Sunday, March 17, 2013


Once more, I find myself not updating my blog as much as I'd like, or should. It's been a month, I think, since my last update. Last time, I had mixed up the soil in my raised garden bed with some natural fertilizer (cow manure), had talked about putting out the squirrel repellent, and discussed my amaryllis and my strawberry plant. Time for some updates! But, first things first. I entitled this blog entry "Camellia", because that's what I ended up getting for my yard today. My friend and I went to Menge flea market in Pass Christian this morning, just for something exciting to do, and while there, I came across a lovely camellia tree/bush in a 3 gallon pot that I fell in love with. It was $20, and had a gorgeous bloom on it, white with pink stripes.
I balked at the $20 price tag, and decided to consider it. We walked around the rest of the flea market, then we went back to the beginning part of it to for him to purchase a pink angel trumpet bush that he wanted to put into a large concrete container. Then, we headed back to the booth that had the camellia, and I looked at it again, checking it out to make sure there was nothing wrong with it, that it was healthy, etc. etc. I then asked the guy running the booth if he would let it go for $15. He told me the plants were not his, that he was just helping to sell them, but that I could have it for $18. I pulled out $15, and my friend dug in his pockets and came up with $2 in ones; I held it out to the guy and told him $17 was all I had. He looked at the money for a moment, then said ok and took it. I then proudly carried my new camellia to my truck. Shortly after getting home, I then searched my front yard (I was determined it was to go in the front yard) for the perfect spot, then decided on an area near the property line to the south of my house, just in front of where the porch would be if it extended that far, and then dug the hole and planted it.

I made sure it had plenty of space for growing, and will be beautiful in that spot when it's gotten much larger. It also is in a spot where I can view it upon stepping out onto my porch without having to crane my neck too far to the right. :) I wasn't entirely sure of the variety; the label on the plant just says "Mrs Jimmy Davis Striped":
So, of course I had to Google it. :) And I found that this variety originated in 1961, in Hammond, Louisiana, by Walter F. Wilson, Jr., comes in both pink and white/pink striped, and that it has vigorous, open, and upright growth. Sounds good to me! I can't wait until it's a good six feet or taller and producing dozens of gorgeous blooms!

Now, as to the squirrel repellent, I've used the stuff a couple of times now, and while the squirrels are still here, they don't seem quite as nuisancy or stay in the yard as often as they used to. However, I don't know that the Shake-Away stuff, by itself, is going to solve my innumerable squirrel issues. I think I'm going to have to combine it with live trapping to move the squirrels away (either that, or buy a BB gun and start practicing shots on them up in the trees). There are more squirrel nests than I can count in all the trees in the backyard. They are going to have to be taken care of so I can have my chicken coops too, since the squirrels will eat all the chicken feed if I'm not careful. Moving on, in the last blog, I had posted that I had just planted my pink amaryllis in a pot to get it started while the weather was still unpredictable. Well, that little thing has finally started growing!

It's been rather vigorous over the last five days. On Monday, I plucked what I thought was a weed growing in the pot, about 2-3 inches from the bulb, and then was horrified to think that might have been the plant, growing from the bottom of the bulb or something (I have little to no experience with bulb plants at this point lol). I was assured by my friend that wasn't the case, and since Monday, the plant has gone from a very tiny green start on the top of the bulb to the size in the pictures above. And the bud is shaping up to give me what I hope will be a huge bloom! Speaking of blooms, my strawberry plant has 3 blooms on it! I'm guessing it actually prefers the cooler weather to the heat of the summer that I subjected it to last year, so who knows, maybe I will get some nice berries this time around!

And, as it turns out, the strawberry isn't the only thing blooming around here! My purple verbena has just gone to town with blooms this year! It's nearly taken over the flower bed it occupies, which is fine; when the yellow lantana starts growing again (assuming it does), it'll be intermixed with the verbena, to give a very nice purple and yellow/gold show! One would think I'm an LSU fan lol!

Of course, my camera didn't capture the true dark purple of the blooms. It comes close in the top picture, but the blooms pictured on the bottom are a very, very pale version of the true color. In that same bed, I also have lemon thyme which, while of course not blooming, is doing very well in it's third year of growth:
On the other side of the steps, my coral bells azalea has been producing some blooms, although the frost killed off some of the blooms earlier this past week. And then, there is my rosebush, which I pruned last month and which has already sprouted some vigorous growth of its own.

