Saturday, September 1, 2012

Time in the Garden

I have been away from blogging awhile and have recently become full time care giver for my 84 year old dad. Now I must fit gardening around his needs and a continuous parade of therapists aides and nurses. But I have so much to be thankful for. The first being I still have a father! Second I have a loving husband who helps me with my fathers needs. And thirdly that I have a garden and ponds to escape to. Pull some weeds. Tend to some transplants. Gather eggs from the chickens and watch as the ducks glide across the pond. 

I hope to give some insight to others who may be dealing with a busy schedule and their love of gardening! I am as many of you may be, a NURTURER. Always taking in animals, buying the half dead plants at the garden center, caring for the elderly and my grand kids and yes even taking in needy teenager when our own children were growing up. God gives everyone a gift or two and I guess this is one of mine.

With many warnings of BURNOUT I make it 
my job to find little opportunities to chill out.
Lemonade on the porch, a peddle boat ride
 around the pond and taking my kids up on their
 offers to sit with him while I run to the store . I also got some yard help,,, something 
we said we would never do. 
 right? One young man was not willing to learn 
weeds from flowers he only wanted mindless 
jobs, we found later he was drinking so much it truly hindered him mentally and we sure didn't want him using power tools. But at the suggestion of a dear ducky friend of mind we found MARTY.
 Marty rides his bike to our house one day a week and works like a horse the entire time. WE still prefer to mow our own lawn, something hubs refuses to give up. Marty has helped us get our flower beds under control after HUBS had a bout in the hospital and  we took a two week vacation. He knows the different weeds and he knows about native plants. He PULLS weeds not just whacks them down.
 I still have not let him loose on my most beloved beds or near my veggies but he is slowly earning my trust and allowing me to have time to enjoy the things in the garden I enjoy most! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lil Henry the Quail

Who can resist beautiful little quail eggs. Tasty too if you don't mind cracking 4 or 5 times the shells. My teen age grandson, an avid hunter had decided to incubate 80 quail eggs to be released nearby for hunting use. He surprised me by bringing four young quail sure I would want to raise them for food.
 Even though we had just constructed a wonderful chicken run these anything but friendly quail wanted none of it, time after time escaping.  And time after time I captured them,  the last time resulted in a nice eye injury.  Never corner a quail! I only recovered one of the quail after the eye episode. Hoping the lone quail was a female my husband named it Henrietta after his nervous grandmother who paced a lot!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Ducklings and Chicks and QUAIL OH MY!

I never started out wanting chickens. As a matter of fact during my adulthood the thought had not entered my mind to raise ducks either, and a quail was no where in my thought patterns. Now as a child, a teen and even a new mom the thought living on a farm would be great. I had ducks and ponies and horses as a child so I thought for sure it was in my future.  But my husband (who was my high school sweetie) had been raised on a beef farm, next to his grandparents dairy and maple sugar farm and he wanted no part of going back to farming.

But when we bought our few acres and put the ponds on it I was mesmerised by the wild
ducks who came to visit. There was a problem though, they didn't stay. Then it hit me. I will get my own ducks. I raised them as a child but just to be safe I read everything I could on the subject. Ducklings are very very messy. I kept them in the garage in a pen made of scrap wood, cleaning it 3 times a day. Lots of straw a heat lamp in the corner. As they grew we made another pen outdoors but would bring them back to the garage in the evening, back and forth in a laundry basket until they outgrew it!

 The ducks and I got along wonderful and amazingly enough my NON wanna-be farmer husband started to take ownership. The ducks flourished laying eggs for our breakfast and raising peeps of their own . We allowed them each to raise two families of ducklings a year, selling most of them. Then somehow we decided to get chicks and I was so amazed at how much cleaner they were. Well ducklings love the water and must have their little beaks in over their nostrils or I am told they will choke!

