Friday, August 29, 2014

The Winds of Change

Fall is just around the corner, the kids are back in school, it is almost time to yank the sweatshirts from the closet.  As fall approaches the air turns crisp, the scent of leaves hangs heavy in the air, and we pull the last of this year’s harvest from the vine. We close up the pool, put away our gardening tools, and maybe pick up a book or two to read when the weather is damp and gloomy.

So much like everything else, my blog will change slightly too, beginning September 1st.  Since gardening topics peter out over the course of the winter, I will only cover gardening on Mondays.  I’ll talk about winterizing your garden, what an avid gardener does during the cold months, and how to get a head start on your garden for spring 2015.

On Wednesdays, I’ll post garden ideas and topics de jour.

On Fridays, I will post a chapter a week from my story Romancing Summer. 

I hope you enjoy the changes and come next spring I’ll start back to my two-time a week garden schedule.

Romancing summer is about: 

Mason Alexander, paramedic and father, made one mistake too many and it cost him the love of his childhood sweetheart—Summer Madison. After his wife tires of his do-good ways and files for a divorce, Mason returns to his home town to start over and provide a solid home for his six-year-old son, Justin. Then when Summer walks back into his life, he wants to believe God is offering him a second chance at love. The problem is she wants nothing to do with him.

They had grown up together, been best of friends, and planned to marry until Mason's indiscretion drove him into a loveless marriage based on nothing more than responsibility. Despite starting a new family, he had never stopped loving Summer. 

Summer Madison returns to her memory-infested home town for one reason only—to take care of her grandfather. She expects to see Mason Alexander occasionally, but within her first twenty-four hours of returning to Shady Meadow? Life couldn’t be so cruel.

But as time goes on, Summer finds herself struggling with her feelings toward Mason. He's become a dedicated, honest, and respectable man. All the qualities she ever wanted in a husband. But the fact that he walked out on her six years prior, begs the question . . . if a man breaks your heart, do you give him the chance to break it again? Not knowing what to do, she follows her sister's advice—just be his friend.              

Nearly drowning as a child instilled a fear of water in Mason. His father's death in the waters of Lake Erie shortly thereafter, solidified it. However, when Summer stands toe to toe with him in the pool, encouraging him, and reminding him to breathe, he begins to overcome his fear. Then for the first time, he shares with Summer the details about his father’s boating accident and the guilt he has lived with since he was a child.

As much as Summer tries not to fall in love with Mason again, she has. As he opens his heart to her, shares the fear-filled memories that has held him captive since his childhood, she vows to do whatever it takes to help him achieve his goal—to take his son swimming. And with Summer's help, Mason accomplishes the impossible.

Summer wants to believe Mason is the man for her. Every other man she’s dated has fallen short of the large footprint he left in her life. Her soul. Her heart. It has taken her nearly six years to come to grips with their past, and when she does she realizes he did the right thing under the circumstances.

But when her Grandfather dies after suffering a stroke and Mason fails to keep his promise to attend her future, she believes he has left her again.  Only when both of them turn their pasts over to God will the two be able to overcome their past to build a future.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My war with Rodents, Rabbits and Nevada Wildlife (Part 2)

On Monday, I wrote about the rodent determined to get into my garden. I am still not sure what it was, but I have an idea--the Golden Mantle Ground Squirrel (shown above).  Unlike its counterpart, the chipmunk, it doesn’t have any facial stripes.  It is an industrious critter, capable of digging burrows up to 98 feet in length.  Which is probably why the rodent under my deck had the ability to go around everything I put in its path!

Not only did it dig, but the squirrel also disseminated my bed of onions.  They dug every single one out of the ground.  The crop was gone, almost as if one of my neighbors came over and pulled them from their moorings! One day they were there, the next they were gone and the few remaining plants the animals didn’t get the first time, they stole the next!

 
The second problem has been ongoing. This year I installed irrigation in my garden which proved to be a great investment for the high-desert plain I live in.  Surrounding my garden, I have several pine trees, which I water via my garden’s irrigation.  Thanks to thirsty rodents, I have found the lines chewed through, sprinkling areas I did not intend to water. One such piece of quarter inch tubing about eighteen inches in length had over 30 (yes—I said 30) holes in it from the thirsty animals.
How about you?  Do you have a rodent story? I have a feeling the stories of my rodent wars will make an ongoing appearance in my blog.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My war with Rodents, Rabbits, and Nevada Wildlife (Part 1)


We have a deck that runs off the front of our house.  To the south side of the deck I have a fenced in garden.  The fence, about 4 foot high, has proven to be more than enough to keep the wildlife population of Nevada at bay.

