2019.04.12. Friday.

Still working on fall cleanup. Mostly pruning and weed-scalping. The large bed in front was mostly dormant last season, aside from volunteer cherry tomatoes. That allowed weeds to enter, and as the soil warms this spring, fleabane and red dead nettle have settled in. As did some other broad-leaf, thick-rooted plant, maybe common burdock.

I used my newly sharpened hoe to scalp the greens and raked them to the side into a mulch-like mass (mess). Then spread some shredded leaves. I hope that will suppress new growth until I figure out what I want to do with this bed. I left only a clump of red clover. Many consider it a weed, but I have found in the past couple of years that it doesn’t spread aggressively. It seems to come and go, and the bees like it, so I leave it where I find it.

I pruned the crape myrtle and also cut out a large dead section of the Japanese maple, about a third of it.

garden bed with shredded leaves and branches on the ground

The yellow-twig dogwood, which used to creep out into the street, has now turned inward and is slowly spreading towards the lawn. I’m learning how a full-sun garden becomes a shade garden as the trees mature.


2019.03.31. Sunday.

Spent a little time in front today, did the following:

  • scalped more weeds (flowers, actually, but weeds in bulk, especially where they are growing)
  • picked up trash along the road, including a busted rear-view mirror (someone side-swiped either the telephone pole or a street sign in front of the house)
  • tidied up fallen branches
  • thinned out some dead wood from the yellow twig dogwood
  • pulled dried tomato vines off of everything
  • pulled red dead nettle (that is a live plant, not a dead one) that has begun to colonize in front, already in flower, a new invader
  • sowed spring greens in one of the raised beds:
    • beets
    • scallions
    • red radishes
    • arugula
    • mesclun mix
  • spent the rest of the time trying to close the gaps in the chicken wire around the raised bed so squirrels have a harder time getting in there — they already destroyed my garlic planting from last fall



2019.03.30. First day out and about in the garden. I got to work on the first patch that caught my attention. The idea was to get at the early weeds before they go to seed.

The low shrub in the center is a Wentworth Highbush Cranberry — actually not a cranberry at all, but a viburnum: Viburnum trilobum ‘Wentworth’. It’s into its third season in my yard, and it seems to be doing OK. I sowed some red Lobelia (Cardinal Flower) along the wall behind it, then mulched with shredded leaves.

I also cut down the overgrown rose by the air conditioner unit and weeded in the bulge. Not exactly weeding, rather scalping, with this, my new, and new favorite, tool:


14″ hoe-cultivator

The roots mostly stay in the soil, which is not so disturbed that more weed seeds are exposed, and the greens can be composted.

I do not have a garden plan this season, so we’ll just have to see how it goes . . .


Adventures in Pesto

You know it’s the middle of winter when you run out of homemade pesto. My mother, of all people (she usually eschews anything green — and that does not mean she chews it, rather she turns it down), has had a hankering lately for basil pesto. I used up an entire log of frozen pesto in December, and now there is none left.

But she wanted pesto, so I looked around for other leaves and vegetables that seemed like they would work to form the vehicle for garlic and Parmesan, which I am almost certain is what my mother was craving.

I found half a bag of spring mix and a head of Boston lettuce from our local family farm and two broccoli crowns from the grocery store. And so I began.


This much spring mix, plus one lettuce leaf.


Six florets of this crown, blanched for about a minute, until bright green.


Three cloves garlic and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (dirty dishes optional).

I used the same procedure I would use for basil pesto: shredded the lettuce leaves into the food processor, cut up the broccoli florets into small pieces, added rough-chopped garlic, a little salt, about a 1/3 cup of olive oil…


Oops, forgot something. (And I don’t mean focus.)

And a handful of walnuts, chopped… (because I also ran out of pine nuts)…


Walnuts on top.

And processed. Then added grated Parmesan and processed for another 10 seconds. That’s what my recipe book says, and that’s how I do it.


Spring mix – broccoli pesto!


