June Tidbits

Summer’s almost “officially” here for us in Connecticut.  There’s the old saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  It should say, “Time flies when you’re having fun raising children.”  We’ve been crazy-busy with lots of “end of year” activities. There’s recitals, field trips, and events galore!  I’m looking forward to some less-scheduled, slower summer days.  Of course, when you love gardening, grilling, and being outside, there’s much to do before you can rest!  Join me, the Suburban Farmgirl, as I work on making the season for being outdoors great!

We’ve been harvesting the snow peas I planted back in March. Every morning there’s new ones ready to pick. I thought we’d be making stir fries and throwing ’em in salads, but they’re so crunchy and delicious, they’ve become our favorite snack, as-is or dipped in hummus.  If you’ve never tried growing snow peas, put them on next year’s to-do list! I ended up not needing to trellis the vines, as they’ve grown upright using just the fencing of the garden itself. Inspired, I’m experimenting this year, using the fence to support other veggies such as squash and tomatoes.

I’ve crossed salad greens off of my grocery list as the lettuce pots have grown tasty, full lettuce.  It’s so convenient to pick off just what I need for salads and sandwiches, right outside the door, and free up space in the garden for more plants.   In addition to the herbs in the front herb bed, I’ve also transplanted a few in pots, like basil and mint, instead of my usual decorative flowers.  Pretty and fragrant, they’re delicious, as well! My friend, Susan Burbank, told me of another space-saver. Her mother-in-law, Peggy Burbank, a master gardener, plants her pumpkins under her big forsythia bushes, using the bushes as trellises!  The pumpkins grow in the bushes looking like decoration, and the deer can’t reach them.

My “Suburban Farmdog” soaks up some sun on a favorite spot on the deck, right next to some herbs and lettuce.

Fragrant lavender is one of my favorite herbs. I found the cute little markers made from spoons at a flea market recently.

Another great flea-market find!  I found this copper pot for $5.00 and am re-purposing it as a dry sink for the planter’s bench to hold soil.  Any guesses to its original use?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

It’s my goal to do as much as I can with my garden organically, or by re-purposing.  After making homemade hummingbird food, try putting some of the sugar water in a spray bottle and mist vine-type veggie plants like squash and cucumbers.  This encourages bees to seek out and pollinate the plants, and can also aid against some “bad” insects.  (When doing this, only spray the plants and leaves, and avoid spraying the blossoms themselves).

A lovely squash blossom!

Organic bananas were on sale last week, but two didn’t get eaten quick enough. I hate to waste food!  After they turned brown, I peeled them, dividing the mushy fruit and rotting peels, and buried them at the base of each of my rose bushes to feed the roses.  Another “recycled” plant food is from my daughter’s pet hermit crabs. We change the substrate in their “crabitat” each week; by using all-natural “Eco-Earth” made from coconuts, we can compost their waste directly into the flower beds, as well.

To discourage birds in the veggie garden, I’ve re-purposed hanging garden decorations and compact discs. 

To help keep my mint from over-spreading in the herb garden, I used the frame from my daughter’s sandbox.  It has really helped to contain it.  I love fresh mint leaves in tea and in salads.

One of the most economical ways to increase variety in your flowerbeds is to share and trade perennials with others. I really love all varieties of hosta, and consider the ones in my yard a “collection”.  A new friend and fellow suburban gardener sent me home with beautiful “blue” hosta, a type I did not have before, as well as poppies, foxglove, and hollyhock. I returned the favor with some of my bee balm, lambs’ ears, and a tomato plant.  I have plants that I remember special people by each year they bloom.  I just transplanted some Evening Primrose from the Garden Club at my daughter’s elementary school, and I know each summer when I see it bloom, I’ll  remember these special years.

One of my new “Blue” Hosta plants.  I love trading plants with friends.

My garden cart is loaded up with new plants from a friend’s flower bed. Even when doing yard work, I’ve always got my “Farmgirl Spirit!”

Morning sun and a view of the Hosta bed.

