Thursday, July 16, 2009


If there ever was a curse word in the gardening dictionary it is definitely PESTS!! or more specific in my case the dreaded Caterpillar or cutworm

My earlier blog stated that pest were less likely in the straw bale garden, and this is true! The bales themselves have resisted pest's. The only problem I am having is with the inner rectangle of the straw bale structure I set up. The caterpillars (cutworms) are loving my cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower leaves...I'm not sure if that is because I did the "NO-DIG" or "LASAGNA " style garden in the center. My only theory on that is because the Lasagna style garden I did next to the Straw bale garden is also being ate up by the little monsters. Really! they are little monsters of the most horrid kind. Think about put your heart and soul into the harvest--you tend it diligently with great pride and joy ...and just when you think it's smooth sailing from here on out...BAM! you stare in utter horror upon your prized Brussels spout plant and it's ravished body! lol...maybe somewhat dramatic right? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.................overnight I have become a happily obliging murderer......well? if looks could kill I would have succeeded 100% in removing the problem. And if hateful thoughts would kill; again 100% eradication rate. Instead I have taken the matter into my hand literally and came up with a concoction of old wish tales and my own devices thus creating a dish soap/garlic cloves mixture to spray on the plants after I water. I will keep you updated!

I'm a huge Barbra Kingsolver fan!! So imagine my surprise when I learned she had a book out about living off her own land for a year...whatever they raised, grew or got from their local farmers market.... great stories along with a closer look at how OUR nations food is raised,grown, transported etc.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


As I said in the last blog "green is not my favorite color"'s quickly becoming a runner up for first (red is my favorite). Green and I should say pale yellow (as in straw) are in a close race.

Why? well...I have come to realize that in just a short time, my kinda sorta like; has become a LOVE scenario........Love, love, love straw bale gardening. Not only are my veggies doing double duty, as in growing at twice the usual rate; not a weed in sight other than the expected trim I have to do because of the bales themselves sprouting. (but that just means you are doing everything right) So it's kinda a pat on the back that you actually achieved the perfect scenario for your plants to thrive. after all the bales sprouting up themselves means you have seasoned, watered, and maintained the perfect environment for the bales to grow. (therefore anything you stick in them grows too).

All together this is about the third week of this process. The first week I spent (after a little research) laying down the black plastic, and arranging my bales to the configuration I thought would work best for me. After that I spent the time seasoning the bales with the Miracle grow, blood meal, manure and topsoil...(I also did the center so it was more time consuming as opposed to just doing the bales themselves) In the center I did the Lasagna technique as explained in the last straw bale gardening blog.

In the last blog I really didn't list what I here it goes....

1)Broccoli plants- 2 per bale is ideal-just dig, hatch, cut into the bales (sometimes they pull apart easily and you can just gently push the plant root down into the bale and close it kinda like a book) and sometimes you don't find that divide in the bale so easily and you have to cut and remove some straw. You can fill in the space with a mixture of topsoil, manure. Some books I have read suggest cutting a piece of carpet out and putting it around the stem of your plants to prevent a certain type of worm and their far I just cut out the bottoms of Styron foam cups and ripped it to the near center, put it around the base of the plant then push it back together to form a barrier..(so far, so good) also with bale gardening one perk is Less pest!!!!! so you may not even have that worry at all.

2)Cabbage plants- I did 2 per bale. However considering how large they get, perhaps just one is ideal. I couldn't bring myself to give up an entire bale to one plant; I may pay in the future for that..So far the 2 in the bale has not been a problem and they are thriving very well.

3) Lettuce plants- I did 3 per bale-again, that's pushing it. 2 plants is plenty if you are doing HEADS of lettuce. Otherwise the salad greens types are fine..The more the merrier, and you can continue throughout the season (colder) planting and replanting lettuce.

