Thursday, December 11, 2014

Content theft notice

If you are reading this post on the Texas Outdoorsmen website, blog or Facebook page, I'm notifying you that I have not given them permission to repost my copyrighted content, articles or photos on their blog OR Facebook page.

I have made an attempts to reach owners of this site to request termination of the "scraping of content" (i.e. theft)  from my blog but have not heard from them at this date.

It seems that they are stealing content from many garden sites, and legal action will be taken if this continues.

Bobbi A. Chukran
Editor and Owner,
Earthly Gardener

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Feeding the Winter Birds

Great tips for where (and where not) to put bird feeders in the winter.  We feed a lot of birds here during the winter, and I was glad to see some good advice on this topic.

"Birdies? Did you say birdies?" Sorry Missy, birdies are just to watch out the window.

Happy holidays, all!

bobbi c.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

What am I doing in the garden now?

Dear friends,

I guess the question should be, what am I NOT doing in the garden now. We've had a bout of cold weather, cold enough to kill off the larger-than-ever basil plants, and then warmer weather, with huge fierce, blustery winds that make me shriek "Auntie Em! Auntie Em! It's a twister!"

I never could stand brisk wind.

However, the wind did help us harvest an amazing crop of pecans this year. We have two ancient pecan trees in our back yard, and so far we've collected a five-gallon bucket.  That's just a fraction of the amount laying on the ground, waiting to be picked up.

In spite of the short freeze, the rosemary is very happy and blooming now--and is attracting tons of honey bees. We do love those bees around here!

Honeybees on Rosemary in November
Luckily, Husband harvested most of the basil before the freeze, and the house smelled like THAT for days. Don't get me wrong--I love basil, but can't eat or smell lots of it at once without getting a headache. He's a great kitchen helper, and whirred the leaves with olive oil and froze them for future use in pestos, etc. And I'm drying some for my Super Secret Italian Mix.

Sweet Marjoram
 The sweet marjoram is growing happily in a large galvanized tub, away from the regular oregano since they tend to cross somehow and end up all tasting the same.  I use small amounts of it in the afore-mentioned Secret Mix and it really makes a difference.

Since we have tons of fresh evergreen rosemary year-round here, I don't rush to harvest it before a freeze. I try to wait until after it blooms, though, but it's not really necessary.  It seems to taste the same, but I like to leave the flowers for the bees. Did I mention we love bees? ;-)

In a former garden in the Texas Hill Country, I grew rosemary as a border around other areas and it did fine on the solid limestone underneath. In my current garden, on the Blackland Prairie soil east of Austin, the bushes grew twice as large in the first two years. Gotta love having "real" dirt!

I do dry some, though, because the flavor is different from the fresh rosemary. A teeny bit of it also goes into the Secret Mix.

As soon as this wind dies down, and I've pulled the bush-that-was-my-hair out of my face, I'll take more photos.

In the meantime, if you have a harvest of your own, check out the short article on How to Dry Herbs in Your Microwave. Bottle some up and give as holiday gifts. People love homegrown mixes!

And if  you're feeling creative, here's how to make a rosemary topiary, from Susan Wittig Albert's Pecan Springs Journal blog.

Happy digging,

bobbi c.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cooler weather, fall is here!

Dear friends,

I know I've been a bit lax at updating this blog but have been busy with the "money-making" activities, AKA work. LOL. I have a new annual Thanksgiving short e-story out, Death at Do-Lolly's Diner, in addition to the two previous ones and am working on a Christmas comedy based on one of my prize-winning plays. More news soon about that.

I also got news that one of my non-fiction stories/essays will be published in the SEEDS newsletter from Texas Gardener magazine, later in November. It's been years since I wrote for TG, and am pleased to be able to contribute there again.  I'll post the date when it's confirmed.

But for now, I thought I'd share some fall and Thanksgiving photos with you. Just because. :-)

A volunteer sunflower
Crossvine blooming and the hummingbirds love it!

A strange but beautiful pumpkin we picked up at a fall stand near San Angelo, Texas

A Halloween/fall centerpiece

Late fall garden harvest

A photo from the punkin patch in Salado, Texas

Goldenrod's blooming and the butterflies love it! Right outside my office window.

And more pumpkins.

 Happy fall, y'all!

bobbi c.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fond farewell to Ginger Snap. . .

Husband and I had to finally say goodbye to our oldest cat, Ginger Snap Ann, AKA "Granny Cat." She wasn't always the easiest cat to live with, she frequently fought with our other indoor cats, but we loved her, just the same.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Big Reveal! Final Photos of Exterior House Painting

A year after starting on the painting project, Husband Rudy has finished the last touches on our 1930s Texas farmhouse style bungalow/cottage.

Three years ago, I stood in front of the house and gazed at it. Back then, it was white with very dark green shutters, so dark they looked black at times.

This morning, standing out in the blazing heat, he took some photos of the final result:

We decided not to add all of the old awnings back on, but did put them on the southwest side  to block sun, and on the north front to block the street lamp at night. The front awnings are the original antique pine that were on the house over 80-years ago, and the long one is a metal model that was added in the 60s.

Next project? A new metal roof and decorative fencing.

bobbi c.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Progress on the old house---awnings!

Dear friends,

While I was inside, in the cool air-conditioned house, working on my new novella, Husband Rudy has been slaving away out in the heat on the painting project. He's still working on the awnings, being very meticulous about getting the stripes just right. We're using the original wooden ones that came with the house, made of antique pine and many of them are still in really good shape.

Here's a finished one, ready to be installed. After a really good wash with a pressure washer, Rudy used a paint sprayer on the green body, and did the yellow by hand.

1930s wooden awning

On some of the windows, we had more "modern" awnings, made of aluminum in the 1950s. LOL. Most of these we won't be using on this house, but did have to replace a few of them over some very hot south-facing windows.  Thing is, they went over three windows, making the awning very loooong.

So, now the question was, where to put the stripes on it? One thing I've done over the years is to "try out" colors using a photo and computer software. I love Photoshop Elements and use it for everything, home stuff and business stuff like business cards, flyers, ads, book covers, etc.

I converted the photo to black and white and printed it out after playing around with virtual buckets of paint in various arrangements. I came up with one I liked, that was balanced, and printed out the b/w photo for Husband to look at. I did the same thing with the backside of the house, on the body colors.

It's a really bad photo, but that doesn't matter. I'm not entering any art contests here--it's just a guide for him to look at as he's painting. These were two large awnings joined together to span four huge windows, so we needed a larger stripe in the middle. These are set at the back/side of the house, and will be partially hidden by trees.

Notice some of our dead grass has a few green sprouts now. LOL.

Installation is coming very soon!

Hope you're enjoying this little journey through our remodeling efforts. There's more to come (always, unfortunately). :-)

Happy trails,

bobbi c.