The Good, the Bad, and Tiny Little Vermon That Torture Me

Normally this time of year, Mandy begins to roast. I melt in the heat as it climbs up past 75 degrees. We’ve had a few weeks here in Washington in which the temperature has climbed, but overall its been mildly warm in the 50s and 60s. The best part? Increased sunlight ya’all! That’s right our plants have suddenly hit their stride. Its been difficult for me to learn who goes in the greenhouse, who goes out, when the door and vent should be closed and when to air that puppy out. I may have fried a tomato or two but I’m learning. In my defense I’ve been sick for a few days and so some of the carnage maybe due to me not getting out of bed to regulate the temps.

It’s a beautiful thing to see potatoes blooming, melons climbing, and all of the happiness bursting out of the soil.

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Look at  the baby pumpkin coming up! Looks like I have a volunteer too. Notice the cool garden marker behind the pumpkin? Ohhh so pretty!

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Happy happy cantaloupe in the greenhouse.

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Brandywine and Green Zebra tomatoes, accompanied by carrots in a planter I build out of old deck boards. They love the submerged OJ container I use to water them at the root level.

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Look at that broccoli! I hope the leaves are an indicator for the florets! It is also the lone survivor of the dreaded ant attack. More on that later though.

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Look at  the baby pumpkin coming up! Looks like I have a volunteer too. Notice the cool garden marker behind the pumpkin? Ohhh so pretty!

One experience that I have delighted in is the emergence of flowers. Many of them are flowers I actually planted! LOL- why is that funny? No idea…but it sounded funny in my head lol. I don’t know how this happened but I’ve never seen potato flowers before. They are so cool though!

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So I just can’t bear to discuss the little devils that have made my yard a war zone. Ok, maybe I will. They other morning I was out, doing my pajama jammy walk through when I saw a limp broccoli plant. It was about 4 inches tall, so certainly not a seedling. But limp? No, no, no we can’t have that. When I got to the plant i looked down and instantly felt like I was a teenager on shrooms. The soil was moving! The whole bed was filled with ants! Let me tell you these little 6 legged little demon spawn infested this bed! So off I went to Ace. The Boy is allergic to pesticides so we try to keep things pretty organic. We tried something that was reccomened,Insect Killer. The demon spawn looked at us and laughed. I concocted vinegar and water and sprayed. They hid and returned. I applied diotomaceous earth and it did nothing. I dusted with cayenne pepper and garlic, and they laughed! They have now claimed the following plants: broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. I’m open to suggestions! How would you kill the demon spawn? Let’s brainstorm a manifesto of death for those little demons!

Cheers!

Mandy

 

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Stone Garden markers

Good morning….is it good?

So there we all were, thinking about spring. Am I right? The sun was shining. The air was warm. And now……it’s not. It’s such a good thing that I did not put the tomatoes out yet! Those puppies would have froze! Well not literally, but dang close!

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This puppy is ready to stay in and keep cozy while it pours outside.

So what’s a girl to do during day 3 of the epic Return of the Rain in the Pacific Northwest? I could paint some new garden markers. The last ones, the shells, turned out really cool. I have a few more to do on that front.

Stone Garden markers

Not bad for painting with skewers from the kitchen and old brushes!

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I’m really digging the shells as markers! I’ll post pics of the ones that are already in the yard. They are so cool!

The other option, of course, and much to delight of my hubby might I add, would be for me to finish painting the kitchen. I love painting. No really, I do. I don’t love prepping and clean up though. My final choice is to work in the mini nursery aka the spare bedroom turned baby plant nursery with multiple seed germination and light areas. I think I should start my winter and summer squash plants in the nursery this year.

Well squash won out! Zucchini, Sweet Potato Thelma, and Crooked Neck Early yellow squash are all tucked into their cow pots ready to start the germination process.:) By the time the rain stopped it was time to go volunteer at the elementary school. Really? The Weather Gods are seriously teaching me tolerance and how to follow through when you really don’t want to….I mean really don’t want to…..

What great things did you accomplish today?

Cheers!

Mandy

Two Weeks of Pure Sun

I think that spring may actually be here. It has been beautiful and sunny for almost two weeks. That’s officially over as of today…and the honest truth is that I was so ready for a little cool down and sprinkle. So for the last few weeks I have been garden obsessed. For the first day or so it was so awesome to see the garden finally come to life after two seasons of preparation. We moved here last July and let me tell you, it was a scary house. Scary ugly!Hence the other blog, Scary New Digs. That’s where I write about our ten million projects to change it from Shabby Cheap to something else…no idea what you would call it , maybe Vintage Industrial? Anyhow, at the initial sign of spring I was jazzed to see the garden waking up and coming to life. I was uncovering the covered bed, letting the greenhouse breathe with open vents and doors….a magical time for sure.

I could not be more excited!!

