Archive for March 2009
Plant Nanny to the rescue!
With all the busy goings on and vacation coming up this summer, I began to think about the possibility of a self watering system for my potted plants. I did some research and think I found what I was looking for. The Plant Nanny was simple and appealing. Basically, it is just a hollow terracotta stake. I particularly liked the Plant Nanny model that was adapted to utilize the aesthetically pleasing wine bottle as the water container. For smaller plants, I can even use soda or beer bottle.
This product does not have my seal of approval just yet. However, I will be testing it for the next few weeks to determine if it is helpful, and can actually water a plant for up to 2 weeks. I am starting my observations with a few of the household plants and my larger garden containers. Today, I placed 4 Plant Nannies in a few lucky house plants located in my bathroom jungle. As more bottles become available, I will place them in other locations. This should be a fun experiment. Especially since I have to stock up on more empty wine bottles! Woot! I’d better get started emptying them.
This is the photo from the web that sold me. It is simple and a style that I find interesting. All it requires is a small hollowed terracotta stake and a bottle.
Spot the bottle. I tool the label off of a few white wine bottles and placed them in my peace Lillies. I liked the contrast of the glass and the greenery. I hope these things work.
In other news….
I just love the contrast of the pot with this beautiful lavender plant. He’s soaking up the sun and trying to brave the awful wind today.
These guys were hanging out with me as I was trying to photograph the mud finches on the front porch (= fail). Parker was excited to see Jimmy 12 and Jimmy 13 were not eaten by the cat and were back for another year.
The lilac has finally bloomed and the fragrance is heavenly. It is truly my favorite in the yard. There are two bushes in the front that, at one time, were taller than the house and just as wide. However, due to age, drought and disease, a heavy pruning saved their lives but reduced the size considerably.
The fragrance and beauty of the little purple flowers are still beyond compare to me. I dedicate this post to the awesomeness that is MY lilac.
Weekend frost seemed to have bypassed, and the fruit trees should be fine
To Frost or Not to Frost?
Well, the weekend temperatures were down for sure. I had family in Lubbock with snow in the ground (informed via text-by-text updates) and I had family and friends in the Dallas/Ft. Wort area with ice and rain. I even had Austin reports of hail and thunderstorms. However, we had a very mild and in between weekend. It was cold, windy and bizarrely sunny. My gardening solution was the “be safe than sorry” stick everything inside the garage approach. I kept track of the garage temperature and it got as low as 38 inside. Thankfully, I chose the container route this year and everything should make it fine as long as I can fight the rabbits and ground squirrels that have seemed to flourish in the last few years. Mainly, since the farm across the way took government subsidies for letting the land go natural. Understandable and noble, but a pain in the <beep> for us fighting the critters. Anyway……
The mud finches have returned, another signal that spring is here to stay. So the time is approaching for some serious gardening and flower planting! I’m getting very excited. In the mean time….. This last week I made observations on the blooming status of already established plants are a Go, Go, Go. Below is a pic of the rose tree that I severely trimmed a few weeks ago, It is out of hibernation and ready to thrive.
This week, I am removing everything out of the garage and finding somewhere permanent to place the veggie babies in a safe protective place out of the wind. This will probably be the back patio. I have already observed that the wind might be my major battle this year.
Tomato babies in a different light. safe and sound in the garage.
Let me know if any of you had any serious weather issues this weekend and what your solutions were to protect any plants you are growing were.
It really has been a busy few weeks. I’m not even sure if I have managed to accomplish anything besides mismanaged multitasking. Och, well. Despite this, I am still trying to click away with the camera. I think my photography skills are improving, or should that be my photo SHOP skills?! Since amateur is the key word in my photographic title, it isn’t too much of a heartbreak if I can’t quite get that expert shot. Today’s photographs are ones that I find interesting, not necessarily because of the skill and quality, but because of the grit or contradiction they represent. Feel free to comment on the photos below and let me know how much of my BS you buy.
It is always fun to find two things that contradict each other and make them be together. It is like forcing the eye to accept differences. It is my belief that if the world had less contradictions it would be more tolerant. Artistically, this is my favorite concept. Therefore, put the things that don’t belong until they match.
This was taken through an old window, frosted with age, out at the Farm. It gives the photo a timeless quality. I like how the light plays off the faucet and dripping water. I get a sense of sadness or loneliness viewed from the outside.
