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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Retail trying too hard

The alarm on my phone wakes me up every morning, usually just after DJ has gotten in the shower. I shut it off, and scroll through email and statewide newspapers while lying in bed. Check facebook, check my google reader, check the weather, etc.

But you know what makes me NUTS? Retail emails inviting me to come shop. I get an email from Pottery Barn every. single. morning. "Come back and see our great products" it begs. Same from Target: "Great sale!" And from ACE Hardwear "Make your to-do list a to-done list!" And from Endless.com "OMG these shoes are great, come shop!" And from Amazon "We really think you'll like this travel book." And Macy's "Storewide sale ends today!"

Every. Single. Morning. I usually don't even read them. I delete them without opening. I silently roll my eyes. And the next time I consider browsing online, I recognize that I'll be getting an email in the morning saying "You were here! come back!".

All of these emails annoy the living crap out of me. A perfect example of retail trying too hard. Like a girl calling the boy she likes every day to say "hiiiiwhatch'ado'in?" All it does is annoy the boy and make him uncomfortable.

So who gets it right? REI, for one. I get about two emails a month from them, usually advertising sales or something. Kate Spade doesn't flood my email, only sending something about once a month. Ummm... well. That might be it.

Seriously retail. It's not me, it's you. Let me come to you when I need something, and leave me the hell alone (unless you have a real sale) otherwise!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A quick trip east

Friday night we threw things in the truck and headed east for an over nighter.

First, we stopped in Livingston for a drive up burger, fries/ onion ring and huckleberry shakes. Though it totally threw off my diet, it was a fun experience!

After slurping our shakes, we headed further east to Big Timber, then south up the Boulder River valley. We stopped at Natural Arch State Park, where the Boulder River had once carved an arch through the limestone. The arch collapsed in 1988.

The river, like all of them in Montana right now, was running hard. I'm not sure if, or when, we'll see a slow down in rivers this summer.

You could feel the pedestrian bridge trembling as you walked across it.

Water level gets low enough in the late summer that the water "disappears". The river isn't dry; rather, the water is coursing through subterranean channels in the limestone. The channels are caused by both water erosion, and the water creating a chemical reaction with the limestone to dissolve the stone and expand the channels.

The river goes over these falls. The nuttiest thing? People kyack off of this!

Once we finished poking around at the bridge, we continued up the valley into the Gallatin Natural Forest. Most of the campgrounds had room, though the further you got up the gravel road many camping spots were underwater. In some places you had to ford a creek that was over the road. We finally settled on this camping spot.

Where, to Harlow's delight, a creek coursed through the back. A creek with sticks in it.

As the fire pit area had standing water, it was tough to keep Harlow dry. We ended up sleeping in the back of the truck, with Harlow in the "dog taco" (tarp strung into a U shape between the back seat head rests and the front seat head rests) in the back of the cab. We stayed dry!

Saturday morning we stopped off in Big Timber for coffee, then headed up to Harlowton. Yes, the town that our dog is named after, which is, in turned, named for the guy who started the "Jawbone" railroad in Montana. Which was eventually sold out to the Milwaukee Road. We stopped at the depot.

And after poking around a bit, found out what I'm meant to do with my life. Rehab the Graves Hotel in downtown Harlo.

I mean, seriously, with a south-facing porch like this?

The hotel is not currently in operation, and the entire building needs work. It's for sale. Think I could convince DJ that our destiny is to operate the Graves Hotel in Harlowton MT?

From Harlow we headed back west, through Martinsdale and past Bridge Bowl. Harlow (the dog) was pooped!

Friday, June 24, 2011

June 24 Friday Farming

I think one of my favorite things, thus far, about farming/ growing flowers, is that you're never done. I'm always looking ahead to what will bloom next, or the produce which will be edible next. I like that something changes every day. 

I think we've made huge strides in the garden this year. Obviously taking the time to till in 3 yards of compost and 2 of peat moss has set our garden up to be more successful. I'm also really pleased with the lawn-cliping much system. It was in the 80's on Wednesday, and the ground under the mulch, near the tomato plants, was still damp. Tomatoes love heat, but they still need moisture. I think we're doing a good job of not wasing our water resources.

And hey, I finally beat the gophers to the lettuce. First (and maybe only) home-grown salad of the year: a mix of spinach, bibb and buttercrunch lettuce.

My friend Shannon gave me a bunch of iris splits last July. The majority of them are taking the first year to get established before blooming, but some are showing off flowers. Pretty!

The darker purple irises are splits from my mom, from our lake place.

I like having flowers by the front steps. It's cheery and welcoming.

The allium, behind the irises, are dying out. It's the weirdest thing; about half of the allium shot up blooms. The other half (sometimes the same plant) shot up these werid almost-bloom things.

I'm giving it one more shot at seed-starting. It's warm enough now that I don't have to drag them in and out each night. I threw one last round of basil, larkspur, zinnia and snapdragon seeds in there on Wednesday night.

