sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 23, 2019

what a difference a week makes
posted by soe 1:30 am

Last week, I shared a picture of my echinacea because it was finally starting to show some color.

Take a look at it now:



The flowers start out kind of brownish and end up sort of brownish and I kind of forgot how amazing they are for that week or two where they aren’t remotely brown. (I should write garden catalogue copy, shouldn’t I?)

I’m really glad I realized what they were when I started to yank them up earlier this spring.

Category: garden. There is/are 2 Comments.

June 3, 2019

posted by soe 1:22 am

This afternoon got more dramatic as it went along.

It started with a quiet trip to the farmers market, followed by brunch with the cat.

Fava Beans

I went to the garden, where I picked and ate peas and marveled at the fact that my fava beans are legit. I mean, there are only two plants (I swear there used to be three) and there are only two pods on each plant (a bunch of the flowers shriveled up, rather than growing into pods), so it will be a meager, but cherished side dish when Rudi and I pick them next week. Unless the bunny my next-door gardener informs me is living under his squash plants eats them first. Do you think rabbits like fava beans? I mean, my neighbor is growing carrots, which years of watching Loony Toons suggests should be its first choice…


I then headed to the pool, where Rudi joined me after his bike ride. It was cooler and less crowded than yesterday due to today’s overcast skies, cooler temps, and impending storms. But it felt lovely in the water, which was the key thing. Until the thunder kicked in, at which point that felt like the key thing. Understandably and responsibly, the lifeguards kicked us all out.


At which point we started walking home. The rumbling was getting louder, but it wasn’t crashing and there was no visible lightning, so it felt like a medium paced stroll was suited to the occasion. I even paused to take a photo of the mimosa tree outside the local bar.

It was then that giant splotches of rain started dropping. Except that they rapidly (like within 30 seconds) turned into hail. Nickel-sized hail. Here is some of it, since we had to stop for the traffic light on the way home.


It paused briefly, to rain really cold rain on us, then the hail began again in earnest, by which point Rudi and I were pretty much home. Except that a rather impertinent hailstone managed to scoot in the crewneck of my sun shirt and down the front of my bathing suit, where in lodged in the shelf bra. I mean, really!

There were reports of golf ball-sized hail, but we did not have to deal with any of it. (You can see it here. You can also see the rainbows that because we were inside we also missed.) And it should be noted that when the hail began we were only two blocks from home. And if it had been the larger hailstones raining down even with that distance, we definitely would have sought immediate shelter in a doorway or some such, rather than continuing home, because hail can be very serious. Even the smaller ones stung!

After that, the day calmed back down. We had teatime to warm back up, watched some bike racing, read, and concluded our day with French bread pizza and daiquiris. All in all, a nice, quiet end to a dramatic afternoon.

Category: dc life,garden. There is/are 3 Comments.

May 26, 2019

notes from the garden: memorial day weekend
posted by soe 1:38 am

We have peas!

We Have Peas!

Also, I consulted all my seed packets. All the green ones I planted are English shelling peas. The purple ones are snap peas — and are so sweet. Their seam is green, as are the peas inside. We had them on our salads for supper tonight, which were based on greens from the garden. I picked enough leaves for us to have at least one more round of salads before we need to harvest more.

We also brought home a dozen strawberries, which were delicious with ice cream for dessert, and half a dozen onions/shallots.

And my potatoes are in the ground, so unless I find any more growing in my kitchen, we should be good to go.

I ought to get beans in the ground soon. And I might need a couple more basil plants, because the ones I’ve planted so far are looking a little scraggly, which is not the adjective you want to have to use for basil. I’ll see what I can find at the farmers market tomorrow.

Finally, a glimpse of a new crop to come next month:


Fava beans! (These are the Robin Hood variety, which grow on bushy plants only about a foot high, so I’m thinking the bean pods will be smaller at harvest than what I usually see at the farmers market, but who knows?!)

Category: garden. There is/are 2 Comments.

May 20, 2019

notes from the garden: mid-may
posted by soe 1:35 am

I’ve spent two evenings at the garden this week, pulling it back into shape after all the rain we’ve had and planting the seedlings I purchased at the beginning of the month.


When I arrived on Wednesday, I was greeted with bolted sorrel, as tall as I was.

Garden: May 19

By the time I left tonight, it looked a little better.

I’m growing at least three types of peas (I planted nine varieties, I think…).

There are purple and green pods:

Purple Peas

Green Peas

And then there are these pea plants, which are short and stocky and have what look like they should be black-eyed pea flowers:

Fava Bean Flowers

These are, it turns out, the fava beans I planted. Cool, eh?


My chard seeds are doing well, as are some of the other greens I planted from seed, although they’re way shorter.


I harvested four types of greens today that were turned into tonight’s salads. There’s definitely romaine, arugula, and mizuna, all of which I planted from seedling, and one other that has jumped up from seeds I planted — upland cress, I think.

Spring Onions & Bronze Fennel

The rest of my spring plants are doing well, too. As you can see, my spring onions have flourished, to such a degree that I’m going to have a little bit of a challenge getting my potatoes in. My mint, oregano, lavender, rosemary, and bronze fennel (which reseeded itself) are also doing well. I put hay (stolen from the garden’s decorative banana plant’s winter bedding) under my strawberry plants this spring, and it has so far had the benefit of keeping the slugs from devouring all my strawberries before I get to partake of them. I’ve gotten about a dozen berries out of the garden so far and hope to have several dozen more as the season goes on.

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April 30, 2019

notes from the garden: end of april
posted by soe 1:49 am

April Garden

I stopped by the garden yesterday to do some work. My pea plants are thigh-high now, so I’ve run the trellis up another couple feet.

My violets have all gone past, so I pulled out a bunch of the leaves (but not their roots) in an effort not to let their greens take over all my available space. I have to do this every April when they are way taller than the strawberry plants they share their bed with.


I planted both seeds and seedlings earlier this month and both are doing well. I should start harvesting some of the lettuce leaves next week, I think.

I weeded the back section of my plot, which is the worst spot, since it abuts the forest. I cut back the dead wood of the rosemary plant and pulled out a ton of the creeping groundcover vines that had infiltrated my space. I should be able to plant some additional herbs this coming week. (In addition to the rosemary, I have oregano, fennel, and mint growing back there. In with the strawberries and violets, I have a lavender plant I should move next fall…).

My sorrel has already grown so much it’s started to bolt. I picked a helmet’s worth (I forgot a bag and had to make do) of the biggest leaves and will do something with them this week. Maybe soup, maybe something else.


I also harvested one of the oniony things I planted last fall in my potato patch. I don’t know if it made its way into last night’s or tonight’s dinner or if Rudi is waiting to use

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April 14, 2019

posted by soe 1:27 am


For Poetry Month, another selection, this time inspired by my very purple garden plot:

The Violet
    ~Jane Taylor

Down in a green and shady bed,
A modest violet grew,
Its stalk was bent, it hung its head,
As if to hide from view.

And yet it was a lovely flower,
Its colours bright and fair;
It might have graced a rosy bower,
Instead of hiding there,

Yet there it was content to bloom,
In modest tints arrayed;
And there diffused its sweet perfume,
Within the silent shade.

Then let me to the valley go,
This pretty flower to see;
That I may also learn to grow
In sweet humility.

You are likely already familiar with one of Jane Taylor’s poems, one she composed with her sister, Ann, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” An early-19th century writer of works for children, Jane was noted by poet Robert Browning as one of his influences.

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