Happy Spring everyone! This is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year.
In celebrating the first days of spring, I spent the weekend working like a woman obsessed. The weekend was full of spring cleaning, planting vegetables, herbs and left me absolutely exhausted. I have been so busy that I just now have a moment to even blog about it.
Why all the ugly buckets?
I’ve had a garden most of my life. Most of them have been at least an acre in size (but felt like 100). I spent summers hoeing, picking, canning and complaining. Little did I know, that when I became a wizened adult, I would find the happy memories inspiring. I say wizened because when I first moved away to attend college, I wanted nothing to do with the roots that bound me to the land. I didn’t grow a tomato again for almost 10 years. It has really been in the last 5 or 6 years that I have really gotten back into growing things. The vegetable garden hasn’t been as large as when I was a young but the rewards have been fruitful. I love the idea of being as self sufficient as possible.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to work on my usual row garden, but I still wanted to have one. I also want to learn as much as I can about how things grow, so this year I have stepped outside of my traditional rows and am doing my vegetable garden in containers. I had a few terracotta pots available but mostly old 2 to 5 gallon plastic planters and buckets are what I am using. It doesn’t have to be pretty to grow, right?
So here is What I Did
On Saturday, my mother, Parks and I set off to have lunch and run a few errands. We ended up in 4 garden centers and only bought a small truckload of stuff. The highlight of the day was when I found a Brown Turkey Fig Tree at Garden Place. I spoke at length with an employee who knew quite a bit about Figs and he offered some advice for growing it in a container. Since I’m not sure where and when I want this plant to rest forever, a container will do for now.
We hit Garden World next and the favorite purchase there was a Midnight Ginger plant. Its hardy in zone 10 so it will definitely be a house plant. I then picked out my favorite veggies that I knew did well in these parts, some organic soil, and some organic fertilizer that would “do the trick”. Then it was on to Lowes where I bought shrub and tree dirt, a few hanging baskets and then it was off to Wal-Mart to get wine and terracotta pots. Both much cheaper there and I have a serious love and lack of taste when it comes to wine. (Don’t get me wrong, I like the good stuff too, I just don’t discriminate.) Back at home it was container time.
I know I said I wouldn’t plant until Easter. I still mean that. Nothing goes into the ground until Easter weekend. So I broke into the plumbing work truck, swiped a drill and a bit, went to the shop and found tons of buckets. Once I selected all the varieties I wanted, i drilled drain holes in the little suckers. That should do.
Below is a pic of the fruits of my labor. I am not sure about the placement of this bucket-o-Garden. For now, all the plant babies are taking refuge in the garage. The temps have been ok, but the wind has been awful.
My first attempt is mainly filled with the varieties of plants that I know well. One of my favorite summer activities is also canning peppers so the more the better. Therefore, I kept the garden small and stuck to what I know. Hopefully, it will be a success. If anybody out there has any suggestions or advice, please feel free to let me know.
(Magners is my garden warrior. He protects the plant babies at all cost. Even if that means laying on top of them to keep them warm. He’s not that bright sometimes, but he means well.)
Some Pictures to Illustrate the Goodness
Above are my patio tomatoes, lavender, and peppers. I am hoping for huge tomatoes this year. I am growing cherry and roma.
Mags is guarding the stash. left to right we have a pot of misc herbs, cucumbers (hanging baskets), two white varieties of crepe myrtle, figs, leeks, jalapenos, banana peppers, tomato (r0ma), tomato (cherry) lavender, various bell peppers, more jalapenos, and hot banana.
This is my wee, hundred plus pound baby. He wants to be in every shot (and even poses! u see that?!). Otherwise, Magners is a great garden buddy. No one else is able to stand my gardening OCD and follow every footstep as if it is the best thing in the world. It’s my own personal fan club.
OK working with dirt is not glam, so I look……well, not glam……and eerily alot like my dad…..yikes….MAKE-UP! Anyway, my fan club rested his head on my shoulder and decided we needed a pic together. so CHEEESE!
Meanwhile, in the house…Catastrophe Strikes
On the seedling front….CATASTROPHE! I went away for a fun filled spring break. In the mean time, my hardy little seedlings were growing away in a specially designed, self watering container. I guess that’s what I get for trying to take the easy watering way out. We have mold people!
