Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010


This is our patio spider.  Every night he weaves a web between the middle patio pillar and the south hanging basket.  He's not terribly big yet, but will likely grow as the summer continues.  I don't know what he caught for breakfast the other day but he sure did wrap it up well.  When I get home from work, his web is completely gone but he puts up a new one every night.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Now Serving Hummers

A retired horticultural agent in our city is an avid bird watcher.  He's a great resource on how to lure birds to the garden.  I was talking with him about hummingbirds a while back, and he said they start returning south and come through our area as early as late July.  It's possible to see them here from late July until we start to get frost.

Last Christmas I asked Santa for a new glass hummingbird feeder.  The plastic hummingbird feeders I'd been using were getting brittle from being out in the sun for a number of years.  My in-laws gave me this beautiful hummingbird feeder. 

It uses a small canning jar which has measurement marks on the side.  I fill the jar to the one cup line with water and then I add one quarter cup of sugar.  I screw the lid with the feeder tubes onto the jar and shake it good before putting it into the garden.  I have it hanging from the chain of one of my hanging baskets near the patio door so we can hopefully watch the hummingbirds from our dining table.

We don't get a lot of humming birds at Garden on Sherlock Street but it's a treat to see a couple of them each year. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Tenant

A couple of evenings ago, my wonderful husband saw something move in the pile of concrete pieces we have near the wild area.  We watched for a little while and saw a large skink move between the pieces.  Skinks eat bugs so we're fine with this tenant as long as he stays outside the house.

Sunday, I was walking across the patio and found the skink near the air conditioner.  This is getting a little close to the house.

It looks to be the same skink we saw in the concrete pieces.  He's (or she's) a fat skink.  I hope that means it has been eating bad bugs in the garden.

This reminds me of what we had in our basement last summer...

We discovered some scat in our basement office last summer that was white on one end.  The white part meant it was from a bird or a reptile.  I immediately feared we had a snake in our basement.  Critters are great in the garden but I don't like to share my house with them.  For one thing, they're not toilet trained.  Anyway, I was watching where I stepped and I was worried about it coming up into the main part of the house.  After a quick Internet search about how to catch a snake in a house, we settled on glue traps.  I made a trip to the store and came home with every glue trap they had.  We placed them in the corners of the office and then my WH said we were going to move things away from by the walls and pickup all the stuff on the floor.  I did not like that idea but he wanted to see if we could find the snake so we knew what we were dealing with.  He reassured me that based on the size of the scat, it was small.  I reluctantly agreed.  We  found more scat showing places it had  "camped."  After moving everything but the computer desk, we gave up and went to bed--way up on the top floor of our house.  I checked the glue traps the next morning.  Nothing.  We went to work.  I came home and cautiously went down into the basement office.  I flipped on the light and looked at the glue trap behind the computer desk.  Eeeek!  We'd caught the snake!  It had legs!!  What?  We had caught a small skinny skink.  It was stuck on its back to the glue trap.  I left it there until my WH got home.  He carried the glue trap with the freaked out skink to a nearby creek area, sprayed the skink with cooking spray and we watched it free itself from the glue trap and run into the grass.  We'd read that baby oil will work too.  Sigh.  Other than a few bugs and spiders that find their way into our basement, it couldn't have had much to eat in the week or so that it was in our basement.  We think we carried that skink into our basement in a bundle of insulation we purchased for the bathroom remodel we were doing last summer.  Be careful what you carry into your house!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The New Computer Is Working

The computer migration is complete.  I think.  It seems all of my photos, etc. have safely made their way to the new computer.  While I'm still figuring out the changes associated with upgrading operating systems, I think I can manage to put together blog posts once again.

Here are some things I took photos of over the past week...

The moon flower plant went into high gear.

I try to cut off most of the blooms after they finish so the plant will produce more blooms.  A few will make very prickly seed pods so I have a supply for next year in case the plant doesn't make it through the winter.

The zinnias in one of the new flower beds are putting on a multi-colored show.

I spotted a butterfly under one of the zinnias.  I grabbed the camera to get a photo of it and discovered that it was under the bloom because it had been captured by a white spider.

It's a dog eat dog world.  Or, in this case, a spider eat butterfly world.

