Should I fertilize the plants in the pond. or just buy more goldfish?


oooh, pretty flower...ugh, what's wrong with the lettuce?

My water lily just bloomed- a lovely yellow flower, and I notice that the bloom is the same shade as the water lettuce and the water hyacinth. That’s not good. They are supposed to be a much richer green. My pond book recommends fertilizer spikes for potted plants, but these two are floaters- they have massive furry root systems that absorb nutrients from the water. Nutrients such as fish poo.
I won’t put fetilizer in the water of the pond itself, because that would be hazardous to the fish.

I put 5 comet goldfish in the tank at the beginning of the summer, and have removed one corpse- the other fish are nowhere to be seen, but I am assuming they are alive- Shrodinger’s cat, I guess, if I dig around in the pond searching for them, does that change the outcome? Maybe I don’t really understand what Shrodinger’s cat is all about. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat   In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t.

Google has helped me once again, though, by suggesting that I put some fertilizer in water in a bucket, set the plants in them overnight and see if that helps.  About half the plants are soaking now- we’ll see what happens.

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More babies!!! More quilts!!!


Laying out the petals was the hardest part.

A few months ago, I expressed the wish that people would have more babies, just so I could make more quilts. Well, I don’t know if that is the whole reason, but some people have obliged me. My awe-inspiring SIL and her husband are expecting in October, and I have been spending some afternoons in the basement sewing up an appliqued top. It’s better in the basement, since we don’t have air conditioning- I’ll sew, and the kids play with legos, and I’ll come up periodically to refill my iced tea and just be blasted by the heat.

I couldn’t find any patterns I liked, so I just imagined this one. I love the high contrast of the purple and red over the cream.  I also love that the cream has a very subtle pattern on it. Is it a flower exploding? Fireworks? The Girl thought the explosion should be centered, but I like the asymmetricality of it and the way the quilting lines flow off the petals. I mean sparks.

I just finished the binding this afternoon, and love how the red finishes up and ties it all together.

My math and my memory were way off when I bought the fabric for the back-I only got a yard of the dark blue with sparkly stars print. My solution was to add a panel of pieces from the front, an idea I got from a library book called “Quilts, Baby!” by Linda Kopp.

My backing fabric wound up 6 inches too short, so I added a panel of patchwork.

I probably wouldn’t have thought of it if I hadn’t seen it in the book, but when I first saw it while reading, I wondered why anyone would cut up perfectly good fabric on purpose, just to sew it back together. It is a question I ask myself regularly about quilting, actually. And yet here I am quilting…

I can haz bed for kitteh?

On a related note, there were so many scraps of purples and reds that I made the Hellcat a bed. It hasn’t prevented her from sleeping on the guest bed pillow, though. Sorry, Mom. I’ll change the pillowcase before you come.

Bloom Day- I love Larkspur…


Blue and white larkspur, golden yarrow and white chamomile.

I have encouraged larkspur to self seed all over my back yard, ever since my wonderful MIL gave me that first envelope of seeds several years ago. At some point, I will probably consider them a weed, too, and complain that I can’t walk down the flagstone path because of them. Until then, they make July a little brighter.

I have only recently gotten into lilies, and my expensive R.O Backhouse Martagon turk’s cap lily has not flowered this year, and in fact looks yellow and horrible, while the Walmart lilies, whose variety I don’t know, if I ever knew them, are flourishing.  There’s probably a lesson there.

The brass headboard is actually a plant support in disguise- installed so I don't have to stake liles.

Love this dark red.

The roses are late this year, usually they are pooped out by now, but it has been such a wet spring they are going crazy. I don’t think I have ever had roses in the middle of July before.
I’ve mentioned before that the previous owners crammed several rose bushes into a bed at the end of the driveway. I don’t know the variety, kind of a cameo pink-but they bloom every year without any help from me. No fertilizer, no dusts, no sprays. After they bloom I whack them back to about a foot tall. By September, they are 5 feet tall again, and blooming their heads off.

This bunch doesn't even begin to empty out the bushes- there are still a couple dozen more on the plant.

 

Get Them Before They Go to Seed, Mallow Edition


Sometimes called wild geranium. Winner of the worst weed in my yard contest.

