Archive for the ‘gardens’ Tag

05-12-2016 Journal – Garden Aches & Pains!   4 comments

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I hate missing a scheduled posting but it happened this week for the first time in almost a year. The weather turned bright, sunny, and beautiful and I got swept away with garden preparations and grass cutting. By the time I was finished it was much too late in the day to sit down and post something.  I’ve been waiting five long months for these first spring days and I enjoyed the hell out of them.

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Along with all that enjoyment came the inevitable aches and pains.  The morning-after reminded me just how many muscles I have in places I’d forgotten about . . . and they weren’t happy. Oh so sore.

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My better-half and I spent some time and money this week visiting a number of local nurseries and were able to purchase almost everything we needed for the initial plantings.  We  bought, cucumbers, zucchini’s, various hot pepper plants, pea pods, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and even some early kale plants. Add to that a few dozen marigolds for a little color and we’re ready to start planting next week. We also picked up quite an assortment of herbs to replace plants lost over the winter and a number of new ones as well.

I even got a little carried away and started transplanting a few things from the flower garden to a more prominent position near the driveway.  It was a backbreaker trying to get this bush moved but it appears to have survived the trauma and is doing well.

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‘Before’

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‘After’

We’ve filled our cold frames with plants and they’ll remain there until I’m sure the weather will remain warmer and no frost in the forecasts. Regardless everything should be planted on or about Memorial Day.  Then it’ll be time to relax and let Mother Nature do what she does best.

These few photos are the first of many I’ll be posting this summer. We should have a really productive garden which will hopefully fill our pantry shelves for next winter.

I NEED TO ORDER MORE BEN-GAY!

04-04-2016 Journal – Spring & Weight Loss (Ugh!)   Leave a comment

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I was happy yesterday when the last of that surprise April snow storm melted away.  Spring Fever immediately returned and thoughts of gardening and yard work filled my stupid head.  I rushed to Lowes after making a list of supplies including a new grill, a grill cover, and eighty 50 lb. bags of assorted potting soils and dirt.  I was in heaven for the remainder of the day even though none of the stuff wouldn’t be delivered until next week but I didn’t care. I slept well dreaming about warm weather and many other Springtime activities. When I awoke this morning it was snowing again.  I’m such an idiot.

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As I was watching the snow flakes fly buy the window I remembered something else that was scheduled for today that I wasn’t looking forward to either.  My better-half and I decided a few weeks ago that it was time to get rid of all of the extra holiday and winter weight we’d accumulated. Today was the start of our new and improved weight loss program (sarcasm). If that doesn’t depress the crap out of you nothing will.

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We did our weight-in’s separately because neither one of us wanted to announce the results to the other.  It’s just too effing depressing. This next month is going to be more than a little difficult but absolutely necessary. We both want to be healthier and thinner but the road to those things is a bumpy one.  Eat more salads, less carbs, less calories, no snacking, no candy, no dairy, no alcohol, and OMFG just shoot me now.  I’ll keep you posted on our progress regardless of the results. 

I took a walk around the property a few days ago and it always amazes me just how resilient the plants are. We have things sprouting everywhere regardless of the snow and colder temperatures.  Here are a feel quick snaps.

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‘Chives’

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‘Daffodils’

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‘Rhubarb’

THE FUN SPRING IS JUST BEGINNING

10-09-2015 Journal – Deconstruction Continues!   Leave a comment

I found myself somewhat motivated yesterday after beginning the Fall cleanup of the garden a few days ago. The least favorite task I have in the Fall is the one I  completed yesterday. Most of you are familiar with the term “compost pile” but never have had the pleasure of using one.  Today was my turn.

After removing the garden fabric as I mentioned in a previous post it was time to get serious. I spent some time yesterday uprooting all of the better-half’s marigolds. They’d grown so large that they completely filled  my trailer. I then pulled any additional weeds from the frames and took the combined load to the compost pile set aside for 2017.

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I continued in the herb garden by removing the rosemary plants that I cleaned and immediately placed into the dehydrator.  I love the smell of fresh rosemary and my hands will probably carry that aroma for the rest of the day.  On top of that the downstairs of our house will smell of rosemary for a couple of days at the very least.  I then removed the remnants of the radishes, pea pods, cabbages, and carrots from the smaller frames and off they went to their compost pile.

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Then the hard work began. I removed the tarp from the current compost pile and began filling the trailer.  I have to remind you that as a general rule compost had a bit of an odor.  Fortunately the longer it sits the less it smells. This pile was more than two years old and only a little bit stinky.