It hit with a vengeance. Two of my trays have been infested. I hope I got to it in time. So I don’t loose the whole crop, I immediately removed the plants and bleached all my trays. I then flushed out my plants with water. It’s is the only thing I can think to do without spending any money and still maintain my organic principles. It is survival of the fittest around here. It is a week later and It looks like the remaining plants will be survivors. I didn’t loose too many.
These guys are still kicking butt! go purple basil and zinias!
I haven’ posted a picture of the day in a while, so I felt it was time to delve through the pics and deliver some photographic goodness. P was the judge and jury tonight and, little did he know, he chose the photo that HE actually took! I’d forgotten I had this pic. Normally, I would have erased ANY close-up pictures of myself, but for some odd reason I like it. Despite looking old and haggard, I think the composition is great. P has a wonderful eye and one of these days….next week sometime…I will post a :”P’s Pictures of Awsumness Blog”. So without further ado…..
Black and White is Happy
by the Parkenator
The rest, the runners up, are my work. I especially love this shot of my niece. Everyone loves pictures of babies, right? This picture could have gone a little portraity on me, but looking from the perspective of her big O’ bald head just seems soft, and innocent. I was afraid the camera’s shutter click would wake her, and ruin my shot and my peace and quiet. I was absolutely right, and was lucky the first one was a good one.
I couldn’t post a picture of the day without including a pretty flower.
I was, once again, playing around with some lighting effects. Shockingly, I had white tulips on hands (cuz they’re not one of my favorites or anything). So I thought, “How about absence of color, color?”. I think it turned out nice. I really am wanting to improve my macro shooting. So if anyone has any suggestions, hints, tips, anything….lemme know.
To me, photography isn’t necessary the image itself but the emotion each image creates. Sure, some of the images can be a little generic. I mean, how many gnarly trees can one see before it’s just a tree? Nope, trees are like people. Each are different. Each one reflects the mood in which he is surrounded. My trees were having a meet-up along an old fence. The fence kept noting in particular in or out, but these old men trees were keeping watch.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day all. St Patrick’s has always been one of my favorite commercialized holiday. So on this holy day of obligation I decided to pay homage to some of my favorite pubs.
This pub was literally a hole in the wall behind the Calutha Pub. You took a little windy maze behind the bar past the ladies and gents. You came across a little performance room where I attended many times. The chick who usually sang always sang Dolly’s Jolene for me. Hearts!
@ the SanMile (spelling is optional!) This place had a lovely restaurant attached
The Sorry Heed…AKA the Saracen Head – Famous for Billy Connolly’s Last Supper
@ the Waverly in Tollcross
Some Pub in Edinburgh
@ the Saracen Head again
Pub in City Centre Glasgow
….and more Pubs
The Drum and Monkey
Somewhere in Amsterdam. Funnily enough it was the day after St Patrick’s Day.
At the Celtic Club. Members only LOL. It doesn’t get any more Paddy than this folks!
More Sorry Heed. I lurved this place
My favorite Lager in all of Scotland was Tennants. Everyone I knew received a predrunkeded pint glass that fit conveniently in my purse. See if you can spot your souvener in any of these pictures! hahah
The pub of all pubs was the Kimberly in Tollcross. This is where I saw my first Celtic vs. Rangers match. Very Serious folks!
Shuggy Connolly and Swanky. You will never meet any better. Thanks for all the Irn-Bru and Vodka.
A B&B in the Trussaks near Lock Lommond. Gateway to the Highlands
I love that old Government Buildings and Cathedrals are now being converted to PUBS!
LOL Amsterdam is ALWAYS prepared!
Lynn’s PUB was a very LOCAL local. U had to be from one of the roughest Schemes in Glesga to be here. Hail Hail Barrowfield. RIP JOHN
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST!>>>>>
This is Bards Bar. My Favorite Irish Bar in all the Emerald Isle!
