I like fresh tomatoes - sliced and salted. Unfortunately, not much is still growing down here. I'm sure some farmer somewhere still has things growing - onions or carrots or whatever. The farmer's markets aren't all closed so some stuff is growing - but for me - if grass was a cash crop I'd be rich.
My mother, and Steppet's, both canned tomatoes. I remember watching her do it and thinking "Why?" I've never canned anything from a garden. I couldn't manage to pick stuff and get it inside the house - inside me was another story but inside the house was difficult 'cause mom was going to cook it or can it. It was fortunate that she had bumper crops year after year - her gardens were always productive. Mine? Not so much.
I like them with no salt, but lots of pepper. I've taken a tomato for lunch everyday for the past couple of weeks - sliced and peppered with a bit of ranch dressing, in kale salads, sliced with cucumbers, or yesterday with green beans from the garden.
It's the last of those (sniff and sob); we've always had an abundance of green beans every year - enough for us, enough to give away to friends and neighbors, with enough left over to blanch and freeze to last through the winter. This year though, the plants got mosaic virus, and quit early, hardly producing at all. Hubs pulled all the plants yesterday.
Beets are all pulled too - we did pretty good with those, considering we planted them so late. The lettuce bit the dust in the heat; the kale that came up - only a few plants - is still kicking butt. Leeks are hanging in there, looking nice and green, but not really growing big - I wonder what's up with those?
My mother, and Steppet's, both canned tomatoes. I remember watching her do it and thinking "Why?"
I dunno - I'm going to go out on a limb and venture to guess it was to preserve them. (eye-roll)
Hubs used to can tomatoes - only the last of them before the frost hit. It's a lot of work though, and it's much easier to "mulch" them (what he calls running them through the food processor), and freeze.
I've got a boatload already cored and seeded, ready to mulch today - fresh spaghetti sauce tonight!
I've missed working in the gardens this year. Because of all the stuff going on with the house, and then the unbearable heat, I barely spent any time at all working in the yard. Kinda funny actually - a woman came by the nursery in September, I think. She asked for me, and said someone in the Garden Club here in town had nominated me for the Garden Tour next year; I don't really know anyone personally in the Garden Club so I have no idea who it could have been. The woman wanted to know if I'd be interested, and could she drive by the house and check out the gardens - apparently, the gardens in the tour have to pass muster from a judge (her) before they are approved. "Sure", I said, and gave her directions, secretly thinking "HA! The yard is a disaster!" Two contractor trucks out front, the guys probably sawing stuff on the table saw in the middle of the yard, a big ever-growing pile of scrap wood under the maple in the side yard, a bunch of metal furniture I'd been sanding in the backyard, and gardens that have had no attention all summer. I haven't heard from the woman since. I imagine her shaking her head, and wondering why the heck I'd been nominated. Ah well, saves me a bunch of work getting ready next summer!
This weekend though, I spent both days cleaning up. It was heavenly just being out there, working in my gardens with nothing else pressing to get done. I was ruthless, cutting every and all perennials down - well, almost all; I left the Christmas and leatherleaf wood ferns, as well as all the epimedium (one of my favorite plants ever) standing; they're all semi-evergreen. I couldn't bare to cut down the huge clump of amsonia out front either; it turns the most gorgeous shade of gold in the fall, and is just so soft and fluffy still, I think I'll wait until the last minute to cut it back. www.perennialresource.com/plants/general-perennial/38_amsonia-hubrichtii.aspx
Everything else, even if it was still green, got chopped back. Just as at work, it's a mad dash to get everything done while the weather is still nice, because we all know it's not going to last much longer. Hubs blew leaves to the curb; I ran the mower over the ones in the ravine, turning them to confetti to be blown away in the next breeze. Also got all the leeks from the vegetable garden pulled and cleaned; would love to cut the parsley to bring inside, but didn't get around to that yet. Still lots left to do in the yard before autumn ends, but made a HUGE dent in the work this weekend.
I've mentioned the Slinky Squirrel pole dance trick to a few customers at work already. There never seems to be a lack of people who have problems with squirrels getting into their bird feeders. I saw a strange thing the other day though that I found out was just the opposite - someone was trying to attract squirrels.
