It’s hard to believe the newest addition to our family is now one month old. Our adorable Ember Luna made her entrance into the world on September 15, 2019, on a warm and beautiful summer night, just as the Harvest Moon was starting to wane.
(Fun fact: The Harvest Moon is the name for the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and it’s associated with the time farmers would bring in their harvest. I love how Ember’s birth coincided with this agricultural — and very Garden Betty-esque — event, just as big sister Gemma’s birth landed on March 20, the first day of spring.)
It feels like a long while since we closed on our property, and the question has come up on whether we’ve made any progress this summer. Despite it being quiet on the blog front, I’m happy to say we’ve made a lot of progress, albeit on the back end of things.
We’ll start with where I left off in June, when we closed on our land and applied for a septic feasibility study.
I like to call them the “bumbling pilots of the garden,” and every summer, those loud, buzzy, clumsy fig beetles are quite an amusing sight to see.
If they’re not, ahem, getting down to business, they’re firmly planted on fruit trees, sucking the juice of not only their namesake figs, but other soft-skinned, rotting fruits like peaches, plums, apricots, and berries.
Fig beetles aren’t harmful to the garden the way other pests are; they won’t spread diseases, kill your trees, or attract more pests. But, they can be a nuisance if they’re feeding on your crop before you get around to harvesting it. Learn how to get rid of fig beetles organically and control their populations in the garden.
At some point in the season as you inspect your tomato crop, you may have noticed a rotten, sunken spot on the end of the fruit. It looks like a yellow or brown water-soaked spot where the blossom used to be, and over time, it turns into a hard, decaying, dark brown or black patch.
This anomaly isn’t a disease or insect damage, and its cause came long before you discovered what was happening. It’s called blossom end rot (also known as BER) and it frequently affects tomatoes, as well as peppers, cucumbers, melons, and eggplant. It appears on green or ripening fruit, especially with the first flush of the season.
Before we lucked out on finding our land, my husband Will and I went back and forth endlessly between building or renovating a house.
For him, there’s a bit of nostalgia to it. His parents found a pristine plot of land in the 60s and spent the next 10 years building their dream home, much of it with their own hands (and it’s still going strong today). He grew up remembering all the sacrifices, hard work, and rewards that came with a solidly built house that involved your own sweat and tears.
On the other hand, I never thought that my first home purchase (especially as I’m nearing 40 years old) would be a teardown-come-new-construction. Renovations, DIY, and working within the confines of an old home with character were things I’d just assumed would be in my future. So while Will was familiar with what it took to start from scratch, home building was uncharted territory for me.
It’s been a little over two months since the release of The Backyard Fire Cookbook, and summer is in full swing around here. For us, that means lazy days on the river and lakes, the ever-present smell of sunscreen in the air, and the savory, smoky scent of barbecue and bonfires outside our door.
I’ve been having a lot of fun revisiting the recipes in my book as we plan our weekly grocery shopping and prepare for camping trips. (We’ve actually been making them more in camp than at home, so this is a book that also travels well!)
This post is in partnership with Baby Deedee. All thoughts and words are my own. Keep reading for a special discount offered exclusively for Garden Betty friends!
When I was pregnant, the notion of camping with a newborn baby was appealing and a little intimidating. But no matter how many naysayers I came across, and in spite of how many parents laughed at me, insisting, “Oh, you’ll see,” I knew I wasn’t going to wait years for my child to be “ready.”
My thinking was, better to break the kid in sooner than later… get her used to long car rides, simple pleasures, and strange and exciting environments. I didn’t know if there was an “appropriate” age to take a baby camping, but I didn’t want to get too comfortable with the assumption that it was too hard, or too risky, or this, or that… and if I didn’t at least try, I’d never know if it was possible.
So my husband and I set off for one of our favorite summertime destinations, Kern River in Southern California, when Gemma was nine weeks old. Just the three of us. Into the great unknown: sharing a tent with a newborn.
How did we do?
In other big news (the first being baby number two, which you can read more about here if you missed our announcement), we just closed on our first piece of property! [Insert ear-to-ear grins and happy dances]
Before I get into the when, what, why, and how of our house hunt, let’s rewind two years (has it already been that long?!) to this previous post I wrote about our impending move to Central Oregon.
Blanket flower (Gaillardia)
Growing a bee garden is as easy at it gets for a home gardener. There’s no need to seek out exotic blooms or struggle with fussy flowers that need to be pampered. Some of the best plants to grow for bees are what I consider the underdogs of a garden: those “plain Jane” flowers and hard-working herbs that normally wouldn’t get a second glance.
In fact, all my bee gardens over the years were planted primarily because of how low-maintenance they were. They’re fairly drought-tolerant, self-seeded freely as annuals, grew back every year as perennials, and did double-duty as human food and pollinator food (as was the case with my herbs).
Tomatoes are the holy grail of gardens. Who can resist all those sweet, juicy orbs ripening in the sun every summer, filling the air with that unmistakable heady scent of tomato vine?
Hands down, it’s one of my favorite plants to grow every year and I grew it without abandon in my last garden, in the ground, when space was not an issue for these large, unwieldy plants.
But when I uprooted to a different part of the country and found myself in a rental home for the short term, with only a deck that was suitable for gardening, I thought my tomato dreams were dashed for the next couple summers.