Saturday, May 31, 2014

Green Bean Chronicles: Spot the Pollinator #2

We shared some of our pollinator photos at Green Bean Chronicles: Spot the Pollinator #2: A new weekly segment - Spot the Pollinator - where photogs young and old can share their insect photos.  Do check it out and add some of your own pics!

Newspaper Mulching

I'd like to try Newspaper Mulching. Is there anyone who has tried it and been successful?  Or not successful?  Leave me a comment and let me know your opinions.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bees and Bugs Everywhere!

We are so happy to welcome pollinators into our garden.

6-year-old Tame Dame #3 took these awesome pictures. 

We dedicate the white moth picture to Uncle Matt for his birthday.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Took A Shovel To The Disheveled

Progress.  A feeling of accomplishment. I suppose that is what motivates me to garden this prickly dry desert. That and fresh homegrown tomatoes.
As you can see, our garden needed (needs) a lot of work after sitting dormant all last year. You see, we had given up on our garden in 2013. It was a lot of work in 2012, only to see our nurtured flora be ingested by the local fauna.

But, after a a year of homegrown tomato cravings, it was decided that there will be a garden in 2014!  The applause is erupting in my soul as I type.  

I've been hardening off my tomato and artichoke starts for a good week now, and it was time to get them in the garden, yet my soil was so sad and needed work.  So, work I did.  I pulled on my best garden gloves and set out to have a garden intervention with my neglected-turned-wild bed.

After a Saturday of shoveling, my garden went from "Holy HECK!  What a WRECK!"  

To "Soft Garden Bed For A Cool Lettuce Head" (or, actually tomatoes, but tomatoes didn't rhyme with "Garden Bed").

Tame Dames #2 and #3 enthusiastically set out to help me resurrect the garden, but a pressing matter arose before any work had begun... desert lizards doing push-ups on the rocks and garden beds.  They were begging to be gently captured, analyzed, and released.  Needless to say, there will be an upcoming post showcasing the lizards of our garden beds.  Check back soon.

Until next time, gardening friends.  Do your arms and back need a good massage, like mine?

In Remembrance of A Failed Year

I pray our garden does better this year than it did back in 2012.  Our garden in 2012 was so dreadful that we did not even bother to have a garden in 2013.  Sad, isn't it?  It was for me.  When everyone around me was harvesting and preserving, I was wishing someone would leave a homegrown tomato on my doorstep.  I determined then that I wanted to have a garden in 2014.  We are working so hard right now preparing soil, planting starts and seeds, repairing and replacing sprinklers, and praying it goes better this year.  Pretty please...

Now, join me in reminicing about that tragic garden year of 2012...
Originally posted here.
Sharing: Tuesday Garden Party and Green Thumb Thursday


Prairie Pest Control and The Garden

We live on a plot of land that was owned by farmers for many years before they sold it off to be developed.  The farmer's daughter is one of my good friends.  She told me that they used to call our land "Prairie Dog Hill."

Last year, we didn't have any problems with any animals coming to our garden.  Probably the 5-foot tall weeds actually were a benefit in concealing the location of our garden last year.  This year, not the case.  It started with the prairie dogs.  We came home to find our lettuce shoots eaten down and a prairie dog hole in the middle of our garden with a hole chewed through our sprinkler drip line.  The vandalizing thieves!  Well, we didn't waste much time looking for a good pest control product to deter animals away from the garden.

We went to Wallyworld (Walmart).

We searched the aisles.

And over a hundred dollars later, we came home with Steve's pest control.
 A pellet gun.
 He would stare out the window waiting for the fat little critters to come scampering towards the garden.  Then he would rush to our bedroom, open the patio door, grab his gun, load it with a pellet, and lay on his stomach like a true sniper.
 Then he'd shoot.  More often then not it deterred the prairie dogs and sent them scampering back into their holes; however I believe two of the several he shot at actually went to the eternal prairie dog underworld.
The pest control... well it didn't really work for us.  And not only did prairie dogs make our garden their own, so did Peter Cottontail, a family of deer and a skunk or raccoon or something with footprints I didn't recognize.  Oh! And don't forget the squash beetles (eeew!)  We didn't get to eat any of our spinach.  Not a leaf of our romaine.  Our poor peas, the tomato vines, the peppers, the pumpkins, our zucchini, our yellow squash, the strawberries... all were for the animals/ insects, I guess.

Garden this year was a bit of a fail.  Too bad.  We worked so hard bringing sprinkler lines out and everything!  Funny thing- the pests didn't bother the chard.  We've still got lots of chard.  Everything else died with the frost this week.  Not the chard.  Oh!  And we grew purple and red potatoes.  The pests never got those either.  We also got funny looking carrots and wimpy-looking corn.  The eggplant grew flowers but never gave us any eggplant.  The pole beans never produced beans either. :(

Here's what the garden looked like when we first planted in June.  Below you'll see Steve weeding.

Sigh...  You live and you learn.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nature in the Garden

Who likes this moth? I do! Isn't it beautiful the way its wings look?  I like it's fuzzy green body too, do you?

Who likes lizards? I do! Please comment so I can hear your answer, or call me if you're my grandma and don't know how to leave a comment.