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I took four trailer loads of compost to the garden and spread the contents evenly over the frames.  I’ll let the garden rest for a day or so because they’re forecasting rain for tomorrow.  I definitely wouldn’t want to be knee deep in wet compost because I’ve been there before. Never again. Once things have dried out completely I can return and rototill the compost into the soil.

One more solid day of work and the garden will  be finished for this year and won’t be touched again until May of 2016. I may be forced to wait a while until the weather decided to cooperate which it hardly every does.

08-24-2015 Journal – New Camera!   Leave a comment

I’ve spent the last few days making friends with my new camera.  My Nikon D3200 is by far the best camera I’ve ever owned but it’s size becomes an issue at times. If we happen to be in town or shopping the D3200 is cumbersome. It has 24.2 megapixels which allows me a great deal of freedom when editing and I still plan on using it as much as I possibly can. Also my collection of lenses for that camera gives me more flexibility than I’ll ever need.

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All that being said, I decided to purchase a small point-and-shoot camera that can easily be carried in my pocket. I know your wondering why I don’t just use the camera in my smart phone.  Two immediate problems caused me to scrap that idea.  While the telephone’s camera is already being carried everywhere by me it lacks lens flexibility.  The default lens is useful but not as useful as I’d like. Secondly, the camera in my phone has only 13 megapixels which for me is inadequate.

My search began on-line and I must have looked at a hundred different styles and types of cameras and brands. After all of that research I decided to stick with brands that I’m already familiar with such as Samsung and Nikon.  I then began my visits to local retailers to see the actual cameras and get a little hands-on experience.

After those visits my choice became easy to make.  I finally purchased a Nikon Coolpix L32 for a more than reasonable price.   It has everything I was looking for and then some. It uses a standard SD card making the transfer of photo’s to my computer much easier.  It’s zoom and focus capabilities were impressive for such a small unit and it’s 20.1 megapixels make it just about perfect for my use.

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I then made a few field trips in the area to do a little experimentation with the new camera.  It was a bit confusing at first but within a few minutes I was taking some reasonably good photo’s. I returned home to snap a few more pictures in and around our garden. These photo’s will be easy to post on this blog and with a little image resizing can be emailed without a problem.

For a change I feel like I actually got a good value for the money spent. All too often in the past after making purchases I get the feeling I’ve been had.  I have to say that all of my Nikon purchases over the years have been excellent and reliable. Check these snaps out.

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With both of these cameras in my bag I should be able to handle any situation or location and still get really decent results.

07-17-2015 Journal–Flowers, Flowers & More!   Leave a comment

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I just finished doing a lot of yard work and I’m exhausted.  With all of the rain we’ve been having the grass is growing faster than I can keep up. The compost pile is already four feet high and It’s only mid-July. It’ll be like Mt. Everest come October.

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I thought I’d post a few new photo’s of our flowers around the garden and house. The colors are fantastic and as some flowers fade many others are just coming into bloom. The colors are nice to look at but the smells are incredible.

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As you can see we have a few rather large zucchini’s already  to pick and within the week I’ll be collecting a basket full of jalapeños and hot banana peppers.  They should make some tasty and screaming hot jalapeño poppers in a few weeks.

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My friendly skunk has been blocked from the garden by the new fence but continues hanging around.  I’ve been finding holes in the yard where he’s been digging for grubs.  It may be time for one more night of surveillance with my new rifle.  This guy has outlived his usefulness and I may have to lay some serious violence on him.  He’s slowly morphing from a friendly night visitor to a varmint.  Unfortunately for him varmints have a very short life span here.

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This will be a shorter post than normal because the better-half and I have been invited to dinner this evening. Good food, good drink, and two grand kids to chase around for a while.  That has the makings of a great night.

Since I’m not allowed to leave the house until I’m presentable and smell good, I need to get busy. No matter what there are always rules to be followed or ignored. Such is life.

06-21-2015 Journal– Rain, Mexican Food, & Father’s Day!   Leave a comment

The rainy days continue here in Maine.  All the better for our gardens but a little annoying as well.  The better-half surprised me yesterday with an adlib Father’s Day celebration.  We’d leave the house early and look for a small out of the way place to have breakfast.  The only requirement was that the restaurant be small and some where we’d never been before.

This was the best scenery shot of the morning because it rained the entire time we were driving.

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After driving along the coast to several small restaurants we were becoming frustrated.  In one restaurant there was not only a forty-five minute wait for a table but a half-hour wait to get into the stupid parking lot. We quickly decided that wasn’t the place we were looking for.

