Gardening Tips (On the Lighter Side)

The holiday season is a busy time. Sometimes it seems like everything that can go wrong will, so here are a few household tips and tricks to get you through the next couple of chaotic weeks ;).

Pruning mania:

Never allow an enthusiastic but inexperienced partner loose in the garden with a very sharp pair of hedge cutters. In a short time, an 8-foot shrub will be reduced to three twigs and a few tired-looking leaves.

Avoiding kitchen disasters:

Never go into the garden for just five minutes, leaving a pot of soup or stew boiling on the stove. Two hours later you will return to a smoke filled kitchen and a blackened pot with three pieces of slime stuck to the bottom. Here’s how to deal with this disaster.

Get down on your knees and apologize to the firefighters.

How to clean a blackened pot:

  1. Into the pot pour one cup of vinegar, one of toilet bowl cleanser, six denture cleaning pills, a pinch of curry powder, and several squirts of foaming shaving cream (unperfumed).
  2. Allow pot to stand for two days.
  3. Empty pot of liquids; pot still black.
  4. When no one is looking, throw pot into garbage.
  5. Buy new pot.

Getting the lawnmower ready for summer in eight easy steps:

  1. Assemble tools needed: wrench, oilcan, duct tape, screwdriver, and glue.
  2. Make sure gluggles and whatsits are free of dust. Brush off spiderwebs, including spider’s victim. This is a moth so large, machine guns could have been mounted on its wings.
  3. Oil fluger, being careful not to contaminate exstimbulator.
  4. Using wrench, tighten all dribbets, doodads, and dactyls.
  5. Fix loose handles (more or less) with duct tape and glue.
  6. Empty out fuel tank. Then refill.
  7. Order family and animals to stand well back (especially nervous cats).

Test by pulling cord 89 times. When five minutes away from hernia rupture, load the &*$#inh machine onto pick-up and take to a professional!

Gardening Tips of the Week

  1. When buying annuals, perennials, or vegetables, avoid leggy or wilted plants. inexperienced gardeners will be disappointed at their lack of success; disgruntled, they will rush back to the nursery with their pathetic purchases, their dismay matched only by the gloom of the sellers.
  2. To prevent squirrels or other miscreants from digging up newly planted bulbs, throw a few mothballs into the planting hole.
  3. A pair of kitchen scissors is a useful garden tool. Deadheading, decapitating copulating slugs, digging out shallow rooted weeds and cutting string are among their many uses.
  4. Tie a colored ribbon around your small tools; if you lose them in the unmown grass, they’ll be easier to find.
  5. If you are stung by a bee or hornet and are allergic to them, elevate the limb and apply ice packs to the area. Contact your doctor.
  6. Please yourself; that way you’ll be sure of pleasing at least one person.
  7. Livening up inexpensive clay pots. Wipe the exterior of the pot with a damp cloth. Attach masking tape vertically to make as many stripes as you want. Paint the entire pot white (including tape). When the paint is dry, remove tape. The result will be a white pot with perfectly straight orange stripes. Plant with either boxwood or with annuals or perennials of the same color. Line several of these pots against a wall or along a path for a striking look.
    Healthy alyssum and petunias.

    Healthy alyssum and petunias.

    Vibrant flowers surround a fountain.

    Vibrant flowers surround a fountain.

    Great choices make for healthy flowers.

    Great choices make for healthy flowers.

    Potential DIY project for the spring - decorating a simple clay pot!

    Potential DIY project for the spring – decorating a simple clay pot!

Outdoor Spaces: Lloyd and Jody Wilcox’s Deck

With minimal effort, a deck can become a pleasurable outdoor space all summer long. Windowboxes, hanging baskets, and containers planted with annuals can transform an ordinary deck into a bower. When viewed from inside the house, the profusion of flowers is an especially pleasing sight.

Lloyd enlarged the original, average-sized deck in order to accommodate all the features that he and Jody were planning. He also designed and built the seats and attached the window boxes to the railings. The unusual shape of the deck adds to its charm as well as the unimpeded view of the mountains. Jody maintains all the containers with meticulous care, watering the sun-loving annuals morning and evening. She pays special attention to deadheading. She favors wave petunias, blue lobelia, alyssum, and diascia because they are the most rewarding. Large containers burst with marguerite daisies and petunias. Nestled in a corner of the deck, a burbling fountain with a background of ferns is surrounded by masses of color. Lloyd’s building skills and Jody’s eye for stunning color designs have made this deck into a delightful outdoor space.

