Carved and Ready

Carving pumpkins (the garden, from whence these pumpkins came is in the background)
Carving pumpkins (the garden, from whence these pumpkins came is in the background)
The Spy marks out his design
The Spy marks out his design
Inspiration (by the Spy)
Inspiration (by the Spy)
Hmmm this looks familiar...
Hmmm this looks familiar…
Hahahha (Source)
Hahahha (source)
For the record, this was unintentional, but after I noticed it looked like Nemo, I just went with it
For the record, this was unintentional, but after I noticed it looked like Nemo, I just went with it
Smoochie Carving
Smoochie Carving
Pumpkin Boy
Pumpkin Boy
Pumpkin Dad
Pumpkin Dad…

and…

Pumpkin Mom say, "You kids better behave!" Hahhaha
Pumpkin Mom say, “You kids better behave!” Hahhaha

Baby was indeed behaving but showed little interest in the carving until all the pumpkins were lit up in the dark. She was busy breaking in her Halloween costume for tomorrow. What will she be? A pumpkin, of course!

The piece de resistance! Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Seeds
The piece de resistance! Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Seeds
Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkin seeds
Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkin seeds
Check out this seed; it was so weird; like plastic!
Check out this seed; it was so weird; like plastic!
Looks like a dried out pumpkin seed in a plastic bag!
Looks like a dried out pumpkin seed in a plastic bag!

I wanted to carve the name “Rouge Vif d’Etampes” and “Atlantic Giant” into two of the pumpkins, alas, I didn’t have that sort of patience within me aujourd’hui. I tend to employ (and enjoy!) the rough, impulsive and unplanned form of pumpkin carving. But feel free to just imagine it. Lovely, right? HHAhaha Both of these two varieties of pumpkins are “curcurbita maxima” so there is a possibility that they cross pollinated, which would mean the seeds contain a combination of the two varieties’ genetic material. I think I had fully intended to only grow winter squash of different species within the curcurbita genus (there is maxima, pepo, mixta and moschata) so that they wouldn’t cross-pollinate so that I could save the seeds. The seeds look unique to each variety; but what do you think? How likely is it that they two varieties mixed and my seeds will grow Rouge Vif d’Atlantic Giant Etampes pumpkins?!

Fall Nights

Face Paint at The Spy's school's Fall Festival
Face Paint at The Spy’s school’s Fall Festival
The Spy on a very scary ride!
The Spy on a very scary ride!
Riding Shoes?
Riding Shoes?
Saddle up!
Saddle up!
Ready?
Ready?
Go!
Go!
Baby
Baby

…and another night…”Wicked Plants” night…

(at the Missouri Botanical Garden)
(at the Missouri Botanical Garden)
"Wicked Plants" Night
“Wicked Plants” Night
Spy Sister on a very large Adirondack
Spy Sister on a very large Adirondack
Spooky
Spooky
Crystal Ball?
Crystal Ball?
Sculpture
Sculpture
(if you can see where you're going)
(if you can see where you’re going)
Climatron
Climatron
White Orchid
White Orchids
Shadow in the Temperate House
Shadow in the Temperate House
Colorful...
Colorful…
Room
Room
Playing with fire (ba dum pshhhhh)
Playing with fire (ba dum pshhhhh)
Missouri Botanical Garden...
Missouri Botanical Garden…
...Mission Statement
…Mission Statement
Missouri Botanical Garden Blue Chandelier by Dale Chihuly
Missouri Botanical Garden Blue Chandelier by Dale Chihuly
So striking at night!
So striking at night!

Forest School, Squirrely Garden and a Broken Thumb

A painterly pumpkin (Atlantic Giant)
A painterly pumpkin (Atlantic Giant)
Claw marks?
Claw marks?
A whole lot of marigolds
A whole lot of marigolds
Very colorful!
Very colorful!
Dock, Rock
Dock, Rock
Little succulent; all the succulents are still outside; no first frost yet!
Little succulent; all the succulents are still outside; no first frost yet!

Beyond Spy Garden…

A visit to the forest at Baby's Forest School
A visit to the forest at Baby’s Forest School

A Forest School is “an inspirational process that offers children, young people and adults regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment” (source). Baby’s school is also inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to education…”The child is also viewed as being an active constructor of knowledge. Rather than being seen as the target of instruction, children are seen as having the active role of an apprentice. This role also extends to that of a researcher. Much of the instruction at Reggio Emilia schools takes place in the form of projects where they have opportunities to explore, observe, hypothesize, question, and discuss to clarify their understanding. (source)

The Spy visiting his old haunts
The Spy visiting his old haunts
"The Hollow"
“The Hollow”
A foot!
A foot!
The creek at Forest School!
The creek at Forest School!
Striking Stump
Striking Stump
Clear creek; lots of little fish!
Clear creek; lots of little fish!
Grass Hill
Grass Hill

And at the top of that hill…

Squirrely Garden!
Squirrely Garden!
Asparagus foliage, a faded stump sign and painted rocks
Asparagus foliage, a faded stump sign and painted rocks
Squirrely Garden
Squirrely Garden
Shaped Garden Bed
Shaped Garden Bed
Very Richard Serra
Very Richard Serra
Lots of little winter green seedlings popping up in these beds
Lots of little winter green seedlings popping up in these beds

Down the other side of the hill…

The playground
The playground
"Ninja Rock"
“Ninja Rock”
Playground Cave
Playground Cave
Broken Thumb (a Frisbee Golf Injury)
Broken Thumb (a Frisbee Golf Injury)

Hmmmm a Frisbee Golf Injury? (during PE at school)…I was not there when this injury occurred, but I imagine it was something along these lines…

 

 

(source)
(source)

or…

(source)
(source)

HAHAHah but the Spy is fine and will have the cast off in two weeks.

HAHhahahah (I did receive the Spy's permission to post this; but I did have to ask pretty, pretty please!) HAHA
HAHhahahah (I did receive the Spy’s permission to post this; but I did have to ask pretty, pretty please!) HAHA
Fish (in a waiting room)
Fish (in a waiting room)
Crochet while you wait (a black wool hat)
Crochet while you wait (a black wool hat)
Thumbs Up
Thumbs Up

Fall

A park in Clifton Heights
A park in Clifton Heights
Fountain in the park
Fountain in the park
Nice tree shape
Nice tree shape
Clifton Heights, one of the many neighborhoods in St. Louis
Clifton Heights, one of the many neighborhoods in St. Louis
Dolls in windows, spooky or charming?
Dolls in windows, spooky or charming?
Spooky house!
Spooky house!
Entrance (looking out) into a small community vegetable garden of raised beds...
Entrance (looking out) into a small community vegetable garden of raised beds…
...inside the garden; these magenta beans were very striking.
…inside the garden; these magenta beans were very striking.
Morning Glory
Morning Glory

The main reason for me wanting to stop and snap some shots in Clifton Heights are these beautiful large (birch?) trees…

Birch
Birch? …as seen
Bark
Bark
Bark
Bark

IMG_0308 (546x700)

Tree Trunk with watercolor paint
Tree Trunk with watercolor paint
Reminds me of paint by numbers
Reminds me of paint by numbers
Paint by Numbers
Paint by Numbers
Paint by Numbers
Paint by Numbers
Bark
Bark
Baby...Getting tires rotated: SO FUN!!! hahaha when you're 3 (and 32)
Baby…Getting tires rotated: SO FUN!!! hahaha when you’re 3
Walking stick and balloon
Walking stick and balloon
Golden leaves
Golden leaves
Sledding hills coming soon!
Sledding hills coming soon!
Edge of the woods
Edge of the woods
Woods
Woods
Dexie watching a documentary on bears.
Dexie watching a documentary on bears. haha
Garden "Living Room"
Garden “Living Room”
On the coffee table
On the coffee table
View from the couch
View from the couch
Leaves falling on the garden
Leaves falling on the garden
Golde leaves
Golde leaves
October ghost dog photo
October ghost dog photo
Looking up in garden living room; trees over Spy Garden
Looking up in garden living room; trees over Spy Garden
Looking north in the garden
Looking north in the garden
Knockout Roses
Knockout Roses
Spy Garden 10.23
Spy Garden 10.23

A Zombie Story

Since today is Sunday and a new episode of The Walking Dead is on tonight, sharing the Spy’s zombie story he recently wrote seems quite appropriate. Well, it would probably be more appropriate to try and come up with a Sunday devotional. All Saint’s Day is in October, which is sort of about dead people…And zombies are dead…Ok, stop! Am I seriously trying to relate zombies to Christianity? I mean…that is pretty farfetched!

Or is it?
Or is it?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

This is not our church. Though I’m not judging. And maybe I should’ve gone to service here this morning just for material! We attend a more conservative (Lutheran) church and the sermons rarely involve zombies. So I will spare you a Spy Garden attempt at Jesus vs. zombies. Though it is sort of tempting.

The Spy’s zombie story is quite long: 1600 words!

The only thing I changed in typing this up were minor spelling errors. And twice I inserted my own comments in bold, for effect.

Enjoy!…

The Killing of the Zombie Werewolf by the Spy, age eight (written in fall of 2013)

One night I was walking in the woods. Then I heard a crack! I froze. Then I heard a big “grrrrrr!” I was really scared but I wanted to find out what it was. I started to get closer to the sound and when I got really close I saw two big red eyes. Then I got so close it started to walk toward me. I stepped back and it got closer. I could not tell what it was. But I could tell that it was a really big creature. I started to run and then I heard a giant “rarrrrrrr!” I was so scared that I tripped over a rock and started to roll down a hill and then I fell off a cliff and landed on my back.

I woke up about three hours later. I was still wondering what the animal was. I remembered seeing two red eyes. I was thinking so hard about it I could not feel the pain from falling off the cliff. When the sun came up I saw enormous footsteps. I started to walk after the footsteps. When I saw where they ended it was next to a big dead tree. There was a big hole in the tree and red blood came from the inside of it. I jumped down in the hole. I landed on a brick and I passed out.

I woke up six days later. When I woke up I was in a cage at the bottom of the tree. I saw a huge furry animal. I was right under a full moon. Now I knew what it was.  It was a werewolf. I was about to yell for help until the werewolf saw me. It ran to the cage and slammed into it. It opened its jaws and bit into the metal. I tried to climb up the tree and then I fell. I saw that the metal was starting to break. The werewolf could almost get in. I started to climb the tree again and when I reached the top I got out and ran. I spotted a rifle and grabbed it and I shot the werewolf. It kept running after me but slower. Then it finally dropped to the ground. I went to the werewolf and shot it again.

I was feeling really good about myself. I went to the road and found a 1971 Dodge Charger. I punched through the glass and it had a giant sound. All you could hear was “Beeeep! Beeeeep! Beeep!” I saw someone coming really slowly. I saw some blood on his shirt and I was pretty scared but not that scared. I hopped in the car and I saw a screwdriver and I made it go into the key hole. The car was on and I stepped on the pedal and I went so fast.  I ran over the zombie and he went flying. I stopped the car and backed up and ran him over again. He was dead. His brain was splattered everywhere. Then I smiled and slammed the pedal.

I drove up a hill and at the top there was a million zombies. I turned around and they heard me. They went running slowly after me. I thought that they were so slow that I turned back around. I ran over about 600 zombies. I was laughing so loud that it was louder than the beeping.

HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH The car alarm is still going off?!

After that I stopped at a camp site in Atlanta. There was a bunch of people there with guns. There had to be a thousand guns. I got out of the car and they were pointing guns at me. I stepped back to my car and got out my rifle. I pointed it at them and said, “Put down the guns.” They said no and pulled the trigger. They missed me and I shot one of them. They surrendered and said, “Sorry for trying to shoot you. But we’re going to kill you anyways.”

I said, “Apology not accepted.” And I shot every single one of them. I took their guns and put them in the back seat. I drove out of the camp site and ran over some more zombies. It got really boring. I went for a little drive and then I saw another wolf but its arm was gone. I realized what it was. It was a zombie werewolf. I stepped on the pedal and then the werewolf zombie grabbed the car and threw it into the woods. The car landed in the middle of a giant mud puddle. I pushed the pedal and it could not get out. I pushed the pedal really hard and it finally got out of the mud. I drove out into the road again and the werewolf zombie was eating a man. I went the opposite way the zombie werewolf was. The werewolf zombie saw me and ran after me again. I pushed the pedal and it outran the zombie werewolf. It was so fast that I couldn’t even see the zombie werewolf.

I turned on the radio and the news was on. I turned up the radio and put a song on. Then zombies came running after me but they were running slowly. I turned around and ran over them all. I stopped at a gas station and filled up the gas in the car. Then I went in the gas station and saw some food. I realized I was really hungry. I ran to the food and put it in my car. I was eating gummy worms. I was going 200 miles per hour. I had “We will rock you” on.

HAHAHAHHAHAHA

The front of the car was busted so I fixed it up and then I saw a truck. It had a plow with spikes on it. I took the plow and put it on the front of the Charger. Then I got in the car

I imagine the 1971 Dodge Charger now looked something like this. And hopefully that infernal beeping had stopped!
I imagine the 1971 Dodge Charger now looked something like this.
Or this...
Or this…

And hopefully now that infernal beeping of the car alarm had stopped! HAHhahaha

…and the zombie werewolf was in the road. I ran over the zombie werewolf and it died. Its body was split in half. I drove over and over the zombie werewolf. It was shredded up into a million pieces. I drove back to where I killed the werewolf and I went to where I shot it and it was gone. I knew what happened to the werewolf. It was eaten by a zombie.

