Looks even worse if you dig it up.
We have other weird-looking fungus here, one type that looks like somebody hurled.
Just so ya know, in case you see this on the ground, George Bush has not paid you a visit. Heh.
Wednesday, May 6
Started raining in the night, an inch of rain accumulated by 4am. More rain throughout the day. The cistern was almost full and I had to reroute the drain from the rain gutters to out on the ground because the bullet tank at the side of the garage was just about to overflow. I went out to the garden between rains and planted Cucuzzi, Parisian Carrot, Fortex Pole Bean, Pink Banana Squash. And yes, I WILL USE SEVIN DUST if I see squash bugs, but just on the squash. Would prefer not to, but it's the only way I'm able to grow squash, it seems. Having to pull out Field Pea, Hairy Vetch and Bindweed everywhere before I can plant anything.
Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is terrible this year. It lays down a carpet and sends down roots about every foot or so, if it gets the chance. I've seen many sources that say its presence will stunt the growth of the garden because its roots give off poisons into the earth. I've seen that about Bermuda grass, too, something else that is the bane of my garden's existence. However, it seems to me that the biggest threat from bindweed is that it'll shade everything out. While I was weeding Tuesday I found three potato plants under an overgrowth. They apparently had wintered over from last year. I dug one out and it yielded two thumb-sized new potatoes. And the plant hadn't even bloomed yet. I left the others there, pulling the Bindweed out, as much as I could get. I will never be able to totally eradicate Bindweed. RoundUp, a product that I have only used in dire emergencies, doesn't even work on Bindweed. The roots go "all the way to China", as we used to say, and they are brittle so they break off when the plant is pulled or dug. "Natural" weed killer recipes include salt and vinegar and I'm not so sure I want all that salt in the soil, either. I think the reason Bermuda kills other plants is because it's roots grow so thickly, with sharp barbs that probably penetrate the roots of more delicate things. It's almost worth having Bindweed, because it seems to shade out the Bermuda. And heavy shade is about the ONLY thing that will successfully hold Bermuda at bay. If it wasn't for the root system giving off poisons, which I don't know for sure whether it really does, Bindweed would probably qualify as a host for beneficial soil bacteria. People who follow permaculture practices say that plants that send their roots deeply into the soil, and which live throughout the winter months actually "show" the roots of other plants where the path to nutrients and water is, and they give off sugars and such that feed the "good bacteria", which fights off the "bad bacteria", all year long. It's all getting so complicated, isn't it? You really don't know who to believe.... weeds are bad, weeds are good. Tilling is good, tilling is bad. Fertilizers and additives are good, ....bad. Somehow I think if, somewhere along the path, someone didn't profit from people following their advice, there'd be better, more consistent advice. Or maybe, if there was no profit it it, there wouldn't be any advice at all. Hmmmmm. More and more, with my garden, I'm just feeling "jerked around". So I add my leaves and my aged wood chips, and I follow mulching practices to a point, then pull up what weeds survive the mulch. I don't buy chemical fertilizers except for Miracle Gro or Shultz's liquid fertilizer for my little seedlings while growing in the house, but lots of birds hang out in the garden and they're poopin' somewhere..... I have lots of earthworms and they're poopin'. Maybe that's all the poop I need, I don't know, but it's all the garden is going to get, because I don't have a source and even if I did, it's so much work to haul in and spread, and then there's e.Coli to worry about. During times when I HAVE been able to get and use composted horse, chicken or cattle manure, I didn't really notice that big of a change, unless it was too fresh or I put on too much, in which case, the change went in the wrong direction. Though I must say that the Privet bushes that are in the back of the chicken house are taller than the others that grow along the fence.
I planted cuke seed on Tuesday after digging out the Aunt Molly tomatilloes that I absent-mindedly planted where I had planned to put the cukes. Sheesh. It used up most of Tuesday afternoon because I had to dig out rock before I could plant the tomatillo into its new spot. After I buried the kitchen scraps that had the seed bundles of two cantaloupe from Aldi in it, I marked the spot. Sure enough, I've got lots of little cantaloupe plants now.
