Monday, April 29, 2013

We have bees!!

On Friday, I received a phone call letting me know that our beehive had arrived. Fran from Buster's Bees told me I could come and pick the bees up on Saturday at 8:15 pm or Sunday at 8:15 pm--sharp.

I chose Saturday which turned out to be a better day because of all the rain that had threatened all day. We were given instructions to bring the hive home, take off the screen keeping them in and feed them with sugar water. They then loaded the bees onto our truck and thanked us for taking care of the bees.

As we rode home from Jonesboro, Ga., home of Margaret Mitchell's Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind and crossed Tara Blvd. with our precious cargo, we hoped the bees would like the ride and would like their new home next to our garden.

When we arrived home, we used a flashlight and pliers to take off the screen, turned off the flashlight and walked away leaving the bees in their new surroundings. The next morning, we added the sugar water that didn't fit in the entrance space quite like we thought it would so we had to improvise with some pieces of wood. We will change that later.

Not too many bees were out to get the sugar water and they must have known that the day would bring a steady deluge of rain. They kept to themselves and didn't venture out.

Today was better for them and they were out scouting their new home. We put them on a concrete pad next to my sis's old swimming pool up on a couple of blocks. If you ask me if we know what we are doing I would have to say, "Not exactly." But we took a beekeeping class and have a certificate saying we did. I am sure we will learn all the rest, in time. We turned the bees southeast towards the lake right next to our garden. I can't wait to see the results of their work.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

This past weekend

I am still tired from the weekend! My husband and I feel like we competed in a triathlon while at my daughter's house. They were all mostly sick at her house and we helped to clean and take care of kids. We cooked and remarkably, we planted a small container garden in just a couple of hours--which included a trip to Home Depot! I thought that was the most amazing thing we did.

The garden boxes we (actually, my husband) built were 4 foot squares made from landscape timbers and stakes. A very nice guy at Home Depot cut 8 landscape timbers in half. The cost per timber was $3.47 and the stakes were about $5 for two packs of 12. Two beds from $30 plus change.

My daughter thought we should use large nails, and I guess that would have been good, but even though the stakes might not be as visually attractive, the beds can be easily moved which might be necessary. The site was an area of her yard that gets full sun and was in need of a bit of grass--a good area to "dress up." The beds will be more visually attractive when the vegetable plants and herbs are bigger--and when they are mulched, something we did not have time to do.

My husband just laid down the timbers, secured them with stakes and we filled the beds with organic potting soil and then plants. We watered them and we were finished. I know these things can be done with a little more finesse, but with the amount of time we had, I think these are great!!

Before I left, I took some hurried photos. I had to share this one. It is one of the most incredibly awful photos I have ever taken. It was supposed to be of the small pear on the tree we planted a few weeks ago. However, it looks like it was an artsy photo of one of the beds. I wish that were true but the sun was so bright, I couldn't see what I was doing in the viewfinder of my iPhone. Sometimes things just work out.

Meanwhile, back at home, I am still working on growing plants from seeds.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meeting tonight

Tonight our Garden Club will meet as usual on our regular fourth Monday of the month. Tonight's we will welcome Jim Reese from McCorkle Nurseries and he will tell us all about the new plants we can expect to see in 2013.

The meeting starts at 7:00 pm at 3072 Highway 154, Newnan at the restored barn. Everyone is welcome.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I think it's finally spring

Spring has its own personality. We expect it to show up one way (the way it usually does) and then when it is warmer than usual, (like last year) or cooler than usual (like this year) we almost seem perplexed and there is clearly a struggle to make spring into something we want it to be.

I keep hearing, "Why is it so cold? I was expecting it to be spring!"

Last year's comments were "It's so hot! I wasn't expecting summer so soon."

I usually know when it's spring at my house when the irises and hosta make their glorious return!

I had to coax the iris at top to open up for a photo. I was beginning to think the hosta, above wasn't coming back but it was just later than I expected.

If you haven't planted anything else, I think the time is right. These plants have the confidence that spring has arrived and I think we should, as well.

Happy Spring! Finally!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Walter Reeves: An entertaining event

Tuesday night was a good night for garden enthusiasts in Coweta county because the special guest at the monthly Backyard Association meeting was Walter Reeves. Reeves, a popular author and TV garden expert, has been a radio show host for a lawn and garden show on Atlanta's WSB radio for 19 years. Reeves also pens a weekly column for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and sends out a bi-weekly newsletter that for me, is highly anticipated.

