Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh, the zucchinis... and the other green things

I can safely say that my very first vegetable garden is successful, if not as varied as I had planned at Spring. I've had so much fun harvesting zucchinis, sweet peas, lettuce and yellow and green beans, as well as various fresh herbs. I must say, though, that we have zucchinis coming out of our ears, as even giving some away is not enough to keep our stack down. I have already decided on only 1, maaaybe 2 zucchini plants next year, in stead of 4. (What was I thinking growing 4 of them, right?)

There's also the issue of mildew on zucchini plants. This is the white'ish layer you see on the leaves on the following image. The fruit is still very safe to eat,  but the plant is less healthy. I am trying to remove / control this powdery mildew with a homemade all-natural remedy (2 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate, 2 teaspoon vegetable oil and 2,5 L water), but it has not been an easy task! The only real solution is to remove all affected plants so it doesn't spread. :( I am still reluctant to revert to that solution at this point!

Garden in August

As it is now, the rest of the vegetable patch does not seem to get affected by the mildew. However, the tomatoes seem to have a hard time turning red. I have a lot of them, but they're all green, even though we are nearly at the end of August. I can't figure out why! 

The pumpkins, on the other hand, have grown quite a bit bigger and in the last couple of weeks, have taken a very lovely pumpkin color! Even though the plant itself is huge, and comes up with tiny baby pumpkins all the time, I only have 3 pumpkins that seem to be developing properly, and here's a picture of the biggest of them, at 2 different times this month. 

pumpkins - August 10, 2012
pumpkins - August 24, 2012

Meanwhile, on the terrace by the shed, my chili in pots are producing cute little chili peppers. Like the tomatoes, they are still green, and I don't know if they'll have time to turn red before the colder season, but it's still fun to see! 

Will they turn red before winter, you think?
I think that's it for the garden update!

I will end this post by saying that there soon will be a new exciting development in our garden, and I CAN'T WAIT to share the whole thing with you guys! So stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.

Oooh my oh my. :) :) :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Extending the flower joy

I absolutely love the warmer months, from the moment the first flower blooms, until the fall of the last few leaves in our trees. I enjoy them not only for the warmer temperatures, but also for the palette of colors Spring, Summer and Fall has to offer. It is a delight for the eyes and an inspiration for the artist's mind.

When I moved from Canada to Denmark, I lost a bit of heat in the summer months, as temperatures don't go quite as high, and the danish (near constant) wind tends to cool the air down. However, I did gain longer Spring and Fall seasons, and milder winters, which suits me juuuust fine.

But it doesn't matter how short or mild winter can be, it will always be too cold and too grey for my taste. This must be the reason why my motivation to paint usually resurfaces at Fall, after a break during the warmer months. I love colors and can not be long without them!

I got (and still get) so much joy out of my yard / garden this year, that I wondered how I could carry this joy with me through the winter time. I know it's still early, and summer is still here. August and September tend to be really nice here in Denmark, but still... I have to be prepared. And if I want to preserve a bit of summer, it is now that I must act. My solution: Flower pressing.

Like most of us, I have tried pressing leaves here and there between the pages of a book, but this time, I wanted a proper press. So, a new project was born, carried out and completed, and this is how it went:

I took a leftover piece of hardwood floor and cut it in two. I drilled wholes at the 4 corners of each panel, for eventual bolts.

I sanded the backside of the panels, which I then painted and varnished to make them more appealing.  The smooth hard wood becomes the inner sides of the press. There's no real technical reason, I just liked it better that way.  :)

I cut out pieces of cardboard and sheets of papers to fit the press. The layering should be as followed:  "Wood, cardboard, paper, flowers, paper, cardboard, wood". Many layers of cardboard and paper can be added.

 I then went around and clipped pretty flowers and leaves, and placed them in my flower press, which I tighten using bolts and wing nuts.

The bolts I had at my disposal are not quite long enough. They work fine for now, but I will eventually get longer bolts, which will allow me to add many more layers to my press. 

In 2-3 weeks, I should be able to take the dried flowers and leaves out and use them in artistic creations. This will be a first for me, and I am very much looking forward to it, as ideas of what to do with these pieces of nature are already forming in my head. :)

What would you do with dried/pressed flowers?