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Sunday
Aug182013

Front of the house update.

The front of the house has always been the cause of many headaches for me. It is cute and interesting and special and all, but it is actually so special that everything you do needs to be considered well or it would go from special to crazy. You know what I mean? There´s so much going on here with the gingerbready gable and these arches over the windows and the huge windows that I´d rather not add any further drama. 

But what I actually wanted to say is, we have a new gate! If you can´t remember the old one, here´s a picture of the front of the house two years ago. The old gate was original to the house so we had planned to somehow restore it, but it turned out that the wood was so rotten that this wasn´t an option. Plus, I dreaded another winter with a gate that would only open and close when I gathered all my strengths and said seven magic spells. So with the help of this year´s tax return, we got a new one, and I am thrilled with it. For the time being, it is natural wood - partly because I can´t make a decision on a paint color (headaches) and partly because we think it may be a good option to leave it like that. The wood is larch, which doesn´t have to be treated at all but should actually "weather" a bit before being painted so we could always do so at a later point in time. For now, I really like it as it is. Its look will change with age of course, but I think the end result will actually be close to the color of those arches over the windows... which was my intention anyway. Whatever we end up doing, we´ll go the same route once we´ll replace the gable so that all the wooden elements will be consistent.

I would love to know what the front of our house looked like when it was just built. What was the color of the gable, the gate and the windows? Plus it seems that there used to be window shutters? And did the vestibule have some sort of exterior doors - there are hinges? I have been asking around in the village for old photographs but no luck so far. Sigh. I should really make some effort to find the original owners who fled to Western Germany somewhen in the 70ies...

Tuesday
Aug132013

The science of growing food.

Can I tell you a secret? While I am quite proud of my vegetable garden, I have basically no idea what I am doing. Case in point: The quantities of our harvest are way off. We had and have too much fresh produce like salad and spinach and radishes etc, and not nearly enough root vegetables. 

The other day the husband asked me to pleeeeease not cook anything with chard anymore. He´s over it and frankly, I am too. I filled lots of freezer bags with the stuff already and now I need to make my peace with the fact that some of it won´t get eaten. Which is hard, because I am totally my mother´s daughter who *has* to pick up even the smallest wormy apple that has fallen from the tree. I´ve grown it, so I must eat it, right? Anyway, from my TV watching days I remember Monty Don throwing giant zucchini on his compost heap while telling his viewers that in a garden, nothing is ever wasted. That´s the spirit I need to work on.  

It has gotten so far that I am actually relieved when something is not growing very well. Like my cucumbers who decided to die on me after two weeks of productivity. It made for exactly five glasses of pickles and that´s just fine. For some reason, our fruit trees fall into the same category. Due to the very rainy spring we had, we won´t have many plums this year and I think maybe two apples? This feels weird after the glut we had last year. But I am not complaining. We always have chard! And better luck next year. 

Thursday
Aug082013

The vegetably garden in July.

We´ve had a proper heat wave in July, kind of making up for all the rain in June. Really extreme weather this summer I have to say... Most of the plants in the veggie garden liked the heat though.

Like the tomatoes! It doesn´t look like much here, but I do think once they are all ripe we´ll have plenty. Fingers crossed!

Blooming dill, so pretty. I use it to make pickles!

I planted a lot of basil this year with limited success but this corner is thriving. Pesto!

The raised bed is well over its peak. This weekend I will pull out all what´s left of the chamomile and also the sugar snaps. All the salad has bolted, so this will go as well. Time to plant winter salads! Also, look at that wall of scarlet beans...

So pretty, right? (Yes I think even a veggie garden has to be pretty).

The zucchini are a bit disappointing. I tried a variety with round fruits this year (they get quite big if you let them - look here). They are delicious (and yes, pretty) but the plants are full of male flowers (which do not produce any fruit), so we have had exactly three so far. Impressive! Back to a more common variety next year.

Little cucumbers for pickling!

All in all, the garden is still feeding us well. Lots of chard, beets, kohlrabi, carrots and we noticed that we can slowly start to harvest the turnips, too! The potatoes will come out this weekend. We pulled out all of the onions and garlic last week and while we have plenty of garlic, I think we have maybe five onions. They don´t like this soil, the neighbors told us so (we didn´t listen of course) and also there was the flood. Well, well. We´re on a steep learning curve with this little garden!

Happy weekend!

Monday
Aug052013

At dusk.

A few years back when I first got my DLSR, all I actually wanted is to learn how to shoot pictures in low natural light. I really dislike using flash and at that time I was living in a very dark apartment, so yeah. And well, once I had figured out how to operate my camera in manual mode a whole new world opened to me. 

I remember when we had the shooting for the Ikea Magazine at our old house in Vienna, the professional photographer winced when he saw all the sunlight that flooded the rooms. Darkness, I learned, isn´t a problem with professional photography, but too much light actually is. 

I am far from being a professional photographer but by now, I get what he was talking about. I took my camera on a long walk with Ludwig this evening and I wanted to show you the result. These pictures are shot with a wide open aperture, which is what my lense does best really, and I think they turned out beautiful. I love the colors and the texture. 

These days, I really enjoy taking pictures again after a long period of "just taking photos because I know I´ll regret it if I don´t". And I think I am getting better at it.

Related: I am still mourning the old Flickr. It used to be such a great platform for photography, with a wonderful community and a decent design and everything actually worked fine, but they needed to destroy all that with running that horrible "update" a while back. Now everything is busy and crowded and takes forever to load, and I don´t really want to use it any more. So it´s a good thing I have this blog and can annoy you with my pictures! Ha.

Have a good week! 

Wednesday
Jul312013

The walled garden in July.

The star of the early July walled garden were the hollyhocks. It´s the first year for them to bloom, and they were so pretty (yes, were, it´s a short pleasure with hollyhocks). The only weird thing is that I somehow managed to plant all the yellow varieties on the right while all the purple ones are on the left. Not my intention, but they looked lovely anyway.

Am I right?

Elsewhere, the July garden started out very vibrant. Too vibrant for my taste. Thankfully, this held up only for a week or so, and then the colors started to tone down.

Echinacea, my love. Welcome back.

I love you in white as well.

This was mid July. See what I mean about the colors toning down?

This is a variety of Origanum Laevigatum (I think). One of the plants that really thrive in this soil and thankfully also one of my favorites.

Here´s another variety in a darker purple together with a yellow Achillea and some very persistent lupins. Love this color combination.

Some Aster varieties have already started to bloom. Lovely and sad as this always means that we are nearing the end of summer.

Here´s some pink phlox that has gone crazy this year and also, a finished deck. (!!) Besides the railing, we added some cladding (which I am undecided whether to paint or not) and also, there are stairs! Finally! It´s really awesome not having to climb a ladder anymore. Oh and also, I painted our hideous plastic back door so that I can live with it for another year or so. I think it turned out well.

(P.S.: The husband is really sad that nobody commented on my last post to say how great he did with the railing. FYI.)

Bonus picture! Not really in the walled garden, but right around the corner. This is the fence of our chicken coop to be. I tried to grow sweet peas for the first time this year and while I failed in other areas, these here are doing mighty fine.