We were in the path of tornadic activity last Wednesday night but dodged the bullet once again. Of course I'm always grateful when lives are not lost and property is not damaged, but I wish we could get more rain out of these storms. Not even enough to fill the bullet tank so much of the time. A full bullet tank means an inch, approximately. I had hoped for rain on the carrot seed I planted (Atomic Red and Cosmic Purple), and the seedlings I set out on Tuesday and Wednesday (Angelica, Roman Chamomile, Malabar Spinach, Showpiece Dahlia, Gomphrena), and the onion sets, all of which are planted, now.
I thought Glenda's idea of heeling in the tomato plants was a very good one. But I looked at the extended forecast which covers almost to the end of April, and there are no nights below 40º expected. So I have just gone ahead and started planting tomato plants. Since I have all these bags of leaves, and many of them are whole leaves that can't be used for much right away, unless I shred them, I thought I'd put them to use in providing protection from the wind and storms. They seem to be doing a pretty good job of that. Our spring winds are pretty strong. When storms are eminent, I put an extra bag in the front, as well. And I thought these would help, should we get a surprise frost, in insulating the tomato plants from damage.
On Tuesday I noticed a white web in one of the plum trees. Awwww, Geeze, we managed to get through a morning frost a week ago with no damage and now this. I poked the bag open with a stick and they all fell out on the ground. Mistake number one. Then I walked away, thinking the birds would discover them and eat them all up. Mistake number two. So I'm out there, after I've researched it on the Internet, picking them all up and dropping them in a bucket of water. More research yielded a better way to kill them, by spraying the unopened web bag with used cooking oil or dish detergent watered down with an equal amount of water.
One of my neighbors said to me, a couple of years ago, "This here is a hostile environment". And he's got that right. The rats just keep marching on. Well, scurrying is a better description. The death toll is now up to 75. Yes, I'm serious. Dead serious, you might say. They're managing to get into the garage now, even with the doors closed. Every day, the D-con packet that I keep in a Folger's can lid on the floor is either disturbed or empty. Hubs thinks he's got their point of entry closed up but I'm not so sure. Of course we can't count the ones that die from the poison unless they just throw themselves down in front of us. And sometimes they actually do that.
On the Good News front:
- I've seen resurrection of several plants I thought had died, which includes the Burning Bush, Perennial Baby's Breath, Ground Nuts, Pink Champagne Currant. Still no signs of life from Summer Savory, Possum Haw, Rosemary, and the little pecan trees that were munched on by rabbits or deer.
- We are starting to see toads in the yard now. Toads are voracious bug eaters and so I'll do everything I can to make habitat in the garden for them. I've told Hubs to keep his weed-wacker out of there.
- We are already seeing the benefit of not tilling the garden in an explosion of the earthworm population. When I dig into the soil to plant, it's full of them. The soil is moist and the texture is better than it has ever been. Of course we still find rock to dig out. Moving wood chips is labor intensive and now Hubs cannot be the one who shovels it because he is sensitive to the mold that forms in the pile. But wood chips and leaves are a lot easier for us to get than straw or hay. Almost everyone around here has their hay baled into those big huge round things now, that require special equipment in order to move them around. Each bale must weigh at least a ton. It's probably good for the rancher, because in order to steal hay, you've gotta have the special equipment, too, and most people who steal hay, don't. But it's real hard also for the home gardener to get hay economically because it has to be delivered. The neighbor from whom I bought a big bale several years ago apparently got divorced and moved to Tulsa. Big round bales tend to be left laying on their sides in the field, which confuses me. I've always been told if you leave hay out to be rained on, it's considered "spoiled hay" and is not fit to feed to horses. So it can only be sold to people who are feeding cattle, then, I guess. I can't imagine how the round bales could be stacked under a pole barn like we always used to see square bales stored. But then, there's a lot about ranching that confuses me.
- I think I finally have living Pearl Bush seedlings. The reason I only "think" that's what they are is because I don't remember planting the seeds. However, this pot was in the cold frame, where the cuttings (which all died) were. It just so happened that I didn't dump out the pot to use it for something else, and now and then I'd splash some water on it only because I thought maybe there were roots of something in the pot that had died back and might re-emerge. Last winter I put some of the seeds I still had from the bushes that I gathered from a year ago in a wintersowing container, but none of them have come up. Then when I looked back in my post on this blog from a year ago, where I wrote about my encounter with the bushes, I saw that I said sometimes it takes the seeds a year to germinate. I've looked at the pictures of the leaves on the bush that I took then, and they appear to be pretty much the same, allowing for the fact that these seedling leaves are immature versions of the leaves. I have a bad habit of not labeling things, saying to myself that I'll do it later or that I know I'll remember. Well, no, I won't, and I ought to know better.