My dianthus has also been blooming pretty well, the solid colors more prolifically than the striped ones:
Now, back to the raised bed. It's still sitting there with nothing in it for the time being. I've been waiting until I know the danger of frost is passed to start setting out anything, but I also need to go ahead and start my tomato seeds. I have a packet of yellow pear tomatoes that I wanted to try this year, and of course I'll get plants again from town (maybe even from the Hattiesburg equivalent of a co-op that I discovered on the 42 Bypass) when I'm ready to set them out. My poor raised bed is looking lonely!
And that's pretty much it this time around! I'll leave the blog with three images of my cat, Maverick, checking out the new camellia tree:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ah, love working with my garden, and I managed to get some things done this evening that I've been wanting to do! What with it being too dark when I get home from work, or not being able to do some things because of a wound in my leg (for those not in the know, my dog, Max, and I were attacked by 3 dogs in my front yard three weeks ago yesterday. Max fortunately is fine now, after his neck wound healed, but I was bitten on the upper calf of my left leg, and it's taking forever to heal), or because of the weather (one week ago today, an EF-4 tornado ripped through Hattiesburg, so even though I had some time last Sunday, the weather definitely didn't cooperate!), I just haven't had a chance to get around to doing a lot of things I wanted to do. Well, this evening, my usual Sunday plans ended a bit earlier than usual, so I took advantage of that by gathering some tools together, and then dug out part of my raised garden bed, set that soil aside in a plastic tub, then took three 40-pound bags of cow manure and poured them into the trench I'd opened up in the raised bed. Then, I took a garden rake, and mixed it together with the remaining soil in the bed.

Then, I took the soil from the bin and spread it over the top of the newly-mixed manure and soil mixture, smoothing it out after it was put on. Hopefully, this first step will help in getting the fill soil of the bed fertile enough to raise some nice tomatoes, lettuce, and whatever else I decide to include in it. I plan to mix in some other fertilizers in the coming weeks before it's planting time.

It already looks richer and more like growing soil after just stirring it up. For mixing it together, I used the hoe my sister gave to me for my last birthday, my garden rake, and of course the shovel for removing and readding the dirt. I also utilized the wheelbarrow my sister gave to me for my birthday the previous year. Hmm, I seem to rack up on outside tools on my birthdays! ;)

At some point, I want to add the contents of my compost bin, but I'm not sure at what point I should do that! Since I've been adding to it continuously, obviously not everything in it has composted at this point, although I think quite a bit of it has. Here's what it looks like after I stirred it up with my pitchfork this evening:
Also, last year, I had a huge problem with squirrels decimating not only my tomatoes, but my corn as well (I haven't started tilling up the soil for my corn patch yet). This year, I've searched for safe, humane ways to deal with the squirrels, since I couldn't really bring myself (even if I was a good shot) to shoot them, as many people in this area do. I considered live traps, but that would likely be a costly investment (I've no idea how much a live trap costs, but probably more than I'd care to spend). In my research, I've found that a lot of people like using fox urine pellets to chase small critters out of their yards. So, I did a search for some fox urine, and came across something called Shake Away Critter Repellent Granules that I'm hoping will do the job. It contains fox urine, among other ingredients. I've read several reviews on it, and while about 50% of the reviewers claim it doesn't work, the other half says it does work, but that you have to make sure you use it according to directions, and not just scatter it about willy-nilly. So I'm going to make sure I follow the directions to the letter to see if it'll get rid of the squirrels. Several of the positive reviewers also claimed it ridded their yards of moles as well, and that's something I'd really love to see gone, since I have several moles in my yard. I'll keep note of how it works in this blog!
One thing that's definitely needed to do - find a place outside to store it, like in the storage shed. The smell is strong, even through the plastic bottle, and my dog loved sniffing it when I removed it from the box. I made sure to put it up where he can't get to it, as I'm sure he'd love to add his scent to it as well! In the picture, it was in a cupboard (with light bulbs and the like), but the storage shed is definitely the place for it!

