Sunday, December 2, 2007

True Confessions

Well, don't get too excited. The confessions are just about my unfinished projects.

It's been hard to figure out what to write about. This is supposed to be a gardening blog, but there's nothing to do right now that's garden related. I haven't received my new garden catalogs yet, it's way too early to start seeds, nothing is growing. I have no idea what my patio containers will contain in the spring. So what to write about?

Maybe I'll use this blog as a way to keep track of my other projects. I'll post a list of things and then check them off as I finish. Yeah, that's exciting, but look at it this way -- I'm being accountable, if only to the blog gods. So, here we go!

This photo is what I'm hoping to get finished by Christmas. Clockwise from upper left: A sweater for my almost 9-year old granddaughter in a colorway of Macaroon that never went forward (Macaroon itself has since been discontinued); I have the back started, but it's on size 11 needles, so it should work up quickly, and since it's a sweatshirt style, there will be minimal finishing. Center top: A dog sweater for Doodlebug in Washable Wool; he's not normally a sweater wearer, but he's lost much of his hair because of Cushing's disease, and he chills easily now. Next: a finished sock from Sockotta for my 4-year old granddaughter; these are on size 1 needles, and I need to let my fingertips heal from the sharp points before starting the second sock. Upper right corner: An afghan in Washable Wool for my son and DIL as a housewarming gift; they recently bought a new house in Gettysburg, and a new sofa! Center bottom: An almost-finished sock in Opal for my oldest granddaughter (the one getting the sweater); she chose this yarn when she was here for Thanksgiving. And last in this pile: A crocheted sweater for my youngest grauddaughter (the one with the finished sock). I think I have a good shot of getting this all done by Christmas, which I'll be spending with them this year.

And my one finished object: This is a dog sweater for my "grand" dog Roxie the Wonder Chihuahua. She's all of about 3 pounds, and this was like making a sock, only quicker. It's in two shades of Washable Wool, which is a really yummy yarn. It should be warm! Here's the pattern I used: I'm also using this pattern for Doodlebug's sweater, only I added stitches and length to make it bigger. He and Chelsea are both little dogs, but they looked like giants next to Roxie!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Random Saturday Musings

This is what I saw when I took the dogs outside this morning. How gorgeous is this tree! There are four of them in a group behind my apartment. I normally walk the dogs across the street in front of my apartment (where there are no red trees but lots of pretty yellow ones) but we went out back for a change today, mostly because I just wanted to stand under the red trees. When the morning sun shines through them, the light becomes a magical filtered pinky-red that almost sparkles. It's like having a peach bulb in your lamps -- everything looks more beautiful in this light. This is one of the reasons fall is my favorite time of year. The photo is clickable, and I left it a large file so that it will expand to fill your screen. Go ahead and click on it -- I'll wait.
We're getting closer to Thanksgiving! One of my sons and his family (including their Chihuahua, Roxie) and my brother and his wife are coming to visit for the weekend, which means I'll get to cook a huge dinner. I've been planning the menu for weeks, and I think I finally have it finalized, after input from everyone who will be eating. We're having all the traditional stuff, as it turns out. Some things are just too good to change, and Thanksgiving dinner is one of them. We'll have interesting food for dinner on Friday and Saturday, but for Thursday, we're sticking to the classics.
I've been avoiding cleaning. Well, not avoiding actually. I'm in the middle of about a hundred different things -- cleaning out the spare bedroom, putting an end-table and some shelves together, petting the dogs, making some surprises for the girls, cleaning bathrooms, knitting socks (just because I like to), washing windows and dusting blinds -- you know, all the usual stuff you do before company comes. Even though they won't be here until Wednesday evening, I have to have most of it done by Monday because the carpet cleaner guys are coming in the morning. I should just focus on one thing until it's finished, but at least this way, everything will be finished at the same time -- until then, it just looks like a hurricane landed in my apartment.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yes, it's been a very loooonnnggg time!

But, you see, I forgot my sign-in and password. Only through entering it about a bazillionty times did I finally guess the right one. Or maybe the blogger police just took pity on me and let me in with the wrong password, because I sure can't figure out why I made part of it what I did.

So what to write about now that gardening season is officially over? Actually, it was officially over not long after my last post. As you may recall (especially if you read over my last entry to refresh your memories), the last time we saw the tomatoes was when we were in the middle of a huge heat wave and drought. The mighty 10-foot tower had toppled over, and the tomato plants were languishing, draped not so gracefully over the hedges. To my chagrin, they still are. Only now they're brown and crispy. As is every single last plant in my containers. We went on water restrictions quite a while ago, and I misunderstood what I could water and what I could not. I found out today that I could have watered the plants because I was not sprinkling, I would be holding the hose to water. Who knew? Obviously not me.

I keep reminding myself that I need to get out there and clean everything out, but other things keep getting in the way. End of season garden clean-up has never been one of my favorite things. This year, though, it shouldn't be too bad if I ever get around to it. The roots of the plants are so huge, I just need to dump out the dirt and carry everything to the dumpster. When I replant in the spring, I'll order new dirt to fill the containers and start over from scratch. I can't wait!

I haven't received any garden catalogs yet for the spring season, but I know they aren't far away. This year, I'll get a new Bio Dome from Park Seed and start my own tomato plants -- that way I'll be able to have exactly the kind I want instead of buying the only plants I could find. They did amazingly well, but I would rather have an heirloom variety instead of what grew. I also won't plant beans again -- that was a waste of a container for what I harvested. The local farmers' markets have great beans, so I'll just buy them there. I am going to plant loads of zinnias so that I have lots for my vases, and I'll be buying another Crazy Daisy to replace the one that died in the drought.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and I'm so excited that I have family driving down to join me for the long weekend. I'm looking forward to cooking a huge dinner and spending lots of time with people I love!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Tower Topples ...

Wow, I can't believe it's been over a month since my last post -- and now it's almost mid-August. Where's the summer gone?

My little patio garden has been thriving, but really all that's left are the three tomato plants in one pot, a container of blueberry plants (which don't look very good right now -- most of the leaves are turning brown; I never did add anything to acidify the soil), a container with two marigold plants and a container of zinnias (which also contained my daisies, but they died back after I cut the flowers). The last container is growing lettuce seeds that finally saw the light of day after the bean plants were pulled out. There's one lonely beet plant in that container, too.

It's been ungodly hot here. I think the temps broke records on several days last week -- over 100 degrees with a heat index in the 110s. Incredible, blast-furnace heat. I can't take the dogs for walks, because they're heat-absorbing black and they're low to the ground, so all the heat reflected off the sidewalks hits them in the bellies. We get about 10 feet from the door and they're both panting and ready to come back in. Doodlebug's vet has told me to keep him out of the heat as much as possible -- he's really lost quite a bit of fur due to the Cushings disease, and he has no protection from the sun. I had to take Chelsea to the vet for a very scary faux-death experience on Monday, and the vet we saw then said the same thing about her, but because she's old, not because she's losing fur.