I climbed down the tree and I climbed through where the hole in the cage was. There was nothing but dead people. Then I left the tree and went home. The next day the earth was back to normal. There were no werewolves or zombies or zombie werewolves. There were a lot more people then when there was the zombie werewolf apocalypse. I was wondering why there were more people then when it all happened. I asked my neighbor, “Why weren’t there any people in the apocalypse?” They said because the apocalypse was so easy to survive that they all hid from everything that happened. I said “If it was so easy, why did you hide?” They didn’t answer and ran back home. I said, “Wait.” And they went faster. One of them went into a cage and threw meat in. I ran over but they were already gone and there was a zombie.

I went home. I turned on the tv and watched a movie then I heard a “grrgrgrgrgrgr” and I was so scared I ran for my life. I went out the door and got in my car. I stepped on the pedal and ran over a zombie. Then I got out of my car and saw 1,000,000, 000 zombies. I realized how many guns I had and got a mini gun out. I blew up a million zombies and there was still like 50,000,000 zombies left. The zombies were coming like a freight train off the tracks. I saw the giant bullets from the gun were gone. I went to get more ammo but there wasn’t any more left. I got out a bazooka and demolished all of them.

Then I went back to where I shot the zombie. It was gone. I went in the house next to the cage. The house was completely empty. I checked all over the house. There was no sign of a zombie. I went outside and looked in the woods and saw the zombie. It was split in half and burned. I saw that its guts were splattered all over. I wanted to know who the person who did it was. There was a track of car tires. I followed the tracks until they ended. They ended at a jail in the middle of the woods. There were zombies with their jaws off and their arms gone. They were in chairs and they were tied to scare crows. Then I heard a car coming there was a nuclear bomb attached to the top of it. Then I ran behind a bush and watched what he did. A guy got out of the car and he took the nuclear bomb out. He chucked the bomb and set it on fire. Then I ran for my life. I got to my car and pushed the pedal as hard as I could. I was going 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles per hour. I was slowing down the gas was almost empty. The then car stopped. I was next to a big giant pile of gas tanks. I got out of the car and filled up the car. I got back into the car and drove all the way to China. When I got there, there was 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 zombies. I took a machine gun and killed 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 zombies.

FINI

We had our yearly parent-teacher conference last week shortly after he wrote this. I met with his teacher and by that point had only skimmed through part of this story (which he wrote at school). I said “Uhhhhh yeah I think his story was pretty gory.” She cheerfully replied “Oh yeah, they were supposed to be scary stories, it’s all good.”

Then he got a glowing report on all fronts. Reading, math, behavior, all stellar.

I didn’t have to explain about why we let our kid watch The Walking Dead or his sense of humor or have any other awkward conversations about guns or gore. When you excel at academics and keep up social graces subversive expression is really quite charming.

It’s a lesson I learned in school and a lesson I’m glad to see the Spy is learning as well.

DSC_0809 (500x332)

Marigolds

October in the Garden
October in the Garden

As the squash vines die back and the tomatoes slow down; the marigolds take over…

We have about 5 varieties of marigolds...
We have about 5 varieties of marigolds…
Some are big and frilly, like the yellow marigolds on either side of the arbor.
Some are big and frilly, like the yellow marigolds on either side of the arbor.
Marigolds with 5 leaves; no frills
Marigolds with 5 leaves; no frills
The masses of marigolds are reminiscent of the changing leaves above them!
The masses of marigolds are reminiscent of the changing leaves above them!
I love these harlequin striped marigolds.
I love these harlequin striped marigolds.
Some of the harlequin striped variety are all red or all yellow.
Some of the harlequin striped variety are all red or all yellow.
An upper ground sweet potato beginning to grow (among the marigolds)
An upper ground sweet potato beginning to grow (among the marigolds)
Teepee
Teepee
Another upper ground sweet potato in the teepee patch
Another upper ground sweet potato in the teepee patch
Giant Cape Gooseberries and more marigolds in the background.
Giant Cape Gooseberries and more marigolds in the background.
The gooseberries look like little lanterns
The gooseberries look like little lanterns
Pineapple Sage
Pineapple Sage

Both the leaves and blooms of pineapple sage are edible.

Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes Pepper; hows that for a name?
Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes Pepper; how’s that for a name?

I think I actually chose those pepper seeds because of the ridiculously long name haha. Baby loves to eat these plain. They are crunchy and sweet and do not get bitter as sweet bell peppers often do in our garden. They will turn yellow if allowed to ripen further, but taste great green as well. Here is the description of the…

Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szente Sweet Pepper…

One of the truly great Hungarian peppers. Yellow, flat, ribbed, pumpkin-shaped fruit have the tremendous flavor that peppers from Hungary are famous for. The flesh is very thick, crisp and juicy. This rare variety was collected at a farmers’ market in Matrafured, Hungary, but developed at Szentes, Hungary. A winning variety. (description from rareseeds.com)

Another favorite of mine in the garden right now is the…

Eucalptus
Eucalptus

This awesome plant (about six feet tall and gloriously fragrant) started off from a little seedling purchased at the Missouri Botanical Garden’s herb show this past spring. That link is for all you southern hemisphere-ers enjoying spring now!

Another view of the Euc
Another view of the Euc
Happy Friday!
Happy Friday!

October 14, 2014

Spy Garden October 14, 2014
Spy Garden October 14, 2014

Lots and lots of rain here in St. Louis this past week!

Dexie taking a break from the rain
Dexie taking a break from the rain
It was raining when I took these pictures.
It was raining when I took these pictures.
Wet garden; flat cloudy light
Wet garden; flat cloudy light

Really looking forward to the next clear fall day to get some proper shots of the garden with good lighting. The marigolds have exploded and the backdrop of the changing leaves will be gorgeous when the sun comes out! For now, just a few soggy shots.

The pineapple sage is a late bloomer.
The pineapple sage is a late bloomer.
Soggy Skull
Soggy Skull
A few miles from Spy Garden; the Missouri River valley
A few miles from Spy Garden; the Missouri River valley
I heart homegrown garlic!
I heart homegrown garlic!

All of our garlic has been hanging in the breezeway by our back door (outside). I pull off heads as I need them for cooking. Leaving them outside hasn’t been a problem until now. They are a bit damp; as soon as it dries out I am going to get planting and save another bunch (indoors!) for use through the winter. Each garlic clove planed now will grow into a whole head of garlic by next spring/early summer. Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow and great for repelling pests in the garden.

Gardening in a Zombie Apocalypse

First, I suppose I have to explain why we allow our son (he’s nine) to watch The Walking Dead (it’s a zombie television show). Our philosophy is that we can overlook a little (ok I know it’s more than a little) gore and violence. We make him shut his eyes and cover his ears (and sometimes leave the room) during any…um… “kissing” scenes (i.e. Shane and Laurie, Glenn and Maggie)…For the record he doesn’t own or play any video games (violent or otherwise). And doesn’t care too. Which I think is pretty wonderful. So watching The Walking Dead is one of very few (somewhat questionable) guilty pleasures in which he indulges. And in the wise words of Cher Horowitz, “Until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there’s no point in taking it out of shows that need it for entertainment value.” HAHAHAHahaha

So about The Walking Dead

The show is story-driven, not character-driven. Most of the characters are very annoying and make the worst decisions and brood around talking about their feelings, when they ought to be focusing on a perpetual water supply or planting a garden. And…

Are there no jokes in a zombie apocalypse?

Humor is vital in distressing times and the show is seriously lacking in punch lines. Despite these shortcomings, we just love to talk about what we would do in a zombie apocalypse and the show inspires these conversations.

There is something exciting about fighting against pure evil. A war against zombies eliminates all the tricky moral questions of real-life war. I think the appeal of killing zombies is that it is symbolic of destroying what is evil in the world, and ONLY the evil. When a zombie is shot, there is no question of, “Could he have been redeemed? Did the zombie leave behind a family? Friends? There is only the living and the (walking) dead. In non-apocalypse world, evil is so much more complex. All people do evil things in some capacity. Gossiping, judging, vanity…no one is innocent. But even the most horrific murderers could be redeemed (perhaps still punished for life, but forgiven in the eyes of God), at least I like to think so. I’d like to destroy all the corruption in the world, but is the expense of taking a life too high a price for the destruction of evil? A war with zombies is infinitely more simple than a war between the living.

The “Spy” (our son) likes the idea of destroying zombies. And I don’t find this disturbing, because the bullets and weapons are directed at something that is unquestionably vile, wicked and bad. The complexity of the human condition is entirely removed when a person “turns”.

Zombie Destruction, by the Spy 2013, age 8
Zombie Destruction, by the Spy 2013, age 8
Detail. The speech bubble says "Suckers" hahahah
Detail. The speech bubble says “Suckers” hahahah

If my kid was drawing pictures of tanks running over puppies, I would be concerned. But killing zombies? It’s basically being passionate about protecting what is good (life) through destroying what is bad (evil/death).

Drawn by The Spy, A Saint HAHahaha
Drawn by The Spy, A Saint HAHahaha

Once, after watching a couple of episodes (there’s often a marathon going on with all the old episodes) I was tucking him in and I asked “What is the main thing you’d want to do in a zombie apocalypse?” He replied,

“Find a ’71 Dodge Charger and just drive really fast down an open road.”

Me, “And that’s all?”

Him, “Well, it might be kind of hard to find a ’71 Dodge Charger, so a newer model Dodge Challenger would work. Or a Chevy Camero or a Ford Mustang. If I couldn’t find any older models. And I’d want to shoot zombies. It sounds evil, shooting zombies and stealing cars, but it’s a zombie apocalypse.”

As you can see, the boy driving this “Dodge Charger Zomby Killer” looks perfectly well-adjusted:

Ahhhhhh....the open road
Ahhhhhh….the open road

So anyways, though I can’t entirely relate to the enthusiasm the boys (my son and husband) feel about using zombies for target practice, I am drawn to other skills you would need in an apocalypse. Sewing, knitting, crocheting. Building a cozy fire. Cooking. Gardening. Though the world in a zombie apocalypse would make obtaining the basic needs for life more complicated, the focus would be entirely on those basic needs, and therefore simpler in some ways. Simple may not be the right word, just that our fundamental needs would get the attention they deserve. I deeply appreciate the simple things in life. Potable water, a fresh lemon, a hot cup of black coffee. It is important not to romanticize the notion of an apocalyptic world, because many people on this earth might as well be living in one. Pillaging and chaos and war and genocide and famines. The evils of such communities are very real and infinitely more complex than a world where zombies simply need to be destroyed. But I digress…

There would be a garden.

With a fence...
With a fence…
A bit sturdier that this one.
A bit sturdier that this one.

There would be weapons and stock piles of ammunition. But the garden…It would be a big garden. Chickens. Maybe some sheep. A cow? A few horses? In many ways, our ideal operation in a zombie apocalypse is pretty much my dream in real life (just sans walkers). Though in zombie-world there would be a bit more pressure for the garden to be productive and not just a pretty subject for me to photograph.

The season premiere of The Walking Dead is tonight on amc.

I’ll be watching to see if they plant anything.*

*This was originally published just before the season four premiere aired in fall 2013; and the first scene of the season WAS OF A GARDEN!!! Man, I really called that one; right?! This post has been republished for your enjoyment; as the season five premiere is tonight! So, once again, I’ll be looking to see what veggies they are growing. But I have a feeling those scary people in “Terminus” are no vegans.

Hamlet for Babies

Cast

Baby is Hamlet.

Puppy is the First Clown.

And I’ll be playing the part of Horatio.

ACT V, Scene 1. A Churchyard.

First Clown

    [Sings]

    A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade,

    For and a shrouding sheet:

    O, a pit of clay for to be made

    For such a guest is meet.

    [Throws up another skull]

HAMLET

    There’s another: why may not that be the skull of a

    lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets,

    his cases, his tenures, and his tricks?

why does he suffer this rude knave
why does he suffer this rude knave

now to knock him about the

sconce with a dirty shovel,

and will not tell him of

his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be

in’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes,

his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers,

his recoveries:

is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt?
is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt?

will his vouchers vouch him

no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than

the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The

very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in

this box;

and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?
and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?

HORATIO

Not a jot more, my lord.

SCENE

*      *      *

And truly our earthly life’s worth is nothing more than fine dirt. Perhaps if Hamlet were a gardener, he would not be so conflicted on the worth of a man, ha? For fine dirt is good enough for me!

BAHAHAhahahah

*this post was originally published in October 2013

I Spy: Montelle Winery

Cheers!
Cheers!

There are many wineries in our area. Prior to the Civil War, Missouri produced the most wine of any US state. There are two winery regions in our area: Augusta and Hermann. We have visited Hermann several times…

The city of Hermann; kind of like visiting a little town in Germany!
The city of Hermann; kind of like visiting a little town in Germany!
A little Spy visiting Oak Glen winery in Hermann
A little Spy visiting Oak Glen winery in Hermann several years ago
Wine cellar at Stone Hill winery in Hermann
Wine cellar at Stone Hill winery in Hermann

But I had never visited the Augusta region. So Spy Sister and I checked it out this past weekend and took Baby to a blustery fall lunch at…

Montelle Winery
Montelle Winery
The large deck...
The large deck…
...at Montelle...
…at Montelle…
...has beautiful sweeping views of the Missouri River valley.
…has beautiful sweeping views of the Missouri River valley.

We enjoyed our view, the lunch, live music and…

a little wine (not Baby! ;)
a little wine (not Baby! ;)
Mmm!
Mmm!
And the beautiful, crisp, blustery fall day.
And the beautiful, crisp, blustery fall day.
Baby looking chic.
Baby looking chic.
Tres chic
Tres chic

The Augusta region was nationally known for its wine during the 19th century, but Prohibition halted the state’s winemaking for decades. Then, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a few pioneering souls began to refurbish the old vineyards and winery buildings.

