Over the fence chat for 5/20/01 to 5/26/01

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Mornin' everyone! I'm getting an early start this morning (0615) as I am getting ready to go out and pick strawberries for the store. Also, Sis has a term paper due and I've got to get off the computer so she can get it done before she goes to work this morning (not that SHE has her butt out of bed this early, or anything like that!)

Thursday, we picked and got about 2 - 3 quarts per row; last night we picked and ended up with 36 quarts in 7 rows, so production is getting up where it should be. 2 1/2" of rain on Thursday night/Friday made all the difference.

We had lots of help picking last night, as Cass (who's been lurking) and her Mama and Son came out last night; as did Mike and Phyllis - who got my baby chicks for me this year! More (much more!) about our visit later - got to get those berries picked and to the store before church gets out!

Later, dudes!!

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2001


Good morning all. I awoke at 6:30 to the wonderful sound of rain on our tin roof. Quickly ran out and pulled down the clothes I had forgotten last night. Looks like we will be lucky and have rain all day so I'm planning lots of house projects, which isn't hard as our house is still only half built. I may convince David that running water in the kitchen would be a plus this week so I am looking forward to a rainy week!

Oh I admit Polly, after taking down the laundry I jumped back to bed. I'm still recovering from a late friday night when I had to take our neighbor to the emergency room. We live an hour from the hospital and to get her arm stitched up took 2.5 hours. I finally explained to the nurse that by making us wait so long they were creating a dangerous situation because I had a long drive home on mountain roads. I think I finally got to bed at 2AM! May not be late for night owls but my day starts at 5, gosh I can't stay up like I did in college!

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2001

It's raining here today, too. After two weeks without any rain we were in need of a little moisture so I'm glad for the rain. I just wish my basement would dry out... :-/

We got a few things done outside yesterday. Ruth planted 80 onion plants in two raised beds and did some weeding in the vegetable garden and I got a few ornamental grasses and a purple coneflower dug up and repositioned further apart in their garden bed. Boy, do the ornamental grasses have an extensive root system! It was quite a job digging them up... I hope to divide them next spring for more plants. I also did quite a bit of watering of flowers and vegetables as I wasn't sure we'd get any rain today.

The weather has been predicted as much cooler this week with a risk of frost on Tuesday or Wednesday morning so I'm glad we haven't planted much of the warm-season vegetables yet. But we'll probably have to cover the tomatoes and peppers so we don't lose them or set them back too much. We've got several 4 gallon buckets that kitty litter came in and I think they'll work great for covering the tomatoes.

We're thinking of heading out today to see a movie as it's looking like we'll get rain all day. We've been wanting to see Shrek so I imagine that's what we'll end up seeing.

BTW, Polly I've been wanting to thank you for starting these over the fence chats every week. I really appreciate your initiative on this. Thanks!

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2001

I'm back. OHMYGOD camping with a ten-year-old. Will I ever get enough rest??????

btw, the weather was perfect! You guys got all the rain, it would seem. Now off to wash clothes, dishes, dish towels, etc.

Wouldn't you just know that I left the power off the electric fence while we were gone? Wouldn't you just know that Siegfried (Nubian wether) got out and munched down our neighbors new pear tree? And Cody (one of my rams) decided to break some new territory into another paddock?

Had enough bike riding and hiking to last me for at least 4 or 5 more days...

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2001

Well, what with the prediction of freezing temps, sleet, snow, or whatever is headed this-a-way from the west, I put a temporary halt to most veggie garden activities, and settled for indoor potting of tomato starts, and breaking ground to plant some ornamentals in a section of the yard that was stagnating. The ground was hard and compacted sand, rather sour, with only a little wispy grass growing shallowly on it, but mostly dandelions and moss. So I ripped up another section of it today (I'm taking it a section at a time so I can see progress and not get discouraged), dug in compost and other soil helpers,and got ready to plant the whole thing in ferns, hostas, and other shade plants tomorrow.

I discovered lots of little shallot tops sticking up out of the black paper mulch today that weren't there earlier. They're growing like...weeds! Even the leeks that took a beating in a windstorm quite soon after planting look like they are trying to rally. Hopefully the cold weather won't hurt them too badly, but I'm already marshalling old blankets, polar fleece pieces, etc to tuck them up cozy. I love buying up polar fleece when it goes on sale cheap. It's so useful for so many things, I never even get around to putting hems on them. Any unplanted sets and such are going into the garage where they should be happy.

