Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Mexican Bird of Paradise is in Bloom

My three year old Mexican Bird of Paradise tree is in bloom for the first time. I guess she finally grew up. The flowers are beautiful. I showed the pictures to Manly Man and he asked, "Is that in our yard?" Yes that is in our yard right here in tiny town Texas.
It is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. Another common name is peacock flower. I can see why. It is the national flower of Barbados and is depicted on the Queen's personal flag.
I received this plant three years ago in a Dixie cup. It was a tiny tree started from seed by an wonderful gardener/friend/member of my MG group. I still see her garden in my mind's eye when I plan my future garden in a larger space.
This tree is about eight feet tall and fern like in appearance. At first, I was afraid it would either die on me or never bloom. Turns out that it has naturalized here in Texas. Zone 9 or above it is an evergreen shrub. Here in zone 8a it is a deciduous perennial. I just love it and I am very grateful to the gardener who shared it with me.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Great Tomato Trick for Trench Planting

I learned a neat trick to help out when trench planting tomatoes. I always plant my tomatoes sideways in a trench in order to get as much of the stem underground as possible. This allows the plant to produce roots along the buried stem increasing the root system and keeping it from being too leggy in the beginning. This is also a good way to handle a seedling that has stretched too far while growing in the pot. I have accidentally broken off the top of plants while handling them this way. Never again. All you have to do is lay the tomato plant on its side in its pot the day before you plan to plant it. The little tomato plant will reach for the sun therefore creating a curved plant. Aren't vines amazing. The little plants on the right and left above were turned on their sides yesterday afternoon. This afternoon they have a nice little crook to them. When I plant them that little bit turned up will be what is sticking out of the ground. No problem having to try to carefully keep them from breaking off at ground level.
Do y'all have any other tomato tricks I might try this year?
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Monday, April 28, 2008

2008 TMGA Convention

Here are a couple of pot people in a master gardener demonstration garden.
We arrived in Conroe Thursday in the early afternoon for registration and went to a great lecture by Dr. Neil Odenwald on landscaping. I have heard him speak a few times before and love it every time. His sense of style and design is amazing.
Friday we went to five classes during the day. Our group split up a little so we would have more information to bring back to our own county group. I took classes on southern kitchen gardens, gardening for butterflies, growing tomatoes, organic gardening. and the ten most frequent mistakes made by Texas "Yardeners." Each lecture was interesting. My favorite was the organic gardening lecture. Skip Richter was the speaker and entitled it "Gardening Au Naturel: The Naked Truth About Organic Gardening. He said we would be disappointed if we actually came there expecting nekidness. I anticipated this class might be another university bashing of the organic movement in general. I was pleasantly surprised. He encouraged organic or natural approaches whenever possible, but admitted to using a couple of chemicals during real gardening emergencies. He also talked at length about biodiversity regarding garden pests and beneficial insects. Very interesting stuff.
The tomato class was also very good. The speaker was Tom LeRoy. He gave us a good plant list and information about how to grow tomatoes and maximize the crop yield. It turns out that hybrid tomatoes can take more fertilizer without becoming all vine and no fruit. In the test garden, one variety, Bush Celebrity, produced 61 lbs of fruit per plant. Another variety, Champion, produced 73 lbs of fruit per plant. The tomatoes were planted in well prepared soil in a trench with one and a half cups of slow released fertilizer. When planting in a trench lay the tomato plant on its side and cover most of the stem leaving a few leaves and a little stem above ground. The plant can grow roots all the way up the stem. This provides for a better root system and therefore healthier plant. He said if you are going organic to triple the amount of fertilizer at planting. Every week following planting the tomatoes were foliar fed with a liquid fertilizer. He said any liquid would do from the common blue chemical concoction to organics like fish emulsion or Hasta Grow (my favorite). Someone asked him his opinion regarding the best flavored variety. He then admitted that he did not eat tomatoes. He only grows them for his family. Very funny for a tomato expert.
Our little Master Gardener club here in little ol' Kaufman County received four state awards for small groups. Our association took second place, our horticultural calendar took first place in publications, our newsletter "The Prairie Planter" took second place in the newsletter category, and our rainwater harvesting project took fist place in the projects category. I am particularly proud of the calendar as it was a project I worked on. I actually wrote a couple of the articles. This may surprise you considering how poorly I articulate myself on this blog, but I can actually put thoughts down on paper when I know it will be judged. Please don't judge me.
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My Favorite Sister

Look what she did again. My favorite sister made me a new header. I just love it. Isn't she crazy creative. I am playing around with the template a little to pick a background color. Let me know what you think of this color or if you have an suggestions that you think might look good.

