Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy National Poinsettia Day!

Did you know that the poinsettia has a special day all its own?
By an Act of Congress, December 12 was set aside as National Poinsettia Day. The date marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who is credited with introducing the native Mexican plant to the United States. The purpose of the day is to enjoy the beauty of this popular holiday plant.

Mexican folktale tells how a poor Mexican girl, with no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve services, gathered some plants (poinsettias) into a bouquet on her way to church. She approached the altar with love and reverence and the bouquet turned into brilliant red blossoms. The flowers are known as the Flores de la Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, and bloom each year during the Christmas season.

Another version says:
It is said that a poor young peasant girl in Mexico on her way to celebrate Christmas at church followed scores of people carrying brilliant gifts to honor baby Jesus, but suddenly felt embarrassed because she had no gift to give.The little girl so desperately wanted to give something of great value and when she could think of nothing, she began to cry.Some people say that a friend of the little girl saw her crying and went over to console her. The little girl confessed that she had nothing to give and her friend told her that any gift from the heart would surely be appreciated.Others say that an angel appeared and told the young girl to pick a bouquet of weeds from the roadside.Either way, the girl picked a handful of weeds from the roadside and continued to church. At church people lined up to place extravagant gifts at the foot of the nativity scene. People looked at the little girl in disbelief as she placed her weeds near the manger.Suddenly the weeds transformed into beautiful red flowers, and everyone who witnessed the gift swore they had witnessed none other than a Christmas miracle.

And still another version says that the petals turned brilliant red as each of her tears landed on them.

Any way it's told, it is still a good story.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 18th Is Free Shipping Day

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 is Free Shipping Day.
It's a day when participating merchants give free shipping to online shoppers with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.

All you procrastinators get to save some bucks.

Hmmm, where's all the gardening stuff? (I guess you could always give gardening books). Come on guys, get with the program and get on the bandwagon! Shopping for seeds, bulbs, tools and supplies with free shipping - what could be better?

lol, this from someone who doesn't even shop online.
Have fun, y'all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Handmade Seed Paper Cards

Pictures removed because they're being stolen by Polyvore!

I got such wonderful responses to last years Seed Paper - Pressed Flower - Rubber Stamped - Christmas Cards , I thought I'd go ahead and do them again this year.

Somewhere along the line I seem to have gotten stuck on a star pattern with the ferns.

Last year, I left the edges ragged/torn and this year I straightened them up. I really like them both ways.
Of course, there would be a bigger variety if I had remembered to collect and press more flowers. Oops!
The youngest daughter thought she'd make a few for her teachers and friends this year. Yay! I'll happily involve her in anything crafty. :)
Here are a few finished examples (yes, they got rubber stamped inside, but you don't get to see that. lol):

At least I had something to occupy my mind for a while. DH is getting laid off next week (which also means we won't have any insurance. Please, please, nobody get sick!). The whole second shift will be gone. Two weeks to Christmas - could the company have timed it any worse? UGH!
Things were as tight as they could already get around here. I don't know what we're going to do now. How do you pinch pennies that no longer exist? ~sigh~
Christmas sure isn't going to be all that happy. There is no way I will be able to buy gifts as the little I had saved will have to go towards food instead.
This totally sucks . . .
If I keep saying it, it might eventually come true: "Next year has GOT to be better!"
Anybody want to buy some four-leaf clovers? Cause they sure as hell don't work for me.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Books Online

I've been searching around on Google's book search a lot lately. It's a fantastic thing for people, like me, who can't afford books or who don't have easy weekly (or even monthly) access to their local libraries.

I've been perusing this today: Perennial Combinations: Stunning Combinations that Make Your Garden Look Fantastic Right From The Start

I read through some of this one -- A WOMAN' SHARDY GARDEN
-- and, my, how some things have changed and some stayed so much the same!

(before reading this excerpt, keep in mind that these prices are per hundred)

It will be seen, from the following list, that such borders can easily be made and planted at a cost of less than thirty dollars.

$0 .80
1. 25
4 .00
1 .40
1 .50
Delphinium Formosum
1 .25
Delphinium Coelestina
2 .50
Tiger Lilies
Lilium rubrum
. 85
Lilium candidum
1 .50
Japanese Iris
1 .25
Iris Germanica
1 .00
1 .50
Flower seeds
1 .00
Three days' work, at $1.50 per day
4 .50

In 1903, that was a ridiculous amount of money to spend on flowers!

"Many people have the mistaken idea that a flower garden, however small, is an expensive luxury."

And yes, in 2008, for many, it still is. Obviously, this woman had never had to worry about putting food on her table. Well, socialites didn't in that day and age, did they? Heh, I suppose they still don't, but just how many of them are into gardening in this day and age?

Now, if Google would only put up some fun things like The After-Dinner Gardening Book.

And More Free Seeds

Join the Hunt for Bees. By watching and recording the bees at sunflowers in your garden, you can help us understand the challenges that bees are facing.

Join The Great Sunflower Project and they will send you some free seeds to get you started.

There are four steps:

Sign up and plant your sunflower
Describe your garden
Time how long it takes 5 bees to visit your sunflower plant
Enter your data online or send us your form

Friday, November 28, 2008


We are blessed.
We really are.

This year I am so very, very thankful that my kids were all around the table, healthy, and have grown into caring, thoughtful individuals.

I am thankful for the person that was thoughtful and generous enough to drop us a food basket so that we could have a complete thanksgiving meal. (all brand name stuff - we haven't had anything brand name in years!)

I am thankful for the knowledge I have and the knowledge yet to come, and that we have enough of it to survive all on our own - even if the world goes to hell.

I am thankful for my wonderful husband of 25 years that I love more now than the day I said "I do".

I am thankful for the beauty I see around me daily, even when the white crap is covering most of it outside.

I am thankful that I have a roof over our heads, that I can make our own clothes, that one of us still has a job for now, that we aren't freezing yet and that we have friends (and strangers) that care.

We don't own cell phones, flat screen tv's, ipods, blackberries, video game consoles, mp3 players or even a decent car, but we are (honestly) the richest family I know.
And I am so very, very thankful for that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Well, That's Interesting

Over at Prairie Point, they posted about a site which analyzes your blog and tells you which "Type" you are.

Typealyzer. What type is that blog?

This is what mine came up with-

ESTP - The Doers
The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

Hmmm . . . yes, and no.

Why not give yours a shot?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

November Inside Inventory

I guess it's time I listed an inventory of what's overwintering and otherwise taking up space inside for the winter season. Although all of these end up outside at some point, I'll still list as if some are overwintering (O) perennials and others as houseplants (H).