Twenty minutes later we cruised into the city of South Portland, just across the harbor from Portland.  As we turned a corner what did we stumbled onto but a Mexican restaurant called Taco Trio.  The entire town was barely awake and moving but this tiny little place was bustling with customers. 

After some discussion we both decided on a breakfast burrito with everything. The order arrived twenty minutes later at our tiny little table with two four pound burritos with everything in them. And I do mean everything!!  We had sides of freshly made tomato salsa, a pineapple and cilantro salsa, and enough hot sauce to float a boat. It was the best Father’s Day meal I’ve ever had and I suspect my mouth will still be burning in three more hours.

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One last thing.  The war between me and all of Mother Nature’s critters has come to an end.  Rather than kill as many of them as possible I decided on a more peaceful solution.  Thanks to a nearby Lowes and three hours of hard work I was able to fence in my garden frames.  It’s been two days  now and there’ve been no further middle of the night raids.  Here’s a couple of photo’s of the new setup.

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For the first time in my life I was able to get the upper hand on Mother Nature.  I hope my late father is up there watching.  He was never able to win using electric fencing, human hair, guns, and any thing else he could think of.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY DAD – We finally won one.

06-01-2015 Journal– Normalcy Returns!   Leave a comment

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‘Rear Yard Water Feature’

Today I’m celebrating my release from two days of captivity in "computer hell".  All of my network connected items are finally working once again and all is right in my world.

I spent four hours yesterday digging into the software on my main computer in an attempt to find that one little thing that would fix all of my networking problems.  It was a mentally exhausting exercise that really didn’t make me much smarter just more frustrated. 

As I peeled away the layers of this damn computer onion I discovered a lot of settings that are automatically set by the Windows program when working with local networks. After four hours of searching I discovered a small screen that I’d never seen before. I clicked on a small box on that screen which initiated some sort of BS setting, and miracle of miracles, everything began working properly.  I read the small descriptive blurb  near that switch but understood none of it …… but it worked.

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‘It’s amazing what a little rain can do.’

Today is a day of much needed rain and I’m relaxing with the cat in front of the television.  As you can see by the photo’s the rain is quickly turning our property into a jungle. I just finished watching for the umpteenth time, season one of Sherlock. It’s a modernized version of Sherlock Holmes produced by the BBC. It’s my all time favorite recreation of Holmes and believe me I’ve read and seen everything ever made or written about the great detective.  It’s just a great way to spend a lazy and rainy day.

Earlier I prepared an appetizer for our dinner tonight which I hope will be spectacular.  I hollowed out eight fairly large jalapeños, stuffed them with a mixture of cream cheese and spices, and wrapped them in bacon.  I’ll toss them on the grill and crisp them up to start off our meal of roasted chicken. Add a small salad and we’ll should have an excellent meal.   I may even throw in a few tortilla chips and a jar of my home made black bean/corn salsa. That’s hot enough to spice up any meal and to keep your mouth burning for quite a while.

I’m also spending some time planning our two day vacation for next week. It may involve a day of shopping and walking through the Old Town section of Portsmouth, NH, and also visits  to a few local wineries and breweries. It should be a relaxing couple of days if the weather doesn’t screw it up.

05-28-2015 Journal-Bright Colors!   2 comments

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Now that the vegetable garden has been planted I can relax and enjoy my summer a little. Since I’ve been boring everyone with a continuous stream of vegetable garden information I thought it was time to change things up just a little. I’d like to talk about flower gardens.

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My better-half and I decided a long time ago to split the responsibilities when it came to yard work. I was responsible for the vegetable garden and yard maintenance and she would take care of the many flower beds on the property as well as her container garden on the deck. Her results over the last few years have been more than a little spectacular.

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It’s still May and we are only a few weeks away from that cold and miserable weather of April.  Her early plantings and seedlings that she started weeks ago are already beginning to bloom.  We both love as much vivid color as we can get and that’s reflected in the many containers on our deck. All of these photographs were taken yesterday and will give you some idea of the variety of colors we’re hoping to have all Summer long.

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In another month these deck containers will turn the deck into a wonderland of color.  Late in the Summer it’s like walking through an arboretum.  A wide variety of colors combined with unusual herbs help to make it a fun place to sit, relax, and enjoy a good book.  It’s a win/win because the deck is on the second floor which translates to no mosquitos, bugs, or other annoying creatures except for the occasional wasp.

