Reflecting And Moving Forward…

Sweet corn and green beans on 8-12-21 at 3:24 PM…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I am sitting at the desk in front of my computer a little after 2 PM scratching my bald head on occasion trying to think of what to say. It is 93° F outside and the wind has been blowing consistently for several days. Well, it is supposedly blowing in a storm. The different weather websites seem to have mixed opinions. The first time I checked the weather forecast in the drop-down menu on the top right of my screen the Weather Channel said there was a 40% chance this evening. Then I checked again about 1:30 and it said 20%. I checked the National Weather Service and it said it was on its way but I didn’t check the radar. I went to the garden about 3:30 to take photos for this post and there wasn’t hardly a cloud in the sky. Like I mentioned, it was 93° F.

OH, the doe has not been back in the garden since I redid the electric fence and added another wire around the top.

Sweet Corn ‘Ambrosia’ on 8-12-21 at 3:31 PM.

A few days ago when the wind started blowing, the ‘Ambrosia’ Sweet Corn started falling over. Luckily, I had already picked all that was ready and it may be finished. This is the first year I haven’t had to stand the corn back up before it was ready to harvest.

19 bags of ‘Top Crop’ Green Beans in the freezer so far.

I started picking green beans last week and started picking corn on the 8th. I was going to take a photo of the five-gallon bucket of green beans from the first picking but I forgot about it… In total, I have picked 12-13 gallons. Of course, I have already been eating some. I doubt I will can any because I don’t have time to watch the pressure canner. That was dad’s job. 🙂 Well, I suppose I have time, but I just don’t want to do it. I think frozen beans taste fresher anyway. I just cut off the ends and freeze them whole. It is quite simple… Once I get the beans ready, I bring water in a couple of large stock pots to a boil, add the beans and blanch for three minutes, then drain and put them in ice water for three minutes. Then I scatter the beans out on sheet cake pans and put them in the freezer for three hours. You have to scatter the beans out thinly so when you pick them up they won’t be stuck together so bad. Since I like them whole, if they are stuck together they can break more easily when I get them to come apart to put them in bags. Doing it makes more sense than trying to explain it… Maybe I should have done a video or taken photos of the process. It’s an afterthought thing… 🙂 I use quart bags so I can bring a couple from the freezer in the basement as I need them.

231 ears of corn in the freezer as of 8-12-21.

The sweet corn did pretty well, but not as well as I hoped for. It isn’t quite finished and a good rain would help immensely. I picked the ‘Ambrosia’ first (the bi-color counterpart to Bodacious) and so far have frozen 98 ears of it. A few stalks had no “pickable” ears and some had none at all. The same was with the Bodacious, which I was able to freeze 133 ears from so far. I would say 70% of the stalks had one good ear so far. It wasn’t a pollination issue because there was plenty of it. 🙂 I also noticed the good ears were on top, while the lower ears were barely even filled out. You might think the pollen fell on the top ear, but the lower ears are on the opposite side of the stalk… The pollen landed on the silk just fine. Likely, it is a moisture issue and soaker hoses or T-tape would have been great. I don’t have either one and the sprinklers would have been useless with the corn being so tall… Much taller than me at this point. I hope to invest in a T-tape system at some point, but funds are extremely limited…

Sweet corn from the second for of ‘Bodacious’ on 8-11-21.

The second row of Bodacious was AMAZING with 54 beautiful ears. Some were quite large. If all four rows were like that… Most of the ears were filled out from one end to the other. I have seen very few worms this year compared to last year. I have only seen two large caterpillars and four tiny green ones that hadn’t made it inside to the cob. There have been a few of those tiny black bugs… Hmmm… I identified them last summer but have forgotten what they are called and didn’t want to back and look. 🙂 OH, with the bi-color corn in the other section, some of the ‘Bodacious’ at the beginning of the rows have a few white kernels… That is perfectly fine and wonderful… All the corn I planted is SE (Sugar Enhanced).

Mind you, not all the sweet corn has made it to the freezer. About a week before I “officially” started picking the corn, I picked six ears of ‘Ambrosia’ and put them in a pot. They weren’t “quite” ready but I had to give it a shot. It’s funny how you can barely see the white kernels…

Yesterday, after I was finished with the ‘Bodacious’, I picked seven ears of ‘Incredible’ from the first planting. The biggest ear, before it was shucked, turned out to be a dud… Four out of the seven made it to the pan and they were indeed “incredible”.

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’ on 8-12-21 at 3:26 PM…

SO, I have been eye-balling the ‘Incredible’… Although ‘Incredible’ can prove frustrating in the beginning, it will come around. I proved to myself this variety is very picky when it comes to soil temperature. Once you plant and replant and it gets going, it will live up to its name.

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’…

Until 2013 when I came back here, I hadn’t grown sweet corn since the early 1980s. For the life of me, I can’t remember ever having any issues with it coming up or blowing over. I remember the first year, 1981 after my grandfather passed away in April, I moved to the farm. I planted 14 rows of sweet corn and only ate a few ears. Grandpa had quite a clientele of elderly ladies that bought his produce and they bought everything I could grow. One man bought all my green beans… 110 pounds!

Hmmm…

I have been pulling up what I “thought” were Morning Glories in the green beans and sweet corn. There is one climbing all over the Asparagus and a few days ago I noticed it had a lot of buds. I thought, “HMMM… That is NOT a Morning Glory.”

Cynanchum laeve (Honey-vine Climbing Milkweed)…

DOUBLE HMMM… I took photos, as you can see, and uploaded them on iNaturalist. Low and behold it is a Milkweed! Well, certainly not in the way we think of as Milkweeds. The scientific name is Cynancum laeve, commonly known as Honey-Vine Climbing Milkweed… I took photos of another vine that has bigger flowers in the briar patch along the south hayfield that turned out to be a Hedge Bindweed. It had bigger flowers like Morning Glories… How many species of these things are there anyway? What happened to the regular old Morning Glories?

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’…

Where was I? I am just going down the grid of photos as I took them… Oh yeah, the sweet corn. Yesterday I found a stalk with five good-sized ears but I didn’t have the camera and today I couldn’t find it. I was walking through the corn without a long-sleeved shirt on and my arms were beginning to get itchy…

Smut…

There is only one stalk of corn with smut this year. I had to leave it because I wanted to get a photo. Smut is very interesting in a weird kind of way. Last summer I wrote a little about it and how it is actually edible. Well, I am certainly not going to fry any up and give it a shot. It looks way too weird…

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’..

The last planting of ‘Incredible’ has a ways to go yet but it is looking very well… At least at 3:31 PM when this photo was taken…

One of the ‘Celebrity’ tomato vines…

The tomatoes are SLOW this season because I was late getting them in the ground.

Tomato ‘Celebrity’…

I have picked one already and one is almost ready…

Tomato ‘Brandywine’…

The ‘Brandywine’ tomato vines have grown like crazy!

Tomato ‘Brandywine’…

I have only found two tobacco worms and NO armyworms this year (yet). Hopefully, there won’t be anymore.

Moving along from the garden…

Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ on 8-12-21…

The clump Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ is normally at least 2′ tall and over 50″ wide… Thanks to the doe it has not been able to grow… Normally, the deer nibble on the ‘Potomac Pride’ just a little when the Hosta first start to leaf out in the spring then don’t bother any of them the rest of the year.

Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ on 8-12-21…

The Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ has met a similar fate. Sadly, the ‘Krossa Regal’ are basically non-existent… I am certainly not happy with the doe… I know it has to be the same one, because I have seen her occasionally in the pasture behind the house all by herself. There is plenty to eat for her in the pasture/hayfield. Oh well, even though the Hosta are shot this summer, hopefully, the doe will relocate and I can find a solution to keep her out of them by next spring. I can’t very well relocate the shade bed and I don’t intend to put up an electric fence around such a small area…

 

When I was mowing last week, I noticed the right front wheel was getting a little wobbly… Earlier this spring, I had to replace the entire steering rod… Since dad and I brought this mower home it has had its issues. It’s a John Deere LT120… It mows weird, but I think I have that issue figured out… It was all about changing the way I mowed from a 36″ deck to a 48″deck… The Gator blades I started using last summer are still working fine.

Instead of using bearings in the wheel, there are only two bushings… They wear out quite often, as I have just found out. I hadn’t paid much attention until I noticed the wheel wobbling when I was turning. I thought the steering rod gizmo was about to have another issue. I drove the mower into the garage, jacked it up, and had a look… Then I went to the internet and found out people are replacing the bushings with bearings. I did NOT even call John Deere for a price on the conversion kit because they can be bought on Ebay (or Amazon) for at least half the price. The kits on Ebay run from $19.95 on up and include new washers and hubcaps for both wheels… I decided since all I needed were the bearings I would buy four for $9.95 and use the same washers I already have. If I need new washers, I can get them at the hardware store for a few cents… You would think the wheels would have had bearings in the first place. The spindles (axle) are kind of worn because of the bushings cutting into them, but I will have to replace them at a later date…

I went back inside at about 4 PM and decided to have a nap and finish the post later on. Maybe after dinner… There was not a cloud in the sky… The next thing I knew, it seemed to be getting dark and the wind was blowing like crazy. I got up and looked outside and the clouds had arrived…

Looking toward the garden from the front porch at 6:04 PM…

At 6 PM it started POURING like crazy. I went to the front porch and took a shot… The wind had completely changed directions and now was blowing out of the north.

The garden at 6:44 PM…

After the rain stopped, I went to the garden to have a look… The temperature has really dropped! Looking back at the first photo taken at 3:24 PM, you can see the ‘Ambrosia’ had blown to the north since the wind had been blowing out of the south for several days. At 6:44 PM is more leaning toward the south because the wind switched directions…

 

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’ at 6:45 PM…

The ‘Incredible’ blew over a little. It could have been much worse…

Sweet Corn ‘Incredible’ at 6:45 PM…

From the north side… It doesn’t appear any of the stalks have been broken…

Sweet Corn ‘Bodacious’…

Not to bad… I have seen it MUCH, MUCH worse. Then again, we have more rain and wind in the forecast through Saturday evening.

View of the sweet corn from the northwest corner at 6:45 PM…

I knew we couldn’t get through a season without the corn blowing over but I was kind of hopeful. We certainly did need the rain so I am not going to complain. I have learned to accept the weather no matter what it does. I had to come back inside because it was starting to rain again.

I checked the rain gauge and it said 7/10″. The temperature dropped from 93 F to 70. That’s a 23° drop! Well, it sure cooled things off a bit and I am sure thankful for the rain. I guess the wind blowing the corn around a bit helped to get the moisture to the roots.

There is more rain, and wind, coming so I won’t bother standing the corn back up until it is finished… Well, we will see about that. It depends. The ‘Ambrosia’ and Bodacious’ were just about finished, but the rain may help what is still not ready. It will certainly help the ‘Incredible’, so I will definitely stand it back up…

Well, now it is 8:54 PM. Time to cook something for dinner. Hmmm… Grammarly says I have four errors but I want to eat dinner. SO, if you read this post before I edit it, you may find some mistakes…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful!

July 26, 2021 Garden Update…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The above photo looks MUCH different from the last photo of the garden. I was almost in panic mode for a while… I was late planting the garden because of the weird weather and then it started raining AGAIN…

 

The last post about the garden was a month ago on 6-28-21. It had been raining for several days and I was having to wait to till the soil (above photo). FINALLY, after it stopped raining and the soil was dry enough I got in and worked it over. Once the corn and beans were tall enough I hilled all the rows up. With all the moisture, everything was looking a bit yellow. With no cows, there hadn’t been any of the “good stuff” to put on the garden for several years before planting. I know corn needs nitrogen, so I had to make a decision. SO… breaking my organic rules (which I really had very few of) I bought a bag of 12-12-12 from the hardware store for the sweet corn. I checked with the Farmer’s Co-op first and they were completely out because many other people were having the same issues with their sweet corn.

It may sound funny, but I watched videos on YouTube to see how to fertilize the corn… In all the years as a gardener, I have never bought fertilizer for the garden. Giving the green beans 12-12-12 would be an absolute NO but the corn needed some ZIP. I also bought some fertilizer spikes for the tomatoes. Sometime between now and next spring, I plan on cleaning out the chicken house to put on the garden. I usually pile up their old stuff in an open area next to the chicken house, but it just kind of disappears…

 

Like I mentioned in the last post about the garden, Nathan planted four rows of Ambrosia (bicolor) and I planted four rows of Bodacious along the west side of the garden On June 3. On the 4th, I planted four rows of Incredible next to the Bodacious. The Ambrosia and Bodacious, which I had not tried before, came up pretty good but the Incredible did not come up well at all. Once I was able, I replanted it and it came up MUCH better. But, as you can see in the above photo, the Incredible is just now looking good. It didn’t get fertilized and hilled until a few days ago because it wasn’t ready…

 

HMMM… Jade saw me go toward the garden, so she had to come as well. She likes being with me in the garden and walking around to see if she can find anything to chase. She seems to enjoy the butterflies…

 

Last week, I think (or maybe the week before) I noticed the Ambrosia and Bodacious had started tasseling… It was only like 4′ or so tall! I thought, “GEEZ! That is weird…” I am so used to corn being much taller and it seemed too soon. It is 75-day corn so it should be ready around August 17 (or thereabouts). The past week the corn shot up like magic. I am not saying it was because of the fertilizer because the earlier Incredible that did come up did the same thing without being fertilized. Incredible is also a 75-day corn, but it had not started tasseling.

 

The Ambrosia and Bodacious have ears on the lower half of the stalk, making it easier for raccoons to get to if they have a chance. Since I have the electric fence around the garden with five wires raccoons seldom get in the garden. Kernal row numbers are determined during the 5th and 6th stage.

 

Not all the stalks are progressing at the same rate, even though the seed germinated at the same time. Some are just beginning to silk while the silk on others are beginning to show more color.

 

I had wondered about pollination, but there is certainly no need to worry about that. Depending on the sweet corn variety, pollination occurs 45-50 days after emergence. Normally, the last branch of the tassel is visible 2-3 days before silk appears. I may need to hand pollinate the Incredible that came up first…

I had not done any research about the different stages of sweet corn growth until now. Normally, I just get the garden ready to plant and then plant it. Dad always used the seeder and planted the green beans and sweet corn in double rows. While he was still alive, I did it like he wanted, even though at times I may not agree. Last summer I continued planting in double rows with the seeder but I paid closer attention and I learned a few things. The holes in the seeder are big enough for 2-4 seeds to get planted in the same spot a certain many inches apart. Watching the seeder, I noticed that sometimes the seed would fall out and not get planted, especially if too many tried to get in the cup on the seeder disc. Angling the seeder a little helped somewhat. The two problems with the seeder were 1) sometimes it didn’t plant the seed, and 2) the seed was planted too close together. To me, having to thin out that many plants was such a waste of seed.

SO, this year I decided I would plant single rows instead of double and do t by hand instead of using the seeder. I showed Nathan how to plant corn, so he started with the Ambrosia at one end of the garden, and I started planting the Bodacious about 30 or so feet away (25′ row, a five foot space, then another 25′ row). I put a stick where I wanted him to stop and I had a tape measure laid out so “we” could plant one seed every 8 inches. When Nathan was finished with his 25′ row, he kept going and I didn’t notice at first. The next thing I know he had passed the stick and was planting Ambrosia where I already planted Boadacous. GEEZ! Somehow he was faster than I was. (I was thinking, “GEEZ! That kid screwed up somewhere.”). Anyway, after I finished my row, we measured 3′ over, put the stakes in the ground with the string to mark our rows, moved the tape measure over, and started again. This time, I told Nathan we would plant 3-4 seeds every 8 inches. We repeated the process until we had both planted 4 rows.

There are a couple of reasons I planted single rows instead of double… One is because the spacing is somewhat more tricky. To get the spacing right, you have to plant the second row 8″ from the first one. I guess that isn’t so tricky when I think about it, but the other reason makes more sense. Hilling one row is much easier than hilling two together. Not only that, standing a double row of corn back up after the wind has blown it over is a REAL pain in the neck… I figure it will be much easier with a single row. Now all I need is some wind to find out. Wait a minute… I don’t really want that much wind, I am just saying I am prepared.

Before, I noticed there were a lot of stalks that had no ears which is a sign they were too close together. This year, I can assure you that all the corn that emerged at the same time, being 8″ apart, have ears. The majority have four ears, some have three, and I have even noticed several stalks with five. This would be a GREAT time for rain… Using T-tape would be great because corn produces best with consistent moisture. But you know, the soil is still not that dry. If most of the ears fill out well, and they should with all the pollen, I may pass last year’s crop of 373 ears. That will be with less than half as many stalks…

I still don’t understand why some of the seeds didn’t emerge. You would think planting 3-4 seeds per “hill” or “hole” (whatever you call it) at least one would make it. But, that is not the case. I dug down in the soil where the corn didn’t emerge only to find all the seed had sprouted but died before emerging. SO, all the Incredible that didn’t come up simply rotted that was planted a day later in the same conditions. I did find out Incredible has a poor germination rate at cooler temps than Bodacious. Even though the temperature was warm enough when I planted, it started raining and the temps dropped for several days. That was likely the problem… I wouldn’t mind planting four more rows of Incredible, but that would put the harvest date to mid-October. Hmmm… That would be a gamble with the first “F” happening around then… But I have this HUGE 14′ x 53′ bare spot!

I read a very good article about the stages of sweet corn by Seminis which was very helpful. I didn’t realize there were so many stages of growth… I also watched several videos where experiment stations had experimented with spacing on field corn.

 

The dark spot a little above the center of the photo is where Jade is laying down. She is about 4 feet into the section where the Bodacious is planted. I knew when I got ready to leave she would not come when I called her. She constantly reminds me she is a cat, not a dog.

 

The ‘Top Crop’ Green Beans are coming along very well and blooming up a storm. I don’t bother them too much because in the heat I think the flowers fall off more easily.

 

I think I will get my first picking in a couple of days so they are right on schedule. I didn’t take any photos of the tomatoes but they are doing pretty good and growing well. Not too many tomatoes, but the vines look great. Hmmm…

 

As I suspected, I was ready to leave the garden and Jade didn’t come when I called. I went back where she was before and she was still there. Even when I squatted down at the end of the row she still refused to come. I threw a small clod of dirt at her when she wasn’t looking which made her jump up. At least I got her attention then she followed me out of the garden… 🙂

 

The Barn Cat was taking it easy on the back porch…

 

And so was Simba…

 

Most of the cactus are on the back porch enjoying the heat and sun of the summer.

 

The Alocasia are also looking GREAT!

Well, that’s about all have today for now. I will take a few photos of the plants on the front porch. They seem to be all in pretty good shape enjoying the summer outside. We won’t talk about the flower beds or the Hosta. The deer have been busy in the shade bed, which usually never happens. They have ruined a few of the Hosta… GEEZ!

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and always be thankful. As always, GET DIRTY!

 

 

Sauromatum venosum… Learning Curve

Sauromatum venosum (Voodoo Lily) tubers on 6-27-21, #805-12.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. I have been wanting a Dracunculus vulgaris for a while but when I was looking on Ebay, the listings for the tubers were a bit pricy. I did find some inexpensive Sauromatum venosum which have similar leaves. I bought a Dracunculus vulgaris tuber in 2009 or 2010 when I lived in Mississippi, which I think was really a Sauromatum vulgaris. Unfortunately, I forgot about it and left it behind when I moved back here in 2013. Well, it was dormant at the time and just slipped my mind. I had so many plants and other things to give away and decide what to bring with me.

So, I found this listing on Ebay that said, “Sauromatum venosum HYBRID Indian GiantxNormal Voodoo Lily Amorphophallus Rare”… I looked at the many photos he had uploaded and read his description. Apparently, the guy has A LOT of them including the cultivar called ‘Indian Giant’. He had quite a few tubers that hadn’t broken dormancy so he decided to list them on Ebay. He had crossed his normal Sauromatum venosum with the ‘Indian Giant’ and he said you couldn’t get them anywhere else. I am not sure why he crossed them in the first place unless he was just experimenting. Kind of like me cross-pollinating the two Schlumbergera truncata. I wanted to see what would happen. 🙂 Anyway, by the time I saw the listing, the larger tubers were all gone and he said he would send me four smaller ones for the same price. I was very fortunate to get them in the first place. The cultivar ‘Indian Giant’ has larger leaves, up to 40 or so ” across, and has different spots than the normal Sauromatum venosum on their petioles.

The tubers arrived on June 26 and were quite interesting… They were a bit different than the Amorphophallus tubers I am used to seeing. For one thing, I couldn’t tell the top from the bottom. Amorphophallus tubers have a small dip in the top, but these didn’t have that feature. After looking them over a bit, I decided what I thought was the top and bottom and planted them… I could have very well not planted them until I saw signs of life. They will sprout without soil like the Amorphophallus, but I had never tried it with them either

I started checking to see if they had sprouted after a week by sticking my finger through the soil to the top of the tuber. Then I saw something weird on July 15…

Sauromatum venosum (Voodoo Lily) on 7-15-21, #812-3.

HMMMM… Two of the tubers had sprouted but the petiole was NOT in the center of the pot. I had for sure planted the tubers upsidedown… GEEZ!!!

Sauromatum venosum (Voodoo Lily) on 7-15-21, #812-4.

Now what? I screwed up for sure…

Sauromatum venosum (Voodoo Lily) on 7-15-21, #812-5.

I removed one of the tubers from the pot and was kind of surprised to see roots. The Amorphophallus, so I read, do not produce roots until the leaf starts to emerge from the petiole. I think I will experiment in 2022 and leave a tuber on the shelf and see what happens.

Sauromatum venosum (Voodoo Lily) on 7-15-21, #812-6.

Yep, I screwed up. This is definitely a learning curve! I turned the other two tubers over that haven’t sprouted but I will definitely keep an eye on them… I left the two that already sprouted upsidedown… GEEZ!

The genus Sauromatum is a member of the plant Araceae and hails from tropical Africa, Tropical Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula. According to the Pacific Bulb Society, Sauromatum venosum is a native of the Himalayas and southern India. Common names include at least Voodoo Lily and Monarch of the East. At one point, all species of Sauromatum were moved to the genus Typhonium but DNA analysis proved otherwise. Plants of the World Online lists 10 species in the Sauromatum genus and Sauromatum venosum has 29 synonyms.

The plant listed as Dracunculus vulgaris in Mississippi on April 15 in 2012.

The above photo was taken of the assumed Dracunculus vulgaris when I was living at the mansion in Mississippi. I now believe it was probably a Sauromatum vulgaris because its leaves were solid green while I think Dracunculus vulgaris leaves have whitish markings. The yellow spots on the leaves is pollen from the Ligustrum tree.

Amorphophallus sp. at 32″ tall on July 15, 2021.

The two older Amorphophallus are doing great and have grown to 32″ tall so far. I am still shocked their tubers were still fairly small when I dug them up to put them in their own pots this spring. Heck,  I have had them since 2017 and the tubers were still a little less than 2″ in diameter! I am getting tired of calling these plants Amorphophallus sp. because they need a proper name. I am almost certain they are likely Amorphophallus konjac and I am not really sure what waiting for flowers would prove. I am certainly not an aroid expert.

Amorphophallus sp. on 7-15-21, #812-2.

The seven kids are doing great and are 17″ tall. I will take these to Wagler’s Greenhouse soon… Maybe she has something else I can bring home. I need to pot some of the Aloe maculata pus for her as well. I think she said she wanted more Bilbergera nutans, so I might just take her one of the three pots so she can divide them herself. That is a real challenge! She still has one of several pots I took to her a few years ago but it isn’t for sale. She keeps putting it in a larger pot like I did for many years, and it became a HUGE packed mess. We have traded a lot of plants. 🙂

Well, I will close this post and move on to the next. We received another inch of rain over the past couple of days which helps, but I had work to do in the garden. I also need to go check on the Pale Indian Plantain in the south hayfield… I want to see if the flowers have opened. Rain was in the forecast for the next several days, but that has changed somewhat to just a 20% chance. We shall see what happens. 🙂

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Always be thankful and GET DIRTY!

