Thursday, May 30, 2013

Not Quite Dead.....

I didn't think the garden and I really had anything new to go through, but
I was wrong.  Now we have "damaged, but not killed by frost" as a category.  Above is the cucumber that received the most frost damage last week.  I've been removing a few dead leaves a day--just in case the loss of half the plant would kill it from shock--and it's looking good.  I've never had a plant recover before, but maybe the garden has run out of "normal" things to spring on me, and is branching out.  This is the plant that I transplanted twice, so it's obviously a freak anyway.  But, we might still have June cucumbers!

This:
 is the most surprising thing in the garden.  The cinnamon basil plant had the most damage out of any of the plants in the garden,
but now has new growth on it.  Can you believe it?  The only reason the plant is still in the ground is that I just haven't gotten around to ripping it out and replacing it.  It didn't even occur to me that it might survive.  I have a couple more cinnamon basil plants I haven't put in the garden yet, but if this one survives, I'll take the smallest one and try making a houseplant out of it.  If it has THAT sort of determination to live, it's my kind of houseplant!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vole Wars - 2013

These:
are the sole survivors of the Great Fava Bean Assault here at the Chateau.  They are the last, proud remnants of a once proud crop:
After a combined effort of sonar,
ground forces,
an interesting decorative approach that might have been mislabeled as having any chance of scaring even the most timid rodent but brings a rather festive touch to the garden,
 
and poison gas,
the voles showed no sign of slowing down:
 
 If the voles send operatives in to finish off the survivors, we are moving out for a week and calling the exterminators........

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Little Gardening Set-Back

Last night we had a late frost, so we diligently covered all the beds, including the front flower bed, with plastic sheeting.  For the most part, we were successful.  The cinnamon basil,
which is probably THE least cold-hardy plant we have, didn't make it (though it's not a huge thing as I still have 2 more that I didn't plant yet.  I think we lost two regular basil plants,
 but I think the others will survive.
 The biggest cucumber is looking bad this morning,
 but he was sort of anomaly anyway.  I transplanted it three times without problem, so obviously it was a freak and probably wasn't long-destined for the world anyway.  The other cucumbers seem fine:
There were lots of comments in the paper today about how "silly" people were to plant before June 1 (even though we're in hardiness Zone 6 now--not 5 anymore!), but we're not bothered.  Coping with one frost in order to gain about a full month of produce seems a great exchange to me. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Let The Rodent Wars Begin!

Yesterday I found the first rodent hole in the garden, so I popped a mothball down it, plugged it up with dirt, and put a rock on top of it. This morning I went out to find a pile of freshly dug dirt beside the hole with the moth ball sitting squarely on top of the pile. Cheeky bastards.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bring on Summer!

The latest additions to my play-at-home version of Little House on the Prairie 
arrived last week, so I'm ready for the regular summer "can-'til-I-drop" games here at the Chateau I just wish my back hadn't heard about that "drop" part..............
 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Voting Time

Our house has these lovely hardwood floors,
which I sort of have a love/hate relationship with.  They are beautiful, and I love how look.  I am sure they're technically cleaner than carpet, but with carpet one rarely sees tufts of cat-fur blowing through the room like tumbleweeds.  And this floor has even broken Pyrex, which I have dropped on linoleum without breaking, and my favorite Christmas ornament became festive smithereens our very first Christmas here, so the floor is just a tad bit unforgiving.  It also scratches like crazy.  When we first moved into the house, we were really good about being vigilant about people taking their shoes off, but between parties when people just walk in and guests who are carrying food in and can't take their shoes off while their hands are full (and the occasional person who doesn't really care anyway and are on their way to being dropped from invitations anyway), we've grown a bit lax and our floor has just taken a beating.  If it was just wear and tear, I wouldn't really be that concerned because I like our friends more than the floor, but the scratches really damage the floor, and it's going to be expensive to have to refinish.  But, I hate welcoming people then saying--"oh, and you can't wear those shoes in here."  It sounds so militant.  So, I've decided that

1.  I need to include a request for soft-soled shoes or for guests to remove shoes at the door in the invitations themselves.  I have a basket of slippers at the door for people to use if they choose, but standing on this floor in bare feet can REALLY be tiring, so I want to give advance notice.

and 2.  I need to make a sign for the entryway asking guests to remove their shoes.

