The day started out gloomy and rainy. But after a couple of hours the sun was out and we were ready to make our annual visit to the pumpkin patch. It turned out to be a beautiful day for a drive with the grandkids, plus, it was my husband’s birthday. The kids didn’t know where we were taking them, just that it was somewhere special.
It is a little drive in the country, about 60 miles, but it was a beautiful day for an outing. We saw some Amish people putting up corn in shocks, the old fashioned way. I remember my grandfather doing it that way. And passed a lake with many water lilies and swans. Farms with donkeys, goats, cows and some big, big fields. Some farmers were already harvesting. The leaves are just starting to turn colors.
We arrived at the pumpkin patch before the big weekend crowds. I expect many people were a bit put off by the weather, or maybe we were visiting earlier than we have in the past. Cornucopia Farms is so well-organized. In addition to their large offerings of pumpkins and squash of every variety, they offer mums, fresh flowers, good things to eat, lots of activities, such as, hay rides, a corn maze, and so much more.
But we were on the hunt for that special pumpkin. Of course, we found many, many. They mostly charge by the pound for the special varieties, but flat fees for others. It doesn’t matter. I seem to lose all sense when it comes to this seasonal decoration.
After pulling our wagon (provided) around, it was full within a short time. We got the gnarly ones with warts, the large orange ones, the little white ones, striped, speckled. You name it. Plus some yummy things to eat later.
Last year I painted several paintings from my pumpkin patch adventures but I’m not sure I can do so this year. I’m just so busy with other projects right now. But I’ll try to post some more photos later of our day’s adventure.
If you’re looking for a fun fall activity for the family, I highly recommend a drive through the country and a visit to your local pumpkin patch. Enjoyable for all.
It’s that time of year in the garden. I have been picking tomatoes by the five-gallon bucket load. The freezer is full and we have just about run out of room.
We have been growing tomatoes for decades. We try different varieties. Some years we like this one, another year we might like another one. This year I decided to make a semi-scientific analysis of the different varieties that we usually gravitate to.
First of all, I don’t start any plants from seed anymore. Been there, done that. I can usually find a good variety in the local stores and garden centers. Also, we don’t use any sprays and rarely fertilizer (none this year.) But I do rotate the crops in the garden so the same thing is not planted in the same place each year.
This year I planted fifteen tomato plants (not counting the five that I planted in the spring garden). I have planted as many as sixty-four plants in the past but that is ridiculous. The varieties that I planted this year are: Goliath, San Marzano, Roma, Better Boy, Pink Brandywine, Red Beefsteak, and Park Whopper. Not counting the cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear). I did all the planting on May 15th because we had a very late freeze and SNOW earlier. We had plenty of rain earlier but not too much since mid July. Sometimes we’ll water, especially if the plants are little but usually not. I planted the seedlings very far apart, about five feet, so they had plenty of room and we could get down the rows with the tiller. We also put them up in cages with stakes and ties.
I have lost track of how many tomatoes that I’ve picked but in just one day last week, I picked three five-gallon buckets and gave one away. I have to pick about every three or four days. Our freezer is full.
So let’s go down the list.
Goliath. We’ve liked this tomato in the past and it started off well but slowed down. I paid a lot for just one plant so will probably not plant it again next year.
San Marzano. This is supposedly the king of Italian tomatoes. VERY prolific. I can pull the tomatoes off the vine in handfuls, like grapes. But they seem a little dry and have quite a bit of white/green core which is not tasty.
Roma. We’ve grown these before but they really produced this year. Much larger than the San Marzanos which was a surprise. Very meaty but sometimes a little black inside which is probably blossom end rot from uneven watering.
Better Boy. Good but nothing to write home about. Will probably pass next year.
Pink Brandywine. These were a real surprise. The tomatoes are huge, at least six or even seven inches across. A beautiful pink color and low acid. Really tasty and very meaty. One slice is enough for a sandwich.
Red Beefsteak. Very meaty but knobby. Difficult to use for a slicing tomato but pretty good for canning. However, not worth the trouble even though they are so large and produce well.
Celebrity. We’ve grown these before but for not for the past few years. VERY good producers. The tomatoes just keep coming. Great for putting up or eating just plain.
Park Whopper. We were told by a friend that this is his favorite tomato so we thought we’d give it a try. Very consistent shape, good taste, but not very large. And they’re petering out, even in mid-August.
The final verdict? We’ll definitely plant the Pink Brandywines, Romas and Celebrities next year. But….depends upon what other options catch my attention.
