Saturday, December 31, 2011
Last day, last of the nice weather tooLast day of the year! Last days of the nice weather too, they're saying. By Monday we're supposed to see a high in the low 30s, with overnite temps in the teens. I knew it was too good to last! Today, though, it's sunny and going into the 40s, so I definitely need to get my ...ahem...in gear and get out there and do something neat. I think I'll drive up to Pine Hill and get some buckets of compost....this is our township park and the township maintains a huge mountain of composted wood chips, etc. that are free for the taking. They advertise it as "mulch" but it's really better used as compost or even as potting soil because it's usually so broken down. The only uncomposted bits are usually too coarse for mulch, although sometimes (like now, just after Christmas) you can find some nice stuff...they grind up all the community's old christmas trees. I like to get 5 or 6 5-gallon buckets of the stuff into the basement for winter, to use for seed starting and potting up in the early spring. I mix it half and half with commercial potting mix...saves money and everything grows well in it. I also like to spread some of it over the various garden beds to improve the soil. I've found that it tends to actually REPEL water if it's dry, so it's best mixed into the clay.
OK, nuff with the talk. Let's get them work boots on and get to it!
I had to go let B's dogs out instead of going to Pine Hill. I figured walking up to her house (2 miles one way) would be good exercise (it was...and it's always a nice walk, down through the marsh and up the next hill...I saw a Great Blue Heron in the marsh). She's got 9 dogs now...she and her husband are absolute saints. They rescue abused dogs and are part of a dog rescue network so they're always fostering poor dogs. (B and her rescued dog Ashley are sort of neighborhood celebrities...they were featured on Animal Planet once! Ashley was a poor neglected dog who's owner accidently threw hot oil on her and burned her badly. She's been with B for years now and everybody always tells her what a pretty girl she is, so she doesn't know how badly she's scarred...poor old girl.
Anyways. I let the dogs out (Yes, yes, I know...*music*."Who let the dogs out? Uh uh....who let the dogs out...") It's a madhouse. She's got a big old rottweiler who's blind and sweet as sugar. She's got a pitbull named Bengal who is my handsome man. 2 goldens, assorted others. After they had a little trot around the yard and did business, I walked home.
Then hauled 3 loads of leaves/wood chips to new garden. That's really looking good up there now. Lots of deer tracks all through the newly turned soil...I hope I'm not going to have a big problem with deer damage in the summer. I tend to plant stuff deer don't like, so hopefully not.
My little flowering quince has fat pink buds on it....It's also suckered, so there's another one next to it. I really need to move both of them out from where they are...they're hidden behind a big weigla and nobody gets to see the beautiful spring flowers. I think it's too late to do anything this year, but maybe I can get them moved VERY early in the spring.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Started bottle pathI got a small bit of the bottle path started. Dug out a portion of the path, set in about 30 bottles. It wasn't exactly difficult, but not as easy as it seemed either. It's hard to get the bottles to set level and at the same approximate depth. What I'm doing is digging out the dirt down to hard clay, then putting back about 3 inches of the clay, all crumbled up and loose. Then I screw the bottles neck-down into it using a piece of 2x4 to keep everything (fairly) level. I backfilled with more of the loosened up clay after I set the bottles, to about halfway up the bottles. I think I'll let that sit for a while and settle, then get a small load of fine rock dust/gravel and fill in to the top. I have a feeling though, that I'm going to end up taking everything out and start over....I'm worried about the height of the bottles above the finishing rock dust....they'll have to be fairly deeply set I think to prevent any chance of breakage. It's a learning experience!
Also got the drain opening from the front gutter cleaned out. We have a length of corrugated pvc drain pipe going from the bottom of the gutter to the middle of the front yard, to let the rainwater run away from the house. Where the water comes out got kind of clogged up with lawn grass, dirt, etc.
E.G. called me yesterday to remind me that I can have that ground up leaf compost in his backyard. I thanked him again and said I was waiting for the ground to freeze so I don't leave tire marks in his lawn. But he said that didnt matter and I should come over whenever I want. I might do that next week, after the holiday.
And I STILL can't find the dratted recharger for my camera! R thought I was crazy, that there never was one, but I went to Kmart where I bought the camera and the guy there said there definitely should have been a recharger. So I can't be totally around the bend...yet....
I have truly come to hate digital cameras. We have 3. Each one needs a different battery/recharger. The oldest needs some sort of special battery that has to be special ordered and costs like a gagillion dollars. R's batteries are dead too and wont recharge. I can't find my recharger....grrr.... I really miss the days when we just popped in a fresh roll of film and took pics.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
My idea of heavenAll I managed to get done yesterday was haul 3 loads of leaves and wood chips up to the new garden. Most of the afternoon (from 2 til 5) R and I spent going from doctor's office (cardiac checkup...he's doing GREAT), to hospital (blood test for his upcoming knee surgery) to pharmacy (prescriptions). I did manage to get some grocery shopping done so the afternoon wasnt a total loss.
This morning, I saw the video by that young man who posted it only 3 days before he died. He had some sort of chronic disease. In the video, using flashcards, he described the 3 times he "cheated death" and he described two near death experiences. In the last, he said he went to this white room and he saw he was wearing a nice suit and when he looked in a mirror he was happy and proud of himself, of all he had done. He said in the vid that he felt so great he never wanted to come back. He ended by saying he believed in God.