 

 

 

My Battery Powered Trimmers…

My new Stihl FSA85 on the left and the Cub Cadet BC490 on the right.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. It appears I have upgraded to a cordless line trimmer. I guess the proper name would be brushless and I think it has something to do with the motor. I never wanted a battery-powered trimmer because I thought it meant a lack of power. In 2018 (I think) I decided we needed a new more powerful trimmer. Well, since I was doing the trimming instead of dad, I was more interested in power and performance. I wanted one with a brush cutter attachment as well. Dad had an Echo, his second one, but it just wasn’t up to snuff. I am not saying Echo isn’t a good brand, it is just that this one was not adequate for all the trimming I was doing. The other problem was the motor would get very hot and burn my arm (I found out I could just turn the motor to solve that issue).

The local small engine shop had several Jonsered trimmers available with brush cutter attachments. They had the saw blade that I thought would be better but the price was over $300. Dad wasn’t going for that so we went to Tractor Supply in Clinton to see what they had… Well, we looked them over and dad decided on the Cub Cadet BC490… The brush cutter attachment was like the ones I was steering away from but since dad was paying for it, I agreed. How much? Over $300! We could have bought the better Jonsared for the same price!

The Cub Cadet BC490 was much better than the old Echo GT225 in many ways. I wanted a 4 cycle so I wouldn’t have to mix gas and oil which I thought was a good thing. But it is so HEAVY buy the time it ran out of gas I was also out of gas. The straight shaft was also a plus and the string is easier to load than the Echo.

Well, in May I started painting the interior of a rental house in Clinton for a friend (also the minister of the church I attend) and I needed to mow the yard. We went to his house and loaded his riding mower on the trailer and he grabbed his trimmer. First of all, I had used his mower a couple of times before… A Simplicity… At first I thought (to myself) Simplicity was some kind of an off-brand. Once I used it I was shocked! It could run circles around my John Deere! It worked great! It was more comfortable and had a better turning radius than my John Deere LT120. The yard at this rental was uneven and there were a lot of holes but the Simplicity did a great job. It is hard to imagine, but it seemed flexible. That sounds whacky, I know, but flexible is the only word I can think of. I quizzed him about the mower and then looked it up online and found out Simplicity is NOT an off-brand at all. Simplicity bought Snapper in 2002, then Simplicity was bought out by Briggs and Stratton in 2004. Well, they also have an interesting history. I had known for a while that green paint isn’t what it used to be…

Now, for his trimmer… It was a Stihl FSA85. With a battery… I thought, “GEEZ!” I picked it up, looked it over, and I was somewhat skeptical. It weighed nothing compared to my Cub Cadet… I didn’t even know how to turn it on and had to ask. He showed me and all I had to do was press the safety switch and throttle and it just came on… It was very quiet, and again, I thought, “GEEZ!” There are two settings, one for high speed and one for a lower speed, depending on the grass and what you are cutting. The lower speed also conserves battery life. Well, everything I use has to be in full throttle…

Stihl FSA85.

Well, I was shocked! This thing really worked so I thought I needed one. Once he paid me for my work, I set out to find one… Before that, I watched several videos on YouTube about the Stihl FSA85 and a few about trimmer reviews. Ace Hardware in Clinton sells Stihl but they didn’t have this model. I went to the mower shop where David bought his, but he didn’t have any in stock either. I did get the prices, though, which wasn’t very pleasant… I knew Heritage Tractor (a John Deere dealership also in Clinton) sold Stihl so I went there. Ummm… Same deal but the price was a little less ($10). The salesman, who I worked with before to get parts for my mower, explained a lot more to me and he said he could have one in a week. He said I was under no obligation and they could just have one sent from another store. So, I agreed…

I could have bought an upgraded battery and charger, but I decided the standard models would be good enough. For me, they are completely fine. If I bought an upgraded battery it would last longer and the upgraded charger would charge faster. The standard battery lasts long enough in the heat anyway. I am not one to know when to quit sometimes, so when what I am using stops working or runs out of gas, it does help to remind me maybe I should take a break.

Some reviews I read were negative, saying the trimmer string would advance well, it wasn’t powerful enough, and so on. Honestly, every trimmer I have used has some issues with the string advancing 100% of the time. I had to fiddle with the Cub Cadet almost every time I used it. As far as power, it has plenty. Reviews and other people’s opinions are sometimes debatable. It is like reading reviews of movies. Even if I think a movie is perfectly great, there are others who think it stinks. Well, I do have to add my opinion to the mix. (I am a movieaholic and have been since the early 1980’s when videos first came out).

SO, how does the Stihl compare to the Cub Cadet? I am was impressed how powerful it was to be so quiet. It cut through tall, heavy, thick clumps of fescue just about as fast as the Cub Cadet. Once I saw this, I didn’t hold anything back and it took everything I dished out. It cut through the clumps right down to the dirt. The Stihl has a wire guard that you can swing down to protect small trees or whatever you don’t want to cut down. I found it works great around steel fence posts that normally play heck with trimmer string. ALSO, and this was a miracle… Tall grass stems, like with fescue and foxtail, were all the time wrapping around the shaft above the trimmer head with the Echo and Cub Cadet. I used the brush guard in the down position and never once had any issues with the stems wrapping around the head. No more repeated stopping to unwrap the grass saved a lot of time. The bottom electric fence wire around the garden is pretty low and it always gave me a few issues when trimming. I just slid the brush guard under the bottom wire and went to town. I know, I know… If I trimmed every time I mow I may not have this issue. I mow approximately three acres, so who wants to trim after that? Consequently, the grass in the two ditches, around fences, trees, foundations, the water hydrant, the martin house pole, the barn, garage, two sheds, the chicken house, the wagon… It gets taller than it should. One time someone mentioned it looked like I need to do some trimming. I told them I was letting the fescue go to seed. 🙂

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot to mention the Stihl trimmer’s motor is not on the top of the handle… It is at the bottom where the guard is, making the trimmer more balanced. The handle is fully adjustable so you can move it to where it is the most comfortable for your height (the others probably do that, too). It only weighs a little over 6 pounds… I suppose all battery-operated (brushless trimmer) motors are at the bottom of the shaft.

 

From left to right… Weedeater FL25C, Echo GT225, Cub Cadet BC490, Stihl FSA 85, and the old weed whacker.

SO… My first experience owning a trimmer was the Weedeater FL25C that I bought when I was at the mansion in Mississippi. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I needed a trimmer. Well, you know, they always say you get what you pay for. It didn’t have an auto-advance for the line and it was also hard to load by hand… It did get the job done, but it was very frustrating. The letters FL stand for FeatherLite… One day I did some yard work for a friend who had a straight shaft trimmer,  a very expensive brand but I forgot what. I did their landscape maintenance, cleaned and painted a rental for them, and when their housekeeper quit, I started cleaning their house. Anyway, it was my first experience using a professional trimmer with a straight shaft. I am not even going to compare it with my small inexpensive weedeater.

When I came back here in 2013, dad had an Echo GT225. Now, you would think anything that says GT would be badass. Like the Mustang GT and other performance cars, GT meant something about performance. Well, I am sure for an average homeowner with a little trimming to do every week, it would be fine. My problem is, I will admit, I use my tools for all they are worth mainly because I used hand tools with my own power for a long time. As long as I kept the blades sharp there were no issues. SO, I have a tendency to try and force inadequate tools to do more than they were made for. I think I bent the shaft on the Echo because it is weird now… LOL! Truthfully, I never told dad that and he didn’t use it after I started. WHEW! Damn kid! I did read where grass wrapping around the shaft can bend it. I could never see how, but that “could be” what happened. Dad said to start at the top of the grass and go down, but I thought I had enough grass on me for that.

 

Brushcutter attachment for the Cub Cadet BC490.

Hmmm… The brush cutter on the Cub Cadet BC490 takes A LOT of getting used to. While it works OK on smaller saplings and some thick weeds, there are just some things it refuses to do. Sometimes you have to whack what you are cutting and then it works OK. (Hmmm… That would probably bend the shaft, too, huh?). Like with Ironweed… The first time I tried using it with Ironweed was quite interesting. The sparks flew and there was smoke! I am very tempted to put a small saw blade on it to see what happens… It has to be better than this gizmo but it would probably void the warranty that has now expired… I just have to remember this is a trimmer, not a chainsaw…

 

Oregon Magnum GATORLINE ™ and Vortex™ Professional Trimmer Line on the right.

Then there is the line issue. All trimmer lines are NOT created equal. I had been using the same line dad had been using from the small engine shop for years and we had to buy a new roll every spring. Fortunately, when we bought the Cub Cadet, it came with line was A LOT different and lasted a long time. I did some investigating online and found out square, or even three-sided line didn’t last that long. I found this Vortex™ Professional Trimmer Line on Ebay in 2018 and I might finally run out this summer. It has lasted that much longer than the other square line of the same thickness.

 

Vortex™ Professional Trimmer Line.

It looks like two lines wrapped together and it lasts a long time. You have to be careful because the line can eventually wear where it comes out of the head and break off. When I was at Heritage Tractor, the salesman showed me some of the other attachments and line they had that wil also break off before it wears out. If you are interested in the Vortex™ string, it is part #27-12161. It gets a Belmont Rooster 5 Gold Star rating…

 

Top left to right, Black and Decker 22″ cordless and Black and Decker 16″ corded trimmers; Center, Corona shears; bottom, 100′ extension cord.

When I moved back here in 2013, dad had a Black and Decker hedge trimmer that was kind of dull. I have no clue what happened to the one I had in Mississippi… Well, I mainly used the Corona shears at the mansion because they did a better job. There was an overgrown Privet hedge at least 150′ long and parts of it were probably 12′ tall along the street. There was also holly all along the front porch and sunrooms that were maybe 8′ tall. The hedge had other trees and Poison Ivy mixed in to boot. I managed to get it all trimmed back and they looked very good after a few years. The holly was a nightmare to trim and I had scratches all up and down my arms. It was worth the battle scars in the long run, though.

Dad’s Black and Decker hedge trimmers were just fine with the Yew in front of the house. He always told me to make sure I cleaned up good because the Yew would dull the mower blades. I always mowed the grass before I trimmed the Yew so I could clean up better anyway. The trimmer blades were definitely dull and sometimes I just used the Coronas. In 2019, I think, I started doing the landscape maintenance for Kevin, the friend I have mentioned before several times. Anyway, his Privet hedge runs along one side and in front of his house. I could definitely tell not only were the electric trimmers dull, so was the Corona… I figured it was from all the sap from the Yew. The top of his hedge would literally turn white because of all the smashed leaves. They looked like they were sunburned, but when I looked closer I could tell it was from dull trimmers. I cleaned the trimmers with this stuff that was also a lubricant, and it did seem to help.

 

Black and Decker 22″ Cordless Trimmer.

Last summer I went to the hardware store to see about buying a new pair but the only thing they had was a cordless trimmer that cost about $100. Well, I passed at first but later in the summer when I had the extra money I went ahead and bought one. My first battery-powered trimmer…  By that time, I didn’t need them for Kevin’s hedge, but I did for my own…

I will tell you I was very impressed. The teeth are farther apart plus I had an additional 6″ of blade and the battery lasted the whole time I was trimming. This trimmer also has a power button to use when you get into thicker branches. On Monday, I went to Kevins to try it out on his hedge for the first time. Unfortunately, his brother-in-law had already done it… GEEZ! I had more plants for his planters, so I finished planting then came back home.

Since I was in the trimming mood, I started in on the Yew in front of the house… When I came here in 2013, dad had been trimming the Yew as individual bushes. I told dad they would look better if they looked more like a hedge. He didn’t care, so I let them fill out. They started growing like weeds and within a couple of years, they looked great. I had to really give the front a good pruning AGAIN because they are getting so wide. I am not finished yet… I cut back so much you can see the gaps between the individual bushes and the top edge needs more work.

 

The one on the corner is more of an upright grower that I have managed to trim round for a few years. Before, it was just plain weird… There are still a few holes because of the way it grows. Some of the longer branches, or whatever you call them, need to branch out.

Seriously, I think I would prefer other shrubs here besides Yew. They certainly aren’t my favorite bush. Forget about low maintenance, because these are definitely not that… Every time I trim, they seem to get taller. I tied a baling string along the front of the porch a few years ago I used as a guide to keep the hedge level. The yard kind of slopes, so it is hard to keep them level when you are walking downhill… The string is almost a foot below where the top of the hedge is now… Hmmm…

Over the years, I have learned to be open-minded when it comes to tools and brand names. Bigger companies, not necessarily better, have bought out other companies to the point you don’t know who owns who. You have to really do your research because some of the less expensive brand name products are made by not-so-favorable companies… Several years ago, Electrolux bought out Huskavarna and Jonsared. The story goes when Huskvarna became more popular and made more income, they bought the company back from Electrolux and also bought Jonsered. Both Huskvarna and Jonsared are from Sweden like Electrolux. I remember Electrolux vacuum cleaners, but the company also owns a lot of other companies now, mainly vacuums and major appliances. The Weed Eater company was bought out by Emerson Electric which merged with Poulan which was later bought by Electrolux. Now Weed Eater and Poulan are on Huskvarna’s list of brands. Electrolux bought White-Westinghouse which had bought out several other appliance companies. Well, appliance companies are a different ball of wax.

I don’t want to get into MTD, but In September 2018, Stanley Black & Decker bought 20% of MTD Products for $234 million. Stanley Black & Decker will have the option to acquire the remaining 80% of MTD (starting July 1, 2021). With the acquisition of Craftsman by Stanley Black & Decker, the brand’s products are now produced by MTD through this partnership… MTD owns several companies or brands, so Stanley Black and Decker… The list of companies Stanley Black and Decker owns in many segments is VAST and it makes a good read! I am not an MTD fan, by the way…

Stihl is privately owned by the descendants of its founder, Andreas Stihl, and has a manufacturing company in the United States.

I better stop looking up companies or this post will get way out of hand. 🙂

In closing, you have to get the right stuff for your needs that works well or the task at hand becomes more of a chore. Sometimes, I will admit, I splurge on something of better quality that I really can’t afford. If you settle for less, you may be disappointed in the long run.

I started two posts before I wrote this one, but I wanted to write about the new trimmer. Then, I trimmed the shrubbery and thought I would write about the new hedge trimmer, too. Grammarly seems to be running slow, well it is the internet, so there may be a few weird words in this post. Grammarly’s red circle just keeps turning so one only knows… 🙂

Until next time, be safe and stay positive! Always be thankful and GET DIRTY.

 

The Barn Cat Recovering, R.I.P. Susie & Little Bit, Past Cat Photos

The Barn Cat on 7-1-21.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I think the rain may be over for a few days. I did manage to get in the garden early yesterday evening to pull the grass away from the sweet corn. I couldn’t do the green beans because they were still in mud. In all, I would say we received around 7″ of rain. There is no rain in the forecast to speak of (10% chance) until next Wednesday so maybe I can get the garden tilled. GEEZ!

The above photo is The Barn Cat. Well, that is what dad called her. She is very old, and until recently, she was one of the healthiest of mom and dad’s cats. When I moved back to the family farm with mom and dad in 2013, there were 20 cats and more on the way. There was no way dad was going to pay to have them spayed, so I got the help of a local organization and we got it done… Over the years, some died, at least one was hit by a car, and some just simply disappeared. Susie was one of the last of the older cats and she died on April 15. She was perfectly fine the day before…

A couple of weeks before Susie died, the Barn Cat came up to me with an infected tooth. It was bad! Then she disappeared for two days and I thought she had died. Two days later, she was on the back porch and she looked pretty rough and could barely stand up. I started feeding her canned cat food (which I had to share with the others). She started doing better and then one day she was on the propagating table… The next morning she could not move her back legs. It is possible she fell on her back when she tried to get off the table. During two weeks of her dragging herself around, I would pick her up and stand her on her back legs but they just wouldn’t work… Then one morning, she miraculously walked across the porch. That was on April 15, the same day Susie didn’t show up for breakfast. That was odd because Susie never missed a meal.

Susie…

Susie was always one of the most affectionate of the cats. I usually called her Susie Q and she often followed me to the chicken house and the garden. Always, when mom gathered the eggs, Susie was right there at her feet. Dad didn’t know how old she was. Like the other older cats, he just said they were very old… She was a very healthy cat right up to the end… I remember a lot of funny things about Susie. She liked sneaking into the house and looking around hoping I wouldn’t see her. I left her alone a few times to see what she would do and she would wind up laying down on the bed or on top of the couch. She was perfectly content anywhere she was. Strange, but I kind of miss that darn cat…

Little Bit on April 6.

Little Bit was weird but very loving. Little Bit was just a tiny kitten when it showed up at a friend’s house in 2019. He watched her one night while she was catching bugs and eating them so he started feeding her. He eventually caught her and put her in the bathroom. He couldn’t keep her, so he gave her to me. I am not sure how many cats were here at the time, maybe 7-8. Anyway, I brought her home and she was still pretty wild. She hid behind my toilet for two days…

Little Bit on July 29, 2019.

Finally, she tamed down enough I let her walk around in the bedroom. Then, after a few more days she started roaming the house… I found a small ball of yarn and it became her favorite toy. Once she had it all strung out, she would come to me and meow so I could roll it back up again.

She was kind of odd, VERY alert and skittish. She never missed a thing and always, always, eased up to anything new.  Jade did NOT like Little Bit in the house and it took a while for her to accept her. Simba, on the other hand, thought she was cute. The first day Simba and Little Bit met would have made an interesting video. Simba came in from outside and went to the kitchen. He saw her in the hallway and started making weird sounds like he was calling her. Little Bit walked up to him, they touched noses, and that was that. When Little Bit started eating on the back porch, the other cats hissed at her. Simba, who wouldn’t eat with the other cats and wouldn’t let them eat with him, allowed Little Bit to share his cat food. Later on, Nathan brought home a very small black tomcat. Simba also adopted him but now he is as big as Simba and he gets ran off…

Every night when I went to bed, Little Bit was laying on the railing on the side porch. Anyway, early in April after The Barn Cat had her episode, Little Bit was laying out by the garage one morning and wasn’t moving. She was still alive because I could see her breathing. I had to leave and wouldn’t be back home until late in the afternoon. Nathan came to where I was painting a house, 20 miles away, and told me he put food and water next to her and she would just scream at him. No, I don’t have a cell phone, so Nathan drove all the 20 miles to tell me about the cat! After I came back home, I picker her up and put her on the back porch. The next morning she was dead. I am not sure what happened to her, perhaps she ventured to the street and was hit by a car. She always stayed around the back yard, the barn, the back porch, and sometimes the front porch. She was too much of a scaredy-cat to go near the street. It is just a mystery what happened to her.

Jade on the propagating table on the back porch on June 27, 2021.

Jade and Simba are my son’s cats in case you don’t already know from previous posts. He came in maybe January or February in 2019 and didn’t mention the cats were coming, too. I didn’t know until he brought in the cat carrier… When Nathan left, the cats stayed with me. Both Jade and Simba were not used to being outside and Jade doesn’t have front claws. After they were here for a while, I started putting Simba outside. Nathan didn’t like that very well, but I did it anyway. Simba is a male and he tried dominating Jade. He was even growling at the cats through the door, so I thought it was time he went out. Suzie and The Barn Cat already didn’t like him… There were issues but Susie and The Barn Cat did NOT back off, so Simba pretty much left them alone. The other cats pretty much gave him a wide birth.

Normally, Jade does NOT like being on the back porch. I think she was a little uppity toward the other cats and thought maybe she was special because she was in the house. Last summer I started taking her to the garden and she liked it. She got to see what was going on outside and she enjoyed chasing butterflies. Now, she spends most of her time on the front porch and sometimes on the side porch. She likes sitting on the railing on the front porch so she can watch over the neighborhood. I never wanted a cat, or a dog, in the house with long hair but here she is… Hair and all… Before I started putting her outside, she thought she had to be with me constantly. That was OK because she just mainly laid at the foot of the bed while I was working on the computer. If she started toward the pillows, I would just point and she would go back to where she belonged.

Simba…

Simba on February 19, 2019.

Simba is a genuine tomcat but he also loves attention. Nathan says he is a Russian Blue but to me, he is just a gray cat. Well, someone told him Jade is a Norwegian Forest Cat but I don’t know about that either. I don’t have many photos of Simba because he does his own thing during the day but he doesn’t miss a meal.

I would not allow Simba to stay in the house, even though he just lays down somewhere. I feed Jade in the kitchen, and Simba likes to come in and eat her food. Since Nathan and Chris are back, Simba gets to come into the house when I am not looking. He is a very good cat, I will admit. I think it is funny Jade now prefers it outside, while Simba would rather be in the house. I would prefer Simba stayed outside, and Jade be in the house during the night. I told Nathan to make sure Jade is in the house during the night, but that rarely happens. However, I have got up during the night only to find Simba in the house. He always comes to me asking for food…

CATS OF THE PAST…

Over the years, I have posted about the cats. Well, there were a lot, at least 20, so there were cats everywhere. On the back porch, side porch, front porch, the barn, laying in the flower beds, on the old foundation… Most of the cats had names, but a few just had numbers (like the cows).

Spike and her kittens on June 11, 2013.

The above photo is of Spike and her last litter of kittens on June 11 in 2013. There were two of these boxes on the back porch dad had made for the cats to have kittens in. Sometimes, more than one cat would have their kittens in the same box.

Dad’s pickup with 2 cats on 6-12-13.

When I was taking photos of plants, if there was a cat around I took their photos, too. At first, I didn’t even know their names and it was somewhat confusing for a while. Some looked so much alike I couldn’t tell them apart. Dad could tell them apart, just like he could tell the cows apart when they were all black. Well, like the cows, I soon learned their personalities and other features to tell them apart.

My 2002 Ford Explorer with at least two cats on July 24, 2013.

There were at least two cats under the Explorer…

Susie on 7-17-13.

Susie was a wanderer and just showed up many times when I was taking photos. Of course, she would get hers taken, too.

#6 on August 1, 2013.

#6 was one of the older cats that didn’t venture off too far from the back porch.

The Coop Cat’s kitten on August 3, 2013.

The Coop Cat was weird and mom was the only one who could touch her. In 2013, she had one kitten… This kitten was a boy and it took up with dad. Every time dad would sit on the porch to smoke his pipe, this cat would crawl on his lap. When dad died, this cat really missed him. This cat died last summer and really never had a name.

Hmmm… This is #6’s kitten on August 3, 2013.

Like I mentioned, some cats just had numbers and apparently, #6’s kitten didn’t even have a name. Dad and I laughed about that all the time. I don’t know what became of #6 or this cat.

Old Blue on August 3, 2013.

Old Blue sounds more like a dog’s name, but that was what dad called this blue calico. She was a good cat, but a bit strange at times. She had four kittens in 2013 whose father was a HUGE fuzzy cat that came for a visit. Dad didn’t like that tomcat and one day he handed me the 22 and told me to shoot it. Well, there were several tomcats here and none of the cats liked him. I didn’t know where he came from, may have been someone’s pet, so I would have felt bad about shooting him… After seeing what he did with some of the other cats, he did disappear. Nuff said… I think Old Blue was Fuzzy’s kitten… Her fur was a bit longer, but not as long as her mother’s.

Kitten sleeping on a brick on the back porch on August 3, 2013.

You have to admit, if you have cats, they can sleep in some of the strangest positions. This kitten sleeping on a brick was by far the most interesting…

The Barn Cat in her prime on August 3, 2013.

I think a blog reader wanted me to write a post about the cats in 2013, so that’s what I did. That must be why there are so many cat photos from August 3… The Barn Cat was always a mind reader. I could not get anywhere near her for a long time. This was just a lucky shot… It wasn’t until after mom died in 2015 that she even allowed me to touch her. Even now, sometimes she doesn’t want to be bothered. If you hold out your hand, if she is in the mood, you can pet her. Once you start, though, she will drive you nuts. She has really been lovey-dovey the past couple of weeks… The Barn Cat got her name because she always stayed in the barn. For the past couple of years, she has always been on the back porch. She was one of the oldest cats when I came here and she is the last survivor. She was definitely a nice-looking cat in her prime.

The Coop Cat on August 3, 2013.

Another lucky shot for sure. This is The Coop Cat that no one could touch except mom. She always looked so sweet and I tried to pet her several times but no dice… I am not sure how I even managed to get this photo of her on the bottom step of the side porch…

The Coop Cat sleeping on a fence post on August 3, 2013.

