TOP NEWS STORY: Seeds Have Sprouted !
Today I intended to spend the day writing. Instead a took a peak at the seeds, thinking they might need a mist of water. Surprise, the seeds are up! Three days: a new record at my house for seed starting. For the skeptics I must share these two words: Holy Crap! That’s exactly what I said this morning when I checked my seeds.
Holy Crap, the Cherokee Purple’s are up!
See, heating the soil and adding Christmas Tree lights do work.
Holy Crap, the Brussels sprouts are up too!
Again, I must ask why in the world are you planting anything other than Botanical Interests Seeds?
Click the above link today, right now, and order something, anything.
Why are you fertilizing with anything other than Nelson’s Grow Best? I only soaked the seeds for about two minutes.
The proof is here.
If you’ve missed my other blogs you need to shred the newspapers.
Plant the seeds Dear Ones…plant the seeds.
Next week I might try sprouting The Garry Farm’s Zinnias. Oh I can’t wait.
P.S. please subscribe to my blog. You’ll receive an email each time I post something new and exciting. I promise, my “news” will never feature the Kardashians.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes. In 2012 she released Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. 2014 will see the release of In the Kitchen with Billy: Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She is currently working on her first novel. She would love to hear from you. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com
Many factors influenced our family decision to accept a foreign exchange student into our home: the desire to expose our daughter to someone from another country; and the hope of showing the student that Americans are great people.
Apparently, Americans aren’t well liked in France (or in other countries for that matter).
“When I was in high school I spent the summer in France,” my friend, Kelle said when I told her we were opening our home.
“Yeah, but that was when everyone liked American’s,” Gary interjected.
His comments gave me pause, and strengthened my resolve to provide the best darn example of life as an American. For those reading this in other countries, please do not judge all Americans based on what a few “stupid tourists” do, or the decisions politicians make. American’s are hard-working and just like you, trying to do the best we can with what we have.
Being a good example starts at home, literally. With my stepson’s room now empty, I filled the thumb tack holes, sanded the walls, and applied a thick coat of paint, then scrubbed and waxed the floor. Loosing count of the hours spent refurbishing the room, what mattered was providing a warm and cozy environment.
1 Week Before
The week before Lucie’s arrival, Mother Nature spikes a fever. Temperatures climb to 106 degrees. My lawn withers to dust. So much for making a good impression by having a lush green lawn, I return to the bedroom, clean the windows, remove the screens and give them a good scrubbing while making a mental note to clean the front porch. There is still a stack of firewood in the corner, and three bushel of October beans waiting.
I also realize Lucie’s room needs a dresser. I locate a suitable piece of furniture in the basement. There is plenty of time to refinish this, I thought. After lugging the piece onto the front porch and beginning the project, I quickly realize my limitations and drag the piece to the end of the driveway where I tape a FREE sign on the handle. I’ll use something else.
3 Days Before
I have made progress with the October beans. I now have one bushel. Taking the shelled beans upstairs where I lay them flat on the pool table, I instruct Jamie that in “no uncertain terms” should Lucie go upstairs in the “dump everything” zone.
Serious attempt at housecleaning begins.
2 Days Before
The beloved and I are sitting at the kitchen table, a table he built with his own hands years ago. As he runs his fingers across the dull finish, I read his thoughts.
“Go ahead; I know you want to re-finish the table.”
“Where’s the paint stripper?” is his reply.
Leaving him to his project, I work on the living room and realize that I live in the dirtiest house in America. Where did all of these teeny tiny spider webs come from?
1 Day to Go
I receive an email from Lucie. She is traveling from the West Coast of France. Her trip to the US will be a long one. She boards a train, travels for 9 hours, arrives in Paris and then waits for the plane to bring her to America.
I secretly hope we live up to her expectations.
It is on this day that the main heat pump decides to croak. My beloved. Genius. Fixer of all things believes he can repair it. Orders a part then returns to sanding the table (indoors) while I focus on scrubbing my teenager’s bathroom that she insists she has cleaned.
My fifteen-year-old has also cleaned her room. Translation: she has scooped up all of her clothing, dirty-or-not, and deposited it into the laundry room. I tell the 15 year-old to put down her iPod. She can shell beans and listen to music simultaneously.
“Learn to do two things at once!”
I am a bit on the edge.
After appointing her Chief bean-sheller, I brave my office. Quickly, becoming sidetracked by hand-written notes that, at the time of their creation, I knew their importance; I waste a solid hour googling people to figure out who they are and end up tossing most of the notes.
