Saturday, July 27, 2013


I am both heartbroken and mad - mad at myself - over this rabbit damage to the garden. After whacking away at the out-of-control forsythia, I left the copious trimmings in the area behind the veggie garden for later disposal. It looks like the culprits used this pile to boost themselves over the hardware cloth fence. And/or they squeezed through a gap at the corner of the fence. And/or simply scaled the fence, which was erected in a rather haphazard and flimsy way.

Sweet potatoes

Brussels sprouts


This all makes me feel like a bad gardener. It also makes me rethink the "backyard habitat" concept, or at least how I have implemented it. My yard is just too wild.

Monday, July 22, 2013


For someone who works only four days a week, I sure don't seem to have much spare time. Having a three day weekend every week has freed up enough psychic space in my head that now I say yes to things I used to decline. Yes to seeing a play about Mark Rothko called "Red", yes to attending the Three Rivers Festival craft show, yes to babysitting my granddaughter, yes to yoga class, etc. I have managed to fill up that spare time easily.

But so far, no to blogging more. It's not that I don't have things to say, I just don't seem to have the time to say them. Besides leaving the house on a regular basis, there is the garden. The rainfall has been just right this year (hope I am not jinxing myself), which means instead of struggling to keep plants alive, I have been busy weeding and harvesting. The raspberries I planted last year have been supplying me with 3-4 ounces of fruit per day, but they need to be picked every day or two. The peppers and tomatoes have been finding their way into my salads in plentiful amounts, and green beans have appeared on the supper table. The garlic is ready to be dug (I did lose one variety - the Broadleaf Czech softneck did not make it through the winter), and the onions are almost there. This is SO different from previous summers!

Then there is the yard. My SO has been helping me tame it into submission, but we haven't turned the corner yet. The number of dandelions in my lawn had reached an embarrassing amount, so I did a weed 'n feed on the front yard. I had planned on doing the same in back, but I ran out of gunk, which is just as well because I have had to mow the front twice a week ever since. I finished clearing out the incipient blueberry bed on the south side of the house, moving Asiatic lilies and daylilies to the west side, and some of the painted daisies to the coreopsis-and-delphinium bed on the east. I even spared the hollyhock as they lure Japanese beetles from my climbing rose. I started a little butterfly garden by a window - joe pye, swamp milkweed, and cardinal flower - in hopes of attracting something besides cabbage whites.

And then there are the farmers markets. As with most municipalities, you can find a farmers market here almost every day of the week. After checking out several, I have settled on the Historic West Main Street Farmers Market (although I think most of the vendors are backyard gardeners like me), primarily because of its convenience and variety. I was even able to get some knives sharpened there. My downfall has been pickling cucumbers, which I have transformed into refrigerator pickles and jars and jars of relish.

And then there is my exercise routine, which I have finally returned to after bronchitis, a business trip, and a bad fall interrupted it. And the processing of raw milk into yogurt and ice cream. And some baking. Even some knitting.

The days are just packed.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The perils of Finn

When I was a child, all cats were outdoor cats. Just like Fred Flintstone, every night before bed, my dad threw what cats we had at the time outside. Consequently, we went through a lot of cats. In more modern times, we go through a lot of cat litter. At some point, most cats became indoor cats.

Then along came Finn. Despite his history as a stray, I tried to turn him into an indoor cat. During the winter, he tolerated this state of affairs, but once the weather warmed, he wanted OUT. In the evening, if I sat on the couch, he'd bite my toes. If I went to bed, he would chase me down the hall and bite my ankles. What part of "me-OUT" did I not understand? What part of dogs, cars, and neighborhood boys with pellet guns did Finn not understand?

I tried to exercise him by dragging a string behind me while I jogged in the house. I bought him toys and a laser pointer and catnip. I tried taking him out in a harness and lead, but after about 15 seconds of rolling on the ground he wriggled out of the harness. He was so unhappy that I wondered if I had made a mistake by taking him in.

Finally, we reached a compromise: he can go out with me while I garden, and he can go out alone at night after dark, once the birds have bedded down. I microchipped him and he wears a break-away collar and I've had to accept the fact that he might not be waiting on the patio in the morning, but he is much happier.

He doesn't go out every night. One morning when he came in a bit late, he seemed spooked. That night I heard an owl and wondered if there had been an encounter, as Finn was content to stay in for a change. When there were a lot of fireworks around the Fourth, he was also disinclined to venture out. But usually he starts complaining after supper, wants me to sit on the patio with him a bit, then he disappears into the dusk.

I won't say there have not been casualties, especially of the bunny kind. Finn must have been a true stray, as he frequently eats what he catches (a sight that kills my appetite). I was hoping he was sticking close to home, but a neighbor at the end of the street found one of his collars (which DO break away). As long as he wanders in that direction, he should be okay; the other way lies a busy street. He also must have run-ins with other cats, as he comes home with a scratch or two on occasion.

