Saturday, January 19, 2019

Library Books Due!!!
Only a few remain:

The DIRT CHEAP GREEN THUMB, 400 Thrifty Tips for Saving Money, Time, and Resources as You Garden, by Rhonda Massingham Hart, 2009, Storey Publishing.

The Edible Front Yard, Creating Curb Appeal with Fruits, Flowers, Vegetables, and Herbs, by Ivette Soler, 2011, Timber Press.


Eco-yards, Simple steps to earth-friendly landscapes, by Laureen Rama, 2011, New Society Publishers.

I don’t have the time to finish and write a proper review before Tuesday. I’ve done sample readings through each and know I want to read them closer - in the future. I’m not sure if the library will let me check them out back-to-back, but I’ll see! Otherwise, I’ll give others a chance to read, then try again.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Library Book - A Review

The Artful Garden, Creative Inspiration for Landscape Design, by James van Sweden and Tom Christopher, 2011, Random House, New York.

“All gardening is landscape painting.” - Alexander Pope
Until this book, I never thought how planning the garden design could (should) be linked to -
artists of all mediums,
the choreography of music and dance,
a weaver of texture, and
even a mystery writer and the structure of the novel itself.
The author “artfully” explains this in an amazing way that only after I read the book and let it absorbed a bit, did I truly understand his message.

Simply because of the living nature of a garden, he shares a great point to remember in its planning:
A garden is constructed in four dimensions.
As well as length, width, and height, there is also time.
I HIGHLY recommend this book for a totally different perspective and approach to designing a garden! In fact, I’ve ordered it as a keeper - a fabulous reference book. And, it is something I want to study deeper, even after the West Yard Project is fully underway.

P.S. I just saw his statement on Amazon that is worth sharing here and sums it up very nicely:
“I want to put the mystery back into the heart of garden design, where it needs to be. It’s what lures you in through the gate, keeps you moving through the landscape, and fills you with excitement along the way. The sense of mystery is what turns a mere display of plants, paths, and ornaments into an adventure.”                          
—James van Sweden

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Perfect Timing!

Almost immediately after finishing a library book that left me feeling sad, I stumbled upon a very timely article that lifted my spirits: Gardening could be the hobby that helps you live to 100!

I explored further about the Blue Zones lifestyle. And, learned more about Power 9.

I’m feeling positive and hopeful again! I can do this!

Oh, and I carefully picked from the remaining library books I have checked out (all due back January 22nd) what appears to be a charming, helpful, fun book! Stay tuned!

Library Book - A Review

Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older, by Sydney Eddison, 2010, Timber Press, Inc.

This book was not what I thought. A very well written book over a period of time, however, the author takes the reader through how she downsized her garden, especially after her husband’s death. It has left me sad inside. I’m sure it will take me a while to shake off this feeling.

But, because of reading through it, I know not to ever plant daylilies. (It’s on the “toxic” to chickens list anyway.)

In her last chapter she quotes Violinist Itzhak Perlman: “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

Then adds in her own words:
Making the most of what you have left is also the older gardener’s task. How beautiful can you make your garden with the resources you still have at your command?
With me starting what I’m calling the West Yard Project at 65 6/12 years young, I will take her “gleanings” i.e. lessons learned to heart that she offered at the end of each chapter. And, I totally agree with her suggestion about making to-do lists for the garden’s maintenance and care needs.

If I were not so committed to doing this garden after all these years of wanting, this book would have certainly caused me to take a step back and ask myself, Really?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Library Book - A Review

1,001 Old-Time Household Hints: Timeless Bits of Household Wisdom for Today's Home and Garden by the Editors of Yankee Magazine, 2011, Skyhorse Publishing

I love reading through books like this. It reminds me of listening to my grandmothers, and my Daddy. I envision what their life was like before all the power tools and conveniences modern day brings. I appreciate the editors who scoured the old books and complied tidbits from the “Greatest Generation” and before, some written as far back as the 1700's!

I never planned on reading it word-for-word, just scan through until something caught my eye.
Oh. My....

