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Showing posts from July, 2012

Infestation of Ants: The Baby Powder Victory

When last we spoke, I was rubbing cucumber peels on the counter while giggling like a madwonman. Well, ok.  Maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but I was a little overly fixated on the discovery of cucumber as a barrier to ants.  That fixation quickly ended the next morning when I woke up and checked on my doorway ant entrance point. Those are peppermint leaves on either side.  Evidently, ants hate them, too.  I have my doubts.... Yep.  I totally found an ant on top of one of the dried out peels.  I was not impressed. At this point, though, I should probably point out that cucumber peels do seem to work when they're fresh.  So for quick fixes, cucumber is indeed a valid option.  Not so good, however, for an overnight barrier. I was getting desperate. That afternoon, I was heading off to visit my parents and grandparents.  I had to do something, and I had to do it fast.  They live four hours away, so it's not like I could drive back and check up on eve

Infestation of Ants!!!

Ants !!!  Argh!!! A long line of ants trooped in through a centimeter wide area of linoleum flooring that had come away from the door frame (due to settling of the house) that I had never noticed, since I don't really use the front door.   Then they paraded through the entry way, the living room, the dining area, the kitchen, and all the way to the one point worth reaching: the 4 gallon trash can under the sink. I had found some spray foam, which was great for such a wide area. I immediately sealed the crack, then went about cleaning up the ants that were still inside the house.  I pressed the foam in as it started to harden, in order to reduce the unsightliness of the bright yellow mass.  Then I went off to get rid of all the armored intruders that were still inside using my preferred weapon:  a scalding hot washcloth. Problem solved, I thought. Three hours later, they were back.  My ant agonists had discovered a new entry point about an inch away from the sealed area.  I

Thoughts on Black Walnut Trees

I hate black walnut!  These black walnut trees are the bane of my existence!  Somebody get me a chainsaw, NOW!!! Yeah, we all know I hate black walnut.  Black walnut toxicity drives me nuts, because it makes edible gardening so difficult. So many edible plants get killed off by the juglone secreted by the tree.  Large branches fall from these black walnut trees.  Some of those branches are even tree sized .  Of course, when you consider that the trees are taller than a two-story house with a full attic, that's not too hard to imagine.  But seriously... there has to be something good about the black walnut tree, right? I mean, besides the lumber, which sells for a lot . While selling off every last one of these trees sounds like a beautiful idea to me, we have to be realistic. I rent this house.  Getting rid of trees that I'm sure are way older than me would not only be cruel to the owners of the house, it'd be outright stupid.  So I can't do that. This means

The Mint Addict's Victory

Yes!  I've done it!!! We all know that I'm a mint addict .  It's no secret.  Indeed, I've mentioned it several times since beginning this blog.  If I was told that I could only grow one plant, but was given the choice of what it would be, I'd answer with mint, no hesitation. Today, this mint addict is finally able to say that yes, I have had a strong victory. What kind of victory, you ask? No, I didn't overcome my addiction.  That's craziness! I did, however, manage to zero out my mint expenses .  That's right!  My mint addiction now costs me absolutely nothing. Score!!! See, a while back I spent about $12 on mint transplants. I planted different types of mint in the ground, in permanent porch planters, and in a small pot (so that I can bring it inside during the winter). Mint is one of the few plants that thrive in the presence of black walnut trees,  so I knew they would be safe. No black walnut toxicity worries with these lit

We've Gone to Seed!!!

Is it just me, or is it somewhat odd that some of my happiest moments are when a plant has wilted, gone to seed, or both? Well, it's happened again! Remember the cinder block garden that I planted a while back? The cinder blocks were part of a retaining wall alongside the driveway.  I filled them with soil, watered them, and waited for that portion of my edible garden to erupt into beauty. At long last, basil, dill, and some surprise thyme began popping up. The cinder block garden continued to fill out, radiating a nice green glow. The plants brought a bit of beauty to an area that was otherwise drab.  It was difficult, due to the problems that cement brought :  extra heat, increased water loss.  But in the end it was worth it. This gardening project is now on the next part of its cycle. Flowers are blooming on each stem of basil, preparing to generate seeds. But more importantly.... I have some dill seeds awaiting harvest! Woohooo!!!!!  Yay!!!  Yip

Onion Gardening Progress

I'm not sure whether to dance for joy or become terribly, impatiently frustrated. Probably both. See, I've been following the progress of my basement onion gardening project , taking note of the progress each day.  The beginning was actually a bit interesting. Particularly, day 2. First, on day 2 I noticed that the onion I placed in the raised garden in the backyard had changed leaf color, becoming more of a healthy green.  Some of the leaves also began reaching toward the sky. Happily, I ran to the raised garden in the front yard, so that I could see what kind of progress had occurred in that portion of my gardening project.  I stopped abruptly, noticing that my onion was no longer inside the ground. Oh, those squirrels... I found it curious that the onion was still in the same location as it had been when I planted it.  Normally, when the squirrels decide that it's time to dig things up, they abscond with the materials... or at least drag them off a few f

Weird Looking Little Guy

I just saw the strangest little caterpillar fall from my lemon balm. I wonder what this weird little guy is?

