Archive for June, 2016

Baby birds! And updates

Posted June 11, 2016 By Ruth

We’ve been watching a pair of Song Sparrows flit around the area by our back deck all spring.  This week, on several occasions I noticed that they appeared to be carrying something in their beaks as they did so, and NOT nesting materials.



So yesterday, since I had some time, I started the search for the nest.  Partially out of curiosity, but also so I’d know where to avoid with the dogs once the babies were fledging.  I found it:


It’s hard to tell in that picture, but there’s four babies in that nest.  And it’s about two long steps from our back porch stairs.  Talk about a bad spot for fledglings!  At least it’s in a flower patch we’re not going to mow over…..

Yesterday I finished running the soaker hose throughout the garden.  150ft total.  Two hookups though, one with a 50ft hose and one with the remaining 100.  Both worked perfectly.  Now I shouldn’t have to fiddle with it till either fall or if I can find enough cheap fittings to change out the hose over the pathways.  There’s something addictive about this “being prepared” thing though.  Four 55 gallon barrels should water my garden for a couple weeks no problem, and this area is very unlikely to go without rain for any longer than that.  But I’m finding myself looking at the two unmodified downspouts and debating the addition of more barrels.  Heck, I could add a 3rd barrel to each of the current downspouts no problem!

The Black Icicle tomatoes are now several inches over the top of their tomato cages.  I guess I’m going to have to rig a 2nd layer of some kind.  The Black Plums usually end up over the tops of their cages, but not till closer to August, and then not by more than a foot or so, so I can weave a stake into the cage and tie them to that.  I don’t think that’s going to work for the Icicles!

I hilled the shortest of the potato plants, but most of them were tall enough by yesterday that I didn’t see the point.  I’ll pick up some straw this week and just do a layer of that next.

There’s several very awkwards spots right around the house that are a pain to mow, but for various reasons aren’t prime spots for plantings either.  One of them is in the corner between the bedroom and the living room addition.  Its on the south-east side, so it gets sun till about noon, but up until we put on the gutters it was excessively wet as well.  Now with the gutters on the house it’s just wet.  Former owners had an azalea in the sunniest spot of the corner (the outside edge), and a happy hosta in the middle of it, but that left a 4 or 5 foot wide stretch right in the corner with nothing but weeds.  The azalea wasn’t thrilled either, so last fall I pulled it out and replaced it with a hibiscus.  As for the rest, I have, at various times, tried planting a few different things there with no success.  Nothing thrived.  Even the daylilies had to be transplanted out after half of them disappeared.  Now, with the gutters on the house I started looking closer at the hosta that was there.  I’m not a huge hosta fan.  But if the one is thriving……started looking closer at the hostas for sale at work, and this week came home with 8 pots of 4 different varieties (two pots of each) and planted them around that area.  Cross fingers for me!


Purple Peppers!

Posted June 9, 2016 By Ruth


We spent the last week babysitting my SIL’s Great Pyr puppy.  5 months old, about 50lbs, and all puppy.  Now we went through that with Apollo, that’s fine.  And we’d introduced our dogs to the pup prior and everyone seemed to get along.  But once he’d actually been in our house for a few hours Arty decided pup was demon spawn and had to die.  And so we ended up having to spend the entire week spending extra time and energy to manage the dogs that we’d not planned on.  Things did get better, and by Monday night Arty was actually willing to play with the pup for a bit.  Plus my SIL is a morning person, pup is used to being up and out by 6am, where we’re a 2nd shift household.  My Husband takes the dogs out at 3am before he goes to bed, and for our dogs, even as pups, that means they’re plenty good till after I get up at 8am.  Not pup, he STILL wanted to go out at 6am every day.  Sigh.  They picked him up yesterday (Tuesday).  The entire household crashed for an all afternoon nap as soon as pup was gone…..

I’m thinking I’m going to go ahead and hill the potatoes again, but I’m not sure it’s not too late for the tallest plants, which are shooting for the sky at an insane rate.  Especially since I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it before Friday thanks to the weather, which is predicted to be quite wet, and I have no desire to get soaked to the skin just to hill the potatoes again.  Maybe I’ll just buy a bale of straw…..

Anyone know a good place to buy cheap garden hose fittings and cheap fittings for a 3/8 ID soaker hose?  Preferably the sort of fittings to connect them to each other as well as standard ends?  Locally it looks like Tractor Supply has the cheapest (plastic) garden hose fittings (replacement male/female ends for $1.99 each), though I’ve not checked Harbor Freight yet.  But the fittings for the soaker hose seem to be a bit harder to come by, Home Depot has them in 2 packs for $3, and everyone else’s prices are quite a bit higher.  No, I’ve not checked the plumbing fittings yet, that’s next.  I’m currently just weaving the soaker hoses through the tires, but I’d really like to stop wasting water on watering the walkways, plus, in order to maximise use of the soaker hoses the hose going over the walkways is several inches up, which is a trip hazard.  I’d really like to piece in a piece of regular hose, which I can dip down and have be less of a trip hazard.  I’m looking at a minimum purchase of 7 of each piece, possibly as many as 15 if the price is right.  Cheap is fine, plastic is fine, I’d rather not spend a fortune till I’m sure that the setup isn’t going to change.

