Saturday, September 7, 2019

The Ugly Garden

Hi, stitching friends!

I am a lazy gardener. You can probably tell that from the photo above. As you can see, I don't prune my tomato plants (and I usually forget to fertilize them), but they grow tons of tomatoes anyway. One year we harvested between 200 and 300 pounds of tomatoes in one summer (from three or four plants).

A couple of years ago (the last time I grew tomatoes), all of the tomato plants died, one by one. I bought them from a greenhouse I had never bought from before, so we took a couple of years off from growing tomatoes and I avoided buying from that greenhouse this year.

It was a rocky start to 2019. About half of my plants were frost killed in May and June.

But the weather stabilized and my survivors, well.... flourished! In the photo above, the Early Girl tomato plant in the foreground is as tall as I am (about 5' 7") and weighs so much that it fell over a few days ago. It has a wire cage for support, but the plant got too heavy. Luckily we had a steel post tucked away so my son grabbed the post pounder and put it in the ground, then we tethered the wire cage to the steel post. Poor plant.

I'm getting five to ten red tomatoes every couple of days, which is a perfect pace, but I know that soon I will be overwhelmed with tomatoes. That's a good problem if you ask me.

This Payette variety is brand new for 2019 and was developed here in Idaho. It's a short, stocky plant, ideal for containers, so I have it in my raised bed. It produces tons of tomatoes then stops producing when the weather starts to turn. My plant is a little over a foot tall, but the stem is as thick (if not thicker) as the tall plants, and as you can see, it's already a hard-working producer. Looking forward to getting some ripe tomatoes from this one!

Farm Fresh

Robin in Virginia surprised me with the chart for "Farm Fresh" by Country Cottage Needleworks. I decided it would make the perfect gift for my favorite farmer, Jan. She has a booth at the farmers' market in my hometown, and in my opinion, her booth is the absolute best. She sells such a creative mix of heirloom veggies. Jan introduced me to romanesco (look it up and look at images... you will be amazed), and she grows the best garlic (purple!) I have ever tasted. She sells purple green beans! And her veggies are cheap, too. It must be a labor of love, because I know how much work and expense goes into a garden.

I thought surprising her with this to let her know how much I appreciate her would be a nice thing to do.

Farm Fresh by Country Cottage Needleworks
Stitched on 32-count Flax Belfast linen
with Colour & Cotton and DMC threads

I finished Farm Fresh into a flat-fold with handmade two-tone cording and a rooster charm. I substituted most of the called-for colors with Colour & Cotton threads (Medieval for the planter boxes, Laurel for the leaves and sunflower stems, Egg Yolk for the sunflowers, and Jack-O-Lantern for the carrots).

The pattern as charted had plain cross stitches for the grass beneath the farm stand. I changed that to a double herringbone stitch using DMC 469 and 3347.

I thought the rooster charm from Bohemian Findings on Etsy would be a nice addition.

In keeping with Robin's spirit of giving, I would like to offer the Farm Fresh chart as a giveaway. If you'd like to win it, please be a sidebar follower and answer the following question in your comment: What is your favorite thing to grow? If you don't have a garden, what is your favorite vegetable?

Have a wonderful week, dear friends. I hope summer holds on a little longer for you... not too hot, though!


  1. I would love to be in your giveaway,my fav thing to grow are tomato's and cucumbers. Love the cucumbers in vinegar and just eating the tomato's with alittle salt and pepper on them. You did a great job on your stitching. big hugs Lynda

    1. Thanks, Lynda! I've entered you in the giveaway.

  2. Please don't include me! What a perfect gift for your friend. I love to visit farmstands, only grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and garlic here. My tomato plants are devoid of leaves and have a few sickly fruits hanging on. Now THAT'S an ugly garden!!

