Sunday, July 13

Weekend Trip: Two Garden Visits

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?!")


Anonymous said...

It's interesting that you and both of your siblings like to garden. My middle brother and I like to garden, but my youngest brother doesn't seem too interested. My parents included us (the two older children) in their gardening planning and chores when we were little, but my youngest brother is nine years younger than me, and by then, my parents hired a gardener instead of doing the work themselves. Hence my youngest brother's lack of interest.

Did you start of gardening with your parents? If not, why do you think you and your brothers like gardening. It seems kind of unusual for everyone in the fam to enjoy gardening.

Anonymous said...

I think a reunion is a great idea! I think by the fall I'll have enough veggies to make a good pot of soup, we'll have to plan some time late August to go visit the parents. Just a little clarification though, Amanda works 7am to 7am, not sure how she stays awake when she gets home!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful weekend Kim. I am glad you included Molly in the garden photos. Every garden needs a security gaurd of some sort.

Carol Michel said...

The family that gardens together... stays together. It's great that you and your siblings share a common interest in gardening!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Cosmo said...

When Craig tells you how to grow peppers from seed, will you share his secret? I find seedlings in the compost bin, and those do well--but when I deliberately try to grow from seed, it doesn't work out so well. So clearly there's a gene for gardening . . .

Unknown said...

Fern, the weird thing is, none of us really gardened much with our parents. Dad was always pretty picky about his lawn, and Mom had a few rosebushes and this peony that's gorgeous, but there were always lots of other things to do besides garden. My one grandma had lots of "pretties" in her yard, and the other set of grandparents had a huge garden with lots of raspberry bushes, but we didn't much work (other than eat raspberries!) in either of them.

One thing that we did do, however, is spend a lot of time tromping through the woods behind our house (and across the street--that one had lots of "dirt bike" trails that the neighborhood kids made)... maybe that fostered a general appreciation? Also, we all seem to be growing edible stuff, so maybe we just like to cook and eat? Hmm.

Jeff/Anonymous, really?! I thought she was off of that brutal 24-hour shift and back onto 12's. I can't even imagine! Late August sounds like a plan... and you know that The Big Ugly will be happy to see us all at home. :) Let us all know when Amanda might be able to sneak home for a big pot of veggie soup.

Yes, Lisa, I did! And to clarify, Molly is only a security guard when it comes to chasing rabbits and maybe squirrels. Children, mailmen, and probably even random strangers aren't threats. They are merely people who may potentially pet her, and thus are greeted with friendly enthusiasm. *grin*

Carol, since you and your siblings share the same... that's good to hear! It sounds like it's worked for you all so far. :)

Cosmo, if Craig tells me his secret I promise to shout it from the rooftops! lol. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who has trouble with them.

As far as the gene for gardening goes, I'm not so sure about that. But I do know that we all agreed this weekend that the INability to grow pots of the humble aloe vera properly must be a genetic issue for our family. lol.

CiNdEe said...

That is great you all enjoy gardening(-: My brother and I do too. I think I need to fertilize my plants more....I better make a trip for some Miracle Grow soon(-:

Anonymous said...

I love those little 'chicks' tucked in the wall of the raised bed at 'The Overachievers' garden. The 'Apartment Dwellers' have a knack for hanging baskets and that is one of my favorite petunias! Very nice! Glad you had a nice trip to visit both friends and family.

Mim said...

I am enjoying immensly the story of teh over achievers! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Jane-In-Maine said...

Oh Kim! What fun! Your writing is so enjoyable!!! Thanks for the photos and the stories! Can't wait to meet that garden of yours one of these days. I get to see the Overachievers' garden next Friday and am so so so excited to have your preview:) P.S. If you (or any of your readers) know of anyone in Columbus who has a tart cherry tree where I could pick a "shit-ton" of cherries (Is that a VanWert-ism? My friend from VW always says that!), please let me know. The quart I bought at the Farmers' Market makes jam-making cost-prohibitive... I can even pay the tree-owner with some jam of their own! Finally, in my random comment, is a question about what the problem is for people to grow peppers from seed? I have never had a problem with it. If you all can please describe the specific problem -- do they just not germinate? Do they get wilt-y and die? -- maybe I have a solution? OK, that's all for now!

Cosmo said...

Hi, Jane-in-Maine--My problem germinating peppers (and lots of other things) from seed is the seedlings get leggy and flop and die (is that damping off?) I think it's a light issue, but I've never been able to find the right spot--and yet I occasionally get hardy volunteers in the dark compost bin . . . Cosmo.

Anonymous said...

Jane-in-maine, Anonymous' brother here. There is a website where you can see farms that will allow you to pick your own fruit/veggies. This ingenious website is "". All you have to do is pick the state and general area or county closest to you and it lists farms in your area and what they currently have available. Give them a call before you go to make sure the price is worth the trip! Although I have not seen any farms with cherries, there must be some out there...

Kerri said...

Thanks for sharing your delight in visiting your family. Sounds like a wonderful time. Isn't it great to share the love of gardening? Your parents have done a terrific job of planting the seeds of 'plant lust' among their offspring :)
That cherry/orange/ginger jam sounds fabulous! You've been a busy girl.
Summer is wonderful, isn't it? Just wish I had more time to keep up with my blog friends!

lisa said...

You and I must be related somehow, my aloe attempts are all futile as well! Speaking of your grandma, wasn't she the recipient of a stealth midnight bulb planting? How did that turn out? I think a "salsa party" would be great for you guys, especially if you can it. Any task is easier and more fun if you can get an assembly line going! :)

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