I start this on Saturday, April 16. We had our last frosty night on the 8th. Every day, I've been going out and doing a little bit. I set out about 15 Cowhorn okra plants. Nine Oxheart tomato plants. Then nine Kellogg's tomato plants. Both in places that hadn't had rock dug out of them before so THAT slowed me down, but resulted in a couple of flat rocks that I will use to replace some small rocks someplace in The Rock Walk. As Grammy used to say, "It's an ill wind that blows no good". Heh. I gathered up all the spinach I had left and set it out. Luffa squash was planted along the south yard fence where they can climb. I set out all six of the Nasturtiums that I had pre-sprouted and planted inside in newspaper cups, under fruit trees, and the few Comfrey plants from seed that I wintersowed were planted under fruit trees or in the bed where the Elderberry bushes grow. The cucumber seedlings were transplanted at both ends of one of the stockwire arches that I use for climbing things, like beans, cukes, vining squash and gourds.
I've lost track of what I did when. All the carts full of plants have been out against the east-facing brick wall through several nights now, and peppers and cucurbits have been in the cold frame during that time as well, though a couple of nights I did put the shower doors over the cold frame and once I threw big bags of leaves on top of the glass for added insulation. Everything looks pretty good, except for needing to be set out.
I bought a bluebird house at a garage sale and told Hubs I'd really love it if he would make some more. There's all that scrap lumber he has piled up because he knows as soon as he throws it away I'll think of something that could've been made from it. He used the one I bought as a guide for the ones he made. For those of you who don't have one to go by, there are plans and directions online HERE . I had the guys that put up our fence leave the posts in the ground where the old fence separated our garden from the back yard, because I had plans to put some kind of birdhouses on the posts. It seriously was a pain to have to walk 'way out of my way to go through a gate. So much more convenient now that I can go to the garden from the house "As The Crow Flies".
Bluebirds come regularly to the backyard now, and there are the beginnings of nests in two of them. I don't know where they are during the day, but they tend to fly in, sometime between 6 and 7pm. The female makes a bee-line for the house of her choice with long pieces of grass in her beak.
They do not need a perch. If there is one, sparrows will take the house over. The male perches on the clothesline and is on guard while the female pats everything down. We see this same behavior with the House Finches that make nests as close to the house as they can get.
This picture was taken from an upstairs window, using the zoom, so stuff in the background is kind of out of perspective.
The robins have been very interested in all the digging that's been going on and they've been on bug patrol, big-time. Every grubworm (beetle larvae) that I find when I dig gets put in a clay pot drip-tray or in the bird bath if it's dry. With the weather warming, we have been finding mosquito larvae in the water so we haven't been keeping the birdbaths filled. Jay's Lake is very nearby, if they need a drink or a bath they can go there. I never see the birds actually take the grubworms, but I've seen the robins messing around very nearby, and Hubs saw a sparrow perched on one of the clothesline poles with a grubworm in his beak the other day. We've seen the robins chasing the bluebirds and that's distressing because we like both of them.
The mockingbirds sing us every song they know while we're out there, till it gets kind of nerve-wracking because they are so loud. If there is a line in the book, "To Kill A Mockingbird" that it's a sin to kill a mockingbird because they don't have bad habits like some birds do, that is just wrong. Mockingbirds eat grapes, strawberries, blackberries, elderberries, currants and cherries. I've seen them tear a Robin's nest apart and dump the babies or eggs out on the ground. And if you get too close to their nest when they have young in it, they'll dive-bomb you and try to peck you on top of the head. And your pets, too. Though they usually attack pets on the back, near their tail. And they will hit the same dang spot with each swoop until your pet is bloody there. Just so ya know. We have a lot of birds here that I think are a lot more useful and a lot less damaging than the Mockingbird. There are Cardinals, Scissortails, Doves, Killdeer, Barn Swallows, Goldfinches, red-headed Woodpeckers, Grackles and Blackbirds. Larger birds like Hawks and Owls are often seen or heard. They hunt for rats and small rabbits in the prairie land around us. Sparrows and House Finches do their best to build nests right up on the house if they can. This is not so bad till after the eggs have hatched and the babies start poopin'. Then it's a mess all under where the nest is. One really snowy winter, I put a lot of birdseed out to keep the birds going until the thaw. And I actually attracted a Pidgeon. I don't mind looking out the kitchen window and seeing a Dove perched on the outside windowsill, looking in at me, but a Pidgeon is just too much. I've been told that a Pidgeon is called "Squab" in fancy restaurants. I hope I'm never so hungry that I will eat a Pidgeon.
