Archive for the 'Gardening' Category

Life Goes On
 

It’s been over a week since we said goodbye to Galahad. The first few days were sad and especially hard for Grim. He walked around constantly looking for his friend. He even let out a few meows, which he almost never does. Since the first few days he has come out of his cave behind the sofa where he tends to hide. He’s been walking around more, even sitting under the table while I’m working. This morning he was sleeping in the window seat, which he has never done. He’s been open to being petted a lot more too, which normally makes him recoil or run. The next hopeful step is getting him to jump up on the couch with us. Oddly enough he wasn’t such a recluse as a kitten. I’m not sure what happened to change him.

In other news, my garden has finally bloomed, and as usual all at once. I sadly lost a lot of early tomatoes thanks to blossom end rot. John got me some spray that has pretty much corrected that. I also lost some segments of the plants to wind damage in a storm or two. Two of the plants grew too big and started toppling believe it or not. I’ve had to do a lot of bracing and tying of the branched. For once I kept the pests away from my garden only to have my plants succumbed to other things. However I should be good to go for the next month or two with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. I’ve already got a plan for next summer to put raised garden beds down in the area and have a nice looking garden.

Anyways, I’ll be posting again real soon. If you followed my tumblr or instagram this weekend, you’ll notice I posted some spooky photos. I went to Pennhurst State School (and asylum) for a paranormal investigation. It was a much different investigation than I’ve done in the past with my friends, who normally lead the investigations. For this one we were basically just set lose to do our own thing. I went all on my own, not knowing anyone there, so fortunately two women who had never done an investigation were there and they were happy to tag along with me. I would not have wanted to explore that place on my own at all!

Pennhurst State School

My Garden Is Growing!
 

So I finally got my garden in. I didn’t get it totally done until the end of May thanks to all the yard work going on, the cooler than normal temperatures and way too much rain. A photo of it is below, and yes it looks ghetto. It is even more ghetto than normal given all the work debris in the yard. Believe it or not, this was the nicest angle I could take it from. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll notice the fence around the area is completely gone. It opens our backyard up so much. Now if the rain would end so the patio could get completed and some of the junk hauled off.

Thanks to critters, (chipmunks, rabbits and groundhogs), I have to put my plants up as high as I can to keep them out. The cinder blocks really add that white trash look we’re trying to get rid of, and I didn’t think until too late to use segments of an old tree we had removed. A few pots are on those, and they at least look nice. By time I was getting ready to place and space things out, most of the tree had been hauled off.

A lot of the places critters been living here are now gone, so I’m hopeful this year won’t be as bad. I do know Mr. Groundhog and Miss Rabbit are still around, I think they relocated to the neighbors barn. I have tried all kind of critter ridders and sound machines to keep them out, but eventually they end up getting me! However there isn’t much I can do right now as once the porch area is done, and the final window touches are put on the house, the contractor has to tackle repairing and fixing up our garage. This is next to my garden area, so I couldn’t put too much down that would get in his way. What I’m hoping to do next year is put in a raised bed system and a small fence around just the garden. We we see though. Every year when my garden finally gets attacked I swear I’ll never garden again.

This year I am growing some new things. The list of everything I’m attempting to grow is below. I believe I’ve grown all the tomatoes at one point or another. The second list is all new. While I’ve done green peppers and Japanese eggplant, I’ve ever done any of these varieties. It should be interesting to see how they work out.

  • Classic heirloom tomatoes
  • Beefsteak tomatoes
  • Rutgers tomatoes
  • Super roma tomatoes
  • Better boy tomatoes
  • Super fantastic tomatoes
  • Orange bell “sweet” peppers
  • Mini bell pepper mix.
  • Sweet banana peppers
  • Mini Gretel eggplants.

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photo 2

Spring Is Here! My Garden Is NOT!
 

So spring is finally here, and our house is actually coming along. The contractor is back to working on the outside, thank God! Come fall or winter of next year we are looking to redo our kitchen and bathroom. After last year, I am going to stress that this should happen AFTER the holidays. I want to be able to get decorations up in a timely fashion and without fear of breakage this year.

