This weekend, I took a small Tour of Ohio, of sorts. Friday, I headed down to the Queen City to visit Jessica, my best friend from my college days at the University of Dayton. Had I not followed my former husband up to Cleveland after school, I probably would have ended up in Cincinnati myself (Chicago, my first choice, was probably a bit out of my league) and I still love to visit.
I had really missed hanging out with Jess, and we had a great time. (A separate post, once I get pictures from Jess of things like the Findlay Market excursion, will be forthcoming.) She competed in the Fit to Fight team triathlon, to benefit Ovarian Cancer research, this morning... so I headed up to Dayton late on Saturday night to give her a chance to get rested for her part (biking) and stay with The Overachievers, my brother Jeff and his wife Amanda.
Amanda worked a 7pm-7am shift overnight Saturday, as she is in residency at a local hospital. She and Jeff gave me a tour of their garden on Sunday morning after breakfast, and I got a chance to look at the compost bin they built up close. Not only do they already have a divider in the compost bin--as several alert commenters pointed out--but also they have removable sides for easy pile turning. All of the boards in the sides of the bin lift slide up and out! See:
Very nice job! Speaking of work, this second picture gives you a better scale idea/size of the huge raised garden that they put in this spring. It's in the sunny far back corner of their yard.
As I was getting up this morning, my Mom and Dad (who were also visiting, on their way home from vacation on the gulf coast) noticed a rabbit in the garden. First it was eating a few weeds that Jeff had picked and left on the rock ledge, but then it went to visit the fennel and the cabbage.
Molly was let outside to chase Mr. Rabbit to the property line, and that gives me an excuse to post a picture of her happily enjoying a congratulatory chin scratch for a job well done:
Okay, I admit, Molly's just adorable so I wanted an excuse to post a picture of her. She isn't always just a help in the garden, though. She has been known to pull these sempervivum out of the wall for some reason... maybe she thinks she's weeding? But Amanda tucks them back in and crosses her fingers that they will take in the cracks yet again. It seems to have worked so far:
Above these sempervivums, tomato plants are towering. Jeff has been staking and tying up the tomatoes, and they are going to have a TON of beautiful tomatoes soon. Among the varieties grown are Marglobe, Early Girl, Yellow Pear, and Sweet 100's. (There is also an heirloom yellow variety that they grew in a pot last year and loved, but I can't remember its name.) As you can see, all are happy with this new bed:
In the other far corner of the triangle, their zucchini are blooming prettily. Amanda has plans to fry some of these squash blossoms:
But others are already turning into zucchinis. Jeff (posting as "Anonymous" on my cherry jam post!) had suggested that The Overachievers might enjoy some of that cherry/orange ginger jam. In return, I suggested today that I might enjoy some of these heavy, deep green zucchini since I hadn't planted any this year.
I did in fact arrive at their house bearing gifts of cherry jam and dried bay leaves from my laurel. As a result, I hefted two big squash (one of which doubled in size overnight, while he wasn't looking--as zucchini tend to do) home with me, although one was left at my next stop in Columbus. I also got to sample some of these yummy peas...
... and admired the rest of the garden, which includes asparagus, blueberries, black raspberries (from Amanda's grandma's,) eggplant, peppers, lots of herbs, and two grapes. On one side of this grape fence is a Concord, but that is a little behind the white Niagra you see here:
Yup... The Overachievers are definitely off to an amazing start!
On my way home from Dayton today, I swung through Columbus and visited my other younger brother (Craig, the middle child) and his wife, Jennifer. Since Jeff and Amanda have a nickname on my blog, it's only fitting that Craig and Jen get one, too. I think that we'll call them the Apartment Dwellers--that moniker definitely sums up their biggest challenges in having a garden!
The Apartment Gardeners do lots of container gardening on a little patio and plot in front of their house--facing the hard Western afternoon sun, to boot. That doesn't stop them from growing yummy everbearing strawberries in several large hanging baskets and containers:
And this nifty window box, which fits snugly over their porch railing, adds some interest (and Jenny's favorite colors, purple and pink) to the front porch:
Check out this gorgeous hanging basket next to the window box, chock full of petunias and verbena:
They asked me if I had any hints on how to take care of this hanging basket. Mine have never looked so full and lush, so I think that they should keep on doing what they've been doing! You can see how lovely the pretty verbena looks next to the purple-throated petunias when the plants are basking in the sunshine:
Last year, The Apartment Dwellers planted a couple of tomatoes in containers, but this year they have all kinds of peppers instead. You can see the first tiny, baby pepper plant--which I need to get Craig to tell me how to start from seed successfully--at the tip of my finger here:
I had arrived in Columbus bearing another jar of cherry jam, and a live lemon verbena plant (which Craig loved, like I do, when he saw it in my garden last year)... and I ended up leaving them one of the two zucchinis that I had snagged from The Overachievers, too. They are going to bring me up a hot pepper or two when they come up to visit me in August, if the peppers are ready by then.
All of this garden visiting and sharing today really got me thinking. Between the Apartment Dwellers' peppers, The Overachievers' tomatoes, and my onions and herbs... we're going to have the fixin's for some darn good salsa this summer! Maybe it's time to plan a sibling reunion of sorts for next month? (What do you say, "Anonymous?!")