Yes, I am eating right out of the serving bowl.

I almost forgot to take a picture of the finished dish. Garnish with more grated Parmesan and broccoli florets, and eat out of a big bowl. And don’t forget to serve Mom.

She liked it!

I bet this would also be delicious mixed with ricotta cheese and used for stuffed shells or ravioli.



2018.06.16. Saturday.

Made a new bed. Planted corn (yellow-white hybrid, 7-14 days to germinate, 73 days to maturity). Cleaned up a bit (hard to tell!).

The neighbor sheared the forsythia and exposed a robin’s nest. I tried to keep my distance after taking these pix to let the parents feed their kids in peace.


2018.06.08. Friday.

What can grow in a month, and how high? Here’s the side of the house and back yard. Mostly overgrown by fleabane about to bloom. And an incredible stand of ferns behind the raised beds.

And in the front:


Mix of weeds, tomato volunteers, and dill, surrounded by intentionally planted shrubs.

But sometimes among the weeds are desirable volunteers:


2018.05.05. Firsts.

The last first in the list of firsts (that is, the most recent), is the first mowing of the lawn in 2018 on May 5 (partial).

Also, the first selection of tomato volunteers to encourage.

The first 90-degree day of the year was May 4.

Before that, the first asparagus harvest of 2018 was on April 27, the asparagus having first emerged on April 23.

Shortly before that was the first flying insect sighting — a lazy fly flew in the front door and was easy to shoo out again. (When you garden, you notice when the pollinators show up.)

Maybe a week before that, I gave the American Holly by the deck a haircut — easily cutting out 4/5 of the branches. It has some kind of scale infestation and I decided I’d do a hard pruning to see if I could get rid of the scale. Surprisingly, the part that’s left is blooming like crazy now, so maybe I did more good than harm.


2018.03.21 — still Wednesday.



Ice fall last night and snow fall all day. When I couldn’t get the front door open last night because of a sheet of ice across the front stoop, I imagined trying to walk across the ice from the back door around to the front door to dig out, and was joking with my mom about retrofitting her walker with ski-pole tips to keep me upright.


The most surprising part of this project is that I managed to do it without injuring myself.

For two of the legs (the ones with the black caps), I used some kind of spare part from a washing-machine delivery (I never throw anything away), I think these were plastic screw-on feet for the washer. They’re held in place by large drape hooks (I never throw anything away) pushed through the retaining holes and twisted around, and the screws are held from retracting by small drape hooks clamped around the threads. (I don’t know, there’s a box of each on the utility room shelf.) The other two legs are fitted with heavy-duty lag bolts.

As it turned out, by the time I was ready to attempt to dig us out, it had already started snowing, so the ground wasn’t that slippery.

But there was plenty of ice under the snow.

Welcome Spring 2018.



2018.03.21 Wednesday.

Here’s what I did with the refrigerator doors:


Put ’em in the pantry. And the guys who delivered the new fridge didn’t even notice. Well, they didn’t say anything. And neither did I.


2018.03.14 Wednesday.

No, these are not pictures of an extreme deep cleaning in preparation for Passover! This is another lemons – lemonade situation. Yesterday morning, our fridge blew a gasket (more accurately, a coil), and in preparation for removal of this one and delivery of a new one, I decided to see what I could salvage. The plastic bins, of course — those come out without the use of tools. But also the glass shelves. And the shelf brackets and internal uprights, which are interesting because they mount into corners.

And then I got curious about the doors. The molded plastic is just screwed onto the door panels. The gasket seals pull right off. There’s some fiberglass batting wedged into the gaps behind the plastic (I hope it’s fiberglass and not asbestos! the fridge isn’t that old).

It all came apart quickly. I’m having fun imagining all the ways to use my new molded-plastic shelves. Maybe an outdoor wall-mounted vertical garden? A miniature terrarium in the butter bins?


Growing and harvesting a bounty of blessings in my potager.

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