I came home on Wednesday to find this: [NOTE--I just realized I don't have a photo to put here, and it's very dark outside now. I'll add the photo of the toppled tower tomorrow.)

I'm amazed at how much these tomato plants grew in this container, and I'm surprised the supports held up as long as they did. Right now the plants are still sprawling all over the short hedges in front of my patio, and short of pulling up the plants, I really can't do anything about it. They're all over 10-feet tall, and they're too heavy to lift by myself. The supports on these containers really are too flimsy for indeterminate tomato plants, and I should have known that -- I've grown tomatoes for years, for pete's sake. Next summer I'll try something else to keep the plants upright. For now, I'm just going to let them go. One of the main vines broke about halfway through the stalk, but the top of the vine doesn't show any signs of wilting. I have dozens of green tomatoes on the plants, so I'll just let everything ripen and see what happens. Because it's been so hot at night, they aren't setting new fruit. If the plants survive the topple, they should start producing again when nighttime temps are below 70. If this fall is anything like last fall, these plants should produce almost until November.

A huge downside to all this is that I've lost the wonderful privacy screen that was formed by this container of plants. I have tall hedges on one side of my patio that block the view from the street, and this plant blocked most of the view of the "active" side of my patio -- where my glider sits and where the table and chairs are. I enjoyed sitting outside much more when I didn't feel on display to the main street. I guess it isn't too early to start planning for next year ...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Gentle Tomato Spirit

Remember the tree people in Lord of the Rings? Well, this gentle tomato folken reminded me of them. I wish he'd hurry things along and ripen all his kindred spirits -- I counted at least two dozen that are a great size, and I can hardly wait for them to turn red. None of them show any sign of blossom end rot, and I'm thankful for that. The credit goes to these wonderful pots! They don't dry out, so there's no lack of nutrient uptake.

We're having a much needed rain-shower right now. I took out the dogs at 5:30, and it was just starting to rain. The air smelled all ozoney, and the raindrops were huge. They did a fast potty, but they still have more to do, and I can't take them out now because of the deluge. And the thunder -- Chelsea is quaking at my feet as I type this. Silly Chelsea. We aren't having lightening, so I'm not too worried about turning off the computer just yet.

I know it's been over a week since I last posted, but there's really not much going on. The tomatoes are growing -- the plant is at the ceiling of my balcony now. I may trim off the top -- it's only going to bend and break anyway. I spent two days in New York, and had a blast (along with discovering all the color trends for Fall/Winter 2008-09). It was a very quick trip. I took off Monday and Tuesday last week, and with the holiday, I had a grand long weekend. I didn't do anything -- I parked the car after work on Friday and didn't leave again until I went to a photo shoot Thursday morning. And I was just as bad this past weekend -- I stopped at the store on Friday and didn't go out again until Monday morning. I love my apartment, and I love staying inside when it's too hot to breathe outside.

Tomorrow afternoon I'm leaving for New Hampshire for the Knit & Crochet Show. I'll be meeting with designers and hopefully will find another technical editor or two to help out with editing patterns. That's my goal, anyway.

TTFN -- Hopefully I'll have ripening tomatoes when I get back. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Today's garden news ...

... is all about the fish! There's nothing happening with the garden anyway. It's very hot, and the tomatoes are just getting bigger. The beans are languishing, although the pots are very moist. Everything is doing what it's supposed to.
A friend of mine is visiting overnight -- we're leaving early tomorrow for New York, and it's easier for her to stay here than it is to drive to the airport from her house. So I've been cleaning like a madwoman. You know, vacuuming the window blinds, cleaning the windows, scrubbing the bathroom. She's only going to be here for a few hours, but I still want everything to be sparkling. BUT, at the same time I'm avoiding doing everything I need to finish, so in practicing said avoidance, I decided to strip down the aquarium and scrub it in an effort to get rid of the algae once and for all. I'm tired of trying to see the fish through green water, and I'm sure they're tired of having to live in it.
So I put the fish in their bucket filled with aquarium water and an airstone and drained the tank. I washed the gravel three times, until the water ran clear and not green. I scrubbed the plants, the filter intake tubes, the air tubing and the large rocks. Then I put everything back in place and refilled the tank. It's quite a shock to the fish to do things so drastically, so I've been trying to get rid of the algae without stripping the tank. No luck -- so drastic times call for drastic measures. At least now the tank is clean and sparkling. I keep to a pretty regular maintainance schedule, and maybe I'll be able to keep the algae away. In my research to see what's causing the problem, I read that when full spectrum lights get old, they don't work properly and that sometimes allows algae to get out of hand. If it comes back, I'll try replacing them. I can't remember when I set up this aquarium originally -- maybe autumn? I know it was before the holidays. I also put Algon in the filter, and maybe now that things are clean, that will help. It didn't do anything to clear up the problem over the last few months, though.
So now I have happy fish, or at least fish I can see, and I still have to finish cleaning. Better go!
PS -- That's Sushi on the left. She's camera-shy, and I usually can only get photos of the back of her. Her tail is gorgeous, so maybe that's what she wants everyone to see. The other fish is Anjin-san. I don't know why -- perhaps the fact that they're Japanese goldfish (Ryukins) and Shogun is one of my favorite movies? I've had them for over a year (their bodies were the size of a quarter when I bought them, and now Sushi weighs 15 ounces -- yes, I weighed them before I put them in the bucket). I assume she's a female since she's larger, but they haven't shown any breeding behavior. I don't think they're old enough yet. Once they outgrow this aquarium, I'm going to send them to live with a friend of mine who has a pond in his back yard. I don't have room for a larger tank. Hopefully that will be a while ...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tomayto, Tomahto

However you may say it, I'm going to have some! In just four short weeks, give or take a few days, these little marble-size beauties will be red, ripe, sliced and slathered with mayo (fat-free, of course) on whole wheat bread. And possibly bacon. Too bad my lettuce didn't last longer ...

It's blasted hot out there today. I'm glad I got all the garden chores done early yesterday morning. Such that they were -- I'm so used to spending hours weeding, planting and watering that the hour I spent outside yesterday morning tending to my pots seems almost a cheat. Can I really call this gardening?

Why yes, I can!

This morning I congratulated myself on the fact that I went to Wally-World and only spent $80 -- a minor miracle. Then I stopped at the grocery store to pick up the things I couldn't get at WW and spent another $80. Sigh.

Other weekend news -- well, there's none. I spent an hour or so gardening yesterday, came in and took a nap, cooked the beans and some corn on the cob for a light, vegetarian dinner, cut out and mounted some rubber stamps and called it a night. Today I shopped in the morning, put groceries away, took a nap and just looked at the clock and realized it's almost 6:00! No wonder the pups are pestering me to go out!

Hasta la vista, baby! (remember Terminator?)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

My first harvest

Here they are -- 2-1/2 pounds of beautiful yellow and green beans, destined to become part of my dinner tonight and tomorrow night, and then bean salad for lunch the next few days after that. Aren't they pretty?