You know, all I can think is "I hope you're right." I really really hope that this isn't all there is. That there's something "after." That all this isn't for nothing, isn't just useless. But I was thinking, if there is a heaven waiting for me, I do hope it's not going to involve sitting in a white waiting room in a nice dress. I hope that when my "call" comes, I step into this beautiful green place, all filled with gardens and when I look down I'm wearing my old ratty gardening clothes. When I look in that mirror, I hope my hands are dirty and my shoes muddy and there's a smear of mud on my face. But I hope that I too will feel proud of myself, and of what I've accomplished with my life. I hope so.
When my Dad passed away, that night, I was laying there trying to sleep and finally I dozed off and I saw him walking away from me, down this path across this beautiful green grassy hill. I ran after him, calling "Dad, Dad, wait!" but he kept going. He got to this gate...just a little ordinary garden gate, and beyond it I could see this beautiful valley, trees, grass, flowers...blue skies...beautiful. Without turning around, he opened the gate and walked through and down this path. I got to the gate but it was locked. I stood there shaking it and yelling "Dad! Wait!" but he just raised his hand and waved without turning back and kept going. Then I woke up. I really think I saw my Dad going to heaven in that dream...because he was a gardener too, and I know that those hours he spent puttering in his little plot of dirt were more to him than all the hours and days he spent from the age of 9 onward down in the coal mines or working in the steel mills.
So I hope that when I go, I go down the path my dad did. And I'm pretty sure I'll have my weeding tool, my clippers, and my gloves with me. Just in case heaven needs a little bit of work.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Wintersowing with ChickensWell, so much for my first attempt at wintersowing. The hens found the container and had a feast. *LOL*
Apparently they figured, since it was in a plastic food tray, this was take-out.
I think I'll have to find a better place for the next experiment. Good thing it was just some coneflower seeds that I collected from my own plants...I've got plenty more.
Windy, cold and overcast today, but I'm still determined to get outside (if I can) and get something done. Those men who agreed to cut down my 4 pines have still not done so. I think I'll wait until after the New Year to call them up. I guess nobody is doing much this week.
The daffodils along the south side of the deck are starting to emerge; they've been fooled by all the mild weather. I don't think it will do them much harm if they get snowed on, but I might toss some mulch over them anywyas....I've seen them bitten by hard frost.
My newest desire: BEES. I was browsing around online and found sites dedicated to home beekeeping and now I want a hive. *LOL* R. thinks I'm insane; he worries about what the neighbors will think. *shrug* Who cares? They're already convinced I'm nuts. Everybody else in the neighborhoods mows 2 acres of grass, while I am digging up and planting gardens on my 2 acres. I'm pretty sure they tell their kids "Run past that crazy lady's house!"
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Heavy rain; no snowIt's been pouring rain since early morning; if this were snow, we'd have a real blizzard on our hands. So far, no snow since the Great Blizzard of October '11. This is not really that unusual here; we usually get our worst snow in January and February, and some of the worst snowfalls have been in March. So...I'm going to try to get as much done outside as possible, just working steadily when the weather permits, until we get snowed under. If that doesn't happen, then I'll be able to transition seamlessly into spring, knowing that I don't have too many unfinished projects hanging over my head.
Today's a wash out, but as soon as it's dry enough to work outside, I think I'll turn my attention to three projects, two small, one big. The small ones: level the ground where the rabbit hutch sits; this shouldn't take more than an hour and some digging. Project 2: Dig out the path where the bottle paving is going to be ...I saw this really neat idea to use upended beer bottles set down into fine crushed stone as paving. I've been collecting bottles for a year now and I'd like to put in a small section of this type of path leading into the Casey Cave Garden, just to see how it goes. If it looks really nice and isn't too difficult, I may extend that path.
The big project is to get into the little "auxiliary" veg garden and do a major dig. I have a nicely fenced in area about 40 square feet in size up by the hen house. This was originally supposed to be a patch to grow decorative "Indian corn" and pumpkins in. The first year, my sheep Percy (since deceased) ate the corn to the ground. The second year I got a fantastic crop of Bloody Butcher corn. The third year (this year) for some reason I never got around to doing anything in there. It's stood vacant and weedy all summer. I'd like to clean it up and plant it again next summer; not sure what...maybe a good place for really big pumpkins!
Monday, December 26, 2011
Took the new wheelbarrow for a test driveSanta brought me a new wheelbarrow and his elf finally got it put together today, so I took it out for a spin around the driveway just now *LOL*. Works great! I'm a little "leery" about those weird handgrip things on the ends, but the "elf" insists this will come in handy when lifting and tipping the barrow. The elf has also managed to repair my old wheelbarrow, so now I've got two...now if I could just figure out a way to link them so I could haul twice as much at once.....
Spent a couple of hours in the new garden, finishing up. Dug up the remaining chunk of weed infested daylilies, then moved a couple of piles of weeds/brush onto the compost area. Then I hauled (with the old wheelbarrow) three loads of leaves and wood chips from waaaaaaaayyyy down by the road to wwaaaaaaaay up to the new garden area. The soil up there is really really poor...thick heavy orange clay. No wonder all I am digging out is wiregrass. Even dandelions won't grow in it. It is, however, fertile, once you get past the heaviness of it. The trick is to work in a lot of organic material; anything will do, but I've found that the easiest and quickest way to improve heavy clay like mine is to put down a good thick layer (4-8 inches) of wood chips. This doesn't need to be finely chipped, beauty mulch...even coarse chunks of wood will do. I usually put down a layer of either leaves or grass clippings first, then the chips. Then....walk away. After a year or so, the chips break down enough to give me a nice layer of compost that I can gradually work down into the clay. Usually I do this as I'm planting....if the plant I'm popping in needs a 1 foot wide hole, I work up about a 3 foot wide area. Makes it a lot easier than trying to dig/turn the whole area at once. I'm also big on "spot composting." If I have a bucket of clean grass clippings, kitchen wastes, peanut shells, anything without seeds or roots, I just scoop into the layer of wood chips and bury the wastes under it.
