Chinese Evergreen Flowering

It has been years since I have kept houseplants, mostly because our kitties like to chew on them, rip them to shreds, and then, adding insult to injury, sleep on top of the dying plant.  Cats are evil, what can I say?  Also, when it comes to houseplants, my thumbs are undoubtedly black.  If the cats didn’t murder them, my neglect would before long.

This past May, whilst browsing the plant section at Lowes, I noticed some house plants that were advertised as both pretty and easy to care for.  Their tags said “Plants of Steel”, so I decided to accept the challenge and see if they really are as tough as their tags imply.  Well, four months later, I am shocked and happy to say that they are not only still alive, but they are thriving!

*happy dance*

This morning, I noticed my Chinese Evergreen, also called Aglaonema, is flowering.

 

Happy plants make flowers, not sad and dying ones.  I declare myself the best gardener/houseplant keeper in the whole entire world.  Yes, the whole entire world.  Now don’t ruin my moment, just ooo and ahhh along with me.

Pickles!

This was our first year growing cucumbers, and I have to say, they have enjoyed their luxurious stay in our front earth box!  The vines exploded from the box, trying to choke out the tomatoes and quickly pulling down the trellis we installed to help keep it upright.  Hidden in all the ginormous leaves, we found equally ginormous cukes.

 

That isn’t even the biggest one we grew!

With our bounty of giant cucumbers, I decided that a batch of homemade canned pickles was in order.  I slaved away, not really, and made a batch yesterday in the afternoon lull of naptime.

 

Added a touch of garlic, some black  peppercorns and fresh sprigs of dill for flavor and because they look pretty.  I gotta say, I love canning from our garden!  It’s fresh, it’s delicious, it’s economical and dare I say, it’s just plain awesome.  Hope my family and friends like pickles.  I think these will go nicely with some fall canning of apple butter and applesauce.  Well, not to eat together.  But as a gift.  You know what I mean.

En el Jardín!

Each year we are expanding our garden a little more.  We don’t put much in the actual ground, but have been using containers or DIY earth boxes with pretty awesome success.  (Our soil here suuuuucks.  All clay and rock, just crappy.  And we plan on moving soon, so I don’t care to even attempt to fix what we currently have.) 

This year, for the first time, we decided to start a lot of our seeds off inside.  The jury is still out on that, but I will say, the plants started inside seem a wee bit too wussy for outdoor life.  They are fragile and weak, and lose their will to live either during the hardening process, or soon after transplanting outside.  Annoying.

Now, the seeds we just throw on the ground and throw some dirt on?

Well, they are thriving.  Go figure.  That is one of our pumpkin mounds right there.  I had started quite a few inside, but they just didn’t have what it took for the tough suburban lifestyle.  Pffffft!  

This is an earth box with what was two teeny tiny little cucumber plants.  That was about two weeks ago, before they decided to hulk out in their new home.  I haven’t seen any flowers yet, but they are very quickly growing up the trellis and stretching their leaves claiming every little bit of sun that they can.

The tomatoes have exploded!  And as you can see here, they are very quickly ripening!  I found my first ripe cherry tomato the other day, but I very quickly devoured that little guy.  Hey, I had to taste test for quality assurance reasons!  It was delicious, in case you were wondering.  Nothing tastes as good as home grown!

This big guy is my first ripe poblano pepper!  Chili rellanos anyone?  I am freezing it so that I can cook up a nice big batch once the rest of them have ripened.

Which, as you can see, won’t be too terribly long.

At the beginning of the season, we went nuts buying seeds of all sorts of goodies that we wanted to grow ourselves.  Here’s a tip.  If you decide to grow your own fruits and veggies from seed, read the package first.  We have a large handful of awesome things we won’t be able to grow until next year because we got them too late in the season.  Snow peas, for example, need to be started in the winter.  Literally, they are snow peas.  Who knew?  Well, we all know now, don’t we?  And really, I have had so much more luck with growing things straight in the ground or in the pots outside.  The plants get too spoiled inside and just don’t do well.  Yes, I am hardening them.  Yes, I protect them from the wind and sun.  I have studied everything I can possibly find on hardening plants.  Seems they prefer the tough love, which incidentally is a whole heck of a lot easier!

