Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Troy Is Full Of Flowers. And Your City Is Too If You Just Take The TimeTo Look For Them.

Flowers in the suburbs are standard.  But flowers in an urban city are a treat!  They just feel extra special when you find them among all the hard surfaces of the city landscape.

But flowers are there, in every urban environment that I've ever experienced, if you just look hard enough.  Which usually means taking a walk off the beaten path.

In Troy, NY {as well as our across the Hudson neighbor of Albany, NY}, front yard spaces are hard to come by.  Most of the downtown city houses go from sidewalk to steps to front door.  Your typical East Coast city.  But a few special properties have a bit of front growing space.  And a few of those homeowners get their grow on, much to my delight!

The other night I found a cluster of hydrangeas in the shape of a sweetheart.  Y'all...if that's not the prettiest flower cluster, I just don't know what is!

I gave these bulbs to my father for Christmas, but neither of us can remember what the heck they are. They're so tall and have these spiky green leaves and spiky purple flowers.  They're weird.  So obviously I love them.  {Dad is sort of neutral on them but they're already in his yard so there they will remain.}

Even if you don't have yard space, you can likely find a container or two to grow a few flowers in.  Zinnias have become super popular up here over the past few years, which means every block has a few candy colored flowers popping out right now.  

I have no idea what variety of Lilly this is, and truth bubble here, I don't really like them.  But I think this pre-flower stage is a bit other world and wonderful.

And finally, something I planted.  From seed.  Stuck a single seed in the ground in a less than ideal area because it's what I had to work with and now she's getting ready to bloom.  My very first Teddy Bear Sunflower!

What's blooming where you live?  And if you live in an urban city, do you go on walks to find new-to-you sights and sounds, too?


Monday, July 17, 2017

Ruminations From A Sunday In The Garden

I had a great weekend.  Productive.  Lovely.  Sunny.

No complaints.  I did some fun things and ate some delicious things and gardened until I was ready to pass out.

Geeze Louise do I love me some summer!

While I was watering the garden yesterday though, I started thinking.  Ruminating.  The kind of think sesh where your mind just sort of tinkers about from one random topic to the next.

Later in the evening, I had a bit of an inside giggle at how random my thoughts were.  And thought it might be fun to put a few down for posterity and amusement sake.

So here we go kids, a variety show of thoughts that popped in my head during a long water the garden session on a Sunny Sunday {alliteration absolutely intended}...

* I've never seen a superhero movie.  How is that possible?  But I don't think I have actually seen a single superhero movie.  Can I even list super hero movies?  Wonder Woman is out now or was just out or I don't know but everyone is talking about it and some people loved it and some people thought Wonder Woman didn't use her brain enough.  Her outfit is cute.  I hate myself a little for thinking that.  But I also think her outfit is kind of dumb.  Or wait...maybe it's just the headband that I think is cute.  Because no one wears a skirt that short or a strapless top to do cardio.  That's what she does, right?  Runs and jumps and saves people, I assume.  Do I even understand superhero movies?  Is there a villain in every movie?  And oh yeah, it was a big deal because ass hats still think that a woman just can't possibly be a movie lead and have a movie make money and if a single movie with a female lead does poorly it sets effing progress back a zillion effing years.  Maybe I should see that movie.  I probably won't though.  I never see movies.  Wait...Chris O'Donnell was Robin from Bat Man.  Was George Clooney maybe Bat Man?  I feel like I saw that because I was so in love with Chris O'Donnell.  If only every movie could be as good as Scent of Woman {filmed here in my beloved Troy}!  So maybe I've seen one super hero movie.  20 years ago.  Which is fine.  Harry Potter should count as a superhero movie.  I've seen all eight of those a dozen times over.

* I'm not convinced this spray sunscreen is as good as the regular rub in kind.  I like the convenience but what has my life come to that rubbing lotion on my shoulders seems inconvenient?  I should go back to using normal sunscreen.  I live in fear of skin cancer and dementia!  I think I get the spray crap in my hair when I spray my back.  First worldiest of first world problems right here.  I should lodge a complaint.

