Although life’s afforded less time for weeding and digging in the dirt than I’d like, we’ve still managed to find time to spend some time in the mornings or evenings or late afternoons in the garden. I really enjoyed eating Mother’s Day dinner outside, and recently when my friend Jenn came down for a visit we spread out a generous blanket and spent time reading and catching up in the backyard. It’s nice just to be out there and not thinking about the ever-growing mounds of weeds.
Just after the winter solstice Isobel and I unleashed fistful after fistful of poppy seeds into the garden, hoping to get a second wind of blooms once last year’s poppies had faded. We’ve been enjoying the second round of the sunset-colored blooms but none of the white or pink poppies have made an appearance, much to Isobel’s dismay. Between this year and last we must have planted four or five packages of coral pink poppies but we have yet to have any flowers to show for it. Not that I mind the gold or scarlet flowers, but I have an impatient preschooler dying for pink blooms.
The marigolds we planted with seeds from Jacob’s garden are taking their sweet time, too, but we do have a bunch of seedlings pop up. It might be July or August before they give us any flowers at this rate.
Isobel has been helping with daily watering duties and I’m still trying to convince her that plants drink with their roots not their leaves. She knows they eat sunshine (and, she’ll insist, love) but I can’t convince her that the leaves of a plant do not want her to dump water all over them. I usually have to follow her around the yard and do damage control, but it’s worth it. I want to pass on my love of growing things and I figure participation is the best way to do that.
Like I said my friend Jenn and I had a girl’s day for her birthday, and after thrifting and eating lunch at an ice cream shop we spent a few hours lounging around in the backyard. We spread out a vintage crochet bedspread my friend Jett sent me and I gave Jenn a mini tour of the garden.
Isobel and I planted a row of multicolored sunflowers along our back fence and they are still growing but we have had two blooms already from the tiniest plants of the bunch. Standing at only about one foot high and maybe four inches across, these miniature sunflowers weren’t going to wait any longer to open up. Isobel, a fan of anything diminutive and therefor, “baby”, hardly leaves them alone. It’s entirely possible they will die from affection.
We’ve also tasted the first tomatoes of the season. Really they are cherry tomatoes and not the properly-sized ones, but they are flavorful and sweet and addictive. Anthony’s step dad Doug gave us his leftover plants and we’ve had more plants come our way from Jacob and my dad, too, so we are set this summer. Our cherry tomatoes (Sun Gold variety) have lots of pea-sized green babies but our tomato plants are still working on growth so they have no tomatoes, just flowers.
Our pumpkins seem to be focused on growth in the same way and we’ve had nothing but flowers from them. Most of the seeds we planted came from the pumpkins we bought from our local farm stand and I’m a little worried they won’t actually fruit. We planted a few other varieties so my hope is we get at least one. We grew several pumpkins the last time we tried this so the bar is set a bit high.
Our small herb garden is still going strong with basil, sage, and parsley. I’d love to add more herbs to the mix. Our garlic is flourishing (in an incredibly weedy bed) and our onions are probably ready to picked at this point. They kind of took me by surprise because I didn’t think they’d be ready so soon. The real surprise, though, has been the peas.
Late last summer my friend Jacob gave me a large bag full of marigold seeds from his garden. I love marigolds and they also function as natural pest control, so I asked him if he could spare some of his seeds for my birthday. He obliged and along with the bag of seeds resembling porcupine quills he gave me several old packets of seeds his mom had collected from Europe. We were our last chance to bring them to life but even that hope was a slim one. Some of packages had approached an age that qualified them as “vintage.” I stacked the seeds on a shelf in the garage and waited for spring.
Spring came and while I was planting corn and cosmos I noticed a few of the seed packets had disappeared. Later the paper packets showed up in Isobel’s gardening basket and were quite empty. Peas were among the missing and I chalked it up to a gardening failure.
Then one day I noticed a new plant had sprung up in the garden. I thought they were beans and I sent a photo to Jacob. He positively ID’d them as peas, though he warned me they might just be an ornamental variety. We had found Isobel’s missing peas! A few days ago Isobel and I noticed tiny fuchsia and whisper pink flowers had opened up. A few days later I went outside to photograph them with my big camera and they were gone and in their stead the plant was hung with peas like ornaments on a Christmas tree. Peas! I had made peas!
While Jenn was here we looked up how to tell when peas were ready to be harvested and the two of us and Isobel went to work harvesting every bursting pea pod we could find. We shelled them, which I loved, and brought them inside for a quick blanch, a think coating of butter and salt, and each of us and Anthony got to enjoy the experience of eating fresh peas.
I don’t think I would have ever thought to grow peas but I am so glad we did. They have been the most fun thing about our garden so far. I can’t wait for the next harvest.