Cupcakecacheblog Inspired

What a joy it is to find blogs in my inbox inviting me to squander time! And even better, to find blogs that impel me to elaborate on a theme.

Today, Cupcakecache entertainingly meandered about, sharing banter, musing about her sunflower germination failures and plant shopping success, and generally reveling in the day’s tasks ahead, which prompted me to do the same.

Yesterday, I received a box, shipped from a friend in Oregon. She had some books that she didn’t want to send to the thrift store and thought I’d enjoy them. And while she was at it, she stuffed the box like a Christmas stocking. She has a quirky sense of humor, appreciated and shared by her family, and so she tossed in a collection of gag gifts that I presume she had received over the years, along with other random useful items. Perhaps the quirkiest of the collection was a rubber lip enhancer (size XL) and the most useful was a pair of socks. The books were primarily The Best American Science Writing (2000 – 2010) and The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2000 – 2008), of which I had read only one. She also sent three novels of which I had already read two, which illustrates why we remain friends even though we have lived in separate states for the past 35 years.

Being lazy readers, my husband and I are fighting over who will be the first to read the Carl Hiaasen novel.

I bore you with these details for two reasons: One, a joy to be appreciated has to be shared, and what a joy her box of pleasures is! And two, perhaps it will inspire others to do something similar.

One of my other pleasures, is my garden.

Judy’s Food Pantry

In the foreground the garden is ringed by Teddy Bear Sunflowers, purported to be favored by birds and bees. I didn’t get very good germination but I kept replanting to fill in the gaps which will actually be a good thing as it will ensure a longer supply of blossoms for the bees and seeds for the birds.

Immediately behind the sunflowers are the beans, which I hate to pick but can’t resist planting anyway.

Behind the beans are cucumbers that I’m trying to train to climb the trellis. Like the butternut squash in the back ground, they are wayward and resist my gentle ministrations, preferring to choke the walkway between them and the apple tree and tomatoes.

I have three kinds of squash which are hemmed in by Marigolds that are three feet high. I kid you not! I never dreamed when I planted them for pest control, that they would present such an impediment to harvesting the squash. I fear the local fruit stand is suffering from my competition as I’m supplying all of my neighbors, my mail man, my sister, and my boss with squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Among the joys of gardening, are the feral pets that move in, various birds (who hopefully look for insects to eat), pollinators, horned tomato worms, and a Southern California Toad.

I would like this guy to settle down and raise a family here, so I plan to create a hospitable habitat for him/her. I think toads may be on my side in the organic gardening battle with the bugs.

Now, I must delve into my box of goodies. I think I’ll start with The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000, edited by one of my favorite authors, David Quammen.

My Victory Garden

Forced to stay at home, I have reverted to my preferred life style. I had all but given up on vegetable gardening because, between defending my turf from gophers and trying to keep everything watered in 100 degree weather, well, it seemed to be a losing proposition what with being away from home five days a week.

Then along came Covid-19 putting into question the safety and reliability of our food supply. I needed no more motivation.

But…since we were discouraged from going to Home Depot or the nursery for seeds, I ordered from Seed Geeks online. Anticipated delivery: 4 – 6 weeks! Most of the things I plant should be planted early in the season (March/April) so they have a good root system by the time spring temperatures soar. So, I scrounged up some old seed packets that had been stored in the shed for a year, not exactly a cool, dry place as recommended, and planted them…all of them, a dozen squash seeds to a hill. A couple of weeks later, I was thinning, transplanting, and grieving over the intrepid little runts I had to throw on the compost pile. Cucumbers weren’t as hardy but I have one robust looking vine and none of the beans made it, or even broke the surface.

By the time the new seeds arrived I was almost ready to harvest what I’d sown six weeks ago.

One of the nectarine trees is quietly feeding the ants, earwigs, and bees but I get a bite or two from each of the fruits they profligately spoil. My neighbor and I swap nectarines and apricots…not a great combination during a toilet paper shortage. The neighbor to the south brings me eggs, grapefruits and limes. Now if I could just grow cheese and milk, I could make a proper meal.

Organic gardening has its challenges.

MiL persuaded me to take her to a nursery after hearing that it was relatively safe to mingle with the great unwashed outside. She wanted flowers and I figured I could always find room in the garden for something edible. To my delight, I found they had just received a shipment of kumquat trees/bushes.

This little tree is predicted to grow to 4 -6′ tall and equally wide.

In case you haven’t been initiated into the fan club of kumquat lovers, I must extol their virtues. First, their sweet/sour contrasting flavors make for a surprising burst of saliva when added (chopped into small pieces) to salads or breakfast cereal. Sliced into little rings, they make a glass of ice-water absolutely irresistible. And, as if flavor isn’t enough, they contain enough vitamin C to stave off scurvy year round.

The charms of vegetable gardening may not be for everyone, what with the dirt, the back-breaking labor, the constant battle against competing bugs and rodents; but when you see the transformation of a patch of bare earth into a veritable garden of Eden…~sigh~ What a victory over the ennui of isolation!