Saturday, February 20, 2016

Late February Garden Stuff

I start this on Tuesday, February 16.

Today I went out to plant the gooseberry bushes and the starts of Pampas Grass that I got from Paula.  If the wind wasn't blowing, it'd be a beautiful day.  The wind is chilly.  It's one of those things where, you wear your sweatshirt jacket with the hood, and when you're working in the sun, you're sweating.  In the shade, you're cold.  There is the smell of smoke, strong in the air.  But I can't see it in the sky.  Lord God, please protect all of us from Stupid Fools today.

Those tall bushes are the gooseberry bushes.  They are different from the gooseberry bushes I got from my friend June.  June's are as I remember gooseberry bushes to be from my childhood.  Very thorny, and low growing.  They are growing there in the bed and their little thorny arms are sticking up out of the mulch.  Last spring they bloomed profusely but didn't put on any berries.  Maybe the late frost got them, but mostly I think it was because they need male and female to bear fruit.  So at first I thought, since they produced for Paula, these new bushes would pollinate the bushes that I have.  These new bushes have no thorns.  They seem to be a bigger bush.  And KM says the berries are purple and sweet.  I wonder if these are Hinnonmaki gooseberries.  Or could they be Jostaberries, which are a cross between gooseberries and black currants?  I s'pose I'll find out.  I love surprises.  But I'm thinking they probably won't pollinate the bushes that I already had. 

After I planted and watered them in, I put a layer of leaves on top and wood chips to hold them down.  Kylie's last load was from a Crabapple tree, he said, and there are little sticks in the woodchip pile that still have some green on the bark.

We'll see if I can get a tree or two from these.

The apple trees I grew from seed have all been pruned by the rabbits.  Grrrrr.  They'll probably come out of it during the summer.  And if they do I will protect them better next fall.  That's rooted starts of begonia in the glass next to it.  Lately I've been just taking cuttings of these right before the first frost, as they are not winter-hardy.  I bought the original plants at a fall garage sale.  There was a red, this pink, a white, and a white tinged with pink.  Some of the plants were in pots and not in the ground, so I just brought them in.  But I missed one and it froze.  Since I'm not good with keeping plants going in the house all winter, the two I did bring in have lived, but only barely so.  I don't have many windows in this house.  And I forget to water sometimes.  So I broke off starts of both and put them in water today.  The pink one is well rooted so I planted it in some soil.  I figure spring's not that far off now.  Maybe I'll take better care of it.  The red was my favorite and I think that's the one that froze.

While I was putting the gooseberries in the ground, I cut off some of the new growth to try to root additional plants in case these don't make the transplant.  It's always good to have a Plan B.  New spring growth is softer and therefore are easier to root.

My regular readers might remember last spring, when I bought one raspberry plant at Tractor Supply and propagated off three additional plants from some of the new growth on the canes.  In that little cream bottle are cuttings from the Doyle thornless blackberry canes that I collected last fall when I moved some of them to the raised beds that are at the far north fence in the garden.  Where they were growing, they arch out into the walkway and can easily be run over by the wheels of anything we drag along there.  I had more than two, and I intended to stick them into the ground and put a jar over them, but I didn't do it, so most of them died without making roots in the water.  I did, however, get some cuttings from one of the Bridal Wreath Spiraea bushes and got them into the ground.  I hope it's not too late in the spring for them to get themselves rooted.

This particular Bridal Wreath is the double flower, and I received the start that made my original bush from a woman at a garage sale I attended while the bush was in glorious bloom.  This bush has retained its leaves all winter, while all the other varieties, the Japonica that I bought at Walmart, the single that I started from cuttings from bushes found on an empty lot in town, and the double that I rescued from Mom and Dad's place after the house had been bulldozed, did not. 

I also transplanted the tomato plants Paula gave me into cups.  I have been examining my cheese pepper seed that I have in coffee filters and so far there is no sign of life.  I went through my seed stash and I have set soaking some from every year's seed that I have.  What's in the coffee filter now is 2015 seed.  I don't remember what year's seed I was working with before that, but I'm going to make sure I keep track of this.  Out of them I only got one yellow and two orange.  No red.  If the seeds are dead, there's no point in keeping them in the seed stash.

