Monday, October 31, 2011


I love Halloween, it's definitely one of my favorite holidays because I get to decorate the yard in whatever scary mode my heart desires.  Yesterday I molded Halloween candies; the red skull is white chocolate I dyed. I also carved 2 Jack o'Lanterns, one from an orange pumpkin & one from a gray one.  As you can see from the photo, they're surrounded by an array of animated items, along with some ghoulish drinks and roaches.
I set up the candy dispensary in the drive way, since it's easier for strollers than grass, with the Jack o'Lanterns, etc, stage right and the items in the photo above on the other side, including "Gertrude", who lights up and speaks.  Printed vinyl backgrounds hide the front porch and carport and are backlit to highlight the graveyard theme.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fun @ the plant & seed swap


Quite of few of the area Dave's Garden members got together today for a plant & seed swap; I brought numerous varieties of pepper seeds, some vinca seeds and Stapelia gigantea cuttings.  In exchange I wound up with  the seeds of 2 varieties of pickling cucumber, yellow Italian squash, black and brown tepary beans and jack o lantern pumpkin.  I also got some lime basil plants, Italian garlic bulbs, rain lily bulbs, surprise lily bulbs and some walking onions.  Can't wait for the Spring swap!!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Harvested basil seed yesterday afternoon and then spent the next 6-7 hours hand picking thousands of basil seeds. It was tedious work and eventually I decided it would take too long to completely separate the seeds from the seed heads, so got as much out as humanly possible. I have a 3" x 5" bag 2/5ths full; enough seed to plant a small field; do I really need to have lawn in the backyard?  BTW, if anyone knows of a simple way to separate the seeds from the dried seed heads, please let me know.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Inside kind of day

Today was an inside kind of day, as it was blustery and dark clouds came scudding in, looking like all hell was about to break lose, but all we got was thunder and lightning.  Since it wasn't exactly gardening weather, I designed and printed some seed packets for the plant & seed swap on Saturday, then put some of the excess chile seeds from the New Mexico State University Chile Institute in them.  Ran out of colored ink, but still have more chiles to pack, as well as vinca, sunflower, salvia and Iceland poppy from the garden.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bonsai, gumbo and more

Got the Bouganville bonsai potted and wired, then toured the yard to see how things are looking.

The petunias came back from their transplant shock and are blooming profusely and the mint really appreciates the cooler weather.

 The grapes have decided to start leafing out again and I noticed some small grape clusters forming, so I'm going to leave them and see what happens.

Made chicken gumbo from scratch, using okra from the back garden and it was yummo!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weather's nice, so back to work.

Planted 3 red/pink mini roses that I got from the 99 cent store in the rose bed, then potted up 9 Stapelia gigantea cuttings for Saturday's seed & plant swap.  The bouganville in the soaking sink is a bonsai to be; I've been waiting for cooler weather before trimming the roots and shaping it and with the rest of the week forecast to be in the 80's it'll be a project for tomorrow. I found 21 blue iris rhizomes for free on and I hope the person who listed them finds the card I left and will check out my blog from time to time to see how they're doing.  Will have to decide where to make a bed for them plus some bulbs I picked up in the last few weeks; somewhere in the front yard would be nice, so the neighbors can enjoy them too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Today's happenings

This morning while getting a glass of water, I saw a hummingbird @ the backyard feeder, but it left before I could get a picture; hopefully, there'll be plenty more in the days to come.  Went out an picked more okra today, so tomorrow's dinner is going to chicken and sausage gumbo.  Went thrift shopping after work and went to one store where I've had my eye on an Acme Hand Corn Planter, patented in 1900, which they were asking $35 for.  Well  today it was 1/2 off, so I snatched it up; it'll wind up somewhere on the back porch, probably on the wall.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

All lit up

Halloween decorating is almost finished:

Found a cool porch light cover and got the "basket of terror" lit up.

Larry's in the spotlight in the back of the cemetery and the werewolf is busting out for a night on the prowl.


The view from the street is electrifyingly spooky.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Smells & tastes good!!

Well I finally decided that the forecast was cool enough to take down the shade cloth over the back gardens then I put up 4 strings of solar mini lanterns so the frame doesn't look so bare.  Harvested more okra today and a few peppers.  Decided to put the sign I made yesterday on the planter bench on the front porch and I think it looks good there in front of the Stapelia.

Only had enough yeast to make the cinnamon raisin bread and it smelled so good baking that someone decided she couldn't wait and had a slice as soon as it came out of the oven.  The verdict is in, and it tastes as good as it smells.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What I did today

Didn't get anything done in the garden this weekend, as I had family obligations (shopping, mostly) and got a slow start on things today.  I did find the time to make a garden sign using my favorite quote on the nature of gardens and gardening in general, though I'm not sure where to put it yet.  Probably will go on the front porch, since it already has a red and white color scheme.  Also started a bread sponge, which is a starter for any one of a number of breads and is used to make a softer core in the loaf while allowing for a crusty exterior such as those found on artisan breads.  Will be baking a cinnamon raisin bread and a whole wheat walnut bread tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gruesome Larry and other scary folk

Larry has moved to a more prominent location for Halloween, right behind the family cemetery.  He got tattoo sleeves for the occasion and looking at his head, you now know why he wears a burlap face cover most of the time.  He used his battleaxe to cut of Medusa's head and he's carrying his trophy around to turn any trespassers to stone.