Shave dog…with dull shears. Photo says it all.
Eat dinner in living room on tailgate table we use at the football games. Realize how cool this eating arrangement is and accept that this may be how Lucie eats her first American meal.
11 pm: 1 Day to go
Beloved sands table and applies 2nd layer of varnish.
We are both too excited to sleep.
Day of Arrival
5 am: awake to the sound of beloved sanding table, then the fragrance of varnish.
Secretly haul copious amounts of trash to the church dumpster. Make mental note to increase offering this week.
Wipe down the walls, and wooden baseboard surfaces. More spiders in kitchen. Amazed that they survived the sanding process.
Mop floor. THREE TIMES.
Tie dog to banister. She is excitedly making every step I make, shedding short hair with each step.
Begin waxing wood floor. One glance at the clock is all it takes for me to realize that the rest of the house will NOT be ready. I am very discouraged. I am a bad American who can’t even keep a clean house.
Help 15-year-old daughter assemble scrapbook for Lucie and kindly suggest she actually cleans her room because Lucie may want to sleep in one of the two beds she has.
Begin the “cram and close” cleaning method. Instruct Jamie that Lucie is forbidden from entering the laundry room and shouldn’t open the closet either.
Leave for airport disappointed that I did not accomplish everything. Forget GPS unit.
We are all excited. Even though we realize the impossibility of perfection, we want everything to be “perfect” for Lucie. We aren’t a typical American family. We don’t watch a lot of television, hang our clothes out to dry on a line, and grow most of our own food. We sit down every single night to dinner as a family, hold hands and say the blessing.
We love her! Instantly. From the moment I see her my heart (and eyes) overflow with love. I can’t imagine the emotions she has felt leaving her family and traveling so far just to visit America. What a risk she has taken? I think about the other students, how nervous they must have been. None of these students knew each other. They aren’t from the same area. Their only commonality is their ability to speak the same language. I pray for these students and for the host families. I hope the hosts realize that they represent the United States of America and work as hard as I will to show her what is good about this country.
Once she settled into her new home (for the month of July) Lucie’s first US meal was homemade pizza and made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies. Gooey, sweet and filled with love.
Welcome to America, Lucie!
Atlanta, like many towns in the US, has been suffering from unseasonably high temperatures. Earth-baking, livestock-killing, water-evaporating heat that became more dangerous by a non-stop wind that cracked the soil and seared our skin. We have suffered this summer, worried, fretted and some of us have prayed for relief from the oppressive heat.
Thus far in the growing season, Billy’s farm has been blessed with a bountiful harvest. Blessed with a plethora of beans, corn, and tomatoes ripening on the vine. Unfortunately, as the harvest approached, temperatures rose. Beans died on the vine, tomatoes turned white and burned beneath the sun, and, if the truth be told, Billy Albertson got a little nervous.
“That’s the last of the water,” he said with a sigh, referring to one of six rain barrels situated sporadically throughout his property. “And your maders need watering.”
Shrugging off his concern I said, “Don’t worry about my tomatoes. They’ll be fine.”
Meteorologists called for rain, but Mother Nature was bent on showing us who is boss. Not only did she withhold the rain, she cranked up the temps to a dangerous 106 degrees.
The corn curled and turned brown. Billy and I worried. No rain came.
“Bring on the rain,” Billy said as I stopped by to pick my tomatoes and check out the desiccation status of my corn.
Overhead the clouds were darkening and dipping lower, giving us hope. An hour later, heaven opened and gifted us with a downpour.
Like most children, I love mud puddles. Seeing a collection of water triggers something inside of me. I ride my bike through them, smiling at the splash…squish, tilting my head back as tiny droplets splash against my leg and stain my socks. This morning as the mud puddles in my yard began to disappear I took a stroll through my garden, smiling at the gift of glorious rain.
Though many may curse the rain for making their daily commute a bear, or ruining their planned activities, when I step outside I see that the earth is actually smiling. Tree frogs sing and birds bathe with wild abandon. Even immature tomatoes cling to drops of moisture, unwilling to release the moisture into the earth.
Rain. Blessed rain has finally arrived. Drops that replenished my red-neck rain reclamation system. Most parents will recognize the purple bucket. What once housed stuffed animals, now sits beneath the eve of the house and collects water.
When my grandmother was alive I remember her declaring the arrival of “dog days,” meaning the rainy season which arrives during the middle of summer. This season of hope is gifted to us, a treasure for weary gardeners that signal it’s time to rest up before fall planting.