Well, I just had to get a photo of The Coop Cat sleeping on this post. I had to zoom in to get it. I took several photos of her while she was there and each time her eyes began to open more. I don’t know what happened to this cat. She just disappeared. One night I saw a fox walk up to her in the driveway. Since the cat didn’t run, the fox just walked away. Dad said the foxes wouldn’t bother the cats as long as they didn’t run. If they ran, that was the end of the cat. Dad always said that was what happened to a lot of the cats.

Shhh… The cats are sleeping.

Who could resist that photo…

Bossy on the front porch on August 5, 2013.

Oh yeah, Bossy… He was the old tomcat. He was friendly but had his limits. One day mom was picking on him when he was on the back porch. He just couldn’t figure out why mom was behaving like that and he eventually had enough so he slapped mom’s hand. Mom thought it was funny and kept picking at him so he just walked away.

Old Maid on August 5, 2013.

I have no clue why dad called her Old Maid. This cat was very sweet but definitely very old. Dad said he had seen a fox walk up to her one night, too, and she didn’t run… She lived to tell the tale, so maybe that was an experience she passed on to the others…

Pee Wee on August 5, 2013.

Pee Wee… I forgot who his mother was (maybe Spike) but he was one of dad’s favorites. This one was also born in early 2013 and would sleep on dad’s lap. I think he got sick somewhere down the line and died…

Another cat with no name on August 5, 2013.

Hmmm… You know, this cat was very sweet but very shy. I could pet her, but it wasn’t one of her favorite ideas. She had the greenest eyes that just kind of glowed. Her fur was always raggy looking, though, and seemed to change color…

Fuzzy on 8-5-13.

This was another cat that dad said was very old. Not only was Fuzzy old, but she was also an oddball. No matter where she was going, she was always in a run. One thing I always remember about her is how she would dart in the side door or front door and run to the back door. It was like she was taking a shortcut… She was a sweet cat, also…

Old Blue’s kittens on August 9, 2013.

Old Blue had kittens in the old foundation and were rarely seen. One day I saw her walking with them toward the barn… If one got behind she would go back and pick it up. On August 9, I heard dad say, “Old Blue has her kittens on the porch.” So, I grabbed the camera…

Another photo of Old Blue’s kittens.

He said I needed to see if I could catch them and put them in the cage in the chicken house (where he raised the baby chicks in the feed room). They were very wild and he thought it we put them in the cage we could tame them down. Eventually, I did catch all four but it wasn’t easy. One died, the lady from Pawsibilities found a new home for one, one tamed down, and one didn’t. The kitten in the front of the photo is the one that found a new home, and the black and white one is the one that died.

Three of the cats ready to go to the vet to get spayed on August 16, 2013.

Finally, little by little, all the cats made their way to the vet to be spayed and neutered. The kittens had to be old enough before they could go and the wild tom cat never made it…

Three cats on the side porch on October 11, 2013.

The lady from Pawsibilities also found a new home for one of the older calico females. I don’t remember the cat’s name but she adapted well to her new home.

How’s that for a family photo?

I think this was as many cats I ever saw at once on the side porch. Usually, there would only be 1-3 cats together on the side porch, so this many here was unusual.

Spike on December 7, 2013.

Spike was also an odd cat. Dad called her spike because she had lost her fang teeth. Dad said she ate too many screws… When he first told me that, I thought “HUH?” Then I realized what he meant. There were some words dad couldn’t pronounce well, so I just had to kind of roll with it. He was saying she ate too many shrews… One day my brother was here for a visit and we were sitting on the back porch when Spike came. Dad told him, “That is Spike. She doesn’t have any front teeth because she ate too many screws.” My brother said, “Screws?” Dad said, “Yeah, screws. She catches them and eats them and they broke out her front teeth.” Leroy had a weird look on his face so I explained dad was talking about shrews, not screws. Then dad laughed because he knew he couldn’t pronounce shrew. He knew Leroy would be confused by calling them screws. I am not sure how eating shrews broke out Spike’s front teeth. I laugh every time I tell this story. My sister brings up the time dad told her the same thing. 🙂

Cats on the back porch on February 13, 2014.

During the day the cats were here and there. Several stayed in the barn most of the time. When it came time for them to be fed, they would all show on or near the porch which is why there were so many at once in the above photo. Mom would count the cats every time she fed them. Mom had dementia, but she knew how many cats were supposed to be there. If one was missing, she would tell us which one…

Old Blue’s kitten, the wild one, on April 13, 2018.

The above photo is of Old Blue’s kitten, the wild one. He just never tamed down. He was a dark yellow and white, while his brother was a lighter yellow and white. This cat became sick and died in 2020 and his brother followed a few weeks later.

Susie and the Coop Cat’s kitten on August 28, 2018.

Susie and the Coop Cat’s kitten were together A LOT.

The Barn Cat, Susie, Simba, Little Bit, and the young tom eating on October 21, 2020.

Usually, Simba eats with Little Bit and the young tom, but here is with The Barn Cat. Susie was somewhat confused about the ordeal and it looks like she was telling Simba he was in the wrong place. Of course, Jade was in the house where her food is.

There are more cat photos, but I think it is time to close this post and work on another one. I am not sure what sparked writing this post, I guess the first photo of The Barn Cat. There are a lot of memories here and many of them make me smile.

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Always be thankful and GET DIRTY if you can.

 

 

Swarm Of Bees In My Tree

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I was out doing some trimming Wednesday evening and was walking toward one of the Chinese Elms and looked up and saw a swarm of bees. I have not seen a swarm of bees since I was a kid! I called a man who has hives and he called one of his neighbors who has just started beekeeping to see if he wanted them. He came as soon as he could and said it was too late in the day to try to move them. He said if he tried it then it would just make them mad. He also said since it was a small swarm they were likely from a hive that split.

This small piece of honeycomb was found under the branch where the swarm was. This likely means the swarm has been in the tree for several days and that they could be feeding… That is a little odd because swarming bees normally only stay on a tree branch for a few hours before the workers have found and agreed upon a suitable nesting site. Sometimes it can take a few days, though. The guy that was here said he thinks the cluster has been on the branches for several days already. He said that worker bees have been bringing food to the cluster because they have made this cone and is definitely sticky with honey. He said he has seen where clusters have stayed in a branch like this for quite a while although it is uncommon.

He said he would be back this early this morning to get the bees and said he might need to leave the hive for a while to make sure most of the bees enter the new box.

I got up earlier than usual to check to see if he was here or had been here. He came even earlier than I expected and the cluster of bees was already gone. Then it rained for quite a while so it was a good thing he came early. I called him at 11:00 and he said it took him about 30 minutes to get the bees in the box. He had to cut several branches because the cluster was in kind of a fork and a lot of twigs were involved. He managed to get all but a handful of bees into the hive so he didn’t feel like he needed to leave the box until tis evening when they would all be in the box for the night. He left me the branch with the fork and another twig where the bees had already been making honeycomb and filling it with honey. Judging by this, he estimated they had been in the tree for 3-5 days and may have very well planned to stick around even longer. Perhaps because the scout bees had not found a suitable spot for their new nest…

I became curious, so I did a little research on bee swarms, queen bees, etc. I read information on several sites and each one had about the same information, some more than others.

There are a few reasons why bees swarm. One is if they outgrow their hive and need to split and part of their colony moves out. Sometimes there is a lack of food so the entire colony will leave the old hive and find a new spot where food is more plentiful. There are other reasons but they are unlikely the case here.

A lot has to happen before a colony of bees can swarm if a hive has to divide so part of the colony can relocate. Worker bees make “queen cups” for the queen to lay eggs and stop feeding her. She has to lay the eggs and stop eating or she will be too heavy to fly. These eggs will be for future queens, and once the eggs are laid, the queen cups are capped. Queen cups are where the queen wil lay eggs that become new virgin queens.

I didn’t know it, but the queen determines what “type” of eggs she lays and even the sex of the new bees. IF the queen is very old, female worker bees can lay eggs for new queens but they won’t be as large. Also, queen bee larvae are fed ONLY royal jelly, whereas other types of bee larvae are fed a combination of royal jelly and pollen…

Sometimes the bees that leave the old hive will do so with the old queen before virgin queens emerge from the queen cups. Once the virgin queens emerge, they will fight to the death even though worker bees try to keep them from fighting. There may need more than one virgin queen in case the hive has to divide more than once (called “cast swarms” where part of the hive leaves with a virgin queen). They may also kill the virgin queens that have not emerged from the queen cups. If part of the hive doesn’t leave with the old queen before the virgin queens emerge, workers also have to protect the old queen. Up to 2/3 of the bees will leave with the old queen.

OH, another weird thing is that when the virgin queen bee mates, she will leave the nest (hive) and go to where drones have congregated and mate (in flight). She may do this for several days until she is fully mated. She then stores up to 6 million sperm from multiple drones in her spermatheca which she will use for her entire life of 3-7 years. The Wikipedia article says female worker bees gather food for the larvae while the males (drones) function is primarily to mate with the queen then they die.

When a colony is ready to swarm, scout bees go out and find a nearby location for the swarm to cluster, sometimes very close to the original hive. That means the hive they left may even be in this same tree. The bees will eat before they leave and may not eat again until the workers have found a new suitable nesting spot. Once the bees have clustered on a branch, 20-50 scouts set off to find suitable nesting sites. The scouts communicate by dancing in such a way that points to where they have found a possible site (called a waggle dance). If their dance is really excited, it encourages other scouts to have a look at what they have found. This dancing and checking out suitable sites goes on until a location is agreed upon then the swarm will relocate.

I am sure I have missed something because it seems like a lot to take in… There are quite a few good websites about bees, so I will include a few links to the ones I thoroughly read…

SWARMING (HONEY BEES)-Wikipedia article.

QUEEN BEE-Interesting Wikipedia article about queen bees.

WHY BEES SWARM AND WHAT YOU SHOULD-OR SHOULDN’T DO- ABOUT THEM. Article by the UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County.

HONEYCOMB IDENTIFICATION-BROOD NEST-Great article by BackYardHive.

Definitely, if you find a swarm of bees, you should contact a beekeeper to see if they will come and remove them and put them in a suitable hive box. Sometimes, homeowners find a swarm on the side of their house under an eve and spray like they would a paper wasp nest. If they have been there for a while and have started making honeycomb, spraying not only kills that colony, it can also endanger other colonies as well. Bees from other nests can come and eat the honey and take the pesticide back to their own nest.

Experienced beekeepers are interesting to watch as they remove swarms and put them into a box. I remember as a kid my grandpa had several hives here. One time we were visiting my cousins on their farm and there was a swarm of bees in a tree next to their house. They had relocated to another farm when the Corps of Engineers bought their old farm because the Truman Dam was being built and water would eventually cover their land. Anyway, the farm they relocated to had a HUGE old farmhouse. There were a few rooms they couldn’t use because honey bees were living in and on the walls. Anyway, my mom called grandpa and he came with a box to remove the swarm. Grandpa put his hand inside the cluster of bees and found the queen. The swarm then circled his arm and he just raked the bees off into the box. He didn’t get stung once!

Swarming bees are usually harmless because they have filled up on honey before they leave the old hive. There are several species of honey bees, but they all generally have the same characteristics and reasons for swarming. However, in some areas, there are more aggressive Africanized bees that can be a problem. Some beekeepers that bring home aggressive species have found them too dangerous and need help getting rid of them. More experienced beekeepers will introduce queens from a docile hive and within 45 days or so, the aggressive bees will be replaced by docile bees. If nests are disturbed or threatened, guard bees can also attack people and pets. More aggressive species will become agitated by mowers or other loud noises…

OK, I better close this post. As I said, there is a lot online about bees, swarms, keeping bees, etc. I learned a lot I didn’t know.

Until next time, take care, be safe, stay well, be positive, and always be thankful…

Back In Action

My son Nathan, next to a Cirsium altissimum (Tall Thistle) on 6-15-21. Don’t even say he looks like me.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. It has been a while since my last post because of several reasons which, in this case, are kind of just excuses. Last summer my camera would sometimes come on and show a “lens error” message then automatically shut off. I could press the button and it would come back on just fine. This spring it started doing it repeatedly then the lens would come out partway and wouldn’t go back in. I could turn the lens somewhat and it would work OK for a while then it would get weird again. I knew turning the lens was not a good idea and would probably wind up doing more harm than good which is what ultimately happened.

I read up on the issue and it could have been from dirt being in the gizmo. 🙂 I found a video on YouTube on how to replace the lens but it almost gave me a headache watching it. So many tiny screws and this and that to remove. The guy who made the video has a circle of parts all around the camera and he kept saying “make sure” to do this and that. The video was about 30 minutes long and he said “if” you get it all back together properly and it still doesn’t work, you have to start over… He said the new lens cost him $43 on Ebay or Amazon and Cannon had quoted him about $150 to fix it… I opted to buy a new camera.

Over the past couple of months, I started looking at cameras on Ebay. Lack of funds most of the time kept me from purchasing one but finally, I had enough money to bid. A guy was selling a Canon XS610 HS like my old one on Ebay without a charger which was no big deal since I already had one. He didn’t give very much information about the camera except that it had no charger so he couldn’t turn it on to see if it worked. He also said no refunds. That in itself would keep a lot of people from bidding. I senT him a message and he replied that he had bought it new for a two-week vacation then put it in a drawer. When he moved from his parent’s home he couldn’t find the charger so he decided to sell it on Ebay. He had it listed twice before but the buyers didn’t pay so he listed it again. I think they are (were) around $250 new and I bought it for $66 and it arrived on June 15.

A few people, including my son, said I needed a cell phone because they take photos just as well as a camera. Well, he is back AGAIN so I took him wildflower hunting on May 24 when my camera decided to work again. I pressed the power button on and off several times and for some reason it started working so I had to go… Anyway, it worked fine until half way back to the house then it went whacky again. When we were almost back to the house I spotted a plant I hadn’t identified. GEEZ!!! SO, I used his camera. He sent the photos to in an email… Hmmm… He had been taking photos the whole time we were out walking so there were ALOT! The problem was he only sent a few through the email and he said I had to get the rest on some other site I had to sign up for and he sent a link… I was thinking bad words and I didn’t want to do that. He said it was taking to long for him to upload them with email. Fortunately, the photos of the plant I needed were sent in the email but they were HUGE! I started thinking bad words again… I may have even said a few out loud especially when the photos weren’t that good anyway. Last time he was here I wanted him to take my photo with the Colocasia with my camera. He thought he just had to use his iPad instead of the camera. The photos made me look even weirder than I already do so I told him to use the camera. Then I showed him the difference and he didn’t have much to say about that… I was MUCH happier though… 🙂 🙂 🙂

Taking Nathan wildflower hunting was quite interesting, esecially the second time… He would take a photo with his phone then send it to everyone he could think of. Then they would message him back and he would have to reply… Sometimes I would be so far ahead of him I couldn’t even see him. I walked back to see where he was at one point and he was clear over on the other side of the pasture… He lost his signal so he had to move. 🙂 So, I walked all the way down to the “swamp”. Next thing I knew he was calling me so I walked back until I saw him. He was all the way on the other side of the fence on the neighbors property. He said he saw turkeys over there and went to investigate but they ran off…

Not having a camera that worked whenever I needed to take a photo screwed with my brain. Even if the camera came on and I was able to take a few of photos, it wouldn’t continue working. That just put me out of the mood to write a post with the photos I was able to take. So, I just continued working on making updates and writing new wildflower pages with the photos I already had. Normally, I finish with the updates over the winter but I just finished a few days ago. There were some glitches along the way, like when the USDA updated their website and even changed the URL. All the wildflower pages have links, and some maps, from the USDA Plants Database. The old link wouldn’t redirect at first, so I had to START OVER and change the URL on every wildflower page. Sometimes the new USDA website wouldn’t even work so I sent an email to the “guy in change” and he said they were having server issues and a lot of bugs to work out. After a couple of weeks it started working fine. The last time I checked to see if the old links would redirect it just went to a blank blue page. By that time I was almost finished updating AGAIN so I don’t know if they got that fixed or not.

I am not sure how many new wildflower pages I published because I didn’t count them. I don’t even know how many wildflowers are on my list and there are a few that still don’t have pages. I guess the ones without pages are mainly grasses and species I am not sure about at the moment because I need photos of their flowers. It takes A LONG TIME to write descriptions of plant parts, so the last 20 or so pages I just added the photos, wrote species information, a little about the plant and where I saw it, added the maps, and links to other websites. I will go back later and write descriptions as I have time. At least they are published. WHEW! 🙂

After the new camera arrived, I was FINALLY able to go wildflower hunting without wondering when the camera would screw up. I was very glad to find a few Triodanis perfoliata (Clasping Venus Looking Glass). Another few days and there would have been no flowers left. I identified a few more species on the farm (and trail next to the farm) on June 15 and 16. That will be for another post coming up…

I have decided to try and make the posts shorter and spread my observations out. That way I can post more often. I will try anyway.

Until next time, be safe, stay well, stay positive, give thanks, and GET DIRTY!

“S” In The Forecast and Cactus Work

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. With all the nice weather we have had we were hoping winter was over. Then the extended forecast started showing the weather had other plans… I was hoping the percentages would lessen day by day and the “S” in the forecast would disappear. Well, that didn’t happen. Even so, it is unlikely there will be much accumulation but the temps will drop considerably Tuesday night…

Then the temps will warm and more rain is on the way…

Over the winter I repotted a few of the cactus but I didn’t get them all finished. I took the cactus outside on April 9 to look them over a repot a few more. I was able to get nine repotted but at around 6 PM I had to quit because I thought it would start sprinkling.. SO, I moved everything back inside. I repotted five more on the 14th but I still have a few to go.

 

A few of the cactus had a few mealy bugs. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had mealy bug issues with a few of the Aloe in the back bedroom. I hadn’t noticed any problems with them anywhere else until I started repotting the cactus on the 9th. The cactus were in my bedroom on the new plant shelf minding their own business over the winter and I thought all was well. Well, you know how it is. Cactus don’t need much attention, especially over the winter, so one may overlook any issues. A couple of weeks ago I had taken the cactus to the kitchen to water them and look them over and didn’t notice any problems.  Well, the kitchen is where I had taken the Aloe that had mealy bugs so maybe there were a few lurking around and hitched a ride on the cactus.

 

MANY years ago (when I was a kid), mom bought several aluminum nails to poke through potatoes when she baked them in the oven. I have found they make great tools when repotting the cactus. You can use the nails to poke the soil down around their roots and the head to tamp down the soil around the top. It works great when dealing with spiny friends… Using a cotton swab with alcohol on the cactus is kind of difficult because the cotton gets stuck on the spines. The spines can also make it hard to get the end of the swab down between the ribs. So, I dipped the pointed end of the nail in alcohol and was able to remove the mealy bugs.

I was going to take more photos but my camera has been acting up… Some kind of a weird lens issue…

Well, that’s all for this post. I took a few photos of wildflowers a couple of days ago, so maybe another post for them is in order. The Hosta are all up and running but I haven’t taken their photos yet… I need to close now so I can replace a part on the mower. GEEZ! OH, I did get the garden tilled a few days ago before it rained. 🙂

Until net time, be safe and stay positive. I hope you are all doing well. GET DIRTY and always be thankful!

HAPPY EASTER! Plus A Few More Plants…

Schlumbergera gaertneri (Easter Cactus)

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE! The Schlumbergera gaertneri (Easter Cactus) at Wagler’s Greenhouse bloomed right on time for Easter.

Schlumbergera gaertneri (Easter Cactus).

I think it was worth the wait, how about you? I went to Wagler’s several times in the past week to check on it and always found something to bring back home…

Wagler’s has A LOT of plants getting ready to go. They have sold quite a few already but the rush for plants hasn’t started yet.

Click HERE to take you to the Schlumbergera gaertneri page.

New Plants on 4-3-21.

When I went out on Friday the greenhouse was closed for Good Friday. The door was open so I went in anyway. Three of Mrs. Wagler’s granddaughters came in for a visit while I was taking photos of the Schlumbergera gaertneri. I wanted to take their photos but I knew that was a no-no. They are Amish… There are five girls in their family and they recently had a baby brother. The oldest of the three may be around 5-6 years old.

One of the girls is very talkative and I told her I found a cactus I wanted but they were closed. I told her I could take it and come back and pay tomorrow. She said, “We can hide it.” She took the cactus from my hand and found a good spot.

Mammillaria spinosissima ‘Un Pico’.

Mammillaria spinosissima ‘Un Pico’

SO, why did we have to hide it? Well, a few days ago when I went there were maybe 40 of these plants. When I went out on Friday, there were none left where they had been. I looked around, before the girls came in, and found only a few left in a different spot. I didn’t pick one up before because I wanted to check to make sure I didn’t already have a Mammillaria spinosissima. Well, I knew I didn’t have one by that name, but I wanted to make sure the name wasn’t a synonym of one I already had. I looked the plants over already and it sure didn’t appear to be one I had, but I also know that had gotten fooled before by “variable” species… Luckily, these were labeled because they came from grower somewhere.

Now as far as the species goes, it can be somewhat variable. The species name, spinosissima, should indicate it is very spiny. BUT, if you look at this cultivar ‘Un Pico’ is doesn’t have many spines… The other weird thing is the common names of Mammillaria spinosissima is supposedly Red-Headed Irishman and Spiny Pincushion Cactus… Some descriptions of the cultivar say it only has one spine per areola, which is where it gets its name. Well, there is more than one spine per areole, but only one central spine…

Echeveria nodulosa (Painted Echeveria).

Echeveria nodulosa (Painted Echeveria)

Well, I screwed up only a little… I had one of these in 2016 but I put in the flower bed behind the old foundation. I had left it in its pot so I could easily remove it if it didn’t work out. HOWEVER, I got very busy over the summer and the flower bed grew up and I completely forgot about it. Then one day it dawned on me one day I had forgotten about it. I went to check on it and apparently had become a favorite meal for crickets. I put the pot back with the other plants on the table but it didn’t recover… I have been seeing several of these at Wagler’s for a few years so I thought I would bring another one home and take better care of it.

BUT, I was thinking it was a Kalanchoe… There were no labels in the pots at Wagler’s to remind me because she takes cuttings from her own plants. I came home, took the photos, and when I was updating my list there was no Kalanchoe nodulosa from before. No past photos either… Hmmm… I scratched my head a little and did some hunting. GEEZ! It is an Echeveria

Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’…

Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’

I brought home my first Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’ when I lived in Mississippi and brought it with me when I moved back to Missouri in 2013. I gave up most of my plants late in the summer of 2014. Mrs. Wagler always has several of these, and I may have given her the start, but I just never brought any home. SO, I decided I would go ahead and bring one home. You can’t have too many Kalanchoe but I am working on it…

Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’.

Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’ is the one that is also called the Stalactite Plant because of its weird “protuberances” that grow from the undersides of the leaves.

Sempervivum arachnoideum (right) and Sempervivum ‘Oddity’.

These are the two Sempervivum I brought home on Tuesday I didn’t post about yet. I have had both of these before, and Mrs. Wagler’s ‘Oddity’ came from a start I gave her several years ago. I really like its tubular leaves.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’.

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’

Sempervivum ‘Oddity’ was developed by Sandy McPherson and introduced in 1977. It won the 1978 Best Bronze Award for best new variety. Information suggests it is possibly a mutation of Sempervivum x comollii, which is thought to be a natural hybrid between Sempervivum tectorum x Sempervivum wulfenii where the two species grow in the same area.

I bought my first ‘Oddity’ in 2013 and it did very well for several years then fizzled out. I brought my second one home from Wagler’s in 2016, possibly of a descendent of a plant I gave Mrs. Wager earlier. It didn’t do well and died soon after… I brought a third one home from Lowe’s in 2018 and it did absolutely great but didn’t survive the winter inside. These are NOT reliably winter hardy here… SO, this will be my fourth attempt. I am sure it will do well over the summer, but the trick is getting them to survive over the winter inside…

Sempervivum arachnoideum (Cobweb Houseleek).