4) Green beans Seeds- I covered one entire bale with blood meal, manure, top soil and planted approx 12 seeds of green beans-They have already sprouted are are doing great. If you decide to do seed, just push them in enough to kinda lodge in the top of the bale and cover lightly with soil.

5) Pepper Plants- I planted 2/3 per bale..All different types of pepper plants. Make sure you dirt up as your plants grow. This will help support the plants as they get taller.

6) zucchini seed- I covered an entire bale with seed thinking that it might not take off...YES they did take off and now I am going to have zucchini as far as the eyes can see!!! LOL oh well, live and learn and I can also remove a few...I intend to help the vines outwards toward the yard so that they don't overtake my center area of the straw garden.

7) Cauliflower plants- 1 to 2 per bale. I only did one per bale because of the size and then added some greens seed to the other side so not to waste the space..I will have lots and lots of lettuce.

8) Tomato plants- I have Cherry's, big mommas (I think) and two other kind I don't quite remember at the moment. I plan to stake them directly through the bales. Also check out my upside down tomato plants..they are doing even better than the straw garden ones. Manure I find is the key to tomato's....

9) Brussels sprout plants- 2 to 3 per bale. Make sure to dirt up as the plant grows to help support its heavy load of sprouts once it starts producing.

10) The center area is planted Lasagna style. I planted strawberries on the far side and left lots of room for their runners. I also planted Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, and sweet peas (Rocco's favorite) in the big tractor tire (we found in a ditch) Also I decided I love the no dig Lasagna style gardening too. So I took cinder blocks and created a Lasagna style garden. First I made my rectangle with the blocks 6 blocks long, and 4 blocks wide. Next I took cardboard paper (3rolls) and layered the inside bottom, then added my compost from my compost bin, manure, topsoil, blood meal. Make sure you wet the cardboard paper well before putting on your layers of other matter. My herbs were planted on the edge inside the cinder block holes and I planted onions, lettuce, celery, spinach, asparagus, radishes; which, all of the seeds are already sprouting and I need to thin them..check out the pics

11) In the Styrofoam container- I pushed holes in the bottom of the Styrofoam cooler (recycling) and added topsoil, manure..then I threw in carrot seeds. I will have thin them out because they really took root and all are growing.

See?..............I drive around and see people just now tilling up their plots. They haven't even started to plant yet because it still gets cold at night. It's amazing how early you can start to garden when you use bales. The Lasanga style allows you to plant immediately because you dont have to wait for all the compost break down. So you can take any space on your lawn and instantly turn it into a veggie paradise.........Hope you enjoyed this blog and it was imformative.

(Be sure to check out "My complete profile" for ChewyChewsNews-a family oriented second blog-Also YOU readers feel free to leave COMMENTS!!!! good or bad; I can take it)


Wednesday, May 6, 2009



Green-not my favorite color!
Green-proven that if you pick that color for a car your SMART (proven? really?)
Green-became an enemy, when I became a Golf widow (used to have an overwhelming urge when traveling on the highway and seen a particular golf course; to throw a exploding projectile onto the 18th green and snicker devilishly as I imagined all sorts of plaid clothing fly into the sky in a cloud of smoke he..he...he ...exclaiming FOUR!!!!!!!!! (ahem! sorry, got carried away) Geez...where would I get an exploding projectile. Hey! where would I get an exploding projectile? LOL..just kidding......or am I....
Green-makes the world go round-that's why I'm stuck in the vortex never quite spinning with the rest of the world...No green!

Green-A project (experiment really) I'm trying.......called Straw Bale gardening--

I have found there isn't much information out there about straw bale gardening. When you do find information there aren't many pictures of the process. So I decided that I would teach myself through trial and error and see what becomes of it. I don't claim to have a green thumb, and my only success story previously is that I have a few house plants that are still alive and thriving. I tried a traditional garden last year and was overwhelmed with weeds. I didn't see any fruit of my hard labor and that almost did me in on gardening. Most articles I read about Straw bale gardening seem to market the idea to those that can't bend much (like the elderly) or those that live in apartments, or don't have the yard space. All of those reasons are good ones of course but I decided to try it because it seem out of the normal realm of gardening; that appealed to me.

