Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Homeward Bound

Bergen, Norway
This has been a wonderful experience in so many ways.

But I miss my gardens and can't wait to get back home.

Boarding a plane in 240 minutes.

Landing in Rhode Island sixteen hours later.


Wordless Wednesday

Monday, August 15, 2011

GBBD - August 2011

I have no idea what is blooming at home, but in Bergen, Norway, there's quite a bit to moon over.  Visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see who started this meme.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Vegetable Stand to Die For

 These are not my vegetables, but if they were, I'd buy a little cart and show them off like this, too!

Norway is wonderful.  No time to to post.  Praying my gardens at home are doing just fine.

I heard through the Nordic grapevine that New York got hit with massive rains in the last day or two, and I hope those rains made it to Connecticut.

If they did, all should be well until I get home.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Cool, huh?

This is my first harvest of full-grown tomatoes.  I didn't look at the tags before I harvested these because it's starting to rain and rain and my hair do not good companions make.  I can see why Ugly Hornworm wanted at them!

I noticed one of the tomatoes is cracked (although still edible).  I know that was all my fault and am surprised I didn't have more tomatoes like this since I think I've watered the vegetable garden no more than five times this season.

I haven't tasted these yet but I will before we leave on Friday for Norway.

I did take the time to feel them as I washed them.  They were clean and firm.  So nice knowing that no chemicals were used anywhere near these plants.  These snapped right off the vine when I picked them; others that seem to be fully ripe didn't come off so easily so I'll leave them for another day or two.

I'm sure a good many of you are happy as I am that I've finally gotten real full-size food out of my garden.  Now maybe I'll stop whining about it and move on to bigger and better things.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Grape Tomatoes in My Salad

Here's a teeny weeny colander filled with teeny weeny tomatoes.

They were delicious!

Aside from the chives, this is the only thing I've eaten from my garden.

I didn't plant enough soon enough but I'll know better next year.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Hornworm Update

The beastly creature I discovered on my tomato plants yesterday is a HORNWORM.  How did I get me one of those?

So yesterday, not knowing if this was a Majestic Butterfly To Be, I picked the disgusting thing off my plant and tossed it aside.

I went online and Lisa confirmed that it was, indeed, a nasty hornworm that would never be a majestic butterfly.

I learned on Google that I could eliminate this thing with BT and after having such great success with BT on my maple (Eastern tent caterpillars have not returned), I went after the hornworm with my bottle of freshly-mixed solution in hand.

Except I couldn't find the nasty critter.

This morning, I find the creature in the middle of what will next year be my Rose Garden and I attacked it with BT believing BT would paralyze it.  Freaking thing kept moving.

Back to the Internet I went and learned that BT needs to be sprayed on the leaves the critter will eat and whilst eating the leaves, BT will enter Critter's digestive system and kill it that way.

Crap!  Does that mean I have to put this thing on my tomato plant?

I'm not doing that.  I am going to hope a bird will scoop down and eat this thing.

I don't have a problem spraying the tomato plants and pepper plants with BT but my concern is that I'm going to eat this stuff and I don't want to eat bacteria.  The label says, and I confirmed it with other sources, that I could spray my plants "right up until I pick the fruit".  What the heck does "right up until" mean?  I can spray a day before, an hour before, a few minutes before?  My clock doesn't have a Right Up Until on its face and my calendar makes no reference of it.

So I think for now, I'll spray the plants with green tomatoes and keep the stuff away from the red ones which should be ready for picking in the next couple of days.

Hornworm, be ready.  I'm coming to getcha!

UPDATE:  I prepared a solution of dishwashing liquid and cold water and poured it over the Critter.  It was dead in less than two minutes.  I sprayed the tomato plants with BT in case Critter's Cousin decides to pay us a visit.  None of the tomatoes are ready for picking so I wasn't too concerned about spraying the entire plant.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tomato Invader or Butterfly In the Making

I have no idea what this horrific looking thing is but it was too darn close to my tomato for me to leave it alone.

After all, I've worked hard to grow these tomatoes and ain't nobody stealing my thunder.

I didn't kill GreenThing because, God forbid, it will one day become the most beautiful butterly on earth, but I moved it to another zip code.

If anyone knows what this is, please share, and let me know if it's a Tomato Invader a Butterfly In the Making.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An Angel In My Father's Garden

I finally found the right angel for My Father's Garden.

I didn't want something too big or too small or too whimsical.

