Sunday, December 27, 2009


I love my garden and I guess I love toilet tissue at any rate the thought of not having it is most unpleasant.
And, each Spring I am amazed at how much toilet tissue goes thru our home – I always think it’s because of company. By now you are wondering if I count tissue rolls in my spare time, right?
No, I am not that daffy yet, but I save each and every empty roll from tissue and from paper towels, they go into the garage in plastic sacks along with empty egg carton bottoms. And, no, I haven’t developed a hoarder mentality either!
I love seeds, garden seeds, flower seeds, just any kind of seed. Looking at seed catalogues in the winter and ordering seeds in the Spring is second only to receiving the seeds in the mail, buying them at the nursery, and finding the packets I saved from the last year.
Now comes the fun part – I open all my seeds and dump each packet into a bowl with the packet laid at the top so I can remember what is what. I go to the garage and get all my sacks of empty rolls and egg cartons. I go to the front closet and the huge rubber tray we have for drippy shoes in the winter comes out and into the area with the rolls. I go to the nursery and get the best potting soil I can find. By this time things around our home have gotten real quiet and the other half of my team is giving me “The Look”.
With everything accumulated, I cut the rolls in half and line them up in the tray with the egg cartons at one end, then I fill everything with potting soil, get my little seeds and carefully put one in each roll, adding a little potting soil on top. I fill each egg slot in the cartons with soil and flower seeds go in there. Each group is carefully marked with the packet the seeds came in.
I very slowly drip water into each roll and into the egg cartons and sit the tray over a floor heating vent. Within 2 weeks all my little seeds are sprouts which I carefully tend until it’s time to put them into the garden. You can either rip the roll and carton parts away, or plant them, as they are paper and will compost while your plants grow.
This is the point where my neighbor will peek over the fence and pretend like he is not watching, I always want to jump up and yell “GOTCHA”.
Not a dime spent on little potting cups, and all those plastic bags are now empty and ready for next year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Puzzlement

Every year by the time Fall rolls around at my mountain home I am flat worn out. Not by the exertion of the garden, which I love, but by trying to keep the critters from eating all my efforts.
Perennial has a totally different meaning here. Here it means alive until eaten. It isn’t like we have a few hungry pests-we have hoards in strange varieties. At 9000 feet, animals that wouldn’t distain to eat a petunia at sea level make it a quick meal .This year I watched an elk cow eat a whole big bush in 20 minutes. Years of useless hollering and missed rocks rendering her impervious to my presence.
DP keeps a pellet gun by the door. It is the muffled yell and moan that bring him eagerly into the fray. Never would I actually say “DP get the gun!” The holes in the porch ceiling testify to the danger in that.
I have just been pondering for a long time now about why you can’t engineer flowers and shrubs to taste bad. I know what you’re thinking. Plant marigolds, nasturtiums and daffodils. I do!! That’s my point! If Nature made them taste bad to critters, I do believe that she wouldn’t mind a little help with some varieties that are pink and purple and white, etc.
Now all you organic guys don’t get your pants in a knot.
I’m just saying……….!
If you can make sweet corn, which is like heaven compared to field corn, why can’t you help flowers and shrubs out a little.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Organic Control of Garden Insects