Grass lawns are NOT environmentally responsible

I just saw the greatest youTube video of all time! Well, ok.  It wasn't the greatest... the man in the video spoke way too fast, and there weren't any cute kittens or pretty unicorns jumping across the screen.  But aside from that, it really was amazing. It was about the maniacal idea of grass lawns.  Lawns that most of us all have.... including me. Grass lawns, by the way, are not environmentally responsible. As a matter of fact, they're about the most environmentally irresponsible thing we can do. While I stopped using chemicals on my lawn when I lived in the desert southwest, I still used a ton of water.  I mean... it was a desert .  That's the last place that a person should use grass! So what happened after I moved away?  No water was used on my grass, so when I went back after a few months... Totally brown.  Completely dry. Now, I could have decided to be upset about this.  I mean, this isn't exactly great when you're planning to sell

The Beauty of River Bend: Trails to Relaxation

It was like a fantasy novel that suddenly burst into reality. Tree branches grew into each other and formed gateways leading to new areas.  Wandering through the trails at River Bend Nature Center, it was as if I had been transported into a realm of infinite possibilities. And in a way, I had. Every now and then I need a break, a way to gather my thoughts and just... relax and take in my surroundings.  See, I have a habit of putting myself into overdrive and working non-stop.  When this happens, I start to tire myself out.  Fortunately, I can recognize this after a while, and find ways to get myself out of this crazy, workaholic mess. Cue River Bend Nature Center . The easiest way to force myself to relax is to put my green boots on, head out into nature, and just observe the beauty around me.  I recently grabbed my daughter and headed off to do this very thing, and we left the park exhausted, but fulfilled. Indeed, from the very beginning we were greeted with an amaz

Zucchini Confessions

I have a confession to make. Remember my grey zucchini that I was so excited about?  The ones with big golden blooms? Here's a quick reminder: Well, a little over two weeks ago, one of them died.  I was saddened by this, but these things happen.  I still had the other zucchini, after all.  Zucchinis have both male and female flowers, so there was still hope of a harvest.  The one that was still alive was looking truly beautiful, and perfectly happy. But not more than a week later... Yep.  I lost that one, too. I puzzled over it for quite some time, which is why I didn't say anything. Well, that, and I wanted to mourn the loss of being able to use my new cookbook that I got at my first visit to the farmers market in anticipation of my harvest. All I could think was that black walnut toxicity had struck again.  It killed the rhubarb that I had found growing in the wild area, but I was expecting that.  The problem, though, was that I couldn't find

DIY Grow Bag Progress

We're near the end!  The last time I posted, I talked about my wilty, drooping potato plants .  The more wilty they become, the closer they are to harvest time.  The top leaves were still pretty healthy, though, so I had to leave the grow bag alone.  They were clearly not ready yet. But! They've wilted even more.   Now, brown is showing along the edges. They're still a little too green, but they're getting closer to harvest time!  Yay! I decided to reach into the top of my green grow bag and feel around so that I could get an idea of just how large the potatoes were.  Sure enough, once I found one, I was able to tell that there was still a way to go.  The one that I touched only felt like it was a little over an inch long, so I left everything alone. They needed more time. One concern:   The potato felt a bit thin, rather than fat.  Now, this was just one potato, so it's likely that others are growing at a good rate, but it still needs to be noted.

The Farmers Market, Eggs, and a Green Monster

Wait...  I got... how little from the farmers market?! That's right!  It's time to discuss my weekly farmers market haul, again. See, I made a huge mistake this week.  Remember the vegetable stand I was so happy about finding?  Well, I'm still happy about it, but I ran into a bit of a problem. I used half of my farmers market money when I bought from that stand. Oops. Now, I'm still happy about my find, and I'm still very glad that I made my purchases there, but I had to be a lot more careful about farmers market purchases than I normally am. So what did I get? This week I got: 1/2 dozen chocolate chip cookies (only 4 in this photo... my daughter and I got hungry on the walk home) 1 gigantic bag of swiss chard 1 baggie of mix to make dill dip 1 summer squash 3 small onions (I don't use a lot of onion) 12 eggs Not bad, huh? My biggest treasure this week was the eggs.   Now, I'm lucky here, because unlike in my old desert home, I

Spaghetti Garden Success!

