Monday, May 30, 2011

Not in the Mood

I'm just not in the mood to write for the blog because I have nothing but complaints.  Since September 15, 2010, we have had 4 and 3/10 inches of rain and our most dry season - June through September - is just ahead.  Instead of winter gray outside to spring green we went straight to late summer brown and high winds since March.  In my experience, you can water your garden with a watering can, but there has GOT to be some rain to really make things grow.  Except for a few tomatoes, the garden is a no-go.

Okay, enough of complaints, but wanted to let people know that I'm still around.  lol

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

When I was at the dentist's office last week, my blood pressure was taken.  I've noticed an increase over the past couple of years but ignored it until I saw the reading:  158/89.  Yikes!!  In addition, no matter what I cut out or include in my diet, I slowly add a couple of pounds a year.  If I go down to about 900 calories a day, I'll lose weight.  Need I mention how unpleasant I am when hungry 24/7? 

I know what to do to lower the blood pressure since we were in the fitness business for 16 years.  In fact, I taught aerobics for 16 years -- 12 years at our gym and then 4 more years at a health facility here in Dripping after selling the gym in Austin. 

However, to be on the safe side, I visited the doctor's office to have everything checked out as there is an elliptical in the hobby room in the barn.    Before television broadcasting switched to digital, I'd watch local television to distract me or try to balance a magazine or book to read while listening to aerobic music on an MP3 which required constant charging.  It was barely tolerable, but I was at least regularly working out on the elliptical.  After the switch, I had two choices:  1) run the satellite out to the barn or 2) buy a converter.  Neither choice appealed to me since I can think up more excuses as to why it is inconvenient to exercise which is why, if the truth be told, I taught aerobics. I made a commitment to teach and did not allow excuses.  :D  BTW, the gym thing was hubby's passion.

The blood pressure reading scared me into finding a way to look forward to using the elliptical. 

I bought a CD player and attached velcro to the bottom.

There is no balancing act with the Kindle!  And, I'm always looking for extra time to read.  :D  The time flies by.

As of today, I'm doing about 35 minutes in the morning and about 25 minutes in the evening.  I haven't decided the final workout times, but each day I increase the time and the work load.  Blood pressure is already decreasing along with heart rate.  I calculate that twice a day on the elliptical will help me lose weight without resorting to a 900-calories-a-day diet.

Until next time, God bless.

PS:  The Kindle is the next best thing to a piece of sliced, warm, homemade bread and butter! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Garden Chores

I've been in the process of critter proofing the big garden.  Last year I wired about 80 feet of the 4x4 wire panels with about 24 inch chicken wire.  Chicken wire is rough on the hands and did not finish wiring the other side because it got too hot.  At first I thought there was only 60-70 feet left until I actually added the remaining perimeter which came to about 120 feet.  Time wise it comes to about 10 feet every 45 minutes to an hour and I finally learned to wire with gloves on.

This is a 50 foot side that needed the chicken wire.  I did have a bit of a start when I came around to this side.  I had just finished wiring the 30 feet at the end and to the left.  I had been working on the short side for about 3 hours, moved the wire, milk crate stool, and tools around to roll out the wire for this 50 foot side.  I was all concentration when I sat down on the milk crate when I happened to look into the garden:   a skunk was nosing around the veggies!  How it got in and how long Mr. Skunk was mosing around was a mystery.  lol  His tail was down and can only assume he did not consider me a threat.  I picked up my tools and left the area.  I was tired and my hands hurt anyway.  

I came back a few minutes later to see how he was going to get out.  It was then that I discovered that Mr. Skunk could wiggle around and get out through the smallest of openings left unblocked with a landscape timber and unwired near the gate!  In disgust and since it was time for one of my favorite TV programs, Gun Smoke, I retired to the couch with a glass of cold lemonade.

This is the last 11 feet of the chicken wire to be done plus that little space next to one of the gates!  Hallelujah!  

Next, I'm going to fire up the weed whacker to clear around the fence to see if there are any holes under it that are suspicious.  The wildlife camera is attached to a milk crate so it can be moved near veggies where the leaves are showing signs of nibbles. 

