The Extended Garden Tour

What an honor to have our little 1/5acre of paradise featured on Soule Mama’s Blog this weekend.  I was shocked at how many visitors this little blog of mine got and since a few of you asked to see more, I am so happy to share.  You may have noticed I love taking pictures of my garden just about as much as I love taking pictures of my kids, so I have a lot of images to share.  I put together an extended garden tour from photos I have taken over the past 5 years when I started this blog of mine, so it was also a good reflection for me to see how far we have come in seven years… so with no further ado, Welcome to our humble abode…

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My husband is kind of a twisty wood collector, before we got married I think he thought he would retire early and set up a twisty wood furniture company… well, no early retirement for this papa of three, and now our gardens are all hemmed in with twisty wood creations…lucky me! He also built that ladder out of a single black locust log up to a tree nook in the box elder where he wove the branches together so it feels super cozy for the little birds who hang out up there.

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When you enter you will inevitably be greeted by a curious small person.  This very small person helped my weave these low garden fences out of willow we gathered together and hauled up the lane from the river.  They keep the babies out of the garden and the constant layers of leaf mulch in. ( mulch is a must in a desert garden)

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As you can see, I never remove weeds from the yard, I simply pull and lay them down in place.  In the desert they dry up in a day or two and act as mulch, skips the step of buying mulch. My husband has been working for years, slowly surrounding the growing spaces with bricks he finds on craigslist.  They are great water catchment, thermal mass and of course great for playing with trucks, riding bikes and learning to walk on.

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Another masterpiece built brick by brick by my husband. Every nook ans cranny is utilized, horno under the shed roof, cradle on the freezer, etc… we use every inch we can!

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Shade is key in the desert, now we have grapes vines that are almost covering it, but those grass mat fencing things work great for shade in the summer.   In the winter we remove them and have a super sunny spot to warm ourselves on cold days.

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Our first dinner party in the outdoor kitchen….followed by many many more!!

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The boys built our Horno a couple of summers back which we now spark up every May for our annual boy birthday pizza party and every November for the Thanksgiving Turkey.

 

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The garden studio craft shack was actually built for food storage, but I quickly took it over with all my crafting supplies, a girl needs a place to put all her yarn right?!

 

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It was built out of old shipping pallets and mud and straw…there is a whole blog post about the shed here, check it out, it is awesome!

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Another genius of my husband!! He said he had that antique O’Keeffe Merritt stove under a tarp for almost ten years before I came along.  Now I got that baby canning and baking all summer long, I barely even turn on the oven inside for months!

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Our washing station where of course the water runs right out to the peach tree behind the sink. And yes that is a very large salad spinner that was worth every penny!  I haven’t had a turn yet, the kids always want to do the spinning!!

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Step through another twisty garden gate and follow the red brick path….to your right vertical growing on the south side of the greenhouse is usually covered with tomatoes.  To your left is a vegetative hedge of Currants, Nanking Cherries, Wild Plums, Wild Roses,  and Hops all that started as twigs from the national forest service that help buffer between us and our neighbors and feed the wildlife.

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The grandma tree beckons you back to discover more around the bend, my husband always says it was this tree that sold him on the house.  When he moved in 15 years ago the lot was completely barren and the house in a state of disarray.

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A sharp turn to the north and you will find hundreds of gallons of rainwater being collected for dry days ahead.  And yes that is a Chicago fig gifted to me from my friends mom, but it dies back every year and only produces a few figs, but it’s cool so we keep it around, who knows, maybe someday the climate will change so much it will thrive year round ( the bright side right?)

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Peek over the garden gate and the prize vegetable await!

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Yep, another twisty wood gate!

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And here it is from the other side- twisty wood arches everywhere, I told you!! We decided to fence in the garden last year so that I could let the chickens free in the rest of the yard.  They are too messy to come into my tidy happy place!

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My desert maiden Amanda enjoying the Japanese knot weed ‘lawn’ while the kids enjoy her gift, “The Imaginarium“! What a great Aunty!!