Alyssum and petunias spill over a window box.

Alyssum and petunias spill over a window box.

Colorful annuals surround the fountain.

Colorful annuals surround the fountain.

A peaceful spot to enjoy a cup of tea.

A peaceful spot to enjoy a cup of tea.

Vegetable Garden by Joanne and Peter Durante

Blessed are they so humble and meek,

Who hoeth and planteth week after week.

They worketh, they toileth, they must not fail,

When all looketh perfect, uh-oh, here cometh hail.

-Old Testament, The Book of Planteth and Toileth

Joanne hails from a farming community in Kansas where tilling, planting, and harvesting were as natural as breathing. So it follows that she and her husband Peter have reserved a section of their property for a well-loved vegetable garden. With Joanne’s help, Peter designed and built the raised beds using railroad ties. Four-foot wide paths between all the beds enable easy access for planting and maintenance. A wealth of vegetables thrives in this garden: pumpkins, corn, squash, horseradish, kale, tomatoes, Swiss chard and zucchini.

Like all Americans of Italian heritage, Peter enjoys good food. And in Joanne he has found someone who not only grows the food, but cooks it to perfection. Her table groans under a Lucullan feast of freshly baked bread, soups, vegetable dishes, and salads.

This labor intensive garden keeps these two gifted gardeners busy all season–and the rewards are worth their efforts.

Here are some of Joanne’s tips for growing vegetables:

  • She makes the most of her compost and buys the rest from a brewery, which makes a special effective mix.
  • She grows most of her vegetables from seed. The exception is tomatoes because they ripen too late from seed.
  • Her garden is organic; no chemicals are used.
  • Mint repels cabbage worms, ants, and rats. But be careful: mint can be invasive.
    Horseradish, false sunflower against a background of corn

    Horseradish, false sunflower against a background of corn

    A beautiful array of mixed vegetables.

    A beautiful array of mixed vegetables.

    Kale, Swiss chard, and horseradish

    Kale, Swiss chard, and horseradish.

    The pond overlooks the vegetable beds.

    The pond overlooks the vegetable beds.

Vegetable Garden by Peter and Joanne Durante

Blessed are they so humble and meek,

Who hoeth and planteth week after week.

They worketh, they toileth, they must not fail,

When all looketh perfect, uh-oh, here cometh hail.

-Old Testament, The Book of Planteth and Toileth

Joanne hails from a farming community in Kansas where tilling, planting, and harvesting were as natural as breathing. So it follows that she and her husband Peter have reserved a section of their property for a well-loved vegetable garden. With Joanne’s help, Peter designed and built the raised beds using railroad ties. Four-foot wide paths between all the beds enable easy access for planting and maintenance. A wealth of vegetables thrives in this garden: pumpkins, corn, squash, horseradish, kale, tomatoes, Swiss chard and zucchini.

Like all Americans of Italian heritage, Peter enjoys good food. And in Joanne he has found someone who not only grows the food, but cooks it to perfection. Her table groans under a Lucullan feast of freshly baked bread, soups, vegetable dishes, and salads.

This labor intensive garden keeps these two gifted gardeners busy all season–and the rewards are worth their efforts.

Here are some of Joanne’s tips for growing vegetables:

  • She makes the most of her compost and buys the rest from a brewery, which makes a special effective mix.
  • She grows most of her vegetables from seed. The exception is tomatoes because they ripen too late from seed.
  • Her garden is organic; no chemicals are used.
  • Mint repels cabbage worms, ants, and rats. But be careful: mint can be invasive.
    Horseradish, false sunflower against a background of corn

    Horseradish, false sunflower against a background of corn

    A beautiful array of mixed vegetables.

    A beautiful array of mixed vegetables.

    Kale, Swiss chard, and horseradish

    Kale, Swiss chard, and horseradish.

    The pond overlooks the vegetable beds.

    The pond overlooks the vegetable beds.