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   StarFire posted on Gardening & Landscaping  I’m so frustrated with our garden right now that I’m concentrating on plants that will thrive on neglect.

This is our senior cat, Baloo, in last fall’s pot of catnip. It was the first thing to recover from the bad winter. It has spread to the artichoke bed (they only lasted one summer ) and the bed on the west side. We’re going to let it have those areas. Our three cats and the neighbor’s cats love rolling in the catnip. I don’t usually grow non-food items, but this provides entertainment and (after we wash off the cat hair ) herbal tea.

   May 1 at 15:20 EST .

   18 people like this.

   Bettijo  Love it!
June 3 at 12:27 EST .

  6 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Gardening & Landscaping  All of our raised beds will be fallow this year so we can work on reconditioning the soil. We learned too late last year that the mulch we hauled in was heavily loaded with tree leaves (mostly hickory ) that greatly hinder growth. We might as well have drenched it in round-up.

We’re going to work in a lot of healthy mulch along with fresh compost material. The earthworms are almost over-populated, so we’re relying on them to help. If anyone has additional suggestions, please pass them on.

Meanwhile, we will have to plant in containers this year. At least the fruit trees are budding out. I’m crossing my fingers for my asparagus.

(Have to laugh. My post was blocked for ‘bad words’. I used a perfectly respectable word to describe hindered growth. )
March 22 at 00:38 EST .

   15 people like this.

   BirdsNest  I will have to ask Hagar if he has any thoughts on this...
March 26 at 20:15 EST .

  10 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Faith  Please include our soldiers and their families in your prayers. Many are being sent to battle Ebola in a third world country when we can't even prevent the spread in our hospitals here.

An enemy you can’t see is a terrible foe.
October 12 at 23:15 EST .

   36 people like this.

   Gerty  How stoooopid can people get?

Somebody tell Obama and his minions that 'wars' are for two or more SIMILAR forms of life--that is, of course, unless you are trying to harm our military by sending them on an impossible mission.
October 13 at 11:16 EST .

  31 people like this.

   Gram77  I pray daily for the population and the world.
October 20 at 09:19 EST .

  25 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Gardening & Landscaping  This has been our first week without a freeze. Planted tomatoes, a variety of squash, beans, peas, garlic, melons and other veggies this week.

My asparagus has come up. I left the spears to help build the health of the plants. The winter was hard on them.

No fruit, but I'm delighted to see the apple trees survived despite the freezes and the deer. My cherries bloomed just before the last freeze, but they managed to set some fruit on every tree. The little blueberry and honeyberry plants we put in last year survived, but show some damage.

We lost the roof poles of our gazebo in the big snow & ice storm. Instead of replacing them (big $s ), we’re going to make a giant trellis out of it by plant wisteria, honeysuckle and maybe clematis at the corners. Fragrance, shade and a breeze are a necessity for evenings outside in Tennessee.

   April 25 at 12:51 EST .

   26 people like this.

   StarFire  Before the roof collapse...
April 25 at 12:52 EST .

  25 people like this.

   BirdsNest  Sounds like you all have been very busy. It will be a relief when we finally get the tomatoes and peppers in the ground. Hagar is threatening to bring bees into the house to pollinate them!! We have peas up and onions are about 6" tall. Some kale is up. Our biggest concern are tomatoes and peppers. Still no potatoes in the ground, hope to remedy that this weekend. We are planting blue Adirondack this year.
April 25 at 19:24 EST .

  26 people like this.

   BirdsNest  Fig update, nothing yet on any of the trees. It is heartbreaking.
April 25 at 19:25 EST .

  21 people like this.

   StarFire  Our figs haven't begun to show any life. The ice storm may have done too much damage. We'll see within the next few days.

That storm cost us a 24 x 20 steel carport too. It couldn't support the weight of the ice and snow. I'm glad my daughter noticed it leaning in time for us to move the vehicles out from under. I bought the welded, reinforced model to replace it.
April 25 at 21:10 EST .

  21 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Gardening & Landscaping  Murphy's law... We spent the last two weekends cleaning up the garden beds, adding more mulch, hardening off the seedlings we had planted, and otherwise preparing for planting.

Tomorrow night is predicted to be freezing. Curse you, Al Gore!
April 14 at 15:56 EST .

   26 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Nostalgia  Five years ago, my sisters and I were cleaning out my parents’ house after Mother’s death (Daddy had passed the year before ). In his office, we found a collection of valentines in a cigar box. No, not from my mother. They were from an elementary class in their hometown of Memphis, TX.

Like thousands of other small town boys, Daddy had joined the Army Air Corp to fight the axis powers. He was in training as a glider pilot about the time he received the cards. The valentines were signed in childish scrawls. One was even addressed to Daddy by his nickname, “Mr. Teeny”.

