Tuesday, July 22, 2014

 Tuesday in the Gardens.

Thought I would show you some of what is growing this season now that we are mid-season.  This is the Angel's Perfume geranium from Burpee.  Two of the three survived shipping and transplanting.  They will spend the winter inside.  The do have a beautiful scent as well as very pretty flowers.
Meet the Pesto Perpetuo.  It is a 'sport' which doesn't flower so you don't have to try to keep it from bolting.  I have read some assessment which say the flavor isn't as strong as the flowering varieties but the variegated foliage is interesting.  This is another plant that will spend the winter inside.
Borage and, if you look carefully at the black spot in the lower center of the picture, you can see one of the bees that are visiting the gardens.  I have seen more bees this year but not as many as we had two and three years ago.  I plant borage primarily for the bees.
Overview.  What all is in the garden this year.  Well, the usual tomatoes (Martino's Roma, Patio Princess, and Biltmore) and Peppers (Albino Bullnose, Lipstick, and Cornu di Toro Rosso).  My usual herbs (rosemary, stevia, borage, hyssop, sage, chamomile, shiso, lavender, spearmint, peppermint, lemon basil, sweet basil, purple basil, pesto perpetuo basil, bee balm, summer savory, lemon balm, creeping thyme and lemon basil).  A couple of flowers (rose, red and purple petunia, geranium, and portulaca) and strawberries and wonderberries.
Oh, I almost forgot--the Ms. Mars sunflower, another Burpee variety.  I wasn't all that happy with the early blossoms.  They were rather pale and washed out.  But the later ones showed the vivid colors that attracted me when I ordered them.
Purple hyssop just beginning to bloom.  Another plant I put in primarily for the bees.  It has an added advantage--it makes a nice tea.  The flowers elongate to about four fuzzy inches.
 Two rosemaries and the variegated basil.  The upper rosemary is looking absolutely fantastic now.  Over winter I babied it along expecting it to die any time.  I hope I can keep it and its friend in better condition over this coming winter.
 Wonderberry in bloom--those little white blossoms.  I am looking forward to finding out what they taste like.  That will determine if I will continue planting it in future gardens.  This is the first year I have been able to get it to germinate and grow.  I think it needs warmer temps than we have in the winter in our house.  Next spring I will try it on a heating pad and see what happens.  That is, if I decide the flavor makes it worth while.
Another overview by our gate.  The rose is hidden in the back behind the sunflowers, hyssop and petunias.  Next year, if it makes it through the winter, I will plant some smaller plants where the hyssop and petunias are.  The sunflower is in a separate container.  The birds enjoy that little birdbath.  I tried it in the large container but couldn't find stabilize it.  We decided to put it on the patio cement.

That is all the garden news for now.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Beautiful day yesterday.  Temperature might have barely kissed 80F with a lot of sun.  I cut back the gold leaf lemon thyme--which badly needed cutting--and have that in the dehydrator.  Later I will strip the leaves off the stems.  I also got the eucalyptus transplanted.  I forgot to tell you all I got that last Tuesday at the farm market.  I know I shouldn't look at plants because I am a sucker for plants I haven't tried before.  I took four of the green tomatoes which we fried up for supper.  The strawberries all went on our cereal.  Saw an eastern swallowtail butterfly for the second day in a row visiting our petunias and sunflowers.  The info I found says they are common but this is the first time we have seen them here.

David Kaiser has another on point post.  Our foreign policy is incoherent and has been for a very long time.  You can't blame Obama entirely nor can you go back to George W. either.  We have spent most of our energies since the Spanish American War trying to make over other countries and their peoples into imitations of what we thought we were and are.

Money does, indeed, make the world (especially the political world) go around.  As the King in the Wizard of Id said: Remember the Golden rule--he who has the gold rules.  And what trickles down to the rest of us we really don't want to trickle down on us.  I really hate cleaning up someone else's shit.

