Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Excuses, excuses

Yes, I realize it has been almost two months. I do have an excuse, though. Here it is, the excuse you've all been waiting for...My garden is wimpy. Yes, it is. And I have an excuse for that one, too: It's not my fault. Really. It is too shady. If you don't believe me, take a look at this monster.

The cottonwood. Because of it, ninety percent of my yard is shaded ninety percent of the time. The other ten percent is the rose garden which is doing quite well now that the dandelions died. I put my tomatoes there. See?

So, I just have pictures today, no well-meant "advice". But hey, I made a friend! And she has real garden know-how.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feels Like Walking on Broken Glass

Warning: Do not put broken glass in your garden!

I am reminded of the song by the title above every time I crush eggshells. Yes, I do crush them often, thank you for asking. I read in a book last year (The Farmer's Wife Guide to growing a great garden--and eating from it, too! by Barbara Doyen) that crushed eggshells are very nutritional and useful for your soil. Because we go through eggs fast, I thought I'd see. The Farmer's Wife advises you to rinse them and store them in a bucket under the sink until you have a few and then crush and sprinkle them in your garden. Wikipedia says that bird eggshells are about 95% calcium held together by a protein. The crushed shells keep slugs and snails away like pellets do, but for free. They also provide these nutrients for your soil as they break down. Some people use a food processor, I just dump them in a bucket and crunch with a hand rake. I also think it makes my dirt look pretty. Don't you?

(Last year, I bought two strawberry plants on clearance because the season was over. I didn't get any berries, but they spread like mad. After I dug and transplanted, I have 30 plants from two!)

Fun for the kids: start seeds in an eggshell.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day and the backbreakers

I love dirt. Good clean dirt. It looks deliciously enticing in a run-your-fingers-through-my-hair sort of way. Soft, crumbly and moist. So, naturally, I pull weeds. I don't love it, but I do it for the end result. I know very well that they will come back and I will have to do it again (next year..heeheehee) but for a brief moment I can see the lovely brownness and place desirable seeds in a good clean spot. That's why I kept the backbreakers.

This is my backbreaker. One of them. I have two. You push it into the dirt and turn and presto! the weed comes up. I'm sure this is one of the lines they use on their infomercials, and it is true, that is just exactly how it works. What they don't say is that after 4 or 5 turns, the twisting motion begins to take it's toll on your back. I do admit that it is a bit faster than doing it completely by hand, but it deserves some complaints, too. So why do I have two of them? How I acquired the first one: it was left in the garage of the first home we bought. How I acquired the second one: it was left in the garage of the second home we bought. I think I am seeing a pattern here. Someone must have discovered before me that these tools aren't all they cracked up to be.

And now for my Mother's Day gift: a tiller attachment for the weed whacker. WOOHOO!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lean on Me

The package the peas came in read, "No support needed", so I put them in the ground with no support. Some of them died. The others sort of swam unhappily in their daily watering and turned brown and dry. I have therefore decided that everyone can use a little support whether they ask for it or not and gave them a lovely fence to grow up. It was leftover from fencing my parents' yard, so I took it and cut it and bent it for a trellis. I used this last year also, and the problem I found was that I have to bend down inside to get out some of the peas. So, I welcome your ideas. How do you support your peas? Also on my to-try list: growing cucumbers and zucchinis up a trellis. Has anyone tried this?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Scenic Outlook Ahead

My back deck can be a lovely place for picture taking. There are a great many things to see from up there and I have a guilty habit of spending much too much time just standing and seeing. I have learned something: My eyes see much better than my camera. There is probably a camera somewhere that takes pictures as well as the eye does, but I don't have it. This is a full moon through my cottonwood (which happens to be the tallest, hugest, ugliest tree for 3 blocks around). I am told that the man who planted it bought it because it was "cottonless". This was either a lie, or they magically change into "cottonful" once they hit 75 feet. Either way, toward the end of this month, our home and yard, as well as those of our neighbors, will be showered with cotton puffs deep enough to resemble snowbanks.

My camera can zoom pretty good. This is the tree in my neighbors' yard, and in the distance, the Draper temple. Again, my eyes see it better. It is about 15 miles away? This got me wondering, so Husband and I climbed onto the roof. There are two more temples visible from up there, and if it weren't for the other tallest, hugest, ugliest cottonwoods (on the next 3 blocks), I'd have fuzzy pictures of them, too.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I looked out the window and what did I see?

Popcorn popping on the apricot tree! Okay, this is not the clearest picture. Those branches are out of reach without a ladder, and it was windy, so my zoom was not helpful.

More popcorn, with the dead/dying pine tree in the background--notice how the everGREEN is nice and BROWN? I hope for a boatload of apricots this year. I had that and more last year, but they ripened the week before the baby came and I didn't get more than a few quarts canned. Then, we sadly ran out of the previous year's jam in October and I swore I would preserve no less than 20 pints of it this year. I had to buy jam for the first time in...3 years? It is expensive! Also, I discovered how yummy puree can be. My two year old and I use it in place of syrup on our pancakes. The other child claims it is "Yucka" but I find it to be very nice and not overly sweet.

This "rose garden" was recently a sea of yellow dandelions. I am not kidding. There was little green visible. I decided that it is the only place in my yard that gets enough sunshine to keep my tomatoes happy and despite the crying and protesting from my four year old ("But Mommy, I LOVE the beautiful flowers! No, no don't hurt them, I promise to water them every day!"), I poisoned them. I poisoned them good and drippy. I had to explain how we need food more than flowers and how this kind of flower won't let anything else grow. Husband decided that it would be best to weed-whack the heads off of them (didn't go over well with said four year old) also to keep them from going to seed. Six days later, we have our next picture.

What will it take?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Making a comeback

Hooray for Parsley! I did not know this was a perennial. Apparently, my huge bush of it is growing back big and healthy. It took off last year and I loved it. I put it in everything I cooked and even dried it from my window when the season was over. That got used up quickly, too.
This one is rhubard. I like how the leaves are all crinkled up into balls and they slowly unfold into enormous poisonous leaves...It's pretty, anyway. I dug these crowns up from a valley behind my mom's house last year and stuck them into my own ground, so they are wild and we'll see how they taste this summer. I actually tried to buy them from an online catalog, but for some reason, no one will ship rhubarb to Utah. Any ideas?