 Hubby really enjoyed those chicks and one became so attached to him I named her Sugar Lips the Floozy. My grandson decided we needed bobwhite quail and gifted me with 4 young ones.
 Three escaped never to be heard from again.
So now we have Henry the quail whose wonderful tale of life will be saved for another time where he can be the star of the story as he is at my home,,,, scampering with his feathered family of Diversity.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Containing Your Ornamental


 A  collection of container plants can add interest and pizazz to any landscape, home or office. The needs for each of these places will vary so should the plants, plant mix and watering and fertilizing needs.

Some of you will want to containerize out of need. What might the needs be.

A small patio.
A splash of color
Terrible native soil.

Using just one plant makes a bold statement and attention is drawn to the decorative pot This plant in a plain terra cotta pot would disappear.
 Adding height adds a lot of interest and is easily done with containers by using inexpensive wire shelves, milk cans, cement blocks pillars, old metal stools even tree 
stumps .
 Depending on your likes they can be formal and pristine or rustic with wood and rust. If you make a collection more interest comes from differet heights and uneven numbers.
The colrs of the pots should somehow councide with each other artistically
Using just one plant makes a bold statement and attention is drawn to the decorative pot This plant in a plain terra cotta pot would disappear.

 Some plants like to be crowded and will bloom better in shallow tight containers. Gain all the information of your plants needs before potting since some will need special soil. Also BE A PACKAGE READER! this goes not just for chemicals but the soil. Their is a Rose soil in a pink bag that I caught a glimpse of saying, do not use in containers. Potting soils are light and airy and not heavy like a bag of composted manure. You can add pieces of broken terra cotta, old screen pieces or coffee filters to cover the drainage hole. There are soils with additives to help keep your plant moist if you tend to be forgetful. Do not ignore your pots

Most of the pots I get are from yard and estate sales.  People just cannot move with them or have lost interest. These large cement bird baths are lovely to look at but WAY to deep for birds. I have started to collect them and pot them with plants,since there are no drainage holes I use water loving plants like impatience since they are bound to get soggy.

 Try as I may putting plants in painted furniture didn't fare to well for me.  It looked great at first but next time I would use MARINE paint on the furniture! Will admit though that plants hanging out of open drawers, this against a garage,
 is definitely a conversation starter.

If you plan on house plants or office plants keep in mind that the air conditioning and heat blowing on a plant can really cause a plant to decline or possibly die so have plan b placements in mind. Check also that your plants are non toxic if you have small children or pets  in the house.
For good air quality one houseplant pre 100 square feet is recomended,. Especially consider this if you are in a new or remodeled home since many materials will outgas chemicals for up to 7 years

Be Patient. My goal was cupcakes, and I got,,,, CUPCAKES with a cherry on top
 ( white impatience and a dwarf red penta)
I have actual cored out tree trunks that make great pots for awhile but I happened upon this lovely fake tree stump that only needs  a fairy to be perfect,unfortunately my free range chicken consumed every blossom before any fairies landed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Of Hobbies and Hubbies

How many times I have been envied by fellow gardeners because my husband and I share same or shall I say, similar hobbies. Oh it can be a wonderful thing but there are moments when I selfishly long to be the sole decision maker in the garden. Now gardening has been my hobby for as long as I can remember but with hubby, only recently .   I knew there was trouble when it took us one year to decide which grass for the property. We ended up dividing the property so that planted his favorite grass and formal beds in the front yard and I get the ponds and back property to plant with a wilder look.  As time went on I noticed the property lines blurring as he built a hurricane proof garden room in back and I started planting roses in the forgotten front flower beds.
The good part of that is that we BOTH enjoy seeing botanical gardens and attending the Native Plant Societies meetings and Garden classes and tours. The not so good side is that we differ on how we do things. Him overkill, precise and workaholic best describe him. Me,,,,,, creative need I say more?   While I am happy to pot veggies in containers full of rich homegrown compost he decides hydroponics would be better. After watching the CD on how to put the hydro-stackers together  FOUR times and actually visiting hydroponic farms we started the hydroponic garden.  The scientific stuff I left to him while he let me place the seeds.  I then decided to see who's tomatoes and lettuce would grow quicker and better and I KNOW which ones take less work.  The bugs find them all just as tasty no matter how they are grown.
My salad bowl is tucked in amidst blossoms and fairies and gnomes. My tomatoes and peppers and herbs are close to the kitchen with old shutters and fun decor as a backdrop. Together we share our love of nature and animals and plants and the maker of them all. I guess I wouldn't have it any other way

Monday, November 7, 2011

All Creatures Great and Small Must We Gardeners Love Them ALL?

