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Check out today’s harvest! Sooooo many cherry tomatoes and two little tester carrots. Plus a giant eggplant?! Awesome!

I wanted to get everything picked that was ready before the great Hurricane Irene comes in this weekend. With projected 70-125 mph winds coming in, I’m worried we’ll lose our garden. I would be so sad if this happened, but I’m going to try and cover everything with a tarp and just see what happens. I suppose that’s all we can do!

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You say Tomayto and I say Tomahto, let’s just say we have a whole lot of both.

Our lovely little garden we put in this May, which started out like this:

with tiny little seedling plants we purchased from Russo’s in Watertown (excellent plant selection and the best quality produce and value anywhere. Period.) and a few seeds.

I am amazed at how, with some water and nurturing and bucket-fulls of patience, we now have a fully grown and fruitfully producing garden. Here’s an aerial view:

And an inside view:

We have tomatoes of various kinds, eggplants, squash, and cucumbers, as well as lettuce, carrots, green peppers, yellow peppers, cubaneles, and hot peppers. All of this with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (and basil, chives, and lavender) means we’ve been eating very, very well this summer.

We’ve come a long way from our pot garden adventures. Pot gardening was fun but we were limited by the pot size and the plants just couldn’t get that big before getting root bound, which meant the fruit harvest was minimal.

Now we have tomato plants that are growing every-which-way. We have one plant that created six separate different vines that each needed their own stake. Some of the plants are as tall as me:

We are especially grateful to our wonderful neighbors/landlords who allowed us to dig out some nasty vine-y roses and overgrown weeds on the side of the house and lay out a thoughtful garden plot that has surpassed our expectations for growth and produce.

We are also very proud to boast that this garden is nearly all organically grown. I say nearly because we’re not sure if the seedlings we purchased were organically wrought. But all of the soil, compost additives, and fertilizers were organic mixtures (Coast of Maine, mostly, and we highly recommend). Maybe next year we can shoot for 100% by keeping some of our seeds or purchasing organic seedlings and seeds.

The tomatoes, I must say, are the best I’ve ever eaten. We grew some that are as big around as a softball, and some tiny little cherries. We have an heirloom plant that produces pink tomatoes that when cut up look like watermelon and taste perfectly tomato-y. We eat them in salads and sandwiches, or just halve them up with salt and pepper and bite into them like an apple.

I’ll leave you with photos of a few of our harvests.

Jealous? Don’t be. Come on over. We have plenty to share.

As our loyal readers know, the last couple of years we’ve had very hearty pot gardens.

Tomatoes, beans, strawberries, peas, and squash, grown–some from seeds and others from small purchased plants–and tenderly watered and cared for, harvested and enjoyed in summer and fall meals.

We moved our garden last year from Grove St. to Winslow Rd. and it was a mess.  We broke the tops off a bunch of our plants and I think a few went into shock from the move, and we only went about 6 blocks!  And because we’re a bit unsure about where we’ll be nesting next year (could be in town, could be who knows where!?!?), we didn’t plant a garden this spring and I’m beginning to feel a sort of loss.  Detachment perhaps?  Like I’m missing a part of my soul.  Okay.  Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic.   But we spent so much time and effort and care and concern over our gardens in the past that it really does feel like we’re missing something real out of our springtime day to day.

The other day I happened upon this lovely post via Etsy’s How-To blog on how to create a small garden in small spaces, this one particularly about a spa garden–herbs useful for spa remedies, balms, and teas.  Sounds great, right? And reading further to this awesome blog on city gardening called City Dirt,  made me go–Ah HA!.  HERBS!  I can plant herbs in small pots transportable to wherever we may be in the coming months!  YES! Basil, rosemary, lemonbalm, mint, and chamomile! Wahey!  I can nurture, water, and care for them, and not be sad in having to leave them behind.  They’ll be useful in summer and fall meals, AND if they are especially bountiful, someday in our soaps!

Do any of you, dear readers, have gardens?  Can we live vicariously through you?  Send your updates. What are you growing?  What’s working well, what’s not?  Has the strange spring weather upset your planting plans?  In the meantime, I’m off to start some seeds and seedlings for herbs and assuage my gardening needs while dreaming of a large garden plot rich with planted abundance… some day!

