Sunday, June 27, 2010

Gardener's Journal Entry 6/26/10

I was determined to get the tomatoes and the last of the sunflowers planted this weekend, so I could get all the areas mulched, because my enthusiasm is quickly melting away in the heat and humidity that is our North Carolina summer.  Besides, there are 3 thimble-sized tomatoes on the plants and the sunflowers are almost 3 feet tall and too top-heavy for the little starter pots.  As the ants have taken over the piles of wood mulch from the winter's downed trees, and I don't feel like trying to clear them out right now,   I bought 5 bags of mulch from Lowe's. It's probably not enough, but I can always get more. 

                                                                  (tiny tomato)

Since the days are so hot, planting needs to occur in the late afternoon to let the plants recover overnight. By 4pm Saturday the sky is mostly cloudy and the trees and house have blocked any sun from the front flowerbed. It's time.


Assemble upside-down hangers from Gardener's Supply Co. Think all manner of nasty things about them for 30 minutes. Insert the now 2-feet tall tomato plants and fill halfway with "lightweight" potting soil.

Decide to hang them on the double shepherd's crook before completely topping off the soil due to the weight.  Hang the first container and watch the pole lean dangerously to the left.

Prop the pole with a ladder and hurry to hang the second container.

Watch the pole lean dangerously forward. 

Place the iron teapot on the crossbar that is supposed to stablize the pole.  Watch the teapot tip.

Feel the sweat trickling down my back.

Go inside where it's cool and play Frontierville for 15 minutes.


Discuss options with Jack, who has nothing helpful to offer.

Return to the front yard and dig a big hole in the front flowerbed.

Amend the clay with the potting soil, bone meal, Rootblast from the garage and stir.

Plant tomato plant #1 in hole #1 and fill in.

Dig second hole.  Prepare to amend the soil here, also.

Pick up the bone meal bag, which is not bone meal, but fire ant killer and unsafe for use in vegetable beds.

Think a few more nasty thoughts as I unplant Tomato #1.

Plop down on the front porch steps with Tandi, to rest my back and survey the situation.


Reflect again on the fact that the pink zinnias I planted are clashing with the ruby celosia and offending my color sense.

Dig up zinnias and plant in Hole #1. Nobody's going to eat them unless it's the voles and maybe they'll get their just rewards.

Return ant killer to the garage and bring out the correct bag of bone meal.

Double check all bags and containers.
Amend the soil again and insert tomato plant #2 in the second hole.

 Dig hole #3, amend, and insert tomato plant #1.

Disassemble plant/birdfeeder hanger.

Water everything thoroughly with one hand while batting away bloodthirsty little mosquitoes with the other hand.

Put tools and soil supplements away.

Go into cool house and order Domino's for supper.


Pot up a bunch of the smaller sunflower plants to take to the unit picnic at our manager's house Sunday afternoon to beg people to take them give them away.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Warning bell

Just so you understand Halloween is not all I'm thinking about--it's 6 months 'til Christmas.

Have you started your shopping yet? Have you started your Christmas projects yet?

Me, neither.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Face Your Fears

Tandi has Issues.  I guess most rescue dogs do, but hers don't ever seem to resolve..

She's got the sweetest nature in the world, but she missed out on brain rations.

 She's very obsessive-compulsive and does not like changes in her environment. The first year the hostas grew flowers that hung over the sidewalk, she refused to go down the sidewalk and across the driveway to the potty place. Instead she gave them a very wide berth and barked until she was almost hoarse. It took forever to get her back into the house and away from the dreaded purple hosta flowers.

Halloween and Christmas, with their additions to the house and the yard, almost push her over the edge every year. She must be present to see me put it out to know that it's all okay, and she prefers to check everything out ahead of time.
That doesn't mean she approves of everything.

She doesn't like anyone unless they're on the other end of a leash. In those instances, she figures they've been pre-approved and it's okay to hang out with them--but not too close and only if Mom is there, too.  Delivery people are not to be tolerated under any circumstances, and the mailman, who loved my last dog, doesn't like delivering packages to my porch anymore.  He'll do his best to cram everything into the mailbox which sits at the end of the driveway, a good 12 feet beyond the range of Tandi's wireless fence collar. That doesn't stop her from alerting the neighborhood that Someone is Out of Place.

                                                         She is ever vigilant.

However, she is finding her own way to adapt to the constant changes of nature.  Remember the hostas that had the audacity to grow long flowers over her sidewalk? Right there at the corner of the house?
Well, they grew flowers again this year.  The nerve.

Tandi's new Take-Charge philosophy?

Face your fears...

....and bite their heads off.