This particular type of yellow bean is called Soleil. They all mature at the same time, and it doesn't look like I'll get a second harvest because there were no further flowers on the plants. Many of the plants were finished, so I cut them off to allow more air and sun for the other plants. I didn't pull them out because I didn't want to disturb the roots of the plants that are left. The green beans have more flowers, so I'll get a second smaller harvest from them in a few weeks. In the meantime, I have another container of yellow beans with many flowers that will turn into ready-to-pick beans in about two weeks.

Here's another drawback to this type of garden. In my earth gardens, I had produce all summer -- enough to freeze so that I could have beans of all sorts, squash and fresh tomato salsa and sauces into the winter. I could never freeze enough for the entire winter -- my freezer wasn't that large. That certainly won't be the case with what I'm growing now.

While I was picking beans this morning, I was looking over the other plants and finally discovered what's been eating at the crazy-daisy buffet. Two Japanese beetles were snuggled cozily among the petals. Not for long! I used to think Japanese beetles were beautiful when I was a child. I still do, only now I know how destructive they can be. I knocked them off and stepped on them, only cringing slightly at the rather loud crunch they made under the heel of my shoe. So there Daisy-Eating-Beetles! And I dare all your friends to munch on my flowers!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

It's a jungle out there!

Literally! The beans are spilling out of their container and trailing bean vines all over the patio. The tomato plants are as tall as I am -- already! I found more flower bracts today, so I really think I'll get a decent crop of tomatoes. I can't wait!

Good organic fertilizer and a constant water supply -- and look what happens! Scott, you really need to buy some of this fertilizer!

I didn't downsize the photo, so you'll be able to click on it to enlarge and see the actual beans! I'd like to put text on the photo to direct you to what I'd like you to see, but my photo program doesn't do that.

I pulled out the wilty lettuce and planted the snapdragons, parsley and chives I brought back from PA. I cut off all the blooms and placed them behind the tall zinnias so that they'll get some relief from the afternoon sun. I'm sure the snaps will bloom again in a few weeks. I really like the way snapdragons smell, but these smelled different than any others I've ever grown before. Their scent reminded me of black licorice. I'll let them reseed at the end of the season, and between them, the daisy, the herbs and the ruffled coneflower I plan to buy next year for this container, this pot will take care of itself. I'll just have to keep it watered and add fertilizer during the growing season. You have to love perennials!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Why, hello Miss Daisy!

Isn't she pretty? She isn't even fully open yet. I love Shasta Daisies -- especially the Crazy Daisy variety. The others shastas are a bit more reliable bloomers, but they don't have the personality of Miss Crazy. The petals go this way and that -- some are thin and some are wide. Too bad they don't have a scent.

The dogs are recuperating nicely from their trip (as am I). We napped most of the weekend away, and I went to work refreshed and ready for new challenges. I have another group of pattern books to get started on, but only three instead of ten. I'm actually looking forward to working on them! Planning the designs is my favorite part of putting pattern books together. I love it when the plan comes together and the book looks like I think it will. Sometimes when working with multiple designers that can be a bit risky. I have a 2-day photo shoot scheduled this week, and a 2-day trip next week and the week after -- this month will be busy!

In other garden news, the beans are getting beans! Some are ready to pick now, but I'll probably wait another few days until I can pick enough for dinner. These varieties aren't supposed to get stringy, so it's fine to wait a bit. The anticipation of eating them is almost as good as actually eating them! The lettuce is just about ready to pull out. It's been hot here, and while it hasn't bolted, it stays wilted most of the time. I brought a flat of snapdragons back with me from PA, and I'll plant them there. If I cut off all the blooms, they'll bloom again when the weather cools off a bit. The tomatoes doubled in size while I was gone. Each plant has a flower bract, and one of the flowers has a tiny tomato inside. I'll probably be able to pick them in early to mid July. All of the herbs are growing nicely (despite being planted in self-watering containers -- so there, self-watering-container-book author whose name I can't remember who said they wouldn't do well with a constant water source), and I brought back parsley and chives to plant. The lavender is still a no-show. I'm pretty sure I did plant the seeds -- the packet is empty. Lavender is just difficult to start from seed.

The only thing I have left to plant is the trombocino squash, which I'll try to do one evening this week. It's getting ready to storm and my pizza was just delivered (thank you Papa Johns), so I won't do it tonight. Squash is a summer plant, and we still have a long summer left, so I'm not worried about planting it late.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Doodlebug's Last Roadtrip and Big Adventure, Chelsea Too -- Part 1

What a trip! We got home about a half hour ago. I've been driving on and off since about 10:30 this morning, and I have that weird vibration in my body from being on the road so long -- kind of like sea-legs. Of course, I've had about 6,742 mg of caffeine (thank you, Starbucks!), so the weird vibration may be coming from that.

I think D-Bug had a good time! My granddaughters were very gentle with him (and with Chelsea). They ended up staying with me at the hotel, and we had three sleepovers, including tattoos! I love having them around, and I miss them already! Doobie got to be the man -- he put a jumping silky terrier in his place (although the poor guy is named Daisy -- I think he has to jump pretty much nonstop in order to prove his manhood), he ate people food like crazy, he got petted almost nonstop, and he got to see Scott -- his second favorite person in the whole world. On the down-side, he completely lost his hearing a few days ago. I need to do some Internet research to see what's up with that, and then possibly take him to see his vet. He has Cushing's Disease, which is caused by either a tumor on the adrenal glands, or a tumor on the pituitary gland. I'm thinking possibly his is a pituitary tumor and maybe it's large enough to be pressing on nerves that control hearing? I may be grasping at straws here. At any rate, being 16+, the vet and I have decided not to treat whatever diseases he has (he probably has cancer, too), and will just let him live out his life until he isn't happy any more. Since we aren't going to treat him, there's no point in doing any diagnostic work, so we may never know what is really wrong with him beyond the vet's best guesses.

Anyway, that's it for tonight. I'm going to try to read a little and unwind. Hopefully the buzzing will stop soon ...

Friday, May 25, 2007

All our bags are packed, we're ready to go ...

And now that I've left you with that song in your head ...

The books are finally at the printer and out of my hands -- woohoo -- and they'll be in the distribution center on time. How cool is that! It was touch and go there for a while, but it's all done now and I can go on vacation with a head devoid of knitting and crochet abbreviations. What a relief!

The pups and I are heading out in a few hours for Doodlebug's Last Roadtrip and Big Adventure, Chelsea Too. I haven't really told them yet that they get to go with me, but they know something's up. I keep asking Chelsea if she wants to see her Scott-Boy, and she get all waggy-tailed and happy. Usually I avoid mentioning the name of anyone she loves, because she gets sad and just looks out the window and sighs. I haven't mentioned the D-word (for Daddy) in a very long time -- I think she thinks he lives in the phone, since that's the only place she ever hears his voice. Come to think of it, maybe he does! I haven't actually seen him in 7 years, so maybe he is just a voice in the phone!

