Thursday, June 2, 2011

Closing down shop...

Hey all,
I've been trying to hold on to this blog while also working, being a mom, keeping up Clara's own blog, etc... but it's more than I can commit to for the foreseeable future. Therefore, I'm closing down shop, and will only be posting at our family blog now - Tales from the Zoo ( I will be posting gardening stuff on there sometimes, and would be delighted if any of you wanted to stop by and say hello. I'll definitely still be visiting your blogs. Thank you so much for your readership of Law of the Land these last few years! I never imagined anyone outside my family would read it, and I've come to know so many wonderful people in the garden blog-o-sphere.
Take care and happy gardening!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The veggie garden is all green in May

I'll have tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, purple hull peas and more soon... but for now, everything I'm cutting from the garden is green.

Basil, green beans and parsley, all cut for meals on Sunday.
It was so nice to have an extra day to spend with Clara this weekend! Hope you all had a great weekend and remembered our soldiers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

REUSE - making baby toys

I'm planning to make all of Clara's solid foods, sew some of her clothes, and make her some toys. My in-laws gave me a sewing machine for Mother's Day (awesome), and this baby block project was the first thing I did with it.

Only I had a twist! Making it an eco-friendly project by reusing discarded/unused things around the house. The fabric is from cloth napkins my mom had in the 70's and hadn't used in decades. Sewn inside the soft blocks are old cat toys (my cats never liked these bell-in-ball toys, but somehow we ended up with a bunch of them) or nicely crinkly packaging (from a wipes package and something of unknown origin I picked out of the trash - ha) - I was especially pleased to be able to use these things because they couldn't be recycled, so they would otherwise just be tossed.
Clara likes them!

What have you reused lately?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Second R, and a daylily question

As stated in my Earth Day post, I've got recycling down, but need to work on the first two R's. This quick redo of some nasty old plastic yard chairs is an example of reusing. I was seriously tempted to chunk them after scrubbing them and realized they weren't just dirty, but stained.

supplies: stuff to clean the chair as best I could, Valspar plastic spray paint, baby monitor

I decided I'd try some of the new plastic spray paint instead. Spray paint certainly isn't eco-friendly, but I reasoned it was better than (a) chunking these chairs into the landfill and (b) buying new plastic yard chairs when I already had two perfectly functional ones.

I'm pleased with how they turned out. It took 2 full cans of spray paint and the coverage isn't absolutely perfect since there was so much dark staining... but the spray paint worked fine (just like any other) and numerous people actually stopped at the side of the road and told me how good they look!

(bowl of just-harvested sugar snap peas on the table. yum!)

On an unrelated note, I transplanted a bunch of daylilies last week. I know you aren't supposed to transplant perennials that are about to bloom, but I had no choice. Now they are all yellowed and look terrible. Will they put out more growth this year after that dies back? Is there anything I can do to help them look better and get reestablished quickly?

Hope everyone's having a great week! 2 more days until the weekend - WOO HOO!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Expanded bed progress and a BIG thank you!

Scott spent all afternoon removing sod and monkey grass for the expanded bed. Both are being replanted in the desolate backyard (where if the monkey grass takes over, more power to it!).

We'll be roughing up the dirt with a pickaxe and adding in a little Miracle Grow Garden Soil I already had laying around, then will cover it all up with a layer of pine straw (we can't use hardwood mulch because of termites).

There were some daylilies entrenched in the old monkey grass, and I pried most of them out to be replanted. I will wait to transplant many of the perennials from the back of the bed to the front until they have bloomed. I wasn't going to do much else with this bed in the immediate future since it's not a great time of year to establish perennials, and of course we just became a one-income family....but then I just won Dave @ The Home Garden's awesome contest --- a $100 Lowe's giftcard and biodegradable weed-block fabric!!! I am ridiculously excited about both of these things and will let y'all know how the weed-block does. I will probably use the Lowe's card to buy a bunch of annuals to spruce up this bed until I can plant perennials in the fall. THANKS, Dave!
Clara supervised us working in the yard today.

