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GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

Our drive to Alabama, took us through Mansfield MO. I had forgotten about Mansfield and how it's one of the homesteads for Laura Ingalls Wilder and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. As we passed a sign for Baker Creek, I sat up straight in my seat and gasped. "Oh! Can we go there please?!?!?!" Michael said "Of course!", but when we pulled off the highway there was a sign pointing south to the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and north to Baker Creek and I had to make a choice. I picked Baker Creek. It had started to rain on us, so I knew we wouldn't be able to fully enjoy Laura's home. I promised myself that we'd go back. We'd go back and make a weekend of it and maybe by then I'll have had a chance to read a few of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to the Cabbage. I got real giddy when we pulled into Baker Creek's little village. I saw people walking around dressed in their pioneer clothes, the same people that I see every year in my seed catalogue. I gushed all over one of the ladies working in the seed shop about ordering seeds from them every year and she told me that my story was not uncommon. Of course we bought more seeds while we there. 

We came home to a garden that had over grown and taken on a life of it's own. Salad greens and spinach had grown tall and gone to seed. The squash and cantaloupe had spread out and taken up the whole corner of the garden. I pulled six yellow squash that first evening and have been plucking one or two here and there since. The sunflowers, even though there are no blooms yet, are taller than me. And the tomato plants. We have so many green tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes. Roma Tomatoes. Big heirloom tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes seem to like to turn red one at a time.  All of the limbs are hanging heavy with green fruit. Soon we will have tomato and basil salads every day for dinner. 

Sunday morning I went out with every intention of taming the over grown mess of the garden. I weedeated all around the garden. I pulled up the spinach and salad greens, tossing them in a pile for the chickens. I worked the soil and prepped it for new seeds. I pulled up weeds and picked off another squash. Then I planted the newly purchased seeds. Arugula, water cress and some sort of lettuce. I went a head and planted more purple hulled peas while I was at it. It didn't take long. The garden really isn't that big. Except when I look at it now, it seems huge. There's something legitimate about the garden this year. Official. Maybe it has something to do with boxes we added or the fence we put up around the outside. I look out there now and see a garden like those featured in the likes of Organic Gardening or something.  And I am amazed by all of it. 

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

There really doesn't seem too much to gardening once the seeds are planted. Once the seeds are in the ground, all that's really left to do is to wait and hope and pull some weeds and wait some more. That seems to be where we are now. We had this rush to get the new boxes up and filled with soil. There was a panic to get seeds in the ground and the worry that I didn't get them in the ground early enough. Then we realized that the lure of garden boxes of filled with dirt was too much for Josephine and we'd find her in the middle of a box just a digging away. So, we rushed to put a fence around the garden.

Now, everything has sprouted. There was the few weeks of worrying that none of the seeds would sprout. I'd look out the kitchen window and stare at the dirt. Michael would stand outside and look at the garden while shouting "GROW! GROW!" But then everything sprouted. There's even a couple of bonus tomato plants growing in the side garden where I've planted (probably too much) squash and zucchini. They came from the cherry tomato plant that was in that garden last year, a cherry tomato plant that grew tomatoes faster than we could pick them. 

Now, we wait. This morning before the rain set in, I went out and weedeated all around the garden and pulled the few weeds that had invaded. There really wasn't much to do, which was good since the sky turned dark with thunder and started to drop buckets of rain. Our hopes have changed from hoping seeds will sprout to hoping that those plants will fruit and that we will be able to eat those fruits. I feel I've watched the giant lima beans sprout in slow motion, watching the leaves unfold from bean. With any luck we'll have bowls of giant lima beans and purple hulled peas. Maybe this year I wont need to buy boxes of tomatoes to roast. For the first time ever, there's spinach growing. I've had spinach sprout and then disappear. Something other than me has eaten it or it just didn't like the spot where it had been planted.  We've planned a salad for Thursday night with roasted mushrooms from the salad greens that are thriving next to the spinach. 

The salad days have begun.

GARDEN DIARIES. NOW WITH CHICKENS!

