Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bonsai Gardening, or Not!!

Since our blog is about the adventures and misadventures of gardening outside the box, I thought I might share one of my fascinations (and honey there are a lot of them) with you.
This will be about gardening within a box, actually in a tray - did you know Bonsai is actually 2 words – Bon means tray and Sai means planting or growing.
I have just loved little colorful things, like an old mynah bird, since I was just a little pear ~ if it was little, shiny, or colorful, I had to have it, try it, or collect it, and nothing fits this bill quite like these precious little plants and trees!
It doesn’t matter where you live, everyone can have a bonsai tree and if you spend your year in different locations, they can relocate too – I suggest buying another makeup case just for this purpose!
Learning all you can about bonsai before you make your first purchase will save you time, dollars, and heartbreak – I remember my first was a Christmas gift from our son who said “They said you can leave it outside all winter, just water it”. I did and while it was evergreen it got browner and browner until come spring, all I had left was a pot of crispies ~ that was the “bon” and flakes, no sai.
You need a pot, and a tray, there are millions on the market, so get one that you love; then you need to decide on a starter plant or tree, or start one yourself from seeds.

If you are as impatient as I am a plant or tree is definitely the way to go, while I plan to live to be at least 100, I don’t want to spend all those years waiting for a tree to grow from a seed, I want WOW and I want it NOW!
A great starter tree is the Japanese Red Maple; I love this because the tree’s leaves change to bright red or orange in the spring and fall and a deeper red in the summer.
This tree works so well for an upright bonsai and you can train it so the little leaves are one-inch long or less. The trunk and tiny limbs can be green or red.
You will need tools and instructions on how to care for your particular choice. And from your care will come a lifetime of enjoyment watching your little creation evolve!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Debacle of the Electric Fence

In our high mountain valley there lives the rarest of all creatures, a really good and reliable handyman.
The love of my life, my husband D.P., has many talents- handy he isn’t. Thus Mr. Keller has ever and will forever more help us keep our home together. In a sincere effort to be handier like Mr. Keller, D.P. has invested in stacks of “How to books”. We have books on building, painting, patios, etc. But his favorite book of all time is Plumbing. It is a measure of what he has learned that when he got a book on wiring the last of the kids moved out. I mean it’s one thing to have no water.
You may wonder how this relates to gardening, that’s where the electric fence and Mr. Keller come in.
In an effort to save my gardens (or Deer Buffet as our older Son calls them) from critters I divined that I needed an electric fence.
So from a ranch supply place ,I ordered a reel of yellow tapey wire stuff and a box to hook it up to. I read the directions and proceeded to string it up and plug it in. All set! Right? But how do you know it’s working? I’m not touching that thing. That’s way below my Queenly pay grade. Kids are all gone-remember the wiring.
Now I’m not one to lightly contradict the goddess of queenliness “The Sweet Potato Queen”. But I know what I know. Hours of begging and even the “Promise” could not entice D.P. to “touch that thang”. Guaranteed to work my eye.
Enter stately Mr. Keller who can make anything work. After surveying the crime scene, all that yellow tapey stuff, he gingerly walked over to the fence and gently laid one finger on it.
Yeowwww! His white hair flew up and he did a half hop.
My teeth were clenched and my eyes squinted in a look of horrified concern. This was the only way I could stifle my laughter.
We continued down the fortification until we reached a place where I had flubbed up. In showing me how to fix it, it got him again! He pretended it didn’t and I pretended not to see. My shoulders only shook a little bit.
When we reached the corner where the fence started up the hill ,he bent over and pointed to a better angel it could take. In absolute horror-in slow motion, I watched him back in to the monster. In my head I was screaming “nooooooooo!” but no sound escaped my lips. This time we had full butt contact and it was a 2 hop jolt with arm flailing. I was undone, bent double howling with laughter, tears streaming down my cheeks. All poor Mr. Keller could manage was a pale, slightly sheepish grin.
I swear that I am not normally the kind of person who takes glee in others misfortune. I can’t tell you why this was so funny. I only know that even now whenever I notice the reel of yellow tapey wire stuff in the garden shed my shoulders shake.To my knowledge Mr. Keller was the only critter ever shocked by that fence. The moral of this story is that there are better ways to deal with critters in your garden.
I also know where you can buy some slightly used yellow tapey wire stuff and the box to hook it up to.
Real cheap

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Welcome Zimbabwe! Talk to us often. We love hearing from you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