Could this be what is eating the radish and blackeyed pea leaves down to the stems?  If Mr. Sparrow and his sisters, brothers and cousins are dining on the leaves, well, have at it!  I'll plant more. 

BTW, pray that we get rain.  Texas is in a horrible drought.  I'm sure you've seen the news that over a million Texas acres are burning.  We've had cloudy skies for weeks but no rain.  Ok, since January 15 of this year, last week we had a little less than 2/10's of an inch. 

Until next time, God bless.


Monday, April 18, 2011

American Heroes Weekend

Luc and I joined Denise and Peaches of Penny's From Heaven for the American Heroes Weekend at Camp Mabry in Austin, TX.  The two-day event included soldiers staging military reenactments, demonstrations by parachuting guardsmen, hands-on lessons in military vehicles, weapons displays, and an air show.  Saturday was a beautiful day filled with American heroes with their families.  It was such an honor to just be around men and women who have pledged their all for the rest of us.

Peaches and Luc in front of the Penny's From Heaven table.

Since I was helping with manning the Penny's From Heaven table, I wasn't able to get up close to the helicopters as I would have liked.  I think the green and white copter was giving rides because it was taking off and landing all during the day. 

Camp Mabry has a replica of the Vietnam War Memorial. 

There was a variety of services represented that are available to American heroes and their families, one of which is Soldiers' Angels,'s From Heaven has a program called Train A Dog, Save A Warrior (TADSAW).

Until next time, God bless.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Brenda Photo Challenge - Spring

Spring is the theme for the Brenda Photo Challenge

When I hear noise coming from a bathroom window, I know this creature has arrived.  A couple of years ago he attacked just about every window in the house for months.  The next year he did not attack as many windows as the previous year.  This year he only made enough noise for me to know he was back.  We can now sleep late instead of being awaken at sunrise by constant tapping on the windows.

I'm glad Mr. Cardinal has matured.  :D 

For more Brenda Photo Challenge, go here.

Until next time, God bless.

PS:  The window needs a cleaning, but I do not particular relish the idea of rummaging around and in the huge southern jasmine to get to the window.  The jasmine blocks the setting sun and I have no desire to trim it up.  lol

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Straight Out of the Camera-Sunday

It's Straight Out of the Camera Sunday again.  There are two rules:  1)  photo must be taken by you, and 2) no tweaking but cropping is allowed.

My camera was busy when I made a trip to The Natural Gardener this week.

For more SOOC, go here.

Until next time, God bless.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Plant Protection for Nippy Springs

The Natural Gardner had wire cages wrapped in a frost protection material for an early start on plants that cannot take cold weather.  The material looked like this found at Gardener's Supply.

Any wire fence will do, but this is probably wire used when pouring concrete.

This is one type of clip which can probably be found wherever fencing materials are sold.  Some cages had only one layer, others two and three layers.

In this instance bamboo polls were used with heavy clips.

Just thought I'd pass along some ideas for you  in the north country.   :D  In fact, I'm will have this fabric on hand next year when I plant the bare-root strawberries.  I only have to lose 40 plants to a hard freeze one time to learn what to do the next year!  Our planting guide said to do the bare-root strawberries in late January or early February.  The two-week hard freeze in February was unusual for us in Central Texas and I just didn't think to cover the strawberries.  Duh.

Until next time, God bless.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inexpensive Garden Structures

When I'm looking for ideas to solve garden problems, I make a trip to The Natural Gardner in Austin after spending some time seeing what's available on the Net. 

I've been wanting to find a way to shade some of the veggies and really liked this structure which consists of U-posts, bamboo, and twine.   I have some old T-posts which should do just fine and the most expensive item is the shade cloth.  Our winters are pretty mild and can easily see how this can be converted into a winter greenhouse with a different covering. 

I took a lot of pictures so there would be no questions when constructing it.  I've already started collecting materials for this project which will be done in the little garden. 

U-post and bamboo supports are in the middle.

The bamboo vertical supports go all the way to the ground.