Cindy Maddera

'Tis the season for gardening and it's that time of year when I start taking pictures of dirt with teeny tiny sprouts poking up out of the ground. The first of the sprouts have arrived. A mix of lettuces and spinach and kale have begun to stick their heads up and soon we will have more greens than we can eat. Last weekend Michael took his truck and filled the bed with a cubic yard of garden soil and then we took turns hauling dirt out to the new garden boxes. I planted all of the seeds, leaving space for tomato plants and herb plants that I'll buy next month. Next we'll be constructing a chicken wire fence around it to keep critters out. And by critters, I mean Josephine. She's decided that there's nothing more fun than digging and prancing around in the mud. She came in one day with mud so squished up between her toes that there was no other option but to dunk her in the tub. The threat of a bath does not seem to be a deterrent.

Which brings me to the rain. April showers indeed. Our backyard squishes and there have been more days of rain than days without. This has made it difficult for Michael to finish the chicken coop. He took Friday off so he could get it finished and ready for the girls and to get the yard mowed. When I got home from work he was ready to put the chickens in the coop so they could spend their first night in their new home. Matilda was the first to walk out the door and then fly down to the ground. Foghorn and Dorothy followed soon after, exploring their new home one at a time. Marguerite has gone only as far as the ramp. She's the most timid of the girls. Michael had to go out around eleven that night and coax her from her perch on the ramp to the warmth of the roosting box. 

Saturday night Michael and I watched To Make a Farm, a documentary about five young people who have chosen to become small scale farmers. One young man was starting his farm from scratch, living basically out of a tent. He'd built himself a lean-too for his kitchen out of salvaged material. There was one young couple who had worked on an organic farm for a few years before venturing out to buy their own. Then there was a young woman who had thought she was going to be an environmentalist when she left college, but ended up a farmer. She has the help of her husband who also works from home as a computer animator. Each farm was different and none of them came from a family of farmers. Some people may scoff "Oh those silly hipsters.", but watching them work so hard and struggle to succeed, you can't help but respect them for their vision. The young environmentalist raised sheep, pigs, chickens and turkeys as well as produce. One of her sheep delivered twins and there was a moment when the vet believed they may have a bacterial infection and would have to be put down. I cried with her as she stood at the fence watching her flock. Heck, I cried with her on slaughter day when it was time to load her pigs up. 

Each one of these people talked about the romanticism associated with the idea of farming and each one them rolled their eyes at the idea of someone doing this for that very reason. What you see from this documentary is that farming is fucking hard work. It is constantly worrying about getting enough rain or getting too much rain. There is heartbreak when plants come down with blight and a whole crop has to be removed. There is even the strain of isolation. After watching the documentary, Michael and I both agreed that we were happy with the little urban farm we've got going. 

It rained all day on Saturday, the first full day for the chickens to be out in their new home. They didn't poke their heads out the door until later that evening when the rain had finally stopped. We had yet to see them all out in their run doing the things that most chickens do. The sun didn't really come out on Sunday, but the sky lightened up enough for the girls to come out. We looked out the kitchen window and all four of them, even shy Marguerite, were out scratching around and pecking at the ground. We're constantly looking at each other with big stupid grins on our faces and saying "We've got chickens!" Then we just sit and watch them. They've become the best new TV show. 

Even Josephine thinks so. 

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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It's been quite a bit of time since I devoted an entire entry to the garden. I know I've mentioned the garden this year and how I don't really remember what I planted. Those things are now popping up out the ground with gusto. We have all kinds of salad greens and radishes, onions, kale and turnip greens. Even the box we have nicknamed "the dead box" has something growing. I believe I planted cabbage and cauliflower in that one. Things have reached a point out there where I notice missing pieces of some of the things growing. In other words, something is munching on the greens. If I want to eat anything from this garden, I have to give up my apathetic mood towards it. It's time to spray things down with soap and tuck slivers of Irish Spring around the beds (rumor is that keeps the rabbits away). Over the weekend I broke my rule of "no new seeds" and bought some bush beans and cucumbers. Mom had some okra seeds left over that she gave me and I'm itching to get these seeds into the ground. I have already started talking about getting up early for the City Market on Saturday. I want some tomato plants and some herbs. Meanwhile, the mint has completely taken over my little herb bed. I mean completely taken over and has begun to leak out into the yard. At first I thought I'd just pull out enough to make some space for other herbs. Now I'm thinking of pulling all of it out and putting some in a pot, leaving the space totally clear for herbs. I think this is what I'm doing this weekend. I'm not sure Michael knows that this is happening, but I'm sure he'll be on board. And on that note, I just sent a text to Michael asking if I could get an outside area rug (note: I do not need his permission to purchase things; I just need permission.).