My little apple tree experiment is booming right along. I've had 98% germination in the paper towel, and only have two that didn't emerge in the Styrofoam cup after they began to break through their seedcoat. After that I just started waiting till the first cotyldons emerged, then planted the seedling in the cup with the cotyldons above the soil. Haven't lost any of those. It's best to tease that seed coat off the cotyldons before planting the seedling into soil, if it doesn't fall off by itself, while it's still damp from being in the paper towel. You want to be at the point where you can actually SEE some parts of the cotyldons, though, so you know they're formed. The seed coat can dry up with a death grip over the cotyldons and will kill the plant. They call this "Helmet Head" and say it happens sometimes with less-than-perfect growing conditions. Pish! WHEN are growing conditions EVER perfect? Not here, anyway.
The celery and onions that grew from planting the root ends that were left from grocery store items are still growing.
Paula tells me she has a lot of trouble posting comments to my blog. She says she clicks on "Preview" and the box comes back all emptied out. I've had this happen to me on GardenWeb, and the "Preview" button is the only choice the first time around. So maybe this is what is happening to Paula. Using the "Back" button doesn't bring it back up, either. So I've taken to highlighting what I've written, then right-clicking and choosing "copy" in the drop-down box that appears, before I click on the Preview button. Then I paste what I copied back into the box and by this time there is a "Preview" button AND a "Publish" button, so I just click on "Publish" and it goes ahead and publishes what I wrote. I wonder if anyone else has problems like this on my blog and they just think I've got them blocked out or something. I delete posts from people who are trying to publish their advertising or spam links in the comments of my blog and I have a lot more trouble with this if I allow anon comments. So if you're trying to comment and there is a "Publish" button that you can use from the git-go, just go ahead and use it and skip the use of the "Preview" entirely. I think that's where the problem lies.
Thursday, May 7:
Hubs has accumulated some stuff at the back of the fence, over the years, that will be in the way when the fence is replaced, so he moved most of it to the back of his workshop. There were two old railroad ties out there that Spike had brought out a long time ago, and I've been wanting to make the soil a little deeper in the flower bed around the cellar so we used them to make the "retaining wall" a little taller, and to replace a "wall" of sorts we'd made with a pile of rock at the front corner. That meant we had to pull out the pile of rock, and Hubs hauled them out to The Rock Wall. It wasn't working very well, anyway, the Bermuda was all tangled in it and it was a mess. This looks better. I'll need to tell Spike we could use some more, in case he sees any that need a home. Spike does lawn mowing as a second job so he sees stuff like this all the time.
I heard that someone drowned when their storm shelter filled with water during those tornadoes around Oklahoma City and Norman last night. OMG..... These storm shelters are guaranteed not to leak for ten years but I don't know if the risk is high for after that. Scarey. I wouldn't want to try to cover my storm cellar completely with earth as some people do, or have the whole thing below grade. The bottom half of the "clamshell" is meant to be in the ground and the top half is supposed to be above ground. They are joined together on-site and caulked, but I wouldn't want to put soil above that caulk line. Seems to me like, if it's going to leak anywhere, it would be there. It's true that, "When your number's up, it's up", though. You can get buried in these storm shelters and die in them just as easily as if you huddled in your bathroom or stood out in the middle of a field, even. Something can close off the ventilation and you can suffocate. We thought about getting one of those safe rooms put inside the house and I kinda wish we had, instead of the cellar, but I'd heard stories about those coming loose from their moorings during a tornado and the thought of being inside a metal and concrete rocket during a tornado was also kind of scarey. Life's a crapshoot, so live each day as if it's your last. One of these days, it will be.
I went to the garden to decide where to cast my saved zinnia seeds and got sidetracked pulling weeds. I did get the zinnia seed broadcast but not till late in the day. Another color of iris appeared in the front iris bed and it's a strange color that I didn't remember having before. It's kind of maroon but almost brown, with a spot of blue-purple on the falls, just below the gold-colored beard. I spent quite a bit of time on the Historic Iris Preservation Society's gallery trying to identify it, found it, and as soon as I saw the name "Grand Canyon", it clicked. It was one of the ones I'd gotten from my little old lady friends. I don't think it bloomed at the Ponca House before the back-hoe incident, and certainly this is the first time since then. So I updated the Iris post to include it and also included the link for the HIPS gallery. They have documented hundreds of historic iris, including pictures and year of introduction. When it has been 30 years or more since an iris was introduced, it is considered "historic".