Or too Catholic.

So here she is, looking up at my father's tree the same way I always looked up to him.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Help! What To Grow Under a Roofed Deck

I think the back deck is just over 800 square feet.  I'd have to go to Town Hall and see what they came up with, or find the tape measure and figure it out myself to be sure.  I'm not doing either today.

Suffice it to say, the backyard deck is huge, even though to me, it still looks small.

It's time we start thinking about living as civilized human beings:  trash the trash, furnish, decorate, stain and seal, and all the rest of those chores that make us feel as if we belong in our suburban surroundings.


I live on a super private lot so that I won't have to worry about neighbors or cops reporting me as the owner of an unfit front yard, back yard, side yard, any yard.

But the deck has become an absolute pain in the ass.


F-U-L-L   S-U-N   24/7.

No lie!  Norwegians are leaving our house looking like Dominicans.

And this brings me to the problem!  We need to roof a good portion of this deck.  This way we can step out onto the deck when it's pouring rain (my favorite time outdoors is during a rain shower) and our friends can join us for a barbecue without requiring triple doses of sunscreen and Coke-bottle sunglasses.

Sounds good, sounds reasonable.  EXCEPT.... what will grow under this sun-barring roof?  Container gardens will not thrive.  Hanging baskets will peter out.  Forget small trees in chic pots.  Galvanized steel window boxes will be barren.  Will coleus survive?  Doubtful!  Even run-of-the-mill houseplants can't withstand such shade.  So what am I to do?

A skylight!  A big, four-foot-square skylight in the middle of the roof with ceiling fans on either side and pendant lights on the other two sides.  That should do it... but it will be too bright, too hot, too sunny for our guests?

Our deck is a two-tiered deck.  The lower tier will not be roofed and all I want there are four bistro tables that will seat two each.  Our "kitchen" is on the lower tier.  The tier is long and wide and will hold plenty of container gardens between, amongst, around the bistro tables.  The lower tier is "walled" by the obelisks and the Rose Garden is just on the other side of the obelisks.  The lower tier is not the issue.

The issue today is plantings under a roofed deck.

If I can figure this out, the work will begin immediately!  In the meantime, forgive the clutter, the mess, the mismatched, homemade "furniture" and $5 chairs from Home Depot that fall apart after the seventh rainfall.

I'm doing the best I can.

Monday, August 1, 2011

GOOPS for August 2011 - Delay

Cucumber Seedling on August 1, 2011
Joene has a tradition of posting GOOPS (Gardening Oops) on the first of the month, and although I follow hers religiously, I've never participated.  Not because I don't have an Oops or two of my own, but because I wouldn't even know where to start.

I decided this year I would grow vegetables for the first time (if you don't count the cherry tomato attempt back in 1998).  Like a good little tree hugger, I bought my seeds, made my beds, amended the soil, and went to work.

I planted seeds.

Onion Seedlings on August 1, 2011

Carrot Seedlings on August 1, 2011
In May.

It's what the package said to do.

Now here it is AUGUST and I still have nothing that came from seeds.

Everything is way, way, way delayed.  I lost the peppers I planted from seed.  The spinach never sprouted (and if it did, I thought it was a weed and pulled it).  The carrots are just BARELY coming through.  The onions are so feeble they make me cry.

My GOOPS was that I didn't start all this stuff from seed INDOORS so that my little plants would be caught up with the rest of Connecticut come harvest time.

While others show photos of freshly-picked tomatoes and peppers and cukes and zukes, I show GRAPE tomatoes that came from a well-established, Home Depot PLANT.  I think that's cheating.

Lesson learned.

Next year I will start my seeds indoors waaaayyyyyy before the last frost date and then I can compare notes with Heather and Daphne and Skippy and Regina and Joene and all those smarty pants who know better!

Until then, I hope to have my first harvest at the Thanksgiving table.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Hint of Red

I think I am the last gardener on Earth to harvest a full-size tomato this year.

The grape tomatoes were ready for picking a couple of weeks ago, but my "real" tomatoes are just languishing in productivity.

Here, finally, I see the promise of a home-grown tomato in my salad.

I had found a pepper a month ago or so and then lost it.  I have no idea how one loses a pepper that hasn't been picked, but I managed to do it.

In any event, it looks like we'll have a bounty, however small, after all.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Perfect Snack for a Japanese Beetle

They are merciless!

Here they have just begun to munch away on this canna (second photo shows the holes).

