The Garden and Outside Stuff in the Heat

It’s so hot.

I know I’ve mentioned that in all recent posts, but oh my God it’s so hot right now. We haven’t had rain in two months, the soil in the garden needs to be MUCH more improved if it’s going to be the single main shelter for all these plants through such tough conditions again next year, and I personally feel like I’m sweating way more than I ever have before- and I was always a pretty sweaty girl.

But we’re trying to survive the weather. The sprinkler keeps limping the plants along, even if it feels like it’s going all the time, even in our dreams. (A poetic way of saying we periodically forget it’s on and it goes all night… sorry aquifer.) And I plead with the plants- please my pretties- just a little longer, fall is almost here.

Unfortunately many are gone for good now- my beloved tomatoes are down to one sole cherry plant- that may or may not get pulled up in the weeks ahead. Either way it’s stopped producing for now. I love tomatoes- they may be one of my favorite things to grow, and tomato leaves for sure are one of my very favorite smells. Heck, my tomato mania last year was so exuberant my aunt even made me this:

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My tomato weaving- it lives next to the back door.

This year’s enthusiasm has been tempered by the toddler tomato tag debacle of 2019 (here), by the heat, and by the fact that I couldn’t find a Sungold cherry tomato like I so wanted. I also rushed everything into the ground a smidge late. Smidges matter when it gets this hot… so they should have been in a couple weeks earlier, ideally.

And so, this may be the last tomato hurrah for the year, or we may get another flush off the sole survivor. Either way I recommend making quasi sun-dried tomatoes out of them if you have a whole bunch that ripened at once that need using- and the early summer rush to eat ALL the raw tomatoes has worn off.

“Sun-dried” Cherry Tomatoes:

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Fun fact- that Cutco knife is so awesome for tomatoes- and was our gift from the realtor when we bought our first house

Cut all your cherries in half and place cut side up on cookie sheet. Top with salt, pepper, italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder.

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Like so. And yes, I did in fact swap out the kitchen towel in the background for effect.

Place in a 200 degree oven for 4 hours and then enjoy in pasta (like we did), or dice up and add olive oil and stuff chicken breasts like I want to do, or add to salads… you get the idea. I wish I had after shots of these. They look exactly like what you picture they would look like, if that’s any consolation.

Back outside in other news, our shed has finally been installed, but we decided to paint it ourselves so we’d save $400 as well as almost die of heatstroke because it had to get done in August. I still stand by the decision, and it was satisfying to do ourselves but sheesh. So hot and heatstroke-y. We are seemingly incapable of ever getting a true “Before” picture- but at least the one below shows the awful tan color of the primer we lived with for weeks too long before painting.

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I had to put a censorship box in this picture because the ONLY picture I took had toddler crack in it.
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That’s more like it. Don’t be fooled by the sweet looking blue sky. It’s heartless these days and would just as soon kill you as look at you. Colors are Stone Statue by Valspar and Roman Column by Sherwin Williams- should anyone wonder.

And, in spite of ALL common sense to the contrary- we have many a new plant to care for. My birthday is in August. What do I love as gifts? Plants. When do nurseries have their best sales? August. It’s a vicious cycle I fall into every year.

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But hey- at least it’s cactus, amiright? So the little nursery south of Castroville has hardy column cactus in 3 gallon pots for $20 and they have three left! Info just in case y’all have been looking for one as long as I have.

I’ve decided to TRY to get more drought and heat tolerant plants in the mix- so in addition to the cactus above I got a rattail cactus, a desert willow, a cotoneaster shrub, and a helenium which I may have already killed by letting it get too dry and then over compensating by watering too much for a drought tolerant plant. Sigh. I’m trying though, man, I’m trying.

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I’m not usually a cactus fan, but this rattail is damn cute in all except name.

And that resolve lasted all of two weeks because then, after YEARS of looking for one, I found a pink (not red, dang it- which is all I ever saw the very few times I saw them offered for sale) Confederate Rose- at the GROCERY STORE OF ALL PLACES!

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I sent this picture to my husband with the caption: “OH MY FUCKING GOD!!!”

They are SO close in flower and form to Altheas… which I don’t want. And also close to the larger flowered hardy hibiscus… which I don’t want. It has been THIS exact plant, with the more althea form and more hardy hibiscus flower that I have searched for for years and I FINALLY found it. Haha… they get huge and like water. Crap.

Let’s see. So also this happened:

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First harvest! 
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Second harvest waiting in the wings. I keep pulling the vines out of the yard and repositioning them under the Japanese maple- it seems to be working out just fine.

Other random things from the past weeks:

The older children are off to school again- 8th and 5th grade. They don’t have many pictures on the blog as I try to keep their faces and identifying details outta the ether and all. Rest assured they’re doing great! Ah back to school- the REAL most wonderful time of year, that Christmas carol has it all wrong!

We’re also still on the hunt for old stamped bricks- hopefully come fall we’ll have enough to put the patio in. My husband got this score in the picture below by mentioning he was collecting bricks to the bartender when he took his department teachers out for a beer after the first week of school. Score!

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Anyone knows where to find some elusive L&L bricks you just let me know, dig?

In other news the beer is quickly becoming a favorite:

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Really getting into the citrusy and bright IPAs lately. 

In DIY news I have struggled with this area next to the toddler’s bed. It’s behind the door and too small for any useable furniture… and I’m wary of any and all wide bedside tables anyway. This is due to an unfortunate accident from my youth where I tripped on my bedding and went head first into my bedside table- driving my tooth through my lip. Still have the scar and the memory of trying to keep a damn bandaid on my lip. So. NO bedside table, but I’m tired of the book pile too!

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This perpetual mess of the last few years next to the toddler’s bed
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That’ll work!

My cousin is temporarily living on our street these days while they remodel their house and she and I will trade off letting the other’s pets out if we’re out of town. Now, we have a menagerie with a huge dog and 4 cats, so I already had the easy side in this tradeoff. But also her dog (and sole pet) looks like this…

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He’s almost a year old- he’ll look like a puppy forever, I bet, the good lil’ guy.

…so yeah. I’m not usually a little dog fan, but man is he the cutest.

And sometimes, early morning or early evening, it’s not too incredibly hot for a short walk or a bike ride. And cooler weather will be here eventually. Maybe. I hope.

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Watch out world.

 

 

 

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