Problem solved.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Okay, so you guys all know this is not a REAL casket, don't you? 

The gal I bought it from had it custom built and lined with heavy plastic to serve as a beer cooler for her husband's 40th birthday party.

Judging by the condition of the hinges, it was one heck of a party.

Just didn't want to offend anyone--especially if you haven't been reading my blog for more than a month.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Tisket, A Tasket...

...a Halloween Casket!


More later, but I had to get it off the truck before going to work tonight.  After all, a nurse showing up for her shift with a child-sized casket in the bed of her truck? I might lose a little credibility with my patients.

At the least, Security would be wanting to talk to me. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Halloween Theme

Yes, you read that right.  I have Halloween on the brain.

When the humidty is higher than the temperature, and I no longer care about planting stuff in the ground and shift into maintenance mode, and I start to dream of cooler days--the logical progression is Oct. 31.  Hey, some of my blogger friends work year-round on their props.  Me, I'm not that dedicated, nor have I reached their level of expertise.  I can only dream of what they do.

But I've been eyeing that bin of Halloween fabrics in my sewing room and remembering that I have never made myself a purple, black and orange wall-hanging or throw.  And when I make the rounds of yard sales, I'm looking for props.  On Craigslist last week, I found a gal who is moving to South America, where they don't celebrate Halloween (poor things), and is selling all of her indoor and outdoor decor--including a small casket.  We're supposed to meet up tomorrow and swap my green for her orange and black. I can't wait to see all of what she has--craigslist only allows you to post 4 pictures.

So this year's theme is Gypsy Curse. One of the items on my hope-to-find, borrow, or steal is a wall-less tent.  You kow the kind--only a roof.  I'm thinking draped black sheets for the walls, and maybe some deep blood red ones over that.  We already have a crystal ball, and I collect oil lamps.  Some Tarot cards, potion ingredients, scarves, baubles, maybe  an old book of spells, a Ouija board, and a ghostly path to the tent.

This should keep Tandi from barking her head off everytime the doorbell rings, too. Drives me nuts.

Now to rig up a portable TV for downtimes so I can watch my scary movies....

PS.  Jack has been warned--no illnesses in October EVER AGAIN!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Hit more yard sales Saturday and caught some good deals--and a not-so-good one. I usually don't go to second or third day sales, because they're always so picked over, but I happened up on one unexpectedly, and they were ready to bargain.
Several spools of ribbons

an old aluminum pitcher (that now holds my Crystal Light Raspberry Lemonade)

an aluminum folding chair and 2 blue ceramic flower pots with attached saucers (no picture)
a little milk glass vase and a dish exactly like the set I have boxed away in the garage:

I may stick this one in the china cabinet, or use it somewhere else, but I am not unpacking that set to stick this one in it.  I love the pattern, but it's rimmed in gold, making it unsuitable for the microwave.  Also, the edge is very wide, which makes the actual eating surface small--and that's what Jack doesn't like about my milkglass dishes and why we don't use them anymore either.

The laser beam thingy came from a community sale, as did this folding recliner:

And that's the lousy deal.

Ace Hardware had these (or similar) folding recliners on sale this weekend for $30.00, and I had toyed with the idea of getting one for the deck.  Then I found this one at a yard sale for $20.00.  I lay back in it to test it out, and found it pretty comfortable, and offered the lady $15.00 for it, which she took.  Today I decided to lie in it for 20 minutes to get a little sun on my snail-belly white legs. 

And I toppled backwards.

I don't know if this is one from Ace or a cheapie from the dollar store, as I don't see a brand name, but it sure didn't hold up to lying down.  I wish it had tilted over at the yard sale.  I certainly wouldn't have bought it had I known it was unbalanced.  So now I make sure to back it up to the deck bench if I want to lie back in it. (And yes, those are the upside down tomatoes that haven't made it into their hangers yet.  I'm working on it, I swear.)

Oh, and I forgot to take a picture of the iron teapot I found at another sale.  It's really old and heavy, and will look so cute in the garden with flowers planted in it.

There's also been a bit of sewing going on here.  First, I pulled out one of those tiny little patterns from Pieced Tree and used up a few (very few) scraps for a little table topper for the living room:

I machine quilted in the ditch between all the rows and the outline of the X, but free-hand quilted flowers in the four triangles. If you click on the picture, I think you might can see them.
The patterns are cute, but skimpy on the directions, so you need to have more assembly experience than I did, as I've never used setting triangles before.  There must be an easier way than what I did; I'll need to pull out some books and read the sections on setting triangles.

And I finished a UFO that's been lying around for several years.

