Monthly Archives: August 2009

Our Picture-A-Day Habit

WOO HOOO!!! We did it! From August 23, 2008 to August 22, 2009 we took a picture every day and posted it into Flickr. What we’ve been left with is the easiest-to-maintain diary of a year we could ever hope for. As you’ve probably noticed from reading IPB, Gentle Reader, we don’t live the most action-packed lives. We’re both in our 30’s, we’re both well-established in our jobs, we own our house, we don’t have kids… basically, life is a straight, unwinding road for us. Looking back on this past year, we’ll remember the big events without prompting. There were the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Opening Night), we voted for a new president, we visited our friends in Dallas for the first time, and in sadder times, our grandmother passed away. But thanks to Project 365 we don’t have to go far to find reminders of all the little things that made up our year. We learned a new hobby, started new projects, and finished them (as well as these, and this, and this, and this, and this). We hung out with friends. We harvested the end of one garden and planted another. At work, we went to all-day trainings, completed big projects, got raises, commuted, and watched the seasons change. We each had a perfect snow day (here’s Pookie’s and here’s Schnookie’s), a perfect not-road trip, and a perfect vacation. We had two of the best days ever. And the single bestest day ever. In other words, it was a year worth remembering.

As much as we knew we loved the idea of having a diary of the year, we were both hesitant to start Project 365 because we were sure we weren’t good enough photographers. Then we read some sage advice from a seasoned 365 participant: 20% of the photos you take will be really good, 20% will be truly awful, and the rest will fall somewhere in between. Turns out that person was right. We did end up with mostly average photos, but a few notable ones stand to us as being our best and our worst photos.

The Five Best

November 1st, 71/365

November 1 2008

December 15th, 115/365

December 15 2008

April 29th, 250/365

April 29 2009

July 27th, 339/365

July 27 2009

August 21st, 364/365

August 21 2009

The Five Worst

September 17st, 26/365

September 17 2008

September 25th, 34/365

September 25 2008

October 3rd, 42/365

October 3 2008

March 27th, 217/365

March 27 2009

May 28, 279/365

May 28 2009

(Cross-posted from IPB)

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Filed under Celebratory!, Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

It’s Quiet. Too Quiet.

Okay, we realize we’ve been really lax IPB Living bloggers this summer (regular readers of IPB proper shouldn’t be surprised about this), but it’s not our fault. This has been the boringest summer of gardening ever. Here’s what our daily routine as gentlewoman farmers has been like:

1. Wake up.
2. Notice it’s raining.
3. Realize this means we don’t have to water the garden for a few more days.
4. Realize this means we can’t take the camera out in the garden because it’s raining and we don’t want to break the camera (again).
5. Realize it’s actually raining really hard, and it’s too wet out to even want to just walk out and look at the garden without a camera in tow.
6. Read up on Late Blight.
7. Worry about Late Blight.
8. Are those spots on the tomatoes, the ones we can see from the front door where we’re huddled out of the rain, Late Blight?
9. Worry.
10. Read more about Late Blight.
11. Decide those spots aren’t Late Blight.
12. Find something less annoying to think about than the garden.
13. Go to sleep.

That’s been our day, every day, this entire summer. We’ve been lucky in that we’re having a bumper crop of tomatoes in this Summer of the Blight (anyone who’s reading this and thinking about starting a garden next Spring, take our advice: grow from seed), and we’ve had wildly successful onion, garlic, potato, and especially pepper crops this year. Our carrots and beets washed away in a torrential, hours-long downpour that ripped through Maple Hoo the day after we planted them. Our beans are chugging along. And we almost never have to spend any time actually interacting with any of them because there’s been so freakin’ much rain this year. It’s a self-tending garden. On the one hand, that leaves us lots of time to pursue our other hobbies. On the other hand, this must be a lot like what it’s like for parents when their children go off to college. We love the garden, we want to be involved in its life, but it just doesn’t need us anymore.

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Filed under 8. August, Garden

How Does the Garden Grow Now?

July of 2009 is now finally in the rear-view mirror, never to show its ugly, rainy face ever again, thank goodness! So how does the garden look now that it’s August? Pretty darn awesome!

Before The Rain, The Garden

In our last garden update we were excited for potato flowers and garlic scapes. In the 6 weeks since, the garlic and potatoes have been entirely harvested with much success! There appear to be no signs on blight on the potatoes, and the garlic vareities we chose this year are all delicious.