  3. What a great gift for your friend! Isn't Robin a sweetheart??!! I don't have a vegetable garden anymore, but I loved to grow tomatoes, basil, lettuces, cucumbers, squash, eggplants and I always smile when I think of the green beans. Little Mabel would run out the back door to go with me to pick green beans. She loved them as much as me! Right off the vine! :)

  4. For years I've had a huge garden. As I approach the big 70 I'm more conservative in planting a garden. Tomatoes are my favorite veggie to plant. You get a huge return for little investment and so much I cook includes tomatoes or sauce. My next favorite are sugar peas. I'm planting them now for winter use. Living in So. Ca. we're fortunate to have a year round growing season. Thank you for including me in your giveaway. You did a beautiful job on your cross stitch and framing. Patty McDonald

    1. We were just talking the other day about how tomatoes are such a great return on your investment. We must share the same brain! Our Idaho growing season is much too short. I have entered you in the giveaway. :-)

  5. That is a lot of nice looking tomatoes, even if you are a lazy gardener! Do you make salsa or sauce when you have so many?
    I love your Farm Fresh, you displayed it beautifully. Was she thrilled with it?

  6. What a wonderful gift and a labor of love for sure. I will pass as I am determined to finish my current WIPS. Did you make any yard sauce with those tomatoes....they are beautiful.

  7. Farm fresh is a pretty motive, I particularly like the two sunflowers and the great Finsih.
    I would like to participate in your giveaway,
    My plants are Tomatoes - I have 3 pieces in the garden and quite a few harvested - small Cherry tomatoes, you can simply snack.
    Have a good time, Martina

  8. How sweet is Robin .
    What a wonderful stitch love it and your finish looks great.
    Your tomatoes look wonderful . Our green house has died this year and at this moment sits in the skip.
    I grow tomatoes outside I love the little cherry ones the best they are so sweet you can pop them in your mouth like sweets .
    I also love to grow peppers to , and many more .
    I would love to be added in for the sweet chart but I do live in the UK and you may not want to post this far .

  9. Hello Meg,
    a wonderful finish. It looks so beautiful.
    We have a garden, but no vegetables or fruit. My favourit vegetables are asparagus and broccoli.
    Enjoy the Sunday.

  10. Meg: I know what you mean about the tomato plants, I never pruned mine but still got loads of tomatoes.
    I think your stand-up finish is beautiful, I can never get my twisted cord to look as nice as yours does.
    Have a lovely week.

    I would love to be in your giveaway.

  11. Robin is such a generous stitching friend! I love how you finished it into a flat fold. I will pass on your offer, not because I don't love the stitch but it would be years before I get to it.
    I would have to say potatoes are my favorite vegetable. I love any kind of vegetable and right now I'm really looking forward to all the fall vegetables.
    My father had the messiest tomato garden but he supplied all our neighbors with tomatoes. As long as they produce who cares about how it looks! There is nothing like a big juicy summer ripened tomato sandwich!! Thanks again for the lacing tutorial...Mary

  12. Meg, I love your Farm Fresh finish. Super color changes and the finishing as a flat fold is darling (love that rooster charm). Whatever it is you are doing (or not doing), your tomatoes seem to be thriving. What will you do with all your tomatoes? Do you can? Make sauce?

    I love fresh from the garden tomatoes, potatoes, green beans and broccoli along with a few others.

  13. You are so lucky with your tomatoes, Meg! Our soil got infected with some virus from tomatoes sold at the Big Box stores a while back and they are just now finally growing again--but slowly. We had a definite lack of bees this year, too, and I think everything suffered. Time to start our own colony?

    Love your sweet finish--it is perfect as can be and I'm sure the recipient will love it :) I'll pass on the giveaway--seem to have way more charts than I can ever stitch right now :)

  14. I'll pass on the giveaway too. I have quite enough but thanks for your generosity. I have to say that I'm so jealous of those who can grow tomatoes! I'm not sure what I would do if I could and ended up with tons of tomatoes. I think I'll stick with zukes! Love your finish and as a flat fold. Very pretty:)

    1. Oh, Shelly, if it makes you feel any better, I cannot grow zucchini! Haha! (I mean, who can't grow zucchini?!?!... THIS girl!) I get squash bugs and they kill the plant before it really gets going. Squash bugs are sooooo gross.

  15. My husband would be so jealous of your tomatoes. Grocery store ones are awful and we have a hard time growing them here. Soil is just not rich enough. That stitch was adorable. I will pass on the giveaway but what an adorable stitch!


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