Garden Rows

Tuesday, June 11

African Violets

Once upon a time, I acquired an african violet from a friend. It was in decent condition in a small terracotta pot. Feeling hopeful, yet intimidated by hearing they were easy to kill plants, I did a little research. Supposedly, as long as you have the right set up, African Violets are quite easy to grow! I was living in an apartment with only North and South facing windows at the time, so I thought the light quality would be good. On to the watering dilemma. Feeling cheap, I decided not to buy a self-watering African Violet pot. That would have meant purchasing the pot, and a special bag of soil. Like I said, I was feeling cheap, so I opted for the wick system. I had some 100% cotton batting that I cut into a strip and put in the soil with the plant and the other end in a bowl of water with the understanding that the soil would absorb as much water through the cotton as it needed. I was afraid to water from the top since I thought if any water touched the leaves it would cause rot problems. To wrap this story up, the plant died and I was afraid to every get another African Violet.

Fast forward a few years, I was visiting my cousin Ivy. She had strawberry pot in her kitchen full of happy African Violets! She said it was super easy, mostly she just lets them be. I think her kitchen is South facing, but the pot is in a place where it doesn't get much direct light, just lots of bright indirect light. Well, Ivy, you inspired me.

Once we moved into a larger house where I thought my husband might not notice yet another plant appear out of thin air, I brought home a 50 cent African Violet. Purple with a thin white edge, pictured above. I splurged and got a self watering flower pot. It has been sitting in my South facing kitchen window for probably about 8 or 9 months. It gets bright indirect light all day with a very short bit if direct light. Not only is it growing new leaves, but it has even re-bloomed a few times!

I added another one a few months later, and it is just as happy as the first! When I brought home the purple one, I cleaned it up a little by removing a few leaves. I got a wild hair and stuck one of the better looking leaves in a pot with another plant just to see what would happen...much to my amazement, it grew babies!

I officially love African Violets now! Thank you Ivy for the encouragement you probably had no idea you gave me! We never know how our words will affect someone, so that is why I try to keep mine kind and positive. I hope you are having a beautiful day!

Monday, June 10


It's amazing what can happen in a year.

This time last summer, we were in the process of buying a house. Everything went through with out a hitch. We are now the owners of a house originally built in 1901. It started as a small farm house and a few additions over the years have doubled it's size. The old portion had carpet that we planned to remove and redo the flooring. When we pulled up the carpet, we found an old hardwood floor. It was in decent enough shape that we sanded it down and refinished it. Let me tell you, that is not a fun job. We have also painted a few rooms. That was much more fun, and did not take forever and a day to finish!

Clematis at the back of the house

There are plenty of projects we have planned for the house, as well as the yard. (A garden is among them, don't worry!) Our biggest project completion happened this spring. We got 14 chickens and built a chicken coop and yard.

My husband designed the coop and his dad spent many afternoons in our yard building it. It was quite the Feller project as my father-in-law was assisted by all three if his boys at various stages. We are all pretty proud of it.

The coop is made of reclaimed barn wood. I love the old look it gives the little building, almost as if it has been there for decades.

Rudy the Rooster says "Hi!"

Thursday, August 30

Lots to Do!

If you have ever read this blog, or know me personally, you know that I want a real garden. I have been learning about container gardening while renting, but I now have more than an acre to work with! There are so many possibilities that it is almost hard to decide where to start.

Here is a preview of some of the projects I am in the midst of.

When we originally looked at the house, there was a beautiful tree at the end of the driveway. It was tall and had a lovely shape. I was not sure what it was until mid June.

mmm, persimmons! now that is exciting! I started imagining all the persimmon pudding I would make this fall since the tree was completely loaded. But then:

 The poor tree was so full of fruit that it could not support itself. As the fruit ripened and plumped up, branches started drooping and cracking. Eventually, many of the branches had fallen, well sort of. I have done some minor pruning to take the weight of the fruit off of the broken branches since I currently do not have the means to properly prune the tree.

On the bright side, there is still plenty of  fruit to turn into persimmon pudding and give to my expansive persimmon-pudding-loving family!

 Also on the back of the house is area. The English Ivy is quite lush! Wonder what was here before the ivy took over?  I would love to have an ornamental pond in this area. It is right below the kitchen window, so it would be pretty cool to have a flower garden to attract hummingbirds. You know I like my hummingbirds! Stay tuned to find out what happens.

