Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Own Postage Stamp Garden

I decided to take the things that I learned from The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden and begin my own postage stamp garden. (Click here to read my review of this fascinating book.)

I don’t have the space for a 5 x 5 garden or even a 4 x 4 garden, but I applied the principles to my south-facing flowerbed. Also, I didn’t make a raised bed. Hopefully, in the autumn my husband and I can do that. But we just didn’t have time this year. Our youngest son is having a cardio-thoracic reconstruction in early May, and it was all we could do just to prepare the flowerbeds for planting and get the seedlings in place.

My space measures 2.5’ x 44’. (It seems like a huge space. But since much of it is unusable because it abuts the side of the house of driveway, it’s still a small space.) In this space, my husband and I planted:

12 white corn plants
6 jalapenos (Yes, I realize how many peppers that will give me. My guys live on peppers.)
1 habanero (Scoville rating: 250,000)
1 ghost pepper (Scoville rating: 1,001, 304. Matthew is giddy about this.)
4 red bell peppers
4 yellow bell peppers
4 beefsteak tomatoes
1 purple cherry tomato
2 cucumbers
Mint (Properly contained in a fabric-lined pot, set into the ground)
Chocolate mint (Same as above)
Strawberries (I originally had six plants. Now I have more than I can count.)

Here are some photos of the beds. I'll post more later in the summer as the plants mature.

Most of what you see here are the strawberries and herbs
I've been growing for several years. 

Some of the pepper plants are behind me.
Corn plants are beyond that.

 Habanero (foreground) and ghost pepper.
Black tubing is drip irrigation.

N.B. My blogging, which has gotten sporadic, will probably be even more sporadic over the summer since my son's surgery has a 12 week recovery. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Power of a Lightning Bug

File:Photuris lucicrescens.jpg
Lightning bug photo by Bruce Marlin,
courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Last night when I was trying to sleep, I discovered that a lightning bug was stuck in the bedroom--my own private lightning storm. It reminded me of Twain's quote, 'The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.' Let me just say, in the right context a lightning bug can be pretty powerful!

Thankfully, my twenty-year-old son took care of my bioluminescent problem. Though it left a glowing streak on the wall.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden, Book Review

The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden 
by Karen Newcomb

N.B. I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

From the moment I saw this book, I knew I had to have it. I love vegetable gardens, and I only have a very tiny space, a flowerbed actually. While this book doesn’t specifically address flowerbed vegetable gardens, everything in it applies to what I’m doing and shows me how to have a more productive garden.

The book begins with a wonderful historical overview of postage stamp gardening before getting down to the nitty-gritty of the process. Perhaps some gardeners aren’t as interested in the history of gardening, but I love knowing that these techniques have proved tried and true since the 1890s.
After introducing small space gardening, the author lays out raised bed options and vegetable arrangements for everything from 4’ x 4’ bed to a 8’ x 10’ bed (promising a minimum of 200 lbs. of fresh vegies and herbs from a 5’ x 5’ bed.) The layouts are not only well thought-out but also aesthetically appealing. 

Having discussed the physical arrangements of the garden, the book details soil amendments, watering, disease/pest control*, and how you can possibly grow vining vegetables (even melons) in such a small space. Finally, the author explains which plants are best planted next to each other in order to encourage healthy growth and productivity.

I’m very excited about this book! It has shown me how to alter my gardening techniques to radically increase the amount of food I can raise in an extremely limited area.

As for buying the book, don’t think twice. Buy it! You’ll be glad you did.

*The methods in this book are organic. Even if you don’t do organic gardening, this is still a great book that will cut down on the use of fertilizers and pesticides using simple techniques.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Paris Wife Book Review

The Paris Wife book cover.jpg 

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

After reading this book, it took some time before I could write a review. I had think about the book, to divorce the author from the subject. The story of Ernest Hemingway, his first wife Hadley Richardson, and the rest of the Lost Generation was so sad and demoralizing that I wanted to give them three stars. (And those three stars was the average of their lives balanced by their work.) But this review is not of those authors.

Ms. McLain does such a beautiful job of disappearing behind the text that it’s easy to forget that Hadley, who narrates most of the novel, is not the author. The writing is very clean and does a wonderful job of conveying Paris during the ’20s, especially its literary atmosphere rank with competition, self-destruction, and betrayal. And yet, you can’t help but root for Ernest and Hadley, even knowing the inevitable outcome.

After reading this book, I have to read A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises. I suspect that there’s no greater accolade for the author than to have enchanted a reader so much that she feels compelled to read more Hemingway.

Excellent book!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Until You're Mine, Book Review

Until You're Mine by Samantha Hayes

N.B. I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

The best thrillers are those with a plot twist that catches you by surprise. And one of the reasons that I was eager to read this book is that I knew there was a plot twist at the end. As I neared the climax of the book, I’d thought I figured it out. Except not completely. And that’s delicious.

This novel was a well-paced page-turner told by three different characters. Normally, I find this frustrating because just as I get involved with a particular character, the author changes viewpoint. However, Ms. Hayes avoids this by continuing the forward movement of the plot so that even if the point of view is different, the plot keeps moving. Also, the author also makes the three different characters distinct by using a unique blend of present and past tense as well as first and third person for the characters.

Aside from all the esoteric of writing, the book succeeds because it tells a wonderfully creepy story with twisted characters and gets at the roots of our some of our most basic fears—are we good mothers, are our children safe, and do we truly know another human being?

Excellent read!