I thought perhaps I was getting carried away planting 4 dozen or so leeks, and 5 dozen shallots, but maybe not... At least I'm going to limit myself to >ONE< hill of zucchini this year. That probably means that this time since I didn't plant 5 hills, I won't get anything at all off them. Planted 5 last year because the single one the year before that produced exactly 1 zucchini, so I figured if I planted 5, I'd get 5 zucchinis....ho ho ho. People were starting to lock their doors when they saw me headed in their direction with a bag.

I've been having yellow jackets in the house! Four of them in about three days. The first two died soonish, I let the third one out the door, and the fourth one was very frisky and I began to think that perhaps they were scouting for somewhere to build a nest and perhaps it was not the best thing to let their little spies go back and say yeah, I found a GREAT place for us all! Now I've gotta worry about where they are coming in.

So far, the horses haven't had any ticks on them. I'm spraying them pretty liberally, since the little bloodsuckers seem to be pretty bad this year already. I've had two from just walking around in the mowed area of the yard, and my cousin's dog had 15 in one day already. Everyone always tells me that they're bad in a dry year, but the last two years when the frog holes all dried up, they were hardly a blip on the radar screen -- THIS year, the frog ponds are overflowing their banks, and we've got lots of ticks. Go figure.

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001

Oh, I just found a gardening site tonight that I thought I would like to share with everyone here -- http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/

There are forums just for tomato growers, for organic gardeners, for herb gardeners, even ones in other languages. I'm having fun reading posts there!

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001

Hi everyone. I hope it's OK I join the over the fence chat. I spent Saturday denailing wood (from a local store we've salvaged). It feels good to be whittling away at the pile, and getting the wood put up for our soon-to-start (I hope) house. Yesterday I mulched several herb and flower beds with spoiled silage and hay, so now they're ready for the hot, dry season. We get lots of wonderful materials at a neighbor's farm- the silage, cow manure, hay. They let us use their tractors, dump trucks to bring it home. Jim always gives them time on their farm as a barter for all the goodies, so they call him when they need the barn cleaned out or have "goodies" for us. I also got parsley and dill planted yesterday. Was hoping to do more denailing today, but we've been getting some much-needed rain, so it's too wet to put up. Oh well, always plenty to do around the house! Have a great week!

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001

Of course it's alright, Laurie! We're hoping to keep this a polite and fight-free forum. Otherwise, the only rules are the ones that Jim posted at the beginning (I don't remember where to find that, maybe it shows up when you start a new topic?). Diversity and differing opinions are just fine, as long as "you play nice". And that's not directed specifically at you, Laurie -- just a restatement for anyone else reading this forum!

Raining here. Supposed to rain all week, and even if they don't know what they're talking about, not sure how soon it's dry out enough to work in the dirt at all. Everything about this garden seems to be bass-ackwards, timing/weather wise!

Oh well, I have plenty of garden related things to do -- herbs to pot, probably can work on the earth boxes between rainshowers. We're supposed to get in the upper 30's a couple of nights here too, so I may wait on planting the boxes, but I could fill up some others with dirt. I also want some boxes on the deck to grow bird greens, so I think I could get those going.

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2001

Wooohoooo! It was nearly 80 today! I spent 11.5 hours working outside!! I got a garden "Claw" (as seen on teevee, I think) and I used it to dig up where the old driveway used to be...I'm actually nuts enough to think I'm going to get this landscaped. But so far, everything is coming together pretty nicely. I also did 5 or 6 loads of laundry and got them hung out and DRY! Also washed and put away all the camping gear. Hooray. Now it's time to plant corn. Well, actually it's dark now, so it will have to wait another day or so...

Hope you guys really aren't getting those frosts. How bizarre. When's your last frost date? Ours is around 4/15, although we had a light one about a week later.

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001

Rainy and cool.Lovely weather after almost a month of drought.Catching up on the rain deficit for our area.

Picked,shelled and froze English peas from the garden last night,so no time to putter on the 'puter.Already picking everlastings,and don't even have all the plants in the garden yet.Most are in,tho.

Julie-thanks for listing that website.It is a good one.I've been wandering around over at Gardenweb for the last few years.Seed traded from there,too.Went into the rose forum once.Was I out of my league. I'm not a big rose fan.They really are! Now the wildflower forum is more like it,for me!

Do you folks use landscape fabric in you landscaping projects?

The money plant flowered prolificly in my foundation plantings,followed by the blue and pink ruffled skirts of the columbine.Now it's a spot of color here and there among the herbs.Yellow flag iris,lambs ear,smooth phlox and valerian.