 To the right of the English Ivy is a large Lilac bush. I have learned pruning these guys can be dramatic, but this time, I don't have to worry about what the landlord will think! Like the lilac I posted about previously, this one is in need of some serious surgery. Check out the suckers!


Even the front door is overgrown! can you find it? I know it is the wrong season to cut into these bushes, but I had to carve out a path to the door!

This Summer has been busy, and the Fall will continue on the same way. In the long run all this clean-up will be well worth it. In the mean time, my arms getting pretty buff :)

Saturday, June 30

The Garden is not a Litterbox

 My first year in this house I had grand plans for small garden beds. There were a few places around the house where the grass did not grow very well, so I thought a nice little flower bed would be a better alternative. 

Not only would the areas look nicer, I figured the land lord would not mind since he would not have to weed eat awkward spots in the yard. Yes, that really was one of my justifications! I put in my garden beds in the fall by removing the grass (and roots) with a flat shovel, putting down a cocoa soil conditioner and putting in plants the next spring.

There are plenty of neighborhood cats that wander yard to yard...know where I am going with this? Well, the sweet little kitties LOVED the fluffy cocoa soil conditioner. I went on line looking for ways to ward of the feline interest. Basically all I learned is that cat's will do what they want, where they want, no matter what you do to the garden. This was not a news flash to me because I have a dear kitty of my own, so I know quite a bit about feline determination!

I got some large pine mulch for the front flowerbed thinking dainty little kitty toes would not like the large coarse chunks of wood and bark. I was wrong. I tried to keep the bed cleaned out by scooping any offensive deposits and watering really well...that didn't work either. Not even damp mulch kept these cats out! Aren't cats supposed to not like water? Sheesh!

I went to the pet store looking for cat repellant, but did not buy any. I did buy a jug of ammonia thinking if I sprayed it on the boarders of the gardens it would smell unpleasant. 2 problems with that: I think ammonia smells unpleasant, and I was not sure how the plants would react. So I never used it.

So now what?! 

 Rocks and ground cover. 

I placed rocks in the spots they liked to use the most (after scooping and a good watering!).  There is this neat little succulent ground cover around the neighborhood that I brought home a few small pieces of and planted in some of the leftover open areas. It is a nice ground cover to use because it pulls out easily if I change my mind!

see how much bigger they have gotten in 2 years?

The rocks add a nice decorative touch, and make great stepping stones. There are so many options for ground covers. There are a few types of Thyme that are creepers, and some are tough enough to walk on. Just imagine the wonderful smell of walking on a carpet of Thyme!

Sunday, June 24

Vintage Farm Wedding

Ahh summer! The season of sunshine, swimming, extra daylight, fresh fruits and veggies, lots of flowers...and weddings!

My cousin's was yesterday. It was a lovely out door ceremony in the groom's parents yard, followed by the reception in the barn. The weather turned out perfect. It was nicely overcast by the time the ceremony started, saving everyone from a blistering 7pm sun, and there was a sweet little breeze dancing around to keep us comfortable.

I believe my cousin's theme was Patchwork. I only titled the post Vintage Farm Wedding because when I saw the bride with a classy vintage look, the bridal party and the setting all together, that is the post title I thought sounded great. To see pictures, check out Amy Phipps Photography. I was too busy running around having fun to take my batteries were on their last leg, oops.

The tables had tons of wild flowers in a variety of glass bottles. They were also marking the isles of seats for the ceremony. Each bridesmaid had a different colored bouquet. There was yellow, orange, red, maroon and mine was white (pictured above). The bride's bouquet had deep reds, lavenders and a pop of yellow. They all looked great together. The main flower in each bouquet was the elegant snapdragon. I love that she chose this whimsical flower. When we were little her mom (my aunt) always had them growing in her garden. Recently she told me why she loved them so much. It has to do with a trick she liked to show little ones. Gently pinch the sides of one of the blossoms and it looks like a dragon snapping it's jaws! She showed me this trick before I can remember :)

The bride brought a lot of personal touches to the decorating, but also to the bridesmaids. She gave each one of us a hankie, a pin and earrings selected for the individual girl. She also gave her sisters a pin, very sweet!

The pins are leaves, and we each got different styles of pearl earrings. The bride did a nice job matching the jewelry to the girl.

By the end of the night, after hundreds of hugs and blessings from their guests, this lovely couple had a blissful glow!

Congratulations Lovebirds!