Right now they are working on our patio and side wall that will also include a French drain to carry water away from our house. The patio is going to be done in bluestone. It will also include short pillars with lights/lanterns on them. I don’t know what the whole thing will look like, the final design hasn’t been set in stone . . . except for the bluestone on the ground. There may be a pergola and backsplash put up for me to put my grill in front of to guard from the wind, which always comes from that direction.

I took the below photos this weekend when it was nice out. They actually did a lot more work since I took these, but the weather turned horrible these past few days and I haven’t had a chance to take new ones. I’ll try and do that this weekend or next week for an update.

Gum Wrapper Rings First up, the bushes in the front of our house got a massive trim, especially the one on the left. The purple walkway is being replaced. I put these old doormats down during halloween to cover all the cords for the lights so that nobody tripped on them and sued us. We are going to use the large stones from our old back porch to make a staggered sidewalk out front. I’ll just have to post photos to explain, but think of the chains made from stick gum wrappers . . . if you remember those things. Here I’ll just add a photo to the left!

The black goop on our house walls in the one photo is what has been applied all over to seal the foundation so that water will stop leaking into our basement. So far so good! Well except for yesterday when we got 5+ inches of rain in 24 hours. We had a very tiny bit of water in the basement, but nothing like the flood we would have had. We also had a nasty back-up with our septic system, but that has been cleaned up and we don’t need to talk about that crap :)

My garden area looks a little bit better than it does below. The giant pile of dirt is gone, but that’s about it. If you’ve followed me, you’ll also notice the entire fence around that area is gone too. I am hoping to do something with that area and have things planted by mid-May. I have told the contractor I must be able to garden, as it is comforting to me. Most of my friends, and even John, think it’s silly since I live on a farm and can just go pick whatever I want from the fields. I always say “That’s not the point! I want to grow it myself!” I like growing my own veggies, though I don’t like the yearly battles with the critters. This year though the groundhog holes got filled up completely and covered with rocks, a lot of rocks. I hope they don’t return!

The porch is almost entirely finished, aside from the one end shown in this photo. They haven’t fit the railing on there because of the giant vine growing. That’s John’s precious wisteria plant, which he has agreed to cut finally. It runs up to the very top of the tree to the right of our house, and the only wisteria that blossoms seems to be at the very top of it . . . which is so high you can’t even really appreciate it.

The other photos are mainly of the retaining wall they’ve been building to redirect rainwater and runoff away from the house. It looks ugly in these photos, but it will be covered with a nice brick facade eventually. This is partially where our new back/side porch will be as well. They’ve actually filled all the trenches in these photos in.

The house still needs a final coat of paint, the roof then needs to be tended to, and finally they have to finish with all the window trim.

While they take care of that this summer, I have to work on organizing the inside of the house a bit better. I finally bought some new dressers, I just have to clean out the old ones, chuck them, and move the new ones into the downstairs rooms. Next up at some point will be a new desk for the room that will be my office! This way I’m not sitting and working in the dining room area . . . where I’ve been for the past 12 years.

Almost Here!
 

IMG_3141[1] So only a week left till the new baby comes home! We are so excited, but a name still hasn’t been decided on. I’m hoping when we get her home something will just feel right.

The bunny finally seems to be on the mend. I spent the last two weeks taking him into the vet every other day for fluids via an IV and then pumping him full of green goop. I finally had to get him a new cage cause the old one was toast. I am hoping he will be back to normal by time the new pup gets here this Friday. Otherwise I’ll just be running around ragged dealing with them both.

My garden is doing well. Lots of big bushes with green peppers and tomatoes, now if they’d just turn red. My flower beds have also managed to stay, for the most part, rodent free. One of the chipmunks is digging there, but hasn’t munched on the plants. I may have finally chased off groundhog, as I haven’t seen him in ages. I kept dumping my old coals from my grill down his hole. However we do have a rabbit and what may be a big ole rat that have moved into his hole. I saw something grey with a long tail rush down it today. It could be a small opossum too. Ick! They all need to go.