Have a good day!

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001

Had a great time at Polly's Saturday night (thanks again for all those strawberries!) Spent Sunday morning popping all those little Jewels in the freezer. (She's right--they are great, even without sugar.) It's been pretty wet here, which is good, we needed the rain. Today I am off to mow (I never get finished, I just keep at it.) Have decided to try the Ruth Stout deep mulch method to keep down the weeds I don't have time to fight. Anybody tried this??? And have any ideas for where to get good free mulch--other than all those grass clippings? =)

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001

Laurie: Welcome to the forum. What Joy said to you was right on target so I really can't add much more. And yes, the rules are listed whenever you post a new thread. They're also list in the "About" section at the top of the main page when you first surf into the BTS forum. It's nice to see new folks coming to the forum!

Joy: It's cold, windy, and rainy here too. It's supposed to be like this until the end of the week so I won't be planting much more outside, either.

Sheepish: I bought one of those Garden Claws a few years ago and have found it to be one of the most useful tools in my collection of garden tools. Most of that stuff you see advertised on T.V. looks - and operates - like junk IMO but this is one tool that lives up to the hype.

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001

Hey Jim and Sheepish, mom just lent me her Garden Claw for awhile. I got to use it a little bit before the rain came. I like it! I may have to get one for myself, since mom won't want to let me keep this forever (and she lives where Julie does, so it's pretty far to easily borrow).

I thought it was pretty good for loosening the soil. What have you used it for (more ideas please)? Sheepish, I assume this was a dirt or gravel driveway? I don't think the Claw could take on asphalt or concrete . . . . I found a number of sites on the web that claim to sell it, though I haven't had time to look at all of them yet. I guess it's the Garden Weasel garden claw? And Jim, we quite frequently get "your" weather 12-24 hours later -- it usually seems to move in a SE or ESE direction. It also sweeps down around the bottom of the Lakes and then kind of heads NE or ENE, so that my relatives in New Hampshire get the same stuff a few days later! Does it come through the Dakotas before you get it?

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001


I thought it was pretty good for loosening the soil. What have you used it for (more ideas please)?

So far that's pretty much what I've used it for, too. I put in two 3ft x 20ft beds for strawberries and raspberries with the Claw. I don't own a garden tiller (don't want one either) so I had to loosen the soil in these beds with a shovel and the Claw. The grass was already dead so that made things much easier. I also use it to weed flower beds when the weeds get a little ahead of me. I go along and loosen the soil where the weeds are growing with the Claw and then get down and start weeding. That way I'm not stooped over or kneeling on the ground for too long which tends to upset my back just a wee bit.

Sheepish, I assume this was a dirt or gravel driveway? I don't think the Claw could take on asphalt or concrete . . . .

Holy S**t! It's a great tool but it's not THAT great! You'd have to have arms like Popeye to bust through asphalt or concrete with the Claw... Not to mention that the tool would probably have to be made out of Titanium to handle the job. Sheesh!

I found a number of sites on the web that claim to sell it, though I haven't had time to look at all of them yet. I guess it's the Garden Weasel garden claw?

Try K-mart, Shopko, or Walmart. I got mine from K-mart.

And Jim, we quite frequently get "your" weather 12-24 hours later - - it usually seems to move in a SE or ESE direction. It also sweeps down around the bottom of the Lakes and then kind of heads NE or ENE, so that my relatives in New Hampshire get the same stuff a few days later! Does it come through the Dakotas before you get it?

Most of the time, yes. Although this last storm came up from Iowa which happens from time to time. We can also get storms occassionaly from the NW. There are rare times when we can get storms out of the NE, too (I guess they can be coming from ALL directions, huh?). My mom always used to say that when the wind blew from the NE we were bound to get a storm and she was almost always right. She called it the "storm corner" when it blew from the NE.

It's not looking now like we'll get any frost here, although it will be pretty cool tomorrow morning. These cool temps make for great sleeping weather! I'm sure we'll be wishing for them when it's 90 degrees with a 75 degree dewpoint... By then I'll be wishing I was in Antarctica! :-D

-- Anonymous, May 22, 2001

We're still getting ready for the up and coming visit of the mother in law----for three months! But last weekend a chance came up to get a couple truck loads of composted cow manure. So, off I went with a buddy, he in his truck and me in mine. This was Saturday. The rest of the day we just dinked around in the garden and took care of other chores.

