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.