Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Wide Angles

Here we are - at the end of July and I'm just now getting around to posting pictures that I took at the beginning of the month.  The nice thing about my cell phone is that I usually always have it with me (or is easy enough to get), and it automagically downloads all the photos I take to my pictures stash on google.  But it does not, regretfully, automagically make a blog post for me.  It will, however, make auto-albums whenever you go somewhere and take a bunch of photos; like it did for both my husband and me when we went on vacation to London (him) and Paris (both of us).  You can see those albums here and here

Every month, Heather at Xericstyle invites us to post long shots of our yards so we can see how they change over the seasons (and boy do mine change - it makes me realize that I need to add some statuary, or bird baths or something to my side yard).  I also feel compelled to point out that I took these photos after I did the mowing AND weed whacking (Shawn was in London, but the weed whacking almost never gets done because we don't have a long enough power cord - which is why my coworker loaned his to me).  It seems like this is about the ONLY thing I'm doing consistently.  I don't know why that is - I mean, I did make garden goals for the year, those included participating in monthly photos like Wide Angles, Bloom Day, and Foliage Follow Up.  I have been severely negligent in doing Bloom Day and Foliage Follow Up and I don't know why that is.  As mentioned above, this month I was in Paris over Bloom Day and Foliage Follow Up.  But I did take pictures of flowers on Bloom Day (we were at Versailles), and I did take some Foliage only photos on the 16th (we were at Parc Monceau).  We'll get to that when we get to that...maybe.

Anyhow - Wide Angles for July.

From the neighbor's yard:

Of the Berm Bed:

A view of walking up to the front door:

The Hell Strip:

The Rose Bed - after weeding:

Through the gate to the back yard:

A panoramic from by the rain barrel (and featuring our brush pile):

A panoramic from the back door (again, featuring the brush pile):

A closer view of the Grass Corner:

A view of the Veggie Gardens - or as best as I get get both of them in the photo from standing next to my Milkweeds:

And, as always - the Photo Sphere of the back yard

Thursday, June 26, 2014


So I didn't plan on having tomatoes this year...or maybe I planned on having 2 plants.  I somehow ended up with 6.  I blame Roberta. We went to the Sunshine Community Plant sale together (as we always do; and just like every other year we both are like "only 4 tomatoes" and end up with 8).  This year has been a very good tomato year (sorry Lori!).

This is a picture I took when the plants were all producing at the same time (except for the Early Girl).  In this photo, clockwise from upper left: Blue Berries, Cherokee Purple, Japanese Black Trifele (center), Dwarf Arctic Rose (bottom center), and Chico III.  I should point out that the very green looking Purple Cherokee is the size of both my fists together.  And I'm pretty sure I don't have carny hands.

As of today, I have harvested the following amounts from each plant:
Blue Berries: 180 (I'm very happy with this plant and recommend it)
Cherokee Purple: 13 (I like the taste of Black Krims a little better)
Japanese Black Trifele: 26 (I don't like this plant at all)
Dwarf Arctic Rose: 5 (a very short patio plant)
Chico III: 59 (but only 30 of the plants haven't had blossom end rot - do not grow in a grow box.  The fruit is okay, but the skins are very tough.  Most definitely a sauce tomato.)
Early Girl: 2 (meh, but I also planted this one very late - the most "traditional" taste of all of them)

Since the plants did so well at the beginning and are now looking extremely sad (especially the Trifele and Chico which are in the grow box and have horn worms), I don't necessarily feel bad about not keeping them alive through the summer. (Disclaimer - I say this now, but I notoriously can't say no to a plant which is TRYING to survive.)  I have decided that I'm going to try to take some cuttings of the Blue Berries and Cherokee Purple tomato plants and get those started now so I can plant them for a fall harvest - I even went and bought rooting hormone which is like totally crazy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sprouting Pineapple

After reading Claude's blog post about growing pineapple from the tops, I decided to give it a go.  The first pineapple I had didn't sprout any roots (I think it was actually "cored" even though it didn't look it), but the second did grow roots.  And, after leaving it in a jar of water for a month or so, I finally planted it in a pot.  This isn't the first time I've grown pineapple, only the first time I 'sprouted' it myself.  The last plant died during a freeze, so I'll have to be sure to not take any chances with this one...

Other plants that can be grown from parts include Celery (which I have blooming right now), Green Onions, and Cabbage

Ginger and Garlic can be grown really easily, though you'll have to give up some of your edible part to get them going (whereas with the linked plants, you're growing the part that you throw away, or it's a part that isn't that big of a deal if you don't eat.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Attracting Butterflies to the Garden

How to attract butterflies to the garden:
1.  Plant Gregg's Mistflower.  The mistflower I have in the back (i.e. full sun) is blooming right now.  The mistflower in the front (i.e. dappled sun) isn't blooming, nor will it until the fall.

2.  Plant Butterflyweed.  Oh my God.  This plant is ALWAYS COVERED in aphids.  But! Aphids eventually bring lady bugs and lacewings.  And, of course, it is the host plant for the monarchs, and they need as much help as they can get.

3. Plant Dill, Parsley, or Fennel (though I've found that Dill works the best).  When it blooms, it brings the bees, and until it does, it will host all those swallowtail caterpillars.  And eventually, you'll find a few of these on other plants (the swallowtails sure like to travel to a different location to pupate).