Paula asked me if she can still Wintersow, and I said "yes, as long as they are seeds that don't need winter stratification.  If they do, the window of opportunity is probably closed by now."  She is further south than I am, and thus is in zone 7 whereas I'm in a narrow band that is zone 6a.  So her climate is warmer than mine.  We've not had rain in awhile, and the weather has been warmer for a couple of days now.  I must remember to check mine and see if they need to be watered.  With warmer days, I need to be watching for emergence, and I probably need to move the jugs so that they will not be in direct sunlight.  It can get too hot in those plastic jugs quickly.

This is now Wednesday.  Oh, it's a beautiful day!

Hubs and I went to workout, and I just got plum tuckered out.  We needed a few things at Aldi.  Mostly fruit and salad ingredients.  Although we've been enjoying the pears I put up last summer.  These pears have kept their color so well, and all I did was to crush a vitamin C tablet in the water that I sliced them into, and then only about 1/8 tsp. of citric acid into each jar.  I cooked and canned them in the same water I'd sliced them into and seems like only about 1/8 cup of sugar per quart jar.  I think it must be the variety, these are off our tree that is supposed to be Bartlett, if you can trust ArborDay (and it has not been my experience that you can).  The last time I canned pears was when we picked from someone else's tree, and with time they seemed to lose color and take on a little "grayish" tone.  Not sure if I used citric acid in them but I know I used the vitamin C tablet. 

I wanted to go to Atwood's on the way home from our workout and see if they had their seed marked down (they didn't, and I didn't find anything else I needed there, either).  Then to Tractor Supply and see if they had anything interesting.  I bought a hardy kiwi 'Prolific', a bag of yellow onion bulbs, and a bag of three rhubarb crowns.  I swear, if these rhubarb don't do any good I'm giving up.  They had their seed marked down but didn't have as big a selection as Atwood's and there wasn't anything I needed.  Atwood's is building a new store, and instead of being in the shopping center, it's going to be out along the highway very close to where Tractor Supply is.  Now, this should be interesting and we're liable to be able to get some great bargains till they settle down from trying to run each other out of business. 

I planted the rhubarb in the herb garden at the side of the patio this time.  My thinking is that a) it stays wetter there than in the average garden bed; b) it's partial shade there, which might be a saving grace in the heat of the summer; and c) I'll see it every time I come out the door and therefore will notice sooner if it starts to look like it's in trouble.  I was able to grow wonderful rhubarb when we lived in northern Indiana.  But that's a colder climate than here by at least a zone or two.  Where we lived, we would almost always have snow on the ground by Halloween and up until about Mother's Day.  I had "Cabin Fever" every winter, living there.  I Potted up the kiwi and broke off a little new shoot I'll root and have myself a second plant.  My research provided good news.  This variety is self-pollinating and thus there's not that male / female thing.  They are also 'early ripening' and smooth-skinned.  However, people say the deer like to eat the vine.  Since I had planned to give up on growing grapes and plant the kiwi at the grape arbor, I'll probably have to rethink that.  I watered my wintersowing jugs.  They were really dry.  I'm so tired right now I can hardly pay attention.  Ate some carrots, a spoon of peanut butter and heated up a cup of coffee. 

Well, the rabbits or the rats have nipped off almost every single cane from the raspberries AND the Doyle blackberries in the garden.  Since they fruit on last year's canes, there won't be any fruit off them this year.  *Sigh*.  Some days are diamonds, some days are stones.  And I can't even FIND the raspberry plant I propagated.  It's just a little early in the garden season for this kind of disappointment, don'tcha think?  Usually that sort of thing doesn't happen till the squash are attacked by the bugs. 

