Taming The Jungle

This is what the back garden looked like just two weeks ago, August 26, 2014:

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Then we had a heat wave and I didn’t work in the garden other than to harvest.  I can’t take the heat and especially can’t take the humidity.

Here is what the garden looked like yesterday – September 7, 2014:

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The tomatoes grew to a point of bending or breaking their bamboo stakes and then the sweet potatoes grew right over them, nearly smothering them.

Note to self:  Don’t plant sweet potatoes around tomato plants for 2015 — they need their own garden, and a big one at that!

Seeing as the tomatoes were practically buried under the sweet potato vines, I had to do something.  I spent a couple of hours trimming the sweet potato vines and pruning and re-staking the tomato plants.  The tomato plants were so overgrown that I had to use shepherds hooks that Hubby cut down for me to hold the over flowing vines.  There were some plants that were more than five-feet tall.

This is what the pruned and trimmed garden looks like, September 8, 2014:

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I can actually see the dirt around the tomato plants now, not to mention I found a few plants that had been completely covered by the sweet potato vines that would have been lost forever had I not gotten in there to tame this nearly out-of-control jungle.

The hot and humid weather was great for the garden and gave it one last boost before the cooler weather of fall begins its reign, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Summer’s Holding On – Strawberries & Lilacs

In May I planted six strawberry plants on the side of our house in hopes of harvesting some juicy strawberries come June.  Well, June came and went and I think we had a total of maybe four strawberries.  It didn’t really bother me because I figured next year we’d get more and the following year even more.

What a wonderful surprise it was about two weeks ago when I noticed several little berries under the spreading strawberry plants.  Day after day more and more berries popped up and even more flowers were blooming.  For the past week we have been harvesting two to eight berries per day and this isn’t counting the ones being eaten by the local cats and squirrels that run rampant.


This evening as I was leaving to take Bell for a walk, I noticed all the berries seemed to be multiplying and a tiny visitor on one of them.

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This little guy was making a feast on one of the berries.  I can’t blame him.  They are like eating sugar and anyways, isn’t he one of the reasons I’m getting such a wonderful harvest this year from my gardens.  As far as I’m concerned, he can eat to his little hearts content.

Further up the walk, as I passed my lilac bush, I stopped dead in my tracks.  There on one of the branches was a tiny, very fragrant bloom!


Can you believe it — Lilacs in September?  I’ve never heard of such a thing.  What a perfect way to end the summer and welcome fall.


Summer is still here in spirit, the weather certainly isn’t reminiscent of fall, and these tiny reminders tell me that autumn is just going to have to wait its turn.  Summer isn’t leaving without a fight, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.


New Garden Progress

The new garden addition is up and running.  It took a little bit of work to spread out the two yards of compost we had delivered,


transplant all but two of the tomato plants that were in pots, plant all the sweet potato slips,


and put up the fencing to keep out rabbits,


but it was well worth it.  Everything seems to have taken to the new compost and so far seems to be adjusting to the new area.

This garden will have full-sun from around 9:00 in the morning until 7:30 at night.  That’s about 4 1/2 hours more than the other gardens and 5 more than on the patio.  I’m anxious to see what it will produce.

There are just two large planters and two pots left in front of the patio.  I left these to see how they will fare through the summer.

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Another beautiful Michigan day, with temperatures near 80 and sun all day.  Great weather for the garden to prosper, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Taste of Summer

For weeks the sounds of summer have been declaring their triumphant return. Birds chirping from morning till night, children laughing and playing outside, lawn mowers whirling across lush lawns, shades thumping against window frames as warm breezes stream through open windows, sprinklers spraying mists of water on freshly planted gardens, bees buzzing while they fly from flower to flower pollinating our plum tree, and morning doves cooing from their perch on top of our house. Loud and clear the sounds of summer scream — We’re back!

For the past couple weeks the scents of summer have been slowly making themselves known after a long, hard winter. The intoxicating blossoms on the plum tree, the sweet lilacs, just-cut grass, freshly tilled soil, Bell after rolling in that awful smell in the grass, barbecues sizzling in my neighbors yards, the rain as it hits the warm pavement, and bonfires blazing in our backyard. So many wonderful smells that scream — It’s nearly summer!

For nearly a week the sights of summer have overtaken our neighborhood after many false starts and stops. Thick droplets of morning dew covering the grass, plum blossoms falling away to make room for lush green leaves, patio furniture uncovered, weeds popping up in flower beds, dawn breaking early and dusk coming late, convertibles cruising down the road with their tops down, and backyard pools being opened. Everywhere I look the scenery screams — Time to get out and enjoy!

For all the sights, sounds, and scents of summer that have revealed themselves proclaiming their return, the one aspect of summer, my favorite aspect of summer, had yet to return — the tastes of summer. There are some very distinct foods and drinks that for me are the epitome of summer and what I miss most when fall slowly reclaims its reign. Fresh squeezed lemonade, beef jerky in the smoker, frozen treats from the ice cream truck, barbecue ribs on the grill, home-grown vegetables from the garden, fresh picked strawberries, roasted corn on the cob, and home-brewed sun tea. These are undeniable tastes that scream — Summer is here!

The one taste of summer that I most look forward to is fresh fruit salad. This weekend the first fresh summer fruits of the season became available — watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and strawberries — everything needed for the most refreshing dessert ever created.

The tastes of summer!

The tastes of summer!

Today I made the first of many fruit salads for the Summer of 2014. The watermelon was juicy, the cantaloupe tender, the grapes crisp, and the strawberries sweet, a perfect combination to begin our summer, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.