A spaghetti garden is what dreams are made of.  After planting everything that you'll need to make your own homemade spaghetti dish, you sit back and wait, watering it when necessary, until it grows into perfection. Every day, you walk outside and smile as the plants become taller.  You watch the basil leaves as they turn a bright green, while the oregano stems grow long and healthy. Last, your salivary glands go into overdrive as your spaghetti tree starts to produce long, thin noodles for you to harvest and then dry for storage. Ok, maybe not. Wouldn't that be cool, though?   The video was actually created by the BBC as a brilliant April Fools Day hoax in 1957. When I first began my gardening project, a good friend pointed this video out to me, causing me to transform into a big pile of giggles!  Of course, the reality of a spaghetti garden is just as smile inducing, though perhaps not as prone to giggles.  This gardening project started with just a few seed

Hairy Cucumber Surprise

I have discovered something very disturbing. When they first start to grow, cucumbers are really ugly. No, really.  They truly are! See, my cucumber transplants have begun to start producing fruit.  This is my first time growing cucumbers, so I was surprised when I discovered what the fruits look like at the beginning of the growth process. Those things are hairy ! Not only that, but a young cucumber has spines!  Now, I knew that the skin of a mature cucumber was bumpy, but I didn't realize that was the result of what started as sharp and pokey spines! I can only guess that this is a way of protecting itself from predators.  After all, who in their right mind would actually want to pick one of these things at this stage? Not me, that's for sure! This has been a successful gardening project so far. The cucumber transplants that I planted in the wild area have been growing very well.  Vines of this variety are supposed to grow as long as f

Vegetable Stand Beauty

"Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh!  Woohoooooo!!!" I was so excited that I had to really concentrate to keep my eyes on the road.  I realize that I was being extraordinarily silly, but that didn't stop me from squealing in joy. Why? Because I saw a sign. Not just any sign, though.  This one was special, because it was my favorite kind. Yeah, I know... I'm crazy.  It's a good, happy crazy, though, so I figure it's ok. I was on the way to Cedar Summit Farm to pick up my family's milk for the week.  Once I discovered that lightly pasteurized, non-homogenized milk was so much more yummy and healthy than the typical milk that lines the grocery store shelves, I decided to only buy it that way.  It was a green choice, and a good one. I had a hard time actually staying focused on it that day, though. See, it wasn't just the sign that excited me. It was the vegetables that I saw being sold there.  There was a beautiful and glorious variety!

A Crazy Gardening Project with Watermelons

They sprouted! They grew! I planted watermelons.  While it may seem pretty odd that I'd be so giddy about something as common as a watermelon, there's actually good reason for it. First, nobody around here plants watermelon.   Indeed, most people that know I did so reacted with surprise. "Can they grow here?!" Well, to be honest, I had no clue.  All I knew was that I had an old seed packet that managed to travel across the country with me, and I didn't want it to go to waste, simply because I didn't know if watermelon would grow. Don't get me wrong, I knew they'd sprout.  I just wasn't sure about the whole 'living past seedling stage' thing.  This gardening project was worth it, though, since I wasn't really spending any money on it.  I already had the watermelon seeds, and I had extra soil to use for the mound I'd plant them in. My other problem was that I was planting the seeds a bit late.   Re

Basement Onions: A Gardening Project

What in the world?! I had walked down into the basement to grab an onion for dinner.  When I stepped over to the area that I hung my onions from, however, I was in for a bit of shock. An alien lifeform had taken over my onions and planted their embryos inside, I decided.  Those green things were not young, sprouting onion stems.  They were tentacles.  My home had become the safe point for a currently unidentified lifeform that would begin a new breeding experiment on this planet, using onions as their incubators. Hmmm.... I think I may have just come up for a great idea for my new book!  Alright, alright... science fiction is fun, but I had to do something about the situation at hand.   I regretfully let reality take over again.   Two of my organic onions had started to sprout from their bulbs. On one onion, the sheath had already started breaking into several long, flat leaves. My basement is very dark in that corner, since the window there had been boarded up long befo

DIY: Fix a Table Lamp Switch

I have decided to call myself the Lamp Doctor.   The Great Lampadini. High Mugwump of All Things Lampish. I should have been a tinker. What did I do?  I flexed my DIY muscles and managed to fix a lamp! I'm a genius!!! ... Ok.... I admit it. It's really not that hard.  It's pretty easy, actually.  So simple, in fact, that I really think anybody can do it. See, it all began when my beloved table lamp decided to stop working.   Out of the blue, my three-way switch stopped working.  I don't mean that I'd turn the switch and nothing happened.  I mean it totally stopped working.  The switch wouldn't turn, not even a little.  It was stuck in place, and wouldn't budge. I love that lamp.  Indeed, you've seen my table lamp in various blog photos. Its base could be seen nudging its way into my playdough post , it helped shed light on my naked gardening , it... Ok, I'll stop.  You get the point.  I love my table lamp. S