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Kid, chicken, bunny zone

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Someday I would like to see a nice blue grama grass lawn here, someday!

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The little garden that could all hemmed in.

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Along the north side of the house is the drive way and a 4ft wide strip of dirt that once was the vegetable zone but now home to 20 espalier apple trees.  They act as a living fence and this is the first year they gave fruit and they are pretty as a picture!

 

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The north strip garden is now home to a ton of plants gone wild.. tomatoes parnips, amaranth, arugula zinnias and whatever else has naturalize and perrenialized itself there.

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Our hops monster eating the porch

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And back to the beginning, the front garden is mostly flowers, herbs and medicinals that are cycling through at different times of the year, mostly a spring garden but it gets lots of action all through the year with the sand box right in it.

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AHHH the  Greenhouse in the high season, But I will save that for another day… next time I will invite you inside for tea and a look around!

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Five years ago

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Us today, my how we have grow!!

Thanks again Soule Mama for encouraging me to share and thanks to all of you who know small is beautiful and there is no place like home!

Good Times

Most of you who read my blog know me and my family pretty well…and if you are new here (thanks to Soulemama’s sharing of our garden), Welcome, so glad you came!!

I write here mostly about gardening because that is what inspires me most….but these days life has been so intensely full, gardening is on the back burner, as I have been home with three children while my husband has been working in New Zealand for two weeks.

Yes there are all kinds of hard things going on in the world and I really have nothing to complain about, but if you have been one of the many angels to grace our homestead this summer with a meal, a helping hand or to whisk the kids off for a walk, you know that things have gotten pretty ferrell, somewhat chaotic and at times a bit bleak around here.

IMG_2695First it was “WE are out numbered” now it is just Me who is outnumbered and I simply can’t help and hold three tiny people all at once.  7 am and 7pm are intense to say the least!  I have only made it through because so many of you have helped us, and for this I am alive today, but there is that moment where every mother realizes, ‘ No one can really help me, because no one else is mommy to these guys and sometimes only mommy will do.’  Though luckily we have found some pretty close seconds!!

IMG_2635This afternoon, only minutes after our helping angel had departed, I found myself saying, “Where is Eva” one too many times.  This little 18 month old critter is getting into everything!! But finally after weeks on end of overwhelm, my stress broke into laughter ….

First we were peacefully doing laundry together when I stepped out for just a minute and returned I couldn’t find her,  ” Where is Eva?” I said.

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She had figured out how to get into the dryer and I hear her priceless, ” HI” and the door swung open and there she was, happy as a calm in her new favorite spot!

We finished the laundry and I had to sit down to nurse Oakley, within minutes I asked again” Where is Eva?”

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Of course, throwing my neatly chopped Chard all over the Kitchen floor!!  (Jaengus thought this was especially funny).  ‘Awesome’ I thought, and picked it up off the floor, “I am the only one who will really eat it anyways!”

It went on like this all evening, she was on a role… while I was trying to get dinner on the table I passed her water to hold her over…and one quick trip into the kitchen and back…and what do we have here, a baby fountain!! Soaking herself entirely in a matter of seconds!

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After dinner, ” Where’s Eva?” Now she has crawled up on the log, figured out the spray bottle and is giving herself and bath… IMG_2817

“Where is Eva?”now she has caught herself with her net…IMG_2810

There were of course a few things I couldn’t photograph, like slipping off to the backyard and climbing to the top of the swing set by herself and when I spotted her shouting “YEAH!!” at the top of her lungs and bopping up and down inches from the edge!! ( heart attack for me! not a photo opp!)

And while we were laying down to bed she wandering off for one last “Where is Eva?” for the day …. tearing up toilet paper bleery eyed of course!IMG_2820

Oh Eva are you a Cartoon or a real child? Either way you make me laugh when I want to cry and I love you for that, because sometimes that is all a mother can do!

