Category Archives: Gardening

February

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Let’s just call this the craziest winter in Maine I’ve ever seen. Last week, temperatures were below zero and the windchill was even colder. I think I remember hearing someone say that exposed skin could freeze within 20 minutes. Yep. It was that cold.

Fast forward one week. We had sunny and warmer (yes, 28 degrees is definitely warmer), and then rainy and windy and even warmer. My goodness, it was 55 degrees out yesterday! We had to open the windows because it was too hot inside. I think I checked the calendar at least a dozen times. Yep. Still January.
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But really, looking outside, today, the first day of February, is just, well, strange. Our temperature has cooled to a much more seasonal temperature, but there isn’t any snow in the yard. And the grass is green. And the sky is blue. Shouldn’t I be outside planting something or pruning something or cleaning out a bed? I think some serious garden planning needs to be done. And maybe I’ll try planting something in the sunny window soon, just because.

But for now, I still have a sick Little one. He’s mending, but not as quickly as I’d like. So I’m spending a lot of time sitting and holding him and looking outside, dreaming of the garden season to come, which now seems not as far away as it did only a week ago. The days are noticeably longer, and the shadows are changing a bit. Soon these winter colds will be nothing but a distant memory and the beds we cleared last year will, I hope, be full of plants and berries. And maybe a tree or two.

Welcome, February. So glad you are here.
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A Breath of Fresh Air

I’m back!!! I’ve missed posting. We’ve had computer issues that kept me away. They aren’t completely resolved, but at least I can get a post up every now and then.

My morning did not start off very well. My littlest Little has been keeping me awake more than he’s letting me sleep, which makes for a very tired Mama! Add that to three little ones who were abnormally demanding of time, attention and discipline redirection, and you don’t have a good morning mix. So, after catching up on folding gargantuan piles of laundry, I poured a cup of coffee and banished the lot of us to the great outdoors.

A breath of fresh air is good for the soul.

We started our journey in the flower beds, then wandered down to the vegetable garden, which led us to a walk in the trees, which led us to a path, which led us to an adventure.

So many butterflies, honey bees, and hummingbirds visit our flower gardens. We don’t spend enough time just watching them.

But when we do, time moves differently.

Sitting in the garden, my breathing changes.

My heart beats slower and more steadily.

My eyes focus differently.

My children breath deeper.

They ask questions about what we see.

They become more creative.

Even garden pests, these tomato hornworms, oh-how-I-loathe-them, give us time to pause and reflect.

Well, time to pause and collect.

They are so very destructive to a tomato plant, but if you stop and listen, you can actually hear them chomping away. Into a jar they go!

We think we collected 50 of them! When the jar was full, the rest were pulled off and promptly destroyed. One was kept to be fed and watched as it changes and grows. The rest – all 50 of them – were disposed of in ways that only 11 and 13 year olds can dream up.

The forest beckoned. And we were happy to oblige.

A walk down a path, and the little girls went on an adventure of their own – wandering around trees, singing songs, but always keeping an eye on me. I suppose they were concerned I might get lost.

The littlest Little demanded to be put Down. As soon as his little body touched the forest floor he went exploring. Sticks, rocks, moss and dirt, all were game for his little hands, and some were considered suitable, by him, for his mouth.

We discovered a tree, covered in moss, with a little doorway at its base. The Middles asked what I thought it was for. Why fairies, of course! Do I believe in them? they asked. Why yes, yes I do.  So Zach built a little overhang for the fairy door. Just to help keep them out of the rain.

And if you look very closely, and stand very quietly, you might see one.

There! Right there! Did you see it? Oh, you must have blinked. Try a little harder next time.

And that was how we turned a Very Bad Morning into a Very Good Day. I hope your day was just as magical. I’d love to hear about it.

Early Spring Chores

We’ve had unusual weather for March lately.

Like 70 degrees.

And 75 degrees.

In March.

In Maine.

And we’re loving every minute of it.

Today I started pruning our raspberries. I read somewhere that the conventional time to prune raspberries is just after the harvest or in the middle of winter.

But I’m not always very conventional.

So I wait to prune the raspberries until nice weather hits in the spring. And today was the day. One of the nice things about waiting until the weather breaks to prune the raspberries is that nature has done much of the work for me. If I pruned them just after the harvest (which I don’t do because I’m too busy preserving those yummy raspberries among other things), then the canes that should be pruned are still very green. Which means they’re even harder to cut back. And if I tried to prune them mid-winter, well, most winters we have a few feet of snow on the ground. So trudging through it on my snowshoes to uncover raspberry canes that need to be pruned isn’t exactly on my winter To Do list.

By saving the pruning chore until the first break in the weather, the canes that need to be cut are dead. They produced fruit last year, and they aren’t needed any longer. The bark is peeling (which means less prickly thorns in my fingers) and they’re cut off pretty easily. And I get the bonus of being outside. In the sun. Working. And if I’m outside working, then someone else needs to help out with inside things. Unless everyone else is outside working too.

Except for those nasty thorns that are still stuck in my fingers,   I really enjoy the process. But don’t tell my family that. Because then I don’t get to play the “I’m working” card and I lose out on the sympathy inside work that they do for me.

Why We Won’t Turn on the Hose Today

Yesterday was hot. Well, as hot as things get in June in our part of the world, certainly not as hot as things get in other parts, but hot as we define it here. Anyway, I thought I’d get the outside work done early, and then maybe do something fun and water-y with the kids. So we headed out to the garden to finish removing the rocks that grew over the winter. The middles brought their summer school books (Math and Reading), we packed up water and headed down to the garden. We brought the goats, too. They like to graze in the field while we work down there. The kids all hang out in the shade house while I get some gardening done.

Emma thought the goats should be allowed in the shade house, too.

So while I worked on raking and pulling weeds and throwing rocks, the goats grazed nearby.

Why do I put up a gate?

Sometimes they were a lot nearer than I wanted, but they did help with the weeding.   Emma thought she’d take them for a walk, Talking with them the whole way.

Emma, Goat Whisperer

Sophie kept a close watch on everything.

Sadly, we were only down there for about an hour and a half before the heat made me realized that the garden, which has already waited this long, could wait a couple more days. Cooler weather is on the way.  Even Abby was glad when we decided to head back to the house to take a break.

And that was our morning. So in the afternoon I thought I’d let the kids have some fun and turn on the hose and I’d take a break for the afternoon. I took Emma and Sophie out to play with Zach and Maddie in the water, and I realized that, well, since the water was on anyway, I should scrub the 5 area rugs that have been sitting outside for far too long waiting for me to stop being so lazy have time to scrub them down before storing them until next winter.

When I was done with the rugs, since the water was on anyway, I thought I’d water the strawberries I recently planted.  While I was watering the strawberries, I realized that the grapes needed to be weeded. So I did that. When I was done weeding the grapes, I looked over at the blueberries and realized that they needed some weeding as well. So I did that. And the kids had fun playing in the water. And that was my afternoon break. So we won’t turn on the hose today, because I’m too tired to take a break.