   Then the heat came…no it covered us like a flippin’ blanket! WTF is this crud? YOu know that scene at the end of The Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch of the West was melting? I’m not saying I was wicked…well actually I was an evil mommy and wife…but it was because I was melting for goodness sake!  It was a nasty kind of heat that sucks the life out of you. I’m not a morning person….. at all. I quickly discovered that gardening in the afternoon was not a option because here it just gets hotter…..and hotter…..and hotter…..kill me now. The afternoon was the worst part of the day! Feverishly, I ran around the yard like a busy bee watering everything in sight. The upside was that got an oppotunity to use some of Burpee’s Black Magic fertilizer. Note to self next time write “I am not ice tea” on the milk jug. I’m not sure how helpful it will be, but I can tell you this, it stank like the ocean’s worst fish poo porta-potty. I didn’t even realize how bad it smelled until I was done using it and watering with plain water. I’d be refilling at the now half way emptied rain barrels thinking, wtf smells so bad?? After some intense pit sniffing I knew it wasn’t me! It took me awhile to figure out that it was the residual in the watering can. It’s a seaweed product, so it should smell like ocean butt….no I have not smelled the ocean’s posterior but I imagine that if I did, it would smell like that stuff. I’m excited to see how it works with my garden this year. It was in my watering frenzies that I noticed the sadness. Some of my beloveds have been touched by the sun more than they would want, I’m sure.

It’s a fact, Sugar Snap Peas do not love the heat. Mandy does not love the heat. Stella does not love the heat. But Louie? Well my little sidekick/stalker, he’s a different story.

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Louie the Lounge Lizard….lazy dog…lazy, lazy, lazy.

So today the drizzly rain is back. Hopefully the rain barrels are filling up nicely, and the peas are recovering. I’m inside playing Knex with the offspring and catching up on a month worth of blogging. Soon though I’ll make my way to the greenhouse to do some watering.:)

Cheers,

Mandy

 

Raccoons and Stinkbombs

For real, they are driving me to think bad, very bad things. We had been doing major work in the yard. You know the drill, building the raised beds, filling them and preparing the  soil. Then in the front of course it was bulb season….Gladiolas and Irises to boot. What does that mean anyway? To Boot. Like as in a shoe, of the cowboy persuasion? Odd saying that is. It was an exciting time. Then, on my morning stroll through the yard…someday Ill get to call it a garden but not yet, not yet….it happened. Strolling through the front yard…. yes I’m that weird neighbor surveying her yard in pajamas at 9 am….when I saw them, staring at me. Half buried they peeked out at me, mockingly. There, placed directly next to our bedroom windows was poo. At first I was sure that it was cat poo…as if any poo was acceptable right?. I pretty much kicked that s%*# out of my little flower area and went about my day. The next morning, like  a moth to a flame I searched for poo. These are words no one ever wants to hear themselves say, am I right? Anyhow there I was searching….and there it was proudly awaiting discovery. Yep, the pooer has returned. This time it appeared that this bandit  must’ve aimed his butt at our window so it was right against the wall. I swear the  f*$#&@ was giving us the finger while he pinched a loaf in the wee hours.

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Wait till you see what I leave for you!!!! Muah!!!

Although this tird was no mere cat tird. It was something larger….time to search the rest of the yard for more evidence. Evidence I found! They were everywhere! They ate at least 20 bulbs! They went into the covered raised bed too! I don’t know what they did in there, but seriously they had a flipping parade right through the center! It dug up some of my seeds, ate a tomato plant, and then curled up in the center of the bed. Feel free you dirty bastards! This critter was large too!WP_20160324_001

Ok, so after some research I learned that this was one of our local massive giant raccoons. Apparently there is no real cure for these guys. Seriously, the only thing that I can do is trap it and relocate it. No, no that won’t do. All I want to do is deter it. So knowing that these guys have incredible sniffers, I’m going to use that characteristic against them.

I concocted a brew nasty enough to deter anyone with a nose. Seriously, my eyes watered, the kids’ eyes watered, and the dogs ran to hide. Here’s my recipe:

6 Sliced large jalepeno peppers

1 Sliced whole onion

5 sliced garlic cloves

1 jar of Cayenne Pepper

1  C of water

1/4 C of shortening

After I got all the ingredients together I boiled my evil brew together. Then I froze it, in hindsight an ice cube tray would have been supreme!

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The stink bomb concoction!!

While awaiting the frozen weapon of doom, I put the jalapeno pepper tops in the yard right in the area they partied most. The next morning the tops had been clearly disturbed and in some cases buried! HA! I bet they were like WTF get that #$%& out of here! Yee ha!