I still have a few last-minute things to do (like pack and clean up the kitchen, and clean the birdcage, and possibly clean the aquarium, although what's the point because I can't seem to get rid of the green water no matter what I do, and oh yeah, color my hair and shower -- we may not make it by 6:00, and I'm still here updating my blog. Hi Drew -- I'm practicing avoidance!). But you know what, it's my vacation and I'm driving this time, so I don't have to worry about getting to the airport in the nick of time. If I want to leave at 7:00, I can! If I leave any later, though, I'll have massive Charlotte traffic to contend with, both on 485 and 77. I'd better get in gear and get going!

Scott, by the time you read this, I'll be on my way (hopefully -- you know how I am about being on time ...)

Bye y'all! CUL8R! Peace, out!

PS -- I had a garden emergency last night! I went out to check the plants when I got home, and they were drooping! The weather here has been warm, and the beans had used all the water in the reservoir. It hasn't been a week since the last time I watered them, so I guess I'll need to call the apartment people to water them while I'm gone. It's a chore -- I hate to ask them. Drag the hose outside, hook it up inside, fill, fill, fill -- it takes about a half hour, and I haven't prearranged it with them. I know it will be fine. This apartment complex rocks for tenant service -- that's their main selling point (besides gorgeous apartments in a great location). They feed the fish and the bird while I'm gone, and they'll get my mail, water the plants, take my laundry to the dry cleaner if I want them to, they even pick up the trash outside my door once a week. It's so worth the rent to live here!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Looking for Jack ...

As in Jack and the Beanstalk. I expect to see a giant around here one of these days.
Ok, the beans aren't quite that tall, but they're much taller than the package states. Both of these varieties are supposed to be around 20" tall, and they've more than topped that. Some of them are behaving more like pole beans than bush beans, and they're vining around each other.
My tomato plants have doubled in size, and I need to get the cage set up and installed before I leave on vacation, because I have a feeling if I don't, I won't be able to when I get back -- they'll just be too overgrown to contain without damaging them by that point. I have another container coming tomorrow, and I plan to work outside part of the evening getting the cage set up and the container filled and planted. I'm going to plant a trombocino squash or two (or three) and let them vine up around the baker's rack. They're my favorite variety of summer squash, and I'm happy to have found the seeds here.
It's warmed up considerably here -- temps are supposed to be in the mid to high 80s all week. I imagine the lettuce only has a few weeks left, if that. I've turned the container around so that the taller plants (hello Miss Daisy) are in the back providing a little shade in the afternoon, but I still think they'll bolt while I'm on vacation. I'll be surprised if they haven't.
I thought I wouldn't like "gardening" in these containers, but they've proven to be a godsend while I've been working long hours these past few weeks. I really haven't had time to even give a second thought to my garden -- I just go out in the morning to pick a few leaves of lettuce to put on my sandwich for lunch. I've only had to water every week and a half to two weeks, though that will probably change when the temps get up into the 90s and as the plants get larger and demand more water. I still think I'll be pretty safe going on vacation for a week and leaving them. I'll make sure they're full before I go, and I'll water them as soon as I get home.
We're struggling to get one last book the printer tonight, and then I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. I still need to review printer proofs -- probably on Wednesday -- but then I can go away and not even have to think about them. They're in good hands with our printer, and I know he'll take good care of them and make sure they're to our distribution center on time. Thank you Robert!
I haven't told the dogs yet that we're going on a road trip. I wouldn't be able to live with their excitement every time I open the door! I'll surprise them Friday morning when I wake them up and make them go outside at 5:00 in the morning. The even bigger surprise will come when I put them in the car. Chelsea loves road trips. Doodlebug? Not so much. But he loves the end result -- visiting all his favorite people. I do, too!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Look what's been happening with my garden! The first photo was taken on 5/10. Looks great, right?

The bottom photo was taken just a few minutes ago on 5/13 (Happy Mother's Day, by the way). Look at the beans! They're amazing. I've picked lettuce three times so far -- last Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. I think I could probably start picking enough for a sandwich every day. I love being able to go out and just pick a few leaves here and there. Because I don't use pesticides, I don't have to even worry about washing the leaves!
I think I've been at work more than I've been home lately. I know I said I didn't think I was going to like gardening this way, but man, if you don't have time, nothing beats these containers. I've gone two weeks without watering. I'll fill them today--the water level tubes indicate they need it, but the soil is still moist.
I'll be glad when all of these books get to the printer and I can take a break. I'm so looking forward to my vacation the end of this month! I'm taking the dogs on a road trip to visit family in PA.
Well, if I'm going to take a vacation, I need to get back to work! I think I'll take my computer out on the patio so that I can watch the plants grow while I work ...

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Garden goings-on

And lots of growing has been going on! Just look:

So much is happening you can't even see it all in this photo! Closest is the Crazy Daisy. She likes this container environment very much -- this is one strong plant! Behind her container is the first container of beans I planted. Some of the plants are putting out bud stalks already -- I'll probably have flowers within a week, and then beans a few weeks after that. In the third container are tomato plants I just received. I'm not at all pleased with their condition, and won't be ordering tomato plants online again. They arrived within two days of shipping, and they weren't dried out at all all, but they were tall and spindly with yellowing leaves -- which obviously means they weren't grown in the best of conditions. Hopefully they'll recuperate and get strong -- I planted them deep so that they can develop good root systems. In the fourth container are the blueberry plants, which are still doing well in spite of the fact that I haven't added peat to the soil yet. And last but not least is the second container of beans, which has started sprouting. The lavender, alas, is still a no-show. I've almost given up on it. I did plant some beans in the same area as the lavender seeds. If they ever decide to grow, they can grow around the beans until it's time for them to come out, and then they can have that space.

We had almost record-setting heat the beginning of this week, but yesterday and today are cloudy, drizzly and very chilly, which makes the lettuce happy.

This photo is from Tuesday, and it's grown even more since then. I really need to start thinning it out, so I'll probably start picking it today and have a baby lettuce salad with dinner. I have a nice light raspberry vinaigrette, fresh mushrooms and some feta cheese just waiting ...

I bought some trombocino summer squash seeds last week ( I had planned to plant them in the strip of soil between the hedge row and my patio, but after talking with my son last week (Hi Scott!) we came up with a better idea. See my baker's rack in the first photo? I'm going to remove the bottom two shelves (Scott, they do unscrew) and put in another self-watering container. This type of summer squash vines profusely, so it can grow up and around the bars and shelves on the baker's rack. Having summer squash in my little garden makes me happy!

And speaking of happy, my friend Margot had this wonderful idea on her blog ( She's adding photos of things that make her happy, complete with a cute little happy sign in each of them. I'm going to stamp a fun happy sign and do the same! I think we all should, and create this viral Happy Things campaign that just sweeps the Internet and spreads happiness. Let's do it! And be sure to stop in and say hello to Margot -- she rocks!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

My guilty, guilty pleasure -- a day late

Well, ok, not so guilty. And if you're coming here today to read about gardening, you're out of luck and you need to leave and come back tomorrow when there WILL be garden news. Today is all about dancing ... Dancing With the Stars.

