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Archive for the ‘Tomatoes’ Category

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

–Richard Le Gallienne (1866–1947)

Miss Peanut answers the call of a Mint leaf

Well, the last week has simply been heaven. Every spare moment was spent planting the seedlings started during Spring Break. Several huge cans full of grass and weeds were pulled as well. There is still a lot to be done, but the garden looks tended again. It’s impossible to express just how good for me this process has been. My intellectual pursuits of the last 20 months were very intense and I had not been grounded in the way I need, which is that special brand of grounded I only get from, well, the ground. All head and no body makes one a bit insane after a time. The garden is medicine. My muscles are delightfully sore and I have a touch of color back in my cheeks. The weather was even on my side with cool cloud cover and a bit of rain midweek. The photos all came out with a bit of fog in the center, so I apologize for the quality – not worth retaking them though. Let’s just pretend that I was going for that vintage nostalgic hazy days of summer sepia toned wonder and call it a day. Later I’ll clean the lens, since I know I probably thumbed it with sunscreen. We get messy when we’re gardening 🙂

Somewhere around 42 Tomato seedlings went into the ground in various spots around the property. They had priority, of course. Those are the leftover winter peas drying on the tops of the stakes so I can plant them later.

the Brandywines are in the ground and all is right with the world

The Artichoke seedlings, 4 of them, came from last year’s fruit.

Artichoke seedling

I found a bird’s nest, probably doves, in a burrow on the ground in the meditation circle. This makes four nests that I save in a special place in the potting shed. They are among my favorite things.

I have quite a growing collection of bird's nests in the potting shed

The Hollyhock seedlings are from Andrea’s seeds, so of course I’m hoping for dark colored flowers!

Andrea's Hollyhock seeds are finally in the ground

Tom bought me an upside down hanging Strawberry planter so I would have more than just a few ripe ones at a time. He loves me.

Tom's Topsy Turvy

There were at least three of these cans full of grass and weeds pulled out to make room for seedlings.

out with the old - in with the new!

At a certain point, I had pulled out so many plants needing new homes, I had to spread out over the lawn. I find I have to make a mess before I can bring about any kind of order.

finding joy amid the chaos

There is still a lot of transplanting to do; finding new homes for what I dug up, re-potting things that have grown out of their pots, moving all succulents and cacti to pots leaving more ground for herbaceous plants, etc…

looking for new homes

When I get it all cleaned up, probably by the Full Moon this coming Wednesday, I’ll be able to sit in my rocking chair and celebrate with a juicy glass of wine. In the meantime, the bees are busy gathering pollen…

greedy little bee in an Agapanthus

…the flowers are blooming…

Roses and Grapes and Andrea's birdhouse

…completely oblivious to the fact that I’m literally turning the entire garden upside down. The only ones to really notice have been the spiders, but we get along famously as long as we respect each others space.

the ever-faithful Feverfew

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Today is Tuesday, so time to honor the Muse. Today, she takes the form of mentors, those people who come into your life and teach you things, and I would like to talk about my father-in-law who passed away last Wednesday. He leaves behind a very large family that adored him and a lifetime of friends who loved and respected him. He came into my life when I was still a very young woman, about 20 yrs old. He gave me a job when I desperately needed one and that’s how I eventually became a Northcutt myself.

There are many things I am grateful to him for, but the one I will highlight here is that he shared with me his knowledge of gardening, took me under his green thumb and taught me how to grow things. He had been a sharecropper in Oklahoma before moving to California all those years ago when so many people fled the dust bowl. He also had a small farm here in Ramona, Ca. By the time I met him he was mostly settled back into the suburbs just a few miles from where Tom and I live now, but his backyard was always lush and blooming with as much as would fit. The crowded state of my own backyard testifies to his influence: a little bit of lawn in the center with all the edges packed with fruits, vegetables and flowers.