Speaking of "prairie land", that's going to shrink a little this year. Our neighbors, Bob and Gwen, have let their son start building a house on part of their land. Bob and Gwen were in an auto accident some years ago and they were badly hurt, both in wheelchairs for awhile. They get around well enough to take care of themselves, each other and their place, but Bob wears braces on his legs all the time. So I think it's wonderful that their son wants to be out here, near them. The house is going up quickly. In fact, you can see it in the background of that overhead picture of the garden that is in the first part of this post. Rain is in the forecast for Sunday and Monday, so the Mexican workers have been trying very hard to get walls up and buttoned down, and the roof on. Mexican men are sure noisy. They are talking to each other over the construction noises constantly. They sing along with the music they play on the radio while they work. I don't know that I'm complaining, they sound happy and are friendly with each other. It's better than listening to angry cussing all the time, or the test wails of the Civil Defense horn, or the crying of children out in the park because they're being bullied by the older kids, like things were at The Ponca House. But it's different than just the sounds of nature and the distant sounds of vehicles out on the highway. There will be another house going up, due north of our "North Fourth", as I call the land to the north of the garden. We own about an acre to the north of our house, there's maybe a strip of about 100' to the south of the house, and our front and back yards are deep. So as long as we live here, we will not have neighbors near enough to us that we can actually hear them flush. Been there, done that.
I hope none of our new neighbors will be raising exotic animals or using heavy-duty pesticides. I would not want to live where we had to be dictated to by a Home-Owners Association, but without that, if you live outside the City Limits, there's not much your neighbors can't do if they decide they want to. I guess if you've ever had that happen, an HOA might be attractive to you, but I've heard some pretty awful stories from people whose HOA has gone berserk. When we lived in town the City Code Enforcement was really good about coming around if you built a porch and didn't get a building permit, but they made themselves pretty scarce when our Neighbor From Hell didn't cut the grass, had nine dogs and a lot of trash in the back yard, a boat parked between their house and their neighbor's house on the other side, and a big travel trailer in their front yard. Among other things.
The worst we have around here is wandering dogs, and that's not always a bad thing. They hunt the rabbits. We also have one neighbor who burns something every now and then that makes black smoke and smells like tires. Nothing's perfect, ever.
Today Hubs and I went to the annual plant sale held by The Garden Club. There is a plant sale on the 30th that is held by The Master Gardener's Association, and it's always a better sale. More plants, better prices. I was actually a little more disappointed than usual about today's sale. They didn't have anything labeled. So you had to ask questions. With several customers standing there, it got hectic. I'm not buying something if I don't know what it is, and since their prices usually run pretty high, even if I know what the plant is, I may not want it when I find out how much they're asking. So we left without my buying anything. Hubs wanted to go to the Home and Business Expo that they were having at the Dewey fairgrounds, and I don't really like to go to those but I went because he went to the plant sale with me. We stopped at an Estate Antique Sale and the prices were 'way out of MY league. I saw some of the same things I have in my house. Who knew my old garage sale junk was worth that much! Probably isn't, nobody was buying anything. I left there kind of in shock, myself.
After we got home and had lunch, I planted nine Cherokee Purple tomato plants, the Patchouli and the Pineapple Sage I'd bought at Green Thumb Nursery a week or so ago. My bunches of onions are ready to separate and set out, so I did the smallest bunch, which was from Candy onion seed I'd wintersown. Somebody told me onion seed doesn't wintersow very well, but I had good results. Really the secret is that they have to be close together when they're little to hold each other up. And I haven't ever had good results with giving them a "haircut" like some people suggest be done.
