But I'm here. And I've decided on a non-intimidating way to re-immerse myself. A short, sweet, to-the-point entry (or not so short, as I come back to recant that statement after writing the post - oops) demonstrating some of the growing we've been doing around here. Perhaps I'll attempt to recapture nine months of hustle and bustle and actual human development in the Ashley household at a later time. (Can't think about that now or my angst will pop me right up out of this chair.) For now, I'll merely take you - whichever 2 of you may still check this blog to see if it still exists - on our ongoing journey to grow a garden this summer. Cheers!
This would illustrate the insanity that can come from being "inspired" by the myriad of ideas found on Pinterest. Self-watering containers. Lucky for us, we had our entire supply of water storage to deplete in order to grow (or attempt to grow) our vegetable seeds. I really did think they'd be just the perfect thing to keep our seedlings quenched and growing while being away in UT for a week. Turns out, they water a little too well. But I get ahead of myself...
So, sometimes I get really awesome ideas, like growing plants in prone-to-tipping plastic containers that require daily rotating for consistent light exposure. Even more awesome than that idea is the one I had to create this hothouse in a "blocked-off" tightly-wedged corner of the kids' toy room. It only took a few balls flying - perfectly targeting said corner, and a few cartwheels gone awry, and a few times vacuuming up the luscious moist soil in our new shag carpet and radiant floor heaters before I reconsidered this idea. We moved the plant lab upstairs to the uninhabited sewing room and suffered much less mishap. Go figure.
There are things that we learn through others' wisdom which can help us if we are keen enough to consider and apply them to our own lives (like "how to conserve a garden bed if skipping a year's planting so that every weed in western NY doesn't infest it" or even "when best to attack weeds so that you're not left to uproot them once they're fully grown"). Had I sought out this wisdom and/or used a tad of common sense, I might not have faced this horrific jungle that plagued our garden beds come planting time. But that was our plight and we faced it head on. It took a bit of doing - Abby decided her version of teamwork was to pick up the weed clumps that I'd till up and throw at her feet, then roll them down the board to Ellie who sat ready to toss them into the pile. I may have worked up a bit more of a sweat than they did in the process.
Thanks to Nana and Granddad (and a friend's pick-up), we got those garden beds back into tip top shape with rich, beautiful soil - ready to bring on our bounteous harvest. After much heartache and frustration at having eventually lost 35/40 of our seedlings - many of which drowned in their self-watering containers - we supplemented with the more hardy, store-bought plants. I also swore off growing from seed again. In went 6 cucumbers (with a snazzy trellis designed by yours truly), 19 tomatoes, 12 peppers, 1 eggplant, and some lettuces, carrots and green onions. And marigolds - to supposedly keep the bunnies away. Yeah...
After a month of careful attention (Adam refers to the plants as my other children), researching any and all insights into organic gardening, my hopes started to grow with the progress being made. While the lettuce ended up being devoured by those blasted rabbits, at least watching it quickly sprout and leaf helped my impatience with seeing results in the other plants' growth. Within a couple of weeks of the above garden photo, we most excitedly shared the first fruits of our labors. (I may have cheated a tad and purchased a couple of tomato plants already bearing fruit. You know, just to up my chances at actually producing something from all of this.)
Based on previous years, I knew that if all went as planned, these seemingly meager tomato plants would flourish and need decent support. After more research and mathematical planning on Adam's part, we decided upon the (reusable) pvc pipe tomato cage and went to work. You might notice in the above garden picture how ridiculous the first one looks, towering at 7 feet over our little plants. After a couple more 7-footers but then caving to Adam's doubts as to the growing potential of my tomatoes, I finished the rest off at 5 feet. Two weeks after the above garden picture, our little gardens flourishing, I began to second guess my second guessing.
And this is what can happen in two months! Worm castings, aspirin, eggshells and blood and bone meal in the soil; panicked applications of neem oil and soap solutions to thwart insects, mites and fungus; even more panicked applications of liquid calcium and pureed kale (on a total un-scientific whim) to correct blossom end rot; liquid copper applications to hopefully ward off a host of diseases; varied watering approaches (including leaving the hose on a given plant, forgetting about it for 45 minutes, and running out in a hysterical frenzy to relieve the deluge when remembered) and a gloriously sunny, though quite hot, WNY summer keeps these babies growing.
While we aren't quite yet to full-on red tomato stage, we've sampled a few and have cucumbers coming out our eyes. And I dare say, that extra flavor and sweetness may just come from the work, patience and love that goes in to making them thrive. You know, like with real children. : )
QFTD (While my consistency at recording the girls' quotes also waned, sadly, over this last nine months, I did write down some and will divvy them up over the next few entries.)
Me, on a Sunday and in response to Ellie's blasting "Single Ladies": "Ellie, you may play church songs or Christmas music." Ellie, scowling: "But WHY??" Me: "Because Sunday is a special day when we try to be calm." Ellie: "Well, I know a church song. 'Going to the Chapel.'"