Soooo... Looks like I'll be hauling leaves and chips up that dratted hill til kingdom come!
My friend B just stopped by with a container of cookies and bottle of hand soap that smells just like Herbal Essence shampoo. We opened the bottle and took a sniff, looked at each other and yelled "HERBAL ESSENCE!" *LOL* Neither one of us has used the stuff since the 1970s, but we both agreed it was the coolest shampoo scent in the world..... I wonder if it still smells the same way? I stopped using it because...Hmmm...I don't remember for sure, but I think because it was too harsh. (I have the world's worst hair...thin, fine, no body...I remember once my Aunt Mary tried to give me a "body perm" and it looked like poodle fur.) Now I want to find Herbal Essence shampoo and give it a try, just for the smell...
Sunday, December 25, 2011
A quiet daySpent most of the day indoors today, recuperating from eating wAAAAAYYY too much chocolate last night and drinking WAAAAYYY too much specialty coffee this morning. Now that I've stopped gently but persistently vibrating, I have a headache. ("can't talk, comin' down"... I love Lisa Simpson).
Took a long walk out to the Salem Church and back, the weather is beautiful...in the low 50s and sunny. If it were up to me, all winter could be like this and I'd be ok with it, as long as it gets down below freezing now and then to kill off the weed seeds and bugs.
Santa brought me a wheelbarrow, gardening gloves, a new floor lamp for the office, and two movies: Arsenic and Old Lace and Wallace & Grommit: THe Curse of the WereRabbit, two of my favorite halloween movies. (I can't wait though, we're watching Wallace & Grommit tonight!) I've been TOLD I'm also getting a new bathrobe, but it hasn't arrived yet. Oh, and my friend P sent me a GORGEOUS pashmina...it's huge, green/red/purple/blue...very dark but tropical colors and I adore it. I wore it with my purple "hippie top" all day.
OK, I think I'll get an aspirin and chill out with a glass of wine. Merry Christmas to everybody!
Saturday, December 24, 2011
The folly wall I hope to haveThis is a picture of what I am sorta kinda hoping to build in the New Garden
Saturday, December 24, 2011
My favorite holiday thingAh, my favorite way to celebrate the holidays...I got up at 7 a.m. and by 8 a.m. I was in the garden and hard at work! I decided there was no point in putting off digging out that awful mess of wiregrass and daylilies/lamb's ear up in the new garden. It's a big area too....I still have a bit more to do, but I got a lot done...I think I hauled 4 wheelbarrow loads of grass roots and assorted daylilie/lamb's ear roots out of there. What a mess. Once I get all that cleared out, I may replant some of the daylilies and lamb's ear. This "New Garden" area that I'm working on is really BIG. The beds are big too. While I was working up there, I had one of those gardener's epiphanies....I realized that what works in the beds "down the hill" which are smaller won't work up here. I can't buy one or two of a certain kind of plant and pop them in and expect it to look good. The scale is different now. This is the first time I've had really big borders to fill and if I don't want it to look "polka dotted" I've got to think in terms of swaths of color/plants.
I have come up with this tentative design "rule" for that area....nothing less than 5 square feet of any one plant (perennials, not shrubs) This means that I won't be planting one or 2 purple coneflowers, for example, but planting at least 10 of them together, in a big clump. I have already done this without really realizing why....I have a large clump of yarrow, a large clump of kniphofia, a large clump of coneflower. Now that I consciously realize this is what needs to be done, though, I think it will simplify things.
Obviously, I can create "swaths" with the lamb's ear and the daylilies that I've dug out. I think I'll start some purple coneflower and some white coneflower indoors later in the winter. A big clump of lavender would work well, as well as shasta daisy. I'll have to make a list of what I want to concentrate on. I would like to propagate those deep purple New England asters too. Thank all the garden gods I did not kill them by moving them 2 years ago...the summer after I moved them, we had a long drought and I forgot about them. I really thought they were dead, but they recovered and this past September...wow! What a show! There's only two small-ish clumps and I'm itching to break them apart and spread them out, but once bitten twice shy...I'm afraid to do it! I think the prudent thing might be to take a couple of slices out of the existing clumps and plant them in the veg garden, where they won't get overlooked.
I know this sounds awful, but I am so glad we decided to stay put for the holidays. My in-laws house is not going to be a very cheerful one...my sister in law had to have her dog put down on Weds, my mother in law is not doing at all well, one of my bro-in-law has been diagnosed with some sort of "spot" on his kidney, etc. etc. That whole family is one giant misery. Sometimes I think it's best to stay away. They are very difficult people in the best of times; when things are going as wrong as they are now, they're impossible.
Friday, December 23, 2011
I'm a MEMBER!I got tired of being told I could only write a limited number of d-mails in a day, so I up and subscribed. *YAY* In a few days, I'll be a full member of Dave's Garden and then look out... *LOL*
It's my xmas gift to me. That and a couple of Harry Potter books......
