Monthly Archives: May 2011

I spy, with my little eye…

something (three–or is it four, things!) blue.  Momma robin has kept these beautiful eggs warm and cozy all night through some frigid wind and violent rain.  It’s thunderstormed and temperatures have been way below normal, but these eggs are warm and dry.

Look at those pretty robin's eggs nestled among the honeysuckle. What a lovely little spot for a nest.

Photos from the third week of May.

Salad mix just picked from the garden and ready to take a spin in the salad spinner.

Momma robin has been sitting on the nest quite a bit.

Hidden Picture: Find the friendly backyard insect eater.

Leaf lettuce right out of the garden is fresh and nutritious.

Peppery, bright arugula is one of my favorite things to grow.

Lots of garlic is doing really well in the garden bed adjacent to the garage.

French breakfast radishes.

A new resident in my garden.

This robin has been working very diligently over the last 24 hours.  I don’t think this is the best location for the birds, but it certainly gives me and the kids a great opportunity to watch the birds as they build their nest and have babies.  I just hope we can all get along since they are perched right among our outdoor living space.

Photos from the second week of May.

Peas keep coming up. Looking forward to eating these fresh out of the garden.

60 gladioli for $4, not a bad deal! Love how these add color in otherwise drab spots of my yard.

Started the process of hardening off seedlings this week.

Baby spinach ready for harvesting. Enjoyed some on my Mother's Day panini.

Beet seedlings emerge. I love how they are red, just like the beets.

A purple hyacinth, so pretty especially close-up.

A lovely tulip bouquet from the garden.

Take a ride on Casey Jr.!

I’ve been to Disneyland once, on a gorgeous fall day in October.  We took my then 1-year-old son on the Casey Jr. Circus Train ride in Fantasyland.  What struck me most about it were the charming gardens and miniature villages and storybook castles.  It was very “old school” Disney and was noticeably void of today’s overly pink princesses that seem to permeate all things Disney.

Take a ride on Casey Jr. and see for yourself what a pleasant trip through nostalgia awaits you!

Garden to Table: Chives, Part 1

The first thing to be harvested from the garden each year are vibrant green chives.  I love to see these poke through the ground, sometimes they even make it through the snow.

Flowering chives are a very pretty element of the herb garden.

My favorite uses for chives include:

on scrambled eggs
in a salad
on potatoes, rice or any grain
on tomato slices
in a condiment buffet for nachos, tacos or other Mexican fare
sprinkled over grilled meats

My kids like to grab a chive while playing in the yard and snack on it.  I do that same thing once in a while!

Chives have an oniony flavor.  I sometimes use them instead of green onions.  Early in the season the flavor is more mild, later in the season the oniony-ness becomes stronger.

It’s easiest to snip the chives with a kitchen scissors.  This is also the tool I use to harvest them out of the garden.  I cut them about an inch from the soil.  They continue growing, so I can cut fresh chives for the entire growing season and never run out.

This week I made Smashed Chive Potatoes from a recipe I clipped out of the newspaper in 2005–before I even grew chives.  I just knew I’d have a garden someday and was always clipping out recipes to use in the future.  Now I have a virtual library of clippings.  It’s a bit chaotic, but also fun, to go rifling through the recipes and I feel so happy when I come across just the right one.

The recipe does not exist online (that I can find) so I’m sharing it here.  I really enjoyed it!  And my family did too.

Smashed Chive Potatoes
Tribune Media Services, from the April 13, 2005 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, skins on
1 ounce chopped chives, a few chives reserved for garnish
1/4 cup of good olive oil
2 tablespoons chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and mixed pepper (red, white, black)

Cut potatoes into quarters.  (Don not peel.)  Boil until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain and pat dry with paper towels.  Mash by hand or lightly with mixer.  (Do not overmix, or else potatoes will become gluey.)

Add chives, olive oil, chicken broth and garlic, and mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with chopped chives.  Makes about 4 servings.

This is a one pot smashed potato recipe that makes tasty use of fresh chives.

Photos from the first week of May.

Planted a strawberry pot, but oops! didn't buy enough strawberries and need to go back to buy a few for the top of the pot.


Why yes, I do love my garden.


The buds of this burning bush are visually interesting.


This clematis vine is sending shoots straight up. I can't wait to see these flowers in a few weeks.


A bug's eye view of the tulips.


The honeysuckle is growing at an astounding rate now that it's May. Soon it will welcome hummingbirds.


A new rosemary plant. My previous plant started to look very sick in recent weeks and I wasn't able to revive it. Sometimes it's best to start over.

The Ugly Bug Ball

Sung by Burl Ives in the movie Summer Magic starring Hayley Mills, this cute song about bugs is a kid-pleaser.  My kids love bugs!

Making more room for tomatoes.

My tomato seedlings have really been growing the last week or two.  It was time to move them out of the seed starting tray and into pots.  While they’ll still have 3-4 weeks before they can go in the ground, they are developing root systems and leaves which will make them strong and healthy for the growing season.

I did this repotting project indoors due to some wild wind outside.


I put each tomato plant into a pot and made sure to label it before I forgot which type it was.


I used to use peat pots for this step of the gardening process, but there’s been a lot of press lately on the topic of peat and it looks like there are now better alternatives available.  I’ll be looking into this more as I current use peat moss as part of my raised bed filler.  Perhaps there is a more sustainable option I can use.  In the meantime, I’ve made the switch to these 100% peat-free renewable coir pots.  They work the same way, and can be planted right into the garden just as I did with the peat pots.

Here's a tip: A child's garden spade is just the right size for filling small pots with potting mix.

In the above photo you can see I’ve also transplanted the impatiens I started from seed.  Only 7 plants grew in my tray of 70!  That’s a terrible germination rate… and now I’ll be buying a tray of impatiens at the garden center.

Here are the tomatoes, all potted up, labeled and now getting a drink of water from the tray they are sitting in. It's best to water from the bottom, and very easy if the plants are sitting in a tray. The tray will also make it easy to take them outside during the hardening off process.Tomatoes and other seedlings soaking up some May sun.


Tomatoes and other seedlings soaking up some May sun.