Summer starts the grilling season!  Here’s one of my own favorite ways to marinate meat.  I mix it up in a mason jar (what else?) and pour it over pork or beef, marinating it in the fridge a few hours before grilling.

Nicole’s Marinade for Meat

  • ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil

If you find yourself bothered by flies, especially if you are cooking outdoors, try this tip I learned years ago from a barbeque restaurant in Ft. Worth, Texas. Hang a clear baggie of water on the wall on your porch or deck, and the flies will not bother you!  It sounds crazy, but it truly works.

I recently learned another tip for outdoor grilling, from our local news. I posted it on the Farmgirl Connection Forum, but it bears repeating.  A man in our area was in the ER thinking he had an appendicitis, but he had unknowingly swallowed a metal bristle that had come loose from his grill brush.  Doing this can be deadly, and I’ve since heard several other stories like it.  I looked at our grill brush, and sure enough, it had missing bristles. It’s better to clean your grill with a half lemon and wadded up foil, or with a grill stone.

The hammock’s been put out for weeks, but I have yet to sit in it. Hopefully after my daughter’s school lets out I will get caught up and be able to spend a few moments relaxing!

A few more weeks and summer’s here. I think I’m almost ready. How about you? With all the recitals, proms, graduations, weddings, and weeding (on top of all our “regular” things we do), I hope you enjoy it all, and have a safe, happy start to Summer!

  1. Joan says:

    Nicole, always a good write!!! Love your pics from your surroundings!! We aren’t quite that far along but looking forward to each changing day. Thanks for the fly cure and for the grill cleaning tip – don’t need anything extra in our tummies. Thanks again for the blog.

    Thanks, Joan!  So glad you enjoyed visiting!  Happy summer! -Nicole

  2. Adrienne says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts so I will let you know that the copper pot was used by the leprechauns to hide the gold at the end of the rainbow. Really 😉

    Adrienne, I am chuckling right now!  Thank you!  Any idea how to get it full o’gold again? -Nicole

  3. KimberlyD says:

    If you go fishing, use the guts, heads and whatever else you don’t eat and bury them around your plants and flowers, also after I boiled corn and the water cooled I pour the "corn" water on my plants. Wrap bottoms of your stems of your veggie plants and bugs can’t climb up them. Can I send you some iris bulbs? I got plenty I got to thin out this fall…lol also can send some violets…lol! I enjoy your blog. And if your copper pot gets full of gold I’m going to buy me a copper bowl! LOL!

    Kimberly, thanks for the great tips!  I will be trying some!  Will let you know about the copper pot… Nicole

  4. Laurie Dimino says:

    Happy Summer to you too Nicole!
    Yes, this time of year is indeed a busy time when you have children in school.
    Here on Long Island, we have just 3 more days of "Finals" (2 hour school days) and then our summer will officially begin!
    I can not wait to be less "structured" and try and slow down the pace and just "be". "Be" lazy, "be" adventurous, "be" silly, "be" relaxed, "be" whatever we feel like "be-ing" at no particular time or place! LOL
    In other words…Enjoy our summer!

    Hugs to you and your family- may you spend many days enjoying your gardens, and of course that inviting hammock!
    Farmgirl Sister#1403

    Laurie, We still have another week-and-a-half to go with our schools here.  It will be bittersweet since my daughter is leaving elementary for intermediate school.  Hugs back to you, farmgirl sister! -Nicole

  5. Pam deMarrais says:

    Nicole, thanks for all of the great tips! I can tell that you have been busy. Love all of your garden pics, and I especially love your hosta garden. I hope that you and your family have a great summer!

    Hi Pam!  Glad you enjoyed the blog; thank so much for reading and commenting! -Nicole

  6. Rose says:

    Thanks for all the gardening tips! I hope to have a small garden this summer and will put some of your practical ideas to use.
    I love the flea market herb spoon. Have a fun but relaxing summer!

    Thanks, Rose!  You, too.  Good luck with the new garden!  -Nicole

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