If It Hops, and It's Ears Flop - It's Public Enemy # 1

After spending most of the winter going thru seed catalogs, finding just the right seed for each vegetable for my garden plot, it was time to order. By the time the order arrived, Spring was just peeking around the corner. All those wonderful seeds, I lined up the packets in what order I wanted to plant. I ordered garden stakes so I could tell just what seed was where, I lived gardening, I dreamed gardening, and as soon as possible, there I was, twine on the ground, stakes in one hand and my wonderful packets in the other.
The rows where marked, the stakes on each end, the twine in between, the furrows made, and the seeds sprinkled and covered. The wait began –
And, just as nature intended, the seeds germinated and tiny little plants started to pop up. Here came the lettuce, the spinach, the radishes and onions, and finally the green beans. I was so proud of my garden, taking pictures to send all my friends of the baby plants.
Then one morning, as I strolled to see and measure the overnight growth, I stopped dead in my tracks, my jaw dropped and tightened, my eyes squinted, my backbone became stiff as a board – what had happened to my garden!!! I no longer had green beans, I had an entire 2 rows of little stems with no leaves, no tops, just little sticks – the rabbits had found the garden and devoured all of the green beans.
I sent a queenly plea to all my fellow gardeners – what to do and how to do it ~
De-fence was the solution, spray it around the perimeter of the yard and the rabbits will not cross it – two cans later, the task was accomplished. Three days later the sticks were growing leaves again and all was well in my garden kingdom.
Day 4, I walked to the garden, the beans were sticks again and a rabbit was happily hopping thru the fence between me and my neighbors. The De-fence had failed. Out went the plea again – what to do?
In poured the suggestions, each of one was tried in this order: talcum powder (they ate the lettuce), human hair (they ate the spinach), dog hair (they started to nibble on the okra), hot pepper flakes – the rabbits enjoyed salsa. My neighbor went to the nursery and came home with Hot Wax Pepper in a spray. She had replanted her beans and they were up just one leaf – she sprayed and sprayed, and the next morning – sticks, not a leaf in sight. Then someone suggested dusty miller – so off to the nursery I went, bought the last 4 in town, they were leggy and they were wilty, but they were dusty miller, so I hopefully planted them and watered them like they were gold.
Lo and behold, either the rabbits found better food to eat, or my plants got too big to be tender, or the dusty miller worked the trick, but they quit eating the okra, which other than tomatoes and peppers was all that was left. They still came into the yard, hopping around looking for something tasty, but I thought I was finished with the worst of them.

Then, just before the first frost, I was looking at the baby clematis my sister had planted for me in the spring and it was gone, just gone, chomped off at the top of the cup I had around it.
After a few choice words and more research I am back at the point to last spring – hopeful, wondering what I can do to keep the little hoppers away from my garden, and ready to invest in chicken wire or hardware cloth to surround the garden, the new plants, the yard, and maybe even the neighborhood! Anyone with any suggestions, please post on this blog – they will all be taken to heart!
It is so undignified to see a Queen chasing rabbits out of the yard in her jammies!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Does A Bear ..........................?

I must preface this story by relating another one to you - One morning I called this Queen's home. Her husband answered and I asked for her. In his most formal tone he told me she was unavailable. I said "Well, what is she doing?" He started laughing and said "She is out in the yard, she has climbed a tree to look for a mother bear". The fun just never ends!!!

In our part of the country when you have just related the most bizarre tale, purported to be true, the almost immediate and universal response will be a cocked head and the word “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww?” At which point the purportee will, with the most solemn of faces say, “Does a bear s……….. in the woods?” There is no more solemn oath in these parts. And I for one know this to be true in a big way.

This time of year, late fall, all the critter’s memory of a hungry winter begins to kick in and they go on an eating rampage. We usually have a couple of grumpy ole bears up here who are still kind of picky, sniff the meager outside offerings and go away. This year we had the cutest yearling. He was an almost round ball of fur, about 100 pounds. He hung around for a couple of hours, smelling the bacon and eggs we just finished and peeking in the side lights on the door trying to find a way in to that smell. He finally gave up on that and sat down on the front porch to ponder “What’s next?”

Suddenly, he ran off with his tail up! I gingerly stepped outside to survey any damage. All over the bottom step was a residue of white powder. “What in the world?” Then I saw the bag, a brand new bag of Epson salt ready to be mixed for one last feeding for my beds. It was empty.

Don’t ever ask me if a bear s……..s in the woods.