- I'm going to separate these into individual pots very soon and let them grow a little more. Maybe I will "hedge my bets" by setting about half of them out somewhere, when I figure out where would be the best spot. It's pretty improbable that these seedlings are weeds, because there would be more variety in the pot. Every seedling in this pot is the same as the others.
- Remember the pieces of live plant I found in a leaf bag last January, that both Carole and Glenda said were Euonymous 'Manhattan'? Well, the pieces I put in the ground under a jar in the dry flower bed just to the left of the front steps is still alive. And the pieces I've been keeping in water since January have FINALLY started making roots.
Speaking of potatoes, mine are up, in the garden. Usually I cut the seed potatoes in pieces, but I've been reading that they produce better if you just plant them whole, so I gave that a try this time. Seems like it really can be true that "rules are meant to be broken" sometimes. Don't tell anyone I said that, though. Heh.
I'm enjoying some of the presentations on the Home Grown Summit. Some of them are not something I'm interested in and there's a lot to assimilate in just a day if you watch all of them. A lot of the participants are people I have already "met", through their books, websites, blogs, and YouTube presentations. I kind of wish they'd put their historical information somewhere other than at the beginning of their presentations, and I wish Marjorie Wildcraft would be a little less forthcoming with her opinions and experiences during some of her interviews but you can't expect free stuff to be perfect. I'll be taking that temporary post down since I think Monday is the last day.
Friday was a full day, and it was a keeper. Hubs and I hit a few garage sales and ran into a man we knew who noticed me limping, and asked why. After I explained about how I came to have a bad knee, he told me he had had both knees and one hip replaced by a local doctor and he couldn't say enough about what a great job the doctor did. Even said he went to him because a man he was friends with had several surgeries done by him and the guy's wife told him she LOOOOVED that doctor. Well, who do you suppose that is? Dr. Smith, who practices right here in town, and yes, you will recognize who he is when I tell you he is Ree Drummond's dad. I was thrilled to hear such glowing reports and I've decided I'll give him a call instead of going all the way to Tulsa to Dr. Plaster. Dr. Plaster did Hubs' knees, he came very highly recommended to us. Hubs had a quick and easy recovery and we were delighted with the results. But the trip 50 miles one way to a doctor when you're stressed and in discomfort, is inconvenient.
Later on that afternoon, Hubs decided to see if he could figure out what's wrong with my dishwasher. I've been doing my dishes by hand for a month or more now. It turns out there's nothing wrong with the pump. The drain is clogged. He's fixed that and the dishwasher is back in operation. Washing dishes by hand was only a little bit more inconvenient than normal operations, as I have yet to see a non-commercial dishwasher that'll hold pots and pans, much less get them clean. And of course there are things I won't put in the dishwasher, such as my good ol' Cutco knives and my cast iron skillets. We were at Lowe's the next day and I complained to a guy in the appliances department about the bottom rack of the dishwasher being so poorly designed and he just kind of patronized me. I thought maybe I'd look in some of the other dishwashers and see a rack I liked, and then have them order it. But all the GE dishwashers had crappy racks, and the ones in other makes were shaped different. One of the other makes had the silverware caddy on the front of the rack rather than on the side and I thought that was a nice arrangement. I went home and moved my silverware rack from the side to the middle, where there ought to be another row of "tines" but there isn't. Maybe I'll like this better. It won't fit in the front of the rack because of the way the rack is shaped. But at least now I can fit deep bowls on the right side of the rack where the silverware caddy is "supposed" to be.
Annnnnnnnnnnnndddddddddd, they delivered my new living room furniture! Oh, I just love it all, and everything fits in the room just as I planned. When I sit on this furniture, I don't sink down into the cushion and it is not hard on my knee or back to get back up. I still have the little plaid sofa-bed to get rid of, and there may be some problems with that, owing to the fact that it is so heavy. After it's gone I'll post a "reveal" for the room, even though you've seen most of it, in pieces, as we completed each task.
The next project will be new countertops in the kitchen, as the old Formica is damaged and has come loose in a couple of places. It's not worth repairing. Formica has come a long way since people started buying granite, quartz and marble instead. They have some that has edges like the good stuff has and you have to get practically right on top of it to be able to tell the difference. I loved the look of my granite countertops at The Ponca House but they darkened everywhere there was a drop of spilled grease or oil. And they were, of course, more expensive. This is the pattern I will choose, I think:
Yes. That's Formica. This "sample" is printed on 11x17" paper so you can actually lay it down on your existing counter and back away to see how you like it. So much better than those little pieces. And probably cheaper for them to make. They're made into a pad so you can just tear one off if you want to take it home.