O Impatiens - many plants and numerous cuttings
O Coleus - many plants and numerous cuttings
O Asarina vine / Asarina scandens - many/numerous
H Dracaena marginata (6)
H Dracaena fragrans (3) plus cuttings
H Thanksgiving cactus (3) plus cuttings
H Spider plant / Chlorophytum comosum (2) plus numerous plantlets
H Ivy / Hedera helix "Design" (2) plus cuttings
H Ivy / Hedera helix "Variegated Nena" (2) plus cuttings
O Potato vine / Ipomoea batatas "Carolina Purple" many plus numerous cuttings
H Aloe (2) unidentified cultivar
H Echeveria / "Dondo" ?
O Polka Dot plant / Hypoestes phyllostachya 4 dif patterns (4) numerous cuttings
H Dumb Cane / Dieffenbachia maculata "Camilla"?
H Dumb Cane / Dieffenbachia Compacta
H Snake Plant / Sansevieria trifisciata "Laurenti"
H Arrow Head plant / Arum italicum "Pictum"/"Marmoratum"
H Birds Nest fern / Asplenium nidus "Crispafolium" (2)
H Peace Lily / Spathiphyllum "Sweet Pablo" (2)
H Peace Lily / Spathiphyllum - "Double Take" (2)
H Golden Pothos / Epipremnum aureum-Scindapsus aureus
H Burgundy Rubber tree / Ficus elastica decora "Burgundy"
O Caladium / Caladium aracea - numerous
H Asparagus Fern / Asparagus densiflorus "Sprengerii" (30)
O Wax Begonia / Begonia semperflorens - numerous
O Begonia / interspecies cross
H Anthurium / Anthurium amnicola
O Fucshia - numerous
H Jade / Crassula argentea (3)
H Variegated Elephant's Food, Elephant Bush / Portulacaria afra (2)
H Spear Head / Senecio kleiniiformis
O Rosemary / Rosmarinus officinalis (3)
H Schefflera / Schefflera arboricola "Variegata"
O Boston Fern / Nephrolepis exaltata (2)
O Majesty Palm / Ravenea rivularis
O Areca Palm / Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
O Cat Palm / Chamaedorea cataractarum
O Parlor Palm / Chamaedorea elegans
H Lipstick plant / Aeschynanthus radicans
O Chile pepper (5)
O Poinsettia / Euphorbia pulcherrima (12)
O Wandering Jew, Purple Heart, Purple Queen / Tradescantia pallida - Setcreasea purpurea
O Spike Dracaena / Cordyline australis (2 - five years old and huge)
O Elephant Ears / Colocasia esculenta (3)
O Canna / Unknown (4)
O Black Eyed Susan Vine / Thunbergia alata - numerous
O Calla Lily / Zantedeschia aethiopica
H Peperomia / Peperomia obtusifolia "Rainbow" (2)
H Dracaena / "Lemon Lime"
H Dracaena / "Lemon Surprise"
H Flase Aralia / Aralia elegantissma - Dizygotheca elegantissima
H Philodendron, heart leaf / Philodendron scandens - oxycardium (2)
O Dahlia - stored bare bulbs

I've probably forgotten a few.
The only thing I lost last winter were the Cyclamen. Not a bad score for an entire year.

Next post will be a list of the seed inventory. Hey, it's almost time to start wintersowing!

Ironic that this list came directly behind my Too Much Stuff post, eh? Hey, I figure not taking meds for the depression or anxiety disorder since I became plant obsessed is worth it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Too Much Stuff

I have been trying to get accross my view of the overly materialistic world we live in and the difference between buying the stuff we want rather than the stuff we need as being pointlessly wasteful for a very, very long time.

To me (remember, this is merely my opinion), there is a distinct, bold, bright line between the two. When I mention my philosophy of the difference to most people, I usually end up getting a snarl in response. In time, most realize the direction of my thinking, but won't admit it. To them, it seems I'm dissing their possessions. They're like a dog with a bone - "Don't mess with me about my stuff! I love my stuff. How dare you suggest I actually discard some or not buy more stuff?!"

Why do people love their stuff?!

There are simple questions to be asked to decide if an item should be purchased: "Do I need it, or do I simply want it? Will I use it every day, or only occasionally? Is there a purpose to this, or will it simply make me feel good to own it? Will this thing make my life any better, any easier or do I just think it will? Is this a planned purchase or in impulse buy?"

Colleen, over at In The Garden Online, touched on this very point regarding a rather expensive piece of jewelry directed at gardeners, but did it with much more couth than I would have mustered over the subject. Seriously, do any of us need expensive (or cheap, for that matter) jewelry? Why? Simply because it makes us feel good or other people will admire our bling? Honestly, call me a weirdo, but I don't believe in having bling just for the sake of having it or because it's pretty hanging off my wrists, neck or ears. By choice, I don't have an engagement ring. I don't even wear a watch. Anyone who knows me, at all, knows they would get a smack upside the head if they ever bought be jewelry - I would consider it nothing more than a waste of money. I don't need stuff to express myself artfully or emotionally - It's just stuff.

I came across this 2007 essay written by Paul Graham. He pretty much says what I'm thinking, but puts it in a more articulate way than I ever could:

July 2007
"I have too much stuff. Most people in America do. In fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they seem to have. Hardly anyone is so poor that they can't afford a front yard full of old cars.

It wasn't always this way. Stuff used to be rare and valuable. You can still see evidence of that if you look for it. For example, in my house in Cambridge, which was built in 1876, the bedrooms don't have closets. In those days people's stuff fit in a chest of drawers. Even as recently as a few decades ago there was a lot less stuff. When I look back at photos from the 1970s, I'm surprised how empty houses look. As a kid I had what I thought was a huge fleet of toy cars, but they'd be dwarfed by the number of toys my nephews have. All together my Matchboxes and Corgis took up about a third of the surface of my bed. In my nephews' rooms the bed is the only clear space.

Stuff has gotten a lot cheaper, but our attitudes toward it haven't changed correspondingly. We overvalue stuff."

Maybe the economy has finally hit the point at which this will start to ring a bell with people who were previously unwilling to stop buying all that unnecessary stuff.
Click to continue reading Paul's essay about 'STUFF'

It's That Time Of Year Again

The weather dude has spoken: It's January weather in November - and going to last.
Which means I won't be doing much in the sewing room now as it has no heat source. No new undies, shirts, pants, PJs, dresses or skirts for the kids for a while.

I'm still working on the next Cathedral Window quilt. I'm glad I had the foresight to bring all the supplies into the living room in a nice tidy bin. Ahhh, but who knows how long that tidiness will last.

I need to start up a new cross stitch project soon, or maybe something in the knitty/crochety category. My fingers are aching to do some playing in yarn, though all I have left are scraps of skeins. Maybe I have enough to do some mittens again for the Rescue Mission. Maybe not. I'll have to dig and see. If not, I'll have to look through my old patterns and find something small to do.

I definitely need to start on my (now) annual Seed Paper - Pressed Flower - Rubber Stamped - Christmas Cards for this Christmas. Maybe right after Thanksgiving.

100 UFOs, and apparently I need more. lol.

Oh! And that pumpkin from my roaside shopping trip that someone was throwing out? Yup, it made exactly 4 loves of bread.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Linens 'N Things Update

If you shop there, now might be the time to look for some good deals as ALL stores will be closing in mid-December, including those in Canada, since they failed to find any backers after the first round of closings. The company has been bought out by a liquidation firm.

I feel bad for the employees who will be losing their jobs right before Christmas.
Figures, eh?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

YouTube Gems

This guy is too cute!

Saving Seeds:

UCLA Lecture from Jules Dervaes
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

If you really want to be freaked out, watch this (I know it seems long, but it's really worth watching when you get the time): The Future of Food
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

Friday, November 14, 2008

An Amazing Site

One awesome plant information database:

TROPICOS was originally created for internal research but has since been made available to the world’s scientific community. All of the nomenclatural, bibliographic, and specimen data accumulated in MBG’s electronic databases during the past 25 years are publicly available here. This system has over one million scientific names, 3.4 million specimen records, 111,000 bibliographic citations, and more than 70,000 images of living plants and specimens.

