green

Lovin’ Me Some Tomatoes!

Just had to share how wonderful my tomatoes are doing. After battling hornworms and stink bugs  and a host of crickets (diatomaceous earth works wonders for creepy crawlies), my tomatoes are beating the odds. Remember, I’m totally organic and out in a wide open field of sunshine which makes my tomatoes more vulnerable to stress. Too much heat, too many bugs, the occasional thunderstorm that wreaks havoc with pelting wind… You get the drift. It’s tough out there!

better bush tomatoes

But they are doing well. Not terribly beautiful, but producing some serious beauties. I’ve chosen Better Bush (shown above), Beefmaster (shown directly below), followed by Celebrity.

beefmaster tomatoes

A few brown spots, plucked leaves (hornworm damage) and various spots, but all seem to be thriving. I try and harvest mine when they begin to turn red. I do so in an effort to beat the beetles and worms who love crawling in and devouring my tomatoes as they mature. Simply pick and place in a sunny window. Voilá — red tomatoes within days! More

Super Greens!

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I love salads, all kinds. I love growing them and I love eating them. And cooler weather in Florida means fresh lettuce in my garden. A sample, if you will…  Swiss chard — healthy and colorful.

 

Romaine  – strong and delicious; a classic. More

Garden Inspired T-Shirts for the Kids!!

As we welcome spring, I’m launching a line of garden inspired T-Shirts. Your kids will love wearing these 100% cotton Tees that tell the world:  Leave them be — they’ll bloom in their own SWEET time!  Made from 100% cotton, they’ll wear comfy and cozy and be able to keep up with the most active of lifestyles giving your green-thumbed kids a fun way to share their love of gardening. 

Choose from bloomin’ beauty and bloomin’ sprout, each broadcasting their own message on the back, a timeless statement that speaks to a child’s personal sense of worth and well-being.  Bloomin’ beauties are for girls only, but sprouts work well for both boys and girls.  Make great gifts!

Price for each is $14.99 and includes shipping and handling.** 

For ordering, click on Garden Inspired T-shirts under the Kid Buzz section.  Questions or comments?  You know where to find me! gardenfrisk (at) bloominthyme.com

**International shipping rates will vary.  Please email me for exact amounts.

Cocktail Concoctions

Are we still talking gardening?  Oh yes we are—garden style!  And why not?  We drink herbs with our tea, veggies with our dinner, why not in our drinks?

Aromatic and flavorful, herbs and veggies make the perfect accompaniment to happy hour.  Mojitios are the first example that come to mind (probably because the heroine in my current “work-in-progress” loves them).  Made with fresh mint and rum, this drink has gained in recent popularity.  A contemporary step up from the Mint Julep, perhaps?  And of course Bloody Mary’s have been utilizing the celery stick for eons.  Why not throw in a few sprigs of cilantro to the mix?  Give it a sassy salsa kick!

Speaking of sassy twists, how about an adult version of my Rosemary Lemonade?  A little vodka, anyone?  Would make for a lovely summer afternoon treat, if you ask me.  One of my new favorites is cinnamon basil.  Add it to a vodka martini and suddenly you have a unique and fragrant twist!  Olives are SO yesterday.  If you miss the sword, add a cinnamon stick! I’m just sayin’

It seems to be a trend.  One restaurant in NYC combines ruby-red grapefruit juice and Thai basil.  But basil would be perfectly comfortable in and around most summer libations.  It’s light, sweet and richly perfumed.  Now I might be talking crazy here, but what about a little cilantro in that Margarita?  Works for me! 

For delicate taste buds consider cucumber and chamomile.  Maybe a little ginger to help your belly in the process?  And if you’re growing raspberries this summer?  Plop those babies into a glass of champagne.  I think I’m relaxing already….aahh…. :)

Speaking of vodka, this is the absolute most flexible alcohol for mixing with your garden.  I mean, you can infuse this crystal clear liquid with most anything creating your own custom-made elixir.  Simply add your freshly washed herb/veggie of choice to unflavored vodka, seal, shake and store.  Ta-da!  Now key here is to allow the concoction to sit for a few days.  Taste as you go until it’s just right.  Hmm…  I’m thinking rosemary and lavender, sweet stevia and blueberry, strawberry—even hot pepper for another round of Bloody Mary’s! (Oops.  Did I miss the first one?)