1) Get a few straw bales and set them up anyway you like-be creative-(make sure the twine around the bale isn't touching the ground) I put a sheet of black plastic down first because the bales need lots of water and the plastic helps retain water. plus, if you decided ( I did) to use the bales for a border and plant Lasagna style in the center (more about that later) then you will need to layer the center up (more later) and plastic is the first layer.

2) after you have set the bales up on the plastic-soak them everyday for 3-4 days. The other articles I read suggested using ammonium nitrate to soak the bales (but it is not found easily in USA) regulated etc...I had no luck finding I experimented and soaked the bales with Miracle grow once. (really soaked each bale; you need a good nitrogen soak up)

3) The next day I covered the tops of the bales with blood meal, then manure, top soil.

4) Give your bales time to cool down, and start planting about four days after the Miracle grow. Plant- 2 plants per bale(just dig, cut or wedge down into the bale). If you do seeds (pushing them just barely into the bale) cover them with a thin layer of top soil and thin them out over time as they begin to sprout.

5) water often-straw bales require more water than traditional gardens.

6) Experiment-I can only offer the results thus far with my own straw bale experiment. I think I have already become obsessed. I have better results in the first week and a half than any other type of gardening I've tried. I also bent the rules a bit when planting. Because you get less area to plant, I decided to put a few plants like vining ones in between the bales at the bottom so that they grow out and into the yard. This way giving myself more available planting spaces...also I planted inside my rectangular shape. I decided in this area to try Lasagna gardening which is another alternative gardening style to the traditional dug garden.

The process of the center area of my garden is Lasagna style.

1) first we already laid the plastic.

2) cardboard or cardboard paper or newspaper.

3) top soil, blood meal, manure, compost--mix it into each other with a hoe etc...

4) loose straw

5) take the plant with a handful of topsoil and push it into the straw, firming it into the compact soil, and bringing the straw in close around that plant.

6) water, water, water.

Both of these techniques have saved me tons of time. I am a mom of four, and I don't have time to dig and weed. These techniques work great and my plants are doing wonderful!!


Friday, May 1, 2009


I said I was a pessimistic....that does not mean a complainer!

But I have a few bones to chew; about some obvious (should be) things..

This past earth day I happened to catch Oprah and Ellen doing a wonderful show about exactly that..THE EARTH and it was a lot to do about how WE as people are wasting, polluting, and leaving our footprints all over this beautiful globe.
I agree! However instead of making us feel bad for the stupidity that is the human race and sign off with that...what about solutions??? yes they suggest each and everyone of us take responsibility for ourselves; ok, agreed..BUT..and here is the big BUT...what about the damage we have already incurred because of our ignorance or just plain bad habits????

Oprah goes to LA and shows Americans biggest landfill that is approx. 200ft deep with just a portion of LA residents......and as they are filming trucks are DUMPING more garbage...what to do?????

I have an easy solution...and all you PC people out there cover your eyes.....An easy out here it comes............Have all the non violent inmates, in all the fifty two states out there cleaning up the devastation! What a solution...Instead of these loafers sitting around in Recliners, watching plasma TVs and smoking cigarettes...and instituting new fashion trends that our obviously impressionable wealthy, young white America can't resist ..(ya know! cause it be cool to be in prison) instead....give them a chore, a punishment, a purpose...wait oh wait! I forgot they already get the best of the best education in prison, health care is taken care of, three square meals a day, and even a free shrink is available to talk about their feelings, they might even write a best seller...Heck, I think they are living better than the average Free American in this country.

So I say take the two problems and create the solution. All you Politically correct people out there that say but wait...they have rights! etc..etc....A hard days work never hurt anyone did it?'s better than working on a chain gang isn't it? remember the good ole days??? when the criminal paid for his crimes big/small and didn't think of prison as a resort!

