Archive for June, 2011



June 29, 2011

Splitting wood isn’t my idea of a fun weekend, but it had to be done or at least started. So I threw on my lumberjack attire and set my mind to karate chop wood bigger and heavier than a cast iron potbelly stove. Although I tried to help my husband maneuver 3-foot diameter logs in line with the wood splitter, grunting was the only action I had to show for my effort. Joe, of course, was the one who moved the hefty, brown stumps.

Ralphie snoozed on the tractor seat while we worked. He looked up now and then, curious about a slow screech that put a chill up our spines or a loud pop as the hydraulic wedge forced open a log.

We still have a lot more karate chopping to do. We’re not even halfway done. The chronicle of Considering Tree Rights seems endless. There are so many steps involved in cutting down a tree.

  1. Facing the loss
  2. Grinding the stump or applying stump treatment
  3. Giving the tree trimmer your life savings after the job is done (unless you did it yourself)
  4. Spreading wood chips (no easy task)
  5. Sawing the trunk and limbs into fireplace lengths
  6. Splitting
  7. Hauling and stacking
  8. Waiting for the wood to cure 
  9. Then finally, blazing fires to warm your chilly bones during wintry months, BUT NOT BEFORE hauling and stacking wood near the backdoor.

The only benefit to all this hard work is eliminating a monthly four- to six-hundred dollar utility bill during winter, and maybe, just maybe, loosing a pound or two.


Dog Vomit Slime Mold in My Garden

June 27, 2011

That’s right, vomit! The unsightly growth, known as ‘dog vomit slime mold’ or Fuligo Septica, is popping up everywhere. Other than removing it with a shovel,  you can’t get rid of it. Some professionals suggest that you keep the infected area dry and in full sun.

The mold usually appears in late spring or early summer after heavy rains, and grows on wood chips or mulch, but has been known to grow on plants.

Moments before the last rainstorm, my husband and I had finished spreading a thick layer of chipped wood around the garden beds. The chips are from our red wood and oak trees that PG&E had cut down. My plan was to control weeds. Instead, I have mold spewing from the neat and tidy paths. It’s even in my raised bed. Could it be revenge?

This unsightly blob seems to appear overnight. During the first stage the mold is yellow or bright orange with a bubbly texture that is slippery if stepped on.

As it grows larger (sometimes to the size of a 12-inch pizza), the surface hardens, turns crusty and takes on the look of dog vomit.

I researched the dangers and found that scientist and medical professionals claim ‘dog vomit slime mold’ is harmless to humans, pets, and plants. The only thing it seems to hurt is a gardener’s pride.


Soulful Plotting

June 24, 2011

Bed Out:

A horticultural specification for planting an entire bed with one species.


Iris Facts, Tips, and Helpful Hints

June 22, 2011


  • The name Iris means rainbow in Greek.
  • Irises thrive in different climates, including Europe, the Middle East, Asia, America, and North Africa and grow well in many places such as deserts, stream banks, grassy slopes, gardens, and meadows.
  • Irises grow from fan-shaped, thick rhizomes (tuberous roots) or a typical bulb. Both store food for the plant.
  • The Iris flower comes in many colors, including blue, purple, white, yellow, lilac, and brown and grow one to three feet tall.
  • Irises multiply rapidly so buy less than you need to fill a bed or planting area.
  • Plant bulb Irises in October with other bulbs. Plant or divide and transplant rhizome Irises late July through September.
  • Shop for varieties labeled ‘re-bloomers.’ Native species produce spectacular flowers with smaller foliage.
  • Plant in a sunny well-drained area. Dig a five-inch deep hole. Build a small mound in the middle and place rhizome on the top letting the roots fall down around the mound. Cover roots and leave the rhizome slightly exposed. Plant 18-24 inches apart.
  • Divide every three to five years to reduce bacterial soft rot and to keep them producing flowers. If your Irises are producing fewer flowers, they’re overcrowded. Carefully inspect each rhizome for soft rot and Iris borers.

Blog Update

June 22, 2011

For your convenience, I’ve added a calendar on the sidebar. This will give you quick access to each daily post. Simply click on a blue-colored date to view that day’s article(s). But, PLEASE feel free to mosey in and around the pages, categories, and achieves where comments are always welcome.

Let me know what you think of the calendar, whether it’s helpful or not.


Bringing Home the Ribbons

June 21, 2011

The county fair is over.  The prizes were awarded and by some miracle I managed to rake in a few first places, seconds, third, fourth, and honorable mention. But the big shocker was ‘best of show’ for the garden path sign my husband and I made from old chair legs, scrape wood and a rusty coffee can.