One of these pioneers was Clayton Byers, who founded Montelle Vineyards in 1970. The winery was later purchased in 1998 by present owner and wine maker Tony Kooyumjian.

The secret to our success in producing outstanding wines is our vineyards. The Augusta area was chosen as the first viticultural area in the United States because of our unique soils, microclimate, and history, and it is our mission to produce wines that exemplify the uniqueness of this eleven square mile area.

Our philosophy is to farm our vineyards with a respect for the land and the environment. As a result, our wines are fresh, fragrant, focused, and well balanced, but most of all, express the uniqueness of our vineyards. It is this attention to detail that has enabled us to produce wines that are continuously recognized for their uniqueness and superior quality…We also aspire to reveal the pleasures of pairing fine wine and food. Therefore, our Klondike Café offers fresh, high quality cuisine to complement our wines. Choose from a wide selection of gourmet wraps, salads, sandwiches and pizzas to be enjoyed on our vast deck, where it is easy to lose yourself in a magnificent view of the Missouri River Valley.

The next time you have a meeting, event or just a weekend outing to plan, please keep “Missouri’s most scenic winery” in mind. (text and picture below from Montelle’s website)

Photo from www.montelle.com
Photo from http://www.montelle.com

It is a great time of year to visit Missouri’s many wineries. If you can’t make it, how about just reading the Bible? Might sound like a stretch, but I just had to share these…

The covers of recent bulletins from our church depicting vineyards
The covers of recent bulletins from our church depicting vineyards

Vineyards are mentioned throughout the old and new testament. Matthew chapter 20 (verses 1-16) is a parable (involving laborers in a vineyard) that invites a great discussion of notions of what is “fair” (temporally and spiritually). And in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible…

“Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.” Noah 9:20

And Noah lived to be 950 years old. Just saying! Soil, gardening, vineyards; these are good things. Spy Garden DEFINITELY needs its own little vineyard someday!

Nine!

Nine years old!
Nine years old!

The Spy had a great birthday; he pitched at the second to last little league game of the fall ball season,

Enjoyed....
Enjoyed….
lunch....
lunch….
at Steak and Shake...
at Steak and Shake…
Hahaha
Hahaha

And he and his friend enjoyed playing in the yard for the afternoon.

What's this?
What’s this?

This big pumpkin had started to rot. It didn’t look like it would make it to Halloween and so…

They went at it with arrows, bb guns...
They went at it with arrows, bb guns…
And bats.
And bats.
More fun than a pinata!
More fun than a pinata!
And a lot messier!
And a lot messier!
Baseball cake!
Baseball cake!
Handsome Boy
Handsome Boy
Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday!

 

Early October in the Garden

Empty Pumpkin Sling
Empty Pumpkin Sling
Zinnias
Zinnias
Spent Mexican Sunflower (these are also called "Tree Marigold")
Spent Mexican Sunflower (these are also called “Tree Marigold”)
We harvested all the pumpkins, but here's a brand new Rouge Vif d'Etampes trying to quickly grow before the first frost!
We harvested all the pumpkins, but here’s a brand new Rouge Vif d’Etampes trying to quickly grow before the first frost!
Beautiful Fall in the Garden
Beautiful Fall in the Garden
Smoochie and myself in the garden
Smoochie and myself in the garden
The Spy (and Baby in the background...)
The Spy (and Baby in the background…)
Struggling with the "hold the pumpkin in front of your face" concept.
Struggling with the “hold the pumpkin in front of your face” concept. haha
"My face is too cute to hide!"
“My face is too cute to hide!”
Better! But not a pumpkin...
Better! But not a pumpkin…
It's a dragonfruit!
It’s a dragonfruit!

We didn’t grow this dragonfruit; I got it at the grocery. The flesh is NEON magenta with little black seeds. It tastes sort of like a bland watermelon. The looks are definitely more exciting than the flavor.

Skepticism
Skepticism
Black and Yellow Garden Spider (on Eucalyptus)
Black and Yellow Garden Spider (on Eucalyptus)

Beyond the garden…

We've been enjoying the last of the Spy's games of Fall Ball from the...
We’ve been enjoying the last of the Spy’s games of Fall Ball from the…
VIP Section
VIP Section (aka a blanket on the grass)
Brrrr! Spy Sister warming up. haha
Brrrr! Spy Sister warming up. haha

Persimmons: Weather Lore

Persimmons are best enjoyed just on the cusp of rotten. It is a fine, fine line, one that probably reflects why you do not see persimmons at the grocery store. Unripe, they are hideous and offensively inedible. Overripe they are, well, rotten. But just before rotten they have a complex orange flavor that is slightly medicinal and weirdly artificial-tasting. They taste exactly like those cheap plastic sleeves of flavored ice (the orange flavor).

A Persimmon. Not-Quite-Rotten-Orange-Ice Flavored
A Persimmon. Not-Quite-Rotten-Orange-Ice Flavored

Normally we taste a few and let the rest fall to the ground and rot (plus the deer eat them). In a perfect world, we’d make preserves and sauces and other delicacies with complex flavor profiles by adding some calyxes of roselle. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Persimmons have a higher calling. They are meteorologists.

The persimmon seed: what will the future hold?
The persimmon seed: what will the future hold?

The past few years we have enjoyed the tradition of cutting into a persimmon seed to see what the winter will be like. A fork means it will be a mild winter, a spoon means lots of snow and a knife means cold winter winds will blow.

Get out the snow shovels!
Get out the snow shovels! (2013 seed)

I love winter, and snow is just so much fun and the more snow, the more wintering-garden pests will be killed off. I don’t really care what the weather will be in winter. Snow, no snow, cold, warm. It’s kind of like whatever, I’ll enjoy what I get. The weather changes drastically about every twelve hours in Missouri so I wouldn’t exactly buy a season pass to Hidden Valley on the sight of a spoon. I just think it is really fun to see the spoon, fork or knife (and we truly have seen all three!) in the persimmon seeds.

Note: If you do try and cut a persimmon seed be VERY careful. They are tough seeds so use a sharp knife and be very careful.

A green persimmon
A green persimmon
A ripening persimmon
A ripening persimmon
A not-quite-rotten persimmon
A not-quite-rotten persimmon…MMMmmm!

As for the upcoming 2014-2015 Winter? To be announced! The Spy collected a (specially chosen) persimmon seed for us to find out. Forecast coming soon!

I Spy: Winding Brook Estate, A Lavender Farm

Baby with Lavender Goodies from Winding Brook Estate
Baby with Lavender Goodies from Winding Brook Estate

Winding Brook Estate is a 17 acre lavender farm in our area. They have thousands of lavender plants and make all the products from their own lavender. The products at the…

Lavender Shoppe...
Lavender Shoppe…

…are beautiful and all handmade. You can really feel the passion the owners have for growing and using lavender. Lavender chocolates, lavender teas, lavender wreaths; so many beautiful things!

The shop (shoppe!) is in a century-old farmhouse.
The shop (shoppe!) is in a century-old farmhouse.
The porch outside the shop.
The porch outside the shop.

You can see the lavender fields in the background of the above photo. The farm lost hundreds of plants this past winter, where we experienced weeks at a time of well-below freezing temperatures.

Beyond the porch. Love the rich purple umbrellas!
Beyond the porch. Love the rich purple umbrellas!
Survivors!
Survivors!
They hold events like luncheons, teas and happy hours. The menu on this bulletin board for the "Fall Tea" looked phenomenal.
They hold events like luncheons, teas and happy hours. The menu on this bulletin board for the “Fall Tea” looked phenomenal.
Lavender Tin Roof!
Lavender Tin Roof!

Click here for a list of fall events at the Lavender Farm.

The entrance of Winding Brook Estates
The entrance of Winding Brook Estate

If you don’t live in the St. Louis area, you can still support this wonderful business via their online shop! I was so inspired by all the lavender, I knew it was high time I harvest the lavender of Spy Garden! We have five “Provence” plants and one “Fringed Variegated.”

from left: Provence Lavender, Fringed Variegated Lavender
from left: Provence Lavender, Fringed Variegated Lavender
A close-up of the foliage of the "fringed-variegated"
A close-up of the foliage of the “fringed-variegated”
Baby's Painting Today, Inspired by Lavender!
Baby’s Painting today, inspired by lavender!
Our small, but fragrant, harvest
Our small, but fragrant, harvest

Enjoying our lavender goodies back at home (pictured with Spy Garden lavender;)…

Lavender Tincture
Lavender Tincture
Lavender Elephant!
Lavender Elephant!

The elephant has a removable pouch filled with lavender (pictured above) that can be warmed in the microwave. It smells divine! So far as I can tell the stuffed animals and sachets are all hand-made as well. I am certainly inspired by this lavender farm and think I will be digging up our lavender plants to rest safely in our Winter Cellar Garden of Dormancy (WCGD if you prefer;) in case of another frigid winter. And in the spring we will definitely visiting the lavender farm again, as they sell several varieties of potted lavender plants at that time.

How to Make Black Walnut Ink

I’ve always wanted to make ink from black walnuts. I got the idea from Xplor magazine, which is a free publication issued by Missouri Conservationist. It’s a magazine about outdoor pursuits in Missouri, for kids. If you live in Missouri go here to request it. The instructions were pretty simple:

Gather a dozen walnuts. Unless you want stained skin, put on rubber gloves. Remove the nuts from their husks. Place the husks in a pot, cover them with water, and simmer on the stove for several hours. The longer you simmer, the darker the ink will be. Pour the ink through an old t-shirt into a quart jar. Add a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to preserve the ink, and it’s ready to use. (source)

We often complete step one. We have lots of black walnut trees near our house…

Here's one
Here’s one

…and often collect them for fun/for fall decor.

Black Walnuts in Husks
Black Walnuts in Husks

Once I thought to make the ink for a little after-school rainy day activity. I googled the instructions to double check a few things. Can you boil them whole? How long do they need to boil? I found A LOT of information. Information that quickly made me second guess the ink-making.

In my research five minutes of googling I also found out that black walnut ink isn’t black. It’s brown. This was a big disappointment. I mean, brown is ok in nature. Wood’s great. But brown as a color? Just not my favorite.

You need that jet black for contrast. (Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm)
You need that jet black for contrast. (Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm)
Because sepia can just be so wrong.
Sepia can just be so wrong.

I had envisioned the striking contrast of deep black ink strokes (by the Spy and Baby) on some thick watercolor paper. Pollock for kids; a perfect lesson. Knowing those strokes would be (an unknown shade) of brown really took the wind out of my sails.

But I don’t want to discourage anyone from making ink: from walnuts or any other source. I love the idea of “the old way” of doing things. I use the phrase “in the old days” quite often.

However, I rarely commit to the labor intensive process of ye olde crafts. Usually imagining days of ole’ is enough for me. For the most part we stick to bottled paints and pens from a box. So I’ve decided I’m just going to write about making the ink. I’m feeling quite satisfied in this decision and I think the various fabrics around my house will benefit immensely.

It was an easy decision, made quickly after invoking one simple vision: Baby, with a jar of ink.

Jarfuls of ink aren’t the best thing to keep on hand for art-time with a three year old. Or even an eight year old. Or even myself. In my creative quests I am quite impatient. I get lost in the process and make a mess effectively without the aid of liquid ink. Photography is a good for me. Lots of room for error. Hundreds of blurry pictures aren’t hurting anyone. Handling hot, incredibly permanent pots and jars of ink may not be the best match for my creative talents.

Heavily pigmented acrylic paints do stain. But they’re thick. They can only travel so far.

But liquid ink?

So I’ve decided against the ink making. But I’m still providing the best of the best of what I found so that you can stain your fabrics and ruin your kitchen make ink from black walnuts. Please do tell me how it goes.

You can follow the simple instructions at the beginning of this post. Or tackle the craft via these much more specific (and humorous) instructions that follow. All of the indented italicized blocks below are from various sites I found (one of which was fountainpennetwork.com)…

DSC_1877 (700x519)

Step 1:  Collecting the Nuts

I grabbed my coat and a rucksack and headed for the woods to try to find some walnuts the squirrels had overlooked. (source)

If you’re going to commit to walnut ink making, you ought to have a rucksack. I do not have a rucksack. Another tally under the reasons why I should hold off on the ink making.

I simply put them into my large canning pot and covered them with our well water. I homeschool, so I couldn’t do anything more with them that day. They soaked for about 24 hours before I could get back to them again. (source)

Walnut ink making apparently can’t be part of the homeschooling curriculum. So make sure you’re doing it on your free time (if you do homeschool..and if you’re going to make walnut ink you probably should). Tap water is out. You need well water. Preferably from a well you dug yourself.

I wore rubber gloves while I de-husked the black walnuts… Dehusking was hard on the gloves and they kept tearing on me… which is why I still ended up with stained fingers! (Yes, this stuff will stain countertops and everything else it touches, including the pots, strainers and other equipment that you need to process it with, so just be forewarned if you plan to try this. It’s best to set aside equipment just for this purpose.) (source)

“It’s best” to designate pots and supplies (and by “supplies” I mean, an entire kitchen) for the sole purpose of ink making. If you’re making that much of commitment to ink-making you’re going to want to have a lot of ink-using activities planned. So you can pretty much kiss blogging goodbye. Or write all your blog posts with the ink and then just photograph or scan the pages and post those.

I actually took the time to pick out the worms. I’m vegetarian and couldn’t stand the thought of bugs in my ink… it would’ve been a lot simpler just to boil the husks whole, but I knew a lot of worms would’ve been inside them and that would’ve bothered me to kill them. (source)

If you truly want to connect to the essence of the ink, you need to rescue the husk maggots. Black walnuts support these nonviolent creatures. If you fail to support these writhing gems, the ink’s harmony will be all thrown out of whack. Be one with the walnuts.