(LX, btw, called me walking home from classes the other night - not an uncommon occurrence; it's usually the only time she has free to talk. This time though, she was being "stalked" by a squirrel. The squirrels at the college are quite infamous - even my boss remembers them from when her daughter, who is in her forties now, went to college there. First, they are monster gigantic squirrels; they make the ones around here look puny. Secondly, they are quite tame, lazy, and of course, overfed by the students. Apparently, the creeper squirrel, spotting an unsuspecting college kid, followed LX for two blocks, demanding its handout, which she didn't have. It's hard to talk on the phone with someone being stalked by a creeper squirrel - half the time, I could figure out if she was b!tching at me or the squirrel!)
Anyway....we were going to BP's track meet the other night; three schools were competing, the streets were lined with cars, and we couldn't find a place to park so we zigzagged through the neighborhood until we found a place on a side street. It happened to be in front of BP's friend's dad's house....which had a horse head hanging by a noose in one of his trees. Not a real horse head, of course; it was from one of those child's life-like looking rocking horses - kind of like a carousel horse. Still, it was sort of a gruesome thing to have as a yard ornament.
"What's up with the decapitated horse head in the tree", I asked BP after the meet. The dad, she explained, hung it out there last Halloween - kind of an homage to "The Godfather"? The squirrels discovered it last fall, and used it like playground equipment. It's hollow inside, and the guy keeps it hanging, lining the inside with peanut butter, because he thinks it's hilarious to watch the squirrels go in and out of a horse head.
Squirrels are like most anything. Both fun and annoying. It all depends on what they're doing, and your attitude at the time. I've never known squirrels around here to do much damage. They mind their own business, and we mind ours. Though on a trip to TN we were staying in a house where the squirrels had burrowed into the ceiling of the basement bedrooms. I've also seen videos and clips where they get into the attic ... raccoons as well. We've not had a problem with raccoons doing any of that around here either.
I only have problems with raccoons getting into the cat food I put out for the cats. As long as they'll run when I shout at them, I've no problem with them. It's when they're not afraid of me that I have a problem, and that's only because of my great niece & nephew, who aren't afraid of the wildlife, and who run into the backyard looking for baby kittens without slowing down to keep from running into the wildlife. I call my b-i-l and he fixes the problem. Other than that, I only call my b-i-l if any wildlife looks sick, or is acting strangely.
I have a fox staying close to my house at the moment. Only seen the one. The river is flooded like in '02, and so he'll probably be here until the water goes down. Never had a problem with the family of four who lived the whole summer of '02 in my backyard, so I don't expect to have a problem with this one. He seems afraid of my four cats, so I've only seen him on my back porch the one time. The neighbor who lives across from Mom's house asked me where I put the food for Mom's cat. He sees the fox every afternoon coming across my field, past his house over to Mom's, and he goes across Mom's porch into the back yard ... where the food is.
And, yes, you read that right. I have four feral cats. Used to have upwards to 50 each summer, and then around 30 by October, and then 10 to 15 by February. Last summer I had about 30, more or less. They started disappearing in large numbers at a rapid pace. Rapid enough for me to take notice. By autumn I had around 10 or less. I've had four since the end of last year, beginning of this year. This is my third time to have a large number of feral cats. All three groups started from one female that got dropped off, and I couldn't watch her starve to death ... and couldn't catch her to get her fixed ... which I wouldn't have been able to do right away anyways, since they showed up pregnant. The first two groups just vanished all of a sudden. These four have been around for a pretty good while now, so don't think they're gonna vanish and leave me catless.
Squirrels are like most anything. Both fun and annoying. It all depends on what they're doing, and your attitude at the time. I've never known squirrels around here to do much damage.
Their antics can be entertaining to watch, I admit. I wouldn't have minded them eating from the bird feeders if they weren't so destructive doing it. I can't even remember how many feeders they destroyed by either gnawing through them to get seed faster(?) or purposely knocking them to the ground; they haven't been a problem at the feeders since I switched to safflower seed years ago, though. Of course, now they've turned their destructive behavior loose on my gardens!