Friday, July 18, 2014


I saw a headline this morning which said Vladimir Putin is demanding an "unbiased" investigation of the Malaysian jetliner crash in eastern Ukraine.  I wondered who among those who have the expertise to do the investigation might be considered unbiased and what would be Mr. Putin's definition of "unbiased."  Update: evidently the pro-Russian rebels are now claiming they don't have the black box and Putin claims he won't ask for them when they are found.  This story changes by the moment. Wonder what it will be by the time the news comes on later.

I wonder how much money Sysco made from 2009 to 2013 during which time they made a habit of storing perishable foods in filthy and unrefrigerated sheds?  And I hope the food they are donating to food banks as part of the settlement won't be similarly stored.

For the "damned if you, damned if you don't" file.

Yves Smith has a good cross post from Dahr Jamail concerning the chaos in Iraq.  However, the points she makes in her intro are very appropriate.  I have thought for sometime that our foreign policy has become more incoherent over the last couple of decades.  Russia and the U.S. seem to be on the same side (Malaki's side) in Iraq but working on the opposite sides in Syria.  Saudi Arabia (a supposed ally) and the U.S. are on opposite sides in Iraq and the same side in Syria.  What ever the government's aims are in the various hot spots around the world, making things better for the people who live in those spots receives lip service trotted out merely to soothe the consciences of the American electorate who know shit about the whole mess.

Reading this article I have to say the part which was presented doesn't answer the very important question posed: what purpose is served by the settlement of the case against Citigroup arising out of the mortgage mess?  The bank basically engaged in fraud (even though consultants warned the executives in charge of the bank was illegal) because they didn't want to miss out on a lucrative business.  The settlement doesn't provide a deterrent against future fraudulent behavior.  So what is the actual purpose of the settlement?

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Tom Englehardt always writes interesting posts.  An age of impunity, indeed--for some but not for all.  If ordinary folk did what corporations and our government have done they would be in prison.  Looks like the quaint old notion of "rule of law" is dead.


We had a monsoon type downpour for about fifteen minutes yesterday afternoon.  The rain was so heavy and wind driven we could hardly see the roof tops across the street.  At least we didn't get the hail that Russian beach got.  But the temperatures are supposed to be abnormally low for the next couple days.  Nothing in the gardens was damaged.  I got a nice handful of strawberries earlier but otherwise was lazy about gardening--except for drowning a few Japanese beetles.


Rain last night and partly cloudy skies right now.  Temperatures are in the mid 50s and probably won't get out of the 60s today.  Almost have to check the calendar to make sure it still is July.  This feels like October.


Another author I love to read: Gene Logsdon, the Contrary Farmer.  Always entertaining.  And applicable on more levels than horticulture.  Most of society seems to be paranoid on some subject and too often the paranoia is based on incomplete or misunderstood information.  Do we over here really understand what is going on with Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, or the countries from which those children on our Southern border are coming from?  Are we getting complete information and, given our cultural biases, would we understand it if we had it?

Well, the German might respond to the spying kerfuffle by going old school--very old school.  But as Mom commented "They had better think about the ribbons."  Going to (manual) typewriters would make long distance spying a bit difficult.

And another piece from Undernews.  The last comment that the western drought is probably the worst we will see in our lifetimes brought to my mind a recent piece that focused on paleoclimate studies which indicate that the conditions out there, until recently and with a couple of short duration exceptions, were much wetter than was "normal."  It brought a comment from a reader that the author may be right but that his observation won't help the millions of people impacted.  Unfortunately, the reader didn't make the reasonable observation: maybe those people should be seriously considering moving to a more hospitable area.  Only two things made many of those areas tolerable: tapping water either from deep underground or geographically distant areas and the power to run airconditioning.  Lose either and life gets orders of magnitude more difficult.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday.  It looks like I have another lazy day today.  Friday I just didn't do much of anything.  Yesterday we had a family gathering to celebrate my brother's retirement.  We had rain all day and a good bit of last night--at times heavy.  Some areas had flooding because of it.  Today things are too wet to work outside so I will have to shift my attention to inside work.  The weather people say the next three days should have temperatures well below the seasonal norm here.