Does anyone else think John Ratzenberger is totally hot? I don't think I liked him on Cheers, but I don't remember since I've slept quite a few times since the last time I saw it, and I was never a big fan of the show anyway. Imagine my surprise the first night when this sophisticated yet down to earth, handsome and, well, hot, man walks out onto the stage. The goatee? Yummy. In an odd way he reminds me of Anthony Hopkins (but NOT in the Hannibal Lecter sort of way), who is also a very attractive man.

So I don't have TV here. Well, I have TV, in fact I have two of them, but I get lousy reception and I can't watch either one. I refuse to pay for cable to watch two or three shows a week, and neither antenna works, so I get to watch everything a day late on the internet via my computer. Thank you, Internet, for, and thank you for playing all of your shows the day after. And thank you, work, for giving me a laptop to use that I can take home at night so that I don't have to buy my own computer and can instead spend my money on garden stuff. And rubber stamps.


I just finished watching last night's epi of DWTS. And Oh. My. God. It was sensational! The dancers were really good (except for Billy Ray, but he knows he isn't good and he's just having as much fun as he can, and that makes him the best to watch). Ian finally opened up his personal space and looked at Cheryl like he could just devour her. Joey did some bendy moves during the jive that were phenomenal. I didn't like Apolo's waltz, but his other dance deserved the 9s it received. Billy Ray sat out most of his waltz, instead showcasing his partner's dancing talent (and I just cannot remember her name right now), but came back and was more involved in the Mambo. Layla is my favorite to win, though -- but so is Joey. It's going to get tough!

And who will go? Sadly, because IMO he's a hottie, I think John will be the one to leave. Billy Ray is a bad dancer, but he has a huge fan base, and that's what's keeping him. The loser is being decided right now as I type this, but I won't get to see it until tomorrow, so please don't tell me!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Saturday Update

Woohoo -- I can upload more than one image! I think I may be getting the hang of this blog thing!
Well, here's the garden today. If you go back to last Saturday's image, you'll see how the beans have grown by leaps and bounds. I love beans for that reason. I'm going to plant another container with just wax beans tomorrow. I'll add more marigolds around the outside to deter the bean beetles, which may or may not be a problem here (they were a huge problem in Indiana and the marigolds helped quite a bit), but they're pretty, and they can't hurt, right? Too bad they don't smell better ...
The Crazy Daisy has settled in and is growing well. It's probably almost twice the size it was when I planted it. I'll probably be able to pick a few leaves of baby lettuce next Saturday, and I'm looking forward to that.
I received notice from Burpee that my tomatoes and herbs have shipped and are scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday. I'll try to leave work on time so that I can get them planted right away.
Tomorrow, along with planting beans, I'm also going to dig up the strip of dirt between the hedges and my patio to plant the tall red and lime-green zinnias. I'm also going to head to the local nursery to buy a trowel (for digging up the strip) and a cool, non-self-watering planter for the herbs, since they do better if they're stressed from time to time by lack of water. Who knew? The nursery opens at 8:00, so I'll be able to work outside in relative peace before the sun gets too warm.
When I moved here, I didn't have room for my baker's rack. I put it on the patio with the intention of putting plants on the shelves, and I think I'll try the herbs there to see how they do. Guess I'll need a watering can, too, since I'll have to water the pots frequently when it gets really hot here. Right now I'm watering the containers with the hose from my Python aquarium cleaner. I take off the part that goes in the tank, so there's no worry about contaminating the fish with anything, although with the muck they're swimming in right now, I don't see how anything could make it worse. I'm having horrible algae problems, and the Algon can't even keep up with it. Guess I have to take out everything and give it a good scrubbing to get rid of some of the spores. I can't move it anywhere else -- my apartment gets good light everywhere!
That's it for now -- I'm in the middle of making a bunch of thank-you cards, and I'm going to try to get more of them finished tonight. Four down, eighteen to go ...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

She flies through the air with the greatest of ease

until she crashes on the floor. And then she runs and hides under the desk.

I have to face the facts -- my heart, my muse, my furry soulmate, the love of my life is getting old. Chelsea turned 13 last September, and while little dogs live long lives, she's still considered geriatric and she can't do the things she thinks she should be able to do.

Chelsea is as close to a cat as a dog can get, without all the aloofness that a dog could never pull off. She stalks prey, she isn't afraid of heights, she sleeps on the windowsill in the dining room, she's nimble-footed. I love watching her jump from the sofa to the chair to the ottoman to the other chair. She can just about make a circuit of my living room without setting foot on the floor. She jumps from my bed to the side chair and back again, and hardly shakes the bed. Until last night.

When we go to bed, Doodlebug hops up his little doggy steps and settles right in beside me. Chelsea comes to bed until she thinks I'm asleep, and then she hops into the chair to sleep alone until about a half hour until the alarm goes off, then she comes back to bed and stays there until I get up.

Last night, she missed the chair and landed in a heap on the floor. She sat there a bit dazed for a minute, then literally shook herself off, jumped into the chair and settled down for the night. She moved a little slowly this morning, but she does that from time to time -- we're all getting older. When I got home from work tonight and let them out of the bedroom, she made a mad dash for the chair in the living room -- she likes to be as close to my level as she can get, probably in a ploy for the alpha position. She tried to jump to the ottoman, but misjudged the distance and fell again. She sat hunched over for a few minutes, and I felt everything to make sure she hadn't broken or dislocated anything. She seems ok now, but she's still moving slowly. A visit to the vet may be in order ...

I'm not worried about losing her -- she promised me the day I picked her up from the shelter that she's immortal. But, damn, it sure is hard watching her get old.

And on the garden front, the beans are growing, the lettuce is starting to look like lettuce, the zinnias are working on their second set of leaves, it looks like the blueberries will survive (even though I haven't put peat in the container yet to acidify the soil), the daisies are getting taller and the lavender is still a no-show.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What a different a day makes ..

or two days, or three -- especially in a garden.

