Gardening, Journal Style Posts

Covid-19 Quarantine Day # 46 (2020)

I have been slacking I know. I am so bad about keeping up with writing. I have been home since March 1st, 2020 and no one is allowed over. The handful of people who get eggs from me are picking them up with zero contact. I place them in a plastic bag on the porch and they return washed egg cartons in a plastic bag on the porch. I have had zero human contact aside from hubby. We are kid free and that has been a huge adjustment, but I am enjoying the quiet and peaceful time with hubby.

Remember my posts for Emergency Preparedness kits? If you followed the instructions and created one, I hope it has helped you out during this time. Since most of us are home, now is the time to prepare even further. Did you know that the drought affected the bean crops last year or that Oklahoma almost lost the wheat crops from a hard freeze and unseasonable snow? I already expect food prices to go up. So, if you want to spend less at the grocery store, plant a garden. It’s not hard. Really. If you suck at growing plants and are anything like me, you kill plants. I have a solution for that too.

I have multiple seed trays in my kitchen sprouting up right now. I have lettuces and spinach planted in planter boxes on the front porch. They will get the morning sun, but they will be protected from the mid/late afternoon scorching sun because of how my house is situated.

The two above planter boxes are filled with lettuce and spinach. I have since swept the seed pods for the trees up and have already laid a lot of them at the back of the property in an area we don’t mow because I have milkweed planted there for the Monarch Butterflies that pass through each year.

Oklahoma is fairly green right now. We did have snow on Monday night over to Tuesday morning, but everything is still nice and green.

Now, here’s how I started the seeds.
These very inexpensive little seed trays hold 72 seedlings each. I planted 2 and sometimes 3 seeds per each little pot. I watered them well and covered them up. They didn’t fit in my greenhouse window, but I have a grow light and once I switch them over to plastic cups they will have full accesstothat grow light. Right now they justhave my sunny kitchen greenhouse window giving them light on the counter. (I will reuse the same cups when I start seeds in the fall and next spring. This is why I chose plastic instead of paper.)

I sprayed them with water every single day, twice a day. I used a glass spray bottle. Not because I am against plastic, but all of my plastic ones have held cleaner at some point and I don’t trust them to not be contaminated.
These pictures were taken 3 days after I planted the seet trays. The two early sprouting sections are okra and cucumbers. Okra was first and it shocked me how fast it has grown. I have 3 different kinds of tomatoes in these trays. I planted cherry tomatoes (for salads), Roma tomatoes (for tomato sauce and tomato paste) and an heirloom variety of slicing tomato for sandwiches and hubby’s burgers. I also planted yellow squash, some herbs (different pots) chives (in a pot) Martin house gourds, zucchini, bell peppers, 3 kinds of cucumbers (I LOVE Cucumbers) some green beans that grow on a bush. I will plant snap peas and snow peas directly into the ground because they don’t transplanted well from my experience. I have pie pumpkins to plant around mid July, garlic & onion sets already planted. I will know if my asparagus survived soon enough. I have more seeds coming from Baker Creek. The one I am most excited about is baby bok choy. They are so tiny and cute. I also ordered peanuts for this year because I have tried multiple times to purchase green peanuts in the shell (goobers) from local farmers and every single one wants to see me green peanuts that have already been shelled. I can’t make boiled peanuts without green peanuts in the shell.

The tomatoes are at the bottom of the picture and cucumber is at the top. The cucumber is just about ready for transplanting to a plastic cup they are quite leggy. And I want to make sure they have plenty of strong roots. I will also begin placing a gentle fan near the plants to help harden them off. Oklahoma is rather windy and planting season is also tornado season so the seedlings need to be tough enough to survive come May when they go outside. The okra is very leggy too. Notice I planted way more than two people could possibly eat, I expect to have some plants die because I am a terrible gardener. ๐Ÿ˜‚ If they somehow all survive, I can easily trade them for veggies or fruits that I am not growing this year. I can also freeze, pickle, or can excess. The green beans are starting to sprout as well.