Candy onion is a hybrid, it will bloom but if seeds form (and they never do, at least for me), they may not germinate or will not be the same thing. So when I ordered seed I found I could get a better price if I ordered three packages, which I did, and I keep the extra seed in the freezer. I can only get Candy onion plants locally when it's too early in the spring and I've had disappointing results with them. I can order the plant bundles but the shipping costs are more than the cost of the plants.
I just dug up the whole clump, and soaked the dirt out of the roots with water. Then I was able to tease the onions apart. I had 50 decent-sized onions for planting, and 40 more that were a little undersize but I planted them anyway.
The smallest ones were just put back in the soil in a loose clump and watered in. Maybe they'll get to some size later on and will be fall onions. That's them in the top center of the picture below. That's Feverfew in the big clump right below it, and then Yarrow below that and off to the left margin. Both wintersown. These herbs are good additions to the herb garden, and are things I've tried to get established before with less than stellar results. Maybe this will be the year for them.
I still have two big clumps left to separate. I actually just wintersowed them as "insurance" in case I got poor results. Both these clumps were grown from seed I gathered from onions that went to seed in the garden. One is Texas Sweet and the other is either Ailsa Craig, Borretania Cippolini, or Clear Dawn, from heirloom onion seed I grew a year or two ago. All these onions were good, but had very poor keeping qualities and had to be chopped and frozen in order to have any at all for winter use. Candy onion doesn't keep very well at all, either. But they make huge onions and taste really good. I think maybe none of the sweet onions keep very well. Unless something catastrophic happens, I'm going to have more onions this year than I need. My neighbors will enjoy the extra.
I was going to plant my Long Island cheese pumpkin and cushaw seedlings but I ran out of steam. It's looked like rain all day and so I sorted through tomatoes and set the ones I will plant next in buckets so they will be easy to carry to the garden. I was able to reduce the carts I was using from three to two. Hubs helped me put the other two on the patio so they'd be protected from the rain and some of the wind if we get any tonight.
I am just "plum tuckered out", as Dad used to say.
This is now Tuesday. Where has the time gone?
Sunday we went to church and frankly, I don't remember what I did with the other half of the day. All I know is that at the end of Monday, I had Yellow Cheese sweet pepper, Orange cheese sweet pepper, and Long Island Cheese pumpkin plants set into the ground. I moved all the plants that were in the cold frame onto the patio where they will not get rained directly on and drowned, or scalded by the sun if I didn't get the glass off soon enough. Spring days can be both rainy and hot and sunny, sometimes it's a job in itself just going back and forth between "covered" and "uncovered". I sorted through the tomato plants. I always try to keep the varieties separate, but stuff happens. And then I have to hunt around for "matchers" when I plant, because I save the seeds and I have found they indeed will cross-pollinate if they grow mixed up with different varieties right next to them.
Today I had an early eye appointment with the retina specialist. I have Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Other things too, such as Dry Eye and Cogan's Map-Dot Dystrophy, but the retina specialist sees me for the macular degeneration. He eventually wants to do the same surgery on my left eye that he did on the right. I, after having had three surgeries last year, desperately need a rest from all that, and have been hoping I can side-step any further surgery this year and just concentrate on being well. It was good news. I'm stable. At least where my eyes are concerned. Heh.
We booked it on home once out of the clinic as it had started to rain and we weren't sure just how much rain Tulsa was supposed to get. Once home, I went out and got Red cheese sweet peppers and Cushaw pumpkins into the garden before it started to rain. Oh, the garden is muddy, but not "suck-your-shoes-off muddy" yet. They've had a lot more rain in other parts of the state and we saw flood rescues on TV happening in Texas and other states. Mother Nature still wants to kill us all, and considering how blatantly we are polluting her, I don't guess I really blame her. Unfortunately, she isn't selective enough to just affect those most responsible. I am still finding rats in the traps every few days. Bob tells us he is seeing them all over his place. *Sigh*. That's the price of living in a "country setting" that people don't think about before they move there.