Although I am pleased with my little winnings, this isn’t a brag post as much as it is an invitation to unearth your hidden talent, to try your hand at a craft you’ve been admiring. I’ve interviewed people who, on a fluke, picked up a paintbrush, a camera, and a wood burning tool and ended up discovering their passion. So follow your heart and start creating.


Variegated Iris and the Exchange Tribe

June 20, 2011

These days, my favorite plant in the perennial garden is the beautiful variegated Irises you see here.

They came from a nearby neighbor (I’ll call her Alice) who had shared her home with her mother. For years, her mother grew a hundred or more Irises then moved out of  state. Eventually, Alice decided to give most of the Irises away so she could use the area for raised vegetable beds. She spread the word, FREE Irises, among friends and neighbors.

I was fortunate enough to have a mutual friend, Evelyn who called me and said, “Hurry over there. They’re going fast.” So, on a quiet summer morning, I drove a whole three miles, and knocked on Alice’s door. She greeted me with a smile. I introduced myself and told her I was a friend of Evelyn’s on the hunt for Irises. Happy to see another taker, Alice stepped outside and closed the door behind her. We headed toward the Iris patch where she retrieved a nearby shovel and began digging. I put the rhizomes with stocks in two grocery bags. After I put them into the back of my car and turned to thank Alice, I noticed a few Irises with yellow and green striped stocks (called variegated iris). I don’t know how I missed them; they are so dissimilar and striking—princesses among noblewomen. I asked if I could have a few. Alice said sure, and dug them up.

What I love about knowing other gardeners are the perks of getting hand-me-down knowledge along with plant-sharing prospects. When there’s something to divvy, the word gets out like seeds broadcasting through gardens and across miles. You can hear them strewing the gardener’s appeal to share. But be careful not to bring home, or give away, an invasive plant or undesirable weeds and insects. If you’re on the giving end, and don’t forewarn the recipient of any issues, gardeners will band you forever from the exchange tribe. You’ll be marked with the badge of shame, GF (garden foe). A good rule of thumb for the receiver is to research the plant before you grab it up from somebody else’s terrain and plop it into your own.

Since Alice didn’t grow the Irises, she had no idea the variety or color of each. I have yet to discover what color flowers mine will produce. It has been two seasons since I acquired the variegated irises. I transplanted them twice because I couldn’t decide where to put them. Compared to the first location they’ve multiplied a great deal, which tells me they’re happy. But they haven’t bloomed yet, not since I’ve had them. This could be too little sunlight, the late winter climate, or these are a summer bloomer. Whatever the reason, I’m going to leave them where they are, in the spot that suits them, and me, flowers or not. When it’s time to divide them, I’ll spread the word. Free Variegated Irises.

Copyright © Dianne Marie Andre


Soulful Plotting

June 17, 2011


Word used to describe soil with a pH level above 7.0.


Snapdragons Remind Me of My Father

June 15, 2011 Registered & Protected

By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

Right from the start, anyone could see that I was the apple of my father’s eye.  A big man, he was somewhat awkward handling a tiny squirming bundle, but his heart lacked the clumsiness of his hands because it was filled with love.

I don’t know where he learned his parenting skills being the last of 12 children whose father died when my father was barely two years old, but without benefit of a paternal role model, he did a wonderful job in filling a father’s shoes.  He loved me with all his heart because I was his baby daughter.

Over the years my father gave me some good advice. He told me “never lick a knife, because you might cut your my tongue, and be careful with pocket knives because you might cut your finger.” I guess my father knew the consequences of these acts from experience because he always carried a pocket knife that he used to sharpen pencils, cut string and slice fruit.

When I was two, we moved to a brand new home in the suburbs. My father took pride in his property, watering the lawn and caring for the yard, always with his precious daughter by his side.  My father’s favorite flower, the snapdragon, filled our flowerbed. He showed me how to pinch open the colorful blooms, exposing the yellow pistils.  “Don’t you be like these flowers,” he said.  “They don’t brush their teeth and they are all yellow.” Then we laughed like a father and daughter should.  Every time I see snapdragons, they remind me of my father.

  • Snapdragons are easy to grow
  • Come in a variety of colors: white, yellow, purple, crimson, bronze and pink
  • Excellent in flowerbeds
  • Attractive as edging and borders
  • Cut snapdragons make nice arrangements either single stems or when combined with other flowers

Is it Summertime Yet?

June 13, 2011

After all that rain and a full week of sunshine, does . . .

a few sugar snap peas,

one crookneck squash,

 a thirst for water,

 and freshly harvested lettuce mean it’s finally summer?

I sure hope so. What signs of summer do you see in and around your garden?

If you want, email a photo to me and I’ll post it.

Just make sure it’s small as I have dial-up.

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