Larry's joined by his cousin Fred, who's wearing a matching ensemble (can you see the family resemblance?) and cousin Stew, who's just hanging around.  Chuck ate all of Larry's corn, so Larry put the shrunken skulls that Cousin Fred gave him as a souvenir of his trip to Borneo in the basket instead.

 More creepiness may be in store for the future, so check back for the continuing saga of  "A quarter acre of terror!".

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The haunting begins!!

Finished the milk jug Jack o'Lantern totem and decided to make it 5 jugs high, so I had to add a PVC pipe through the middle for stability and anchored the pipe using an extra solar lamp stake I had left over from the solar lamp post project.

Set up the cemetery complete with glow in the dark warning signs on "rocks" and a werewolf breaking through the ground holding a beating heart.  Decided not to mow to get that spooky overgrown look.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Prepping for Halloween

 Spent 2 hours after work looking for more purple lights to finish the spider's web, as Target was out of them a 3 different stores; finally found some @ WM and after putting them up, they're a darker purple, but what can ya do?  Now that the spiderweb is done, I started working on a plastic milk jug totem that will have electric tea lights in it. To make each section of the totem use a clean jug and cut a hole in the bottom big enough for the neck of the next bottle to fit into and a hole in the back big enough to slide the electric tea light into.  Next, put masking tape in the circles in the 2 sides opposite the handle and use a razor knife to create the eye shapes, then more tape to create the nose, mouth and eyebrows.  Remove the excess tape and spray the jug with flat black paint.  When the paint is dry, glue the pieces together with construction adhesive or super glue (I used CA) and when it's dry, spray the excess glue black so it doesn't show.  When this totem is done, it'll be 4 jugs high, with the top one being a 1/2 gallon.  I'll fill the bottom with sand to weight it down so it won't blow over in the wind.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Eek, a spider!!!!

Since we aren't expecting anybody to occupy the birdhouse condo until spring, Chuck invited some of his cousins to spend the winter here, giving new meaning to the term "snowbirds".  Seems we forgot all about the Tasmanian Tarantula, which comes out of its' den around Halloween and builds a giant web to attract a mate.  Looks like he's after more than a mate, guys; better be ready to take flight at a moments notice. Ghouls and goblins and other creepy stuff will be invading the yard over the next few days, so stay tuned for further developments.  It's getting dark out there, BETTER LOCK YOUR DOORS!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


We're going to a friend's for a dinner party tonight and we volunteered to bring the desserts, so I've been baking most of the day.  I made a French Apple Tart w/lemon zest and rosemary from the garden, a plum upside-down cake and oatmeal raisin cookies.

We had a visitor at the kitchen door this afternoon who I relocated to the backyard pepper plot, where it can earn it's keep by filling up on any pests it may find.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day off from the garden chores

Had some errands to do after work and then of course, had to watch the Diamondbacks/Brewers game (boo, hiss), so I took the day off from yard work and took some pictures instead.  As promised, here's a better picture of the birdhouse condo, installed and ready for occupancy.

Here's some red salvia I planted several months ago that not only survived the heatwave, but has thrived; is was two six-packs from HD.  The salvia is planted in front of my Climbing Joseph's Coat rose that I planted back in April and which is now starting to bloom again.  I love that multicolored blooms on this one.

 Here are my Poblano, NuMex Big Jim & Hungarian Yellow Wax peppers.

Lastly, here's my Clemson Spineless Okra and Yellow Tomatillo, with an unknown pepper that sprouted from the compost that was added to the pot.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Birdhouse installed

The weather looked pretty ominous this morning, all gray and blustery, but it cleared up this afternoon and with temps in the low 70's, it was time to get out in the yard.  I mowed and trimmed the backyard, deadheaded the roses, transplanted some marigolds and removed suckers from the fruit trees.  In between these chores, I started digging the hole for the birdhouse pole, soaking it with water as the ground got too hard.  It's amazing how heavy a six unit birdhouse is, my guess is it weighs at least 15 pounds and I had to get it to the top of a 6' ladder on uneven ground.  After a few tense moments, I got the birdhouse to the top, then had to reach out and set it on top off the pole, lining up the threads with the mounting and slowly turning it until it was firmly seated; believe me it was hairy as I was afraid I would drop it and smash it to pieces.   The picture isn't that great, as the light was fading, so I'll post some better ones tomorrow.