Some People Have Kitchen Gardens, Mine Is a “Kitschy” One

Kitschy Garden, May 8, 2010

The saying is, “A watched pot never boils.”  For me, that “watched pot” is my little garden plot, which has become one of the joys of owning my first home.  (It’s hard to believe it, but next Saturday makes six months that I have actually been living here.)

Every morning when I let Annie out, I take a few minutes just savor all of the green plants; some mornings there’s a surprise or two, like the two butter-golden blossoms on one the squash plants.  In the evenings, there’s more time to water and hoe a bit.  The garden is a small one, so almost every plant gets scrutinized quite often; hence, it seems as if nothing is growing very much.  I know it is, and even more proof is in the photos I’ve taken, like the one from my post from April 21st, which I realize wasn’t that long ago.  I had just planted the beans a couple days before that, and now I can see that soon they will have blossoms.  The first tomato plant that I set in now has five little tomatoes!

When there was no more space to plant in the garden, I couldn’t stop with the attention.  First came a painted tin chicken and some found drapery rods, which I’ve stuck in to help prop up the growing tomato plants.  Then I added a rooster hanger for a plant.  Take a close look at the picture, and you’ll find a birdhouse, another chicken, a trellis for the cucumber vine, and, definitely, the over-the-top kitsch de résistance, a whirligig with a cat catching a fish on a line from its tail.  Being protected on three sides by the fence and the garage,  I’m not sure how much whirling is going to happen with that metal gadget.

For sheer beauty, the Christmas cactus can hold its own against any other flower.

Besides all the action in the garden, the plants on the patio are slowly beginning to recover from move from the apartment and the numerous smaller moves into and out of the garage during the colder than normal winter.  The Christmas cactuses had been in house, though, until the cold was for sure over.   Unlike last year, when a few blooms kept coming one at a time long after Christmas was over, this year by mid-January, they all seemed finished with their winter pageantry.  Then after they had been out on the patio for about a month and a half, I noticed three small buds on the plant that gets bright red blooms.  After a run-in with the garden hose, which resulted in a number of broken limbs (Happily, this is a great way to increase the number of Christmas cactus plants.  Someone will be the lucky recipient of the already growing cactus.), there were just two buds.  One opened during one of the 90+ days of this past week.  However, the last one waited until today, a much milder, overcast Saturday, when I could enjoy, what I expect is this plant’s last gasp at blossoming until next winter.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can grow Christmas cactuses.  They don’t expect a lot from you, but when their time comes in the winter, they will more than reward you for the care you’ve given them.

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For New Year’s Luck: A Quick and Tasty Blackeyed Pea Salad

Ingredients for blackeyed pea salad. How's this for a "still life" in my kitchen? That's one of my Christmas cactuses just starting to bloom.

Especially in the South, people eat blackeyed peas in some form for good luck on New Year’s Day.  My taste for blackeyed peas hasn’t grown all that much over the years; without some kind of disguise, these little brown nubbins taste grey and musky (that’s the best way I can describe it).  They can, however, with the addition of other ingredients, be transformed into a delicious dish.  (I guess you could say these are blackeyed peas “in drag”.)

Nowadays, because of regional and international influence, there’s a wider variety of similar beans/peas that are available on the store shelves.  If you take a chance and try them, you’ll probably find some new additions to your menu.

Here’s an easily-made salad that I put together that perhaps you’ll like.  There’s no guarantee, though, that it will help you achieve your New Year’s luck.

New Year’s Day Blackeyed Pea Salad

Ingredients:

1 can of blackeyed peas drained

1 can of field peas drained

1 crisp apple peeled, cored and roughly chopped

1/2 the juice of one lemon (that it was given to you from a local tree all the better)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 strips very crisply cooked bacon, broken into small pieces

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Salt and pepper

Directions:  Put the chopped apples in a good-sized bowl.  (Save time by using your favorite serving bowl.)  Squeeze the lemon juice over the apple pieces; add in the sugar, and toss together.  Add the drained peas, bacon, and nuts.  Shake on some salt and pepper.  Gently mix and then refrigerate for several hours.

Variations:  Use just blackeyed peas if you like or can’t find field peas.  Add the bacon and nuts right before serving to give the salad more crunch.  Chopped celery might be a good addition too.

Last Christmas Cactus Bloom of the Year, For the Sultry Days of Summer Are upon Us

How do you like my new banner photo? It’s not so easy to take (or find) long, horizontal photos to fit. I’m sure some of you will recognize the jogging trail that goes for three miles around Memorial Park, with the golf course just visible inside. The bluebonnets from the previous banner are already gone but there are still some Indian Paintbrushes and other red posies filling some of the open spaces. They’ll soon be gone too with the heat coming. It was near 90 degrees today, but I’m sure it made it there or higher in some places north and west of town.

My Christmas cactuses have just wanted to keep putting out blooms. I posted earlier about some coming way after Christmas. Then just this past Saturday I noticed that the red one and the yellow each had a single bud. With the heat, they opened quickly. The red one has already dropped off and the yellow one is going fast. This evening it’s already starting to fold up. It looks white but is a shade of pale yellow.

