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Just wanted to keep you updated with why I'm not around these parts very much lately. Due to financial strains, both my DH and I have had to take on second jobs, which for me means no more time here at night, which was when I was catching up with the Introductions and most of the other forums. I tend to have about ten minutes in the morning to breeze through, although my part-time second job was almost full-time for my first month, as they were shorthanded and I had experience. Working 70 hours a week just didn't leave any energy or time for much else!
So, please don't think I've been avoiding GG for any other reason. I love this place, and have really enjoyed these past couple of days (on vacation from the full-time primary job this week), catching up with what's been going on since April.
Thanks, and see ya 'round the bean patch,
Let me tell you, this whole growing a cactus idea was extremely foreign to me at first, but it's actually turning out to be a pretty cool little experiment. It's definitely not for the impatient, or those who need instant gratification, as the seeds sure do take their own sweet time germinating, but to see the little form slowly rise from the soil makes it all worth the waiting! I have never seen cactus grow from the start, all I've seen were either growing naturally in Arizona (think 20' tall saguaros) or already established in those cute little planters every nursery has up here in the winter.
As of today we still only have one that's actually broken the soil, but there are another couple of tell-tale bumps beneath the soil, so I'm thinking by the end of this coming weekend we may have some additions to the cactus family. I've not yet had the chance to do much online research about what these seedlings look like and how to distinguish the different cacti apart while they're still small, but that's definitely on my to do list...
And so we continue to wait, and watch............ :)
Lookit what we found in the cactus seed flat tonight!
There's a cactus growing in my basement.... and it's actually pretty darned cute.
At least I think so.... :) :)
OK, so I didn't pay close enough attention in Latin class back in High School...
Here is what the final product of almost an hour's worth of work with a tweezers ends up looking like. Aren't they cute? I know, we're the proud parents of......drum roll please.........three flats of dirt! :)
And so the waiting part begins, always the hardest. Here's what the rest of the seed flats look like, we started a lot of peppers this year, not so many tomatoes as there were so many volunteers last year, I had to weed them out! Now watch, not a single one will reappear, wouldn't that just fit?
Every day when one of us gets home, whomever is first gets to take a cautious peek under the domes for results. Don't know when the cactus will come up, their germination window is the size of Alaska, 7-57 days, for pete's sake...
As of tonight, the garlic seeds have won the race, there's a tiny sprout up in their section that looks to be true to garlic form...not sure if they're garlic seeds, or maybe just garlic chive seeds, as the person who gave them to me got them from her next door neighbor last fall. This spring, she's gone, moved away sometime over the winter...At least we got the seeds! :)
Biggest problem is the moisture in one of the larger flats, I've noticed there's the start of mold fuzz on the top of the soil, so I slid the cover off ever so slightly, hope that takes care of it. I also think the dryer being on all day Sunday was a bit too much of a good thing!
OK, updates as events warrant!
Christopher and I headed out to a couple of the local gardening supply stores to see what they had in the way of seeds. We found the usual suspects (beans, corn, peas, maters, peppers, melons, etc.) but we also found cactus seeds! I have never even owned a cactus, much less tried growing one from from seed. The packet gave pretty basic planting instructions, and since there are supposed to be 10 kinds of cacti in the envelope, we shall see what sprouts forth. Listed varieties are: saguaro, hedgehog, fishook barrel, dollar prickly pear, desert prickly pear, Christmas cholla, cane cholla, Santa Rita prickly pear, and cardo'n. I'll have to look up pictures of most of those, as the saguaro and prickly pear are about the only ones I've even heard of.
I also started the usual, peppers (lots this year, Christopher's been eating them raw like candy) and tomatoes. Only planted one variety of maters, as we've had so many volunteers in years past I had to weed them out! They produced, as well, which I've heard isn't usual. I'm now debating whether or not to have an indoor herb garden, with basil, oregano, chives, mint, maybe cilantro. Have all the seeds, even started mint today, but I'm not sure I'd be able to keep up with both gardens come summertime.
Now all I need to do is figure out how to put pictures into my blogs, as one is worth a thousand words, eh? 'Til then, look at my Photos, there's an album named "New Beginnings."
Cheers, and keep on digging!
Today, for one of the last times this year, I played in the dirt. Put the chives in the herb garden, and planted the peach pits next to 'em so I don't forget where they are next spring...("note to self, don't plant tomatoes next to the herb garden, that's where you started the peach pits!") Other bulbs are waiting to get their pictures taken so Ron can ID them for me. Stupid bag didn't come with an ID key, just a bunch of bulbs!
