Mixed Zinnia ~ Dreaming of Peppermint

I can’t say it enough about how much I’ve loved growing these mixed zinnia’s from the seed package my daughter gave to me. This one looks like a peppermint candy that you see all the time and always at Christmas time. I know my candy bowl is full of these delights around the holiday, just love mint in any shape or form.

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Until next time

~Laura~

There’s Lollypops in my Garden…

My little packet of seeds that were gifted to me from my beautiful daughter grew into a wonderful display of mini zinnias.

Mixed Mini Zinnias on background

This morning I woke up to a temperature range of 10 C (50 F) and this marks the time when what’s growing in your garden better hurry up and finish before the frost that’s around the corner for us here arrives. I see in my future covering up my tomatoes or picking them to set on the kitchen counter. Oh my summer flew by much too quickly for this happy gardener.

But, I can visit my YouTube channel and watch this short video of my flowers and that is certainly going to produce a smile or two when I’m outdoors in a jacket wondering if I can wait until Spring arrives again..

Perhaps, there’s crafting in store for those long winter months. I ordered the LED lights for my homemade folding light box and I just have to put them into place. I’ll wait for the Fall to finish that project…

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Until next time

~Laura~

Fact or Fiction? ~ Citrosa, Mosquito Plants

When strolling the isles of my outdoor gardening center around the end of June I noticed something I didn’t know existed…

Citrosa ~ The Mosquito Fighting Plant

Bug fighting plant on background

After laughing out loud all by myself I looked around to see if anyone was near by. I do that a lot I’m afraid to say, but if I find something hilarious I don’t care and I laugh…

The closer I came to this plant after squinting to read the label I grabbed two of the sad looking plants that were starving for water. Actually, by mid-June most of the plants are marked down and rarely given any water. Probably, in hopes they would all just die so they could close that section of the center.

The plants smelled just like citronella candles minus the smoke from the wick burning. I was sad to learn that these plants were annuals and not perennials because I thought it might be nice to have these come back each year.

I won’t be bringing these indoors when the frost arrives, because the aroma is very strong and they would have me choking like I do when following someone in the grocery store who sprayed half of their bottle of perfume all over their bodies.

So, I thought I would research these plants to see if the claims were any where near true. Given my detective nature I was off on yet another journey over the inter-webs…

I found out that you must crush the leaves to release the essential oils from the plant and rub this over a small section of your arm for the first time just in case you get a reaction you don’t want from the oils. They said there was a short-term mosquito repelling qualities 30 to 40 percent that of DEET.

But, there are plants with better numbers compared to DEET out there such as:

Lemon Thyme

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Crushed Lemon Thyme will give you 62 percent the protection of DEET.

Lemon Balm

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Crushed Lemon Balm offers a much greater quantity of citronella, 400 times as much as the Citrosa plant.

These two plants are less expensive and easier to grow it also stated.

Here are a number of other plants that can be beneficial for you as bug repellent and good also for your garden plants as a deterrent to those nasty bugs and slugs that eat away our growing vegetables..

Alliums

Take that you cabbage worms, carrot flies, aphids, and the dreaded slugs… I will be planting these flowers next year and they are really tall and beautiful in the garden…

Dill

Run for your life you nasty Tomato hornworms, squash bugs,cabbage loopers, spider mites, and aphids…

Basil

Get outta here! You mosquitoes and house flies!

Chives

Move on out! You Japanese beetles, aphids, and carrot flies…

Fennel

Slugs you better slime away, along with the aphids and snails…

mint

Mosquitoes don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, run for the hills!

Rosemary

Be gone! Vegetable plant bugs, mosquitoes and flies…

Petunia

This beautiful flower packs a big punch! Wham.. you asparagus beetle, tomato hornworms,squash bugs, leafhoppers, and aphids…

Parsley

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Last but not least is the Oregano …

There are many more if you want to research it, but this has been a good start for me and I’ve made a nice list of new plants and old ones to grow next year and the proper placement for them in my garden to try and have a bigger harvest, instead of the bounty I’ve been feeding to the slugs, and other bugs… I want harmony in my garden and food for my belly… wink 🙂

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Until next time,

~Laura~

 

A beautiful Gift from Nature

I’ve noticed that the Zinnias will begin to form a flower bud, then the day before the flower opens it will bow half way and stay there, until it opens. I’ve yet to catch it rising back upright and opening since I’d need a time lapse camera. But, what a beautiful gift nature gave me yesterday morning.

