inside the box was one contigo 16 oz. insulated tumbler and one lodge logic 5 quart dutch oven with lid. the dutch oven was bigger than i expected, glad i didn't get the 7 quart version instead. my first cast iron! i dare not let any of my roommates use it though, for fear of them ruining it. all my other pots and pans have been abused, why wouldn't this suffer a similar fate if released into public circulation? especially since cast iron cookware require special care, like periodic seasoning. i put the dutch oven back in its box and hid it in my bedroom. i'll use it when my roommates aren't home.
instead of naturing on this unseasonably warm day, i decided on the more labor-intensive option, returning to belmont to get my garden on. my mother was supposed to be home but instead i found my father, recuperating from some feet pain after walking to the cafe yesterday morning (he blames bad shoes).
my father was busy converting the area by the spigot back into non-garden space. he working on the theory that they've been experiencing more periodic basement flooding because we've been planting right next to the house. that's basically the reason why we're doing raised beds this season. but he also wants to edge the house with plastic sheets and either put mulch or gravel on top of that. i don't think it'll do anything to prevent the flooding, and in fact, i believe it'll make it worse, because rain will pool on the plastic sheets and any water below ground won't be able to evaporate through that barrier.
so while my father was tamping down the dirt and laying out a new pathway with broken pieces of concrete and stones found throughout the backyard, i was preoccupied with weeding all the dandelions that suddenly sprouted on the lawn. i think the temperature almost reached the 80's today, but what made it worse was the humidity. i was baking underneath my black jeans and trickles of salty sweat stung my eyes. periodically i'd wash the dirt and weed guts from my hands from one of the rain barrels. with more rainstorms predicted for tomorrow, we have a surplus of rain water. the water also felt cold, which came as a brief relief on this hot day.
i tried to take in as much of the flowering trees and bushes as possible; depending on the severity of tomorrow's rainstorm, the rain and wind could strip off all the flower petals. my only regret is i didn't have a chance to go around the neighborhood photographing the flowering trees.
more activity in raised bed number 1: the arugula seedlings are getting bigger, and some of the lettuces have germinated as well, both "vivian" and "roman emperor" variety. i've realized i've made a strategic mistake by not staggering the seedings. now they're all going to mature at the same time and we'll have more leafy greens than what we know to do with them. i'm still waiting on the basil and the cilantro. that the basils haven't sprouted is actually kind of a surprise, because normally in my grow closet they're one of the first things to emerge.
my sister is taking a more active role in gardening this season. she's always been sort of a passive gardener, maybe making a suggestion when she overhears us discussing what to grow, or going out and plunking some basil and tomatoes. maybe inspired by the raised bed construction that's been going on all this month, she has his romantic notion of beautiful flower beds and a lovely herb garden, and has actually gone out and purchased some seeds. of course she buys more than what we can actually grow (or buys seeds with a high degree of germination difficulty, like lavender), but hopefully this will be a learning experience.
looking to take advantage of every square inch of gardening space, we decided to sow some seeds in between the rows of leafy greens: 2 rows of carrots, 2 rows of radish, 2 rows of beets, and a single row of nasturtium just for kicks (although their spicy leaves are edible, so it's not entirely crazy).
we also replanted a bunch of mint in the minibed, back in the original spot where they'd been growing for the past few years. the minibed is actually in a low sunlight area, only getting exposure in the mornings until around early afternoons, but we still planted a perennial thyme that matthew gave my sister, as well as one of our overwintering rosemary. my sister will also plant a couple of sage plants once we figure out where the rest of them should be planted.
elsewhere in the garden:
at first i thought it was a bleeding heart, then maybe a celandine, but now i think it's a transplanted wood poppy. i probably have some records but i'm too lazy to look it up. there are already flower buds so in a few days i should know for sure. wood poppies and celandines are close cousins (poppy family) so that's why the leaves look so similar.
last year was the first season the peonies were in their new homes. growing on the shady eastern side of the yard, these sun-loving flowering plants had been stunted for years. relocating them to the sunnier western side, their roots were already atrophied and i didn't think most of them would make it. but peonies are very hardy plants (heirlooms in fact, passed down from generations). given better conditions, they'll thrive again. last year i was just happy they didn't die and were sprouting up more leaves than i'd seen in ages. this year i'm hoping maybe to see a flower or two. i won't be too disappointed if i don't, since these plants were in pretty bad shape, but it'd be a real spring treat. i remember when we first moved to this house these peonies actually flowered every year.
the yellow-green flowers of maple trees are unassuming, none of the extravagance of some other trees. what flare they lack during spring they make up for come fall with their dazzling array of foliage colors.
i found a morel mushroom today. about the size of a large acorn, it's not big enough to eat so i'm just going to leave it alone, hopefully it'll spore more morels for next year.
the white-edged hostas are the first ones to unfurl; i'm still waiting for the blue-green hostas, which are much older and bigger. hostas have to be protected by cages because they grow in an area of the yard where hailey occasionally crash through in pursuit of squirrels. even with cages, sometimes the dog will trample through them anyway, too absorbed the chase to avoid obstacles.
one area of the yard that doesn't need any care is the cover ground of vincas. not even sure where they came from, i'm assuming from the adjoining backyard of our next door neighbors. they do very well, with leathery deep green leaves and periwinkle-colored pinwheel flowers. occasionally a mustard garlic will try to sprout within, in which case i prompted uproot. there are also some ground ivy but they seem to be no match for the vincas; the ground ivy keep to the grass in a manageable amount. there are also a few money plants; how they go there is a mystery, but they had a touch of mid-spring magenta to the vinca flowers.
my father left for the cafe in the afternoon to take my great uncle to his routine doctor's appointment. he came back a few hours later which was a surprise because i thought he would relieve my mother so she could come home. he brought some cafe leftovers which i had later for dinner (while both my father and sister ate ramen). i left when my mother finally returned home.
before i left, i got a chance to try out the contigo tumbler. it's definitely water tight, i couldn't release any liquid unless i pressed the button. after filling it up with boiled water (something that the instructions actually told me not to do, more on that later), my father immediately stated it couldn't keep something warm for very long: while the body of the tumbler is very well insulated, the plastic lid however is not, and feels hot to touch, meaning some heat was escaping from the top. nevertheless, supposedly it can keep hot for 4 hours or keep cold for 12 hours. another thing i noticed when i used it: because the liquid is sealed inside and i drink from a little hole, i can't see what i'm drinking so i can't judge the temperature of the fluid until it hits my mouth. it took me a long time to drink because i was so afraid of scalding my lips. i ended up unscrewing the lid to make sure the temperature was safe before drinking through the hole. the contigo is still pretty useful, but if you're looking for an insulated container with better heat retention, look for something that has an insulated lid as well.
i was certain victor and gise would be back at home decompressing after 5 days in new york city, so i was surprised to find the house empty. i took a shower and waited for them to get back. they didn't return until 11:30, having survived the 4 hour bus ride. they came back with more luggage than they left with, including bags of souvenirs. they bandied in the kitchen briefly before retiring for the evening. i'll hear all about their NYC adventures tomorrow. from the looks of it they seemed to have had a good time.