* I should have made a hair appointment before my trip in a few days.  Damnit. I also should have done more yoga and a crunch or 1200.  Damn damn.  Why are all of the size 12 shorts that I just bought so big I can slip them on and off without unbuttoning them but the size 10 shorts looked like sausage casing?  I need to let go of the number.  I need to embrace my body or whatever all those Instagram quotes tell me.  But seriously...fu%k me for not working out!

* My right arm is tired.  Oh no...using my left arm feels weird.  {continues to hold the hose with right hand}

* I can't believe my new glasses won't be ready until after my trip.  I hate these glasses.  Or not the style but I can't see.  Maybe an eyeglass miracle will happen and the new frames will arrive before I leave.  Please please please universe let me get a call tomorrow!

* Was that guy hitting on me?  I hope not.  He's nice but I'm not interested.  I can't tell people this though because they always tell me to "give people a chance" when what they really mean is, this might be your last hope of getting off Unmarried Old Maid Island.  And I'd rather be rocking out on the Lanai with my Golden Girl posse than settle.  Plus...he probably wasn't even hitting on me.

* I'm definitely using my new bag on my trip.  I wonder if people will even notice the pockets are boobs?  {Giggles}. Best inside joke that has taken on a life of it's own ever.  Hashtagsilverlining.

* I hope it rains a lot while I'm away.  This watering biz is a lot to ask of dad on a daily basis.  I'm seriously grateful he always agrees to take care of it for me!  OMG an eggplant flower!  Maybe I'll actually get to eat a few this year.  

* I miss Sadie.  I keep walking into the kitchen and looking for her.  Stop it, KK.  Stop thinking about this right now.

* All of the Lilly fabric in the bunting has faded.  That sucks.  A lot of effort to have what looks like a nearly white bunting.  

* I wasn't pancakes for dinner.  But I want to be skinny.  But there's no way I can get skinny by Wednesday.  Pancakes it is!

And for the record, I did eat a pancake with dinner!  Then I took a long walk.  Balance.  How was your weekend?  And have you ever seen a superhero movie?


Friday, July 14, 2017

The Garlic Scape Journey

Last fall I planted garlic cloves.  I'm not sure how many but I have about 90 heads of garlic with very few gaps so I am guessing I planted about 100 cloves.  All heirloom varieties.

If you are unfamiliar with the growing cycle of garlic, the "seed" is a single clove of garlic.  Planted in the fall.  It requires the hard freeze during winter to properly complete it's life and growing cycle. {i, on the other hand, do not require the hard winter freeze and hate life for far too many cold month of the year up here.}  In the spring, garlic is one of the first signs of green to emerge out of the ground.  Eventually forming a tall plant with several leaves on either side and a single hard neck in the center.  That hard neck will begin to form a flower head as it starts to go to seed.  

That part of the garlic is called the garlic scape, and it's delicious.  Simply snap it off as you would with asparagus before the neck straightens out and gets too tough.  They're delicious used in any way you would use garlic, but with a milder flavor.  I used them in lots of pasta dishes, sautéed greens, garlic scape basil pesto {all homegrown thankyouverymuch}, and pickled garlic scapes.

It's been so much fun to have such a giant harvest to play with this spring!  Three cheers to the probably fancy pants big city chef who made scapes popular so fools like me know to savor this secondary but equally lovely garlic crop!

What are your favorite ways to use garlic scapes?  Have you ever tried them pickled?  Any suggestions on how I could use them?


Thursday, July 13, 2017

4th of July

My 4th of July was as low key and lovely as they get.  I started my day with iced coffee and laziness, then went to the garden for a bit, showered and made a picnic, and lazed about under a shady tree eating all the things and enjoying the view.

I didn't do anything over the top or seemingly blog-worthy.  But I'm not a particularly over the top human.  I had a great day and felt like I really enjoyed myself.  

Which basically confirms that the Fourth of July is my very favorite holiday. {Tied with Halloween.  Personally I could skip Christmas altogether as I think it's insanely overrated.  True story.}

I know this might sound silly and basic but wearing a tank top is a rather new thing for me.  But I am working on my body image and getting over myself.  So I've been rocking tanks all summer, and in turn, rocking my rack.  

