A Little Salad From My Backyard Winter Garden

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-3-38-01-pmJust made myself a salad with ingredients from my (very) small backyard garden. In fact it’s really just a few pots with lettuce, parsley and scallions / green onions.  I added some flaxseed meal and a side of potato salad, but the greens came from the yard!

When there is fresh food growing just outside the door, it’s hard to choose NOT to eat it.  After all, it took work to plant it and care for it, so why not enjoy it as often as possible?  Plus I am lucky enough to still have food growing in January!  I am in Florida now, and I have to constantly remind myself that it IS winter…. in other places.

Floridians believe it is winter here.  When the temps plummet to 60 degrees they put on their heavy hoodies, tied tightly around their heads as they head out to walk the dogs.  What?  I wave to them as I stand there in my capris and t-shirt and then I turn and laugh.  My blood will thin out again too, and one day I will think 60 is cold… I guess.  For now, the icy cold of a January day in New Hampshire is still fresh in my mind.

Back to garden talk.  I know that planting season is coming soon down here in Florida, and I am stressing a bit because my raised bed is not filled with dirt.  BUT, a friend made a suggestion, which I may do because it seems easier than trying to buy a load of dirt and move it into the container.  I also have a sprinkler system to worry about crushing.  If I decide to try the “new way of gardening” I’ll share it in a soon-to-come post.

For now I am enjoying my greens.  I can’t wait for the citrus (lemons and limes) to grow.  Fresh lemonade would go well with this meal!

Alone at Christmas? You’re Not Alone

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-8-35-58-amI’ve written before about how little family I have, and how holidays equal family. I mean, after all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Except for Easter. Which is all about the Easter Bunny. (Just kidding.)

This is what I have done to get ready for Christmas. Nearly nothing. I have not bought one gift. I bought two cards to send to my kids whom I won’t see. I bought a small turkey breast yesterday which my son may smoke on his grill, like he did on Thanksgiving.

For the first time in my life, the only tree I have is the same small one I bought years ago when we had lost our home and everything was packed away.  It was the first year we had no money, and I can’t even remember what I was able to buy for the kids. I liked that little tree and it came with me from house to house as I moved around New Hampshire.

After that first poor year, I was on my own and bought a larger fake tree because of my son. I still tried to make Christmas Christmassy for the sake of my kids, but I have never really been able to feel the same excitement I used to have. And eventually it simply became a dreaded chore. Continue reading “Alone at Christmas? You’re Not Alone”

Plant Shrubs in Winter, Readying the Garden Beds

weed fabric
The black fabric beneath the mulch has to go!

Today I did something that I have waited a long time to do.  I began work on my flower garden beds.  I am finally in my new home!   The big move began way back in January, and has taken the whole year.    There is still more to move from storage, and all the boxes need to be unpacked, but having a chance to work in MY yard again is a wonderful feeling.

We have merged two households, and I went from a three story house (including the basement) to a single story, no basement and small attic. So finding space for everyone’s stuff is challenging. There is a GoodWill nearby which I will be visiting often in the months to come.

Last night we bought garden dirt – 4 bags – and this morning I added it to two gardens. These are gardens which already have plants in them and I plan to add flowering shrubs to brighten the landscape.  The raised vegetable gardens are coming soon (fingers crossed).

All three planting beds have black fabric in the bottom, which I hate, and have removed from two beds. I don’t mind pulling weeds, and if a garden is done correctly, the weeds shouldn’t be a huge problem. So first thing I did was pull up the plastic fabric that is used for weed control.

garden bed prep
Front Garden

The garden bed near the front door has one overgrown shrub – which I am pretty sure I used to know the name of – and it needs to be cut way back. If it wasn’t already so large, I would probably take it out completely.  The bushy perennial blocks the breeze from entering my front windows, not to mention it mostly blocks the view out the front!

Since I am still busy with the house, my focus will be on the gardens already in place. Amending the soil and adding nutrients was my focus this morning. I pulled the old mulch out of the way to put the bagged dirt down, then mixed in some blood meal.

azalea shrub
This Azalea needs some help.

I did the same thing to the little area containing a raggedy looking azalea bush. I may cut this thing back and see if it will fill in more.
My plan is to fill in these gardens as I find plants for them. I can’t dig through the black fabric, so it had to go. Since this yard is new to me, I have to watch it for sunny and shady spots and buy plants accordingly. The azalea needs light shade and usually does well under the trees. It also likes acidic soil, which also happens to create blue flowering hydrangeas! I may be able to add some blue-flowering hydrangeas to this garden area, which is an exciting prospect.
While reading my gardening book, I discovered this about Florida planting: *Plant SHRUBS in winter AND *Plant TREES and PALMS in summer. Now (almost November) is the time to begin planning my perennial gardens. After that, it’s on to building the raised vegetable garden beds.

Remembering Life in New England

winter forest photography
My Backyard – Long Ago

This winter photography recently sold in my Zazzle store as a postcard. It seems fitting as a reminder of how far I’ve come. Since I am no longer living in the northeastern U.S., and back down in the humidity of Florida, this scene makes me a bit sad.  I was born in New England, and I love it there.

I took this winter photo back in 2007, and it reminds me of great hope and huge loss. After spending 27 years in the humid, bug-infested south, I was back home in New England and loving every moment of my first winter with snow in years. I took pictures every day I think. This is a scene from my back yard after a nice storm had passed. I say “nice” because it dropped a bunch of that sparkling white stuff I had been longing to play in and witness. I wanted a white Christmas, and New Hampshire nearly always cooperated in the eleven years I lived there.  I love the change of seasons and winter is part of it.  It’s a long season, but we are all in it together, and somehow get through the worst ones.

We had moved together as a family, but ultimately I ended up alone, with a son dependent upon me to provide a decent life. I couldn’t take a little boy away from his father, no matter how much that father lacked the qualities to actually be a father. So I stuck it out until my son graduated and wanted to move away. Then it was his choice. I did my part. But it wasn’t easy getting by alone in a place known for it’s costly living expenses. By the time I left my New Hampshire home, I had moved 5 times, finally settling into a little fixer-upper for my final years there.

The beautiful snow had lost it’s charm after the hellish winter of 2014-15. And my final winter had very little drama – or snow. It was okay with me.

I’ll never live in New England again, short of winning the lottery. I have some pictures left that remind me of the great hope in my heart when I moved there. The opportunity to spend time in such a beautiful place one last time, is what I will be thankful for. And I’ll visit when I can. But I may never see such a beautiful winter scene in person again. Nor will I walk in the deep snow and enjoy the silence of snowy woods. But I did it once. And that was good.