hippo planter

hippo planter

My poor planter. I bought some great Sempervivums last year that did wonderfully for ages. Then one day, they just died. I’m not sure what happened. Over watered, under watered, under sunned… could be anything. However, while running some errands over the weekend I found myself in the garden section of Lowes. A hanging basket of succulents sat staring me in the face. For $14.99- sure! I split the plants between the original hanging basket and my hippo planter, all decked out with some new soil. I left the hippo outside for a day or so to let the plants settle, and brought it inside tonight. I hope it does well this time. Its pretty much my favorite planter ever, one of the best 50¢ purchases I’ve ever made.

starting to really like asparagus

So, to bore you with more tales of vegetables. This week I was super psyched to get strawberries. We signed up for the veggie share, I was under the impression that only full shares got overflow fruit. Fully planning on making a salad with some strawberries and some carefully rationed goat feta. (The goat cheese man, Andy from LindenDale Farm has another market that he is going to make his primary, so won’t be coming to center city much longer) Alas. When I arrived to pick up my share, mushrooms instead of strawberries. I am not a huge mushroom fan. I just don’t like the texture. But one of the reasons I signed up for this CSA was to get myself to eat veggies I usually avoid…. so I tried roasting some last night with some asparagus. Unfortunately, I made a disastrous attempt at fancy fish (hybrid bass with chopped zucchini, red peppers, spring onions, drizzled with wasabi dressing and Asian BBQ sauce, topped with a ton of chopped spinach. Total Fail.) so the mushrooms had nothing to go with, and I ended up tossing them. I was going to try again, chopping super small to throw in with the Indian chicken I was planning on making tonight, but I pulled a 7am-7pm day, and completely forgot by the time I got home. The only time I’ve ever liked mushrooms was when my friend Jon Adams made a mushroom pate, by cooking them down and blending into a smooth paste. All the taste, none of the texture. May just have to try it myself.

first crop of the year

So after the disappointment yesterday, imagine my surprise when I went out to the garden to water it today and saw three red strawberries hanging from my plant! I’ve never gotten a single eatable berry from this plant, the bugs always get to them first. This year the plant has some more space, and some of the berries ended up growing over the side of the planter. I think they did well because they weren’t lying on the ground, prime bug-eating-temptations. I put them in the fridge and plan to cut them into a salad tomorrow. We’ll see how much flavor they have. I’m just super excited to get my first edible (other than herbs) crop from the garden. Soon, peppers… but I have to be patient yet.

PS- any ideas for purple mizuna? I’ve never heard of it. A search for recipes shows some salads and some stir-fry ideas… but real-life experience and suggestions welcome.

The weather is humid, the sky heavy. The city’s edges looked like they were drawn against a chalkboard today as I drove home. While this might not be great weather for people, it seems to be doing well by my little garden.

Plants all set, waiting to grow

This is the third year of the little boxed space that I traded a hand knit skull and crossbones scarf for. The first year I was ambitious- cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, various other plants. Last year I axed the tomatoes, but kept the cucumber. This year the shift to all peppers was completed. I never ate the tomatoes and the cucumber never bore much fruit anyway, and it was a bully- its large leaves shading and hindering the growth of other plants. The peppers have always survived the best, and been the most useful for cooking. We have so many kinds this time! Cherry red hots (quite robust and very popular last year), jalapenos, sweet gypsy, two other kinds (one spicy, one sweet-ish) I can’t recall right now. More herbs, too, but in separate pots next to the garden. Spicy globe basil, cinnamon basil, thyme. Mint, though its been transplanted from the garden into a pot. I’m going to try hard to get the basil to survive. I don’t have a very good track record with it, unfortunately. And my favorite- the marigolds. Someone told me that marigolds help keep bad bugs away, and I’ve been planting them ever since. Bright puffy African marigolds have joined the herd this year. I love them. They’re so full of joy! Last but not least, my little strawberry plant, which has powered through all three years. Sadly, I never get to eat the berries. The bugs always get to them first, and I can’t bring myself to spray them with any kind of pest control.