A Little Change

Firefly, at Sweet Pea Chronicle, has transferred her blog over to wordpress, so has a new link.
Her always insightful posts are definitely worth a read!

Latin Shmatin . . . Take 2

Over at Garden Rant, Allan Armitage has another post up called So You Want To Dumb Us Down Even More? about whether regular gardeners should be learning and using the botanical names of plants.

I posted on this subject waaay back on December 1, 2006: Latin Shmatin

How do I feel about the same subject two years later?
Well, have you ever seen that TV ad about Time Warner/Verizon where the guys says, "My life is already complicated enough"?


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Link Love

Thought I'd share a couple links I've discovered recently that I really like:

The Survival Podcast
(Jack Spirko does almost daily podcasts (while driving to work) - not a fanatical survivalist. He's a normal guy that's just like most of us. They also host a forum. Just click one of these at the top of each blog post to listen to the podcasts: Play Now Play in Popup Download)
The Survival Podcast is a daily blog/podcast that discusses the current state of the global and U.S. economy and what individuals can do cope with and prepare for uncertain times. We cover everything from peak oil threats, to gardening and homesteading to political discussions and even some wilderness survival skills.

Homesteading Today Forum
A little of everything and anything to do with how to grow it, raise it, build it, etc.
Give it a browse - I bet you'll find something you'll like.

Bird Wave

We just saw the most freaking amazing thing - a gigundo bird wave!
There must have been a million birds, all turning and swooping like ocean waves over the open fields and trees. I haven't seen one in a very long time, and wow, I'd forgotten how impressive it is to watch every single bird in a huge cloud all turn and dive or climb at exactly the same time, as if triggered by an invisible signal. No leader, no follower - just perfect synchronicity.
Amazing! And very, very cool.
We kept staring and exclaiming our glee, like children at Christmas.
Oh, to have a video camera! Or, at least a digi cam. Urg!
We had that vertigo feeling a few times while staring upwards - as if the whole thing were some computer generated vision and not really real.
What an awe-inspiring, jaw dropping, exhilarating sight.

Princeton Nurseries Closing

Princeton Nurseries, located in Allentown, NJ, started in the summer of 1913, has 2600 acres, made it through the Great Depression, but can't struggle through the economic mess we're in now.
Big bummer.
I've never purchased anything from them, but it is still sad to see such a historic nursery sink into oblivion.

TO: Princeton Nurseries Customers
Effective December 16, 2008 Princeton Nurseries will permanently close as a result of declining economic conditions.

Here is the history of the nursery: The History of Princeton Nurseries

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Roadside Shopping

People are chucking their spent mums . . . again.
I picked up three big mums and a pumpkin large enough for about four loaves of pumpkin bread. I love it when people have money to throw away.
Clearance sales are still on at Lowe's - huge Boston fern and two 'Double Take' Spaths (left outside to get frosted - ugh!) for a buck.
Go me!

The weather looks like I'll be able to get the mums in the ground on Friday.
I got the Iris cut back for winter and did a lot of weed pulling. Most of the flowerbeds are cleaned up. I'm still doing that nit-picky thing I do, though. I can't help it!

Planted the garlic a month ago and they're growing very well. Transplanted the rhubarb into the garden at the same time - I don't know how they'll end up taking it. We'll see.

Collected some more seed - aster and Zebrina Malva. I'm hoping those don't become a thug.
The large pond pump and flow-through pumps have been turned off and the smaller winter pumps turned on. The koi are sulking, but it can't be helped. They'll be fine, as always.

Now comes the real limbo. Too much love for the houseplants while I twiddle my thumbs waiting to start the wintersowing. It won't be as much as previous years as I can't afford the potting soil. Oh, well. I'll just have to pick and choose a little more wisely about what I want most in the flowerbeds next year and use the peat I already have - whether appropriate or not. On a side note: I was a little miffed when someone mentioned that they bought eight bags of potting soil for 8 something a bag and thought that it was no big deal and pretty much petty change. Huh? When your figuring out which bill to pay and which to leave . . . ummmm, 60 something dollars is a lot of money! What the hell is wrong with people saying it's no big deal to just go blow 60 bucks on soil? I could almost see her shrugging her shoulders with the 'what's the big deal' attitude. Grrrr.

I need to sort through my seeds again and get them in order. Maybe I'll wait on that until after Christmas when I'll be ridiculously sick of having nothing gardenish to play in.

Still so far, so good on the rosemary.

I still need to tent my lavender with some burlap.

I found out that my Polka Dots are more of a pain in the ass than I thought they would be.

I can't get the stem rot stopped on those stupid begonias, so have about a thousand cuttings piled everywhere now. If I end up with not one begonia come spring, I'm gonna be hot!

The Majesty Palm is still puttering along and throwing up new spears.

Oh, and the weirdness for the month - a Foxglove and Lupine are flowering! What the frig is up with that? The snaps that are still in full bloom aren't a surprise, but the Lupine certainly is. Also had a Delph just get a very late bloom frozen off. Hmmm . . .

Plans are in the works to widen the garden next spring and plant potatoes again. Yay! We haven't had the room for them in years.

I may do some more roadside shopping this weekend. Hehehe.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Laugh Of The Day

This came to me from a blog I read now and again - Outer Banks Mom's blog.
It was too funny not to pass along.

Too Much Attention

With the cold dropping like a wet blanket, I've been paying way too much attention to my houseplants.

Not a good thing!

Too much love can kill a plant.
Why can I not keep my fingers out of the dirt and leave well enough alone?

At least my Majesty Palm is a happy camper about all this pampering. 3 new shoots since I brought her home. For the buck I paid, she's awesome! Although, the fact that she's already hitting our ceiling could be a bad thing. The Cat and Areca palms are still busy settling into their new environments. But still, for a buck, I'll be patient and give them time.

I'm not having the best of luck with the begonias. Ahhh, well. I guess some messing with them will give me some experience with stem rot. I love learning somthing new about plants.

All the seeds I've collected and dried have been stored. Maybe that's why I've been messing so much with the tropicals. My fingers can't stand to be idle and not messing with something green. God, I truly am obsessed!

My Dracaena Massangeana is looking like it's on steroids or something! The sucker is putting out new growth like gangbusters.

Ick - I found millipedes in my Burgundy Rubber plant. I drowned the little suckers. lol. There are 9 or so trunks in that pot and I'm toying with the idea of re-potting them - three to a pot for three pots. Yeah, I know (honest, I do!) that I shouldn't be messing with them until spring. But, ya know...they're there. And I look at them every day. So, uh...yeah. Maybe I'll be good, maybe not.

The Poinsettias are growing. No color, but I didn't bother with the dark treatment. Too busy with everyone else. I just want to get them through this winter for now. I need to be way more vicious with the pruning next spring. Last spring I was a bit hesitant and didn't really prune the heck out of them like I should have. I'm so worried, a lot of the time, of doing the wrong thing and losing stuff that I'm way too timid and tender. It's interesting - I pay about a penny a piece for plants I get on clearance, but still can't bring myself to the point of being ruthless with any of them!

I used to have a ridiculously huge Asparagus fern (no, it's not really a fern) years ago and loved it, so when I saw some on clearance for 5 cents, of course, I couldn't resist.

I re-potted my Spider plant - after I sliced the pot to get that sucker out! That'll teach me to neglect it again. It went bonks about a week after I re-potted. Must be happy to be able to wiggle it's toes again.