Meanwhile, back to the salt mines…er ummm….the garden. And don’t talk to me about beans and corn. Ha!
The summer is speeding past and life has been busy here in Southern Indiana. We’ve had lots of company this summer. I think everyone was ready to get away, out of the house, just go somewhere. Always enjoyable to reconnect with old friends and family. Of course, the grandkids have kept us busy, too. We didn’t get to do nearly as many activities as we had wished but we did have some fun.
The past few weeks we’ve been busy with the garden. Plenty of rain earlier in the season so the produce is coming in. The corn is past. Peaches and cream variety, first planting late April. Second planting a few weeks later after the late freeze. This is a delicious variety, full ears with no bugs or flaws. We ate what we could fresh, then put up the rest. After picking and husking, we ended up with four five-gallon buckets of shucked corn. I do the picking and husking; my husband does the rest of the processing. Plenty of corn in the freezer.
The green beans (variety Jade Bush) have been very prolific. I keep up with the picking and the beans keep coming. Of course, I planted some more which I don’t know why.
We planted several varieties of tomatoes this year just to remind ourselves why we like some better than others. With the freeze that we had in early May, they’re just now coming in. The Goliath, Celebrity, Beefsteak, and German Pink are great eating tomatoes. Lovely on a sandwich or just with supper. For putting up in the freezer, we have San Marzanos and Romas, and the Park Whoppers are very prolific. We use a lot of tomatoes so these will keep us busy for the next several weeks. The cherry tomatoes are Sweet 100 and a cute little yellow pear, both of which are very prolific. The kids just graze on them as they pass by.
I’ve got some herbs in the food dehydrator out in the shop. Best to remove the machine from the house so the whole place doesn’t smell like basil. Will probably do another batch or two this season. I’ll miss fresh herbs when they’re gone.
So, you might ask, why go to all this work just for some vegetables? It certainly doesn’t save any money when you consider all the time, labor and expense that goes into planting, picking and processing. I guess the real reason is that we like fresh. We know what’s in the plants and what isn’t. We use no pesticides. Not everything turns out perfect and beautiful. We’re willing to live with losses. The zucchini and squashes have been beset by squash vine borers the past few years. I may give them a pass next year. And as the joke around here goes, you lock your car doors in Indiana in the summer as you’re likely to find someone has filled it with zucchini.
Lots more stuff going on around here. The flowers are beautiful – several varieties of sunflowers, cosmos, and zinnias not counting the potted plants. I sold a lot of artwork with my Super Summer Sale last month, both online and locally. Still need to make more room in the studio. Still paint nearly every day. Lots of visits to the library and arts center. And spending some evening time on the patio with a cool drink and a book.
So how has your summer been going? I love reading your posts and comments. Keep cool!
Life out here on my 90 acres has been so busy this spring. Making some progress tackling my three page list of things to do (yes, really!) but there are still plenty of things left to do.
We got a late start planting the garden this year on May 15th. I did manage to plant the first crop of corn on April 27th. It is now as tall as I am. The freeze in early May delayed planting but we got to everything else in one day. Then we had about a week and a half of hot, dry weather so I had to haul water.
The past few weeks have been pretty wet but at least not gully-washers as sometimes happens. I planted really wide rows to allow my husband to get down them with the rototiller. This is after I hoe around the individual plants. As you can see, everything is really established now.
The cicada invasion has been here and gone. Finally! Hundreds of thousands of the bugs. The birds, toads and lizards are full. A week and a half ago, the noise was deafening. Today, barely anything at all. Wait another seventeen years. And, no, I did not eat any. Blech!
Other chores which needed attention. Trimming out the lane (1/3 mile) both on the sides and overhead. This is a several day job, particularly during the extreme heat and humidity.
Then I started on other tasks: trimming bushes, digging flowerbeds, potting flowers, etc. And those are just the outside chores. There are many other tasks, cleaning the greenhouse, attics, closets, preparing for company. Taking the grandkids on road trips or to art classes. It’s always something.
But, I am still able to get out to the studio, mostly in the afternoons. (Outdoor work is reserved for mornings when it’s cool.) Recently I created a small series of sunrise paintings. Who doesn’t love a beautiful sunrise? Every one is different. And contemplating my next big series. Just some ideas rolling around but I’ll get there.
How’s your summer going? I hope you’re having some fun, seeing some friends and family as things open up now. Still cautiously keeping safe but a little freer.
