Wednesday, May 28, 2014

To Top Things Off

This was our lucky day!
Tom came home with a brand new patio table umbrella,
a nice big one too.  Free!
It doesn't have a crank handle so you have to push it up,
place a pin in the pole and then reverse the process to lower it.
The customer didn't care for it so she gave it to my husband 
while he was working on her house.

Mom had given us a snap on umbrella light that has variable 
brightness and color settings while also being able 
to shine down, up or both at the same time.
 The pole resting on the table is the piece that should 
   be inserted into the umbrella stand holder beneath the table.
The top piece is actually fine, it just needed to be tightened 
so it would stand up.  

This gives us a couple of tables with umbrellas which is handy 
when we have guests.  Some sit at the tables or gather by 
the fire pit, some rest on the covered porch or sit on the garden walls.   
I like to put the cushions on the loungers and star watch
but end up with at least one or two cats in my lap!


Sitting in the Garden Chairs

After all the work is done, we sit together in the garden chairs.
We talk about the plants, the family, our plans and how sore we are
now that we're not young kids anymore. 

They were my brother in law's chairs before they moved
away for awhile, rescued from a job site along with a matching
round table.  They are a bit shabby and need a new coat of paint,
but don't we all by the time the highlight of our day is resting in the garden!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Blackberry and Elderberry Boxes

I have three new garden boxes for berry plants:
two thornless blackberries and one Elderberry.
I'm still looking for an Elderberry pollinator, Wyldwood,
 which is supposed to be the best match for my  Bob Gordon.
 I may have to break down and mail order them.

Tom cut the boards for me.  I was going to try but
I didn't realize it was this saw and I can't hold it one-handed.

I did start to screw the boxes together but for time's sake,
he took over and got all of the boxes completed in no time.
I have the three already mentioned planted.
There is a 4th for my fig tree and then another for his hops.
The fig is a Chicago fig and supposed to be OK for my zone.
He also made me a  4 x 4  raised flower bed.

We loaded them into his trailer 

and took them up to the garden with his tractor.

The dirt scoop came in handy.
  I mixed this dirt with peat moss and then planted
three of the boxes. The other two will wait for another day.

We used to have tons of blackberries lining the road until the 
developers sprayed them.  Now there are none.   
I decided to try the thornless variety to see how they did,
I remember going to work last year looking like I'd been in a cat fight
after a day of picking, and I picked most every day! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Closed, Really?

Is it just me, or does anyone else dislike this method
of closing pancake mix?
First, I about break my nails when I try to peel it.
Secondly,  I have almost no nails- they are cut very short,
almost nonexistent, so it's not a vanity thing .
I end up using a knife to pry it open and cut out the dotted lines.

And this is closed?
Why don't they put a resealable bag inside the box?
Not only would it protect the contents after it is open
but while it is in storage or transit.

Would it add that much to the cost as opposed to 
lessening frustration, keeping the contents fresh and not attracting bugs?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Todd Looks for a Girlfriend

Meet Todd.
He was crossing our driveway this morning
looking like he was searching for a girlfriend.

And he found one!
Oops, wrong species.
Taylor was willing but Todd had his doubts
that the relationship would work.

So although rejected, Taylor cared enough to set him free.
Onward Todd goes to complete his search,
or eat some worms
or maybe an insect or two.
Definitely not my garden!!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Bees Enjoying Flowers

The honeysuckle is in full bloom, it's sweet aroma filtering through the garden.
The bees are in flying from one flower to the other, climbing entirely inside 
and then out again to the next.  They don't seem to care if I am right next
to them or bend down this close to get their photo.

(Disregard the music, we have outdoor speakers in the courtyard
and an internet radio station that plays miscellaneous tunes)

The big bees sometimes hover right at face level while I'm working 
in the garden, almost as if they are just wondering what I'm doing.
They move aside if I need through and have never been aggressive.

This little bee was perched on the pink zinnia that rests in pots by the front steps.

We're going to attend beekeeping classes so we're ready to
clean up these hives that our friends passed on to us. This is one of them
but not necessarily all the pieces.  My husband is bringing them over a bit at a time.

Hopefully we will have bees next year and some great honey!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Garden Decorations

I am a great fan of frogs 
(and you too, toads).
  I can't think of anything more relaxing than sitting
out on the porch on a summer night and listening to
all the croaks and shrill whistles flowing out from 
moist leaves or from the cracks between paver blocks.

 When the culvert fills up for a few days after a hard rain
I bring up the red Solo cups to scoop up their floating eggs
and redeposit them into our courtyard fountain or the garden pond.

I love lawn ornaments too,
scattering them around the courtyard gardens.

    Little frogs and a chicken candle holder from my mom.
A little bunny peeking under the stella d'oro 
Mary watching over all of us

The frog statue that my grandmother had on her porch
and that I took home to my garden when we were 
closing up her house.

A cow skull my husband brought home years ago
from a construction location
(that gets some strange looks from our city friends)

And the little girl that sits among the hostas,
a gift from my mother in law that matches one at her  house.

One of my cute windchimes. 

Last, but not least, my birdbath!

What's scattered about your garden?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fishing Line Fence- Deer

Our garden is at the edge of the woods on our 5 acre lot
so needless to say there are plenty of deer checking out
the delicious vegetables that they assume is their buffet.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to fence at the top of our rocky ridge,
T-posts barely get deep enough and only with a lot of effort.
We've surrounded two of the larger beds with them as best we can.

