March 17, 2012

because I love a good stereotype

When you know a darling redhead.

And you have a green dress.

Why would you even consider thinking outside the box when you've got a hankering for some St. Paddy's day pictures?

Our corned beef and cabbage dinner will have to wait though, because corned beef and cabbage is the first meal on a very long list of meals requested by this fella, and word has it he just might be boots on the ground right here on the farm by the end of this week.

Between his homecoming meals, and the meals my youngest has on his list before he goes to boot camp in June, I think I'll be in the kitchen for the next three months.

But for now, I'm off to search for a Blarney Stone to kiss.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 14, 2012

faq - the garden and greenhouse

Before we talk gardening, I want to thank you all for your well wishes after my last post!

I am doing fabulous, (fabulously?) thank you very much, and it won't be long before I can no longer use my recovery as an excuse to get me out of various and assorted unsavory tasks.

Like getting dressed.

Basically, I've been doing a whole lotta nothing the last couple weeks, which results in a whole lotta nothing to blog about. Since a bunch of us seem to have spring fever, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to answer some of the gardening questions that I get on a fairly consistent basis.

BTW, it's snowing here. I'm trying really hard to be happy for all of you in the Midwest and East, but it's hard.

Weather jealousy is not pretty.

I am green with weather envy.

First up, the greenhouse.

Y'all love the greenhouse and many of you have asked about plans, etc.

There are no plans.

I know that's not the answer you were looking for and I am very sorry about that. We have a contractor who is able to build pretty much anything from nothing. I don't think we even gave him a sketch. We just kind of tell him what we want and he builds it.

As far as winter and the greenhouse, we have a propane heater and we keep the thermostat set a little above freezing. This is the first year our impatiens have made it through the winter, and it's so fun to have them blooming right now. It usually takes the strawberry pots a couple months to really fill in, so I love the fact that they'll be full and pretty right away in June when I set them out.

We also overwinter our geraniums and petunias and many herbs. I even managed to keep a parsley plant alive this year. Now that the days are getting longer, things are really starting to grow. I'll give almost everything one more good cutting back, and then let them go crazy between now and the first of June, which is when it's usually safe to set things outside.

We do struggle with a major aphid problem in the greenhouse, but we order ladybugs to keep it under control and they really do a great job. Plus, they're cute, and who doesn't like cute!

We also have an issue with slugs, but I'm working hard to rid the greenhouse of the slimy dudes that are straight from the pit of hell.

Slugs are the Spawn of Satan.

Moving out to the gardens. Some of you have asked for gardening advice, tips and tricks, what to plant, etc.

I don't think I can really help you out with what to plant, as that depends so much on where you live and your garden zone, your weather conditions, your soil and a million other factors, such as whether you live in the country and have the other garden Spawn of Satan known as deer that come into your garden and eat every single gorgeous rose and snarf every single delphinium bud right before they bloom.

I used to like deer. I used to think they were pretty and wonderful.

I'd better move on before I say anything more to encourage the onslaught of deer loving hate mail I feel coming my way.

Don't hate the hater.


There are, however, two things that are major factors in how my gardens look.

First, I over plant.

I usually ignore spacing guidelines and never, ever thin things out. Our growing season is so short that I try to pack as much punch in as possible.

We use a drip irrigation system and the water emitters are spaced every six inches, and I plant an annual by almost every emitter.

I do have a small amount of reason when it comes to perennials though, and give them plenty of space to grow and fill in over the years.

Fertilizer is the second weapon in my gardening arsenal.

For the perennial beds, I usually sprinkle a slow release, granular fertilzer around the plants one time early in the growing season, and then we also use a compost rich mulch to dress the beds and keep the weeds under control.

I take care of my annuals in a different way.

I fertilize my annuals (herb garden, greenhouse garden, vegetable garden, pots and hanging baskets) weekly with a water soluble fertilizer. At least until about the end of August, when I start to run out of fertilizer steam.

I use Miracle Grow, which I get at Costco, and I alternate that with a bloom booster. Years ago, Costco sold its own Kirkland brand of fertilizer which had a 20-20-20 formula. I would mix that into the rotation as well. I think K-mart sells a 20-20-20, and sometimes I'll buy that and rotate it in.

Some years, I just use Miracle Grow. It all depends on just how obsessed I am with having my garden look its best.

Last year, leading up to my son's wedding, I was fertilizing things about every five days.

This year, we are taking it easy and have no big events here at the farm, so it's going to be a much more low key gardening year.

