Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Garden is Planted

Last week, the girls and I started clearing out the weeds from our garden plot so we could plant for the season.  In the process, we discovered that some of our crops from last year had sprouted from seed, including two romaine lettuces, a lot of parsley, and some mint.  

romaine lettuce

mint crowded by parsley

Our oregano and rosemary survived the winter, as they usually do, and we even found a tiny bell pepper on one of last year’s plants!  Also, the eggplant is still green; I actually harvested an eggplant from it last month!  Even our grape vine has come back unexpectedly (it looked quite sad over the winter).


In fact, most of our produce trees are fruiting, including the peach, fig, and lemon trees.  




One of the blueberry bushes is flowering, as is the orange tree and the citronella (just in time for mosquito season).



Saturday, we spent the entire day prepping our garden plot and planting.  We began with a trip to the farmer’s market, where I conversed with the tomato farmer and bought two of his heirloom seedlings: a cherry tomato and a stripe variety.  I was pleasantly surprised to meet someone who farms tomatoes exclusively, and enjoyed hearing his methods for nurturing tomato plants.  

We then headed over to our local home improvement store where we picked up more heirloom and cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and hot peppers, all as seedlings.  After a final stop at my in-laws for a lemongrass seedling, we headed home to complete the clean up and plant our seedlings as well as the seeds we saved from last year and some we have bought the last few weeks.

In addition to the seedlings, we planted the following seeds: basil and more romaine (from seeds harvested last fall), salad bowl lettuce, kale, broccoli and carrots.  Some of these are cold weather crops, but we wanted to try them anyway.  Our weekend weather was crispy cool in the mornings and warm in the afternoons; perfect spring weather for planting.

We garden organically, so we usually spend time throughout the season weeding the plot.  This year, we are trying some preventative measures.  After planting the seedlings, we laid down newspaper and topped it with dried leaves.  You can barely see some of the tomato seedlings poking out above all that in the picture below. 

Here’s hoping for a bountiful season!  What are you planting this year?

Neighbors, if you want to start an herb garden, I have parsley, oregano, and rosemary seedlings.  If the basil comes up, I should have plenty of that, too.  Come on by to get some!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Make a Palm Sunday Calvary Hill to Display

Last year, on Palm Sunday, like many other people, we folded our palm leaves into crosses.  When I was a child, my mother would place our palm leaves over our picture of The Last Supper that hung in our kitchen.  I liked having this year round reminder of Holy Week, so I have continued this particular tradition; see the photo at the end of this post.  My husband also started a new tradition that our children really enjoy: the palm leaf cross.

In case you need to know how to make a cross with your palm leaf, you fold the leaf into a cross shape by doubling over the two bars of the cross so that the thinner end does not quite finish, but stops in the middle with some to spare.  You then use the remaining length to wrap around the middle of the cross to hold it all together.  I hope you can see how they were folded in this close up; I don’t have pictures of the process because my husband folded them during mass.

My daughters really enjoy carrying around their small green crosses every year, but they also wanted a place to display them in their room.  So, once the crosses dried, we looked around to see what we could use to keep them standing upright.  We found a bag of beads that had once been a bracelet before it broke, poured them into a small mason jar, and nestled the feet of our palm crosses into the beads.  For the last year, my girls have had a visual reminder of Good Friday sitting on their dresser.

Any large glass or plastic beads would work, as would pebbles or stones.  In fact, Martianne at Training Happy Hearts posted a wonderful nature inspired Calvary Hill, which I hope to make with my children either this year or next year.
I wish I could say that this display has encouraged my daughters to pray more often, but that is something I hope to work on this year.  I’m thinking about what we might do with our Palm Sunday crosses this year . . . maybe we’ll glue them onto Easter cards . . . or hang them from a mobile . . .

We are also planning to attend a live Stations of the Cross at our parish on Good Friday this year, so that will give us plenty of opportunity to meditate and discuss the significance of the crucifixion.  I may extend that meditation into a writing exercise for my older daughter and myself.

Also, every year I continue my mother’s tradition and place one of the palm leaves above our image of The Last Supper.  In the picture below, you can see that the palm leaf has fallen down.  This image sits above our kitchen cabinets, and the fallen palm leaf reveals that I don’t get up there as often as I should to clean up. 

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