Jack had asked for a fabric chessboard and I had put this one together.  I had plans for a fancier border, with maybe some appliqued dragons I bought from somewhere way back, but he didn't want borders on it.  After a machine quilting class, I decided to use a wavy line pattern that forms figure 8s, but I didn't like how it looked, so picked every stitch out.  And there it sat, waiting for me to quilt it again.  I finally decided to heck with it and just did a diagonal grid pattern and quickly bound it, just to get it over with. It might not be fancy, but it's done. And done is good.

Now I'm working on what was to be a set of placemats for DD made from  fabric I bought back in November, I think. 

 I thought it would look nice with her dishes, but it might have been a little busy.

Anyway, I showed them to her while she was here for Memorial Day, and she liked the fabric, but said she's going with the red in the plates and plans to ask her landlord if she is allowed to paint her dining room red, so she really can't use them.

Oh.  Okay.

Well, they are all 4 quilted now and just waiting for the binding, which will be the same fabric as the final border, if I have enough, and I think I do. What happens to them then, I don't know.  They don't go with my dishes at all.  Maybe I'll try to finish the binding at work and someone will see them and want them. The operative word here is finish. The UFO list is quite long enough, thank you. 

 For several days now, we haven't heard anything from the houseguest.  I figured he'd been traumatized by his unplanned visit into the house and had taken off for parts unknown. Tonight, as I was transferring some clothes to the dryer, I thought about him and looked around for evidence.  Above the dryer, on the top shelf, is a box with an artificial Christmas wreath in it.  I didn't tape the box shut after the holidays, just stood it up on its end.  A closer look revealed something brown sticking up out of it. I lifted it off the shelf, and out flew our little bird.  Only he's a she, and she has built a next in the box on top of the wreath.  I didn't see how she could have sat on top of it and us not see her, but as she flew around the garage, I took another look and what I was seeing sticking out of it is the roof of her nest, and inside looks to be 3 little eggs.  As soon as I realized what I was seeing, I stuck the box back on the shelf and turned out the lights.  One dim light stays on for about 5 minutes after the garage door is lowered, so hopefully she found her way back to the nest and will sit on those eggs again. 

I still think she is a Carolina wren, especially after viewing some of the photographs of their nests here:
 and this picture and article:

As I see it, we're soon going to need to leave the garage door at least partway up all the time, and when the fledglings (if they hatch) get ready to make the leap, we'll have to open the door all the way. 

Looks like we're going to be godparents.  8^)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


No pictures today, but maybe this weekend when I'm off. Been doing some sewing, finishing up some old UFOs, and thinking of ways to use some orphan blocks.  Mostly, I've been working in the yard.

The weather has been lovely, a couple of muggy days, but mostly sunny, with occasional afternoon showers, and gentle breezes.  I planted petunias in the trike basket, but haven't found wicker baskets for it yet.  Everything is growing beautifully, and I made another tipsy pot tower for that area by the front walk.

The sunflowers are at least a foot tall now, and need to be transplanted to the ground.  I got a little carried away and planted another whole batch of them.  Heaven knows where I'm going to plant these!  Maybe I'll just give them away. 

And I have to get the upside-down tomatoes in their planters this weekend--they've almost tripled in size and will have blooms soon. There's nothing better than a ripe tomato, warm from the garden, er,  the hanger.

For about the last two weeks, a bird has been overnighting in the garage.  We have a pet door that leads from the house to the garage, so we raise the garage door about 3 feet so Tandi can go in and out all she wants.  At night, we lower the door again.  One afternoon I was transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, and a bird flew into the garage and landed on the spotlight above the appliances.  I think it was a Carolina wren, but didn't get a really good look at him. I asked if he was lost, and my voice must have startled him because out he flew again. A couple of mornings later, I opened the garage door, only to see a bird fly out of the garage.

Last week, we all slept in, and by 9 am, had not opened the garage door.   Since I feed the birds all winter, it's not unusual for them to hang around and sing to us in the summer, but I heard a particularly loud chirping close by.  I opened the door into the garage, and sure enough, our little songbird was in there, asking to be let out.  Before I could raise the door, the bird flew past my head into the house. He headed for the sidelight by the front door and hit it, then flew into the kitchen and landed in the pantry.  Tandi got all excited and that scared the little guy even more.  I propped open the front door and went around closing all the interior doors, hoping to keep him out of the harder to reach places.  Finally he made hs way out the front door.

