30 Things to Do While I’m 30

Some people do a “30 things to do before I turn 30” list, well, I’m a little late for that since I’ll be 30 in a month.  When I was 15, I did make a goal to visit all of the continents before I was 30.  I made it to 5 out of the 7 before my chronic illnesses prevented me from international travel.  While I still dream of visiting the final two (Antartica and Africa), it won’t be anytime soon.  Instead, I decided to make a list of 30 things to do while I’m 30.

1. Make a website about cavy genetics. ✓
2. Hang portraits of my pets (past and present) in my hallway.
3. Read the rest of the Harry Potter series.
4. Learn basic conversational French. ✓
5. Bake an apple pie and crust from scratch.
6. Take a picture every week and crop/edit it to learn new skills. ✓
7. “Pay it forward” to someone else. ✓
8. Earn a title on one of my dogs. ✓
9. Crochet a dinosaur.
10. Blow bubbles when it is below freezing outside.
11. Make a planner/organizer. ✓
12. Visit a museum I’ve never been to before. ✓
13. Find 30 geocaches.
14. Release a new travel bug for my birthday. ✓
15. Finish a jigsaw puzzle (500+ pieces) by myself.
16. Become a volunteer at the Humane Society. ✓
17. Make paw print art with my pets. ✓
18. Rewatch all of the House episodes. ✓
19. Wear pajamas for a whole day. ✓
20. Try a new food each week. ✓
21. Put my books on shelves in Dewey Decimal order.  ✓
22. Visit an Antartica exhibit at the zoo.
23. Visit an Africa exhibit at the zoo.
24. Fly a kite.
25. Blog once a month. ✓
26. Try to grow Brussel sprouts. ✓
27. Plant a tree. ✓
28. Grow a vegetable that is a “funny color” (purple broccoli, white carrots, etc.). ✓
29. Write a letter to my 40-year-old self.
30. Make a list of Things to do Before I Turn 40 (and do them before I turn 40, not after).

Gardening Boxes

My dad brought out some old boards from the deck they had on their house and set them up as gardening boxes for me.

Now I just need to fill them, I’m going to use the lasagna gardening method, which alternates layers of green and brown materials on top of newspaper.

 My first layer of newspaper went down, covered by a layer of the stuff out of my cavy cages – broken down wood pellets, poop/pee, and discarded hay.

I’m going to continue this until I have a layer over the whole box, then go back and add some chopped leaves and other green material, followed by a layer of more manure.

County Fair

Each year, I look forward to the start of fall, which is signaled by the county fair.  I love our fair, it is a favorite time of the year – better than Christmas!  I love to enter things in the fair and this year, I was excited to enter some things from my new house – things that were all mine.

I have entered the flower show in the past, but most of the entries have been flowers grown by my mom and myself.  This year, I only had a few flowers, but they were flowers that belonged to me alone.  I entered a hosta bloom in the Any Other Cut Flower category.  I didn’t get a placement, but the judge told me afterward that I had done a nice job picking the flower, but it just wasn’t as eye-catching as some of the larger entries.

I also entered the Sedum category, where I also didn’t get an award, but I once again was able to talk to the judges after the show and find out what it was they were looking for and I hope to do better next year!

My very first eggplant was ripe just in time for the fair, so I entered it in the Any Other Color Eggplant category.  There were quite a few eggplants and the judge of the Farm Products division said that there were a lot of very nice eggplants with a lot of hard competition – so I was shocked when I saw I won 3rd place!

I also entered one of my yellow squash in the Crookneck Squash class, where I was very please to find I also had won 3rd place!

In the second flower show, I entered a floral arrangement.  Because I didn’t have many flowers around my house to work with, and I couldn’t afford to buy any, I only entered one class, Bright Foliage, which was a class for horizontal designs with no flowers.  I used the hosta leaves from my yard as the main focal point and the leaves from the arborvitae as the filler.  I was very surprised, but pleased when I found I won first place!

I also entered my African Violet that I got from my grandmother.  It is large and healthy looking but uncentered.  I had hoped to repot it before the fair, but ran out of time.  It got second, because it was off-center and because it was not blooming (there were only two entered).