I know they say If you've got it, flaunt it but I'm more in the category of If you've got it, learn to accept that it is what it is.

It was the perfect day to enjoy the Albany skyline and the lovely Hudson River.

Happy {belated} 4th of July and cheers to what's shaping up to be a sunny summer!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Garden Pests, Garden Success, And The Start Of Tomato Season

I've started posts, in my head, a dozen times over the past two weeks.  But then life.  Damn if it doesn't get in the way of oh so many good intentions.

But I want to keep these memories so let me see how efficiently I can talk about the past few weeks.  So first up, the garden.

The good is that the garden is really starting to take off.  Things just sort of come to life in July and August in a big way and I love it so dearly!  Nearly every one of my tomato plants has at least one tomato on it already, many with large clusters.  This pleases me to no end, even though blight is bound to be out of control this year with all the rain.  I'm as on top of it as I can possibly be and I am determined to get a great harvest once again!

The bad are the pests.  For the first year in ages, the damn woodchuck isn't the big issue.  Instead, it's all the bugs and slugs {aided by the damp weather}.  And I honestly just cannot keep up.  All of my brassicas were taken down this year so no broccoli or cauliflower or Brussels sprouts for me.  Less than two weeks after planting my squash plants out, 2/3 were eaten and I've seen at least one with squash vine borer.  Not a good sign of things to come as it's still so early in the season.

I love spiders.  I mean, not on me.  I don't want to hold one.  But in the garden, they are a welcome friend any hour of the day.  They eat things that eat my pants.  

Last year at the end of the garden season, I moved several dinky little leeks to a side corner of my garden, with hopes that they would grow bigger and more delicious this year.  And they did grow, however, the wacky hot-cold-wet weather confused them and they started to bolt {when a plant bolts it puts out a flower or flowers, which produce seeds, as a way of preserving it's genetics...nature is pretty stinking amazing}.  The problem with plants bolting is that the energy goes into the flower and seed production instead of the vegetable, making them taste bitter.  So I pulled most of the leeks early to enjoy in a meal.

But left one to do it's thing.

And I have zero regrets.

Look at how magical this big leeks looks as it forms a flower head!  If you zoom in, you can see that the big flower is actually composed of hundreds of teeny tiny individual flowers, each of which contain one black seed.  

In case you're just dying for a list of what's going well this year, here it is...

Strawberries.  Rock Stars.  After so few last year- less than a dozen- I had red juice running down my face as I shoveled them in this year.  What a fun and unexpected surprise!

Potatoes.  Or at least I assume.  They're under the ground so you never truly know until you dig them up.  But all signs point to spuds.

Tomatoes.  I've already pulled one plant out due to blight.  It will be a bad year for it, surely.  It's soil born and when it rains, the spores transfer from the soil to the leaves.  I heavily mulch and prune but in the end, it will be unavoidable altogether.  BUT...I think I can starve it off long enough to get a nice harvest anyway.  Which is all I really care about!

Sweet Potatoes.  Or again...I assume.  That whole under the ground business.  

Herbs.  Even if you don't have a green thumb, you can grow herbs.  They are so hardy.

Garlic.  I pulled my first head last week to test readiness and plant to pull more this weekend.  It's been a delightful journey since ordering them in October and planting them in November to starting to harvest them now in July!

A view of my main row of tomatoes.  I forget now how many I have planted but my guess is about 30! 

And finally, my Shasta Daisies are putting on such a sweet show.  As they always do.  Such happy little flowers that bring everyone so much joy!

A funny side note that I realized yesterday is that I am the only person in my community garden growing flowers.  And I don't have that many growing {Shastas, Sunflowers, zinnias, and that big ole leek}.  There used to be a lot of gardeners that grew flowers for enjoyment and cutting.  But the dynamics of the garden have completely changed for the worse over the years and I am somehow the only one growing a single flower.  As I am more of an edible vs ornamental gardener, this is kind of a sad realization.  

If you're growing anything this season, how has it been going for you?  I've been so frustrated by pests but am more hopeful these days seeing things start to prosper!



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