I have edged where the Spiraea "Bridal Wreath" are growing along the outside of the west garden fence with stones and I decided that was just not needed, now that the bushes have grown up such that Hubs would not be "accidentally" mowing them down.  I had planted a couple of lily plants out there but I can and will move them.  And then when Hubs mows, he can mow in closer to them and even (WHUT am I saying???) weed-wack between them.  So I spent some time raking the leaves out and moving those rocks against the fence behind the bushes, so as to discourage the rabbits from digging under the fence.  While I was doing that, Hubs came out to see what I was doing, and saw a rabbit hopping across the back yard from the south.  We both gave chase but the dang critter ran right past the gate Hubs had opened, several times, and eventually got itself under the chicken house and would not come out. ~~~~FUME~~~~  !!!GNASHING OF TEETH!!!!  I even dog-barked.  It didn't help this time.  It's onto my tricks, I guess......  You know, you'd THINK, by NOW, after being married to me since 1967, yes, People, FIFTY YEARS AGO in another year, Hubs would know better than to point out to me that I had left the gate at the northeast corner of the house open and to add that this is probably how the rabbit got in.  Well, excuuuuuuuuuse me, I was right there, working in the Spiraea bed, and he saw the rabbit coming toward us from the SOUTH of the back yard, clear on the opposite side of the house, for Cripe's sake...  Dang passive-aggressive man.  Blame it on The Woman again.  Please forgive me, God, for my lack of patience with This Dang Man.

At this point in our marriage, young men have often asked us how we managed to stay together this long.  And I have told them that one secret for a long and happy marriage is, "Know When To Shut Up".  Unfortunately, Hubs can't remember to do that and then I forget, too.  *Sigh*. 

I guess it's on me for not knowing better than to marry a man who had eight sisters, six of whom were older than him.  It's not just A Man Thing.  It's A Man Who's Been Spoiled Rotten By His Older Sisters Thing.  Being spoiled by women is something that Hubs has just always taken for granted and expected.  I know several women who say they don't have "X" amount of children and a husband.  They have "X + 1" children.  I can relate.

This is now Thursday. 

Today I rearranged my office to accommodate the Redneck Plant Light Stand being moved in from the garage. 

I have totally run out of space on the one plant light stand that I keep in the office all the time.  The garage is still just a little too cold for seedlings.  I asked Hubs if he thought it would be too big a load for both light stands to be plugged into the same timer and he said he thought it would be ok.  There are two plug-ins on the timer, and I plug the lights into a power strip.  So I'll try it.  If it's too big a load it'll just trip the switch in the power box and if that happens I'll just go buy a second timer and plug it into the other outlet.  No biggie. 

I check the cheese pepper seed that are in a damp coffee filter every day now.  I think I can see a little "toe" sticking out of some of the yellow cheese seeds, but so far nothing happening with the others.  This morning I started some of all the years of cheese pepper seed that are in my seed stash in coffee filters.  Peppers need warmth to germinate so the jar that holds the sandwich bag that holds these loosely is sitting on top of the water heater.  Doing anything I can think of to speed things up, because it's getting toward the end of my Window of Opportunity to start things.  I just don't have very good luck with them when I set them out in the garden before they get to any size.

My "hydroponic" experiment so far is not looking very good.  These are the best.  They have grown a lot slower than they would have grown in soil.  And the jury's still out as to whether they will even live.  They are so leggy.

And these........ well, they're about as "worst" as they can be. 

I didn't have high hopes for them, as they already had their cotyledons when I put them in the rock wool.  I should've planted those in soil and just started new seed, but I thought I might luck out. 

So I set some more spinach seed to soak in water.  Tomorrow morning, I'll drop the seed into the holes of the rock wool.  It stays wet, as the bottom of it is in the water, and that ought to be sufficient to take them the rest of the way. 

I'm not seeing very good signs, success-wise, for my garden year so far and I'm starting to get concerned that it's sort of "setting the tone".  I guess, if the garden fails this year we'll just take some more road trips.  I've been wanting to go to Cabool, MO to see if I can find the cemetery where my great-great grandparents of the Peabody family are buried.  I have a few mysteries to solve and sometimes there's just nothing left to do but GO there.  I told Glenda we'd drop by and see her and Max since we'll be in their neighborhood.  Glenda and I met on Oklahoma Gardening, too, and we've had many email conversations and a few phone conversations.  But we've never met face-to-face, in probably eight years of friendship.  If we have another late frost this spring and don't get fruit on the trees, I might wait till fall and see if I can go with, when Glenda goes and gets her apples at an orchard that's near her.  Oh, those Braeburn apples she put up one year just made my mouth water!! 