This hoop house is constructed with rebar stakes and pvc pipe and ready for a shade cloth.  I found 2' pre-cut rebar stakes at The Home Depot. 

This is a little different hoop house with the pvc joint dry fitted so it can be moved around and/or expanded.

My tomato cages fell over last year from the weight of the tomatoes and plant growth.  I found this set up to be an easy solution but would try using one T-post instead of two.

Ok, the secret is out....The Natural Gardner is my garden guru.  :D  Hope you can use an idea or two.
Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Progress in the Big Garden

While there are still veggies to go into the big garden, it is coming along nicely.

I made a slight error when the 6 yards of a mixture of rose magic and compost was delivered.  I had it put in the middle of the garden area thinking it would be easier to spread from a central location.   We spread 6 yards of compost on the garden last year and really only needed to add about 3-4 inches of the combined soil/compost to each row.  More than half of this year's load sits in the middle of the garden blocking 4 rows.  We laid down a big piece of black plastic and are moving the soil to the edge of the fenced area.  Sometimes my logic is not the best.  You live and learn.

I'm very excited about the new potatoes because it looks like each piece planted is on its way.

Look at how lush the leaves are.

I may have lost the bare-root strawberries, but the archicoke bare-root crown is doing very well.

Not one seed has been planted in this bed, but something is growing here.  I'm thinking it is either watermelon or cantaloupe.  If you will recall, a critter was eating the heart out of every cantaloupe in this garden and I left some watermelons in this area at the end of the season.  Look close at the disturbed soil to the side  - I had a visitor last night.  I removed the landscape timbers under the gates since we were coming and going into this garden to weed, spread dirt, plant, and water.  The timbers were replaced this morning.

I planted two peach trees in this garden.  I was afraid that I had waited too long before getting this one in the ground.  I'm happy to report that both peach trees are leafing out and this one even has a few flower buds!  It is recommended that a peach tree has a full two-years growth before allowing peaches to develop.  So, it'll be 2014 before we pick peaches from this tree.

I couldn't find cow peas (black-eyed peas) in the seeds section at Home Depot, Tractor Supply or H.E.B.   I decided to just use some dried peas from the grocery store.  So far out of the three 20 foot rows planted, there is one sprouting pea.  lol  I've since found a couple of packets which are on standby if these do not grow.  You can't plant a garden in Texas without some black-eyed peas.  :D   Next, I'm going to try planting pinto beans from those you can pick up at the grocery store.

This is the biggest of the three asparagus planted last month.   Planting asparagus was easier than I thought and will pick up some more crowns next year.  Petunias are in the background.

The echinecea (coneflower) is very hardy.  The dump truck delivering the soil ran over two of the three plants, yet all are coming up.  I do not know of anything special that coneflowers do for veggies, but they do attract pollinators.  And, when all danger of frost is over, I'll plant nastursiums, sunflowers, marigold, zinnias and a variety of other benefical flowers.        

The radishes are sprouting.  I do not like radishes but read where they are a garden workhorse because it is thought that radishes may deter squash borers.  In addition, radishes deter leaf miners, the cucumber beetles,  corn borers, and rust flies. Plant radish every where except near cabbage, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and turnips.

The zuchinni squash is coming nicely, although the critter visitor last night tore up several squash plants.  I stuck them back in the ground.

Check out this hole the critter dug last night!  The ground is too soft for a good track imprint but it left a trail as if it had a tail.  So, I'm thinking it was an armadillo.  I think I have figured out how to mount the wildlife camera on something other than the fence around the perimeter.  I'm going to try to mount it on the wheel barrow just above the wheel, move it near the area that the critter found so interesting last night.  The fence is just too far away to get a good photo of a small critter.  The landscape timbers are now place under the gates and there is about 80 feet left at the fence on which to add chicken wire to the bottom.  

Soon I'll be interplanting corn, green beans for nitrogen replacement in the soil, and sunflowers which hopefully will attact various catepillars and worms away from the corn.  Last year's corn crop was fed to the cows.  Hopefully, this year's corn crop will be served at my table.

