Monday, June 24, 2013

Cross Stitch

I want to make these chickens:
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Aren't they awesome? (Turns out the lady hosting one of Saturday night's parties is also a crafter.)

Garden Update: Jungle Edition

Uh... I still have a bunch of stuff waiting to be planted, and one of the blueberries (blown over in this photo) doesn't look so good:
(I need to check if the Home Depot warranty on plants covers neglect by idiot homeowners.)

"Before" shots:

Here you can see five more plants waiting to be planted (one of which got planted Saturday, so that I could use the pot to give a volunteer raspberry seedling beside it to the neighbour), volunteer sunflower seedlings that need thinning, and weeds are popping up. I pulled the tops off a few of the weeds, but I need to go back and dig out the roots.

Egad, it's a jungle back there! Black raspberries are going crazy (as you can see, they still haven't been transplanted from beside the house to beside the fence), plus thistles, grass, and Manitoba maple saplings I need to dig out.

My one planted raised bed has things growing:
Of course, I have no idea what anything is with this "toss seeds in randomly" method. I may need to plant a few labelled rows just for identification purposes. I'm hoping things will get a bit more evident later.

More jungle:
Onions (walking and green) doing well, some garlic looking very promising, and others look like I'll be able to spot them when I dig them up later this summer. (Some of the garlic was started from seed, and so takes a bit longer.) Unfortunately, the weeds are also looking very lush.

My field of dandelions is looking less fluffy:
(My apologies to those downwind. I *will* get to these, I promise.)

This weekend's goal:
Dispose of this section of carpet, dig the soil underneath plus adjacent weedy bits to remove weed roots, dig again to turn in coco earth, then plant.

Progress accomplished:

Found a mouse while turning the compost (did I mention I have gardening ADD?):
Since "killing it in my gloved hands" seemed a bit cruel, I decided to take it to the cemetery to see if it might find somewhere over there it liked living enough that it didn't come back. However, since I didn't want to squish it on the way there, it managed to wriggle free when I was only halfway there, about two houses over. Oh well... maybe it'll like my neighbour's yard better than mine? (Sorry, neighbour.)

Removing the biggest piece of carpet and the railroad tie, I found a rather large ant colony:
Hopefully turning the earth will be sufficient to convince them to move elsewhere. Otherwise I'll try that thing where you boil up some rhubarb leaves... I've got lots of those. (Speaking of which, a number of them got *pounded* in today's rain... several were nothing but the ribs. My neighbour said that water was gushing from that corner of the downspout... checking the state of that section of eaves is on my list.)

And, speaking of eaves...
When I went out to dig the dirt on Saturday, it was cloudy, so I didn't bother with sunscreen. However, by the time I was ready to dig, the sun was out in full force, and a cream I'm using right now has me a bit sensitive, so I decided to tackle the eaves on this stretch of the garage, since it was shady there.
There was some good looking humus up there... and I got impressively filthy!

I also took a quick trip to the front yard to lop off the very large sour cherry sucker I found growing up through the weigela.
I'm sure glad that I didn't prune out the parts that looked winter-killed (actually the weigela, just slower to leaf out) and leave the parts that looked good (the sour cherry sucker) early this spring! I need to get a sturdy stake and tie up the weigela... it has a definite lean to the south that I'd like to correct.

Then I had to go in and clean up for two parties I was attending Saturday night.

Sunday it was cloudy but not raining when I got up. By the time I ate breakfast there was a light drizzle. I decided it wasn't raining hard enough to stop me from *finally* digging the garden, so I put on my grub clothes and went outside. It was a bit heavier than a drizzle when I got out, and rapidly progressed to a downpour. >_< I didn't get very much dug before I gave up:
*sigh*... next weekend is a long weekend. I'll get it done then. Really.