I am dreaming of an outdoor oasis where I can lounge in the sun. If I get hungry, I can just walk over and pull up a radish to chomp on and drink water from the garden hose. I want a hammock or a swing or both and a fancy umbrella. I am full of wants that have very little to do with needs. Ever since we started talking about buying a new house, I've let myself fall into a standby mode. Less living in this current space and more of just existing in this current space. The reality is this is the home I live in right now. It's time I started doing that whole living thing. There's plenty that I could do to create my outdoor living space without spending very much money. It's called being resourceful and I think I'll see just how resourceful I can be this weekend. By the end of it, I want to be able to sit comfortably with my cup of coffee somewhere in that backyard.

Seems like a reasonable goal to me.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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It's been a long time since I've sat down and written something for a Garden Diary entry. What can I say? Summer came along and I got busy with other things. Between keeping up with travel plans, a relationship and work, I've been lucky to just keep the yard mowed. I let all of the lettuce go to flower and the squash plants have really just taken over. I've been pulling one to two squash a week and lucky to eat them. There's three sitting my fridge right now. I'm thinking of making them into a dip like babaganoush. Last weekend I'd had enough. I told Michael that I had to rework the garden and plant things for the Fall. I had ulterior motives when I told him this. First, I needed help hauling new bags of soil to my back yard. Secondly, I wanted the Cabbage involved. I wanted her to dig in the dirt and plant some seeds. I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to teach kids about good food is to get them involved with where their food comes from. Plus, playing in the dirt is just fun. The Cabbage turned out to be a great helper. She pulled up the old lettuce and spread out new soil. She diligently dropped seeds into all the wholes I poked into the new soil and then spilled a tiny handful of seeds into one corner. I didn't care. I was just thrilled that she was having fun planting, but it wasn't just her. Michael planted one whole square with green onions, carrots, and radishes. Then he asked me every day for a week if anything had sprouted.

By Thursday, I could gleefully reply with a yes and that the first sprouts to pop up out of the ground were the radishes he had planted. He spent the weekend eyeing the garden for more sprouts and pointing out all the things coming up and eating radish sprouts right out the garden. It reminded me of my first garden and how exciting it was to see the seeds I had planted turn into dinner. I love that I get to pass that on to someone new.

Radish

But my favorite part of the garden has to be that small corner where the Cabbage dumped a bunch of seeds. Nothing grew well in that squar this year. All summer it remained a dead zone of barren soil. I worried that new dirt and nutrients wouldn't even make a difference. But there they are. A small cluster of sprouts from seeds planted by tiny little hands. I have no idea what seeds she planted, but I'm sure it will be the sweetest of veggies.

Sloan's sprouts

GARDEN DIARIES AND FARMERS' MARKETS

Cindy Maddera

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Remember last summer when I talked about getting up early on Saturday mornings and heading to the Farmers' Market ALL THE TIME? Every other entry was "Oh how I love thee, Farmers' Market". I don't know what happened this summer, but I just haven't been doing that this year. I've only been a handful of times. Instead, I've been doing this thing where I sleep in until 8:00 AM. I don't even know who I am any more. Those handful of visits to the market were pleasant and enjoyable and made me puppy sigh with a "yes...this...all the time...this". So I don't know why it hasn't been an every Saturday occurrence this summer. It could be that I tend to buy way too much food when I go. I just get carried away with all the beautiful produce and the people running their stands. Those Mennonite women are so dang pleasant to talk to. My usual routine is to stop by the ATM and get out $40 in cash before parking and heading into the market. I don't spend all of that money, but sometimes it sure comes close. This Saturday I only took out $20 even though the idea of it made my stomach clenchy. I always panic about not having enough (of everything, food, money, being enough....oh crazy brain). I had plenty. For $16 I got a mess of eggplants, cucumbers, kale, dill, onions, tomatoes, corn and a bell pepper.