Now, these pots are herbs and chives. I have what I use the most in these pots. One is oregano, one is chives, one is cat nip because my kitties love their nip, and one is chocolate mint, which is for my tea. Once I get the multiple aloe plants out of my kitchen, I will plant basil, marjoram, and maybe another kind of mint or something else for my teas. In the cup is a cutting I got from one of hubby’s friends. We did a no contact egg drop off / trade for something having to do with welding and he has this amazing succulent in his flowerbed so, I  texted him and asked if I could have a cutting. It’s starting to root so, I will plant it soon. In the pot just out of frame is an aloe baby from last year. I have tons of babies that need to be separated and repotted from my giant aloe plant that I received from a friend in a ziploc bag and it was 3 inches tall when I received it. Now it’s HUGE. I will take pictures of it once I bring it back out to the back porch where it belongs. It’s not too happy about wintering in the mudroom.


This was hubby’s quarantine project. He welded a tire rack for the race trailer. It has a tray that sets in the empty spot on the top section, but I didn’t get pictures of that because I was busy planting seeds in seed trays.

I still have to decide where exactly I am going to put my garden this year because I filled the concrete block bed that is permanently attached to the house with flowers. The hose doesn’t reach that spot very well anyway and it is a lot of energy wasted with me dragging multiple 150 ft heavy duty hoses to reach it. The flowers I planted there are native to Oklahoma and include a type of daylily that is orange and multiplies every single year so I thin them out every fall and transplant them elsewhere to ensure they have plenty of room to spread out.

My roses from last year do not look like they will come back. I also want to get rid of the hideous bushes in front of the house because I hate them with a passion. They have these obnoxious things that grow straight up into the air and look like they haven’t been trimmed in years when this happens. If they flowered, I wouldn’t be so bothered by them, but they are just blah and ugly. Thet will be replaced with something that flowers. I wish Magnolia trees would stay small and make good bushes. I may put some kind of rose that grows like a vine or a big giant bush there. I have no idea. I will have to wait until it is safe to go to a nursery to find something lovely to put there.

I will do my best to remember to keep updating and writing. I always forget. Maybe I need to put WordPress on my homescreen of my phone to remember to keep updating.
Until next time…

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Gardening, Journal Style Posts

The Homestead is Blooming

Remember those wooden shipping crates hubby brought home for me? Well, they are painted and have been planted.The salad blend is already sprouting. I planted this on Friday and it is Monday. I am so excited for fresh salad.I set aside two for benches for the front porch and this is one of the benches. The crates contained foam sheets because they were used for shipping windows and the foam protected the windows in transit. Well, a plastic coated tablecloth made the perfect cover. The benches are quite comfy.I have an entire bed dedicated to wildflowers and my lilies of course. The wildflowers are blooming, but I only have one bloom so far from the lilies.I love these. They are always some of the first to bloom each year.Not sure what these will be but they are everywhere to include the front yard.I took this picture because it always makes me happy to see this spot. This is where the air conditioning condensation overflow drains and I have a nice group of toads who love this spot because of the moss and the water. That hole in the middle looks shallow, but it is almost a foot deep with cool, clear water. There’s a 5 gallon bucket underneath this spot with holes drilled into the front in order to redirect the water away from the foundation of the house, which is basement walls in this spot. It works rather well and the spot retains that deep hole of water, which attracts the toads. I may create a fairy garden in this spot.I was very excited to find this in the wildflower bed because it is not something that I planted. This is bee balm and is also known as horse mint or wild bergamot. I left these where they were because I have a huge patch of it at the back of the property and I have a bunch currently drying for tea. Here are a few pictures I took when I started drying some I had gathered last week.I love finding ingredients for teas across the property. Fresh tea is so much better than boxed up little bags of chopped herbs and flowers that are who knows how old once you purchase them.

Chamomile, yet another flower for tea. (I planted these last year and again this year.)

A caterpillar was munching on this wildflower.

These are really tiny and grow in almost a tower formation, kind of like delphinium. I have no idea what they are called, but they are pretty.