I really tried to get this blog posted earlier today, but I got so lost in looking through all my pub pictures. I can’t actually believe how many photos I have of all my pints and such I’ve had throughout the UK. To me the British pub scene is one where I feel completely comfortable and at home. The camaraderie is something to behold. If you go in looking for a good story and an ear to listen you can come out with the best friends of your life. My ancestry is very much Irish and English (and a slice of German) and if I was to believe in reincarnation, I was definitely an old Irish local who appreciated a good pint and a good wind up.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day
I hope everyone had, or is having, a great spring break. P and I had a fantastic one lounging around like lumps @ BFS’s house. I just loved all of those cloudy overcast days that brought all the much needed water and nutrients to the budding plant babies. Not much to do @ BFS’s house this month as far as planting and gardening goes. I’ll still let him have control of the lawn for a bit and continue to make my master plans (Mwahahahaha… ahck…cough, cough). Mostly, it involves lots of mulching, overturning, edging, fertilizing, and planting. Nothing a few super-exhausting warrior weekends can’t fix. Simple but beyouteaful…I hope.
BACK TO THE GRIND
So, it was back to work in the ho-hum yesterday. I had tons of fun catching up on a week worth of ignored stacks of file me’s, sign me’s, and HIDE me’s (JK BOSS!), just waiting for my attention. (Boo on that)…. I finally, with much effort, gave it up. It was too beautiful of a day to stay inside. A new plan began to emerge. I started to crank up the iPod, and then changed my mind. A monster rattle snake was recently found (killed) lurking in the garage. I decided I’d better keep my eyes and ears open….for now. It’s a little early for rattle snakes to be wandering these parts. Usually around this time, they are just waking from hibernation and sunning closer to their dens. Never-the-less, I was going to be certain that my zone was a rattle free zone so I was working iPod free. I even went as far as to wear SHOES (that weren’t flip flops). I hate to wear shoes when I dig in the dirt, so it was a huge sacrifice for me. Stupid snakes ruin everything. I was pretty disappointed in the lack of an iPod because I had some really great podcasts that I was trying to catch up on….but I digress to more important things.
For my birthday, I received a great pack of gardening gloves for all occasions. Obviously, one must have 5 pairs of gardening gloves that are categorized in gripability and material thickness, to do all the fantastical, outdoorsy tasks that need to be done. I was very pleased the pair that was deemed “pruning and weeding super-grips” were the ones with the cute daisy on the back. I was now wearing my lucky camo shorts, thoroughly slathered with spf1000, sadly wearing tennis shoes, majestically wearing daisy/super-grip gloves, was iPod-less, and ready to get outside and kick ass (minus the cape)!
First things first, all efforts to save the potted rose tree. It has really been neglected and not looking well in the past week, or two, or three…(it wasn’t me, I just ignored the problem). SO, my first task was to water the hell out of aforementioned potted rose tree, and prune the heck out of it. I had to cut a lot off. I don’t think it will have a very good growing season this year, but will survive after a healthy dose of rose fertilization and pest treatment. When he’s up to it; he will shine.
I will have to admit, I have been a bit of a pre-spring neglectful gardener. This past month, my weekends have been pretty full. I didn’t get my “It’s February so Prune Me” time in. I still had tons of pruning back and hedging to do. So, next task was backyard pruning. Grapes and Wisteria looked ok. I was already aware that I probably lost one of my grape vines and it lookd like I was right. Dang puppies will always dig in the wrong places. I put it on my list to take care of at a later date list.
I noticed that a limb on one of the mulberry trees had fallen during all the rain this week and was hitting the electrical line. That was put on the list of things BossDaddy can do. I then set to work on my butterfly and hummingbird area and began hacking away at my Texas Fire Brush (Hamelia patens). It was already coming back so I didn’t totally hedge it to the ground. I did the same to the Autumn Sage (salvia gregii) and Butterfly bush (Clematis ternifolia). Once I removed all the leaves and two wheelbarrow loads to the compost pile, it was looking pretty good. I then trimmed the rosemary and wired up the honeysuckle fence. The cows were not pleases about that. I have to grow my honeysuckle on a fence in front of the fence; otherwise, the cows (or sometimes goats) will have a buffet of honeysuckle delight. Not happonin’ on my watch. I then set to work on my Vitex, aka Texas Lilac, aka Chaste Tree. I am growing them as multi-trunk trees so it is very necessary to cut back quite a bit as well as cut all the potential new growth off the trunks.
One of the things thing that sets me apart as a successful lazy gardener is that I love to use nature’s own insulation system. When the leaves fall from the tree, I direct them in an orderly fashion, via the wind, to the beds. It is totally a win-win. I have great dirt, natural compost and a wonderful living environment for all the creepy crawlies that want to stick around for the unpopular months. The only problem is that the cleanup is kinda ookey but very satisfying. That being said, I moved onto my front beds for cleanup time.