This is now Thursday, April 21.
I've been watching those videos on "The Truth About Cancer" and learning quite a bit, not only about cancer but also about the immunity system and some general health stuff I didn't know. Each episode is about an hour and twenty minutes long and it's felt like "information overload" to me -- you know how it is when you're learning a new job and they throw so much at you all at once that you get so you just can't absorb any more? That's kind of the same feeling. I've been taking notes because I might want to research a little deeper into some of the things they talk about and I know that without buying the DVD's they're selling I won't be able to remember it all. Nor do I want to sit through a whole hour of any particular episode for one particular piece of information after I've already viewed the whole thing before. I watched the last episode this morning, which was mostly testimonials, and therefore not many notes that needed to be taken.
These people stress that they don't get any incentives from anyone for putting this program on. Sometimes it has felt, though, like one long "infomercial", because the people they are interviewing often mention that they've written a book, or that they've used a particular product, and they mention enough information about it that you could Google it and find it for yourself if you were so inclined. I don't know if that's a bad or a good thing. There was a lot, though, that just seemed like good advice. We live in a contaminated world. It's in our air, our water, our soil. It's purposely put into our food chain for economic reasons. And it's been going on for a long, long time. And we are an addicted population. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, sugar. Some of us have our addiction because we were introduced into it as children.
I know a lot of people viewed those videos, and with the word getting out about food additives and how bad processed food is for the body, I think I can go out on a limb and say that, in my lifetime, I will probably see and end to hunger in America. Because all these processed foods will become so cheap when people start demonstrating with their dollars that we don't want additives and/or chemicals in our food. Those of us who can afford to will spend more and more of our food dollar on organic and otherwise chemical-free food. Processed foods, full of unnecessary sugar, fats and salt, will start selling slower. And only then will the makers and sellers of those processed foods take notice. What will they do? Why, they'll jump on the band-wagon, that's what. They'll start offering more organic foods at grocery stores, in an effort to outsell the healthfood stores. More healthfood stores will spring up, and for awhile it'll be war. You'll be able to get good food for reasonable prices. But if the big grocery chains ever win out, they'll start charging exorbitant prices for real food and they'll bring the price of all their fake food down to ridiculously low levels. They're already making fake food cheap, with coupons. Did you ever wonder WHY food manufacturer's provide coupons? If you have a stash of coupons, I challenge you to look at them closely. How many food items for which you have coupons do NOT fall into the "fake food" category? Read the label on the product. Added sugar? MSG? Chemicals? Then you are being enticed, with that coupon, to poison yourself and your family. It's as simple as that. And I'm sure sorry to have to tell you that.
They devoted part of their video time in explaining about what a miracle the human body is, and how, if the immune system is kept healthy, it can protect us from illness and disease. But people take in things that damage their immune system daily. One of the things they talked about was inoculations, and it was scary to hear about what's in the serum. Somebody that can do something about this must be listening, because I just saw on TV yesterday a report about how scientists are "beginning to believe" that instead of the conventional method of developing a serum, they should be jump-starting the immune system. This might be even scarier still. An immune system working too well.... what might that mean?
It's all about the money, good or bad. Healthy or unhealthy. It's like we're walking through a carnival.
This is now Saturday and I will try to post today.
The hummingbirds are here so I've set up the feeders. We also had an all-day concert given by a little house wren yesterday. We went several years without either of them turning up over here at all, it's such a blessing to see them coming back every year now.
I just about have everything settled into its permanent place in the garden now. I might need to replant Lazy Housewife beans, because they haven't come up yet. I tried a hint I read about, about pre-germinating seeds in the oven with just the oven light on. They hadn't germinated when I planted them, because I didn't wait till I saw roots emerging, and it might've been a little too warm, not sure. I have plenty of seed saved from the last crop so it's not a big deal. Just one clump of onions left to separate out and plant some of the bigger ones. And I have a few little puny Pineapple Tomatillo plants that I haven't planted. I always start more plants than I will need, because stuff happens, you know.... And so this year I have a lot of plants left over. I'll give some to other people that have gardens and the rest I will donate to the church for it's rummage sale.
