tomato worms in the August garden

Tomato worms.

tomatoe worm

They are so well adapted for their environment – tomato plants.

tomato worm two

Their coloring, their form…mother nature has disguised them well…good for them, bad for organic gardeners…

They are quite the creature. Soft green body, white angular stripes, little black spots lined up along the white angular lines creating another line of sorts…the long reddish thorn/horn sticking out of the top of their head, their little white tipped sticky feet…I despise them. They can wipe out a crop of tomatoes in no time.

tomato worms on plate

Thankfully I found them before they devoured my beautiful, yet still very green tomatoes…they are a gardeners nightmare…

So, I disposed of them. One by one…

While clipping away all the excess leaves and stems on each of my 5+ foot tall tomato plants I also clipped them.

I felt terrible. Yet, it had to be done.

My tomatoes were under attack.

Homegrown tomatoes come once a year and the process is a long one, particularly in this region – I’m not going to let this beautiful menace of an insect eat my tomatoes. No way.

In each of them I saw the disappearance of my dreams…my dreams of slicing into a juicy ripe tomato – picked fresh from the vine (literally), grown and cared for with love, for months…those threatening horned headed creatures were not going to ruin my summer. No.

Instead, I apologized to each before snipping it in half. I felt terrible and relived all at the same time. My tomatoes are safe for the moment, though my eyes are opened now. My borage helped me last year, this year, not so much…

August in the garden

The squash bugs have been perpetrating my cucumbers ever since they were transplanted, poor things… though my daily retaliation (I hate squishing them – I cringe with every squish – yet one must do, what one must do) has helped and they are still thriving…sadly, my pumpkins not so much. I fear this may be my first year with no pumpkins – shame.

Oddly though, just across the garden, my gourds are going mad. I’m trying to train them to grow up the corn stalks…some have been listening, others are beginning to take over that section of the garden…either way, these beautiful ornamental gourds will most likely be gracing our trees (as bird feeders) and our home (as decoration) this fall. Or at least I hope…

gourds The bean flowers have produced a prolific crop of green beans. I’ve already frozen one batch and enjoyed another. Simply steamed then topped with butter and salt. Yum. So fresh. More green beans on the way…

green bean on the vine

I also planted Mexican sunflowers for the first time. They are great! Super full and so colorful, very different than the traditional sunflowers I’ve planted in the past…thanks Kate for the suggestion.

mexican sunflowers

My other new planting were leeks. They are looking good and I’m so excited to make potato leek soup with them! I think I’d like to try planting potatoes next year – though I’ll need to create a new garden for them…I’m always planning…aren’t all gardeners always planning or at least thinking about ‘next year’? …

I hope the corn makes it before frost arrives. I hate to even type that word (frost) but reality is reality and nights have been getting a bit chilly lately…summer is far too short here…note to self – start corn indoors and transplant. Then, perhaps I will have an abundant crop, in time…

August corn

Swiss chard is glorious and I will be posting about it soon – more specifically, swiss chard tart. It is so good, especially when paired with minestrone soup!

swiss chard

Radishes were fun. I had never planted radishes before but I came across a packet of free seeds (from a local store I frequent – also how I got my gourd seeds), so I planted a row – and in days (or so it seemed) I had radishes.

radishes

I will definitely plant this veggie again. Does anyone have a great recipe for radishes? If so, share in the comments section below – thanks!

Fennel is growing, slowly, but steadily…in its own bed, beside our breezeway…fingers crossed all goes well there too…I am so looking forward to some braised fennel…

fennel

All in all, for such a crazy summer (weather wise), the gardens (both the vegetable and flower) are doing surprisingly well. I’ve recently planted more lettuce and spinach seeds and am planning on planting garlic this year. A wonderful reader (thank you Mim) recently gave me three beautiful garlic heads from her garden and while I will enjoy two heads now, one will go into my garden for next year!

in the garden

(I’m all covered in the photo to thwart the bites from the incessant mosquitos…)

How has your garden fared this year?

Have you tried anything ‘new’? If so, what was it and how did it work out?

Love to hear your thoughts on gardening.