The potted Rosemary I brought in is so far, so good. Not really happy, but still putting on new growth.

The cuttings of Coleus and Impatiens have rooted and been potted up.

The Caladiums foliage has started to wilt down, so I'll be cutting it off and drying them out soon. Hate to see them go away, but I'll be bringing them back towards spring again, hopefully.

The Elephant Ears and Canna are sitting pretty in the sunny dining room windows and doing fine. This will be the fourth year for the EE's to overwinter as a houseplant. They don't look the greatest all winter, but they do OK.

I can't seem to make the Variegated Schefflera happy, no matter what I try. Less water, more water, less light, more light. What gives? I think this is the pickiest plant I've ever had!

The Calla Lily that my step-mom gave me for Christmas last year is huge and gorgeous! It's putting out new growth like crazy. I can't bring myself to put that fabulous foliage to bed, so it's taking up space in the dining room.

I should count how many houseplants I have now - or maybe not. It might prove I'm a little crazy. The hubs has started complaining to people that he can't walk through the house. Seriously, I don't see this as a problem - and that's a problem!

It's strange that I have really good luck with some things and others, well, not so much. Usually the easier it is said to be able to care for, the worse I do with it.

Probably from too much attention!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Garden Gold

So, what gives with all the doom and gloom about garden retail sinking?
Over at Rant, Allan Armitage has posted his first contributing article - about the state of the retail plant industry.

Back in March, I blogged about (Gardening Decline) an article by Bonnie Blodgett: "This may come as news to you, but gardening is on the decline nationally. Quite a surprise to the soothsayers who were predicting just the opposite only five years ago."

Seriously, everywhere you look there are huge vibes of doom-n-gloom.
It's fear mongering, I say! (wow, that doesn't work as well without tone of voice)

Plants, and the people that buy them, aren't going anywhere. They'll simply change their buying tactics and habits.
It'll be seeds instead of transplants, the big box instead of the local nursery (unfortunately), waiting for those sales to hit, practicing patience by buying smaller sized perennials instead of the larger, more expensive, already blooming sizes and passing over annuals they would normally buy as well as replacing them with veg instead.

Personally, I think gardening is going to take a swing upwards. In a big way.
Here's a case in point: Swayed By A Shopping Trip?
And another (ABC news video): Back (And Front) Yard Gardeners

People are simply sick of it all.

Unless you're shopping at the big box, or find a freaky-deaky sale at the local nursery, most of these newer plants are out of reach for the ordinary gardener.
Times have turned from drooling over a plant pic and pushing the buy button because it's 'wanted', to thinking 'can I really afford it' before pushing that button. The times of people wandering the aisles of the local nursery and throwing plants in the cart willy-nilly, without a thought for the cost, are just about gone.

Maybe impulse buying is dying, but that urge to grow things will never go away - it will just get finagled into better and cheaper ways to get what they want.
And there will be more of them. Much more. Think 'Victory Garden'.

I think nurseries are going to have to start ramping up on the veg side and down on the inventory of those silly plants. (Silly is my interpretation of those fussy, trussy, frilly, expensive, water-hog, good for nothing but being eye-candy plants. Of which there are many even I love!)

Seriously, who wants to fill a backyard full of plants that look great but serve no useful purpose if they have a limited budget? They'll be ripping up lawns and buying vegetable transplants. Really.

It's not so much that the buyers are going away, but that the plant business needs to change their tactics around to suit the new ways buyers are thinking. It's not the instant gratification that will get the business anymore, but will be much more about 'what can this plant do for me'.

I see new gardeners popping up everywhere that wonder how they can get what they want on a very tight budget. They've been fed this useless dream of a Martha Stewart vision, or that instant 30 minute makeover TV, that just doesn't work.

That's right - these aren't reality, people! They may be some warped version of reality TV, but ninety-nine percent of what you're seeing in magazines and on TV are no more than an unattainable dream for people with ordinary incomes (I wonder if Joe six-pack gardens? lol). Seriously, they should name these shows and articles "How deep are your pockets?".
In times like these, you can't demand prices that the market won't bear.

So, put your seat belts on, it's definitely going to be a bumpy ride. But the car? - it ain't gonna crash! Who's going to survive this ride? The sellers and nurseries that 'Get It'. They need to make people fall in love all over again with doing it themselves, and helping them do it. There's garden gold in them-thar hills, the retailers just need to find it.
Good luck with that . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Big Dudes Make A Visit

Wow, the Weather Channel people are in town. I'm impressed!
Kind of gives a clue as to how bad our weather has been.
Power lines are down, schools are closed. (not my daughter's - she's not happy. lol)
The snow amounts only ranged from 5 to 12 inches, but it was that heavy, sticky stuff. That wind was the killer!
I don't want to see what's outside the window when the sun comes up.
This type of weather in October isn't totally unheard of, but it sure does suck!
We'll get to start all over again next week as it's suppose to hit 50 F on Friday, plummet for the weekend and back up to almost 60 F on Tuesday.
Back to our old CNY saying: If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes, it'll change.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Seeds Saved Today

Since they are predicting the first lake-effect (can't believe it!!) storm of the year for tomorrow, I decided to stop procrastinating and go collect the rest of the seeds...

Nigella (more - I'm smitten)
Straw flower
Double Zins
Reg Zins
Cosmos (white)
Cosmos (purple)
Cinnamon Sun/Vanilla Ice mix Sunflowers (they were so cool looking!)
Mammoth Sunflower (roasted a gallon containers worth - kids ate them all already!)
Bush Marigold (those suckers were almost 3 foot tall!)
Crystal Palace Lobelia
Cleome (purple - bush!)
Some cool tangerine Snaps
Celosia (they were over 3 foot this year!)
Double Rust Gloriosa Daisy
Balsam Imps
Black Seeded Simpson
Cali Wonder Pepper

Plants And Pets

Ever wondered if a plant you really want to buy would be safe to have around your pet? Here's some help:

Plants that are TOXIC to pets --> Toxic plant list
Plants that are NON-TOXIC to pets -->Non-toxic plant list

The lists are printer friendly and might be nice to keep on hand.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blogging Is Dead

According to Wired Magazine it is:

Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004
By Paul Boutin

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here's some friendly advice: Don't. And if you've already got one, pull the plug.

Scroll down Technorati's list of the top 100 blogs and you'll find personal sites have been shoved aside by professional ones. Most are essentially online magazines: The Huffington Post. Engadget. TreeHugger. A stand-alone commentator can't keep up with a team of pro writers cranking out up to 30 posts a day.

Is he serious? Puuuhleeeassse!
Well, at least I can have total faith that we 'Amateur Garden Bloggers' won't ever budge. There is much (too much) for us to babble about - and in a fun way. Plants, and the voracious appetite for the information about them, will never go away. Especially with the times sucky economy and the movement toward sustainability and Global Greenness. Blogs make new growers comfortable. They get the information in a less competitive way when communicating with another who has already grown whatever it is they're looking to try for themselves. Who wants to be preached down to by some 'professional' when you're just starting? Garden blogs are a great way to ease someone into the growing experience . . . without being made to feel stupid or ignorant. We all make mistakes - and if we're smart, we'll blog about those too!

I find that most serious gardeners are a stubborn lot. It won't be so easy to shove us off our soapboxes blogs.