OOOoooooommmmmmm
OOOoooooommmmmmm

Step 2: Soak the Walnut Husks/Separate the Husks from the Nuts

The easiest way to obtain the husk material is to strew the nuts in your driveway and drive over them a few times. The shells are so hard, the weight of the car won’t smash them.

Let me reiterate: Drive over them A FEW times.

Several years ago we lived in a different house that had a huge black walnut tree. I wanted to get the meat out of them and eat the walnuts. I collected a big bucket full of the nuts. And forgot about it. So the nuts in the bucket became covered with rainwater. Which became a black stew that smelled like the fresh rot of a wet forest. Then someone told me about the “just run them over” tip. So I dumped the black liquid with the nuts onto our driveway. Then forgot about them. So we drove over them. Again and again. And again. For several months. Until all the nuts were mashed up and black stains covered our driveway in a gruesome (and quite unappetizing) mess. I don’t believe the stains ever came out. In remembering my success at these stains I realize, I’ve already made ink from black walnuts once before. Using rainwater. Which I believe trumps well water.

Step 3: The Cooking

After they are black, put them in a large pot for which you don’t have any great affection. (source)

This is a problem. I only have five pots. And while I don’t necessarily feel “affectionate” towards these stainless steel staples of my kitchen, I do use them quite often.

(Another warning: The walnuts, water, and ink all have a high capacity for staining anything they come into contact with. This includes kitchen counters, fingernails, dishes, wooden spoons, and your clothing.) (source)

I think we’ve established that.

I refer to the walnuts in disgusting terms, and they are pretty gross. They get slimy and moldy, and you’ll probably find all kinds of strange little bugs living in them. Don’t worry. It all cooks down to the same brown sludge. Except for those little pale brown beetle larvae. They stayed shiny and intact even after hours and hours of boiling. If the ick factor is too high, just remember that you must suffer for your art. So must those with whom you share your kitchen. (source)

I would argue that I’ve actually never suffered much in my artistic endeavors. I find painting or sculpting to be quite pleasant pursuits. My “sculpting” in the dirt has resulted in the occasional callus on my palm.

But this is not the hand of anguish.
But this is not the hand of anguish.

I’ve felt the sorrow in accidentally slicing a worm in half with my spade. Really, I do. But suffer? I just don’t know if I agree that we must suffer for art. I do think this particular ink-maker is being a silly nut. At least I think he’s joking.

Step 3: Preservatives

When it was finished, I added 8% alcohol by volume for a preservative (80-proof vodka, to be exact). In later batches, I went with 10% alcohol and 100-proof vodka, which is easier to figure out mathmatically. (For a 10% concentration of alcohol with 100-proof vodka, take the number of ounces of ink you have and divide it by 4 to obtain the amount of alcohol to add. Ex. If you have 32 ounces of ink, divide that by 4 = 8 ounces of alcohol to add). My cooked-down black walnut batches have never molded over, and some of them are 2 years old now.  (source)

Ink making tip #759: Vodka makes you better at math.

Step 4: Using the Ink

This ink is meant for dip-pen use only, and not for fountain pens. It would likely ruin a fountain pen. It is especially well-suited to glass dip pens. I recommend gold-plated metal nibs to resist corrosion by the acidic ink.

Step 5: Regret

What’s not to like? Two things:

1. The ink has no lubricity. Zilch. It feels like you are writing with plain water. The nib just drags along.

2. The ink reacts with iron. This wears out a steel dip pen nib much faster than other inks. After writing about 20 pages, a regular pointed nib has sharp edges and needs to be touched up on a stone. (source)

So your kitchen is ruined, your hands are stained and crippled from hand-writing 20 (20?!) pages of goodness knows what (probably instructions of how to make ink). You’ve got an entire colony of husk maggots to support and a rucksack to wash. You’ve gained a gallon of distastefully brown ink that’s unpleasant to write with and will ruin your gold-plated nibs and your kitchen smells like vodka.

What’s not to like?

HAHAHAHAHAHhahahjajaha

Pumpkins and Reruns

Pumpkin Harvest!
Pumpkin Harvest!

Most of the pumpkins we grew this year are pictured above. The big light orange ones are called Atlantic Giant. I will definitely grow those again and try to get an even bigger one. The Atlantic Giant variety holds the world-record for largest pumpkin. Check out this link to see a TWO THOUSAND pound Atlantic Giant! Challenge accepted! hahaha The deeper orange pumpkins are a French variety called Rouge Vif d’Etampes. They did really well and set a lot of pumpkins on the vine so I will also seriously consider growing those again. I’ll pass on the Jarrahdales (the little grey ones) as they didn’t do too great. I’ll try a different blue variety next year.

Blackberries mmm!
Blackberries mmm!
Perfect fall butterfly!
Perfect fall butterfly!
A huge marigold-sized bumblebee
A huge marigold-sized bumblebee
Baby, as seen in her school newsletter
Baby, as seen in her school newsletter
Baby in the school newsletter, baking bread
Baby in the school newsletter, baking bread

Excerpt from the newsletter…

Every Thursday is Bread Day…During Bread Day, the children of the Nursery Collaborative work to count their ingredients, count their scoops, fill measuring cups to the brim, and use safe food handling practices. From chocolate bread to apple cinnamon bread, they’ve made it all. Thanks for the delicious snacks!

The kids at her school name their class each year. Baby’s classroom named themselves the “Cantaloupe Camels” hahaha Squirrely Garden is the name the kids chose for the school garden. They have “Ninja Rock” on the playground and name different areas of the school and woods. I think kids make up the best names. Which is why I had my son name this site “Spy Garden”!

I love yellow marigolds. Will be sure to save lots of these seeds (the flowers themselves are big clusters of seeds)
I love yellow marigolds. Will be sure to save lots of these seeds (the flowers themselves are big clusters of seeds)
Baby watching one of the Spy's baseball games.
Baby watching one of the Spy’s baseball games. The Spy plays first base and Smoochie (next to him) is a coach.
We prefer a blanket on the grassy hill to the bleachers.
We prefer a blanket on the grassy hill to the bleachers.

I love a good rerun. I can watch Seinfeld any time. I eat a banana and a spoonful of peanut butter for breakfast pretty much every single day. I bake bread at least once a week. These things aren’t boring. Quite the opposite; they can be enjoyed over and over and over.
Our perspective is always changing (like the leaves! Sorry, terribly obvious analogy!)…I digress. But I do love fall. And fall (and other seasons) are sort of reruns in and of themselves. Our perspective is always changing, so really, we’re always looking at the same “old” things with fresh eyes. At least I try to do that. Which is why I enjoy reruns. Appreciate the same pieces of art I’ve enjoyed for years, repeat recipes, why my kids get multiple years use out of homemade Halloween costumes, etc., etc.
I’m grateful for the yearly rerun of autumn. I feel most inspired at this time of year and have been kicking around the idea of a new writing challenge. Around this time last year I wrote 100 essays in 100 days. 100 essays in 100 days seems a little extreme right now as I am gainfully employed as a nurse and value my beauty rest. So I thought I would sift through my favorites of the essays and spend a bit of time editing them. Refining them and taking out all the references to “I’m writing 100 essays in 100 days” and the fact that they were written for a blog. So that they can stand alone; as just essays. I think the best reruns do that. You don’t need to have seen the previous Seinfeld show to enjoy the one that follows. A good rerun can be enjoyed for a second, a third, a hundred times. Probably you don’t want to read my essays a hundred times. But maybe twice? Especially with my fancy new edits? If you’re new to Spy Garden, they’ll just seem like new posts so you won’t even know the difference. So I’m not going to advertise them as reruns. I’m just going to repost them. Exciting, I know. hahahhaha
So the pictures in this post are not reruns, but from the last week or so in and around Spy Garden. Because I’ve been too busy with my free time watching reruns to post anything. We’ve discovered Homeland and have already plowed through the first and most of the second season; it’s great show. It’s about spies…CIA spies. Obviously I can relate; having a secret identity and all. Hahahahahjaha
Happy Sunday friends, have a great week!

 

Monarchs, Hedgeapples and Friends

Monarch in Spy Garden
Monarch in Spy Garden

Monarchs are my absolute favorite butterflies and there’s loads of them flitting around the garden this year.

Monarch
Monarch
Monarch on Mexican Sunflower
Monarch on Mexican Sunflower

As for the hedgeapples…

Hedgeapples
Hedgeapples

Hedgeapples are also called Osage Oranges. Maclura Pomifera if you want to get fancy. They are not edible but have a wonderful fresh apple scent. I like them for fall decor and collect them every year. We don’t have hedgeapple trees on our property but I know where many good hedgeapple trees are around St. Louis (some are 50+ feet tall!)! It is a fun tradition we have to pull over on the side of the road and fill up bags full of the fallen fruits. It is a little early yet for a big collection (they start falling to the ground in another two weeks or so). Next time I feature hedgeapples in a post I’ll be sure to cut one open. They look even weirder on the inside and have a sticky white sap that looks like Elmer’s glue. I have friends who swear that hedgeapples repel spiders and put them in all the closets in their house. The wood of the trees is apparently perfect for making bows and the tree is also known as bowwood.

Back in the garden…

Things are very colorful!
Things are very colorful!
Perhaps the last shot of the hanging Rouge Vif d'Etampes...
Perhaps the last shot of the hanging Rouge Vif d’Etampes…

…As tomorrow we’re planning to harvest all of the pumpkins to celebrate the first official day of fall! We did already pick one of the Jarrahdales…

Umm...it looks like a big giant swollen tick. HAHAHA GROSS! haha
Umm…it looks like a big giant swollen tick. HAHAHA GROSS! haha
Corn Stalks and Dexie
Corn Stalks and Dexie at the entrance of the garden
Hibiscus Bud
Hibiscus Bud

Squirrely Garden Gets a Grant!

Squirrely Garden is the garden at Baby’s amazing Forest School. And I am the CEO of Squirrely Garden (best title ever). As an (unpaid) CEO I think up many duties for myself such as the obvious (weeding, digging, wheelbarrowing) but also documenting the garden’s progress with photos and emailing the school with garden to-do’s.  I also designed the layout of the garden when we first dug the plots back in May. When the school wanted to apply for a grant from Gateway Greening, I helped them fill out the application and when it was time to tour the folks from GG with the school owners, I wore a baseball hat that says “Plays in the Dirt”. Clearly I take my CEO duties very seriously. Well, we cinched the deal and got the grant! The install date was today and Squirrely Garden gained four raised beds, six cubic yards of dirt, a slew of garden tools for little hands and the piece de resistance…(I’ll let that one be a surprise for the end of this post)…

A great turnout for the installation of the raised beds!
A great turnout for the installation of the raised beds!
Baby and her friend checking out the action
Baby and her friend checking out the action
Everyone helping; and check out that shiny new shovel!
Everyone helping; and check out that shiny new shovel!
Baby taking a break on the death-trap concrete slide soon-to-be ice luge
Baby taking a break on the death-trap concrete slide soon-to-be ice luge
Woo! Dirt Delivery!
Woo! Dirt Delivery!
Weeeee!
Weeeee!

In addition to installing the raised beds, we also edged some of the existing plots and moved some plants and harvested green tomatoes and lots of herbs.

Dock, sans leaves
Dock, sans leaves
Moving lemon grass
Moving lemon grass

Three big lemon grass plants were moved out of the garden down to the playground area. Lemon grass is a natural mosquito repellant.

Many helpers...
Many helpers…
Little helpers
Little helpers
Weeding
Weeding
Lots of dirt to move
Lots of dirt to move
The chef composts everything. This is a method for getting air throughout the pile of green manure.
The chef composts everything. This is a method for getting air throughout the pile of green manure.
Move over Richard Serra, Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer.
Move over Richard Serra, Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer.
Squirrely Garden 9.20.14
Squirrely Garden 9.20.14
What's that?
What’s that?
A little garden snake! (I think it is a juvenile black rat snake)
A little garden snake! (I think it is a juvenile black rat snake)
All the kids got to check it out.
All the kids got to check it out.
Weeding
Weeding..and what’s that in the background…leaning on the fence…?

The piece de resistance…

Check out the shiny new sign!
Check out the shiny new sign!
Thanks Gateway Greening!
Thanks Gateway Greening!

Late September in the Garden and a Decade of Marriage!

Changing Leaves
Changing Leaves
Golden Fall Light
Golden Fall Light
Can you spy Spy Garden? I like this view because it's sort of hidden because of the slope of the yard.
Can you spy Spy Garden? I like this view because it’s sort of hidden because of the slope of the yard.
Teepee
Teepee
Another view of the teepee
Another view of the teepee
Love this eucalyptus. I am going to dig it up and put it in a big pot to bring inside for the winter (as it won't necessarily survive a hard frost).
Love this eucalyptus. I am going to dig it up and put it in a big pot to bring inside for the winter (as it won’t necessarily survive a hard frost).
Sioux Tomatoes
Sioux Tomatoes
Purple Opal Basil (and other varieties of basil) among the row of tomatoes)
Purple Opal Basil (and other varieties of basil) among the row of tomatoes)
Herbs and Marigolds
Herbs and Marigolds
Facing north in the garden
Facing north in the garden
Minimalist Corn
Minimalist Corn

We always grow corn; mostly for the ornamental value (gotta have corn stalks for fall decor!) This year the corn set only sad little ears with irregular rows of kernels. I think this is because it was in a row that just does not get enough sun.