 

The Taste of Summer-Kale

Kale!-Yet another fantastic leafy green we have coming out of our ears!!IMG_2536In fact we have so much Kale we give it away to our friends and family, share it with our chickens, bunny and even worms…But what I really like to do is throw it in the food processor with a little water and then put it in ice cube trays.  IMG_8804This provides us with perfect little Kale Cubes for counting into smoothies whenever we wish.IMG_2579I don’t think my kids know you can actually make a smoothie without Kale… so don’t tell them!IMG_2587They drink it right up!

My favorite mix these days I stole from the Whole Foods Drink bar…One especially self indulgent day I threw down a whopping $8 for a cup of this stuff and was hooked.

Luckily I can make my own and so can you!

The Green Goddess Drink

Mix

Kale( frozen or fresh)

Apple Juice

Lemon Juice

and Ginger ( small amounts, for kids detect it quickly!!)

Ice Cubes on a hot summers day!!

Blend and drink.

It is excellent and the kids can’t get enough!

 

 

The Taste of Summer- Swiss Chard

IMG_2548This summer we harvest Swiss Chard every day…or at least we should!  I looked and looked for recipes that were tasty and used A LOT of Swiss Chard.. this one adapted from Farm Girl Fare won the prize!

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Get the biggest baking dish you have

IMG_2547Get as much Swiss Chard as you have—up to 5 lbs or so

IMG_2558Chop stems and leaves separately

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Toss stems with olive oil and roast for 20 mins at 350

Add leaves gradually in handfuls and stir every 7 mins (approximately).

Everything will shrink down considerably.  Once everything looks pretty well roasted take out of the oven and cool.

Meanwhile chop a bunch of onions and garlic and saute them in butter in a skillet.

Once you have all your things sautéed put half of everything in the food processor.  This makes a nice creamy effect.

I then add Sour cream, parmesan and some yogurt.

Now add the rest of your sautéed onions, garlic and chard and just pulse quickly to mix everything together.

Now transfer to a baking dish and put in the oven at 350 for about 10 min or until warm.

Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

It is not pretty (so there is no picture!) but once you taste it, you will appreciate it’s beauty.  Great for a potluck because you simply must share or you will regret it later!

 

 

 

The Taste of Summer- Rosemary Lemonade

This summer we have been eating well!! Mostly because other people have been cooking for us, but also because we are blessed with bountiful harvests.  Here are just a few of the recipes we have been enjoying this summer- dedicated to those we have shared them with… and asked for the recipes!

IMG_2602Grandma Tutu’s Rosemary Lemonade

First you make the

Simple Syrup

1cup Fresh Rosemary Leaves ( striped from the stem)

1 Cup Water

1 Cup Organic Sugar

(You can multiply this recipe and the syrup will keep in the fridge for months.)

Bring all ingredients to a boil and them turn down to a simmer for at least 1/2 hour. Turn off heat and let cool then strain out leaves.

IMG_2609Rosemary Lemonade

1 Cup Organic Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)

1 Cup Simple Syrup

6 Cups Water

Mix, stir and serve

*You can replace Rosemary for Basil, Lavender, or other herbs that strike your fancy

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Cucumbers on the clothesline

Just as simple as that … Out trellising cucumbers this evening and I was looking for what I had in the yard to get them up off the ground.  I found an old plastic coated wire clothesline lying around and of course, clothespins.  It turned out to be the perfect materials for cucumbers to latch onto and climb.  IMG_2540

I hate to buy stuff I really can’t use for a million different things and re-use a million times, so there is no guilt when I buy even more clothesline and clothes pins to finish the job.  I mean really can you have too many clothes pins? Never!IMG_2538So there is my clever garden invention for the day and with the evening backlight on my little cucs, I couldn’t help but share!

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So up and away the garden grows!!

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Garden Transitions- The Fall Flip

I plan my garden very strategically so that there isn’t much work to do in June and July… For many reasons… Maybe first because I was a garden teacher for so many years that I planned spring and fall gardens with very little summer maintenance.  Even though I am not running a school garden this year, I now have a tiny baby and can’t really garden much at all…so it is convenient that I don’t have much to do but harvest in the high heat.  It is also convenient for leaving town during the hottest, driest time of year which we all want to do.