I stopped cold at the Window Washer’s Secret! I hate washing windows because they never ever are sparkling the first time around. I do use a squeegee and it helps, but-

This trick, from Short Cuts to Better Housekeeping (1949), was a duh moment for me... on inside of the window use horizontal strokes and on the outside use vertical strokes. That way, I can tell whether the dried streaks are on the inside or outside! How simple is that!?! And, a good point, a modern day window washer, Kim Carpenter, recommends washing windows in the evening, the shade, or on a cloudy day as the sun can cause the glass to dry too quickly.

Then, as a reminder because I’ve done this before - use automobile chrome polish and a cotton rag (such as a T-shirt) to clean/shine chrome or nickel plating fixtures around the sinks!

Oh, and I never thought of using a soft-bristled toothbrush, sprayed with furniture polish, to dust into small cracks, nooks, and corners of furniture!

I hate to throw away an old garden hose! From either the book 380 Things to Make for Farm and Home (1941) or 500 More Things to Make for Farm and Home (1944) a couple of ideas caught my attention...
    To prevent bruising the bottom of your foot when you use a shovel, pad the top edge of the blade with a short length of hose. Cut the hose to the appropriate length to slip over the top of the shovel blade, on the side where you normally push with your foot.
    Pad the wire handle of a pail with hose. Most buckets now come with a plastic sleeve around the wire, but these break and sometimes are difficult to grip easily.
Of course, in Part Three... An Old-Time Gardener’s Guide... I paid closer attention to what they shared.

I won’t go into detail what they relayed from The Expert Gardener (1640), the directives as to what and when to plant by the moon. A good rule of thumb for me to remember however: “
When the moon is waxing, plant crops that bear above the ground; when the moon is waning, plant root crops.
Okay, I’m just going to copy verbatim the In Sync with the Stars...

Zodiac signs fall into four categories:
    water (Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio)
    earth (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn)
    air (Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra)
    fire (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius)

    Plant leafy and aboveground crops when the moon passes through the water signs;
    plant root crops as it moves through the earth signs

    When the moon is in the air and fire signs, don’t plant.
    Instead, spend your time weeding and harvesting.

    A couple of exceptions to the rules:
         You can plant herbs in Libra, and the fire signs are considered good for sowing see crops such as grains and beans (for drying).

Oh, and in Grow Comfrey for Your Compost they write “a healing herb cultivated as far back as 400 B.C.” (emphasis mine!) It must be something worthwhile indeed!

Sage advice from Grandpa Harper (Harry Harper, Eden, New York, perennial gardener from the 1940s until 1965):
... think about things from the plant’s point of view and to notice their needs.
I never thought to even consider: heed growth warning of perennials! This is a good thing as I don’t want any of one thing to take over. I know I must take precautions with the comfrey, but I have the perfect spot planned - far far away from the “regular” garden.

Several times while scanning the pages of this book on the kindle, I would come across a word or phrase that would catch my attention. Stumpery is a good example! I had no clue there was a name (and has been done since the 1800s) that I did last year when we cut down “Mr. Mesquite” and simply left some huge logs in the rosemary bed where they dropped! Now I know what to call this area, it’s a Stumpery!

A fun read (scan through) indeed!


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Library Book - A Review

Oh My Goodness

Handmade for the Garden: 75 Ingenious Ways to Enhance Your Outdoor Space with DIY Tools, Pots, Supports, Embellishments, and More, by Susan Guagliumi, published in 2014 by Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
The day I checked out 12 ebooks from the library, this book wasn’t immediately available so I placed it on hold. It was only a few days later I received notification it was loaned out to me! Honestly, at first glance I thought it was going to be all about “Yard Art” - I love creating yard art - but it’s so much more!

It is a fun informative book with nice photos and illustrations! I’m a visual learner, making this aspect a great feature. She shares what has worked for her, and what didn’t (and the why),  when it comes to making functional garden tools, supplies, and treatments for and in the garden.

I never thought about making my own seed tape!
I never thought about creating a “mini” hothouse!
I never thought about simply anchoring milk jugs when using them as a cloches!
I never thought about how easy a Hoop House could be to make!
I never thought about making a dibble!

And all the above (and more) is in just the first chapter!

She’s just started!

Although potted (container) plants take more watering, I loved the fabric pot concept, and the wall pockets, and will have to make some! I’m thrilled I saved all the burlap...

