Saturday, May 31, 2014

Let us try this again, shall we?

Sad little mint plant
After this winter that seemed to kill just about everything, the mint did not come back. I am not entirely shocked here, I mean it was in a small pot and not the ground, but it means we are yet again redoing the living chair.
healthy new peppermint plant
 This time we used Peppermint for two reasons. The first being we never did much with the chocolate mint besides Pooka and her friend K going through and eating a leaf here or there to get rid of chive breath after playing in the herb bed. The second reason is peppermint is in a tea blend a girlfriend makes for me to help me sleep, and this is one more ingredient I can grow at home and dry. Pooka loved getting to plant the new plant.
The chair has moved
We did move the chair from one side of the front porch to another. This spot will be a tad bit shadier (so we are less likely to kill said plant) and it makes it much easier to water the mint. Now when the kids bring home water in their water bottles from school, I send them out to water the mint or the garden. Hopefully this will help keep the mint plant alive as well.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Getting carrots going and Audrey

One evening after school, Pooka and I decide to run outside between storms and plant some overdue seeds. We fully admit we are behind on the garden this year with school and me working so much, but it was nice to know a few more things are started. Our goal this evening was to get Pooka's carrots started and Audrey the morning glory. 
Pooka and I ran out and put some seeds in the pot for Audrey and I promised to pull out her trellis soon, probably after they had sprouted. Personally, I hate morning glories, but they were a favorite of Pooka's Gremo so we decided to plant another one for her. This way we have something that would make her smile so we can smile when we see it. 

awaiting Audrey now
The carrots went into their square boxes. Pooka and I just sprinkled seeds this time since we were in a rush and I didn't have any tape made. Hopefully we will still get a good crop. I doubt Pooka will be able to take any before school lets out, but she can probably take them in the fall in her lunch. Pooka loves confusing her friends with her different colored foods.
Pooka's picture of her carrots seeds planted

Thursday, May 29, 2014

At war

We are at war. You see, I planted the broccoli and it started getting snipped off. I think Mr. Bunny has a taste for broccoli. Once I found one whole plant GONE, another looking rather sad and a 3rd and a 4th with teeth marks, I declared war on the rabbits.
Rabbit damage
I do go by the rule of thumb that 1/3 of what I start from seed will never germinate, 1/3 of what I plant will go to the critters, and 1/3 will be ours, but it is very frustrating to have your newly planted broccoli all disappear suddenly. Especially when it is the only thing in the ground.
Bunny had some Geometric broccoli
I shored up our defenses. I pulled out my trusty stakes, zip ties and some chicken wire we had bought a few years ago but never used and built myself a wall to prevent Mr. Rabbit. Now, I know it wouldn't slow him down if I hadn't staked the chicken wire into the ground. My hope was that this would make our broccoli look a ton less appealing than any of the neighbors yards and if it didn't I may have caught him and could re home him somewhere a bit farther away.
Cross your fingers this works. 
I can say since the wall has been up, the broccoli has been unharmed. My neighbor did say their lettuce is getting a bit of the bunny treatment, but I also know for a fact a set of rabbits live under their deck next to their garden. One plant did not come back but hopefully once the rest of the garden goes in, I can remove the wall and let nature do it's thing. I am so over buying produce at the store. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another causality of winter.

Well, I finally called it. One of the blueberry bushes just did not seem to want to wake up. I don't know why, but I was tired of waiting. We have one that the buds had started to open and the cold snaps hit, so it waited and is finally reopening. But the one just was not doing anything. 
As you can see, its looking a bit sad
Daddy, Kiddo, Pooka and I went out and bought a new one. We found a nice one that had leafed but not flowered. Hopefully we might get something off it this year. We started to transplant the berry plant and realized 2 things. One was that the pot had tons of standing water. Apparently it was not draining well. The other thing we learned was that the blueberry bush didn't seem dead. it was still springy when you bent the branches. I couldn't just throw it away if it might be savagable, so we transplanted it into a smaller container. This will either give it a place to dry out and wake up, or it will kill it. Either way, it will free up the other pot for something else. Oh, and we made a point to fix the drainage issue for the berry plants. Hopefully they will not have standing water anymore. 