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Have a beautiful day

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Until next time

~Laura~

Growing Milkweed is a Good Thing for Butterflies…

I was watering a few plants from my deck barrel that I’ve filled with dish rinse water every evening. Lugging up and down the deck stairs, buckets of water is just not for me anymore. My shoulders and back tend to protest quite loudly by the end of the day.

So, I removed the screen off the top( used to keep bugs out) of the garbage can that was stored in the yard when I bought my home over 16 years ago. It stayed underneath my new deck for years, until a few years back.

It was one of those old aluminum trash cans I could remember my grandparents owning many, many moons ago. I painted it and began using it with a grin as this always brings back memories of watching my grandmother line the trash can with newspaper, remember back then there were no plastic garbage cans or plastic garbage bags..

Garbage day was always a lot louder than today, since all of the aluminum trash cans were banged against the garbage trucks with an extra bang to remove all of the newspaper that lined the can and all of the cans up and down the street were dented in the middle too.

And, to my surprise after watering the Garden Trug box I found this bug below circling the rim of the can over and over.

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This summer I realized that I sort of like finding bugs for the first time, and then trying to find out what they are and what attracts them. I also want to learn if they are beneficial to my garden or if they are not. So, I ran inside ~ (walked) to retrieve my camera in hopes it didn’t fly away like the birds always do when I want a picture of them.

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In my excitement to hurry and get back these pictures are not of the best quality, but I have a link and will show you a clearer picture of these bugs, which I thought was a beetle of some sort.

Researching this bug I learned it’s not a beetle but rather a True Bug… I had no idea there was such a thing as a True Bug. Hum…learning is great…even at my age… wink

These bugs are attracted to the Milkweed plant, which also attracts the butterflies.

Milk weed drawing in butterflies

Courtesy of:

http://www.restoringthelandscape.com/2011/01/milkweeds-and-their-associated-insects.html

The link above is very interesting if you want to help out the beautiful butterflies in your garden or just want to bring them into the garden as well.

Back to this True Bug, called : Small Milkweed Bug, Lygaeus kalmii. They are immune to the toxins in milkweed, and are consequently toxic to predatory insects.

The funny thing was this Milkweed Bug was happy as can be circling round and round the top of the can, until I placed the bug on the railing because I needed to replace the screen on the water can and move on to other things in the garden. This bug didn’t even mind me bringing the camera very close ( too close) to get a picture that I thought at the time was a clear one..

Below is a better picture for you from: Lynette Schimming
from BugGuide.net

SmallMilkweedBug

I just was amazed at this tiny creature with its markings so bright and beautiful. When I read how it can survive the toxic milkweed and be toxic to other bugs, I found it interesting the marking on the top were of a heart… Like this creature saying,

“I know I’m toxic, but love me just the same.”

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Until next time

~Laura~

 

 

Decapitation in the Garden

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about the sunflowers that grew on the front edge of my permaculture bed number one. The seeds from last year must have over wintered in the ground and gave me a lovely beautiful surprise this past spring.

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I enjoy many  mornings sitting on my iron chair watching these beautiful flowers and sipping my first coffee listening to all of the birds chirping their morning songs. All was good with my days for weeks and weeks, until this strange particular day …

I sat out there as usual with my clippers in my right hand as I was going to cut off the biggest flower head since all of the yellow was gone leaving just the seeds ripening on the stem. I examined the head carefully, and then something horrible happened…

I managed to become sidetracked by the other permaculture bed and the little gifts scattered in the yard from my pup. I cleaned up the yard and took a look at my first years asparagus growing nicely in its spot. Went inside to refill my coffee cup and remembered today was the day to make a quick trip to the bookstore as I had a coupon worth $10.00 to use on a few new books.