And by that I mean that I'll probably only plant 800 zinnias, instead of 1110.

Oh, one more fertilizer fact. I use a watering can, not a hose sprayer. I have never found a sprayer that evenly distributes the fertilizer, and as I'm a control freak, I like to mix my own. It's a lot more work, (last year, it took more than three hours to fertilize everything) but that's how I like to do it.

Also, petunias L.O.V.E fertilizer, so sometimes I'll add an extra between feedings feeding just for them.

I've lived in Montana for eleven years now, and it's taken years of trial and error to discover what works best for me here.

There are many, many basic plants that I just cannot get to grow well.

Cilantro and basil are two of my most wanted herbs, but I can't grow either to save my life.

Many different annuals that are gorgeous in the nursery, look like death warmed over after just a couple weeks at my house, and I have no clue why.

If you're just starting out, it might be fun to buy a wide variety of whatever catches your eye at the nursery, and see what does well in your garden.

I highly recommend a good potting soil, and make sure you take note of the sun/shade requirements for the plants you choose.

Most of my gardening know how has come from simply flying by the seat of my pants.

I am not an expert.

I am not a master gardener.

I don't know the latin name for anything.

I am not an Organic Olivia.

I have no doubt there are many other ways to get the job done, but this is what works for me.

So, there you have it! If you have any other gardening questions, feel free to ask and I'll go ahead and answer them right here in the comments.

Have a wonderful Wednesday, and if it's gorgeous and sunny where you are, please wear some flip flops just for me.

March 7, 2012

d is for drama

Generally speaking, I am not much in the drama department.

I'm pretty even keel.

I'm rational. Not prone to hysteria. Not really a "the sky is falling" kind of girl.

Generally speaking.


In one particular area, I am pretty much a basket case.

That area is the medical world. I'm cool with most any doctor visit, but in all things hospital related, I am a worst case scenario freak show.

Case in point.

I had all three of my boys without any form of pain killer, and it's not because I'm a free spirited, embrace the pain, natural granola kind of girl.

It's because they make you sign a piece of paper saying that you understand that you could possibly die from your epidural.

I didn't want to die from my epidural. The very small rational part of my brain totally knew that statistically speaking, I was not going to die from an epidural, but the larger, irrational when it comes to all things hospital part of my brain didn't want to actually become one of the statistics that led the lawyers to draft the paperwork you're required to sign if you decide you are indeed going to have an epidural.

And yes, I know those statistics are somewhere in the one in a hundred kazillion range.

I would much rather just suck up the pain than take my chances, and three bouncing baby boys later, I'm still alive.

Ha! Take that, Grim Reaper.

Fast forwarding a bit, and making a long and very boring story a little bit shorter, I've had a surgery hovering over my head for the last couple years. I came close to taking the plunge several times, but when push came to shove, I always chickened out. Obviously, it wasn't life threatening, but it was quality of life threatening and last week, quality of life finally won out.

As you can see, I have cheated death once again. And this time, it was full anesthesia death that I cheated. Full anesthesia makes an epidural look like a walk in the park.

Let me know if you'd like me to buy you a lottery ticket, because I'm obviously on a roll here.

I cried before my surgery, but only for a minute. Once I got it out of my system, I was okay. I was extra, extra okay once they put the "little something to relax you" in my IV.

I got to wear the dreaded open back hospital gown during my stay, but the quality of my painkillers was such that I didn't even really care if my backside was exposed while I strolled down the hospital halls. I'm a pretty modest person, but I truly did not care even one little bit. Fortunately, my hubby cared enough for both of us and was my rear guard, as well as my IV holder and general all around fabulous care taker both in the hospital and since I've been home.

As far as the painkillers go, I now totally understand the term "take a chill pill". My pharmaceuticals left me in a warm and fuzzy state of half awareness and total not careness. I'm not gonna lie...I kind of enjoyed it. I was only on them for two and a half days, but I think it took a whole week for the fog in my brain to clear out.

Now that my head is clear, I've got a raging case of cabin fever, so I think I must be well on the road to recovery.

Unless, of course, the doctor left a scalpel inside me.

It's happened before.

I saw it on Dateline.

I had great plans to catch up on all my blog visiting and emails while I was recuperating, but the aforementioned fuzzy brain did not allow for such things. If you've sent me an email, look for a response shortly!

Just don't expect it to make much sense.

Have yourselves a wonderfully drama free Wednesday!