Favorite sister also changed Just Jack, and his site looks pretty cool too.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sometimes, I Feel Like This

I am back home from Conroe. We had a blast. I will post more about the trip in the next few days.
Yesterday I received a few phone calls from Manly Man and the Sisters. First Baby Sister became engaged Saturday morning. Her man purposed on a hike outside of Albuquerque. Her ring is gorgeous and he is the nicest guy. It is a long story, but he managed to get a ring that was first seen in Canton, Texas but was actually for sale in Longview, Texas. He managed to buy it and have it mailed to him in Albuquerque NM. I must explain that he never actually saw the ring before he purchased it. He picked out the ring she wanted from a couple of bad cell phone pictures. He kept this a secret from our busy body family for six weeks and was able to surprise Baby Sister on a mountain. Good job West Man, GOOD JOB.
Later in the day, Manly Man called. First was the news that gasoline is being stolen from our vehicles. Someone siphoned gas from my truck while he was asleep. To top that off MY RABBIT WAS PREGNANT. As you may know, Lucy is now Mario, and Starr is still Starr. Well yesterday, Starr started pulling out her belly hair. Today I came home to three surviving baby bunnies. She is a first time mom, so we will have to wait and see how this turns out. Mario has been banished to the dog kennel for really bad behaviour and hiding his true gender for nearly a year. BAD BUNNY, VERY VERY BAD.
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bye Bye Bye

I've escaped. Pray for Manly Man he is alone with the monkeys. Be back Sunday unless I decide to run for it.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tomato Volunteer

Every summer, like most vegetable gardeners, I end up with tomatoes that are damaged in some way that makes them inedible. Usually a bird has pecked them or it they did not get the right amount of water and have blossom end rot. I usually just pick those tomatoes and drop them on the ground under the tomato plant. By doing this, the following spring I have tomato volunteers. I found my first one this afternoon. From where it is located, I can hope that it is a Green Zebra. However, there is no telling, it could be anything. The main purpose of these little volunteers is that when they come up and are about six inches tall, I know it is probably the right time to plant my other seedlings. I know other gardeners plant either on April Fools Day (to early for me) or Mother's Day (to late to suit me).
When I get back in town Sunday, I will plant my tomato plants that are about six inches tall. Many of my seedlings are still tiny and not ready to be planted in the garden. The Cherokee Purple and Early Girl are ready. I have been worrying over these tiny little tomato plants. They just don't seem to be growing fast enough. Last week I added compost, blood meal, and bone meal to each of the pots. Two days ago, I made a solution of fish emulsion and Super Thrive and watered them with it. Today they looked a lot better. I think they are on their way.
I will be away for the next four days. I will be traveling with four of my friends to the Texas State Master Gardener convention in Conroe. I was just informed by email that I am a delegate. That means I have to vote on an agenda and a budget. We will take six classes and go on at least one garden tour. I should come home with all kinds of great new ideas and information plus a few stories about who snored the loudest. I am not going to do the wild flower post this week unless something inspires me between now and sunset. To make it up to you, I will find some cool wild flower or wild flower field between here and Houston and post about it when I get home.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Honor of Earth Day I Stole Meme's Garbage

Today I took care of my two grand nephews. I watched them at Meme's house. Meme is their grandmother. The boys ate apples and I drank coffee. I grabbed a plastic grocery sack ( Yes, she still has plastic grocery sacks), and put the apple core, apple peels, coffee grounds and coffee filters into it. I then put the sack on the kitchen counter so I would not forget to take it home for the compost pile and worm bin.

A few hours later, Meme comes back and wants to know what's in the sack. I said, "Stuff for my compost pile." She got the you've got to be kidding me?? how did I pick you as a best friend???? look on her face and handed me the bag with two fingers barely touching it.