It says something very special about the act of writing with pen and paper that a man like my dad would keep a handful of children’s valentines for 65 years. Unlike an email, paper is something you can hold in your hand as solid proof that you are loved and cared for. For a soldier, it is a physical reminder of those you have sworn to protect.

This is more than a Valentine’s Day story. It’s a reminder to the rest of us that emails, facebook and twitter can never replace a card or a letter to those who need a reminder that they are loved and remembered whatever the occasion may be.

   February 28 at 13:43 EST .

   43 people like this.

   Rollingcow  Lovely story, StarFire, shows your Dad had a soft spot and that's always nice. Those Valentines must have meant an awful lot to him for him to keep them that long. I sent cards and letters to special people all the time and have noticed the people I've sent them to tend to keep them tucked into mirrors or in a book, it's a reminder that someone loves and cares somewhere. Thank you for the story.
Mrs. Cow
March 2 at 18:26 EST .

  34 people like this.

   BirdsNest  Thanks Starfire, I really love this story.
March 9 at 07:54 EST .

  34 people like this.

   Surfhut  Love this story, too. My son and I live half a continent away from each other. We talk on the phone, text each other all the time. But once a year he hand-writes a letter to me for Mother's Day. I treasure them.
March 9 at 09:40 EST .

  36 people like this.

   BirdsNest  Surfie, you did a fine job of raising that young man.
March 10 at 12:39 EST .

  34 people like this.

   Charactercounts  My dad died many years ago. He had been a Marine, fighting in the Pacific during the war, and he was a reserved, hard-working blue-collar guy. When we were going through his bureau, I found all the little hand-written cards we children had made him, back in the days when we were encouraged to make them in school. One look at my childish scrawl saying "Happy Father's Day" was all it took to make me cry, because he had kept them all those years. A handwritten card or note is so much better than an e-mail!
March 15 at 03:05 EST .

  35 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Gardening & Landscaping  I am in need of advice. Last year we topped off 240 sq. ft. of raised beds with compost. Discovered too late the compost was filled with unwanted seed. Even with daily weeding, it wasn’t possible to get ahead of the grass and weeds.
We started some seeds indoors today and plan to plant those and direct sow seeds in about three weeks. What can I use to kill the grass and weeds before we plant. I’ve heard a vinegar spray works. Is vinegar really effective? Assuming we get plenty of rain again in the next week or two (a 99.9% certainty ) will it be safe to plant in 3 weeks?
February 22 at 19:38 EST .

   34 people like this.

   BirdsNest  Whatever you do, maybe you should cover the beds with black plastic tight to the soil and allow the natural heat of the sun to "cook" the beds. No light in whatsoever. Hagar, once upon a time would tell you to use Roundup, but not anymore.

Welcome back, hope you keep us apprised of your plans for this. Weeds are a pain.
February 23 at 07:41 EST .

  32 people like this.

   Hagar  Check the ph of the soil, it should be 6.5 if is not adjust it with lime.
This will slow the germination of part of the weed seeds.
Depending on the type of veg you are direct seeding you can cover the planted bed with burlap until your veg seed germinates, ie, carrots do not need light to germinate.
Use clear plastic on the beds, this will warm the soil and cause the weeds to germinate and the heat thru the plastic will kill the weed.
Black plastic is an over winter method used to sanitize the soil.
You can also use black, silver, or red plastic mulch on you plant sets to prevent weeds in you tomato, pepper, egg plant watermelon, cukes, etc, etc.

February 23 at 08:41 EST .

  30 people like this.

   StarFire  Well, we will soon find out if vinegar works. I forgot to tell the boys not to do the vinegar. My daughter and I went to buy a load of bedding soil. We returned home to the odor of pickles. My grandson and son-in-law had sprayed the beds with three gallons of vinegar from our food storage. First time in ages the guys did something without being asked (nagged )… LOL.

We added another six inches of soil. We’ll let it sit “as is” for a week and then begin watering frequently to dilute the vinegar. In a couple of weeks we’ll test the ph and adjust if necessary.
The best laid plans….

Next fall we’ll try the black plastic cover.
February 24 at 21:44 EST .

  32 people like this.

   Escaped commieny  My backyard neighbor put up a wood fence about 8 in from my Page, no way to get the weed eater in there. I spray apple cider vinegar on the weeds and it kills them, if there is sun to broil them it works fast, not sure how it would work in a planting situation. Smell of pickles ? let me tell you, I also use it on the shower tiles, smell of pickles, oh yeah.
February 26 at 11:33 EST .

  28 people like this.

   Flaming Sword  Ec, didn't you say you bought some of the professional Cascade dishwasher detergent with phosphates from the website I sent you? Dissolve a load of that (strong concentration ) in boiling water. Let it cool and put it in a spray bottle. Boy does it ever strip gunk off bathroom tiles.. Doesn't take much, and no pickle smell.
March 12 at 19:41 EST .