I have onions doing strange things in the garden. I think these are some of last year's Walla Walla's. They were putting on seed heads until the wind blew a tomato cage on top of them and broke several of the stalks.
Not only are they making seed heads. They're dividing into two and sometimes three. Each bulb is about as big as a large Delicious apple from the grocery store. I dug the two that were broken and brought them in, thinking I'd use them in the kitchen, but when I cut them up, I found nothing usable except five or six layers on the outside of a tough core. Well, I guess if I were making soup, I might be able to boil all this in broth for the onion flavor, and then remove the pieces and throw them out. Most of this onion would be impossible to chew.
Friday, May 8:
I'm concerned about bird flu and I sure hope we don't end up in a world without birds. I love our wild birds and mostly I like having habitat for them. But not so much the House Sparrows, who want their nests close to the house, and when the baby birds start to poop, it collects and hangs on the edges of the nest and then the excess starts dropping and makes a horrible mess where people need to walk. We try to take their nests down if they're in a bad place, before they start laying eggs, and sometimes we just have to put a wad of chicken wire in the spot because they are persistent and will rebuild many times before giving up. We didn't notice this nest till too late. I just can't tear down a nest with eggs in it.
It's time to start putting netting around berry plants. Starting with the strawberries, then the black cherry bushes and blackberries. Eventually the grape arbor. By the end of this day the strawberry bed was netted and I used four PVC pipe tomato cages to make a frame of sorts over the black cherry bushes and Hubs helped me attach the netting. They are loaded again this year. Maybe I will get more than the Mockingbird does this time.
I was thinking about trying some pinwheels in some areas and Lowe's has instructions, a pattern, and a supply list HERE. They recommend buying white vinyl flashing material for the pinwheel itself and that's $26.68 for a 10" x 50' roll -- and they recommend painting it. Why would anybody want to order 50' just to make pinwheels with?? I don't know why you couldn't buy something else, like aluminum flashing, which is shiny and you wouldn't have to paint, and it comes in shorter lengths. If I make some I might try cutting up some vinyl file folders. They come in bright colors. I don't use them for anything and in fact they're in with the garage sale stuff right now. Maybe Hobby Lobby would have something that'd work as well. It goes without saying that if you have to spend a lot of money to make pinwheels, you might as well just save yourself some time and buy them already made at The Dollar Store. I have a few I've picked up at garage sales, I'll probably use them to see if they work, and if they don't, I will have no need for more of them.
People use all kinds of different things to try to keep the birds off their fruit. Carole uses pieces of metallic gift-wrap ribbon that blow in the wind. I overheard a berry grower tell someone at a farmer's market how they managed to keep the birds from eating their berries with flags. In trees, some people recommend hanging old CD's, or something small and red, which they say attracts the birds and then disappoints, and so after awhile they'll stop coming to that tree. Or they collect little rocks and paint them to look like strawberries and put them in their strawberry bed. I've been collecting the red lids that are on plastic milk jugs all winter, and I'm going to hang some in some of my fruit trees this year. There are fake owls and snakes but it is true that the Mockingbirds get so they don't even pay any attention to those. I saw on a garden show where they recommended going out and buying a piece of fruit, smearing Tanglefoot on the sides but not on the top and bottom, then hanging that on the tree right as the fruits on the tree start to ripen. I think this is more for catching bugs, rather than deterring birds, though.
Saturday, May 9:
We are under a Flash Flood Watch till May 11. It rained and thundered most of the night but we didn't get the hail they'd forecast, and our weather radio didn't report any danger of tornadoes. I had gathered lettuce and the greens Monday night just in case we would have hail damage. And I have to say, I won't grow Tyfon (Holland Greens) again. I processed some for the freezer and, regardless of what the vendors say about them, they taste a little too "turnip-ey" to me. I don't even wonder what Hubs' reaction would be. He won't even eat spinach. And I noticed that the spinach has started bolting to seed. So much for the "Long Standing" part of the Bloomsdale name. I have a few Nobel spinach plants, from seed Carole sent me. They are also supposed to be slow to bolt. They don't seem to like to be transplanted very well, so I don't know if they will even survive to bolting stage.
While I was in the garden I saw a rat. DANG IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I called Joe, and told him to go ahead and keep our rat trap for the weekend but I'll need it back by Monday morning. We just can't afford to let the rat population explode over here again.