Not as much damage as I feared in the gardens.  As I said, some of that rain was very heavy.  One of the tomatoes needed more staking.  One of our neighbors threw out one of the closet shoe organizers which I picked up for use in the garden.  I don't have any space to expand horizontally so I have to find ways to do it vertically.  That rack will make an interesting frame for climbing plants like beans and melons or for grow bags.

I have become increasingly leery of herbicides and pesticides as I have gotten older.  Stories like this one simply up my skepticism meter and I have been seeing many such casting doubts on the use (and over use) of popular agrochemicals.  I look forward to seeing data from El Salvador and Sri Lanka in coming years on the incidence of that new kidney disease.  If the disease disappears with the disappearance of glyphosate that would provide some strong evidence that glyphosate was involved in its appearance.

For years (decades really) I have lived in areas where the opening of gambling establishments (or the expansion of such) has been touted as a major source for public revenue.  This story should make any politico who still thinks that way.  At least they aren't blaming the weather.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


I have often thought most of the values listed on the stock and other exchanges are illusory.  This takes the illusion to an entirely new level.


I like David Kaiser's blog.  He usually writes a good deal of common sense.  Today's post is no exception as read about yet another snafu at the CDC.  His last paragraph should raise concern in anyone watching the news.  I don't know how much of our society has progressed from suspicion to contempt with regard to our national institutions, agencies, and authorities--but how large a proportion needs to make that journey before we reach a tipping point?  And have we already reached it?

Ah, yes!!  I know this feeling well.  You start a project that seems like a good idea at the time but it simply doesn't work the way you think it will.  You make an adjustment here and a slight change there--sometimes it even works.  However, the quilt top in the box on a shelf that will never be finished, the vest I frogged earlier this summer, the quilt block that is waiting until I can figure out how to repurpose it are all reminding that just as often the little workarounds don't work.

Don't you just love being called stupid by elected representatives and spokespeople for commercial agriculture?  Too often we have been assured by "experts" and politicians that X, Y, or Z product is totally safe only to find out that the claim should be highly qualified or is totally false.   If someone else wants to buy snake oil that is their concern but I should have the information that will allow me to avoid it if I choose.  I recently saw a quote attributed to Robert Heinlein which noted that one of the worst sins a government can perpetrate is to force someone to buy something he doesn't want.  I would say an equal sin is government allowing commercial enterprises to hide what is in their products in the name of profits.  Both totally gut the notion of choice.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday.  Harvested stevia, spearmint, and a nice handful of strawberries.  The strawberries went on our morning cereal.  Dried half of the stevia and all of the spearmint.  The rest of the spearmint is steeping in vodka till tomorrow when I will cook it down for syrup.  I will grind the dried herbs and harvest some of the peppermint and lemon thyme.  (I will do them tomorrow.) I found a pot of creeping thyme at the farm market which I transplanted into a small pot for the spiral plant holder.  We have had cool temps so far and that pattern looks like it will continue.  Last year we went through temperatures in the 90s throughout most of June and July.  We have had few such days this year--so far.  Just checked the thermometer on the patio--55F.

Instead of harvesting anything I have been doing some trimming on the rose, tomatoes, and lower leaves on the Kentucky Wonder beans.  I found two small bean pods developing.  We also watched on to the hummingbirds visiting the melon and borage blossoms.  I wasn't surprised that the borage attracted them.  Bees like borage which is why it is in the garden.  I haven't seen many bees though.  We have seen a large number of the small seed eating birds.  They seem to like it here.  Mom watched about a dozen hopping along the fence (only our sections) and through the gardens.  They don't visit anyone else--probably because there isn't anything for them there.  Saw three visiting the bird bath yesterday to get a drink.  We are watching it and our watering cans for any sign that something less welcome (a.k.a., mosquitos) are visiting.  Haven't found any yet.

Now this is re-purposing!!