I am also an avid herb grower. Rosemary and lavender are my favorite. It grows everywhere. So I go to work on clearing the leaves off the everlasting herbs. I say everlasting because most of the herbs in the bed in front of the house made it thru the mild winter. I cut back all the dead lemon grass to reveal new sprigs emerging among the dead stalks. Underneath this, and a foot if mulberry leaves, was my oregano that I knew was alive throughout the winter because I uncovered and snipped a few sprigs this winter for spaghetti sauce. I also had a very woody sage bush, lemon balm vigorously coming back, parsley that was still hanging in there, more rosemary, dill, and cilantro. The American bamboo was looking like it needed a trim but the JFK White roses looked fabulous. The only problem was some Bermuda grass threatened its space. That was when I discovered that the doggies had found a new favorite spot to do their business. I was none to please to say the least, however, a job was a job. I braced myself for the worst. I grasped my shovel and went to work on removing the vileness from my bed. The smell that was wafting to my olfactory sensifications was…was….was…. chocolate?…… and……holy hell……MINT! No way! Underneath the desecration created by the waste of my evil pups, grew a wafty and potent patch of chocolate mint. I didn’t think it took when I planted it last spring! Bless the Lord and Nature! Miracle observed and appreciated.
On the other side of the porch I revealed the shallots and garlic already up in abundance. I thinned that a bit and made more room for my calla lilies. I have a patch of all white Calla Lilies that thrive next to the faucet. I love these babies and they will most likely be the favorite bulbs that I dig up and take wherever I go. The garden roses grow somewhere in the mass of all that awesomeness. Then there is regular old mint and evergreen honeysuckle mounds. All is well here.
The hundred year old lavender bushes are blooming and doing fine. We had a scare a few years back and nearly lost them to drought and disease but thanks to a heavy pruning they are alive and well (sadly, they are not even a fraction of their old size).
One of the signs of “Spring is Here” is when the big English Ivy covered Mulberry tree blooms. It comes on quick and within the span of a wink and a spit we are covered in these allergen filled pods. Spring is now delivered in the form of hay fever! Must get the leaves up in order to shovel these buggers out with a shovel soon. It’s a big tree.
I’m exhausted. I have blisters on my thumbs, despite my amazing gardening gloves with the daisies on them. One more major area to cover. The little burned stump area is last on the agenda. This is an area around a chared stump where anything will grow. Around it grows any misc herbs I can find. I currently have: fennel, indian mustard, thyme, rosemary, sage, chamomile, purple basil, sweet basil, regular basil, catnip, dill,oregano, turmeric, tarragon, cilantro/coriander, parsley, and majorum.
On another side is my trophy cherry tree that I snagged from my FavAunt H’s house a few years back. It is a baby from my Grandma’s cherry tree/bush. It holds so much sentimental value and it is blooming. I am truly happy. I sit and talk to the tree for a minute. I explain that he is new and still growing and gently let him know that, in this climate, he may not produce every year but he is still loved. I laugh about blogging this later and all those who will hopefully understand my craziness and then move on to another area. This is an area that faces the circle drive so it is a spot for beauty. Here grows my lantana, beauty vine, clemantis, columbine, some pretty blue flowered ground cover called flax, marigolds, California poppy, zinnias and cosmos. Nothing is showing here yet but lots of it will come back from seed. It will soon, however, now that I’ve let the sunshine in. It is hard to believe that so much will grow in such a small space but it will be packed to the brim with ausomeness by the summer.
I mainly removed the dead growth, cutback and cleared the leaves. I am was on wheelbarrow load # 7 and was almost done. It was after 7, the light was waning and then…aaaahhh, wiggly, scaly…..oh yes…snake!!! I’M DONE! Thats a big NO on working with snakes, thanks. Turns out it was just a harmless Bull Snake. Oh yes, they bite and its hurts, but not poisonous. But still!
The super kitteh guarded the stump and I went inside cursing snakes and enjoyed a lovely glass (or two) of Pinot Noir while reflecting on an evening well done. I figured that the only people’s who will read this, know me, and will forgive me on the insanity and understand how crazy I get about this time of year. Now that I decided to blog about it at extensive length the whole world will have it as public record. DANG
Much love and Peace.