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Recent Entries to this Blog WHERE THERE'S A WILL, THERE'S A WAY
Posted: 21 Apr 2010
That time of year
Posted: 17 Feb 2010
SOME SNOW, SOME SEEDS
Posted: 13 Nov 2009
Relaxing today
Posted: 02 Aug 2009
Lost In Time
Posted: 23 May 2009

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weeds n seeds's Blog




WHERE THERE'S A WILL, THERE'S A WAY

Category: gardening | Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:41 pm

Slick Wyoming yard mud got the better of me about a month ago, took a flop and ended up with a dislocated, and fractured, left shoulder..couldn't have happened at a better time of year with gardening right around the corner! Now, I'm right-handed, a little bit on the thick-headed side, so am continuing to "do my thing" even if I am one-armed for the next few months..can't keep a fanatic gardener down despite what they say!
Have been prepping raised beds/containers; got some raking done; plants moved out into greenhouse and tomato seeds planted..finally. Can't use the left arm at all right now (had to have a plate put in and everything pinned back together), but have found working with just the right one ain't so hard after all, just gotta find a comfortable happy medium to do so and have at it!
Thankfully, I did a lot of work on the beds/containers last fall, so those were just a matter of re-working the soils and adding a few things, getting them ready for upcoming planting. Got some onion/garlic/shallot sets in other pots; have been keeping up with watering/caring for all the holdover plants and new starts: takes a bit longer than usual but haven't lost anything due to neglect on my behalf. Has been a real learning experience in one-armed tenacity: have had more trouble learning how to type or pulling up my britches then caring for the plants!
Brag time: last fall I put a hail-beaten Regal geranium (called Arista Black) into a large old galvanized tub out in sunroom in HOPES it wouldn't go by the wayside. Right now, it's 2 feet wide x 18 inches long..is actually cascading down front of tub..and counted 36 blooming heads on it, looks like the whole plant's just deep, deep red blossoms..is breathtaking! Had taken some cuttings from it that are now in 1-gallons pots and those, also, are alive with color. Have always leaned towards the zonal geraniums before, but these Regals have taken over as top priority for both the contained bushiness of growth and output of flowers. No "legginess" with the Regals; are a bit on the hard side to propagate; but overall, they can't be beat if you're a geranium lover. Most are bi-colored; blossoms look more like those of rhodies than geraniums; are very easy keepers. I highly recommend this variety for summer/spring/winter color, and recommend over-wintering inside. Try 'em..you'll love 'em!
Time to get back to "winging it"..I've got the WILL and know there's a way around a few chores, just gotta figure it out! Happy gardening all, W N S

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That time of year

Category: gardening | Posted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:24 pm

Planting some seeds in preparation for the forthcoming season, has been mostly flowers so far but did plant peppers yesterday, will now go on from there. I have two heat mats in my sunroom: one's full of "holdover" plants/newly started geranium cuttings that really need the bottom heat, and the other one's covered with trays of flower seedlings, didn't know WHAT to do with the peppers, so put them on top of a 24 inch Gro Light in the dining room! The little high-dome trays the cells are in is a testimony of how my (small) mind works when it comes to gardening: they are actually plastic containers Sam's Club puts their whole roasted chickens in! These are simply ideal for holding 2 6-pak cells each, and the clear plastic tops have two vent holes that can be opened for allowing excess moisture to escape..who could ask for more?
I'd bought an already cooked chicken last fall, was just about to throw out the container when it hit me they'd make excellant SMALL seed starting ones! Grabbed two 6-paks and found they fit in the base just right, just HAD to get some more of these! A few weeks ago, I gathered up my courage and decided to ASK for two when a meat room gal was stocking the cases. Said "Excuse me..but is there any way POSSIBLE I can have, or buy, two of the chicken containers? EMPTY ones?": "EMPTY?" was the reply followed by a look that was unbelievable, so I explained just WHAT I wanted them for and got another "odd look" as she handed me two. Things went fine til I had to check out at door: gal checked my items against the sales receipt, informed me I'd "forgotten the chickens!" when she saw the trays, so smiled and went on to explain to her what they were for also..and THIS brought on a laughing fit from people in back of me! Felt like I two HEADS instead of two empty containers, but was one very happy gardener as I walked out the door!
Now those are in "operation", and the wait for germination begins. I know they work as I started decorative peppers in the initial one (after I washed out the chicken remains), and those have already been transplanted into bigger pots. Nice thing is these "mini-greenhouses" can be used repeatedly..would you call this recycling? What otherwise would have ended up in the trash has become this gardener's DELIGHT! YEP! I'm a "scrounge" I guess, small mind and all!