Unsupervised at the Farmers' Market

Then I gave a dollar to this hillbilly band because I took their picture and they sounded nice.

Hillbilly Band

I had kind of a plan for my meals this week. Most everything is centered around squash because that's what's coming out of the garden right now.

I grew this

I've picked three about that size and I noticed another one this morning that is almost ready. Squash may be the new spinach this week. My meal plan got a rewrite once I got to the market. I'd forgotten about corn. I'd forgotten about sweet corn polenta and how I thought I could live off that dish all last summer. I dumped the idea of baked squash casserole for Sunday dinner and replaced it with sweet corn polenta and roasted eggplant, squash (well duh), tomatoes and onions. Summers just seem to have nicer Sunday dinners don't they?

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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Last week, when I met Mom and Dad for brunch, Mom said her squash plants had bloomed but never produced any squash. She said the same was true for the gourd plants she'd planted. This was something I was beginning to worry about with my own squash. I had seen blossoms, but I still didn't have squash. I didn't know if I was just being inpatient or if I had the same problem as mom. Mom and I talked about the possibility that squash needed bees for pollination (they do). Niether one of us knew and it was something we never really paid attention to before because there were always bees buzzing around my parent's yard. Our neighbor was a beekeeper, but when he passed away, the bees disappeared. Last year I watched Vanishing of the Bees while walking on the treadmill. This really wasn't a good idea because the more I watched, the worse the panic attacks got. The bees and Colony Collapse Disorder keeps me up at night. It's my new obsession. I'm convinced I'm going to have nothing to eat but kale and we're all going to die because of bees. That's going to be my new disaster phrase. Any time something bad happens? Because of bees. I can only speculate about what's going on with the bees. I'd bet money that it has something to do with GMOs. We are not the best stewards of our environment. Remember when we though DDT was a good idea?

Any way...the bees...my squash. When I went out take pictures of the squash blooms I noticed one lonely bee traveling from bloom to bloom. I also noticed that I have squash, one even ready for eating. That one little bee has been busy. I also have cauliflower and lettuce that has gotten out of control.

Squash!
Cauliflower maybe
Out of control

There's spinach out there too, but it's pathetic looking. I bought kale seeds yesterday. I guess kale is really my new spinach.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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I'll be the first to admit that I am the lackadaisical gardener. I never pay attention to planting times or seed placement. I just toss seeds out and wait for good things to happen. If I was serious I'd be able to tell you that I know the pH of my soil or I actually water the garden every day. I am not serious. The winter here was hard this year. It was hard on me mentally. There were days when I thought I'd never be warm again. Sometimes I'd be putting on socks and just start crying. I hate socks and shoes. I hate the way winter clothes make me feel heavy and bulky and sometimes itchy. One of my favorite things about summers in OKC were the days I'd be teaching a class out at the studio on Lake Hefner. I'd pull my top layer t-shirt off so I'd just be wearing my tank top, roll my yoga pants up to my thighs, spray on the sunscreen and ride the scooter from work to the lake. It was glorious. The Kapha dosha in me relishes in the summer heat. This is something I've had to adapt to here. Kansas City just doesn't get as warm. Last week it finally got hot enough to turn on the air conditioner. I laughed at the weathermen when they put out warnings to stay hydrated because it was going to be so hot. "We're looking at a high of 92 today!" 92! That's nothing. I still have to wear a jacket on my rides into work in the mornings. In fact the weather has been the biggest learning curve I've had to deal with since I've moved here. I'm constantly leaving the house in inappropriate weather clothes. My answer to this is to always carry a sweater.

But this is a garden entry and I've rambled off. The Garden! I have things other than lettuce coming up out there. One of the three squash plants even have blooms and if I can remember to sprinkle them with diple dust, I may actually get squash to eat. The cauliflower is up, though I may have waited to long to get them in the ground. They may not produce flowers, but maybe I can eat the leaves. I think next year I will be a more active gardener. I will expand and pay more attention to what I'm putting in the ground. I feel pretty good about the things that I did plant though considering I was planting in the middle of a good bought of depression (yeah...I'll give that funk I was carrying around a clinical name). Maybe the act of getting out and putting seeds in the ground helped.