We've got three species of squirrels in the yard. There's one fox squirrel and one little red squirrel (I only ever see one at a time, though I'd have to assume there's more than one of each); those guys I like. It's the gray squirrels and black gray squirrels that are the destructive little bastards, and there are hundreds of them in the neighborhood!
I have a fox staying close to my house at the moment. Only seen the one.
I don't see many foxes around here; they're such pretty animals, I'd love to see more. Actually, all but one I've seen has been dead on the side of the highway. The one live one, visited the yard for a couple of weeks one spring a few years ago - I'd see it early in the mornings only. I read once, that they are quite common in suburban areas, though people rarely see them.
And, yes, you read that right. I have four feral cats. Used to have upwards to 50 each summer, and then around 30 by October, and then 10 to 15 by February. Last summer I had about 30, more or less. They started disappearing in large numbers at a rapid pace...
Do you think they were prey for some other animal? I'm trying to think of what would eat cats in large numbers that quickly?
There are more hawks around then there used to be. Plus the coyote. The reason the numbers went from 50ish to 30ish the past three or four summers is because the babies were disappearing and the mothers would go back into heat. Since I'd seen a young kitten of about four months old eating a kitten of a few weeks old, I assume he and other tom cats were killing and eating the babies.
I don't think being pregnant over and over and over again all summer long, for up to four summers was very healthy on the mother cats, so they were probably more susceptible to disease. I've been told that certain diseases can wipe out a feral colony pretty quickly. And since this is the third time I've seen a rapid decline, and complete wipe out of a cat colony, I'm guessing they passed a killer disease around amongst themselves. I've not seen any bodies, so I figure they went off to die. Though my great niece & nephew mentioned finding a few dead cat bodies in the barn hayloft when they went in search of kittens.
I've only had a few cats die where I could find them. One had green fluid leaking from its mouth, and I'm guessing he was poisoned, or got into something someone left out without meaning any harm. Dad did that once, many years ago. He left out a bucket of water he drained from the radiator that had antifreeze in it. He apologized to me several times for making that mistake. A couple of cats drank from it and died.
A woman from Church once told me her daughter and her daughter's 'sleepover' friends woke her up screaming. A raccoon was eating their little kitten on their back porch. So, even though I've never had any problems with the raccoons bothering my cats, there's always the possibility they'd eat them if food was scarce.
I wish people wouldn't drop their animals off ... though some of our best pets were drop offs. I don't even want to think of how much I've spent on animals I didn't go out and get for myself, but were left on my doorstep to starve. Dad, no doubt, deserved that. He's dropped several of our pets off in his time. One time with us in the car. My sister and I didn't take it well, and he had to go back and get them. He took them to grandmother's house. They were there for a few weeks, and then they ... 'ran off.' And we fell for that. Sadly, it wasn't but a few years ago that I realized that he probably dumped them off again, but without us there to make a fuss.
Yeah. Too many go missing too close together to be due to anything other than disease. I can manage feeding them, but not anything more than that. Farmers will take the cats for their barns, but not if they have to catch them, so I haven't been able to get rid of them that way.
I was talking with a customer a week or so ago who mentioned a feral cat program "in the city" he was from - I can't remember where it was (Chicago, Detroit, somewhere in Florida? They come from everwhere). It was kind of like an adoption program, in which a group of neighbors paid to have the cat/or cats neutered or spayed, and afterward the animals became their "pets" and they were allowed to feed them. The guy was saying it worked out well for both the cats, the people, and the city, because it kept both the feral cat population and the rodent population in check. (Guess how we got on the subject? Squirrels!)
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I've got my pick-up load of mulch waiting to be spread - one of many I'll need to bring home this spring. Let the gardening fun begin!
A few years ago I was told of a woman who had a shelter that I should call. The person who told me didn't have a number to call, but said a woman at my Church would. Unfortunately, it turned out the shelter woman's house had just burned to the ground, so I didn't even give her a call.