A few years ago she was surprised that my compost pile did not "smell." She actually asked, "Why doesn't it smell?" I told her that compost should not smell.

I am going to try to convince her to put compostable stuff in her freezer and save it for my worms. My worms really need more food now that there are bazillions of them.

Come on family and friends celebrate Earth Day and help me feed the poor hungry worms in small town Texas.

I am going back to watch the boys again tomorrow and I am going to steal her garbage again.

Get ready everyone, there will be snarky comments.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Oil of Oregano

I finally feel better and I had the answer in my cabinet all along. Oil of oregano. I used to work at an organic nursery and one of my coworkers was/is an herbalist. She turned me on to oil of oregano, wild oregano to be exact. This took care of my recurrent upper respiratory symptoms. The stuff works for me and it works fast. I just put a drop of it under my tongue and then drink a cup of very warm water. Things generally open up right away and I get better within a day or so. So why, oh why did I subject myself to a weeks worth antibiotics, steroids, and a sedative cough medicine when I had the cure right at my finger tips. I forgot. I completely forgot about this wonderful herb. All the "medicine" did for me was upset my stomach and make me sleepy. The oregano let me breathe immediately and the cough is almost gone. I spent over $100 when a $1 dose of oregano oil made me actually feel better. I could have saved mysef the side effects. I should have at least tried the oregano before going to the M.D. The only drawback, oil of oregano tastes worse than fennel tea.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Baby Monkey is nine years old today. Hard to believe. The time goes by so fast.
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mac&Cheese with a Twist

As some of y'all may know, I am under the weather. Well, really under the bus. I have bronchitis exacerbating my asthma. My breathing sounds a little like my Daddy Jake's old tractor all rattling and back firing. When I answer the phone the person on the other end automatically says "your sound terrible." Thanks y'all. I am so obviously sick that I am being tag team checked on by several of the sisters, Meme, and Mamala.

To help me out, or maybe because the just wanted to, Manly Man and Middle Monkey took over dinner last night. Manly Man commandeered the grill and made blackened chicken. Middle Monkey made mac & cheese and corn. He was the cutest thing ever standing on a step stool belly up to the stove. My contribution was wandering out into the garden and picking a bowl of mescalin mix lettuce.

There is nothing much nicer that having my man cook for me. There is absolutely nothing sweeter than watching him teach his ten-year-old son how to cook. I tried to help, but was banished from the kitchen. Apparently, they did not want me to contaminate the area.

The food was good. Middle Monkey put butter in the mac & cheese and corn. He has already figured out that butter is the way to a southerner's heart. My man's blackened chicken is absolutely the best. It was the very first thing he cooked for me when we were dating. This pretty much sealed the deal for me. One winter evening, he tried making it on the stove top in the house. Very, very bad idea. The smoke detector went off and we had to open the doors and windows in thirty degree weather to air out the place. Dixie and Allie, our cats at that time, were miffed for days.

Early this morning, I woke up from my codeine cough syrup induced sleep very hungry. Blackened chicken makes a wonderful sandwich with mayo and garden fresh lettuce. I added a little basil to the mac and cheese and reheated it - heaven in a bowl.

I hope nobody else wanted left overs. I think this is a sign of recovery and the reason I will never be skinny.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thank You VP for the E.

VP of Veg Plotting honored me with the E for excellence blog award. How sweet she is. Please be sure to visit her blog. How to give a cat a pill is quite priceless. In accepting this award I have to pass it on to ten other blogs. Here are my choices. I know some of you have already received this, but it's my turn and I am doing it my way - Imagine that.

First to Just Jack My sister's boy and the cutest baby ever. Dee at Red Dirt Ramblings For getting me into this mess. Dee encouraged me to join Blotanical. I have had so much fun and cyber met so many other bloggers. Her site is beautiful. Sherry at Sherry's Zoo and Garden because I love a zoo. Joy at GardenJoy4Me I know you already have this, but I had to share again. You crack me up. Anna at Flower Garden Girl One of the nicest ladies you will ever read. She also has some of the prettiest designs and collages that I like to copy. Matt and Jen at Our First Garden A sweet couple with lady bugs all over their blog. It has been fun watching as they create their new garden. All those at Tomato Casual this blog is obsessed with or dedicated to tomatoes. Ourfriendben, Silence Dogood, and Richard at Poor Richards Almanac Always a great read. Sometimes funny, sometimes smart, sometime a little sad, often about one of my favorite subjects, food. Curmudgeon and Wing Nut at Weed Wackin Wenches Two ladies with a wicked sense of humor, great plant stuff and a raccoon. Finally, VP at Veg Plotting I had to tag back, I love your blog.