Blueberry given one last chance
I will say Kiddo loved watching the water gush out of the new drainage holes in the pots. Since these are his bushes I made him do his share. Technically right now we have 4 blueberry plants. This may mean we keep 4 plants, or we go down to 3. Its a matter of what the sad blueberry wants to do. Honestly, I would just love everything to green up and prove that it is ready for another year, even if we don't get much out of it. I know the winter was hard, but I keep hoping that I have finally found all the losses and we can move on for the year. 

4 blueberries all in a row.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cave has a surprise

The other day I was looking at the lemon tree and I thought I saw a weed. Until I got closer...

Turns out our lemon tree had a seedling. I guess we will be getting another lemon tree. It won't hurt anything to let it grow for awhile and see if it even lives.

Pooka is already naming this one Wheatley. You better be a tree and better live Wheatley, I don't want to tell a Pooka anything else.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

One project done

It is official. We finished the pollinator bed. On Mother's day, Pooka, Daddy and I decided to get her pollinator bed finished up. We got her mulch and we let her just sprinkle her seeds on it wherever she wanted. I did tell her which seeds would be taller and which would be shorter so she may want those towards the front.
Seeds anyone
These are all the seeds that went into her flower bed. There are the seeds from her Great Aunt as well as the seeds the Easter Bunny left and some Pooka spent her christmas money on.  I even put some money to the cause. She was having a blast getting to just throw seeds down. Now in years to come we may be a bit more selective, but this being our first year and being a bit rushed, this is what we did. 
putting mulch out
After all the seeds were down, Daddy helped bring the mulch we bought over and literally pour it on the bed. Then Pooka and I got it spread out. We did have to be careful of the plants that were already growing, but Pooka loved "tucking in" her plants. 
All done
Once we were all done, Pooka and I put up a little white fence around the bed. I know that there tend to be kids running around our yard and I would hate for one of them to run through the front bed. This is just a slight reminder to please not walk her. Hopefully in a few weeks there will be plants everywhere and they won't need the reminder. In this last picture you can also see the tree we cut down. This allow a bit more light the area and frankly, I hated that tree so I was happy to see it go. Now Pooka just needs to sit and wait and see. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sign of spring

Back deck covered in pots. That is a sign of spring. Now to get it all in the ground.
The back deck hoping to get planted soon

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First in the ground

First in the ground
Well, it took two days due to rain, but I finally have something in the ground. The broccoli is in and getting quite comfortable out there. I will say the picture is from day 1, but I managed to get them all in there and now we wait. I know Pooka is really hoping her geometric broccoli will do something this year. I can see her little face getting all excited over a new kind of broccoli that is different. Personally, I am just happy that we have a few less pots on the deck.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Today is a big day for Kiddo. He is having a ceremony at school for making it through 5th grade and getting ready for Jr. High. I would love to say that I am ready for this change, but I am pretending to be for him. As a result, today will be on of radio silence as the whole family tells him how proud we are of him and that he is a big kid. So enjoy your day and remember that kids grow up way too fast.

Monday, May 19, 2014

More free plants

The other evening I was outside planting the broccoli. Pooka was inside finishing dinner before she could come help. Our neighbor was grilling and said "Hey, do you want some lettuce?"

Free lettuce
This is not a normal conversation around here. I got up and went to talk to him. Turns out he needed dirt for something, but overbought. A friend of his told him to turn it into a garden, so he did with the help of his kids. However, he then overbought lettuce plants and didn't know what in the heck to do with them. He had already asked another neighbor of ours who gardens and they didn't need it. So he figured Pooka may want it. I told him if he really didn't want it, we could put it to good use. He gave us 8 purple lettuce types and 4 bib lettuce. He didn't know what they were called aside from lettuce.

Pooka came outside after he went back to his dinner and I was finishing the broccoli and got SO excited for purple lettuce. She pulled a leaf off right there to try it. Pooka loves colorful plants.

After I get some tomatoes in the ground, I may see if he wants one. I am sure I have one I can spare.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bugs everywhere

Well, timing seems to hate me this year. I don't know if it is me working or all the kids stuff that has thrown me off, but it seems like every day I am either running behind or I have forgotten something. The bugs are one such item.

