Friday, March 20, 2015

Buzzing around the county

I visited with a beekeeper not too long ago for an article I was writing about his favorite buzzy subject. It was very interesting. I only got stung once through my jeans but did get some curious bees buzzing my head. Glad I had on the veil, helmet and jacket!

Since this was one of my Backyard Hobbies stories in Image Magazine, I'm including this link if you'd like to see it. Flip on over to page 17.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What to collect for the compost pile

I'm always adding to my compost pile. I just fill up an old flower pot
(no hole in bottom) then dump when it gets full, usually every day.
Some good things from the kitchen to compost are coffee grounds, tea bags,
vegetable and fruit peels, and egg shells.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I just can't skirt the dress issue

Quirky Cultivator centers around not only gardening, but the rest of life.

And with a big square dance weekend coming up, I dug back into my archives and pulled out this article. I'll admit, I still have trouble working myself up to wearing the petticoat.-

By Karen Nace

“Mom, surely you’re not going out in that,” said my son, visiting from college. He was clearly concerned.

I looked down at my outfit.

“No, I just can’t do it.” I laughed and turned back to change clothes.

The next week I tried again. No way.

Finally I got up the courage. By golly, I had on my whirly-twirly outfit for a night out square dancing with my husband. Yee-haw.

My mauve-colored blouse and knee-length skirt were fine. My issue was with the ivory-colored petticoat – 60 yards of poufed up crinoline just waiting to take over the world.

I soon discovered that a square-dancing petticoat fills whatever space it’s given, in this case the front seat of the Honda. When we got to our destination, I self-consciously squeezed out of the car and the somewhat compacted petticoat sprang into action. It flounced me right up the stairs and into the Lake Jackson Civic Center. There, it propelled me into the reassuring presence of the Lake Jackson Promenaders.

“I feel like an inverted tulip,” I confessed to one of the ladies.

“It’s just a costume, Honey. Think of it as a costume You’ll get used to it.”

The Promenaders are wonderful people. They’re kind, courteous and very, very patient with me, a petticoat-propelled klutz.

One time I was supposed to Four Little Ladies Chain. Instead, I created a new dance step – the Barge Through – nearly knocking down two of the little ladies and sending the caller, J.C. Flowers of Lake Jackson, into fits of laughter.

I do know how to California Twirl, make an Ocean Wave and Weave the Ring. Star Through is pretty easy and I have the hang of the basic Swing. Keep in mind that it took 20 weekly lessons to even remotely get the hang of 70 basic moves.

Now my husband and I are badge-wearing members of the Promenaders and dance at least twice a month.

I’m still stepping through the complexities of square dancing. Luckily, my whirly-twirly petticoat is there to propel me through the Allemande Thar, Wheel and Deal, Flutterwheel and the still-puzzling Ferris Wheel.

Two hours of dancing is great exercise, and when I get home and take off my suede-soled dancing shoes, I have one more thing to do. I take back control of the petticoat.

Wrestling it back into its small compartment and zipping the bag closed brings an odd sense of satisfaction.

Ha, I win again. Now stay there.

This column was originally published 9/11/05 in The Facts newspaper, Clute, Texas

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


If you have a potted plant that is so root-bound that water doesn't even sink in, consider dividing it into several separate plants, each in its own pot.

See how crowded this one is.

Dump the plant out on its side.

I used an old serrated knife to boldly saw through the massive root ball. Now there are three root balls. Don't be shy about this.

Plant each in its own pot. It's best to use potting soil for this project instead of garden soil. Garden soil can be too heavy for potted plants.

Now your plants have breathing room and are all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Monday, March 16, 2015


Basil is a welcome addition to my herb garden.

My basil is coming right along. I've found that once established, meaning it has gotten used to where it is planted and is thriving, it grows quickly. And that's good because basil is one of my favorite herbs. I love bruschetta, which is a popular appetizer in Italian restaurants. You can make your own by layering thinly sliced, toasted french bread, a slice of fresh mozzarella, a thin slice of tomato and a basil leaf. Some people run it under the broiler. I just have it "raw." Yum.

Basil comes in more than 100 species. I am growing Genovese basil, which will get 14 to 20 inches tall. I got this kind because it's slow to bolt. Bolting is when a plant starts putting on flowers, and you want to harvest before this happens and makes your plant bitter. This applies to broccoli and basil and any number of other food plants. A bolted herb will be past its peak and probably dry and bitter.

Under the right conditions, basil is very easy to grow here in Zone 9 and other zones, as well. Basil needs full sun and a moderate amount of water.

One thing I just found out is that you can encourage the normally spindly basil plant to become more bushy by pinching off the stem tips. I'm definitely going to do that as it grows. It'll be a good way to get an early taste of this Genovese basil.

You can find many recipes for pesto, for which a major ingredient is fresh basil. You also use pine nuts (or walnuts), garlic and olive oil. I use the food processor. Pesto is very good as a dip or as a pasta sauce.

Basil is a member of the very aromatic mint family. And did you know that "basil" means "king"? I didn't either. Folklore said that basil could only be cut by the king and his golden sickle. Good grief. Don't you wish you didn't know that?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Peggy Martin rose

I've always wanted a climbing rose but was afraid I would kill it. Then I noticed that my neighbor's was thriving. I went begging them for cuttings, and they graciously let me get several.
Bringing home my cuttings, I planted about 12 or 15 eight-inch twigs in this way: Peel away a few inches of each stem's "bark," dip the end in root stimulator, stick down in the dirt of a potted plant outside. It took about two years for me to get any kind of growth, and I only got two viable rose bushes. I planted one in the ground to climb up a trellis set against my brick. The other one is still in the original pot but going like gangbusters compared to the twig it once was.
This beautiful climbing rose is called the Peggy Martin Rose -- a true survivor from Hurricane Katrina. Gardener Peggy Martin's house and garden were covered with 20 feet of salt water. When the water receded, however, her rose was still alive and thriving. Thus, the famous climbing rose named after a veteran gardener.

Leave me a comment and tell me your climbing-rose story.