Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Project, Book Review, & Mums

I've been wanting to have a gourd tree for a very long time.
People have used bottleneck gourds for years as birdhouses.
They hang them to attract purple martins which control the
insects. My intent at this point is for yard decoration, setting
close to my potting shed. I've been saving gourds for a number 
of years, buying a few every fall. Here's my method for drying 
them. I kept them in the garage on newspaper rotating them
frequently and checking for any signs of rotting. As the gourd
ages it will begin to mold. Don't worry about that, it's ok. 
Make a solution using 1 part bleach and 10 parts water. Wipe
down the gourd thoroughly with this solution, then allow to
dry. They'll need about 2-4 months of drying time. Throw
out any overly soft or moldy ones. You'll be able to tell. If
the garage becomes to cold, use the basement or attic. To
check the gourd to see if it ready, give it a good hard shake.
If the seeds rattle, you're good to go. You may need to sand 
it down a little to clean it up. Once dried out I just stored
them until I had enough for my gourd tree. A neighbor
supplied us with a couple of good size tree limbs. Ron cut 
and screwed them together, (we use screws at our house no
nails.) He then attached it to the fence with screws. See the 
top picture. Ron attached the gourds with wire if they had a 
long neck, and for the little ones he drilled 2 holes at the top, 
running the wire through and then wrapped the wire around
the tree limb. I still need to spray a water sealant for weather
protection. Sam was visiting and of course had to be part of
this project, he so likes to help. Looks great, and just what I
wanted. Thanks Ron and Sam.

Here is a delightful book….warmhearted, spirited and loving.
The title, Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon.
The tenth book in the Mitford series, this engaging fiction book 
does not disappoint. Father Tim an Episcopal priest retired, 
and his wife Cynthia, return to Mitford after a trip to Ireland. 
Five years gone from the pulpit, Father Tim quickly finds himself 
back into the swing of Mitford life and struggling. The many 
characters are quirky, sad, troubled, comical, and bighearted,
just like real life. It's a feel good book without being too sugary.
The title itself draws you in, after all isn't that where we all want 
to be. This book was written a few years after the author had 
decided to end the series but the fans deluged her with pleas for 
more. You can pick up and read this book without having read 
the others. Step into this book, lose yourself for a few hours and
have no regrets having done so. Loved this series, thumbs up.

So many beautiful mums are available right now for seasonal
display. Color choices range from the whites and yellows to 
purple, reds, bronze, and coral shades. They can coordinate
with any color scheme. Hardy mums come in different varieties
and sizes. You may want to keep it just for the season or plant
for repeat blooming. 

If planting mums as perennials, it's better to plant in the spring. 
This will allow the roots a chance to get established, and  will 
help in over-wintering and reblooming the next year. Plant in 
a sunny area and plant 6-12 inches apart in well-drained soil. 
Water frequently. Plant in masses of one color for a beautiful
fall display. Protect the mums before winter by using extra 
mulch to cover. Don't prune until the following spring and 
fertilize well to encourage blooming. If they produce spring 
blooms pinch them back to allow for summer growth and 
encourage fall flowering. Garden mums can be divided every 
2-3 years in the spring or fall. If using mums only for this 
season as an annual, it's as simple as finding a container or 
basket or just leave them in the same pot and water well 
every day as needed.  

Attended the Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio last 
Friday and Saturday with Ron and daughter Shakira and
her husband Mark. Lots to see and buy, lots of people and
lines but it was tolerable and we had a great time. I think
I showed great restraint with my purchases. I enjoyed 
looking at the decorated RV's (think Glamping) and there
was a lot of cooking and craft demonstrations. From
furniture, jewelery, miniature gardens and lots of fall items
for decorating this was the place to be on a beautiful autumn

"Shine On, Shine On Harvest Moon."
It will be happening. Take note also for a lunar eclipse on 
September 27th. Listen to the weatherman on TV for details.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Autumn Equinox, Chores, A New Word

I may be jumping ahead.  The autumnal equinox will be on 
September 23 at 4:21 am (ET). Officially for the northern 
hemisphere folk, the day and night will each share 12 hours, 
(give or take 5-7 minutes). This is Fall, Autumn's start….
and from that point on the temperatures begin to drop and
the days get shorter than the nights. It is a transition time.
It is the summer's great last heat,
It is the fall's first chill: they meet.
              -Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

Fall is a favorite season, a thyme of festivals, football,  apples
and pumpkins. Glorious days of watching the leaves change
to their beautiful golden and red hues, the slanted sun's rays
providing a more vivid richness to those colors, while at the
same time giving us warmth. We are eager to be outside for
just a little bit longer. As we begin to bundle up against the
cool crisp air, we'll sigh and yes miss our summer…..
Melancholy.. no way.. how about festive, flavorful, flannel,
and fireside. I'm feeling good right now.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.
        -excerpt from September, Helen Hunt Jackson

September also finds us winding down our garden areas. It's
putting away the "stuff." We take another weekend day to 
finish our task of yard clean-up. And finish we did. Ron in 
the picture above made many trips to our storage shed down 
the hill where we keep the yard decorations. Whew! We were
exhausted and dirty by the end of the day. While garden chores
remain, I consider that the easy part for it's what I like to do.
So next day it's golf thyme for Ron and I busy myself mowing,
emptying herb pots, and weeding. I spent thyme as well in my
wonderful potting shed. Rearranging, rehanging, finding spots
for additional stuff from the yard, I want to keep everything
neat and tidy. I'll share more pictures of my potting shed soon
and show you the updates. 
Remember to water as needed, we haven't had that much rain 
here and it's important for good root development…for the
established plants as well as new plants, trees and shrubs.

