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Posts Tagged ‘gardens’

Spring is in the air


Spring Wet Plants

If spring isn't in the air where you are, it is in our garage. I'll explain in a post that's not typical for this blog. If you persist to the end of the post, you'll be rewarded with some of my usual humor, though it is also sprinkled throughout. 🙂

For many years I have started seedlings in our garage on a shelf in a window that faces south. Last gardening season I ran across a tool I had heard of, but had never seen. It's called Secrets du potager — Paper Pot Maker, by Esschert Design USA. Here's the picture from amazon.com

Paper Pot Maker

Every year, in true pack rat fashion, I have saved the little plastic pots in which I have bought seedlings for our garden. My usual spring routine is to get out some in the best condition and soak them in bleach water to kill any pathogens that might infect the young seedlings. After allowing them to dry, I fill them with potting soil and plant the seeds in them. Once the seedlings are planted out in the garden later in the spring, I toss the plastic pots in a tub and store them till the next year's planting.

I liked the idea of the paper pots. No more bleach water ritual. It would put to use some of the newspaper that has piled up in our garage. And the paper pots would also make planting easier and less disruptive to the tender roots of the seedlings. In the past some of my seedlings have been rather small and have gotten a bit battered in the planting process. With the paper pots you just put the whole thing into the hole, and the paper will rot in the ground and even provide at least a tiny bit of organic material. (EDITORIAL COMMENT: In regards to that, see the comments to this post — some info I didn't know when I wrote this post.)

Here's a picture of the supplies I used to make our paper pots. In the upper left you can see the first 4 pots I made this year.
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Gardening Catalog Terminology


As many of us are entering into the "bleak midwinter" months, my mailbox is filling up with gardening catalogs that remind me that winter will end and next year's gardening season will begin. Even though I have already started to make mental plans of our 2012 garden, as I look through these catalogs, I start to dream about adding other things to it. Here's a picture of my favorite gardening catalogs:

As I dream about new plantings and fight the temptation of once again trying something that has failed for me in the past, I am amused at this list of terms used in gardening wish books.

The real meanings of gardening catalog terminology

"A favorite of birds" means "avoid planting near cars, sidewalks, or clotheslines."

"Grows more beautiful each year" means "looks like road kill for the foreseeable future."
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Worms – Friends or Foes?


picture of worms

What comes to your mind when you hear the word worms? In the past several days I've had some experiences with good worms and with bad worms. I'll start off with good worms – the kind that work for us in our yards and gardens. For years my wife and I have been composting as a means of adding organic material to fertilize our garden. I have a row of hedges in the back corner of our yard that is perfect for hiding my compost heap. This past Saturday I moved blocks around to make the compost area longer and more narrow. In the process, I saw hundreds of earthworms that were happily munching away at the goodies put in the heap every couple of days. Here's a picture of a corner of our compost bin. You can see the rich dark dirt in it.

picture of compost heap

The project I mentioned above was one I've been planning to do for a while, but on Saturda it was a diversion to go outside and away from our laptop. At the end of last week it became evident that, in spite of our firewall and anti-virus program, our computer had a worm. To tell the truth, I don't really know which one we had. I kept rescanning the computer, each time turning up a worm or Trojan horse with a different name. The virus program and also the anti-spyware programs both declared each one either "healed" or removed, but if I scanned again, they would turn up more worms or Trojans as a threat. They finally incapacitated my updating my virus projection or going to the company website.

By Friday evening I began to suspect that my wife's blog had been hacked. I e-mailed my web host who wrote back to confirm my suspicions – her blog was saying its source was in China, which is where the various worms were from also. Related? I'll spare you the details, but I basically had to blow away her blog, reinstall WordPress and upload the most recent, safe backup of her database. She lost a few comments, but that's all. Shortly after I finished that, I received an e-mail saying that visiting my blog had set off this person's antivirus alarm. So I had to do the same with my blog. I lost the database that stores the polls, and so all that info is gone.

This whole time I was fighting that so that I wasn't causing problems for my visitors, I still hadn't fixed our laptop. The solution was to do a "destructive restore" which formatted the C: drive and then restored the laptop to the way it was when we bought it two years ago. So since then, I've been trying to "rebuild my kingdom" by reinstalling our various programs and trying to get things back the way we like them. What a nightmare! I told my wife Becka that a Mac is looking better and better when it comes time to replace this computer, which I was ready to burn at one point this weekend!

Just as I was putting the finishing touches on this post on our laptop, the virus program popped up an alert saying there were two threats on our laptop. But HOW?! 😯 It moved the one file to the virus vault, but it said it could not heal or remove the other one. Big help! So I fear that all the hours that I've spent the last few days are for naught. Apparently the worm has crawled into the D: drive where the restore program is?