Tuesday evening, I posted a rain gauge report.  We had a downpour and I got photos of it from under the patio cover!

See the water pour into the rain barrels?

The Russian Sage in the front yard is loving the 100 plus degree weather we've been having.  It's covered with blooms.

The flower tower between the garage doors is really getting the whimsical look I was hoping for as the purple hyacinth bean plant twines its way around everything.  Sometimes, when I'm walking in or out of the garage, it reaches out and tries to twine around me!

The tomatoes, peppers and cantaloupe in this raised vegetable bed are doing well.  I'm harvesting tomatoes every evening (even got some in the rain Tuesday evening--not during the downpour, but after it let up.)  There is basil in there too.  I'll be making tomato sauce soon.  I've liquefied some tomatoes and put the juice in the freezer for chili this winter.  You can see what I've "put up" by going to a page in the right hand column.

Here are the snake gourds in one of the new flower beds.  They creep out of the bed and I tuck them back in.  They also wave their vines in the air as if they're saying, "Here I am."

We enjoyed cooler temperatures over the weekend.  Hope your weekend was good.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rain Gauge Report 2010 07 21

1.40" of rain in the gauge.

Rain Barrel Status
1st rain barrel is full.
2nd rain barrel is full.
3rd rain barrel is half full.

Our chance for thunderstorms yesterday evening actually gave us rain.  We didn't even have to be in a severe thunderstorm warning to get it.  Minimal wind with some lightening.  I was literally going outside to start working in the garden when the rain started.  I didn't think it would amount to much, but it kept building in our area so we had rain into the night a bit.  Yea!  The squash bugs got a reprieve last night.  I harvested tomatoes and carrots when the rain let up a bit and I only had to water a few baskets and containers that were under the patio cover.  It didn't hit 100 degrees yesterday but today might again.  And, with the rain, it will probably be muggy.  But, I'll take the rain.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Technologically Inconvenienced

It is hot, hot, hot at Garden on Sherlock Street.

The current evening ritual is:
hunt squash bugs
drink water
dead head flowers
drink water
harvest produce
drink water
water plants
drink water
fill bird baths
drink water
feed fish
drink water
return to air conditioned home

Weeding and mowing aren't necessary when it doesn't rain. Although, I still find a few tough weeds to pull.
My wonderful husband is setting up a NEW computer for me. We've milked everything possible out of the old computer we bought years ago and upgraded a couple of times.

During the transition from one computer to another, my posts may be sporadic. Maybe non-existent. I'll still be taking photos. I just don't know when I'll get them loaded on the NEW computer to put on my blog. My WH only has a little time to work on it each day and I have a lot of files and programs to transfer. In addition to this garden blogging addiction, I seem to be the family photographer at gatherings. I process a lot of photos and make them available for family and friends to print or whatever. I'm also developing a photography hobby. See why I needed a new computer?

I'll visit other gardens during this time. Please have some ice tea or lemonade available for my visit.

Did I mention it's hot?

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Good Morning

I have self seeding morning glories growing in the wild area where they climb up the sunflowers and tangle with the gourds.
I also have self seeding morning glories growing on a trellis that leans on our fence next to the rain barrels.
Purple morning glories
This trellis will be covered with purple morning glories soon.

Before they open, they look like pin wheels.  This morning glory has climbed to the top of a sunflower.

They are white deep in the center.
When I took this photo, the sun was shining through the blooms from the side.  It made the morning glories glow!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One Potato, Two Potato...

The great potato experiment of 2010 is turning in dismal results so far.

I planted three containers in March filling them with soil as the plants grew.

The largest container's plants died back first. I dumped that container out the other evening. It had fungus gnat larvae. I got a handful of small potoatoes. My guess is the container didn't drain well.

The other two containers still have growing plants, although they are getting spindly. I'm hoping they fair better. I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

5' 8"

The sunflowers that were so cute when I first posted about them, and ridiculously big when I last posted about them, are now 5' 8" tall. I say this because I'm 5' 8" tall and as you can see a couple of them are as tall as me. The ones on the left, are growing next to the pile in the wild area. The ones on the right are growing in a crack in the concrete. How are they possibly getting enough nutrients to grow that well? They are more interesting looking than a slab of concrete. Crazy sunflowers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Squash Bug Hunter In Action

Tuesday evening, to prepare for my post about watering my containers, I sat the camera on the kitchen table just inside our patio doors.