Garden

There's a lot of maybes in that last paragraph. There are no guaranties in gardening. There are no guaranties in life. There's so many things in my life that I can control but in this area, I have no control. I have to surrender to nature. That's not always an easy thing for me to do. I do not surrender easily. I guess this is why I garden. It forces me to accept and surrender some of that control. Gardening has become part of the practice, the yoga and meditation. It is another healing balm.

And my salads have been off the hook this week.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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I've been looking out at my backyard a lot lately and the more I look the more disgruntled I get. My fence line is a mess of all the kinds of vines and over growth. I know there's poison ivy growing in one corner. Oh, how I know there's poison ivy growing in that corner. It gives me hives just thinking about it. Also there's a side of the house I can't really get to with the mower because it's so over grown with rose bushes and more of that invasive vine that is choking the life from all that it covers. The rose bushes aren't even mine. They belong to the house next door. All of it just looks messy and makes my skin crawl. Last year, I ignored it. I made one attempt with my measly little handheld clippers, cleared half of one fence before throwing those clippers at no one in particular. My give-a-shit level got a little higher this year. Friday I bought an electric hedge trimmer and some brush/poison ivy killer. Do I know how to rock a holiday weekend or what? I trimmed ALL of the fence line. Well...most of the fence line. The battery died on the last foot of fence. That was actually a good thing because I can be tenacious when I start a new project. I will work until I collapse, which I almost did. As it is, lifting my arms HURT. Typing isn't easy either. It took me two days but I cleared the fence AND the side of the house AND sprayed the crap out of all that poison ivy. As I hauled the last of it over to my now not so little pile of yard garbage, I turned around and looked at my sad little vegetable garden. It's not all sad. I have one section where the lettuce is coming up like gangbusters. And one day where there was nothing, the next I had three squash plants. I don't even remember planting those. But the rest of the garden is a bust. I guess some of those seeds don't like getting snowed on, twice.

So I picked up a shovel with my already noodley arms and reworked the soil. I planted more seeds. I pulled weeds. I finally got rid of the dead lavender plant in the herb garden. I fought with the garden hose and won. And then? I rewarded myself with a beer that I had to lift to my lips with both hands. I looked like a raccoon drinking a beer. And last night I ate taco salad with lettuce from my garden.

Salad

And remembered why I do this garden thing.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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Last week I received a package in the mail from Suebob containing packets of seeds. The seeds are from her local school. The kids there grow a big vegetable garden and then the cooks in the cafeteria use those vegetables in the school lunches. Reading this story made me teary with happiness.

Happy seeds

Look at that! How can I not plant Very Happy Carrots?!?

This weekend, Mom and I were sitting on the couch watching the morning news and they were talking about how difficult is is to get kids to eat their veggies. I looked over at Mom and said "I never had a problem eating my vegetable." Mom said it was because we grew our own vegetables and maybe that was it. I think being a part of where my food came from made it easier to convince me to eat that food. That is one of the reasons that story about those kids means so much to me. That package also arrived on the same day my garden was being covered in snow. It was a day I was thoroughly dejected and fed up with even an idea of a garden.

A few weeks ago I planted seeds and hoped for Spring. This weather has made it extremely difficult to remain hopeful for anything to come from the seeds I planted. But there are things sprouting away out there. It's amazing really. These tiny seeds that look so fragile and like they really don't have a chance in the world, but then you throw it in the dirt and add some water and suddenly you have the makings of a salad right in your own backyard.

It's the slowest, sweetest kind of magic.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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I had that beautiful seed catalog sitting here on my coffee table just staring at me, but every time I thought about ordering seeds I was either out of money or it was snowing. I even toyed with the idea of not planting anything this year. But then we would have these days in between the days of snow and yuck where the sun would come out and the temperatures would be near 70. On those days I would have this flicker of something stir inside me. I would think maybe, just maybe. So it was during one of those moments that I ordred those seeds. And I am so happy I did. They came on Friday after a week of gray and worry and opening that large manilla envelope full of bright packages of seeds brought the sun into my heart. There are things that I do that I am completely surprised that I actually like doing. Running? I actually missed it last week when I couldn't do it. Hanging the clothes on the line to dry should be a chore. I hung clothes on the line last week for the first time in months and with each item I pinned to the line, I felt peace and calm enter my soul. As a kid it was torture to pull weeds and hull peas. Now I love putting seeds in the ground.