We are situated on a high spot, which is why I sometimes call our place "RockWhisperer's Hill", and that is a good thing when we're under a flood watch. Getting a lot of rain in May and June used to be quite normal for us. In fact, we moved here in early July of 2010 and it rained practically every day while we were moving. I went to The Ponca House by myself one day and then couldn't get home because the highway was under water and blocked off only a mile away from home. It's possible we'll get isolated again before all this is over but it'll be over soon and won't be a big deal unless we leave home and can't get back.
Suffice it to say there we did not go to any garage or estate sales. Hubs and I have decided not to waste our time going to estate sales that are run by one particular business. Their prices have gone through the roof for the first day and they absolutely won't make any deals. Then on the second day, they go half price, but even THAT is very often more than I will pay. The thing is, the man is an auctioneer. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they buy what's left from the estate "for one money", as they say, and then put all of it in their next auction. They get a percentage of what they take in at the estate sale, so considering "full price day", "half price day" and then the auction, this is a good way to squeeze every penny out of someone's estate. That's good for the business and the estate, and certainly it's a lot of work, but it's just a waste of time for people like us. We'll be better off skipping these and go instead where the prices are better. I don't like auctions because I don't like to compete with others for my junk. Sometimes I suspect there are people at auctions who are employed by the auctioneer to bid against some of the bidders and "run them up". Just like everything else, it's all about the money. Some people say they get some really good prices at auctions. But if I see something I want, it"s something everybody else wants, too. At least at a garage sale, it's possible to see it before the others do.
Rainy days mean there are a lot of things you can't do out in the garden. If you pull weeds, they come out of the soil with all the soil still on them, and that's messy. Some things will come out of the ground a lot easier if the ground is saturated, like Bermuda grass roots, though. If you have something ready to pick, it's not so good for the plants to do so. It IS a good time to broadcast seed. Also a good time to turn over the stuff in the compost bin. I just have leaves in one bin. In the other two is where I pile pulled weeds. The compost that results from pulled weeds is often so full of weed seed that it's only good for using in the mix that I start seeds in, and that's because I bake the soil to kill seeds and insect eggs. Rainy days are good for transplanting, if the ground is not TOO muddy. Do it carefully if the soil is already wet. Keep the hole about the same size as the plant's root bundle, try not to disturb the roots when you put it in the hole, just a little water to fill in the air spaces, and then gently close up the hole around it. You don't want to compact the soil any more than is necessary.
Today I decided to dig up the Crape Myrtle that was growing in front of the bullet-shaped water collection tank.
The one in front of the bullet tank had a flat rock under it about a foot under the ground. I wonder why I didn't notice THAT when I planted it?? It was helpful, actually, as I was able to get the pry-bar under the rock and, once the side roots were all located and cut (that's the hard part, anyway...), the bush came out of the ground easily. I dug out a rock-filled hole on the outside of the north garden fence, and planted it there. I made the Executive Decision that the vacated space will be a perfect spot for these Euonymus "Manhattan" bush cuttings that have FINALLY rooted.
By then it was lunch time. Full of confidence, I decided to move the Crape Myrtle that grows in the front flower bed, too, after lunch.
Maybe it was that I should've had a "Power Lunch". Maybe it was that it would've been better if there had been a rock under it, too. You pick. Because I'm too tired to care now. I'm not muddy, just plenty dirty. But I got the bulk of the rootball and it's been moved to a spot on the north side of the garden fence, about ten feet east of the one I planted during the morning. The day is overcast and the chances are high for more rain this afternoon and tonight. So I didn't water the bushes in. I'll let Nature take care of that. The ground is damp but not muddy. They can grow as much or as little as they want out there. Fine with me.
The last light pink one is growing on the south side of the house. When I planted it there, I thought it would help hide that PVC pipe that delivers rain water from the downspout on that side of the house to the cistern. Another poor choice. I'll dig it up, too.
We watched Growing A Greener World on the educational station today. This time it was about integrating bird habitat into the garden and Joe Lampl interviewed Margaret Roach. She has a good YouTube presentation about underplanting HERE, too. Joe also talked to the people at Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It was a good show, with lots of good information. HERE is the link to that segment.
