February 28, 2023

Shade cloth

Last year was the first time I used shade cloth. The small greenhouse I purchased really heated up inside and it was pretty obvious if I didn't moderate the temperature, plants would burn up on really hot days. The answer was shade cloth.  What surprised me about the shade cloth over the greenhouse was that it also kept the inside a bit warmer a bit longer in the evenings. I hadn't expected that. 

I also learned last year that "full sun" can kill a tomato plant in a five-gallon bucket. I had a devil of a time keeping the soil in the tomato buckets from going bone dry. It's one of the many reasons I've moved my garden to its current location. It will get dappled shade early in the morning and full sun from about ten-thirty to five-ish. So will that still be too much full sun? 

Good old Sol is doing a few things that are not conducive to great gardening. We've had the Grand Solar Minimum, we've had coronal flares, and pretty soon it looks like a solar maximum may be in the works. What's a gardener to do? 

I'm going with shade cloth. I recently purchased a small shade cloth for over the frame of the first tiny greenhouse I got several years ago. The plastic shredded (I knew it would eventually) but the frame is fine. The plan is to cover the frame with the shade cloth and go from there. I also got a larger shade cloth to drape over the wooden frames. I can screw one side down and pull it over the rails as necessary. I think it should work, but as with all things, I'll make adjustments as I go along. 

And for those who wonder how well the greenhouse withstands high winds, I zip-tied 10-pound barbell weights to each corner for a little extra insurance. The greenhouse hasn't moved yet. 

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, gardening, greenhouse, shade cloth, rural living, country lifestyle, blogging, a writer's life, sun activity

February 26, 2023

It's sneeze season - for me

Sneeze season has arrived as it does every year. I'm not plagued with a lot of infirmities - I actually have just one. I'm cursed by the budding maple tree. 

As I look out any window, I'm confronted by little red buds hanging happily on the tips of the maple tree. And what do those little red buds mean? POLLEN. Tree pollen. It's about to get ugly. 

I've checked my tissue supply and it's adequate to see me until the next trip to Sam's Club. In the spring, I buy tissues in bulk. The fact that the trees are budding early does not bode well for me. My nose will become a faucet at any given moment, an inconvenience that will continue to plague me until green leaves appear. Once the leaves pop, I'm in the clear until the next year.

Sneezing aside, the trees are lovely against a perfect blue sky. Spring is a time of paying attention to what Mother Nature is doing. You have to watch closely or you'll miss some of her marvels. 

I don't want to miss a thing in case I'm not here next year. I try to appreciate each season in case it's my last. It helps me to be grateful for little things. 

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, maple tree buds, pollen, country lifestyle, rural living, a writer's life, simple country pleasures, nature, be attentive, allergies, blue sky

February 25, 2023

Forty years ago today

On February 25, 1983, my mobile home burned to the ground. I lost everything except my two cars and a load of clothing that was in my mother's washing machine. I wasn't home. I'd gone to town with my parents that evening, and luckily, my dog was at my parent's house visiting with their dog. My two cats were not as fortunate. 

When someone chastises me for allowing my cat to have outdoor access, I like to tell them how I had to pull those two little corpses out of the wreckage and bury them. yeah. Go ahead and judge me. 

I've come a long way in forty years. I built a house in the same location so I wouldn't need a new septic system and well, not to mention put in a new driveway, and subsequently paid off that mortgage. I traded a faithless husband for a caring life partner. I've been a published author for over the last twenty years. I retired from a lucrative position that provided me with a good income and now a good pension. 

 The low point of the last forty years was burying my father in November 1983. He didn't live to see my new house. My mother is now in care with Alzheimer's Disease. My partner, a good man, is now in a wheelchair from a degenerative condition. 

My life is a good one. Forty years ago I wasn't sure how I'd survive, but I made it through. I don't normally mark this day, but for whatever reason, when my calendar opened this morning, the fire is what immediately came to mind. 

I guess forty years is a milestone. It certainly isn't a millstone. I don't own one of those. 

The Lady of The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, millstone, milestone, fire, retirement, country lifestyle, rural living, adversity, a writer's life

February 21, 2023

Now we wait a bit

The next batch of seeds are started. This morning, I replanted the marigolds, which damped off. Damp-off is the bane of many a gardener, and I fell prey to it. Along with the marigolds are one tray each of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. 

The almanac gives the beginning week of March the date to plant these seeds, but I didn't think a few days would matter too much. I think cold-liking crops are going to have a bad year so an early start is a good thing. 

Lemongrass is next on my list. I've never grown it before. No one I know has, but I like it. We'll see what happens. 

This is a hopeful time of the year for me and others. We hope for seeds to sprout. We wait and watch. 

Yes, hope is the eternal partner of the gardener. 