Finally we have since the 4th finally had 3 nice days of sun and heat. The heat kinda sucks, but so far we have not had any rain. We had almost two weeks of just rain rain and more rain. The ground is so wet that it can’t take anymore water at this point. Our entire driveway is invested with weeds because of it, and I gave up trying to spray them to kill them until the rain stopped. I think our nice weather streak may be ending this week with, you guessed it, more rain!

May Kinda Sucked Too!
 

I know I say it all the time, but I’m gunna try and make an effort to blog more. Ironically I started this post over a week ago . . . So yeah that says a lot! In part though I’ve been waiting on news about the dog to finish it. Yes Princess was back at the vet again recently. She began peeing during her afternoon naps . . . Not a flood of pee, but she’d be wet in the back, and I found a spot on the sofa where she sleeps too. So back to the doctor she went, especially after all the elevated kidney levels and tests she just went through. So we did more tests, the vet found no signs of infections or stones, which means it could simply be age related and a lack of estrogen. It’s most common for this to happen in spayed older female dogs. So he prescribed her some meds, which she’s on daily now. Of course by time all the tests were done and back, the problem seemed to have stopped . . . She was only peeing in the late afternoon, no other time. It was all very bizarre. Maybe it was psychological? The meds are thankfully cheap enough though. If it starts up again and they fail, we have to move on to other medications or possibly hormone injections.

Here in the Mid-Atlantic/Philadelphia area we are in our first official heat wave of the Summer, though it’s still Spring. Fortunately unlike the previous two years, our air-conditioner hasn’t died . . . yet. I’m not convinced it’s keeping up and will likely conk out at some point. My guess is though that will be the next go around, or when we start getting near the 100 mark. We only got up to 93 this time. Massive thunderstorms on Sunday are supposed to break this heat.

I finally got my gardens started. After a rainy and cold Memorial Day weekend I was able to get the vegetable garden all cleaned out and planted. I thought I’d never get it done! First we had bizarre cold nights, then rain, and now heat waves. Go home Mother Nature, you are drunk! This year I’m growing tomatoes (3 varieties), peppers (2 kinds) and eggplant. I also elevated all my plants this year on cinderblocks. Hopefully this will keep Mr. Rabbit and Mr. Groundhog from nibbling them to death. I also have set up 2 motion detectors with really loud sonic alarms (along with birds of prey sounds and strobe lights). PLUS I sprayed critter ridder down to keep them away . . . . and I’m dumping all my cold charcoal from the grill into Mr. Groundhog’s house. I will beat him!

I also got the flowerbeds outside of backdoor planted this week in between the heat. Well no, I did it in the heat a portion at a time. Fortunately they are in the shade most of the day, but it was still hot as hell out. All that’s left is to clean up the side porch again. Every fall the leaves pile up there along with downed branches from the tree next to our house. This ends up resulting in a nice layer of muck, that at least makes good fertilizer. The ivy I cut back a few years ago is creeping back in and I need to nip it in the bud before it overtakes the whole porch again. There is also a third flower bed there I may finally plant some things in, and we are gunna eventually need a new bird fountain. Mr. Pan has lost a leg and a head . . .

Spring Has Sprung!
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I know I know, it’s been forever since I’ve blogged. The past few weeks have been chaotic, I’ve just been drowning in work. This is the first weekend I’ve had to actually breath and relax a little for a long time.

I think winter has finally ended for us, even though we once again got jack squat in terms of snow. We had a few days in the 80s recently, but now we are back to more springlike temps in the high 50s. Hopefully we will stay with nice weather. I’m sick of cloudy rainy skies, which we’ve had way too much of as of late.

Now that spring is here I’m already thinking about my yard and garden, which of course is a mess as I let it get out of control in the fall. I’ve already sprayed weed killer, and mowed today. My entire garden area will have to be weed-whacked when everything dies out. I think I’m also going to lay mulch down in it this year to keep weeds from growing there this and next year.

The grass I so desperately tried to plant last year was a partial success. It did keep in the backyard, but in the front yard the summer heat just killed it last year. I’m going to have to start seeding now so it’s strong enough by time summer hits this year.