Sunflowers and corn stalk decor in progress.
Sunflowers and corn stalk decor in progress.
Upper Ground Sweet Potato on the Teepee
Upper Ground Sweet Potato on the Teepee
Big...
Big…
Mushroom
Mushroom
Pure White (colored by the fall light)
Pure White (colored by the fall light)
Late September Garden
Late September Garden

The knockout rose bush in the foreground has done so well this year. I pruned it aggressively in the spring and always pick off the buds left after the blooms are spent; this encourages new growth and lots of flowers. I’m thinking of expanding this little plot to be a larger rose garden. It would obscure this view of the garden a bit (this view is looking from the front porch of our house). But that might give it a more secret-garden feel! Eventually, will there be any grass left in our yard? ahhaah

Knockout Rose
Knockout Rose
Hibiscus
Hibiscus
Hibiscus in sunset-light
Hibiscus in sunset-light
Rouge Vif d'Etampes getting more deeply rouge (red) by the day!
Rouge Vif d’Etampes getting more deeply rouge (red) by the day!

A few hundred yards from our garden…a hike in the woods across the street…

Hiking
Hiking
Woods
Woods
There are tons of these bright orange mushrooms in the woods.
There are tons of these bright orange mushrooms in the woods.
The Spy
The Spy
Clearing
Clearing
Very...
Very…
Prairie
Prairie
If you walk through the prairie...
If you walk through the prairie…

Back in the garden…

What's this?!
What’s this?!

My wedding dress! Ten years ago, Smoochie and I got married! Technically, it was one decade and one month ago. We were so busy digging and prepping for the St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine photo shoot on August 20th, we actually forgot our anniversary and both remembered later that night. But, not to worry, we’ll do something fun to celebrate at some point. For now, a few pictures of my dress will have to suffice! We eloped in a garden in northern Vermont; so really this is quite fitting.

Wedding Dress on the Teepee
Wedding Dress on the Teepee

After we were married we took pictures; a few with a scarecrow where we pretended the scarecrow was the justice of the peace marrying us. Hahaha. Perhaps Spy Garden needs a scarecrow in honor of a decade of marriage?! A reenactment?!

Wedding Dress Floating in Mid-Air (hanging on the deer fence ;)
Wedding Dress Floating in Mid-Air (hanging on the deer fence ;)

Happy weekend friends! Do you have any plans for your fall (or to my southern hemisphere friends, spring!) gardens? Baby and I are headed to her school garden (Squirrely Garden) for an exciting event. The Spy and Smoochie are off to baseball practice. Later, we’ll be doing some fall clean up in our garden. A writer from St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine is coming to interview us (they want quotes from the kids too!) tomorrow! There is no better excuse to deep clean your house (and garden) then someone from a home and lifestyle magazine coming to call, right?! hhHAhahhaha

September in the Garden

Arbor
Arbor
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Arbor
Arbor
Chinese Red Noodle Bean
Chinese Red Noodle Bean
Windowsill
Windowsill
Baby
Baby
Painting
Painting
Pumpkin Costume
Pumpkin Costume
Still...
Still…
Fits!
Fits!
Fire...
Fire…
pit
pit
Longer shadows
Longer shadows
Teepee
Teepee
Jarrahdale and Upper Ground Sweet Potato winter squash on teepee
Jarrahdale and Upper Ground Sweet Potato winter squash on teepee
Ear Lick ahhahh
Ear Lick ahhahh
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin with Marigold Shadow
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin with Marigold Shadow

Spy Garden iPhone

Spy Garden mobile…

Storm rolling in
Storm rolling in
Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes

Home Depot is very conveniently located near Spy Garden and cheaper than the non-big-box nurseries (that are plentiful near Spy Garden). And Martha Stewart likes Home Depot and has product lines there. And Martha Stewart is awesome. Ergo, prior to the St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine photoshoot I took a couple trips to Home Depot for fall flowers and plants. Here I am:

Home Depot's just so convenient.
Home Depot’s just so convenient. hahaha

The next time I’m in search of plants, I’d like to check out Fahr’s and Passiglia’s: both have been in business since 1950!

Swing...
Swing…
...ing
…ing
A painting by my very talented coworker.
A painting by my very talented coworker.

She paints so meticulously! After seeing her paintings it makes me want to gain patience when I paint. Since I always stick to the…

Lazy method of painting with jagged, spontaneous strokes and no attention to details. haha
Lazy method of painting with jagged, spontaneous strokes and no attention to details. haha
Garden Cat Nap
Garden Cat Nap
Weeee!
Weeee!
iPhone Garden Sunset
iPhone Garden Sunset
House in St. Louis (this shot is from Smoochie's iphone)
House in St. Louis (this shot is from Smoochie’s iphone)
St. Louis Art Museum
St. Louis Art Museum
Sightseeing. James Rosenquist. 1962 (at the St. Louis Art Museum)
Sightseeing. James Rosenquist. 1962 (at the St. Louis Art Museum)

James Rosenquist started his career as a billboard painter, creating advertisements and images of consumer goods on a monumental scale. His early training is evident in this work—vibrantly painted colors, block lettering, and enlarged details of recognizable imagery, in this case a bouquet of roses. Rosenquist drew inspiration for this painting from the back of a tour bus he regularly saw while painting signs in New York City’s Times Square. Sightseeing blurs the line between banal tourism and the supposedly elevated act of viewing art in a gallery or museum. (source St. Louis Art Museum)

Raindrops on Roses (knockout rose bush)
Raindrops on Roses (knockout rose bush)
Baby
Baby
Western clouds at sunrise
Western clouds at sunrise
Sweet Domesticity's Garden
Sweet Domesticity’s Garden

Click here for a great article about protecting plants from frost by Maria from Sweet Domesticity. The picture reminds me of Christo and Jeanne Claude.

The Pont Neuf Wrapped. 1975-85. Christo and Jeanne Claude. Photo: Wolfgang Volz
The Pont Neuf Wrapped. 1975-85. Christo and Jeanne Claude. Photo: Wolfgang Volz
Wrapped Trees. Christo and Jeanne Claude. 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz
Wrapped Trees. Christo and Jeanne Claude. 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz

September in the Garden

Mmm...
Mmm…
Blackberries
Blackberries
September Garden
September Garden
Smoochie, Baby and Spy checking out a...
Smoochie, Baby and Spy checking out a…
Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis
On the Deer Fence
On the Deer Fence
And who's this? Ewwww! (but good for the garden;) spider curled up for a nap on the deer fence.
And who’s this? Ewwww! (but good for the garden;) spider curled up for a nap on the deer fence.
Dexie Print
Dexie Print
Dexie, Spy, Smoochie, Baby
Dexie, Spy, Smoochie, Baby…and check out the pumpkins in the background!
Garden view from the garden living room
Garden view from the garden living room
Fall Ball!
Fall Ball!
#7
#7
A new challenge (Spy was hitting them over the 157' fence in the spring!) Woo home runs!
A new challenge (Spy was hitting them over the 157′ fence in the spring!) Woo home runs!
"The Reef"...but where are the fish?
“The Reef”…but where are the fish?
Swimming south for the winter! They are fish from South Florida, after all!
Swimming south for the winter! They are fish from South Florida, after all!
See you next spring!
See you next spring!
Snook
Snook
Very Colorful
Very Colorful
Can you spy two blue/green pumpkins?
Can you spy two blue/green pumpkins?
Jarrahdale Pumpkins
Jarrahdale Pumpkins
The other side of the teepee
The other side of the teepee
Eucalyptus, Asparagus, Lime Basil, Marigolds and Corn
Eucalyptus, Asparagus, Lime Basil, Marigolds and Corn
Goodnight Moon
Goodnight Moon

Early Fall

Camouflage
Camouflage
Walking Stick
Walking Stick

It is getting blustery and chilly in Spy Garden: woooooo fall!

Target...
Target…
Practice
Practice
Target (a drawing of the Governor from the TV show The Walking Dead attached to a cereal box).
Target (a drawing of the Governor from the TV show The Walking Dead attached to a cereal box). HAhaha
Tomato that wants to be a pumpkin.
Tomato that wants to be a pumpkin.
Pumpkin
Pumpkin (Atlantic Giant; a small, 7ish pounder we picked)

After scraping out the seeds, I carved up this pumpkin into big irregular chunks (think tuna steak-sized) and added loads of spices (paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, ginger, a Jamaican-jerk seasoning) and salt and a drizzle of oil and roast in the oven (flesh-side down) on a foil-lined baking sheet at 350 for awhile until the flesh becomes translucent. Then slice the skin off and enjoy! I dipped it in hot sauce and Dijon mustard.  When roasted in this manner, pumpkin really does remind me of filets of fish; fresh-caught wild pumpkin-fillets. haha  I should make some sashimi and pumpkin sushi to further illustrate my point.

The seeds of the Atlantic Giant are also large.
The seeds of the Atlantic Giant are also large.

I washed all the seeds and added the same combo of spices/drizzle of oil on them and also roasted those too. Yum! I will also save some of this variety of seeds (from the largest pumpkin). These Atlantic Giant pumpkins were grown from seeds from Baker Creek. Here is the description from their website:

110-125 days (C. maxima) Lovely, giant, pink-orange pumpkins can weigh over 800 lbs, and do so every year, with some reaching almost 1500 lbs.! This variety was introduced by Howard Dill, of Nova Scotia in 1978, and has since broken all records. (source)

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch

There are seven Atlantic Giant plants and we had seven pumpkins; one small one rotted and we threw it in the woods and the other small one I picked and roasted (as described above). Five left to harvest; cooking, carving, curry, soup? So many possibilities for pumpkins. Winter squash is by far my favorite vegetable. So versatile.

A Jarrahdale Pumpkin
A Jarrahdale Pumpkin
Jarrahdale Bloom
Jarrahdale Bloom

Desription of the Jarrahdale from Baker Creek:

100 days. (C. maxima) Slate, blue-grey, 6-10 lb. pumpkins of superb quality. Their shape is flat and ribbed, and very decorative looking; also a good keeper. Popular in Australia; an excellent variety. (source)

Upper Ground Sweet Potato
Upper Ground Sweet Potato
Upper Ground Sweet Potato Leaf (with a tiny spider on it)
Upper Ground Sweet Potato Leaf (with a tiny spider on it)

Here is the description of Upper Ground Sweet Potato from the Baker Creek website:

(C. moschata) This heirloom is still grown by a few people in the South. An old, hardy type that grows well even in rather poor conditions and produces an abundance of medium-large, round-to-bell-shaped, tan fruit with moist orange flesh that is said to resemble that of the sweet potato, hence the name. Sweet, good quality, and it keeps very well. A really rugged variety that is going the way of the dinosaurs if people don’t work to save it. (source)

Giant Cape Gooseberry
Giant Cape Gooseberry

(Physalis peruviana) The cape gooseberry is native to Brazil and was grown in England by 1774. It was cultivated by settlers at the Cape of Good Hope before 1807. The delicious yellow fruit grow inside paper-like husks that are easy to peel. They are great dipped in melted chocolate or made into pies and preserves. Larger than the common ground cherry. (source)

Echinacea
Echinacea
Blackberries
Blackberries
Meyer lemons just starting to grow.
Meyer lemons just starting to grow.
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Pepper, eggplant and strawberry
Pepper, eggplant and strawberry
Mexican Sunflower
Mexican Sunflower

Pumpkin Yoga and a Katydid

Atlantic Giant...
Atlantic Giant…
Pumpkin Yoga
Pumpkin Yoga
Sukhasana
Sukhasana on a Rouge de Vif d’Etampes Pumpkin
Rouge de Vif d'Etampes picked before getting rouge. I accidentally picked it while hunting squash bugs. Maybe it will still turn color?
Rouge de Vif d’Etampes picked before getting rouge. I accidentally picked it while hunting squash bugs. Maybe it will still turn color?
Hibiscus
Hibiscus
Stroller ("I want to be a baby forever" haha)
Stroller (“I want to be a baby forever.” says Baby haha)
Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus
Herbs and Peppers
Herbs and Peppers
Hartman's Giant Amaranth Stalk and a...
Hartman’s Giant Amaranth Stalk and a…
Mexican Sunflower
Mexican Sunflower
Echinacea
Echinacea
Ooo
Ooo
Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid
Fork-Tailed Bush Katydid
Antenna
Antenna
About to Jump
About to Jump
Rainbow Swiss Chard
Rainbow Swiss Chard

The Last of Summer and The St. Louis Art Museum

Pictures of the garden on August 31, 2014

Spy Garden August 31, 2014
Spy Garden August 31, 2014
Rouge Vif d'Etampes Pumpkin
Rouge Vif d’Etampes Pumpkin
Facing South
Facing South
Facing North (on the other side of the trellis)
Facing North (on the other side of the trellis)
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch
Can you spy a pumpkin with a blue bow?
Can you spy a pumpkin with a blue bow?
Catching Bugs
Catching Bugs
Lemon Cucumber Stretching to the Sky (on the top of the trellis)
Lemon Cucumber Stretching to the Sky (on the top of the trellis)
See the tiny spider?
See the tiny spider?
Knockout Roses
Knockout Roses
Belgian White Carrot Seedhead
Belgian White Carrot Seedhead
Fringed Variegated Lavender
Fringed Variegated Lavender
Purple Opal Basil, Yellow Marigolds and Peppers
Purple Opal Basil, Yellow Marigolds and Peppers

And yesterday, a visit to the St. Louis Art Museum…

Columns with White Sky (St. Louis Art Museum)
Columns with White Sky (St. Louis Art Museum)

I was drawn to the classical painting and sculpture…

Running Artemis (photo credit: St. Louis Art Museum)
Running Artemis (photo credit: St. Louis Art Museum)

late 2nd century BC–early 1st century AD

Greek

Hellenistic period
(323–31 BC)

or Roman

Imperial period
(27 BC–AD 330) (source)

It’s all just a good guess really, I mean no one REALLY knows EXACTLY where these pieces were found or when they were made…It’s what makes ancient art so mysterious!