Something was munching on these. I’m glad the caterpillars are getting fed.

A yellow wildflower in the Aster family.

This hasn’t fully bloomed , but it is cardinal flower. (I zoomed in so it looks much larger than it really is.)

This is everywhere in the pasture, but I found a lone plant in the wildflower bed. This is poison Hemlock. It’s pretty and is often confused with Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot). I have both growing on the property. I have to be very careful around this plant because I am particularly sensitive to the sap and it causes blisters to form on my skin almost immediately.

This lovely plant has been ripped out multiple times by my own hands and it just keeps coming back. It isn’t flowering, but it looks like a form of ivy and it definitely is not ivy. I let it grow because I thought it was ivy. Big mistake. This lovely aggressive little vine is actually mouse melon and it just popped up one year. The rabbits and birds love it so I try to tame it each year just enough to keep it from swallowing my bushes.

My solitary lily bloom.

This is the side of the garage. Every year, I dig up and transport these lilies to another spot and assume that they won’t come back again. Every year I find the side of the garage just like this.

Do you see the hornworm? (Hint hornworms are green)

I also finally got a picture of the tree branch we had to chop down with a chainsaw and a photo explaining why half of the tree had to go.

The half of the tree is currently drying out and the barn kitties have built little nests in the weeds and grasses under the branches. We will cut it into manageable chunks later.

It really was a huge chunk of tree.

So this is a hackberry tree. As you can see, it split down the center the section we cut down was to the right and the branches did not grow leaves when spring came. The section to the left is alive and well with plenty of leaves. The tree was hit by lightning and it split into two trees one died and one lived. We will eventually have someone come out and cut the entire tree down, but that dead section had to go before tornado season came. It was a threat to the dairy building, the garage, and the stalls. It’s down and no longer at risk of falling on anything. If the other side falls it will fall and hit another tree. No danger to buildings. We are looking into trees to plant for shade trees. (Hackberry trees suck so bad because they will completely dull a chainsaw blade.)

We also did the youngest kiddo’s graduation on Saturday and that was just insanity, with 1,204 graduates.

There were so many kids.

The crazy part was that this was only part of the class of 2019. The rest of them will participate in the second ceremony in Tulsa on Saturday.

Our youngest completed junior and senior year with Epic Charter Schools, which is an online homeschool program that falls under the public school system. He thrived in the program and I wish we would have pulled him out of brick and mortar schools sooner.

Until next time….

Everyday Activities, Gardening

The Random Things Hubby Brings Me…

Our Anniversary happened earlier this month and it’s not really a big deal to us because we buy each other random things year round for absolutely no reason. We were going to go get my chicks on our Anniversary, but the local supplier for Oklahoma went out of business so, no one had chicks in Oklahoma on our Anniversary. We also had to go to a racecar parts store in Oklahoma City, Bishop’s. Hubby had to have the car put on the dyno machine and such and I was of course completely bored for a few hours. On the way home he somehow managed to park the truck and enclosed trailer in the middle of small town Chickasha (Chickasha is a big city, but they have what I assume is old Main street and it looks like a small town.) I always thought it was a small town until he took me through the city part of Chickasha. Well there’s a seed store in Small Town Chickasha and I absolutely love it. They have everything from bulk seeds to cast iron skillets. I didn’t really need seeds since I already got those, but I grabbed a handful of packets for herbs and such. Nope, I was on a mission. I wanted bird feeders. I didn’t want just any old bird feeders, I had specifics in mind.

Last year I saw my very first live hummingbird and it scared the bejeezus out of me. I thought it was a very large bee or wasp and I’m allergic to both, deathly allergic. So, I was in a panic while drinking my coffee and looking for this giant bug. Then I saw a flash of green. I had randomly bought a tiny hummingbird feeder that only held a few ounces. The hummingbird was at the feeder. It was beautiful and looked metallic. I am determined to have even more this year. They are in love with my lilies and cannas. So, I was searching for an unbreakable hummingbird feeder.