That is why I really had to be there, and I am glad I was because his presentation on Cool Tools and Funky Fertilizers was very entertaining. Reeves stood behind a table filled with gardening tools and products sent to him by companies who wanted to get a positive product review. If you want to get Reeve's reviews just go this his website and type funky in the search tool and you can see many of the tools and things he brought for show and tell.

Most of them he said nice things about and in his amusing, playful and occasionally facetious way.

Some of the tools he showed us were the cobra head weeder, above.

A scarecrow waterer to scare away unwanted pests with water. (He also suggested keeping away unwanted neighbors, or entertaining children in the summer.)

This is a battery-operated "Scare spider" to scare away pests (can also be used at Halloween).

A most entertaining tool, the Bug-A-Salt that shoots lethal salt pellets at bugs.

A tools to help pollinate tomatoes (it was suggested you use this, or your spouse's toothbrush).

And another cool tool was this bug zapper/swatter that gives unwanted mosquitos, and other flying pets a double whammy.

He had a number of other tools. Some were really cool and some had great names like the Coneivore pine cone picker upper. It is amazing to see what is on the market for use in the garden and fun to hear a witty expert gardener's take on them.

Reeves later answered questions (his favorite thing to do) and I found myself going home with some cool information and an entertaining experience. It was nice to hear someone speak who can be funny without being negative and someone who could be witty without being offensive. It's hard to find these days.

I recommend signing up for his newsletter at You will receive tons of information, mixed with a little humor and if you have a chance to hear him speak, I would recommend that, too.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lettuce transplants

Now that spring is here (I think) we have been slowly working on getting the garden planted. Here is a little tip we discovered several weeks ago when we planted our cool weather seeds.

One thing we really had to scratch our heads over were the volunteer lettuce plants that were just coming up all over the garden. We usually let our lettuce go to seed because the flowers it produces brings pollinators into our garden. The unintended consequence of this is that we have little lettuce plants coming up all over.

Now when my husband revs up the tiller, everything in his path is gone and my sis and I decided not to let that happen with our "bonus" lettuce plants. We took a shovel and the wheel barrow and moved all of the plants to the new lettuce row. We now have lettuce plants already growing where our lettuce seed was planted and we will have lettuce now from these transplants and lettuce later from the seeds.

I don't think it should take a genius to figure that out but we do want to pat ourselves on the back whenever we see the nice bed of lettuce growing nicely in the new area.

We have some pea pods that are growing but the rows are spotty, a fine-looking row of leeks and our onions and garlic are all doing quite well. Our lettuce got a tremendous boost from the transplants and we have already been able to have some fine salads from our volunteers. I love it!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Why didn't I think of that?

I have been working each morning and evening on growing plants from seeds in my basement and while it is almost time to plant my newly grown plants, it is also time to share.

I love that I am able to grow plants than I can use and I also love that I have friends who last year gave me tomatoes (or tomato plants). I can now repay them with seeds taken from these gifted plants and vegetables.

Last year I grew some Chianti Rose tomatoes from seeds from Renee's Garden, a seed company located in California. The tomato plants were beautiful and bountiful with clusters of huge red tomatoes on large vines--my picture of what the perfect tomato looks like!

I planted them in my garden and also gave a few plants away--a few wound up in my friend Charlotte's garden. At the end of the growing season, I realized I hadn't saved any of these beautiful heirloom tomato seeds and Charlotte brought me over a couple of tomatoes and I saved seeds from her tomatoes. The five plants above are some I grew from my "Charlotte" tomatoes.

I received some more of my (now favorite) Chianti Rose seeds from Renee's Garden and grew them from seeds, too.

When I gave Charlotte her 2013 tomato plants, I included four types of tomato plants, Chianti Rose plants from Renee's Garden, the Charlotte seeds, some Dr. Wyche yellow tomatoes and a couple of Green Zebra plants from seeds saved from my friend Angela's plants. (Gets confusing, doesn't it?)

I labeled the little newspaper pots I made: R=Renee's Garden, C=Charlotte's tomatoes, Y=Dr. Wyche, and Z=Green Zebras.

Later when Charlotte send me photos of her newly gifted and freshly potted tomatoes, I noticed she used my "code" with a magic marker on a small rock placed in each pot.

All I could think was, "Charlotte, you are a genius!" What a simple way to keep up with what is in each pot. I will forever be using this from now on. I can use the little rocks in my pots or next to my plants in the garden. It's a side benefit from sharing. You learn perfect, yet simple ways to do things.

Thanks Charlotte. I owe you an idea now!