My little garden microcosm is no exception. Look at today's photo (taken yesterday afternoon) and then go back and look at Saturday's photo. Amazing, isn't it! Yesterday all the plants just had their original seed leaves (cotyledons to all of us seed geeks), and now most of them are starting to get their second set -- the leaves that look like what the grown plants leaves will be. In two weeks, I'll be having baby lettuce salads with a fruity vinaigrette dressing, and won't that be very, very good.
While I very much like these containers and enjoy poking in the dirt, I'm finding myself at gardening odds. In my big earth beds, I had something to do every. single. day. I'd plant a square foot of something, or pick radishes to give to a friend and her family (I don't like radishes, but after a long, gray winter I just had to plant something that would grow quickly to harvest size), or pull baby weeds that would grow after I turned the soil and exposed them to light. I'd have to water every few days, or transplant seedlings, or move mulch from around the perennial daisies and coneflowers. I'd spend hours out there in the morning, just zen-ing out while I was working, or meditating about different things, or feeling my heart and spirit mend. Here, all I have to do is go out every day and take a photo of what's growing. I don't think there will ever be the same level of involvement that I had with my earth beds. For instance, I can't see myself sitting out on my patio tending plants and crying over a broken relationship or disappointment in my job. And maybe that's a good thing? I don't know. It's good, I guess, but just very different.
I found out why I had wasps on the patio! It seems those crafty little beasties are building a nest in the corner where my upstairs neighbor's deck adjoins the wall. When I spotted it Sunday evening, it was the about 2" in diameter and contained about 10 cells. Now it's a good 5" in diameter and has 35 cells -- yup, I counted them. I called the apartment manager, and the exterminator will be taking care of it on Thursday. Normally I'm thankful for bees and the busy work they do, but wasps are a different story. The gloves come off and it's a fight to the finish. At least this time I don't have to worry about taking care of it! One of the bennies of apartment life! I still don't know why they were eating the glider ...
PS -- I'm really not writing in stream of consciousness mode. I'm putting in spacing between paragraphs, really I am! It just isn't sticking when I post the entry! Blog help anyone?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Watching the beans grow ...

Today has been kind of a quiet day, and long, which is the BEST on weekends. It feels like it should be after 6:00, but it's just 3:15. Ahhh, extra hours today ...
I sat outside for quite some time earlier, just reading and watching the beans come up. I swear, they're growing so fast I could almost see them break ground, unfurl their leaves and reach up to the sun. But not quite -- I think they knew I was watching and would only grow when I looked away. Anyway, this is how they looked this morning. In no time at all, they'll be shading the lettuce, which is exactly what I wanted them to do. I was finally chased in by two wasps who insisted on buzzing around the glider. It looked like they were trying to eat it -- even though I washed it off, perhaps there's still pollen left in the pores of the wood. I've been stung too many times by wasps and wasn't in the mood to be stung today, so I surrendered and left them to it. I needed to clean the aquarium anyway, and now the fish are happy and I can see them again. I know I skipped cleaning for two weeks, but that tank was just way too murky for normal fish muck. They may be getting too large for the tank -- I probably should start thinking about moving them to my friend's pond.
The pups are enjoying the day, too. Chelsea has been sleeping on the chair by the window with her head propped on the windowsill, letting the breeze blow over her and waking up to bark at passing people, cars, bees and whatever else goes by the window. Doodlebug has been right by my side, as always. He had quite the accident early this morning, so I've been trying to take him out every hour today, and I'll pick up his water around 8:00 tonight so that he doesn't drink so much before we go to bed. Not a pleasant experience for any of us, but I can't yell at him for it because he can't help it. He's just getting old. I guess I could put him in his crate at night, but that would be punishment for both of us. I'd miss his furry little body curled up behind my knees.
Since I still have a good part of the afternoon stretching out ahead of me, I think I'll go rubber stamp some cards. Or read a bit more before starting dinner. Or take a nap with the pups ...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Welcome little beansprouts!

Lots happening in my happy little garden today (anyone else miss Bob Ross?) -- the tall plants in the planter on the left are the blueberries (there are two in the planter -- you can't see them both in this photo). I didn't get the soil amended with peat to make it more acidic, but unbeknownst to me the box was sitting in the apartment office for a week, and I thought it maybe was better to plant them and get them rehydrated than it was to have acidic soil. I'll go to the garden center tomorrow morning and amend the soil around the plants. Fingers crossed all will be well with them. They weren't totally dried out, but they were close.

In the center planter, making their sunshine debut, are the beans! I can see two of them that have broken the soil in this photo, but unless you know what you're looking for, you might not be able to spot them (and I haven't figured out yet how to put text on photos). See the greenish clump in the center? That's a bean spout breaking the soil. There's also one right above the white watering tube. There are also several others that are thisclose to breaking through. The green seedlings in the bottom right corner are marigolds. The other green sprouts you can see throughout are lettuce.

And in the right planter, the row on the left is thickly sown lettuce. The thin line in the center contains white zinnias. The daisy plant is in the upper right corner and the lavender (lower right corner) is still a no-show.

I'm still expecting tomato plants and herbs. I almost bought a beautiful rosemary plant last night (along with parsley plants), but I'm pretty sure I have one coming, so I didn't. I can pick it up later if I still want it.

I watered these containers thoroughly last Saturday and filled the reservoirs. The soil has been nicely damp all week (not too wet, though), and this morning's check of the reservoirs shows them about half full. Of course, our weather this week has been coolish and overcast most days, with high wind the beginning of the week.

In other news, I spent too much money at Wally World this morning. I stopped in specifically for dog food, light bulbs, batteries and hair color and came out with all that plus ribbon, snacks, rechargeable batteries and a charger, the latest People magazine and Joe Hill's novel -- Heart-Shaped Box. Joe is Stephen King's son, and it's interesting to see that he has chosen to write in the same genre as his father. I can't wait to start this one! And what is it with Wal-Mart? I seriously cannot go in that store without dropping at least $100, and here lately, it's been closer to $200. Every time! I think stuff just jumps in my cart when I'm not looking, because I totally don't remember buying Crunch & Munch, but there was a box in the bag when I got home. And it's the good toffee kind, too, with peanuts and almonds. Yum!

It's in the 70s here today, and sunny, so I think I'm going to annoy the dogs and go sit out on the patio and read for a bit. With the Crunch & Munch, of course, and a glass of pomegranate juice. And I'll wave to the dogs through the window ...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Every battery I own is dead ...

... except for the one in the car, and I'm ever so thankful for that. In the year plus a few months that I've owned it, I've gotten so much better at turning off the lights. I haven't had a dead battery in a few months now. Yay me!

Anyway. Not to be outdone by the lettuce, the marigold seeds broke ground today and I'm very excited by that, but I can't show you because my camera batteries are dead. So are the ones in my Wisp air fresheners. And the ones in my CD player. I got all excited for a second to see the calculator sitting out on my desk, but then I realized that it's solar-powered. Stupid calculator. I was just so sure I had extra ones somewhere, but I guess I used them all in the camera, such sucks the power out of batteries at an alarmingly fast rate -- what's up with that?

So, instead of a photo of the marigold babies (which sprouted in just five days), here's a photo of Doodlebug, my worm-jerky afficionado--snoozing peacefully in the corner of the sofa. Pleasant dreams, Doobie!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Salad, anyone?

Ok, I've started this blog entry twice, and I've deleted what I wrote both times. I'm not going to try to comment on current events, because it just makes me sad. I'm also not going to comment on my job, because I didn't like it today. And I suspect I won't like it for the next month, but it's my job and I have to go to work to pay for all the dog, bird and fish food (because Ryukin goldfish get constipated easily and have to eat the really expensive goldfish food to prevent Swim Bladder Disorder. constipated fish -- who knew?). Anyway. Stupid job.

