Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kids and Gardens

When people ask me what I find the most gratifying about having a garden at Hope House, I have to say it's the kids.Some of the parents are really into it and some not so much, but the kids?  Well,  I simply cannot go outside to do anything in the garden if the children are out and about without having them rush me with offers of help.  "Miss Rosemary" they cry, "Whatcha doing?  Can we help?"

Yesterday I noticed that in the children's garden a number of the sunflowers had keeled over from the winds we've had.  I hastened to shore them up, piling more dirt around their roots and tying them to the house as necessary.  I had many little helpers. They stuck their hands in the dirt.  They patted.  They held tools for me.  They helped. And they loved helping.  One little girl sighed deeply and said, "I love our garden."

Yep, that's why I do it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


We had a good gardening class today.  We discussed how plants "make a living" and what that means for us.  We also harvested some very hot peppers! In fact, using tomatoes and herbs from the garden we made a fresh salsa and added some of that hot pepper.  I ate way too much! 

Another garden development is the shed.  It was delivered last week and we're all excited for it to be assembled.  It will be part storage, part greenhouse. I'll be glad to be able to stop using my van as the garden storage area and everyone is looking forward to continuing our growing efforts year-round. Here are pictures of what the shed will look like (we hope!).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fresh pickles

The other day I was able to harvest a good number of pickling cukes and some fresh dill.  As a treat for our residents I sliced the cukes, layered them with the dill weed, piled on some ice cubes and topped them first with some vinegar and then salt on the ice.  A few hours later the ladies had fresh pickles with lunch. Such simple treats make having a garden worthwhile.  A simple pesto can be made with fresh basil, olive oil, and pine or walnuts.  No cooking involved!  Just boil the pasta, top with the pesto and eat. I love easy.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The circle of life

Gardens can do much for a person: they yield fruit, they give satisfaction, they give abundant opportunity for hard work and problem-solving.  They are also a study in the circle of life.  I've thought a lot about this lately. It really was the basis for doing the garden in the first place.  We plant, we reap, we recycle.  The zucchini plants that gave us such tasty veggies are now in the composter, busy becoming nutrients for next year's crop.

I checked on the garden this morning.  Many green tomatoes, some with blossom-end rot.  This is a calcium deficiency.  No one seems to know how to fix or avoid it.  I confess to some frustration. The herbs are almost a complete success.  Tomorrow I will harvest some dill and cukes and make some fresh pickles for our ladies.  The sweet potatoes should be done soon and the rutabagas are almost ready to harvest.  

My dog died on Friday. I am not one to accept death with any kind of philosophical musings. Black Jack had a great heart and he loved me with all of it.  He had nothing to do with this garden, but he was much loved by the gardener.

Life goes on.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Reaping Hope Revisited

Every spring people get the garden bug and every summer the gardens get the bugs!  The garden was beautiful then the bugs noticed and now we're up against it.  I have confidence that our advisers know what they're talking about so I'll be spraying our tomatoes with "Safer Soap" and hope to halt  the little stingers that are getting to our crop.  I'll also be replanting and expanding our variety.  I'm going for some more cukes, an eggplant, some chives, and am putting in more oregano and parsley, popular little herbs that they are. 

We've learned quite a lot so far and the garden has generated much interest among our residents.  Tomorrow we'll be having an herb class and harvesting about half of our herbs.  We'll also sink one-gallon containers in the beds to do a little passive watering.  Photos tomorrow, I promise!

Friday, June 4, 2010


The zucchini have officially bitten the dust.  I harvested the last one today and noted the rot at the base of each plant.  This is due to an unavoidable infestation of a pest that likes the stalk as much as people like the fruit! Still, it's slightly discouraging but we'll simply replant, rotating the new plants to beds that never held squash.  This will also give us more space for other veggies.  Meanwhile the rutabagas are doing fine, the peas finished and I'm keeping the last handful to grow next year.  Our tomatoes are just beginning to turn red and the sweet potatoes, I trust, are doing their underground thing. The herb bed is going nuts and is begging for harvest.  Next week I'll add to the garden.