Monday, June 30, 2008

It's Me Or The Yarrow!

2008_0628image0012Last year when I was buying every cheap plant I could get my hands on, I purchased a sickly looking yellow Yarrow plant for 75% off.  I think I had seen a photo of some Yarrow and I thought it looked cool.  I'm pretty sure I either did not look at the mature height of this plant or else I have no concept of height and need to repeat elementary school. 

Last year it never bloomed and really never grew at all.  So this year I was all geeked out when it showed back up in the same spot where I'd planted it last year.  So then it grew and grew until it just looks plain 2008_0628image0013stupid next to the other stuff around it.  

Well, the Yarrow cannot live at my house.  It's not so much the height (I could move it to a more appropriate spot in the back of the bed) but the width is ridiculous.  And according to you experts, it's just gonna get worse. 

Anybody got a big vast prairie they are trying to fill up?  I've got just the plant for you!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Growing Challenge Update: Overcrowding

2008_0628image0001Is this a bean about to happen?  I've never grown these before so I have no idea what to look for.  It's the Bush Bean plant that I'm growing for the Growing Challenge.

Check out the picture (below) of the raised bed these are growing in.  Talk about overcrowding!  I built these 4x4 beds last fall and then divided them into 1 square foot sections with string that I nailed to the wood. 

I like the idea of cramming as much stuff as possible into a small space and I think everything is OK for now.  But, I'm worried that the Yellow Zucchini is going to take over the entire bed.2008_0628image0022

Be sure to check out the other gardeners who are participating in the Growing Challenge being hosted by Elements in Time

How long before I have beans to cook?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Broadening My Blogging Horizons: Part I

small daisyI don't know if you've noticed but even though it's prime gardening season, I haven't been blogging as much.  Not only that, but I haven't been commenting as much on the blogs I've been reading every day. 

I've probably never shared this but I enjoy writing almost as much as I do gardening.  I suppose all us bloggers do.  I actually took a creative writing class last semester at the university and I loved it. But, it certainly created a writing competition between what I needed to write for my class and what I wanted to blog about my garden.  That's all finished now - I got an "A"!  

Then, a month or so ago I got some great advice from Colleen about how I might go about pursuing other writing projects.  (thanks again, Colleen!)  I "tried out" for a few paid blogging jobs and was chosen for two of them.  One is a business related blog and the other is a Going Green blog that is published on a new online magazine called The Hatchet.  I'm particularly excited about the magazine one because I love the direction the editor is taking with this site.  He publishes articles and personal essays that are witty and interesting which I enjoy reading. 

So, I've been working hard to come up with some schedule so that I can fulfill my obligations to the new blogs, and write about my gardening adventures on this blog (my true love blog).  It's not as easy as I thought it would be but I think I'll eventually get into a comfortable rhythm that'll allow me to manage everything without needing to be institutionalized. 

There's one more big thing I'm cooking up and I'm planning to post about that over the weekend.  Thank you all  for being patient with me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cosmic Flowers

I have no idea why I can't just let the flowers be. 

Are these the coolest flowers ever?  I'm pretty sure if flowers grew on the moon these two would be in there somewhere. 

 2008_0621image0079Eryngium Blue Sea Holly

 

2008_0621image0091A creeping Sedum whose name I cannot recall.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's Sunday And I'm A Sourpuss

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Sourpuss - a person having a grouchy disposition that is often accompanied by a scowling facial expression.

The best thing about today is that the Geranium J Snappy gave me is about to bloom.  Other than that, I'm not happy.  In keeping with the list theme from my last post, here's a list of the crap I'm crabby about.

