Monday, August 31, 2009


It started last night. It's still raining this morning. I'll check the rain gauge when I leave for work to see just how much we got.

The parents, sister, and nephew were here yesterday. Seeds were collected.

Kris informed me that Trudi updated her tomato saving method to help prevent disease. You can find that link here.

It's 63 and drizzling. High today of 66. My bone aches. Ugh.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saving tomato seeds.

The other post I made this morning is too negative. I need to focus on something more positive. Tomatoes.

This year I had a great harvest. I didn't get to freeze any, but it's only because I eat a lot of tomatoes when they're fresh. My favorite is sliced and salted. If I want a hot meal, I smash the tomatoes, simmer them with a tiny bit of seasoned grease (those with cans of "saved" grease in the cupboard know what I'm talking about), and spoon them over white rice. Served with fried chicken, pork chops, or eaten alone as a stew, they make for a great winter dish. Unfortunately, I'll be doing that with store bought cans of tomatoes again this year.

I went outside to see if there were any of my favorites left. The best tomato I grew this year had to be the Green Zebra. It was tangy and tart with just the right texture. It was great for slicing, even if a bit small, and excellent in the method described above. I want to plant a lot more of them next year.

In the "grape" variety, the Yellow Pear was excellent. They were easy to pick in bunches and tasted great standing in the garden. Next year, more more more.

I also found a nice red rutgers. Last week I picked a juicy, sweet tomato from a plant that was not labeled. I believe it was a rutgers. I used the method described below to save seeds from it.

First, you start by cutting and squeezing the pulp and seeds from a good specimen. I don't have the best fruits right now, so what I have will suffice, I hope.

I fill glasses with a couple inches of water. Toss in the goop and seeds. Let sit 3-4 days. Each morning while my coffee is brewing, I will swish the gunk and water around a couple times. This process destroys most diseases and some blights that could be carried over from year to year. It's fermenting. From left to right, Hawaiian pineapple - sweet and juicy yellow/orange fruit, Green Zebra, Rutgers, Yellow Pear.

After several days, I'll throw the mess into a kitchen sieve and rinse the seeds well. They'll be spread out on a coffee filter to dry. It takes about a week or more to dry completely. Any moisture in the seeds needs to be removed before storage. These seeds have been air drying for several days. They're from the red, juicy no name tomato.

In case I missed anything, here's where the information came from. I don't cover with plastic wrap. I don't know why. I just don't.

Saving Tomato Seeds - GardenWeb - by Trudi

From the front porch

The bed by the front steps needs major work. Spider mites have destroyed two Datura inoxia. The triple yellow seems to be fending them off. The sweet potato vine is growing out of control. And the Japanese maple is just sitting there waiting for the leaves to fall off. I've got some plans for this bed. I just need to decide which plan to use.

I can see the perennial bed from the front porch. I wish it were larger so I could put a chair out there. The roof needs to be rebuilt. Someone covered it with vinyl siding and metal flashing years ago. The wood is rotting underneath. In any case, here's the view.

The McDonald's sweet potato vine is doing great.

I managed to get out to collect Yvonne's salvia seeds before the rain comes. I hope the clouds bring us a couple inches worth. I've got dying pyracantha that I planted a few weeks ago. I've already lost three azaleas. My loropetalum, moved from the front bed, is drying up in the white bed. Lots of annuals have gone to the great garden in the sky. Perennials seem to be taking it in stride. The brugs are looking tired, even without sun on them. A nice heavy rain would be great to wash away all the misery of the final days of summer.

It's 75 degrees and cloudy. The sun breaks through every now and again. I'm sitting here waiting for the day to turn to night.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fall is coming.

Last year I had one pineapple sage plant. I took cuttings and rooted them throughout the winter. By spring, I had 15. Ten plants survived to be transplanted into the bed I made at the end of the driveway. They've bloomed sporadically all summer, but the real show is just starting. In a few more weeks, they'll be covered with red flowers that draw hummingbirds like moths to a flame.