I replaced the clippers in their spot indoors, looking back at the sunflower head that needed to be taken inside for the winter months. Thinking I’d be back within thirty minutes to cut the flower head off and inspect the other two that were merely days away from the same outcome.

To my joy there were two books on the clearance bin in the book store, each for five dollars. I noticed a pair of ear plugs I needed as well. All in all it was a glorious morning so far and back home with me I drove…

I grabbed the clippers and a little wicker basket I use for collecting my beans and the like and went down the stairs on this bright sunny day. I placed the basket on the little green plastic table I have on the lower landing of my deck, sat and turned around to clip off the head.

But, there was a disastrous void where my beauties had grown. “What in the world!” I almost yelled out. Well, I did kind of yell that out… I must not lie to you my dear friends. All of my happy zen of the morning came crashing to an abrupt halt as if I’d been harmed in a strange sort of way.

I should have listened to my gut early this morning when I first had those clippers in my right hand and not become distracted by permaculture garden bed number four…I must admit I’m usually quite good at listening to what my gut is trying to tell me and the outcome is pretty good most times, but not today….

Within one hour something had made a 11 to 12 noon visit to my garden and chopped off the three heads of the biggest sunflowers. To add insult to injury they stayed there with my pup inside of the house and ate all three of the heads. The evidence was clear upon closer inspection of the ground just below the sunflowers. Tiny pieces of the back side of each head lay in the dirt. The only evidence that beautiful flowers were once there.

The culprit did however leave me with about 10 seeds that were still intact, which I brought inside of the house for next year. I cut the remaining stems back to about 3 inches from ground level because it was so disheartening to see this damage.

Early this morning before I went outside the weather channel said it was very chilly, I needed my jacket and socks on my feet for my morning stroll through the garden. Perhaps, that is why my gut was telling me to cut off the head of the sunflower. When the weather changes like that from hot and humid to really cold morning the critters get a jump start on preparing for winter.

I find myself watching their behavior each August as this tells me just how many more warm days we will have until the weather takes a dive into our beautiful Fall. The leaves are beginning to change for the past two weeks, slight at best but changing just the same. Yet, another clue my gut this morning was trying to tell me.

So, if you want to know just when the cooler temps will arrive to your place on this earth, just watch how the animals behave and believe me there are clues there.

I put the tall potato wire cage around my deck tomatoes as they are getting big, but not turning yellow to red yet. I may have to begin covering them at night in a few weeks with this weather beginning to change ever so slightly, or else risk loosing them all together. Did you know you can also pick the green tomatoes and place on a kitchen counter to ripen if your weather at night turns from just right to down right cold….

If, the sudden decapitation of my sunflowers was not enough to completely ruin my day I moved on to the 1st planting of my potatoes in containers. I have two planters with potatoes planted and the third planter with sweet potatoes not due until the end of August and the end of September. So, to distract my sadness about the flowers I might as well see if any potatoes grew from the two store bought tiny spuds that had sprouted in the bag. I really wasn’t too concerned with how many because it’s a medium size planter. Plus I was running another test on growing potatoes.

Last year I took one store bought potato and plopped it into the dirt with compost. Watered it when dry with Compost Tea. You take a big container, fill with water, and take a few handfuls of compost from your bin and mix together ~ wait a few days and water with this instead of plain water. So, last year one potato went into the dirt and a dozen came out..

This year I planted three different types of potatoes, spaced the time I planted them and didn’t use the compost tea this year ~ just the rain water from the barrels. The results tell me the compost tea worked like a charm..

September 22nd Potato Harvest

82 days from planting to harvest

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Since I wanted to empty the container while on the deck I needed a well used tarp… complete with deck stain that didn’t work very well on the deck boards… The very first rain the stain bubbled and began to peel..

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Once I removed the wire cage that worked wonders protecting the vines from the winds, and the critters wanting to take bites out of the potatoes. Also, not one slug in the container either… win….