The bluebirds who have a nest nearby were NOT happy with our lengthy presence. We felt bad, but what can you do? At least they found some delicious bugs to swoop down and eat in the newly exposed dirt.
Gratuitous Clara close-up... (for some reason, these Clara pics are fuzzy scaled-down, but you can click them for a clearer pic if you want)

Hope you're all having a GREAT weekend! Thanks for your suggestions and advice for this bed on my last post.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bed advice, please - and a slight change of focus

I don't have any photos, but when I moved into my house, the below bed (a) did not have that monkey grass border, or any border at all between that bed and the ever-encroaching grass, (b) was home to only a few very sickly and sunscalded azaleas and a crippled boxwood that was beyond repair. We moved the azaleas to the backyard and cut the boxwood remnant to the ground. Someone then suggested I plant lorapetalums because they were pretty cheap and could take the heat and drought. This same someone gave me a TON of monkey grass to use for a border...

I planted perennials in between and around the shrubs, and it worked ok for a few years, but now the monkey grass and the shrubs are totally crowding out the perennials and it looks like a mess. So, we're expanding the bed out to the sidewalk. Then I can have the evergreen (or ever-purple) shrubs for interest in the winter, and perennials in front of them in the summer. Here's my dilemma: we're obviously going to dig up the monkey grass, but I don't really want to reuse it at the new front of the bed. It's just too tall and too thick and vigorous. I'd like something shorter and gentler, something like catmint but evergreen, or creeping thyme but bigger. Any ideas?? The new border plant will need to be able to handle extreme heat and drought.


On an unrelated note... I'm going to be expanding the focus of the blog just a bit to include some craft/diy posts. I probably won't rename it but may change the subtitle...
Here is my childhood desk that I recently refinished for Clara. It was even featured on a modern children's design blog!

Hope you all have a great week! -Ginger

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Annual Easter Egg Decorating Contest

First for a gratuitous harvest photo...

and a disturbing find at our feeder (cowbird)...
Our family has had an annual Easter Egg Decorating Contest since I was a little girl. You can see past eggs here and here. Here are the 2011 entries:
My little cousin Cammy's Nemo:

My favorite by far -- Scott's Frankenstein w/operating table.

Clara's first ever egg (with a little assistance from mommy):

Aunt Penny's scuba divers

My mummy:

My father-in-law's "little girl":

My cousin Caleb's chicken and worm:

My mother-in-law's "Clara the Fashionista" - best in show!

My cousin Erin Raye's sheep and shepherd:

Which is your favorite?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The 3 R's

Happy (late) Earth Day! My big green goal for this year is to work on the first two R's - reducing and reusing. As you can see from this shot of a fairly typical trash day, I have the third R (recycling) down pat!

We have very little trash. It's mostly pet and baby poop. Food and garden scraps go in the two compost piles. But the bulk of what we use that others might just throw away goes into recycling. For example, aside from the OJ jug and corrugated cardboard in our bins, I also have some (non-metallic) used wrapping paper and various packaging materials (box from Clara's bottles, pasta box, paper insert from air filter, etc).
One negative implication of the large amount of recycling we put out is that we consume way too much. It takes energy to recycle (and manufacture) these things, and it'd be better to find a way to consume less or reuse something that would otherwise be recycled

Potatoes grow in one of the compost bins... no need to buy a special "grow bag." (REDUCE)


I'm going to start my REDUCE plan with something simple: paper towels. I am going to keep one of those journals of how many paper towels I use and what for. The truth is, while some messes (like poop) I'm just not willing to clean with a cloth, most things I use paper towels for aren't such dirty jobs. Sometimes I'm too lazy to go get a clean kitchen towel from the laundry room and just use paper towels to dry the dishes, for example. I'm going to stop doing that right now. Hopefully the journal will guilt me into kicking the habit in other areas as well.


As far as REUSING, there are a lot of things that can be either reused or recycled, and I'm going to make a concerted effort to do the prior. For example, our local animal shelter (MARL) lines cages with newspaper, so I'm going to start (tonight!) saving our newspaper separately from the recycling to take over there.


I hope you all had a wonderful Earth Day! It's an amazing Mother we have...let's take care of her like she deserves this year.

p.s. if you're looking for a cute song to get kids into recycling, etc., check out "The 3 R's" on Jack Johnson's Curious George soundtrack. It's awesome :-)

a tiny bit of news

We had Clara's trial run with daycare this week, and I just couldn't handle it. So Scott is going to quit his job and stay home with her for a year, while also working on a master's degree at night. I'm a little jealous that I can't stay home with her (Scott says that's the price I pay for being "so successful" - ha ha), but absolutely thrilled she'll be home with her daddy.

In other news, the irises are blooming! This one is shimmery and fragrant. Love it.

