Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Of Mice and Mint

We live in an old house. Really old, as in built in 1858. Therefore (and it is inescapable) we have mice from time to time. Or more accurately, we remember we have mice from time to time. I'm sure they have an entire mousey metropolis' complete with tunnels and elevators to the buffet in our kitchen, probably complete with little waiting lines.

When we are reminded that we have mice (observe the tiny mousey calling cards left in the towel drawer), the solution is simple. Skip the old-fashioned mousetraps (and the pinched fingers) and leave the D-Con on the store shelf.

Go out to the mint patch and cut a handful. Spearmint or peppermint or any mint - doesn't matter. Turns out our mouse friends despise mint, both the taste and the fragance.

I cut the mint stalks into 5-6" pieces.

And strew them evenly throughout my kitchen drawers and cabinets,

and tuck them in anywhere the mice may be,

including those areas that serve as a mouse highway to the buffet areas.

And, if you are so lucky as to know the precise location of the mice-revolving-door, tuck a few branches in there as well. The branches will continue to deter our little friends even after they dry out. I replace mine approximately every four weeks.

Mint is the perfect guilt-free, non-toxic solution to all our mousey problems.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Birdie Mama

Got out there early this morning, while it was cool (meaning 87 versus 98 later on), watered the tomatoes and cukes, and then cleaned and filled the bird bath. It's turned into a beautiful shady, leafy nook, thanks to the rampant Virginia Creeper vines.

The ground cover is all spearmint which is currently in full flower, and covered with bees of every kind. And the birdies flock to their baths,literally. They line up waiting turns.

Except for this little baby. His mama left him sitting almost next to my faucet and I nearly stepped on him when turning on the water. Mama sat in the tree fussing at me (or him, or both of us). He's one of many mourning doves we have this year, all of them nesting and leaving their babies here and there in the yard.

He just sat tight, and waited for the giant with the big flashing eye to go away and leave him alone.

I think they should bump him to first in line. He's had a scary morning.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


If I had a dollar for every hose that our household has bought, I'd be a multimillionaire.

In some horrible twist of fate, our main spigot sits on the side of our house. Right along the driveway and directly in full sun. That's the standard HOT Virginia summer sun. Never mind the constant cars driving over said hose and occasionally the nozzle that's attached.

So Sunday afternoon (in the middle of a floor home improvement project ) our occasionally variant water pressure decided to surge and blow out yet another hose. Water everywhere. Increased the humidity by 1000% (if that was possible).

So, off to Lowe's to buy yet another hose. Thought I'd gather up the dead hoses and dump them on the way.

This is the one that blew out. Perfect length, but never met a kink it didn't love. Actually lasted since last summer. (It's Virginia. There are really only about 2 months out of the year we don't use a hose for something.) Into the trash with it. (I've got a garden shed full of hose I use for homemade soaker hose, and have sent a bunch over to the farm for my dad to use. No one needs any more. And as far as I know there are no hose craft projects. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

Then this one went - the water pressure blew off the nozzle end of it. (Yes I know about hose menders, it had three of those already. We have a drawer of hose menders.)

These two filled in temporarily -but one's a marine hose and can't take constant high water pressure (the husband power sprays everything). The blue one isn't long enough to reach the Swing Garden.

When I got back from Lowe's (pretty sure I'm their favorite customer, cause their faces light up when I walk in), with my new commercial $40 Guaranteed-Not-To-Kink hose, I hooked it right up.

Ran it up the driveway, so the cars could find it.

All 100' of heavy-duty, black, non-kinking commercial hose.

Did I ever tell you about the soaker hose I killed with a hoe when I thought it was a snake?

Monday, June 14, 2010

First Tomatoes of 2010


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another Day in Paradise...More or Less

Morning glories are my favorite flower, but even I have to admit they spread like crazy and last summer completely took over the potato patch. So this year I've been pulling most of them up. I've left one bank near the garage door. Then, this stubborn little bloom poked it's head out of the basil pot. No idea how it came about, since I always plant blue and purple, but, hey there it is.

Just haven't got the heart to pull it. Hope it doesn't strangle the basil.

The water plants are in full bloom including the deep purple iris.

This shot is from late last week -these container tomatoes have grown at least another foot since then. Oddly though there aren't many blossoms (meaning there won't be many tomatoes). I noticed the same with the sugar snap peas. I've also noticed this year the broccoli going directly to flower and seed, without forming heads, and I've had to pinch off the basil twice already to keep it from going to seed. This is all running a month ahead of where it should be.

While talking with another gardener this weekend I discovered she and others had the same problems - literally a sped-up gardening season. Every year the plants have popped a little earlier, and the crops get skimpier as the plants go straight to seed. If this keeps up, our main vegetable growing season may be February to June, using cold frames in the first two months,then replanting in September for a December harvest.

The yuccas bloom when it gets hot and this year instead of blooming one stalk and then having it die down, they've grown one or two extra stalks, with a second set of blossoms on each stalk.

This year's swing garden is a little sad. I had a project in mind for a in-ground pond for Nessie to swim in, but it's not happening, so she's bobbing out of gravel, with potted plants and the gnome to keep her company. This year there's more projects than energy and time.

But the swing garden does have the fragrant smell of lavender (which is also early this year).

This year it'll just have to be enough.

Friday, June 4, 2010

They're here


The nineteen assorted blueberry bushes, the trailerload of mulch, the underground soaker hose, the shiny CD's sprinkled by the plants, and the irritating black netting over the plants.......

It's all paid off.


I am in heaven.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Max and His Hollyhocks

Max, on the right, usually spends his mornings sleeping in the sunshine with his buds.

But this time of year, Max is preoccupied with his garden.

Max raises 10 foot hollyhocks. This is his third year. The old hollyhock bed runs right alongside the fencing of the puppy yard. Every year it gets a little thinner as the hollyhocks migrate through the fence, into Max's dominion. Every year my hollyhocks get shorter and sparser, and Max's get taller, brighter, and thicker.

This year the hollyhocks are red with maroon details.

Plain and ruffled.

The behind-the-scenes look.

The blossoms still have pollen on them (this means next years hollyhocks will be even thicker).

He refuses to tell me how he lures them over to his side of the fence, or how he gets them to grow so tall.

He says it's a trade secret.

Whatever it is, he runs right out there first thing every morning to check on them.

Next year I may put him in charge of the rest of the garden too.