I can't believe that it's the end of December. Time to start sorting through the seed box and the catalogs to see what seeds I need to order. It's a beautiful clear day today, so I think I will walk out to E's house to deliver her xmas gift. We're both gardeners so I know a pair of gloves will be appreciated.
Heavy rain last night; I don't know if I'll be able to do any digging today, but I'm gonna try later in the afternoon.
First bud is starting to poke out of the dirt on one of my Amaryllis. I usually see blooms by Valentine's day.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Praise for the USPSI know a lot of people gripe about the Postal Service, but I have to share this with you. My Aunt Mary (who is nearly 90) sent me a Christmas card. I got it today. The entire back of the envelope was gone...it was taped to the card, and the front of the envelope said "Received in Poor Condition at W___ Post Office" (my local P.O.). Inside the card was a $20 bill, my Aunt's gift to me and R. Anyone along the line could have taken that $20 and no one would have ever known. That damaged envelope must have passed through dozens of hands, yet the $20 was still in the card and the card, despite the damage, reached me in time for Xmas. Now I guess I could gripe that the P.O. damaged the envelope, but it was pretty obvious the card must have got caught in a piece of machinery, and as we all know, those things move at the speed of light so that's understandable...especially during the Xmas rush. But that the money was still in the card and safely delivered...that's amazing. That renews my faith in mankind; that was my Christmas miracle this year. I actually cried when I saw it.
And I called the local Post Office and told them what happened and thanked them. I intend to write a letter too, so they know how much I appreciate this. All I can think is that if that $20 had gone missing, my Aunt would have wondered why I never thanked her for the gift. My hat's off to the men and women in short pants and pith helmets!.
Amazingly odd weather for Solstice! Heavy fog last night and a day in the low 50s today! Overcast with the sun peeking through....some lingering mist. An absolutely magical beautiful day. I worked in the office for a few hours in the early morning, then took a couple of hours to do a little digging. I know I should have my head examined, but I've been dithering for 2 months now on what direction that path up in the new garden should take. There's a ridge of rock there and I couldn't decide if the path should go ABOVE the ridge, or BELOW it. Today I decided it should go Above it, and to make the decision stick I started digging out the grass below the ridge rock to incorporate it into the adjoining flower bed. I think it will look pretty good. I got about 2/3 of the way done, then had to do some grocery shopping. I should finish digging tomorrow, if it doesn't pour rain.
The stores were a nightmare. I wanted to go to the Credit Union, but the parking lot was full and there were people standing in a line out the door. Everybody wants $$ for the holiday I guess...I decided i would do my banking next week. Even our goofy little Kmart was crowded. I got some 1/2 price xmas cards for next year....oddly enough the exact same designs as this year...I really liked them, so why not?
And finally.....*YAY ME!* I got on the scale this morning and *gulp* I LOST 2 POUNDS!!! I couldn't believe it! I've been trying hard since summer to lose these extra 10-15 pounds that I put on from stress and overeating last year and it's been a real struggle. I lost about 8-10 pounds but that final 8 pounds just would not budge. I guess heavy digging, hauling, and chopping (and giving up beer) does the trick. I'm not a big drinker by any means (my husband always said I was a cheap date because I'd get giggling after one beer!) but I do enjoy a beer with pizza or chili etc. I've been drinking water instead and I guess that helps.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Now I need ....MORE PLANTS!!I finally got that section of the flower bed below the deck cleaned out. What a mess. Just a tangle of overgrown daylilies, lamb's ear, and that icky stuff I can never remember the name of but that I always think is gruesome because someone once told me they planted it on graves. *LOL*
Now I have about a 5 foot square area that needs...you guessed it...more plants! I really think the only solution will be a midnight raid on a major greenhouse. That or I need to be very very good so that Santa brings me potted perennials, adaptable to shade or full sun. *HA*
I think I'll try to fill this gap with a mixture of agastache and coreopsis. I got an agastache this summer that has deep melon colored flowers and a coreopsis that has flowers that faintly echo that same orangey color and they look great together (I have the names written down somewhere *rustles through pile of small slips of muddy and fingerprinted paper in desk drawer*). Either that or lavender and sedums...both of which should do very well in that full sun spot.
Finally weeded the strip of pebbles that runs down along the foundation wall, beside the deck steps. This area is a real puzzle for me. The deck steps run up a steep slope, with the bottom of the steps about 12-18 inches above the level of the slope. The steps are also only about 24 inches from the foundation wall. Because most people use the back door, this is virtually the first thing they see...and most times, it's an eyesore because it's so difficult to keep the area under the deck weeded. PLUS...and this is where things got really out of hand...several years ago our resident groundhog decided that digging a big den UNDER THE DECK steps would be just perfect! I personally had no problem with this....at one point we were all such friends that I'd sit on the steps, the cats would gather round, and the groundhog would also stretch out in the sun on one of the steps *LOL*. Hubby however went ballistic. So...(I dont know why this is always MY job...) after the groundhog vacated the premises for the winter (he had several dens), I dug up the den, filled it in, smoothed out the dirt under the steps and laid down a strip of woven wire fencing so he couldn't dig there again. Then, at hubby's insistence, I put down a layer of coarse gravel under the deck steps. This looked GREAT for about 3 months. Then the weeds, rain wash, etc. started and that's where we're at today.
The strip between the steps and the wall isn't too bad. There, I put down a layer of round pebbles and I've been spotting in bigger round stones as I find them, so the effect is of a dry stream bed. I'd like to encourage some sedums and other small plants to grow there. My idea now is that I try to extend that idea UNDER the steps. It would mean removing the gravel, the fencing, and probably a layer of the (very heavy clay) soil, then putting in better topsoil and the round stream pebbles, etc.