Have a great weekend! -Ginger

Monday, April 11, 2011

April flowers, more wasp drama, and a mystery bird

Hello everyone! Hope y'all had a great weekend and for those of you who work, your Monday wasn't too bad. This bird is in the top corner of our carport every night now. What is it? And why is it there?

Spiderwort... I cannot believe they sell this. It is SUCH a weed here!

See? It takes over the lawn, and when you mow it down, comes back bigger than ever! Did I mention that sometimes the roots connecting the plants are 5+ feet long? Nightmare to dig up, which is why my side yard looks like a spiderwort farm. Sigh. In more pleasant flower news, fragrant, old roses are blooming: And irises in the little fish pond that I dug up from my mom's real pond:

Clara starts daycare this week (to get us both used to it) and I start back at work next week. I am in major denial mode, so I spent today playing "domestic goddess." Like my slab of warm focaccia?
I'm telling y'all this because I may be MIA for awhile after going back to work. I'm going to be busy and probably pretty sad. But I'll check in with your blogs when I get a chance, and greatly appreciate your patience as I adjust to a "new normal."

One more thing before I let you go. I tried the inverted coke bottle traps for the wasp problem, to no avail. I only tried using juice as bait. I couldn't bring myself to use meat, for various reasons, but mostly because that's a disgusting thing to leave outside in a coke bottle in 80+ heat! I also tried these fake wasp nests from gardeners supply - and they were an utter failure for me, though they have good reviews so they must work for some people. (If anyone wants the extra package (of 2) I have, let me know and I'll mail it to you.) So, we're back to square one, and big red wasps are still terrorizing me every time I step in the veggie garden. Not sure what to do now!?

Have a good week! -Ginger

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New blooms, veggie garden progress, and mailorder source reviews

Bear with me... this three-section post may be a bit long, but hopefully it won't be boring!

I. Here are some new blooms for the season, in order of appearance: rose, sage, phlox, iris:

II. With only two weeks left at home with Clara, I'm getting a little frantic. I am going to miss her SO MUCH when I go back to work. With that in mind, I'm trying to get the garden in pretty good shape so that all I have to do is water and pick veggies most of the late spring/early summer - and I can spend most of my free time at home with the girl.

Because of my pregnancy and her birth, I didn't do much from seed this year - just lettuce, carrots, a few tomato plants, basil, squash (sort of...see below), and of course peas, beans and cucumbers (the easy stuff).

Growing in the garden now:

  • Lettuce, which has been producing for a month or so but will start to get bitter from the heat soon.

  • Carrots.....which are this big now.... they will also suffer from the heat soon, so we may just have lots of finger-sized carrots. Still, it's the most success I've ever had with carrots, so I'm not complaining.

  • Shallots....leftover from last year. They did so poorly and I thought I dug them all up, but apparently not. Will be interesting to see what's underground.

  • Sugar snap peas are about 6 inches tall. I may have planted them too late. We'll see.

  • Herbs - basil from seed, perennial oregano, new thyme and rosemary plants to replace dead ones.

  • Cucumber, green bean, and purple hull pea seeds have been planted but aren't up yet.

  • A variety of bell peppers and eggplants (all bought at lowe's) are in the ground.

  • Tomatoes - I have about 15 plants, a mix of heirlooms from the Tasteful Garden (see review below), a recent garden show, and volunteers. Some big and some little, some purple and some yellow/orange --- but no "red slicers" in sight!

  • Squash... y'all know my awful problems with borers made me swear off squash. Well, I'm trying one last time - growing these expensive zucchini seeds from Kitchen Garden Seeds that don't need a pollinator, under row covers. Is that a lot of trouble for such a humble veggie or what?! We'll see if it works. The variety is "Cavili" and I read about it in Organic Gardening magazine while in labor at the hospital! Slightly disturbingly, only one of the eight I planted has germinated yet...

III. I recently ordered plants from Tasteful Garden, High Country Gardens, and Bluestone Perennials. I wouldn't even want to judge them on how they turn out, because if it's bad, it's probably MY fault. So here's a summary of my experience ordering and receiving the plants:

Tasteful Garden - Lisa from Shower Fresh Garden turned me on to this place in Alabama. I like buying plants that weren't grown 1000 miles away. Pro's: huge selection of tomato (and other) plants; great, recyclable shipping materials; all plants were large and healthy. Con: expensive for tomato plants...but certainly worth it if I can keep from buying pounds of heirloom tomatoes every week at the farmer's market!