I've been looking at ideas online, and so far my favorite contenders are:

*  "Abandon shoes all ye who enter" (which appeals to my Latin major/literature dweebiness, but might be sort of obscure)

*  "Welcome--Thank you for removing your shoes"

*  "Please remove your shoes.......feel free to take a better pair on the way out"

I want a sign that is welcoming yet gets people to remove their shoes.  I can do it with machine embroidery and I thought putting shoes actually ON the sign would make it clear (though the first one would also definitely need a dragon).  Which would you go with?

Hm, I Don't Think Frost is Going To Be The Problem.....

According to the weather reports, it's not only NOT supposed to freeze any time this week, it's supposed to reach 91 on Sunday.  Hm...............

Monday, May 6, 2013

Flirting With Danger...

....or at least winking from across the room.

We're having an unusually warm May and have had a VERY dry spring, so gardening will be interesting this year.  May 10 is the historic last frost date for Boise (the one meaning 50% chance of frost after Saturday), but historic dates consider neither Global Warming nor the more extreme weather patterns it causes.  In spite of the almanac's planting guide,   
my cold-weather plants have been thriving outside for a month and a half to two months already.  Last week,
since wild squash were popping up everywhere, I moved the cucumbers outside.  The one in the bottom corner had gotten so big that I didn't think it would make the transition, but they're fine.  The potatoes are up,
and since the predictions for actual weather for the rest of the month show no evenings below even 40,
part of the tomatoes went out today. As the greenhouse is getting so hot that I have to move the plants out everyday anyway,
it will be easier to cover the beds if there is a late frost than to keep moving the plants to bigger and bigger pots.  Maybe I'm just not that good at it, but I find plants do better when they aren't too large when transplanting--and some of mine are REALLY pushing the limits.  Getting really daring, the biggest
peppers moved outside today, which it seems crazy early to plant, but are beginning to really not like being in pots.  If the weather predictions are wrong and it does drop below 40 at night, peppers transplant very easily for me, so we can cover them up if it's just one night, or I can dig them up and put them back in the greenhouse if I need to.  It's actually getting so warm that I'm more concerned about it being a bit hot for the plants to go out in another two weeks.  So..........I am about to have an insane obsession with the weather--at least for the next few weeks................

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Getting Back To "Normal"

I made mustard this morning,
 which I haven't done in a while.  It's been quite a year, and we haven't exactly reverted back to a processed-food diet, but in the last year we've made a lot more exceptions than we would have otherwise.  I am hoping that I've finally turned a corner on the back problems and can get back to normal--or whatever passes for it around here.

We had another hard freeze this week, but it's still a nice spring.  Technically our last expected frost date is about May 10, but
 the wild squash are coming up anyway.  Monday night's frost took out a bunch of them, but this little guy popped up today.  I have decided not to grow squash this year to get a break from squash bugs, so of course I'm being plagued by volunteer squash.  I'm not sure exactly why--we compost, but I roast the pumpkin and squash seeds--but since we also have an amazing amount of wild cilantro,
which I didn't grow last year, I think it's just the sort of stuff to expect in our garden.  I'm ripping the squash out, but I'm keeping the cilantro.  This particular patch is in the bed which will ultimately hold the tomatoes, but as cilantro hates heat, it will be dead LONG before the tomatoes really take over.  So, free cilantro!

I went to Costco this week, and this beautiful carnation followed me home:
The smell is heavenly.  I have pot where I grow carnations from seed, but they never grow straight up, so I'm hoping this will inspire them.  Speaking of delightful smells,
 they had a lilac bush as well.  I met the nicest German lady while we sorted through the plants looking at the different varieties.  She selected a nice white one which will only grow to 4 feet tall.  The one I picked can grow up to 12 feet tall, and is supposed to have purple flowers with white edging, which I've never seen before.  This spring I have missed the smell of lilacs in the air, as no one in our neighborhood has them.  So, we had to get our own.