Until lately.

Perhaps the approach of fall is stepping up the animal’s need to store up body fat to survive their long winter nap, or they have just recently stumbled upon my smorgasbord of a garden.  Either way, they have become a nuisance.

One night (and several nights thereafter), the sound of something digging under the deck woke me from a dead sleep.  When we built the deck, we enclosed it to the ground, plus buried chicken wire deep into the soil to keep anything from digging under it.

Until now.

Night after night, the sound of scratching and digging woke me. I “assumed” my garden was safe because after all we’d “protected” it from rodent invasion. 

Boy was I wrong!

When I lifted the small step we have on the garden side of the deck, I found that something had tunneled under the board, under the wire, and under my step. And guess who was in my garden!!!

I pushed the dirt back, put in rocks and more chicken wire, but the critter has still managed to make it into my garden.

Ugh!

Some have told me to put out traps or poisons, but I really don’t have the heart to kill them, even if they love to munch on my garden.  I’ll leave that job for my honey to do.  J

Your Turn:  So tell me, do you have problems with rodents invading your garden?  And what have you done about it?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Romancing Summer

 

If a man breaks your heart, do you give him the chance to break it again?



Mason Alexander, paramedic and father, made one mistake too many and it cost him the love of his childhood sweetheart—Summer Madison. After his wife tires of his do-good ways and files for a divorce, Mason returns to his home town to start over and provide a solid home for his six-year-old son, Justin. Then when Summer Madison walks back into his life, he wants to believe God is offering him a second chance at love.
          Summer Madison left her teaching job in Chicago and is back in her memory-infested home town for one reason only—to take care of her grandfather. She expects to see Mason Alexander occasionally, but within her first twenty-four hours of returning to Shady Meadow?  Life couldn’t be so cruel.
          They had grown up together, been best of friends, and planned to marry until Mason's indiscretion drove him into a loveless marriage based on nothing more than responsibility. Despite starting a new family, he had never stopped loving Summer. 
Summer’s feelings toward Mason are mixed. He's become a dedicated, honest, and respectable man.  All the qualities she longed for in a soul mate.  But the fact that he walked out on her six years prior, begs the question . . . can she trust him with her heart a second time? 
 
Appearing here beginning September 5th.

Friday, August 22, 2014

More fun with town names


I love studying maps, which in turn, leads me to finding some very unique town names. So for fun today, I thought I’d post a few more I found.  (I posted on this subject once before on October 10, 2013).

** Old Weiss and French Place, MT - Couldn't they make up their mind when naming the town?

** Truth Or Consequences, NM - Is that the home of Bob Barker?

** Truthville, NY - No one lies here.

** Lower Pig Pen, NC         

** Upper Pig Pen, NC - Was the place so bad, they needed to divide it in half?

** Hicksville, OH – Is this truth in advertising?

** Nowhere, OK - Everyone has to be somewhere.

** Poop Creek, OR - Don't drink the water.

** Toxaway, SC - Is this a toxic waste site?

** Red Shirt, SD - Don't wear a blue shirt there.

** Friendsville, TN - Everyone is friendly there.

** Turkey, TX - I bet this place does a booming business at Thanksgiving.

** Starbuck, WA - There's one on every corner.

** Scrabble, WV - They don't play Monopoly there.

** Pardeeville, WI - There is a party every night.

** Vulcan, Alberta, Canada - They're on another planet.

 

Now here’s one for the record books:

Krungthepmahanakornamornratanakosinmahintarayutthayamahadilokphopnopparatrajathaniburiromudomrajaniwesmaha-satharnamornphimarnavatarnsathitsakkattiyavisanukamprasit, Thailand

 

I dare you to say that!

 

It translates to: The great city of angels, the supreme unconquerable land of the great immortal divinity, the royal capital of nine noble gems, the pleasant city, with plenty of grand royal palaces, and divine paradises for the reincarnated deity, given by Indra and created by the god of crafting. (Visnukarma)          

 

 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some Gardening Terms You should Know