Since I haven't seen or heard from him after that morning, I assumed he was properly frightened and wouldn't get locked in the garage anymore.  But Jack told me the last 3 mornings, he's heard the little guy chirping in the garage, so he raises the door and lets him out.  And I have been briefly searching the garage before lowering the door at night, but haven't seen him.  I don't know where he's sleeping, but as there are no other sounds, I'm assuming there is no nest and no baby birds in there.  I'll probably find droppings on the Christmas bins or something, but so far, his bed is a secret. He must think he's hit the jackpot--a whole big birdhouse just for him. Or maybe he's been sent on a reconnaissance mission by the other birds to find the bin of birdseed I have stored in there.

Maybe I should refill the feeders before they send in the crows.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tipsy Tower

I forgot to link to the tutorial for the Tipsy Pots in my last post, so here you go:

She has lots of fun projects on her site--check out the glassware totems and the bowling ball crafts!  I have an iron plant stand I picked up at a yard sale that I think would be perfect with a painted bowling ball in it, and surely I can find old balls at a thrift store.

When I planted my tower, I used a 12" pot for the bottom, then three 10" pots, then an 8" pot for the top.  I estimated the distance I pounded the rebar into the ground, but next time I will mark off the 2 feet she recommends.  Then I threaded the pots onto the rebar and pounded a little farther.  Gil asked if it was sturdy.  I noticed it did sway slightly when I bumped it the first time, but pounding the extra length into the ground reduced that considerably.  And the weight of the pots with the soil in it made a difference, too.

About the rebar:  I don't keep the stuff just laying around, so I asked Lowe's if they had any.  They sold it in 1', 2', 4', and 10' lengths. Of course, I needed a 5 1/2" to 6' length.  They don't cut rebar and I wasn't going to spend hours sawing it with a hacksaw.  A bit of persistence on my part elicited some answers about where to get rebar cut (jiminy, guys, as much money as I've spent at Lowe's, you should be falling all over yourselves to help me out here!)

Not far from where I work is a precast concrete plant, where they have the huge drains and posts and all needed for industrial construction.  They have a tool that just snaps that iron bar in no time.  When I called, they told me they had 20' lengths, charged 50 cents/cut, and yes, they cut for private customers.  I asked for two 66" (5.5 ft) lengths, after mentally adding the upright heights of the pot plus the amount in the ground.  I could have even done 6 foot lengths with these pots. They had it cut and waiting when I got there, and it was only $7.00.  Heck, the potting soil cost more than that!  Besides, and this I didn't expect, they loaded up the 9ft piece that was left.  Apparently I bought the whole thing; they don't sell pieces.  Next year, I'll put the 9' post next to the porch, pounding 3 feet into the ground for support, as I can water the top pots easily from the porch.

I had more difficulty choosing plants to put in the pots than anything else. The plants needed to all tolerate full sun, have trailing habits, similar watering needs, and I preferred flowers, though I did buy one foliage plant, and one of the plants is a mounding plant (top pot). I forgot to check growth rates, and ended up with two that are medium growers, and 3 fast growers.  Fortunately, they all seem to be annuals, though one might be a perennial. It's a little complicated, keeping all that straight in this old head. Amazing that I am allowed to take care of human lives, isn't it?

Listing what went in each pot would be boring, so I won't inflict that on  you.  But I do have a gardening journal of sorts, and I kept all the little plant markers so I can  record their watering and feeding needs, and which one will do well and which not to re-use next year. And here is what each pot looks like right now:

                                                                         Bottom (5th)  pot

                                                                                  4th pot
3rd pot
2nd pot

                                                                               top pot

Wouldn't this be perfect for owners of townhomes or apartments?  Lots of color for small spots.
The pots would be pretty painted, too, and you could just have vines or trailing plants without worrying about bloom times.

Anyway, if you decide to put one or five of these things up, be sure and take pictures--I'd love to see what  yours looks like!


How was your weekend?  Did you do anything special?  DD decided she needed a break, so she took an extra day off and drove down Fri. night to spend some time with her old parents. She brought her chihuahua/terrier/whatever mix, Isabella, and Tandi and Bella played hard together.  All Tandi has done today is sleep.  It's rough turning 6 and having to deal with a 3-year old "cousin", you know.

This is the weekend of the annual Garden Jubilee in the city next door.  They shut down Main Street for several blocks and vendors line the street.  In an attempt to placate  folks who don't want to have to park and walk so far, they didn't shut down enough streets for all the vendors, so when the street part ran out, the sidewalks were nearly impassible.  DD stopped to look at a necklace and nearly got run over by a mom with a stroller. I felt badly for the sidewalk vendors, but after one block of this, DD and I abandoned that end of the Jubilee and headed back for the wider areas. 