Saturday, after tagging items for a garage sale and avoiding tagging even more items for the garage, I grabbed my garden tools and headed outside with my pile of seeds. I planted all kinds of lettuce, spinach and collard greens, carrots and parsnips. I planted it all. I even dug a trench near the fence line and planted a row of okra. And I know I probably shouldn't have planted everything but I've never been one to follow any of the planting rules. I think not following the rules of gardening has worked well for me in the past. Yesterday I planted more than seeds. I planted patience and hope and peace. This morning I sat outside with my cup of coffee and just stared at the dirt knowing that soon I would be able to reap what I've sown.

It's a good feeling.

GARDEN DIARIES AND WHAT'S FOR DINNER

Cindy Maddera

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Remember when I planted some last minute seeds? Well, all the rain we've had in the last couple of days has made all of those seeds sprout up and double in size. With any luck, I'll have a nice Fall harvest of baby bok choy, salad greens, cabbage and leeks. I don't know about beans, though I do have a few bean pods on the oldest plant. If nothing eats the pods before they're ready, I'll have eight beans. I'll always have kale. Always.

Bok Choy
Kale

This Saturday I decided to let the Farmer's Market dictate my weekly menu. I still have squash and zucchini in the fridge for pasta with pesto so I tried real hard not to be lured in by the bounty of squashes at the market. I wanted Brussel's sprouts, but instead found cabbage sprouts. I've never even heard of such a thing but as the farmer talked about their sweet tender goodness, I was sold. I'll turn them into a stir-fry with tofu. I also wanted black-eyed peas. The crispness in the air gave me a craving for stewed tomatoes and okra and black-eyed peas. I found purple hulled peas which I suspect are really black-eyed peas.

Black-eyed-peas

When I was really little, we had a huge garden. I just remember it being so big. I remember the hours of weeding, shucking corn (I hate corn worms!), and shelling peas. We would sit on the tailgate of my dad's old blue Ford pick-up truck and shell peas until our fingers were purple and raw. All of that flooded back to me as I sat shelling peas yesterday. I remember how I hated it, would whine and complain. Now I was doing it willingly, without complaint because I know now that nothing tastes better then fresh shelled peas. That stuff that comes in a can? That stuff tastes like dirt. I suppose I should thank my parents for teaching me these things.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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I'm long over due for a Garden Diary entry. I know I've mentioned drought and very little happening with the garden. This is true. There is very little happening in the garden. My potato plants died while I was in New York. Mom said that this was a sign that it was time to dig up potatoes, but she waited for me to come home. She thought I should dig up the first potato. So, we dug up my potatoes and it was like finding eggs on Easter morning. It was so exciting that I decided to dig up my carrots too and the next night I had skillet potatoes, carrots and black beans for dinner. It was delicious. Since then I've dug up all my onions and I've waited on tomatoes to turn red. In a last ditch effort to get something more from the garden, I sprinkled down some more seeds last week. I even planted more bean plants. All put into the ground with very little expectation, but lots of hope. But the raised bed does not require the constant attention that last year's garden did. Just watering and the occasional weed. So there's not much to tell and why there hasn't been an entry in some time.

Last year, Sunday mornings were reserved for weeding the old garden. This year Sunday mornings have become lazy mornings that involve homemade breakfasts and multiple cups of coffee. The work left on the chore list is laundry and by the time I'm ready for my third cup of coffee, it's time to hang that first load of clothes on the line, a task that I really have come to love. Yesterday morning, I took my basket of wet clothes, a cup of coffee and the camera outside, where there was one red tomato and beans sprouting out of the ground. And I couldn't have been more pleased with my Sunday.

Shiny Tomato
Beans

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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It seems like ages since I've written a Garden Diary entry. It seems like ages since I've actually had my hands in the dirt. It was time to change that. I'd finally had enough of looking at the messy out of control old garden. The Jens had given me a marvelous idea for a spot just right of my garage door. When Jen mentioned putting some sort of flower bed there, I could see all my herbs in that spot. So I became determined to make it happen and say farewell to the old garden. Turned out to be a pretty simple idea.