Turkey Burger Deluxe

What beats a side dish of homegrown potatoes and farm share green beans? The garlic is also there, hiding (alongside the volunteer cilantro) in the turkey burger.

The garlic and potato beds are now planted with their secondary crops — beans, carrots and beets. Keep your fingers crossed for the beets and carrots, as we used mushroom compost to replenish the soil levels instead of our tried and true leaf compost. So far the mushroom stuff doesn’t seem as good at draining the inches and inches of rain we’re still getting. As for the beans, we took the Square Foot Gardening approach and plunked down nine plants to a square foot. The bed is a riot of big green bean leaves; I can’t imagine there’s room for all of them in there!

July 18 2009

We’ve taken to calling the “Painted Pony” beans “Lightning Pony” beans because they sprouted from nothing to having leaves overnight after a big summer storm.

When all is said and done this summer will surely be remembered as the Summer We Couldn’t Stop Worrying About Stupid Effing Late Blight. So far — knocks heartily on wood — we think we’ve been spared, and as a result the tomatoes are coming along swimmingly. Our CSA pointed out in their newsletter that they’ve managed to fend of Late Blight partially because the farm itself is isolated from other farms thanks to being surrounded by woods. We’re wondering if we’re benefiting from the same effect. The only neighbors growing tomatoes got theirs from us, and Maple Hoo is also surrounded by protected wooded areas. Normally we’d be all over encouraging all our neighbors to turn their front lawns into veggie paradises, but now we’re thinking we like the street the way it is! Heh.

Morning Tomatoes

The Ramapos are taking their sweet time turning red, but there are zillions on the plants.

Moretons Ripening

The Moretons may not have lived up to their “Fourth of July Tomato” nickname, but as of the last week or so, they’re ripening up a furious pace.

Morning Denuded Tomatoes

The Black Plums had some kind of bacterial problem and we had to cut off pretty much everything that wasn’t a tomato, but we’re hoping they’ll shake it off and get back in the game.

Usually at this time of year, the onions would be entirely harvested, chopped, and in the freezer by now, but thanks to all the rain, the Yellow of Parma onions didn’t start bulbing until very recently. Instead, they’ve been putting all their energy in growing the most ridiculous leaves. The Australian Browns, on the other hand, did exactly what they were meant to do, and have been taken up. They’re phenomenally delicious — once again, all the fretting over starting onions from seed was totally worth it.

Giant Onion

Hey onion, did you ever consider growing… say… an onion?!

So far, though, the big success in this year’s version of The Maple Hoo Garden, is the peppers. (We fully put forth there’s still time for the Ramapos to take over the top dog spot.) After last year’s pepper debacle, I set my expectations low. Very, very low. Which makes what happened last night even sweeter! After a long, productive day of stitching and watching a marathon of “Diagnosis: Murder” (yes, you heard me!), we ordered delivery pizza — sausage and mushroom on one pie, sausage and onions on another. While waiting for dinner to arrive, Schnookie sauteed up our first two harvested peppers. One was a Tolli’s Sweet Italian pepper. It’s not kidding about the sweet; it tasted like candy! The other was a super-spicy Aci Sivri, a long, green Turkish hot pepper (it mellowed a lot after cooking).

Tolli's: The Reddening

We’ve been watching this pepper like hawks, waiting for it to turn completely red. We could wait no more.

August 1 2009

I’m not going to lie — my main motivation for suggesting we plant these was because they seemed very photogenic!

Holy cow, Gentle Reader. Holy. Cow. Putting your own freshly harvested, homegrown heirloom peppers on your delivery pizza? Is mind-blowingly, earth-shatteringly, groin-grabbingly delicious. After her first bite of the be-peppered pizza, Schnookie declared we’re going to plant only peppers next year. Heh. Seriously, we cannot recommend this practice more. Run right out, plant yourself some Tolli’s Sweet and Aci Sivris, and then 80-100 days later, order yourself some pizza. You won’t regret it!

So there you have it. The garden is once again humming along. This afternoon, I read another one of those blog posts that pops up all the time on the interwebs about how much money you save by growing your own veggies, and the inevitable quibbling began about factoring in time, and labor, and blah blah blah. Here’s what I have say to that: you cannot put a price on a slice of delicious NJ pizza topped with peppers plucked from the garden that evening.

Now if only it would stop raining!

August 2 2009

Posted by Pookie

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