Thanks again VP. This has been fun.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Passion for Passion Flowers

Look what I found this afternoon. My Passion Flower has already started to bloom. This is Passiflora incarnata or Maypop. This vine is about 25 feet long covering a corner of our chain link fence. It blooms almost all season. In my area it is almost evergreen. It is also the larval food for Gulf Fritillary butterflies. In a few weeks we should have caterpillars having an feast. As soon as they show up, I will post a picture.
According to Wikipedia, Passion flower is native to all areas of the world, excluding Europe and Antarctica. There are nine species native to the U.S. The structure of the flower requires a large bee or humming bird for pollination. We will see humming birds, bumble bees, and caterpillars all over this all summer. It is a happening place.
I am a pretty happy gardener right now.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Hope They Found What They Were Looking For

Have you ever played around with your site meter? Every once in a while, I like to go check out what search words brought people to my blog through google. Sometimes it's pretty straight forward, sometimes it's scary, and sometimes it is funny.

Here are a few examples:

Fracus plant - I am pretty sure that is what my Logan's hardy lemon tree is. Every time I back into it and get poked in the bohiny there is a fracus.

i killed green worm in container plant - My worms are red. If I found a green worm I would definitely be here braggin' and trying to figure out what it was. Unfortunately, I think the inquirer may have killed a little garden snake.

Dandelions in compost - I feed my dandelions to the bunnies. They eventually make it to the compost after being converted into rabbit pills.

Blog block of the month - I bet out there someplace there are quilting bloggers who do this. I am afraid to go look because I might not make it back here. Picture me staring at the computer screen whispering "look at all the pretty colors."

Is sauerkraut good for my pet - I don't know. What I do know is that if we were to feed Abby sauerkraut, we would all have to leave the house because of the noxious gas.

Yarn Monster - Yes we have a yarn monster. Here she is.

Composting on a patio - Yes, absolutely, compost on your patio. I will show you how it's done.

Amish rabbit hutch - Now I don't know exactly what that is, but I am absolutely sure I want one. Here are our bunnies Starr and, um, (uncomfortable silence) Mario. Mario only answers to the name Lucy.

Hope they found what they were looking for.

Really Horrible Herbal Tea.

I have been trying to get sick and finally succeeded. I don't know what it is, but my throat hurts, my nose is stopped up and I am coughing like crazy. All of this has set my asthma off badly. This morning at 5:00 am I woke up wheezing and thought I was going to have to go to the ER. Cold water made it worse. A warm bath made it better. After the bath, I reason that a good cup of herbal tea should really sooth things. I had some fennel I cut yesterday. Smells like licorice should taste nice and feel good. NO, DO NOT DO THIS. Fennel tea tastes like grass and dirt. How do I know what grass and dirt taste like? I am a gardener - I know exactly what grass and dirt taste like. I know some of you will tell me that a little dirt is good for you. Might be so, but I still don't enjoy it. I do like the taste of our little annual winter rye grass and I love wheat grass. This taste, however, was some kind of skunk weed and should never be ingested by a person. As soon as it gets light outside, I am going to go find some chocolate mint. I know that will make good tea.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

Here is Duchess de Brabant an 1857 tea rose. This was a favorite of Teddy Roosevelt. He often wore a bud as a boutonniere.

This Madam Joseph Schwartz 1880. This rose is a sport of Duchess de Brabant.

These are two of my antique roses. I have about fifteen varieties now. If I had room, I would have more.

Here is a terrible picture of the two blooms together. I tried and tried to take a clear shot, but my camera just wouldn't do it. I need photography lessons.
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Wild Flower of the Week

Baby Monkey presents the Wild Flower of the Week. Behold the Texas state flower, the Blue Bonnet.