Sempervivum arachnoideum

The third time is the charm, right? I brought home my first Cobweb Houseleek in 2014 labeled Sempervivum arachnoideum ‘Cebenese’ and it didn’t survive… Then, in 2019, I brought home one that was more colorful from Wildwood Greenhouse labeled ‘Berry Bomb’ that was introduced by Chick Charms. Well, it was really a ‘Cosmic Candy’ that Chick Charms relabeled… Anyway, it did great until the intense sun burned it to a crisp on the back porch over the summer. Yeah, I know. I screwed up and wasn’t paying attention. The new one, which is unlabeled, will go on the front porch where it won’t be in full sun.

Over the years I have tried several Hens and Chicks that just fizzle out. The only one that has lasted outside for several years is the cultivar named ‘Killer’. It has survived the winter again and will be in future posts. It is hard to find a reliably hardy Semp around here unless you get them from someone who has a few to spare from their yard.

I think that wraps up this post.

I hope you have a great Easter and maybe can spend time with family. This is the second Easter with COVID in our midst. Most families didn’t have much of an Easter last year because of the lockdowns. This community even had an Easter celebration for the kids at the park on Saturday and we had a parage in town. Both were canceled last year…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. I hope you are all well and continue to stay well. Always be thankful and count your blessings. It is time to GET DIRTY!

 

Classic Editor Issue Fixed Again-New Method

Hello everyone! I just wanted to tell you about my latest issue with WordPress. Last October there was an issue when WordPress updated and our OLD Classic Editor seemed to have disappeared. It was an easy to solve issue and I wrote the post titled “To Use The Classic Editor” on October 7. Well, this time it was WAY weirder… 

Monday evening I was writing a post about my trip to Wagler’s Greenhouse and the pants I picked up. I started out as usual by clicking on the Classic Editor option as I explained to do in the post from October 7, 2020. I added all the photos to the post then clicked “save draft” then went ahead to do some research for the plants.

 

Tuesday, when I went to finish the post, everything was whacky! I was met with NO option to edit the post using the Classic Editor. I went to the page and the above photo is what I saw. I went ahead and finished the post which was easier since I had already added the photos. Then, when I went to add tags it was a bit frustrating…

Then I spent a long time in a chat with a member from the WordPress support team. Whoever I talked to was helpful but they really didn’t tell me anything I hadn’t figured out before by trial and error. Just a few new details about using the “NEW” Classic Editor and they encouraged me to try it out… They did write a support ticket which would be revied by other members of the support team.

At 2:37 AM I received an email from one of the Happiness Engineers from WordPress. She explained how to get back to the Classic Editor I have been using a different way I didn’t even know existed…

She said for me to go to my profile and click on account settings… You know, go to the top right and click on your gravatar… That takes you to your profile.

 

Click on account settings.

 

Like this…

 

Then scroll down and locate the dashboard appearance settings…

 

Slide the white button to the right…

 

Then click to save the settings. For crying out loud, don’t click to close your account. 🙂

 

Then you go back to your dashboard, go to posts or pages…

 

When you hover over the titles you will see your options to use Edit (which is the block editor), Classic Editor, Quick Edit, and so on.

I noticed A LOT of the newer pages I had added didn’t allow comments. If you ever have this happen, click on the “Quick Edit” and scroll down and click on the box that says “allow comments” and then click on “update” on the right side. If you are previewing a page and you don’t see where comments are allowed, you can just click on edit on the preview page and scroll down on the right to where you can check allow comments. Probably most of us seasoned bloggers already know that…

 

NOW all is well again…

 

One other thing… Say you have already used the block editor to make a draft and you go back to finish after switching to the classic editor. When you hover over the title and click Classic Editor, you will get this pop-up. Just click on “Continue to Classic Editor” and you are good to go.

I just thought I would fill you in on how to get back to the OLD Classic Editor if you are having difficulties. I am 60 and I have been blogging since 2009… 12 years! I don’t mind trying new things when I buy a new product, but when I have to change the way I do something I have done a certain way for so long… Let’s just say it isn’t going to happen. I think we are like that after we have created our blog the way we want it, the way it works for us. We can navigate around it like a pro when we write posts, pages, and add photos. We get used to the flow of things. The block editor doesn’t flow with me, not even when I use the NEW Classic Editor… I am glad we still have options as long as we know how to find them or have the Happiness Engineers from WordPress to lend a hand. If you chat with someone who doesn’t answer your needs, have them to make a support ticket so other members of the team can have a look at your issue. 

There are probably a lot of bloggers who have gotten along fine with the new editor. I congratulate you! 

I hope you are all doing well. Be safe, stay positive, and stay well. Always give thanks even for the little things we all take for granted… We all have a lot to be thankful for… 

 

Sonora Desert Dirt Finally Arrived!

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well! The Sonora Desert Dirt finally arrived. The seller on Ebay, candacelcolburn, shipped the dirt which was processed through the USPS facility in Mesa, Arizona on January 6. Then it went to Phoenix and was processed through the USPS facility there on the 6th and 7th… That’s where everything stopped, or so it appeared, until January 24 when it arrived at the USPS facility in Kansas City… Normally, once packages arrive in KC, they come on to Windsor but this time it went to Columbia then to Windsor which took another 2 days. Well, I am not going to complain because the USPS is having their own issues… I am thankful the dirt arrived safe and sound.

You may be wondering why I bought dirt on Ebay when I have 40 acres of dirt… Well, this is no ordinary dirt. The listing on Ebay says…

“You will receive 20 pounds of organic sifted cactus soil. This is real Sonoran desert soil. It is sifted to remove medium and large rocks, sticks, leaves, and any other natural occurring objects. This is the soil that cactus have evolved to grow in. Any other cactus soil is an imitation and an inferior soil. Get the best for your plants. This is the gold standard when planting desert plants. There may be a very minor weight variation due to this item being a natural product.”

You can get 20 or 40 pounds but I decided 20 would be enough to check it out…

I opened the box and found an envelope on top…

 

Seeds and instructions… Hmmmm… Must be a free gift. 🙂

 

Looks like rocky dirt, huh? I could fill the same size box with dirt from the garden and it would not weigh 20 pounds. This stuff is heavy!

 

I have not been to the desert but I have no reason to believe it is not authentic. It looks pretty much as I expected. Now I am wondering how to use it in pots… This could get interesting…

 

Hmmm… The package of seeds has a slip of paper that says “100+ Saguaro”…

 

The paper with it says “How to grow a Saguaro (Sa-wah-roe).” It is from the National Park Service…

 

The information on the front is about the Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) and growing instructions…

 

The back of the paper is about the life cycle of the Saguaro Cactus… It says, “Saguaro Cactus normally live for 150-200 years. Death may come from freezing, lightning, wind, old age or vandalism.”

While I was writing this post, I went back to the box of dirt several times. Some of my thoughts were, “GEEZ! I bought a box of dirt.” I laughed a little but the cactus on the shelf are smiling. They are saying, “I want some of that.”

When you buy cactus plants from a retail garden center or even online, they come in ordinary commercial potting soil that is not exactly suitable for cactus and succulents. I don’t know what the watering schedule is during the winter months with commercial growers but that is a question I may bring up with Nico Britsch (since he is the third generation of cactus and succulent growers).

The issue is using potting soil that is peat-based and how it absorbs water just fine when you first open the bag. There are several other ingredients in the bags that are great for ordinary plants, and even cactus and succulents during the growing period when plants are getting rain and supplemental water. BUT, when the peat dries out, it can be difficult to get it to reabsorb water. “Most plants” I grow in pots need to dry out between watering so when you water again one might think they are getting enough when the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. BUT, if you notice, sometimes when the potting soil dries, it pulls away from the sides of the pot. So, the water you put in may just be running down around the potting soil and out the bottom instead of absorbing into the mix… During periods of rain, the soil the cactus are in will absorb water because they get a good soaking. Sometimes I wonder if they are getting too much water but they are always fine. I have never lost a cactus due to too much rain. Then during the fall and winter months, the cactus are inside and their water is restricted. It is then when their potting soil gets as hard as a brick…

Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommend using a “loam-based” mix. I cannot find a “loam-based” potting soil at any garden center, or even online. The topsoil around here is loam and I have wondered about using it as an experiment. Actually, when I lived in Mississippi there was an old goldfish pool in the back yard that was full cracks. I used to fill it with leaves and the HUGE earthworms would decompose it. I used the composted soil with a little potting soil and sand that was under the brick floor of the old covered patio. Well, that was quite a few years ago and I was a cactus newbie at the time… The topsoil here is very fine, as most “dirt” is, so I figured it wouldn’t be a good idea to use it, even mixed with pumice or perlite, as a substitute for peat. But you know what? This desert dirt is very fine with a few pebbles… Where cactus grow in deserts, there is a wide variety of plant life that dies and decomposes just like everywhere else. But, everything decomposes more rapidly in the desert so, and from what I glean, most desert soil doesn’t have much nutritional value… So, I am going to experiment with the desert dirt and topsoil in my back yard. Many years ago, one of the favorite sources of dirt for pots was from molehills. As the moles tunnel down, they bring up soil that doesn’t have any weed or grass seed. Ever noticed how long it takes grass to grow on a molehill?

So, I guess I have some experimenting to do. You can’t just plant in regular dirt in pots, or even this desert dirt, without adding pumice, perlite, or something. Anyway…

I better stop or I will be writing down all my thoughts about the situation or this post may get quite long.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well, and always be thankful. As always, get dirty if you can…

 

So Much Spam

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I enjoy getting comments, we all do, but the spam content is just weird… If I don’t delete the spam comments every day, which I don’t always remember to do, they just pile up in the thousands. Most are the same thing by different people. This one, “Muchas gracias…” is just nuts. I get spam about viagra and other drugs, religion, wanting to make guest posts, and this and that. I emptied the spam a couple of days ago and this morning there is 1,118 AGAIN. It takes a while to get them all deleted. I click on “empty spam” and only maybe 1/4 get deleted so it takes several attempts to get them all deleted. I have had as high as almost 5,000 before I deleted them!

Sometimes I click on “empty spam” and after a couple of minutes, I get this “OOPS! Something went wrong…”

I am thankful for the filters otherwise they would be in with the “normal” comments. I can’t imagine!!! I would sure like to know where they come from and how much people get paid for doing this. 🙂 I have to laugh…

Anyway, I just thought I would bring it up out of curiosity…

I am still updating the plant pages which is what I do over the winter. I am on the “G’s” then I will start on the wildflower pages. Adding some color to the fonts and making sure accepted names haven’t changed for the most part. I thought I had updated them all last winter, but some of the pages haven’t been done since 2018. Then I remembered I was working on wildflower pages last winter so I didn’t update them all. I still didn’t get all the wildflower pages added but I need to do these updates before starting on them again.

I would also like to do a post about plant databases and online sources of information…

Spring is right around the corner… I can feel it coming! 🙂 We had quite a lot of rain during the night and I am thankful it wasn’t ice or snow. High today is 41° F and the forecast says the low will be 28…

Until next time, stay well, be safe, be positive, stay thankful… Get dirty if you are able. You could even just stick your hands in a bag of potting soil. That reminds me… My desert dirt has finally made it to Kansas City so it should be here on Tuesday. 🙂

 

 

 

COVID Blues and Quarantine

Sedum adolphi ‘Firestorm’.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I don’t know about your thoughts and experiences, but things are weird… I have ordered a few things on Ebay now and then since COVID-19 started and they came through just fine. I decided to order some “dirt” from a seller on Ebay that lives in Arizona. Well, it isn’t just any dirt. It is Sonora Desert Dirt for the cactus. Anyway, it was supposed to be here on January 11 and here it is the 21st and it still hasn’t arrived. The tracking information on Ebay hasn’t been updated since January 7 which says, “Processed through USPS facility Phoenix, Arizona.” I put the tracking number in on the USPS website and it was last updated on January 11. It says, “In Transit, Arriving Late. Your package will arrive later than expected, but is still on its way. It is currently in transit to the next facility.” At the top of the USPS website, it says, “ALERT: USPS IS EXPERIENCING UNPRECEDENTED VOLUME INCREASES AND LIMITED EMPLOYEE AVAILABILITY DUE TO THE IMPACTS OF COVID-19. WE APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE.”

What does “LIMITED EMPLOYEE AVAILABILITY” mean? I ordered another item from a different seller the same day that was shipped through UPS. It was delivered to the local post office and arrived on January 12. Often something shipped through UPS gets dropped off at the local post office for them to deliver which started happening last year on occasion. I read somewhere UPS is also delivering some packages for the USPS. SO, “WHERE IS THE DIRT?”

I was curious about the issue, so I typed in “USPS delays” and found this article submitted by NPR… You can read it by clicking HERE. GEEZ! So, I will just be patient. The dirt isn’t going to rot. When I was waiting on Tony’s plants to arrive from California, they were delayed somewhat. I took the tracking number to the local post office and the guy there looked it up for me. I thought maybe he would have better information. Well, that wasn’t the case. He told me then that a lot of the items aren’t even getting scanned as they travel through the system…

The article says that there are several reasons for the delays, mainly due to the impact of COVID-19. Even though USPS has hired 100,000 new workers, many employees and their families have contacted the virus. People shipped a lot more packages over the holidays, and A LOT of those Christmas gifts haven’t even arrived at their destination. All the important mail is also delayed…

It isn’t just the mail that has been affected. In some instances, people are back to work as usual while they try to implement social distancing and by wearing masks. I filed for unemployment benefits online but had an issue so I went to an office 28 miles away… I hadn’t been there for several years and found out they moved in 2017 to a different location. The other office was much bigger and there were a lot of employees. The new office is very small and there were only four people working. I had an issue, like I mentioned, and had to call the regional office from the phone next to the computer I was working on. There was an issue getting my computer to do what it was supposed to so the agent I was speaking with just did it from her end. I was a federal employee last summer as an enumerator for the Census Bureau, so we had some difficulty… That all started on November 13. Each week since, I have been putting in my work searches as I am supposed to… My claim and weekly filings are still processing. I called the regional office several times and they say they are still waiting on the federal office to respond (since I was a federal employee). Well, I decided I would call the Census office. The guy I eventually spoke with asked if I had worked in 2019. I haven’t been “employed” since 2014 except for working five hours a week cleaning the church… He said I wouldn’t be eligible for benefits until maybe June or July anyway (forgot what he said) when the third quarter begins… HMMM… I am 60 and trying to find a job is NUTS! He said I should work online from home… I will continue to file my weekly claim until I am told I have been denied…

ANYWAY…

Quarantined plants…

A FEW MONTHS AGO… I noticed the Aloe called ‘Blue Elf’ shipped from Succulent Market had bugs… I moved it away from the other plants and gave it a good dose of spray. I sprayed it every couple of days, washed it a few times (even the roots) and put it in new soil. As I was doing that, I noticed ‘Blue Elf’ was not a ‘Blue Elf’… Oh, it is not in the above photo because it is in a different room…

I kept an eye out on the other succulents, and within a day or so of when the “Blue Elf’ wannabe was infected, the Aristaloe aristata from Succulent Market also had bugs… Not only that, the older Aristaloe aristata also had a few! The Gasteria sp. had a few bugs but its leaves are very hard so they were easily removed. There were some sticky patches on the Aloe maculata, x Alworthia ‘Black Gem’, and x Gasteraloe ‘Flow’ but I didn’t see any bugs. I sprayed them and moved them to a table away from the other plants. I have had them for quite a while and never had any bug problems. Then I noticed some of the small offsets from x Gasteraloe ‘Flow” also had a few so I moved them to the kitchen…

Older Aristaloe aristata…

The older Aristaloe aristata had some earlier difficulties from being repotted in a pot that was too big. Over the summer it did much better after I put it back in a smaller pot and was getting along fine. Then it got bugs… I have sprayed it several times but I don’t remember if I washed it or not… The bug problem with this plant is not getting better. They got worse and this plant may ultimately die… I washed each leaf of the newer plant individually right down to the base which is not easy… The older A. aristata didn’t have that many bugs at first and seemed to be getting better. Today it looks terrible so I sprayed it again and when I finish this post, I will wash the old girl. I thought I already washed it before, but seeing it this morning makes me wonder. I probably didn’t because it wasn’t this bad before…

Two of the five plants from Succulent Market are in my bedroom and one is in the kitchen. None of them have bugs…

The bugs are either white scale or mealy bugs. It is hard to determine because I have never had white scale before so I am not sure what they are supposed to look like. I rarely ever have bugs of any kind, but last fall the Stapelia gigantea had a few on the tips of their stems. I just removed them and that was that. Mealybugs may look different on Aloe because of the gel inside the leaves… Not only that… You know how ants “farm” aphids? Well, there were ants crawling on the leaves of the Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ wannabe several times. WHERE IN THE HECK DID THEY COME FROM? None of the other plants have had ants… The bugs now are kind of gooey and when I rub them between my fingers it looks and feels like sand… Well, it isn’t the bugs that are gooey. The bugs pierce the leaves of the Aloe and secrete the goo (sugar) which is what the ants on the Aloe were after. Ants will actually take the insects, such as aphids, and put them on other plants…

I am not blaming the plants from Succulent Market or Nico, but it is just suspicious the first plant to have the bugs was the Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ wannabe… I emailed Nico and he apologized and wanted me to send photos. I took a lot of photos at the time but they were too blurry to make out.

Brown scale (?) on the Kalanchoe x laetivirens

Today I also noticed some weirdness on the Kalanchoe x laetivirens (Mother of Thousands). I have had this species for YEARS and never had any issues… I may just remove the leaf…

 

If the Kalanchoe luciae gets bugs I would never notice. Their stems are white and chalky which look like a bad infestation of bugs…

 

As I walked past the sliding door in the dining room, I noticed Simba was taking a snooze in one of the chairs on the back deck. Well, he saw me and came to the door. I wanted to get a photo of him, then we had company… The cats aren’t too happy with me lately. Dad always fed Friskies cat food then we switched to Kit and Kaboodle. They seemed to be OK with it at first and what they didn’t eat the raccoons and opossums would finish. Last year I was given a bag of Purina Complete that a friend’s cat wouldn’t eat. Normally, they buy small bags but they had bought a larger bag which must have lost its ZIP so they gave it to me for my cats. They thought it was AWESOME! So, I started buying Purina Complete. Cat food has been something the Dollar General has been having issues keeping stocked since COVID. I have no idea what cat food has to do with COVID, but that was their excuse several months ago. Anyway, I brought home another bag of Kit and Kaboodle last week and the cats weren’t at all happy. They looked at me like “what is this?”

The above photo shows Simba and Little Bit talking over the issue and Suzie walked over to have a look. Suzie told Simba and Little Bit that wasn’t their pan.

 

A few days later I bought another bag of Purina Complete and mixed the two together. They would pick out the Purina and leave the Kit and Kaboodle… I moved the feed pans and Simba decided to check “his” pan. He doesn’t eat with Suzie and Barn Cat but he shares his pan with Little Bit and the younger tom cat. The younger tom cat didn’t show up today…

 

He said, “oh, what the heck…”

 

Old Barn Cat decided to come and see what was going on…

 

The Barn Cats gets pretty friendly when she is hungry or is hoping for a treat… I could never touch Barn Cat for years until one day she just decided to get friendly. She is always eager for table scraps which the cats don’t normally get… Her and Suzie are very old…

 

Suzie decided she needed a drink…

 

Barn Cat decided she would nibble a little since there was a little Purina in the pan…

 

She really isn’t hungry, though… Probably just bored and waiting for better food.

 

Getting a good photo of Little Bit is very difficult because she won’t stop moving. She likes a lot of attention sometimes.

 

Jade prefers the solitude on the front porch and doesn’t like the drama from the other cats. She gets along OK with Little Bit and the younger black tomcat. She thinks Simba is a bully and I am not sure what she thinks about Barn Cat and Suzie. She doesn’t want to talk about them and just gives me a blank look when they come around. Sometimes she will be on the side porch waiting to come inside and they will come when I open the door…

Well, I better get off here. A friend had his gall bladder removed today and I have to his farm for a little bit. Something about a few chickens got out and I have to put them back in the chicken house…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be thankful and GET DIRTY if you can…

HAPPY NEW YEAR! SNOW!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. We had a lot of wind and rain during the night then it started getting quiet. I could still hear a few drops hitting the vent in the restroom (attached to my bedroom) off and on. I gt up and went to the kitchen maybe at 5 AM and I looked outside and could tell the rain had frozen and it was “S-ing” just a little but it was very fine.

 

It was a good thing I bought bird food yesterday and filled the feeders… I hadn’t seen many birds until this morning. Even a Tufted Titmouse made an appearance but she wouldn’t sit still long enough to get a photo.

You know I am not a big “S” fan, but I have to admit it looks pretty neat stuck to the ice on the branches.

Jade wanted outside, so I opened the front door so she could go on the porch. She poked her head out then changed her mind. Later on, she decided to go out for a spell but she didn’t get off of the porch…

I hope we all have a much better 2021. We have had our ups and downs during 2020 with COVID and the election ordeal, but hopefully, soon they will both be behind us so we can move forward with a brighter future…

Until next time be safe, stay well, stay positive, and always be thankful.

 

Eleven On Sunday-This and That

Stellaria media (Common Chickweed)

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. This was supposed to be a Six On Saturday post but it turned out to be an Eleven On Sunday. Here it is November 29 and another year is almost gone. Most of the perennials have gone dormant while a few are still not quite ready. A few Fall wildflowers are now growing as well. Saturday, when I took these photos, was nice and sunny at 54° F but I am afraid it isn’t going to stay that way. Sunday the high will be 48° with a low of 25 but Monday… A high of 39 with a low of 18° F. Hmmm… IN NOVEMBER! I have to put a sticky note on my computer to remind me to cover the Phlomis… OH, yeah, the Phlomis

I walked around the house to see what I could find. As I mentioned, some of the wildflowers that come up in the fall are up and running…

The above photo is one I am not sure how many would call a wildflower. Chickweed (Stellaria media) is NORMALLY a pain in the neck but it is OK growing in the beds over the winter. But you know what? I must be getting senile because it normally comes up in the spring. I suppose it has always come up in the Fall and I just really never paid much attention to it. You have to admit it does look nice and green. 🙂

I walked around the house and didn’t see anything too interesting to photograph. The Celosia argentea (var. spicata) ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ went completely wild this summer and is now dead. I didn’t have time to thin the thousands of seedlings when they came up this spring so they just took over the south bed. If much of anything else survived I will be surprised.

Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum (Elephant Garlic).

Of course, the Elephant Garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) survived and is growing nicely in several areas in the south bed. This is great stuff!

Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’.

The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ (Jerusalem Sage) has been weird since I moved it from the southwest corner bed to the southeast corner bed. It has NOT been its robust self which I don’t quite understand. I am finding out it is more cold tolerant than I thought because I haven’t covered it all fall and we have had several “F’s”. Don’t make me say that word… It hasn’t flowered for several years but I like it anyway because of its HUGE, somewhat fuzzy leaves. Well, it hasn’t had HUGE, fuzzy leaves since I moved it either. Maybe if I don’t baby this winter it will get with the program in 2021. Well, that won’t happen because after I cover it on Monday with the big pot next to it I am likely to forget to remove it. OH, I guess the sticky note will remind me to uncover it as well. 🙂

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears).

I was kind of surprised to see the Lamb’s Ears (Stachys byzantina) still growing. It died last summer then amazingly came up a couple of feet from where it was. Here is, all green and fuzzy and hanging in there.

Malva sylvestris (Meadow Mallow)

HMMMM… I found this plant at Wagler’s, I think in 2018, that was unlabeled and not flowering. It looked like a Hollyhock in a way, but it reminded me more of the plants that were growing in the bed at church. You know, Malva sylvestris…. Anyway, Mrs. Wagler said it was a miniature Hollyhock. So, when I got home, I looked up Miniature Hollyhock online and it was NOT what was in the pot. At least, I hoped not. Luckily, once they flowered it did turn out to be Malva sylvestris. Since it wasn’t labeled, I don’t know for sure but their flowers look similar to the cultivar ‘Zebrina’. A week or so after it started flowering, I was walking around taking photos and the plant had been shredded by some kind of caterpillars. I know that’s what did it because some were still on the plant’s stems. There were no leaves left. Well, it completely died… Amazingly, they came back up again in the spring from seed but once again they disappeared. When I was taking photos on Saturday, low and behold, there was this clump with flowers…

Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle)

The Lamium purpureum (Dead Nettle) by the back porch has been enjoying the spring-like days. I am not 100% sure this is Lamium purpureum since a few Lamium amplexicaule (Henbit) grow in this area, too. 95% sure… 🙂

Malva neglecta (Common Mallow).