And finally, I entered my huge scented geranium (middle row, far right) in the geranium class, only to discover that it should have been in the herb class instead.  The judges liked it and thought it looked healthy, but couldn’t place it since it was in the wrong class.

Powdery Mildew on the Squash

Yesterday, I noticed that my squash had some white, powdery looking spots on it’s leaves.

The plant itself looked okay other than the spots.

I noticed the other day that while some of the fruit were okay, a couple of the fruits just coming on appeared to have started to rot where the flower typically falls off.

 So, obviously, I had to do something, the first thing I did was find out what I had.  My twitter friends told me I likely had Powdery Mildew.  The first thing I did was to cut off the healthy fruit.  Though I would normally leave it to grow a bit more, I preferred to cut it off than to leave it and have it rot.

The next thing I did was to cut off all of the dead leaves, the dead flowers, rotted fruit/flowers, dying stems, and the leaves that were very badly covered in mildew.  I used sharp pruners and put the damaged leaves on my scrap pile.

Now, I had several options.  There were lots of different suggestions to try to prevent powdery mildew (not a lot of treatment options, mostly preventatives).  The one I decided to try was a combination of baking soda, water, and a touch of dish soap.  
I took a quart sized spray bottle I got from the dollar store and added a drop of liquid dish detergent (the off brand of Dawn, the blue kind is what I used, then added 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda.  I mixed this well, then squirted on all sides of the leaves, including the stems.  I more or less drenched the entire plant to the point of run-off.
I did this in the evening, after the sun had gone down, to be sure that the sun didn’t scorch the plant with the soap.  By mid-morning the next day, the leaves that did have small powdery mildew spots on them were gone, but a small yellow spot was left.  The whole plant looked happier.

I have hopes that some of the remaining blooms will be able to make it to harvest still, currently, they have teeny-tiny squash coming on – with no mildew!

The Neighbor Kids

I have many posts to write about the things I’ve been working on around the house, but something happened tonight that I just have to write about.  I was going to write a tweet to Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, and realized that what I wanted to say wouldn’t fit in a tweet.

A little background story first, in my new house, there is a family that lives next door who has several children (four or five? I’m not sure).  Based on what I know, let’s just say, they don’t have a very stable home life.  They spend a fair amount of time in their yard, and if I’m out, they like to come over.  Two of the boys love to play “what’s that?” with pretty much anything – the spouting on my house, the electric meter, and of course any flower, weed, bush, bug, etc. they see.

If I’m working, they want to “help” with whatever I’m doing.  Mostly they help by weeding, asking questions, and retrieving tools (after moving them so I don’t know where they are).  Now, granted, they get tired quickly and there are some weeds that are pulled off by the leaf rather than the root, but they try!  I end up with pulled up weeds all over my yard, but I’m happy and their happy, so who cares?

Today, they were asking about the flowers and wanted to dig holes.  I told them soon I would be digging holes for bulbs, like tulips, and told them they could help.  They asked what tulips were and what color they were.  I went inside and brought out my copy of The Whole Seed Catalog, thinking it would have pictures of their bulbs.  It turns out it didn’t have bulbs, but we spent time looking at the plants and they asked what their names were and we talked about what they liked and didn’t like to eat, and which one was the prettiest and who would eat a yellow watermelon.  When we got to the carrots, there was a picture of the tiny, round Parisienne carrots, which reminded me that I had a package of them that I had gotten in an exchange.  I asked them if they would like to plant some seeds – I’ll let you guess the answer!

I pulled out my Seed Keeper and found the carrots, then realized that I had some Red Romaine that I had gotten free in my Baker Creek order too.  We got out a window planter that had herbs that I’d harvested and we put dirt in it, took turns adding seeds, stirred the dirt (so we didn’t have clumps of lettuce and carrots), then watered it.  We made two sticks that said what we planted, then they wanted to write their names too, so we all put our names in the planter too!  They were so excited, they brought their grandma over and showed her what they had done.

It all brings back happy memories of when I was younger and grandma had a section of her garden that was all mine.  She had some tools just for me and I could do anything I wanted there – dig, push dirt around, make mud pies, whatever.  In fact, I almost wish I had a square foot garden where I could just let them go and they could do whatever!