I went out about 10am to mark where I planted the rhubarb and the pampas grass.  Yes, they're both unmistakable when they emerge, but if they haven't, and two weeks later I go out to plant something, I might not remember that I planted something there.  I always think I will, so I don't mark it, and then I realize after I'm dug it out trying to plant something else there, that .....I forgot.  Sheesh.  It's not growing old that's done it, as I've always had problems like this.  I think it's that A.D.D. stuff.  .....Although, growing old has not helped.  Sometimes I just HATE getting old.  Other times, I think, "It's not so bad..." 

While I was out there, I ran onto the rabbit.  I Chestered up to the house, trying to keep my eye on the rabbit and opened the door enough so I could call for help from Hubs.  He came out and watched the rabbit while I opened the south gate.  The rabbit took out north, for the garden.  Hubs ran ahead and opened the north garden gate while I kept my eye on the rabbit.  Then I followed the rabbit as he made a big circle out east and then north.  Hubs positioned himself so he could keep it from circling around south.  It got in front of the open gate and stopped.  I didn't bark this time.  I just went, "WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH!!!!" as loud as I could and it hadn't heard that one before, so it went out the gate.  I'm going to stick some rocks in around the chicken house.  I thought we were going to have this battle won when we got the new fence, but if anything, it's worse.  We had that cable strung along the bottom that's supposed to prevent anything pushing through the bottom of the chain link.  And there are so many rocks under the ground, something big, like a dog, wouldn't be able to dig under.  We put chicken wire over the bottom 2' of the chain link.  Hubs wired extra pieces of post at the bottom of the gates where there's a space between the gate and the fence.  I'd THINK that'd do it, wouldn't you?  They keep finding places where they can dig and squeeze in.  I think they must be able to collapse their spines like raccoons can.  Either that or the dang little boogers are catapulting each other over the 6' top, is all I can think. 

It's been windy as the bejeezers today.  We lost power about noon, and then there were fire trucks out by the tower that our internet thingies look at so we can get online.   

I called as soon as Hubs said we didn't have any power, and entered my info with that robo-thing.  Not long after we saw the PSO trucks so we thought we were good.  About 5:30 still no power and lots of smoke in the air.  Without electricity, we can't find out what's going on unless we listen to the battery-operated radio or call someone.  The local radio station was not exactly a well-house of information, let me put it that way.  So I called June, who has a scanner, and she said the reason we had no electricity was because an electric line either fell or arc'd over the tower where we get our signal from for our Internet access, and started a fire there.  There was fire in all of Wann, a very small town northeast of us that's known by locals as "Wann, America", and in Owasso, which is due south, between us and Tulsa.  She said Wann called Caney and Tyro in KS for assistance, but they were on fire, too.  I called Joe and he was at work in Pawhuska at Pioneer Woman's new building, said he'd called Jay and they'd told Jay they'd have it on by 3:30.  Well that ship had sailed.  So Joe called PSO and they told him they didn't know we all didn't have power.  WHAT????  He called Jay and Jay called PSO and they told him they thought he was already back on.  I called PSO and they told me they expected to have it back on by 9pm.  I called Jay back and told him that and he was pissed, he works from home and had a computer installation to do.  Anyway, it's almost 7 (I think) and I had finished taking a military shower with the hot water that was left in the tank and looked out the windows just to see Bob and Sharry's yard light go on, then Joe's yard light, and Jay's lights on his house.  I realized I didn't have lights turned on so did that and voila!  Lights.  Sheesh.  I don't know how the fire thing is going to play out.  Apparently we're in the wrong direction from it.  I hope the freezer will stop beeping soon.  It's running and appears to be ok. 

This is now Saturday and I will try to post today. 

The freezer was still beeping when I got up Friday morning, I checked and the temperature was what it's supposed to be and everything was still frozen rock-solid.  The little beeper window had a "b" code on it.  I told Hubs about it after he got up and he said, "Oh!  That means 'dead battery'!"  The battery feeds the beeper, which makes no sense, because if you don't have a battery in there, it beeps.  If I can get a freezer without this dubious benefit, the next one we get is not going to have that feature.  We know when our power is out, and a thermometer can be kept in one of the top baskets.  That's really sufficient for me.  But anyway, now the freezer is quiet.  There was only a faint smell of smoke in the air.  And the wind had died down such that I could burn trash and brush in the burn barrel.  And I was also able to finally get my fruit trees sprayed with Volck spray.  I will need to be getting a better tree sprayer.  I had a lot of trouble with the one I was using. 