With the extra warm weather this fall – it was 80 degrees here two weeks ago – we have been enjoying our time outdoors. But this is the time of year for fall cleanup. Battening down the hatches, so to speak. The farmer who rents some of our fields picked the beans this week. Amazing how quickly they can move. Sometimes they’ve been out there until one or two in the morning but this time it was daylight.
The garden is plowed and ready for spring. Although we don’t plow every year, often just tilling, this year we decided to do a deep plow. The autumn leaves have been ground up to mulch. Although I still enjoy the meditative quality of raking, I must admit that just grinding the leaves up with the mower is much the easier work.
All the flowerpots are emptied and stowed away. The greenhouse is cleaned, mostly. I’m going to see if the lemon tree can make it through in there. We no longer heat the greenhouse in the winter but on a sunny day, the temps can get to the 80s. The lemon tree was started from seed and, to our surprise, it has thorns! Getting too large and spikey to bring back into the house.
I’ve deadheaded many of the perennials and saved the seeds to sprinkle around in spring. I discovered a patch of beebalm that I’d tossed along the road several years ago. The bees can always use more forage. And I’ve already dug some perennials and replanted them. More to go if I feel like it.
The flowerbeds could use a little more attention but when can’t they? I’ll get to them. Or not. The shop needs cleaning and I never did finish the attic. Oh, well. There’s always something to do here on the old place.
I finally installed the new printer that I purchased a couple of months ago. I’ve been printing out some notecards on it and it does a fine job. Put some of these on one of my Etsy shops and have them in a couple of local shops. Doing some holiday paintings for the local shops, too. But I’m really ready to get back to the bigger work. I have a solo show coming up next spring and still need a few more paintings.
And the holidays are coming up. Well, as I said, it’s always something out here in the country. Hope you’re all staying safe and well. I always welcome your comments.
View of Madison, Indiana, from the inn. It’s a quaint, arty little town about forty minutes up the river from Louisville. I wanted to get a photo of the sunrise in the morning but the whole river valley was fogged in. Couldn’t see a foot in front of myself.
The soft days of autumn seem to be sneaking up on us. From temperatures in the 80s a week ago, to lows in the 50s and even 40s now. I love autumn with the smell of wood smoke and newly fallen leaves. The golden sunshine and the reds and yellows of the leaves. Everything seems to be winding down…but not quite yet.
This is the view from the Clifty Falls Inn. That is the Ohio River and Kentucky on the other side. Another week or two, and those hills will be ablaze with color.
My husband and I visited Clifty Falls State Park in Madison, Indiana. This 1400 acre park sits on the banks of the Ohio river and boasts some beautiful views of the river scenes, foliage, and the town of Madison. There is some great hiking here, too. Unfortunately, with the dry September, the falls weren’t running so we’ll have to plan a visit for another time.
The variety of pumpkins and gourds at the farm was amazing. I could have brought home three times as many. But they provide a little fall color for the season. And in the end, get tossed into the chicken pen. The ladies are very appreciative.
We just spent one night at the inn but it was a pleasant getaway. On our return, it seemed as if the leaves had begun changing colors overnight. We stopped to buy pumpkins at the Cornucopia Family Farm. This was our first visit but apparently they have many visitors from a wide area. Whole families were there for the hayrides and popcorn, children’s activities and, well, to buy pumpkins. I have never seen so many varieties. I wanted them all but had to restrain myself.
We discovered this beautiful little country church as we were looking for the pumpkin farm.
As we drove home on the country backroads, we saw little churches and just enjoyed the day. There were several Amish buggies on the roads. It was Saturday, after all. Just so relaxing to be out and about.
Late garden harvest of loads of peppers and a few tomatoes. Plenty more peppers to pick, too!
Summer tasks are winding down here on the farm. The garden has about had it but I’m a hold out for the last green bean. Still have plenty of peppers to pick as well as the sweet potatoes. And the zinnias which I grow for cutting are still vibrant. Some of them are taller than me!
Firewood. This is nice, dry and seasoned firewood and splits easily. The basement is already stacked but there’s plenty more wood to split.
It’s time to put away the fishing gear. Although, really, does the season ever end? The impatiens and coleus are getting a little leggy.
The leaves are starting to turn and drop. We usually just grind them up with the mower for mulch. And our stack of winter firewood is growing. We share a log splitter with the neighbor which is great for gnarly old pieces of wood. But the boys actually like to split the wood by hand with a maul. There is a lot more skill to this than it looks, requiring just the right swinging rhythm and twist of the wrist. It’s nice of them to come out and help the old man out once in awhile.