Not too much to do, but I did manage to bring some herbs inside so we can have fresh all winter. Kept forgetting to do it previously, and had to then either wait 'til spring for it to come back, or worse still, had to go buy another one! There's English Thyme, Greek Oregano, and Rosemary now perched on my breakfast bar, awaiting their final move to the sill above the kitchen sink. I'm going to leave them be where they are now for a week so they don't get too shocky.
Also split up the African Violet baby my Mom gave me, which turned out to be twins, evidently. They're now recuperating in the South window. Seem to be handling it OK, but they've only been split for about 5 hours.
Nothing much else here, for now.
I finally got up the nerve on Wednesday to stop at the farm I drive past at least twice a day and leave a note on the door asking if they'd mind some help with their apple trees. A little history first. When I was growing up, a family friend worked for the University Extension, and was an expert at apple trees and their hybrids. Clyde eventually got us set up with a mini-orchard, four trees in our backyard. They were all unusual varieties (well, they were back in the 80s, now you can find these anywhere), and I developed a love of the growing process.
Fast forward 20 years...I sell and deliver auto paint to the body shops in Dane County, which means about 125 miles a day just going in circles. There are many places I pass by quite often, and love to see what's going on, especially in terms of gardening adventures. This particular farm had changed hands over the past couple of years, and this summer I noticed the five apple trees in front of the barn weren't getting pruned as they had been. As summer turned into fall, the tree became so loaded with fruit that it lost a branch, which then hung there without being trimmed or even picked up. I was concerned. And a little bit nosy, too.
So I tucked a note in the door of the farmhouse just saying if they needed someone to harvest some of the apples, I would be happy to relieve them of that chore. Twenty minutes later, my cell phone chimed and it was the son of the farm's owner, apologizing for not getting back to me earlier (!) but he had to check with his folks to make sure it would be OK for me to harvest the apples, as he was renting the farm from them.
Thursday, my son and I went down to the farm (only about 5 miles south of where we live) and harvested as many apples as we could reach, about 40 lbs...first thing I did was slice into one, as I had no clue what type of apple they were, other than that they've clearly got some golden delicious somewhere, as they haven't blushed one bit, and we've had two hard frosts already. These apples are very sweet and firm, and definitely taste like goldens, but they are also HUGE! (See pictures in Kitchen Adventures Photo album)
The oddest thing about this whole adventure is that the owner's son's name is Scott, same as my DH. Odder still is that I've adopted another apple tree (this one's only a block away), and it's owners name is also Scott. What are the chances of that?
Free applesauce will taste great 'round about February, when the snow is all crusty and grey, and we're all just itching to dig in some sort of dirt! Now I've officially got three batches, as we have two apple trees right here on our property...Going to have to reorganize the deep freeze, again. :)
So now it's finally quit raining for more than 4 hours, and we can all start to dry out. Went to let the dog out in the backyard this morning, and sank into the grass by a good couple of inches!! Guess the mowing will have to wait 'til tomorrow, or we'll lose the mower. :) My MIL is coming over this afternoon and is bringing plants from her yard that can't take the sun... she lost a tree last year, and had hostas and a blue geranium underneath. So I'm inheriting some really beautiful plants! The ground is so saturated, all we'll have to do is set the plants on top and they'll probably just plant themselves.
Also have to move the rhododendron and azaleas that are currently in full all day sun on the front of the house, they've got a spot reserved down in the front perennial bed. This is a long-overdue project, but DH and I were having differences of opinion as to whether or not they needed moving. Now that MIL has come along with "professional advice" from the local greenhouse, maybe now they'll get moved! Thank You, MIL...
Gotta take before and after pictures of the projects, will try to get 'em posted tonight or tomorrow AM. Thanks for checking in, updates as events warrant!
Really didn't want to go to work today, but once you're there, it's hard to call in sick!! We had almost 6 inches of rain over the weekend, that's a rough estimate because we were out of town Saturday night and the 3+" raingauge was overflowing when I checked it Sunday morning...
The red sunflowers in front of the house are really feeling the brunt of the rain, it's got them so heavy they can't hold up their heads anymore. For only two plants, there certainly are a lot of flowers! The sunflowers I'm familiar with produce only one seed head for each plant, one of ours had 15 last count. Mind you, they aren't large like the yellow variety.
Otherwise, the rain seems to have washed off the JBs (Japanese Beetles for the uninitiated), so the green beans may make a last comeback. Peach tree is a watch and wait, they aren't due 'til Sept. 8th (son's birthday), and if there are any apples left on the tree, they are due the week before. Rain and wind has taken down about 1/2 of the fruit, I've given up trying to get 'em before the chippies do! Bon Apetit, mes amies!