I was planning to make this a post about Hilda. She's an older lady that works at the store with me. She brings me things from time to time. I've given her brug cuttings, rooted hibiscus plants, and several other odds and ends. This past week she brought me upright elephant ears. I don't know the name, but Wendy's has some in their drive-thru bed. At least that's what she told me. I don't eat at Wendy's that often. She also brought me two voodoo lily bulbs earlier in the year. They're doing fine in a small pot at the end of the driveway. She gave me the cuttings for my 10 hydrangea plants. Still doing well, they need to be planted soon.

I really miss my morning coffee in the yard. Think I'll take my second cup out to the front steps this morning.

It's 66 degrees and sunny. We got a little rain last night, but barely enough to measure in the rain gauge. At the store, it rain for about 15 minutes, a hard steady downpour. Two miles away here at the house, not even half that. More rain in the forecast Sunday through Tuesday. Hope it comes. High today should reach into the upper 80s. We'll start cooling off later in the week. I couldn't live at AmLo farms where they've been in the triple digits for weeks. Or in AZ with Daisy where it was 113 a couple days ago.

Overall, it's been a pleasant summer. Our highest temperature was 97. We've only had a week or two where we were in the upper 90s. If we had gotten a little more rain, I would have been happier. But I have no control over that.

Unrelated, I've given up on Kongmansia. The first cuttings I received last winter died from a spider mite infestation. The one I purchased in April has been treated several times and still has spider mites. The foliage is dying. New growth turns brown in a matter of days. I will not see blooms on this plant this year. If it bothers to come back from the root next spring, good on it. If not, oh well. I'm done trying to force things to grow in my yard that need that much attention and chemicals. Other brugs do well with little to no extra care.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My Orange Hybrid Tea Rose

I noticed the bud yesterday from the edge of the driveway. It opened this morning. Finally, another orange bloom.

All of these blooms are on the same rootstock.

Still no sign of the yellow bloom like this one taken in June right after I planted it.

The echinacea seeds I sowed a few weeks ago are up. I couldn't get a decent photo. Two cups of coffee and the antibiotics have me shaky.

When it rains, it pours. I've had this desk chair for over 2 years. It was given to me by Laura's friend, Diana. She had an extra and thought I would like it when I moved into this house. A couple weeks ago, I was leaning way back as I sometimes do. I heard a snap. One of the front connections snapped. A couple days later, not really thinking, the second one snapped. Yesterday, with my feet up on the desk, the back fell clean off. *sigh*. Glad my nephew brought one up from the basement last weekend. It's been useful to get around the house this past week. Hardwood floors are great.

Finally, the leg is much better this morning already. I don't know what they gave me, but the swelling is way down. It itches like crazy, but that could be all the mosquito bites from my very brief walk through the back yard. Heading back to the doctor at 10am to see if the stitches can be removed. Still leaking a little. Also have to pick up my prescription from Wal-Mart. I hate that place. I bet they won't have it ready.

It's cloudy and 70 degrees. Rain in the forecast for the next 3 days. Heavy storms at times. Next week, temperatures will fall into the upper 70s during the day with 50s at night. Fall is on the way. It's early this year. I read this morning that frost is expected in New England.

I should note that the McDonald's sweet potato vine already has roots showing. That was quick.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm beat.

I don't say it often, but this leg thing has me whipped. This morning, I went outside to attempt some watering. After wrestling with the hoses and crutches for 10 minutes, I gave up. Let it die. I did manage to collect a few seeds yesterday evening. There's a ton of castor beans out there. The salvia subrotunda is covered with seed pods. There are babies already this year under the current plant.

So instead of watering, I focused on things that I like. Here's the shrub island. The pineapple sage in the foreground was blooming in May. It should bloom again real soon.

My new Rose of Sharon. There's no tag, but it's a double pink. I think it will look good with the crape myrtles in the back yard next year. Maybe underplanted with some echinacea.

Finally, the mind has decided to shut down....Perilla. I love this plant.