I’ll update these photo’s as the season progresses. It’ll be getting positively Mother Naturish (my made-up word) around here by July.

05-26-2015 Journal – One of Those Days!   Leave a comment

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I’m suffering from a total lack of interest today. It rained through the night just a little and I’m not really in the mood to be playing in the garden mud this morning. I rolled out of bed a little later than usual and had an unappetizing breakfast of healthy cereal which tasted a lot like cardboard. I knew it was going to be one of those day when I left a kitchen cabinet door open and then proceeded to walk into it a few minutes later putting a small notch in my head.  That’s what I mean when I say "One of those days."

The next thing was the damn alarm system.  It’s nice to have technology in my life but when I have to put up with a smart ass alarm system telling me how stupid I am, it’s kind of embarrassing. After screwing around for ten minutes I finally set the alarm, got in the car, and left the garage.  Five seconds after the garage door closed I realized I’d forgotten my camera and telephone.  Back to the house, turn off the alarm, get my stuff, and then back to try and set the alarm once again. If the burglars have as much trouble getting in as I had getting out we should be completely safe.

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I then headed to the first of six nurseries trying to find cayenne pepper seedlings.  For some reason unknown to me or the nurserymen, there seems to be a shortage of cayenne peppers this spring.  I normally can buy a six pack of the plants for a couple of dollars but not this year.  My last stop was at a nursery well known for it’s impossibly high prices for just about everything. They had only three cayenne pepper plants, each planted in separate container, with a cost of $3.99 a plant.

BS I tell you!

As I was leaving empty handed I had an uninterested employee ask me in that awful politically correct tone, “Have you found everything you were looking for sir?”.  I nicely told her no. I was looking for a few decent prices but couldn’t find even one.

Double BS!!

I’ve also been looking for a new garden bench for the last few weeks with no success. I stopped at Home Depot today after checking out their website which listed close to twenty different types. I searched for twenty minutes through that huge building and was beginning to get a little frustrated.  Depot has never been known for it’s customer service and that hasn’t changed a bit. After tracking down a store employee who did his best to avoid me, I asked about the benches. He explained to me, the pain-in-the-ass customer, that they have no benches in inventory. He gave me one of those smarmy smiles and told me they were an online purchase only. 

Triple BS!!!

Screw them, I left in a huff after wasting most of my morning.  I revisited my reliable local nursery and purchased a few additional Ghost pepper plants and a six pack of orange bell peppers. Total cost, $5.20.  I never did find a effing bench but I’ll sit my butt on the ground before paying $199.99 for one.

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This day has sucked soooo bad.  I guess it’s time for me and the cat to kick back and relax on the deck. I can sip a drink and relive the last few hours of this stupid day and try to smile. The cat could care less either way. He just lays there like he always does thinking about what cats think about. He’s not smiling either.

05-16-2015 Journal– Squirrel Peace Treaty!   Leave a comment

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I’m happy to announce that a peace treaty has been reached in my eight year struggle with the squirrels.  Every place I’ve lived and gardened over the years I’ve been forced to deal with those little delinquents who insist on driving me insane.  I’ve tried just about everything but I’ve never gotten the upper hand. 

Seven years ago we were inundated with a population surge of red squirrels. They’re much more aggressive than the grays and caused a great deal of damage to my deck and feeders.  I spent some money for ammunition and was able to thin the herd a little.  After tons of research and the expenditure of more money than I care to think about, I found feeders the little bastards couldn’t get into.  They continued to visit my deck and tried over and over again to piss me off without much success.

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One side of our property faces a wooded area where gray squirrels dominate and on the other side of the property the trees are filled with reds.  I was beginning to feel overrun like the last guy at the Alamo.  I hated shooting them so I continued  looking for a way to make peace.

Earlier this year I decided to try misdirection on them by installing a squirrel feeder behind the house.  It’s easily in reach by both factions but it also keeps all of them away from my house and deck.  Now they can battle amongst themselves for the food I supply and I get to sit back and watch the fun.

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Finally I have a little piece of mind.  I had to buy the feeder and the corn to put in it but I can live with that. As you can see from these photos these little guys have no fear of humans, especially this human.  I walked around taking these photo’s and he never blinked an eye.

His new routine begins every morning around 7:30 am.  He shows up for his breakfast and then climbs back into the trees.  I’ve made peace with the reds but the grays have yet to attempt a visit to the new feeder.  The war will continue between them but for a change I won’t be stuck in the middle.  It’s worth every penny.