OK, so is this some kind of test? First the Japanese Beetles, then the near-drought, followed by enough rain to make me wanna trade in the F-150 for a canoe, NOW we've got the mother of all mosquito invasions going on!!! Even the poor dog got bitten, right on his rump. Talk about uncomfortable... :(
I've found that I either have to run (not stroll) with the dog, which is pretty hard in the humidity, or we just bolt to the closest fire hydrant. Most bug sprays make me feel like I've got a layer of hairspray (think AquaNet) on my skin, but now I see commercials for a new kind that's s'posed to feel powdery, or so they say... haven't found it at my local Pick N Save, but we don't have pine nuts, and don't get me started with Key Lime Juice. (The kid just points to the lime juice and says "that's all we got"...)
OK, so maybe I'm going a bit overboard with the enthusiasm. According to the rain thingy (can't spell gage!) , we got just over an inch, and I'm not sure when DH put it out last night, wasn't there yesterday. So...I'm thinking we finally got enough to make up for the drought we had going on for the past month. I really hope other areas around here that were worse off than us also got enough.
Yesterday when I saw the big blob of green coming (courtesy of our local TV website, Channel3000.com), I got the yard mowed (actually more like evening out the weed-tops!) and even did the trimming. Now everything can grow back like it was in June, hopefully. (translation: GREEN) Also got the ferns I "liberated" from an abandoned house into the ground, they'd been patiently waiting their turn in a 5 gal bucket since last weekend
I haven't been outside yet today to inspect "the grounds"...gardens on all four sides of the house means it's usually a tour rather than a casual glance out the window. Sunflowers which were up to the roofline seem to still be standing, although the dill underneath has gone rather horizontal. Time for more pics, see ya later!
Back in March, I sent away for some seeds from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Extension. There were five sets of seeds, each with two varieties: Green beans (blue lake bush and espada), carrots (atomic red and rainbow), marigolds (safari mix and durango outback mix) , snow peas (goliath and oregon giant), and sunflowers (prado red and moulin rouge). There's a basic questionaire to fill out that asks which produced first, better, healthier, etc...your basic comparison questions.
Well. Now that everything has had a chance to establish and grow, the results (and produce) are in! Just this morning I picked over two pounds of beans from the espada bushes, and got three (yup, count 'em, three) beans from the six blue lake bushes. Although the Japanese beetles are still nibbling on them, the espada variety will not be deterred. Not a bug on the blue lake, so I'm hoping they're just starting off slowly. Maybe they'll produce after the espada have run their course? Moving on to the snow peas, I'd say the oregon giant have won out. They taste better and are much more tender. The plants withstood the winds without my having to restake 'em every morning. The carrots haven't matured yet, so that jury's still out. Both varieties are growing well so far. (I was s'posed to get a purple variety, but they mis-shipped a second set of rainbow instead)
Marigolds are the salvation of the garden this summer, as almost all other flowers succombed either to late snows (tulips and daffodils) or recent drought (dianthus and lilies). They've been blooming their fool heads off, even as those #&)@#&$ Japanese beetles munch on the flowers. Yup, you heard right, the beetles are eating the marigolds! Sunflowers did not fare well this year. There were three varieties planted, two red and a run-of-the-mill yellow just for contrast. I planted one of each in the front of the house, and until the wind/rain on July 3rd, all was well. The wind that night snapped the yellow and one of the reds right off at the base, no hope of propping them back up. As for the patch in the back yard, well let's just say that seedling sunflowers and an angry 12-year old mowing just don't mix. I think there is one of each left, but they also only get afternoon sun so they're about 5' behind the one out front.
So that's the report so far, I hope I can get some seeds from these so I can replant next year, all were good choices! If I get the chance today I'll get the photos up and organized with captions so you can see how it progressed. For two months of growth, they're really doing well. Check in Photos, I'll create a folder with the experiment pics (Trial Seeds). Thanks for visiting, and I promise no more griping about the lack of rain, I've got that out of my system, I think...
Well it's official. We got .75 inches of rain here Thursday night into Friday morning...or was it Wednesday night into Thursday morning? Who cares, it wasn't Monday or Friday, so I wasn't paying much attention! The weeds in the lawn said "why thank you for the drink," and the rest of the lawn gave me the finger. :) I've been watering only the veggie garden, containers and the fruit trees, think the grass got jealous.
So we're not on the drought list, yet. Up north, they got up to 5", so they're going to be OK, I hope. Tomorrow I'll mow just to even out the lawn, as the 7" tall weeds look really silly next to the almost flat, still rather brown grass.
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