Sunday, July 8, 2018

Goodbye garden. Hello fun!

Volunteer cosmos populated with bumblebees a couple years ago.
Here we go again. Preparing to vacation for a month and scrambling to get the garden ready for our absence. 

It's like parents leaving the kids just when they've been potty trained. The hard and dirty work is over and it's time to reap the benefits.

In a few weeks our  garden will be at its most beautiful.

It won't be pumping out ripe tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants quite yet, but it will achieve its most colorful and lush vegetative mass.

It will be thick with birds and bees, berry thieves and pollinators.

Even yesterday, when I snapped most of these garden shots, one could almost see the chlorophyl burgeoning in young leaves, and savor the sweet, salty, sharp aromas of tomatoes, mint, dill, eggplants, basil, and alyssum, all muddled with the rich  scent of soil warming in the summer sun.

It will get even better.

Like this, taken a few years ago in early August.
But we won't be here to see it, smell it, taste it or have any other of those smarmy moments gardening can induce.

Instead, we'll be having real fun!

The last rapid on the Middle Fork of the Salmon trip is big! It is actually on the Main Salmon River close to the takeout for the Middle Fork just a few miles after the tributary enters the larger river.  PK is rowing. I'm staring into a bus-sized hole, which was easily avoided. I don't think a rapid this gnarly is fun, but he does. One thing for sure, I was not thinking about the tomatoes.

If you've followed this blog for a few years, you've heard how we struggle with whether to have a big garden, as it doesn't fit with our relatively new traveling lifestyle. Or, coincidentally, with our aging bodies.

This story line is getting old, right?

It sure is for me. For us. Getting old. As are we. And time is a wasting.

I think that without saying it, we've settled with having a messy imperfect garden so that we can also have messy imperfect road trips and international episodes. We can have both.

On our coming adventure, we'll raft for seven days the best of the West's most extensive wilderness on the Middle Fork of the Salmon  River in Idaho. One hundred miles and 100 rapids. There will be a blog post.

Then I'll meet up with a Texas girlfriend for the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs, MT, and PK will row another legendary river, the Main Salmon River in Idaho. Can't wait!

Then she and I will have a leisurely road trip back home to Oregon.

Yes, PK and I are driving separate vehicles to Idaho and parting ways after the MFS. And we'll be fishing/dancing/singing/rowing/ without much thought of what we left behind.

At home, our garden will be advancing on the surrounding fields and our neighbor will be beating it back with a hoe and a harvest basket. We couldn't do it without her. (Of course we pay her, and not just with all the zucchini she can shove into her refrigerator and her family's mouths.)

Following are a few recent photos from our Southern Oregon heritage garden.

Heritage? Where did that come from? I guess when you've reached a certain time in life, and have worked a piece of land for decades, it becomes heritage, which means.....a legacy, a culture, a custom, a tradition, an inheritance.

We have two adult sons who were born and grew up here. We had a "family meeting" last week during which we inquired whether either hopes to someday live here. Not anytime soon, that's for sure. But giving it up, as we sometimes ponder, is a point of sentimentality and ambivalence for us and our family.

The closest we have come to changing venues is when we discuss going on the road for a lengthy time and renting the house and land. We also consider, in an offhand way, selling it and relocating to a different home to try on surroundings that do not require so much attention.

Will we do it? Not this year. But sometime. Maybe.

In the meantime.....we love where we live and, at the same time, can't wait for our next adventures.

A few recent home photos.
Now that we have a fence that has them stymied, we are entertained by our resident deer, including this young buck who was likely born here. 

Honey bees LOVE leek flowers. We've never harvested a leek to eat. They're all for the bees, except for those cut and dried as decorative fresh and dried flowers.

PK says that we now have a savannah look with our 25 or so apple trees (reduced from 300+ when we bought the property in the 1970s). The deer trim them all to approximately the same distance from the ground. We still harvest way more apples than we can give away. 

In an ongoing attempt to cut back, we devote at least two garden rows a year to a nitrogen-fixing cover crop such as the young red clover above. We allow volunteer cosmos, dill, sunflowers, and chard to share the space.

By the time we return, this area will be alive with colorful zinnias and sunflowers complementing the marigolds. The fig tree will have grown dozens and dozens of fruits that won't yet be ripe enough eat.
One almost-ripe cherry tomato will be joined by literally hundreds of others on one
indeterminate plant. Indetermininate means it reaches and wanders without end. 

The "garden" on the backside of the house looks as good as it ever will right now. Why? the day lilies bloom and are gone. The Shasta daisies bloom and then fall over and are gone. They all slump onto that sweet walkway that PK built soon after he retired 10 years ago as part of his first "five-year plan." Replacing some of this vegetation, especially the daisies, is on his (our) to-do list.
Bad daisies napping on the walkway.

Onions are flanked on the left by pepper plants, which
 are looking healthy and happy. We use them all fresh, dried, and in
salsas and sauces.
Massive onion crop coming on. Yahoo! We're thinning and eating now.
A walkway around the front porch is guarded by a metal rooster and ivy that will reach out and strangle you if you stand still long enough. 
Faithful lilies show up every year in front of the solarium, which we consider
 the front of our house.
Sadly, roses don't last forever and this beauty is in decline. It is an old-fashioned rose and no one seems to know the variety. I would love to plant another. Please let me know via comments below if you can identify. It is wonderfully fragrant and its blooms turn several colors before the final pink.

Missing from our garden: sweet corn, green beans, beets, potatoes, and many types of winter squash. We really are cutting back! Tomatoes, peppers, onions? Gotta have em.
Best thing we ever grew - our sons who continue to make us proud.
 Chris on the left and Quinn on the right.
    A proud sun salutation if ever I saw one by a volunteer sunflower.
  Old gardens like ours are blessed with a variety of welcome volunteers.
They show up every year in different configurations.

They will all be here when we return!

Previous posts about gardening angst