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June 8, 2005

The Joys of Summer

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Summer in Minnesota is short so you have to make the most of it. We have a tendency to try to cram as much as possible into our free time - resulting in a weekend full of chores, projects and social obligations.

Last Sunday Graham woke up and asked, “Can we go on a picnic today?” Brian and I looked at each other and said, “Why not?”

I packed up a basket of sandwiches, chips, pickles and bottled water, and we drove to our favorite local park. Graham picked out a good-looking tree that had some shade, and we spread a blanket underneath it. Boom - instant picnic.

It was a perfect day, not too hot with just enough wind to keep the bugs off, and surprisingly quiet. After eating, Graham played on the climbers, discovered his prowess on the rings and went down the slide many times.

Our whole outing lasted little more than an hour but it changed the way we looked at the day. We still got a few chores and projects accomplished later but the focus was on working together to achieve them.

We slowed down to enjoy being together and being outdoors.

Isn’t that what summer should be all about?

Willow Furniture

One of Brian’s weekend chores was to seal all the willow furniture with a mixture of linseed oil and spirit of turpentine. This will help the furniture last longer amid the elements. All but two of these pieces were custom made for us by Shirley Schultz in Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Shirley does amazing work for very reasonable prices. The only kicker is you have to drive to her home in the woods to get it, more than 90 minutes from the metro area. Let me know if you’d like her contact information. We recommend her highly.

Wildlife Watch

We placed a thistle feeder for goldfinches outside of Graham’s bedroom window so he could have a front row seat to their antics. He enjoys watching them flit about and has been known to shriek at the top of his lungs, “COME HERE NOW!”

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Which causes both Brian and me drop everything to run to him at breakneck speed, only to discover that now there are TWO yellow birds at the feeder when before there was only ONE.

We’re pleased that he has enjoyed learning about all the different birds in our back yard, from mallards to "car-din-als" and hummingbirds to Mama Robin. He’s our little Nature Boy.

Tasty Summertime Treats

We’ve been trying to get more fruits and vegetables into Graham’s diet and have found smoothies to be the trick. The other night I included a ripe mango, frozen bananas, strawberries and both honeydew and cantaloupe melon in the mix along with vanilla yogurt. I whizzed it all up in the blender, poured a glass for Graham, and then threw a handful of fresh mint from the garden and whizzed it again for an adult version. It was sweet and refreshing and cool. The mint really added intensity to the flavor.

The great thing about smoothies is if you have more than you can drink, just pour the mixture into home made popsicle containers for delicious frozen snacks. My favorite so far is banana-mango.

Another thing I tried the other day was adding a sprinkle of chive blossoms to my lettuce salad. They give salad greens a bite and are pretty to boot.

Garden Chores This Week

- Fertilize and spray the roses
- Turn the compost bin and empty the contents of the “cooked” bin onto the perennial beds
- Plant green beans and calendulas
- Plant cannas and the “mystery tubers”
- Plant the final annuals I started from seed
- Cut back the remaining asters to create bushier, less floppy, plants
- Harvest rhubarb and make chutney?
- Attack the clover that is invading the prairie bed

Posted by maasx003 at June 8, 2005 9:48 PM | Family | Gardens


Hi Jackie...love reading these stories about Graham almost as much as the gardening....you mentioned fertilizing and spraying your roses.... As a novice rose grower this year, I'm fertilizing, but not spraying. Should I be spraying? What chemical/brand are you spraying? Help, I'm now spranxious.

Hugs. Gretchen J.

PS. what was the mystery flower from last week? I never quite figured it out...

Posted by: Gretchen Johns at June 9, 2005 7:11 AM

Hi Jackie,

What a good point you make about taking out some time from garden chores to spend time away relaxing. I find this time of year, there is so much to do in the garden you can get a bit overwhelmed.

You work so hard at making everything perfect that you forget to take some time to look at it and enjoy it.

I'll try your idea of using chive blossoms in salad - goodness knows I have lots of chive blossoms (LOL).

Posted by: Mia Goff at June 9, 2005 8:27 AM

Hi, Gretchen –

I spray my roses with Ortho Systemic Rose Spray. Spraying helps control the little bugs and beasties that attack your roses but the biggest reason to do it is to prevent black spot.

Black spot is a fungus that causes rose leaves to develop black spots (obviously), turn yellow and drop off. The fungus releases spores that fall to the ground. If you water roses overhead with a sprinkler and don’t have mulch below your plants, the spores can be carried back up to the plant from a splash of water and reinfect it. So it is important to pick up and dispose of any infected leaves (don’t compost them), mulch below your plants and water from beneath.

It’s best to start spraying early in the season and to do it weekly. Early in the morning on a calm morning is best because the heat of the sun is hard on leaves that have been coated with chemical. This being said, I haven’t actually started doing it myself this season.

For more information on black spot, visit the University of Minnesota Extension Service website at http://www.extension.umn.edu/ and do a search.

Good luck!


And the mystery plant? All will be revealed with the next posting!

Posted by: Jackie at June 9, 2005 8:59 AM