I finally get time to sit down and have a nice leisurely peruse through the blogs listed on Voices at Gardenweb, and I get this:

site disabled.


Back to my favs list and the Power Guides.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

While I'm Thinking Of It

. . .
The mums are fab this year!
There has been an awful lot of controversy over chrysanthemums.

Better to fall plant?
Spring plant?
Start by seed inside under lights?
Start by seed with wintersowing?
By cuttings in spring?
Mulch heavily?
No mulch?
Don't pinch?

Guess what - In my experience, they pretty much all work here in zone 5 - it's really up to the mum. Do they like you? ;-) Experiment to see what works for you.

So far, I've broken every single rule. I don't mulch. I don't pinch. I don't fertilize. I have some growing in full sun, some in part shade and still others in the dense matt of roots in total shade at the base of a sugar maple tree. They are the one perennial in my yard that is completely ignored and still come through our tough lake-effect winters like total champs!

The best mums I've had so far are the ones people chuck out every year, like these: Rescued.
I'm going to scout out the roadsides again soon. Some people are so wasteful!

Not Enough Information

I do it constantly - looking through my blog for last years info, that is.

And you know what? I find that nine times out of ten, I never even wrote about what I'm looking for!

I need to stop that, I really do. At the time, I always think, "So I took some cuttings. So what? It's something so small, why even document it? I'll wait until I have more than five words to do a post."

Well, how about for the simple fact that next year I'm going to want to know what I did . . . and when, for Pete sake!

It just seems so pointless to post one lousy sentence of "I took however many cuttings of whatever today." But that's the point - that there IS a point.

When I type Purple Heart into the search box, it's because I want to know what I actually did with that damn Purple Heart! Especially if I've lost them all somewhere along the line.

So, from now on, I vow to post every stupid, mindless speck of info I do with my plants whether inside or outside, seed or purchased. Period.

Wow, this is going to start becoming one long, continually updated and boring blog.

Go me!

Oh, and I cut and poked 3 cuttings of Carolina Purple potato vine today. So there!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Gift Of . . . Aliens

Yes, Aliens.
Apparently, flowers are from somewhere - 'out there'.

A couple weekends ago, I was feeling pretty down with the first cold snap and the invariability that I would soon be losing all the colorful annuals in my yard. It seemed like such a waste.

What to do with them all? I'd given a bouquet to everyone on the road already and the flowerbeds were still overflowing. Literally. I'd thought of taking them to the nursing home, but who knows what the elderly there are allergic to. Maybe not such a bright idea.

Everyone talks about thanking our soldiers (and I thank them too!), but we have people right here, on our own soil, fighting small wars and putting their lives on the line every single day that don't seem to get much thanks from the general public. At all. So, I'd been toying with figuring out a way to thank the police for their service to us little people. Just a card didn't seem enough to me and I don't have the money to do something spectacular.

You see, we've lost too many of our cops lately from senseless acts. These men and women take a chance on losing their lives every time they step up to a car on a simple, routine traffic stop. They have no idea what will transpire when they step up to that car or who the person is that's in it. Will this be the last traffic stop they ever make?
People don't seem to see them as normal, family oriented people, but more like just the dude that writes them a ticket at the most inopportune time when they were already late for a meeting, or the guys that can just go away and stay out of our lives - unless we need them.

Why let the cold take the glory of all those flowers when they could be put to much better use - a thank you.

My daughter and I picked as many flowers as possible and wrapped them up into ten huge, tissue paper covered bouquets to drop off at the local State Troopers barracks. I wrote out a small thanks for your service on a beautiful patchwork flag card I'd been saving for something special. This certainly seemed like the 'something special'!

So, off my husband, youngest daughter and I went, giddy with happiness at sharing something we love with people we're very thankful for.

There's so much humor in life. Too bad it doesn't have the greatest timing. Or maybe it does. About a half mile before we pulled into the barracks, the brakes locked up. Oh, baby! By the time we pulled in and stopped, we were smoking. Literally! Huge billows of smoke pouring from the rear wheel. So not funny at the time. Poor old fart of a car.

Anyway, the youngest and I finally get through Fort Knox while hubby was dealing with the brakes. (that place is impossible to get into! who knew?) The trooper on the other side of the glass gave us the strangest look when we explained why we were there. She stared quizzically from the flowers, to me, to my daughter and back to the flowers again. You know how dogs get that sideways cock of the head when they're trying to puzzle out what that stupid human mumbling means? Exactly that!

She just couldn't understand someone popping in off the street, on a normal Saturday, to drop off a 'thank you' to cops. I must have some ulterior motive, right? A bomb in the flowers? Anthrax, perhaps? Maybe a listening device?

It was one of the strangest moments of my life. I honestly don't blame her for being wary. Not only was this a weird situation, but it's their job to be suspicious - it's how they stay alive.

After much convincing, she finally came around and took the flowers from us, still with that astonished look on here face as to why anyone would be thanking them for anything.

It's strange. Do we really not show our appreciation so much that it's an alien concept when it does happen? Come on! I know a guy that stops at a doughnut place a couple times a year as a treat for himself and when he does, if he sees the local cop sitting somewhere (usually doing radar), he grabs him an extra coffee and doughnut as a simple thank you. Of course, the first time he did it, the cop acted as if he was trying to hand him a grenade in a bag.

Are we that out of touch with our service people that they can't understand why someone would want to extend a simple thank you? What does that say about us all?

So, find a cop and give him a flower - find a fireman and hand him a fresh coffee and say, "Thanks". Know an EMT? Shake his hand and thank him/her for doing such a great job. Start the 'thank you' ball rolling in your own town or city.

The world could use a lot more thank yous. Besides, it makes you feel really, really good - My husband, daughter and I are still smiling!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Usually Don't

voice my political opinions. I believe everyone has a right to personal choice and free speech.
I watched this video today . . . with tears streaming down my face. It affected me at a level I never expected.
The Sidewalk to Nowhere, McCain Supporters in Bethlehem, PA
It made me shudder with shame that I live in the same country with these viscous, uninformed people.
How can Americans be so blatantly hateful and take such baseless propaganda as solid fact?
My God, if this is how most of the world views us, I just don't know what to say.
I'm heartbroken at our ignorance.

Sadly, for the first time ever, I'm adding a politics label to a post...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

How Well Do You Know...

your flowers, their myths and their buddies?
Take the quizzes and find out:

Flower Power Quiz

Flower Myths Quiz

Creepy Crawly Quiz

Mother Earth Quiz

Delusions of Summer Quiz

Spiders Quiz

The Gross-Out Quiz Warning: This quiz contains information that you might rather not know ;-)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Luck-Out Garden Stuff Find

I found such a ridiculous deal at Dollar General, it isn't even funny. I came home with over 120 dollars worth of garden stuff for . . . 12 bucks!