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I cut off the vines before flipping over the planter. At this point I was going to be happy with just a few potatoes. Anything to lighten up my day after the sunflower episode….

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It’s time to get in there and see what I can find.. I just love this part no matter the results.. For me any good reason to get into the dirt is a good one.. But, just in case there are creepy crawlers in there I grabbed some gloves…

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Join me why don’t you …..

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I’m happy I let the soil dry out, before attempting this maneuver…

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Hum…I remember putting much more dirt and compost in here…..

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Aw…what a cute little mound of dirt complete with impressions of the drainage holes… do you think there are spuds in that there dirt…..?

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Are  you excited yet? I know I was….

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I sure hope these potatoes are bigger than the first one here…

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I hope that the others are at least bigger than this one.. But, a cute little potato just the same..

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Ready, set, go .. Let’s get serious with this mound of dirt.. Where are you baking potatoes?

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Alright then … now we are harvesting and making this gardener happy…..

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Another one, now I’m smiling….

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Pretty fine looking roots these spuds had….

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I wonder how many potatoes went into this small box? Remember I didn’t use the compost tea this year, hint… I should have…

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The sad fact was they didn’t even cover the bottom of the small box. I could say big old Fat Fail, but I won’t… These potatoes were sprouting in the bag from the grocery store in early spring and I didn’t put them in a place where they could really get going. Next year I’ll be building a structure where you keep adding boards as the vines grow. I’ll just add another 4 boards and fill with more compost… and repeat… Since, I have lots of spare wood in the garage left over from woodworking projects.

I still have container number 2 to harvest soon and then container number 3 the end of September. Soon, it will be time to put the garden to rest for the changing seasons coming soon… But the beets, and carrots, Swiss Chard are still going strong and should be great as we move closer to Fall…. Oh and the tomatoes.. next year I’ll plant the cherry tomatoes again as they grow faster than the larger versions.. and yield all summer long.. I’m still waiting on the trial tomatoes to finish growing.. The rest of this week is suppose to be hot again, so that should help…

August 22nd 2016 - Tomatoes

If, you made it to the end of this post I hope you had a coffee, or tea near by and perhaps a sandwich and a piece of fruit.. This day for me has had its ups and downs, so I’m heading to bed now and close this day ~August 22nd 2016 with a book by Stephen King ~ Revival… I’m almost finished with this and will begin my new book that I got free with my 10 dollar coupon ~ Season of the Dragonflies by: Sarah Creech

Night, ya’ll

or Good Morning since this is posting at 7 a.m.

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Until next time

~Laura~

A little stroll by the Lake ~ Part Four

The cruise ship was in my sights as I walked away from a father and his daughter who I knew for certain would have a nice time playing over on the brightly colored equipment just for children and grown ups alike with a child like heart.

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This area is the center line between shallow and deep water of the lake. I love how these rocks are piled high above the waterline. just waiting for someone to canoe over and sit a spell, but it won’t be me in one of those canoes anytime soon…

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I could hear music playing where the ship was docked, and wondered if the men and woman working on the cruise ship were cleaning up the decks to their favorite tunes…

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I found my right foot tapping to the tunes that were drifting toward me as I drew closer to the ship. I stood by this sign just looking around and enjoying the music supplied from inside the cabin doors.

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I had to walk way back from the sign to get a picture of the ship, but still missed the right front corner.. Oh well, by now my knees were screaming at me without a care in the world about just how far I was from my car.

I started back to where I began on this gray morning and noticed the father and daughter were parked by the playground and I just knew the little girl was going to have fun and hopefully forget all about her daddy yelling at her moments before.

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These little beauties were growing very close to the shoreline among the rocks.

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If it wasn’t about to rain any second now I could have sat on the edge of the pier and watched the reeds dancing in the wind that was beginning to pick up speed. You can smell the rain in the air as it approaches with its sweetness.

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With each pause walking back to the car my heart danced through the aching joints and enjoyed the beauty that was on display this August day in the year of 2016…

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I sat on a bench and looked though the camera lens at the bits of blue and purples along with a variegated hostas

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This path made of stone was calling out my name to choose this direction instead of the same way I arrived…

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For this single bloom alone I was glad I was listening to the stone paths wisdom, so I could delight in the beauty of this flower.