Since the point of this blog is my patio garden, let's see what little surprises were waiting in store for us today, shall we? And look -- here they are! Lettuce seedlings! They're almost microscopic in and among all the rich, dark potting soil, but they're there all the same. Right now, the only thing sprouting is the lettuce mix. I also planted marigolds, lavender and green beans, but none of them have broken ground yet. I'm sorely tempted to dig around a little to see if the beans are sprouting, and if this were an earth garden I would, but since I planted containers and the number of seeds is very limited, I won't disturb what's there just because I'm sometimes very impatient and I can't stand to not know what's going on under the soil. Since this blog is supposed to my record-keeping attempt, I'll just note here that the lettuce seeds sprouted in 4 days (temps were cool -- in the 60s, and weather conditions varied from sun to high wind to rain to overcast).

I think I'll just zen out a little and watch the lettuce grow and pet the dogs and listen to the bird chirp and watch the fish swim and forget about my stupid job for a bit. And maybe in the morning, I'll sit out there again while I drink a cup of tea -- just so I have enough calmness banked to get through another day at my stupid job. You know, the one that won't be any fun for another month and then will be a total blast again for a while.

(Disclaimer: If anyone from work is reading this, I really do like my job! Just not this week. And not until all of these books get to the printer.)

PS -- I do have to share something I read today: "God bless everyone. No exceptions." I won't comment on this any further except to say it was in the back of my mind all day. To go any further would be getting into current events, and I'm just not going to do that.

Monday, April 16, 2007

All the more reason to dig in the dirt!

Evidently, scientists have discovered that there are "feel good" microbes that live in the soil. When we play in the dirt (or eat them somehow -- I didn't figure that out), those microbes travel around in our bodies giving off all these little happy vibes that make us feel better. Mice injected with the microbes swim around longer in a water-filled beaker before giving up than mice that didn't have the microbes.;_ylt=Ao_E8o_fZHXIaeHv.myYavnq188F

I hope they rescued the mice. Seriously!

This is a really interesting article and doesn't take too long to read. Check it out -- you might need to copy and paste the link. (and thank-you, Angie, for sending it to me -- big hugs to you)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Well, it looks like a flower.

And besides, it's my blog and I can talk about food if I want to. And food is the end result of a vegetable garden, so in a weird way it's all related, right?

Anyway, I'm going to a rubber stamp workshop at a friend's house today, and she's stressed out over selling her house and buying another house and her husband travels quite a bit and her mom (who lives with them) had surgery a while back and still can't get around too well and she has two very young children -- so I volunteered to bring the food.

I know ya'll have been making these fruit pizzas for, like, ever, but this is my first attempt, and isn't it pretty? Yes, the chocolate is a bit blobby, but I'm sure that will NOT affect the taste. I'm also making sesame chicken strips which are in the oven baking right now, and I wish you could smell them, because they're making the dogs walk around sniffing with their noses in the air. And I have a cheese ball chilling in the fridge. Oh, and I have to leave in 10 minutes and the laundry is still spinning in the dryer.

My god, I can seriously NOT get anywhere on time!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Shhh--be very, very quiet ...

... the seeds are germinating.

I planted two of the planters today -- the one with plant already growing contains a Crazy Daisy (the green stuff you see), lavender from seed (which may not grow -- lavender can be weird that way) and lettuce of all sorts but mostly red. And green. And frizzy. And mixed in with other yummy lettuce-y things like bull's blood beets and mustard greens (which were both in the mesclun mix I bought).

The second seemingly naked planter contains green and yellow (my fave) beans -- why did I plant green beans which I like when I LOVE the yellow ones -- marigolds in the corners and lettuce broadcast thinly over top everything. Yes, I know the lettuce is going to grow where the beans are, but by the time the beans are getting big enough to do anything, the lettuce will be bolting and I'll pull it out to give the beans more room. And I did warn you -- I push the limits of what can grow in a finite amount of space. I'll fertilize and thin. Don't worry -- it's all good.

The other three planters are still empty. In two weeks, I'll sow more yellow bean seeds in one (with more lettuce and marigolds) for a continuous harvest. My blueberry plants are on the way, so I'll plant them in one when they arrive, along with whatever else I can find that will grow in acid soil. And hopefully my tomato plants will be shipped soon and I'll plant the last one with them. And basil. Lots and lots of basil. I grew Summerlong two years ago and absolutely loved it -- the flavor was superb. I kept the flower heads cut off, and they just branched out into gorgeous mounds of green deliciousness that smelled wonderful whenever I walked past.

I bought Summerlong again this year, because I just think its the best. I'm not into lemon or chocolate or cinnamon or other unusually scented/flavored basils. While they probably smell wonderful, I really think basil should taste like basil and not cinnamon. Or lemon. Does it taste cinnamony enough to put on my oatmeal? Will my green tea taste better with the addition of lemon basil? And how about a nice glass of milk with lots of -- you guessed it -- chocolate basil. I think not, so what's the point in growing them? My basil will go into summer salads or be layered with mozzarella cheese and tomatoes and dressed lightly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I can hardly wait!

For now, I'll just be quiet so I don't disturb those little seeds from getting on with what they do best.

And come to think of it, I don't think there's a chocolate basil plant. Maybe I'm thinking of Chocolate Cosmos ...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

We interrupt this gardening blog for a book review.

Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers by Edward C. Smith. Copyright 2006; published by Storey Publishing.

As I mentioned below, I've been gardening for years, but only in raised beds in my backyard in Indiana. I grew flowers in containers, but not vegetables, so my patio experience with vegetables is new to me.

Being the consumate book collector, when I find a topic that interests me, I look for a book to support it. Or two or three, and then I buy them all. I'm all about having information and choices. Deciding to raise veggies in pots on my patio was no different, and I found a book! Huzzah! Sadly, the huzzah is for finding the book, not for the book itself.

Let me start by saying the photos are drop-dead gorgeous. Close-ups of luscious vegetables at their peak abound. And there are LOTS of them. All very exciting and inspirational. The actual gardening info, not so much.

The most helpful part of the book, to me at least, is the chapter on soil. Explaining how a plant takes up water and nutrients and why putting regular garden soil in a container is not a good option was very helpful info. The part of this chapter that just seemed silly to me is about starting and maintaining a compost heap. Good info, but if you're an apartment dweller -- not really an option.

The author also spent a great deal of time taking about what he planted in his earth garden. I would have rather had that space dedicated to more info about what to plant in containers -- that's supposed to be the focus of this book. And I wish the info had been more on patio gardening, rather than the author's experience of using his containers to supplement what he grows in his earth garden. What also slightly annoyed me is that the focus of the book is self-watering containers, but Mr. Smith spends a large amount of time talking about growing herbs in regular pots because they thrive on poor conditions such as dry soil and hot weather. That's great to know, but please don't devote a whole chapter to herbs that can't be successfully grown in self-watering containers. Instead give me options--tell me about the ones that will do well.