Two of the feral cats are tom cats. They keep fighting each other. One cat I know is female, because she's been eating my food for several years. She was pregnant not long ago, and now she seems to be back in heat, as I've seen the black tom cat pinning her down. The other cat isn't an adult, but will be very soon. I don't know what sex it is, but it hasn't appeared to be pregnant yet, so hoping it's a male too. Though, all three cat communities started out with one female cat, so this could all blow back up. With the kittens still going missing, which it seems like is still happening, they just might stay at a small number.
Though, all three cat communities started out with one female cat, so this could all blow back up.
I've seen charts, probably at the Humane Society, that are kind of like a family tree in a way, of how just an unaltered male and female cat can start a whole colony of cats. It's amazing, yet very sad.
It seems like I got a lot done in the yard yesterday - I worked outside from morning until after four o'clock. It's just the tip of the iceberg though. I got the garden along the side of the driveway weeded and mulched as well as the garden along the front half of the house up to the porch, except the corner where the two gardens meet - that's where I'm planting the cannas, and there's no sense mulching yet if I'm just going to dig it back up in about a month when it's warm enough for the cannas.
I thinned out the ferns in one of the gardens, and moved them to a new bed I started a couple of summers ago, as well as dug a few perennial geraniums from under the azalea in the front. The thing has gotten so big that it's taken up the entire garden bed, and it's taken over everything I had in there when the azalea was small. I planted the geraniums in the new bed also.
I also finally got a few perennials that I'd purchased from the nursery a couple of weeks ago planted in the vegetable garden; I extended that bed also two summers ago with the thought it'd be a combination vegetable/flower garden.
Oh, and I chatted off and on with the neighbors next door, and the man across the street - everyone was working outside yesterday. And drank a couple of beers too in-between chatting and working. Ahhhh....to be nice enough weather to be back working in the yard again!
Note to self: Must remember to pick up peat pots at work today that I've been meaning to get for the last month.
I'm going to try to start my sunflower seeds inside this year, so the pesky squirrels don't dig them up like they do every time I plant them. Last year, I only had one sunflower out of the two packs of seeds that I planted!
So, my Boston fern has returned home. I bought it last year at the nursery; it was in a hanging basket. I re-potted it into a bigger container, and put in on a pedestal in a part of one of the gardens that needed some structure and height, but where nothing will grow. It was big, and filled up the space nicely. The "Boston" in Boston ferns is misleading - they are tropical plants. Last fall, I had three options - 1) leave it outside, and let it die a quick death when the frost hit. 2) bring it inside, and let it die a slow death because our house is not humid enough, and I am a houseplant killer, or 3) let Hubs' boss, who has all kinds of tropical plants in their office, fern sit for the winter. He brought it back home Friday, since it'll be a while after surgery that he's back in the office.
If it was big last summer, it's enormous now! I measured it - it's 3 feet wide by more than 3 1/2 feet tall! It's still too cold to keep it outside, so I plopped it on the small table in the dining room. I forgot it was there yesterday morning (typical; that's why my houseplants always die - I forget about them). The dining room is at the bottom of the stairs, and the fern was the first thing I saw rounding the last curve of the stairwell. Only in the dark, it didn't look like a fern (because again, I forgot it was there)! For a brief few seconds, not fully awake yet, my heart jumped - I swore there was a hulking, hairy beast, hunched over, standing in the dark, in front of the window!
In the light, it just looks like a fern. A big fern, too large now for its pedestal - it'd look out of proportion. I wonder what I'm going to do with the thing? Quick death outside now in the cold, or slow death inside?
While I'm deciding, I'd better get moving. Hubs is out fishing with a buddy (his last hurrah before surgery), and I've got a truckload of compost waiting to be shoveled.
What?! It's not enough I've given it a place to live, but I'm supposed to water it too? Hhmmm....that could explain my houseplant killer instincts.
Yeah, sure, I'll give it water...if I can find the rim of the pot under all that hair.
We've sold these things in the nursery for years, that are similar to what's on those YouTube videos - they're called Plant Nannies...http://plantnanny.com/products/
We carry three sizes - for water bottles, 2 liter bottles, and for wine bottles. The wine bottle size has always been the most popular - could be because it's more aesthetic to have a colored glass bottle rather than a plastic one sticking out of your plant. Or it might be that there's a lot of people who drink a lot of wine....or there's a lot of tipsy plants out there.