On another note, I also finally got around to planting my Amaryllis in a flower pot, so I can keep it inside until after the frosts pass, before planting it outside. It had already started sprouting in the package! Talk about "life finding a way"! I also noticed that the strawberry I grew last year (which was highly disappointing, as it produced mostly small berries, and only 3-4 of them were even worth eating) is growing again, even though it's still winter. Granted, it's not been a cold winter, but we have had our cold days! I'm trying to decide if I'll just let it grow and see if the "second year's growth" produces better berries, or just dig it up and chunk it. I'll most likely just let it grow, though, and see what happens!

Anyway, until next time, happy gardening!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My, it has been a while since I've updated my blog! The last time I posted, I had created my raised bed garden and dug out my corn plot. Well, sadly, things did not go as well as I anticipated. Squirrels decimated my corn plants before they managed to produce any ears. They were between 1 and 3 feet high when the squirrels in my backyard decided that the plants must be delicious, and they literally tore the plants to shreds. I thought at first a dog, or even a human, had come over and torn the plot apart, but then when I was glancing out of my bedroom window, I noticed squirrels attacking the one or two stalks still standing tall, and at that point, I figured out what had happened. Not sure how I'm going to get around that this summer, because I'm determined I'm going to raise some corn!

As to the raised garden bed, I had set out several varieties of tomatoes, a lettuce plant, and planted carrot seeds. I managed to get a few tomatoes off the vines, but they were small. I definitely need to fertilize that bed much better this year! I have a compost bin that's been, well, composting for nearly a year now, with fresh additions every now and then, so hopefully I'll be able to use that, perhaps along with some commercially-available fertilizers, to get the bed fertile and ready to go! Now, I would actually have gotten a lot more tomatoes off my vines, but those dratted squirrels set their sites on my tomato fruits after the corn stalks, so I lost the rest of the tomatoes too! The lettuce never really did much of anything, and the carrots were tiny and shriveled (another reason for using better fertilizer this year).

So, my first problem is to figure out how to keep the squirrels from destroying my garden! I'm thinking I may look into squirrel traps (live ones) and take the trapped squirrels far, far away to let them loose. As much as I hate the little buggers right now for what they did to my garden, I simply can't kill them. Now, if my dog or cat were to catch some and kill them....well, that's not something I would condemn, lol, but I certainly couldn't bring myself to kill them. And right now, the squirrels are in little to no danger of being caught by my pets, since the cat shows no interest in them, and my dog is always on a leash (especially these days when there is a vicious dog running around the neighborhood). :)

Ferocious-looking, aren't they? (Or maybe that should be "fur-ocious"? LOL) No, I don't think the squirrels are in any danger whatsoever from this dynamic duo! So the topic of squirrel trapping shall be considered and, if deemed appropriate, I'll take those steps to ensure the downfall of the squirrel population in my backyard. Or I may have to consider alternative methods to diminishing the squirrel population, but rest assured, my goal shall be attained!

Now, I also plan to build a chicken coop this year and start raising farm-fresh eggs for myself and friends. I hope to find a design in the following book that I will like, and can afford to build, and get started on it in the early spring:

I don't really need a lot of chickens; I'm thinking 2-4 should be plenty for my needs. Although, once I start eating fresh eggs, I may become addicted to them and include them in more meals! I can remember having fresh eggs as a kid, and I am looking forward to having them again! I also remember enjoying the taste of duck eggs as a kid, although I honestly don't remember exactly HOW they tasted. I just remember we had a duck that laid eggs, and I remember them being delicious! I wouldn't mind adding a duck to my farm to have the occasional fresh duck egg as well.

Other additions I'd like to make to my land this year include completing the inside of the house (I still need to finish renovations on my kitchen, and I need to renovate the living room as well), and I'd like to build a deck and patio outside my back door. I also plan a few more flowerbeds, and I purchased a pink Amaryllis builb today to help enhance my yard. This will be my third spring/summer in my house, and I really want to get my yard looking like I'd like it to look this year. We shall see how it goes!

Well, that's it for now. Hopefully I'll get back to updating this blog on a more regular basis and won't let almost a year pass by between posts again!