Droopy Herbs

The herbs look a bit droopy in this picture, but they have perked right up in their new home. I'm thinking of extending the bed all along the back of the house. Actually, the more I think of it, the more I really think this will happen. It would be a great place for garlic and leaks, camomille and pepper. I could grow pepper. Why have I never thought of this before?

The last time I was at my parents', my mom gave me one of those counter top compost bins. I took it knowing I'd fill it up right away. This also meant that I'd need a spot to dump it in the yard. I already had two wood pallets from dad and I knew there were more I could pilfer from the basement. I dragged four of them together and bound them together with wire and just like that, I had a proper compost bin.

Compost BIn

I'm right proud of myself. Talaura says I'm building a farm. I guess that means the chickens are the next thing. Maybe next Spring. Right now I'm content with the salad I had for dinner last night with lettuce freshly picked from my garden.

Lettuce, carrots and onions

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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The thing about a raised bed garden is that it really doesn't require much work. You put it together, fill it with soil and seeds and wait. And wait. And wait. In the meantime you eat the lettuce and chard that's still growing in the old garden. At least, this is what I've been doing. Today, I hilled the rest of my potatoes and planted more carrot seeds. I also got around to building a slug trap to save the carrots I have growing. But mostly I just sat outside, enjoying the morning sunshine and admiring the way the light made the stems of the chard glow. Not bad gardening if you ask me.

Bean
Chard

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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The garden is sleeping. It's just that nothing is happening out there. Except potatoes. I'm going to be eating lots of those I think. Did you know where supposed to "hill" potato plants? I had no idea. This weekend, after mowing the yard, I pulled up a few weeds that wandered into the raised bed and hilled my potatoes. I also planted more spinach and Kale, beans and cabbage. These were things I planted earlier, but never really took off or I planted way too early and it just hasn't been warm enough yet for them to do anything. I don't know.

Potato hill

Meanwhile, I keep going back to the old garden. It's slowly becoming this wild bed of herbs, clover and wild strawberries. I love the crazy mess of it which surprises me because I usually prefer everything to be so tidy and ordered. My parsley has gotten so out of control, it's flowering. I have lettuce and chard still coming up in the old garden. This is nice because it supplements what's not coming up in the new garden. I'm really having a hard time adjusting to the idea of Spring. Spring in Oklahoma meant 90 degree temps and tornadoes. Spring here means 70s and 80s with the occasional 90 and tornado threat. Today's high is 62. Last night I watched the weather man aim the camera to what was clearly a funnel cloud and then I heard him say "I'm not sure what we have here". They have no idea what they're doing here when it comes to those things. Any way, I hear my southern friends go on about squash and peppers and I get jealous cause I gots nothin'.

lettuce

I'm not doing well with patience these days. Could be this is something I need to work on. Something else I need to work on: slug traps. The other evening I sat out in one of the camp chairs waiting for Hooper to do one last nightly patrol of the yard. And as I sat there, I watched a generously sized slug slowly make his way up the side of my raised bed garden and then disappear over the edge of the wall and down into my garden. I let him go, but made a mental note to set up some beer traps. Though to be honest, I'm slightly fascinated by the slugs. They're HUGE and striped and I really hate the idea of killing them, but they're eating my food. At least they'll die drunk and not squirming in pain like that one I poured salt on last year. I will never do that again.

Oregano

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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The garden is still doing gardeney things. The other potatoes have just started to break free from the dirt. I plucked another asparagus sprig. They tell me you have to do this to get them to propagate. I'm still waiting on the cabbage and beans to make an appearance, but it could just be too cold. It's been breezy and brisk around here. Which is why I think my potatoes are doing so well. I see buckets of potato soup in my future. My mom came to visit this weekend and she brought mint. She helped me do a little bit of clearing in the old garden that is now the herb garden. I had a turnip growing out there! I don't even remember planting turnips. Oh well. It was not a good turnip. We also pulled up what I thought was a radish, but all the greens came off when I tugged and it smelled like peanuts. Mom and I had to dig out the root and even then it was undecided if it was a radish or a turnip. We still don't know why it smelled like peanuts.