Once my weapon of mass destruction was ready I took handfuls and mixed it with fresh wood shavings. I figured that as the nastiness melts down a bit in the sun the wood shavings will absorb some and slow the process, prolonging the nasty smell.WP_20160330_001 I spooned it into old tights and tied a knot. WP_20160330_003Then I used wire to hook and hang them in the yard. From the little old Japanese Maple, a few on the ground in their party spot, and from the top of the hoops in the covered bed. I bet you are wondering if all this craziness did a damn thing. Well here’s the deal. It works in about a 2-3 radius around the area it hangs. So not only did my front yard look like some sort of odd testicular temple, Ode to balls or something…but the raccoons still partied everywhere the black stink bombs were not! UGH!  The ants also love the stink bombs, so that was a no go for the raised beds.

However, I did have some success besides the radial deterrent.One fateful night, Stella the wonder mastiff woke me up by means of the most excited pee pee dance of all time. I let her out in a half awake sort of shuffle….and then it happened. Raccoon screaming, dog quietly growling…rustling…and then silence. Oh gosh. Did she kill it? I hope she did! No actually that’s gross and wrong….I hope she scared the poop out of it….and the poop fell outside my property line …She came prancing over to me without a wound on her. The beast? I watched it hop the fence looking rather dazed, but in a hurry none-the-less. The next morning I moved the stink bombs off the raised bed and hung them/ from the back fence. The squirrels aren’t big fans of them and try to avoid them. Since that time, not a squirrel, nor a raccoon in the back yard. I’d like to take credit, but it was probably Stella.

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There she is our big beasty….looking very intimidating while snuggling with The Girl.

Now in the front , that’s another story. We have a few had a few raccoon losses…not the animal but rather the artichoke plants and another rhubarb. However, we now also have skunks! These guys are only here for the grubs though. So… I can live with that…. As for the raccoons, the battle rages on!

 

Any advice for me on how to deter the racoons…and maybe not the skunks:)?

Cheers!

Mandy

 

 

 

A Little of This and a Little of That…

Well is wasn’t raining

   After a long day of very weird and wet rain yesterday, it was nice to see that rain had gone on it’s merry little way. It’ll be back again tomorrow for sure, but that’s OK. Even a spark of sun and a break was enough to get me excited!

     Last night I painted rocks. Sound fun? I know imagine my surprise when The Girl wanted nothing to do with it! She’s usually my go-to child for fun stuff like that! Anyway, yes I painted rocks, to use as markers in the garden. Like these…..

 It was quite the interesting process because…well you can tell the screw ups from the perfects que no? My art brushes are not yet unpacked, much to my continued dismay. Not that I’ve done anything more than look in one or two boxes to locate them either. I’m sorry why can’t they just drop in my lap? Just a little suprise from the Fix-It fairy? Anyway armed with a ton of sample colors from Lowe’s, Ace, and Home Depot I painted my rocks with your standard paint brushes until it came to lettering. Ugh.

After two epic fails I got creative. Yes ladies and gents these rocks were painted with skewers from the kitchen! Maybe it was the wine, it’s always the wine….who says alcohol doesn’t stimulate the mind? I don’t know. Anyway I’m pretty pleased with the results.  

Goal number one=place amazing rock garden-markers…not to be confused with rockgarden markers lol. DONE!

Goal number two=back to spreading of the mulch

    A little bit every day and soon it will be done. This is my mantra. I repeat it constantly….over and over and over. So far I’ve got most of the backyard areas and the side yard done. Now its the front yard. I must say at least it ain’t super ghettolishous in chain link anymore.  This is how it used to look.

Check in on my mulching progress here.

Well that’s all for now!

Cheers-

Mandy

Super Seedlings! How Do I Adore Thee?

Welcome My Little Seedlings…Welcome

What more can add a little spring to your step than knowing that your little veggies are on their way? It’s not pouring rain outside. No, its a very strange storm today…an incredibly tumultous misting…I mean it’s violent! This is the weirdest sprinkling I’ve ever experienced. The trees are bending in the wind..I mean big poop your pants please don’t fall on my house trees…and the little tiny drops are tickling the windows. Still it must be a decent amount of water as we are under a flood watch. Good times! Wasn’t spring coming?

    This morning I went to check on my seedlings hoping to see more peppers and leeks. The peppers have teased me and come out very slowly. I clicked the heating pad up one setting hoping the heat would coax them out.  

   There they are! The back two rows are sweet yummy little  peppers!! I thinned the Brandywine tomatoes and a few Green Zebras. Man they are certainly stretching up to the light! 

What about those leeks, though? There are two! What’s up with those little dudes, huh? 

Now, those rhubarb plants are a whole other story! They are loving their new home. They are growing more every day. It’s so cool, but I ‘m already wondering when I can take them outside. This whole cool weather crop is a new thing for me. I don’t want them out there too early.  They are getting a bit big though!

Rock solid Rhubarb!