Mallow is one of my least favorite weeds in my yard- I mean, I can live with dandelion most of the time, I don’t consider clover a weed at all, bindweed is annoying, and thistles hurt, but mallow is like that kid in class who always wants to share his journal entry out loud and it goes on and on, or like a raspberry seed in your teeth, or the wind that picks up as you’re leaving the park. It gets on my last nerve…

Mallow has deep, branching roots, so unlike dandelion, where sometimes a mighty pull can get up most of of the root, usually when I pull mallow, even when the soil is nice and moist, the plant just breaks off at the crown, and then comes back.

Supposedly it is edible. I guess that is one way to get rid of it…sigh. I just hate it.

Get Them Before They Go To Seed, Bindweed Edition


Morning Glory and Moonflower's uncivilized cousin- bind weed.

It is the time of year for bind weed to bloom in my yard- cute little white or pink cups on vines with heart shaped leaves. They’re everywhere, and because I avoid herbicides it take a lot of careful hand pulling. The strawberries, the namesakes of the blog, are especially bad with bind weed this year, I suspect because I let them get away last year, and let them go to seed. Ack!
Bind weed spreads from seed and from any tiny stem or root, so it is really difficult to get rid of entirely. There is supposed to be a biological control, a disease or fungus that only attacks it, but I don’t know if it is on the market-I don’t honestly even know if it is anything more than a rumor. The best I can do is detente, I pull it when I see it, carefully tracing the stems back to the ground if possible, and pulling out as much of the root as possible.
Since it can grow back from roots and stems, bindweed is the one organic matter I don’t usually put on the compost pile- I put it in a bag in my trash can.
It has gotten so that when I see morning glory, the domesticated cousin, my immediate reaction is to think they are giant mutant bind weed, and they most be destroyed. That is why I no longer plant morning glories.
I can occasionally rake or roll up mats of bind weed, and that is the most satisfying thing ever! Well,  not ever, but pretty satisfying. However, it is usually tangled up in stems of strawberries,  or roses, which is the worst, because you can’t just yank it out, you have to untangle it. Actually, the worst is when it is so tangled around a thistle that you don’t see the thistle, so you grab it and get pricked. Argh…

Blogoversary- 1 year


Kite flying in Idaho- completely unrelated photo, but I like the colors. My nephew was at the other end of the string.

It’s been a year since I started this blog- I’ve always thought of myself as a writer, and set a goal for myself to get more people (any people) reading my stuff. There are fantasies about getting a book deal, but I try to keep those a secret, most of the time.

I didn’t start out planning to write as much about knitting as I have, it was going to be mostly gardening and food. The food content is way down- goal for this coming year is to experiment with food more, and do more food posts.

I like to believe the photography has gotten better, partly because I upgraded my camera, but there is still lots of room for improvement.

In a survey, people who love photos wish there was more text, and people who love good writing wish there were more photos. All respondents agreed that 1 haiku per year is too many.

I don’t know much about search engine optimization, but my most popular post so far has been about wrapping gifts in scarves.That seems odd to me…

Thanks to all who have clicked through, or searched, or who are just friends. Also thanks to those who comment- it is great to know all my geniusness isn’t just floating out into the ether.

She doesn’t have another pair just like them at home


The Girl has been wearing unmatched socks for a while. I haven’t heard anything but positive comments about it, even when they don’t know I’m her mom. For instance at the first softball practice, when the family next to me said “oh, look at the cute little redhead on first base, her socks don’t match.” I guess when people think it is appalling or stupid, they keep their mouths shut. Sometimes when people tell her that her socks don’t match, she’ll say, “Yeah, I have another pair just like them at home.” usually, though, she says “yeah, it’s my thing.” I think it is pretty cool.
DH got his pair of socks for his birthday (I lost them under the passenger seat, so he didn’t get them on his birthday, but I did eventually find them) and then it was the Girl’s turn for homemade socks.
Her current favorite color is red, and I got some really pretty variegated red from Knitpicks (have you been? if you do yarn crafts at all, the prices are amazing, and the service is great, and much better quality than the stuff I can get at the big craft stores http://www.knitpicks.com ( no affiliation with them, it’s just that since my local yarn store went out of business, I’ve relied on them)

As I cast on the first sock, I had an idea. Why knit a pair for her, that she will only wear half of at a time?
Why not make 2 completely different socks, or, since this is a huge ball of yarn, 440 yards, why not make as many coordinating socks as I can, adding in stripes of other leftover colors that coordinate? This way, she won’t have a pair just like them at home- she’ll have a bazillion socks, all different.