Went back to the doctor. Infection. More antibiotics, something to relieve the swelling, more antibiotics, and some cultures to test for additional infection. They also took x-rays since no one at the emergency room did. It's bad, but should be much better by Monday. I could even be up and moving if the soreness in the bone isn't an issue.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lunch at McDonald's.

I didn't go to McDonald's because I enjoy it. I do like the large sweet tea for $1, but that's beside the point. I went because of a plant they have at the drive-thru. It's finally reached the curb. I pulled up, one car length from the speaker, opened the door, reached out and snatched what I could grab in 3 seconds or less. I tossed it into the floor of the truck and pulled forward to place my order.

It's sitting in water on the kitchen windowsill. These pictures don't do it any justice. It's green and white and pink. It's a sweet potato vine, I hope.

It's cooled off to 88 degrees. The accuweather icon on my browser says it's mostly cloudy. HA! It's completely sunny. Low tonight should be back into the mid 60s, same as this morning.

The leg is still swelling during the day, shrinking at night. I brought home some more clearance plants this evening. One day, I'll get them planted.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Checking the mail.

I'm home for lunch. I checked the mail, knowing that Jim over at the Gaudy Garden had mailed the dianthus cuttings for my retaining wall near the chimney. A rather large package was stuffed into my standard residential box.

Inside, there are three huge ziplock bags filled with dianthus. From what I can tell, he sent not just cuttings, but bits of plants too. I'll spend some time this evening in the basement potting everything and sticking cuttings.

There was also another bag full of what I assume to be bulbs. He claims they're prolific and spreading. He posted about them the day Michael Jackson died. Alstroemeria The card he included shows the foliage, as he writes, "Taken by my neighbor last year." Gardeners are great people. Thanks so much, again, Jim.

It's 81 and partly sunny. We got a bit of rain last night, though my impatiens by the front walk didn't seem to notice. When I get home, I might try to water them. I might not. The leg is not happy today. They've given me a stool to sit on while I run the register, so my butt is sore. They don't even complain when I put my feet on the counter to help with the swelling. The customers, for the most part, are understanding when I can't pick up something heavy without toppling over. For some customers, I pick up the crutches before I stand up, as a hint. I could whack them over the head with it, and I doubt they'd notice.

ps...I didn't ignore the comments on the kitchen cabinets post below. I just haven't had time to respond yet.

6:55pm. - Got off at 4. Managed to get home around 4:40. It takes a while to walk back and forth to the break room, parking lot, etc. I came in, poured myself a huge glass of iced tea and propped my leg up on the desk. I put an ice pack on it and felt almost human again. About an hour later, I headed downstairs. I forgot to take the camera. Oh well.

Out of the three zippies, I got 18 quart sized containers stuck. Lots of the pieces of dianthus had roots, so I collected those first. Then I did it the way I have been shown. I pulled a nice green piece from the pile. I stripped off the bottom leaves, cut the root tip down to about 1/2", and stuck it in well draining soil. Broken bags are still free. I also stuck two containers of the bulbs Jim sent. Let's hope they make it. It's a beautiful plant.

I put the three trays on my handtruck, laid down with the tiny wheels and handlebars upright. I wheeled them out onto the driveway through the garage door. I gave them two healthy drinks of water and pulled them back inside. They should get enough light for the next couple of days in this spot thanks to the windows in the door. With our humidity so high, I don't even need to worry about a covering. Remember the hydrangea?

Back upstairs, waiting on my pizza, about ready to head to bed and lay down. More ice expected this evening with the occasional thunderclap of pain when I roll over in my sleep. We got a bit of rain today. A passing shower dumped enough to turn the asphalt into steam. At least it was something.

Monday, August 24, 2009

They're here.

All 11 of my cabinets for the new kitchen are in the basement stacked on pallets to keep them off the damp floor.

The gift card was in the mailbox this afternoon. And I still can't walk.

Anise Hyssop

I loved this plant this year. Even the white ones with purple blooms. I especially enjoyed the "Golden Jubilee". I sheared it back last week, so I'm hoping it puts out another flush before frost. From start to finish.