Garden update (again)

Posted June 5, 2016 By Ruth

Rain barrels are full, and I had to rush out and put in the overflow drains (cause I’d been lazy and not done them) to divert the extra water away the way I wanted.  For proof of concept I bought a 50ft soaker hose, put it on the end of a 25ft regular hose, and wove it around the garden for as far as it would go, and there was enough water pressure from the barrels to push water all the way to the end of it.  I’ll need more length for the rest of the garden, and it’ll take some fiddling to make sure that everything is getting appropriately watered, but as proof of concept, I’ll take it!

For reference, all the tomato cages are made out of 3ft tall welded wire.


These are the white cherry tomatoes



Blue Berry Tomatoes



Black Plum Tomatoes



Black Icicle Tomatoes.  No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, yes, they are that tall.



Melon Pear.  Not sure these are thriving, but they aren’t dying either, so we’ll see.



My Variegated Japanese Willow bush.  I planted this as a little 2ft tall stick a couple years ago, now its taller and wider than my Husband.  I need to give it a quick trim and even it out, but its survived and thrived through two screwy winters.  The only reason I’ve not planted a ton more of them is cause I’d really prefer either flowering or native or both.



The darkest of my Lupines.  I’ll have to remember to save the seeds from it this year and spread them around.


The Hibiscus have sprouted, and are infact a couple inches tall already, no pictures, I forgot.  And we’re going to have a bumper crop of strawberries this year.

Potatoes……last time I tried potatoes despite my attempt at hilling them they only produced more potatoes around the base.  Doing some research it turns out that many short season potatoes will do that.  So I got longer season ones this year…..but do I keep hilling?  I mean sure, I’ve seen those “grow 100lbs of potatoes in 4 square feet) things, that have you hilling and hilling and hilling.  But “conventional wisdom” says hill twice and after that just do a layer of mulch or straw and thats it.  I have enough of the garden bed kit to put at least two more layers on the bed, so in theory I could just keep going up……

Heat (rash)

Posted June 4, 2016 By Ruth

TMI warning…..

A week ago I almost collapsed from the heat.  Steps have been taken, not only by me but also by my work, as I wasn’t the only one to have issues (for the record, they were taking steps to prevent it prior too, but the insanity that is the Memorial Day weekend sales resulted in alot of distracted folks).

I spent a couple days not feeling right after that, but by this time I’m back to normal.  Well, mostly.

I also picked up a case of heat rash that day.  In the fold of the hip between hip and crotch.  I’ve had it there before (not frequently, but if I’m going to get heat rash thats the spot), so I picked up a bottle of baby powder on the way home and reminded myself to use it regularly.

A week later and the heat rash is still here.  And I’m not a happy camper.  Even if I manage to stay inside for the majority of my workday I still sweat quite a bit at work.  Its the nature of the job.  And the rash has turned outright painfull.

Yesterday I finally gave in and picked up a package of boyshort style undies to wear for a while.  I dislike the style immensely, but any underwear with an elastic band around the hip is irritating the rash further.  I may actually have to see a doctor for this one……


Posted June 3, 2016 By Ruth

Re: my work rant.

The excuse was that stocking levels were so bad that the time had to be taken before the Memorial sale started to fix things.  Though the store manager said all the right non-commital things she’s clearly not happy either (tone of voice, exact word choice, and her own actions tell me ALOT).  The Garden-seasonal department’s spring-summer sales carry the store, literally.  From the months of April to July our departments sales equal or better the sales of the rest of the store (with the occasional exception of Lumber) for the rest of the year.  I know the fuss is always made about Thanksgiving and Christmas, but for big box home improvement stores, at least in this area of the country the really big thing is spring-summer.  Having a department manager who cannot keep up has the potential to kill the store.

Mind, its not all her fault or under her control, but she’s not keeping up with basic stuff.

Example: back on 4/20 a $50 trash can went to its final clearance price of $13 before the “throw them out” point.  $13.  These are nice 13g stainless steel cans.  That SHOULD have been the trigger for the department manager to check stock, pull them out to a highly visible spot if they weren’t already (this should have been done at least one markdown prior really, but it should have been checked within the week after 4/20 too) and make them go away before they have to be trashed.  If not herself then by handing the info to an associate to do.  We as associates can’t see the markdown schedule so it has to be handed to us.

Yesterday, 6/2, an Assistant Store Manager handed me an info tag for these trash cans, informed me that the system says we have 35 of them, and to please pull them, tag them, and make them visible cause we have two weeks before corporate automatically orders them trashed.  35 of them, and we haven’t sold a single one in two months (that I can check).  Thats $1750 worth of sales down the drain if they get trashed.  Shit happens, the occasional box of clearance merchandise gets missed and ends up trashed.  35 13g trashcans is 3 PALLETS worth of merchandise.  Hell, if nothing else, making sure that they were out and tagged during the Memorial day sales madness would have likely fixed the whole problem!

It took me 5 minutes to find them.  It took me longer to find an appropriate spot to display them, mostly because of the bulk involved.  But not that much.  Another half an hour to get them out of the overhead, tagged, and in location.

Maybe an hour of my time total.

While I helped customers and answered phone calls, by myself cause the only other person in the department was Newbie M who I saw all of three times for my entire 4hour shift.



Posted June 1, 2016 By Ruth


Buena Mulata Pepper plant, and flower.  Pretty little thing!


Arty of course was delighted to help me in the garden:


He was only interested in the potato bed too, and not for digging either, he just wanted to stand in it.  Go figure….

And there’s a House Wren building a nest inside the pump head for the old manual water well pump.  I know we don’t  use it much, but we DO try to keep it functional……thats going to be a fun one to clean out!