There’s a Greenhouse in my Garage!

Yesterday I did a fair amount of organizing in our garage. The primary goal was to fit my wife's car in it but I also had an ulterior motive: organizing the garage would make it more usable for all the future projects I have planned. We have a bunch of boxes that are now stacked up as high as the riding lawnmower and nearly as long left over from Christmas. Those need to go! A couple may make a good bedding layer for a planting bed but most of them are unsuitable since they have glossy surfaces. We'll take those to the recycling bin at the dump.During the clean-up and organization process I put together the mini-greenhouse I was given for Christmas. It went together very quickly with no tools (or frustration) needed! I just popped the bars together and voila there was a sturdy little shelf. I continued piecing…

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Is it Spring Yet?

Is it spring yet? The weather sure seems like it! Today and tomorrow we are looking at temperatures in the mid to upper 60's. Yesterday was warm also in the lower 60's. The difference today will probably be the sun. That bright orange combustible ball of incandescent gas is out and warming things up instead of shyly hiding behind the gray winter clouds. I hope in his exuberance that our old friend the sun doesn't wake up the bulbs and perennial plants from their winter slumber. Surely the warm temperatures have not lasted long enough for that but you never know. This wacky winter weather will all come to an end in a day or two when old man winter stretches his hand out once again to grasp Tennessee firmly in his embrace. The cold fronts are coming! The cold fronts are coming! This warm snap will be nice while…

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Some Pictures of Early January in Tennessee

Here are some pictures that we have taken of 2008!Here is a snowfall on a very cold evening. I like how the white snowflakes are captured, frozen in time, by the reflected light of the flash. A visitor to our new bird feeder! This white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinesis) is cracking open the shell of a sunflower seed for his feast. He is one among many visitors we have had lately including chickadees, tufted titmice, cardinals, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and the occasional finch.All puffed up against the cold, this female woodpecker watches everything from its Bradford pear perch.For more cardinal action check out Tina's blog at In the Garden. Look for the January 5th post!

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New Uses with Old Lumber

I did some collecting yesterday in the cold drizzling rain. Some friends of my parents wanted to get rid of a pile of wood that used to be their deck. They remodeled their house a while back and hard-scaped around the pool so they didn’t need the deck. The lumber was sitting near their garden just waiting to be used for various projects but they decided to offer it to me if I wanted it. Being of a cheap mind I jumped at the chance! It’s pressure treated lumber and there was enough to fill the back of a truck. Some of it is in poor shape but most of it is still very usable. It’s mostly 2”x6” pieces of varying lengths. My brain is already cooking just thinking of what to make with my new pile of wood. The first thing and the easiest thing I can think of…

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A Short Walk Outside

This post was meant for Saturday morning but our internet connection was down all day. I went outside yesterday for the first time in several days to tinker in the yard. I was only out for about 15 minutes (not including the time it took me to adjust our satellite dish) but in that time I checked out the little Arbor Day trees, dumped vegetable matter into the compost bin and tried out my new shovel a bit. I noticed that the deer struck again, one of them took a bite out of a sweet gum tree. Fortunately sweet gum trees grow fast and it should recover provided it's left alone for a while. I'll have to find a way to take sweet gum branches off the menu! Perhaps serving some hot sauce with the sweet gum might deter the determined deer! Weather Report!It's been very cold over the last…

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Gifts for a Gardener

This post may be a little late as Christmas has past us by over a week ago, but why not share some gifts that should make gardening easier and more fun over 2008?For those who enjoy wildlife, birds, and the outdoors bird feeders are a necessity. We already had three bird feeders but one was slowly breaking down over the course of the past six years. It's not ready for the trash yet so we'll get a shepherd's hook and put it up further back in the yard. Here is the old feeder's replacement!This feeder has wire pockets to put suet and a center chamber for the seed. The cedar wood is pretty weather resistant. To help measure the rain water that we receive I was given an electronic rain gauge. Once I put the rain gauge up it will collect water in its funnel like collection dish. An electronic…

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Plant of the Week: Trillium grandiflorum

This plant of the week resembling a swooping bird is known as Trillium grandiflorum! Trillium is a member of a group of plants called the ephemerals. And no, it is not some sort of new rock band, but a group of flowers that appear in late winter and go through a two month cycle. They flower, seed, and die back to dormancy within that cycle. Trillium is an under story plant that has adapted to deciduous forests. When the leaves of the trees are gone this little flower uses the available light to grow. Its flowers bloom white and gradually change to the pink color above as it fades. According to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website there are ten varieties of trillium in the park! Take a look at the link and read about some other wildflowers in the Smokies.This is a picture from one of our many…

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What Do You Compost?

Even in winter compost happens. It may be slower but those microbes are still hard at work turning your pile of waste into "Gardener's Gold." You can compost all sorts of vegetable based materials. I even heard a news story not to long ago in New Jersey where they compost roadkill carcasses! They bury the poor animals in wood chips and in a few months very little remains of the animal. I wouldn't recommend this for the home garden since animal carcasses can (and probably will) attract other animals. Our compost pile has mostly seen kitchen scraps. Quite a few fruit rinds have ended their journey in our bin including grapefruit, orange, and avocado peels. Vegetable leftovers like tomato bits, lettuce, and the stalks of celery that never get eaten because they were forgotten about in the bottom tray of the refrigerator have all been composted. Nothing very unique there!…

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Gardening in 2008 or NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS (insert dramatic music here!)

Happy New Year! It's that time of the year again when everyone thinks of how they can do things better than last year. What can they improve? What should they never, ever do ever again? People call them RESOLUTIONS (insert dramatic music here). While there are certainly things that I can do better and improve on, most of my goals remain the same. So here are some of my gardening RESOLUTIONS (again, insert dramatic music)!1. Go organic as much as possible. I left a little leeway here by saying as much as possible but the truth is most of what I do is organic. Sure I've fertilized houseplants with synthetic stuff before but I don't do that anymore due to the salt content in the chemicals. It can leave the soil unpalatable for plants. I don't want that. We like happy plants. I plan on using lots of compost or…

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