Added Tuesday evening, April 7: I've ordered restore disks from HP and will redo my computer sometime.... First, though, I had to rebuild my blog for the second time in several days.

As happy as I am to have hundreds of worms in our compost heap, the word worm currently causes great disgust in me! I had decided that it would be appropriately inappropriate to post some puns about worms, just to try to laugh a little about an otherwise dreary situation, and I'm going to go ahead with this post. (Never fear – I'm posting this from my school computer.) 🙂

On to the levity....

What do you call it when worms take over the world?
Global Worming

How can you tell which end of a worm is which?
Tickle it in the middle and see which end laughs!

Why was the glow worm unhappy?
Because her children weren't all that bright.

What kind of worm do you use for math?
An inch worm

What was the worm doing in the cornfield?
He was going in one ear and out the other.

What do worms leave round their bathtubs?
The scum of the earth

What is worse than biting into an apple and finding a worm?
Biting into an apple and finding a half of a worm!

What do you get if you cross a worm and an elephant?
Very big worm holes in your garden!

Why did the worm cross the playground?
To get to the other slide.

What did the woodworm say to the chair?
It's been nice gnawing you!

What is life like for a wood worm ?
Boring !

Why are glow worms good to carry in your bag?
They can lighten your load!

What do you get if you cross a glow worm with a python?
A 15 foot strip light that can strangle you to death!

What did the worm say to the other worm when he was late coming home?
Where in the earth have you been!

What is the best advice to give a worm?
Sleep late!

quotation...

"I just swallowed an earthworm," said Tom with bated breath.

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

The early bird still has to eat worms.


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The Garden of Your Life


One thing I like about gardening is that it has so many parallels with life, among them the Scriptural principle of sowing and reaping. Today's instant vacation is a nice piece I had in my files about our individual gardens of daily living.

Here's a great way to plant your garden of daily living:

Plant three rows of peas:
1. Peas of mind
2. Peas of heart
3. Peas of soul

Plant four rows of squash:
1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness

Plant four rows of lettuce:
1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another

No garden without turnips:
1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another

To conclude our garden, we must have thyme:
1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends

Water freely with patience and cultivate with love. There will be much fruit in your life garden because you will surely reap what you sow.

divider

Just this afternoon after I got home from school, I planted three rows of sugar snap peas in my newly tilled garden ... lettuce later this week. It's too early for squash and I have no plans for turnips. The thyme is in our herb garden already.

Here's a picture of the garden after I added the topsoil and compost to the newly uncovered area:

picture of topsoil added

I borrowed a tiller from a kind neighbor, but this is probably the last time I plan to till that area since I try to use the no-till method of gardening. Here's a picture after I tilled all the soil and mixed things up well.

picture of tilled garden

After that I applied a nice layer of mulched leaves another kind friend had given me, as she has the past several years. If you look at the left-hand side of the first picture above, you can see that this mulching has produced some nice soil already as the leaves break down and provide good organic material in the process. I really like having a layer of mulch because, in addition to building up the soil, it helps hold in moisture and allows me to garden without getting my shoes all muddy, even right after rain. Here's the garden with the layer of leaves:

picture of mulched garden

This week I received an e-mail with pictures of a heavy snowfall last month in Québec City in Québec, Canada. Since my last post was weather-related, I thought I'd share some of the pictures in this blog post.

picture of snow

picture of snow

picture of snow

picture of snow

And as we learned in the last post, everyone has a different take on the weather....

picture of snow

OK, maybe some of us should stop whining about how cold it is or how much snow we have to shovel! 😀 Really, what's the winter been like where you live?

quotation...

"As well might we argue that it is unnecessary for us to breathe because God gives us breath, or that Hezekiah need no longer to eat and drink because God had promised he should live another fifteen years. . . Grace does not annul our responsibility but fits us to discharge it; it relieves from no duties, but equips for the performance of them." - John Owen

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

In this age of titles, I'm not just a gardener, I'm a Plant Manager.


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Does Anyone Else Have Spring Fever?


picture of thermometer

Much to the chagrin of the global warming prophets of doom, 2008 was the coldest year since the beginning of the decade. This winter has been downright harsh and cold, not just here in the USA, but also in many other countries. We had several unseasonably warm days last week with record-breaking temperatures, which did nothing but fuel my spring fever. This week, though, we're back to normal temps for this time of year. Brrr!

In my second semester French classes right now we're doing a unit on weather. Part of that involves the students' becoming more familiar with Celsius temperature readings. Here's something that will help them and others understand relative temperatures. Although it lampoons dwellers of various parts of the country, it seems to be particularly hard on Wisconsinites.