Anyway, it’s always a good idea to keep our minds open and try new things in this wonderful life of ours.  Don’t want to grow old and stale.  Ewe.  Definitely not.  I thought I’d  toss a few of these ideas out there and let them fly.  What do you think?  Are you game?

Composting on Vacation

I think I’ve come up with a new invention.  I call it the Travel Composter.  Not sure if it will take off or not–maybe needs a catchier title–but I think it’s a great idea nonetheless.  It occurred to me over the past summer (past, as in, my kids went back to school today — yay!). Yes, well it occurred to me that everyone should have a Travel Composter.  Easy, odorless, compact and storable (or packable) this item is a must for eco-minded people.  Think of the guilt it would relieve!

And I am so all about relieving guilt.  No room in my life for the emotion, at all.  But this past summer, I felt it–to the core.  Gut-wrenching, heart-aching guilt.  Can you imagine? There I was, clearing the dinner dishes while on vacation and–as is my habit–automatically went for the kitchen composter to deposit my food scraps.  Ouch.  A kitchen composter that wasn’t there. 

Well of course it wasnt.  It was at home.  I was on vacation.  Staring at the plate of leftovers, my first instinct was to return them to nature.  My gaze drifted outdoors.  I’m in a rural setting.  No one will notice.  Maybe the wildlife will enjoy them. 

On second thought, maybe not.  If gone uneaten, they might cause an unsightly mess or worse–a stench.  Then of course there’s my husband.  If he saw me toss the scraps outdoors he would not be happy.  Nor would he let me keep them until we returned home.  Already tried that and it didn’t go over well. 

Trust me.  It’s never good when your husband spies you stashing away leftovers in a Ziploc bag.  ”What do you think you’re doing with that?”

Wasn’t it obvious?  “Um…taking the leftovers home for the compost pile?”

“No, you’re not.”

What?  Why not?”

“I’ll not have my car smell like garbage number one and number two, you’re not saving the planet by taking them home.  They’re biodegradable.”

Hmph.  Doesn’t he appreciate the fact that I’m environmentally conscious?  That this will serve a higher and better purpose as organic fertilizer than it will as building supply for the local dump?

Not when it stinks up his car, he doesn’t.  Though he does have a point.  Is it worth ruining the interior of an automobile for items that will biodegrade anyway, no matter where you deposit them?  But what about the bottles, jars and cans we had to throw away?  The place where we stayed had no recycle bins, no options for guests to do the right thing. 

I have to admit, I was bothered.  It wasn’t right.  It’s too easy to accommodate individuals such as myself.  We only ask for a separate container.  A bin, a bag, heck–I’ll drive my trash to the corner if you’ll point me in the right direction!

But alas, there was no such offer.  Which is sad.  While I don’t like anyone being forced to comply with recycle standards and practices (I’m a Libertarian at heart), I would like to see them offer the same.  It would keep the skip in my step, the smile on my face, not to mention the guilt out of my heart.

On a brighter note, there are some companies out there doing the job I wish I could have done.  One of the largest in the Southeast happens to be GreenCo.  This company works the greater Atlanta area by taking food waste from not only restaurants and hotels, but grocery stores, colleges, hospitals–all sorts of places!–and hauls it to their area facilities.  Once there, they turn it into organic fertilizer which they sell to retailers who in turn, sell to the public.  Talk about full circle–the public who made the waste can then re-use the waste.  Ingenious!

Isn’t it nice to know someone out there cares?  Sure does relieve the guilt I feel about not doing so myself.  Perhaps I should restrict my future travel in Atlanta to these green-minded organizations.  At least I’ll feel like I’m giving back, literally.