  1. The weeds in the front gardens are insane.  I ran out of plant markers therefore I did not mark all the seedlings that I planted a few weeks ago therefore today I'm pretty sure I ripped out newly planted seedlings along with the weeds.
  2. I was caught in a hail storm during number 1.
  3. I've got writer's block.  Or maybe I just have nothing interesting to say.  Or at least nothing I think of seems interesting to me so I can't imagine it'd be interesting to you.
  4. I have several books to read but instead of reading them, I just keep buying more books to read.
  5. I'm mad that my rain barrel is black and Garden Rant is sporting a cool terra cotta looking one.  I'm also mad about my shallowness regarding wanting a cooler rain barrel.
  6. I'm sick of looking at the winter sowing containers filled with seedlings, but not sick enough to plant them all.  I despise my laziness!
  7. The Yarrow I bought for 75% off and planted last year is a freak plant that belongs in a big field and not in my backyard fence border.  I wish Bruce thought it was a weed!  The stuff is already almost as tall as the 6 foot fence and is crowding out my poor replacement Weigela Wine and Roses.  I wish death on thee!
  8. It's my weekend for laundry.

Man, we could be here all night.  Somebody pass the happy pills!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

A Letter To A Landscaper

Dear Bruce,

You're fired!

I have tried to be patient but after you did the following, I have no choice but to banish you from My Skinny Garden forever.

  1. You ripped out my second year strawberries thinking they were weeds. Compared to all the creeping charlie that is taking over my entire estate, I don't know how you thought those beautiful strawberries were weeds and the creeping charlie wasn't. But, whatever.
  2. When I left you a voicemail saying you ripped out my strawberries, you didn't even call to apologize. In fact, you never mentioned it again until we found your bill on our door with a note below the total (you overcharged us .50 by the way. Get a calculator!) saying "minus a few dollars for the strawberries." Frankly, Bruce, that pissed me off.
  3. You never mowed behind the garage or beside the house where the big ass weeds are growing. I guess you thought those were there on purpose.
  4. When we called to ask that you please mow the big weeds behind the garage ("if you are facing the garage door, it's on the right" we explained) the next time you came over, you hurried over the next day and mowed down my mammoth sunflower seedlings that my friend gave me, and left the big weeds behind the garage (on the right, not the left, Bruce!)

I nurse the plants along and then you come and mow them down and that breaks my heart which pisses Mr. Wonderful off and neither of us can take it anymore.

You've got a lot to learn, Bruce. Call me in about 10 years.

Angrily,

Gina

PS We're going to buy a new mower and mow ourselves. I don't know what we were thinking, anyway.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Garbage Can Potatoes

There is no question that potatoes are the most perfect food. In fact, if I was forced to pick one food I'd eat every day for the rest of my life, it'd be potatoes (spaghetti is a very close second).

Since I started gardening last year I've wanted to try growing potatoes but I'm rather grossed out by the fact that they grow under ground with all the worms and lord knows what slithering around them. I realize that's not rational - I'm just being honest.

So, when Mark over at Garden Desk posted about growing potatoes in a garbage can I nearly shouted out loud - EUREKA!

The concept is very simple and clean (for dirt, I mean). You take a cheap plastic trash can...

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Drill holes in the bottom and around the bottom sides for drainage...

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Put some dirt in the bottom...

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Throw some potatoes on the dirt and cover them up with more dirt. Keep in full sun and water when you water your other stuff.

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When the plant grows to about a foot tall, you add about 6 more inches of dirt around the stem. Repeat this until the plant turns brown. In theory, the potatoes will grow all along the stem of the plant the entire length of the trash can, safe from whatever it is that lives and squirms in the dirt.

As you can see I forgot to take the very important photo that shows the potatoes laying on the dirt. But, picture this; 3 red potatoes cut into pieces making sure to leave 3 eyes per piece. The other can is about the same only I used sweet potatoes.

Lessons learned already:

  1. Buy the seed potatoes way earlier so that you are not forced to just go to the grocery store asking for rotten potatoes. That was down right embarrassing, and unproductive.
  2. Potatoes are frequently treated with chemicals to prevent them from sprouting. (I learned this after planting, tisk tisk) Buy seed potatoes, not regular ole potatoes.