The zinnias that I use for cutting are still going strong. Some of them are taller than me! In the background are the desiccated stalks of the sunflowers that the goldfinches have stripped. And those poles on the left hold motion sensitive lights which help scare away the night critters. Sometimes.
The next month will find me out tidying up the place before it gets too cold. Maybe sitting by the firepit with a hot beverage and a book. I hope you have a quite place to retreat, too. Enjoy the season.
The last rose. Well maybe, maybe not. Sometimes I bring this little beauty inside in the winter just to enjoy the beautiful perfume on a cold day.
I’ve been taking a break for the past several weeks from working on my current series of paintings Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread. Although I tend to be pretty disciplined when I’m working on a big project, sometimes I need a respite. Recently I’ve returned to some old themes, particularly western scenes and my travels. Culling through a couple of decades’ worth of old photos, scenes that I may have skipped previously, now draw me in. It doesn’t always have to be the entire picture, just a small portion of it. And I always feel free to change things around.
Atrium at Longwood Gardens, du Pont estate, Pennsylvania. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, impressionistic style, Kit Miracle
Here are a couple of my most recent paintings from my travels. The first one is of the Atrium at Longwood Gardens on the du Pont estate in Pennsylvania. Although I visited in March of that year, it was still beautiful. The gardens under glass were particularly impressive. Touted as the most beautiful garden in America, I couldn’t disagree.
Garden Cherub, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16. Pittsburgh, PA Kit Miracle
The second painting is from a different trip to Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh to be exact. One of our favorite places to visit is The Strip District, a multi-block area of food shops and restaurants, fish markets and collectibles. This particular shop had some very enticing items in the front of the shop, but as I walked through the store to the back, they had a garden shop with rusty gates and ironwork, birdbaths and outdoor trellises. I loved this little garden cherub. Now I wish I had purchased him but at least I could capture him in paint.
Both of these paintings are painted on red-toned canvases which peeks through, adding another layer of liveliness to the scenes.
In case you are interested, these are both available in my Etsy shop KitMiracleArt. AND….I’m having a 20% off Labor Day sale through Monday. Free shipping, too.
Posted onJuly 12, 2020|Comments Off on July flowers in the garden
One of the smaller sunflowers. I think it is Ring of Fire but am not positive.
The heat has arrived and the humidity has never left. I’ve been occupied with painting in the studio but the yard and garden are never far from my mind. A quick tour around this week reminded me that I need to get out there and weed again. Didn’t I just weed that? Well, time to go around again.
Zinnias which I use for casual arrangements.
The garden is going well and starting to produce. Green beans, squash, peppers. The snow peas are nearly past and the lettuce and asparagus are long gone. We had to replant the corn as the first plantings weren’t doing too well. I think probably due to some wascally wabbits. Anyway, the next crops of corn are coming along nicely.
The hostas are almost over. These are actually light purple.
So far, only some cherry tomatoes but the other varieties are heavy with fruit. Won’t be too long. And the eggplant has survived the flea beetles and are looking healthy.
I love the shape of the budding sunflowers. They are such interesting flowers with lots of geometric shapes.
But I always have a passion for flowers. They grow all over the yard. Many perennials and some are very old as they were here when we moved here decades ago. But the garden will always have zinnias and cosmos for cutting. This year I have six kinds of sunflowers in two long rows.
The new sunflower patch. I’m so anxious to see the whole patch in bloom.
Plus!….I added a new 30 x 30 foot patch to plant sunflowers. This is just below the spring garden. And, I planted it with the birdseed sunflowers, probably oiled sunflower seeds, as I felt they probably didn’t have any chemicals on them since they were for the birds. By the time I got to this area, I was flagging after all the other gardening work. I just sowed the seeds, scratched them in with the rake and called it a day. I thought the birds and the rabbits would have them all. But, to my surprise, they took off and are now blooming. Yes, there are some weeds in there but plenty of flowers. It’s always fun to experiment with new gardening ideas.
All the sunflowers feed the birds (or whomever).
Purple cone flowers.
The last of the lilies.
Mystery flower. These flowers started coming up in my peonies a few years ago. I let them stay as the butterflies seem to like them. But I really don’t know what they are? Any help out there would be appreciated.
One of my favorite views is of the front yard and the old woodshed. The white patches are swaths of spring beauties, a delicate tiny white flower with faint pink stripes. The forsythia are past but the lilies of the valley are coming in as are the day lilies.
After an unseasonably warm early spring with temperatures in the 70s and even up to 80, the flowers and other signs of spring are nearly overwhelming. I love spring!
