Tag Archives: David Austin roses

Fruits of Our Labor

Since a picture is worth a thousand words here is a glimpse beyond my garden gate …



Today we are picking lots of green beans, Kirby cucumbers and Abraham Darby roses.


The corn is definitely “knee high by the fourth of July”.


The squash is a little too small to pick, but we have a dozen plants happily growing.  We should be overrun soon!  Of course I spot a tiny bit of powdery mildew so maybe not!



I think eggplant is the most gorgeous veggie in the garden.



These are the reasons we compost all year long … literally the fruits of our labors.  Happy gardening!  Happy summer!


Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Gardening, Musings


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Warm Weekend Sunshine

After months of unseasonably frigid weather, we’ve had a weekend respite.  Celebrate!  With temps nearing seventy we headed OUTSIDE for some warm Southern sun and a little lawn work.


We left the head gardener in the middle of a painting project and while the boy begrudgingly tackled the front lawn (hatehatehatehatehate Bermuda), I went to work on the rose/perennial beds.

Luckily I had pruned back most of my old (these and these) and David Austin roses around Christmas so I only had to rake out some early weeds then tackle a little dead wood.  I happily snipped, then fed them (compost in the fall, this in the spring).

Are you a pruning fan?  I totally am.  I love to get my shears into a plant and visualize its best shape.  I spend a lot of time standing and looking.  It becomes very meditative, communing with the plant.  Roses, more than any shrub, really make you concentrate.  Watch out for thorns, carefully gauge the green from the dead wood, cleanly and swiftly cut, and watch out for the dead wood thorns.  Pruning is probably a metaphor for life.  You can’t prune mindlessly and for me, it’s a gift to be utterly absorbed.  And the promise of rosebuds is just around the corner… bliss.

If you remember to watch out for aphids.  But I digress.

Anyway, not sure how in the fall I didn’t notice that some of my Siberian and Japanese Iris are essentially out of control.  I pulled out the dried foliage but stopped short of dividing since I know old man winter isn’t finished with the South yet.  Although these plants are best divided in the fall, they are extraordinarily tough, and, in my neck of the woods, can be moved anytime that you can commit to watering them in after transplant.  But even that is not always necessary.

My large 4×3 mound is the result of a single small clump of iris that was rescued from a weekend weeding heap a few years back.  My husband accidentally uprooted some sad looking stalks and let them dry out in the sun before I realized what they were.  Yikes!   I hastily dug them into a rose bed with fingers crossed.  And then I forgot about them,  I honestly never watered them more than a time or two.  Mother Nature handled the rest and now I’m contemplating dividing them.  Soon.

But first, the lamb’s ears need some attention since they are similarly out of bounds.  I really love this perennial, even though it gets a little invasive and crowds out anything less hardy in its path.  It looks gorgeous with roses.  Every late winter I survey the beds with dismay wondering if winter has finally killed off that fuzzy foliage for good.  Every spring I find lots of new growth and I’m happy.  I guess I’m going to wait a few weeks to start grubbing out the old leaves because I’ve gotta say, this stuff looks REALLY bad this year.  I’ll check back in a few weeks…

Broken pots … argh!  I know terra cotta is not meant for winter, but honestly in all my twenty-five plus years in Atlanta, I’ve rarely lost a pot.  This year I lost multiples: several terra cotta, two cute ceramic giant “teacups” and some gorgeous blue pottery.  Clean up on aisle seven.  I researched ways to recycle this stuff, got rigorously honest with myself KNOWING that I am not making mosaic tiles from pottery shards (it hasn’t been high on the priority list even though I’ve thought about it for years) and with much guilt I tipped them into the trash. **gasp!**

I even said goodbye to some frozen stiff rosemary topiaries that never had any business being outside in the first place.  I replaced these with some bushy new ones that now bookend my kitchen sink and make me happy every time I see (and smell) them.  I’m happy all the time!

Spending all that time hauling clippings to the compost pile meant we didn’t spend much time inside.  Here’s the Friday-Saturday bucket, um, paper towel…


What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • blood oranges
  • lemons
  • onion stem ends & skin
  • more blood oranges (three words: blood orange margarita)
  • more lemons
  • some lime too!
  • limp cabbage outer leaves
  • garlic paper
  • brown banana peels
  • more lemon
  • clementine peel (I think I have citrus covered)
  • grape stems & a few hiding moldy specimens

What I made with all of that: Salmon Tacos with Cabbage Slaw,, Mango & Pineapple Salsa (bought at Whole Foods), Feta, Lime Cream and Crispy Onions, plus Blood Orange Margaritas, a couple of smoothies and lots of orange and grape snacks.