Spy Garden's own classical sculpture...in fire! (2013)
Spy Garden’s own classical sculpture…in fire! (2013)

Check out How to Sculpt for inspiration/instructions on how to make your own sculptures!

Matisse is one of my favorites…

Interior at Nice, Matisse, 1919 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)
Interior at Nice, Matisse, 1919 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)

I also like Frank Stella…

Marriage of Reason and Squalor, Frank Stella (photo credit: St. Louis Art Museum)
Marriage of Reason and Squalor, Frank Stella (photo credit: St. Louis Art Museum)

With a housepainter’s brush, Frank Stella methodically applied industrial enamel paint to the surface of this canvas. Thick black bands form concentric rectangles cut off along the bottom edge while thin off-white lines reveal unpainted portions of the canvas. The artist used an extra thick stretcher, a novel decision in 1959 that allowed Stella to emphasize that a painting is, in fact, a three-dimensional object. When asked about the content of his austere works such as this, Stella answered, “What you see is what you see,” underscoring the artist’s matter-of-fact, literal approach to painting. (source)

Richard Serra’s drawings to plan a large sculptural installation in St. Louis remind me of the Spy Garden deer fence plans:

Drawing Related to Twain, Richard Serra, 1982 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)
Drawing Related to Twain, Richard Serra, 1982 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)

Never underestimate a good sketch!

2013
2013
2014
2014

And the 2015 garden plan? Coming soon! But back to the St. Louis Art Museum…

DSC_0389 (700x634)

Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Sea
Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Sea
Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Sea, 2012
Andy Goldsworthy, Stone Sea, 2012

I also enjoyed the Native American exhibits…

Cradle, Cheyenne, 1890 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)
Cradle, Cheyenne, 1890 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)

Soft, warm cradleboards shelter babies from the wind and cold, and provide a secure place for mothers to keep their young ones safe while they work and travel. Children often become so attached to their cradleboards that they try to crawl back into them even after they have outgrown them. Family members create cradleboards and imbue these objects with love, symbolic power, and protection. This cradleboard is of exceptional quality and reflects distinctive elements of outstanding Tsistsistas (Cheyenne) work, a tradition noted for technical excellence, crisp, even beadwork, and design shapes that include outlined hexagons and stepped “tipi” triangles with interior square doors. (source)

Dress, Apache, 1890 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)
Dress, Apache, 1890 (photo credit St. Louis Art Museum)

With every step or rush of wind, the rows of diagonal fringe and metal cones encircling this dress would sway and make a pleasing sound. The creation of sound and a sense of movement are hallmarks of the Southern Plains style. The long sides and neckline preserve the shape of the deer’s hind legs and tail to emphasize the raw material from which the dress was made, and to invest the wearer with the spirit of the once-living creature. (source)

One more favorite painting from my visit…

oil on canvas, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) 1697–1768 (photo credit St. Louis Museum of Art)
oil on canvas, Canaletto (Giovanni Antonio Canal) 1697–1768 (photo credit St. Louis Museum of Art)

Compositionally (if that’s not a word, file it under neologisms) similar, but back at home…

Catch
Catch

and a test…

Good job Spy! Though, I would give it a 99, he forgot to capitalize Tennessee. haha;)
Good job Spy! Though, I would give it a 99, he forgot to capitalize Tennessee. haha;)

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Late August in Squirrely Garden

Squirrely Garden is the garden at Baby’s school (and was named by the preschoolers). I am the CEO of Squirrely Garden, but have taken a bit of a break from my executive duties as of late. We went to Colorado, had to spiff up Spy Garden for a magazine photo shoot and most of all: it has been 100 degrees for two weeks.  Today was the first day I’d even set foot in Squirrely Garden since July 17th…

Squirrely Garden July 17
Squirrely Garden July 17, 2014
Squirrely Garden August 28, 2014
Squirrely Garden August 28, 2014
There is a garden in there, I swear!
There is a garden in there, I swear!

I meant to just take a quick look today, but confronted with this weedy jungle I was compelled to clean up least one of the beds.

For the record, these are not the proper shoes for impromptu gardening.
For the record, these are not the proper shoes for impromptu gardening.

The weeds are rampant, but the heat seems to have just about let up, which means the kids (and teachers!) will be back in the garden regularly. We made a plan to get the whole garden weeded in the next couple of weeks and the other good news is that more than just weeds are growing…

Watermelons! (There's about ten or so nearly ready to pick)
Watermelons! (There’s about ten or so nearly ready to pick)
And more teeny watermelons just starting to grow.
And more teeny watermelons just starting to grow.
Watermelon Blossom
Watermelon Blossom
The pumpkins got a late start in Squirrely Garden but they are growing well now!
The pumpkins got a late start in Squirrely Garden but they are growing well now!
The big grassy masses (among the weeds;) is lemon grass.
The big grassy masses (among the weeds;) is lemon grass.

I will definitely be taking some lemon grass shoots for our garden from this mass next time I’m up there: lemongrass is such a great flavor (and the smell…mmm!)

And check this out!
And check this out!

This eggplant variety is called Fengyuan purple and I am so happy it is growing in Squirrely Garden; the ones I planted in Spy Garden have yet to fruit.

Beautiful!
Beautiful!

Downhill from Squirrely Garden…

The playground awaits the kids (having breakfast in the dining hall in the background)
The playground awaits the kids (having breakfast in the dining hall in the background)
Playground Cave
Playground Cave
A view of the school from the playground.
Another view of the school from the playground.
Squirrely Garden is on the hill past the tree in this photo. And that corner of the school building is Baby's classroom (well, her INDOOR classroom: the real classroom is the forest/garden/great outdoors!)
Squirrely Garden is on the hill past the tree in this photo. And that corner of the school building is Baby’s classroom (well, her INDOOR classroom: the real classroom is the forest/garden/great outdoors!)
Seen on the bulletin board in Baby's class.
Seen on the bulletin board in Baby’s class.
But how nice to have a nice cool classroom when it is 100 degrees!
But how nice to have a nice cool classroom when it is 100 degrees!
Origami Mobile
Origami Mobile
Solar Dehydrator in Progress
Solar Dehydrator in Progress

Very interested to see how this solar dehydrator works out; might have to have Smoochie build one for us if it is successful!

Late August in Spy Garden

Before (can you see the monarch wing inside?)
Before (can you see the monarch wing inside?)
After
After
Another After (and of course the monarch is flitting around the garden!)
Another After (and of course the monarch is flitting around the garden!)
Blazing Star wildflowers and marigolds
Blazing Star wildflowers and marigolds
White spider on the blazing star wildflowers
White spider on the blazing star wildflowers
Nasturtiums
Nasturtiums
(Purposely) blurry shot of the nasturtiums looking very painterly
(Purposely) blurry shot of the nasturtiums looking very painterly
Chinese long noodle beans. I didn't plant these this year, but volunteers are popping up in a few places.
Chinese long noodle beans. I didn’t plant these this year, but volunteers are popping up in a few places.
The variegated leaves are "upper ground sweet potato" (a winter squash) and the pumpkin is "Jarrahdale" (a blue winter squash). Both varieties are growing on the teepee
The variegated leaves are “upper ground sweet potato” (a winter squash) and the pumpkin is “Jarrahdale” (a blue winter squash). Both varieties are growing on the teepee
Yum!
Yum!
A green dragonfly
A green dragonfly
A perfect "early fall" shot!
A perfect “early fall” shot!
Evening Sky Over Spy Garden
Evening Sky Over Spy Garden

Hope your week is off to a good start! A Squirrely Garden (the garden at Baby’s school) update is coming soon. In the meantime, I’m sharing a school-wide email with you as a little sneak preview of something cool in progress at her school (and because it’s hilarious)…

Dear Friends,
Have you noticed the weird wooden box that’s been pretending to mind its own business by our front door?  No, it’s not a penalty box for obstinate children.  It’s a solar dehydrator!  And it will help us reach our food goal of “all local, all year.”
But there’s a catch.  We need your cans.  About 300 of them will do.  We need them for the solar panel.  Now we know that many of you would never own up to drinking soda or the various other…er…beverages that come in cans.  But we all know there’s some in your fridge right now.  So go ahead and tip ‘em back.  Then put on a brave face and bring those cans to in.  No one will judge you.
Oh, and don’t feel bad about the type of…er…beverage the cans are branded with.  They will all be spray painted black to absorb heat from the sun and protect the innocent.
Hahhaha

Spy Garden Gets Glossy!

Who's this?
Who’s this?

A photographer from St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles Magazine! A photoshoot in our garden!

A great shot!
A great shot!

The photographer showed me some of the images on her camera’s screen; they were unbelievable! She said it’s all about the lens.

We got the garden in tip-top shape for the shoot.
We got the garden in tip-top shape for the shoot.
Onions, lemon cucumbers and tomatoes (and water with slices of lemon cucumber)
Onions, lemon cucumbers and tomatoes (and water flavored with slices of lemon cucumber)
We made dorodango for the tomato stakes!
We made dorodango for the tomato stakes!

The Spy and I rolled these balls from clay/dirt from our garden in about twenty minutes. We have high hopes for making some true dorodangos, but these added a little something extra to the tomato patch for the shoot!

The photographer said she had never seen a chrysalis like this before (I'd love to see the photo she took of it!)
The photographer said she had never seen a chrysalis like this before (I’d love to see the photo she took of it!)

Smoochie and the Spy found this butterfly cocoon (aka chrysalis) when trimming some tree branches next to the garden. We carefully attached it to a cut stalk of a sunflower (with some spiderweb thread I collected!)

...and propped it up in the shade in the garden "corner office".
…and propped it up in the shade in the garden “corner office”.

and yesterday it hatched a monarch butterfly! We still have the empty chrysalis. My photos really do not do the chrysalis justice; it was opalescent shades of blue and green with the shadows of butterfly wings beneath and accents of (what looked like) 24 karat gold: amazing!

Can you make out the monarch wing details?
Can you make out the monarch wing details?

The day of the shoot (Wednesday, August 20th) it was overcast and completely flat light all day. Just before the photographer arrived, the sun came out and cast it’s long, late-afternoon rays crisply through the garden.

The Reef
The Reef
Blackberries Blushing
Blackberries Blushing
Corn and Sunflowers
Corn and Sunflowers
Two Sunflowers
Two Sunflowers
Sunflowers have so much...
Sunflowers have so much…
...personality...
…personality…
Don't you think?
Don’t you think?
Facing Northwest
Facing Northwest
Facing North
Facing North
Hanging Rouge Vif d'Etampes Pumpkin
Hanging Rouge Vif d’Etampes Pumpkin
Another Rouge Vif d'Etampes
Another Rouge Vif d’Etampes
Whew! That was a lot of edging and weeding!
Whew! That was a lot of edging and weeding!
We also added some mums and asters for a bit more color.
We also added some mums and asters for a bit more color.
Can you spot Baby?
Can you spot Baby?
Asters
Asters
Marigolds Decorating the Trellis
Marigolds Decorating the Trellis
"Rosita" Eggplant
“Rosita” Eggplant
This area in the foreground is where the melons were and winter greens have been planted.
This area in the foreground is where the melons were and now where winter greens have been planted.
More of the kids...
More of the kids…
...being cute and...
…being cute and…
photogenic!
photogenic!

I will be sure to let you all know when Spy Garden is featured in the magazine (it may not be until fall 2015).The glossy magazine world is a lot less instantly gratifying as glog-world, right?! So exciting and fun to share the behind-the-scenes with you all, if well before the publish date! Hope you are having a great weekend!

Three!

Happy...
Happy…
Birthday!
Birthday!
Eight and Three
Eight and Three
The garden was looking particularly festive today...
The garden was looking particularly festive today…
Lots of monarchs to...
Lots of monarchs to…
chase around!
chase around!
Aunt Spy and Baby
Aunt Spy and Baby
Mmm!
Mmm!
Baby and her entourage (our two dear friends from church!)
Baby and her entourage (our two dear friends from church!)
Woo...
Woo…
presents!
presents!

And Baby is three!

 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Delice de la Table
Delice de la Table

Our Delice de la Table melons are a French variety grown from seeds I saved in 2013. I imagine if Cinderella were French, her carriage would be a Delice de la Table melon.

Or maybe a Rouge de Vif d'Etampes pumpkin.
Or maybe a Rouge de Vif d’Etampes pumpkin.

Lemon cucumbers are also growing up this trellis.

Can you spot the lemon cucumber in the lower left corner?
Can you spot the lemon cucumber in the lower left corner?

They are crisp and fresh and have a perfect cucumber flavor. As a bonus, this variety never gets bitter (in our experience) and it is so easy to tell when they are ripe:

Ready to pick when they look like a lemon.
Ready to pick when they look like a lemon.
Hartman's Giant Amaranth and you can see the pumpkins hanging from the trellis
Hartman’s Giant Amaranth and you can see the pumpkins hanging from the trellis
Blue Swallowtail (on zinnias)
Blue Swallowtail (on zinnias)
Autumn Beauty Sunflower
Autumn Beauty Sunflower

It definitely feels like autumn! The air is crisp and cool. I know it doesn’t technically start for awhile, but since it is my absolute favorite season, I’m going to go ahead and start enjoying fall now!