If you will remember Pooka got 2 lady bug lands for Christmas.  I finally remembered to order them at the end of April. I made a point to try and order at that time because I had promised Pooka we would try mantises again.

Well the weekend they showed up,we had family in town. As a result, I forgot to get pictures of just about anything. I was more concerned about getting the containers of bugs off my kitchen table and into their homes. I told myself "oh, we will get pictures of that later." Later was a couple of weeks later. (It has been a weird year).

Lady bug land is occupied
By the time I finally got pictures, this is what they look like. You can see on the little road one of the lady bug larva. It was getting ready to go into its pupa.
Larva going into it's pupa 

In the second house I was able to get a much better picture of these guys making their pupa, which is essentially like their sleeping bag so they can form into actual lady bugs. Pooka is excited to have real lady bugs in her garden. I guess that means we need a garden for them to live in. 

Lets hope this works better
We also got another egg sack of mantises. I have yet to find the bottom for the praying mantis house, so for right now the egg sack is sitting in the container it came in house. I am hoping as I excavate the garage from the gardening supplies, it will appear. This folks is what happens when you kinda throw all the garden supplies in the garage at the last minute instead of dealing with they properly in the fall. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

And the Herb bed explodes

Even before this week of rain, the herb garden had exploded. Apparently having been in the ground all winter did not stunt their growth at all. The garlic has gotten super tall. I am already waiting and hoping on all that fresh garlic. Daddy even asked if we could find a few cloves to try canning with some hot peppers. I am sure I can find you a bulb or two dear. 

Garlic is doing well.
In the herb bed, there are plenty of plants that have enjoyed this spring as well. The tarragon especially jumps at you in this picture. I am going to have to start drying and using it. The thyme plants have all come back fairly quickly as well. Pooka's purple sage has come back a bit more green than last year, but I am wondering if that will change through the summer. 
A portion of the herb bed
There is much more growth further down the bed, but I forgot to take pictures. The one thing that doesn't seem to be doing well is one of my lilacs, but I was worried it may not come back in the first place. I am hoping to get out there in the next day or so and get a good count of whats out there and hopefully hit the nursery with Pooka and get the remaining herbs so we can get them in and going. After that, it is all harvest with a bit of weeding.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

3 little blueberry bushes all in a row.

One bush is ready to go, it has leaves and flowers. I am glad at least it survived the winter with little issue. the problem is I have one that is very very slow to wake up (it is finally budding but taking its time) and the last well, I think it died. I can't be sure, but it doesn't seem to be doing much.
3 Little blueberries
This is the bush I think is waking up slowly. If you can get close enough, there is a bit of green sticking out the ends. It still springs back when you pull on it and I just keep hoping it will wake up. 
May still wake up, it has green in the buds
This is the bush that may have died. It had little buds on it, but they don't seem to be doing well. I am really afraid it didn't like the polar vortex. Daddy and I have talked of replacing it, but we keep hoping the blueberry plants will go on clearance first.
I think it may be dead

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Pooka's gift to Grandma's

I can never decide if Pooka honestly thinks everyone wants plants for gifts, or it is part of her little master plan to take over the world. One thing she asked was if she could plant some flowers for her grandmothers.

3 pots for 3 Grandmas
We planted 3 pots of gladiolas bulbs in some pots. She picked out the pots and the bulbs. I just paid for them. I guess in a way it saves me having to buy preplanted flowers.
The bulb packet after planting.
Then we brought the supplies home and planted the bulbs and waited. The bulbs came in a package of 15, and didn't think the Grandmas wanted that many flowers, (especially for the pots she had picked) I did let her put the extras in her pollinator bed. Now Pooka has the same flowers as her Grandmas.
Flowers and tomatoes
Since we did this over a month ago, we fortunately had some fairly good growth by the time Mother's day arrived. I will say one went to a Grandma weeks ago, and didn't look as nice as these. Fortunatly, Grandma's are understanding people. Add a couple of tomato plants that were started extra for the Grandma's (since 2 love tomatoes and ask for the plant) and Mother's day is handled with little stress and I can take a bit of time off that morning instead of worrying about wrapping things. Pooka gets to be all excited to share plants with her grandmas and then she will probably help them take care of it over the summer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rosebush, oh rose bush

Rosebush, oh rosebush? How I fear I knew it well...