Before I retreated from the rain, I did pull the tops off enough creeping bellflower (invasive weed) to fill the two yard waste bins that I currently had partially filled... of course, *afterwards* I remembered that yard waste pick-up isn't for another week and a half. *sigh*

Since the mosquitoes have been coming out, I can't find my supply of repellant, and I might as well do my grocery shopping if I can be in the garden, I decided to check out the various products at the grocery store.
Uh... what the eff is a citronella candle *for*, if not to repel mosquitoes?!? Way to show confidence in your product!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Photos from last weekend

I de-wormed my father on father's day:
He was a kind of cool-looking caterpillar, so I put him on my dandelions, with the hopes of getting both a nice butterfly and fewer dandelions. (Okay, so I didn't think he'd do much damage for the latter, but every little bit helps, right?) Well, technically, it fell off my arm while I was taking pictures, but on the dandelions where I was going to put it anyway.

When I came inside and googled, I found out the caterpillar is a forest tent caterpillar. Argh. Well, if I spot it again, I will squish it. :P

Much nicer intruder:
My neighbour's clematis (seen here with bee), pokes through the fence and brightens up my garden too. :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Garden Update 2: Sunday

Before I get to the "Saturday after" / "Sunday before" shots, here's one that is both before and after, since I haven't done anything here yet either:
Uh oh... I *really* need to get to those dandelions in the driveway!!!

Okay, here's how things finished up Saturday night:

Wow, this is really starting to look like a garden!:
I am *so* pleased with how this is coming along! I invited two neighbours in to see the progress, plus my parents and uncle! :)

Pallet mostly deconstructed, second raised garden bed half built:

Coco earth still soggy, but I think all the hard lumps are finally gone now:
(Whoops, I didn't get as far as digging this into the vegetable area... ack!)

After grocery shopping and before family dinner, I made some more progress.

While cutting up the boards from the side of the house to use for raised beds, I found this odd ladybug:
It has yellow circles around its black spots! It's sort of hard to see with the sawdust on it, so I brushed some off:
Of course, brushing off the sawdust caused it to produce the stinky yellow liquid, so I didn't brush all of it off, just a bit where I wouldn't have to touch the yellow stuff.

Here's how far I got with the pallet before the battery gave out on my cordless saw:
... *almost* enough posts cut for the third raised bed! (Actually, enough if you count that one in the pile of wood that was a spare from before, but I didn't notice that one while I was cutting. Plus I just wanted to finish cutting that board.)

I did get the second raised bed finished (although not set in the ground or filled) before dinner:

After dinner I finished constructing the third raised bed (also neither set nor filled), plus I dug the invasive creeping bellflower out of one spot of the south garden (no before or after shots) and planted some iris there instead. (Siberian iris is kind of invasive, but it is slow, reasonably easy to eradicate when you want it gone, and it's *tough*. The south garden against the house is a pretty brutal spot... alternately shaded, and sunny/hot, plus dry because it's beneath the eaves.) Oh, and at some point I planted another of the plants that was sitting in its pot on top of the dirt in the north garden.

Garden Update 1: Saturday errands and "before" shots

The problem with taking "before" shots and then working until dark means that you still don't feel like you have anything worth posting. I took some photos Sunday that work for "after" for Saturday (& "before" for Sunday), but putting all the photos in one post will make it too long. So I'm going to break it up anyway. Oh well.


1. I made it to the place that is only open until 1:00 pm on Saturdays, and picked up four furnace filters for the house so that I wouldn't need to go back any time soon. (The filters are ~$18 each... so, not cheap, but four wouldn't break the bank.) The filters are four inches thick, and I wasn't sure where else to buy them. I found the invoice for this place as the place they had come from before... it normally only sells to contractors (the furnace guy made the purchase last time), but the clerk figured it was okay to sell me filters, so I didn't have to beg. (Yay!)

2. I bought an inexpensive bike to ride to work:
I have a lovely bike, but it cost my brother around $1000, and neither locking it up outside all day nor carrying it up several flights of stairs seemed like a good option for me. Given that I'll be buying tickets (after this month, which I already have a bus pass for) for days when it rains (if I've just caused it to be a rainy summer, I'm sorry), as long as this one doesn't get stolen before September, I'm ahead of the game financially. If, however, it gets stolen in the first week, I'll go back to riding the bus. ;) (I really do need to get more exercise, though... for some reason, my body doesn't seem to consider gardening to be sufficient exercise.)