None of this would be very difficult EXCEPT that ITS UNDER THE STEPS. There's very little wiggle room and most of the work I've already done (filling in den, laying wire fence) was done lying flat on my stomach, across a steep hill. (If you really want to give your friends a laugh, show up here with your camera on the day I start work there....The YouTube vid will go viral, I guarantee it!)
I suppose the only rational thing to do (other than set fire to the steps, insist the ground hog did it, and replace them with concrete) is to gather supplies and plants, sketch out a plan of action, and just do it. But oh what a mess that is going to make! I'm going to be scrubbing mud off the deck and steps for weeks.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Drat: Had to earn my keep instead*LOL* Well, I did not get out to do my "kipeing" rounds. But I did manage to dig out some pesky black raspberries that strayed into the veg garden. That was it. I had to get a couple of things done in the office, then R decided he wanted me to drive him into the next town to this specialty coffee/tea place to get some special coffees for the holidays. I LOVE that place...you can smell it a block away. They have 100s of different types and flavors of coffees and teas, plus Asian foods. We bought 10 small samplers of various coffees and flavors (Until I started shopping at this store, I did not realize that coffee is like wine....there are many different types and flavors...this is what comes of growing up on A&P coffee *LOL*). The flavored coffees are too good to be true....I love the Gran Marnier flavor, with its hint of orange, and the English Toffee flavor that's like drinking candy.
It's very VERY dark and overcast here this morning, but I've done my "thing" in the office and I think I may play hooky and finish cleaning up along the flower bed below the deck. I don't know why I did not finish that spot when I was working there this year....hmmm....
Last night I thought about how much my gardens mean to me and how when I am working in them, no matter how hard or muddy the job, I always feel "right." It's taken me a long time, but I think I am finally realizing that THIS is who I am. Much as I want to be some beautiful, refined, utterly "together" lady who drifts through life with a gentle smile and wears pearls and a twin-set while plucking her (perfect) roses, I am not and never will be that person. I'm me. I'm tall and gawky and have a big nose and terrible hair and these round Polish cheeks. My face gets red and I sweat and my hair goes all over my face when I work. I dont mind mud and it's a rare day I don't have dirt under my fingernails at least once. I wear sneakers (men's size 8) and jeans (the cheap kind you buy off the Clearance rack at Kmart) and whatever shirt I can find that's loose and big and sloppy. I clean up fairly nice, but I hate wearing heels and the only jewelry I can tolerate is earrings. But you know what? I am happy. I am who I am, and who I am is a gardener! So's God, by the way...so I can't be too far wrong.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Feel some kipeing comin' onFrom the time when we were teenagers, my cousin Rob used to call the act of taking small items "kipeing". My husband thinks this word is hilarious and he uses it to describe all the times I sort of...ermmm....appropriate? plants from along roadsides, garbage piles, etc. *LOL*
So today...I feel an attack of the Kipeing comin' on. I think I'll go over to J's backlot dump and see if I can salvage some old plywood for the rabbit hutch renovation. Then, if there's not too much traffic, I may stop along the road up there and see if I can get that wooden door onto the truck. This is a find. I think it's a rough-made shed door and I can definitely use it for a bench if it's in good shape (which I think it is). It's been laying there for a month....you can't see it if you're driving by, but if you're walking, it's laying down along the steep bank, in the grass. I think it bounced off somebody's truck, probly on the way to the dump because it's definitely not new. Finders keepers!
After that, I may schmmoooooozee on over to the G's backyard and kipe some ground up leaves/compost (I have permission!). Arrr!! (sort of picture me with an eye patch and a pirate earring here...)
Then, my appetite for larceny satisfied, I'll come home and virtuously work at tagging the lilacs and forsythia that I will be giving away in the spring. *sound of angels singing softly in background as I fold my hands and gaze heaven-ward*
On a more sober note, got an email from my niece's husband yesterday. He is back at their farmhouse with his friend (I can't figure out the relationship there) and I feel so sorry for the boy. Obviously, he wants to stay there. I gave him a small job to do, to earn some money, but I dont know what else I can do. My niece is living with her mom; she must stop by the farmhouse from time to time, but she has pretty much taken me out of the loop of what she's doing, what's going on. I'd like to stay uninvolved, but I keep getting sucked back in it. *sigh* Drug addiction is destroying that little family.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Two good daysFriday, I got started very early in the morning, and tore right into that nasty Ugly Duckling area in the south border. I'm slowly working my way east, toward the neighbor's shed. UGH. Poison ivy is rampant; I managed to dig out several very big ropelike vines. I think that, what with the stuff I've dug out and a good repeated spraying with RoundUp come spring, I may just defeat that stuff!
E came over in the afternoon and we loaded up my pickup truck with wood chips (from that coarse pile that the tree guys left) and took them over to lay down on her veg garden paths. One load did not quite finish the job, but she had to quit for the day. I may try to take over a half load later this week.
Yesterday (Saturday), I finally got back into the veg garden and cleaned up that back corner. What an improvement! I dug out a lot of pokeweed that had rooted in and around the asparagus bed, then I tackled what was left of that odd "fig" tree thingy ....took over an hour of heavy digging and whacking with a hatchet, but I got that sucker outta there! Spaded up a nice bed for planting veggies, then another one to use as a sort of Flower/ nursery bed. I moved 6 tiny little oak trees into that, as well as the really big weeping willow that I am going to have to sell in the spring time. (No place for a willow...but once it's gone I'm SURE I'll find the perfect spot and regret it!).