Based on  your emails and comments, we know what you, our loyal readers want to see: more of the plants. We’ll get to those in a minute.

But first, here are a few shots of how we celebrated Easter this year. As Anna wrote earlier, my sister, Annie, who lives just down the road in Boston came over and we had a feast. Anna’s creations from her new Wyoming cookbook proved ready to go into the permanent rotation. Here we are posing for obligatory pre-meal photos before digging in:

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After brunch, Annie opened her Easter basket. Gordon was especially interested in its contents:

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What can we say, he knows what the good stuff smells like:

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Apparently, begging is exhausting. It always amazes us where and how Gordon can fall asleep:

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It was a lovely holiday and a great opportunity to think about our families and friends and reflect upon the magnificence of winter turning into spring.

Speaking of spring, ok, it’s time for some plant seedling updates. I’m happy to report that we have removed the greenhouse lids on two of the flats because the seedlings have outgrown their roofs. Here’s the latest:

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They are all mostly in the 3-5″ tall range. The green beans are especially happy, already sprouting little leaves!

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My favorite upstarts have been the sunflowers. They sprouted up a few days ago, with the seed coats a clear giveaway for what was coming up out of the ground:

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We’ll probably have to start transplanting the squash, beans, and cucumbers soon. We’ll put some more pictures up when we do. Send along your own if you are taking the plunge into container gardening. It’s easy and incredibly satisfying.

Until next time, Happy Holidays and happy spring!

Seeds went into the ground Saturday… and we already have plants! Well, you can judge for yourself:

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Simply beautiful! They they did require some coddling (spray bottle water feeding, evenings bathed in “natural” light from the plant light). BUT a bunch of little guys have responded well to this treatment and have started poking out of the soil. I especially like the ones that lift up big pieces of of soil on their way out of the ground. This one seemed particularly strong:

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Nearly all of the vegetables have shown at least a little bit of green above the surface. Even the tomatoes, which we figured would be the hardest to grow from seed. The quickest growers have been the lettuce. They are fun little sprouts and particularly phototrophic, growing at an almost 45-degree angle toward the window:

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More “growing updates” to come soon. Happy Spring, and Happy Holidays to everyone!

Let me say that today wasn’t one of Gordon’s best days.  No, indeed it was not.  I’m not sure if it’s a full moon tonight, or a dog-ette was in heat or the weather was changing–but Gordon the Dog was a little shit today.  It started this morning.  I woke up and took him outside, which is the normal routine (Mark will argue here that me taking Gordon for the morning walk is _not_ a normal routine, but he’s on vacation, so whilst he’s away, this routine is normal) and went around the block–as we turned the corner, a nice man walking a little brown dog came around on the other side of the street.  Well it was still 7:00 am and I wasn’t quite awake at that point, and didn’t have my full day’s strength yet–Gordon pulled me into the street, me shouting “NO GORDON!!” looking left only to see a car coming our way about 100 yards off.  The car was far enough off that I think it saw us and slowed down, although I was so pissed at that point my adrenaline kicked in and I yanked the little beast back to the safety of the sidewalk and sat him down for a talking-to.  Which seemed to last all but about an hour while I did some gardening, and then he proceeded to sit under my desk and chew on one of my hb pencils.

Gordon looking out for wild vegetable-eating beasts while Mom gardens.

The garden is doing really well.  I’m very proud of it so far.  It got a little overgrown and wild, but I took care of most of that craziness this week.  Took one of our cherry tomatoes out and put it into its own pot which seemed to help a lot.   I also created a little string fence for the beans to grow up.  I hope that works, because the first of the beans were really good, and the more beans the better.  We have two full cucumbers and a couple little ones growing too–I check the garden about twice a day, and didn’t notice these until this morning.  They just kind of appeared out of nowhere.

And I’m the most proud of our little yellow-neck squash that popped up this week.  We grew these squash plants from the seed (all of our other plants came from seedlings we bought at the store) so it’s quite special.  Isn’t it beautiful?