While I was focused on finding squash bugs, my wonderful husband was focused on taking pictures of me by the yellow squash and zucchini plants.

He even got a photo of me holding a ring of duct tape to lift squash bug eggs and catch those fast squash bug babies.

I never know what I'll find when I download photos from my camera.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Along The House In The Side Yard

Since we have a level in our home that is half sunken into the ground, we have windows just above the soil.  I try not to plant anything by the house that will block the windows.

In the side yard, I needed drought resistant plants which would fill in nicely along a path.  In the foreground, hens and chicks.  In the background, lamb's ears. 

First, the hens and chicks.

They are filling in very well.

I never water them.  I usually give some away in the spring.  I got the first ones from my mom.  Occasionally, a 'bloom' will come up from the middle of a hen.  That's its last hurrah.  I put some rocks in this bed because I like how the hens and chicks grow around the rocks.

Now, the lamb's ears.

They are filling in very well too.

They're on the end of their bloom.

I never water them.  They tend to get a little tall and flop into the path.  I'll dead head them soon.  Seeds do travel to the other side of the path.  I usually have to pull out some each year.  I love the soft velvety leaves.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

34 Minutes

I posted recently about the containers at Garden on Sherlock Street.  A number of you were concerned about how much time it takes me to water all of them.  So, I waited for a sunny, dry, windy, hot day to time myself.  I knew after a day as described, all the containers would be ready for a drink.

That day was Tuesday.

This is what Tuesday looked like at Garden on Sherlock Street:

When I got home from work (5:15 pm ish), this is what the thermometer on the patio read:

Hot!  I went back in the house and made supper. 

After eating supper, changing clothes and starting laundry, I went out to the garden to hunt squash bugs, harvest some carrots and tomatoes, dead head a few flowers and ready the watering process.  It was still around 100 degrees, but that's when I had time to take care of the garden.  Personally, I don't mind heat too much.

I set a bucket and a watering can (with no sprinkler head) by the rain barrels and noted the time.


I watered all the containers listed in the last review; minus the dead impatiens in the long clay container; minus the cacti collection; plus the new geranium cuttings; plus two sweet potato vine cuttings I've started in the ground in the front yard; plus the hostas; plus my birthday mums which are in two places in the garden (story about them closer to my birthday); plus the clematis; plus some lady in red salvia in the ground; plus the four birdbaths; plus twelve aqua cones by vegetable plants, some basil, some carrots and one lonely kohlrabi.  I think that's everything. 


34 minutes.

See, it doesn't take very long.  Now that the plants are established in the containers, I pretty much give them a quick drowning and move on.  Simply because of experience with my containers, I know how much water to pour in each one.  The water soaks in, a little extra seeps out, the plants feel refreshed.

I haul a bucket of water to containers while the watering can fills.  Switch and repeat.  It keeps me moving.
When the water in the rain barrel I'm using is getting low, it comes out really slow.  I stand in the shade and survey the garden while waiting for a full water container.

When the water in the rain barrel is almost full, it comes out really fast.  I also stand in the shade and survey the garden just not as long.  Then, I hang up the hose because I won't let a bucket fill unsupervised when it flows very fast.  It will run over while I'm off watering.  It has happened.

This is what the thermometor read when I went back inside:

My photo is a little blurry.  Maybe that's because of the heat.  Or, maybe that's because the photographer had been in the heat too long.

Wednesday is suppose to be more of the same. 

Wednesday night we have a 50% chance of thunderstorms (hopefully with rain) and then cooler (90 degrees) on Thursday.

Keep your fingers crossed for Garden on Sherlock Street.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blue Glow

The side yard at Garden on Sherlock Street is home to Echinops banaticus 'Blue Glow' Globe Thistle. Each summer it makes these pretty blue globes. It is a very drought tolerant plant. Other than rain, it has gotten no water this year.

I let it do its thing leaving it stand through winter.  Next March, the dead stalk will be cut off and it'll sprout again.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Think They Like Each Other

One of the new flower beds we made this spring has snake gourds and purple hyacinth beans planted.
They are reaching out to each other for support.