Perhaps this year I’ll finally get a nice looking front and backyard? That would be nice. Then one day I’ll also get those guest rooms in my house finally cleaned out and arranged too . . . Actually that should be a major priority this summer as the dresser I use is collapsing and it’s time to get new ones and throw it out. Unfortunately I have more than just clothes in it. It and the closet in that room have a lot that just need to be junked . . . I predict a lot of trips to the town dump this summer.

Another Year Older . . .
 

Another birthday is here, and soon will be gone. We’ve been having some crazy storms here, and a tornado touched down about 5 miles from us yesterday. Anyway, this was my birthday gift from John this year . . . it’s huge and HEAVY! The thing is totally cast iron! I assembled it in the dining room as it was the only place with enough space . . . only to realize I couldn’t get it moved anywhere afterwards. So I had to take it apart again. Fortunately it’s only 3 pieces, and it’s easy to do. I’m trying to figure out where I can safely put the thing in my yard and secure it. The storms like to come in during October and the wind whips the hell out of my decorations as is. I don’t need this thing blowing over! I do think though after the season is done I’ll use it in the garden. Next spring I could plant some nice trellising plants at the base.

Oh yeah, what am I holding? That was a gift from a friend. It’s a piece of a tombstone dated 1927. They got it years ago in a not so nice way . . . . and just recently found it while cleaning out storage. I said I would put it in the garden as well to appease the angry ghost who was upset his (or her) grave got desecrated.

August Come And Gone . . . .
 

Damn this summer flew by! Seriously, I want it back! Where did it go? Some updates on various parts of my life . . .

My vegetable garden seems to have been a craptacular failure this year. I guess I just had too many good years, so I was due for this. I am pretty sure I know what I did wrong. I reused a lot of my soils from last year this year. I thought I had prepared it in a way, with fertilizers and mulch, that would make it okay. I don’t think it really worked out. The plants I grew using new soil did amazing, the reused soil failed. Next year I plan to buy all new soil, and the old soil I will spread on my lawn while using to just reseed it.

My garden wasn’t a complete failure, but two of my tomato plants were. Nothing could save them, they just died slowly. The other three grew huge, but only just now am I getting tomatoes. It’s the end of August, this is getting a bit late! Cold snaps will start, and that will kill the tomatoes that are just now growing. Perhaps I also need to plant earlier next year as well . . .

Oddly enough, my pepper plant, a first for me, did amazing . . . @!#$@%@$#%@$# I would rather have had tomatoes! Last year I had so many tomatoes I was throwing them out because I couldn’t use them fast enough. Oh well, I have live and learned!

With the summer over, work will be starting up again soon. I don’t know how I feel about this. I will be glad for the paycheck, but every semester you don’t know what you will end up with in terms of a class. I am very happy to be teaching my favorite class, “Magic and Religion,” for the first time ever this fall. It became so popular the department added it to every semester (it used to only be in the spring). I love that I’ll be able to cover Halloween in depth! Also it looks like there is a good shot for one of my adjunct jobs to become more permanent in the future . . . we shall see!

For a complete change of topic, in a week I will be enjoying Madonna . . . live in concert! I can’t wait! This is a week before my birthday, and is basically my birthday present to myself. I won’t lie, I have cheated and been watching fan uploaded videos to YouTube a lot this summer. Still, I can’t wait! I think I’m most excited about seeing her do “Express Yourself” again . . . even if it is a controversial “Born This Way” mash-up that’s been fueling fan wars with Lady Gaga. This song along with “Like A Prayer” are up there with my most favorite Madonna songs ever. Oh yes, and we can’t forget “Vogue.”



Finally, for another complete change of topic . . . I have made friends with a local paranormal investigation society. I’ve done several investigations with them over the past year. At some point I really want them to come to my house to check out my own ghosts, but I have to figure out what to do with the dogs. Having two exiting yappy dogs not leaving people alone would not aid in an investigation into ghosts. To get back to the point at hand, in September I will be accompanying them for my first overnight trip to a haunted location . . . Fort Mifflin! This is a local Revolutionary War fort that has been featured on countless “Haunted History” shows on TV. I can’t wait!