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, gardening, seed starting, rural living, greenhouse, Lemongrass, country lifestyle

February 17, 2023

Getting the Greenstalk ready

I read somewhere that progress is made the way fish eat - a nibble at a time. A lot of times, that's true. I have my spring list and I'm working on it a nibble at a time. 

On a recent trip to town, I got potting mix for the Greenstalk, and filled the sections. I figured the dirt needed to settle a bit so I went ahead and filled the sections.  

I still need to paint the plyboard "base" I want to sit it on, and get a small shade cloth for the older small greenhouse frame. Right now the plan is to set the Greenstalk under the protection of that old frame. We'll see how it works out. 

It's almost time to start a few more seeds (brassicas), and I must decide what herbs are going in the Greenstalk. I've been dithering because I have had the time to dither. Not good. It's never good when I have time to dither.

In my defense, we did just purchase a new washer and dryer combo. That took a detour through my week. I also just finished a new manuscript which now needs to go for edits. 

Things. There are always things to do here on the manor. 

And now, instead of just writing about doing it, I think I will peruse my herb seeds. Purslane, anyone? 

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, purslane, Greenstalk, gardening, shade cloth, greenhouses, rural living, country lifestyle, a writer's life, Whirlpool

February 15, 2023

Where do these fit in?

We have a big deer problem in my area. It got to the point where I dug a start of my favorite daylilies and put them in big pots to keep the critters from eating them! The other day, I stopped to see if there were green spouts, and there are. 

So do I risk my few daylilies by setting the pots in my garden area? I'm putting a fence around the garden, so maybe I do. It'll be easier to keep the pots watered if they're with the veggies. 

Maybe the middle of February is too soon to have everything all figured out, but I have this bucolic picture in my head of what my garden could look like this summer. 

And in my vision, the pots do not look like this!

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, rural living, country lifestyle, gardening, flower pots, daylilies, planning, a writer's life


February 10, 2023

Skinny dipping

Along with everything else "on tap" for the summer of 2023, we once again plan to set up our small pool. It's one of those with the air ring around the top which does, rather miraculously, work to hold water. 

We inflate the ring and then let the pool material warm in the sun until it's pliable. It takes some pulling and tugging to get the base in place with a lot of small adjustments as water is added. But once the bottom is in place, filling it is easy. We call a water truck and split the load between the pool and a holding tank for the garden. There's no point to risk burning up the pump when we have options.   

Flat ground is at a premium here. We had to build a level pad for the pool, and it had to be located where it would be easy for the Lord of the Manor to get in and out. 

In is easy. He holds his nose and falls over the side. Out is more problematic, and we employ several options. Two of the more expedient ways of getting him safely out is backing the truck up so he can perch on the tailgate or using the John Deere so he can perch on the edge of the bucket and be set down at his power chair. Where there's a will there's a way.

I personally like the pickup option. Strategically parking the truck creates a screen between me and anyone coming in the lane. This is especially handy for those evenings I go skinny dipping. 

We country girls don't care if we're being recorded by twelve different spy satellites, but the Amazon driver doesn't need to take in the show! 

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, skinny dipping, pools, rural living, country lifestyle, John Deere 1023, problem solving

February 8, 2023

It may be time to panic

Gardening season is fast approaching. I've jumped ahead and have begonia cuttings growing and Marigold seeds sprouting. They make me happy but they're only the beginning. Now is the time to organize. 

The shelving unit with wheels I got last year for seed trays is in the basement housing empty canning jars. I need to tidy up my stock room and get the unit up to my sunroom office.  

I need six bags of potting soil for the Greenstalk, and I need to paint the base I'm sitting it on. My first little greenhouse needs a makeover. The plastic has disintegrated but the frame is still good so I'm going to set it behind the newer greenhouse and cover it with a shade cloth so I can use it for something that likes a bit less sun.

I need to order a load of mulch for around the edges of the woven weed cloth that I purchased from Grower's Solutions. I need to get twenty T-posts to install deer prevention measures (fencing). I need to check growing times and mark down when I should start which seeds. 

As with just about everything, once the job is broken down into pieces, it doesn't seem so insurmountable. I did have a moment of panic the other day when I realized it was February - like February doesn't come around every year or something. 

Breaking it down, it will take maybe half an hour to straighten my stock room and bring the shelves up. Painting the base will take place over the course of a few days but only because the paint needs time to dry between coats. One trip to town will acquire potting soil and T-posts. One quick phone call will get mulch on order although I will have to make sure the ground is firm before I hop on the John Deere to spread it where I want it. Researching planting times will be a fun project for one evening. Planting the seeds in the trays is a couple of minutes on each appropriate day. 

Installing the T-posts will take the most time. I may need to enlist the help of a cousin for that as it may require more muscle than I possess. Even then, it won't take long. 