Last week, I met another lady who gardens.  This time we were in the plant department at Fred Meyer.  For the most part, I'll be using my own seedlings for the garden, but wanted to get some extra peppers as a couple of my varieties were very slow to get going, and I've learned one has to strike early if one wants the best selection in peppers and tomatoes.  So I was looking through the peppers, and this lady next to me told me it was too early for peppers--which it very much is, and I could appreciate her help, as a very common mistake among new gardeners is to assume that, because a plant is for sale, it's safe to plant.  So, I mentioned to her I had a greenhouse.  One thing I've noticed about gardening conversations is either the person is really into it and wants to know what you've had good luck with and what you think of different things because they're always acquiring new information, or they are a dispenser of information--accurate or not.  This one was of the latter variety.  She has a greenhouse as well, but she said it was too cold in her greenhouse yet for even lettuce, telling me the soil had to be seventy degrees in order for anything to sprout.  That was surprising, as I'd read that lettuce won't even sprout if temperatures were above 70, and I don't think our soil heats up to 70 degrees until maybe June or July, and I've seeded lettuce directly in the beds at the end of February with success.  But, this was obviously not the sort of person to ever change her opinions--wrong or not.  Usually, I just shut up at this point, because these are also not the type of people who really need another person to have a conversation.  I thought about mentioning that we'd been harvesting spinach for a month, and had lettuce coming up voluntarily in the front flowerbeds, but decided to be REALLY perverse and mentioned that we had wild squash coming up in the garden already.  Lettuce can grow early, but squash needs some heat.  This displeased her, so first she told me they were most likely sterile hybrids (which probably exist, but while I've had every other problem known to squash plants, not getting inundated with fruit isn't one of them), then told me that I was planting the wrong cucumbers anyway, because there was only one cucumber in the entire world worth eating--and that it was so good one could even eat it without peeling it.  I love cucumbers, haven't yet met a variety that wasn't worth eating, and only peel the ones from supermarkets that are coated in that weird wax stuff.  I almost mentioned that I canned pickles, but assumed I'd be wrong in either the canning in general or the pickle recipe I was using or at least the type of pickling cucumber I used.  One thing I've learned from this sort of person is that no one else is ever doing anything right.  So, to really chap her, I selected not only a six-pack of peppers that can't be planted this early, but also a six pack of tomatoes which she also said weren't worth eating.  Really, I'm relieved she wasn't bashing my ability to grow eggplant--heaven only knows how THAT would have turned out.

In the meantime,
our broccoli--which I'm sure I also did completely wrong--is ready to pick!  Good thing my garden pays no more attention to that sort of people than I do. 

Things are moving along so nicely in the garden that I remembered to swing by the restaurant supply store for this:
a spoon that's tall enough for my biggest soup pot!  Every time I use my industrial stock-pot it seems I dirty every utensil we have fishing my spoons out of the bottom of the pot.  So, bring it on, canning and gardening season!  I'm ready!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

They Restored The Dot!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My new contacts arrived today, and I was thrilled to see that they have restored the dot on the right contact.  I've worn gas-permeable contacts since about 13, and they used to always have a dot on the right contact.  I thought this made perfect sense, as there was no other way to tell them apart, and while one eye is stronger than the other, I won't just automatically notice that I have them switched.  The last time I went to the eye doctor--about 4 years ago--I was a bit depressed about going as I was having a bit more trouble seeing clearly, and since I was approaching 40, I thought my eyes might be changing to the "now-needs-help-to-read" setting known as AGING.  So my embarrassment was tinged with relief when my doctor told me I had the contacts in the wrong eyes.  I might have been a dope, but I wasn't an aging dope!

This time, my eyes had finally changed, but I hadn't mixed up my contacts again.  It's easier to do than you think, because there have been times when I have been somewhere and have forgotten my contact case, and in these scenarios, I can put them in a bowl of water overnight.  So when they stopped putting a dot on one contact, I had to rely on either finding TWO containers (which isn't always possible) or hoping that the silly things would stay still while I fished one of them out of the bowl, which they don't.  So to see a tiny black dot on the edge of the new right contact just completely made my day!!!!!!!!

I have GOT to start getting out more............

The New Additions

Shortly after moving, we had to put our oldest cat down, so we have adopted 2 new kittens to keep Theo company: Mostly Theo is not thr...