Birthdays, Gardens, Health and More . . .
 

So yet another year passed, and I forgot poor Princess’ birthday again! She just turned 8 years young on July 12th. I originally thought it was the 8th, looked it up and found out it was the 12th. Then by the 14th I remembered I had forgotten it! She was of course devastated . . . . okay not really. I need to put this in my iPhone calendar with an alarm set though, along with Nikko, who is in October.

My garden hasn’t been doing so hot this year. I don’t know what’s going on. I guess I had a few good years, now I’m do for a bad one. I put three tomatoes in topsy turvies, two in pots, and one pepper plant in a pot. The one tomato plant in the topsy turvy that I thought wouldn’t amount to much is now doing the best of the three, while the other two seem to be hanging on. I think the heat has been a little too much, and those two get the most sun out of all the plants because of where they are.

Then I had a vermin problem. The groundhogs are back! They devoured half of the best tomato plant that I put in a pot. It has come back, but it probably would have been twice the size it is now. I have since put my halloween zombies out, attached tin foil pans to the tomato ladders to make noise, and have been spraying my plants with various internet remedies to keep the buggers away. So far so good . . . but I just for the first time in a long time saw a groundhog today. Grrrrr!

I have not even touched the two rooms in the house that I said I’d start packing up. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I won’t get to them until the fall at this point. I have a lot of stuff going on. I have taken on a few projects, which are right now only in the planning stages. Nothing huge yet, but come fall it will become some added work for me. Of course it pays nothing right now, the hope is for a future payoff from them and a better job for me in the long run. I’ll discuss all these is a future blog at some point. Hey I gotta keep something to blog about since I have so little to blog about as of late!

I have been keeping up with my diet and fitness regime, and am down about ten pounds! I’ve been doing a lot of classes at my gym in the evenings: Zumba, Step, Boot Camp and Body Blast. This has become all the more important as of late, as it turns out I have high blood pressure. I probably have for years now honestly, but it’s just slowly gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I think this probably explains why I’ve felt so run down and blah for awhile now, as well as the increase in my headaches. I just thought it was the result of stress and the long commutes to and from work. I am now on medication, and it’s wait and see if it works. I am actually waiting for my doctor to return my call as I write this, as I was supposed to check in with her as to how it’s going. So far it’s down slightly, but it’s still high. Boo! Then I have another appointment at the end of the month to review everything and decide whether to try something else or change dosages. Fun fun! John is also being the food police. Actually no he’s just being a brat, telling me how all I’ll be able to eat on the cruises from now on are the bland spa selected meals on the menu.

Strawberry Season!
 

So it’s strawberry season here at the farm. I have to say, I’ve never been a real strawberry fan. I can eat them if they are in something, like cake. On their own however, I don’t just crave eating a strawberry. I did go out with friends this weekend to the fields and pick some. I plan on making a strawberry cheesecake with the giant tub I picked. I posted a few of my Lytro photos of the berries and field below.

In other garden news, I finally got 3 tomato plants started in the “Topsy Turveys.” I’m waiting on some tomato halos that I ordered to arrive to try the a few more in the big ground pots. I’m hoping these and the ladders I bought will keep my garden from becoming the insane tomato jungle it did last year. I might also give green or red peppers a try this year. Last year I ended up with more tomatoes than I could possibly eat. I was giving them away. I was making sauces every week. It was nuts.

The yard is slowly coming together. I’ve raked up leaves and pine needles from many places were they piled up over several years. I have the garden areas by the side of the house cleaned up. I attempted planting some things there . . . but nothing is happening. I’m going to have to just buy well established plants to put in there. I actually have some grass growing in the bare spots of the yard too. John keeps asking why I wanna grow grass because then I just have to cut it. I told him because I want it to look like respectable people live in our house, not trash!

My nemesis, the ground hog, apparently got knocked up over the winter. We have three groundhog babies running around the yard now. Noooooo! I am certain the groundhog is what ate all the flowers I tried to grow last summer. I’ve also fallen into their holes a few times. At some point I’m going to break my ankle I’m sure. The groundhog family has unfortunately got to go.