This morning, I laid down cardboard and a thick layer of wood chips in that same corner of the veg garden to make what I have long wanted....I nice spot under the shade of the lilacs where I can sit down and rest while working in the veg garden. I put in 2 chairs and made a little table out of a concrete pedestal and a circular concrete disc that I found last year at the dump. Also moved my little moose planter down there...poor little Bullwinkle....he's been lying under the pines for over a year, waiting for a good spot. Now he's found one! *LOL*
Tomorrow, I'd like to get those black raspberry sprouts out of the veg garden path and also move those clumps of sedum out of the paths and into the new seating area.
The days are getting very short and very cold. We had a dusting of snow overnight, and the sunlight at 4:30 pm. is so low in the sky it's almost like evening.
My little cat Peach is feeling better. He's been suffering from diarrhea for about a week, off and on. At first I thought maybe it was because I got a different brand of canned food for the cats, but now I think he may have eaten something bad. I was going to take him to the vet, then decided to try home treating him. I have this kaolin-pectin mixture from the farm store (it's pink like Pepto, but NOT, and it's not Kaopectate, which is not safe for cats)...this pink stuff you buy by the gallon...it's mostly for calves and baby horses who get the skitters, but it works great in dogs, cats and people too! (When I bought a whole gallon of the stuff, my not so delicate friend B asked me if I was preparing for a S... storm *LOL*)
Anyways, I also started Peach on antibiotics and yesterday he seemed so much better...today he's running around like a kitten again. Poor little guy, he got off to a rough start. He's missing one eye, he has a crumpled ear, and he's had fungal problems and mange. He was one of 5 half-grown kittens that were dumped in my front yard over a year ago. What a mess! He was the worst one, but one brother (Spooky) had a dislocated shoulder, another one (Simon) had a bee bee in his shoulder, another brother (Angus) and sister (Riley) were starved but otherwise ok. Simon has since passed away...the vet and I speculated that he had a brain tumor, probably from a bee bee in his head. Who ever did this to these little animals should be...well..punished. However, the surviving boys and Riley (who is so psychologically damaged that she won't come in the house) are doing GREAT now.
Friday, December 16, 2011I got nuthin. *LOL*
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Schmoooze boxes are ready to goWhat a struggle. I finally got all the cookies packaged up to send to my clients as their annual "schooomze" box. (Got to thank those people and keep them happy!). I had bought these really lovely "crystal" plastic bowls to pack everything in, but no matter how I tried, I just could not get the cookies and candy securely in the bowl.
So I drove over to the Dollarama and ended up buying those foil pans with the clear plastic lids. Not as attractive, but highly functional and I'm really tired of cookies, packing, and everything else. I was at the point of tossing cookies and candy in brown paper bags, writing the address on the bag in crayon and mailing them.
I've got 6 boxes to mail out, plus the xmas cards.
R's appt with the knee doctor went ok. They drag out these medical procedures too much. We went to our family doctor, now this knee doctor. Yes, surgery is needed. So come back again and we'll talk. (What was THIS visit for?). Then the surgery. Then they want to see him afterward (which I can understand). Then, whether things are ok or not, they want to see him 2 more times. That's ridiculous. If everything is OK after the surgery, why go back? R says he'll smile, nod, agree to everything and not go if he doesn't think he needs to. My gosh, after his heart surgery his surgeon only saw him ONCE. Told him he was fine and never wanted to see him again.
Mr. G's son called in reply to my note to say I am more than welcome to the HUGE pile of ground up leaves in his backyard. When Mr. G was alive, I dipped into that pile every year, but I felt funny going over there now that he's gone. So I left a note in the mailbox and the result is....leaves, glorious leaves. The stuff is wonderful....a lot of it is already composted so it's like free potting soil. I will wait until we get another hard frost so I don't leave tire marks in their yard.
I can't believe how fast this week is going...R wants to try for a quick trip to Jtown on Friday or Saturday. I know we won't get up there for Xmas, but his mom is not doing well and I think we're all afraid this might be her last Xmas.
Looks like possibly rain here today.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
One big acheWell, I think I really overdid it yesterday what with the digging and hauling and hiking up and down that dratted hill. I overslept this morning and as I sit here, I can feel my arms and legs aching. That's not a common occurrence, thank God, so I must have really overdone it. I am thinking I will stay indoors today, get some "office" work done, and get those cookies packaged up and ready to mail. Plus, R has his appt. with the knee surgeon today.
I got all the Xmas cards ready to go, just need stamps. I may walk them up to the Post Office. It would be a good morning for that. I had HOPED to start work on a very big project, but the files are on a remote site and the girl in charge of the project sent me the wrong password or something because I can't access them. Ugh. It never fails. They glom a big project on me, then they screw it up somehow so I can't have the time I need to work on it. Then I get emails that say "We're expecting that project tomorrow."
Sweet Potato starts: This year, I thought I'd try something a bit different with my sweets. Every year, when I dig up the potatoes in October or early November, I save some of the rooted vines and small potatoes for next year's crop. I usually pot them up as soon as I dig them. I've always brought them in to the house and treated them as houseplants...lots of sunshine, warmth, and water. They usually do "OK" but I have had a lot of trouble with whitefly, rot, etc. By spring, I'm lucky if I have 6 living plants (I usually try to pot up about a dozen "starts").
