sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 11, 2018

fall violet
posted by soe 1:51 am

Fall Violet

A killing frost is a possibility tonight and later this week, so Rudi and I headed down to the garden this afternoon to pull out the last of the Thai basil and pick any peppers that were big enough to do something with (I have dozens of pepper nubbins on the plant still, so I’m hopeful for the forest will offer enough buffer to keep them alive a while yet. This is somewhat early for a freeze here, lately.)

I still had a few flowers on my lavender, and the violets that have popped up in the garden this fall are still providing pops of color amidst the fallen leaves I keep on the ground to insulate the roots.

We also helped ourselves to fallen figs and persimmon from the trees by the park. I don’t know who planted fruit trees there, but we appreciate the bounty!

Category: garden. There is/are 1 Comment.

October 14, 2018

t’is the season
posted by soe 1:17 am

For monarch butterflies to make their way through D.C. on their way to their winter home in Mexico.

Last week, I saw one floating outside my coworker’s window, six floors up from the street (but still moving with the flow of traffic on the one-way street). Today was a little more prosaic, as several were flitting around the butterfly bush at our garden gate.


Butterfly Bush

Have you noticed any critters preparing for the cooler weather?

Category: garden. There is/are 1 Comment.

August 12, 2018

early august garden report
posted by soe 1:05 am

Early August Garden

The garden has become a jungle, as it often does at this time of year.

My tomatillo is about seven feet tall and way too big for the small tomato cage it’s in; it’s fallen over into the dill.

The tomatoes are equally unruly, well over six feet tall, and sprawled over the main section of the garden. I keep picking anything that has a hint of color so that we get the tomatoes, rather than the squirrels, because, honestly, squirrels are jerks and would take a single bite out of every ripe tomato in your garden if they could.

Even my chard is approaching several feet in height.

I have a few flowers on the squash plant, but I’m not positive they’ll turn into anything. I picked the yard-long beans when they were only a foot long and I fear no more will grow this year.

The peppers are slow to perform, but at least one of them finally has fruit on it. The one in the back of the garden is being blocked by whatever pollinator bush I planted a couple years back. I should pull some of it out, but there is a yellow jacket colony in the back part of the garden and I’m a little nervous about messing around too much back there.

This also is preventing me from getting to any herbs other than my basil. I harvested several handfuls of the biggest leaves off my regular basil today — which also has benefited from the sun and rain and is now about four feet tall — and will pull some of the purple basil next time. The popsicle shop near me makes a purple lemonade with opal basil, which is an intriguing thing to consider…

In the next few weeks I’ll need to start considering some fall plantings, but right now there’s nowhere to put anything. I could probably sow some lettuce seeds in between the tomato plants and see if anything comes of them later in the autumn once the tomatoes are done.

Category: garden. There is/are 2 Comments.

July 8, 2018

first week of july garden update
posted by soe 1:31 am

First July Weekend in the Garden

Strawberries and peas are pretty much done for the season. I’ll pull out the pea vines this week and stop watering the strawberries.

Garden Flower

I harvested my first tomatoes today. They aren’t ripe, but they had their first hint of color and I’ve learned that if I leave them until they get ripe, squirrels take a bite out of them and then leave the rest. Cheeky buggers. So instead, these — one bigger one and two yellow grape tomatoes — will ripen on my counter. I also had to add some more stakes to my biggest tomato plant, which was leaning dangerously far into the pathway, despite already taking up two cages.

Squash Plant

I finally found a squash plant growing in my garden. I’d put down seeds for them and for beans last month.


Category: garden. There is/are Comments Off on first week of july garden update.

July 2, 2018

heatwave weekending
posted by soe 1:40 am

We Really Do Care

I know it’s summer, I know that means heat, I know no one wants to hear me complain. I will instead say that I am grateful for the ability to wear very little clothing, for air conditioning, and for the pool.