Spring in Oklahoma is tornado season so, the wind is brutal. It is brutal year round, but especially so, in springtime. I have lost so many wind chimes to the wind. Hubby kindly rest rings them with lacing wire when I buy them now. I currently only have one because the others blew away and I couldn’t find them.

So this was what I settled on for a feeder. It’s pretty tough plastic. It cane with a piece of wire and an S hook to hang it. I laughed at that. Hubby will hang them so they don’t blow away. I bought two of these.

Then I needed a regular bird feeder since all I have is a suet holder. My other feeder slammed into the tree too many times and broke.

I settled on this one for two reasons. First, it has a metal hanger, and second, I can secure it to the tree with the perch area. (It’s already hung and survived a storm.)

Bonus feature, easy to fill.

Of course I needed bird seed… Fifty pounds of it. ๐Ÿ˜‚

Grabbed some more suet blocks too.

This post was supposed to be about the random stuff he brings me though. So, let me get to that. He called and said, I have a surprise for you, tell the boy to get dressed and meet me in the driveway to help me get these out of the truck. Um… okay. So, I got the teenager out of bed and dressed. I swear my husband has radar for random things his wife will want.

I got three of these wooden sectioned boxes. He said, “I have no idea what you will use them for, but I figured you were going to be upset if I didn’t bring them home.” He had no clue what I was seeing when I squealed with excitement. I saw three raised beds already built and sectioned off. Oh but, there’s more….

Three small ones and one deep one. Seriously, he has a radar for these things. I was absolutely giddy. Now, I just need to remove the shipping stickers and paint them. If you are wondering what on Earth these are from, they are shipping containers for parts. Hubby is a diesel mechanic and the top 3 held windows so they have thick foam and lids. The bottom one held some big part for some vehicle he was working on that week. I didn’t ask specifics. I just know I need to paint them and destroy the stickers. (The stickers are gone. He brought the third small one home two days after he brought the others home.) I told him if there are ever more of these boxes, I want them. They break them down and throw them in the garbage. I will give them new life. Same goes for the burlap bags that shop rags come in, I have 4 of those, I line wire hanging baskets with it. Also, I made absolutely certain that these were heat treated only. He always says that I would be in heaven at a dump because I would dig through everything. ๐Ÿ˜‚

I have a strange habit of reusing everything possible and that only started when we moved to Oklahoma. Our small town has ZERO recycling. Lawton didn’t have it either. I don’t want to fill a landfill with a bunch of recyclable things. That just irritates me and makes me sad. So, plastic containers get a new life holding parts and bits and pieces in the garage. Others have been used to hold small amounts of paint for projects. At his last job, he brought me home 30 heat treated wooden pallets, 5 blue plastic 55 gallon barrels, one white 55 gallon plastic barrel, about 10, 5 gallon buckets, which he promptly confiscated for other things, and one metal 55 gallon barrel so I had a burn barrel. It’s safer to burn yard waste like branches in a metal barrel because it has less risk of catching the whole property on fire. He worked for a garbage company working on their vehicles. He hated it with a passion because warm weather means maggots. I was happy when he fina

This, job, he doesn’t bring me much home. Random bent washers, nuts for broken bolts (wind chimes), burlap bags, and now, wooden crates. Thankfully, this job isn’t super wasteful and they actually recycle. They return plastic and metal barrels to be refilled, which makes me happy. I have no idea why they throw these shipping containers into the dumpster, but I am kind of glad they do because I will use them. They even reuse pallets. So, this is weird and I hope they fix it, but until they do, I am happy to recycle them all. As I was writing this, he called to tell me he had two more of the sectioned wooden boxes, Yay!!! I can’t wait to go get paint and soil.

Until next time…

Gardening

The Flowers Have Begun to Bloom on the Homestead

I have been planting wildflowers in a raised bed that is made from cinder blocks since the 2nd spring after we purchased the Homestead. This year, everything is late blooming. I usually see blooms in early May, but this year, it happened in very late May.