Pale Yellow Christmas Cactus, May 7, 2009

Pale Yellow Christmas Cactus, May 7, 2009

I have a tiny little fuschia plant that I was given more than a month ago with a few flowers already in bloom, but they didn’t last. These plants usually don’t take the heat here, but this little plant is staying strong with sprinkles of water every day, and now is just full of buds. I hope they open soon, and if so, I’ll share a photo here.

Christmas in February? Or Maybe Even March? How About April? These Blossoms Bring Out the Spirit Even If They Are A Bit Confused

March 8th--The first of the yellow buds to open.  It's just the palest of yellow with a bright pink stamen.  The pinks are still going.  Their flowers seem to last a long time.

March 8th--The first of the yellow buds to open. It's just the palest of yellow with a bright pink stamen. The pinks are still going. Their flowers seem to last a long time.

April 1st--And it's no April Fool's joke.  This is a single blossom on a plant that was in full bloom before Christmas.

April 1st--And it's no April Fool's joke. This is a single blossom on a plant that was in full bloom before Christmas.

It’s just the most pleasant Saturday morning. It’s crazy, but every weekday morning when I have to pull myself out of bed, I tell myself, “Wait ’til Saturday,” knowing that I’ll be able to take Annie out for her morning “ablutions” (damn, I thought that word was spelled with an ‘O’, I guess I got it confused with “abolition”, ha) and crawl back into bed for another round of sleep. However, it seems that each week, by Friday, I’m ready to get myself into bed at a normal person’s bedtime, so Saturday morning, no matter the weather, I’m fairly awake and the warm bed doesn’t pull me back in.

There are never enough pictures of Annie!  She "sits" with the Christmas cactus.

Feb. 28th--There are never enough pictures of Annie! She "sits" with the Christmas cactus.

This Saturday morning is no exception. It’s quite pleasant outside, not warm at all but fresh feeling and fresh smelling (the air, not me–yet), but there are some clouds in the north that look as if they might bring some showers or, perhaps, keep the day on the grey-side. However, even the prospect of rain didn’t push me back under the covers, so while my coffee was brewing (Saturdays and Sundays only), I got all my plants–inside and out–watered.

Most of the time I have no plants inside, but late in December, because I was going out of town for the holidays, I brought in my Christmas cactuses, most of which were already in full bloom, although the flowers in each pot were in varying stages of being at their peak: the nearly white one had already passed its best moments; the fuschia had many blooms but some had already dropped off; the new yellow one, which I had just bought at the Farmer’s Market, was completely aglow; the true red one, which may be my favorite as a Christmas plant, had buds that were just starting to open; the smallest one, which comes from pieces that have dropped from the others, had the tiniest of buds on the ends of its leaves.

One gorgeous, but lone blossom.  This red plant was in full bloom right after Christmas.  This one came back out of jealousy, I think, because of the pink.

Feb. 28th--One gorgeous, but lone blossom. This red plant was in full bloom right after Christmas. This one came back out of jealousy, I think, because of the pink.

When I returned home ten days later, the Christmas cactuses looked a sad lot sitting there on the window sill, except for the red one, which is perhaps the hardiest; there were just a lot of dried-up blossoms hanging from the plants or already dropped onto the sill and floor. Even the little one had lost its buds, the ones I had been so curious to know what color (or wishful thinking–what colors) they would be. After about a week, even the Christmasy red had finished its blooming. “So that was that,” I said to myself, thinking that I would have to wait another year for the colorful show that these small plants make just once a year.

Feb. 28th--The yellow one has some buds too.  They are much slower to open than the others.

Feb. 28th--The yellow one has some buds too. They are much slower to open than the others.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, as I was watering them, I noticed something on the small plant that hadn’t bloomed. “Were those little nubbins on the ends of some of the leaves buds?” I hoped. “Or maybe just new little leaves.” But in a day or so, I could see for sure. Buds! So thinking what else I could do for good measure, I stuck in about half of one of the Miracle Grow fertilizer sticks that I had found hidden away. And just to be fair, each of the other plants got a piece too.

christmas-cactus-bloom2

Feb. 21st--Taken with the still setting on my Everio Camcorder because my digital camera has decided to go retro and take pictures like it's the 60s on LSD--not bad quality for a camcorder still, huh?

Now here we are, February 21st, and this small Christmas cactus is giving out its happy show of color! Theses are just the first blooms, there are at least 10 more buds in varying stages, that will be opening in the weeks to come. And as if not to be outdone, both the yellow plant and the red on either side of this one have buds, though just a few. I’m anxious to see the yellow blossoms again, because I never really had time to appreciate them in December.

It’s amazing really, how nature will surprise us, and give us so much joy.

It’s these surprises and differences in nature that always seem to wow us. Why is it when it comes to people, so many of us search for those that are familiar and those who are most like we are, and tend to push away the ones who are different?

Why is it that we don’t find joy in the amazing differences that others have?

Feb. 28th--This bright pink Christmas cactus is just going strong.  No blossom has even dropped off since they started opening more than a week ago.

Feb. 28th--This bright pink Christmas cactus is just going strong. No blossom has even dropped off since they started opening more than a week ago.