Ooo, something else.  Can you guess what it is?  It's a bee, of course.

And this is a spider; a jumping spider as you all know.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Beautiful Nature Everywhere

Look at this! The title says it all.
Is it a dragonfly or a wasp?
The picture above is a bachelor button. Bugs land on it a lot of the time.

Look at the radishes. Soon they will be tall! Maybe they will be spicy? Maybe they will be sweet, but I doubt that.

Here are some pretty blue flax flowers. They are some of my favorite. I made a picture that looked just like them.

Look at are planter box! And now look how big the plants are! 

Good bye, this is the end of this blog post.  Please leave a comment and then tell me if you think the following picture is a butterfly or a moth.

Also, look closely and tell me if you think this is a wasp for a dragonfly.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Yippy! Garden Sprouts and Starts Hardening

We have sprouts coming along!  There are 4 spinach plants, and they're all right next to each other. We thought we'd have more, but no such luck. I guess it is time to plant more. 

I'm looking forward to these sugar snap peas!

Radishes came up fast!

8-year-old tame dame #2 wanted to plant onions.  She planted onions 3 or 4 weeks ago, and it appeared only weeds had germinated. 
I went to pull the weeds today and found that some onions had actually sprouted. 
Onion sprouts are tiny, and my picture isn't the greatest quality, so you'll have to really look closely. 

We started to harden off our tomatoes and artichokes today.   They're taking it a bit hard.  It's only been 2 hours in the shade and gentle breeze, and the tomatoes are totally laying down.  Time to bring them in for the day and go for it again tomorrow. Hopefully they'll be in the ground next week.  

We plan to plant more seeds soon!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tips and Tricks to Pulling Apart A Pallet


I asked my adorable, creative, and dear pregnant sister to give me a tutorial on how she took a pallet apart to make her garden planter box (see previous post). Since she had taken a few pallets apart for that project, she is pretty much an expert in my book.  She showed me how she pulls boards from the pallet and I learned some nifty tips and tricks along the way.

First, start in the center! Who knew, right? My sister said that she found it to be the best way. Use the claw of the hammer to loosen and pull out the nails from the center of the board. 

After the nails have been removed from the center of the board, position the claw of your hammer between the board and the pallet along one edge.  If you desire, now would be a good time to pretend you are wearing overalls (some of us won't have to pretend, right?), and start singing "I've Been Working On The Railroad."  Another option would be to insert earplugs, because the clanging is about to begin!  Use a another hammer to hit the first hammer on the head to drive the claw between the board and the rest of the pallet. Don't be shy. Once you get the claw driven between, then you can rock the claw back-and-forth to pull the nails and the board away from the pallet. 

Continue to drive the claw in bit by bit and rock it back-and-forth until the board comes loose from the rest of the pallet.  

The nails may come with the board, or they may still be stuck into the pallet and have just stripped out from the board. If the latter happens, you can choose to nail them back into the pallet or pull them out with the claw of your hammer.  You can stop singing now. 

There should only be one more set of nails to pull out. You can do this by grabbing the board and swinging it back-and-forth until the nails have loosened and have come apart from the rest of the pallet. You may also use your hammer to help it along by hitting from the backside of the board.

The board may pull the nails out with it. If that happens, you can use your hammer to push the nails out, or use the claw end to pull them out.  Do what ever suits your preference.

You did it! Now you can do a little jig or other suitable happy dance.

You can use your boards to make a cute garden planter like my sister did.  Her planter took the wood of 2 and a half pallets. 

What will you use your boards for?

Sharing at: Tuesday Garden Party

An Inspiring Garden: A Pallet Turned Planter

This past week, I visited my beautiful sister, who lives a couple hours (too far) away.

She lives in the city, in a townhome where her view is gorgeous.  Here's a photo from her back porch. It overlooks a quaint duck pond and has magnificent views of the sunset every evening. 
However, as with most townhomes, her backyard space is severely limited.  She just moved there with her cute family less than a year ago, and despite the tight yard, she was determined to have a garden of her own. 

With limited funds and tools,

and a lot of natural skill and creativity, 

she has done it!  TA-DA!!!

Isn't it cute!  And the best part is she did it all with such thrift!  She borrowed some tools from my dad and repurposed some pallets that were left over at his work.

She meticulously pulled apart 2 and a half pallets.  Then some sawing and hammering later...

...she made this beautiful L-shaped planter box!

It gets better!  She made a deal with lady who lives five minutes away, to clean her blinds in exchange for some year-old topsoil that had been sitting leftover on her driveway.  After my sister cleaned her blinds, she came back with a shovel and garbage sacks, which she filled with the topsoil, and hefted into her car, then transported it to her home, then hefted the soil to her back yard planter to fill it up. 
Soil is really heavy, so she had to only fill the bags about 10 shovelfuls at a time, and only transport 10 bags at a time.  Then she went back for more. And went back again. And again until her planters were full. 

It was quite the process. And all this she did while being pregnant, with her toddler son in tow and housebreaking her very active puppy.  

Like I said before, she was very determined.

One last look...


I'm a VERY proud sister!  

Look for another post with tips gleaned from my sister as she pulled apart pallets coming soon.