I plan on filling a few beds with tons of lilies. I thin them every spring right before the last frost. I end up with more lilies each year. Lilies are one of my favorite flowers.

This seems to be the majority of the bee and butterfly mix I purchased this year and added to the flower bed. The flowers come back each year and I add a new seed blend each year. The butterflies love them so I have no complaints. We have so many butterflies this year. I have had them landing on me every time I sit outside with a cup of tea or my morning coffee.

Not sure what this little guy will turn into, but he had a nice feast before taking a nap. (He was curled into a coil before I disturbed him to get a picture.)

These two were part of last year’s wildflower mix. They come in so many colors and brighten up the bed.

This one is a new addition this year and doesn’t seem to be weathering the heat very well.

One of my favorites that is new this year. I have no idea what any of the flowers in this bed are, except for the lilies, because the boxes of seed mix that I buy don’t have any actual plant names listed on the package. I don’t mind because I just want oodles of flowers. The names don’t matter as much as the colors.

I have lilies in three different flower beds and they all seem to be doing rather well especially when the only watering they receive is from the rainfall. I don’t remember the exact type of lilies these are, but I purchased them locally from the Canna Farm. (I purchased them from a member of the family, which owns the Canna Farm, as she was selling the bulbs on Facebook.) She told me they were drought resistant, she never watered them, and they only received rainfall. I have done the same with my lilies and they are thriving. I couldn’t have asked for an easier flower to grow. Now, I just need a wider variety of colors for lilies. I may plant daffodils or some other plant that is planted in bulb form.

I realize this picture is a bit blurry, the wind started back up and this was the best picture I could get of this flower. I am pretty sure this is considered a weed to most gardeners, but so are most wildflowers. I didn’t yank it out, a butterfly landed on it as soon as I moved away from it so, it stays.

I know, I know, dandelions are considered weeds. I don’t pull them and we don’t spray anything to prevent them because the little yellow flower they produce is often the very first source of food for bees when spring arrives. I may be deathly allergic to bees, but I want to do everything possible to help them out each year. I happen to enjoy fruits and veggies. Bees and other pollinators make fruits and veggies possible because they buzz around spreading pollen from plant to plant. I also have small dishes filled with marbles and water. These are bee safe waterers because they can walk around on the marbles and access the water without risk of drowning. I leave fruit slices out for the butterflies as well.

The only other thing that happened today caught me by surprise. I heard the loudest buzzing I had ever heard and it startled me. I immediately jumped up and began looking around me for whatever bug was close enough to sting me. I was pleasantly surprised to see a hummingbird. I have never actually seen one before so, I ran inside, filled the feeders I had just purchased, and hung them all around the back porch. I am hopeful that I will see more in the very near future. I always have my phone with me while outdoors because I play music on my phone. I will snap pictures as soon as I see another one. I honestly had no idea they buzzed. It scared me until I realized that it was a bird and not a stinging insect.

I am trying to make a haven for wildlife with the wildflowers, zero chemicals sprayed, food and water sources for bees, insects, birds, and animals (mostly cats as far as animals, but I am pretty sure I am feeding a skunk and her babies when I feed the barn cats.) I don’t even spray pesticides of any form on my garden. I don’t want to eat the pesticides so, I don’t use them.

I am off to get my house back into order after having my in laws, son, daughter in law, and grandson, all visiting for two weeks. My house is so quiet. It’s quite strange. We also have a squatter in the chicken coop (It was left unsecured because we didn’t have any chickens yet.) Hubby has promised to deal with the skunk and her litter of mini stinkers without harming them so, chicks will come home and not have access to their coop until the skunk is evicted. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I am not in any rush. The coop is built and that was the difficult part. I am still trying to convince hubby that I need a pair of calves too. I don’t care if they become dinner after about 2 years, I will just get two more when that happens. I simply want calves. I need a duck too. That way, I can name the calves, “Milk” and “Cheese”, while naming the duck, “Quackers”. (Yes, I know I am ridiculous. I enjoy being ridiculous.) Until next time…