Friday, May 29, 2009

Confused Carrots

Above is an example as to why good dirt is essential for a successful kitchen garden. Unfortunately the dirt in our garden consists mostly of silty clay.
When grown in ideally loamy soil, carrots don't turn out so... freakishly beautiful.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I've been fantasizing about wearing this necklace for over a year.
(I love Sudlow's jewelry--can't you tell?)
It reminds me of our Little Mockingbird,
which would make the kids smile.
Do I need it?
Absolutely not.

photo credit:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pests welcome!

Attention all cabbage loopers, army worms, webworms, diamond back moths, grasshoppers, slugs, aphids, fungal gnats, and all other damaging insects! Available vacancy at The Fox Den Garden; dining accommodations included.

I don't know which got here first (us or them), but anything chewing up our garden will either be food for praying mantises and ladybugs, or disposed of organically. Also, my 4-year old son, Rigel, likes adding new caterpillars to his bug jar...he's got quite the collection of cabbage worms and loopers.
When I think about it, nearly each and every plant in our vegetable garden was selected by myself or the kids for its enticing seed packet, then nurtured, obsessed over and observed every day since. We deserve to be a bit overprotective, right?
In other words, bring it on, bugs and worms.
Exception: Monarch caterpillars. Ever since our milkweed has bloomed, we've been keeping an eye out for those tiny monarch caterpillar eggs found hidden on the bottom of of the leaves. We finally found a few this morning! Last year we raised about 15 monarchs from caterpillar to butterfly outside our kid's window, and it was fascinating.
Adult caterpillars left behind only the stems of each plant--I had to buy more milkweed just to accommodate their voracious appetite!
This year we'll just be observers
(and hope we planted enough milkweed).
The best part of the project was releasing the butterflies...after their wings dried out (and after Mommy put down the camera).

I tried not to pay attention to the lovely black swallowtail butterfly that was laying eggs in our carrot greens this month, but of course--our carrot bed has now become a swallowtail butterfly habitat. I've counted 2 caterpillars, so far.

P.S. check out this charming Monarch butterfly on Etsy... it's handmade wool felt and can be a pin or a hair clip. I'm trying hard not to buy it, but I don't know how long that's going to last.

photo of felt butterfly credit: Etsy

Friday, May 22, 2009

Iris season is ending...

Superstition Iris Gardens in Cathey's Valley has been visited annually by my mom for a few years now, and now she's got me hooked. Rick and Roger own the gardens, and they've also created a few of their own iris varieties. They run a very welcoming business, with over 1,000 different live irises on display--all labeled and included on an alphabetized price list. Ask either Rick or Roger where any iris from the price list is located, and the approximate location (amongst the rows and rows of color) can be pointed out in seconds. These guys definitely know their irises! Click here to view their iris photos online.

Here's a couple of my favorites:
appropriately named: "Mariposa Skies"

Planning a trip to Yosemite National Park next spring? If so, be sure to stop by and visit Superstition Iris Gardens. It's located about an hour from Yosemite, and is open through early May.
(Sorry, San Diegans... you'll have to wait until next year--but it'll be worth the drive!)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sweet Peas

I am loving our sweet peas, especially our 'High Scent' variety, which smells divine. I thought gardenia was my favorite floral fragrance, but these intoxicating blooms have won me over. I'm definitely smitten with these creamy, lavender-tinged blossoms--wish I could bottle up their scent and wear it. Sweet Pea 'High Scent' (Lathyrus odoratus) seed packets are available here.
Another favorite sweet pea is the pink-and-purple-clad one (above right)--not the blossoms, but my baby girl! She's peeking through our flower tee pee while I'm admiring our 'Perfume Delight' variety sweet peas... lovely fragrance and colors, but 'High Scent' still takes the cake.

Speaking of sweet peas, I'm also loving my hand-made pea pod necklace... one pea for each of my kiddos. Choose pendants with one to seven peas in a variety of colors from Rachel Sudlow.

jewelry photo credit: Etsy

Radishes recipes, anyone?

So, here we are with lots of radishes from our garden and not a clue as to what to do with them. Salads? Well, my kids aren't big on salads, and as far as I know, the only other thing radishes can be used for is a garnish. Ideas?

Heads up: we are soon to be harvesting daikon (Japanese radish) and turnip (which confuses me because my Japanese grandmother always called turnips "daikon")... more unfamiliar veggies for our family... sure would love to convince my kiddos of how yummy home-grown can be--if only I knew what to do with everything!

Stainless Steel Baby Bottle.

My kids have been off bottles for a while now, but if I had a newborn and weren't able to breastfeed %100 of the time, I would definitely consider these stainless steel bottles. They are BPA, PVC and phthalate free (harmful chemical compounds found in plastic). Lots of different designs are available, and they are lightweight and non-leaching. I'm impressed, and maybe missing newborn motherhood a little bit. But, I have enough to smile about with my two little ones!
photo from:

Mommy Daughter Aprons

These reversible aprons have pockets on both sides, adjustable straps, adorable patterns (including organic fabric selections), and are available in Mommy as well as Tot sizes. An optional "Mommy apron" doubles as a nursing cover. Pretty darn cute. Created by a mother, these aprons are available from
photo from amusemebaby

Catch the sun in a mason jar!

At first when I came across this product, I thought it was charming idea, (though the reviews on were pretty disappointing). It's basically a genuine mason jar with an inner solar light. It holds a soft, sunny-colored glow at night (and charges in the sun during the day).
These would be great for outdoor summer evenings, so why not try and make them ourselves?
It's pretty easy--just purchase a mason jar with attached lid (ex: Ikea), some glass frosting spray, cheap solar garden light, and some Blue Tak. Click here for the tutorial.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crack open this Mother's Day gift!

Rather than the conventional Mother's Day flowers, I got my mom these Egglings, in spirit of her new baby chickens (all 5 of them!)... Mom's got 2 yellow chicks, 1 black chick, and 2 brown chicks that lay blue eggs. I don't remember the official names of the breeds she selected, but they sure are cute!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Seasons on an Organic Farm

"An elegy to the land and to the creatures who inhabit it...the book is also a gardener's bible." --Anne Raver, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Also, check out this interview of the author.