Friday, June 14, 2013

Luke & Darth Do Father's Day

 Using the force to make his dad feel good.

(If you're viewing this via an aggregator you'll need to click directly to my blog to see the video, which is WELL worth it)

Monday, June 10, 2013

In Which Sheila Learns A Thing Or Two

 About my garden, I mean. Not about life in general. Not sure I have any tips for life in general; whenever I get one something comes along to change it.
Anyhow, I have discovered a few excellent gardening tips that I plan on sharing with you. Or inflicting on you, depending upon your point of view.

First off: witness the lettuce under this hoop-thingie. This is happy lettuce. It has no intentions of bolting any time soon, something lettuce likes to do once the heat comes along. It loses interest in being a plain head or delicate ruffly leaflet and decides to turn into a great green pole of bitterness that no one, not even the chickens, will eat.

I have three lots of lettuce scattered around the garden, all under that green stuff. It is protecting them from the heat. And what IS that green stuff, you ask? Well, I'll tell you: it's shade fabric. I think shade fabric is my new favourite Garden Item. I've got it covering a large bed of lettuce in the hottest part of my garden and there is no bolting action of any sort going on.

Next up: the concept of a label might be old hat to you, but this year it's brought me nothing but unbridled joy. Not a single tomato has been lost to the God of Unlabelled Tomatoes thanks to my handy roll of masking tape and my little Sharpie.

The large labels are there because this year I decided that 114 tomato plants was too many, even for me, so I sold some of them. Staggering around in a boiling hot hoop house is easier if you know what you're staggering towards, right?

Artichokes do best when fertilized. See that child? See that artichoke?

Enough said, methinks.

Here's a tip for those of you who are adding large structures to your garden: get someone who is good at the actual mechanics of it all to do the work for you. Do not, repeat, do not do it yourself. You will regret it. You will not, however, regret begging your mechanical expert to do it, because it will look fabulous from every view.

Look at that lovely smooth expanse of soil. Those evenly placed concrete blocks. Those trenches.

That well-raked expanse of 1/2" gravel. Those 4 by 4s. That bucket hiding what will one day be an electrical conduit.

It makes up for all the strawberries I had to turf to make room for all that gravel and wood and sod.

Speaking of which, it's strawberry season!

Let's end on a high note: gratuitous shots of roses. This is a good year for roses.

This is the fruity and very beguiling Crown Princess Margareta. It's impossible to walk by without stuffing one's nose deep into the flowers.

This is Westerland. Right now there are over 200 blooms on this rose. It's kind of alarming how vigorous this rose is.

Westerland against the blue blue sky.

 Here is Golden Celebration, a larger, softer but no less fragrant rose.

Not pictured but just as fabulous: Evelyn, Wollerton Old Hall, pink Peace, Sheila's Perfume, Granada, Tahitian Sunset, and another that I haven't managed to ID yet. I am combing the back catalogue of David Austin's but have yet to get a fix on this rose. One day...

 So, what's your garden tip?

The Tonys & Team Neil

Did you watch the Tonys? Or were you like me, forgetting until it was too late but scouring the internet for the opening number? I caught this on another site and so far I've watched it three times. The amazingness that is Neil Patrick Harris is nothing short of, well, amazing.

Sit back, click play, and see for yourself why he's the greatest host EVAH...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Mother Earth News Fair

This is where I was all weekend. Have you ever been to this sort of event? I hadn't. I only went because a friend asked me to go with her, and it looked kind of intriguing. I didn't look very closely at the program guide until I got there, and I was astounded to see the list of keynote speakers. People like Albert Bates from The Farm (, Barbara Damrosch, Joel Salatin, and our own local Linda Gilkeson. Heck, even Ed Begley Jr. was there.

A few people rolled their eyes when I was recounting some of the things I'd seen there (wacky survivalists, composting toilets, dread-locked hair to the floor) and asked why I'd gone. Yes, there were some crazy people there, but sitting through rounds of talks on healing plants, the history of the apple (more gripping than you might imagine), rebuilding food economies, practical permaculture techniques (I finally understand what permaculture is), and the value of fermented foods was incredibly inspiring.

Plus, where else am I going to get a badge that says WHO IS YOUR FARMER? to wear on my purse, or PESTICIDES SUCK! stickers to post all over my front door?

Why, at the Mother Earth News Fair, of course. Of course.