Here are a few gardening terms. 
Annual: A plant that completes its entire life cycle (growth, reproduction, death) in one season.
Bare root: These plants (such as Roses) have been field-grown and are supplied in a dormant state with the soil removed.
Biennial: A plant that completes its entire life cycle in two years, growing in the first year and reproducing and dying in the second.
Bulb:  An underground storage organ with fleshy scale leaves from which the plant flowers and grows before becoming dormant. Such as tulips or daffodils.
Cold Frame:  Unheated frame for starting plants outdoors. It can also protect tender crops during times of frost.
Crown:  The growing point of a plant from which new shoots emerge, at or just below the soil surface.
Dead-head:  To remove the spent blooms on a plant to encourage further flowering or to prevent self-seeding.
Deciduous:  A plant that sheds its leaves each year.
Germination:  Refers to the point at which a seed undergoes physical changes and begins to grow.
Grafting:  Where one plant is artificially joined to the rootstock of another so they eventually function as one plant.
Harden off:  To help young plants that were started indoors, to adjust to cooler conditions outdoors. This is normally achieved by leaving plants outside during the day and bringing them undercover at night.
Mulch:  Layers of material placed on the soil and around plants to retain moisture, suppress weeds and improve soil structure.
Organic matter:  Used for improving poor soil. Usually consisting of decomposed leaves, grass, or manure.
Pinching:  Removing the growing points of a young plant to encourage side-shoots to form. This encourages a bushy habit and more flowering stems.
Pollination:  The transfer of pollen between flowers, which can be carried out by the wind, insects, animals or by hand.
Propagate:  To grow plants from seed or by vegetative means e.g. cuttings or grafting.
Rhizome:  A horizontal fleshy stem which grows at or below ground level. Rhizomes produce roots and shoots.
Runner:  A trailing stem growing above ground and rooting at the nodes, where plantlets are produced such as strawberries.  Some plants produce underground runners.
Thin:  To remove a number of buds, flowers, seedlings or shoots to improve the growth and quality of those remaining.
Tuber:  Swollen root or underground stem with storage tissue, much like a potato.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weeds - the bad guys

On July 28, I shared information on Bindweeds and Ragweed, two real nasty weeds that encroach in our gardens.  Today I'll day a look at a few other "bad guys" in the weed family.


Purple loosestrife: Is a beautiful purple flower often used in summer bouquets. But they can overtake an area easily, crowding out natural habitat.  If not pulled from the soil when young, they form a dense, impenetrable stand of bushes.  One plant can produce up to three million seeds per year.  Yikes!  Some states have even gone so far as to outlaw the sale of these plants.  I can understand why.

 

 
Curly dock: Is another wind-pollinated weed, creating a taproot that is near impossible to dig out completely.  You can try if the soil is moist to use a garden fork to pull it from its moorings.  Or cut off the flowers. 

 

 
 
 
Japanese knotweed: Is a large plant native to Eastern Asia, but in North America it has become quite invasive. It is spread by seed or by its rhizomes.  But don’t think you can dig up the rhizome as they can grow well over 20 feet across and almost 10 feet deep. Cutting back the top growth several times over the course of the summer and fall will weaken the plant but the most foolproof way to rid yourself of this week is by using an herbicide. 


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Caring for your annuals





For the most part annuals are easy to grow.  They’ll grow in containers or in the ground.  They come in a range of sizes and colors, enough to brighten up any yard or patio.  But as the summer heat increases, even the most heat tolerant annuals may become stressed and slow their blooming.

But here are some items to consider:

**Water frequently.  Annuals will die faster than perennials from lack of water.  Regular, deep soakings supply the roots with water, reducing the stress on the plant and assuring more foliage and flowers.

**Use fertilizer regularly or apply a time released product into the soil at planting.  It provides the plant with the food it needs for robust flowers. As important as repeated watering is needed, it washes away the nitrogen in the soil, so regular application of fertilizer is important to continued growth.

**Deadheading your annuals accomplishes two things.  It keeps the plant neat, but it also keeps the plant from spending its energy on seed production.  When its not making seeds, it creates more flowers.

** Pinching them back  will reward you with lush plants and lots of flowers.  You can do this by hand or use scissors, which is sometimes quicker. (For more information on pinching back your annuals, see my July 21st post.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Plant of the Month - Monarda (Bee-balm)



Plant of the Month – Monarda (Bee-balm)

Monarda, most commonly called Bee-balm is a unique flower on long stems.  Their height is often determined by the amount of sunlight they receive. But the most pleasurable thing about this perennial is its scent. Just pick up a leaf and rub it between your fingers, it will reward you with its spicy scent. These plants grow tall so don’t plant them at the front of your bed.  Cut back the stems to the ground in winter and divide them about every three years or so to keep them from becoming over crowded.

 

Light:  Partial Shade/Full Sun
Zones:  4 – 9
Plant Type:  Perennial
Plant Height:  24 - 36" (Depending on variety)
Plant Width:  15 - 18"
Flower Color:  Pink, Red, White, or Purple.
Bloom Time:  Early to mid-summer
Special Features:  Foliage and the flowers have a spicy scent that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to these plants.