There is no growth so far and I'm really not that hopeful given my late start and potentially chemically treated potatoes. But if by some wild chance it works, I'll be able to dump the trash can out onto a tarp and there will be a big pile of delicious potatoes.

If you could only pick one food to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Monday, June 16, 2008

When A Tree Falls On A House

2008_0615image0033 The view from my porch on Sunday morning.

So I'm on the couch at around 6:30 in the morning trying to prepare my GBBD post when it suddenly starts to get really dark outside. Within a matter of minutes a big bad storm was brewing. I'm not talking about heavy rain, I'm talking about like monsoon type weather.

I was sitting with my knees in the couch looking out the living room window like a 5 year old when suddenly our big tree came crashing down on the house. It didn't make a sound.

Did I ever mention how I have the worst response to danger, ever? When the tree fell I said, in my only slightly raised voice, "oh no, the tree fell on the house." Meanwhile Mr. W is behind me freaking out. "HOLY EXPLETIVE! THE EXPLETIVE TREE! WHAT THE EXPLETIVE?" I have been scolded time and time again for my inappropriate response. Like the time the oven mitt that was ON Mr. W caught on fire. "oh honey, you're on fire." Or the time the garage door was closing on the car. "oh no, the door..."

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Here's the view from the street. Thankfully there was no major damage. The awning over the porch is dented and all my newly planted seedlings were squashed to death but it could have been much worse.

The thing that irritates me is that I called the village about this tree last year because I thought it was diseased and they said it was fine. Now millions of carpenter ants have been displaced and I'm sure they are finding their way into the house to eat me in my sleep.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, June 2008

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Clematis Crimson Star planted last year

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Sweet William planted last year

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Simplicity Pink Hedge Rose

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Lavender Purple Bouquet

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Red Husker Penstemon

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Potted Begonia

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Potted Begonia

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Potted Lantana

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Coreopsis planted last year

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Call To Action: 350 Readers For Climate Change

Have you heard of this site 350.org? They have started a campaign to spread the word that 350 is the most important number we humanoids need to know these days.

Scientists are now saying that, as a planet, we need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million (ppm) to be safe. As of November 2007, we were at 384 ppm. That's totally doable, right?

The folks over at 350.org are not asking that we rush out and solarize our houses or trade in our perfectly serviceable cars for hybrids - they just want people to know that number (350) and help them spread the word. That's so easy I might even be able to do it! They've also got cool badges for your website if you'd like to help get the word out.

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

You'll see on their site that they are asking people to send in creative photos displaying the number 350 and if that's your kind I encourage you to participate. If you do, be sure to leave a comment to let us know how you are helping.

For my part, I just want to try to get 350 people to read this post. And guess what, if you've gotten this far, you've already done your part to get me there.

Thanks for helping!




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Friday, June 13, 2008

It's Friday And I'm Feeling Wacky

You Are Teal Green
You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Flowers Are Forgiving

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Remember last year when I thought I killed my new very tiny Clematis Crimson Star?  Well, look at it now! 

It was being choked by the stupid creeping charlie and as I pulled out the weed that was wrapped around the clematis, I accidentally pulled out a hunk of clematis and the next day it promptly died - or so I thought.

 

2008_0611image0013I like the velvet looking petals of of the flowers but It doesn't show up as well as I'd hoped against the house.  It's just too dark.   I have two - should I move them?

What's your favorite I-really-thought-I'd-killed-my-plant-but-it-came-back story?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Growing Challenge Update: Beans, Zucchini, Cucumber

2008_0608image0002This is the yellow zucchini which is growing nicely so far.  I'm pretty sure I have these too close together.

 

2008_0608image0005This is the cucumber lemon that I am growing because the great people over at Baker Creek sent me some free seeds with my last order.  I have no clue what these are or what they'll taste like but I'm pretty excited!

 

2008_0608image0004Bush beans today.  It's growing like crazy.  Are those holes from a bug or is that normal wear and tear?