I noticed today too we have a few zucchinis, a couple more peppers, and way too many tomatoes of three varieties (romas, patios, grape) that will be ready to eat soon.  Our flowers are doing well too, and the lavender is finally taking some shape, and looks to be growing some flowers which we’ll use in our soaps this winter.  I’ve really loved gardening this summer.  It’s our first garden together.

We’ve had many many plants, but not any that gave fruit, so this is exciting and fulfilling.  I appreciate more and more the work farmers do when I’m out there–and I’m doing it on such a microscopic level comparatively.  Someday I would like my sheep farm with a big big garden to grow enough produce to sell or trade for other things.  But for now I am heartily content.

A pepper and some tomatoes that I picked fresh today.

I went to the grocery store and to the PetSmart because Gordon was running out of food.  Is it just me or are all big-name pet stores crazy and completely under-staffed?  I see the commercials and think, oh, those dogs and cats look so happy, and the people there are friendly and nice! And then I go to pick up dog food that I would gladly purchase anywhere else if I could, but PetSmart & PetCo etc. are the only ones who carry it.  And I feel like I always wait with 15 other customers in the only line of a flustered employee, while someone waits on the side getting pissed and demands a manager.   But where else do you go to buy 45 pounds of ground up flour, oil by-products and other unmentionable meats?  Where!?  Anyhow, despite Gordon’s bad morning behavior, I did decide that perhaps instead of pencils he needed some rawhides to chew on.  YAY! Gordon loves rawhides.  He loved this one so much he ate the whole thing in one sitting.  Sometimes he hides the ends, but not today.

Look at how he grips it with his paws and holds on for dear life.  I keep telling him “Gordon, I don’t chew bones.  I don’t want it!” but any time I walked by him with even the slightest look his way, he took the bone and ran to another part of the house.

What a Gordon!

I also made cookies today–Lemon Drop Cookies which are the easiest and most delightful cookies of the summer.  My mother used to make them when I was little, and she’d make bags and bags of them and stick them in the freezer, because they are best that way.  The Lemon Drop Cookies are made with frozen lemonade and they’re so sweet and tart and lemony!  You take a cup of butter, a cup of sugar, cream them together and add two eggs.  Add to that a mixture of 3 cups of flour, a tsp of baking soda, and a .5 tsp salt.  As you’re mixing in the flour, add half of a can of melted frozen lemonade (you can use pink lemonade too, if you can find it at your store–that’s my favorite!) and then turn out teaspoon sized balls on to a cookie sheet and cook in a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until the bottoms are light brown.  Then brush the other half of the lemonade on them, and sprinkle with sugar, then pop them into the freezer.  Makes 3 dozen or so.

Gordon really wanted me to drop him one, but since he’d already had a bone and just eaten his dinner, I said no.  No, Gordon, no cookies for you.

He didn’t like that much, so he licked a raw one right off the sheet when I wasn’t looking.

Hopefully he’ll be on better behavior tomorrow, eh?

This is our first joint blog post. It’s Summer in Belmont, and as you can see, the tomatoes are growing!

We decided this would be a fun project to share our writing, art, and fun times. And plenty of pictures of Gordon.

As many of you know, Le Petit Éléphant is the name of our soap and candy “company” that comes alive for the holidays. Anna says “it’s not really a company… yet.” But someday, perhaps. You can follow its development here, I guess. And since we do make soaps, and people do seem to use them, maybe we should start taking orders for Christmas 2008. Send us an email with your orders. They come with a cool logo stamped on them.

We just returned from a week in San Diego. Here’s a top-5 list of things we saw/did:

5) Anna’s first trip to In N Out: We got our fries well-done and bought t-shirts

4) Fireworks over San Diego Bay on the Fourth: Big and loud.

3) Baseball at PETCO Park: Added another stadium to our list… Padres not good.

2) Sailing the Western Starr: Sailed out of the Coronado Yacht Club, nobly escaped three near-disasters.

1) Met the Pugs: Aunt Susan has three, and they all shed a lot. Does Mark still think he wants one?

It was a great trip, more to come soon. And we just re-potted some things in the pot garden, we need to get some pictures online!

Mark & Anna

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