I went out to check on the rosebush the other day. I have been feeding it a steady diet of rooting compound. I have staked it up so it won't fall over in the strong winds. It went into the ground a dormant gray/green. At this stage I had hope for it. I thought maybe, just maybe we had this thing figured out. 
Rosebush when we planted it
Then life happened. The rose bush went from that green color to a yellow/dried color over just a few days. I think it woke up from its dormant period only to realize its roots were missing. I still have the rose bush in the yard, and I am continuing to water it, but I fear that this may be a sign. That maybe the rosebush just didn't want to be moved, that it wanted to stay Grandma's instead of coming here. I am going to give it a bit longer. Hope maybe just maybe a leaf will sprout and I will be able to cut it back to only the green branches. 
Rosebush now
The hens and chicks or stars however, have taken off. They seem to love their new home and maybe Daddy will finally find something to kill take over that very narrow planting bed besides weeds.
The stars seem to like it. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Humming bird planter

It sometimes amazes me what it takes to make a Pooka happy. Some days it is little things, like her being able to squish me to wake me up. Other days it is getting sit and color with a friend. Yesterday it was putting together her humming bird planter.
Humming bird planter
In order to do this, I will admit it required a trip to the nursery. Pooka and I dashed over one day while the boys held the fort down. I don't think the Easter Bunny read that there were no plants included. Pooka looked all over that nursery about 6 times looking for the perfect plants to attract humming birds. In the end, this is what she chose. 
Pooka's flowers
Now, I would love to say I have plenty of pictures showing the whole process of getting this thing together. But I don't since the assembly and installation took 2 parents and a Pooka. Especially since you have to put the one in that hangs out the bottom first and then can't put it down. 
Blackberry punch
This is the one Pooka loved since it was purple and black (It is more purple, Pooka's picture makes it look a but pink). It is called Superbells Blackberry punch Calibrachoa. I know nothing about it besides it is an annual and attracts hummingbirds.
Purple flowers
 The purple (again, Pooka's picture looks more blue) flower is a petunia I think. I didn't write it down. She loved the purple color and decided it would look lovely in her planter.

After much struggling and helping we got it set up. From this angle you can't really see the flowers out the bottom, but this is not where they will live all summer. Daddy was wonderful and gave Pooka a hook in the back deck by the sliding door. This way we can see the hummingbirds when they stop by. Now to hope this attracts some new pollinators to the yard. Pooka said something about having a Hummingbird Army of Doom to go with the Butterfly Army of Doom. I know I should wonder, but it is keeping her out of trouble for now.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Planting ONions big and small

I swear I posted this before, but I can't seem to find where I did. Weeks ago now, Pooka and I spent about 2 evenings after school getting our onions in the ground. We planted some yellow onions the first day. But they were out of red onions so we had to wait. I was just happy to get them going. I did space them out a bit more then last year in hopes to get a bit bigger onion. Our ones last year were a bit small.
Yellow onions in the ground
2 days later, they finally had red onions in. Daddy loves red onion so we couldn't forget them. This is how I like to buy my onions. I have never had much luck with sets, and these will grow a fairly nice actual onion and in a pinch I can use the greens as well.

Red onions from the nursery
While Pooka and I were out playing in the dirt, Daddy called me in. Apparenly one of our store onions had started to sprout. He wanted to know if we wanted to plant the onion. I said I didn't know if it would get bigger or not and he said "That is okay. We can do this one for science."

Sprouting Onion
I asked Pooka if she wanted to see what happened. I told her it could be its own experiment. Well of course Pooka said yes. I asked her where in the onion bed she wanted to plant it. She said it could go in the exact middle so we remembered which one it was.
New home for the onion
By the time we were done that night, this is what we had. An entire bed of nothing but onions. Hopefully that means we will get lots of nice onions this year. I for one would love to not have to buy onions for awhile.

