Tomato Update: Too much rain, not enough sun.

We’ve had record-breaking rain, almost four inches above normal for July with little sun in between. Two weeks ago our tomato plants were exploding! The rich green leaves were lush with loads of baby tomatoes and blossoms! I was so optimistic I planned on canning for the first time ever and started buying supplies. Twenty-six tomato plants could mean sauce all winter and gifting jars of them to friends and family! This morning I have already pruned about a third of the plants due to fungus and many of the blossoms have died. The cherry tomatoes in the containers behind our house collapsed yesterday under the weight of the rain along with a gusty wind. Because we’ve had so little sun, and there is less sun behind our house, they had grown taller than their stakes (I read they will grow too tall if this happens) and I hadn’t yet topped them off. Now they are about half of what they were.

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Floaters and Passers-By

I went to my eye doctor last week, and I officially have my first “floater” which can occur with maturing eyes. It kind of looks like an amoeba floating by on repeat. I guess the good news is that now, instead of just tinnitus, I have a full audio-visual experience! Thankfully, just like my tinnitus, it’s not noticeable all of the time, and when it is, I’ve gotten better at not being annoyed or anxious. I also recently had an audiogram to make sure the hearing loss in my right ear hasn’t worsened and it’s actually improved a bit!

Wayne and I recently went on a ferry ride to tour the Islands which we like to do in the summer. If you visit Portland, which just made #8 in U.S. News list of best places to live, I highly recommend you take a ride!

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Meditations with Summer Tomatoes

Since we first started an annual summer vegetable garden in 2016, I’ve experienced the deep healing that can occur from its creation, care and harvest. Last year I discovered that I really enjoy the task of tomato tying. Sometimes, maybe you can relate, my mind will get tangled up with worries. It never fails that when I go outside to tie the growing tomatoes to their stakes that I immediately relax and let go of it all. It’s a very simple task where I can show my appreciation for the plants and God. They leave a relaxing scent on my hands, too. I’m able to temporarily transcend my temporal concerns and feel connected to the real world of earth, sun and sustenance. It’s these “small” tasks that feed us.

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Coastal Maine is in Bloom!

So many Rhododendrons are in bloom, along with lilacs and not-known-to me flowers. Sunday morning we drove down to St. Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery in Kennebunk where chipmunks run freely and the scent of flowers is in the air. After our walk we were approached by a lady who gave us little works of original art!

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Our Two Acre Homestead is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat!

I’m thrilled to report that our land is now registered and certified by the National Wildlife Foundation as a wildlife habitat! Many of you know how hard I’ve worked over the past few years to embrace a natural lawn without the use of herbicides. I’ve fought to protect our vernal pool from abutting disturbances, turned down an offer from a local real estate broker who wanted to buy some of our land, and had our vernal pool documented by the Maine DEP to prevent improper development in the future once I’m no longer here to protect it. We also have a stream, woods, owls, fern garden, and lots of wildlife! Chipmunks, squirrels, peepers, voles, deer, wild turkeys and many other different species of birds live amongst us. We have all of the five essential elements needed to become certified, and one of them is controlling invasive species which includes keeping cats indoors if you have them. You don’t need to have a large backyard or acreage to become certified!

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Hedge Fund Investments: Divine Dividends

When most people think of a house as being an investment, it means they spend money on things that will contribute to financial gain when they sell it in a few years or more. We live in a culture of a “starter home” mentality where the belief is that one should always be buying something bigger and more expensive when able. When I bought my house my goal was for it to be my “forever” home, so one of my long-term investments for which I’m now enjoying the gains are my natural window treatments of the street-facing windows in my sunroom. A small investment in two potted perennials which have been nurtured for ten years have blossomed into the gorgeous privacy screen of my dreams!

What are some long-term investments you’ve made in your home simply for the joy it brings you and not because your ROI will be financial gain?

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Gardening Adventures: Tomato Babies! Chipmunk Babies!

Normally we wait until Memorial Day weekend to plant the tomato babies, as I call them, but with the unusually warm temps it was safe to plant them this past weekend. We decided it was a good value to spend $65 to have the many bags of soil delivered to save wear and tear on Wayne’s back. This summer will be the greatest amount of tomato plants we’re growing: 26 of them! Besides the Lemon Boys we have Black Cherry, Yellow Pear, Roma, Cherokee Purple, Carolina Gold and Supersonic. In addition to the two raised beds we have ten containers spread out on our deck and behind our house. I’m looking forward to a fun growing season and this weekend didn’t disappoint.

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I Choose Kindness Over Suburban Cosmetics

I want to help save the bees and also save my conscience. As I’ve written in the past we stopped paying for “lawn care” companies to come and spray toxins on our grass. The financial savings is nice but saving the bees from being poisoned is our priority. Wayne comes from a lifetime of striving for golf-course like grass. He didn’t like when a chipmunk left some dirt from digging a burrow. Now he loves them as if they are our own children and he loves the bees. We NEED BEES. So we’ve had to make some personal attitude shifts and changes, and it’s ongoing.

I learned last spring during the pandemic that I actually enjoy weeding dandelions. It’s meditative and excellent exercise. In the past few weeks I believe I may have uprooted over two hundred in our front yard. We love clover and that stays. But there is a new weed that has begun to join the fray and I know that I will have to make my peace with it.

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When Life Hands You Lemon Boys

My adventures in securing potted annual flowers and tomato plants, with Lemon Boys being the most desired began early this morning. It’s strange seeing how much has changed since I was out and about a year ago. For example, a century old church was razed and there is a new apartment building being constructed. Marijuana dispensaries with names like House of Hash (Maine legalized marijuana) have popped up near the mall/big box store area where I was headed. The super friendly and helpful older lady who has worked the cash register at the Big Box plant nursery for over twenty years is no longer working there, and the two younger replacements weren’t helpful. No one knew where the tomato plants were but I finally found three sad ones on mostly empty shelves. I knew I was done with that place. The nice lady was the only reason why I still went in the past. Since the pandemic I’m less tolerant of things that wear and tear on my psyche. Bye bye Big Box store! I did notice some pretty, low priced hanging flowering plants on my way out, though. Not for me, I’m done, so over that chain of questionable repute. Onward!

But I knew what that meant. I’d have to go to the very nice locally owned nursery with the horrifying chaotic overcrowded narrow parking lot situation where I once almost got run over by an elderly lady on a moped.

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