This year, I put the tray with the 12 pots on top of the kitchen cupboard, up near the ceiling. I thought I'd "store" the starts where it is dry, dark, and warm until about mid-Feb and then start watering them, move them to a bright spot, etc.
Well, to my surprise, the starts are doing GREAT! All but 2 have leafed out and are growing very well. I only water them a little bit once a week. I guess I've been doing it wrong all this time....sweets seem to grow best in fairly dry but warm soil, not the damp soil I've been giving them. Also, because of the dry, no whitefly! (at least not yet). I think they are getting enough light up there from the window and from the overhead lights at night. I dont think I'll move them or do anything differently. Why mess with success? Keeping my finger crossed.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Working my way east; neighborsWell, I got a little bit more of the "ugly duckling" spot cleaned out. Slowly I am working my way east on the border. I was making good progress, then found another clump of poison ivy. Don't you know, a stem of the dratted stuff went right up my sleeve when I bent over to cut down some sprouts! Like it KNEW. So that was the end of that work session. In the house, out of the jacket, sweatshirt, shirt, tee shirt (hey, it's cold!)...wash wash wash and hope I don't get a rash.
I'm glad that happened around 3 p.m. and the day was pretty much winding down anyways. I am always surprised by how early it gets dark this time of year. By about 4:30 it's evening, and by about 5:30 it's dark night.
I dug up a small cut-leaf pink spirea that had been growing down in the shrub border. It's being shaded by a hawthorn and an apple tree so it hasn't flowered much the past 2 years. I moved it up to the Top Border, along the top of the back yard. I also was able to cut off two small sections, so I got a couple of new plants! Those I planted in the New Garden. I've been planting shrubs deep lately (forsythia, lilac, now this spirea) as a sort of experiment. (BTW, the article on Deep Planting is in Horticulture magazine, June 2009, page 62) I am hoping that this will help me extend the planting season and hopefully they won't heave out of the ground with the freeze-thaw cycle.
Poked around a bit up on the top of the property, where I rarely go. It is like a whole new land up there. Found that a small clump of pampas grass is growing up there, on its own. Also some red cedars and a lot of autum olive and wild Native Honeysuckle (the shrub kind). I think I will try to start digging planting holes along the fence line and try to plant at least 5 forsythia up there this week. There's an old livestock fence between my property and the neighbors, but that fence won't last forever so the forsythia will make a nice hedge instead.
This neighbor's property has quite a history. When we first built our little house here, about 25 years ago, a couple built an almost identical house up on the hill above us and moved in. I can't remember their names (his was Bruce), but I always think of them as the "too much trouble" people *lol*. I was busy putting in gardens, planting trees, hedges, shrubs, getting chickens and sheep, toolsheds, etc. etc. Everytime I talked to this couple, they said how nice it was we were doing all this, but it was "too much trouble." for them. They stayed about 2-3 years then moved. The next couple were great gardeners...they put in all sorts of truly lovely things....and this gorgeous water garden! It was two big rectangular pools that sort of waterfalled one into the other. The whole area around was brick paths with white fencing and beautiful plantings. Just gorgeous! Then, his work had him move and they left.
A young couple bought the place. OMG. The first thing they did was TEAR UP all that beautiful garden! The ponds were just 2 big muddy holes in the ground! They tore up the flower beds, cut down trees. It was unbelievable! I happened to be up there working on something and the shock of seeing it....I actually wept. A good while later, the young man came over to tell me he had sprayed weed killer all along my fence line because the tall grass was hanging through the fence over his side! This was when I had sheep grazing there. What a mess that made. By killing the grass, what grew up instead was thistles! I had 8 foot tall thorny thistles to deal with for the next 3 years because the sheep wouldn't graze them down. This same idiot asked me if it would be all right for him to cut down the apple tree ON MY PROPERTY because it was dropping apples on the road. *?????*** We live in a very rural area; we are surrounded by farm fields, there's always manure and mud on the roads. And he wants to kill a tree because the god given fruit falls on the road? I told him no. Next thing I knew, they moved out, after making a mess of a beautiful garden.
Our current neighbors seem pretty nice. They have done some work in restoring the torn up garden, but the man told me the ponds are beyond repair and he has filled them in. They seem to be taking good care of the place, and they haven't complained about the tall grass, so I'm hoping they will be OK with the forsythia hedge.
Ugh. Too long! I have to go get some work done!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011Remember I said I'd try to dig five holes this week? Well, it turned out not to be as hard as I expected and I got seven holes dug today! *yay* The soil up there at the top of the hill is really nice....rich, dark, deep, no stones. Just a few yards away, as you move down the slope (the top of the hill is level) it's thin clay with rocks and ridge all through it.
The hard part was digging out those forsythia. (Are you getting as tired of the word "forsythia" as I am? From here on, let's just refer to them as the F plants. Or F'n plants as I came to think of them by 3 p.m.)
I really thought I'd get down there, dig out seven nice big clumps, carry them to the top of the hill, plop them in and be done. No way. It took me nearly an HOUR just to dig out one of the F plants because not only was there a humonguous F plant in the middle, it was surrounded by dozens of smaller F plants, all intertwined and rooted together. There was so much F plant that I filled all seven planting holes with only ONE of the big original plants. AND THERE ARE NINE MORE TO GO! At this rate, I'll be moving F plants til June.