Here they are without my kidlett.
There are actually five Texas state flowers, but all of them are Blue Bonnets. In 1901 Lupinus subcanosus or Buffalo Clover Blue Bonnet was declared the state flower of Texas by our legislature. Off and on for the next seventy years there was a Blue Bonnet debate. Many people believed that Lupinus texensis was clearly a prettier Blue Bonnet. In 1971 they solved the argument by making both Blue Bonnets the state flower as well as three other Lupins. Here is how it reads "Any other variety of blue bonnet not heretofore mentioned." The other three are Lupinus harvardii the Big Bend or Chisos Blue bonnet, Lupinus concennus or annual lupine, and Lupinus platlensis the only perennial Blue Bonnet which is found in the Panhandle. The pictures above are Lupinus texensis. Thanks to the Texas Agrilife Extension for the Info.
Over the next couple of months I am going to try to post a Wild Flower of the Week. I want to learn more about the native flowers in my area. If you have a post related to wild flowers and would like me to link you here, just leave me a comment and I will come back and create a link to your blog. Everyone can play.
Here we go.
Weed Wackin Wenches are the first players. It's not a flower but it is something wild.
In Notes From a Cottage Garden I found more wild flowers. Check out small flowered Blue Eyed Mary.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Look What I Found Under My Mess

Hola Senor Werm, glad you stayed warm under the Comfrey all winter.

Behind all of the weeds and overgrown, gone to seed broccoli I found Senor Werm and a beautiful spider wort in bloom. Why do beautiful plants sometimes have such awful names?
Here, relaxing under the Duchess De Brabrant, is Miss Trixie taking it easy.
I made it. I did not get lost. I did get sunburned. What did I do with all the broccoli and weeds? Well, I hid them behind the rose bush on the other side of the garden where there are several beds that won't be planted for a few weeks. You see, last summer I found a book among my grandfather's belongings. It was published in the 1950's and was about one woman's struggle to grow a productive vegetable garden. The point of the book was to use mulch. Last fall, I used my pulled weeds and the soft stuff from pruning to mulch my fallow beds. I just dumped them on top of the weeds that were growing in the unplanted beds. After about two weeks I pulled back my "mulch" and the weeds were dead. Better yet, the soil looked awesome. I just cleaned up my weed mulch and removed it to the compost pile. Then I planted my rows and was off. It's not pretty, but it works great. I looked and looked for about 10 seconds for the book so I could give you the title and author. I will actually spend a little time and look for it tomorrow. I am pretty sure it is no longer in print, but maybe you can find it at a used book store.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

I''m Going In

Here is my crazy overgrown winter garden. See the broccoli all gone to seed? Isn't the Swiss chard lovely. It tastes good too. Then there are the misplaced French hollyhocks.

So, I'm going in. I intend to spend the next two days cleaning up this mess. We will also be on a search and rescue mission. Somewhere out there are little lettuce plants, sugar snap peas, carrots, and radishes.
This is the result when you have a tiny garden and absolutely no self control. I am pretty sure I need counseling with regards to my plant addiction.
Here is my comfrey plant in the foreground and my Duchess De Brabrant rose in the back. Can you tell I never got around to pruning her last fall? I know you can't see it, but there is a Celtic knot pathway through this disaster.
I intend to use this Monkey as slave labor/helper. That is his own personal lawn mower. He just came in and invited me to help him with the lawn, so I gotta go.
If I'm not back by tomorrow night, send a rescue party.
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Friday, April 11, 2008

Why I Will No Longer Work With My Husband

I know I have mentioned it before, but I love my work. I love my clients, I love the dirt, and I love the flowers. I enjoy myself way to much.

Today I took my husband to work with me. I thought he would enjoy working on this brick patio rehab project. He loved making our deck. He was awesome at putting in hardwood floors for me. He even took a wall out last year. I almost lost my mind, but it turned out really nice. He can fix anything; hot water heater, leaky faucet, my truck, his 36-year-old VW Bug, clogged pipes, etc...

This is really a great guy. Last week our elderly neighbor's home was burglarized. He installed motion sensing lights and rekeyed all of her locks. He even rehung a door for her so it would open and close properly. Then he came home and installed better locks on our garage and motion sensing lights for us as well. He remodeled his grandmother's home so she could use her walker more easily. If you need help, he's your man.