Seriously, who would have thought about making a plant container/pot out of a soaker hose? BRILLIANT!

Right now, I will just make a note her Chapter 3 is about Mosaics. Although beautiful, I just don’t have the time this year. This book will be my go-to if/when time permits.

Now, Chapter 4 is on Cement & Hypertufa! I’d never heard of hypertufa until this book... gardening has a whole other language I’m slowly learning! I’ve never bought any pots other than terra cotta. I know, I’ve lived a sheltered life. No, not really, just never have gotten this “deep” into gardening before!

I’m excited about working with cement and creating it and hypertufa projects! She even recommends doing a web search for “... ideas, recipes, and inspiration.” But then her explanation how to cast leaves is perfect for the upcoming Fairie Garden, not to mention her Fairy house itself!!!

So, mental note to self... this is the go-to chapter for tips, supplies, techniques!

I know with our high winds I’m going to need various supports in the garden. I like the natural look and Chapter 5, Standing Tall, has clever ways/materials for single supports, tripods, and tuteurs.

I’m excited about the same type of suggestions and instructions she gives in Chapter 6, Rustic Trellises, Fences, Arbors & Box Supports. We may not have white cedar or willow she talks about, but our neighbor has a lot of the invasive bamboo I’m certain he’ll be happy to part with!

Off-Season, Chapter 7's Project & Planning is a good reminder to keep good records of what went where.

I’m most grateful Momma kept a journal of sorts about her rose garden! The actual plant markers were lost on some, but I remembered seeing the garden diagram in one of her favorite garden book. When I went to dig up her roses in Dallas when we sold the house, to bring them here, to The Sprott Country Gardens, I was forever grateful to find that special book! I was able to identify which ones were which!  

I need to do the same.

She talks about time-saving tools. I’m already looking around (here and off property) of what I can repurpose to use in the garden. I am training my eye to see things outside the box.

Oh, but then in this final chapter, it was the clincher, the last straw that made me go over to Amazon and purchase this book: creating markers. It’s an Oh My Goodness how clever this is and that is ...

The money I will save utilizing materials I never considered using as plant markers (and I HAVE on hand) just paid for this (used) book! 

Yes. Basically all the different suggestions shown in the book are probably on Pinterest. If I even thought of them to look up, but I get much too distracted by other things and cannot keep focused! I’d rather have a reference book in hand.

I was also impressed by the thorough list of websites “Sources for Supplies” she provided at the end of the book. It too is divided into convenient sections -

cement/hypertufa and mosaic
fabric, cord, and paper goods
metal and wire
natural materials
paint, stencils, and stamps
miscellaneous tools and supplies

She also offers a nice list of Recommended Reading!

Thank You!

Yes. This is a keeper.

NOTE TO SELF: Find the roll of 1" wide heavyweight copper originally purchased for making custom cookie cutters and repurpose its purpose to engrave for plant markers! It’s somewhere around here, I know it is!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Library Book - A Review (YUCK YUCK YUCK)

Goodness gracious... if only I could slam shut my kindle!

I CANNOT / DO NOT recommend this book! Ecological Gardening, Your Safe Path to a Healthy, Beautiful Garden by Marjorie Harris, Random House Canada, 2009

From the beginning, its introduction, then the first few pages of Chapter 1 is just too negative for me. I don’t want to be lectured. If it were a “real” book rather than on my kindle I would have slammed it shut. I won’t even waste my time or bandwidth to fetch a picture of the book’s cover to share.

I know I want natural, organic, pure as possible methods of gardening... the author may have some interesting points further on, but I can’t get past the sour taste in my mouth she’s already left.

Too many other authors to explore.

Moving on to the next library book for a positive experience from page one. That is, after I go listen to the soothing-to-my-soul rain to shake off the negativity!

Library Book - A Review

Oh. My. Goodness. The book, Understanding Garden Design, The Complete Handbook for Aspiring Designers by Vanessa Gardner Nagel, APLD, Timber Press, Portland-London, 2010, is a KEEPER!!!