High Country Gardens - the ONLY source I could find for clematis scottii, which I needed for the family garden. Pro's: amazing catalog with some unusual plants, and a focus on plants that can handle heat and drought; plants arrived in great shape - moist and not smooshed. No con's!

Bluestone Perennials - one of very few sources I could find for clara curtis mums, another plant needed for the family garden. Pro's: they carry a huge variety of mostly perennials. Con's: this was the least impressive packaging job I've ever seen, and they use styrofoam peanuts. Come on now, if you think peanuts are necessary, use the compostable cornstarch peanuts! Also, these plants were smaller than I expected. I paid $12.95 (plus s/h) for 3 plants, knowing they would be in small containers. But the plants themselves were just tiny sprigs stuck in the tiny pots. Not impressive, though they did appear healthy.

[FYI - for anyone who is wondering, the third plant in the family garden is Hidden Ginger - but sweet Darla of More Family and Flowers gave me that!]


Hope y'all are all enjoying some warm weather and gardening this weekend! - Ginger

p.s. thank y'all for your advice on the wasp problem! I am going to make some of those coke bottle traps and will let you know if it helps.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

march wrap-up and a wasp question (help!)

March has mostly been a month of beautiful weather here. I'm still enjoying being home with Clara, and terribly sad I have to go back to work in 3 weeks. I've gotten to spend just a bit of time outside (and contracted my first case of poison ivy of the year - yuck!).
This was taken a week or so ago. I love the hot pink lorapetalum with the bright yellow daffs!
I also love wild violets and let them grow wherever they want in our yard.
It's always exciting to see the first fern frond unfurl.
First harvest of 2011!
...turned into a delicious pecan-encrusted mozzarella salad. mmm... if anyone wants the recipe, let me know and I'll email it to you.
All three of the original fish we got in 2009 are still kickin'.
And now for some much less likable wildlife.... we have a lot of red wasps in Mississippi. At my house, they all gravitate to this one structure. They have since Scott built it a couple of years ago. Can you help me figure out WHY, and more importantly, how I can get them away from there? It's in the middle of the veggie garden, so it's quite a nuisance to me. They don't seem to have a nest there. It's like they are scavenging/mining for something.
Thanks in advance for your advice! And now for the obligatory/shameless Clara pic.....
Have a great weekend!
p.s. I still have two extra packets of lima bean seeds if anyone wants them

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Early spring blooms

Of the two apple trees we planted last year, one is blooming these precious pale pink blooms (tons of them). The other looks weeks away from blooming, which may be a bit of a problem since they were supposed to be cross-pollinators! Hmm.... we'll see!
Pansies and violas are planted in late fall here and will live until late spring with zero care if planted where they can just collect rainwater and some sun.

I have two varieties of lorapetalum blooming, but only caught a photo of this one. They are so FUNKY! I love it. The other's blooms are a pale pink.

This has been a bad year for camellias here... poor blooms, late blooms. This 50-year-old 10+ foot tall shrub usually blooms from November through the end of January, but is just getting started this year. No idea why, though I'm quite relieved it's going to bloom now rather than never.

Daffodils, muscari, hyacinths and crocuses are popping up, and more daffs will bloom over the next couple of weeks.

There are white crocuses in bloom, too. Haven't seen any of the purple ones this year.

I write about them every year, and every year people say what awful trees they are.... Our house came with 3 HUGE bradford pears that are DECADES past their anticipated life span. Two of the three had already split, and one of those was taken down last year. This is the biggest of the remaining trees - isn't it ridiculous?? But it's beautiful in bloom, provides tons of shade and interest, and isn't in danger of falling on a house.... so I'm not taking it down anytime soon.

It even looks cool at night. The blooms are like big snowflakes.

I haven't done much gardening, but have lettuce ready to harvest and carrots still cookin' in the raised beds. Basil, a few tomato plants, zinnias and one eggplant started from seed have been moved to transitional pots. Planting sugar snap peas tomorrow.

Here's my excuse for being a worthless gardener - and the light of my life:

Clara will be 5 weeks old tomorrow!

On a totally unrelated note, I have two seed packets for lima beans bought last fall that I'm not going to use. If anyone wants them, let me know and I'll mail them to you (first to stake a claim will receive both packets).
Hope y'all are having a great gardening week :-)