 Some are already spouting! Goes to show you, I definitely don't have sufficient sunlight to start seeds indoors in the spring without help of a grow light.

Check out these larkspur! I'll transplant them this weekend.

To the right of the steps.

To the left of the steps. I'm going to have a couple of vacant spaces once the irises die back. We're discussing putting evergreens in around the steps.

The front-yard spinach has already gone to seed. I'm not sure how I feel about this experiment. They grew well, but not well enough to provide twice weekly salads. By the time they were big enough to give good leaves, it was too hot in their south-facing, black containers and they bolted. The bell pepper is loving the heat though.

Powerbox bed. Three different groups of irises are getting started in this bed, so in the future there will be great flowers in here.

The ornamental grasses are taking off too. Hopefully next year the Russian sage between the boxes will be huge. How much do you love the autumn joy sedum in the front?!

Check out the blossom on my "cherry bomb" pepper!

Along the driveway, you can see that the cilantro has also gone to seed. I'll let this plant fully seed out, as cilantro produces coriander seeds, which are useful in cooking.

I'm loving the progress my bee balm is making!

This is another flower garden which will be improved next year, when these irises flower. I really want to plant the big orange poppies in here too.

The lupine is blooming!

I'm intrigued by the delphinium.

I can never tell if this bunched up area in the center is a blossom, or another spurt of leaves?

My salvia isn't exactly showing off, but still, blooming.

Speaking of blooming, raspberry blossoms!

The endless summer twist and shout hydrangea has blooms on it. I'd like another hydrangea next to this, but the mophead variety.

Fern gully looks nice right now.

The new plants on the kitchen porch bed are coming in nicely.

The gladiolus I planted in the containers are shooting spikes up. I'm curious to see how these arrangements come together.

In the garage bed, the clematis is growing by leaps and bounds. Look ma! I didn't kill it! I also have a bunch of irises back here, none of which have bloomed this year. Next year!

Now on to the farm. Although things aren't blossoming like this time last year, that's because I didn't start corn, squash or peas inside this year. And overall, I think the garden looks miles ahead of where it did a year ago. Heck, the whole house does!

Oh, did you notice something funny on the burlap? Looks like gopher blood, doesn't it? Well, it's not (sadly). The GD gophers chewed through the burlap to break into the garden yesterday. The got to the lettuce and broccoli, again, just as they were recovering from two weeks ago. FUCKERS. So DJ re-layered the burlap, and dashed a bunch of hot-sauce on it. Apparently the vermin have a keen sense of smell, and they dislike Mexican food?

Time will tell how effective that is.

The in-ground spinach is puttering along. Not really thriving, and close to bolting.

Carrots are doing well.

Check it out! The Juliet tomato has blossoms!

The remains of the bibb lettuce.

And remains of the buttercrunch lettuce.

And remains of the broccoli. This little plant, which I started inside from seed, has been munched back so many times this spring that I don't expect it to produce actual broccoli. All of it's energy has gone into just reproducing it's leaves!

From the above photos, you can infer something I learned this spring. The lettuce above was started indoors and then transplanted. The stuff below was in-ground seeded. Clearly the stuff started inside thrived (despite the GD gophers), while the stuff started outside didn't. I won't bother to seed lettuce into the ground next year.


Summer squash, crookneck.

Marigolds, started in the ground at the same time that I planted the squash seeds. We'll see if the marigolds mature fast enough to attract bees to pollinate the squash and tomatoes in the garden.

Winter squash!

I'll call this plot Roma tomato, Roma tomato, Roma tomato, Roma tomato, Roma tomato. I love those suckers, and they're the best for making pasta sauce, bruschetta, and salsa. Also in this photo, to the right, are a few jalepeno pepper plants.

Spaghetti squash!

Dudes. I was seriously despairing about the asparagus. I thought maybe we'd killed it somehow? Or by piling more compost and peat moss on top of it last fall, we'd buried it too deep. I hadn't seen a single asparagus spear all spring. I was sure asparagus season was over, and planned on re-planting it this fall. Then yesterday, I found this amongst the peas. Shut the front door!

Yesssss! I've grown a single asparagus stalk. In my sugar snap peas, to boot. The peas are doing well, at least.

I'm curious about the giant sunflowers I've planted along the back of the garden. I hope they do grow giant!

The potatoes are growing really quickly! I originally thought I'd have to hill them after the Fourth of July, but now I think I'll need to as soon as this weekend. I haven't decided if I want to hill them with dirt/ compost, or with straw...


And finally, the lilac bush.

Almost there!

This weekend's to-do list? Mow the lawn and mulch accordingly. Pull out bolted spinach and compost. Consider what I'll plant where the spinach and lettuce was in the front of the farming area. Enjoy the scenery! 

Happy Friday!