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SOME SNOW, SOME SEEDS

Category: gardening | Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 6:20 pm

Is that time of year when you don't know whether to put on a suumer tee shirt or drag out the scratchy ole red woolens and worm your way into those. October saw quite a bit of snow; so far November's been very mild and pleasant. However, today we have a coating of white on the ground and decorating the now-barren tree/bush branches letting us know it can still SNOW when it wants to. A good day to write a blog entry..
Garden seemed to be at least a month behind all season due to more rain than we've been having (6-year drought is now OVER!), plus temps seemed much cooler than what they have been. The cool weather crops did excellant: planted six early "Golden Ace" cabbages that were 4-6 pound solid "rocks" at harvest time. They afforded many meals plus froze and dehydrated cabbage til I couldn't look at it anymore, gave a few heads away after. This really isn't Brussel's sprouts growing country, but managed several pickings off them as well, plants were like trees!
New raised bed herb garden FLOURISHED despite the fact I loaded it up with a lot of sawdust and was really wondering how it'd effect the nitrogen content in soil. Herbs pouted at first, then took off and became somewhat of a "jungle", especially an origanum vulgaris that simply wanted to take over! To help retain winter sun heat, have placed large stones all around the wooden structure, so we shall see what Spring brings and IF everything's survived.
Tomatoes gave me never-ending headaches! Grew like they should, set fruit then put the "skids" on ripening, just sat there doing nothing, was really getting doubtful there. Seemed as if, in September, they all decided to come in at ONCE, spent a few days picking/canning/freezing as fast as I possibly could as frost time was nearly upon us. Plum tomatoes, grown in an Earth Box, began showing signs of blossom-end rot (which plums are noted for) in August, ran for the EPSOM SALTS quick! Poured a good handful into E.B.'s reservoir, also put a few handfuls on exposed soil of plant's stems. End result was only a very few were lost due to the problem, had more than enough good ones for making salsa and spaghetti sauce, eating a few in salads also. These plants (an indeterminate heirloom variety called "Vis") were MASSIVE and full of fruit. As I don't "sucker" tomato plants, realized something had to be done to aid in the ripening process, took the pruners to them and hoped for the best after a GOOD denuding! Two plants trimmed back yielded almost 8 gallons of cut-up green matter for the composter, and I still don't think I took quite enough off, but could..at least..see what was there and ripen they did! Got almost 50 plums off each one!
Been growing a determinate tomato called "Ugly" last two years, is a rather late season type, and as it's name implies, it IS UGLY. Not a heavy producer, but what you get are simple delicious 1-pounders (or more) from them, grow like beefsteaks, have almost pie-wedged sections to the fruits. Plants grow 3-4 feet high, definately need strong staking for support, and most of their energy seems to go into fruit-forming, not lush growth. Have been very impressed with "Ugly"! (Seed came from Tomato Growers, but haven't seen it listed for this year yet.)
The "Bush Early Girl's" again came thru with flying colors, as did "Patio Tomatoes" grown in 2-gallon containers (for little plants, these amazed me with a least a dozen tennis-ball sized fruits on each one). Peppers, grown in Earth Boxs also, outdid themselves; am now patiently awaiting for some pickled stuffed Italian cherry peppers to finish "curing" for crossing the ole pallet. Froze the "King of the North" bells for soups, stews and flavoring in dishes, others went into Italian sausage and peppers for eating right now! Of course, my pride and joy for 2009 were the heirloom "Purple Viking Potatoes"..am keeping fingers CROSSED Gardens Alive! has the seed ones again for 2010! Really LIKE these spuds!!
Purchased some new seed for next season, went through seeds I have on hand (and do I have SEEDS), now to begin the process of deciding what to plant; when to start differant varieties; mainly, where to PUT everything. Greenhouse is ready for leaf lettuce in late January; sunroom heat mats/flats/cells/soils are waitung to be put into use..and I'm more than ready to START! Still have "green" around me in the form of numerous house plants tho': will have "color" shortly when the zygo cacti begin blooming, then kalanchoes, then an orchid cactus and other orchids. A few plants brought in for over-wintering are still blooming in sunroom, just make my day when it's dark and cloudy..with snow on the ground..like today is. As they say: "gardening isn't a hobby..it's an OBSESSION".