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Excitement abounds with thoughts about this tree surrounded by these hand picked plants from the caregivers of these gardens. If trees and plants could speak, what would they say on a day like today?  This congregation would have plenty to voice I’m certain….

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I wished there were labels to tell me the name of this beautiful plant. It reminds me of deep sea diving in Florida and the beauty that lies beneath the sea…

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I needed to pick up the pace as the sprinkles began to appear on my glasses….

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Looking forward before heading back to where I started on this morning I smiled at these grouping of beautiful trees swaying so delicately in the breeze off the lake.

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I sat down just underneath the cover of some trees and snapped this picture as the darkness covered the skies, briefly as the lamp came on.

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I knew I had a few more minutes to get the final pictures as the skies parted and a little more light was available to me…

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August 16th 2016 - New Hotel Construction

I’m excited and worried about this structure going up, excited about the new restaurant, but it’s right across the street from the lake and the garden I’ve just shown to you all here on Word Press… what would you think about a 6 story building in this location, just wondering here what thought you all might have about that.. Please leave a comment in the box if you have any views on this.. Thanking you kindly for following along with my little stroll along the boardwalk and down to the pier… hugs

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Until next time

~Laura~

A little stroll by the Lake ~ Part One

It was just one of those days…I woke around 5 this morning and felt the approaching rain off in the distance. Last nights beautiful sunset was a sign that rain was in our future. We still need the rain so it’s a welcome sight to see. But, my knees know as well when it’s going to rain or snow and they are not in the least bashful about showing me who’s boss.

I thought I’d go for a little walk early this morning down by the lake on the boardwalk. Since, I was going to feel pains in the knees I might as well earn it a little because there was going to be no gardening for me today.

I checked the weather forecast before heading out and hoped that the estimated time for the arrival of the showers was correct. Just to be safe I grabbed my handy dandy umbrella and placed my digital camera in my little ice cooler because it keeps the rain off and when the camera is in the car it’s hidden from others and it won’t be damaged by any heat in the car. Works like a charm… Just a helpful hint… So, come on and follow along with me on my walk this morning…

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As you can see the whole of the morning was going to be hues of gray with a few scattered sprinkles here and there.

As I looked down the boardwalk I noticed the volunteers hard at work this early morning. Pulling out brown bits of plants and pulling any weeds that have appeared just overnight from the past two days of rain.

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I walked pass the Hostas with their varied markings. There is really something special about these hardy plants. They can withstand drought, as proven in my own garden this year as long as there is shade for them like underneath this pine tree.

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I came upon this beauty with a visitor resting on top of the flower. So, I must stop to take a shot before it notices I’m there and flies away.

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I pretty much had the entire boardwalk to myself this morning, except for the occasional person walking their dogs. This newly mulched path looked appealing to me and wondered if I’d see a tiny critter running through the bushes. I wasn’t disappointed because two chipmunks took off running in the other direction.

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This is where small celebrations are held. It’s amazing how your voice can travel when standing underneath this structure. Kids of all ages love to stand in the middle and call to each other while a slight echo happens like magic…

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I walked around by the beach area that is roped off for the safety of swimmers of all ages and where the summertime lifeguards can keep a watchful eye on everyone.

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Although, it’s abandoned at the moment as soon as the weather clears folks will be out on the beach playing and swimming. Under the careful eye of the wonderful people who sit up on this lifeguard chair.

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It may have been too early for young children with their parents to play at this playground, but this single little duck found it just right and had the beach all to themselves.

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I found myself giggling when looking through the camera and noticed these rocks looked more like a loch nest monster then just being low tide…

or is it???