"Falling" Sunflower
“Falling” Sunflower
"Blazing Star" wildflower
“Blazing Star” wildflower
Morning Sun Yellow Cherry Tomatoes
Morning Sun Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

If tomato plants become too tall for cages or stakes and curve over, as in the above photo, it is best to leave them as they are (especially if they’ve but drooping over for more than a day or so).  Attempting to stand/stake them back up makes the tomato branches more prone to snapping. Plus, we’re in St. Louis, so we can appreciate a nice arch!

Atlantic Giant pumpkin and Dexie
Atlantic Giant pumpkin and Dexie
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch
What do we have here?!
What do we have here?!
Wretched squash bug (eggs).
Wretched squash bug (eggs).
Found lots of these sneakily-layed eggs.
Found lots of these sneakily-layed eggs.
Pretty, but deadly (to the pumpkins!)
Pretty, but deadly (to the pumpkins!)

I examined each and every winter squash leaf; especially underneath each leaf, which as you can see from the photos is where they often lay the eggs. Wearing disposable vinyl gloves I picked off (and squished) all of the eggs, plus some of the squash bugs that had just hatched. BLECH!  Also spotted some adult squash bugs and squished them too. I estimate I decimated 500 eggs/bugs! Wooo! Victory! It is great when you can stop these (literally) stinky pests at this stage (without using any sort of pesticides!).

Blazing Star Wildflower about to bloom
Blazing Star Wildflower about to bloom

In Colorado

Sunrise in Missouri
Sunrise in Missouri
Windmill
Windmill
Bales
Bales
Oil Derrick
Oil Derrick
Kansas
Kansas
Kansas
Kansas
Colorado (Pike's Peak in the distance)
Colorado (Pike’s Peak in the distance)

We visited family in…

Suburban...
Suburban…
Denver
Denver
Window Garden
Window Garden
Williams
Williams
And Spy Sister (aka Spy Garden Reporter) checking out...
And Spy Sister (aka Spy Garden Reporter) checking out…
...third row seats at Coors Stadium.
…third row seats at Coors Stadium.
with her friend, who owns...
with her friend, who owns…
this...
this…
pig!
pig!
Pine
Pine

Rest in Peace to Smoochie’s brother, who died at the young age of 55 on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at Sky Ridge Medical Center of complications of liver failure. He is survived by his wife, son and two daughters.

Pine Cone
Pine Cone

“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” (spoken by Augustus McCrae)  Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

The Spy
The Spy
Baseball Field at the edge of Arapaho National Forest
Baseball Field at the edge of Arapaho National Forest
Mountain Flower
Mountain Flower
In the Woods
In the Woods
Mountain Flowers
Mountain Flowers
Hiking
Hiking
Pine
Pine
In the Rockies
In the Rockies
Mountain Pose
Mountain Pose
Elevation 9,230
Elevation 9,230
Sunset
Sunset
Fairburn Mountain
Fairburn Mountain
Brrrrrr!
Brrrrrr!
Cold,
Cold,
Rainy morning at...
rainy morning at…
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Hiking
Hiking

The cold rain didn’t last too long…

Hike
Hike
Wildflower
Wildflower
Stopping to check out the view
Stopping to check out the view
Craggy
Craggy
Yellow Coneflowers
Yellow Coneflowers
Hiking
Hiking
A snake!
A snake!

 

Yellow Mosses/Lichen
Yellow Mosses/Lichen
Wildflower
Wildflower
Mountain Meadow
Mountain Meadow
Valley
Valley
Toes in a cold creek
Toes in a cold creek
Wildflower
Wildflower
Mountain Climb
Mountain Climb
Great hike! (2.5 miles!)
Great hike! (2.5 miles!)
Mountain Flower
Mountain Flower
Panorama Point
Panorama Point
Panorama Point
Panorama Point
Panorama Point
Panorama Point
Back at the cabin...
Back at the cabin…
Swing
Swing
Fresh Guacamole haha
Fresh Guacamole haha
I wrote this in third grade (the Spy starts third grade on Monday!)
I wrote this in third grade (the Spy starts third grade on Monday!)
Dessert
Dessert
Good morning!
Good morning!
Goldens near...
Goldens near…
Golden, Colorado
Golden, Colorado

The Jewel Box

Baby painting still life of tomatoes and the Spy making a crack-proof thing around an egg.
Baby painting still life of tomatoes and the Spy making a crack-proof thing around an egg.

Using straws and tape (and about a 60 minute time limit) try and build something that will protect an egg from dropping to the ground.

Egg Drop Batting Practice
Egg Drop Batting Practice

You can also use paper and bubble wrap (in addition to straws and tape).

The Spy and his friend
The Spy and his friend
Yolk
Yolk
Heirloom Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes
Hahahaaa
Hahahaaa
Belgian White Carrot Seed Head
Belgian White Carrot Seed Head
Delice de la Table (melon; like cantaloupe)
Delice de la Table (melon; like cantaloupe)
Rouge Vif d'Etampes
Rouge Vif d’Etampes
7.30.14
7.30.14
Yellow Blooms on Red Romaine seed heads (and nasturtium in the background)
Yellow Blooms on Red Romaine seed heads (and nasturtium in the background)
Love in a mist (nigella) seed pods drying out and feverfew in the background
Love in a mist (nigella) seed pods drying out and feverfew in the background
Sunflowers
Sunflowers
Red romaine blossoms (nasturtiums in the background)
Red romaine blossoms (nasturtiums in the background)
Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus
Red Romaine and Nasturtiums (and the garden living room)
Red Romaine and Nasturtiums (and the garden living room)
Harlequin Marigold
Harlequin Marigold
Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkin
Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkin
Dexie
Dexie
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Red
Red
Balloons
Balloons
Daniel Boone Bridge
Daniel Boone Bridge
Missouri River
Missouri River
Horses in Fog
Horses in Fog
Fog in Missouri River Valley
Fog in Missouri River Valley
Baby at School
Baby at School
Forest School
Forest School

And in other cool structures…

The Jewel Box
The Jewel Box
Blooms at the Jewel Box
Blooms at the Jewel Box
Built in 1936
Built in 1936
Awesomest green house: we need a (smaller) version!
Awesome green house: we need a (smaller) version!
Pretty Jewel Box
Pretty Jewel Box

7.27.14

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Leaves Pruned (from Russian Red/Ragged Jack Kale)
Leaves Pruned (from Russian Red/Ragged Jack Kale)
From left: Corn/Sunflowers, "Sunset" Lettuce going to seed,
From left: Corn/Sunflowers, “Sunset” Lettuce going to seed and nasturtiums as ground cover
Tree pose on coffee table in the garden living room
Tree pose on coffee table in the garden living room

Garden…

Living
Living
Room
Room
Maggie and Spy Sister/Aunt Spy
Maggie and Spy Sister/Aunt Spy
Trellis
Trellis
Rouge de Vif D'Etampes pumpkins growing on trellis
Rouge de Vif D’Etampes pumpkins growing on trellis
Harlequin Marigold
Harlequin Marigold
Doodles by the Spy
Doodles by the Spy
Tassel
Tassel (corn)
Sunflowers in the breeze.
Sunflowers in the breeze.
Lemon Cucumber
Lemon Cucumber
Delikatesse Cucumber Blossom
Delikatesse Cucumber Blossom

A windy, breezy, beautiful day!

 

Late July 2014

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
"Titan" Sunflower
“Titan” Sunflower
Mexican Sunflower
Mexican Sunflower
Clockwise from left: hibiscus, corn, yellow strawberry and purslane
Clockwise from left: hibiscus, corn, yellow strawberry and purslane
If canning is "fun" I wonder why all these jars have never been used?! hahaha
If canning is “fun” I wonder why all these jars have never been used?! hahaha
White Tailed Deer
White Tailed Deer
Garden Living Room
Garden Living Room
Marigolds, eucalyptus, hibiscus
Marigolds, eucalyptus, hibiscus
Blackberry Bush is getting very tall (on trellis on right side of picture)
Blackberry Bush is getting very tall (on trellis on right side of picture)
Rouge de Vif D'Etampes pumpkins, Lemon cucumbers and Delikatesse cucumbers on this trellis (and amaranth on the right)
Rouge de Vif D’Etampes pumpkins, Lemon cucumbers and Delikatesse cucumbers on this trellis (and amaranth on the right)
Hartman's Giant Amaranth
Hartman’s Giant Amaranth

Amaranth is a grain you can cook like quinoa. I love the magenta seed heads and stalks. The grain (little shiny black seeds) grow in the fluffy pink tops of these awesome plants. I planted this variety from Baker Creek seeds several years ago and it re-seeds itself every year. Amaranth is one of my favorite plants in the garden.

Little Collection of Bones
Little Collection of Bones

The Spy found all these bones (and many more!) in the woods at forest-school summer camp. Friday was his last day at camp.

Gift from school
Gift from school
It was a fun June and July at summer camp!
It was a fun June and July at summer camp!

The Spy is off to other adventures, but Baby’s new school year at forest-school begins Monday!

Baby's Classroom
Baby’s Classroom
Baby's Clay Sculpture (with the artist's explanation haha)
Baby’s Clay Sculpture (with the artist’s explanation haha)
View from windows in Baby's classroom
View from windows in Baby’s classroom

See the cave? And at the top of the hill is Squirrely Garden.

More sights...
More sights…
from...
from around…
forest school
forest school.
Maze by the Spy
Maze by the Spy
Purple Skies
Purple Skies
Shallow End
Shallow End
Deep End
Deep End

Vacation Bible School 2014

This past week we had Vacation Bible School at church every evening 6-8PM.

The theme was "Let's Build an Ark"
The theme was “Let’s Build an Ark”
Hence the construction tape and animal masks.
Hence the construction tape and animal masks.
This was my class.
This was my class.
Pre-K Class
Pre-K Class

Each evening we sang songs, had a 30 minute class where we learned some stories from the Bible, then had snack…

played outside,
played outside,

and then did a craft. A very full two hours (and a very busy week)!

Animals for the Ark
Animals for the Ark
The Spy helping to build the model ark. That guy who is helping is 90 years young!
The Spy helping to build the model ark. That guy who is helping is 90 years young!
Ark Workshop
Ark Workshop
Painting
Painting
Our pastor reading the Bible to the kids
Our pastor reading the Bible to the kids
Fini
Fini
God keeps his promises
God keeps his promises

…never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” Genesis 9:11

A rainbow is a sign of God’s promise never to destroy the earth with a flood again (Genesis 9:12-17). The caveat: with a flood. Hahhaha;)

On the last night the kids sang the songs they learned to the parents:

Singing
Singing

“Once when the world was very, very bad

God made it rain, rain, rain, rain rain” *

*excerpt from one of the world’s most catchy VBS songs. Haha

We have a tradition at our VBS where there is a water balloon fight on the last night.

There were about seven big bins full of water balloons!
There were about seven big bins full of water balloons!
Ready...
Ready…
Go!
Go!

Quite congruent with the flood-theme!

Splash Action
Splash Action
For the elders (and photographers! haha)
For the elders (and photographers! haha)
Baby
Baby

Cave Country

Field Trip!
Field Trip!

To…

Indian Cave
Indian Cave

Indian Cave is in Meramec State Park, right next to…

Fisher Cave
Fisher Cave

Fisher Cave is a very large cave that is only open for 90 minute tours at certain times of the day. I believe it is closed in the winter because of hibernating bats. Fisher Cave is open for tours now, but today, we opted to explore the smaller Indian Cave.

On the half mile hike to Indian Cave.
On the half mile hike to Indian Cave.
Snail
Snail
The cave's up there!
The cave’s up there!
Nice and cool inside
Nice and cool inside
Cave dweller? AHHGGGHH!
Cave dweller? AHHGGGHH!
Reminds me of that scary cave movie.
Reminds me of that scary cave movie.
Right at home.
Right at home.
In and out of the cave
In and out of the cave
At the back of the cave
At the back of the cave
Inside the cave
Inside the cave
Inside the cave, looking out.
Inside the cave, looking out.
Little Explorers
Little Explorers

We checked out the entrance of…

Sheep Cave
Sheep Cave

But couldn’t go inside…

Closed for bats protection
Closed for the bats’ protection

The kids still enjoyed checking out the big, picturesque entrance to Sheep Cave.

Sheep Cave 2012 (One of my favorite photos I've ever taken, when we explored the cave when it was open)
Sheep Cave 2012 (One of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken, when we explored the cave when it was open)

Fecund Friday: Mid-July in Spy Garden

Pumpkins and Cucumbers growing over the arbor.
Pumpkins and Cucumbers growing over the arbor.
Delice de la Table melon (tastes like cantaloupe) should be ready to harvest soon!
Delice de la Table melon (tastes like cantaloupe) should be ready to harvest soon!
Carrot Blossom (so glad we let some of the carrots go to seed, the flowers are very pretty).
Carrot Blossom (so glad we let some of the carrots go to seed, the flowers are very pretty).

Lots of action in the corn fronds and stalks…

HAhahhaha
HAhahhaha
Love is in the air
Love is in the air
Predators?
Predators?
Pretty little tree frog
Pretty little tree frog
A white butterfly (or moth?)
A white butterfly (or moth?)
Knockout Roses
Knockout Roses
Little "Short Stuff" Sunflowers (certainly won't be able to get any close up shots of some of the sunflowers; they're about 12 feet tall now!)
Little “Short Stuff” Sunflowers (certainly won’t be able to get any super close up shots of some of the sunflowers; they’re about 12 feet tall now!)