He taught me how to grow peppers and potatoes and how to train vines, told me when to cut back my roses and to plant garlic under them to help keep bugs off, and how to cage my tomatoes. Thanks to him, I know about burying rusty nails in the dirt under a Hydrangea to change its color and many other nuggets of gardening wisdom and folklore that all seemed like magic in the beginning. He taught me to garden by the cycles of the moon and to read the Farmers Almanac, told me why things were not doing well and how to fix it. He told me to loosen up the dirt around the base of plants so they could breathe, answered all my questions and told me silly stories. Most impressively, he knew all of this without ever consulting the internet or a book.

Over the years he must have given me a hundred planting pots , every size and shape and material. He picked them up, along with the half dead plants that were in them, in alleys and abandoned lots, or from the recently vacated houses and apartments he was working on. We always had fun trying to bring those poor plants back to life and more often than not we had success. If I admired a plant, he would immediately whip out his pocket knife and give me a cutting, along with another pot and some dirt, and told me how to grow it. My hands were always dirty when I left his house, but they were never empty. Every time I visited we took a walk together around the yard to tour his garden, where he was always happy and always in denim overalls. We had to stop at every plant and discuss its progress, every bloom was appreciated and snails were collected and thrown over the fence – I won’t say in which direction 🙂 There was a turtle that lived in the yard and we fed it broccoli together. If there was something new growing, he told me all about it. Billy Wayne Northcutt taught me more about gardening than anybody else. It was something we had in common, besides Tom. He passed along to me one of his life’s passions and for that I will always love him and am deeply grateful that he took the time and effort to teach me something so important. Thank you, Billy, from the bottom of my heart.

If you have a mentor in your life, it is an honor, say thank you. If you are a mentor to someone else, it is an honor, say thank you.

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Ode To Tomatoes ~ by Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes,
midday,
summer,

These were warm from the Sun when we ate them. - July 2010


light is
halved
like
a
tomato,
its juice
runs
through the streets.

Beauty on the inside. - August 2010


In December,
unabated,
the tomato
invades
the kitchen,

We roasted these for sauce. Yum! - September 2010


it enters at lunchtime,
takes
its ease
on counter-tops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.

Tomatoes so bright, I gotta wear shades. - August 2010


Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
sinks
into living flesh,
red
viscera

Cherokee Purple/Brandywine - September 2010


a cool
sun,
profound,
inexhaustible,
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
we
pour
oil,
essential
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,

Happy Tom making kitchen Magick - September 2010


pepper
adds
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;

Lots of fresh cracked pepper and coarse salt. - September 2010


it is the wedding
of the day,
parsley
hoists
its flag,
potatoes
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
knocks
at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile
star,

an extra ripe "Green Zebra" - August 2010


displays
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.

time for a BLT! - 2010

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Scabiosa columbaria 6-5-10


Tom and I just got back from a weekend in Newport Beach. We went up for business and stayed for pleasure. What a wonderful couple of days it was too. All worries were left behind and we did our favorite things together…romantic walks, romantic lunches, romantic dinners….well you know. When I got back I spent two hours catching up with watering. Everything needed it and by the time I do the orchids and house plants and everything outside, I’m pooped. Tonight I’ll water the grass and be done with water till Tuesday. It’s hard for me to keep on the schedule that the “City of San Diego” wants me to keep with watering. But I do my best.

Anise - Pimpinella anisum


It was strange to come home after only a couple days gone and find the garden the same but very very different. All the plants are still there but the tomatoes went berserk and suddenly need help getting back up in their cages. The grapes have burst forth once again and my previous efforts to vine them up seem to have been futile.

Grapes June 2010


The potatoes are as tall as I am and I haven’t built the dirt up around them yet, I’m missing some tomato cages, the leeks need more soil…As I went around the yard, almost every plant told me it needed some attention and Cicero (my beta fish) needs a good bath since it’s the New Moon and there’s a fungus growing on his Greek temple columns. The list is growing faster than I can think the thought.

Baby Apples June 5 2010


I’ve been focusing on business lately but now my garden needs some love!

Squash Blossoms 2010


But none of it matters today! Sundays and New Moons don’t always fall together, but today they did and I’m taking advantage. No more lists or chores until tomorrow morning. For now, I’m off to watch “dude tv” with my husband and son and this evening I’m watching the first episode of the new season of True Blood: the only TV show I really really like any more and the one thing I’m doing tonight no matter what! I’ve been waiting forever for it to come back and I’m not missing a moment of it!