Happy planting!

gardening in Maine, in the rain…

I’m surprised by how well my little backyard garden is doing, despite all the odds against it…

carrots

curly kale

Time constraints, a precocious three year old, fluctuating temperatures, heavy rains, Maine mosquitos (bad for me, not the garden) and the constant threat of insects (particularly slugs and snails right now)… makes gardening this year a bit of a challenge, to say the least. Granted there are always variables out of our control when growing one’s own, though this year, the wet and cooler temperatures are certainly above and beyond the ‘norm’…

borage

While Finn naps, I try to get out there – little by little more seeds are sown, weeds are pulled, additional mulch is laid and insects are picked off one by one…for me the key to having and enjoying my garden is simply getting out there, once a day, even if only for 15 minutes…to keep an eye on things and say ‘hello’. Yes, I do talk to my plants…why not?

lettuce leaves

I want to garden. I want to eat fresh organic greens. I want to pick (and then enjoy) fresh homegrown, veggies! I want super fresh, real food. My current budget won’t allow me to buy locally grown, organic tomatoes, but it does, if I grow them myself, from seed. Lucky for us, I like to garden. And I have space to garden…

one half of garden

Not only do I like to garden, I need to garden. For me, it’s innate. It always has been. I like to eat what I grow. Plus, the taste, is impossible to achieve with store bought vegetables. Nothing is more fresh than ‘just picked.’ Seriously.

freshly picked lettuce and kale

So, I garden.

I start seeds in the late winter/early spring, I compost, I save seeds, I read about companion planting and organic gardening. I teach myself and I learn as I go. Life is all about learning – it’s never ending – and for me, this years garden is teaching (and reminding me) that plants want to grow.

young corn

Every living thing wants to grow – despite set backs and challenges, we all want to and need to grow, vegetables are no different. So if you think you don’t know enough to grow a few plants, think again, they are forgiving (to a point) and they want to please you as much as you want to enjoy them…

green bean beginnings

So why not start a seed and see how it feels…you may just get hooked.

Don’t have a lot of space? Try plating vegetables/flowers in pots. A tomato doesn’t taste any better grown organically in the ground, in the country, in Maine as one grown organically, in a pot, on a fire escape in NYC…homegrown is homegrown, and that is always better than any store bought tomato…the best part of organic homegrown? Monsanto is not involved – at all.

Happy gardening – for yourself, your family and the earth!

enjoy.

life these days

We’re still in the ‘re-adjusting stage’ of being back home and have been busy catching-up with the business and getting back into our daily routine, slowly that is … I haven’t had much time to cook anything different (the ease of preparing meals which I’ve done a dozen times before is much more inviting at the moment than experimenting – though this will pass, I know), thus no new recipes and not much else to comment on – though I have started more seeds and am getting excited about the warmer (warmer for here that is) weather which seems to be coming in – though a daily (and nightly) fire is still needed…

Here’s a few photos of life around here – at the moment of course – everything changes…

red beans

pears on plate

planting seeds

lilies

seeds to start

sheets drying in the wind

snow dropsbulbs pushing throughhelping

moving wood

Happy Easter everyone!

Enjoy

planes, trains and automobiles

I had planned posting as usual last week, though after being bumped from our flight (who bumps a family traveling with a three year old? American Airlines does), after waiting in line for three hours to check in, then told (rudely) there are no more flights until the following day (what?) – didn’t plan for that expense (complaint letter being written soon!), then delayed the following day (in Miami) due to a snow storm and then, finally, we arrive in Connecticut, to visit with Michaels’ sister and niece, and there is no internet connection for five days. Life seemed to say, no posting for you…so here I am, now…

We returned last week from our epic trip and stopped off in Connecticut for a few days to visit with family and attend the Architectural Digest Home Show in NYC. This is a big show and an expensive one.  We’d been invited to participate for the past few years (it’s a juried show), though wanted to check it out first, in person, to see if it’s a good match for us (get a sense of the overall ‘vibe’), this is NYC and a very HIGH end show after all, so before investing lots of money and time we thought it best to to do our research, first, and I’m so glad we did.  We loved it!