3 gallon carved terra cotta look-alike pots - 60 cents. (got 10)
1 gallon painted melamine pots - 20 cents. (grabbed 10)
Cute little pot feet - 30 cents.
Square glass vase - 30 cents. Glass stones for fill - 10 cents.
Hose watering extensions - 80 cents. (I can place my hanging baskets anywhere I want now!)
Wheeled pot movers - 30 cents. (they only had 2 left)
3 piece patio candle set - 35 cents. (got two, one for a gift - they're pretty!)
Large glass plates to use for saucers - 10 cents. (got the 14 they had left)

They had some other things, like tiki torches for 15 cents, and the regular white hanging pots, or trowels and hand rakes for ten cents, but I didn't get any as I was out of money at my twelve bucks. And that was because I'd found HUGE tropicals at Lowe's for a buck a piece! I got a sheffleria (to replace the one that got too cold in the house last year and died), Burgundy Ficus robusta, Asplenium nidus, a pink Peace Lily, a 6 foot Majesty Palm (I know-stop shaking your heads! I'm considering it a challenge) and a ridiculously huge Golden Pothos. I know I'm taking my chances with how cold it gets in here when we run out of heating oil, but for a buck, I'll take the chance. They had perennials for five bucks, and on the way out I saw a sign that said "all nursery, except mums, 50% off" so they were only 2.50 each. Ugh - to be rich for a day!

We'd stopped in Dollar General on Sunday and they had tons of the coconut-lined metal hanging pots that were 1.20 and with the new sale price would have been 40 cents, but someone must have gotten there before me and grabbed every single one of those on Monday when everything got priced dirt cheap. I wish I could have afforded them at the 1.20 price, I would have bought them all then.

All in all, it was a pretty good way to spend the 20 bucks I'd been hiding away for the last six months to splurge on something. Time to start snagging all that change I find around the house again. Maybe I'll have another twenty by spring!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Start Of The Indoor Winter Jungle

I've dragged every pot and container possible in, and actually found places to put them...for now.
Cuttings of a few choice coleus - OK, every single one :) - have been plopped in jars of water everywhere.
Pots of impatiens - and yes, of course, cuttings! - are situated on every available horizontal surface.
Fuchsia and Polka Dot plant cutting are jutting proudly from pots for some winter messing about.
Seeds are collected.
Houseplants are snuggled back inside. Asarina and Thunbergia are falling lushly from the ceiling in overflowing, hanging pots.
Rosemary is snugged against a south window. (I really shouldn't have planted tropicals with them ~sigh~)
Tons of cuttings now started for my niece.
The last of the zucchini and green tomatoes will be hauled in today.
Seeds of broccoli, onion and lettuce are collected and drying.
Flowers for drying and pressing have been cut and hung.
Geese are beginning to head south.
I'm ready for tonights frost. For the first time in many, many years, this gardener is ready.

When The Locals Tell The Truth,

there's hell to pay.
There was a story about our own little Rome, NY on Good Morning America this morning.
Needless to say, the Chamber of Commerce wasn't too happy that the locals were more than willing to let the reporters know the truth about what's going on around here instead of sugar-coating the fact that we're struggling for the basic necessities and everything is NOT fine:

The Economy Hits Home

We've had two burglaries within a tenth of a mile of us in the last two weeks. There has never, ever been a break-in on our road. Ever. People are getting desperate.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I've Been Manipulated!

Back in August, I thought I started a Begonia.
Try again - it was a weed. A buttercup, to be exact.
Weeds are such manipulative buggers. This one got me to care for it as if it was a rare find.
It's either Ranunculus sardosus (exactly what the leaves look like, but not the flower) or Ranunculus scelaratus (exactly what the flowers look like but not the leaves).
Grrr! Do I feel like a true idiot.
I guess it's no different than a plant I want to grow - they manipulate me rather well also.
I just have no clue where the seed for this sucker came from - maybe the potting soil?
Maybe when I don't feel so ... slighted?... I'll scan and post some images of the flowers. ~sigh~
Oh, well. On to the next experiment! :)

Ok...scanned the little bugger:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Out Of Their Element

I saw an interesting butterfly the other day flitting around the Phlox. I didn't pay much attention, other than to gasp, grin and mumble that he was so pretty.

I couldn't get the thought of him out of my brain since this was one I'd never seen before, and I decided to do a little net hunting.

Interesting - it turned out to be a Papilio palamedes! (another one of those times I wish I had a friggin' camera)

Well, very interesting if you consider that for me to see one, he was way out of his range.
Range: Along Atlantic coast from southern New Jersey (rare) to Florida; west and south along Gulf Coast to central Mexico.
Hmmm ... if it's rare to find one in southern New Jersey, what was he doing way up here?
Another sign of GW and everything moving north?
With the way stranger things have been happening in my own yard lately, I'm keeping an open mind on this one.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Horticulture Week Magazine Is Now Online

You have to register for access, but it's free.
Horticulture Week

It's Coming

Well, against my better judgement it is, but Mother Nature (she's been quite the cranky old bird this year) has her own ideas of how things should be run.

Fall. What is she thinking? 39F? Already? Seriously? Sooo not a good joke.

You'd think my DH would learn...

Him: "Do you have to save everything?"

I wait for the inevitable flustered gesture and accompanying eye roll.

Me: "Ummm, let me think a minute." Polite pause as if I'd really consider such a nonsensical question. "Yes!"

Resigned sigh as he grabs hold of the opposite side of the 8000 pound elephant ear/canna pot.

Ahhh, the annual fall bring-it-all-in dance. Loverly!

Time to pinch, poke, repot, dig, store, debug and dedirt it all. Now, why are husbands/in-laws/neighbors/basic non-gardeners so slow to learn the yearly garden ritual of ItMustAllBeSavedOrTheGardenGodsWillExactTheirRevengeNextYearOnTheEntireYard thing?

And then there's the IMustNotFailToGetTheseSuckersToOverwinterOrI'mATotalFailureAsAGardener rule.

And, the IfIOnlyStartOneCuttingItWillSurelyCroakAndI'llBe'WhateverPlant'PlantlessInSpringSo
80MustBeStarted rule?

Lets not mention the MustStartEverySingleSeedICanGetMyGrubbyLittleHandsOn rule as it isn't quite time for that ... yet. (the saving of seed part is a whole 'nother ritual/rule thing entirely!)

Look, I like plants much (oh, so much) more than I like people. Yeah, so plants are a dime a dozen and cheap. So are people (yes both a dime a dozen and some I know could be considered to lean toward the tacky, cheapish side), but would you throw one of them on the compost pile because they were looking a tad scraggly? Aside from the arrest and conviction thing, I mean.

Heh, thought not.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Flipped Off

I guess even the veg get a bit disgusted with the neglect they begin to suffer around this time of year. How not cool is it for them to flip you the bird?

Of course, my oldest daughter just couldn't resist messing with it :)
I think that even our pond residents are a little disgusted that our daily conversations have become a lot shorter these days. Then again, maybe they're as depressed as I am that fall is here - which means winter can only be closer than we'd like it to be.

The tomato sauce is cooking.


I'll end up being able to freeze about eight gallons. Not bad! I was finally able to get ahold of some vinegar, so I'll be able to put up a few quarts of pickles tomorrow. Yay! The only things left to get into the freezer are the brussel sprouts and we're still waiting on the corn from having to wait on the weather and getting the seed in the ground late. Zucchini are still coming in at the rate of a couple a day.

Oh, and the popcorn is still to come!

The flowers are trucking along as if it'll be 80 F forever. Now that it's fall, we've finally arrived at summer. Stupid weather! We ended up only getting three very small Moon and Stars watermelons. It was just too cold for them to grow worth a crap. On the bright side - for some reason, my son's hot peppers produced great! Go figure. My green peppers didn't do crap.