I usually grow southern peas of some kind or another, but not sure I will this year. I pick the pods when they are filled out and spread them out to dry. When the pods are brittle the peas are not hard to shell by hand. Then I spread the shelled peas out on newspaper to dry completely so they can be vacuum stored in jars in the pantry without the need for canning or freezing. I got a nice big harvest of Purple Hull peas last year and probably have enough left for another year of good eating. If I have room maybe I'll grow some, anyway, as they're kinda fun to grow. I can always share the extra with somebody.
Lately Hubs and I have been trying to get woodchips moved and spread in the walkways of the garden. I saw an episode of Growing A Greener World where Joe Lamp'l was walking around in a garden somewhere, and they had woodchips in their walkways, too. I've also seen where Ray Browning ("Praxxus" on YouTube) has clover in his walkways. I have a nice growth of Dutch White clover that's growing just off the patio and it seems to tolerate our walking on it well enough, so I might start planting some little "plugs" into some of the garden walkways and let it spread. Sure beats Bermuda grass, Bindweed, and Puncture vine. Next spring, hopefully I will be totally back to normal, physically, and where we have spread wood chips I can till with my small tiller and then shovel into the raised beds before we put on more. Or maybe by then I'll just let the clover spread into them, too. I also have several volunteer Sweet Annie (Artemesia) that are 3rd generation now from some the birds planted for me, that I'm moving to the outer borders of the garden. Once you get some to grow and make seed, you never have to plant them again, it's easy enough to weed out the ones that come up in places where you don't want them, but usually they will come up in the same places they grew the year before. I love the smell of Sweet Annie. Next time I make "homemade liniment", I'll use it in the recipe.
Another thing I wanted to mention about those "Truth About Cancer" videos is that they did a segment about how you can poison your body with unresolved emotional pain. You can screw up your immune system and digestive system. And those are two of the most important operatives in your body. This was really interesting and I do believe it's true. You know, some people carry around anger and hatred, which have hurt or jealousy at their roots, until it just absolutely will consume them. It does the object of your anger and hatred no harm for you to feel the way you do towards them. It just hurts YOU. Getting even with someone for something they did to you is not your job. It may bring you some moments of pleasure to see them having to deal with difficulties that you may have brought about in an effort to "make them pay", but that matters not in the end. For in the end, we will all stand before our God and be accountable for those things we have done. The people who have hurt you will. And so, unfortunately, will you. And the things that we have done to "make someone pay" are included in that. It's just the way it works. Almost everybody has done or said something they're not proud of, something they wouldn't do again if they got the chance to live that part of their life over. In this world we can justify everything we have done or said, and almost everyone does, so they can live with themselves, look at themselves in the mirror, so to speak. But before God, it's all out there. Nobody really "makes" us do anything. We make a conscious choice, and then we own what we've done. I urge you to forgive everyone that has hurt you and then to forgive yourself for everything you have done that you wish you hadn't. If there's something you can do to make up for those things you have done, then do it. Then go on with your life. You will be healthier for it. You will be happier. Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better". This is kind of a cryptic thing to say and a lot of people don't "get it" and think she's just a crazy old black woman. But she makes a good point if you think of it in terms of how you might understand how unresolved hate and anger will affect YOU more than anyone else. It will eat you alive from the inside out. When you forgive someone, you're not saying to them, "It's OK, what you did." You're saying, "It happened, but it's on YOU, not ME." It doesn't mean you ever have to say anything to them. Or that you ever even have to see them again. It means you cease to carry them around in your mind, everywhere you go. You know what I mean. It's OK to acknowledge what they did if you want to, but as a historical observer, not the object. Even so, it's probably better for you if you don't devote any more of your time to it than you already have. Remember, God saw it all. They showed you who they really are, and you were disappointed to learn who they really are. But it's ON THEM. Quit spending your time and your thoughts on it and get on with living your BEST life, as Oprah says. You'll thank me later.