We went in for our workout but I didn't do anything but the bicycle and the upper-body weight machines.  No walking around the track.  My knee was sore and swollen from all Thursday's activities in the garden.  I had to quit working out there because of the wind.  Every time I pulled something up, the wind would blow the loose dirt away.  It blew so hard against me it almost knocked me down a couple of times.  And it has blown leaves all over into places where they're not needed / wanted.  The brush that Hubs threw on the ground near the burn barrel was all blown up against the gate.  I sure hope this doesn't mean we'll get another rush of rats.  Hubs thinks not, as the fire was travelling away from us.  Ahhhhhh.  Life on The Prairie. 

I checked my seeds that are being germinated in coffee filters.  The peppers were taking so long that I put the jar that they were in, on top of the water heater.  And finally, there is some activity.  Of COURSE there is, being as how I decided they weren't going to, and started more.  Hmmmmppppfff.

So I planted those in little cups of seed-starting mix.  I had put some Cowhorn okra seed in water because Kylie, our woodchip benefactor, mentioned to me that he wants to grow okra this year and I want him to try this kind.  Cowhorn is the only kind of okra that I will plant.  Even when the pods get bigger than you can let your average okra get, they are still tender and not woody.  So much so that it's kind of hard to get good seed from them.  When they start to size up, I clip a clothespin on the connecting stem of one on each plant so I'll know to leave that one alone and let it start to dry out on the plant.  But anyway, I wanted to make sure these seed gathered in 2013 were still viable before I gave any to Kylie.  Well, OMG, they actually germinated overnight in the water, and not wanting to waste the seed, I went ahead and planted those. 

Spike and DIL have three cats and they buy kitty litter in small plastic jugs at Aldi.  DIL is very much a recycler so they've been bringing the empty jugs here.  I would estimate they hold about a gallon.  I didn't know if I'd be able to think of a use for them but I hated to turn them down as I cannot get things at the recycling center anymore and eventually my big kitty litter jugs that we use to take water out to The North Fourth for trees will have broken down and I won't be able to get any more.  Those hold about 2.5 gallons and, being "squareish" they fit well into the wagon that Hubs can attach to his riding lawnmower. 

Most plants can be started inside but for some, the issue is that they don't transplant well, and so the answer for those is in the making of newspaper cups, which allow the seedling to be planted, container and all, causing no disturbance to the roots.  Hubs made me a "form" to shape the newspaper with.  It's 2.5" x 2.5" x about 8".  Our local newspaper is not as big as, say, The Wall Street Journal.  It comes in double sheets, folded in half, with an occasional half sheet.  The half sheet measures 11" x 23".  So I run a knife down the fold of the double sheets so all my paper pieces are single sheet size, and then I fold each one in half, lengthwise.  (5.5" x 23")  These strips are then wrapped around the wooden form, starting at a line I've drawn on the form.

The extra length on the form is for ease of handling.  Then I fold the extra that hangs off the bottom like gift wrap.

It turns out that six of these are just the right size to fit into the bottom of those kitty litter jugs, after the top's been cut off of the jug. 

I decided to line the jug with a Walmart bag so they would be easier to get out of the jug at planting time.  After the newspaper's been wet for awhile, it seems to want to stick to what it's been sitting in.  Another "little extra" is that the bag can be loosely closed and so will maintain humidity till the seedlings emerge.  This will help eliminate "helmet head" (the drying out of the seedcase before the cotyledons emerge from it). 

I sure hope you can see these pictures.  I've been having a lot of trouble with Blogger lately, not showing me the pictures I insert.  Some days I can see them fine, other days, I get those little boxes with "x's" in them.  It's an annoyance.  I've done a drag and drop, and it only helps until I save, and then it's the same thing.  I can't even see them in a Preview or even if I do a view of my own blog after I've published it, sometimes.  Other times, they're there and everything looks fine.  So I have no way to know if you can see the pictures or not.  I think you must be able to see them or none of you would've been able to see the pictures of our babies because it's been doing this, off and on, for several days now.  Blogger lets us do these blogs for free, I'm sure they benefit somehow even if you don't allow them to advertise on your blog.  But many times it seems like I'm only getting what I pay for, if you know what I mean.

