Category Archives: gardening

A Flower "Bed"

When I bought my old farmhouse with its many flaws one of the most visible was the huge neglected back yard. Since I am on a corner lot, my backyard is actually more like a side yard and is completely exposed to all who pass by. A surprising number of people drive and walk by on this street that runs next to my backyard because it takes them into the village or directly down to the lake. This is also a finicky village that likes to keep itself neat and attractive and has village officers who will pester you if your property starts looking neglected. So as soon as I got the interior spaces in livable order I had to tackle that backyard with its balding spots, its vole holes and its total lack of any color or interest, except for a grove of old trees which keeps the back center area of the yard too shady for gardening, but makes it an excellent spot to hang out on a hot summer day. That was when I decided to plant those spirea bushes that I go on and on about. They have a traditional connection to farmhouses and they are large enough to provide some privacy until I can afford a nice privacy fence. When my neighbor rented a rototiller and offered to till some spaces on my property if I would split the rental fee it provided me with a golden opportunity to get some flower beds going. My first bed was planted along the edge of the sidewalk that runs along the entire length of my yard. I also had him turn over a long narrow bed on the opposite side next to another neighbor’s fence as that is the only other sunny area. Last year I grew my tomatoes there but this year I am starting to add some more flowers.

Last Saturday my sister and I took a trip to Ozzie’s in Fulton, NY, a Victorian house converted to hold antiques and collectibles. I’m looking for garden accessories to perk up that garden by the fence. It’s a delightful shop that carries the findings of a number of sellers. Near the barn at the back of the property I found it, my dream accessory, which I knew I would recognize when I saw it. It ended up being an old metal baby crib with rusted springs and shabby chic pale blue chipped paint. It breaks down and goes back together easily and I couldn’t wait to see it set up in my garden and filled with flowers. I like the way it looks, but now I feel that it needs some friends, so the shopping continues, but no hurry. The dilemma I have is that I have now introduced the element of the pun into my garden, and as a writer, I am wondering if I could make a sort of pun garden. My problem is that I can’t think, offhand, of any more great garden puns to inform my future shopping trips. I am hoping inspiration will come over time. If any of you have any good garden puns to suggest, please feel free. For inspiration you have the photo of my “flower bed” which was too small to become a good “corn crib”. (Sorry.)

Tah-may-toe/Toe-mah-toe (My Tomatoes)

When I was a child there was a fruit and vegetable truck that visited our neighborhood in the summer and fall. All of the housewives (an uncomplicated term at that time) would grab their toddlers and hurry out to the street to shop for their produce. Of course, in those days, milk was delivered to our doorstep each day also. These are amenities from the past that would make our lives more convenient in these hectic times. They were low tech, but communal in the sense that everyone saw someone from outside the family almost every day. We all looked forward to this kind of break in our everyday lives, even the children.

Anyway, today I am never visited by a fruit and vegetable truck, and although my supermarket, farmer’s market and plant nursery all sell produce, it would still be nice to have it arrive at my door without having to drive somewhere to get it. After all fruits and vegetables are ripe and then overripe sometimes before we can use them. Because they are so perishable having a fresh supply arrive at your front door several times a week might make us far more likely to use produce in all our meals.

Today we are replacing the veggie truck with our backyard gardens. I did not plant a lot of veggies this year because I have only been here a year and a half and this ended up being “flower year”. I did plant 3 tomato plants and 3 squash plants (2 zucchini, 1 delicata). Gardens are frustrating because of weather and pests. Some kind of worm destroyed my squash plants so I only had 3 zucchinis instead of the enormous output that one usually has to deal with. My tomatoes did well although I had to water every day because of our very dry summer. I’m not sure this resulted in any kind of financial savings, but my tomatoes are shiny, red, and delicious. I chose a hybrid variety bred at the local nursery which promised to be sweet and plump and which has lived up to its reputation.

However I am now inundated with tomatoes and must immediately come up with ways to preserve them or hand them off to others. Last night I made a nice fresh red sauce for a pan of manicotti and took it to my mom’s for dinner. I am also thinking salsa, or picante, or a few jars of stewed tomatoes to use at a later date. Every day I enjoy a tomato sandwich for lunch. I am proud when I harvest my tomatoes, but I think next year I will stick to flowers. There is no fruit and vegetable truck but great produce is available everywhere and I can purchase it in quantities that I can reasonably use. But, still, here is a picture of some of my lovely tomatoes.