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  or perhaps  060309_loch_ness

You can see I have quite the imagination while doing most things each day…So join me tomorrow for Part Two of the stroll along the boardwalk…

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Until next time

~Laura~

It’s Nine in the evening ~ 28 Celsius

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But, oh what a beautiful evening it is just before the sun rests on this day…

Gardening for Fall in Northern Ontario

Fall is the time to plant garlic. Around August 17, take your cloves apart and plant the toes about 3 to 4 inches deep. This may not be accurate! Garlic dates vary wildly around the country. The way to be sure is to use a soil thermometer. When the soil temperature is 60° at a depth of 4 inches, then plant your garlic.

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It’s also time to begin thinking about what types of Tulips you want to plant. We experience such long winter months. It  is so joyous to see the snow melting in the spring and the arrival of those first tulips peeking out from the ground…

Tulips

I’ve planted my Fall crop of Swiss chard and I am monitoring my potato plants. The first planter will be ready on August 20th and the leaves are beginning to turn yellow as they should. This is a signal that their growing time is almost complete. My second planter was planted two weeks after the first and they will be ready by August 30th. The third planter containing my sweet potatoes should be ready by September 10th.

This is truly an exciting time of year for a gardener who waits 80 – 100 days for the potatoes to grow. It can be such a treat to tip over the containers when it’s time and count just how many spuds you’re going to get each year. I did ponder over planting my potatoes in the soil this year, but decided to use containers instead. This is much easier on me to just tip over the container on a tarp and then add the soil back into the compost bin for the frozen winter to clean up any thing in the soil. One good thing about gardening in the frozen north I don’t have to worry too much about rotation. At least from what I’ve read here and there.

I’ve saved all of the peels and scraps from all vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc all summer long, adding these to the compost bins. Usually after it rains (which didn’t happen much this year) I lift a medium size rock in search of some nice fat worms to add to the compost bins as well. You can really never have too many of these nature workers as they aid in giving you the best ever black gold for the spring when everything is hungry.

Between recycling in our blue boxes, and composting what I can I usually only have around 1/4 bag of garbage each week. I tend to not buy products with a lot of packaging as I shop in the grocery store mainly around the outside of the store.. The middle is where all of the processed foods are and I stay away from those.. Too much salt anyway.. along the outside perimeter of the store is the vegetables, meats, milk and cheese. The frozen vegetables are also good as they last longer than the fresh and usually are more cost efficient for me to buy when outside of my local growing times.

My gardening regret this year was that I forgot to plant my zucchini. I ran out of large containers after using them for the potatoes. This would have been such a good year for growing this vegetable since it was so dry I could have planted them right in the ground .. With very little rain I didn’t have any snail or slug problems this year.

Last year lots of rain equaled the battle of the slugs… and don’t forget the wasp. This year I didn’t have any of the nests in my yard, but they were in the neighbors yards and make a daily visit to my garden cleaning up any bad bugs that might harm my plants.

Wasp

courtesy of : http://i4.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article6360545.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/Wasp.jpg

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Here are some interesting answers

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/08/hornets_and_yellow_jackets_are_aggressive_in_summer_stinging_wasps_social.html

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I’m not sure if wasp are effected by long weeks of heat and humidity, but this year we had both all summer and the wasp are mean. They have been daily chasing me indoors if I’m out there after nine in the morning. Which is why I do most of my gardening at 6 in the morning and head indoors around 8, before they show up….I just read the above article and know a bit more why they are so mean at this time of year…

So, get that garlic ready to plant and choose which tulip you want to plant… I know I will be….

Frog sticking out tongue

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Until next time

~ Laura~

A little packet of seeds from my daughter

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My sweet daughter surprised me last winter with a little packet of flower seeds. They were given to her as an appreciation gift with a cute little red potting container. I thought these would look lovely in my homemade garden trug box on either side of my green onions, parsley and ginger. This above picture is the first bloom. I just was blown over by the color of the petals.. Not altered in photo shop.. I just put the picture on a simple background…

The seeds are called: Zinnia Semi Dwarf Pumila Mixed colors. So, I’m excited to see what the next bloom will look like. It rained for the past day and a half and this little beauty opened up during the rain just as it began. I’d say this plant was delighted as much as I was to finally see the skies providing life sustaining water.

Have a happy day today my friends…

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Until next time

~Laura~