Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August Meanderings

 This is a container FDPG made up a couple of weeks ago for her 4-H Container Garden project. Right after she planted these lettuce and basil starts she left it on the deck. Where Puff the Lettuce Eating Rabbit happened to be lurking. FDPG didn't think Puff the Lettuce Eating Rabbit would notice this container. I tried to convince her that Puff would most certainly notice that container, and that in fact she was probably lying in wait, but FDPG was having none of that. "She's too busy trying not to fall off the deck!" she chortled.

(No rabbits fell off any decks during the planting of this post)

When we came out to have dinner, the lettuce starts were looking sorry. Very sorry. They were practically Former Lettuce Starts. Puff had evidently taken time out from her Not Falling Off The Deck activities to cement her reputation as a Lettuce Eater. FDPG didn't show any sorrow for the demise of her lettuce; in fact, she was thrilled. "That Puff! She is SUCH a monkey!" she said affectionately, squeezing Puff and ruffling her fur. Puff looked, dare I say it, quite smug.

Would that I could evince such delight when I see deer in my garden. I won't tell you what I DO think, though, because I'm not usually a Cougar Annie kind of gal (Deer Sheila doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?).

 Some of us had a birthday this month. Two of us, in fact.

This is the card I made for FDPG. It combines her two passions: Angry Birds and Harry Potter.

Did you know that you can download the Angry Birds font free? I was inordinately thrilled to discover this. I might even have shouted this astounding discovery out loud to Richard (who was less than thrilled, sadly).

Now I not only have the Hogwarts Wizard font, I have the Angry Birds font as well. Oddly (and rather disturbingly), it's called Feast of Flesh, which I can only hope is mistranslated from the Finnish the way my Chinese grocer in Vancouver sold Big Bother apples and Super Parsley.
After the birthday celebrations we went away to our favourite beach. Here is FDPG in a kayak. And no, she is not wearing a life jacket.

Remiss of us, I know, but rest assured: it was very shallow water.

That's Dominic in the background.
Yes, he is wearing a mask. He likes to fall over the edge and do some impromptu snorkeling when the mood strikes.

Needless to say, the kayaks ran low to the water with all that water in them.


Here is FDPG snorkeling around a person lying on a floatie. Richard and I watched, initially perplexed, as she sidled, dived, and eventually edged nearer and nearer, breathing heavily through her snorkel the entire time. And I do mean heavily. We could hear her from the shore. She sounded like Darth Vader. She went under the floatie. She went around the floatie. She finally popped up and hovered, right next to the floatie, whooshing noisy gasps of air through her snorkel. She was unabashedly staring. It was then that I started taking photos. When I wasn't laughing unrestrainedly with Richard from the shore. What we couldn't figure out was how the woman could not have noticed this annoying child FDPG. Finally her head lifted and she regarded FDPG for a minute or two. They appeared to exchange words. FDPG snorkeled off. When she came ashore we asked her what she'd been doing. And if she knew what Snorkel Harassment was.

"I was using the floatie as a marker to dive under," she said. "It was really fun. I knew the person wouldn't notice because she was drinking a can of vodka and wearing ear buds."

It was in actuality a can of beer. We used binoculars to settle the argument, because FDPG insisted that it was vodka, despite the fact that she doesn't know her beer from her brandy.

Here she is with Richard, sailing.

And no, those white spots are not whitecaps, as FDPG would have you believe.

They are sea birds.

Trust me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Containers of FDPG

FDPG's homemade hypertufa
Today FDPG and I did a photo shoot of all her container gardens, in preparation for her 4H record book work, and despite the weird summer we've had so far they didn't look too bad. Thank goodness none of her containers feature the Solanaceae family in any starring role, because our tomatoes and peppers are not faring well this summer.

The worst bit was when we were uploading the photos on iTunes and I accidentally clicked on a photo of some Tigerellas from last year. Dripping with fruit, they were. It was enough to make me slightly maudlin, especially the photo of the scarlet runners draping over the lemon arbour. They were indecently rampant with blooms and beans. I was affronted, to be perfectly honest. They are not being indecent in the least this year. There's far too much self-restraint going on out there.

 This pot thankfully has no idea that it's in the middle of a terrible summer. One side are the marigolds we grew from 2 year old seed (they reverted to a giant marigold I've never seen before but prefer in many ways because of their bushiness) and on the other are three cucumber plants with lovely lush leaves and perfectly formed cucumbers all along the length of the vines. I'm using driftwood to guide the vines. So far so good: aesthetically pleasing AND practical.

 This shot was taken for the frontispiece of her 4H record book. She's added captions and titles and it looks quite charming. I like the fact that my trusty old watering can has a happy new life as a kale slash basil planter.

FDPG's old fishy watering can is hosting a marigold with Amazonian ambitions.Vigorous, those marigolds.

That gray trough on the right is another hypertufa creation. I'm rather attached to all this hypertufa: it weathers well and doesn't require as much water as I thought it would. Plus the herbs love growing in it.
 See - now this is yet another indication that our summer is weird: we still have sweet peas blooming. August and the sweet peas are as fresh as if it were June.

Nuts, this weather is.

(I know, I know, I'm starting to sound like Yoda. If only I were as prescient as he was and I could figure out what the hell happened to my miserable tomatoes)
 On the other hand, we've discovered a new fascination with the humble zinnia. Look at this one: I dropped a large pot of unhappy tomatoes on them and they didn't even blink. Now that's what I call a workhorse of a plant.

In the background is some comfrey, which I've chopped down three times so far this summer, to make some Super Powerful Super Cheap Super Stinky Fertilizer Tea. I got this idea from Mark Diacono's charming Veg Patch. He warned me that it would emit an odor like nothing I've ever smelled before. Sadly he was right. Truly awful, it is.

The jury is out as to whether it works better than fish fertilizer but I'm enough of a skinflint to take a chance on it.

 Another oddity is this lemon verbena, which is happy as a clam. I've chopped it down four times and look - rampant as all get out. Not quite indecent yet, but I'm okay with that.

 Our container zucchini is doing its best to, err, perform. I can see a certain indecency in all that growth, can't you?

We've had 10 zucchinis off the two plants in this oak barrel. The variety is Astia, by Renee's Garden. It's a quick maturing plant.

I won't say anything about the wilting Yellow Pear tomato, though.

Nothing at all.

Nope. Not a word.

Finally, a charmingly crooked metal bucket, full of oregano, chives, and geraniums. It's keeping company with the Seckel pear which seems to have withstood the rust that doomed its friend the Louisebonne Pear a few years ago. Hopefully it heard me when I said I was not approving of pears that get rust regularly.

Sad but true, I am, I confess, not tolerant of rust-prone plants. I used to be, but no more. After moving the Louisebonne seven times in two years in a vain attempt to avoid rust only to discover that it also suffered from constant incomplete pollination (sounds like it needed an adult diaper, doesn't it?), I hurled it into the Weed Landfill at the end of the yard where it died over the winter, no doubt crushed by my lack of commitment.

So there you have it - FDPG's container garden saga. No Valkyries or one-eyed gods, but I did my best to liven it up a little. Funny what goes on when the summer drags a bit.