Those with pitiful looking tomato plants, take comfort. Tomatoes will bear fruit up until frost. Walk bravely into the garden with a pair of scissors and lop them off at the top. This “trimming” process actually stimulates new growth. You can also root the trimmings. Refer to this blog posting to learn how. For those wanting to plant a late crop of beans and “winter greens,” the Farmer’s Almanac reports July 24-27 are the best dates to plant above ground crops. Root crops (turnips, radish, beets, and potatoes) can be planted, July 10, 13, 14, 17 and 18.
Let us be thankful for the rain and pray for those farmers who are suffering without any. Until next time, remember to keep those hands dirty.
Renea Winchester is an award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes and
It’s panic time here in the Atlanta area and in other parts of the country where tripple digit temps forecast not only dangerous conditions but anxiety as gardeners scurry around trying to save their crops from baking beneath the sun and care for livestock who suffer when weather conditions deteriorate. Here are a few tips you can do to protect your plants.
Hydrate: Obviously plants need extra moisture now more than ever. However, never, ever water after 10 am. Mist plants in the early morning and late hours. The best time to water plants is between the hours of 7 and 9 pm. Plants have all night to absorb life-saving moisture. Also, any moisture that accumulates on leaves during daylight hours WILL burn plants.
- Protect. Now is the time to add an extra layer of mulch around all plants.
- Rest. Do not fertilize any plant or flower during the month of July. Fertilizer encourages new growth, something the plant cannot sustain since it is working hard just to survive.
- Pray. Most of all, pray for those living in drought regions; especially those whose homes are threatened with wildfires.
Now is also the time to reach out to those who are elderly and do not have air conditioning. Take them to the museum, the public library, to the movies during the hours of 2 -6 when temperatures are their hottest.
For the animal lover, place a bowl of water outside for the birds who are struggling to find adequate moisture. I have added ice to the rabbit’s water. Two bunnies are drinking almost one gallon per day. For the chicken lovers, add ice to their water, but also add a container of dirt so they can scratch in the dirt and cool themselves. You might also consider setting up a box fan in front of the chickens. Many of my friends are loosing their animals in the heat. Check on them several times during the day.
Renea Winchester is the author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes and Stress-Free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. Visit her at www.reneawinchester.com
Try to stay cool and hydrated.
“Setting Eggs” and Breaking New Ground: By Renea Winchester
It only takes one or two days of sunshine to catapult winter-weary gardeners into a feverous pitch that can only be defined as mania. It’s been a frigid winter and most of the country has at one time or another, been blanketed in either snow or ice (or both)!
As a result, the moment the sun breaks through, birds gather to shout their praises and sun lovers abandon the couch in search of spring.
However, before we start getting all crazy and start setting eggs, planting seeds, and plunging our hands in the dirt, we need to refer to the “good book” for guidance.
I’m talking about the almanac…Grier’s 205th Annual issue to be exact.
Last week, I presented Billy with his copy of the almanac. Under his training, I’ve quickly learned that he takes the advice written on these pages quite seriously. He plants crops and “sets hens” only when approved by Mr. Grier himself. According to page 6 of the 205th edition, we should: “Set eggs to hatch in a fruitful sign. The chicks will mature faster and be better layers.”
Billy snatched the calendar off the wall as I delved into the newsprint pages eager to determine when we were going to “break the new ground.” As an aside, he likes to plant something, usually potatoes on Good Friday.
This year, Grier’s predicts a wet February which is not good, considering the rice-field debacle we mucked through last February in his garden.
Undeterred by the gloomy prediction Billy asked, “When does it say I can set some ‘aigs?’ The hens are getting restless.”According to Billy, he has been “breaking up hen parties left and right.” He is a firm believer health chicks comes from following these stringent, albeit mysterious, “signs.”
I licked my finger and turned the page. “It says we should set eggs on the 13, 14, or 15th of February; then on the 22 or 23rd of February.”
I placed a sharpie in his weathered hand. Billy opened the cap and circled the date; then he replaced the cap and said with a nod, “We’ll set those hens on Valentine’s day.”
I can think of no better way to celebrate our love of gardening…can you?
Soon, we’ll be listening to baby chicks say, “peep, peep” and enjoying the magic that spring brings.
Until my next post, remember keep those hands dirty.
Renea Winchester is an award-winning author whose
book, In The Garden With Billy: Lessons About Life,
Love & Tomatoes is available in bookstores everywhere and online. Visit her website at
www.reneawinchester.com to learn more.