The weekend started out with a performances of Hamilton at the Kennedy Center. I enjoyed it quite a bit and thought the actors and dancers were excellent. The actor portraying the titular character is a better singer than Lin, so songs like “My Son,” were even better than the cast recording, and sad second-act events, while known to 80% of the audience, were portrayed so movingly, the cast had us all snuffling in our seats. We were fortunate to catch the tail end of the free Millennium Stage act before our show and emerged afterwards to a live karaoke battle.

Families Belong Together March

Yesterday, I headed to the Families Belong Together rally and march, where 30,000 or so people braved the unrelenting heat to express our outrage about recent inhumane treatment of immigrant and refugee families. The organizers did a great job of having large portable toilets that would work for families and disabled protesters, lots of screens and speakers, and several banks of gigantic water dispensers. I also saw the one of the local fire trucks was using its hose to provide a misting area. (I admit at first I worried they were using it as a water cannon, but then I saw kids running toward it and decided that it was a friendly move.)

Catalonian Dancing

Afterwards, since I had not managed to meet up with my friends and since I was already on the Mall and gross, I decided to check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an annual festival where they highlight the cultures of various places around the world. This year, the regions were the Catalonia region of Spain and Armenia. I ate a Catalonian lunch of fava bean salad and Crema Catalana, the Spanish answer to creme brulée, before heading off to see the crafts, speakers, and demonstrations. Because the heat had kept so many people at home, you were able to get up close to every booth and practically every kid I saw was getting a hands-on lesson from artisans ranging from glasswork to pottery. Usually the festival is ridiculously crowded, even in the heat, so that was a real treat.

Lavash Baking

By five, though, it was all I could do to drag myself to the bus stop and sit there eagerly awaiting the nap and shower I thought I was heading home to. And then I remembered the garden. And how it hadn’t been watered. And how no rain was expected. And how I’d want a drink if I were growing there. So I dragged myself down there (and then on to the grocery store, since it was only another two blocks) and it was good I went because things were definitely starting to look parched.

Summer Solstice Torches

These are Catalonian torches used at the Summer Solstice to light bonfires. Every village has a unique design. The big ones are for adults and the small ones are for little kids. The dangling ones are meant to be swung in giant circles, kind of like when you swing a pail of water around.

Today, it was the farmers market and chores around the house and, later, an hour at the pool and then an hour at the park.

July 1 Garden

How was your weekend?

Category: arts,dc life,garden,politics. There is/are 1 Comment.

June 20, 2018

father’s day weekend garden update
posted by soe 1:14 am

I realized while we were away that I’d neglected to water the garden before leaving and that, because for the first time in weeks no rain was expected, this could be a problem. I worried we’d return to discover that all the work I’d put into my plot during the spring had been undone in a single quartet of days. I was pleased to discover that my concerns had been unfounded. Nevertheless, my plants, much like my cats, were delighted to see our return.

Rudi had finished watering by the time I reached the garden after work on Monday, so all that was left to do was pick some peas and a head of lettuce, eat a couple alpine strawberries that had ripened in our absence, and admire what was growing:

Tomatoes (the top ones are biggest and we get progressively smaller):

June 19 Tomatoes


More Tomatoes

I have more than a dozen cherry tomato plants that will need transplanting from my office window this coming weekend. I do not currently have spots for this many plants, but Rudi assures me we’ll find room.

This weekend, I’ll also need to harvest some chard and some herbs, as well as more lettuce (hopefully harvesting lettuce will free up space for tomatoes…):


My potato patch (and maybe some peanuts) is doing well. I’ll need to add more dirt to it this weekend:

June 19 Potatoes

The beans I planted a week ago (no sign of the flowers or the squash yet):



Peppers to Be

Finally, to my delight, I found that my echinacea had re-seeded itself last year:


So far, this has definitely been my best gardening year to date. Having my big shade tree cut down certainly didn’t hurt, but I’d also like to think that some of it has come from all the learning (and prep) I did in my earlier years.

Category: garden. There is/are 2 Comments.