I'm ready for next year.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Last night I decided not to take the Lortab before bed. I had taken one about 9pm after my parents left. All that hobbling around the yard had really taken a toll on my leg. It was badly swollen so I elevated it again and packed it with ice. I only woke up once during the night and slept til after 9am. The swelling was gone this morning but came back as soon as I started moving around. I still need coffee in the mornings.

From my bedroom window I saw something I knew I had to get a picture of. It's one of the wintersown Red Texas Star hibiscus that I moved from the perennial bed to the shrub island months ago. It's just over 4' tall. The other two are budding too.

I made my way out to the perennial bed for the Sunday ritual. I checked on the white guara I moved last week and had only watered twice before getting stoned by the lawnmower. I think it's a goner. I still have the pink. Hopefully a few seeds from the white one dropped before I moved it. If not, I'll try again next year.

I think this is one of the calendula seeds I tossed out earlier in the spring.

A Cherry Brandy rudbeckia bloom. This is the third and final plant to bloom. It's much closer to what they had advertised. It almost makes me want to take back everything bad I said based on the two earlier blooming plants. Almost.

The weedy underbelly of the front bed. The roses, salvia, lavender, etc are doing great. Other areas are overgrown and need to be revised again next year. I think my eucalyptus has died. The morning glory swallowed it at some point. The datura that popped up here (I did toss out seeds in February) has engulfed it completely. Jackie's spirea is still doing well near the garage door. It's bloomed a couple times since I transplanted it from Virginia.

And finally, the Sunday picture. In December, I'll put them all together into a slideshow to track the progression, seed to seed. I'm very curious to see what will be standing after the first frost in a couple months. Really? That soon? Ugh.

It's 74 degrees and mostly cloudy. Accuweather says we have a 30% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. doesn't agree and says it will be sunny, well, now. We'll see who is right. Both agree that there's no more rain in the forecast until Friday.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


It's been raining. Fine and misty, the roads are barely wet. This was supposed to be our big day. In a couple hours, the sun will come out. By 5pm, we've got thunderstorm watches until early Sunday morning. We really need some rain here. My mustard and collards aren't going to germinate without a little rain.

There's a couple things I want to photograph, but I'm nervous about walking on wet grass with crutches. Wonder if I can fit a spike to the ends of these blasted things? My first time ever on crutches and I hate them. They'll make a nice trellis next spring.

I'm still trying to take it easy. The swelling was worse yesterday than ever before. My leg felt as if it were going to pop. I spent all evening laying on the bed with an ice pack on my shin. This morning, the swelling was nearly gone. I could even move my ankle and point my toes. I've been putting a little weight on it when I stand today just to get used to it again. It hurts. I doubt I'll be going to work on Monday unless they are willing to make special considerations for me. I figure at least another week before I can actually take a step without the crutches. I might be too generous. This is going to take some time to heal. And the kitchen cabinets are being delivered Monday.

It's 77 degrees and cloudy with a light drizzle. Humidity stands at 95%. 50%+ chance of showers later today.

11:28am - If you guessed that I got right up and went outside, you win the prize.

The orange rose is blooming again. I know, it's not orange. It's a hybrid tea that has three different roses grafted to it. One is a salmon color, the other is yellow with orange edges, and the most prevalent is this pink. It's a very hot pink.

Turn of the Century hibiscus has three blooms. This is the small one that I divided from the original plant's rootball. It was a test to see if I could do it. This fall, I'll divide the mother plant a few more times. I've also taken 5 new cuttings this past week and stuck them in the cloner. They root in about 2 weeks.

The lack of rain hasn't deterred the brugs. The Ecuador Whites are still blooming. Each plant has one bloom on it, and there's lots of buds. I thought they would come in flushes, but I think I prefer this better.

Going to elevate my leg now. The parents are coming up this evening to make sure I'm not dead. I would normally spend this time cleaning house, but the mopping will have to wait.

Friday, August 21, 2009


My leg is swollen, but not as bad as it was yesterday morning. I think laying in bed all day helped. Whenever I sat at the desk to do some work for my former boss, I propped it up on the edge of the desk. My foot fell asleep more times than I can count, but it seems to have helped.