Swiss Chard, Hollyhocks, Nasturtiums, Tomatoes, Feverfew


So right at this moment, I’m about as happy as one can get. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining at last, I just spent a romantic weekend away with my man, the flowers are blooming and my garden looks better than ever, there are sparkly bubbles in my favorite Champagne flute, True Blood is on tonight, I’m feeling good and I’m in a good mood, the Moon is New…none of this is going to last, so I’m off to wallow in it. Happy Sunday everyone!

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“Venus” by Jean Leon Gerome

I love the word “Friday” in the romance languages because you can actually hear the “dies Veneris” or “day of Venus” happening in the word. Say Vendredi (French) Venerdì (Italian) or Viernes (Spanish) and it’s a much more exotic day than “Friday”. Our way of saying it drums up images of cheap buffalo wings and $2 beer: TGIF-woo! (ugh) Not that I’m opposed to wings and beer (Stella please!) but I feel more like celebrating Venus these days, than picking chicken out of my teeth at Chili’s. Why not acknowledge that the days of the week were once dedicated to the old gods and open a bottle of champagne?

Friday’s are not my last working day of the week so I usually try to quit a little early. Working Saturdays isn’t bad if you don’t work late on Friday. (I know it’s all in my head but isn’t that where it counts?) Today, I’m getting my work done early and hopefully heading out in the garden to rub up against all the beauty out there. Yesterday, I noticed my tiny wisteria blooming. So far, I haven’t had time to really “see” it. So, in honor of the Day of Venus, I’m going to try my best to experience some beauty goddammit!

Also on the to-do list for the next few days: get my Itunes working again, get a couple more trash cans for rainwater at ACE hardware, pick up more seed starting mix, finish properly setting up and categorizing this blog thingy, get a manicure. There are more mundane and unpleasant tasks to be done, but why sully my blog with that stuff!? After all, Venus may have had to scoop the litter box, but she certainly never would have discussed it!

Oh! I almost forget to mention: yesterday, Tom and I went to a farmer’s market where we proceeded to spend $6 on two huge Brandywine heirloom tomatoes. Sheesh! I cannot wait until my garden gets under way again because that really chapped my ass. Not enough to make me buy those little anemic grocery store things, but still.

So, have a beautiful and happy Venus’ Day and I’ll probably see you on Sunday with some new photos of the garden in ‘almost spring’ to share.

Queen Anne's Lace - 2008

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Atlanta, Georgia


Breathe
Breathe love
into the cup
of your hands
and place your flaming
palms against your heart
Let this warmth
melt your fears
like wax before a fire
and watch the delicious
softening reveal
the wildflower
of your heart.
We must live
with Hearts Wide Open
Hearts Wildly Open.
–Kali Heydel

Atlanta, Georgia

Actually, I’m waiting for my schedule to be wildly open since I just received an envelope full of seed packets from Seed Savers Exchange! Here’s what I got:

Anise (the mail smells like licorice today!)

anise


Love Lies Bleeding (ordered just for the name and to put into vases)

Love Lies Bleeding


Long Tom Tomato (just for my husband Tom)

Long Tom Tomato


Night Scented Tobacco (these have beautiful trumpet shaped flowers)

Night Scented Tobacco


Hyssop

hyssop


Magnus Lovage

lovage


St John’s Wort

St. John's Wort


Red Milkweed/Prairie

Red Milkweed


Cherokee Purple Tomato

Cherokee Purple Tomato


Black Sea Man Tomato

Black Sea Man Tomato


Himalayan Blue Poppy

Himalayan Blue Poppy


Dragon Carrot (I’m such a sucker for a dramatically named plant!)

Dragon Carrots

And right now I’ve got a serious case of ants in my pants because I’ve got to get my work done and then go to school this evening: no gardening for another couple days! Well, as the opening line of the above poem advises, I must breathe NOT hyperventilate!

Atlanta, Georgia

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