  1. Though I considered myself a gardener and critter lover it was the Master Gardening class and all that followed that opened my eyes to how much the two intertwine. As a child I was always bringing home snakes and salamanders and getting reprimanded especially for bringing them inside. Now I found myself raising red wigglers and investigating insects to find out if they were good bugs or bad bugs and if the lizards and frogs I found were native to Florida or an invasive species dining on the native species.

 At first I was  crazy about  wildlife gardening and did a great job of planting a woodsy wildlife habitat to go along with our ponds and creek. Wild coffee, beauty berry, stoppers, wax myrtles and mulberry trees were placed across the pond in a spot we declared the HABITAT. A small patch of woods with a path marked by fire bush (hamelia patens)  , wild lime and sweet acacia complete with all the thorns beckoned to wildlife.

 But when I decided I wanted to raise ducks I discovered I had overdone it with the wildlife habitat. I was heartbroken when Dixie Duck was taken out by a bobcat. A friend of mine reminded me that bobcats needed to eat too.  Maybe so but shouldn't they just stick to rabbit and squirrel which thrive in abundance on my property?  

The frogs, lizards and snakes should also know the rules. Stick to YOUR habitat and stay out of my house and away from the hen house! I am really not all that squeamish and I love taking photos of all God's creatures but, go on now! 

Often a grandchild needs help with a school project about insects or trees and they know I am ready and willing to help capture even the meanest bug, showing them how to ID and label their latest find. We enjoy watching as caterpillars and butterflies perform their metamorphosis and even though butterfly nets seem like a great idea no butterflies are ever to be caught.
Lizard catching though, keeps kids busy for hours as they playfully attach them to child size earlobes  making a pair of lovely dangly earrings.  Occasionally a bite on the nose brings them to reality but soon they are happily playing again and chasing the ever abundant tail droppers. I must admit I cannot imagine a garden without all God's creatures, though I would love to imagine it without the fury of the fire ants!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Addicted to Water Features

When we began our ponding adventures little did I know how far it would take us down the soggy trail of water features. Our first ponds were not the small little plastic tubby ones full of colorful KOI but real ponds connected by a winding creek that I wanted deep enough to be navigable by peddle boats or canoes.I wanted real fish,the kind the grandkids could fish and eat! It was a difficult year and a half of dirt moving but we so enjoy our beautiful pond paradise who could ever ask for more?
Whimsy being something I also wanted in the garden I began frequenting yard sales to add fun to the gardens. Milk cans, farm bells,blue bottles and old pumps. Oh yes wonderful old pumps.All these things hold beautiful memories to me. My husband promised that if I painted that old pump he would make a water feature for me, not that we needed more water on our two and a half acre property but I love to paint so he was on! The old pump it its fire engine red new paint and cool water  beckons to my grand children. The path to their special spot are stepping stones done in mosaic by each grand child. They reminisce of the work and love that went into them.
Another yard sale item was Pan. He was missing his musical instrument and was priced at ten dollars. We took him home for eight dollars and the past owners were happy to see him go. My husband fashioned new pipes for him from copper tubing.
Oh and then there is the fountain. It was from a house going into foreclosure. My husband bought it for fifty dollars , myself thinking it way to formal. I was really not happy that he then added a small pond around the fountain.
No more water features I pleaded,unless it is a pool!
After living with the fountain a shade I dubbed tombstone white I decided to calm it down by painting it. Ahhh yes much more serene!