Well, Sunday AM, Chris who loves sleeping in on the weekends(to be fair she fatigues really easily so she needs more rest than "normal") sez "lets go out to the garden." I sleepily open my eyes, look at the clock, and realize its 0530. I sez, "Do you know what time it is?" She sez "yeah, its 0530 and I've been up for 1/2 hr." I say, "WHY! Do ya think the garden will be there in another 2 1/2 hrs?" She sez "Of course but we've got MANURE!" Thats gotta be a sign of something. Manure makes her wanna get up before the birds!

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

Manure was the word of the day yesterday. I hauled it all day to my rows. I usually sheet compost, but you know this year I piled it up in case we moved, and do you know it's all black compost under there? Boy, it's beautiful. I thought there would still be hay and poop mixed together. Nope, just a little hay on top. OH, my aching back this morning! I need to get in better shape boy howdy. It didn't help that my wheelbarrow had a flat tire.

I've made up my mind. I want to sell plants. I have thousands of plants I could sell. Strawberrys, Johnny Jump Ups, Zinnias, Wandering Jews(what a name!), Mints, vegetables, and millions of little Maple trees. Does anyone buy little Maple trees? I want a greenhouse. A big honkin greenhouse.

I told Steve he had to make me some paper cup holder flats for the little plants. I don't want to buy the plastic ones, plastic never goes away. Do they sell paper plant 6 packs? Boy I'm full of it this morning. he he he (smile)

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

Well, I'm not quite strong enough to break up concrete, even with a jackhammer, so no...it wasn't concrete that I was breaking up. ROFL It's old pit run covered with the excavated dirt from inside the garage....we dug that out when we converted the old garage and an old bedroom into a new master suite.

Anyway, the old driveway is now mostly weeds and stuff. It's tough digging with a garden fork. The Claw is much better!

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

I"ve been out of town since Sunday on a business trip down to Orlando. It was hot down there! The high point of the trip was that I've always wanted a pair of Birkenstock sandals but I could never justify paying that much money for a pair of shoes. I found a Birkenstock outlet store in Orlando, and I bought a pair that I like for half-price. I guess this brings me one step closer to being a tree-hugging liberal hippie!

You guys have been busy while I was gone, I have a lot of reading to do to catch up again! :-)

-- Anonymous, May 24, 2001

Yesterday, I filled 4 large planting boxes with dirt and put them on the deck to allow the rain to dampen the soil for me (I'd stored the potting mix overwinter and it dried out) -- saved me a LOT of work. They are very nicely dampened down.

Today I need to plant some greens in them. The garden plot is about 1/8 mile away, so I'd like to also grow greens on the deck where they're handy. Also, more experimenting in methods on my part. Going to grow Tatsoi, Swiss Chard, Bullsblood beets (for the greens) and . . . don't know what else. Maybe I'll try some of the Thumbelina carrots, for the greens also (birds eat them with relish). Or maybe something else . . . maybe spinach.

-- Anonymous, May 25, 2001

Sharon, what happened to our weather! It's stinkin' cold! I have 2 sweatshirts on. I have to go mow the rest of the day, at least I'm push mowing, that'll keep me warm. I moved another mountain of manure yesterday, just a little to go. My new tomatoe and pepper plants are cold too. Somebody turn the heat on, please.

-- Anonymous, May 25, 2001

Its been cold and rainy for a week!! I hate this weather! Reminds me of my two and half miserable years in Seattle......drip....drip....drip......

The grass needs cutting BAD and theres no way to get to it cuz its always sopping wet....


-- Anonymous, May 25, 2001

earthmama.....you are singing my song!!!! I had 1/2 hour of sunshine, first in days, and before I could even get really started into a project the sun was gone and the sky was rumbling again. DRIP, DRIP, DRIP.....Chinese water torture????

-- Anonymous, May 25, 2001

Cindy-nice here today.Cooler but sunny.Sounds like some more storms are going to head this way tho.Not minding it,because of the rain deficit we had.Pond is back up and all the plants are finally in the ground.Well..except for the late pumpkins..and the last planting of beans..and another corn planting..well almost all.

Started to pick blue salvia for drying already.And,again this year,I had two coons helping themselves to my precious strawberries overnight,but that has now ended.They were digging up my transplants too.They think whereever our scent is,there will be something good there,like corn seed.They learn really fast how to look for something tasty.I do like the coons tho,but that strawberry filching just wasn't going over big.

Foxgloves now flowering,as well as the old lemon lily.