Good thing I got the photo before they devoured it completely.

I hand pick the beetles and toss them into the pond when the froggies are around.  If I have no frogs basking on a lily pad, then I toss the beetles into a gallon container filled with water and a little dishwashing liquid.

They drown.  The cannas appreciate it.  And I've used no chemicals.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My! What Big Ears You Have

I love elephant ears (this one is Mammoth).

They remind me of the tropics.  They look great in big, chunk pots and fill a space like nothing else will.

This was my first year growing these.  (I tried in 1998 but the bulb never took.)  I bought the bulb at Home Depot for $1 in June and hoped for the best.

Next year, I'll definitely grow more and intersperse them with plenty of cannas.

My tropical paradise in New England... and the Japanese beetles tend to leave these alone.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Sense of Normalcy

July has been much too crazy!

Busy with work, house full of guests, and a heat wave that just about knocked me out.

I don't garden in severe heat or high humidity.

I am a wimp!  (And not ashamed to admit it.)

The weather in southeastern Connecticut finally broke a few days ago, and our recent thunderstorm was medicine for my soul.

Things seem to be getting back to normal.  Even the froggies think so (they bailed on me last Fall and didn't return until yesterday).

Time to get back in the garden!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I love garden bling.  Not statues of the seven dwarves or colorful fairies that are four feet tall.

But understated, unassuming bling is okay by me.

Frogs rank high with me, tucked under lush foliage where they can barely be seen.

I'm not crazy about things with words, and I don't like color AT ALL.

I love chimes, patio furniture, benches, and rocks.

Bling is garden jewelry to me.  It's the last thing that should go on in the garden.

But I'm getting tired of working on bones and bones and bones, so when I saw these chimes at Christmas Tree Shop (can't believe I find things there that are suitable to my rather discriminating taste), I had to get two.

Having no shepherd's hook to hang them from (the hooks are there with gazing balls.... played out, everyone has them, don't want any of my own), I told Frank I wanted them hanging from trees.

This isn't quite what I had in mind, but I think it's growing on me.

They're heavy and you need a pretty strong breeze to hear these chimes, but they are so worth the wait.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Out With the Old and In With the New... A Meadow's Cycle

Here, to the left, Sweet William looks rather dreary.  I hope the Prince is doing better than this lest Diana be rolling in her grave.

Such is life in the Meadow.  Things wither, fade, die, and I leave them alone.

No deadheading allowed here for to do so would ensure we would have no new crops the following season.

If one has an aversion to the browning and dying of annuals and perennials, one should stay away from the idea of a Meadow.

Meadows thrive on neglect.

As Sweet William leaves us, blanket flowers and coreposis and sunflowers take over.

This is the beauty of the Meadow.

One is never left without a show of sorts.

Another several pounds of seeds will be added to the Meadow soon enough to expand it another 1,500 square feet or so and to "thicken" the field.

It's interesting how very little weeding I've had to do in the meadow.  It seems these plants know how to kick ass well enough to survive and stake their claim.

Meadows.... superb alternatives to lawns.  I wouldn't have it any other way!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Unwanted Guests

The Eastern tent caterpillar has invaded my father's Crimson King maple.

I am furious!

I went away for four days and came home to this colossal attack, but immediately got to researching what this was, how it happened, and how to eliminate it.

The good news is that the tree will live.

The bad news is that its foliage will look crappy for awhile.

I treated the leaves with two quarts of BT (bacillius thuringiensis) which was the best alternative to a pesticide that I could find and it seems to have done the trick.

It took approximately two days for all the live caterpillars to stop moving around, and by the third day, I saw none on the leaves.

I'm not sure but those black dots may be eggs so I'll be treating again this evening.  (Best to use this stuff at dusk or dawn and I'm not drinking my coffee with BT in the other hand.)

Such is life in the garden:  if it isn't the deer, it's the tent worm.  If it isn't the tent worm, it's the Japanese beetle.  Or floods.  Or drought.

I wouldn't want it any other way.

Monday, July 18, 2011

From a Teeny Weeny Seed

From a teeny weeny seed comes all of this.

I don't water the vegetables (who knew I was supposed to do that?) and even with my neglect, I managed to get this to come through.

We are pest and insect free and show no signs of disease, which is a very good thing since I wouldn't know what to do about any of it.

I'm hoping some friends will give me an idea of how often I need to water vegetables.  From the sounds of it, they get as thirsty as roses.


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