So it's not time to panic. It's time to stop and think it all through. It all will be done. I may even do the work in my stockroom this evening to get the shelving unit ready. 

I keep thinking I'm retired and I should be relaxing.....

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, gardening, greenhouses, panty, stockroom, deer prevention, planning, organizing, retirement

February 6, 2023

Already!? Marigold seeds sprouted!

Four days ago I planted a starter tray of Cracker Jack marigold seeds. This morning we have sprouts! I didn't expect this to happen for at least a week. Here's hoping they thrive!

This makes me very enthusiastic about starting another tray, maybe of the Calendula. 

No, I'm going to force myself to wait. I am. Honest! 

The Lady of the Hideaway

February 5, 2023

New day, amended plans

ISTJ = Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging.  

Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II was an ISTJ? So they say! I'm in extremely good company! 

Many years ago a new CEO came in where I worked and the first thing he did was give everyone on staff the Myers Briggs personality test. My results were so far into the ISTJ range it made my head hurt. Fred, on the other hand, was ecstatic. He voiced the opinion I was perfect for functioning as an administrative assistant. 

Really? And how well do you know me, Fred?

Of course, it turns out Fred, and the test, were pretty much spot on. I am an organizer. I do follow logical steps to reach a decision and achieve a goal. I can be very persistent when I'm chasing a goal. I'm definitely introverted. Too many people around suck the life right out of me. 

I am a planner. I've been working on my plan for spring since the first hard frost hit last November. But I think the time has come to figure out the best time to implement my plans. 

When should we set the pool up? I'm going to get an argument from the Lord of the Manor, but I think the week of May 1 would be good. I expect it to be hot again this year. 

When should I have a load of mulch delivered? It will be the first week of April, whatever day they can schedule the delivery. 

That's the sort of thing I need to get on the calendar, not just to see it done, but to include items in the upcoming budget. Does it help to do this? It helps me and that's what is important since I'm the one who has to handle all of it. 

Knowing that the pool will go up the first week of May, and it's on the calendar, means I won't schedule any other big job for that week. Now if the pool is successfully filled on Tuesday, I'll look ahead on the calendar and possibly move up a small project for Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Or if the weather is good, we may hop in the Charger and take a day trip. But first things first, and that will be the pool. 

Making plans, for me, is freeing. It doesn't make me feel restricted at all. If I have the big items mapped out, I'm free to juggle little items around to my mood of the moment. With the big items in place, there's a lot less drama on the manor, and that's the way we like it. So I'll plot and plan and plod along to keep it that way.

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, future plans, rural living, country lifestyle, swimming pool, gardening, calendar, gardening, ISTJ personality

February 2, 2023

The weight of belongings

In my younger days, I collected reindeer, stags to be exact. It's peculiar because I did not know when I started that the stag holds a prominent place in my paternal family's coat of arms. That coat of arms was granted to the family by one of the Popes back in the 1500s. Only those born with the proper last name may use and display the coat of arms, per the terms that pope set forth. Sorry to all my male first cousins - you're out! 

Everyone was under the rule of some pope in those days but it's 2023. If my cousins want to claim and use the coat of arms, I sure don't care. Their mothers could have used it. 

My stag collection is pretty extensive. Family and friends found out I was collecting and the herd grew every Christmas season until I actually had to put a stop to it. I loved getting new pieces, but I ran out of room for them. 

Storing them became a multi-level problem. Some of them were fragile and antlers and legs started to fall off. Some had shiny, sparkly silver finishes that wore off giving them the appearance of mange. The herd aged poorly. 

This year, as with previous years, I got the storage bin down from the attic, made the necessary repairs, and set them about the great room. The Christmasy things have long been packed up for the year, but being that the herd is seasonal and not just for Christmas, it remained out. Today was the day to put them back in the attic. But today was different. 

Today I grew a spine and culled the herd. Those with missing parts have been discarded. The ones with damage to the finish that can no longer be disguised were also discarded. I thought I would be sad but I find I don't feel glad or sad, or much of anything else. 

What I suppose was my sentimentality is slowly falling to the wayside. Things seem to matter less and less unless they have a practical function. I don't have the time or energy for useless things, and that includes anything I have to dust on a regular basis. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm not dancing naked in the backyard and shouting, "I'm free! I'm free!" Material possessions have a place. But after cleaning out my mother's house when she had to go into a care facility, I realized her belongings did not define her. It was an awakening of sorts that neither do my possessions define me. 

Most of my belongings will one day fall victim to time. Either I will discard them, pass the heirlooms on, disburse them through my will, or they will end up in the landfill. 

It's strange that this truth doesn't weigh me down. But then the truth rarely does. 

The Lady of the Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, aging, truth, material possessions, time passages, generations, rural living, country lifestyle, heirlooms. stags, belongings