Anyway, we go get the brick and sand and head out to my customer's house. He looked a the brick patio and asked me, "How much are you charging for this?" I told him. He says, "That's not enough." I explain that if I run over budget the customer will understand. I just have to keep good records.

He started to pull up brick. Then he started to tell me what an awful job this was going to be. Then he wandered over and started digging up grass in the area where we are going to extend the patio. Then he told me how hard digging grass was. Then he took a break. He came back and tore the rotted wood off two old planters and hurled them into the lawn. It was now obvious how frustrated he had become. Mean while, I concentrated on getting the dirt out of the two huge planters so we could remove them. He looks at me about 45 minutes into our day and says, "Why are you happy?" Me, "Hey, dude, I love my job."

On our way home he asked,"Would you have gotten more done with Meme or Crystal?" I didn't answer. He says, "You're being pretty quiet." I begin to explained that some jobs are more suited to certain personalities and we all need to seek our bliss, blah, blah blah - sunshine and kitty cats. He says, "Go ahead and say it. I can take it."


He did the happy dance right there in the truck.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rite of Passage

Teenage Monkey shaved the black peach fuzz off his upper lip this evening. For some reason that made me cry. Silly mommy.

Help, We Have Been Invaded by Mayflies

Over the last couple of weeks we have been invaded by Mayflies. There are billions of them. I would not mind them if they stayed outside, but the keep getting in our house.

I did a little web reading on these critters and here is what I found. They are of the order Ephemeroptera. The nymphs live from three months to two years. The adults live from thirty minutes to a few days. There are two adult stages first the Dun which molts into a Spinner. The Spinners are the trouble makers at my house. According to Wikipedia, the adult’s sole purpose is to reproduce. The Spinner’s mouth is vestigial and the belly is filled with air. All they do is fly around, mate, lay eggs over a body of water, and die. They are a food source for cat fish and bass.

Now I know a little bit about these flying critters. I still have the unexplained nightmare of why hundreds of them must fly into my house and commit suicide in my kitchen sink and bathtub?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gorilla Gardening

It has been a weird day here in my garden. I went to the back door to go outside and the little fellow above was sitting on my deck raising cane. Apparently, he was very dissatisfied with my performance as a bird feeder filler. He was mad, I mean, really really mad. After I gave him more seed, he flew off. Now what was that all about. Get mad at me and then don't eat the food you were so determined I provide? A few minutes later he came back with a female. It's always about a girl. I took the picture above through my dirty glass door.

After taking care of the Cardinal, I went out into the garden and noticed something behind my fence. Someone has left me two bags of leaves. Now, I have been known to ask for the neighbors bagged up leaves and I have been known to just swipe them when no one was home to ask. This is part of my gorilla gardening activity. I also sneak seeds into family members' flower beds, plant things while people are on vacation, and collect seeds everywhere I go. Now bags of leaves are being delivered. Odd, but good.
This is a terrible picture, but my Mutabalis is in bloom. See the different colors on the same bush (not the red to the left. That's Martha Gonzales). The booms start off a dark pink/apricot and then fade to a very light yellow. I love this rose bush.
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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Sweetest Thing

Remember yesterday when I took worms to school. Look what those sweet kiddies did for me. I have a whole stack of handmade thank you cards.
Here are a few excerpts
Dear Ms. M, than you for comeing to tech us about plants I eprech ate it. It was fun. I like to plant seeds- Dawn
Dear Ms. M. thank you for coming my mom haves a Lot or plans to plans are cool and priti I like to smile them. do you I Do- Halo
Dar Ms M. Than you from coming and sharing a boat your plant your so SWEET - JT
Dear Ms. M., thank you for comeing to oour school and teaching us bout plants and woums come again - Patrick
Ms. M. than you for comeing and showing us the soil in the werms the werms wer rilly cool and how did you holde the werm. Ms. M. I have a qushtin for you how did you hold the werm without it herting you -Ivree
Dear Ms. M. thank you for comining to our school to teach us about plants and leting us see the worms. I really liked the worm eggs - Colby
Ms. M. thank you for coming to tell us stuff about plants. My mom loves all kinds of plants and she love to buy them. -Blayne
do you have bunny if you have two can I have one please check yes or no- J.
Thank you Mom for coming to char with us. We like it my class like it. We wot you to come naks week.
I was drawn with short hair, long hair, pig tails, and blue eye shadow. One little boy even drew the worm bin. I feel pretty good about life right now.
Sorry this is all center aligned. Blogger won't let me change it today.
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Monday, April 7, 2008

Take Your Worms to School Day.

