Monday, August 5, 2013

A Beautiful Day in the Life

Today was a perfect day.

I recently decided that, when I'm in RI, I'm going to check out all of the really nice bike paths and figure out which ones are best.  Because really, if I can bike to Point Judith and Bristol whenever I want, I can probably die a happy woman.

A few weeks ago, I harvested a bunch of lavender from my garden and hung it up to dry.  Today, I made "lavender sugar."  It's exactly what it sounds like: you take a cup of sugar, add two tablespoons of dried lavender buds and pulverize them until there's no sign of the buds anymore.

You can use lavender sugar in lemonade or in baking.  It also smells amazing, so I suppose you can just sniff it when you're sad.  (Supposedly, lavender is good for relieving headaches.)  It's certainly safer than sniffing glue and far better smelling than pot, in my humble opinion.

As an aside, I would just like to say that personally, I can't stand the smell of pot.  I don't know how anyone can light that stuff up and inhale.  It REEKS.  Truly.  No high can be worth that.  No way I'm bringing that smell closer to my nose.

And let's just say, I learned early on not to wear handmade wool sweaters to a rock concert.  Trying to get the pot-smell out of a sweater you spent months knitting is NOT fun.

But I digress.

I also added a few tablespoons of lavender to some sweet almond oil, and I'm letting that sit for a bit and hoping I'll have lavender oil in a week or two.  It's supposed to be a good insect repellent--and with this rainy year we've had, we can all use a good insect repellent.

Meanwhile, I already have homemade apple cider vinegar (with homemade mother, so I'll be able to make more), mint extract, and limoncello.

Tomorrow, I'm going blackberry picking and, if they're still available, I'll try to get some more blueberries.  The farmers told me they had both now, so I am totally there.

I'm also going to harvest my peppermint, pineapple sage, citrus mint, and lemon balm.  I'll dry them in bunches, hope my cats don't attack said bunches while they're drying and, if all goes well, add the dried herbs to some green tea and have homemade herbal tea this winter.

fingers crossed...

Because the sad news is, my garden is not doing as well this year as it has in years past.  I have some onions.  I have eggplants.  I will have carrots, and I think I'll have leeks (eventually).

But the truth is, my tomatoes are making me nervous, as are my cucumbers.  I'm not sure what happened.  I think it's the soil, the bugs, the rain, the temperature changes from hot to cold... you name it.  All I know is, I haven't been this worried about my tomatoes since I started growing my own a couple of years ago.

The nice thing is, if my tomatoes crap out (and it's looking like they very well might), I can always support my local farmers and buy tomatoes and cucumbers elsewhere.  So, it'll be okay, ultimately.  A bit frustrating, but okay.

And I do have an herb garden that I planted just this year, and after a bit of a bug-struggle, it's doing pretty well.  I planted geraniums and chives and that really helped ward off the brown beetles that were initially making a feast of my herbs.  My basil and sage suffered mightily, but they're coming back.  More or less.

And FYI, chopped-up banana peels really do ward off aphids (and nourish the soil).  My roses have come back from being stripped this spring, and they're doing just fine now, thank you.  I've read that cucumbers also like potassium-rich soil, so they're getting some banana-peels as well right now, in the hopes that this will convince them that life is, in fact, good.

Next year I'll plant catnip at strategic points.  It will be an excellent two-fer for me, because my cats will be thrilled, and catnip supposedly keeps all kinds of pests away.  By the time I realized that this is what I needed to do, it was too late to find catnip seeds.  And really, catnip is a glorified weed.  I've grown it before and it isn't hard to do.

So in the end, this year has been a mixed bag in terms of the garden.

But on a day like today, it's hard to care. 

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."