Killing two birds with one stone? Just think of the manpower...all of the non violent inmates in all the states, filling up the system...We could have these dumps cleaned up in no time!

Makes you wonder if the powers that be really want a solution...or is all this Earth day stuff just another money maker.....if you never solve the problem..more money will most assuredly be needed to continue research, progress etc...sometimes it's that easy.



Monday, April 20, 2009



I would say I'm a overall pessimistic person (I like it that way!) .
My husband? well, he's an overall optimistic person...(really irritates me!) .
So to say I give people the benefit of the doubt is usually not the case. But, I being of the generally well meaning human race (yea..right!) <---see there I go again; can suck it up with the best of them. Behind my coolly masked thoughts of doubt- can&Do smile without raising an eyebrow.

But---It's so difficult sometimes to smile in the face of adversity (my adversity: A rather hard looking woman- ya know? the kind that life slowly sucked from her, every fiber of a redeeming quality not only in looks but personality? (sighs) Anyhow......So let me set the scenario:

It's my oldest sons first prom (Gushing with excitement!!) So yea...SORRY!...I'm a dangerous combination of proud Momma/Prom Novice! Well...he has been fluctuating for weeks on the Mood of his "relationship" as to weather he is even going to the forward to today...MOTHER TERESA!!!...finally in text format he informs me he IS going to the prom this Saturday and because of his busy schedule of Girlfriend,sports, friends, texting, texting,texting, texting he needs to go today..URGENT!!!! the only time he can possibly squeeze me in to drive,pay, and order flowers for HIS girlfriend is exactly 3:15 when his beautiful face exits the bus and resumes to honor me with his presence.

So...I smile as I often do (without an eyebrow arch) agree to his demands and begin rearranging my schedule...Here it goes...

1) Call and get directions to the place .

2) Multi-tasking-Tell Rocco ( baby) to stop dripping chocolate milk from his sippy cup onto the linoleum in dot to dot like pictures/ yes..uh huh..on main st? -same time still getting directions.

3) 11 yr old daughter(Isabella) is screaming about slipping in the chocolate milk and isn't going because she can't find a new pair of socks that match/slams her bedroom door.

4) Me screaming throughout the house to whoever is listening that we have to get there before four .

5) My second oldest son (Nicholas) reminding me that he has a soccer game tonight .

6) My baby-Rocco pulling at my shirt hem exclaiming that he wants to go to Nicky's' soccer game/ while the evil sippy cup that is on it's last leg (teeth marks and all) is dripping onto my shirt!

7) closing my eyes for a fraction of a second and pray for MORE rain!!!!!!!!!!

8) All the kids except baby Rocco start to argue about who's schedule is more important and why the others is LAME!!!!!!

9) Rocco still votes for Nicky's Soccer! running in circles around the house yelling " I love soccer" " I love soccer" over and over and over.............

10) My husband call and in his ever so optimistic voice says "hello, honey!".

11) I growl (perfectly natural response) and say " Hello? My ASS!"

Fast forward:

So the crew and I jump in the van, and thank GOD it's raining..because by the time everyone has claimed front, back right, a discussion over who got stuck in the back last time (with my son Nicholas winning the back right by reminding us that he gets car SICK if stuck in the very back) and the ever frustrating car seat! we have diplomatically, if not by pecking order decided who sits where. Now my backside is soaking wet (thanks to the horrid contraption called a car seat) my hair is deflated, and I forgot my shirt was spotted with chocolate milk..never the less, we are on the road...oh yea...the question I dread to ask "did anyone lock the door?" because either its a blissful "yes" or it's a knock down drag out argument about who was last out the door...of course it was the latter.......