These most recent days are filled with the spreading of mulch. Mulch….mulch…..mulch….and more mulch! Spring is coming…..right?

Cheers-

Mandy

Surprises I Adore!

Seedlings

Livin’ large with my awesome labels made with painters tape!

   I’ve started my garden, indoors. Yes I have accepted this crazy thing called a grow light for vegetables. I’m sure my electricity bill will have some new numbers on it this round. I set up seedlings for sweet peppers, Brandywine tomatoes, Black Cherry tomatoes,

I KNOW you are digging my sophisticated set up, with a heating pad between cookie sheets!

Green Zebra tomatoes, and leeks. Then I let them all coexist in my makeshift grow light area thingy place or whatever. I read that they needed to be warm. Some people wrote that the light at a 3 inch distance would be enough, others disagreed. So I put a heating pad on a cookie sheet, with a towel on top. Under the cookies sheet are two 1/2 thick pieces of wood. This keeps the heat away from the dresser and the towel helps with moisture and cleanliness.I sat looking out the window, wondering when exactly I would need or be able to or want to clean off the deck and the downstairs concrete area. That’s when I saw a six pack sitting upside down against the house, on the deck. Oh that’s right. This was my first every fail in gardening. The six pack has stayed out all winter, reminding me not be gullible again. In early fall I read an article stating that I could plant Rhubarb. Mmmmmmm rhubarb….pies and sauces….all sorts of yum! I quickly ordered the plants in total excitement. I didn’t even transplant them, before them seemed completely toast. It was awful. They were shriveled, broken, limp little things. OK all you dirty minded people this has nothing to do with little old men. The next day my dog knocked the six pack off the deck. I thought, “screw it, those are toast anyway” with many more fwords and a strong threat to skin the pup and wear her like a Davy Crockett hat! Apparently one of my little angels today they are angels, who knows about tomorrow brought the six pack back up to the deck. Then with multiple windy storms it flipped around. So fine you evil little six pack, I will finally throw you away. Much to my surprise, when I lifted it up I found six happy little rhubarb plants! Well paint me pink and do a happy dance, who would have thought such a happy surprise would occur? I totally did of course, because all of my screw ups end up in serendipitous happiness. So in a nutshell, my sprouts are happily poking out of their little nests of seed starter AND I have rhubarb!

Week 1 with my baby rhubarb…my little survivors!

Let There Be Wood!

    So late last night I began to think about mulch. Yes, its sad….or very cool, that my head spins with all things garden. Just wait, soon it will be amazing! Anyway, back to mulch. We have a few trees, but not enough to really get mulch from the pruning. I’m creative….and cheap….there must be some way to get inexpensive mulch. I REALLY don’t want to go pick up. Where are you wood fairy? I cruised Craiglist, and Offerup.com…but nothing. Then I happened upon Chipdrop. OMG!!! This is the coolest thing EVER! They hook you up with arborists, not for love silly, for mulch! When an arborist in your area completes a job they look on a map and fins a place to dump their mulch! I may have just peed myself a little. So I read and read all the information and signed up. It seemed that many people made donations except for really cheap Mandy, and were able to receive a load of chips within a month or so. There are some catches to the wood fairy:

1. You will not get any advanced notice. Or at least don’t count on it.

2. You never know how much will be dropped off.

3.  You must leave an area readily available at all times.

But here are the really cool parts:

1. Free mulch delivered to your doorstep…literally!

2. You keep this stuff out of the dump by taking it.

3. You can specify if there are species that you do not want.

4. You can also get logs!!!! Oh the logs! You can make tables, stairs, wood chopping blocks. Just think of the things you can make!! The logs they showed were rounds, like tree slices rather than logs like Lincoln Logs.

OK, this works for me! I have a week or a month or whatever to get the yard ready for mulching, based on what other members have posted. I’m so excited. Sign me up baby!

Fast forward to this morning, I’m off to take the kiddos to their first Pacific Northwest dentist appointment. Once we are about ready to finish up and go home, I check my email. Chipdrop will be making a delivery, hmmmm I wonder when THAT will be. Email number two, Chipdrop has made a drop. WTF???? So my mind spins with what could be waiting for me at home. Is it those really cool logs? Oh the things that we can do with those! It could not possibly be the wood chips. Aren’t there like a million people waiting for wood chips? It must be the logs. Of course I’m now thinking I MUST go buy a chainsaw! WOO HOO! Love me some power tools. Alas, I refrain from that purchase, and yes the Voice of Reason (my hubby) didn’t even need to be there to help me not purchase just one more tool. That’s right, give me some candy. I quickly drive home and find this…..

Oh yes…the amazing mulch mound! Delivered in less than 24 hours!!!! For free!

   Yes my friends, another fan-flipping-tastic suprise…well except for the fact that it supposed to rain all night and all day tomorrow. Oh the joy!

Best-

Mandy