A friend is visiting this weekend,so Nick and he are going out fishing. Ah ha! I can hang on the computer ALL DAY without Nick knowing about it,if I want.He'll probably come home and check if the chair seat is warm.I'll just tell him it was the dog sitting there.We like to play cat and mouse games.We must have time on our hands.

-- Anonymous, May 25, 2001

Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah! What's that about drip, drip, drip? It's been in the high 70s and mid 80s here for the last week! Beautiful PNW weather! Of course, we only have it for a short period of time! But it has been glorious!!!! Actually, it only rains from October through April (solidly.) The rest of the year it's nice Mon- Fri and only rains on the weekends...(just joking..please don't anyone else move out here!)

What's tatsoi, Joy? (Hop on the bus, Gus.)

-- Anonymous, May 26, 2001

Tatsoi is an oriental green, see it in those salad mixes. I got the seeds from Jung's here in Wisconsin, so it must be getting pretty mainstream!

Envelope sez Brassica rapa (Narinosa group) -- whatever that means. Apparently it is closely related to Bok Choy -- I finally found out that Bok Choy is also Brassica rapa, but of the Chinensis group. Again, whatever that means. I want to feed it to the birds and probably use it in stir-fries or maybe other oriental-type dishes. Heck, I'll probably try it in several different things!

-- Anonymous, May 26, 2001

OK, I found this site: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/ You can read about Bok Choy and Tatsoi there. In fact, many of you might find it interesting to read about what "specialty produce" is out there. Maybe a future produce niche for homesteaders?

(Make a new plan, Stan)

-- Anonymous, May 26, 2001

Oh ya, wouldn't that be nice to have a niche market? Around here, I feel like I'm howling in the wilderness. Seems folks hardly know what to do with a leek! Well, if the land sales around here keeps up, we'll eventually have enough of Chicago's population that perhaps niche marketing will become a reality.

That is to say, we are all bracing for the onslaught of Memorial Day Weekend, when all of northern Illinois moves back in. I went to our little tiny local grocery store and was very tempted to stand in the middle, decrying "It's a Madhouse! A MADhouse!!" (it's all the fault of that remake of Planet of the Apes working on my little brain). I bought my rootbeer and pretzels and left. But not before noticing that the imported grapes they are selling were like $4.59 a pound! Eek! As if I'd pay that even if they weren't pesticide laden!

While driving to the horses tonite, I hit the brake and went back down the county highway after the rabbit I'd seen lopping along the side. I don't know what the breed is called, but it was definitely a domestic rabbit, kind of dalmatian-marked, and after stalking it for a minute or two, it let me walk up to it, pet it, and pick it up. It rode home in an old towel on the crook of my arm and is spending the night in the garage in a make shift cage since I couldn't find my old guinea pig cage that would have been much better.

I'm debating taking it to the local pet shelter and letting them deal with it, since I don't have a suitable cage, and maybe telling them I'll take it if the owners don't show up and once I get a decent cage set up. I'm wondering if it was dumped off by someone tired of it (it does try to bite somewhat, but I gave it a light bonk on the noggin and said "No bite!", and it thought the better of it and went back to being petted instead. ) or what. As I was catching it, a guy living nearby showed up, thinking I'd hit a deer and stopped for that, seems like THEY have a rabbit that they let run loose, but he said it wasn't theirs, wrong colour. I am thinking that even if it was his rabbit he shouldn't have it back if he just lets it run on the highway where I have seen foxes crossing numerous times.

Now that the bunny is drying out, it seems to be agouti and white instead of black and white and just MIGHT be their rabbit, but if the guy didn't even recognize it by its markings, what the heck. I guess I'll sort it out in the morning. At least it won't be eaten by a fox tonight or run over by a car.

Rain rain rain...it's getting pretty OLD, I tell you, and next week is supposed to be MORE rain. I'm running out of things to repot in the house, so I started in on cleaning out the garage. I was going to start buckets for tomato plants tonight, but running around arranging the bunny for the night kind of precluded that.

And we're having a town rummage sale starting at 9 AM Saturday. Everyone in town is welcome to bring their stuff they don't want anymore and sell it there and proceeds are divided up by your tags afterward. I saw a sofa set there, so I may have to try and get over there first thing out of the box tomorow...chances are someone else will snap that up tho. A couple years ago there was a nice *new* sofa there that sold for $10. The pattern wasn't great, but a throw would have solved that. Guess I'll have to go or regret it later.

-- Anonymous, May 26, 2001

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