  26 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Gardening & Landscaping  I am about to go nuclear on my garden pests.

My 3 year old apple trees were covered with apples last week. This morning many of the limbs have been snapped off and almost every leaf has been eaten. The deer also ate all the blossoms off the lilies that would bloom this week and half of the blossoms on my climbing roses. I got out the stinky spray to that keeps deer away, but it’s a week too late. Now I’m just hoping the apple trees survive. On the bright side, the deer scat on the front walk will help fertilize the flowerbed I swept it into.

The four cherry trees bloomed beautifully, but without a good bee population they only set one little cherry. In spite of the bird netting, a mocking bird managed to get to it just as it began to turn red.

New rule of thumb for Tennessee gardening: Don’t count on anything until it’s on the dinner table.
June 7 at 22:21 EST .

   32 people like this.

   BirdsNest  We use these to keep deer out of the garden-they work for us.

Hang them at the level of the threat-deer? The height of a deer. Dogs,etc place at that height. People? Place at people height.
The field next to us used to be littered with deer, now they come out at the neighbor's back yard and don't come any closer.

Really sorry to hear of your pest troubles. Gardening is a hit and miss occupation and this year it's been really difficult.
June 9 at 09:17 EST .

  25 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Nostalgia  My Mother, 1942 in Columbus, MS reclining on my dad's Army Air Corps jacket. Miss them both greatly.
   May 12 at 16:50 EST .

   35 people like this.

   Rake King  Star-fire: Does she have those things they called "rats" in her hairdo? I have photos of my mom and aunt with those things in their hairdo...what an awful name to give to that product.
May 15 at 09:27 EST .

  34 people like this.

   StarFire  No, R.K. Mother didn't need a rat. Her hair was dark and thick through all of her 85 years.

She married my dad just before H.S. graduation in 1942. They were both 17. He joined the Army Air Corps and left for Basic trining. He returned on leave in time to accept his diploma. He also accepted diplomas on behalf of his fellow servicemen who could not return home for the ceremony.

Mother and Daddy were home-town, high school sweethearts during the depression and into WWII. They were married over 66 years before Daddy passed away. Mother followed less than a year later. It was a true "greatest generation" love story.
May 15 at 10:41 EST .

  38 people like this.

   Linder  Sixty-six years! Amazing and sweet! You were blessed.
May 23 at 23:43 EST .

  30 people like this.

   StarFire posted on Gardening & Landscaping  Well, we’ve been trying every kind of bait we can think of to catch the squirrels. Last night we tried an orange half. Nope. No squirrels. But this possum loved it. When we turned him loose in a nearby wooded area he insisted on taking his orange with him. Well behaved little guy ambled off to the creek bottom carrying his orange in his mouth.

Any ideas what to bait the squirrels with? We’ve already tried corn, peanuts, peanut butter and sunflower seeds… oh, and oranges.

   April 28 at 12:40 EST .

   33 people like this.

   Balogreene  They always eat our birdseed (sunflower seeds ) :D
April 28 at 14:30 EST .

  28 people like this.

   StarFire  They regularly raid our bird feeder, but they are not at all interested in birdseed in the trap. They are smarter than we figured.
April 28 at 16:10 EST .

  29 people like this.

   Carmen  Try cat food. Also, if you are going to relocate the critters, drive them at least 20 miles (preferably over a river ) because they will travel miles to get back home.

We relocated several a few years ago because they were eating our house.
April 28 at 16:41 EST .

  28 people like this.

   Gerty  Hello, Miss Carmen. I have missed you; glad to see you posting again.
April 29 at 09:12 EST .

  26 people like this.

   Hagar  StarFire, OK nice try, but 'possums or skunks are no challenge to catch.
Your trap is too big, get a 5" Havahart. Put a big old glob of PB in it and set it close to were the "bushy tailed rat" come to partake of your garden delights.
PS If you have a bunch of very wily squirrels, you may have to go the extra distance and dip the trap in vinegar, rinse and let dry. This removes any scent of man or beast from the trap. Yes their sense of smell is that good, also us gloves to handle the trap after washed it.
Squirrels are a real pain to get rid of, if after all this and you still have a problem get a pellet rifle w/ scope.
April 30 at 09:02 EST .

  29 people like this.

   StarFire  Hagar, you have made my 16yo grandson's day. He has a couple of pellet guns that he's been begging me to let him use against the squirrels. He wanted to use his new .22, but I vetoed that. Our neighbors are too close.

I have three traps. The big one and two 5-inch. All are baited with both PB and birdseed. At this point, I'm putting out a squirrel buffet if it will lure in the little SOBs.
May 1 at 10:48 EST .

  29 people like this.

   Hagar  To be honest, your best chance against the furry rodents is your grandson's aim!!!
Tell him from me "Good Hunting"!!!
May 1 at 12:16 EST .

  31 people like this.

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