3. I went to Shelmerdine's to buy a birch tree. Wow. That place is really overwhelming the first time you visit! It's like the garden center equivalent of Ikea. It's massive. It has *everything* (well, the classy stuff, at least... you'd need to go elsewhere for tacky garden gnomes). Except they were sold out of the small birch trees, and I didn't want to pay $125 for a big one. I guess I'll be transplanting one from the lake after all. I did buy an adorable little brass-looking plastic fairy that perches on the edge of a flower pot, or on the adorable miniature garden furniture they sell, like the stuff pictured here.

4. Since T&T Seeds was right next door and I knew they had the Kozy-coats (not needed any more this year, but I'll have them now for next year), I stopped in there. I didn't stop at getting just the Kozy-coats, though... I also bought some coco earth, three ceramic mushrooms (two tiny, one larger than the tiny ones but the smallest of the three coordinating ones that were probably meant to be bought to make a grouping), a ceramic snail that dangles from a pot edge, a shovel (looks sturdy, similar to one I was thinking of getting from Lee Valley, but about the same price as the Lee Valley one, which is half the price of the Shelmerdine's one), and a watermelon seedling. T&T Seeds is much smaller and less impressive than Shelmerdine's, but I ended up spending *way* more. Weird. Oh, and T&T Seeds has tacky gnomes, if that's your style. ;)


Two of the mushrooms:

Watermelon seedling:
(Seen here with my "birdhouse gourd" seedling.)

The coco earth was supposed to be four bricks that could be expanded separately, but I couldn't separate them until I got the whole thing wet. Here's half of the whole thing (two bricks) after getting a bit wet:
And here's the soupy mess expanding:
I ended up putting all four bricks in the water anyway, since I had guessed how much water I would need for all of it once I couldn't separate them, and it was *quite* soupy with only the two. (The packaging did specify how much water to use, but my wheelbarrow doesn't come with measurements on the side like a measuring cup. ;) )

Garden "before" photos:

Here's the pallet before I broke it down:

The current state of the vegetable area:
(This first one is basically the "after" shot as well, since I didn't really end up doing anything here.)

You can actually mostly see my new shovel in this photo... it's the shiny one, not the old one. ;)


You know you have a problem with homeless drunks in your office building when your router reminds you of a king can of beer.

I was chastised today (well, not really) for not specifying what router I ended up getting. I got a D-Link Whole Home Router 1000 with Smart Beam and amplifi. Why this particular one?
1. It was originally priced at $110, marked down to $70. (It appears to be an older model... the newer one having a "cloud" feature... I prefer to save $40 and have sunnier weather. ;) )
2. It claimed to be suitable for large houses, and the cheaper routers claimed to only be for small houses.
3. I was really tired of being without wireless, and I was having lunch with a friend in Grant Park Mall, which has a Radio Shack (aka "The Source" or something like that)... not known for being a place with good deals, but I was going for convenience here. The Linksys models that claimed to be for large houses were more expensive (my previous router was a Linksys), and there weren't any Asus routers (a brand a co-worker recommended).
4. The king can shape didn't have any external moveable antenna, which made me think perhaps it would be harder for me to break them. ;)
5. And, for the totally stupid reason (that didn't really affect my decision) that "smart beam (TM)" and "amplifi (TM)" make me feel like doing "jazz hands".

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Territorial Sparrow

I appear to have a territorial sparrow for a neighbour.
(Yes, I know that window needs cleaning. I'll get the extension ladder out once the gardens are planted and weeded.)
At first he was battling the sparrow that lives in the reflection of the stairway window, now he's moved on to the one that lives in the reflection of my office/library window. (Well, it will be my office/library. I still need to clear out the rest of the junk left behind by my brother and dad.) I hope he doesn't wear himself out too much... those reflection sparrows are tough nuts to crack. However, if you fly away and leave them alone, you'll find they are polite enough to do the same.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Wednesday/Thursday Garden Update

His holiness, Sourpuss the first, went to the great Home Depot on Empress on Wednesday. Taking his place is Sourpuss the second, who is not being allowed anywhere near where my neighbour might decide to use a whipper-snipper:
He was the last one in stock at that Home Depot, so hopefully he doesn't decide to become holey too! (I still haven't heard anything from my lawn-mowing neighbour, but I'm assuming he's the culprit.)

