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Surprises in the Garden-Welcome and Un

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(Unwelcome, that is.)

It was a busy day of things around the house before going on vacation. I didn’t feel that stressed, but I did have garden cooking to do, a sewing project I was really looking forward to, and also wanted to do some yard things. Our lawn mower ran out of gas a week ago and has been sitting in the same spot ever since. Today I got gas and obviously the grass was so long that my “move mower back into shed” task turned into “mow the lawn and then put mower away.” While I was gassing up the mower I was standing by the butterfly garden admiring the two swallowtail butterflies on the butterfly bush
Swallotail in the Catmint
when what to my won’dring eyes should appear, but a hummingbird! It flew right past me at eye level. SO exciting!! And poor Ms. Hummingbird (according to the naturalist at Duke Farms it’s all ladies now, the boy hummingbirds have migrated on) was visiting a feeder that needed refilling.  I made up some sugar solution and filled it and at dinnertime she returned and flew over to our window, as if to say thank you, before heading over to the feeder.  A welcome surprise in the garden!
After admiring the butterflies I turned my attention to the milkweed, which we planted because it is food and an egg laying place for monarch butterflies. I was pleased to see both bumblebees and our honeybees all over the blossoms,
Preparing for Takeoff
then I noticed something yellow all over the stems of the milkweed. At first I thought it pollen, then I got excited thinking the butterflies had laid thousands of eggs, and then I realized it was ….an infestation of aphids.
Hideous, Disgusting Aphid Infestation
An unwelcome garden surprise! I tried to hose them off (per internet recommendation) but they were very stubborn.  Apparently they can kill the milkweed, so I hope we can get rid of them.
Into the garden to pick the day’s harvest.
A Day's Pickings
A surprising amount of tomatoes, a secret stash of purple beans (which when cooked turned green!), and….a nest of eggs.
I guess we know where Tree Bird (who was clucking and leaving the garden when I entered) has been laying her eggs.  Although not a nasty surprise like the aphids, I’m still placing this in the “unwelcome” category because with our diminished egg supply we need all the ladies laying in the boxes.
This morning when I went outside I saw the first surprise of the day and it was welcome-a morning glory in the garden!
Surprise Morning Glory
This is a surprise because I didn’t plant them anywhere near the garden this year, so it must have come back from last year.  That does explain a lot of the vines in the midst of the squashes.  Apparently it’s not all squash, but morning glories as well. They can be a bit of a viney menace, but I adore their blooms and was delighted to see it. (and yet, only have a picture of the curled up blossom.) What’s the hold up on the heavenly blues I planted??
Between the CSA and our own garden we’ve had a lot of veggies sitting around. I just didn’t feel like canning, so I took every tomato but a few and made a Lazy Tomato Sauce. Why lazy? because all I did was saute garlic and then just start chopping and adding unpeeled tomatoes of all varieties to my giant pot (hey-it’s a yard sale treasure!).
Lazy Tomato Sauce
I let it simmer for quite a while and then added basil.  Sure, it’s got some skins in it and it’s rather watery, but it’s full of flavor and nicely packed away in my freezer. I sliced up the big Goldie and also used some of the simmering tomatoes to make a quick lasagna for dinner.
Lasagna of layered tomatoes
That big yellow tomato is delicious and I sure hope we get more.
I’m totally bummed because I spent quite a bit of time today getting ready to sew a new top. last night I saw a pattern I had to have and thought I could whip up. It was a downloadable pattern, which everyone loves because it’s all instantaneous and whatnot, but I have to say, they are a pain in the ass. I printed out the 12 pages of instructions and then the 48 pages of pattern. Then had to trim each of the 48 pages and then line them up and tape them all together.
Instant Download Patterns are a the A.
Then when that’s done you need to lay tissue paper on top and trace the pattern pieces. Then cut out the tissue paper pattern pieces. Now you’re finally ready to lay it on some actual fabric and cut out those pieces. The actual sewing of this should take much less time than all of those previous steps. So I did all that and then finally after the over-excited kids went to bed was ready to cut fabric and stitch it up. But….it turns out that I didn’t have any pieces of fabric big enough. So that sucks and was a waste of time. I could have finished my cozy Irish book!
Peaches n' Cream Glad + mixed zinnias


About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

2 responses »

  1. What a beautiful photo of the butterfly and flowers in your garden. I agree totally with you about downloadable patterns being a lot of work. Your lasagna has made me hungry. 🙂

    • Thank you! I think my kids would have preferred a more traditional lasagna, but I thought it was a really delicious way to use tomatoes.


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