Towards evening, I set out some Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil plants along the border of the front flower bed. Since they start blooming so soon, and will rebloom after being cut back, I think they'll be just as pretty there as Sweet Alyssum, which I cannot seem to grow very well. The last of the Mexican Tarragon plants were settled into the herb garden. I cast some Rox Orange Broom Corn seed on the ground in the northeast corner of the garden. It was raining by then.
Sunday, May 10:
Mostly I just dinked around. Planted some Euonymus Manhattan in the empty spot in front of the bullet-shaped water tank, as planned. Potted up a couple of plants that were growing in a winter-sowing jug, which became a "flat" when I cut off the top. I thought I had a bunch of Pearlbush seedlings but as they grow I'm more apt to think they're Black Cherry Bush seedlings. And that's OK, too, as they are nice prolific bushes and the cherries are very good. A couple of plants finally came up in the container where I winter-sowed Pearlbush seeds and marked it as such, and the two sets of seedlings don't look like each other. I hate it when I don't mark things. I always think, "Oh, well, I can remember that....", and then later on I don't have a clue.
After the last rainy spell I went out to the garden and took all the bags of leaves from between the tomato plants. They served their purpose, keeping the plants warm when the weather was chilly, and protecting the plants from strong winds when they were not strong enough to withstand it on their own. Now, leaving the bags there to cut off the movement of air between the plants will encourage disease, since we're getting all this rain.
I set some Garbanzo beans (Cicer arietinum) to germinate in a damp paper towel. Before I wrap it up for the day, I'll do some Adzuki beans (Vigna angularis), as well. Both are bush type. The Adzuki can be eaten as a green bean or left to dry on the plant and used as a dry bean or a sprouting bean. I can grow them near Fortex pole bean because it's Phaseolus vulgaris and the three won't cross-pollinate. I decided not to grow Lazy Housewife this year. I have Provider to plant as a bush bean. It is my understanding that, while bush beans and pole beans CAN cross, it isn't as common as it would be if two kinds of pole beans or two kinds of bush beans were grown at the same time.
Monday, May 11:
Joe brought the trap back Sunday afternoon. We caught two rats between then and bedtime.
I got up early this morning and while I was drinking my first cup of coffee, I heard Sam growling at the patio door. Turned on the patio light and there stood a striped tabby cat. It froze and locked eyes with Sam. Seemed alarmed. So did Sam. She freezes when she sees a full-grown rabbit, too. I just turned off the patio light. Maybe that cat will eat some rats. If it eats over here, that's the menu. Not adopting another cat. NOT!
I found an interesting You-Tube on making a root cellar clamp out of bags of leaves HERE. Right up my alley, if there's one thing I can always get plenty of, it's bagged leaves. The author of this particular selection is Herrick Kimball, the "Whiz-Bang" guy. I found his blog a long time ago and in fact, bought one of his wheel tillers.
I noticed an amber-colored gelatinous mess coming out of the base of my little purple peach tree, which has been looking a little the worse for wear lately. Did a little research and discovered it is Peach Borer larvae, which, if allowed to become adults, can spread to every fruit tree I have. Oh, wurra, wurra. It was loose in the hole and not hard to remove. Hubs cut the damaged part of the stump into pieces and put it in the burn barrel along with some dead wood and twigs we've accumulated. I killed as many of the larvae as I saw when I scraped all the gelatinous stuff out. Then I put all that in the burn barrel, too. It's too windy to burn today. Maybe early tomorrow. I can start the fire with our burnable household trash. "The Holistic Orchard" by Michael Phillips, recommends painting fruit tree trunks with paint that has plaster of paris added to it, and the application of a 2" collar of wood ashes in the earth around the base of the trunk. Also I'm going to apply some Pure Neem Oil, as it's often recommended in this book to maintain the general health of the tree. This is a wonderful, information-packed book if you have fruit trees. Well worth the cost.
