Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Enter the Dragon

I know that we've alluded to this in earlier entries, but just so we're clear, here goes... we aren't the most attentive gardeners.
There, I said it. We have the best intentions, I'll tell you that much. So much so that we've spent countless hours of hard labor trying to be good gardeners. When we moved in, our future garden plot was crowded with these god-awful bush-tree things that the old homeowners planted because they were insane. That first summer I spent a solid week (and I mean full hot-ass summer days) tearing the damn things out. I even invested in a comealong to help me pull the stumps out after trying to chop them out the old fashioned way. We always pick out the best tiny plants, have a huge compost bin to fertilize the soil, and carefully pick the perfect spot for each beautiful sprout. The problem is, we just don't see things through. As far as weeds go, it's a huge plot of land. I always start to weed, but as the summer drags on, the weeds get the best of me... I just can't keep up, and by the time August comes, the garden is just crying out for a neighborhood school to use it as a clean-up project.
This year, I've got it all figured out. I've decided to combine my longing for a decent garden with my love of raw destructive power. Oh, and fire. Just love the fire. I was searching for some weed control ideas on the internet when I came across what might just be the coolest garden implement of all time. Let me see if I can explain without drooling all over the computer... See, you have this thing that you attach to your propane tank... sort of like a flamethrower... and you pass it over the weeds, which wilt from the heat, and die off after a few days. Of course you could just burn the crap out of them, but the instructions say you don't have to, so... I guess I shouldn't, but....
Plus, the website says it can also start your campfires, thaw pipes, sterilize animal cages (I need to buy some unsterilized animal cages!), heat branding irons, melt ice from your walkways, roast a Christmas goose (kidding), burn off irrigation ditches, and remove paint, grease or oil from concrete, metal, or other nonflammable surfaces! Who new a flamethrower could be so handy! How did I live so long without it? Can I weed and cook bacon at the same time? Most importantly, why on earth did my wife let me buy it (even though it was on sale, recommended by the National Home Gardening Club, and I love her more than anyone else on earth)? Oh yeah, that right, I haven't shown it to her yet, that's why.
Ooooh... she'll probably read this blog entry though....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Perfect Day

Nothing new to report on the seedlings. They seem to be doing ok, but we're still a little skittish about putting them out after the massacre a couple of weeks ago
We gorilla-glued the sticks to the garden markers and put the strawberry one out. Isn't the tilted angle adorable? Admit it, can't you just taste a warm, just picked, juicy red straw-bree?

That topped off what has so far been a perfect sunny day. Highlights:

Lily dressed up in her pink leotard annd tights, her hair up in a near-perfect ballerina bun, practicing her dance for her very first recital next month.

Lily, ballerina bun all akimbo, laughing and bouncing up and down in the moonbounce at the YMCA Kid's Spring Fair.

Sam serenading us with the Beastie Boy's "She's Crafty" over lunch.

Joe talking shop with the catering lady at the Duffy's Caterers moving sale.

Sam purchasing a ceramic life-sized lobster and crab at said moving sale for the bargain price of $2.

Sam and Lily playing with a live lobster on the floor at Hill's Seafood. If there had only been two lobsters on the floor we could have finished the day by watching them duke it out...

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

OK, I'll come clean, we've had what seemed at first to be a setback... On a lovely spring day I decided to put our sprouts out in the sun for a bit, which apparently is a stupid thing to do. By the next morning everything was pretty wilt-y, like it lost a fight with something. For a while, it looked like things wouldn't recover, and we had hushed conversations in the kitchen about starting over... well, maybe that's a bit dramatic. At one point I might have said we should just buy some plants, but through the miracle of our inactivity, things started to turn around.
The instructions for our little peat greenhouse thingie said when the plants started to get their leaves we should thin out the patches and save only the strongest plants... seemed a little cruel to me from the get-go, but since the cardboard cutout from the back of the greenhouse package probably knows more about gardening than I do, I was willing to kill a few things if need be. In the end, the little trip outside did the dirty deed for me, and the strongest of the plants are creeping out of the carnage. If things do survive this next week, I'm taking all the credit for my new gardening technique - only the strong survive, because we don't really know what we're doing, and we're not growing any pansies in our vegetable garden.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Happening

I think I have a bit of a buzz from the J. Lohr Chardonnay that accompanied Joe's lovely chicken Penang curry tonight, so apologies if this posting is not entirely coherent. The jasmine rice was so tasty Sam and Joe fought over eating the remaining bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Best image of the night was Sam with a smirk of victory on his face as he stuffed big spoonfuls of rice into his mouth straight from the iron pot.

