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Currently Googling: Garden Edition

21 Jul
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From last year’s Dallas Botanical Garden Trip

I have a confession. I “Google” in the garden.  It’s not that I don’t have a library’s worth of books and garden magazines I can reference, but I’m impatient. My mom and the organic gardening group I belong to are invaluable resources too, of course, but when I need immediate answers, I turn to the web.

Since I’ve been learning so many new things lately, I thought it might be fun to track and share some of the questions + answers I’ve been researching, since some of you may also be novice gardeners like me.

Here’s what I’ve had on deck for July 2019:

Why isn’t my bougainvillea flowering?

Don’t overwater! Blossoms happen on NEW growth and the dirt should be dry before you give water. Water is often withheld in order to force blossoming. I can report that after about two weeks of consistent water neglect, my baby bougainvillea is finally flowering and she looks beautiful.

How do you plant potatoes? Is there anything I can plant with them to deter potato beetles and other pests?

Sift soil so it’s not rocky, then bury seed potato with eyes about 4-6″ deep. The more eyes = the more potatoes, however, they will be smaller whereas a potato with fewer eyes will yield fewer larger ones.

Mound soil into hills over the seed potato so it is completely covered. As the blossom end grows, continue to mound soil so the potatoes are NOT EXPOSED TO LIGHT. If they are, they develop a poisonous chemical and turn green. You would have to eat quite a few green potatoes to get sick, but why risk it. Just hill that dirt up.

The best defense against potato beetles is being proactive. Check plants for signs of damage or the pests themselves. Remove and squish (or however you wish to dispose of.) I also read that diatomaceous earth sprinkled over plants can help deter pests because it is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica which causes insects to dry out and die by absorbing the oils and fats from the cuticle of the insect’s exoskeleton. Its sharp edges are abrasive, speeding up the process. It remains effective as long as it is kept dry and undisturbed.

Is stump removal better than stump grinding? 

Stump removal is costly but it effectively takes up not just the tree stump but the roots as well. This can make it easier to plant another tree in its spot, if desired. Generally, wait about a year though. Grinding is a great option if you don’t plan to replant and the stump is an eyesore.

What is eating gently curved munch marks in my plants — specifically, my zinnias.

This sounds like a leafcutter bee or slugs and snails. There are a lot of organic methods to control slugs. This was a great guide to some basic ones. My attitude towards bees however, especially native ones, is to let them be. No pun intended.

What are the earliest spring-blooming tulips?

This guide by Longfield Garden was very handy.

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Hope you enjoyed that. Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for the August edition. And while you’re waiting, feast your eyes on this absolutely gorgeous planter I spotted at a local outdoor mall. Stunning, right? I’m looking for inspiration for my fall planters and window boxes and love the combination of evergreen and ivy. It would make swapping in some annuals a bit easier if I had a base, season to season. More on that later thought.

 

 

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My Goal to Simplify

19 Mar
close up of tree against sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Note: This post was actually penned LAST winter (in 2018) but I only just sat down to finish it. Whoops. Better late than never, right?

For the past few years, I’ve become more and more interested in simplifying. Initially I thought this had to do with trying to control the chaos of kids and wanting to make my day to day easier. Fewer toys = less to trip over, I reasoned.  But as I reviewed the trajectory of my life, my relationships, my career, and how I spend money, I’ve realized it’s much more of a tune-in to wanting to better focus how I spend my time.

To say that I had a rough past few months would be an understatement. I suspect touches of post-partum depression were to blame, paired with a long, cold, winter. Just when we thought we were out of the woods, BAM. Snow storm at the end of March. It’s just not RIGHT I tell you.

This relegated me and the kids to the house for much of February and March. It was really brutal. When you stare at the same modest square footage of a house every day with two kids, filling the hours in a day can feel like a millennia; some days, I don’t know how I even survived until Brian walked in the door at 6 o’clock.

To a degree, I spent a lot of the later winter and spring in survival mode. I’m in a much better place now and it absolutely has to do with my burning need to be outside as much as humanely possible.

Only recently did I realize just how poorly I was directing my precious daily minutes towards tasks and activities that were NOT in service to my life’s goals, wishes, dreams and ultimately… my happiness.