Ellie: "Mom, I want a burrito. Even more than a candy treat - even more than a play date. I really want a burrito!"
Ellie: "Mom, is it "Mc-donalds' or "Nick-donalds"?" Me: "Mc- with an 'M."" Ellie: "Ohh. I thought it was Nick-donalds."
Abby, as we drove: "Mom, did you know when you and Dad die and I'm still alive with Ellie and Patrick - I get the birthright!?" Ellie: "What's the birthright?" Abby: "The birthright means I get their things and to be in charge of you and Bubba." Ellie: "And when you die, I get the birthright."
Me, upon coming down from a nap and finding the kitchen and wood room floors covered with mini chocolate chips: "What happened here?" Ellie: "Abby did it." Abby: "I just wanted to do an experiment." Me: "Which was?" Abby: "Well, I put some chocolate chips in a bag to melt on the lamp." Me: "You melted chocolate chips on the lamp?? Abby - you could burn the house down!" Abby: "But it didn't. I put the baggy on two wooden sticks on top of the light. Then when it started melting on the light bulb I just turned it off and wiped the light bulb off."
Ellie: "Mom, I have a new recipe. It is: one buttering cup of sugar, 8 eggs, 1 cup olive oil, 1 spoon flour. And then one more egg."
Abby, as Ellie blabbed with Patrick: "Ellie, I don't like that tone. It's not the words you were saying, it's the sound." Me, facing Abby: "Abigail, enough." Abby, rolling her eyes: "Here we go again."
Abby, after I explained how the car's tire got flat: "Yeah, lots of things just get holes in 'em these days."
Ellie, while putting on Adam's deodorant: "This is so my tickle spots won't tickle. Or hurt."
Ellie, to Grammy: "How did you get to our house??" Grammy: "I flew." Ellie: "With your arms?" Grammy: "Mm-hmm." Ellie, the next morning: "Grammy, can you teach me how to fly?"
Abby, after preparing for bed: "Mom, I accidentally brushed my teeth but I'm still hungry."
Ellie, while playing house with Abby: "Will we be having chili souffle?" Abby: "Oh no. I'm making Shrimp Choo-flay."
Me: "Abby, you need to brush your teeth better or your gums will get diseased." Ellie: "What's a disease?" Abby: "It's like when your sick, but worser." Ellie: "Yeah. Worser than croup. So sick you die. Does Abby have a disease?"
Me: "Abby, would you like to finish Ellie's egg?" Abby: "Oh yes! I LOVE protein!"
Ellie: "Look Mom! This is our car (blankets spread over the floor and a bar stool) and these are our security guards (teddy bears) to get the bad guys when they shoot our tires. But it's okay - we have a whole ton of tires in the back if they get shot."
Grammy, inquiring about Abby's pizza party with her principal: "So, did you get to eat with the kindergartners in the kindergarten room?" Abby: "NO!" Grammy: "Oh, just with the special kids?" Abby: "No! I'm not one of the 'special' kids Grammy." Grammy: "Oh - you mean with the kids that got chosen?" Abby: "Yeah - with the chosen ones."
Ellie, after watching a pioneer movie: "Don't you just walk under planes? How can you walk across the planes?"
Ellie: "What does 'freedom' mean?" Abby: "It means you're free and you're dumb."
Ellie, while eating some white chili: "Mmm. This is good, Mom. It needs some topping on it. Like parsleaf."
Abby, when I walked in the house to find her cleaning out the fridge with Grammy: "Mom! We wanted to do a nice thing for you since you have 'red eye' and had to go to the doctor to get it checked out. You work so hard for us and just have been working really hard since we were even in your belly and we want to do something nice for you. So, we are cleaning out the fridge for you - can you believe we are just your young children and are doing such a great job?"
Abby, as I picked her up from the nurse's office at school: "My throat hurts and my head hurts." Me: "Well, we'll go home and you can get some good rest." Abby: "Mom, my leg's a little loose too."
Grammy, holding up Adam's brown Snuggy: "Ellie, where does your daddy's bathrobe go?" Ellie: "Oh, that's not his bathrobe. That's his bear costume. Yeah - it's sick." Grammy: "It's sick?" "Yeah - it's sick. When he put it on at Christmas everyone laughed and said it was sick."
Ellie: "Mom, how old are you?" Me: "49." Ellie: "You don't look 49." Me: "Ooh. Really?" Ellie: "No - you have to be up to the ceiling to be 49."
Ellie to Grammy: "My Nana loves watermelon." Grammy: "So does Grandpa! It's his favorite." Ellie: "It's my favorite too. And I love grapes. And the BESTEST I love is cheese! I LOVE cheese."
Abby, while playing horses: "Bon Appetit! That means 'go ahead and eat.'
Ellie: "Mom, my head hurts." Me: "Why does it hurt?" Ellie: "I want some fruit. That's why my head is growling - for some fruit."