Garden Helper

The mint was planted. We also decided to toss some chive seeds around and poke some cucumber seeds into an old straw bale I have sitting out there. We cut vines and honeysuckle away from the fence until we reached a section of vines with the scariest thorns we'd ever seen. Then we decided that that particular section of fence didn't really need to be cleared. With that, we each plucked a berry from my wild strawberry plant, chewed enough of it to know it had no flavor and promptly spit it out.

It was a good weekend.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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I know everyone wants to hear about the new car. But really, there's not much to tell. The stars aligned earlier then expected and I was able to get a new car. The fist dealer we went to didn't give us a warm fuzzy feeling and they said that they didn't have any base models available. I think they just wanted to sell me the plus model. which I didn't need and didn't want to pay for. The second dealer was just right. Actually we started to get an odd feeling when we realized it was on Noland Road. Chris's middle name is Nolan. Coincidence? Any way, I left that place driving a brand new Kia Soul and we were all very happy. Particularly my brother, who after five minutes in my old car said "yes, let's go trade this in RIGHT NOW". This really doesn't have much to do with the garden other than the fact that I can now haul a bit more garden supplies around. Also, my family and friends no longer need to worry about me stranded on the side of the road somewhere by myself. Now, garden! I bought some herbs and finally pulled up the old kale. Herbs are in the ground and the garden is doing everything it's supposed to be doing right now. That and more. Guys. I've got asparagus.

Asparagus

Oh, I know I still have a few years before I can actually eat it, but IT'S GROWING! Pretty much everything is sprouting. The only thing I haven't seen a sign of is the beans, but I have hope. Plus I have carrots and potatoes!

Potatoes!

Enjoy!

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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I figured that a Garden Diary entry wouldn't happen this week. I mean, this is the really boring waiting for things to come up time. And I just planted those seeds. So I didn't really do any gardening over the weekend unless you count mowing the yard as gardening which I don't. I will say that I am pretty proud of myself for tackling both front and back yards. I am also pretty smug about figuring out how to start the mower. Some of you may remember that last year, Chris and I bought our first mower. Up to this point we'd had rickety old hand-me-downs that had to be primed twenty times before getting the engine to sputter. Well, we bought the new mower and then I never had to use it because Chris took over all of that and I never even noticed if it had a priming button or a key or what. There's not a key or a priming button, but I figured it out. Then, as I sat back admiring my handy work, I noticed some things had sprouted in the garden. That's right. Sprouts. In the garden. Already! The lettuce and a new batch of kale have decided to start coming up out of the ground.

salad

Pretty soon I'll be able to stop buying the bags of salad greens and just harvest my own. I'm a little bit in love with this idea.

GARDEN DIARIES

Cindy Maddera

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I feel like I should tack onto the Garden Diaries title TO THE EXTREME! But in reality, the new garden isn't much bigger than the old one it's just not round. So...not so much EXTREME. Also, I had a brilliant idea of a drunk gardening edition. I poured me a glass of red and headed out to plant. Then, everything was planted and I still had a half full glass of wine. I had forgotten how easy it is to plant seeds, especially the little ones like lettuce and carrots. The kind that you sort of sprinkle and then smear into the dirt.

Planted Garden

I tried to put a lot of thought into this year's veggies. It's easy to get carried away with exotic plants. The idea of growing Brussels sprouts is pretty tempting. But I needed to be realistic, stick with simple things that I know I eat on a regular basis. So I planted lettuce, carrots, onions, cabbage, potatoes, lima beans, spinach, and more kale (it does so well here, might as well). I saved room for tomato plants and basil and I'm thinking about planting a bunch of herbs in the old garden, just to fill in the space. I did do one exotic type of veggie. I planted asparagus. I know I won't get to eat any of it until next year and it requires a bit of managing, but I'm so excited about it.

Asparagus

I remember reading in Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about how if you really wanted to taste asparagus at it's best, you had to eat it the same day it was harvested. This means I have never truly tasted asparagus and the only way to do that is to grow it. So I'm willing to put in the effort. Asparagus is the perfect life metaphor. The ultimate test of patience. We need these tests in our lives.