Monday, March 25, 2013

Super quick update on garden because it is cold outside

fitted cover kept the plants from freezing
Well Spring sprung and then it decided to "unsprung". Or is it "unspring"? It never fails, I plant, it freezes. It is the circle of life. Que Lion King music. Well, I made some handy-dandy Square Foot Garden covers for just such an occasion. I was tired of having the fly-away square plastic sheets. These fitted covers are just the ticket. It kept my plants nice and cozy in the freezing temperatures last night. It feels like a greenhouse in there now that the sun is out. Wish I could crawl in there and take a nap.

I need to make some more. It is kind of a production to make them as it takes up my entire great room. I have a pattern that I use to cut out each triangle. When I have four, I hot glue them together. I made the pattern by laying out a large square of plastic and tracing where my white pipes were on one side of the square. I added a nice length to the bottom in case it was a windy night and I needed to put rocks at the bottom to keep it in place even better. I added about 4" to the sides to allow some space to glue the sheets together. I glue them right sides together (just as if I was sewing) and then flip it right side out for a nice fitted cover that looks neat.

Mr. Toad is welcome to stay as long as he likes

I found a stowaway hidden in my strawberry plants keeping nice and warm. Yes, that is a big fat brown toad. He eats bugs, so he can absolutely stay and make himself at home.

I spoke with the tree trimmer in our neighborhood and he gave me some free fresh chopped up trees. I can't believe they pay to dump this stuff! I decided I like that on my paths and under my strawberry plants. You need to have hay, weed cover or something under your plants so that your strawberries don't touch the dirt or they will rot.

strawberry patch with chewed up tree under them
The planting has started and some things have already sprouted.

sweet peas

One of my heirloom tomatoes
trench planted

green beans - my favorite french variety

Can you say "overgrown"? This fennel got a haircut.

Swiss Chard doing very well

Proof that Spring has sprung. Louisiana Satsuma
Flower and just to the right of the flower is a very
tiny baby satsuma.

Lavender flower is so beautiful in the garden!
One of my favorite smells.

Monday, March 18, 2013

More adventures with dryer lint

Check out this post regarding cleaning out your dryer connection at the back of your dryer. Well, we have had to take a more drastic approach after our dryer didn't seem to be working well again. We have one of those horrid dryer vent pipes that goes through the roof. I wish they wouldn't do this as it makes it very hard to clean it without a chimney sweep. Our house is 14 years old and we have never cleaned out this vent pipe. Big mistake. We tried a pipe snake and even this handy, dandy tool called a "Hey Tom Dryer Lint Kit" from Flylady. Gobs and gobs of damp lint came out but there was a point where even the longest tool could not reach. My husband went on the roof and tried to blow out the rest of the lint with a leaf blower. There was quite an adventure that included me ducking under the eaves to avoid being hit by heavy tools rolling off the roof, running to the neighbors and borrowing longer ladders so my husband could get off the roof and trying to throw a screwdriver at my husband while he sat on the roof. I know. I could have put his eye out. Luckily, I have a weak throw and the farthest it got was his legs. He can catch very well with his legs! I'm sure we put on quite a show for any neighbors that happened to be viewing the whole incident. Anywho, the lint was lodged into some sort of tight ball in the vent pipe. So, we have called a chimney sweet who will be coming today. $80 seems fair to risk your life on the roof.

The last few days have been filled with me getting creative about drying the clothes. I tried using our dryer without it being hooked to the vent pipe. I don't recommend that unless you have been pining for a sauna in your laundry room. I got a nice facial when I walked into the steamy room. Also, I won't need to scrub the walls in the laundry room this year. We ended up hanging all our clothes to dry in our garage and in the backyard. Those scratchy, stiff towels work like a loofah on your skin. So between the steam and the stiff towels,my skin should be glowing! Well, you gotta laugh at your predicament or you will cry. So, this afternoon I will be catching up on the huge piles of dirty clothes!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Creature of the Night" = 4 for 4 Me = zip

This guy is smarter than me
It is pretty humiliating to think that a creature that roams around at night and eats garbage is smarter than me. Sadly, I have set out a humane trap 4 nights in a row and caught a big fat zippo. This doesn't count my attempts a few weeks ago with a friend's trap. "Billy the Exterminator" must have some secret to baiting traps. How does he always get it on his first try. Selective editing? I guess we can add "Billy" to the growing list of things "Smarter than Frazzled Mom". I tried cat food with the ever enticing fancy Angus hot dog pieces. Nothing. Apples and peanut butter. I sprinkled apple cider vinegar on the trap to disguise it. I covered it with branches and leaves and grass. Nope. I even put some peanut butter on a small piece of bread in front of the trap. He didn't even touch it.

So just to keep you up to speed, the list looks like this:

1. Billy the Exterminator
2. Creature of the Night
54. Me

It doesn't help that I have no idea what this thing is. I do know that it loves my broccoli plants. It has to be kinda tall because it bent over my 2 foot high broccoli plants and helped itself to the beautiful heads of broccoli. It has also eaten all the leaves off of my baby pepper plant and loves my lettuce and parsley. He has taken various bites out of my cabbage and cauliflower. He has also eaten some of my hottest peppers so my garlic pepper spray is like a delicious condiment for him. "Mmmmm... she spiced it up for me tonight." Arggggg... I have taken to covering the favored plants at night. He has taken to finding a new favorite. He can climb because he uses my trellis nets as a ladder. The nets have been torn away at the poles they are tied to. These nets are strong so this guy is FAT!  I haven't found any scat. Not that I could identify it by the scat. The handles were torn clean off my plastic garden bucket. Now I'm starting to think it is a raccoon. A very smart raccoon.

My husband tells me that his grandfather used to sit out at night with a gun to shoot the rabbits that were eating his garden. Am I coming to this? "Shots fired! Shots fired!" "No, its just Frazzled Mom protecting her peas." The very thought of me sitting outside with a shotgun across my lap is just spooky. Not gonna do it. My husband tells me that whatever it is must have been trapped before and is avoiding this trap. How do you catch something smarter than you? Get smarter. Or get Billy the Exterminator.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Yeppers, its time to plant peppers in Houston!

Nooooo, a scary Frankenpepper!
tee hee...
 The days are starting to get warmer in Houston. Our pepper plants love the warmth. The nights have been too chilly to plant our peppers until now. Peppers should be planted in the second row to the back as they get a little tall (2' to 3'). Planting on the end of the box is a good idea as they usually can flop over a bit. Remember friends, don't plant your pepper plants too close together in your square foot garden or they will cross breed and make "frankenpeppers". Unless you want to make some strange cross between a bell pepper and a jalapeno pepper. I actually like to harvest what I plant, so I am keeping mine apart. Pepper plants produce prolifically (a tongue twister). Plant sparingly. Bugs don't seem to bother pepper plants too much either so you won't lose many to them. I was begging people to take peppers last year. Begging. Peppers freeze very well, especially bell peppers. Chop them up and put them in small freezer bags. Store flat. You can easily break off what you need for your dish. Plant what you eat and plan to eat a lot of peppers this year. After the weather heats up, pepper plants seem to back off of production a bit. When it cools down, they come back like gangbusters and you will be searching for pepper lovers amongst your friends once again. I planted wayyyyy too many pepper plants last year. You might make a deal with one of your Gardener friends to plant and share a different kind of pepper plant. For instance, you might plant one banana pepper and she/he will plant a cayenne pepper. You will still have enough to share with your friends.


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