Be sure to check in on the other peeps that are participating in the growing challenge

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Planet Green: Not Really All That

planet-green-logo planet So, I've been sitting around for months waiting on Discovery Channel to kick off the new Planet Green station programming.   All green, all day and all night.  What's not to love.  Well, it was sort of a let down. 

The first show I watched was Mean Green Machines.  I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't pick up truck competitions.  The entire show was 2 full size trucks trying to outshine each other.  The premise was that the new big ass hybrid (I forget which one ) really does have as much power as the other big ass non-hybrid.  Two words - who cares?  Now don't get me wrong, I understand there is a need for these trucks if you are a farmer or for some other reason need to be hauling around loads of crap all the time, but most of the trucks I see on the road are not hauling anything but air.  So, I give that show 2 green thumbs down

The other drag about Planet Green is that the commercials (or should I say infomercials) are too freakin long.  Discover channel - enough the the bowflex commercials - seriously!  Please get more sponsors, ASAP.

I've watched several other shows over the past few days and if I wasn't such a polite southern girl I'd rip them apart, too.  Did anybody hate the skirt chasing real estate agent on Alter Eco as much as I did?

Even though I haven't enjoyed Planet Green as much as I thought I would, I'm still holding out hope until I see their new show Greensburg which airs soon.  It's about a town in Kansas that was destroyed by tornados last year and they've decided to rebuild the entire city green-i-ly.  I so wanna move there!

So how bout it.  Have you seen any of Planet Green's new programming?  What did you think?

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Another Day, Another Broccoli Raab Post

I harvested the Broccoli Raab this morning before work. Apparently you can eat the heads, the leaves and the flowers. I decided to use it to make a simple pasta dish. I sauteed onion, garlic, mushrooms and crushed red pepper in olive oil then added the green stuff. I dumped it over some cooked Penne pasta. It tastes pretty darn good!

The problem is that the Rapini shrinks a lot and I really needed about 4 times as much as I had.
Anybody wanna come over for pasta?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Harvesting Rapini (Broccoli Raab)

This was my first time growing Rapini. I fell in love with it when I tried it for the first time at my favorite Italian restaurant, La Piazza . It has since been moved and renamed Gaetano's after a long terrible feud between the property owner and the chef, but they make their own bread and pasta fresh at the restaurant so if you are ever in Forest Park, IL be sure to visit them. When the chef came over to our table he gave such a romantic description of it that we had to try it.

The heads on this broccoli are really small compared to the standard ones so when I woke up this morning to yellow flowers I looked it up and was really shocked to learn that this is as big as they get."To harvest, cut the budding shoots just before the flowers open. Harvest until shoots are too small and tough." Uh - I'm late. Here's what the tops look like. Now that you've seen what the opening flowers look like you can take a second look at the first photo and see that they are about to open any second. I hope they'll hold on until the morning so that I can harvest a few for dinner.
The Rapini plant has really pretty soft leaves and it's not nearly as big as the standard broccoli I grew last year.

Full frontal view.
Did I mention I have no idea how to cook this stuff? Anybody got any great Rapini recipes?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Growing Challenge Update: Green Beans


There's been another bean sighting! You may remember that I planted the Bush Beans indoors way back in March (yikes - what was I thinking?) in the coconut fiber pellets but they grew way too fast and ended up transplanted to the composter. You can see and read all about the renegade beans here. It's ashamed that it took me until I was 40 years old to understand Jack and the Bean Stalk but I get it now.

So, round 2 started last week when I planted more bean seeds out in the raised beds. I basically just shoved the bean down about an inch into the soil with my finger. I'm still amazed that an entire plant comes from that one little bean. In the picture above, you can still see half of the bean where it split open to sprout. Isn't life amazing?

I also have Yellow Zucchini and Cucumber Lemon seeds planted for the Growing Challenge but they are not photo-worthy yet. Be sure to check out the other gardeners participating in the Growing Challenge and if you haven't planted your beans yet, get to work!

Stay tuned for an update on garbage can potatoes.