(degrees Fahrenheit / Celsius)

+50 / +10
* New York tenants turn on the heat
* Wisconsinites plant gardens
* Airmass too stable for supercells

+40 / +4
* Californians shiver uncontrollably
* Ohioans sunbathe

+35 / +2
* Italian cars don't start

+32 / 0
* Distilled water freezes

+30 / -1
* You can see your breath
* You plan a vacation in Florida
* Politicians begin to say they're worried again about the homeless
* Wisconsinites eat ice cream

+25 / -4
* Boston water freezes
* Californians weep pitiably
* The cat insists on sleeping on your bed with you

+20 / -7
* Cleveland water freezes
* San Franciscans start thinking favorably of LA
* Green Bay Packers fans put on T-shirts

+15 / -10
* You plan a vacation in Acapulco
* The cat insists on sleeping under the covers with you
* Canadians go swimming

+10 / -12
* Politicians begin to talk about the homeless
* Too cold to snow
* You need jumper cables to get the car going

0 / -18
* New York landlords turn on the heat
* Sheboygan residents grill bratwursts on the patio

-5 / -21
* You can hear your breath
* You plan a vacation in Hawaii

-10 / -23
* American cars don't start
* Too cold to skate

-15 / -26
* You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo
* Miamians cease to exist
* People in St. Paul lick flagpoles

-20 / -29
* The cat insists on sleeping in your pajamas with you
* Politicians actually do something about the homeless
* People in Buffalo think about taking down screens
* Every other storm chaser thinks air is too stable for supercells

-25 / -32
* Too cold to kiss
* You need jumper cables to get the driver going
* Japanese cars don't start
* Milwaukee Brewers head for spring training

-30 / -34
* You plan a two-week hot bath
* People in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan shovel snow off roof

-38 / -39
* Mercury freezes
* Too cold to think
* Minnesotans button top button

-40 / -40
* Californians disappear
* Now the car insists on sleeping in your bed with you
* Wisconsinites put on sweaters

-50 / -46
* Congressional hot air freezes
* Alaskans close the bathroom window
* Green Bay Packers practice indoors

-60 / -51
* Walruses abandon Aleutians
* Sign on Mount St. Helens: "Closed for the Season"
* North Dakotans put gloves away, take out mittens
* Boy Scouts in Eau Claire start Klondike Derby

-70 / -57
* Glaciers in Central Park
* Hudson residents replace diving boards with hockey nets
* Green Bay snowmobilers organize trans-lake race to Sault Ste. Marie

-80 / -62
* Polar bears abandon Baffin Island
* Girl Scouts in Eau Claire start Klondike Derby

-90 / -68
* Edge of Antarctica reaches Rio de Janeiro
* Lawyers chase ambulances for no more than 10 miles
* Minnesotans migrate to Wisconsin thinking it MUST be warmer

-100 / -73
* Santa Claus abandons North Pole
* North Dakotans pull down earflaps

-173 / -114
* Ethyl alcohol freezes

-297 / -183
* Oxygen precipitates out of atmosphere
* Microbial life survives only on dairy products

-445 / -265
* Superconductivity

-452 / -269
* Helium becomes a liquid

-456 / -271
* Texas drivers drop below 85 MPH on I-35

-458 / -272
* Incumbent politicians renounce campaign contributions

-460 / -273 (Absolute Zero)
* All atomic motion ceases
* Wisconsinites admit it's getting a mite nippy

divider

In a fit of spring feverishness last week, I decided to begin my project of doubling the size of our garden beside the house. Because of the economy, we would like to raise more vegetables than usual – hopefully with enough to can and/or freeze.

Here's a picture of the project at the halfway point:

picture of garden widening

Here's a picture after I'd removed all the sod and moved all the border stones:

picture of garden widening

I was able to lift the sod in small squares with my spading fork and move them to a spot in the backyard that was a barren low spot. It was not only great aerobic exercise for me, but it also elevated recycling to an art form. Here's a picture of the sod in place:

picture of sod

This Saturday I plan to till in the topsoil and compost I bought this week. Then I'll cover the garden with a nice layer of mulched up oak leaves. I'll put out pictures of that process next week.

I was pleased that my last blog post drew a comment from Mike the Taxidermist. I e-mailed Kyle the coyote from a link on Mike's website. Here's a link to his comment.

Do any of the rest of you have spring fever? How is it manifesting itself in your life?

quotation...
"Continuity in everything is unpleasant. Cold is agreeable, that we may get warm." - Blaise Pascal

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob

If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?


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