Until next time, God bless.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Back! And Plus Garden Stuff

After 3+ hours and 3 telephone calls to Dell, I received the replacement keyboard.  I was assured on the first two telephone calls to Dell that the keyboard was on its way.  The keyboard was not even ordered until the third phone call on Friday!  It is not the same keyboard that was ordered for the computer, namely it is the cheapest available and not back lit.  However, at this moment, I'm thrilled to be able to type words and spaces instead of copying and pasting each letter and space.  :D  But, I will give long consideration before purchasing an extended warranty that supposedly replaces the equipment. 

Enough with the complaints and on to a much happier subject. Here are some photos of the little garden's progress.

White geraniums function as a toxic, trap crop for the Japanese beetle.  It is suggested that the white geranium be planted about 20 feet from the garden to draw the beetles to it.  Aren't the flowers lovely with the pink anthers?

Red spider mites and cabbage worms steer clear of all geraniums.  Plant geraniums close to corn, grapes and cabbage.  This geranium is planted in the herb garden but will pick up one or two more when the corn is planted which should be by the end of this week or the first of the next -- got to consult the Farmer's Almanac to see which days are good for planting seeds that produce above ground.  :D

This is the African marigold which reseeded from last year's.  I had quite a few African marigolds in the garden last year, but this is the only one I've found so far.  I'm just hoping that I didn't pull up the seedlings thinking they were weeds. 

Petunias attract the asparagus beetle, leaf hoppers, and some aphids away from your veggies.  In fact, petunias are good to plant throughout your garden.  I bought a flat containing 24 petunias and have 5 left to plant. 

The yarrow is coming up nicely in the herb garden.  I will probably transplant some of it in both the little and the big gardens because yarrow attracts predatory wasps and lady bugs.  I don't know if it is an old wives tale but was told to use a yarrow poultice on a brown recluse spider bite.  Should I ever be bitten by one, not only will I rush to the nearest doctor but will apply yarrow poultices.  I believe in covering all bases.

Four weeks ago the garlic chives were frozen to death or so I thought.  This is what it looks like today.

Two years ago I bought a couple of basil plants for my herb garden.  I haven't needed to buy any since as it reseeds itself.  I plan to transplant a few of these close to tomatoes, asparagus and petunias.  Basil deters thrips in addition to improving the taste of tomatoes. 

My first attempt at growing mesclun greens which makes for a delicious addition in salads.

Finally, a strawberry is appearing.  I've not had any success with strawberries this year in that I planted 30 bare root plants which died during our two-week freeze in February.  I bought 10 more and they never put out one green leaf.  As a measure of desperation, I bought a container with six strawberry plants.  I want to separate and transplant to the ground but am afraid they will die.  For the record, I bought a strawberry kit and jar last year.  They never sprouted a leaf.  I may be jinxed when it comes to strawberries but have not quit trying.  I dearly love strawberries!  I shall overcome.  :D

Hot peppers, jalapeno in this case, are a good companion to tomatoes.  We'll see since I transplanted four near the tomatoes that went into the ground yesterday.

I bought 7 tomatoes plants.  I read somewhere to plant tomatoes much deeper than where the soil meets the stem.  I tore off the bottom leaves and buried about 1/2 of the stem.  It is said that the main stem gets stronger and, of course, the roots are much deeper.  As I said, 7 were planted.  This morning I am one less; I suspect Maggie jumped into the little garden sometime last night on one of her trips out to patrol the premises or after she went out this morning.  UGH!  I'll be buying a couple more plants. 

I think I know how Maggie is getting into the little garden; but, naturally, the wildlife camera was not turned on.  I'm thinking she jumps into the herb garden and then using that additional height to leap over the 4' fence on the little garden's side.  I've been waiting since January for rain to enlarge the little garden and enclose the herb garden by pounding in more T-posts on which to attach 5' horse wire.  It hasn't rained more than a few drops since January 15 and the ground is like concrete. 

Whew!  This is a long entry, but I've been out of a keyboard since last Monday and had a lot stored up to say.  lol  For the record, though, as the week progressed, I got much better at picking out single letters and numbers with the mouse to copy and paste.  I couldn't stay silent for long. 

Until next time, God bless.