So there is my garden update.  I’m sure the pumpkins will soon be taking over our entire yard.  The neighbors love that.  Well, they don’t mind so much at the end of the season when we chop it all down and give them home made pumpkin bread.  Who can be mad with a delicious home made treat?

Tomatoes!

Our tomato plants are exploding out of their earth box this year!  We put one large plant and one cherry tomato plant in the one earth box, and already they look like they have far outgrown their home.  We did a lot of research this year, trying to maximize our fruit production, and so far so good!

I’m excited, I love cooking with ingredients we grow ourselves.  It is very satisfying knowing that we grow some of the food that we eat.  I like knowing exactly how the plants are treated and cared for.  No pesticides or picking unripened fruit.  And the taste!  The taste of real, home grown fruits and veggies can not be beat.  I never realized how bland and tasteless fruit and veggies from the grocery store were until we began growing our own.

I want to preserve as much as I can and make use of every single fruit and veggie that we grow.  I love to can and share our harvest with friends and family.

I am truly longing for a larger yard where we can expand our garden.  Won’t be long.  Hopefully by next growing season.

Fairy Gardens

I had mentioned before that we noticed some new construction in our fairy gardens, and wouldn’t you know it, it would appear that they moved into their new homes this weekend.

The house looks small, but they are magical beings, so they make it work.

Isabella named this fairy Violet.  She looks a bit shy, doesn’t she?  Abe said she isn’t a fairy because she doesn’t have wings.  Isabella and I know that fairies are magical and can hide their wings from buttheads that say they aren’t fairies.  Obviously, that is what happened in this case.  Obviously.

We named this fairy Azul.  Fitting since that does appear to be his favorite color.  Abe said that he is a gnome, not a fairy.  We know better.

This fairy garden is in a very sunny spot outside, so we picked plants that love full sun.  I just adore the teeny tiny little flowers!  So happy and pretty!

This fairy garden is in the back of the house, where it’s pretty shady, so we chose shade loving plants.

The shady fairies seem to be hiding in these pictures, but I’m sure we’ll catch them out and about in their garden soon.  They must have heard about the butthead that calls them gnomes and decided not to come out to play.

Flores Bonitas

While my pretty little flower is recovering today, poor Bella, I told her that we would sneak outside for a spell when the babies are sleeping for some fresh air.

It is a beautiful day!  So sunny and warm, with beautiful flowers blooming all around us.  Hard to feel bad when you are surrounded by beauty!  Go ahead and try.  Its hard, isn’t it?

One of the very first things we planted when we moved here was a Clematis.  Its a pretty, climbing plant that blooms early in the spring.  We made the mistake of tearing down the dead looking vines at the end of the season.  Yeah, don’t do that.  Its not dead, its just ugly until spring.  Good to know.

We have ours climbing on a gate, but when we move I have grand plans to build a fancy trellis and have it loaded with several different colors and varieties.

We have a handful of flag plants/iris.  You never know what color will decide to bloom or how many will bloom any given year.  Sometimes we have a rainbow of them, and some years we have none.  This year, so far, this is the one and only bloom.  The day this was taken, it had rained quite a bit all day, so it is a bit soggy, but I wanted to be sure and get a picture before it was too late.

This is, I believe, wild daisy fleabane.  It just showed up, looked purdy, so we took some pictures.  See, I am even happy looking at weeds.

This rose is currently in bloom, so that definitely deserves a new picture.  We planted these when I was pregnant with Isabella.  Pretty pink roses for a new baby girl.  I love roses.  So pretty and elegant.  Unfortunately, Japanese Beetles also love my roses, and they are common visitors in the summer heat.  They are the reason I don’t get mad when I see the mole hills in the yard.  Moles love to eat the Japanese beetle grubs, so as far as I’m concerned, the little boogers are doing me a favor.  Until I step in a hole and twist my ankle.  But in general, I enjoy my mole friends.