They have a ‘MADE’ section which is a perfect fit for Michaels’ work and our business (Designs Adrift).  We spoke with a few exhibitors (artists) and not only were they friendly, encouraging and talented, they suggested we take the plunge and exhibit next year. Each person we spoke with said it was worth the investment and their business grew as a result…grew enough to continue coming back year after year.

We were placed on the guest list, so the entrance fee was waived and Michaels sister babysat (family rate = free) Finn all day while we traveled in and out of the city… we ate a delicious lunch for only $8.50 (for the two of us) and walked to the show. No cabs for me. I love walking in NYC, it’s the best way to be ‘in the city’ – especially as we were only there for a few hours… why spend for a cab when walking is not only free, but great for the body too.

The train and parking fees were money well spent. We look forward to the prospect of exhibiting next year and I am beginning to plan accordingly – who knows where it may lead?

But, for now, I’m settling back into being ‘home’ and have already started a few seeds, despite my garden still covered in snow…

Planes, trains and automobiles.

There’s nothing quite like being ‘home’…

enjoy.

garden envy

I miss the luxury of growing my own.

vegetable garden

I grow, but not during the winter, I don’t have the necessary space. I grow from spring to fall and miss it this time of year. I miss it so much. Especially as it’s been looking like this (below) lately…

snow covered gate

I miss having food growing and available, in my backyard. I miss being self-sufficient (at least in terms of veggies). I miss the luxury of walking outside (despite the mosquito issue around here), snipping away (usually quickly – the mosquitos), and then coming back inside with a basket full of fresh greens and then some…I do miss my backyard veggies..

freshly picked vegetables

Enough, melancholy – Februarys’ brighter light and longer days have reminded me – Spring is inevitable.

morning glories

even if it doesn’t seem so now…it will come.

rosa rugosa

Normally I would have started plantings already, but this year I’ve had to hold off – at least until we return from our long overdue trip! I am so excited to be going away (we haven’t taken a trip in over 5 years!!), though I do wish I could have started my plantings already – the season is short enough around here !! But starting trays and trays of seedlings made no sense. I didn’t want to ask anyone to look after them while we were away, that just felt like way too much to ask of anyone…so, the seeds will sit and wait a few more weeks…as will I…

seeds

 

enjoy!

365 days ago…

I decided to start this blog. I wasn’t sure if people would like what I wrote, or if they would even find me – why would anyone be interested in what I had to say? But enough people suggested I try it, so I did. And I’m so happy I didn’t let fear stand in the way. I chose to take a leap… and get over my fear, and just try – what’s the worse that can happen, right?

Turns out, it has been a wonderful creative outlet for me. So much of my life is my business, Designs Adrift, which I love too – but I’m in the ‘background’. I do all the paperwork, writing and photography (some of the photography), taxes, etc…yet Michael, my partner, is the artist in the end…and his work is beautiful, yet this blog, is mine and mine alone. My time writing, photographing, planning and editing is well spent – it allows time for me, to be me. And the added (and unexpected) bonus is, it’s been a great way to meet other, incredibly talented, like minded individuals! Who knew?

So when my first post was published, I was so excited and shocked to have a like and a comment – on my very first post! How did they find me? Who are they? What? People liked what I wrote? Liked it enough to take the time to write a comment? Wow!!  It made me smile…Thank you Norma, From Wok to Garden, for my first comment – you inspired me to keep going! I’m still kind of figuring out what readers are interested in (and what makes folks comment), but for the most part I just share my life. I’m just being me, really. Camera in hand, sharing what I love…what I cook, how I prepare it, what I’m interested in and how I keep my expense down…my life in rural Maine, on an extremely tight budget, in other words, The Art of Thrift.

Knowing what to buy and when and more importantly, when not to…recognizing quality and craftsmanship; not to buy cheap, but well, or not at all – it makes all the difference (in my opinion)…for the planet and your wallet. I like to encourage second hand buying – it makes so much sense! (and if your still a bit worried about second hand – don’t be – if you’ve eaten in a restaurant or slept in a hotel, then you’ve used second hand items!)