During the day, he sleeps the sleep of the dead. If I'm home, he is usually close by. If I take a nap on the couch, he is in my lap. He likes/hates to be brushed, depending on his mood. He has discovered the joy of leftovers. The day I brought home Port-o-Pit chicken, the look on his face while he sat across the diningroom table from me was priceless - utter incredulity that there was CHICKEN and *I* was eating it, not him.

I hope winter weather and aging take away some of his desire to wander. He is such a nice cat - calm, friendly, handsome - that I would like to have him around for a long time.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

To celebrate Independence Day...

... I bought myself a little independence from Big Oil.

Last night I rode it around the neighborhood, but did not ride it to the grocery store because it is so cute and there is nowhere to secure a bike at Krogers. Plus I don't know where the key to my bike lock is. But I think I will take it for a little spin right now, before the celebrants get started today.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

He's ba-a-a-ack!

We have automatic lights at work. If we don't move enough, they eventually turn off. Now I'm wondering if we are so still we appear dead.

View from my desk (if I stand up)

On the other hand, our "campus" just went smoke-free, so no more smokers in the parking lot. Maybe this fellow is wondering where the smokers went.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The flowers take a turn

Recently I have been relying on my phone camera, which takes pretty good photos as long as you don't zoom in too much. The side affect is my skills using the "good" camera have atrophied. Must stop being so lazy.

This monarda was languishing in the shade of the maple tree out front, so I relocated it and it is now very happy. And tall.

Last spring (2012) I got a little manic about buying plants. I've since calmed down, trying to be more purposeful about what I buy. At least these scabiosa have a nice long bloom time, unlike the salvia it shares this bed with.

Here is another relocation success story. For some strange reason, I thought these lilies would thrive on the north side of my garden shed. They are now scattered around the yard, where they get more sunshine.

Up close and personal.

This bed was created when I replaced my driveway and sidewalk, and is still a work in progress.

Serendipitously, I discovered the bright yellow of coreopsis and the cobalt blue of delphinium work quite nicely together.

These are 'Butterfly Blue' but I'm told they are the same as 'Summer Nights'. True? I don't know, but they are supposed to be shorter than most delphiniums, and compact.

More up close and personal.

I really like coreopsis, but the plants usually peter out after a couple of years. They may be replaced with all-yellow blanket flower if they don't shape up. I'm talking to YOU, 'Tequila Sunrise'!

The 'Angelina' is blooming. Besides planting some this year, I must have planted some in the bed above, as it is creeping down.

The 'Dragon's Blood' sedum from the bed above is invading as well. This is fine with me, as the two of them complement each other *and* will provide ground cover to choke out weeds.

This 'Purple Emperor' sedum is a newcomer to my garden. Succulents have recently grown in popularity, so more varieties are showing up in the local nurseries.

Remember the coleus "mother plant" I wanted to use to provide bedding plants for this planter? One plant was not really enough, but I experimented by chopping that one plant into sections and rooting each one. It took a while, which is why it is July and this box is kinda pathetic, but it did work. I also belatedly planted seeds for Black Eyed Susan Vine, to climb the trellis while waiting for the new clematis to settle in.

This pot has hung on my front porch for more years than I think possible, flowerless for the most part because not much likes the location. Since I was buying Black Eyed Susan Vine anyway, I am trying another variety called 'Blushing Susie' just for fun.

And that's it for now. If I were more organized, I would try for weekly photo ops. Maybe after I retire.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Before they are outdated

I take photos of the garden, and then it grows, making the photos almost obsolete. So before that happens (again), here they are:

Most years this climbing rose of forgotten origin makes a halfhearted display, undoubtedly because I don't know how to prune it. Occasionally, it defies my incompetence.

Mystery squash in the compost bin.

Over the past few years, I have grown onions from sets, seeds, and plants, trying several varieties. These are Big Daddy hybrid from plants, but I think the secret to their lush health is manure and regular rain.

The Brussels sprouts that ate New York. Notice marigolds and zinnias and sunflowers planted in the cement blocks.

It has been many, many, MANY years since I have grown sweet corn. Already it looks better than this pic from less than a week ago. The cukes and zukes growing in the center of each circle of corn have NOT been so cooperative. Next year I may start them inside.

These beans were denuded of leaves by a rabbit that sneaked under the chicken wire that I neglected to staple down. I thought I would have to replant them, but they are recovering nicely.

This is what the non-nibbled beans look like.

The Burpee-grown peppers continue to outperform my homegrown ones. I'm going to assume it is the variety (which you may recall didn't want to even germinate, let alone grow) and not the gardener (ahem).

I'm reading Poor Man's Feast, which includes a recipe for marinara sauce that uses only four ingredients, so I have plans for these Roma tomatoes.

This is the first year I have noticed potato *fruit* on my plants. They look like little green cherry tomatoes; poisonous? If I were wackier, I might try growing potatoes from seed.

Here are my "try 'em, see if you like 'em" tomatoes: Fresh Salsa hybrid, SuperSauce hybrid, and Sun Gold hybrid. They are growing in bags of Miracle-Gro potting soil, the lazy gardener's friend.

And that is just the vegetable garden. Flowers up next.