Thursday, December 30, 2010

Santa did good.

I love having a passionate hobby, because it promotes theme gifts. This Christmas, gardening ruled. Yes, I got that composter (thank you, Pam), along with a bucket for collecting my food scraps.

My daughter Anna, who is a huge Etsy fan, also gave me seeds from "The Bear Foot Shaman," a vendor named Radonna Fox who is an aromatherapist, gardener, and collector of

heirloom medicinal, vegetable, and flower seeds. I can't wait to try to grow these beauties. Have you ever seen a watermelon more beautiful than this?

My cousins and locavore comrades Sharon and Kristina (be sure to check out Kristina's Confections, yum!) sent a beautifully crafted slingshot and seed bombs. I'll be bombing my own yard, as well as my neighborhood.

And last, but not least, my ever-so-thoughtful husband put much needed garden stakes under the tree, along with this fabulous weeder for old ladies called the "Reach Weeder." It's light weight and expands in length so you don't have to bend over. But even more impressive is the Reach Weeder's blade. After a work out in the garden, I can take it to the beach to fight off sharks.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy holidays from Mother Nature.

Mother Nature wrapped up Christmas weekend for me with two happy memories. First, a little snow, just a sprinkle, but the first snow on Christmas Day in Memphis in almost 100 years. I'm hoping our unseasonably cold winter will help control the hungry garden pests next summer.

Next, on the day after Christmas, I was walking Griffin at dusk when I spotted an owl in my neighbor's oak tree. I've been hearing owl calls at my home for 15 years, but have never seen one before in the neighborhood. He (she) was quite large and made a beautiful silhouette in the tree branches. I watched for five minutes before she took off in a majestic swoop. I felt blessed.

The next day, I took a photo of the stand of trees where I spotted her to honor the feeling. And I researched owls online. I think I saw a Barred Owl, pictured above, but that's just a guess.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa are you listening?

I'm a big talker, and sometimes (gasp!) I talk more than I do. This is especially true when it comes to composting. I've read so much about composting that I understand green matter and brown matter and hot compost and a wet compost (frankly, those last two weren't too difficult to figure out).

But have I started composting the endless piles of food scraps I throw out every week? No, because I've been stymied by what type of composter to buy. (And yes, I've talked endlessly about that decision too.)

Happily, the Christmas season has spurred me into action, and thanks to one of my favorite gardening sites (Gardener's Supply Company), I've found the perfect solution: a simple wire rectangle with a door, so it's easy to reach in with a shovel and turn the pile.

Even better, the composter costs $40, which isn't as cheap as chicken wire, but is a lot less than the $200 composting bins that are ugly as well as expensive.

I told Santa I wanted the composter, but because I know he's busy, I went ahead and ordered it myself. How's that for decisive action?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday rescue.

Most of the holiday greenery at Lowe's is gone, but on my last run a few days ago, I found a rosemary plant marked down to five dollars. I guess nobody but me wanted it. (I'm a sucker for needy plants, dogs, or kids.) This poor baby was starved for water and its plastic pots was ripped.

So for a day or so, I soaked it in the sink, re-potted it in a clay pot, wrapped it in green foil, and decorated it with ribbon and a gold angel. Voila! With a little love, my kitchen table turned into a bit of Christmas cheer.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

This is really lame.

I woke up this morning to a gray sky spitting snow flakes. The flurries didn't last long, but the cold settled in, breaking some sort of record, I imagine. Typically, Memphis doesn't see afternoons stay in the 30s in


I was excited about Sunday's cold weather (let's build a fire!) until I looked out my kitchen window and saw the dismal state of my vegetable

garden. I hadn't pulled up the plants, because a few stragglers still hung on the tomatoes, but the cold weather closed the book. Check out the ice near the roots of the cucumber plant. I guess this is the what's called a deep freeze.

Only one veggie survived the night cold: hot Thai peppers! So, feeling invigorated by the temperatures, I decided to finally pull up everything else. It was freezing, and I'm sure, yet again, my neighbors think I'm nuts.

Once it warms up a bit, I'll turn the soil and start layering in the ingredients for my spring lasagna. Can't wait!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kings Park says goodbye to a real beauty.

It took 250 years to grow this grand dame, but only six hours to level her.

It was a sad day in my Kings Park neighborhood to watch the beautiful red

oak in Brooks Terry's yard come down, but believe me, he tried to save her. Brooks started worrying about the tree (which stood a few feet from his marvelous mid-century home on Tall Trees) when he noticed bees flying in and out of one of its cavities. He consulted two experts, who both confirmed that the tree was diseased.

The arborists estimated the tree's age at 250. (For the math challenged, that makes the tree older than the Declaration of Independence.)

"They said it might live two more years, but we though we should go ahead and get it down," Brooks said. "Even if it fell away from the house, the root ball is so big it would tear up the living room."

Once Brooks saw the tree's hollow trunks, he knew he'd made the right decision. "The tree was even sicker than we thought," he said. The

trunk also was lined with thousands of dead bees and spent honeycomb (pictured above in the first photo). Apparently, the same fungus that kills the tree eventually kills the bees too.

Happily, there is a bit of a nice ending to this story. Terry plans to salvage the impressive burl at the base of the tree, and he can still admire the red oak across the street, which is the oldest red oak in Shelby County.