The native Malva neglecta (Common Mallow) that grows along the east side of the house (especially around the AC) is still growing a little and flowering. I just let them grow here because not much else will. It is an area with fill dirt and just not a place I can decide what to do with. Yeah, one of “those spots”. It’s like an itch I can’t reach…

Then I went to the other yard…

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree Cholla)

The Tree Cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata) looked a little hungover when I took this photo. I think it is worn out from guarding its territory from the invading Sedum spurium ‘John Creech’. Excuse me, I mean Phediumis spurius ‘John Creech’… I think it is contemplating putting up a border wall… 🙂

Then to the chicken house…

Equisetum hyemale (Horsetail)

OH MY GOODNESS! I did something wrong a few years ago when I let the Horsetail Equisetum hyemale) out of their pot. I dug a few of these plants out of a yard when I lived in Mississippi and kept them in a pot while I was there. Even after I came back here I left them in the pot until 2014 when I got the brilliant idea to plant them in front of the chicken house. I knew what could happen, but honestly, I never saw this plant where it has been allowed to do its thing. If I had, I may have left them in the yard I took them or at least left them in pots. I admit I think the Horsetail is a great plant and I am happy to have it here because I do think it looks neat. The area in front of the chicken house is somewhat of a problem area and they grow great here. The biggest problem is that they are coming up as far as 20′ away… Equisetum is the single surviving genus of a class of primitive vascular plants that dates back to the mid-Devonian period (350 + million years ago).

Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) next to the chicken house.

I love Yarrow but I haven’t found its sweet spot here. A friend of mine in Mississippi gave me the start of this old Achillea millefolium cultivar from a HUGE colony in her back yard. She yanked them up by the handfuls like she was really eager to get rid of some. They grow like mad down there in the south, but not so here because I have neem somewhat reluctant to let them have their way. I think they know that because they always creep their way to a sunnier spot. It has really been fun to watch them do this and I am sure if they could they would just pick up and move. One clump has actually adapted to the shade in the north bed but it sends rhizomes out 3-4 feet away. The clump by the chicken house is moving around the corner to get more sun and is finding the Chinese Elm very annoying. They have a nice surge of growth late in the summer and through the Fall and it isn’t until it gets very cold that they completely disappear. Once spring gets close, they start sending up leaves to see if the coast is clear.

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’.

This spring took several Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) to the church instead of going to the greenhouse to buy more plants. The Veronica and Dracaena came up from last year so they didn’t have to be replaced. For some reason, the Rudbeckia in the right side of the bed is still flowering but on the left side they aren’t. The bed here hasn’t been flowering for a very long time either… Nature is a wonderful mystery sometimes.

I think I am finished with this post. I have no idea what I will write about next… I do know I need to do a lot of updating on the pages. I am sure there are several name changes I have to update.

I have a question… I write about a photo (under the photo) and I always add a space between what I wrote and the next photo. Lately, I have not been adding a space. Does it still make sense or do you like the separation between the words and the next photo better?

So, what do you want me to post about? Politics. LOL!!!!!! Religion? I don’t think either would be a good idea.

OK, now I am finished. Until next time, be safe, stay well, and stay positive.

Are You SERIOUS? “S” on October 26?!?!

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I got up this morning and went to make my morning coffee as always. I looked out the window over the sink and saw this! I thought… Well, I was so shocked I don’t even remember what my first thought was. Maybe I was blank. Maybe I thought I was still not awake and I was having a nightmare. Maybe I went back to bed to try to wake up. But no, I was awake. Wide awake… It was really happening…

I don’t ever remember it “S’ing” this early here in my life. Not that “S” is a memorable thing, but one this early… It did “S” here on Thanksgiving in 2007, though. I don’t really know much about what happened from 1987-2013 because I wasn’t here. I have seen a few flakes early but you couldn’t really tell if it was “you know what”. It would be like one every 30 seconds to a minute. But not in October. Well, it is almost November, but still… I am never ready for winter anyway.

 

I went to feed the cats on the back porch and it was snowing there, too. Only two cats were present… The thermometer on the wall said 30° F. It wasn’t snowing that much, just a steady flurry. It had rained off and on during the night, but I certainly wasn’t expecting this. I hadn’t looked at the weather forecast for a few days but maybe I should have.

 

I opened the front door and there was “S” there, too!

 

The leaves are still on the trees… Jade normally wants to go outside but she was not even coming to the door…

 

We only had a light “F” on October 15, which is normal, so I hadn’t even cut down the Cannas or dug the Colocasia rhizomes…

 

The grass is still green, there are green leaves on a lot of the trees and shrubs. The Buick is normally in the garage but I have been cleaning it up and working on making it more organized. I had bought a new shelf to clean up the corner by the door. I wanted to put stuff on the shelf like gas cans, sprayers, etc. that have always been on the floor. That project was started on October 1, but a missing part delayed the whole operation…

 

The Alocasia watch on with discouragement. They were hoping for warmer temps so they could go back outside for a few days more. Their spot in the basement is ready but they really don’t want to go down there yet. The coffee table in the living room is also full of plants…

 

The cactus in front of the sliding door are not too happy about it “S’ing” so soon either. But they are glad they are inside instead of out in it.

I had plans today to finish the new shelf in the garage and start working on the new plant shelves. GEEZ!!! The part for the shelf in the garage finally arrived. I had called the company about the missing part and the lady said I would get it in 5-7 days. Well, it didn’t come. SO, I got on the company website and sent them an email. The next day I had a reply and I was once again told the part would arrive in 5-7 days. It was shipped promptly and they sent a tracking number. This time, it did arrive. Apparently, the person I talked to over the phone screwed up somewhere and the part didn’t get ordered.

I have been working on the Fall 2020 updates and am almost finished with #3. It will probably be finished today despite the interruption…

The extended forecast says it will be 54° F on Friday and 61 on Saturday and sunny…

How is the weather in your neck of the woods? As I am finishing this post, it is still “S’ing” a little. At least for the moment…

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, and so on. I am at a loss for words at the moment!

 

Jade’s New Bed

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. First I want to say I managed to get all the plants inside yesterday since an “F” was in the forecast. I photographed all the cactus and succulents, and a few others. I measured most of the cactus and a few of the succulents like I usually do to compare their progress with the year before. Before I went to bed I looked outside and it was frosty as predicted. At 3:30 AM I checked the temp and it was 34° F. I was glad I moved the plants inside.

Anyway, I bought a new flannel quilt from a seller on Etsy because my old quilt was falling apart. Jade thinks she always has to be where I am and likes laying on my bed. My computer is in the bedroom so it kind of doubles as an office so naturally she wants to be in there with me. I could normally get her to lay on the end of the bed as long as I had a newspaper for her to lay on. I don’t get it with the newspaper, but that was OK. At least it keeps her hair off the bed for the most part. The problem was after I put on the new blanket she wanted to lay next to the pillow. So, I started closing the door so she couldn’t get in the bedroom but then I could tell she felt neglected. She would paw at the door and meow wanting in and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want her in the bedroom.

I told her I would buy a bed for her so today I picked one up at Petsmart. I brought it home and she would have nothing to do with it. When I returned from the grocery store this evening she didn’t meet me at the door like she usually does. I walked around to the living room and she was in her new bed smiling. 🙂

 

This is my new flannel quilt just in time for cooler temps. Completely hand made and hand quilted.

I will be working on the cactus and succulent updates and will take several posts as usual.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well, and give thanks!

 

Trying Out Orange Glazed Chicken Thighs From In Dianes Kitchen

Orange Glazed Chicken Thighs. Recipe from In Dianes Kitchen.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. While I was reading a few posts from other bloggers I ran across one of Diane’s newest posts about Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. Then, I saw her recipe Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. While looking at that one, I saw her recipe titled Orange Glazed Chicken Thighs. Well, I must say that one caught my eye.

I must admit I didn’t do a whole lot of cooking over the summer because I was busy outside until it became too dark to see. By then it was almost 9 PM. Then, as it started getting dark earlier, I wanted to start cooking regular meals again but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat. It was similar to having writer’s block only I had a cooking block.

I decided I would give Diane’s recipe a try. Now, for those of you who don’t follow In Dianes Kitchen, I suggest you head over to her blog and see what she has been up to. If you are bored with the same old thing, I am sure there is a recipe on her site that will catch your eye.

 

YUMMYLICIOUS!

I am not going to write down the recipe because you can find it on Diane’s blog. It is very easy to prepare and I think you will like it. The only thing I changed was substituting chopped onions for the green onions. I didn’t see any point in buying a bunch of green opinions when the recipe only calls for four. I already had onions… On, and I used thighs with the bones and skin while her recipe calls for boneless skinless thighs.

Along with the Oranged Glazed Chicken Thighs, I had green beans, sweet corn, and okra which I cooked in the steamer. They are all from the garden…

The ‘Jing Orange’ Okra is delicious, by the way. It is unique to most other okra I have grown. The plants are fairly short compared to the other varieties I have grown. Some believe red okra more tender than green varieties after the pods get fairly long. Personally, I think when it is hot and the pods are growing very fast (GEEZ) the pods of any variety are fairly tender up to about 6″. Okra grows the fastest when the temps are hot but slow down as the temps cool. When the growth of the pods slows down, they seem to become tougher at a smaller size. At least that is what I am finding out. When it was hotter, even the 6″ or longer pods were very tender and seemed to get that big after 1-2 days. Well, that’s the way with most okra and you have to pick them every day. The ‘Jing Orange’ pods seemed to have smaller seeds, even when longer, until their growth rate slowed down. Their flavor is great and they didn’t seem as gooey as some. Well, they are still somewhat gooey but seem more solid. I have no idea how to really explain it… Maybe my taste buds are out of whack, but they seemed to taste like vanilla ice cream. It was like eating creamy warm ice cream that didn’t melt. 🙂 PLEASE don’t quote me on that. I will say I can neither confirm nor deny. 🙂

I have been working on another post for a week so I better get it finished. We had a warm spell, but now the wind has picked up and the temps are going to drop again. Soon, an “F” will be in the forecast and I will have to bring the potted plants inside for the winter. That means I will need to photograph and measure all the cactus and some of the succulents like I always do this time of the year. They like it because I am giving them some attention after being neglected all summer.

SO, until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well, and GET DIRTY if you can.

To Use The Classic Editor…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well, maybe even better than before. Shortly after I wrote the last post I figured out what I need to do to do to get to the classic editor. Even though I had sent an email to support I didn’t check it until today and man was it long. Things had only changed a little and all I had to do was pay attention to what had changed. But, after you have been doing the same thing the same way for so long you don’t always notice one small, little detail…

Your dashboard may not even look like this. When I first started blogging in 2009 then moved and started a new blog in 2013 the dashboard looked similar to this. Then, when I started the current blog in January 2017 it was all different and blue… I got on a chat with support and they gave me a link to what I was used to. This is just part of the page and there are more features below the Feedback. If your dashboard looks different, I think you have to type https://yourblogname.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ and it will take you to this style dashboard.

 

Scroll down to “Posts” and click or click on “All Posts”… DO NOT CLICK ON “ADD NEW” OR IT WILL TAKE YOU THE NEW EDITOR.

 

After clicking you will see “Add New” with an arrow next to it. This is the small detail I had previously missed…

 

When you click on the arrow you are given the choice to click on “Block Editor” or “Classic Editor”.

 

There it is… The Classic Editor. Without having to upgrade to the business plan.

Thank goodness WordPress is meeting the needs of its seasoned bloggers and allowing us a choice instead of making us learn to use the new editor.

Ummm… The green dot is from Grammarly and not part of WordPress.

So, that’s how it works. I am working on a new post and all is well. Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be well and you know the rest…

IT WORKS! New Watermelon Test!

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. I went to Jay Wagler’s a few days ago since he grew a lot of watermelons as part of his business. We talked and laughed about the many ways people have to tell if watermelons are ripe. He laughed when I told him, “Yeah, but none of them work for ‘Black Diamond’. He said one of his neighbors grew ‘Black Diamond’ last year and he said they were really tough. He wasn’t sure, but he thought maybe he didn’t even get a ripe one. Then he gave me the way he used to tell if a watermelon is really ripe…

Making videos is kind of new for me so sometimes I forget what I intend to say. When he said to press down on the top of the watermelon, I asked him what if you press too hard. He got a laugh out of that but it is kind of like the scratch test. How hard do you scratch? The older a melon is the harder you have to scratch it, but it still leaves a mark. So, how hard do you press on a watermelon? Well, here’s the thing I forgot to mention since I had already found out the watermelon was ripe on Friday morning. This video was taken Friday evening and it didn’t make a sound then because it already did it that morning… The first two melons I pressed down on didn’t make a sound but the third one did. It didn’t hardly take any pressure at all. In fact, I was very surprised that I barely had to press down on it. I pushed harder on one because it didn’t make a sound, and when it did I think it was the inside of the rind that split instead of the flesh inside.

 

If you have grown watermelons before you may know I exaggerated somewhat when I sampled the melon and said how good it was. Truthfully, when you pick a watermelon and it has been in the hot sun all day it doesn’t taste all that great. That’s why when watermelon growers pick melons they let them sit in a cool place or in the shade so they will cool off. Once this watermelon was in the refrigerator overnight it was much sweeter.

‘Black Diamond’ is an heirloom variety with sweet pink flesh and is known for being called the king of the watermelons. At this moment I have to honestly say I have had much sweeter watermelons. This particular one weighed 26 pounds and I picked another one later that weighed 28. I gave half of this one to a friend and the bigger one to the neighbors across the street. The biggest one in the patch didn’t make a sound yet…

I made another video today to try and find one that would make the sound while recording. I walked around the entire patch pushing on melons and didn’t hear anything. It was very windy so maybe I just didn’t hear it. That would not be good because they may not do it the second time.

Linda, who has a blog titled “Life On A Colorado Farm”, said in a previous post’s comment how her grandfather taught her how to tell if a watermelon is ripe.“He taught me to hold the melon against my stomach and pat it. If the water sounds and feels like a rock skipping across a lake…the melon is good to eat!” Well, I couldn’t quite get that or even picture it in my head.  So, I asked her a little more about it . She replied, “Pick up the melon, try not to tear the vine, hold the melon close to your body on your stomach. Pat the melon sharply several times. If you can feel the water in the melon moving through the melon like ripples then it is ready to eat.” SO, I tried that with one of the ripe melons after I had picked it and you can actually feel the water in the melon vibrating… So, I guess I need to try that with one on the vine that isn’t ripe to see what it does. She said he taught her that trick when she was 8 or 9 and she is still using it. Linda has a great blog about her and her husband’s life on their Colorado farm (obviously). Thanks for the tip, Linda!

That’s it for this post! Until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well and GET DIRTY if you can.

90 Days And 38 Pounds And Breaking Rules…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. So, how many rules can a ‘Black Diamond’ Watermelon break?

DAYS TO MATURITY

Hmmm… Information online says says “Black Diamond’s’ reach maturity from90-95 days. OK, so maybe I don’t know exactly when they came up but I know they were a few inches tall on June 7 because I have a photo to prove it…

SCRATCH TEST

Well, no one ever said how hard to scratch…

 

YELLOW/WHITE BELLY

Well… It has only been light green, and tonight it was kind of dark and I thought it was more yellow. One of the bigger melons like this one has a white belly, however, I know it isn’t as old as this one. The flower didn’t make a melon for a couple of weeks after the one here. Besides that, there are smaller melons with white and yellow bellies and they can’t possibly be ready.

DRIED TENDRILS

HA! Information online says when the tendrils are brown they are as ripe as they will get BUT… For some, including the ‘Black Diamond’, that could signal when they are beginning to ripen. The tendrils opposite the stems where the watermelons are attached have been brown for weeks and most of them have completely fallen off. One thing for sure, there is a lot of difference  and days between “ripe” and “beginning to ripen.”

WHAT ELSE?

A few days ago I was talking to this older guy at a store in town about the watermelons. He said, “Don’t you know how to tell if a watermelon is ripe?” I gave him a list and he gave me a rather disgusted look almost as if I were an idiot. He said, “When the end of it turns brown or black it is ripe.” He further said you can also tell by thumping on it. Well, for his information I have been thumping on watermelons all my life. Well, maybe not all my life… I had to learn how to walk first. OK, so maybe we can add that one to the rules.

THUMP TEST

Now, after watching everyone thump on watermelons since I was a kid, I always figured it was just the right thing to do. Tonight, I even thumped on the one that was rotting and it sounded like an old flat tire or maybe my stomach when I have eaten too much. Well, so did the one I just cut, and the bigger melons all sound like an old flat tire… When I actually get a ripe melon I will remember what it sounds like.

 

BLACK OR BROWN END

Wait until I see George! He will ask “Was it black?” I will say, “You said black OR brown. What if it is black and brown?”

SO, WHAT HAPPENED?

I call my friend with the scale again and asked if I could borrow it. She said, “You didn’t?” My reply was, “NO, but I am going to.” SO, I went out and did it and darn near dropped it on way to the water hydrant. I washed it off and my pants almost fell down by the time I got it inside the house. I put it on a towel and went to get the scales. For the life of me I can’t find my own. It’s amazing how things aren’t where they always were since my son was here. It has always been in the cabinet in the main bathroom… I know he used it before because I saw him do it… I would ask him what he did with it but he has been gone for a while and I haven’t heard from him in several weeks.

SO, I waited for 90 days. I have spent weeks of thumping, scratching, and checking the bottoms on several of the watermelons WAITING impatiently. Well, as you know, I wasn’t patient the first time. Last week I picked one that had a few holes in the bottom and was starting to rot. It weighed 23 pounds and wasn’t ripe either. Then, there was a smaller one whos stem turned brown and fell off. I cut it open and it wasn’t ripe… One small melon literally exploded and I saw another one tonight that had rotted. Both of those weighed maybe 10 pounds and had just somehow turned to yellow mush inside.

A lot of the vines are starting to die now because it is just that time. The vines and stems attached to the watermelons, besides that one, are still green even though there may be no leaves on the vines. With no leaves, many of the watermelons are turning yellow on top from the sun.

 

This particular melon has been a shiny dark green from the beginning while most of them have a bluish-green color with a chalky appearance. This one also has a lot of lumps…

SOOOO, what did it look like on the inside?

Hmmm… They always say practice makes perfect but I am not sure if this is progress or not. The one with the holes in the bottom was riper than this one… 38 pounds, almost 18″ long, and about 38″ around. Even though it isn’t ripe I had a few bites. It was sweet and juicy but definitely not quite there…

But, I will learn. By the time I get a ripe watermelon, I will know…  With the cool temps and rain we have been having off and on, I hope they don’t rot before they ripen.

I put the other watermelons on the porch before I took them to the chickens the next day. I found out butterflies like watermelon… Later on, I spotted a hummingbird taking interest but I never saw it eat.  Somehow a few very large holes appeared.

Well, that’s it for this one. Until next time, take care, be safe, stay positive, and do your best to GET DIRTY!

 

Going With The Flow?

Hmmm…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds everyone well. We have had several days where it has been pretty hot. I had a little setback last Monday which put many things to a screeching halt and left me a little bewildered.

I had been working part-time but getting paid well. It required a lot of driving and for that, I was using a friend’s pickup. Well, last Monday I was traveling on a back road a was in an accident. I approached an intersection where there were no stop signs and weeds growing up so tall and right down to the road I couldn’t see if anything was coming on the left. I slowed down and proceeded only to be hit after about halfway through the intersection. The guy in the other vehicle had the same problem with not being able to see me. The road he was on had also been freshly graded which hampered his ability to stop. Luckily, we had both slowed down because of the intersection and not being able to see. He hit me in the driver’s side door. Since it is an extended cab, both doors were moved inward. I managed to get the door open but now it won’t latch. I guess I should have gotten out the other side instead of forcing it open, huh? Anyway, luckily there were no injuries and it could have been much worse if we had have been driving faster. Normally, there is hardly ever any traffic on the back roads but we both just happened to be there at the same time. So, I spent over a week getting dad’s 1996 Buick Century ready to drive, insured, and licensed. It runs well in town and you wouldn’t notice it had some issues on the highway. On rare occasions, I drove it out of town it would sputter and act crazy when picking up speed. So, I gave it new spark plugs and plug wires and now it runs much better… I hadn’t driven it for a while because I was using my friend’s pickup. I hadn’t been insured for a while which the old insurance company didn’t like very well. Not to mention the fact my license had been suspended for back child support, which I thought was straightened out with this new job. Unfortunately, to my surprise, it hadn’t been. Here I had been driving around with a suspended license. Fortunately, when the accident happened, we just exchanged insurance information and didn’t call the sheriff. When the insurance companies called neither one even asked about our driver’s license… One other reason I couldn’t get insurance with the old insurance company I had was that the driver of the other vehicle had insurance with them. I actually didn’t know my license was still suspended until I tried to get insurance. Anyway, I went to one insurance company to get the Buick insured and they wanted over $80 per month. I thought “HOLY CRAP!” Then, once I received the letter in the mail stating my license was good to go, I went to another insurance agency and they quoted me $156 for six months. WHEW! WHAT A DIFFERENCE! SOOOOO, it took me from Monday last week until Wednesday this week to get everything straightened out so I could get the Buick’s new license. Now I am told I will have to work out of the area and possibly stay at motels in order to continue working… Still only temporary… Finding a job at my age hasn’t been easy… I have not been “employed” for five years…

OK, so there are a lot of changes being made in so many areas. It makes one wonder what is going to happen next. A while back Facebook came out with a new version they wanted everyone to try out. I tried it out for a few minutes and didn’t like it so I switched back to the original. They have updated off an on over the years, but the basic “look” was barely changed and easily adapted to. Then last week, the popup covered almost the entire screen and it basically said we “had” to try it and get used to it because soon we would have no choice. So, I had no choice but to try it AGAIN. I basically only use Facebook to send messages to friends and family. At that time, I got on FB to message a friend but I couldn’t even find my friends list. After a few minutes of insanity, I found out how to switch back to the classic look. Last night, I again got on FB and the same darn popup was starring me right in the face AGAIN. You can’t just X out of it, you have to “try it”. Then, you have to go to your account settings to switch back to classic. I have been a FB member since 2007 and although changes have been made, it has always been similar and easy to navigate. I don’t use Messenger and I don’t have a cell phone.

Another website I use frequently changed their appearance but you could switch back to the old way. Then they asked why you switched back. They must have gotten a lot of bad reviews because now it is back to normal. They did make some good changes which is better for people using cell phones and tablets. Ummm, I only use a desktop computer (for now) and I don’t have a cell phone or tablet… Hmmm…

Now, I have been hearing a lot about WordPress bloggers having to use the new editor. When I started blogging again in 2017, everything had changed. I couldn’t find the old dashboard I was used to so I got on chat with support. They sent me a link so I could use the old version which I am still using even with this post. A few months I was prompted to try the “new block editor”. So, I did and after a few minutes, I deleted the post and went back to the old way. I understand updates have to be made for many reasons but when “seasoned” bloggers are used to writing and uploading photos a certain way we don’t like to change. It works perfectly fine the way it is. Now, if you want a little more pizzaz, you can choose from many themes. I have been blogging since 2009 and I have been using the same old way since I started. Updates have been made but they haven’t affected me at all. There have been moments I have had issues, but they have been because of my computer’s operating system updates. I had been using the Premium membership with WordPress for many years but then, because of a lack of funds, had to go back to the free WordPress. Fortunately, last week I was able to purchase the Personal membership. Nothing changed in appearance and everything is working the same as usual. It would have been the same even if I had purchased the Premium membership. The best thing is no ads on my blog now. The other thing is that I was using 93% of my space on the free membership which made me leery about adding a lot more pages and photos. I was told by support I could start seeing “things” disappear. Hmmm… SO, I upgraded and now I am using 46% of the space allowed. The reason I don’t like ads on my posts is because I have no control over where they are stuck. I checked before and they were randomly placed here and there interfering in the post. I didn’t like it but I couldn’t complain… Besides, with a free blog, I couldn’t chat with anyone to give my opinion. LOL!