I didn't get as much done as I would have liked in the veggie garden the other day - I'm revamping the raised beds, and added an additional one. I completed two, and got them filled with compost, but only got the third partially done - I've got to reset all the blocks, which has settled over the years. Interruptions kept me from finishing. First the elderly neighbor man came over to chat; he's a great old guy with a lot of great old guy stories...and he was in the mood to tell a lot of them (his wife is out West, visiting her sister, so I think he's been kind of lonely this past week). Then Hubs came home from fishing, and had fish tales to tell. My last visitor is the one that pretty much halted my work for the day - I had dug out about half the blocks on the last bed, and came across this guy, interrupting his slumber....
He was burrowed in under some of the bricks, and looked like he was still hibernating. I let him go back napping....and went inside to take a nap myself!
The frogs are enjoying the pond. I hear them singing their praises. There once was a small pond, but it had a leak and my b-i-l finally filled it in. When they dug the new pond, they flattened and smooth out the area for easier mowing.
You know what I've always wondered: How do they know? If there is a pond - natural, man-made, or just a backyard little water feature, there are always frogs. How do they get there; is it some kind of Pond of Dreams type thing - "build it, and they will come". What makes a frog decide to relocate from one pond to another, and how to they know how to get there, and how do they know "there" is even a pond?
So sore. I brought home another truckload of compost on Friday, got the blocks and brick of the last raised bed reset (found another, smaller toad!) and filled with compost, and top-dressed the other vegetable garden with the compost that was left. I started at 7pm, and finished after nine. I wanted to get it done so I could bring home a truckload of mulch yesterday, and get to work on some of the other gardens. Long way to go, but things are starting to take shape!
Well, the new pond here is close to the old one, so not too far for them to move to. My sister got her daughter and grandkids some kayaks and they were out in the pond today. Tadpoles and frog eggs were in abundance. We even came across a deep hole and egg shells. Not sure if they're turtle or snake. The raccoons chowed down on them.
Our road leads into the bottoms, which is a part of the game reserve, so some may have come from there. I just recently read that if your indoor cat gets out to put his litterbox outside and s/he'll smell it from miles away and find his/her way home. So, I'm guessing that the wildlife can also smell ponds/lakes/streams/etc. from miles away too.
As we were walking in the grass, teeny, tiny frogs were leaping like grasshoppers to get away from our feet. The backwater is up, so I'm wondering if some of the wildlife preferred to be in a small pond, and not in a large overflowed river.
Last Edit: May 14, 2017 22:12:21 GMT -6 by Mini Mia
So, I'm guessing that the wildlife can also smell ponds/lakes/streams/etc. from miles away too.
I'm sure you're right - animal instinct is amazing. It's more fun to imagine them packing up their bags, and heading into territories unknown though!
Starting to see progress in the gardens. The front and west gardens are done. Cannas dragged up from the basement, and planted. Veggie gardens mostly done; I've still got to mulch the paths between the raised beds, and plant the bed for potatoes - and get the potatoes to plant! Hoping I can still find them; it's kind of late.
Filled a big empty space in one of the shade gardens with a new "creation". Two summers ago, I combined two garden beds and incorporated a tree into one big bed by laying a thick layer of cardboard, and a thick layer of mulch on top of that so everything was connected. It's the lazy person's way to create a garden bed; the cardboard layer kills the grass, and the mulch holds down the cardboard. The stuff I had planted in the gardens was starting to outgrow their beds, and mowing around it and the tree was getting difficult. Problem is there is such a thick mesh of tree roots that nothing will grow - it's almost impossible to dig even the shallowest of holes, not to mention the tree roots suck up any moisture tiny plants would get. So I planted upward by mounding soil, and using a hollow log and a few pieces of flagstone as a planter. There's even a frog in there, though he's not hopping off in search of new territories anytime soon.
I kind of like the result. I think once everything fills out it'll look nice.
Oh! Sixteen little peat pots on one end of my kitchen table are starting to sprout, safely out of range of those pesky squirrels! (I'm so glad it's a big table; there's always some kind of project going on at the opposite side of where we eat - sometimes more than one project!) I just might have sunflowers this year.