Bring on spring!  I’m totally ready for tacos and margaritas on the deck.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 2, 2014 in Gardening, Musings, The Daily Bucket


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Waste Not” or Citrus Guilt

Surely you’ve heard the platitude, “Waste not, want not.”  Composting all my kitchen scraps and repurposing them for another use surely qualifies as not wasting, right?  Turning all those bits of food into a super nutritious food for my veggies and plants is recycling in the best possible way, right?  So, why was I feeling a bit of guilt?  Citrus guilt to be exact.  See this pile:


It’s just the remains of a typical smoothie making morning for the kids.  We love oranges and grapefruits, tangerines, and lemons and limes.  Plus, each day I drink this funky concoction of half a lemon, hot water, a teaspoon or so of apple cider vinegar, and a generous glug of honey.  It’s apparently good for digestion and I’ve gotten used to its weird, sweet, nose stinging scent in the morning.  (Don’t worry, I follow it with some good old tea.  See yesterday’s post.)


Anyway, all that adds up to a lot of citrus surplus.  My clay soil is already acidic and here I was adding lots more.  Citrus peels, I was regularly reading, would be better put to use making my own citrus cleaner instead of being tossed without a care on a compost heap.

So I bought a functional carafe with a cork lid from Ikea, enough white distilled vinegar to last my entire life, and the grapefruit halves from breakfast.  I dutifully removed any juicy bits, stuffed the peels in the carafe, covered it in vinegar, and put it on the windowsill for two weeks.

Of course I checked it virtually every day for the first week and the smell was unbearable.  I like vinegar in my salad, not so much in my house cleaning efforts.  Still, undeterred, I continued to soak my citrus.  Somewhere into week two it lost the overpowering vinegar stench aroma and became if not pleasant, at least bearable.  It was almost a nice whiff of citrus.

I decanted it into a scrubbed Method spray cleaner bottle (I didn’t want suspicious kids or relatives wondering what weird concoction I was using now.  You see, I may have been known to put raw milk in the organic milk jug on occasion, but that is another story), I diluted it with water per directions, and poured the remaining concentrate into the giant mason jar for storage in the outside fridge.  I even put a handwritten canning label on that mason jar.

Call me content.  I wish I had a picture of my virtuous face.  Fist pumps and three cheers for the self-sufficient housekeeper!  I’ve earned my superhero DIY girl scout badge!  I’m halfway to homesteader!

And then I used it.  Hmmm… Did I say I LOVE Method products?  I got rid of harsh chemicals in kitchen, bath, and laundry a LONG time ago and keep bleach around only for truly necessary jobs (like cleaning compost buckets).  I had been happily using Method grapefruit counter spray for years and liked its fresh clean scent.  (Disclosure: they are NOT paying me for this glowing review.  I really do use, love, and recommend their products.)  Anyway, how could a mass-produced, store-bought chemical solution compare to MY. OWN. HOMEMADE. CLEANER?

Well, it did not compare.  Not in my scent snob book.  I guess it got things clean enough.  The counter felt a little filmy to me and the stainless was streaky (nothing new) but I was using MY. OWN. HOMEMADE. CLEANER. and that alone made it worth it.

A little vinegar smell?  Well, okay, that was there.  My son loudly let me know that the kitchen reeked.  My daughter scrunched up her delicate nose and told me she could smell it but it was not too bad.  And it wasn’t really.  I moved on to the bathroom and it shined the fixtures nicely.

But I realized every time I left the house and came home, the overwhelming smell when I reentered the house was … gross.  Not fresh.  Not clean.  I was wrinkling my own nose trying to figure out what I detected.  Dog?  No, more like the cover up of some rotting food. Maybe I had left some old oranges on the counter to mold.  Maybe it was the built up smell of old vinegar.  But, I thought, that smell is supposed to evaporate.  Dissipate.  Disappear.

Still confident in my superpowers I dutifully used up my grapefruit spray and even brewed another bottle of orange peels with thyme.  They were so pretty fermenting on the counter and I had that virtuous glow again.

But that smell.  It was dissipating all right and then collecting somewhere and LINGERING.  And smacking me in the face when I walked in the door.  Two nights ago, I poured the contents of that cleaner down the drain.  I recycled the Method cleaning bottle and retired my carafe.  I pulled out a fresh bottle of REAL Method and inhaled it’s lovely scent.  I wiped down every surface in my kitchen.

Here is what I tossed. (Notice the bit in the spray bottle looks clumpy.  I had added some castile soap after reading another post that I cannot find about how it really ups the cleaning power of the vinegar spray. Sorry, not for me. It’s just clumpy and note even pretty anymore.)

citrus cleaner 11.13

Today I put my citrus peels directly in the compost bucket.  I will happily toss them on my compost pile later and know that come spring, when I lovingly top dress my acid-loving David Austin roses, they will soon be smelling sweetly.  And so will my house.  I’m using that cool carafe for sangria!


Posted by on November 9, 2013 in Compost How To, Musings, The Daily Bucket


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: