Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goodbye to Spot

On Monday Pooka said goodbye to Spot. He was a good butterfly, but I wanted to make sure we released him before he got too old. Not to mention the weather is perfect for out little friend being in the 70's yesterday.

Pooka and I took his little house in the backyard. I let Pooka do the honor of saying goodbye and then opening his house. She was just about to reach in and see if she could be brave enough to hold him when apparently he panicked and started fluttering around everything.

Goodbye Spot
At this point my normally calmish Pooka freaked and jumped away because she was afraid he would land on her shoulder. I went over to help her get him out of the house when he suddenly found the door and was gone. Sadly the above is the only picture of him that day.

Spot flew off the deck, and into the sky. It was then Pooka chased him for a minute and looked over the rail with a very serious expression. "Mommy, Will Spot be okay?"

Yes Pooka, he will be okay. His body knows what to do, its part of who he is.

"But he has never flown in the wind, and doesn't know what rain is. What if something tries to eat him? Mommy, I am going to miss Spot. He doesn't even have friends." She never cried, but she was verry worried about her little friend.

I told her that he would make friends and he would figure it out. He was a smart butterfly after all. In a month or 2, Spot will bring friends back to the garden, and maybe even leave some eggs that we can grow into caterpillars and then butterflies all over again. Spot would want you to care for his babies since he knows what good care you took of him.

That seemed to help, but my Pooka loves with her whole heart, and Spot will forever be in it, just like the bunnies and the Black Swallowtails. So goodbye and goodluck Spot. Don't be a stranger once Pooka has flowers that will need you.
Spot Via his Hello to the world.

Monday, April 29, 2013


I wish you had seen us this time last year. We had correctly hardened off the seedlings (even if we didn't know what we were doing). We had everything going the way we had hoped. But I guess this is the rub of gardening. Life can happen.

In a way, let me preface this that maybe posts written in the middle of the night are not the best thing, but I feel like I owe you all an apology, as well as Pooka. This year, life has beat me up pretty hard with things I cannot change. Things that I have hidden from even Pooka since I don't want her or Brother worried, but it is draining on me. As a result, the garden in some ways is becoming an afterthought.

When I started this blog, I refused to let it become one of those Emo "My life is so hard, No one understands, pity party things." If you know me, I hate those. I like to keep our business private, but I feel like today I need to apologise. Do not do some of what I have been doing. Do not just throw seedlings outside to get them there. I am sorry I am not showing a better way. Give them correct ablity to acclimate to the world. Like children, you should teach them to handle it, rather then throw them to the wolves.

This year, I have not done that due to things outside this garden. A garden that in some ways makes me more overwhelmed since we took on so much when there is more going on. This weekend was suppose to be a gardening weekend, or even just Monday perhaps, but sadly, other things have come up, and nothing was done. So here is to hoping I can get something done on Monday and on Wednesday I will hopefully get more done.

I am not going to post this in the middle of the night like when I wrote it. Instead, I am going to leave it till the light of day to read it again and know that this is what I want to post to the whole world. If only we could do that when we speak as well.  Just know I wish you had seen us last year and that I am sorry that I do know better, but I have allowed life to get in the way of how to do this better. Let us all hope it doesn't kill everything while I continue to juggle.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

OUTSIDE... Finally

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of time taking most of the plants outside. It is finally warm enough that I plan to let them stay outside for a few days.  It was nice to know they finally had enough sun.
Amaryllis went out front.
I put the amaryllis Pooka got over the holiday on the front porch. They are looking rather sad after I think a cat started chewing on a few leaves. I am trying to figure out what to do with the darn things. Can I cut them off now and then have them rebloom later this summer? Any ideas from people who have done this before?

Picture one
Getting all the plants on the back deck in one picture was not going to happen if we still wanted access to the yard and the grill. Instead, I have 3 pictures. Here is the blueberries, strawberries, lilac, potatoes and veggies is all I am going with in the little pots.
Picture 2
Here you can see the last of the plants on the deck itself. The spinach and lettuce is in the back right corner. I finally moved them out of the garage yesterday and some have already taken root. Hopefully I will be cutting myself a salad in no time. The some of the tomatoes are on the strawberry tables. I forgot to bring these in last night, but they seemed okay at first glance.
Picture 3
Here is the plants on the table. I didn't have much rhyme or reason to where things went. I just kinda shoved things places, but I wanted to make sure the roasters of "seedlings" were up a bit higher to keep them safer from the dog. Now not everything looked very healthy and in some cases it was just pots of dirt, but I am hoping to pull out the seeds today and restart some of them. Fortunatly for me they are easy to restart plants like broccoli, pak choi, lettuce, beans and herbs.  Hopefully all of these being outside will help with the gnat issue that killed so many plants this year.


Tomates, egg flowers, scallions and mystery

I left some of the more tender plants inside. The egg flowers don't look like they are doing so well since I kinda forgot to water them for a bit. The scallions were growing great, and we actually trimmed them for dinner. We put the cut ends back into the water to see if they regrow. I forgot to get pictures since I was more then a tad melted when Daddy asked to cut them. The tomatoes I am hoping to transplant some of them this weekend. I know they were a bit dry yesterday and I was afraid to put them out when they do not have a whole lot of dirt to hold water.

Surprise peppers
These peppers are still in the front room. I know they are having an issue with mold. Something this kind of tray seems prone to, and no, I do not plan on reusing this kind next year. I am going to keep these guys and hopefully replant them as well soon so I can strengthen them to get them outside. Maybe spring will start staying. However, I haven't taken the tables down, I think that would be testing fate.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Leaf veggies are finally stared

Monday seemed to have been planting day around here. Since we had family over the weekend, we were kinda behind on the garden. Enter a Mommy ready to start getting a payout from the garden. The easiest way to do this is to get my lettuce and spinach going.

Last year when I was fed up with the garden, it was so nice to be able to walk outside and at least come in with a salad. I know that time will be coming, so I wanted to get ours going.

I pulled out the planter boxes I used last year for the lettuce, but emptied the dirt from them last fall. This meant they needed new coffee filters. I forgot to get pictures of the pot with filters in it, so just pretend they are there.
Ready for action
Then Pooka got to add the dirt. Some of the dirt was recycled from the failed radish pots. We made sure to set the dirt out all winter to hopefully kill off anything that might of laid eggs in it. I am also making sure to put something of a different family in it just in case.  We then added some new potting soil on top to make sure it has plenty of food for our lettuce.

Dirt for a Pooka to play in
The last step was for Pooka to sprinkle her seeds. We planted some surprise Spinach from Aunt B. Pooka loves getting seeds from people. It made her whole weekend when Aunt B showed up with seeds. We also planted 4 types of lettuce and one other type of salad spinach.

Seeds, seeds seeds.
Pooka did learn this time to not just throw them in there, but rather to sprinkle them like she would decorate a cake. It should help so that not everything is growing in one spot. In a month, I am hoping to get salads from the back yard. Cross your fingers. This whole salad bar may save me many a long day of "why do I do this?"

Seeds added, now we wait.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Surprises for a Pooka

Our family came into town this weekend and Pooka became a very happy girl. It seems her Aunt B brought her some spinach seeds she had apparently promised a Pooka. I know it meant a ton to Pooka and to me it meant having a kind of seed that we know should work well. If I can grow it. Aunt B has alot more experience then I do, but I am lucky to be able to ask her or any of my other sisters for advice.
The little green package of spinach from Aunt B and others
Daddy got a surprise on Saturday after Aunt S and I went out for a bit. I came back with a second blueberry bush. You see I did some reading last week on the blueberry bush, and all the reading says that you can get blueberries from 1 bush, but it does better with 2, and great with 3. I talked to Daddy about it, but we decided to table it. Well as Aunt S and I were out, I decided to go look. Bad idea. However, we found a nice new bush that would transplant well and brought it home. It got planted while we had all this family here. I am sure they were entertained since I did it solo since I didn't feel like getting all the kids that were here involved. Although sadly it has kinda fallen over a bit since I planted it. I will probably spend part of this evening staking it back up to stand up straight.

The second blueberry bush
Sunday evening, Pooka and I were sitting in the computer room and the butterfly habitat was above my desk. I was zoned out (as I tend to do after having family all weekend and a funeral on top of it). "Mommy, look a butterfly" Pooka exclaimed.
Hello Spot
Sure enough, this little guy was flying around the habitat ready to play. He is the only one that has hatched yet, so at least we got one. Pooka decided to name him Spot and he has spent the last few days being feed by a flower and living on my desk. It should warm up enough to release him in a day or so.
Pooka's picture of runt
However, Runt went for a bit of an express trip due to the cats and hasn't moved much since. Out of the whole group, we got at least 1 butterfly. Possibly due to the cats. We may do this again, but with the wild caterpillars we find the garden. It wouldn't be the first time. Now we at least have the right places for them to live.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Plants for a cause

A while back, Pooka and I went to get Brother a second potato bag for his blue potatoes. Well, I was having a very just down day and Pooka noticed some Stargazer lillies on sale. Now we all know I love stargazers, but I just didn't feel like another plant. No matter how easy. I was about to say no when I realized the proceeds went to Breast Cancer research. A cause that has hit my family before and is worth supporting. I asked Pooka where we should put this since frankly I didn't have a clue. "In a pot" was her simple answer, and then I decided to get a couple pots to put by the front door for them. Into the cart they went to come home and then into the gardening drawers when we got home.
Stargazers for a cause
Fast forward to recently when I realized I should get them in the ground. Not knowing or finding anything I really liked, I picked these up cheap at Walmart and decided I didn't care if they were ugly, they would hold dirt.
Pots with dirt
They hold dirt fairly well, and I let Pooka pull out the bulbs. We put 3 in one pot and 2 in the other. Although now I can't remember which on has how many. I guess it gets to be a surprise for later. We again recycled some of the dirt from the failed radishes since I don't think those worms will be a problem here as well as some extra potting soil.
Pooka enjoyed pulling the bulbs out of the mulch. She said she was on a treasure hunt. It also facinated her how the roots had grown so long and the texture of the bulbs.

Go down 4-6"
I will be honest, I have never had good luck with bulbs. But this time I read the directions 3 times, and I dug my hole 6" down.

Pointy bit goes up
Then we placed the bulb in the bottom of the hole with the pointy end aimed at the sky and very carefully replaced the dirt.Pooka took it one more step further and replaced the mulch from the bag on the 2 pots. Now they are sitting on either side of my garage door and all I can do is hope for signs of life.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Apparently plants have names

Over the weekend, we had a company. Our family came into town and Daddy reached into the fridge for a bulb of garlic and found this. A couple of sprouted bulbs.

I guess we aren't eating these.
Not to be dismayed, the idea to plant it was brought up by a couple of people. This made Daddy roll his eyes, but he left it to me and went in search of better garlic. I think he may of said something about having enough garlic, but I am not so sure since we eat so much of it.

Fast forward to Monday, when I walked into the garage and saw the growing bulbs and the little 4" pots I had bought by mistake recently. It took Pooka and I no time at all to separate the cloves and find 5 cloves that were still in good shape to plant.

Wrong size pots
In goes the dirt and the bulbs and next thing you know, I have 5 more cloves of garlic that are probably in too small a pot, but its an experiment if nothing else.  I am really wondering (aside from the size they have to grow) if the garlic from the nursery is different the the garlic from the grocery store. I have read you can use the garlic from either place.

Ready, set, grow. Oh wait, you already are.
The real kicker is that this time Pooka decides she wants to name the plants instead of writing garlic on the sticks. Instead they are named "Green Thumb, Rosebud, Tia, Lucky and Boss." The last three are off a show she has been watching lately called "Pitbulls and Parolees." I think while the show can be kinda scary, it will help her deal with some of the more unfun parts of life soon. As of right now, she wants to be a garden scientist and then rescue huskies when she grows up.

The garlic family
Who knew plants had names? Goodness only knows what she will come up with for the tomatoes.

Monday, April 22, 2013

One small problem solved

It is fairly well known with as long as this spring is taking to get here, we are having a minor space issue, okay a major space issue. It is very hard to live in a kitchen space and let a dog out when you have 2 kitchen tables in your kitchen and along the back door. One for eating/homework/daily life and the other holding plants.
The plants are taking over.
Well, the other day at Target, I managed to find something on clearance that has helped solve a bit of the issue. Clearance is my friend. If they happen to have more next time I go, I am going to grab another one.
50% off even. I will take that
Daddy and our friend Uncle M got this put together after Brother's party. Now we have more room to let the dog out, and it even holds more plants. Sadly, its been a bit cold outside for the potatoes, so even they had to come in. In the next week or so, I hope to have most things outside during the day.
A tower of plants.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Busy and odd weekend

A flower for Ms. S. You will be missed.
I know I disappeared for a day or so. You see we had family come into town, and then when they left, we had a visitation to go to. As a result, I am going to spend the rest of the day with family, and then tommorrow I will be more chatty. Today just doesn't feel very chatty to me, but more a time to spend with those you love and give them a hug.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Math and Gardening and Brother

Sunday afternoon, even with all the people we had here, stuff still needed done. We decided on Brother's day to start Brother's blue potatoes. I also decided our potatoes were more then ready to go in the ground.
I think the potatoes have eyes
First we used the potato planter bag from Walmart. It was a bit smaller then I expected (but again, I have zero spacial relation ability). I pulled it from the bag and actually read the directions.
Potato bag complete with access panel for harvesting
It turns out, you are suppose to roll the bag down to about 12 inches tall. Yes, this meant I had to get a tape measure. Brother got to do the measuring which helps since he needs a bit of help with his spacial relations and measuring (sadly, he got this from me).
Finding the correct height
From there we needed to fill the bag 2/3rds full. Since Brother has been working on fractions at school, I made him do the math. He got the 8" correct and helped me pour the dirt and measure our height.
Using Math to fill with dirt
Then we had to dig a hole halfway down in the dirt. Again, I looked at Brother who has been doing fractions at school and he got the magic 4" right. He jumped right in and got his hands dirty. He had to be precise and measured the hole as well.
Brother and his hole, kinda
Next we placed the potato in the hole. Turns out the eyes need facing up. I did not cut the potatoes since I can fit 3-4 to a bag and I already had 6 potatoes. I couldn't see the point in needing another bag. The nice blue eyes went faced the surface and we covered them with dirt.

Time to grow little guy.
We covered all the potatoes with dirt and watered them throughly that day. I left them outside for a day or 2 but we are having pretty severe storms this week, so we brought them in. I did water them today since I read up on potatoes last night and oops, they need watered almost daily to produce well. Oops... good to know. Now to watch for sprouts and see what happens. Any tips on growing potatoes?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rain, Rain, rain...Rain.

Like most of the Midwest, there is rain everywhere today. It has been raining or cloudy for most of the week and some people are questioning if there is a sun.

Me, I am wondering if this is Mother Nature's way of grieving over the events this week. While we have been lucky, and the rain isn't that bad where we are, I did walk outside to find the blueberry bush underwater.
Do you think it needs watered?
This is not the first plant that has had a drainage problem this week, but with it being fairly new and the fact that blueberries HATE wet roots, I decided to drain it. Now normally when I drain something like this, I tip the whole pot over, but I was nervous to do so with it being so wet and the blueberry bush so new. Instead I pushed in the side a bit and noticed a nice little waterfall coming out the bottom.
I managed to drain quite a bit of the water out and turned around to see this.
Mother nature 1 - Robins 0
It turns out a robin has been trying very unsuccessfully to build its nest on the light by the back door. The number of ways I don't want a robin there (not being able to use the door, fear of a robin coming into the house, ect) makes me glad Mother Nature decided to knock the nest over. This isn't the first time we have seen this bird try, but maybe not it will get the point.
Hopefully not the site of a bird nest
If not, I just hope the fact the light itself isn't very big which would mean not real stable will be enough to keep the Robin family off my deck. I may send Daddy out to put some vinegar or something up there to make it smell bad for awhile (nothing that would hurt the birds).
Mommy engineering
As for the blueberry, it needed to finish draining and I have stuff to do, so I used our little strawberry table to help hold the pot in place so the blueberry can dry. Hopefully soon the rain will end for good. Although it does seem to agree with the green onions. We can finally see the little guys.
Hello Green Onions

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lots and lots of updates

In the last few weeks, we have had alot of projects start, but I think its time to tell you how they are going.

A couple of weeks ago, we had cut the ends off some green onions to see if we could regrow them. While we did have to get rid of some that didn't look so good, we did have a couple of green onion cuttings that are growing like mad. Pooka is so excited that they are doing so well.  So maybe that is one internet rumor that works. I did cut a few more ends off another set, so those got droppped in the cup too. The more the merrier at this point and all are showing signs of growth.
The green onion experiment
In Febuary Pooka and I stumbled across a clearance herb kit. It was a nice kit and grew nicely at first, then the dampening off/gnat problem got to them. They seemed to do okay until I stopped watering them to combat the dampening, and then the rest of the plants really took off, and I kinda forgot about them. This probably would of worked if I had not forgotten about them. Black thumb scored there. However, I am going to retry putting seeds in this container in a few days after I get some of these plants outside of my house.