I also want to strip the top of the coffee bar, which, if you remember, is a country-style yellow oak table top, stain it a darker oak color to go better with the wood-look laminate flooring, and seal it off with polyurethane and paste wax, so Hubs won't have to hear it from me every time he spills coffee and doesn't wipe it up. I guess I could have a counter top made of the same Formica when I have the cabinet counters done, but I like the looks of that coffee bar, other than the fact that the table top is too yellow. While I'm at it I might strip just the top of the dining room table, re-stain, polyurethane and wax. It has a couple of glass rings from when the boys lived with us, and then it was raining when we moved and I didn't see that one end of the middle leaf was damaged. A little sanding might be all that's needed to strip it, as none of this damage would've happened if the finish had been done right to begin with. When I refinish something that will need to do hard service, I always polyurethane, smooth with coarse steel wool when dry, sometimes just two coats and smoothings, but usually three, then a final coat, followed by a light rubdown with paste furniture polish on the steel wool. That makes the surface practically impervious. These will be projects for winter, as there's too much else going on right now.
We hit the garage and estate sales on Friday AND Saturday, but didn't buy much at all. That stainless steel strainer that you saw in the bottom rack of the dishwasher was a dollar, and will replace one I have that's similar but made of aluminum. I am phasing out the use of aluminum where food preparation is involved. Watch, now, once we get all our aluminum out of service, they will find there's a property to stainless steel that makes it unsafe to use, too. Heh. Or they will find out aluminum may be safe, afterall. But I doubt that. Life's a crapshoot, ya know.
I bought an "antique-look" queen-sized headboard for $15 that I had in mind to use somehow in the garden but now I'm starting to think I might use it on the guest room bed instead of that padded leather headboard.
I just love fancy metal-work for some reason. Bought this rack a couple weeks back, and the chairs last summer.
While we were out we stopped at Food Pyramid, our grandson JR works at the bank satellite there. Every time I see him at work, it just amazes me how grown-up and responsible he is, and he is the one I never thought would amount to much because I just couldn't keep him in school. Class clown, that was JR. Always smarting off and trying to be "cool". Got suspended on the first day of school one year. I'm so proud of him and how he's turned his life around. And he looks so much like my dad did when he was a young man. I had bought a few garage sale things for his little daughter, and I didn't want to embarrass him by just going in and handing him the bag, so I poked my head in and said, "Gimmee your car keys!" He said, "Why?" And I said, "SHEESH! So's I can go on a joyride, Silly!" He handed them over, I clicked his lock from a little distance and Hubs, who was standing by his car with the bag, opened the door and stuck it in there. Then I clicked the lock, returned JR's keys and clicker, kissed him on the neck (he was on the phone) and he said, "Love you..." as I went out the door. Of course I said, "Love you, too..." before I was gone. I knew there was a good kid in there, all those years he was growing up and being such a butt. So grateful. Thank you God, for answering all those prayers.
Our last stop was Aldi's. There are certain things we always get there because their prices are cheaper. Produce. Eggs. Oatmeal. Chips and crackers. Mayonnaise. Yogurt. Ice Cream. Tomato paste. Canned corn. Other canned vegetables, fruit, and pie filling, if I don't have any of my home-canned stuff left. Flour and sugar, if no one has any on sale when I need it. Frozen orange juice concentrate. They always have a row of non-grocery items and it changes depending on the season. This time they had plants and bulbs. The bulbs were $1.69.
Everything looked pretty good, some of the bulbs had already started to sprout and so I got them right into the ground that day. The rose, hard to tell. Not very big, but a better root system on it than lots of things I've bought other places that cost more. The peat moss it was packed in was still slightly moist, but probably wouldn't be after another couple days. It's hydrating in some water and I will find a place for it today. Having to restrain myself from planting anything more along the yard fence because it'll make it harder for the men to work on the fence when the time comes. I still haven't heard what it's going to cost, guess I will have to do a little bird-dogging. This is one thing I just hate about contractors. You have to bird-dog them or they'll just plain forget to do what they promise to do. That seems to be the norm for contractors around here.
Today's only supposed to get to 77º and I will probably do some more work in the garden. I'd like to get some more wood chips down before tonight, we have some good chances for rain and we need it so badly. We have had many rainy days but the volume of rain we've gotten out of them hasn't amounted to much, and I've had to water out of the cistern in some areas already. Still getting asparagus, braised a pound and put it in the freezer as it was just more than I could eat. Getting small pickings of lettuce, chard and kale. The Bok Choy went right to seed. Sheesh. Did that last time I planted it. Guess I won't waste my time with Bok Choy again. The spinach is finally being left alone by critters, the leaves of the ones that have survived are growing and wrinkling up like spinach is supposed to do. Maybe I'll get a harvest off them soon. Oh, and now's the time when Egyptian Walking Onions are at their best.
Till next time, Rock On........ Hugs xoxoxo