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Relaxing today

Category: gardening | Posted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 9:07 pm

Time has just FLOWN by lately, so..today..am just relaxing (?) and getting caught up on a few things, mainly an up-to-date blog!
My sister, THE gardener in the family who works for a big commercial nursury Back East, was here for a 2-week visit beginning of July and we had a BALL! Of course, we just HAD to "visit" the majority of local nursuries in Casper..all I can say is it's a GOOD THING I own a pickup truck! As Fate would have it, every one we went to were having SALES of buy one, get one free, or 50% off on all plants. Now, I'm bad enough ALONE, but with "help"? Just use your imagination there and you'll get the idea!
Thankfully I still had some empty, good-sized pots and plenty of ProMix BX commercial potting mix on hand, and my little sister taught this Ole Hand a few things about transplanting into containers! First thing she did (and I almost CRIED!!) was give every plant a good haircut as they were getting a bit on the leggy side. I was "informed" pre-wetting the soils beforehand wasn't necessary (WHAT?), and this was followed by a quick handful of 16-12-12 timed-released fertilizer mixed into the medium prior to planting (OKAY! Could live with THAT!). Next came the actual transplanting where I KNOW my JAW hit the FLOOR! I DO break up congested root systems of pot-bound plants, but what I saw HERE had me absolutely speechless..and THIS is HARD to DO with MY mouth! Any roots extending out bottom of pots were unmercifully RIPPED OFF, then unpotted, root-bound plants got..basically..the same treatment as I was TOLD I'm "just too easy on things, gotta be FAST and ROUGH on them! Plants LOVE the abuse!" (nightmare time!!). Finally, after all were done, we got the hose and SOAKED every pot/container til they were good and wet, after which they were placed in a shady spot for a few days to recover (figued IF the handling didn't do 'em in, the watering sure would!!).
So, what's happened? ALL the new additions are simply BEAUTIFUL, and DO I stand corrected on a number of things in regards to gardening! I DO NOT LIKE Miracle Grow products, but one of my "lessons" was that THIS is what commercial growers use to push their plants along: Miracle Grow 20-10-20 pelleted, time-released fertilizer that cannot be found in stores, but can be ordered thru Miracle Grow products online (thank you, Sis! as I CHOKE on the unseasoned crow I'm about to EAT!).
Oh yes.learned quite a bit during the visit as we compared notes on differant plants, methods used, etc..was just too much for WORDS and I now have some NEW plants to hold over for next year, and/or propagate from that aren't patented ones. All I need NOW is the ROOM to do it...and I'll make it somehow!
We've had quite a bit of rain last few months, so what I have going really looked quite impressive to The Pro, was simply overjoyed to get a big "Thumbs UP" on appearances. THAT ment a LOT after all the hard work..since last fall..to revamp raised beds, keep WEEDS down and plants somewhat bug-free. Needless to say, I feel GOOD about this years efforts.
Visit wasn't ALL gardening: we did manage to have day trips to neighboring towns to visit with friends, and did get up on Casper Mountain to see the sights. Central Wyoming Fair was in progress, so we went there a few days..at 9 a.m.!..to watch livestock judging, see the vegetable/flower exhibits when they finally opened to the public. Few nights before Sis left, we attended the final night of the PRCA rodeo held in conjunction with the Fair. I'd gotten reserved "chute seats" a month in advance, seats were 2 rows behind the livestock chutes..were simply AWESOME! Parked out amid the livestock vans/horse trailers in their designated lot; got to get an "eyeball-to-eyeball" view of the bucking horse stock/BULLS on way to seats, saw the REAL size of them TV shows don't afford! Gotta give those cowboys that RIDE those things all the credit in the WORLD as the livestock used is HUGE, and MEAN LOOKING even just standing idle in the pens! I, now, have a much greater respect for the PBR (Pro Bull Riders) than I did previously..and any rodeo riders of the BIG animals!
Weather, the 2 weeks, put on a real Wyoming SHOW! Had 2 inches of rain in 40 minutes one night, cinplete with HAIL and tornado warning sirens going off. Other days it was high winds, clouds rolling in, hail and smaller downpours that came/went in no time. Plants got flattened by winds; leaves looked like Swiss cheese after hail stones beat them up; had lowland flooding in town; roads were washed out; but everything's survived..somehow!..and is thriving despite it all. Has been QUITE the summer to date!