Craning for a view of…

Another variety of sunflower (called Autumn-something or another)
Another variety of sunflower (called Autumn-something or another)
Woo Hoo! The very first tomatoes of Spy Garden! These are "Morning Sun" yellow cherry tomatoes. Tastes like sunshine!
Woo Hoo! The very first tomatoes of Spy Garden! These are “Morning Sun” yellow cherry tomatoes. Tastes like sunshine!
Precarious Perch
Precarious Perch

The above is a pumpkin called Rouge de Vif d’Etampes. They are growing up the arbor and I think I’m going to make some slings for them (a pumpkin bra!) to make sure they are well-supported. In other pumpkin news…

The Pumpkin of My Dreams
The Pumpkin of My Dreams

This one Atlantic Giant pumpkin is getting huge! I’ve always hoped for some freakishly large pumpkins, and we’re well on the way!

Another Atlantic Giant
Another Atlantic Giant
And another.
And another.
Mexican Sunflower
Mexican Sunflower
The petals are so velvety.
The petals are so velvety.
Eucalptus, one of my favorite plants in the garden
Eucalyptus, one of my favorite plants in the garden
Lots of blooms and looking lush!
Lots of blooms and looking lush!

A fecund Friday to you all!

Notes from the CEO

A little Squirrely Garden update…

I am the CEO of Squirrely Garden, the garden at Baby’s school (also currently, the Spy’s summer camp). This is the first year of the garden. A deer fence was in early discussions of planning this garden, but is not yet installed. The deer have been jumping the fence and nibbling a bit, but we’re still getting some great results for the first year (especially considering we got a late start).

Baby in Squirrely Garden
Baby in Squirrely Garden

Check out those rock borders. The little kids hauled ALL those rocks from about 50 yards away!

For the record, kids love hauling rocks.
For the record, kids love hauling rocks.
A watermelon in Squirrely Garden
A watermelon in Squirrely Garden
Lots of little yellow squash in there (and note the nibbled squash leaves in the foreground)
Lots of little yellow squash in there (and note the deer-nibbled squash leaves in the foreground)
One of the teachers helping the kids harvest the squash
One of the teachers helping the kids harvest the squash
Picking squash from the other side (and check out that lush lemon grass!)
Picking squash from the other side (and check out that lush lemon grass!)
School in the background. Squirrely Garden is on a hill with a million dollar view.
School in the background. Squirrely Garden is on a hill with a million-dollar view.
Picking
Picking
One of the teachers encouraging the kids to twist off the ripe cukes.
One of the teachers encouraging the kids to twist off the ripe cukes.
Pretty good harvest!
Pretty good harvest!

The chef uses the produce in the menu. The ultimate goal is to get 30% of the school’s food from Squirrely Garden. This year it’s mostly picking a few things here and there, but with the deer fence added and lots of prepping through the winter, next year Squirrely Garden should be unbelievable!

To facilitate a little glimpse into the philosophy of the school; here are some excerpts from an email sent out by the school yesterday…

We source locally grown food, we maximize sustainability by eating seasonally, we connect children to the food production process through our garden and the seed to plate approach. All of this is made possible by our incredible Chef Katie, and now Chef Katie needs YOUR help.

…Eating locally means eating in season. So what do we eat in January? Why food we bought and froze/dehydrated/vacuum packed/canned during the growing season, of course.

That’s where YOU come in! All that freezing/dehydrating/vacuum packing/canning takes a lot of prep, and Chef Katie just can’t go it alone. We need more nimble fingers to do all the slicing and dicing, chopping and cleaning. So we are calling on parents to help us stock up for the winter. Just let us know when you’re available, and we’ll put you to work. Squirrels do it for their babies, and so should you!

A little slicing and dicing so Baby can enjoy peaches and pumpkin (etc.) this winter? Sign me up!

Squirrely Garden 7.17.14
Squirrely Garden 7.17.14

Shaw Prairie Stroll 7.15.14

An evening stroll through the prairie at Shaw Nature Reserve…

So many different varieties of wildflowers!
So many different varieties of wildflowers!

And the smell! Flowery, fresh summer; the most fragrant stroll!

Shaw is one of my favorite places.
Shaw is one of my favorite places.
Wildflowers in the cool breeze.
Wildflowers in the cool breeze.

Cool breeze? On July 15th?! It’s 70 degrees!

Different areas of the prairie seemed to have different combinations of wildflowers.
Different areas of the prairie seemed to have different combinations of wildflowers.
In this one particular area there were tons of blazing stars (the purple stalk that looks like a pipe cleaner) just beginning to bloom.
In this one particular area there were tons of blazing stars (the purple stalk that looks like a pipe cleaner) just beginning to bloom.
Bright white blooms
Bright white blooms
We only saw a few of this type.
We only saw a few of this type.
Running through the prairie.
Running through the prairie.
And stopping to...
And stopping to…
watch...
watch…
the clouds.
the clouds.
These were some of my favorites.
These were some of my favorites.
Another view.
Another view.
More pretty white flowers.
More pretty white flowers.
There were lots of these frilly flowers.
There were lots of these frilly flowers.
Looks like and orange version of the milkweed in Spy Garden.
Looks like an orange version of the milkweed in Spy Garden.
Rich purple
Rich purple
Grass
Grass
The Rothko Shot
The Rothko Shot
Restroom Break!
Restroom Break!
Yes the green roof does look great and man, those bathrooms were sparkling clean!
Yes, the green roof does look great and man, those bathrooms were sparkling clean!
Be wery, wery quiet we're hunting wabbits.
Be wery, wery quiet we’re hunting wabbits.
Sneaky.
Sneaky.
Vibrant
Vibrant
Cheery Yellow
Cheery Yellow
Tons of variations of black-eyed-Susan-type flowers...
Tons of variations of black-eyed-Susan-type flowers…
Including this unusual variety...
Including this unusual variety…
Another.
Another.
Teepee
Teepee
Walking
Walking
These were awesome!
These were awesome!
Some of the wildflowers remind me of orchids
Some of the wildflowers remind me of orchids.

To see Shaw in winter click here.

To see the playground at Shaw click here.

To learn more about Shaw and the Missouri Botanical Garden click here.

Just Like a Circus

Little...
Little…
Acrobat
Acrobat
Upside...
Upside…
Down
Down
Taming Lions
Taming Lions
Tamed!
Tamed!
Ferocity, Caged
Ferocity, Caged
Just a couple of...
Just a couple of…
Trapeze Artists
Trapeze Artists
Trapeze Artiste
Trapeze Artiste
Spy Sister
Spy Sister
AKA Aunt Spy
AKA Aunt Spy
Tricks over a pit of lions
Tricks over a pit of lions
We are ready to upgrade to a Mexican cloud swing.
We are ready to upgrade to a Mexican cloud swing.
No animals were harmed during the making of this post.
No animals were harmed during the making of this post.
Balance
Balance

In the wise words of Britney Spears…

There’s only two type of people in the world.

The ones that entertain and the ones that observe…

HAhahahahjha

Tools of the Trade
Tools of the Trade
Juggling Clubs
Juggling Clubs
Cirque de Jardin
Cirque de Jardin
Cirque de Jardin
Cirque de Jardin
What circus performers do after the show...
What circus performers do after the show…
Garden, of course!
Garden, of course!

Seven Seven

Soaking it up
Soaking it up
Baby in the Garden
Baby in the Garden
Temptation
Temptation
Little Sunflowers
Little Sunflowers
Garlic Harvest!
Garlic Harvest!

All of this garlic (probably about 200 heads!) was started with a small handful of seeds some of our friends gave us about four years ago.

Garlic Seeds
Garlic Seeds
Garlic Seed
Garlic Seed
This particular variety of garlic has beautiful purple skins on the cloves (I will share more garlic pictures soon!)
This particular variety of garlic has beautiful purple skins on the cloves (I will share more garlic pictures soon!)

For now, all of the garlic is hanging up in this small breezeway at our back door. Garlic needs to cure for about 30 days; the ideal place for curing garlic is shaded with good airflow.

Last year I tied it in bunches and hung it from twine, this year I just shoved it in between the spaces of this hanging planter; worked like a charm!
Last year I tied it in bunches and hung it from twine, this year I just shoved it in between the spaces of this hanging planter; worked like a charm!

While harvesting garlic, we also dug up some onions…

Jaune Paille des Vertus on the Left, Ailsa Craig on the Right
Jaune Paille des Vertus on the Left, Ailsa Craig on the Right
Cantare Green Beans: very tender and delicious!
Cantare Green Beans: very tender and delicious!
Jalepenos
Jalepenos
Red romaine, and Swiss chard in the background
Red romaine, and Swiss chard in the background
Baby demonstrates how to eat a Delikatesse cucumber.
Baby demonstrates how to eat a Delikatesse cucumber.
Hibiscus Buds
Hibiscus Buds
Many little Delice de la Table melons appearing!
Many little Delice de la Table melons appearing!
Dexie in the Garden
Dexie in the Garden
Blackberry Bloom
Blackberry Bloom
Upper ground sweet potato squash has pretty green and silver foliage.
Upper ground sweet potato squash has pretty green and silver foliage.
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin
How big will it get?
How big will it get?

7.7 Last Year

From the Fourth

The fireworks started early!
The fireworks started early!
Ka
Ka
Boom
Boom
There's a saying about corn: "Knee high by the fourth of July." Ours is between 4-10 feet tall!
There’s a saying about corn: “Knee high by the fourth of July.” Ours is between 4-10 feet tall!

You can see the two types of corn in the picture above. The brighter green is sweet corn (“country gentleman”) and the darker, shorter corn in the background is ornamental “Wade’s Giant Indian” flint corn. The flint corn was planted three weeks after the sweet corn so that they won’t tassel at the same time (to avoid cross-pollination).

Baby ready for the festivities!
Baby ready for the festivities!
Helping to decorate!
Helping to decorate!
She said this is a drawing of a potato; she did it all by herself.
She said this is a drawing of a potato; she did it all by herself.
And I did this all by myself haha
And I did this all by myself haha
Woo USA!
Woo USA!

Some animals seemed to be celebrating too…

Festive Cardinal
Festive Cardinal
Skink
Skink
And...
And…
A fox!
A fox!

Then we were off to the…

Creek
Creek
Swimming
Swimming
Exploring...
Exploring the…
Creek Bed
Creek Bed
Baby found a vine.
Baby found a vine.
Rocks and Jocks
Rocks and Jocks

We found a lot of really cool rocks. I’m going to take a picture of each one and do a whole post on them (so get excited). Rocks rock.

Pitching and Catching
Pitching and Catching
Brrr!
Brrr!
Tomato Sandwiches: Summer's Greatest Food
Tomato Sandwiches: Summer’s Greatest Food
Snacking and Snoozing
Snacking and Snoozing
Zzzzzz
Zzzzzz
Zzzzz
Zzzzz
Beautiful Canopy
Beautiful Canopy
That X! Hope this huge tree isn't getting cut down!
That X! Hope this huge tree isn’t getting cut down!
Such a great place
Such a great place

But of course, the main event,

Our very own...
Our very own…
fireworks.
fireworks.
Light Show
Light Show
Glow Sticks and Fireworks
Glow Sticks and Fireworks
The Spy channeling Tron
The Spy channeling Tron
Sparklers!
Sparklers!
Woo MERICA!
Woo MERICA!
Baby's First Sparkler
Baby’s First Sparkler

We just got a couple bags of fireworks (about $40 worth) but they sure made for a good time and some cool pictures!

Finale!
Finale!
Looks like Space
Looks like Space
Far Out!
Far Out!

Hope you all are having a safe and happy holiday weekend!

The End of June in the Garden and Concrete Sculptures

Facing North in the Garden
Facing North in the Garden

Cilantro seeds are drying on the teepee for now, but the pumpkins are just about ready to climb it. We’ve added a few ornamentals in the garden, including this hibiscus in the foreground with dark purple foliage.

The first cucumber (Delikatesse)!
The first cucumber (Delikatesse)!
Watering
Watering
The "Reef"
The “Reef”
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin Patch and the garden in the background (facing west)
Atlantic Giant Pumpkin patch and the garden in the background (facing west)
I spy a pumpkin!
I spy a pumpkin!

The Atlantic Giant pumpkins are very yellow! This one is about the size of baby’s head. In order to get the biggest pumpkins you are supposed to snip off all but one or two pumpkins per vine. I’ve been doing this and eating the little pumpkins as you would yellow summer squash. The garden is primed for some serious growing in July. We are hoping for the teepee and the arbor to be covered with squash vines in the coming weeks. All the garlic will soon be dug up and hung to cure. The only major problem we are facing right now are ants on the eggplant. I’ve tried coffee, garlic and baking powder and they are still all over the eggplants. Tomorrow, they die. Vinegar? Cornmeal? I’m going to try everything in the arsenal!

Baby showing off...
Baby showing off…
Our favorite...
Our favorite…
Umbrella
Umbrella

And now, for the concrete sculpture tutorial…

Bag of Quikrete
Bag of Quikrete
Add Water,
Add Water,
Mix well.
Mix well.
The Spy's facial expression foreshadows how well this project turns out.
The Spy’s facial expression foreshadows how well this project turns out.
Insert something about too many cooks here.
Insert something about too many cooks here.
Here's hoping for a planter (or a mini-firepit)
Here’s hoping for a planter (or a mini-firepit)
Alas, it was not to be.
Alas, it was not to be.
RIP
RIP
Moon Ball
Moon Ball
Well, its sort of shaped like a ball.
Well, its sort of shaped like a ball.

Lessons learned: start with smaller things. And if you try to make a ball, it needs to be set inside a box (like a cardboard box) so that the sides will be supported and it will be more evenly round. You can also mix portland cement with peat moss and perlite to make hypertufa and then your sculptures won’t weigh a thousand pounds but that route requires measuring and curing and googling ratios, which is why we went with the $7 bag of Quikcrete and just winged it. Haha. We shall see how painting these improves their sculptural worth.

Until next time!

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