Picture of legs with stiches and bruising.

Finally got downstairs and out into the yard for a few minutes. The mosquitoes are still swarming. We got 1/4" of rain over the past 2 days. Most of that was on Wednesday afternoon. We've got better chances today and tomorrow. It's currently 74 degrees, cloudy, and the humidity stands at 97%.

Another new rudbeckia has bloomed. This one is about 5" across.

The first moonvine flower. I missed it last night, but I smelt it. :)

My hairy balls are blooming. Gomphocarpus physocarpus - a milkweed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

From my window

It looks like a nice day outside. It's 80 degrees and mostly sunny now. Hazy and cloudy all morning. Chance of rain this evening.

Yesterday I awoke around 5pm (I think) to find it pouring rain. I rolled back over and went back to sleep.

Sounds like a good plan for the rest of the day too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stupid rock.

Here's the little guy that caused me so much trouble. It's about 4" across the longest side. See the pointy bits? One of those hit the bone.

Four stitches, 30 Lortab, and some antibiotics are going to make for a great weekend. I've been excused from work til Monday. I'm trying to stay off my feet entirely. It's going to drive me insane.

Carla came over this morning and took me to get my scripts filled and turn in my note at work. I bought some groceries too. I normally don't eat a lot of microwaveable food, but this week is an exception. I also got some sandwich meats, cheese, and there are still fresh tomatoes in the garden. Cans of fruit rounded out the shopping experience.

The prescribed medication originally called for 7 Levaquin, one a day for a week. At $119 for those seven pills, I asked the pharmacist to call and ask for a generic. $4 at Wal-Mart was the final cost. The Lortab was just over $15 for 30 pills. It does help the pain, but I know already I need to save them for sleeping hours. At the emergency room, I took one while waiting on Carla. I took another about 1am. At 4am, I woke up in agony and took the two remaining pills. As soon as I had the bag in my hand at Wal-Mart, I took one more. It helps considerably. They are addictive, so I have to be careful.

When I went out this morning to find the rock, I noticed blooms on the lavender crape myrtle. So there's that.

It's 75 degrees. No rain in the forecast until late tonight. Rain all weekend though. Must be the hurricane.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You never know.

It started out like any other day. I made my coffee, walked the yard and took a few pictures. The morning glory on the chimney bloomed last night. Two blooms. It was supposed to be Heavenly Blue.

I found a new rudbeckia.

After a quick trip to Carla's for more gardenia cuttings, I potted up several rooted cuttings from the cloner and stuck more. These include Luna Red and Turn of the Century hibiscus, two vitex, an oak leaf hydrangea, and a few other odds and ends. The gardenia cuttings went into the cloner. It's still only half full.

Then I went out to the potager and pulled the rest of the corn, raked the soil and scattered seeds for collards and mustard. I really don't eat much of either, except in their raw form, but I need to grow something. Don't blame me, I don't make the rules.

I also pulled two rows of tomatoes that were done weeks ago. In their place, I planted the rooted cuttings of Beefsteak, Green Zebra, and Celebrity. Four of each, I set the sprinkler out. These were stuck on August 8.

Lots of roots.

I checked on the rest of my veggies and took a few more pictures. I also picked a few things.

Yellow pear, my favorite cherry sized tomato.

My bumper crop of beans. Yes, these are the only two so far this year.

My only pumpkin so far.

I still had about an hour before I needed to head inside to work on the drawings my former boss has asked me to do. I pulled the lawnmower out of the garage and set to work mowing the back yard. Less than 5 minutes into it, the mower kicked up a rock and I was bleeding. I crawled back to the house, wrapped the wound in a towel, and tried not to think of how hard it's going to be to walk on Thursday when I go back to work.

Three hours later, the bone is bruised, but not broken. The bleeding has stopped. I've got my leg elevated so the foot is asleep. I'm hungry. My harvest is still sitting downstairs on the table in the basement. *sigh*