I am confused somewhat why so many things are updating, upgrading, or whatever you want to call it. Why can’t they be made without changing the way sites look and work? Of course, we like new features that are helpful, but we don’t like having to deal with learning how to make things work. We all know barely anything lasts forever and has to e replaced like coffee pots, cars, lawnmowers, trimmers, clothes, etc. Sometimes we have to get newer computers because the old ones we have used for years are no longer upgradable. When we buy a new appliance we have no choice but to learn how to use it.

My 4 cup Mr. Coffee pot decided to die a few weeks ago. I went to get a new one and it was $17.00 at Wal-Mart. I paid less than $10 for the old one and I didn’t feel like paying $17 for a new one. SO, I got out the old percolator and used it for a while. When my son was here he had a nice fancy Keurig which I didn’t use. Oddly enough, he used my coffee pot more than the Kruig. Before he came here, he had lived with his mom for a while. I thought it was weird that he complained about her hiding her coffee pot in her bedroom so he couldn’t use it. He said, “why would I use her coffee pot when I have a Keurig?” Well, why did he use my coffee pot more than his Keurig? He is the one that even dug out the old percolator from the basement in the first place. He has been gone for a while, but I still had the old pot in the kitchen so I just started using it when the Mr. Coffee quit. Somewhere, the one we replaced it with is still here but I can’t find it… The coffee pot I used in Mississippi is also here somewhere but I can’t find it either… Maybe I got rid of them but can’t remember… I don’t think so… My memory is still fine. 🙂

ANYWAY, when was at Wal-Mart a few days ago I decided I could afford a new coffee pot. I still didn’t want to spend $17 for a 4-cup coffee pot nor did I want their cheaper Mainstays version. I don’t like cheaply made products and would rather do without than waste my money. I remember the days when I had an awesome Bunn coffee pot but I certainly didn’t want to spend that much for only a couple of cups of coffee per day. So, I looked around and there were less expensive Keurigs but I still didn’t want to pay $60 for a pot. SO, I opted for a less expensive Faberware that does the same thing. Well, that may have been a bit impractical because I paid more than a new Mr. Coffee would have cost me. I had a couple of pods laying around from somewhere that I tried out. Settings let you select either a 6, 8, 10, 12, or 14-ounce cup. You can also select if you are using a K-Cup or ground coffee and they have a gizmo for each one. I use a 12-ounce insulated cup for it to pour in and I think it would overflow if I selected 14-ounce. Then I add a little addictive creamer to an 8-ounce cup and pour my coffee into it. It is still a little strong but the creamer helps with that. This morning I used grounds and I will have to tweak that a little. It makes coffee stronger than the old pot and percolator, so I can actually use less coffee. This is not a complicated change and it works very well. I get my coffee in much less time.

I really want another cappuccino machine. I had one of those in Mississippi, too. The machine was in Suzanne’s stuff she had for the store, but I brought it home after she passed. A friend of mine there used to work in a coffee shop so he showed me how to use it. I wore it out after a few years… It was AWESOME!!! I had my own version of a white mocha latte.

Some things that upgrade I like. I like the new TV’s and I like new vehicles. I like the convenience and anything that helps us make our life better. I don’t like it when gadgets don’t work properly or fall apart. I always believed if you want something to last you have to pay the price. That I have done and basically do without until I can afford quality. I would love a new Ventrac with several attachments but that will have to wait until I get my lottery check.

COVID-19

My thoughts about COVID-19 are not that great. While I don’ think it is a joke like so many do around here.

Having to wear a mask when I was working was a pain in the neck but it was required. It itches, fogs up my glasses, and falls down when I talk. BUT, I think it is something necessary that should be done, especially in crowded places. I was in a larger community about 40 miles away one day and needed o go to Wal-Mart before I left. I decided not to go because that area had A LOT more positive cases than where I live or even where the Wal-Mart is I normally shop at. While working, I have stopped at a few convenience stores in different communities. Rural communities, where testing has not been done, seem to have a careless attitude toward the virus and no one wears masks except for store employees. In bigger communities, most customers are also wearing masks. Here in my home town, 99% of the people in stores and restaurants do not wear masks. While it is true we have only had maybe three people test positive it is likely because not many people have been tested. Supposedly, the clinic in town tests everyone that comes in and they have not reported any cases. The first case we had was an elderly lady that had been moved to the nursing home from another area. After a few days, she tested positive and was moved out. Another man tested positive after returning home from traveling. Another person, maybe his wife, also tested positive.

I watched a video on FB that is titled “THE FIRST COUNTRY TO WIN AGAINST COVID-19?” The guy was talking about Taiwan for the most part. Taiwan is a country with a population of 23,823,665 that has only tested 86,826 people. If they tested more I think they would have a different story. The United States has administered 79,472,486 tests and has a population of 331,309,290. Hmmm… I think someone screwed up when they decided to test so many people. It makes us look bad compared to countries like Taiwan. It was a good video, though, and shows the importance of wearing masks when in public. I think it is probably a good measure especially when you are around a lot of people not wearing them…

Now, I think we have all been pretty much exposed to the virus and a lot of us are positive or have antibodies indicating we had it and got over it. I had this weird cold or something that I mentioned a few posts ago. It is getting better now since my new supplements from Nature’s Sunshine arrived earlier this week. I stopped using nasal spray as soon as I started taking the pills. No cold/allergy medicine I had taken for three weeks helped one lick except to reduce the feverish feeling I would sometimes get. I started using the nasal spray in January because I was not allowed to take my elderberry supplements (because I was scheduled to have kidney stone surgery). The problem with cold medicine is that it took a while to feel better after taking it and then when it would wear off I wouldn’t feel so good again. With the supplements, I don’t have that rise and fall. My sinuses are now draining well and I am feeling better but it may take a while to feel as well as before. I didn’t go to the doctor for several reasons. One is that I am not a prescription drug taker. I know sometimes we have no choice or don’t think we do, but I am a believer in herbal and holistic medicine. Nature’s Sunshine has been a brand I have used for MANY years and I have always felt the difference when using their products. Many other brands I have tried don’t work that well.

I decided I would also try a vitamin supplement because I am getting, umm, older and I don’t always eat well. Even though the supplement has 500 mg of Vitamin C, I am still taking 500 mg from the bottle I had before.

You never know. Maybe I have COVID! What would happen if I got tested? Would I be quarantined? Sent to a facility somewhere? Who would take care of the chickens, cats, my plants, and the garden? What about the watermelons that are about to ripen? I have waited so long for a ripe one!

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT INCONVENIENT UPGRADES… 

The problem with upgrades is that we can’t get an upgrade ourselves. We should be able to own a gizmo we can step into or lay down on like a tanning bed. We get in and get out and look and feel 20-30 years younger. Not that I am old, or even feel old, I am just “looking” older. This is where I think god screwed up. Notice I use “g” instead of ‘G”. I know about the Sumerian tablets (etc.) and have a different opinion about our creation than what the bible teaches… Hmmm… And to think I am an elder at the church I attend…

HMMM… I JUST DELETED ABOUT 1,000 WORDS…

 THEN ANOTHER 1,000!

WELL, over the past four years I have done a lot of research and have my own opinion. One that I am not quite ready to share. I am quite sure my opinions and beliefs are the same as a lot of others but none of us want anyone else to know what we think. That is why we have so many issues on this planet. I have a lot to talk about but I am not sure how to go about it…

OK, I think I should wind this post up for now. I have several others in the works I can finish now before I get behind and they become old news…

I did get some new plants in the mail from a cactus and succulent farm I have to write about. Well, that was part of the deal I think even though it wasn’t directly stated. 🙂 Well, you know what I think about the industry’s misnaming of plants and their website is no exception. I will have to have some “rules” in place if I am going to help promote the company. The plants are great, though!

SO, until next time, be safe, stay positive, always be thankful, embrace life, stay well, and so on. GET DIRTY when you can and take a deep breath of fresh air!

 

 

Garden Update And Okra Leaf Removal (VIDEOS)

Okra ‘Jing Orange’ on Sunday, August 16, 2020.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well and you enjoyed your weekend. I have been wanting to do a few videos because I seem to get behind writing posts. I take a lot of photos and then don’t have time to write the post. This morning I took quite a few photos then I needed to finish mowing the yard. After that, I needed to work on the Okra and plant the second row of snap peas where the fava beans were earlier.

Okra ‘Jing Orange’ after pruning a few leaves.

I have planted several varieties of Okra since 2009 but this year I planted ‘Jing Orange’. I like experimenting and there are probably several hundred varieties of Okra. When I lived in Mississippi Okra was popular so I had no problems giving it away to friends and neighbors. Here it isn’t as popular so I freeze a lot of it. I like it steamed and fried but you can use it in a variety of recipes.

When I lived in Mississippi I became acquainted with an older gentleman by the name of Mr. Step. I forgot his first name… Anyway, I went to visit him one day in his HUGE garden and he was in his Okra patch with his pocket knife whacking off the leaves. He said, “You have to chop off the leaves to get “R” to em.” What he meant was they need good air circulation to produce well so you have to remove the big leaves. So, I have been doing that each year and they have done very well. Probably better than I needed.

I made a few videos about the okra, tomatoes, and watermelons but you can’t just upload to WordPress. SOOOOOO, so I created another YouTube channel. GEEZ!!! Of course, it is called The Belmont Rooster. 🙂 I actually need something a little different because it takes a VERY LONG TIME to upload a good-sized video. I just took the videos with my camera but I may need a video camera.

 

 

The first one is longer and it took HOURS to upload. I am pretty new to doing videos but we’ll see where this leads… There is some way you make the size of the videos smaller. Hmmm… That’s not quite what I want to say. You go to some settings and change the size somehow, kind of like when you change the size of photos so they will upload faster. I’ll figure it out somehow. 🙂

Well, I better close for now and think about going to bed…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. I hope you have a great and blessed week. Get dirty if you can and take a big breath of fresh air.

Standing The Corn Up AGAIN…

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. In the last post I mentioned the storm. Well, it came and I made it to the house only getting a little wet. That was about 3:30. Then the wind picked up and we got a pretty good soaking. While it was raining and blowing I was thinking I would have to stand the corn back up. Since I cut the trees down in the old foundation I can see the garden from the porch. The first time I looked the corn seemed OK but the storm wasn’t over. Once the soil gets wet the corn is likely to blow over even though it is hilled more and the roots are bigger and stronger than before. Corn stalks blow over just like big trees. After the storm was almost over I looked out the door again. Well, it did look much better than before, but still, some blew over.

I know I mentioned it before, but the corn is planted in two sections each with four double rows. ‘Peaches and Cream’ in the first section and ‘Incredible’ in the second.

At 7:30, the rain was pretty much over and it was just barely sprinkling so I went to have a look. The worse part was the ‘Peaches and Cream’ in the same spot as before. This is where I found the moles had an old tunnel under the corn… There seems to be NO new mole activity in the garden because of the mole repeller (which I still need to write a post about).

 

The north side didn’t look too bad… This is the end of the rows of ‘Incredible. Some of the more spindly stalks still want to lean…

 

The ‘Incredible’ stood up much better and only part of it was leaning. There were a few stalks at the beginning of the ‘Incredible’ in the last row that blew over…  From this view, you are looking at the northeast corner of the corn, which is the end of the fourth row.

I am very thankful after four hours rain and wind it didn’t look much worse. The wind wasn’t so bad most of the time which was a good thing. I didn’t want to get right in and start standing it up because the corn was all wet and the soil was soaked. It wasn’t going to start curving during the night anway so I waited until the next morning…

 

Standing the corn back up after it is tall is not a job you can do with a hoe. I DID NOT take usethe tool I did the last time. I pretty much always work on my knees anyway and that little gizmo on the right is my tool of choice. It has to be the absolute handiest garden tool ever. You can hoe with it, make rows. cultivate, dig holes, and even give something a good whack. 🙂 I found this tool in Suzanne’s (Dr. Skinner) stuff when I was in Mississippi in 2008 and I have been using it every since. When I showed it to dad before he said he had one in the garage. I checked it is also from Publishers Clearing House which I have not used. The hand trowel is from Clarington Forge that I bought in 2009. I bought my first one like it from Smith and Hawkin in 1981 and used it until 2007 when I, ummm… (another story). Anyway, it was a Bulldog which was made at the Clarington Forge. At one point, the name was changed to Record, which was synonymous with Bulldog then the name the company started using was Clarington Forge. Now,  the company is using the name Bulldog again, but for Canada and the U.S., you will be prompted to use ClaringtonForge.com. I do miss my Bulldog spade, fork, and hoe which I mentioned before. Ummm, in the last post about standing up the corn I believe. LOL! Well, I need something with grit! Something that when you pick it up tells you it can handle anything… Just the name Bulldog says they are ready and capable. GEEZ! Maybe I need to be an affiliate!

 

This morning the corn in the third row didn’t miraculously stand back up and neither did any of the rest of it…

 

I was finished after an hour and now we are ready for the next time.

I know, I know, I said the next post would be about the watermelons but that was before the storm (which was in the forecast at the time). I kind of ignored the forecast on purpose because last week nothing happened… The clouds blew right over and we didn’t get a drop. So, I wasn’t sure and didn’t want to seem anxious for rain. I did take more photos of the watermelon patch which I will use on the next post. Hmmm… Maybe you aren’t going to trust that now. 🙂

Anyway, until next time, hopefully this evening or tomorrow, be safe, stay well, be positive and GET dirty somewhere in there.

 

 

 

Homo neglectus Part 2: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. All is well here… Well, kind of. When I went to bed the weather forecast said there was a 30% chance of rain. It said “less than one-tenth of an inch possible with higher amounts during thunderstorms.” Well, early in the morning the wind started blowing and it started pouring. I thought, “GEEZ! The corn will blow over.” Then I went to sleep after not being able to sleep all night. Sure enough, it did as you can see from the Wordless Wednesday photo… Anyway, I started this Homo neglectus Part 2, so I will finish it then write about the sweet corn blowing over.

The original shade bed is doing well as always but the lilac bush next to it some trimming. To the left of this bed is a concrete slab where a metal storage shed was many years ago. The slab gets covered with weeds, Carolina Creeper, and small trees that come up in the cracks. It is a yearly task cleaning it off. I have an idea to tie some pallets together and make a compost pile on the slab…

The corner shade bed, as I call it, is looking great as well. The Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ (left) is flowering but ‘Krossa Regal’ (right) hasn’t started. The Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’, in the front, is doing good and already flowered.

Ummm… I know it looks like a mess, but this newest addition to the shade garden is doing fine. It just needs some weeding. Being next to the old goldfish pool there is A LOT of mosquitos to deal with when weeding. Sometimes if I am very quiet it takes them a while to know I am there. 🙂

With the mole repeller in the garden, the moles have returned the area next to the shade bed and in the yard in front f the chicken house. GEEZ! When I was mowing I saw one of those dirt piles is not from a mole. It has a good-sized hole. DOUBLE GEEZ!

I have almost completely gotten rid of the poison ivy that was growing in and around the shade bed but this one still lingers.

As I was walking by the old bird feeder I noticed ther was some grass in it. Hmmm… It appears Mr. Wren thought a female might like a nest inside but so far no takers. He completely ignores the wren house and so does the females that come… A few years ago a female was screaming at me and she kept going to the wren house but would not go inside. Then she would come back to where I was and scream some more. So, I went to have a look and there was a HUGE paper wasp nest blocking the entry. I cleaned it out and moved the house to the eve on the north side of the chicken house. I moved it because it was hanging next to the bird feeder and was pretty low. Apparently, she didn’t like my decision. Instead, she made a nest somewhere behind the chicken house… I really like House Wrens and they are certainly entertaining.

Now, let’s go to the south side of the house… In the “other yard”… Where the house is…

Baptisia australis cv. ?.

The Baptisia australis cv. ‘?’ (Wild Blue Indigo, False Indigo) at the southwest corner flowered very well this year and now has seed pods. This is the one I bought a few years ago that was supposed to be ‘Lunar Eclipse’ that turned out not to be… It has grown A LOT and seems to keep getting bigger every year. Good thing I moved the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ to the other corner… It is a hybrid, of course, so maybe a better caption would be Baptisia Hybrid cv. ‘?’. I AM SO CONFUSED!

South bed…

I am always a little embarrassed to show the south bed in this condition. So many of you have great looking flower beds and I wish my back yard and beds were so well kept. The Elephant Garlic has done very well this year but the wind had played havoc with them.

Celosia argentea ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ on 6-26-20, #714-8.

One of the main reasons I neglect the south bed so long is because I have to wait for the Celosia ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ seedlings to come up. I am not even going to write the species name because that will lead to venting. 🙂 I sent seeds to Raphael Goverts, Senior Content Editor of Kew (Royal Botanical Gardens-Kew, Plants of the World Online, ETC., ETC.) and was happy to see there are photos posted of them on Plants of the World Online. I am hoping whoever is in charge of plant names will start using infraspecific names (var., subsp. or whatever) instead of putting the many “types” in groups. Oh, crap. I still vented a bit…

Torilis arvensis/Torilis japonica (Hedge Parsley).

Someday I would like to be free of stick tights altogether. I do need better photos of the flowers, leaves, and stems of Torilis arvense (Common Hedge Parsley, Spreading Hedge Parsley, Field Hedge Parsley) or Torilis japonica (Common Hedge Parsley, Erect Hedge Parsley, Japanese Hedge Parsley) for correct ID. Not that it matters for such a pain in the neck to be correctly identified. Missouri Plants says Torilis arvensis is a synonym of Torilis japonica, and it may have been for a while. However, there is apparently an agreement they are separate and distinct species now… Most also seem to agree, depending on location probably, that Torilis arvensis is the most prevalent. SO, I suppose the ones here are likely T. arvensis… The problem with getting good photos is that I am always pulling them up. I did get some good photos for ID before they flowered from the pasture. They are actually a neat, ferny plant before they set seed… GEEZ!

Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar).

There are usually LOADS of Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar) seedlings to transplant along the front of the south bed but so far only this one came up. I didn’t even deadhead them last summer to keep hundreds of seedlings from coming up. I think the seeds are good for several years in the ground because I had them coming up in the old cast iron planter last yere where I didn’t have any plants for several years. Just think, with only one coming up this year, I could have lost it completely… These plants are another reason I don’t do anything with the south bed until its seedlings come up.

Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ on 6-26-20, #714-25.

The Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ is doing pretty good in its new location for the second year. It doesn’t seem to be mad at me anymore especially since I do try to keep the weeds from growing around it. It is one of my favorite perennials so it does get pampered for fear of losing it. I have had it since 2013…

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) on 6-26-20, #714-34.

The Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) completely died ate last summer so I was happy to see it return a little farther from where it was. That was a good surprise. I guess it didn’t like it to close to the wall of the basement steps or perhaps it didn’t like the Elephant Garlic next to it…

Hmmm…

OK, I am sorry the roses look like this. I know well-kept roses are beautiful but I am just not a fan. I took care of the beds for a lady in Mississippi, including her roses, so it isn’t like I don’t know how to manage them. I just despise the thorns. Mom liked roses and these came from Publisher’s Clearing House. GEEZ!!! When they came in 2014 or 15, before I convinced dad to stop fooling with PCH, he wanted me to plant them along the right side of the basement steps. Before, I had a Zinnia bed here. SOOOO… Since mom and dad have passed, guess what is going to happen here? In the next few weeks you will find out. 🙂 I kind of rate roses up there with Poison Ivy, getting stuck, flat tires, molehills, Japanese Beetles, and dead batteries. I am sure there are a few others that are fighting for number one on the list or maybe at least a space in the top ten. The list does fluctuate depending on the time of the year…

Alocasia on 6-26-20, #714-1.

TRIPLE, MAYBE QUADRUPLE GEEZ! I needed to do a lot of work and replant/repot the Alocasia before taking them to the area next to the shade bed. I always put them on the concrete slab around the barrel that covers the old well. SO, when I brought them from the basement (where they overwinter) I put them on the back porch. I have only got five pots finished… There are a few on the front porch, too. You can’t tell from this photo, but one of the Alocasia ‘Calidora’ is already almost over 8′ tall (including the pot).

Zantedeschia elliottiana (Golden Calla Lily) on 6-26-20, #714-38.

HOLY CRAP! The Japanese Beetles didn’t bother the Calla on the back porch last year but they found it this year already. They love the roses next to the porch. They like the Zantedeschia elliottiana but do not bother the Zantedeschia aethiopica next to it. I have had the Zantedeschia elliottiana for several years but somehow lost several bulbs over the winter. It was AWESOME last year!

Zantedeschia aethiopica (the white Calla) on 6-26-20, #714-39.

The Zantedeschia aethiopica went dormant in January in the house but I was hoping it wouldn’t. This is the Calla the owner of Wildwood Greenhouse gave me last June that he grew from seed. He said he couldn’t get them to grow or do anything. The plants were healthy but kind of droopy. They just grew to a point then stopped. So, I brought this pot home and repotted it in Miracle Grow Potting Soil and it continued to just sit there. Then, low and behold, in August they kind of perked up and started growing. They kept growing and getting taller even after I brought them inside. Then I think in January they started going dormant… I managed to keep the bulbs from rotting and they came back up again… There are many species of Calla native to different parts of Africa. Some are winter dormant and some are summer dormant because of their rainy seasons. Then there are the hybrids…

When you buy a pot of Calla that is beautiful and flowering they have been growing in a controlled environment. Trying to overwinter them so they will come up and flower is a bit tricky. Zantedeschia aethiopica is a species from South Africa that “can be” evergreen in the wild if they get enough rain… They can also flower in the spring, summer, and fall… Zantedeschia aethiopica can also be used along ponds (fish pools) so it seems to do well in moist conditions. I am just learning about this plant and I do love Calla!

Lavender and Rosemary on 6-26-20, #714-18.

I bought a pot of Lavender and Rosemary way back in, ummm, maybe April but I neglected to put them in the ground somewhere. One of those impulse buys from Wal-Mart. They were fine until we had a hot dry spell and I was busy in the garden and didn’t get them watered… I wonder if I can take them back to Wal-Mart and say I need a refund because they died. 🙂

Back of the house on 6-26-20, #714-4.

OK, so I need to do some trimming… The Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) is in the corner next to the AC. It is blooming up a storm right now and will do so all summer. The Malva neglecta (Common Mallow) has always been growing around the AC and along the foundation and is also now blooming. It thinks I like it so it does really good here. Hmmm… It’s basically a weed but I do suppose I like it for its lush foliage. The Persicaria virginiana (Virginia Knotweed) and Persicaria maculosa (Lady’s Thumb) also think I like it since I did a post about Persicaria last summer. GEEZ! I have news for them as well…

Canna bed.

I have to admit how I screwed up the Canna bed. The Cannas were getting so thick AGAIN it wasn’t funny. I decided not to mulch the bed last fall or even remove the old stalks after the “F”. I knew by doing that I may lose some of them but I thought that would be a good idea to thin them out. Unfortunately, now there are bare spots. What is weird, though, even without mulching the Colocasia esculenta survived the winter. Don’t ask me how that happened…

Colocasia ‘Distant Memory’ on 6-26-20, #714-10.

DOUBLE GEEZ! I managed to overwinter the Colocasia ‘Distant Memory’ rhizome and I knew it also had an offset. I kept the rhizomes separate over the winter but they kind of got mixed up when I got ready to plant them. So, I panted both the larger rhizome and what I thought was its offset together. Well, apparently the offset I planted was a Colocasia esculenta so now I have to dig it up and relocate it. Most of the photos on this post were taken on June 26 and I noticed today the Colocasia esculenta has GROWN A LOT since the above photo was taken. I need to move it ASAP!!!

Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ on 6-26-20, #714-29.

I was very surprised the Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ returned this spring because I have problems with perennials overwintering in this spot. The Conoclinum coelestinum (Hardy Ageratum) used to reseed here every year but apparently didn’t approve of me putting other plants here and fizzled out. There a couple of plants came up on the other side of the steps but I accidentally pulled one up. GEEZ!

Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ on 6-26-20, #714-9.

I attempted to overwinter the Colocasia ‘Coffee Cups’ from last year but was unsuccessful. I was glad Muddy Creek Greenhouse had more this spring.

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ on 6-26-20, #714-15.

The Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ just keeps getting bigger. The clump is now 32″ tall x 60″ wide and the flower stem is 52″ tall. Not bad, huh? The Astilbe x arendsii ‘Fanal’ thinks I screwed up and planted it to close. Hmmm… It is right so I have to move it somewhat next spring. It doesn’t mind being planted next to royalty, but as with some of the elite, they can be a bit pushy.