Spent an hour weeding the little flagstone area at the base of the deck steps late this afternoon. Very relaxing. Nice and warm, too.
E brought over my Christmas cookie order. Every year, I try to send my clients a nice Holiday gift to thank them for the year's projects. Some years, flowers. Some years, candy. This year I am sending cookies. E did a bang-up job. She made pecan crescents which are dipped in powdered sugar. Tiny extremely rich brownies with nuts and drizzles of white choc on top. Three-color cookies (pink, white/green). And almond biscotti with chocolate drizzles and those little colored thingies on top. I'm sending out 3 dozen to each client, so that should make a nice treat. I have to make time tomorrow to box them all up and get them to the post office. I'm going to make a point to mail them from our little local Post Office because I don't want them to close it. I figure the more business it does, the better.
Monday, December 12, 2011
On taking cuttingsI've been doing alot of research on starting new plants from cuttings. I've read on this in the past, but to be honest, it always seemed like rocket science. Now, howeva, I've been watching YouTube vids about it and guess what? It's not that hard! I think I am a "visual learner"....I learn better from watching someone do something, being shown how, than I do from reading about it or being told how to do it.
I got to watch some very good simple vids from everyday people and now I can't wait until June to try out my newknowledge. One tip that I came away with was that HONEY can be used as a root promoting "thingy"...you know, instead of rooting hormone. Never knew that! Also, I did not know that you are supposed to cut THRU the leaf node on stuff like Coleus cuttings. I always thought you cut above or below the node. So, more info.
I've got a few more "office" things to finish up here, then I think I'll give myself the day off in the garden. I just realized I never finished digging out the weeds in the back corner of the veggie garden. So that needs done, and I've got trash to haul to the brush fence and compost pile.
The other day, I brought up a jar of tomato sauce that I canned in 2008. The last one. And I remembered what a great year that was! The best garden I ever had. And one of the happiest years too. And then I realized that the whole reason it was a good year was because that year, I was totally involved in my garden. My friend E had just moved in about 2 miles away and she was so eager to learn everything about gardening and go everywhere and do everything when it came to plants, mulch, etc. It really fired me to be more involved in my garden too.
So, for me, life really is a garden. When I stray too far, both mentally and physically, I pay for it. I get anxious, cranky, I eat too much, I get depressed, I start to feel sick, I start to imagine all sorts of terrible things will happen....(I have a terrific imagination. And I edit medical books for a living. When you combine the two? It's awful. Once, I started having these odd pains in my side. Down near my hip. Then up my back. Then in my stomach area. Then sometimes in my "lady parts." I was convinced I had cancer. One of the nastier sort. I went to the doctor. He couldn't find anything. Sent me to the gynecologist. He couldn't find anything. They did MRIs. They did tests. Nothing. Finally, I limped back home to die. One day, working in the GARDEN, I bent over to do something, my back went POP!! like a big knuckle crack and the "cancer" disappeared. Apparently, I had a back spasm. *SHEESH* *red faced with embarrassment.*) *LOL*
But I digress. What I want to document is that I NEED my garden. OK, I admit it. It's not maybe what others would consider "normal." I don't enjoy shopping or makeup or fancy clothes. I'm ok with some travel, but don't really like the usual "vacation" spots. (I'd rather visit other gardens *LOL*). But this is me. This is who and what I am. For some reason, I'm linked to my land and that's what makes me supremely happy.
When I was only a couple of weeks old, my mom said she took me outside for the first time for a walk. She said she stepped under a tree that was just breaking into leaf (this was early April) and I opened my eyes and reached up for the leaves and started making all sorts of little cries and waved my hands around. She said she knew right then that I was destined to be a Nature Lover. I guess mom was right!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Making progressOn Friday I got the young tree lilac dug out of the messy border area and moved to a "showpiece" spot up in the new garden. I also dug out a nice size clump of old-fashioned clumping type lilac and put that up along the fence in the new garden. I'm hoping it will spread and make a nice screen up there.
I've been debating all weekend what to do with that spot between my property and the neighbor's. It really does have some of the nicest soil in the whole place...it would be a shame to just glom it up with a big forsythia and nothing else. I am beginning to think I may try to put in some other types of flowers/flowering shrubs. Roses leap to mind...maybe some of those Knockouts or whatever that don't need a lot of care.
I noticed that the neighbor lady has been using that area as her "dump" too....fortunately, just the dead ends and potting soil from her planters but still. It looks awful. So I'll go ahead and clean that up (actually, I can use that potting soil to improve the soil in MY garden. She's always moaning about how bad the dirt is around here, but yet she throws out potting soil...go figger.)
Maybe before I decide what to plant down there I should just go ahead and finish totally clearing it out. Then, once I have a blank slate and can take some measurements, pics, etc. I can plan what would look best. I'd like to make it look nice from both sides...so that the neighbors have something nice to look at (and hopefully get the hint that the border shrubs are not a refuse site *lol*).
I have "office work" to keep me in the house most of today, but I may sneak out and get a load of mulch in. I am really being hamstrung by not having a working wheelbarrow. I'll borrow D's again. Santa is definitely bringing me a wheelbarrow for Xmas. I know because I had to go get it. *HA* Now if he'd only bring me a tall, muscular, young, strong man with broad shoulders and good knees and maybe not too bright. Oh yeah. Oh baby. I could do with that...just think of all the tree planting holes he could dig! And the dead trees he could cut down! And the mulch and manure he could shovel! I get all faint and fluttery just thinking about it.... *LOL*
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