When you get a dozen or so ripe tomatoes from the garden every day, dehydrating them into crispy sweetness is just too easy (after all the tomato sandwiches and fresh salsas, etc., have been indulged in). A note about food safety: We freeze the dried tomatoes to avoid concerns about not getting every last bit of moisture out of them. They hold up well in the freezer for well over a year. Many state university extension offices also have great recommendations for preserving fresh tomatoes.
Tomatoes growing like crazy. Grapevines out of control with their hidden clusters of fruit. I get up in the morning and step outside to take it in before the sun gets too serious about things. Here in the southern Willamette Valley, we are about to turn the corner into the hot sharp days of August, when the tomatoes will get fat and red, and the afternoons will send us to the river for relief.
I call this blog “Exquisite Now” because I am prone to procrastination. (I used to just crastinate, but then I turned pro!) The blog title reminds me to do things rather than just to think about doing things. We planted the tomatoes in April. Craig cut back the grape vines in February and weeded in May. That was then. And this is the exquisite voluptuous now of summer.
What is it the the Zen Buddhists say? “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
I’ve probably seen teasel seed heads in the fall for decades when I’m out walking. But last week was the first time I noticed the tiny seeds actually sprouting on the spiky plant even though I’ve walked along this meadow in all seasons for many years. Details, details. Beginner’s mind.
In 2009, my nephew Ethan helped me plant a Mexican orange. It was small and now it’s tripled in size and as you can see is blooming like crazy, the blossoms gently fragrant. There’s heather (which bloomed in the winter) in front and rock rose (which start to bloom in the next month) to one side. I doubt Ethan remembers this event or the visit to our house, because he was just four years old at the time, but I suspect that his grandma Irene remembers. She watched us dig the hole in the rocky soil, knock the plant out of its container, put it in the ground and gently fill in around the roots.
We did it on a lovely Mother’s Day weekend with family from Canada to California gathered. Now I rarely look at this part of the garden without thinking fondly of my nephew and that visit.
On Mother’s Day, I want to thank my mother for helping to orchestrate this memory. She is a woman with good instincts who understands the human need for connection.
Winter was hard on the rue, which looks begraddled. The deer have munched away on the rugosa rose, which nevertheless is spreading on suckers and looks a little crazy. The artemesia was a knobbly mess till I cut it back. Sow bugs and slugs munched the rising shoots of the calla lilies. The weeds, of course, thrived.
Still, my little spiral garden of mostly herbs and deer resistant perennials doesn’t look half bad on a sunny morning, despite my winter and early spring neglect.
It’s a good reminder that a little bit of work (in this case, a couple hours of weeding and sweeping) can make a big difference.
Here’s what’s blooming on the shady side: sweet woodruff (the plant in the banner picture at the top of my page) the corydalis in pots on the front step, the bleeding heart, the Mexican organge. Soon the rose campion will be blooming electric pink, and iris buds burst open.
Part of gardening is knowing what can survive my sporadic ministrations.
Oh, I so love this shade-loving perennial. I took this picture this morning and even in the depth of January, corydalis has one brave yellow blossom. In the summer it’s just covered with them. I don’t know why the deer have let it alone. They frequently go after a white-blossomed corydalis not three feet away from this one. I’ve heard th
at corydalis doesn’t do well in pots, and it’s true that late in autumn, this gets a bit
Among the things it suggests for January: Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous ornamental shrubs and trees for propagation. I will try this.