Forsythia…

I couldn’t stand it anymore so I gave the Forsythia a good haircut. It went from an afro to a crew cut…

The north bed has been weird… I will get rid of those trees ASAP and dab the stems with Tordon so maybe they will stop coming up. I put four Colocasia esculenta rhizomes in the bed and only one has come up and did well. The others are STILL in the sprouting phase. That never happened before and they always do so great here. I still have several I haven’t planted so I think I will just line them all up here. GEEZ AGAIN!

Now that we had 2″ of rain, and maybe still more to come, I need to mow. The garden is to wet and I have to see how much of the corn stands back up on its own… I did a post in 2017 about corn standing back up and only had 13 views. The post was titled How Does Corn Stand Back Up. There were 7 views in 2018 and 185 in 2019. A few weeks ago I noticed the post was getting a lot of views so I checked and it has got 327 views so far in 2020, 207 in June alone. LOL! SO, I think I will write a new post about the corn since it blew over so bad… The reason I hilled up the corn apparently has nothing to do keeping it from falling over. There are multiple reasons… I will write a new post about the corn and maybe be a little more entertaining and explain the reason for hilling, removing the suckers, and so on. Last night I noticed there were aphids on the tassels of two stalks and, of course, the ants farming them. There were also Ladybugs feeding on the aphids. 🙂

So, until next time… Be safe, stay positive, stay well, and always be thankful. Take care and GET DIRTY!

Homo neglectus Part 1: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all doing very well and beginning to enjoy the heat of the summer. There are many ways we can enjoy the heat like under a shade tree, in front of or under a fan, or in a recliner in the AC. You don’t have to be outside in the heat to enjoy it. I find taking a nap under a ceiling fan in the afternoon a good idea. Then, I get up about 6 PM and go outside and work until about 9. By then a few mosquitos have found me so I go inside.

This may be a weird post showing the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not going to sugar coat anything because with me, what you see is what you get. The flower beds have been neglected a little more than usual because I have been spending a lot of time in the garden. That is slowing down somewhat now because we haven’t had much rain to make the weeds and grass keep coming up. I can till and weed and just watch the garden grow. We did have 6/10″ on Friday and a little more Saturday so that will sure help. The forcast has 30-40% chance of rain every day all week. It says each day less than one-tenth of an inch with more possible during thunderstorms. Hmmm… Well, this time of the year, 30-40% means a very slight chance. It may thunder and lightning and the wind may blow but there may be no rain at all.

 

I have finished hilling most of the corn (I think I said that before). Not having to work in the garden has allowed me time for other projects… This past week I cut down the trees inside of the basement. They were getting so tall I couldn’t see the garden from the house. It looks much better now.

 

The front steps and old entryway were covered with grapevines and Carolina Creeper. I had been cutting down a few maples and white mulberry trees from the old entryway for several years. I bought a product Tordon RTU from the feed store I have been using on all the trees and grapevines I have been cutting down and it keeps them from coming back. I don’t like using chemicals but enough is enough…

 

When I cleaned out the Iris bed on the north side of the steps I found grapevines, Carolina Creeper, Smilax tamnoides, elm, redbud, and maple trees, and maybe a few other unnecessary intruders. Hard to imagine so much stuff in one small space.

 

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant).

The southeast corner of the foundation is a BIG problem area and it always has been. When I lived here before this area was full of Bermuda Grass and used to grow all the way up to the top of the downspout. I dug it all up from the dining room to the corner of the back porch for a flower bed but the Bermuda Grass was very hard to control. I am still fighting it…

I thought this corner would be great for Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana) and it has worked very well here. It is a spreader and the colony gets bigger every year. I wanted it here but I don’t want it anywhere else and it softens the corner… The only problem with them is that their top leaves look like they are burnt or frostbit. I guess it is a common thing… I put one plant here in 2017 and it has spread very well but I wouldn’t want it in a flower bed.

 

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree Cholla), Phedimus spurius ‘John Creech’, Phedimus kamtschaticus ‘Variegata’, and Sempervivum ‘Killer’.

Hmmm… You can clearly see the Tree Cholla in this old cast iron planter (used to be part of a coal-burning furnace) but you have to look very close to see the Phedimus kamtschaticus ‘Variegata’ and Sempervivum ‘Killer’. The Phedimus spurius ‘John Creech’ is taking over so I need to remove it from the planter. It has its own area between the planter and the foundation…

 

Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree Cholla).

The Tree Cholla is doing great and promises it won’t bite when I start removing the intruder. I have had this cactus since 2017 and I am always hoping for flowers. Maybe next year…

 

Phedimus kamtschaticus.

The Phedimus kamtschaticus (Orange or Russian Stonecrop) is doing great and always has since I put it here in 2016. I think finally (hopefully) “those in charge” have agreed to call it Phedimus kamtschaticus instead of Sedum kamtschaticum. Several Phedimus/Sedum species have been flopping around between the two for a long time. It used to stand up in a nice tidy clump but since it started flowering a few years ago it wants to sprawl leaving a hole in the middle. A few years ago, when it was a Sedum, the Missouri Botanical Garden had a page for both Sedum kamtschaticum and Sedum kamtschaticum var. ellacombianum. They said the latter was similar but had larger leaves. Since the Phedimus name is now accepted, the variety is now Phedumis ellacombeanus once again like it was named in 1995… Phedimus kamtschaticum is a native of Russia and Phedimus ellacombeanus is a native of Korea and Japan. It seemed this clump had larger leaves before it started sprawling so I wondered which it was. I am pretty sure it is Phedimus kamtschaticus now. Dave’s Garden still doesn’t have a pronunciation for Phedimus, but kamtschaticus is pronounced kam-SHAY-ti-kus. I guess we just have to redneck the Phedimus part which I do a lot of anyway. 🙂 Maybe FEED-ah-mus. How about FEED-A-mouse?

 

Echinacea purpurea cv. ? on 6-26-20, #714-12.

The Echinacea purpurea cv. ? (Purple Coneflower) is doing great. They have done so well I put a couple of clumps in the center of the bed at church. I have a clump in the southeast corner bed next to the house as well.

 

GEEZ! I cleaned off the ivy from what used to be an enclosed back porch, steps, and patio area. In the 1980’s I moved the Japanese Spirea from the front of the house to this area between the back porch and basement steps. When I returned in 2013 I saw it was still here and also in the front iris bed. I am not sure how many times I have cut trees out of this area not to mention the ivy… There was no ivy here in the 1980’s… I put the peony here a few years ago I dug up from next to my grandpa and grandma Miller’s tombstone. Now I have to remove this ivy and trees again. I already cut down several redbud trees…

Redbud trees are a pain when you cut them down. They keep growing and are hard to get rid of. I have one by the street I keep battling but the one behind the house never sprouted after I cut it down. According to the almanac, there are certain days that are best to do this and that. I wonder if sometimes I get the time right by accident. If that is true, it would be great to be able to cut the ivy out and not have it come back. 🙂 Hmmm… I am not going to count on that one…

 

The bed at the northeast corner of the old foundation has always been a favorite spot. Back in the early 1980’s this was where I made my first shade bed. With no house here now there is no shade. You can see it in this photo, but there were a lot of iris coming up along the north side of the foundation in 2013. Dad said he had been mowing them off for years and they just kept coming up. SO, I moved them to the corner of this bed and the colony has gotten HUGE now. He brought home some rhubarb and horseradish from a friend so I put them here as well. I have grown marigolds in this bed but a few years ago I moved the Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’/’Goldstrum’ from the north bed by the house to this location. They approved and have really spread. I haven’t gotten the old stems from last year all removed yet. Normally, there is also a big colony of native Rudbeckia hirta (?) in the front of this bed but late last summer they got some kind of mildew or something and didn’t return this year. I am not sure if they were Rudbeckia hirta or a different species of Black-Eyed/Brown-Eyed Susan. There are several species, varieties, and subspecies that are native to Missouri that I haven’t been able to tell apart. There are several in the south bed by the house that are a later flowering species that have no mildew issues.

 

As I was taking photos, I noticed Japanese Beetles were chewing (and mating) on the rhubarb. Yesterday I put a new attractant on one of the traps which is hanging next to the shade bed…

I will finish this post now and move on to Homo neglectus Part 2. But, before I go, I want to show you something…

 

Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas Fern) on 6-26-20, #714-27.

I was cleaning out the smartweed in the north bed by the house a few days ago and ran across this fern. I think it is Polystichum acrostichoides also known as the Christmas Fern. It has never been here before so I was very surprised.

And one more thing… I think I made a new friend in the garden.

 

Anaxyrus americanus (American Toad).

After I took the photos for this post and part 2 and maybe 3, I went to work hilling up more of the sweet corn. I was on my hands and knees moving dirt with my hands when I felt something squishy. I guess I squeezed it too hard thinking it was a clod of dirt and it made a noise. It turned out to be a big fat toad.

 

I sat him on the dirt next to a stalk of corn and petted him and apologized for squeezing him. There are a lot of baby toads this year which is great. They eat a lot of bugs, spiders, and even slugs. The color of this guy is a bit strange for an Anaxyrus americanus or even the other similar species. They are supposed to be browner and have a light central stripe running down their back. I am going to have to pay closer attention… He had been sleeping under the soil where it was cool and damp so maybe his color had changed somewhat. Then I scared the crap out of him and he just sat there like he was in shock. 🙂

That is it for this Homo neglectus Part 1. I will get started on part 2 right away.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!

June 22 Garden Update & Tomato Trellising

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The garden continues to do well and the sweet corn is still weird. We finally received 1 2/10″ of rain from Friday afternoon and overnight. I came back home Friday afternoon from helping a friend and it had been raining a little off and on. The rain gauge said 2/10″ of an inch at the time… I took a nap then went to the garden around 6:30 and saw a lot of the taller corn had blown over so I had to stand it back up. I had watered on Thursday so the ground was was fairly wet. While I was at it I removed the suckers from more of the corn and hilled it up pretty good as I went. During the night another storm came in and the wind blew a lot. I thought surely the corn would blow over again but it didn’t. There was a total of 1 2/10″ in the rain gauge.

OH, earlier in the week I bought a new hose because I couldn’t get inside the garden with the 150′ I had. I needed to water the smaller corn and what I had transplanted and I was using a watering can… Anyway, a friend told me he had a lot of extra hose so he gave me 100′. Then another friend also gave me 50′. All of it is very good heavy hose so I took back what I had bought. Now I have enough to get into the garden and replace the old hose that is about shot. I can use the old hose on the faucet behind the house or the last 50′ from a friend. Either way, I can definitely stop using the weird expanding hose dad bought from Publisher’s Clearing House.

 

I had already removed the suckers and hilled some of the corn but not all. The reason I hadn’t hilled it all yet was because some of the corn was still very small… As I mentioned in a previous post, the seeder did not plant very well the first time so I replanted what didn’t come up. Then the moles ate a lot of that even with the mole repeller in the center of the garden. SO, I replanted again and moved the mole gizmo between the two sections of corn. That time the moles didn’t seem to bother it. Maybe the mole repeller doesn’t work well in tilled soil… Hmmm…  Believe it or not, there is not that much difference in age between the tallest corn and she shortest. The first planting grew quickly and the last planting very slow because of lack of moisture.

Ummm… I know what dad would say… I didn’t get an almanac and plant by the sign. He always said if you plant in the sign it will grow whether it rains or not. I just don’t like it because the corn is next to the street where everyone can see it. 🙂

 

‘Incredible’ from the north side. I always like growing sweet corn probably because it is one of my favorite vegetables. But, as always, there are a few hiccups along the way by the time it is harvested. I knew there will be mole issues and wind that will blow it over (more than once or twice) because it always happens. Despite the issues, it is well worth it…

 

I usually don’t have to worry that much about suckers but this year has been terrible. I have never had corn sucker so much before. Half of the corn is ‘Incredible’ and the other half is ‘Peaches and Cream’. I have grown ‘Incredible for several years but this is the first time I have planted ‘Peaches and Cream’ unless it was MANY years ago (early 1980’s).

 

Now, that is the way it should all look… Well, perhaps the stalks are a little close together for the “experts” but if your soil is AWESOME I think it is OK to plant a little close. Sometimes 2-3 seeds came out together and they all came up and looked good. I have to choose which ones to thin out and sometimes I may leave two if they are big and growing well. Most of the time that happens one will be bigger than the other and the smaller one should be removed. Truthfully, our corn has been much closer without thinning or suckering and we had such a bumper crop it lasted me four years in the freezer.

From now on I am going to plant the corn without using the seeder. Even though information suggests to plant 2-3 seeds (per hill) 3-4 inches apart and then thin to one plant 10-12″ (or 8-10″). Experience is the best teacher and I think planting 2-3 seeds 2-4″ apart and thinning is a complete waste of seed and plants (and energy). BUT, you do need to remove the suckers from your corn. Suckers take energy from the main stalk that needs to be used to produce corn.

I was going to write a post about seeders but that time kind of past. Most seeders have the seed plate that fits vertically on the side of the hopper with a series of holes in it. There is a small cup that scoops up the seed and as the wheel turns it comes to a hole where the seed falls out. MOST all seeders available are exactly alike except one that I know of. Hoss Tools make one where the seed plate sits horizontally at the bottom of the hopper so the seed can’t fall out. They make wheel hoes and a variety of attachments that are very well made. They are a bit pricey but well worth the money if you have a lot of planting to do. They also offer other tools, garden seeds, supplies for drip irrigation, pest control, fertilizer, and food preservation.

 

The remaining two “clumps” of asparagus has done really well this year and expanded very nicely. I had a HUGE bed in Mississippi and brought all the crowns with me but most died out over a few years. GEEZ! I love asparagus!

 

The ‘Sugar Ann’ Snap Peas are doing very good and are beginning to flower.

 

The kale has really taken off this past week as well. I bought new seed from the Green Street Market in Clinton but I don’t know what kind I bought. I told the owner I wanted kale seed and she put a scoop or two on an envelope and didn’t write down what kind it was. I had leftover ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Dwarf Blue’ from 2017 so I mixed them all together. I later found a package of ‘Siberian’ from 2016 which I didn’t use…

 

The ‘Broad Windsor’ Fava Beans also started flowering this week and are looking great.

 

The ‘Black Diamond’ Watermelons have also taken off this past week. I gave them plenty of space but I know they will eventually take most of the garden. One year I planted white sweet potatoes and they took the garden. They were great though! I thought about ordering some bush sweet potatoes but I didn’t…

Now for the tomatoes…

I managed to get all the tomato plants mulched with old hay this past week. They are all doing GREAT. I experimented with my own version of trellising in 2017 so I did it again this year. I put a steel fence post next to each plant and run balers twine along the top of each post. You only have to tie it to the first and last post and wrap it around the others. Get it as tight as you can… Unless it is very (VERY) old it won’t break. I always use a level when I am setting the posts because a something that isn’t straight drives me NUTS. They used to call it being a perfectionist now they say it is OCD. LOL! If I had OCD I wouldn’t be living on a 40-acre farm.

People who enjoy growing their own tomatoes typically have their favorite cultivars and their own particular way of growing them. There is plenty of good advice online when it comes to growing tomatoes. Some people use Epsom Salt on their tomatoes for a variety of reasons and I thought I might try it. But, I found out Epsom Salt is magnesium and sulfur and unless your soil is deficient in those micronutrients it doesn’t really help. Some say it prevents blossom end rot but that isn’t true either. Too much magnesium inhibits the proper uptake of calcium and one cause of blossom end rot is the inability for the plants to absorb enough calcium. Another cause is fluctuations in soil moisture which is one reason I added the mulch…

 

It seems once the tomatoes form their first set of branches you have to be on your toes. This is where the plants fork out and form two branches. Once the two branches get big enough, I tie a piece of twine on the post for each branch.

Some information says you need to remove the suckers and leaves below this fork. I remove the suckers but leave the leaves until they turn yellow.

 

Once I tie the twine to post I wrap it loosely around the branch once or twice, depending on how long the branch is, then I tie the other end to the twine running along the top of the posts. I tie it as perfectly in the middle as I can very tight and overlap the two so they won’t move around. You will also need space for tying up secondary branches between the post and center knots… You don’t need to make the twine holding the branches very tight. In fact, it is a good idea if it is fairly loose. It will tighten up as the branches get heavy and you may even have to loosen it up a bit.

Normally, I use jute twine to tie the tomatoes and wrap the branches but I ran out… I need more but I keep forgetting. I ripped some material into strips to tie the stems to the steel post and it may be an option to use it instead of the twine to wrap the branches. Balers twine and string can cut into the branches so you need to use something softer and thicker. Just experiment and watch for whatever you are tying and wrapping with to make sure it doesn’t get to tight as stems get thicker.

If I see the balers twine causing harm I will replace it with strips of material. Hmmm… I could use different colors for each plant or maybe for each variety. Well, since I don’t have a privacy fence I think I better rethink that. Trellising the tomatoes like this already makes some people think I am a bit whacky.

 

This photo shows a second fork on this ‘Goliath’. This is not a sucker… I will tie another piece of twine to the post at this point, wrap it around the branch, then tie the other end between the knot and the post at the top.

 

I bent a couple of electric fence posts to use on the ends. It works but they move around a bit. 🙂

 

It seems no matter how much time you spend with your tomatoes removing small suckers, there are always a few that. I noticed while taking photos I had missed several like this one. GEEZ!

Typically you want to remove suckers that form above the leaf nodes when they are very small for several reasons. You can just pinch them off easily with your fingers. Some information online says once suckers get bigger than the size of a pencil, removing them can cause damage to the plant. Well, folks, I didn’t read that until this year so I have been removing them at any size. I have noticed in the past removing large suckers has effected some of the plants, kind of like a shock. Once fruit starts growing and it gets very hot, removing large suckers can also remove leaves that are providing shade for the tomatoes. If you leave large suckers, just pinch off after the first or second leaf. You can also just remove tips of larger suckers and leave the larger leaves for shade. The other problem with missing larger suckers is that they will, sooner or later, flower and then you won’t want to remove them. Best to do it before that happens so it won’t keep you awake at night. 🙂

It is always best to remove any leaves once they start turning yellow, especially lower leaves. Any leaves or suckers that have been removed need to be taken from the area for disease control.

Many people I know never remove suckers from their plants and use tomato cages. They get along just fine and have LOADS of NICE tomatoes. I was brought up staking and pruning and kind of sort of learned from my dad. If I remember, he used to prune and leave one single stem but as he got older he didn’t worry about it.

 

‘Rutgers’

This ‘Rutgers’ plant has a cluster of tomatoes where the plant is forking then lots of flower clusters in the upper portion of the branches. The other two have smaller tomatoes than this one. They are more open growing and haven’t had that many suckers to deal with. Rutgers is an OLD variety and my dad used to grow them when I was a kid. I have three of these because there were only three in the pack and they are all growing exactly the same.

 

‘Goliath’… Hmmm… With a big sucker… 

I have grown ‘Goliath’ several times and I always like them. The plants have plenty of leaf cover for shade and the leaves get very long. They seem to form secondary branches very quickly and they sucker A LOT!

 

A cluster of tomatoes on a ‘Goliath’.

They produce fairly large and tasty tomatoes.

 

Tomatoes on a ‘Mortgage Lifter’.

The ‘Mortgage Lifter’ plants grow similar to ‘Goliath’ and produce LOTS of good leaf cover. Right now, this ‘Mortgage Lifter’ has more  and larger tomatoes than any other plant. There are five of this variety because one cell had two plants. It makes up for the one missing from the ‘Rutgers’ pack. I have grown this variety several times and they have always done well.

 

‘Cherokee Purple’

There are four ‘Cherokee Purple’ on the north end of the row. They are doing very good although they are MUCH smaller in comparison to the other varieties. I have not grown this variety before but I did grow ‘Black Krim’ in 2017. Very interesting and dad didn’t like them…

 

‘Cherokee Purple’

I noticed I need to loosen this plant up a little because a couple of tomatoes are tight up against the post.

I was thinking about trying ‘Pineapple’ also but I decided 16 plants was enough. I will have plenty to eat, maybe can, and give away. I grew over 20 plants in 2017 but a lot of the tomatoes were weird. ‘Celebrity’ and ‘Goliath’ were the best and best looking in 2017 but I didn’t find any ‘Celebrity’ this year.

 

I got up one morning and when I fed the cats on the back porch I noticed “something” or “someone” had dug up two packs of the okra on the plan table. HMMM… I planted the seed in the packs instead of the garden so the moles would not eat the seed and then that happened! GEEZ! So, I had to put the plants that were dug up back in the packs. I asked the cats who did that and they didn’t seem to have a clue. I have my suspicions, though… I moved the okra to the bedroom window. I planted 20 seeds and 19 came up. On plant started being weird and after the disaster, there are two more that are iffy.

 

I was a little hesitant to move the okra to the garden because a few storms were in the forecast. I decided to just transplant a few Saturday evening to see how they would do but then went ahead and did them all.

 

I have noticed a few Japanese Beetles here and there but Saturday there were A LOT on this American Elm sprout along the north side of the house. I didn’t notice them on American Elm last year but they strip the Chinese Elms. Then Sunday I saw several on the asparagus in the garden. They didn’t appear to be eating it but they were hanging out for sure. I still hve the traps from last year so I better clean them out and add new attractant. There are few things I really don’t like, and Japanese Beetles are close to the top of the list.

Last Sunday, the 14th, I went on a walk to the back of the farm and took quite a few photos. I even identified a few new species again. Anyway, I have been working on that post all week when I had the time and wasn’t too tired to focus. It still isn’t ready and I think it will be too long.

Now I better stop or I won’t get this one finished.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!

 

Sunday Update-Just Checking In

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. We had another storm on June 5, a month to the day since the last one. Like before, this one did quite a bit of damage in town with trees and limbs falling. Then another one popped in the next night. I didn’t have any major issues in the yard like last time and I didn’t go to the back of the farm to see if there was any damage this time. The grass in the hayfield is getting so tall and thick it is hard to walk through. We have more rain and thunderstorms in the forecast beginning Monday night after 10 PM. We’ll see if the forecast is right… At least 2-3 more inches coming.

I managed to get the garden tilled and pretty much weeded before the rain came because I knew it would be a few days before I could get in it again. After a couple of 90° F days the top has dried out pretty well.

 

Hmmm… Everything has managed to come up and do pretty well except the sweet corn. I hadn’t planted a garden since 2017, so I had forgotten the issue with planting sweet corn with the seeder. You have to angle it slightly so the seed won’t fall out of the hole. SO, I had to replant a lot of seed. The second planting didn’t do well because the moles ate a lot of that seed even though I had ut the mole repeller in the middle of the garden right from the start. SO, I planted the third time and put the mole repeller between the two sections of corn. The third time I think it all came up. I also transplanted some of the seedlings. The other reason I don’t like planting corn with the seeder is because it plants the seed, what does get planted, to close together. I could never figure out why you should plant 2-3 seeds a few inches apart and thin to one plant 10-12 inches apart. Why not just plant one seed 10-12 inches apart so you don’t have to thin? I did that in Mississippi and it worked fine. Next time I am not planting corn with the seeder unless I am fortunate enough to buy a Hoss Seeder. That would be AWESOME!

 

The ‘Black Diamond’ Watermelon seedlings are doing well. I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into a ripe, red, sweet, juicy watermelon!

 

The east side of the garden is doing good. On the right of this photo is the ‘Broad Windsor’ Fava Beans. I bought the seed in 2017 but didn’t plant it. I decided I would plant some of the seed to see if they would come up. YEP… Every seed I planted came up. I left room in that row for the Okra seed. The center row, about half, I planted kale. I bought new seed from the Green Street Market in Clinton even though I had two other varieties from before. I decided I would mix all the seeds together. It came up pretty well but we had a rain afterward and I think some of the seed got covered too deeply. The other half of the row is ‘Sugar Ann’ Snap Peas. It came up pretty well and is doing very good. Then the tomatoes… ‘Rutgers’, ‘Goliath, ‘Mortgage Lifter’, and ‘Cherokee Purple’. There is still a little short grass between the tomatoes I didn’t have time to remove yet. I did manage to get them staked. I had spent every evening in the garden until I could see. Then it rained… I plan on mulching the tomatoes with old hay.