I love the way the stripes on the variegation work out- all shades of rich red.

So, while sitting in the bleachers at swim lessons, and on the blanket at the park, I made a wavy lace sock. (It’s a little tight to get on, it probably won’t get worn much, and she will likely outgrow it first. Oh well)
Then, at softball practice, and on the drive to the wedding, and the drive to and from the family reunion in Denver, I worked on a ribbed top with a yellow and orange intarsia star on the heel flap- my first try with intarsia, and maybe my last, but it was fun. Then I used the same yellow and orange on the toe. (in case you were wondering, I don’t knit while driving- just when DH drives. I am neither that coordinated nor that crazy.)

The star doesn't look as cool as it should for as much of a pain in the neck as it was to make...

Next, on the way to the family reunion in Idaho (!) where we had 11 hours to drive there, and another 11 hours to drive back, I made a modified wavy lace, where the main pattern is only on the cuff, and there are just eyelets that continue down the instep. Oddly, this one did not get finished on the road trip- you really can’t knit that many hours straight. I can’t anyway. I’ll get it done sometime this week.

Just a few more rounds on the toe, and look how much yarn is still left...

Finally, I’ll do a sock with some dark blue stripes,  and that should take care of the red yarn, and to be fair, it will be the Boy’s turn for a pair. He wants white socks. That match.

A year’s supply of garlic


A bucket of garlic, with the dirt still on it.

Last fall I planted around 50 cloves of garlic- just the boring kind from the grocery store. How do I know how many? Because I just harvested 50 heads of garlic, each of which started from a clove.
I don’t know if this will be a year’s supply- I know we don’t buy garlic every week, so 50 should certainly get us through the year, but many of the bulbs I harvested are smaller than the typical grocery store bulb. And, I need to save out some to plant again this fall.
Late September last year, I got a few heads of garlic, broke them up and put them into the ground- half into a brand new bed by the hillbilly goldfish pond and the other half in the Boy’s garden- a 2×2 space that I dedicated to him a couple of years ago so he wouldn’t dig holes randomly. Also, I was hopeful that if he was participating in his vegetable growth, he would be less picky. Not so much. I talked him into the garlic because he does like garlic bread… I planted the cloves about 2 inches apart, which was too close, it turns out. Next year, more space between.
Last week, the leaves were going brown, so I researched when to harvest, and discovered that the time to harvest was in fact, when the leaves were going brown, and while the soil was dry. The thunder was starting to reverberate while I was on the internet, so I went out before the rain came, so I could dig while the soil was still dry. I was extremely conscious of the metal digging fork in my hand as the storm moved in. Got it dug up and into a bucket before the rain, driven diagonal by the wind, came in.
The garlic is curing now- I knocked most of the dirt off the roots, and put the plants into bunches of about 20. I tied twine around the bunches, and I’ll hang them up in the garage, hopefully somewhere where I won’t bump into them every time I go in there. After they cure for a couple of weeks, I’ll trim off the roots and stems and store them in the basement.
I got most of my info from the fine people at http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/growing.htm  which has great quirky information- more than you think you need to know about garlic, the native american flute and southwest US petroglyphs. it’s a rabbit hole right after my own heart.
I also plan to order some “boutique” garlic to plant this fall- with a bit more space, in a different location (rotate stuff in your garden, you know- the best way to avoid pests and disease is not plant the same stuff in the same place year after year.)

You might be wondering, why grow your own? it is cheap and legal at the grocery- per pound, it might be the cheapest produce around. Think about this- if your garlic comes from California, or China, what does it take to ship it here? What kind of pesticides and fertilizer? What’s the carbon footprint of your garlic butter? With very little work, and very little space, I have what I hope is a year’s supply.