Oops, they got forgotten
Pooka's Easter bunny egg flowers are doing okay. So far only the two snap dragons and a pansy have sprouted, but we are watching the others closely to see if they do okay. Pooka found a red watering can at Target in the dollar section that we are going to transplant the flowers (or just regular seeds) into once they get a bit bigger. She is so excited to just have flowers, something I don't share. If I am going to do the work, I want to EAT the darn things. However, it makes her happy and it is not going to take up much space.
Pooka's flowers
Finally, the peas, oh the peas. How I am not sure what to tell you. I planted the plants outside, and they didn't keep dying, but they haven't really seemed to come back. Add to it the last couple days of rain and pretty harsh winds, and its just there. Monday, Pooka and I saw our first sprouts from the Pea seeds we put in there. Maybe there is hope for them yet.
Can you play spot the Pea sprouts?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Quiet Day

Today will be one of those very busy days on our end. I just thought in the wake of yesterday's events, I would be quieter today and just let us all look for the heroes and the bravery people showed there. I hope you will find a moment today when you can stop and think about the good that was shown in this bad moment. The people that either ran into the chaos, or the ones who helped where they could if they ran to the hospitals to give blood, or held a hand. Remember to look for the good, even in situations that seem bad. Somewhere in there, you will find something good, even if it is a bit hard to find at first.
Audrey the morning glory's flowers.

Monday, April 15, 2013

10 years ago

Ten years ago, I lost the ability to think only of myself. Ten years ago, was the first time I realized it was really time to grow up when Brother was born.

He has come so far in so many years. Not all years were good, and we have had alot of great years. We have had challenges, some are just the ones every parent faces, others are not. No matter what, I love that boy with all my heart, and I am proud to see the person he is growing into.

So with that, I am going to leave with a picture of Brother's blueberry bush (You didn't think you would get to see the kids did you?). The bush has adjusted to it's new pot flawlessly. I never saw it have transplant shock, so we are hoping it is all happy and content. Maybe we will get something off it this year. I know between that and Brother's blue potatoes, that boy is going to have alot more interest in what is going on outside besides who is around to play with.

Happy Birthday Brother.
Brother's Blueberry bush

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Helping some friends move

If you all remember, Pooka's caterpillars went into their chrysalis about mid week. Pooka was so excited and wished them all goodnight. Well I got the directions out that day and did some reading.

It turns out that the cup is not suppose to move the first day or our friends went to sleep. Apparently no one told the cats this since Daddy did say the first night he had found the container on the floor. That explains all the chrysalises being in their food.

The caterpillars fell out of bed
Once everyone is comfy, you need to wait a day or 2 before you move the paper disk so the shells can harden some. I gave it 3 to be safe and then Saturday afternoon, Pooka, Grandma K and I moved the paper disk and pin it to the side of the nylon habitat that our butterflies.

Moving our easy friend
Sadly that was the easy one to move. The rest were on the bottom of the container in their own waste. Fun. I refused to pick them up by hand because I was afraid to squish them, so I grabbed a pair of chop sticks and move the other three. I would not be surprised if at least one of them didn't make it, since it didn't look the same. These guys got put on a paper towel at the bottom of the habitat.
Add 3 more to the container.
Once I had them all in, the top was zipped and they were put on the top of my desk to finish growing. It says to keep them out of direct sunlight and any real breezes, so this should be a good place. I don't have a picture of it, sorry about that.
Hello Runt
What happenned to our little runty caterpillar? He is still growing strong. He is about the size of the other ones were we got them, so I left him in the food container (yes, I know its rather nasty in there). Since we had taken out the paper disk for him to attach too, I asked Pooka to get a stick from her collection. We broke it in pieces to place in their for him. He seems plenty happy with that, and maybe it will be easier to move. At his current growth rate, he should be going to sleep about the time we release his friends, so maybe Pooka won't miss the others as well. The extra bits of stick we broke and put in the nylon habitat for our little friends to crawl on once they wake up. Now we wait and see what happens.