 

With the mole issues in the garden, I decided I would plant the okra in 4-packs. I have wanted to try ‘Jing Orange’ for several years but they was always sold out before. I found a seller on Ebay so I bought a package of 10 seeds. Hmmm… When I opened the package there were 20 seeds so, I planted all of them. All but one have come up or sprouted… You just never know…

 

Deutzia scabra on 6-7-20.

The Deutzia scabra is flowering full swing again. I cut it way back a couple of years ago and it is almost as tall as before. It was 14′ tall…

 

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ on 6-7-20.

The Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ is STILL growing and now it has buds.

 

Amorphophallus sp. and Oxalis on 6-7-20, #708-1.

Hmmm… Last year I said I was going to remove and separate the two Amorphophallus in this pot and leave it for the Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae (False Shamrock). Well, as you can see that didn’t happen again (yet). Now there are a few Amporphallus offsets as well. A few springs ago 12 came up…

 

Amorphophallus sp. and Oxalis on 6-7-20, #708-2.

Hmmm… One of the Amorhphallus kids is going to be a joker. It said to take a photo of it with the flower to make you think it bloomed. I assured him my readers were smart enough not to fall for that…

 

Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae on 6-7-20, #708-11.

The Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae in this pot loves to bloom inside during the winter and outside in the summer. The salmon-pink flower is from the Oxalis tetraphylla.

 

Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross) on 6-7-20, #708-10.

The Oxalis tetraphylla (Iron Cross) had a few flowers when I brought it home but they have just about fizzled out. It does have several new clusters, though. My other pot of Oxalis tetraphylla didn’t come up so I had to bring home another…

Well, that’s all I have to talk about for now. Until next time, have a great week. Be safe, well, stay positive, and always be thankful. Don’t forget to GET DIRTY!

Not A Silent Sunday-May 15 Update on the 17th

Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ on 5-15-20.

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. I thought I would do an update about what is going on and growing. Friday afternoon I started pulling the chickweed out of the north bed, the south bed, and shade beds. I already did it in the bed behind the old foundation and corner bed but there is still plenty to be done… I have no “to-do list” because it changes with the weather.

I decided to walk around the house, go to the garden, then around the shade beds and take a few photos. The photos are in the way they were taken and not alphabetical order this time. The names of the plants are linked to take you to their page although they may not be updated with 2020 photos. I am a little behind but that’s OK since we are a continual work in progress…

The first photo is the Hosta ‘Empress Wu’. Information says it will reach maturity in five years and this will be its fourth summer. I haven’t measured it yet, but at maturity, the clump can grow to 4-5′ tall x 6-8′ wide. I moved it farther from the corner in 2018 to allow for that but I forgot something…

 

Astilbe x arendsii ‘Fanal’.

When I brought home the Astilbe x arendsii ‘Fanal’ in 2018 I planted it to close to the Hosta ‘Empress Wu’. The Astilbe has really spread out all by itself and I forgot to consider that as well. The other Astilbe, that I forgot to photograph, has always remained small and really should be moved. I would really like a bigger bed on the north side but I would have to build a bigger house.

 

Stellaria media (Chickweed).

I don’t know if you have to deal with Chickweed like I do, but I am beginning to despise the stuff… I know it is good for this and that but I could easily do without it. To make it worse, I just spread the seed when I pull it up. I can’t complain, though, because I guess it does protect the soil from erosion and other harder to pull weeds would be growing in its place. I could use a mulch to keep it from growing but that would also interfere with the…

 

Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill).

The Geranium sanguineum is on the move this spring. It has all but died out on the left side of the bed but is trying to regain ground more in the center of the bed. The north bed is actually a little wet for it and I think that is one of its problems. Dad didn’t realize it needs more sun and better drainage when he moved it from the bed behind the old foundation. It is a survivor, though, as it has been here since I first bought it from Bluestone Perennials and put in the bed behind my grandparent’s old house in the early 1980’s (when I lived there). I moved in 1987 and my parents moved their new manufactured home here in 1996. Then, a few years later, the old house was torn down… Now that mom and dad have passed I am here by myself. Well, not actually by myself. I have the darn cats, chickens, and plants…

Now, going around the house to the front porch…

A few of the plants on the front porch.

Hmmm… I moved them outside then back in again since we had a frost warning on, um, whatever day it was. Now they are back outside again because they were beginning to give me dirty looks. With this many plants in temporary housing in the living room, I was worried they might start a mutiny or something. I had to start sleeping with one eye open. Anyway, most of them made it through the winter very well. There are a few exceptions but some even grew and flowered for the first time.

Now to the south bed…

Baptisia australis ? cv ?.

The Baptisia australis ‘whatever you call it’ is starting to flower and is looking really good. If you remember this is the plant I bought that was supposed to be ‘Lunar Eclipse’ a few years ago as a first-year plant. As you may know, they flower their second year so I didn’t know it was labeled wrong. Probably the person who put the label in the pot didn’t know either. Anyway, even though it isn’t a ‘Lunar Eclipse’ it is still a nice plant…

I haven’t taken any photos of the Iris yet…

 

Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum (Elephant Garlic).

The Elephant Garlic is doing great as always in several spots in the south bed. My neighbor gave me a start when I lived in Mississippi so I have been growing it for around ten years. I really enjoy the flowers and it is great for cooking as well.

 

Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ on 5-15-20, #700-24.

The Salvia x sylvestris ‘Mainacht’ (‘May Night’) has been here in this spot since I planted it in 2014. The clump has barely gotten bigger for all these years. Then, when I was pulling up the Chickweed, I was surprised to see one had come up about 2 feet from the main clump. I have had some interesting conversations with this ‘Mainacht’, particularly about its size. I bought a large pot from the clearance rack at Lowe’s in 2012 when I was living at the mansion in Mississippi that was a much larger plant with larger leaves. This one, I bought at Lowe’s in 2014 when I moved back here and it has always been so much smaller. So, I question this plant about the issue and remind it that no matter what it is still AWESOME. The plant always tells me it is because of the Elephant Garlic invading its space and would like me to move it. I did remove the garlic once but I guess several bulbules were left behind because it continues to come up. I have said many times if some plants don’t like where they are they will move with or without your help… Apparently, ‘Mainacht’ has decided to take matters in its own hands and is showing me a thing or two. As you can tell, the new plant is much bigger and even already flowering. Hmmm…

I have grown MANY Salvia over the years and this one has survived where most of the others have failed. The Salvia nemorosa ‘New Dimensions Blue’ is barely hanging in there and I didn’t take its photo. Interestingly, it has the same issue with the Elephant Garlic in the other end of the bed.

I kind of upset the Phlomis ‘Edward Bowles’ because I didn’t take its photo this go around. I told him his photo has been taken more than any other perennial and right now he wasn’t doing anything exciting. I am also trying to encourage him to flower which would be well worth photographing…

So, let’s move around the corner to the back porch…

 

Most of the cactus collection on the back porch on 5-15-20, #700-4.

Most of the cactus collection are on this table on the back porch. There are a few on the front porch that seem to prefer less than full sun (at least for the moment). I only lost one cactus over the winter, the Echinopsis mirabilis, which flowered itself to death last summer. Man, that was AWESOME. If you missed it, click HERE for its page. I also lost the big Crassula tetragona (Miniature Pine Tree) so I brought home a new one from Wagler’s a few weeks ago. Strange how small they look in this photo.

On to the northeast corner bed by the steps kind of where we started. Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ is on the other side of the steps…

 

Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ on 5-15-20, #700-23.

Last spring I put three Salvia coerulea ‘Black and Blue’ in the northeast corner bed. They went berserk and I soon realized I only needed one. I was very surprised when they all three started coming up this spring because hardly anything I plant here ever comes up the second year. HMMM… I do not seem to have a page for this one…

Now, let’s head to “the other yard”.

Garden 2020.

I am thankful I was able to buy a new motor for dad’s old Troy Bilt tiller. The last time I had a garden was 2017. I didn’t plant one in 2018 because I canned plenty of green beans and froze a lot of sweet corn from 2017. I was going to plant a garden last year but when I started the tiller it threw a rod after about 15 minutes. It also needed new tires because they had dry rot pretty bad. One of them was so bad I had to take the air tank to the garden and keep airing the tire up. It was full of slime and it started oozing out and the tire would then cake with dirt. Dad got a kick out of it but I really didn’t think it was that funny at the time.

There is still plenty of jars of green beans so I didn’t plant any. I used to eat a lot of green beans but then I got burned out. Dad didn’t eat them either. The sweet corn in the freezer is almost gone now so I planted plenty… Four double rows about 50 feet long. I planted half Peaches and Cream bi-color and half Incredible. There are 16 tomato plants, kale (three varieties mixed together), Sugar Ann snap peas, Black Diamond watermelon, some old fava bean seeds (which I bought and didn’t plant in 2017). I still have to plant the okra but it needs to be warmer and stay that way with no rain in the forecast or the seeds will rot. I am going to try ‘Jing Orange’ this year. I like experimenting a lot, especially with okra and tomatoes. For tomatoes, I bought Goliath, Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, and Rutgers. There were no Celebrity which I had good luck with in 2017. When I was a kid dad always liked Rutgers then he switched to Beefsteak which I didn’t like. I prefer Goliath as a beefsteak type so far. I wanted some sweet pepper plants but I didn’t find any.

OH, I put the mole repeller in the middle of the garden because I have had issues with moles eating seed in the past. It did a wonderful job in the shade beds and kept the moles out, even within 40-60 feet all around it.

 

Dad and the Troy Built on April 23, 2015.

I had to include this photo of my dad next to the Troy Built Horse from April 23, 2015. He was 84 when I took the photo. He bought this Troy Built Horse new in 1978 after his brother bought one. He passed away in 2019 but his memories are still here. He would be very happy the tiller has a new motor, which is its third one, and two new tires.

I lost this pruner when I was working on the tomatoes in 2017. I knew where I lost it but I could never find it. Sometimes when you lose something you can’t find it no matter what. I finally had to stop looking and figured the Troy Built would find it eventually. Well, it did… After being without it all this time. This pruner was in Suzanne’s stuff in Mississippi and I found it in 2009. I really love it.

Now to the shade bed…

Hosta ‘Guacamole’.

Hosta has always been my favorite shade perennial and I started growing them in 1981 when I moved in my grandparent’s house after grandpa died in 1981. The Hosta ‘Guacamole’ is looking great. I brought this plant home in 2014 so this will be its 7th season.

The Iris you see behind the Hosta are some I had bought in the early 1980’s. Believe it or not, they have survived in this area even after being mowed off for MANY years. Since I came back in 2013 and started taking better care of them they have really multiplied.

 

Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’.

The Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ was a bright addition to the shade bed in 2018 and is looking very good. This Hosta was developed in 1980 and there are at least 55 registered sports from Hosta ’Sum and Substance’ and 38 cultivars with it as a parent.

 

Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’.

The Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ has always been a great performer and spreads very well. I bought it 2009, I think, while in Mississippi and brought it with me when I returned to the family farm in 2013. So, I have had this beauty as a companion for 12 seasons now… As usual, and for some strange reason, the deer sampled a few of its leaves again this spring. It is weird how they do that and never bother it or any other Hosta the rest of the summer…

Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ was registered by Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery with the American Hosta Society in 1995. It was selected as AHS convention plant also in 1995. It is the offspring of Hosta ‘Blue Umbrellas’ as the pollen parent and Hosta yingeri ‘Treasure Island’ as the pod parent.

Across from Hosta ‘Potomac Pride’ is a small area next to grandma’s old goldfish pool. I put a brick sidewalk around the pool in 1981 which I partially removed to dig a spot for the ailing Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ and the Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ in 2017.

Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’.

Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ has always been a favorite and I bought my first from Bluestone Perennials in 1981. This one is another Hosta I bought while iving at the mansion in Mississippi in 2009 and brought with me in 2013. We had some issues in 2016 so I moved it and it has done great since. This is an amazing cultivar that was registered in 1980 that has won numerous awards. It has over 23 registered sports. It’s most famous sport is Hosta ‘Regal Splendor’ which was registered in 1987 and became the American Hosta Growers Association Hosta of the Year in 2003.

 

Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’.

Put on your sunglasses because Hosta ‘Dancing Queen’ is a bright one! Even from a great distance, this Hosta stands out in the shade bed. I brought it home from Muddy Creek Greenhouse in 2017 and it was my first yellow/gold leaved Hosta. It is a 2005 introduction from Kent Terpening and Alttara Scheer. It is a cross between Hosta ’Split Personality’ as the seed parent and an unknown cultivar as the pollen parent.

 

Hosta ‘Blue Angel’.

Hmmm…. I had doubts this Hosta is actually Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ when I bought it from Mast’s Greenhouse in 2019 because that cultivar gets pretty good sized. This plant seemed to be a miniature because it has remained so small. When I was at Wagler’s a few weeks ago I noticed several pots labeled ‘Blue Angel’ which were also very small. I mentioned to Ruth I had bought this plant from Mast’s last year and it is so small compared to what ‘Ble Angel’ is supposed to be. She said when they bought the rhizomes the “Blue Angel’ were very small in comparison to the other cultivars. So, I suppose it is possible it is a Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ after all but it sure has some growing to do… Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ is supposed to eventually mature at 36″ tall x 48″ wide with 18″ x 12″ leaves… It certainly doesn’t look like photos online. Information online says it is one of the fastest growing of the blue Hosta and multiples more rapidly. Hmmm…

Also in 2017 I dug an area along the back of the goldfish pool and added several more Hosta Heuchera. Later I put some of the Iris from the other bed along the fish pool.

Hosta ‘Forbidden Fruit’.

Hosta ‘Forbidden Fruit’ is one of several Hosta I brought home when I made the second shade bed in this area in 2017. Hosta ‘Forbidden Fruit’ is a tetraploid form of Hosta ‘Orange Marmalade’ introduced by M. & J. Fransen with thicker leaves and wider margins. It was a weird grower at first but did very well in 2019.

 

Hosta ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’ on 5-15-20, #700-10.

If you are a Hosta collector you shouldn’t be without Hosta ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’. I really like its corrugated and severely puckered leaves which gives them the cup-shape. This cultivar originated by Dr. Charles Purtymun at Walden West Nursery in Oregon. He registered it in 1989 as a hybrid of H.‘Tokudama’ × H. ‘Sieboldiana’. Since its introduction, it has set the standard for all other cup-shaped Hosta.

 

Hosta ‘Whirlwind’ on 5-15-20, #700-20.

I found this Hosta ‘Whirlwind’ at Lowe’s in 2017 and have really enjoyed watching it grow. Its leaves are kind of twisted and they change color somewhat over the season. Not only did it win the AHS Benedict Garden Performance Medal in 2007, but it has also been given Royal Horticultural Societies Award of Garden Merit. Since its registration in 1989, 17 other Hosta cultivars have been registered from it.

 

Hosta ‘Red October’ on 5-15-20, #700-18.

I am very happy Hosta ‘Red October’ is once again doing so well. This is another Hosta I bought in 2009 while I was in Mississippi and brought with me in 2013. It was in the original bed where H. ‘Guacamole’ or ‘Sum and Substance’ are now. It had issues in the spring of 2018 and I found out moles had tunneled under it over the winter. I dug it up and moved two parts of it next to two elm trees then put them back together in 2019. Hopefully, it will do well in 2020.

This Hosta was introduced by Roy Herold in 1995, although I think it was discovered in 1988. It was registered by Kevin Walek on Mr. Herold’s behalf in 2009. It is regarded as one of the best red-stemmed Hosta available.

 

Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ on 5-15-20, #700-12.

The smallest of the Hosta in my collection is Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’. It was my first and only (so far) miniature Hosta. Hosta ‘Bue Mouse Ears’ has at least 24 registered sports and 2 seedlings where it is one of the parents. It is believed that another 28 cultivars have been registered from its sports. It is a MULTIPLE award winner.

Now for the Heuchera

Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’.

Sadly, Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ didn’t want its photo taken on the 15th because a lot of its leaves were missing. I think possibly I must have accidentally pulled them off when I was removing the chickweed. I decided I couldn’t do this post without a photo of it so I snuck up on it this morning and took a photo. Even though this photo was taken two days after the rest I put it in order where it should be (or would have been). I purchased Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ from Lowe’s in the spring of 2014 and put it in front of the Hosta bed. It had issues during 2016 so I moved it to the newly dug bed with the Hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ and ‘Dancing Queen’ in 2017. I also had issues with H. ‘Southern Comfort’ which I also moved to the same area but it decided to completely fizzle out. When I first wrote the page for Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’ information online said it was the most popular Heuchera for 20 years straight… It was the Perennial Plant Association’s Perennial of the Year in 2007.

 

Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ on 5-15-20, #700-8.

I bought this Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ from Lowe’s in 2017. It was introduced from Terra Nova in 2004 and is considered the “black standard”. Some websites say it is the darkest of any black-leaved Heuchera and the color holds up without fading. Information says this cultivar grows 8-10″ tall with flower stems to 24″ but that hasn’t happened. It is a great performer, though, even during the Japanese Beetle invasion when the bed turns from shade to part sun.

 

Heuchera ‘Venus’ on 5-15-20, #700-9.

The Heuchera ‘Venus’ is definitely a show stopper and it knows it. It is a very vigorous grower despite the conditions and gets quite large. The flower stems also get very tall. It is a great overall specimen and I am glad I brought it home in 2017.

 

Heuchera ‘Lime Rickey’ on 5-15-20, #700-7.

Heuchera ‘Lime Ricky’ is an awesome looking with bright chartreuse-green and ruffled leaves. It is on the smaller side and even its flowers are very dainty. It seemed to struggle somewhat earlier but it appears to have snapped out of it. It doesn’t seem to care for bright light and doesn’t like it when the Japanese Beetles eat the leaves off of the Chinese Elm that shades it…

Well, that’s it for this post. I better stop anyway of this post will get much bigger. I feel like I have written a book already.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, stay well, be thankful always, and GET DIRTY if you can.

 

 

 

Shhh… Is Anyone Looking?

Morchella esculenta (Yellow Morel) on… Hmmm…

Hello everyone. I hope this post finds you well. Ummm… A few days ago I went back to the location I was at in the previous post only on the other side of the highway. I did find a few more wildflower species which I will write about next. I did find one more White Morel suitable to bring home and one I left behind because it was very small. ANYWAY… When I came back home after being in the woods for about 3 hours, I went to the area by the chicken house to see if I could find any Morels there. None AGAIN! So out of curiosity, I went to the brushy area along the fence. I never find anything there but you never know. I stepped through an opening where a fence had once been YEARS AGO. Grandpa had another fenced-in area here about 40′ x 150′. Anyway, it is all grown up and full of Vinca minor, gooseberry bushes, grapevines, poison ivy and so on.  I walked to the corner, covered in Vinca, and HOLY CRAP there were two HUGE Yellow Morels (Morchella esculenta). I looked across the fence and there were more. Forget I said across the fence. I didn’t say I crossed the fence but there were 19 more and some were partly covered and entangled in the Vinca. Now you are probably wondering how I knew there were 19?

OK, so here I was in a bit of a situation. The area along the fence is an overgrown mess between this property and the church next door. No one was at the church but there are neighbors across the street and a trailer park across from the church. Plus people were driving by on the street. Any other time of the year I would have just walked around the fence with no problem whether or not anyone was watching. BUT, this was NOT just any time of the year. This time of the year if you see people walking in the woods or somewhere weird, like an overgrown fence row full of vines, thorns, poison ivy (you get the picture) you know why they are there. Not that anyone is going to be looking but you still get a little paranoid. You have to keep these spots a secret even though they are right out in the open. I mean, this is not a place in a secluded woods.

I checked the fence and it was not a good place to cross. So, I went down a little farther and found a spot I could squeeze through. So I went through the fence so I could “rescue” the Morels from the Vinca. That sounds much better, but we still need to keep it quiet.

Of the 21 I found, several were beyond saving and taking to dinner. Who would have thought in such a ridiculous spot there would have been Morels. In fact, if they had been White Morels (Morchella americana) it is likely I would never have sen them. For those of you who may not know what Vinca minor is… For one, it is (or has been) popular as a groundcover that has escaped and went haywire wherever it is allowed or unnoticed. I don’t remember my grandparents every having it but somehow it has managed to go flourish in this area (and a few others). They make long semi-woody vines that go everywhere and are evergreen. Somehow, these Yellow Morels managed to grow through the mess of vines even though some were pretty distorted.

The color of these was them crying out, “SAVE ME!” So, I did.

I didn’t take any photos of them the day I found them because I wasn’t thinking about taking photos. I was in a panic situation seeing them all tangled in the Vinca. I went back today to take these photos. I am sure you are thinking I went back to see if there were any new ones…

Morchella americana (White Morel) on 4-15-20.

The one in the above photo is the White Morel (Morchella americana) I found on April 15. It is pretty good sized for a White Morel and they are usually somewhat smaller. I have found larger, though, but normally White Morels usually grow to less than 4″. Information suggests the earlier ones are larger. In 2013, I photographed a HUGE one under a Chinese Elm in February. I took a photo with my cell phone and sent it to a few friends because no one would have ever believed it. That was shortly after I moved back here and had a cell phone… I couldn’t figure out how to get the photo on my computer so it is lost and gone forever.

White Morels from April 21, 2019. As you can tell, they aren’t that large.

I am no Morel hunting expert and definitely not a fungi guy. 🙂 GEEZ! ANYWAY, Morels are pretty easy to spot as long as they are there. I started hunting with my grandpa when I was a little kid so it has just become a spring thing to go mushroom hunting.

Over the years I have heard a lot of stories about Morels that may or may not be true. I always heard they just pop up the size they are when you find them. I am not sure about that but I have gone through areas and found none and then go back a few minutes later and found them. Like walking on the ground caused them to “pop” up.

Supposedly, different species prefer growing under different trees. In my experience, that really hasn’t mattered that much. They do have preferred conditions, but at times, that hasn’t mattered much either… One year I went hunting in the back of the farm along the creek several times and found none, like usual, and came back and found quite a few in the open in the back yard. They haven’t come up again in that spot. Many years ago I found several in the apple orchard. Never again… I heard you can take the water you clean them in and throw it out and they will come up here the next spring. That may happen if there are spores, but I think very fresh mushrooms aren’t likely to have spores. NOW, I did see spores in some of the older yellows I found. I threw them along the north side of the house. 🙂

Yep. Morels in the skillet in 2019.

There are more than one species of Morels and many people get them mixed up. That is because their seasons overlap somewhat and there are various shades of each. Even on iNaturalist with several identifiers, if you look through the photos uploaded from others you will see some are possibly misidentified. Many members upload photos and say “Morchella species” without claiming a species name. Of course, I had to use species names because I don’t know any better and want people to think I do. 🙂

Then we come to the subject of the False or RED Morel. A few years ago when I was in the woods along the creek I spotted this odd creature. It looked kind of like a Morel but then again it didn’t. It was sort of a dark reddish-brown and pretty good sized. It was, for lack of a better word, weird. I took a photo with my cell phone (this was 2013 when I had one) and then brought it to the house. I showed dad and his response was, “I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t eat it.” Dad never ate mushrooms of any kind that I am aware of… Not even on pizza. False Morels are considered poisonous but some have eaten them with no side effects. Probably they didn’t know at the time they were poisonous. Even if you don’t get sick and die, they apparently have a carcinogenic chemical… I recommend not trying them.

NICE! The bad thing was that I wasn’t alone. I had to share with four other people! This year I am alone and I did not have to share. 🙂

Back then I thought all Morels were the same. I didn’t know there were different species and barely had heard of the False Morel. So, I didn’t really investigate that weird mushroom. I took dad’s advice and threw it out the door. For the most part, Morels are hollow white the False Morels are not.

Morchella species are found in many countries and several species are endemic to more than one. In the past several years more study has been done. I have read more about them this past week because curiosity got the best of me. Below are just a few of the MANY sites online that provide a wealth of information. There are also plenty of YouTube videos.

Wikipedia

The Great Morel homepage and Morel varieties gallery

The Morchellaceae: True Morels and Verpas (MushroomExpert.Com

MushroomExpert’s homepage is quite exhausting…

iNaturalist

I think I will stop for now…

Until next time, be safe and stay positive. Stay well and always be thankful. Get as dirty as you can if the weather is nice.