Today I took a container of worms to school. I spoke to and took questions from sixty second graders. This made Baby Monkey the star for a day.

The topic was soil. Ever tried to keep sixty eight year old children on topic? We talked about composting and organic and inorganic materials in the soil. We talked about what plants do for us. We talked about the longest Night Crawlers they have ever seen. Eight year old kids tell monster fish stories.

One of the teachers had two containers to plant. We added some worm castings to one. The other was just potting mix. They are going to see if the compost makes a difference in the way the plants grow. These are going to be crazy container gardens. She had seeds for Bachelor’s Buttons, tomatoes, wax beans, and pumpkins. I can’t wait to get a look at these in about four weeks.

They looked at the worms with a mix of awe and disgust. One poor little girl got one on her arm and had a complete melt down. She may be scared for life, but she will live. They caught on pretty quick that worm castings = worm poo. I got lucky and was able to find a worm egg to show them.

They asked some really good questions.

“Where is the worms head?“

“How do worms see?“

“Why are there so many worms in that eggshell?”

“What is the biggest worm you have ever seen?”

Here is what cracked the teachers up.

Little Girl, “Where do you get worms?”
Me, “I got my worms from my friend.”

Me, “Any questions?”
Several children at different times, “One time, in my yard….”

The question I dodged, “Where do worm babies come from?” I was not sure how I would get around the fact that there are not girl and boy worms, well not exactly - Yikes!!!

They kept me talking for a full hour. Children are more fun to talk to about gardening than grownups.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Killer Kitty and a Quilt

Something caught my eye in the garden this morning. It was a black and white bouncing fur ball. Tisha was chasing a butterfly as it visited the garden. She's a killer. Luckily, this one got away before she got her claws into him. The butterfly she was after this morning was a Giant Swallowtail. Unfortunately, I didn't get the camera in time to show you our early arrival. I need to get the lemon tree out of the greenhouse so the swallowtail can lay eggs on it. The Giant Swallowtail caterpillars look like bird poo. We have seen Gulf Fritillary butterflies already as well. The passion vine is doomed. The Fritillary caterpillars look like they could sting you. They are red/orange and black striped with spines all along their body. Scary looking. The Black Swallowtails are not here yet. Their caterpillars look like something from a Dr. Seuss book. They have green and black bands with yellow dots and get as big as my thumb.

One time I really embarrassed myself by asking an entomologist coworker if could I put a bell on the cat so the butterflies would hear her and fly away. She looked at me like I look at the "can I grow this in a container people" and said, "insects sense most things chemically. They don't really "hear."

Here, in our little garden, we provide both nectar plants as well as larval food for our butterflies. My monkeys know what to look for. They can spot a tiny caterpillar faster than I can. They should, their eyes are better than mine. The larval food plants we grow are dill and fennel for the Black Swallowtails, citrus for the Giant Swallowtails, and Passion Vine for the Gulf Fritillary. Nectar plants are mostly Zinnia and Salvia. I am not sure what the Sulphers need, but I will find out and try to grow it.

Have you seen any butterflies yet?

Here is the completed quilt. I had to use blue as the binding. I didn't have enough yellow.
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Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Seminar is Over

Today was the big day. We have been potting up plants for sale, buying roses to resale, and getting our presentations together for weeks in some cases months. We spent last night labeling and pricing plants, moving roses, setting up the silent auction, setting up tables and chairs, and cooking. I then came home and stayed up until 2:00 am baking bread and finishing the quilt. We completed the set up this morning. Then, bring on the gardeners. Turn out was about 100 persons. There were three presentations; New perennial varieties, Square Foot gardening, and Earth Kind gardening to preserve water and reduce pesticide and fertilizer use. We gave out door prizes and sold hundreds of plants. We still do not know how much money our fund raising efforts brought in, but our treasurer seemed to think we did well. We work so hard and put in so many hours, then POOF the whole show is over in three and a half hours.