Getting to the point:

We arrive at the ever so fancy Tux shop....and it's turns out to be a high end clothing , bags, jewelry store with a tuxedo business to the back. Yippy!... So I inform all occupants the standard "don't touch anything" rule and mind your manners mixed with a bit of idle threats to end the little powwow.

We enter and the troops are amazingly stuck to my sides. I think the sheer wow factor of the place has stunned and mystified them. So we linger abit and I try to get a feel for the place...I can tell already that it's going to be expensive. Finally a little mousy looking woman ask if she can help us.....I inform her that we need a tux for this young man (I'm beaming) and Alexander is cringing :) We are no sooner walked over to a table before a Cruella Devil look alike on a good day comes whipping past and drops a huge book in front of us without saying a word and disappears. So Alexander and I stare dumbfounded for a moment but take the two seats at the table and begin to scan the pages. Rocco is removing all the take home booklets from the display table and one by one dropping them under the table all the while looking around guiltily. Isabella is bringing very expensive items over to me asking if she can get them. Nicholas is checking out a shy looking girl sitting by the dressing rooms. Anyhow..... The Devil twin returns and without looking at us (which is good because we may just very well been turned to stone) takes out a notepad and starts asking us general questions. One was what date will we need this.....Here's me...clearing my throat readying myself to disclose the words I know will send her into a tizzy;April 25th....Then she LOOKED at me!!! my son who is usually oblivious to anything but admiration for himself was looking at me like you POOR, POOR woman... Ahem!! just a reminder Alexander....This is your fault!!!! Well....the date I gave her didn't sit well but of course for a price it can be express delivered...OF COURSE!!! and hey...I don't mind eating the cost due to my lack of PROM knowledge......I'm a prom Novice, and didn't realize that you need to order a tux two weeks prior to event...Geez!! (everybody but me knows that) After that shocker, the lady resumed her speed of light work and before we knew it she had yanked the one book from our grasp and dropped from the heavens it seemed considering the thud a more e-c-o-n-o-m-i-c-a-l portfolio of tuxes for our choosing....I mean Geez! glass of champagne for me? Heck, I almost asked if they had a bottle of Vodka...ya know...mother's little helper-

By this time I decided I didn't like her attitude and my son kicked my shoe under the table and with his eyes pleaded with me NO!!!!...because he knows my temper! We have a saying in our family that you don't mess with the Lioness or her Cubs....exactly!...I might have been wearing my MOM jeans but I have boots with KIck your Ass all over them.....That certain moment, that snap, that face contortion I kids know it well...and it has never failed to rear it's ugly head at just the right moment. But...I decided I was not going to let this lady get to me..I mean after all I have four kids with me, and I'm wearing my MOM jeans...and my confidence isn't exactly at it's highest peek with chocolate milk and deflated hair screaming <-----------she's a housewife!!!!!!!!!! and this lady was obviously born before Christ, well-to-do (husband or multiple husbands), and has nothing else to do besides WORK to feel important? empowered? needed?

If you hate your job; quit!

Nothing like asking the check out clerk " how are you today?" only to hear " Tired, and ready to get out of here!!! <-----can you say AWKWARD

PS: What really irritated me about the whole tux scenario is at the very end....

While my son the whole time was fluctuating between feeling sorry for me, being afraid of what I might do, and cringing, and being dumbfounded by this woman's hostility...well, it took that first time experience that you NEVER have again and tarnished it just a little. And bless his soul at the very end after I paid and before leaving the counter he said "thank you" and the lady didn't respond being the ever so trusting kid that he is, I could see it in his face that he didn't think she heard him so he said as we were walking toward the door, and a chin over his shoulder "thank you" ...smiling that great smile of his, and that glint in his eye...guess what? Cruella didn't even look up, or respond once.

The Moral: Throw a Kid a bone..why don't cha???

If the lady is tainted to teenagers because of her line of work, and I'm sure she deals with many smart mouthed, know it all punks...but if your tainted and you see a glimmer of hope (ie: my son) the least you could do is say "Thank you"