I can’t wait for the plants to grow up. I can’t wait for our first BBQ with full foliage. Tucked in the back corner of the garden is a little solar light- you can sort of see it in the photo. It glows so nicely! I also got a strand of colored lights, but they’re not up yet, I’m going to wait till our first event to string them outside, so they don’t sit out in the rain unnecessarily.

So it’s been a while, but looks like this little blog is going to be graced with more green for the upcoming months. I can’t wait till we can start cooking with peppers from my garden. The CSA that we signed up for starts in a week or two, also, so we’re sure to be delightfully swamped with fresh vegetables. This muggy weather might be just awful, and sticky summer around the corner, but the sun and warmth means things can grow again, and for that I am glad.

strawberry blossom

Cherry Trees in Fairmont Park

It’s finally spring! The weather on Saturday was beautiful. I had the windows wide open all day. The beautiful day made me anxious to get working on my garden. I still don’t have a plan for the back garden… I know peppers, but not sure about what else. I tried sprouting my own seeds last year, but I don’t really have a good spot for it. The kitchen gets sun, but only in the beginning of the morning, it moves around too quickly to get the seeds enough light. So I guess I’m going to buy pre-grown ones this year.. which means I need to be patient enough for them to be out at the stores. Gives me some time to plan, I suppose. Anyway, since I couldn’t work on the back garden, I took a stroll over to Urban Jungle, the local garden store, to pick up some flowers for the front pot.  Yay for plants!

This weekend was the Cherry Blossom Festival, in Fairmont Park. Always a little better in theory than in actuality, but still enjoyable. It gets super crowded, but the performances are worth it. The drummers are fantastic. They look like they’re having so much fun when they perform! I love seeing them every year.

 

finished skirt with shorts

Ah, but the weekend isn’t done yet! Inspired by this skirt, I fudged my way through my own version. I made it with a pillowcase! I bought a king-sized set of jersey sheets, with the intent to make this Alabama Chanin dress. I’ve been drooling over it for ages, and when I saw the sheets at target, I knew they’d be the perfect fabric. Turns out the pillowcase was perfect for this skirt, too. I wish the zig-zag on my machine was a little easier to use, the waistband is a bit dodgy, with some bad hand sewing fixing some gaps… but it’ll be a great summer skirt. Hope it holds up to all the wear I intend to give it!

 

Scorch performing the "Phantom" vignette

Scorch went for another round at the Ab’n’Jacks All Better Fest this weekend. It was just a few of the vignettes, and the whole thing was a little last minute (our only run-through was a few hours before the show). The festival itself was a bit hybrid. Half PEX burners, half bluegrass. The show seemed well received from the folks there, though.

One of the soon-to-be-ripe cherry red hots

Also, my peppers are ripening! A no-go on the shallots, though. I think I somehow messed that one up, and left them in the ground too long. Last year the cucumbers killed some plants, this year the peppers are killing the cucumbers.

I think I need to plan out my garden a little better. Maybe just plant peppers, or leave extra space around the cucumber. The gifted tomatoes aren’t taking this weather too kindly, and I have to admit, I haven’t really been caring for them that well. The mint is taking over (pulling that out at the end of the year and keeping it in its own little pot next go-around). And I didn’t get any strawberries before the bugs, oh well. The pablanos are thriving, the red-hots are ripening, and the jalapenos are chugging along. Yay for gardens!

Busy busy weekend. A trip to the Morris Arboretum, a warehouse burning-man-camp-fundraiser party, delicious dinner with the best group of ladies… but I’ll share the only one I have pictures of: the Morris Arboretum.

The Rose Garden (I think)

I’m so glad the weather is getting nice. We’re still in the cool-spring time, which means sweatshirt for the morning, sun in the afternoon. I would love it to stay this way, but since that isn’t really a possibility, I’ll enjoy it while I can.