Here are a few questions I was asked along with the answer that popped into my head. I am pretty sure I didn't say any of them out loud.

Woman hands me a plant in a pot, "Can I grow this in a container?"
Me to myself, "A container like the container it is growing in right now?"

Gardening newby, "How do I plant this?
Me to myself, "In the ground."

Another gardening newby, "How do I plant this?"
Me to myself, "Green side up."

Experienced Gardener, "Do you grow herbs and how do you use them?"
Me to myself, " Huge topic. Please, newby gardener come back with a simple question, hurry, hurry."

Mistake on an evaluation form, " Will you use this information to quit using fertility?"
All the women at my table, "We are pretty sure we will not use our fertility in public, certainly not at a gardening seminar. We will not use our fertility outside, at least not during the day." I think this might have been the point when we all fell into fits of exhausted giggles.

I am going to take a nap.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Judging Plants: What did I get myself into?

I agreed to judge out horticulture division at our little county fair today. Wow, that was something. There were only about 50 entries. I have a sneaking feeling that a bunch of high school 4H kids were forced to place an entry, maybe even an Ag class. The kid who put forth the most effort was the only entry in the children's division. She entered a very pretty geranium. She received three ribbons. There were two pretty house plants , a couple of good hanging baskets, and some decent vegetable flats the seniors entered. Two of the veggie flats were water stressed. Otherwise, these plants looked like they were just stressed four inch color plants stuck in a container or some winter stressed plant in a container they lifted out of the garage. Many didn't even bother to pull off yellowed leaves or repot a plant in need of repoting. I felt like a big Meany giving out so many white ribbons, but come on a 3rd grader grew a better plant.
Above is the quilt block of the month for March. I didn't finish the completer blocks. Shhh...don't tell.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spring Seminar Quilt

I finished the top of the wall hanging I am donating to our Master Gardener silent auction. This is one of the fund raising efforts we put on during our Spring Seminar. This little quilt is a Lemoyne Star pattern. I used the “By Kate…” stamps to mark diamonds on the fabric. This keeps the bias from pulling as it does when marking with pencil and template. I like the results. The top is much smoother and the points are better than with traditional fabric marking. Now I just have to get it quilted and bound before Saturday morning. I need to figure out what color to bind the whole thing up with. The binding will make one more border around the quilt although only about half an inch of fabric shows on the front. I can repeat any of the colors. Should I use the pink, yellow, or blue?
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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools: Gardening With Monkeys

The monkeys came home from school in rare form. As I have mentioned before, they are not funny when they are trying to be funny. Here are a few examples of April Fools "Jokes" they shared with me.
"I will not make you popcorn anymore" - APRIL FOOLS
"May I set fire to your garden?" - APRIL FOOLS
"May I throw this rotten apple at the village idiot?" APRIL FOOLS
"I don't love you" - APRIL FOOLS.
After the "I don't love you" I slipped out into the garden to weed and be by myself in the quiet. They found me. First one put a fake spider on my shoulder. This worked the first time, but they have done it about 400 time since then.
Now we have this wonderful dialog.
Baby monkey, "Mom"
Me, "What?"
Baby Monkey, "Mom"
Me, "What?"
Baby Monkey, "Mom."
Me, WHAT?????
Baby monkey, "I love you."
Middle Monkey asks to hold a rabbit. Okay, kid knock yourself out. Ten minutes later - MOM, MOM, MOM, MOM I SAW LUCY'S NUTS. LUCY HAS NUTS. Kid hands me an upside down bunny. As I may have mentioned before, Lucy is not a girl. I did not, however, share this information with my boys. I check out the rabbit equipment and declare Lucy a boy. They recovered and renamed him Mario. Then they bring me the other rabbit to be examined. No bunny balls can be seen. Starr is still a girl. Now they want to know when we are going to have babies. As an encore, the newly renamed Mario escaped and hid under an overgrown rose bush. It took us 20 minutes to get him out.
Things I had to say for the rest of the hour.
"Don't lock you brother in the rabbit hutch."
"Get out of the rabbit hutch."
"Get down from on top of the rabbit hutch."
"Do not put your brother under the wheelbarrow."
"Get that 2 gallon container off of your head."
"Don't throw onions into the street."
Help me somebody please help me.
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