I have added it to my Amazon’s wish list. It will be added to my physical bookshelf someday soon! When I say it’s a KEEPER, she provides so much information worth utilizing long after the design and planning is over... to incorporate in all aspects of living.

When I started reading it, I quickly decided to take notes, as if I were preparing for an exam. After the first few days of note taking, I woke up the next morning and couldn’t use my right thumb for two days! I can’t do that anymore.

It is by-far a study book on deciding “Who’s on first?” how to assess and record, measuring and documenting, making the hard decisions between need/desire, the microclimates, working with Mother Nature, providing double (triple) duty, and drawing different diagrams.

The basic design elements (really of everything/anything)...

Color (hue, value, and intensity) in using the color wheel/harmonies taught me so much I’ve never considered before.

Line, Shape, Form, and Space... goodness gracious... it all makes sense how she explains things.

Have you ever thought about -
proportion and scale, mass, focal point or emphasis, repetition and rhythm, movement, sequence or transition, texture, variety, contrast, balance, unity, and time.  

She explains them all very nicely!

And then she points out even more aspects that affect garden design...

Function    *    Fragrance     *     Serendipity

I found the “Plants: A Structural Perspective” chapter particularly informative. I need to move on past - plant one type of thing and move on to another area to plant one singular other plant - mode of thinking and plant more group style, mass planting. Although she writes about the concept “thrillers, spillers, and fillers” not being a new concept, I’ve never heard of it until reading her book! Basically they are...
   Thrillers - bold plants that are focal points
   Spillers - plants that creeps, falls, and overflows
   Fillers - less defined plants that are frothy and airy

But of course, she describes them in much more detail - with PICTURES! Good deal! Exactly what I need!

Another. Oh. My. Goodness.

Who would have thought... using plants as punctuation! See, this is a prime example why I want this book in my hands (off the bookshelf) for future reference! She talks about them all (and gives examples)!

Periods - Commas - Exclamation Points - Question Marks - Semicolons - Colons - Parentheses
It makes perfectly totally sense!

I appreciate her chapter on plant and leaf shapes. I know I need to learn what would go with and complement one another. It’s in her section on “The Planting Plan” she continues her hypothetical garden design plan and incorporates the punctuation concept. That might not have made any sense, but I’ll know exactly where to go once I have the actual book in my hands!

Then there is a lot of valuable information about lights in the garden. Maybe someday we’ll have garden lighting but I feel certain it will be by the way of solar (or wind) energy rather than electricity. Although I tried, I just couldn’t skim through this chapter covering all the different aspects to consider - the reasons, various types and styles, and the effect lighting placement will bring. Oh, and when I saw the gabion wall, that led me to doing further research how to construct such a wall! We have the rock, that’s for sure!

Because I AM the contractor - not to mention the laborer doing the actual work - I did skip most of the chapter “Working with Contractors” but it may be just what another reader needs to know. It did give me a bit of 'what comes first' organizing.

And, a great way to end this lovely book, this gold mine of information, her last chapter gives great ideas for having people out and about in the garden... either via an open garden or a garden party!

For me, it will be a grand day in the garden - when I can share it with others...

Monday, January 7, 2019

Harvesting Rainwater

23 Awesome DIY Rainwater Harvesting Systems You Can Build at Home

Right now I have a wheelbarrow sitting out in the front and back yards. Last week’s rain filled them both up nicely! I know using wheelbarrows are not an efficient method, not to mention ruining the metal wheelbarrows, causing them to rust. Oh, and something I wouldn’t dare do during the summer when it’s mosquito season. I’m sure the mosquitoes could breed now, but I haven’t noticed any buzzing around.

Anyway! I want to harvest the precious rainwater. It’s another aspect I need to incorporate within the garden plan/design. I would like several, mini catchments if you will, with a faucet on each to either attach a hose, or simply fill up a watering can, saving steps to where I need to water, saving from dragging a garden hose from the front of the house to wherever.

I’m so exited to be joining the San Saba Garden Club tomorrow! From what I’ve learned from friends already members, they have amazing programs!

This first meeting - January - just happens to be on harvesting rainwater!!! Perfect timing!

Momma is joining the club as well! I’m picking her up tomorrow and we’re heading to San Saba! We both are extremely ready to get going!