Now I want to make this clear to you from the start, I am a Kansas girl, I was born a Kansas girl, will die a Kansas girl, and it won’t matter where I am relocated I will always remain a Kansas girl, yes, I have the ruby red slippers to prove it too!
I am not afraid of snakes, I am not afraid of bugs, rabbits, or other wildlife that may venture then the yard. I can remember as a child watching ants for hours, and putting little grains of sugar on the sidewalk to see them carry it off to their home (now you can tell my attention is easily captured, and I was an easy child to entertain).
The one thing that I am afraid of, I detest, and I have a full-blown hissy fit every time I see one is a Squash Bug! I hate em, hate em, absolutely without a doubt completely hate em. They appear overnight at the base of a squash plant, they bore into the stems, they suck all the life out of the plant, within days you have a limp pitiful plant where once little zucchini were growing.
I love organic gardening, one of my high school classmates brought me a pickup load of horse manure one time and it was the best gift I got all summer long. If there is a natural way to amend soil, fertilize, or take care of garden problems, I am all for trying it.
So, the first time I encountered squash bugs I started my research and there it was the golden words of how to get rid of them. You pick them off the plants, put them in a blender, add enough water to make a thin liquid, then spray it on the plants. The squash bugs pack up and leave, never to be seen again.
With the enthusiasm that only a novice could have, I picked bugs, picked bugs, and picked bugs. Brought the blender outside, put the bugs in, a little water and pushed the button ~ not enough water, off with the lid and more water, pushed the button ~ still not enough water. Off with the lid and put a lot more water in, pushed the button and ~~~
For crying out loud, I had forgot to put the lid back on, up came water like a fountain with pieces of mushed up squash bugs all over me, in my hair, on my face, all over my clothes!
I was running around like a demon-possessed being, into the house, into the shower, and after using all the hot water, I felt a little bit better, but I swear I could still smell the squash bugs.
Back outside, there sat the cursed blender with the residue of my arch-enemies The Mushed Squash Bugs in the bottom. I did the only thing a reasonable person driven to the point of insanity would do – into the trash went the blender, and into the car I went and down to the nursery.
Now I can’t just ask a question there, I had to go into the whole story and they are good at my nursery, very, very good, no one broke out laughing, but I could see their shoulders shaking when they thought I wasn’t looking. I think the fire in my eye would have kept anyone from laughing out loud at that point.
I found there are very few products on the market, organic or otherwise that will rid your garden of Squash Bugs, but a few non-organic applied to the base of the squash plant when it first comes up helps to deter the bugs from infesting.
To this day I can claim to be only a part-organic gardener, and the part that isn’t is the squash plants – and I really hate squash bugs to the bone to this day! And, every once in a while when I go to the nursery someone is brave enough to ask if I have squash bugs this year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Worms, Worms, Worms, Worms

When our home in the mountains was built, an incredible unintended bonus was a huge unfinished cavern under the front wing of the house. It measures about 100 feet by 25 feet, for years it has been used to store junk. But we know that this is not its intended purpose-we just don’t know what. For years my Daughter, Lee and my Daughter-in-law, Dee (my partners-in-crime) and I have , at times, sat in a row facing it. Cocking our heads this way and then that, like Forrest Gump and the little Gumps. Hoping that at some angle it would provide inspiration for its intended use, to no avail.
Then came the Martha Stewart show on “Worm Composting”. Within the hour both the girls had called! This was it! The finely oiled machine kicked in. We were all doing computations on how many flats would fit and where we could scrounge the materials for the walk ways. Lee went on line and found the Styrofoam peanuts for the bottom of the flats and Dee called the dump to see if any contractors had dumped wood out there lately. We were rolling!
And then……
This is a phenomenon not usually seen in these parts, but I can say from distant memory, that when both of DP”s size 13 feet come down on the other side of an issue it gets your attention. The Girls, sufficiently removed by many miles from ground zero, felt the shock waves. “No, but Hell no!” was all he could manage. When he calmed down sufficiently to talk, he reasonably said, “Why don’t you start small and get a feel of it.”
That made sense to all of us. We ordered one batch of “Red Wigglers”, bought one plastic tub and started saving newspaper.
We were ready!............- for almost anything but pissed off, temperamental, picky eating worms. You can’t buy an inbred dog that is more trouble. Not to say I didn’t get the hang of it.
It was the day that they were unusually ticked about something and had crawled all over the sides and top of the tub that was my Waterloo. In my mind I saw them all over the floor, sides and top of the cavern, coming up thru the vents into the living room. Just the sight of the big bags of peanuts Lee had sent brought on anxiety attacks.