Browsing Archives for May 2011

Bouquet of the Week #1

May 31st, 2011

I thought I might be fun to try and create a bouquet every week this summer using just the plants that are growing on the old homestead.  And when I say ‘fun’ I actually mean ‘something to post about that requires little to no mental jumping jacks’.  Not that the posts around here frequently require mental jumping jacks, but gathering a few flowers requires virtually none and it’s summer people!  I’m trying to relax!

Here is what I found for the first bouquet…

Name – I don’t know
Location – Up by the orchard
Genus – Wildflower
Difficulty Level – Four out of five stars (Sticker patch, snake paranoia, scratchy leg syndrome, summer sandal blisters)

Name – Queen Anne’s Lace (I think.)
Location – Out in the middle of the meadow
Genus – Wildflower
Difficulty level – Four out of five stars (see ‘I don’t know’ above).

Name – Beats me.
Location – Also in middle of meadow
Genus – Wildflower
Difficulty Level – Five out of five. (Blisters from new sandals were hurting real bad by this time.)

Name – Valerian
Location – The old garden bed
Genus – Sturdy perennial
Dificulty Level – Zero out of five – it has never given me a lick of trouble.

Name – Catmint
Location – By the deck
Genus – Fabulous Perennial (remind me to plant lots more.l
Difficulty Level – Two out of five stars. Easy to grow, but almost too easy as it requires frequent dividing to maintain it’s lovely shape.

Bring flowers in the house.  Kick off blister causing sandals and rue the day you purchased them.  Wonder if you can take them back even though you have worn them all day long including on a hike all over your homestead looking for flowers.  Take flowers to sink.  Fill up a mason jar about half way with homemade flower food following Suzanne’s recipe.  Strip the flowers of their lower leaves, cut the stems to appropriate length for your jar and stick them willy nilly into the vessel.  Rearrange until you are pleased or sick of messing with them.

Lie down and rest in soft area with an icy beverage and a snack.
Happy flowering!

I struggle with paying the water bill. I used to write about these struggles on a semi-annual basis, but sometimes in life it really is best to move on.  However, a few short months ago, I received yet another letter from my Rural Water Department, chastising me for once again not sending them the proper funds. Evidently I had miscalculated and wound up under-paying my bill by quite a significant amount.  This oversight resulted in the usual letter written in angry red ink with lots of arrows and exclamation points and circles and double underlines emphasizing my error, from the person at the Rural Water Department whom I refer to as ‘the red ink lady at the RWD’.

Why do I struggle so with paying the water bill?   It’s a long story, but let’s just say that our local RWD places far too much responsibility of the monitoring and reporting of household water usage on the actual inhabitants of said households. Also – in order to get the correct numbers to send to the RWD (along with the proper remittance) a long uphill hike is involved followed by reaching into a spidery hole, followed by trying to read numbers inside of a spidery hole, followed by writing down those numbers in a shaky spidery hole panic, and since none of those things are particularly pleasant, I usually opt to guess the amount of water we have used for the month.  Turns out – I am not a very good guesser.  And then I get another letter from the ‘red ink lady at the RWD’.

In protest of the latest red-inked letter  I received from the red ink lady at the RWD, I actually included a note with my delinquent payment and asked why the corrective letters are always written in red ink? Why not the more calming blue… or the more understated black? Even a peppy purple or a soothing mint green would be better than the caustic red that makes one feel like one has miserably failed an essay exam.

To this she replied in our next bill – “Red ink is the color typically used by accountants.”



Maybe I will send her one of those fancy pens with all the different colors of ink for Christmas. Then she can quickly switch from ‘angry accounting red’ to ‘not at all antagonizing blue’ when she scratches out the next letter of reprimand to me.

Which brings me to my latest chapter in my personal RWD wrestling match.

I sat down to pay bills on Monday, but I ran out of 44 cent stamps before I got to the water bill. Fortunately I had a huge collection of one, two and three cent stamps accumulated over years and years of stamp price raising. I decided to use them all up on the water bill. I wonder what the ‘red ink lady’ will think? Maybe I should have drawn a smiley face somewhere to make sure she knew I meant no harm?  But as you can see… there really wasn’t room for a smiley face.

The Country Doctor was horrified that I sent this letter.

But the Country Doctor has never reached his hand into a spidery hole after an uphill climb has he?

So his horror is somewhat pale in comparison to mine.

I found a few of these guys mowing down my carrot patch a few days ago.

It’s a swallowtail caterpillar.

Not wanting to harm him, I called in some reinforcements.

I wrongly thought that a nine year old boy would not mind transporting a few squashy caterpillars from one location to another, but I was wrong.  Jack did not want to touch the soft bodied creatures anymore than I did.  So we compromised and pulled off some of the carrot foliage that they were clinging to and moved them across the garden that way.

Over to my cilantro patch.

I have plenty of cilantro.  It re-seeded itself and is coming up all over my garden, so I don’t hesitate to share it.  My carrots however?  I only have three short rows and I have never grown them before and I am super excited to see if they actually produce any carrots and well… not really feeling very generous with them.

Sorry swallowtails!

But here’s some crappy cilantro for you!

And then I showed Jack the only swallowtail trick I know…

If you lightly brush their heads with a leaf or a twig…

These two bright orange horn things pop out.

I guess the swallowtail believes that this will keep a predator from gobbling him up.

I think the swallowtail might be sadly mistaken about the power of his orange horns…

But I did not tell him that.

In other garden news…

These are my beans.

They took FOREVER to sprout!

I almost gave up hope!

But they finally came up.


I acidified the center bed of the new garden by adding soil sulfur.

And then I planted a few acid loving plants in this bed.

Lupine – a perrennial flower….

And blueberries!

Here are my half frozen tomato plants.

They are doing very well.

So are the peppers and eggplant that also suffered frost damage.

So here is the new garden.

It looks pretty bare, but it is actually full of new life.

And here is the old garden.

Burstin’ at the seams.

And here is a potato flower.