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Lost In Time

Category: gardening | Posted: Sat May 23, 2009 4:20 pm

Don't know where the last two months have gone: seems like just yesterday I was planning gardens and now it's time to begin planting starts/seeds, worrying about BUGS!
Winter wasn't kind. I've noticed many things seem to be totally "out of whack" in their blooming cycles and/or simply leafing out. The daffies came up and bloomed before the tulips; lilac's..usually loaded with fragrant blossoms..are still sporting purplish colored leaves and only have SIX blooms on the entire bush; a China Rose bush didn't bloom at all; and it appears the Japanese lilacs/gooseberries will be bloomless as well. The roses are very "sad" appearing, but the herbs, Oriental poppies, and WEEDS seem to be outdoing themselves very nicely! Weather has been such it would seem the poor plants really don't know which way to turn: grow up or head back to where they came from.
Anyway: everything's prepared and ready to go..finally! Containers and old existing raised beds have all been emptied, refilled with new soils containing some "perker-uppers": cabbages, potatoes, brocolli, Brussels sprout starts and some seeds planted directly out. Greenhouse is full of plants waiting to be permanently transplanted; sunroom's overflowing with hanging baskets of ivy geraniums, etc. that'll take two days to move there's so many of them! If nothing else, yard should be quite colorful very shortly!
I've had an awful time getting seeds to germinate this year despite the proper care..has me totally stymied. Am almost ashamed of the peppers and tomatoes, but they'll either GROW once outside..or they won't, I guess. The vines (squash, cukes and zucchini) are even a bit on the slow side in growth, but are very healthy looking none-the-less. What's drastically needed, here, is some stabilized warmth instead of 80 one day, 50 the next and everything will begin to flourish..I have FAITH!
With all the yard work and "garden prep", I've seemed to have lost all track of time as of late. Been stockpiling bags of refuse, that can be used for composting at local landfill, for last few months, leaving them in the garage. Loaded the pickup to the BRIM with everything yesterday and made the trip: were landscapers there unloading grass clipping, etc. and I discovered I had MORE than they did..which got me laughing a bit. It must have looked like I'd been out "collecting" around the neighborhood instead of from ONE YARD! I salvage whatever I can for my own barrel composter, so all this other was weeds, branches, more weeds, cut up fallen tree limbs and twigs: was quite the assortment! Didn't realize I had so much til I had to empty it all out..and I wonder WHERE the TIME went?
Antelope have royally "dined" on easily accessible tulips in front yard, mowed 'em down to ground level! One recent afternoon there was a turkey parade right down the middle of the street: looked like the whole road turned into feathers with feet! Counted over 30, mostly hens but there were a few big tom's that blew up like balloons and strutted their stuff while stopping traffic BOTH WAYS! Was quite the sight to behold, a real "rarity" down here on the flats. Never even thought to grab the camera and take pictures, sure missed a "Kodak Moment" there! Think I'm lost in time...