I guess I'm jaded. I know a lot about gardening. I have many, many gardening books -- from Square Foot Gardening (my holy bible of gardening) to books on starting seeds. I thought I needed to know a lot more to garden in containers, but after reading this book, I probably knew enough to get started without it.

If you're new to gardening, read the book. But try to borrow it from a library first before you spend the money for it. I found most of the information it contained on the Internet. If you already have earth-gardening experience, my advice is go to and visit the container gardening forum.

All that said, this is a beautiful book, and I will refer to it from time to time, especially the last part about varieties of plants that work best in containers. It just isn't going to become the reference that I'd hoped it would. And all of this is just my opinion -- yours may vary (that's what makes the world so interesting).

Saturday, April 7, 2007

And today's garden news is ...

... there's no news! I came home yesterday with every intention of spending the day outside planting all my little seeds. And then I woke up this morning and took the dogs out for their walk. Brrr! We all froze our butts off! Even Miss Chelsea, who stares wind in the face with her ears aerodynamically held back and just lets it just blow right over her, didn't want to stay out today. So I turned the heat back on and we spent the day inside, rubber stamping (me) and sleeping (them, and then me this afternoon). It's been seriously warm here for over two weeks, with above-average temps in the 80s, which makes this cold snap seems even colder.

Or else after being here over a year, all of our blood is getting thinner ...

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Almost after

The seeds arrived yesterday. Little packages of life held dormant by a hard seed case. Seeds are the absolute most amazing thing to me.

Take a tomato seed, for example. One little seed, if watered and given sunlight, can grow up to be a plant over 10' tall that willingly provides a bushel of luscious, juicy red fruits that are perfect for adding to a slice of bread slathered with mayonnaise and garnished with lettuce. And bacon. And sprinkled with generous amounts of salt and pepper. One tiny, seemingly lifeless seed is where it all starts.

I've had tomato seeds survive the worst of winters in my garden (I was never very good about cleaning out the beds at the end of the growing season). At the first thaw, those little seeds crack open and out comes this amazing plant that can grow inches in just one day. Multiply that by the dozens of tomatoes that got left in the beds in the fall, and you can just imagine what I had growing in the spring! And nothing smells more like spring than a tomato plant.

You know, God sure knew what He was doing with all the seed business. And I am so humbled by it all.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The before view

The self-watering containers arrived. The casters arrived. All the various accoutrements were in the box. No container gardening book was to be found, though. Anywhere. I called GSC, only to find out the books were on back order. Sigh. I need the book. But my seeds aren't here yet, so as long as the book arrives soon, it's still all good.

I originally wanted to ask the Fedex delivery person to take the boxes around to the patio, but it was really hot yesterday. I figured I could carry them through the [cool, air-conditioned] apartment to the patio. Turns out I got some exercise -- those boxes were heavy!

So here's a photo of the containers and everything that came with them. I hope to finish assembling them after work today!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The before before view

This is a view of my patio, sans garden. We're looking out from the west corner to the sidewalk and the street beyond. The patio faces south. There's a good view of the short hedge in front of my patio. There's a 12" wide strip of dirt behind the hedges. Empty dirt people!!! It won't be for long. That's what all the zinnia seeds are for. I figure they're hardy enough to start growing in a semi-shady location, and they'll be taller than the hedges in front of them in no time at all, so shade won't be an issue at that point.

My patio looks small in the photo, but it's actually quite large. The strip along the front is about 10 feet wide and 4 feet deep. The shaded part under the porch of the apartment above me is about 6 feet wide and 8 feet deep. I have a table and chairs tucked in the corner -- just right for having a cup of tea and reading outside. You can also see the corner of my wonderful glider, which I don't use often enough.

My garden containers are supposed to arrive later today. I'm working at home today to wait for the Fedex delivery person. Since the containers were shipped with soil, I'm thinking those boxes are going to be heavy. I'm going to ask him to just wheel them right around front to the patio.

Woohoo -- I can't wait to get started!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Well, how 'bout that?

I have a blog again! This time we'll see if I can last longer than two weeks -- I get bored easily ... can you say ADD? No, I don't actually have ADD, but I tend to get distracted by life, and pretty yarn, and interesting books, and the dogs, and cleaning the fishtank ...

I guess a first post should be all about introductions. Let's see. I'm 39 (well, not really, but did you think I was really going to say how old I am?). I'm all about doing stuff with my hands -- playing in the dirt, crafting, cooking, petting the dogs, etc. I have wonderful friends, but most of them live in other areas that aren't within driving distance, so I tend to spend lots of time e-mailing them and sending photos of my dogs or the traffic on the way to work or the dogs ...

Did I mention my dogs? I have two. Doodlebug is old -- around 16. He came to live with me about 11 years ago, so he probably doesn't remember any other home. I sure don't remember a time when I didn't have him. He's having age issues, and I'm trying to work out a good way to keep him from pottying all over the floor. We're exploring doggy diapers. Fortunately he doesn't seem to embarrass easily. Chelsea is my other dog, and she's my heart. That's her in the photo, which was taken about a year ago. I've had her since she was a baby, and she'll be 13 this year. She's a spunky terrier who saved my life when she was about 6 months old, and I promised her a place in my bed for the rest of her life. Both dogs are black and little, and people tend to think they related because they think they look alike. They really don't -- they're both just black. And little. They've been with me through two major moves -- one from South Carolina to Indiana, and then from Indiana to North Carolina. As long as we're together, they seem to take it in stride. My lovebird, Sailor, is also old -- he just turned 11.

The whole point of this blog (besides getting back in the habit of writing something interesting) is to describe my garden adventures. When I lived in Indiana, I had five very large raised beds that I had so much fun with. One year I planted a purple garden in one of them. Everything was purple. Purple beans. Purple eggplants. Purple radishes. Purple zinnias. Purple Brussels sprouts. I like to combine flowers with vegetables and herbs, and I tend to push the limit of how much you're supposed to plant in a finite space.

After spending last summer in produce Hell (how can the grocery stores around here not have good tomatoes in the summer, and where in the world is the farmer's market I hear everyone talk about?), I decided this year I was going to do something about it and spent some time perusing catalogs and reading about container gardening on Garden Web. That's a terrific site, by the way. Most people are very helpful, and very willing to share what works for them.

My apartment has a great patio, and it faces south, so it gets sunlight all day. Just right for tomatoes! I ordered five Tomato Success Kits from Gardener Supply, and I'm waiting for them to get here -- they're supposed to arrive on Tuesday. After I ordered them, I realized I didn't need to get five tomato kits -- I could have just bought one tomato kit and ordered plain planters for everything else, but oh well. I'll just have extra tomato fertilizer and red mulch for next year.

I also ordered a bunch of seeds for green beans and lettuce, as well as zinnias and marigolds. I ordered herb plants and two blueberry plants that are supposed to do well in containers. And I bought a Shasta Daisy plant because, well ... Daisies. I shouldn't have to say anything else about that!

Oh, and I bought a book on container gardening. Because I've never done this before! Everything should be here the beginning of the week, and I'm anxious to get started!