Curled up Ferns

This past weekend was the last round of the yearly Cherry Blossom Festival. I’ve gone for the past few years… though Chris wisely pointed out that the event itself is just an overcrowded vendor market with lots of Otaku people wandering around. This year we were both out of town for the festival in Fairmont Park, but looking up the schedule reminded me about the Arboretum. I’ve been there once before for a friend’s wedding, but didn’t really get a chance to wander the grounds.

There are so many lovely places throughout the garden, the fernery was pretty great, and I loved all the bleeding hearts in the Alpine Garden. But I think my favorite was the “Summer Palace“, a sculpture by Patrick Dougherty. Its an amazing structure made out of branches, and resembles the forts from Where the Wild Things Are. Being inside was great, looking up was like looking up at the night sky, the stars sparkling. It was a bit hard to photograph with my little camera, and the images don’t convey the lovely smell that reminded me of basket making as a kid. I did snag some video of it, but if you’re in the area, I recommend checking it out in person.

Redwings lettering

This has perhaps been the most complicated project I’ve undertaken… it was supposed to be a birthday present, but its about three months late. My real deadline was the hockey game that Chris bought tickets for, as a Christmas present for his Dad. And I finished last night, just in time. I mostly eyed the pattern… with a few basic rules. 5st garter boarder, 2st white, 3st white in stockinette (total edge of 10 stitches) on either side. The lettering was mostly 3 st wide, with 4 st between each letter. I found a blank chart online and copied the letters and wings logo onto it. I didn’t really chart properly, though, and since I wasn’t quite using the chart I printed for the lettering, I didn’t realize that I had copied the letters onto the chart sideways. See, knit stitches are taller than they are wide, which means you can’t use regular square graph paper. I thought I was being rather clever by using a printed chart, but since it was sideways- the circle wasn’t so circular. Again, though,  I wasn’t quite following the chart, so I thought I had messed up reading it. Once I realized my mistake, I tried to adjust, but I was already halfway through the circle and didn’t want to frog the whole thing…. oh well. The wheel may be a bit of an oval, but I think the wing part balances it out, so its okay.

Winged Wheel

The game was fun, though the Wings didn’t win. I made a sign for my favorite player, Datsyuk. I mostly like him because of his awesome commercials for the Rahmani Eye Institute (I just love his stand-up at the end…) but he’s a great player, too.

I <3 Datsyuk!!!

Any time people yelled at us I held up my sign. One guy took a few seconds to comprehend the Russian translation, then made some comment about not being able to order at Pat’s and Geno’s. Right…. (a reference to the “order in English only” sign that went up at Geno’s and caused quite a hubub)

Now that I’m done with the scarf, I’m free to start a new project! And I’ve already started two. First, a baby sweater for Chris’s new nephew, Quentin, due in June. Second, an Alabama Studio Style shirt, for me. I’ve already assembled the front and back of the shirt. I like the process of hand-stitching it. Also, the blue dress is still on my queue. My mom is helping fix the (stupidly) sewn pleats… Hopefully I’ll be able to stitch up some new straps for it by this weekend when I head back to Jersey for the wedding shower, and then maybe I’ll have another finished project. Still deciding on the pockets, though.

Marigolds in the planter

I also planted my seedlings. Anyone want some cucumbers, basil or jalapenos? I have too many that sprouted. This year I’m experimenting with some netting over the garden box, to protect from birds and cats. I didn’t have to worry about it last year since I bought the plants already grown. This year I started much earlier, so went with seeds. I planted Basil, spicy globe basil (in a pot), jalapenos, poblanos (though none of those have sprouted yet), cucumbers, shallots, strawberries (pre-grown) and mint (from last year). I also planted marigolds throughout the box, and ‘various bright flowers’ in the front pots, on top of dahlias. Dahlias, by the way, grow much much larger than I realized…. we’ll see how this works out.

Yay Easter weekend!

Sunny daffodils for Easter