I’m reading what I can today, jotting down any questions I might want to ask tomorrow!

Oh, and getting my mini notebook ready to take notes!

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Library Book - A Review

The Backyard Homestead, Book of Building Projects, by Spike Carlsen, Storey Publishing

Chapter 1 - “Tools, Materials, and Skills”

The author gives a brief synopsis on the different tools and their uses, safety measure reminders, and lots and lots of “Take Note” which was the same thing as “tips”... great advice!

I especially appreciated the information provided in the “Lifting and Moving Heavy Stuff” section - great tips and reminders!

Chapter 2 - “For the Garden”

Several projects are detailed that are informative, however not something I’m interested in doing in the garden. I did pay attention to the “Drip Irrigation Basics” project because it’s the type of watering system I plan on using. Since I’ve never used drip irrigation before, I found the information helpful. Oh, and he even explains how to take care of the system before winter sets in with below freezing temps!

I like his ideas for “Simple Hose Guides.” I hate dragging around hoses... that’s going to change! I have ideas!

OH, and his “Garden Marker/Stepping-Stone” method is cute (and doable)! I love placing surprises in the garden. When folks say “concrete” - what do they really really mean? He specifically states “remixed MORTAR” (emphasis mine). Now I know for sure!

Maybe I’ll make his “Sitting and Kneeling Garden Stool” - he gives pretty detailed directions and measurements.

The “Five Simple Plant Supports” are great to refer back to when the time comes. I love his Veggie Cages - because the will store easily during the off season! If I can find all the pieces and parts out of PVC (not the copper as he has shown) I’ll make the “Copper Trellis” as it is also yard art!

If your interested in catching/storing/utilizing precious rain water, “The Rain Barrel Basics” project is worth the read through! He gives details!

If you’re looking for a cute cute “Potting Bench” he has one! I mentioned this because - if - I can ever have one out in the garden, I want it! Especially if there is water access... it would be lovely to wash off veggies collect from the garden and have that water go back to the garden!

Someday Bud & I both would like a greenhouse. For him, it’s to grow our own avocado trees! For me, it would be for so much more! This author provides a “Hoop Greenhouse” project, complete with material list, and detail building plan (with drawings!) that looks easy enough if we both do it together! We’ll see.

Chapter 3 “Harvesting and Food Preparation”

Most of the totes and carryalls are made from wood. Just looking at the projects, they look heavy before any harvesting of produce is added! I’m not interested.

Chapter 4 “Storage and Workspaces”

I LOVE his “Mini Tool Shed”!!! I can modify it to go up against the our insisting Garden House for easy access for gardening tools! It would be very handy to the garden, but not inside the garden!

What a clever idea... an “Emergency Cart” to have handy near the garden. I’ll come up with something to “hide” it in the garden... maybe near the potting bench. It would be nice to have a few medical supplies near rather than having to dash back to the house.

Chapter 5 “Animal Shelters and Feeders”

Chicken nesting boxes - done. Rabbit hutch, not interested at this time (never say never)! Bat house - already have one, we just don’t have it out (yet) because I haven’t figured out how to get it 12' to 20' (recommended) height off the ground! Pig pen, nope. Moveable chicken coop/run, in the works - much less elaborate than his project.

He does write about Outdoor Outlets, Switches, and Lights... maybe someday. For now, I’m more interested in developing a solar system.

No beekeeping for us.

Chapter 6 “For the House and Yard”

One of the projects caught my eye... the “Lawn Bag Stand” mainly because I thought, I can make it as tall as I want and it will be perfect to hold the bag perfectly at the edge of the chicken coop’s door! I’ve told myself several times while scrapping out the poop, “I need something different because this just isn’t working!!!” I just haven’t thought of this, but now it was like a “duh” moment!

“The Punch Tin Jelly Cabinet” looks so cute, but I just don’t have the room for it!

Because I already wanted to create some personalize planters, the “Concrete Planter” project has a lot useful tips.

Well, bummer. I just finished the book and, unless I totally missed it, there wasn’t a picnic table! Who would have thought! That was one of the main reasons I checked it out!

But, did get a lot of other good information!

Turning this book back into the library...

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