I'm at that early fall 'don't give a crap' point. It'll pass. It always does.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Unknown

I started this begonia from a leaf I snitched off the floor when the landscape crew at a local touristy-like place was ripping them up last fall. The flowers were beautiful, mostly double pinks and yellows from what I saw, but not sure what plant this exact leaf came from. (I wasn't bold enough to ask). The plants must have been a good 2 foot tall and quite bushy. The leaf was a little smaller than my hand and a nice, deep green.

The flowers looked like 'Non-Stop', but the leaves don't look the same. Heck, I don't even know if its a tuberous type or not. Ok, so I don't have any experience with begonias!

Any ideas from what the leaves look like?

I'm not even sure of how to get it through the winter. It's looking ridiculously healthy at this point, and I'd like to keep it that way. I didn't even think it would work when I slit the leaf and plopped it on some soil, but I'm happy it did.

Help. Anyone?

*Edit 8/28 : I posted these same pics on the Begonia forum, and they don't think it's a begonia at all! Hmmm...I used fresh potting soil from a new bag, scored the leaf a few times, layed it on top of the soil and covered it with a ziplock. And this is what popped up! Now, I'm kind of weirded out about what it might be.

Someone suggested geranium, but I don't have any of those anymore (and there aren't any for miles around - I live in the boonies), so doubt it was some sort of errant seed. Especially considering it was a brand new bag of potting soil. Well, then...I hope it lives so I can see what kind of gift plant I got! :)

*Edit 9/3 : Someone guessed it might be a Ranunculus - and they might be right, as the leaves look darn close! Now, where would that have come from?! I better be able to keep this thing going until it blooms. It's driving me nuts...

Quick Update

This post is a little pic heavy.
My daughter stopped in and I got her to take some pics for me with her cell phone. The plants would probably look much better with a real camera, but I'll take what I can get and be glad. The sun set before she could take all she wanted to, but she got over 50 for me, so I'm very happy!
Everything was looking so fabulous . . . and then we got slammed with a devastating storm. The blue borage was lying totally flat on the ground and had to be ripped out. It was looking so good and was in full bloom. Our 12 foot sunflowers got blown down. The celosia was almost 4 foot and taller than the rose of sharon, but is now lying almost flat to the ground.
At least we didn't get hit quite as hard as some people did who got hit by lightening along with the wind and lost power, siding and shingles off their houses and roofs. My Uncle couldn't milk for 14 hours! Poor cows.

The new (this year) front bed. There are tons of plants crammed in here - that's what happens with wintersowing - more plants than you know what to do with. Here's what is crammed in there, somewhere...
Mammoth Sunflower
Sunflower - vanilla ice
Sunflower - cinnamon sun cross
Borage (was)
Balloon Flower
Canterbury Bells
Rose of Sharon
Gloriosa Daisy
Blanket Flower
Sweet William
Black Eyed Susan
Cosmos (regular and seashell)
Parsley - flat leaf
Parsley - Italian
Blue Fescue
(and probably a few more I can't remember)

Shade bed. I'm in love with the balsam impatiens this year!

Blanket flower with a very happy bee.

Cinnamon Sun sunflower cross. (and another happy bee)

Center of the front bed - everything got blown flat :(

Asters and snaps. I adore the purple against the yellow snaps.

Black Watchman hollyhock (thanks Kim!) backed by the weeping pea tree. Between the bugs and the hail, the leaves don't look so hot, but the blooms are fantastic.

One of the Rhodos I started from seed. Or maybe it's an azalea. I didn't do so hot with the tag organization. I know - dumb, dumb, dumb!

The impatiens in the bench planters were wonderful this year. They looked so nice combined with the snaps until the storm showed up and made the snaps lean and blew their blooms off. The petunias popped up all over the place in the pathway, so I just left them to do their own thing. The Balsams stood up to the storm very well!

These Poinsettias are cuttings from the ones I got last year for 50 cents. (3 plants for 50 cents - can't beat that!) They aren't doing too well with the crappy summer we've had, but it will be a nice winter experiment to see how well I do getting them to bloom. I think I've absorbed every tidbit of info I can get on doing it!

Sweet Pea (white) and Spot (red) with a few Golden Orfe. Everyone else are usually the camera hogs, but were nowhere in sight. The water looked like crap all year with this awful weather, but I don't use chemicals to clear it - I'd rather have happy, healthy fish.

Gloriosa Daisies in the second front bed. I got quite a few doubles this year that I'll be saving seed from to see what shows up next year.

Zinnias in the front bed. Some got broken and blown flat, but most made it. For once, I'm glad I really packed them in there! Surprisingly, the Cosmos behind them made out well as the Zinnias worked as a grand wind break.

My daughter's favorite. The stem got a little bent from the storm, but it's still a gorgeous bloom.

The tree bed. The Lobelia was very happy here this year. The foxglove and columbine should bloom next year. The Polka Dot plants are some I got from a hanging basket (that had tons of stuff crammed in) on clearance at Lowe's for 50 cents. Go me!

My son's hot peppers. Damn storm! They looked so wonderful before they got blown sideways. At least he'll still get peppers! And yeah, they're hot. :)

I have more pics, but I'll save them for another day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Flying Things

In early May, I spotted six Black Swallowtail caterpillars on my reseeded dill plants.
The cats were large - at least to the fourth instar, and a couple looked closer to the fifth and ready to pupate. I was surprised at their size since it was so early in the year and I hadn't yet seen a BST anywhere in the yard so they must have been from overwintered eggs. DH and I kept a pretty close eye on them as the dill was just starting to get some growth on it and there was no way it would last through all six to pupation.

Then they started disappearing. Unfortunately, I didn't feel much like raising them inside this year and the wasps took them all. So when I spotted six more cats, all between their first to third instars, on my parsley in June - they promptly hit the old aquarium in the house.

When I've raised them in other years, they've been quite happy with dill, and only dill. When offered parsley, wild carrot and bishop weed, all were ignored but the dill. This year, as the parsley plants were all still very small and not going to make it through all of them, I again tried offering the different host plants. To my surprise, almost the moment that I introduced the bishop weed, all other food sources were completely ignore! Which was perfect since I have tons of that friggin' weed - unfortunately.

So, now all but one have pupated and I'm waiting on the first to eclose any day now. I dunno what the deal is with the smaller cat - he doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to bulk up or pupate. I've never had one be this slow before. Maybe he's just a slacker.

On another note - the Gray Catbirds are back and being nosier than ever. Yeah, noisy too, but these birds are nosey. We have nice conversations every morning as one particular curious male follows me around the yard. He's decided that a ten foot distance between him and I is satisfactory. lol, if the neighbors ever saw me out there first thing in the morning with my hair a mess, a cup of coffee spilling from my hand as I bend to inspect a flower or bug a tad closer and conversing with a tag-along bird who's watching my every move...
He's taken to watching me through the screen door in the mornings if he thinks I'm slacking on the morning walk. The female is much more wary and pays no nevermind to me at all. I think I've figured out where their nest is. The second pair have snubbed me altogether and could care less.

The wasps seem to be really numerous this year compared to other years. Something got into the bumble nest that was under the pond waterfall. Bummer - they were such fun to watch. Maybe they'll build another nest somewhere close enough for me to find. The honey bees; few, and no swarm was seen this year. Very, very unusual as we've had at least one come through the yard every single year for as long as I can remember.

The Monarch count: 1 male.
Also very unusual as we normally have tons flitting through the air by now. And I haven't spotted an egg. Not one. Weird.