Word of the day: HEAVING
Heaving will occur when the soil expands and contracts as frozen
soil thaws and then refreezes. This will cause plants to shift up
towards the soil surface where the roots become susceptible to
freezing temperatures. To prevent this frost heave: rake out any
low spots in your garden, leveling your soil. Add compost to
amend the soil and to improve the soil's drainage. Add extra
protection with a layer of thick mulch. You can remove the excess
in the spring. Lastly avoid planting perennials late in the growing
season (mid October), they will not have sufficient time to 
develop a good root system. 

next up: sharing field trip pictures from the Country Living Fair
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Goodbye Summer, Pics, A Recipe

We're coming to the end of our summer road. Summer is
waning. Her intense brightness will give way to the balmy
coolness of fall. I'm ready to embrace the colors, give way
to the richness and textures of the autumn season. Migrating
birds, leaves dried and crisp, breezes with a coolness that
speak of what is to come. Our senses will waken to the new
season…the season of gathering.

The sunflowers have been beautiful, start cutting now to fill for
an easy fall bouquet. The flowers look so beautiful in one of the
colored canning jars. I hope you're harvesting the remainder of
your tomatoes and peppers and continue to cut the zinnias but
leave some to dry for seed. 

My front door was calling me. In the midst of yard clean-up, 
while moving birdhouses and garden statuary, and thinking
of our early evening glass of wine or two, perhaps a bottle… I kept 
walking around to the front porch looking at the summer flower
wreath hanging on the door... looking ridiculous to me. I needed
to change that immediately to a fall wreath. I was obsessed. Down
to the basement, moving boxes, there it was. Happy and contented
I placed it on the door. Yes! My need for something fall was full-
filled. Back to the job at hand. Ron asking 'where did you go?'
I explained. He just looked at me with an odd expression.
Moving on….

We miss him too, but he'll be back in a few weeks. Luv you Sam!

Recipe Thyme..easy Mexican Layered Dip. See EARTHLY 
DELIGHTS for the recipe. 

We pedal forward along this winding road…
Bye for now, thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Yep, It's September

It's official. With school having started and Labor Day within
our range, we can say the Fall has arrived. The nights have
certainly come earlier, having lost two hours of daylight since
summer solstice began. We'll lose more of course it's only
beginning. Ron is acutely aware of this shifting light change.
He hates it. He misses being able to ride his bike and enjoy the
outdoors for at least a couple of hours after work. I throw in
(with a smile)" there's always golf!" It's important to think in
positives, and oh yes, a good thing…we have a vacation coming
up. I love vacation thyme in late September. So, our summer
was filled with colorful blooms, abundant produce, and sunshine 
galore, and now the changes are happening daily. Everything
is beginning to look a little tired and well…worn out. Lawns
are also showing signs of stress. We haven't had a really good 
rainfall for awhile. I'm starting to see bare spots in the grass.
I consulted my lawn care provider and he reminds me of 
cutting on the high side, watering for a deep soak, aerating to
fight grass compaction and to allow oxygen and nutrients to 
get to the roots and finally another fall fertilization and 
planting some grass seed. All good advice. Late summer will
be a good time for the seed to germinate, but keep it moist.
If you do have bare spots, you'll need to loosen up the soil for
good contact. I have my old garden rake, (not the leaf kind)  
that will work perfectly. So we have an immediate plan….
work on the lawn while we steady on with putting our garden
areas to rest for the season. 

Spied my first woolly worm on top of the herb jar. So cute, when 
you touch them they curl up in a ball. Are their brown bands a
predictor of winter weather? Hmm…not sure. They eat weeds and
grasses but do no harm to the vegetables or ornamentals. We'll
see them cross our paths as they are searching for places to over-
winter. They will become Tiger Moths. Did you know they crawl 
at 0.5 mph, or about a mile per day. So sweet.

Picture sharing from my morning bike rides. Wonderful!!

A quick trim for the topiaries.

"That old September feeling…of summer passing, vacation nearly 
done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air…
Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee 
in that autumnal beginning, as if last year's mistakes and failures 
had been wiped clean by summer.  ~Wallace Stegner

I know who's ready for fall...
Sam with jersey on, ready for the Bengal's game!!

Thanks for stopping by!