Tuesday, May 12:
I needed to do laundry today. While I was in the middle of that, Hubs decided to vacuum. Vacuuming is one of the household tasks Hubs doesn't mind doing. He doesn't wash dishes, only unloads the dishwasher occasionally, never wipes off a counter or a table or does any dusting, doesn't cook, even when I'm recovering from surgery, doesn't mop floors, and the list goes on. But he will vacuum, fold the laundry after it's clean and dry, and make the bed. I guess this is true of a lot of men. The vacuum, afterall, has a MOTOR, and men like noisy things. And most men don't mind making the bed because it was something they learned to do in the military. Most men don't mind folding laundry because it smells good by then and they get to handle women's underwear without being accused of being A Dirty Old Man. But the vacuuming thing gripes me because he never tells me when he's going to do it and usually starts in, without a word of warning, when I'm right in the middle of something else. So I have to drop everything I'm doing in order to go around and pick up the throw rugs and throw them outside. Because he vacuums AROUND rugs. And then if I don't want to be asking him where my shoes are, I have to pick them up. If I want him to vacuum in the office, I've got to pick up seed packets and things I've been sorting off the floor. That includes the laundry. I have to remind him to get the edges and corners and under things, every time. I have to ask him to get the cat hair off the cat's favorite chair every time. I tell you, it's all I can do not to start channeling Aunt Viv. It's as if telling me what he's going to do is akin to asking my permission to do it and OMG, it's like men lose their manhood if they have to ask a woman if it's convenient for HER for them to do something at a certain time. They think they're doing their woman a BIG FAVOR by doing stuff like this and they don't like her finding fault with how they do it because she's just LUCKY they do it at all. In fact, they get a little disgruntled if they're not thanked for doing it every time. But they live here, right? They eat here, right? Their dirty laundry and bathrooms are HORRIBLE, right? At least SOME of that mess they're vacuuming up is THEIRS, right? And when WE do something, like prepare their meals day in and day out whether we feel up to it or not, or wipe up their mess off the counters, or wash the clothes or mop the floors or keep the bathrooms clean, do THEY every thank US????
.... Oh, hello there, Aunt Viv .....
The laundry is now done and brought in from the clothesline. I spent the rest of the morning treating tree trunks with Neem Oil (diluted of course). After that dried, they were painted with some blue house paint I had left from The Ponca House, mixed with plaster and enough water to make it easy to paint on the trunks. Both plum trees, the Hale Haven Peach, the Apricot and the Nectarine trees are also oozing amber gelatinous stuff. Just not as bad. I scraped out all the gel and I didn't see any worms except one fell out of a hole, gagging (sorta) from one of the plum trees after I sprayed on the Neem. Came in, had a rest, a cuppa coffee and a bite of lunch, then after the paint was dry, put on another coat of Neem. Some people say it smells terrible. Just smells like turpentine to me. Tomorrow morning maybe I'll put on another coat of paint and Neem on after it dries. Or maybe I'll wait till after the next rainy spell. There are chances of rain again, from Wednesday through Sunday night.
I guess I'll go ahead and get this thing published. We have a trip scheduled to Tulsa, my last follow up at the retinal specialist for the work that was done on my right eye. I don't know why he needs to see me, I'm doing just fine, seems like two follow-ups after surgery ought to be enough. We have had a couple of clear days but there's more rain coming. When they called to remind me of my appointment I told them if it was storming we wouldn't be there. I have cataract surgery coming up soon on the left eye here in town and if I have to reschedule with the retinal specialist I'm going to want it to be after I've recovered.
We'll just try to get through all this coming rain, what with the ground being close to the saturation point, the cistern full and all the little ponds and lakes around us brimming. This is more rain than we've had in about four years and we have needed it, just not all at once is what I'm sayin'. And our land line phone is acting up, it always does when it rains. AT&T has tried to fix it remotely but Joe thinks it's at the hub that's down on the corner. Something shorts out when it gets wet and makes the phones all have a loud hum that is hard to hear over. Of course we're having to wait three days for AT&T to come out, and they have told me repeatedly, via my first call and their two follow-ups by phone, that if the problem is within our house they'll charge us $100 for coming out. The hum is not as loud now but it's still there. If Joe thought the problem was within our house, he would fix us for free. At my age and having experienced the things I've experienced, I don't trust AT&T not to lie about it. Hubs thinks we can refuse to let the repairman in and we'll avoid their repair charges, if that's the case. We'll see how that goes. Since we're going to have another week of rain it'll probably be all to do over again, anyway.
So..... Till next time, Rock on, and we will do the same, counting our blessings that we are not flooded or blown away. Hugs xoxoxo