teas often don’t taste as good as their dry aromas lead you to expect? It  Well, what do I expect, after all that watering down…

P1110230 new mugBut when I do take the plunge, I will drink it out of this new mug I gifted myself with. Big mugs, preferably those that hold a pint, are my favorites, but they usually aren’t so girly looking. When I saw this big and flowery one, there was little deliberating.

Today Mr. and Mrs. C. came over. The guys then went to Starbucks to drink tea and talk, and we “girls” worked in the garden. It reminded me of when I was in Turkey lo these many years ago, and in the villages the men would sit in the café and drink tea and play tavla (backgammon) while the women were out in the olive groves harvesting the fruit.tomatoes peeling 9-14

But today really wasn’t much like that – we also spent quite a while looking at pictures of Kate’s wedding for which Mrs. C. had arranged the flowers, and we talked to the man who delivered a cord of firewood on to our driveway. He is 83 and still does all his own busintomatoes peeled 9-14ess.

Mrs. C. is always glad to take cuttings from my garden to experiment with. This time I sent her home with some wayward sprouts of my mystery salvia, and some succulents. Also some of our lovely Yellow Brandywines. But we still have more tomatoes than we can use fresh, so I scalded and peeled a bunch last week and made tomato pudding.

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