I know how to be thrifty, but I also know when (and how) to spend…even the NYTimes agrees… and while I’ve accomplished some of what I had set out to do, there’s still so much more to share…I’ve posted a lot of recipes, but not a lot of suggestions for travel, groceries shopping, children’s needs, insurance – everyday stuff – but all things in time right? As long as I can find the time to write and photograph (and get to the library to publish – my dial-up access is a real detriment not only our business, but my blogging!!) I will.

I, thank you all for reading and sharing this past year – it’s been fun and a challenge. (A challenge because of my dial-up!!).

And now this, little miss thrift, needs to find the time to get to the library (wifi, remember?) a little more often so she may become a little more tech savvy – fonts, layouts, widgets, settings oh my…this is one arena where being thrifty isn’t necessarily helpful…but being patient is. All things in time, right?

What have you been doing lately that is thrifty?

Have a fabulous weekend and thank you for reading! xoxo

Enjoy.

transfer station treasures

Dump shopping is my favorite kind of shopping. To be factual, my town transfer station is my favorite shopping destination. A big part of the transfer station is the ‘freebie barn.’  It’s a trailer set aside to house free (but good) stuff that residents no longer want/need…Who doesn’t like a deal? And a free deal, is the best deal around, right? Added bonus, this stuff isn’t ending up in the landfill or worse…why don’t more towns and cities incorporate this into their budgets? It boggles my mind – if my little town can do it, surely others can too…it’s another form of freecycle – but centrally located versus driving all over – what’s not to love about that? Extra added bonus – the savings. Childrens books and toys add up (everything adds up doesn’t it?), money saved is money available for other things, or simply more time to do more things…money equals time, the less money you need, the more time you can have (sort of – everything has its trade-offs) to do what it is you want to do. We’ve chosen to live on a much tighter budget than most, though these past years spent raising my son are worth so much more than money could ever buy…and shopping is so much more fun this way.

Here’s a few recent finds…amazing huh? It’s nothing, yet so much, all at the same time…

glassware

I just love these little etched vintage glasses – a whole set of 12 – perfect for little man. Estimated savings, at least $20.

childrens booksMore books. We read a lot around here, so new books are always welcome – estimated savings, easily $40.

childrens illustrations

These are the first two illustrations of ‘Animal Stories’ seen above – they are beautiful in person and will look great framed. Free art – estimated savings, $40.

childs puzzle

Finn is getting into puzzles and he LOVES trains, so when I found this (new, still in box!) I had to pick it up. Estimated savings – $12.

kitchen tools

Finn is also really into cooking, so when I found a bunch of kitchen tools (some even kid sized!) I had to take them too! Here’s Finn enjoying his latest treasures. Bonus they were all metal or wood (spatula, spoons, pie server, tongs, ice cream scooper (vintage), whisk, honey spoon)! Even the little people joining him were found at the dump (of course!). Estimated savings – $25.

play barn yard

Yet another plastic toy saved from landfill – even the batteries still work as do the sounds and songs which are played when the doors open and close…little animals were free too. So much plastic in the world – it’s frightening…estimated savings – $35.

file sorter

File sorter. I can always use something like this, but I won’t buy this type because they are plastic, but I’ll use it and then recycle it when I’m done. And when I say recycle, I mean I’ll give them away to someone who wants them or return them to the ‘freebie barn.’ Estimated savings – $15.

sea shell book

And finally, this cool (vintage) book about shells. I love shells, I always have. I had to pick it up, the illustrations were too cool…estimated savings – $8.

Total estimated savings  – $195.

Savings to the planet, priceless.

Other ways to save money and resources -check out flea markets, freecycle, craigslist, consignment shops, stay out of the mall and big box stores, trade with friends, shop for big items during annual sales, check your local newspaper… you just never know what you may find.

Also, visit your local library. Books, music, newspapers, magazines, movies – are all available for you to use (and borrow) for free…ok, not ‘free’ the town has to pay for all those books, movies, newspapers, etc. and the library itself, but then, its’ citizens (including and most importantly, children) get to enjoy all those ‘free’ treasures…money and time well spent I’d say.

enjoy.