The vegetable sprouts have grown like they're on steroids this week. I'm convinced the pole bean plant grew 2 inches over dinner on Wednesday night. We started feeling like we were in a really, really bad M. Night Shyamalan movie so we put them out today and locked the doors. They're doing great in the sunshine although they still look sinister when the wind blows across them.

While Joe was busy tilling the soil, we headed out to Jo Ann Fabrics to pick up some crafty things to pretty up the garden. Sam scoped out the 40% off all garden decorations section and picked out a psychedelic metal purple lizard and a hot pink frog that we've installed in the garden. We also bought little rectangles of wood and lots of acrylic paint and spent the afternoon making vegetable markers.

We used the rest of the paint to make some fairly impressive works of art:

Crazy Animals, by Sam

Sam: This is part Spongebob guard worm (the green head), who guards against things from the dump, part prisoner (the horizontal brown part) and part crazy worm. The squiggly part on the right is a guard dog that can breathe underwater.

Crazy Person, by Sam

Sam: This is a crazy person, with dracula teeth and blood dripping out of his mouth. He's just set a couch on fire.
Jack the Robot, by Lily

Lily: This is a robot who's singing, "It's a sunny day, Yay! Me and my friends like to play, Yay! I'm going to play with my friends! We get to play ev-er-ry-dayyyyy!!!! Yay!!! It's sunny outside tooooo-daaay! Yay!

Princess Jesaina, by Lily

Lily: This is a princess saying no to a witch who made her face turn different colors.

Princess Petunia, by Sara

Sara, Lily and Sam: This is a princess who was turned to gold by an evil witch. She is sad because Prince Charlie left her because he was not a big fan of gold princesses. She found a new prince, Prince Walter, and she's happy now.
We've released Lily's ladybugs into the garden and hope they're enjoying their freedom tonight.
One more week of growing for the vegetable plants before we plant them in the garden!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Sprouting Time!

Daddy spent two days clearing out the brush in our Victory Garden. Wednesday our seeds started sprouting and on the day before Mommy came back from her work trip Lily's lady bugs hatched. The best part of this week is that since yesterday I've had a blue moustache from the blue Gatorade Mom packed me for snack. I look awesome.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

As You Sow, So Shall You Reap

Sunday afternoons are made for projects. In our house, most of the time Sunday afternoons are made for starting projects and not necessarily finishing them... but we do our best...
We have this little patch of land across the street from our house (to be honest, it's more "patch" than "land" really, since it's just a tiny piece) that has been a makeshift garden for the past few years. I cleared out the crappy shrubs and weeds a few years ago so we would have room to plant, and since then we've done our best. We've had everything under the sun planted there, but haven't really taken care of the garden, and by the end of the summer we always have a woven mat of dried weeds with only the heartiest of plants poking through. I will say one thing - we have the best spot on earth to grow rosemary. Plants have come and gone, but our rosemary plants (three tiny sprigs the from the first year) have grown into a wild and angry looking bush roughly the same size as a Smart Car but with a better crash test rating.
We've been lazy about it, but I still plant every year because I have a HUGE compost pile and the ground across the street is some of the most fertile I've ever seen. Really, it's like black gold. Every year I turn the soil and I feel like a farmer, flipping shovel after shovel of dirt black as night. So this year, we've decided to take a stand. We make our own jams, roll fresh pasta, roast our own coffee beans, cook every day and compost everything we can. We've cured our own olives, cured and smoked salmon... and damn it, we're gonna grow something if it kills us.
Today we started our first seeds inside - tomatoes, basil, eggplant, squash, peppers, etc. - and decided that we'll really make a go of it. This blog, of course, is the biggest motivator. These first pictures are our humble beginnings, and you'll see how it goes as the summer creeps by, one plant (or weed) at a time.
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