Onion bed ready to grow.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Free plant

A couple of days ago, I was at work talking to a coworker who had been recently given domain over the greenhouse. Now our greenhouse is small, very small, and until recently I had only seen native plants in there for our green space and the occasional lab experiment. But this semester I saw tomatoes in there as well as peppers.

Seeing as these were plants I could identify and cared about (aka, I could eat them), I asked said coworker about it and he said it was a new fundraiser for the environmental club. We got to talking about what I am growing vs what he is growing (he kinda a flower/native guy) and was showing me what was in the greenhouse and he had some basil. I made the very offhand remark of "Yeah, I need to go buy more basil for this year."

Well, low and behold, he grabs a plant and says "Take this one. I am just excited you got me wanting to grow herbs again. Besides, your daughter will love it." Deciding that I for one would not turn down a free plant.

Free plant
Pooka did indeed love it. She was happy to have basil back at the house even if its not her purple basil. It is a bit floppy looking having grown up in a greenhouse, but it is getting stronger around here. Mostly since I make a point to have it by an open window and it has begun to pick itself back up. Once it is doing that, I am throwing it outside to get even stronger and then it will go in the yard. If we don't eat all the leaves off it first. Granted, Pooka loves to eat basil leaves plain, so it may not last that long.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Strawberries Everywhere

Well, I wish I could say I had strawberry fruits everywhere, but I do have strawberry plants everywhere. They have accumulated in stages, so I didn't realize how many where here until the other day. At first we bought a few plants to fill a strawberry hanging planter that Aunt B gave Pooka. Pooka loved it even if we have to make sure to hang it low enough so she can reach the berries. 
The first 4 berry plants
 Then on our shopping trip, Pooka bought herself another 3 little strawberry plants. She was in love with them and since it was her money, I didn't really feel the need to stop her. At least it was something we could make use of.
Pooka's haul from the shopping trip
Then one day, Pooka and I were at the home improvement store, and we saw a strawberry plant with RED flowers instead of white. Well, you know Pooka and color. She loved the idea of different colored flowers. So I talked to Daddy and we decided to buy her one.  
This is a bad picture, they are closer to red then pink
Now, I will admit I didn't realize what I had gotten myself into. We assumed something, and well it came back to bite me. What I didn't know when I went to pick them up was that I couldn't buy just 1. All I needed was one. These strawberries only come in a 6 pack. Sadly, we were in a rush, and I had promised, so we bought a set. 
A few days later, I declared all the previous strawberries dead. They did not handle the winter well and frankly, there was not a single sign of life. Signs that should of been there. I guess it is a good thing we replaced them now, but I will say having all these little strawberry plants floating around is making me nuts. They are already starting to produce and really need established into pots. I guess I know what I should be doing this week. Pooka is just ready to play in the dirt and she is really excited to see if the red flowered ones taste like regular strawberries. She went around the garden yesterday saying "Produce Strawberries. I am hungry and I want fresh fruit." She then proceeded to remind the raspberry and blueberry bushes to get to work as well. I think she is either hungry or excited. I can't tell which.

Monday, May 5, 2014


As my morning starts, I look around at all the things that need done. Pooka talks of her garden and what she wants to put where while she gets ready for school. She draws pictures of the garden and notes to her friends about theirs. I am wishing for more time.
Signs of life and work that needs done
This past weekend we were lucky enough to see some of our family. While I adored having them and wish they were closer, it also meant that not as much got done. I know had I asked them to help, they would have, but honestly, I was glad they were here. I miss my sisters and brothers and I know the kids miss them as well.

I am starting to ramble. I was starting this post to apologize for the lack of posts lately. Time has not been our friend. I love and hate this time of year. We still have school, especially with all the snow days, but spring fever has hit. Pooka wants nothing more to play in the yard and garden. Add to that the beginning of summer activities and the ending of school and the winter ones. Some days feel like things are never ending, and yet the life and the promise of garden shows us that soon the freedom from work and school will be here. As a result, the blog has taken a small backseat as has the garden. I am hoping now that things should start slowing down we can get caught up and maybe just maybe caught up. Here is to the quiet of summer being here and everyone being ready for it.