How about you? Are you doing your part to recycle? Do you know of any companies who are?  If so, let us hear about them!

p.s.  Go ahead and feel free to take my idea for the Travel Composter, too.  Really, I don’t mind a bit.  Just get out there and make a difference (and earn a mint in the process! :))

The ugly side of going green

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I live in a semi-rural neighborhood.  I have lovely neighbors with lovely lawns.  So lovely in fact, with their lush green lawn, perfectly trimmed hedges, and aromatic roses, it can be a pinch of harsh reality when I turn toward my yard, a veritable field of sand and weeds.  My spirits dip.  A field full.  I remind myself it takes time and effort to have a lawn so lovely.  Effort, which flows through my every pore, yet is rendered meaningless without the ever evasive “time.”  Evasive, when you consider my schedule.   What the kids haven’t devoured, and chores haven’t swamped, the garden swallows up anything left!  If only I could transfer some of the energy wasted on the “busy thought” usurping my sleeping hours…

You may think it’s best I avoid looking over the fence, but with chain link, you can see right through.  It’s still over there, beckoning my envy with its pristine perfection.  Taunting, really, if I allow myself to succumb to my more base instincts.  After all, walking from the house to the garden through a sticker-filled mess of weeds is no picnic.  And the ants.  Down right vicious little beasts.  But the vegetables won’t wait, and ants and weeds aside, I must get to it. 

One pleasant afternoon, my next door neighbor strolled over.  Taking a break from my weeding, I rose to meet her at the fence for an impromtu visit.  She asked about the family and how the kids were faring.   She glanced over my rows of dirt, politely overlooking the fact that some weren’t perfectly straight.  We discussed the veggies I’ve planted, which ones are blooming and which ones have not.  And as we talk over the fence, my knees covered in dirt, she fresh and lovely, I’m reminded of why we originally chose my side of the fence to place our garden; the one we had intended to share, until life stepped in the way.  

Truth of the matter, she had once tried a garden on her side of the fence.  My gaze wandered to the spot, not twenty feet from where we stood.  Like my yard, there was plenty of room, her side well-irrigated.  Lingering in thought, I imagined it there, meticulous rows of healthy green plants, boasting plump red tomatoes and full husks of corn, their silks glistening beneath the soft dusk of light.  So ample and abundant, it would have made for a quite the feast.  But then it hit me –

– tried and failed.  Well, not failed, exactly, as in no blossoms and no produce.  But she had no sure fire success, either.  Despite she and her husband’s extensive knowledge on the subject of gardening, they gave up on the idea of homegrown vegetables.  Nematodes underground, bugs above it.  Bad soil, whatever.  The details mattered not.  It simply didn’t work out as they had hoped. 

So we tried it on my side.  And so far so good.  My outlook suddenly brightened.  Sure, my veggies aren’t quite as vibrant and robust as they had been during the spring, when my neighbors and I worked side by side, but they were still here. 

I breathed in the significance.  They were still here…  I glanced at my garden once more, but this time, my off-colored greens and spotted bean leaves took on a whole new light.  While they weren’t picture perfect, they were producing.  While the grass wasn’t grass, more weeds, sand and insects - it was workable.  It was more than workable.  It was working.  And yes, it took a lot of work to get here, but it was a labor of love. 

Mine. 

As my neighbor turned to go, she said quietly, “You know, your garden really is beautiful.” 

My focus stumbled.  Was that a wistful note of envy I detected in her voice?  Was it possible?  I ventured a peek toward my mix of sand, compost, rows of hay in varying stages of decay and thought, really?  She thought it beautiful?  

Tripping over my thank you, I watched her walk back to her house and thought, nah.  I was imagining things.  There was no envy there.  Why would there be?

But taking a survey of her surroundings as she strolled up the hill, listening to the screen door as it slapped closed behind her, it dawned on me…  Maybe there was.  Don’t we all, from time to time, succumb to the beast called envy?  A bit?  Albeit a tiny bit, but a bit? 

Her yard was beautiful, yes, but there was more to it than the eye could see, just as there is to everything in life.  More than the rebel weed chancing a rear of its head between thick blades of St. Augustine, more than the brave grub daring to brown her lawn…   Her lawn was lovely on the outside, but it has it’s hidden flaws.  Flaws I wouldn’t have known, had she not shared.  But this change in my perception didn’t make her yard any less beautiful.  On the contrary.  It made it more real.  As it did mine.  Granted, mine won’t make the cover of any home and garden issue, but that’s okay.  It’s beautiful, in my eyes.  Moreso, now that I’m not comparing it to hers. 

By my hand it grows, by my care it blooms.  As does my life.  I can choose to stop at the surface, or I can choose to dig deeper.  With lawns, gardens, or people.  The effort is mine to make, the time mine to create, limited only by choice; mine.  With a renewed sense of purpose, I returned to my weeding, glad for the neighbor I hold dear, glad for the opportunity to grow.