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Yeah for harvest help from our good friends from Ampersand, love you guys!!

And probably the biggest reason I plan so much for spring and fall gardening is that is when gardening in the high desert is at it’s best!  There is cool air, cooler soils and real water falling from the sky!  I start things outside as early as February (my pea crop was started then and yielded my best crop yet!)  and am eating out of the garden till Christmas eve.  Summer is for being lazy anyways right!?

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So though I am still being very lazy, I am starting to think about the transitions about to happen out there, the good old ‘fall flip’.  This is when I pull out all the lettuce and peas that have stopped yielding and bolted into pure bitterness that may still remain and I plant a whole new slew of cool season crops.  IMG_0273

Because it is only the 9th  of  July I can still plant a nice beet & carrot crop.  Later in the month I will plant more lettuce, spinach, cilantro, and whatever other cool season greens I wish.  I also have started planting big beautiful marigolds this time of year to have for autumn garlands.  IMG_9387

High summer I hear a lot of people say, ‘oh I am too late to have a garden this year’…but you are not!  Autumn harvest is within reach.  Plant now and you will abundance you will reap!!

Finding the New Normal

It has been over a month since Oakley was born, my third baby, that makes 3 under 5 years old.  I gotta tell you, this isn’t parenting thing isn’t for the faint of heart.  It is taking everything I have got…and I am getting a huge amount of help from my family and have been feed almost every day by friends, bless them all!!  Sometimes I do lay awake in bed sweating and think “what am I going to do when the meal train stops, Joel goes back to work and mom goes home!!”  …..But I will cross that bridge when I come to it.  For now it is time for me and the family to find the new normal.  What is the flow of our days when mommy has to tend to baby’s need before breakfast? IMG_2295How do we navigate one small lap when all three kids MUST be held at the same moment, or worse need a diaper change at the same moment?  I admit it, sometimes one, or two does cry a bit while they learn to wait for mommies free hand and I must learn to spread my heart so wide to hold them all with it when my hands can’t reach.  It is stressful and I am tired, it is true, but I am finding new tricks, like singing more, as they can all hear my song equally.  I am holding them more and being even less ambitious than ever though that does kill me cause often all I want to do is get SOMETHING, ANYTHING done from start to finish without interuption…But it is getting easier everyday and we are all finding our way together.  I am getting many moments witnessing the beauty of my children while sitting breastfeeding and watching them play, something I honestly rarely do ( sit that is!)

Life is slow, but steadying and summer is the perfect time to let things unfurl and find their own equilibrium.  So I guess all this to say, no news is good news here from the nest.

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Baby #3

A month before schedule, our brave baby #3 has joined our clan!  It took us by surprise, but the little guy made it to the other side beautifully and in perfect petite form.  IMG_2001

Oakley Isaac Glanzberg , our third baby blessing, welcome to this beautiful world.IMG_1984

We are all still in the dreamy postpartum haze

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But never a dull moment, that I can surely say!

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Humbled and grateful for this great mysterious life, greeting to all from babyland!!

Hardening off & planting out

I am sure many of you spent Mother’s Day weekend filling shopping baskets with new baby plants to bring home and fill your garden with, it is a Mother’s Day tradition,  (and it may be the only day of the year you can get the whole family to help you in the garden without complaint).  I received the wonderful gift of my son and mother planting a brand new climbing rose for me while I took a nap!! Heaven!!

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However around these parts Mother’s Day week and weekend is also famous for snow storms, which is why the last frost date is in fact May 15th- not May 5th!  Transitioning things outside and toughening them up enough to go from lush nursery conditions to exposed windy high desert gardens is an important step to protecting your investments.

IMG_3382Here is a post from years back that talks about the hardening off process and why it is important.

IMG_3379Here is another on with ten transplanting tips.

IMG_1946And lastly one about transplanting tomatoes, which is what I will be doing this weekend… and for many days to come until these babies are tucked cozy in the ground!  If you are planting according to the Bio-dynamic Calendar, Friday and Saturday are not only fruit days but (specially good!!) So hope you are hardened off and ready to go!