This old house had an abundance of established trees and flowers when we moved here but we have added many ourselves over the years. Plus, I’m a great one for digging things up and moving them. I’ve also shared many plants over the years with friends and family. Did I mention how much I love spring?
Come take a little walk around the yard with me to see what is happening.
The east field is a study in various shades of green. The yellow flowers are actually weeds but they’re pretty this time of year.
Crabapple from a start from another tree in the yard. Before is a white magnolia (not in bloom yet) with shiny leaves.
Columbine. No work at all except that they spread everywhere. Such a beautiful, delicate flower.
These bluebells are so easy to grow and require no maintenance at all. They totally die back to come up again next year. I love the way they start out as pink and then the blossoms turn a beautiful sky blue. I’ve moved them all over the yard. The little white flowers are spring beauties, along with grape hyacinths, and some spent daffodils.
The lilacs were here when we bought the place. You can smell their perfume all across the yard.
Not a flower but the martin nest built on the porch of my studio. Yes, we have a martin house but the bluebirds live there. The martins usually build on top of their previous nest but it finally fell down last year. It took them about two weeks of bringing mud, weeds and moss to make this new home.
Narcissus take over after the daffodils are done.
Violets are wildflowers that some people think are weeds. But I love their beauty and variety of colors from blues to deep purples to variegated to cream.
The redbud is a delicate under-story tree which grows from central Indiana and south, throughout the Midwest and southern mountains. The flowers are directly on the branches. The heart-shaped leaves don’t come out until later. They pair well with dogwoods which are just starting to come out and the woods are loaded with them.
I love tulips but they’re difficult to grow around here. The deer think they’re candy and they often don’t make it to bloom.
We call this a tulip tree around here but it really is a variety of magnolia. It’s a new addition to the yard so we were surprised to see it bloom this year.
Azaleas. This color pairs great with the orangey/peach azalea next to it.
Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. Helen Keller
I don’t usually comment on current events or situations, but I thought I’d do a little reflecting on the current situation that is occupying everyone’s minds these days. With the craziness of people hoarding toilet paper or buying twenty pound bags of rice and beans, I’d like to add a few of my own thoughts on the matter
We live in a 140 year old house. I often think about how many chicken dinners were cooked in the kitchen. How many people have passed through the doors over the years. That the former owners lived without electricity or central heat or running water and some of that wasn’t really that long ago. They boiled their clothes in a tub outside. When we first moved here, there was an outhouse in the backyard. Although we removed it, it sure would have been handy when the kids were little so they didn’t have to come in the house to use the bathroom.
Our place is about twenty-five miles from the nearest real grocery, not counting the local dollar store for bread and milk. This means we keep the cupboards stocked a little better than most. But we also grow a pretty good sized garden which helps.
The power goes out once in a while when a storm has knocked a tree onto the lines. We’re prepared with oil lamps (yes, you can still buy those at farm supply stores), or kerosene heaters, or a camp stove. We don’t have to use those items often, but they’re handy. When Hurricane Ike rolled through the Midwest in 2008, the power was out for five days. Fortunately it was summer so we just opened the windows and “pioneered” it. Our teenagers took off to stay with friends when the batteries in their devices ran down. My husband and I enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Although we’re both retired now and don’t have to go anywhere, we’ve got plenty to occupy our time. Clean up after-winter debris and prepare the garden for planting. Finally get around to cleaning those attics. Painting, of course. Plenty of reading material. Go fishing or biking or hiking.
We still have electricity and running water. Really, folks, I don’t think those things are going away during this crisis. The factories are still making toilet paper and food deliveries will still arrive from the warehouses. Be patient and put things into perspective.
I have people from all over the world who follow this blog. Many are not so fortunate as we are regarding supplies and medical resources. Let us be grateful for what we do have. Many of you are working from home or have restricted activities. Why not take this time to enjoy your families? Try a new recipe or two or ten. Pretend you’re on Chopped and see what you can concoct just from your cupboards. Spend some time with your kids or significant other. Write your memoirs or plant some seeds. Call your parents. When was the last time you talked to an old friend? Now might be a good time to catch up. Try a new hobby, particularly if you already have the equipment sitting in the closet or basement.
Maybe we can all view this time of uncertainty and turmoil as an opportunity to reset. Turn your faces towards the sun and feel the warmth.
I'm a professional artist, retired director of a performing arts center, bona fide book addict, and enjoy the quiet life...most of the time. I'd love to hear from you or get your ideas for future posts. Come back soon!