She bought 2 Venus fly traps to put in her office, as her building has an inner courtyard with vegetation, and insects are making their way into the offices.  Since she is also a walking banquet for mosquitoes, she bought a plant (I don't remember its name) that has multiple pitchers that lure mosquitoes to lay their eggs, and then the plant digests them and the baby blood-suckers never develop. This one she's going to hang from the tree by her front door, as it likes filtered sunlight, and that's where her mini-garden is. The gal travels with insect repellent and Benadryl.

Lowe's was the main sponsor, and they had a landscaper from Southern Living giving small lectures both Sat. and Sun.  I wish I'd taken more pictures, but most of the ones I took were to remind us where we wanted to visit a second time, and they weren't good quality.  We lingered over some lovely wreaths, and some beautiful spinners--one with a holographic hummingbird whose wings fluttered as the disc spun in the wind. Luckily they're local, so I might check out their shop later in the season.  There was a man from north Alabama with wonderful benches and chairs made from old boards.  Some of the chairs had cutout seats for planters, and some benches with high backs had hinged seats for storage.  I was this close to buying one, but then I came upon something I knew I'd kick myself if I didn't buy it.  I did get the man's business card, though, and am hoping maybe he'll be back for Belle Chere in July, or the Apple Festival in September.

So what could I not live without?

Is this not adorable?  The baskets didn't come with it, and may not stay if I can find something I like better, but they're okay for now. The celosia most likely won't stay there; I just needed something to give me an idea of what would work in that area. Does anyone have suggestions for what to put in the baskets?  I'm thinking some trailing flowers or vines for the upper baskets, and something mounding or maybe tall in the back basket, but am open to suggestions.

I put it in the "rose bed" for now, because that's where it is most easily seen.  I also took the Dusty Millers out of the rose bed and replanted them in a couple of different areas, and put the chives with the roses.  Odd scents together, maybe, but supposedly aphids hate them.  The Dusty Millers were supposed to be annuals, but they came back this year, and the lavender has grown so much, the DMs were getting crowded out. There was a gardening show I watched once, where this 11-year-old boy had a beautiful garden that he had created.  What I remember from the show is one piece of advice he gave: "If something is not working where you've put it, don't be afraid to move it.  It's likely going to die or struggle to live if you don't, and if it doesn't like the new place, move it again. It's only a plant." Wise words from an experienced gardener. 

I saw an iron arch I'd love to place between those roses someday, with stepping stones leading into the yard.  I want several flower beds, and paths leading between them, but all that will occur over several years.  Still, you have to start somewhere, and besides, can you see an arch all decorated up for Halloween?  Leading into a graveyard or haunted garden, with bare vines hanging down and bare rosebushes, and various statuaries, with  paths beckoning you to venture just a little farther in.  And maybe an abandoned tricycle, with dead flowers, or better still, a head in the basket, could be around one of those little turns.

Hey, it's only 5 months til Halloween! I've gotta get started soon. And the more items that can do double duty, the less I have to store.

Here's something I picked up for $5.00:

It stands about 2.5 feet tall when it's in the ground, and right now I have it in that narrow rocky area between the sidewalk and the house, where nothing is planted. 

(Old picture from last month)

It shows up well against the blank wall of the house, but I have finally figured out what to do with that strip, and this is perfect with my idea, which I will explain a little later.

Yesterday was spent working in the yard, pulling weeds, moving plants, planting celosia around the mailbox, planting a big pot with bunches of coleus, and I put a single jalapeno plant in a pot near the front sidewalk. No vegetable garden this year, but I do have upside-down tomatoes I need to put in their containers this week
Here was my big project for the weekend:
Please excuse the newspaper--I haven't mulched yet.  But isn't that fun? A second one of these is the project I think will fit well in the narrow strip by the front walk, and with the curvy ladybug "trail", will be quite an eye-catcher against the blank white wall of the house. I may move that tall phlox you see at the front left of the Tipsy Pot Tower, because it will grow to be nearly 4 feet tall, and that will partially occlude the tower.  Best to move it now before it gets too settled in its current spot. Next year I will put a taller tower in, because I can water upper pots from the porch, and it can be seen better from the street, but I will keep a shorter one next to the sidewalk.

There was so much more I needed to accomplish, but I was out there for almost 7 hours and the back just wouldn't take much more. Besides, my clothes were starting to bother the back of my neck and arms, so I knew I'd gotten a little sunburn. So I went in to shower and had my new favorite summertime beverage while fixing supper:

Crystal Light lemonade with a sprig of mint that's growing on my own back deck.   The only thing better would have been the raspberry-flavored. 

And someone else to do the cooking.