While at Home Depot, I couldn't resist looking at the plants. I brought home two blueberry plants ("Northland" and "North Sky", if I remember correctly), two more hostas, and another dianthus.

Thursday I found the time to water my raised bed, the plants waiting to be planted and the hanging basket without the special liner, set three of the "stepping stumps" into the dirt, and planted seven of my thirty creeping thyme seedlings (which I then watered again):
By then it was getting rather dark, so I went in, had a shower, and had a late dinner.

I wasn't going to set up my new wireless router... but I couldn't resist peeking in the box. One thing led to another, and, way past when I *should* have been asleep, I returned to being blissfully wireless. (It wasn't really the router's fault... it was getting home late, followed by gardening, then a shower, then washing dishes that needed hand-washing, then eating dinner... etc.)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Hanging Gardens of... yeah, okay, not impressive enough to have a name. ;)

Last weekend I got my three hanging baskets assembled, and tonight I hung them. I had left them in a somewhat sheltered spot because we were still getting threats of frost Saturday and Sunday nights, but I think we're good now. (I also planted the tomato seedling my dad gave me... I'm sorry if I bring down the wrath of Murphy on everyone!) I only had one spot for a hanging basket from last year, so I had to put up two more hooks. One went by the gate between the back yard and side yard:
Uh... not really the look I was going for!
Better! I had hoped for it to hang a bit higher, and with the hook not half-covered up by the ugly board, but, oh well. Maybe later I'll futz with the chains to get them shorter and move the hook back lower. For now, this will do.

The other new hook went up on the other side of the porch door:
Yes, I realize the one on the right is hanging slightly higher than the one on the left, but I set the one on the left so that it would bump the window frame rather than glass, and that's how much chain was left over after I took the spare off the left. It's close enough. Yes, I could raise the one on the left, but, if anything, I'd prefer to lower the right, and that's not an option at the moment. (Hmmm... I wonder if I have more chain like that somewhere inside...)

Oooo... I do believe this is starting to look "garden-ish":
I may yet manage something I can be proud of this summer!

You know, it'll be sad if I have to move out if dad and I can't agree on a price, or I can't afford the one we do agree on. *sigh*

Monday, June 03, 2013

Garden Update

Something is a messy eater:
At first I thought something was chewing the wood, but it turns out its stuff fallen from the suet feeder above. I'm blaming the squirrels.

I got a bunch of free bricks from Freecycle. I figured my station wagon would be great for transporting them... I forgot about the weight. Low rider:
I need to do a better job of laying them, but this got them out of my car:
Yay, I no longer have to slog through sticky mud to get to my compost area! (Well, the main ones were by the walk already, this is more for the leaf-composting / overflow area.)

Argh! Sourpuss has another reason to be grouchy:
I suspect my neighbour who mows my lawn (in exchange for parking his camper at my dad's place) must have hit him with the weed whacker. I'm annoyed for two reasons: 1. that the lawn ornament is so fragile, and 2. that my neighbour doesn't seem to care what kind of job he does with the lawn. (He mows my flowers at the edge of the bed too.) *sigh* I'm going to see if I can get it replaced... even if my neighbour did hit it with the weed whacker, I would have hoped it would hold up better!

I've added a third kind of bird feeder to my yard:
Now, in addition to sunflower seeds an suet, I also have a thistle/niger seed feeder! I hope I get to see some finches feeding from it. :) (And I hope the squirrels leave this one alone... I don't think they like niger seed much.)

Why is it always the right-hand of the pair of gloves that wears out?
I've been keeping the left gloves, hoping I can make a pair, but it's always the right that gets holes, or gets lost, etc. :P

Woo hoo! One bed built, filled, and planted (except for the tomato, which will go in next weekend... frost expected again tonight):
Now to build and fill five to seven more... and till and plant the rest of the vegetable garden... and ditto for the north side garden which will have flowers and berries... and weed, cover, and mulch the area under the plum tree.. and divide the perennials in the front bed, and dig in organic matter there... and pull the weeds in the front beds, south side beds, and driveway... *sigh*... so much work to do, so little time to do it!