The female Redheaded Woodpeckers is feeding twins in the front yard snag. Yay! I spotted carpenter ants at the bottom of the trunk though, so we may have to cut it down after all. I'd rather not, but I don't want it taking out the electric lines when it falls, either. The little ones should be getting close to taking their maiden flight.

I've scared two herons away from the yard and ponds so far this year, and the hubs spotted a White Egret, or it was possibly, I think, a Little Blue Heron (though he insisted not and I wasn't going to argue). He saw the entire bird while all I saw was the shadow, so all I can say is that the sucker was friggin' huge, whatever it was. As long as it stays away, I could really care less what it really was. lol.

The amount of crows hanging around the area this year is amazing! I'm not sure how many this particular murder contains, but they've taken to raiding other birds nests for the eggs and babies. It took them from the time I came inside to grab the laundry until I came outside to hang it on the line to clean out the poor Robin's nest she'd built in the pear tree. I felt so bad for her! They swiped one recently hatched baby and two unhatched eggs. I just caught the last crow flying away with the hatchling in it's beak as I came out the door. Poor Robin! Sometimes, I wish I owned a gun.

Both the Cardinals and Bluebirds are back, so that's good.

The hubs built a large Hummingbird feeder this year with PVC pipe as we had so many last year and I couldn't keep up with filling them all. Strangely, we only have a few this year. Maybe 8?

Our flying wildlife seem to be getting fewer and fewer (well, the good ones) every year. Not good. I wish the neighbors would get with the program and start creating some habitats for them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Can't Help It - I Need To Vent

Unless you've lived in a cave for, oh, I dunno...the last 2 years, you are quite aware of the stink-hole the economy of the US is in. And getting worse.

Ok, I can understand the griping. Seriously, I do plenty of it myself. Yeah, I'm a bitch that way. But, please - get over yourselves, people!

I am so sick of hearing, "Oh, it's such a hardship to me that I had to cut down from four movies a month to two!" or "I only get a manicure once a month now!" and "I actually have to cook at home three nights a week now!" also "I can only afford to buy one pair of new shoes a week and only get my hair and spa treatments once a month!" or "Oh, poor me, I'm so broke I can't afford gas for my SUV, but look at the two hundred dollar arbor I bought at the box store today!"

Oh. My. God. You poor babies! Can you hear the teeny-tiny violins playing for you?
Give me a break. How do you think people that couldn't afford to do any of that stuff before this crunch feel to hear you spew these pointless 'hardships' when they're trying to figure out something as simple as how to get enough change left over in the budget this month to get a loaf of frigging bread on the table!?

Most people are more worried about how to pay their electric bill (some that just went up 28%, thank you very much) and have enough left over to buy groceries to feed their kids. Or the choices of buy enough gas to get to work and cut your meds in half - freeze your ass off this winter because you can't afford fuel oil or just let them foreclose on your house altogether because it's coming down to heat this winter or the mortgage. Some are even handing their pets over to the animal shelters because they can't afford to feed them, for Pete sake!

And as for the gardening thing: What is it with you people who say you're growing veg to save money and then turn around and say you're spending hundreds, even thousands in some cases, for the 'have-to-have-or-it-won't-grow' shit? Put a damn seed (bought cheap/traded) in some turned-over soil/bucket. Water. Watch grow. Weed. Harvest. I'm so tired of hearing about the 'initial investment' of gardening. Unless you count seed cost and your labor, there isn't one!

WTF? Since when do you have to have soil delivered to your house by the yard? Synthetic fertilizers up the ying-yang? Lumber to build raised beds? Ridiculous amounts of soil amendments? Fancy mulch?

To hear some of you talk, you'd think you have to have thousands stashed away in the bank before even thinking about starting a garden! And no, I don't mean all of you, by any means. Lots of griping gardeners really do have legitimate complaints when it comes to money.

My biggest pet-peeve of all?
You have to spend mucho bucks on beautiful pots and containers because you wouldn't be caught dead with a plastic pot in your yard. Laws no! M-O-O-N! That spells if-you-grow-something-in-plastic-we'll-all-snicker-about-how-tacky-you-are! Ummmhmmm.

Our soil gets tilled, planted with seed or transplants I've started myself, watered only when necessary, mulched with old newspaper and weeded. The bugs duke it out all by themselves. Fertilizers are a luxury item - this ain't the palace gardens. Watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin and cukes all get plopped in a 5 gallon bucket on the patio with a mix of garden soil and homemade compost and watered. That's it. And you know what? That's all they need!

Spend hundreds and thousand to grow food? Not in this lifetime.

Seriously, I can't take this fake crap anymore. If you're one of the people who are honestly hurting and trying to make-do with what you've got, just know this: you're not alone. If you're not one of these people growing to have enough stashed away so you won't have to make a choice between a bill and food, then shut your pie-hole!

Monday, May 19, 2008


What's going on -
nothing. We're stuck in some weirdo limbo.

We've had tornadoes, downpours, thunderstorms and snow flurries in the air (yes, snow) all within a few days.
My WS jugs are just sitting there doing nothing. I don't blame them. It's 37 degrees F right now and will only hover in the 40's F today.
This week is going to be total crap - cold, wind and rain. Nothing is really growing, more like biding their time. Even the cole crops have pretty much quit.
At this rate it will be July before I can get my veg hardened off enough to get them into the garden.
Nothing will get done this week . . . again.
Where the hell is May?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Why Local, Experienced Gardeners Are A Major Advantage To A Newbie

The first thing people tell 'new-to-gardening' beginning gardeners is to do some research before you begin.
Good advice...
Most of these people take the most convenient way out and hit the internet.
But, there is so much misinformation wandering around on the web that they should probably take what information they find with a grain of salt, unless it is from a well known and trusted site. And, even then...

Take last frost dates as an example:

Old Farmers Almanac results for close to my area-

Syracuse, NY - Last spring frost date - April 28
Albany, NY - Last spring frost date - May 7

Victory Seed results for close to my area-

Syracuse, NY - Last spring frost date - May 14
Albany, NY - Last spring frost date - May 24

Big, big difference in dates.
And if you ask an experienced gardener in this neck of the woods - both WRONG.
Granted, Victory Seeds is close, but that date isn't anywhere near reliable. You'd be taking a huge gamble on believing those dates and planting warm weather veg and annuals that early.
Hardy annuals, no problem. Peppers, well...most likely dead if you didn't know enough to cover them.

Here, the safe date to plant is usually Memorial Day or after.

I almost always wait to plant on June 1, after checking the 10 day forecast. Sometimes I'll take that gamble, but not often. The last fog of winter was February 24, so the last frost should be before May 24 this year. According to the full moon for May, we shouldn't get one after the 20th. We'll see.

The problem most new gardeners run into is that they check, check, check the air temps and completely ignore the soil temperatures.
Warm season plants like warm soil much more than they care about warm air.

You can go ahead and plant, but if the soil is cool they'll just sit there doing nothing or end up stunted waiting for the ideal conditions. If you've lovingly nurtured your plants from seed all through the cold spring or don't have the cash to replace dead transplants, are you going to take the chance on gambling with Ma Nature?
I hope not.

Do you live at a weird elevation, slope or micro climate? Then those last frost dates are going to be even further off in one direction or the other.

So, got questions? Seriously, forget the net, find a book specific to your area or/and experienced gardeners and ask away.
You'll find the books inspirational and the gardeners more than happy to pass on their tips, tricks and hard learned knowledge.