Soon it is obvious that the deer are coming close so  I
make a trip to the local store and stock up on items to make
my deer fence.

*any sort of aluminum pie tins, cookie sheets or cake pans
*fishing line
Duct tape
* scissors or a knife

I cut stips out of the cake or cookie tins then put a hole in the 
top of each.  If I use the pie tin, I leave it whole.
Then I attach a doubled section of twine
long enough to flap in the breeze but not hit the plants.
I then attach them to the T-posts on the garden perimeter
and add some to the cattle panels inside the boxes.
I may need to shorten the twine as the plant grows.
The tins bang and flap in the breeze hopefully scaring off  
anything that might want to nibble on the veges.

After securing the tins to either the cattle panels or T-posts
I then tie off the fishing line to a corner T-post.  
I wind it around a couple of time and then string it to the next post
and so on until the box is almost completely closed.
 Every so often I tie off the line so it won't all collapse
if it is broken in one place.
I have decided to leave a  small entry this year rather
than trying to step over or duck under the line.

When the deer approach the garden they can't see the line,
but they can feel something pressing against them.
This spooks them and more often than not, they turn away.
Of course I too cannot see this line so I have added
a few pieces of duct tape around the line here and there.
Last year I broke the line several times!

We have been pretty successful in keeping the deer out
as long as we continue to repair any broken line.
It does not help with birds though and I may need netting 
for the beans which they seem to nip off all the time.  

$10 Trimmer Deal

We got an amazing deal on a Black & Decker trimmer yesterday.
My husband has a gas powered Stihl that blows through the brush
like it was butter.  It's heavy and you have to wear protective gear.
I can't operate this because I can't hold it.  I also want to trim
around garden beds more frequently than he runs the Stihl for the big stuff.
I asked for a light weight, electric trimmer for just me.
Stihl makes one but it's so well built that it's heavy to me.

After rejecting anything at Wal-Mart, since they didn't offer a demo model,
(how can I see if I can hold it???), 
we went to Lowes and found a nice
3.5 AMP model that was compact.  Just about that time a women
handed me a  6.0 AMP trimmer that she had been holding.
She was looking for a battery operated model but this one was 
electric.  The manager rang it up at $10.


It was on closeout since an upgraded model was in stock.
I got both, I couldn't pass up a $10 backup.
It turns out that I can hold the $10 model, which is the stronger one.
It did a great job for me for the type of trimming I need to do.
I don't have to spend $40 on a backup battery either.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

I'm Plum Fed Up with the Poopers!

This little fellow and I had it out today.
I won, but the damage had been done.
He decided to rest in my dwarf plum tree
which had fruited only once since I planted it.
It was covered with bees in the early Spring
so I was hopeful

Then I saw the poop.
And looked up.

Not so good.

Even worse.
Ya know, there were only a couple of plums on this tree.
Couldn't I ask for just a couple of plums???

 Needless to say, the worm had a dinner date with the chickens
and chicken was not on the menu.

Moving on to the larger garden, I checked on the tomatillos.
Holes.  Uh oh.
I turned the leaf over and saw what I didn't want to see.

I ran back to the house for the duct tape,
wrapping it around my hand backwards
and began gently pulling off the eggs.
I saw the mama, I think it is a three lined potato beetle,
red, yellow and black striped.
She got away, but I got the kids.

As I was looking at my rose on the garden wall
I saw more poop!
And this!
 I don't get fat, green worms on my roses.
What the heck is this guy?

So then I spot this butterfly.
Pretty, isn't it?
Well I'm sure it too will be soon be pooping 
on my delicious fruit, vegetables and pretty roses.
  A mulberry tree is sprouting up just behind her
and it's somewhere that I can let it grow!
I'm sure she'll find it and her wiggly little offspring
will munch and much until I end up with a 
mulNOberry tree.

What's a gardener to do?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Around the Garden

 A storm is blowing in
so I thought I'd take some shots
of the garden in case they get severe.
The bird bath is framed in both light and dark
purple iris with Stella D'oro daylilies in front.
  Bees and colorful butterflies have been regular visitors.
It isn't unusual to see a cat perched on the bowl.
I'm not sure why it is more tasty than their own 
water, but apparently it is!

My Knockout Rose is still alive!
Thanks farm girls for the tips.
I was about ready to pull it out by the roots.

I tied up the peony bush last night.
They are so pretty until a storm hits and then they
lay down the rest of their bloom time.
Right now the ants are enjoying the unopened 
blossoms of the other two plants.

The bee balm is impressive as ever.

And the hostas are thriving in the early cool weather
followed by warm days for the past week.
I planted row of coleus in front which always looks nice in fall.
I normally try to get a variety of colors but didn't have
much luck this year. 

Our chives require little or no work,
in fact I rarely ever watered their container
and yet they get thicker and prettier each year.

The wild columbine are my favorites,
so dainty and bounce in the breeze.
It's really breezy tonight with the storm coming in.

The spider lily came back.
I was a bit concerned after we piled up so much mulch
but it makes its daily morning debut.

We have some volunteer around here too.
A couple of these made it into my daughter's 
Mothers Day bouquet, picked by her daughter, Taylor.

 With luck, and a little help from Mary,
we will have a nice, gentle rain rather than a raging storm. 
Have a wonderful evening!