Oprah Magazine

I owe a chance grab of a magazine while at the gym this past Monday for this life-changing revelation. As most incredible things start, it all began with Oprah. Specifically, O magazine. I’d done an intense strength-training session and usually cut my time short so I can pick my kids up in under an hour, but for some reason, I was pulled toward the recumbent bikes. (Cough: Laziness) I’d intended to sprint a quarter mile on a treadmill (since my cardio has been abysmal lately), then head home, but when I saw some fresh magazines on the rack, I made a beeline for them. I grabbed a People and for some reason, Oprah was just calling to me from the cover, so I grabbed her.

As I sat down to pedal, I felt a surge of disappointment as I noticed the issue was dated: October 2017. Still, I dove in. Something on the cover about a “How To Be Fulfilled” or Seizing the Day piqued my interest and if there’s one thing I’m always in pursuit of, it’s self-improvement.

green volkswagen transporter van parked under coconut trees

Photo by Bianca on Pexels.com

I should mention that earlier that day, I’d been chatting with a friend about minivans, so when my thumb randomly picked out an article about a minivan-loving mom, I felt an odd sense of serendipity. And no, not a cute van like in the photo above. I was talking about a true “mom-mobile” with crumbs on the floor, shoe scuffs on the backs of all the seats, and garbage that falls out simultaneously as kids pour out the sliding automatic door. My next read turned out to be what inspired this post. It was titled Find Your Purpose in Life with This Simple To Do List, by Martha Beck, (article linked here) and the gist was basically that in order to better focus your limited time here on Earth, work through three exercises to help guide you to what makes you happiest. I won’t detail the entire three-part exercise here (read the article) but I will share that the first question was essentially: What are your life’s goals? The distinction though, was to answer through the lens of the following:

How have I made the world better for having lived in it? 

and

How am I better for having lived in the world? 

Pretty powerful, right? I spent the drive home pondering and found myself continuing to think about it for the rest of the week. I jotted down my answers in my bullet journal and found myself defining what my values truly are, for probably the first time in my life. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE AT MY AGE? Yet, here we are.

Since then, nothing has been spared scrutiny. More than anything though, I’ve found that I’m so much more calm and at peace. I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted and the cobwebs cleared from my mind. I felt similarly after I started reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up years ago.

Paired with something I’ve heard Paula Pant say on the Afford Anything podcast, “You can afford anything, but not everything,” I feel like a lightbulb has turned on in my brain. You also have TIME for anything, but not everything.

LIFE CHANGED I tell you. And what I think a lot of us need in order to focus on what really matters to us is less of all the other junk that distracts us from what truly matters to us. Less TV. Less clothing. Fewer obligations. And so on. These are just a few that I’ve uncovered for myself. Yours will likely be quite different, but I can’t express how much happier I’ve felt since this new mantra of: Simplify has entered my life.

 

Caroline at 18 Months

19 Mar
close up of illuminated christmas tree and a baby

Photo by J carter on Pexels.com

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself lingering in the nursery glider with Caroline sweetly snoozing in my arms. I know I’m setting us back in terms of sleep training (which we entirely neglected until recently, since C was popping 4 molars simultaneously), but I know from her sudden burst of vocalization that our “baby” days are numbered. I know, I KNOW — she’s nearly 18-months; she’s been out of her baby phase for a while now, but I just mean that I know her snuggly, sweet, “mama is my everything,” phase will soon be displaced by even more advanced motor development and language and I want to just drink everything she is RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT.

I remember writing something similar right around this time for Emilia; that from 12-18 months might just be my absolute favorite time with her. Each and every day with Caroline, I’m reminded why I love this period so very much. Her sense of humor comes out more and more every day.

One of my favorite little Caroline-isms lately is the devilish look of cognizance in her eyes when I tell her not to do something. She’s usually on the tippiest tip of her tippy toe, standing on a chair, trying to reach whatever she’s set her sight on. I’m usually stifling laughter and will say with mock seriousness: Caaaaroliiiiine. This prompts her to look over her shoulder audaciously. But the truth is, I should really take her physical ability and fearlessness a little more seriously.

I try very hard to limit my use of the word “No” with both children. I try to reserve it for instances when “No” or “don’t do that” are crucial — like running into the street, or hitting. But with Caroline, I find her antics funny and often joke, “No.” My approach with her versus Emilia really proves how much more laid back (and lenient) some parents are with second children. I wonder  if my casualness makes for a more curious and fearless child.

Anyways, just wanted to commit some of my favorite memories to a post before too much more time passes.

Love you so much, sweet girl.