And so, I will take a Leap Of Faith and publish this, hoping everything will look ok on your end.  Let me know if it doesn't.  Not that I know what to do about it, mind you.  Sheesh.  I've done a search and have found THIS, apparently we are being forced to download Google Chrome.  It's always something, ISN'T IT?????  I've been resisting downloading Windows 10 because every time there's an upgrade, it seems like other things don't work anymore and it only goes downhill from there.  If I download Chrome and it doesn't work right, then I'm forced to download Windows 10.  THEN, what else won't work?  GAG.  I'll probably need a new driver for my printer.  Other stuff.  This is taking all the fun out of it.  It's times like this that make me wonder if somebody isn't trying to tell me something about whether I should even be blogging or not.  Normally, I enjoy it.  It's an outlet for me.  It helps me organize myself.  But I get a big enough dose of frustration with, just life, if you know what I mean.  There are other avenues, right?  Somebody said, "put your blog on WordPress".  I've still got the old TheSunRoseAndTheWindBlue blog, just haven't posted anything on it since I came back to Blogger.  I was having troubles with IT, that's why.  The weird thing is that I can see the pictures that other Blogger users have posted on their blogs.  I've resisted being on Facebook because I just wouldn't have the time to do both.  Maybe it's time to do that, instead.  I noticed our local ElderCare is offering a Facebook class for $7.  I dunno.  I'll let you know, if I decide to do something different.  If I abruptly stop posting stuff entirely, you'll know the damned thing has CRASHED, again, and I have drop-kicked it.

Rocking on, though, for now.  Hugs xoxoxo


  1. Interesting use of the kitty litter buckets! I sure do hope those gooseberries work for you! I've had them probably 6/7 years and last year we only got a handful of berries (that I saw, KM admitted to snacking....). They were itty-bitty when I received them at the Spring Fling. I cut them back last fall because they were just unruly.

    Try to get some rest and go easy on that knee!!!! XOXOXOXO!

  2. Don't stop blogging!

    I tried a few times to download windows 10 and it took over 24 hours and still wouldn't complete. I am going to totally disregard it!!! I still get popups about it.

    I don't do Facebook except join so I can keep up with family members who are on it. It is just another invasion of privacy in my mind.

    Seeds are looking good. I will start mine late next month.
    As for the gooseberries. I used to grow one called Pixie that had thorns but was very large. I think they only turn purple if you leave them hang on the bush to the ripe stage which I never did. My bush finally died and I didn't replace it. No pollinator required.

    I would suggest a 15-gallon battery operated sprayer. You are going to have a lot of trees and the thing will reach way up high. I have used it on the ATV back and also in my garden cart with a battery in it.
    If I use the ATV I hook it to that battery with alligator clamps. I have two now, one for herbicides (that I rarely use) and one for the garden. Never ever mix the two up! I think I paid about $70 for mine at a farm supply store. You won't be sorry.

    It has been very windy here too. I tried to begin work outside yesterday but ended with needing spark plugs, a primer bubble and the rope on the tiller froze up. So we did those errands instead. I usually takes a few days to round up everything and get it operable.

    Look us up anytime of the year. We are here and I know we could find something to talk about!! I might even take you 4-wheeling over the farm.

  3. Hey Ilene-
    Keep blogging my friend. I was on Facebook for several years and last year decided- no more. It is a good way to keep up with family and friends and it is also a good way to become sorely aggravated with your "friends". The last political go round it got so bad on Facebook my husband told me to go drink a red bull and throw some plates because that would be easier on me then reading the crud people were posting.
    My final straw was when a "friend" posted some very graphic and disturbing pictures of a death. Who needs it? My SIL says that you can tell a lot about a person by what they post. From experience I can say that that people will lie and post things that they would never say or do in front of a friend in a person to person interaction. Don't get me wrong there is good on Facebook- I simply got tired of the drivel. It, like Pinterest is a time suck and at this point in my life I barely have time for my family. Who knows I may go back on again but I don't see it any time soon.
    Hugs- Jo


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