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 2014 Wide Angles

At the beginning of the month, we join Heather at Xeristyle to show off the wide-angle photos of our yards.

From the Neighbor's house.  I'm really digging the hell strip.  The purple flowers are Horsemint, the yellow ones are mostly santolina.  The white plants are Artemisia.  The cat is the neighbor's (Princess), and the man is my husband (trying to get out of the photo)

Closer in - this is the Berm Bed.  The Purple Puff balls are Peter's Purple Monarda, the yellow are Englemann's Daisy, the purple spikes are Horsemint, and you can just make out one of my heart-shaped cactus pads (in the front right), and the Echinacea in the back of the bed.  The tree in the planter by the door is my Avocado tree (grown from a pit) which came back from the roots after this winter.  I would have left it in it's original spot, except I planted a Desert Willow in that spot because I figured there was no way the avocado would survive the winter we had.

From my driveway.  The Mexican Feather Grass is starting to look a little iffy.

The hell strip.  The neighbor who lives next to us told me the other day that he really likes the hell strip right now.  We'll see how he feels when the horsemint stops blooming.

The Rose Bed and Far Hell Strip.  The yellow/orange flowers by the sad-looking Dr. Huey rose are Zexmenia, the white is Blackfoot Daisy,  I also have some Larkspur and Thyme in this bed.  The Hell Strip on this side of the driveway currently features Prairie Fleabane (white), Blanketflower (red/yellow), and Dahlberg Daisy (yellow).  It also has a bunch of weeds and seeding poppies.

And around to the side yard:
The Passionvine.  Which I have to occasionally pull off of the neighbor's gate.

Looking through the our giant brush pile.  My long-term plan is to fill in the low spot where the brush pile is, and maybe put in a hammock.  Because I'm now obsessed with hammocks.

The panoramic from the deck.  Also featuring the brush pile.

The panoramic from the other side of the deck.  Featuring the electric box.  Seriously, the grasses can't grow fast enough.  I've added a bird bath in that corner, I haven't seen any birds in it, but I have noticed water missing from it every once in a while, so it's probably being used.  Again, the purple poofs are Peter's Purple Monarda.

June 2014 World Photo

Friday, May 16, 2014

I've had it with these mother-effing snakes on this mother-effing plane! (okay, no, not really)

We've only had two snakes in our yard...actually, only one was in the yard.  The other was in the house.  I'm still not sure how that happened.  And Shawn was the one to find both of them (some unknown one [the outside one] and a brown ground snake [the house snake]).  So you can imagine my surprise when I more than doubled that number on Saturday. 

I was working on my grass bed area - pulling weeds, spreading mulch, you know, the usual.  I went and picked up a handful of leaves (since the area is also where we keep our pre-shredded leaves) and I felt something larger than the normal bugs and what have you leave my hand as I was picking up the leaves.  I just figured it was a lizard and went on my way moving some leaves and spreading mulch.  At one point, I realized that the leaf pile was moving...and it was something decidedly bigger than a lizard (insert graphic of Smaug waking from a long slumber under gold coins).  Then I noticed a tail of a snake heading under the newspapers I just laid out.

I did one of those Officer Brody moves - the move when he first sees Jaws after chumming the water, and walked back to the house to tell my husband that he had to come out and catch the snake I just found because I didn't want to step on it.

He followed me back out and I gingerly stepped over to where I last saw the snake, and then very carefully started lifting up the newspapers.  Only to not find the snake at all.  Shawn asked if I thought it was one of the venomous snakes (you would have figured he would have asked this BEFORE agreeing to come out to catch said snake - but also notice how he let me walk over to where I had just seen the snake before asking that question as well) - I said no, it had looked like some type of garden snake, like a racer of some kind.  Then he told me that it probably slithered away when I went into the house to get him and I should just continue on my merry way.

Needless to say, as soon as he left, I picked up another pile of leaves, and there was the snake.  It came out of it's hiding spot and immediately tried to get away from me as quickly as it could.  It was about a foot long, dark on top, lighter on the bottom, and most likely a Rough Earthsnake.  I'm at least assuming it was the same snake as before - but I suppose it could have been a different one.  I breathed a sigh of relief and went to pick up another pile of leaves.  Only to find a 3" snake who buried itself deeper in the leaf pile.

I pretty much decided to call it a day at that point. 

I'm happy there are snakes in my yard (and have even gone so far as to put out a saucer of water in the area for them), but at the same time, I think we need to work out some time-share deal so that I can go mess around in the area where the leaves are because I really need to start working on Bermuda Grass removal which is going to require moving the pile of leaves - and I really don't want the snakes to leave because I'm sure they're doing good things by just being around (or bad things if they're eating all my lizards).  At the very least it makes me feel like I'm doing something right in my yard.

But still! YAY! Snakes!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

As if I didn't already have enough to do

I apparently decided that I had a bunch of extra time on my hands, so I decided to start fostering kittens.

The shelter, as of this morning, had 71 kittens that required foster in their nursery (there are countless kittens already in foster).  We have two of them - Butter and Sugar.  Sugar already has someone who has decided to adopt her, but Butter is still looking for a home.

Kitten season, has finally started so if you want to do something good without the lifetime commitment of adoption, seriously think about kitten fostering.  The shelter has everything from mom cats with kittens, to single kittens who require a week or two of fostering before they can get fixed so they can be adopted.