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MARCH MADNESS

Category: gardening | Posted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:36 pm

March came in like a lamb (in Wyoming?) with days trying their best to reach 60 degrees despite winds! Snow drifts were still to be found in cooler shaded areas of yards, but where the welcomed warmth of sunlight hit, tulips began breaking dormancy and showing little mounds of coming thru the soil. Was time to go to WORK!
Two new raised bed frames had been sitting in workshop, needed "paver" block platforms built to keep invasive tree roots out before setting in place; some herbs needed digging out of their bed and potted; an old raised bed needed emptying and moving; the days were just perfect to be outside, get started.
The new platforms were installed, the frames set on them; the old frame set in place and designated to be nothing BUT an herb one, the potted-up herbs (in the greenhouse for time being) will be a good start in planting it as there's garden sage, oregano and hyssop that are already well established to this climate.
March 1 saw the seeding of decorative kales (5 varieties), other members of the brassica family slated for food, the tray of cells placed on a heat mat in sunroom that faces south, gets plenty of natural light..were beginning to germinate within 4 days, are now all up!
March 5 saw the seeding of a tray of various herbs, then flowers, flowers and MORE flowers, 10 trays in all or close to 400 plants! Due to daytime solar heat, nightime bottom heat from mats, action has already began with gazanias, bachelor buttons, moss roses and statice showing growth, expect petunias, etc. to begin any time. Wasn't room for everything on the mats, rest of trays were put in an "indoor greenhouse" on racks, will take a bit longer to show growth as it's not heated nights but sunroom is "holding" at 60 degrees then.. they can take it!
Between the outside work, filling of trays/planting seeds and jockeying around holdovers in sunbroom to make space for everything, had quite the busy time for a bit there! The excercise felt awfully GOOD tho', and these ole 67 year bones didn't seem to mind that much after a long winters' layoff.
My little dog "supervised" everything of course, his major worry was wondering if he'd EVER get fed once we started in, was greatly relieved when I rang his dinner bell on schedule each day, doled out the treats after..gotta keep the "Buddy" happy!
Today it's decided to snow, but it IS early March and to be expected here. However, I look out at empty planters and "see" them full of colorful blooms, vegetables growing and herbs thriving..must be MARCH MADNESS in all it's glory!

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Spring fever and windmills

Category: gardening | Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:08 pm

Is Feb. 5, day is simple GORGEOUS despite the never-ending Wyoming winds, and snow..from last weeks storm..IS melting off slowly but surely. Moved boxes of freshly planted leaf lettuce seeds and spinach out into greehouse yesterday, NOW for them to just start GROWING as all they have is bottom heat for time being, and warmth from solar heat days. Expect first "shoots" to appear in near future, be "harvesting" the crop by mid-March.
In my yard is an ancient relic of an 8 foot decorative windmill that's broken down to point I have to keep the vanes jammed with pieces of wood so it WON'T work. A vane "snapped" it's weld 3 years ago, sadly discovered there was NO HOPE of mending it and, if left to rotate like a windmill should, you can hear the "clanking" a mile away! Poor bearings are also shot from years of abuse by our winds, would put a Screech Owl to shame when WD40 hasn't been applied on a regular basis. In short, this item I dearly LOVE is now facing replacement with a brand new one!
Was a cold nasty day in Dec., and..for some reason..decided to investigate windmills on the internet. Several sites down the line, lo and behold!, there was just what I was looking for AND shipping was FREE! A galvanized metal 8 footer to put together YOURSELF!, cost: $129. Ordered it in, arrived 2 weeks later, box has been sitting in garage ever since as I was almost AFRAID to open it, see what I may be facing!
Spring fever moved me to saying TODAY was THE Day!! Got box into sunroom; opened it; labeled everything as to what pieces go WHERE; was totally SURPRISED the vane..itself..was prefabbed and ready for installation on tower..WHEN done and in place!
Will move ALL pieces out into workshop tomorrow, start screwing away to "build" this windmill, marvel at MY "expertise" in putting something like this together! Of course, the MAJOR project will getting it from workshop to permanent home in yard AFTER removing old one from it's place of prominence, but I have a really SWEET brother-in-law to help with things like this.
I'm REALLY quite EXCITED about this venture: have hanging baskets of ivy geraniums (growing) I can just SEE adorning the mill to beautify it for summer! For some ODD reason, I just CAN'T PICTURE my yard without one, and the TIME surely has COME for a new windmill to see me thru next several years. AND it's taking the edge off the relentless "cabin fever" of this time of year! Worse comes to worse? I just may have a windmill for sale..AS IS!, shipping FREE!

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Beginning the New Year

Category: gardening | Posted: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:13 pm

The year of 2009 has..literally..been "blown in" by the Wyoming winds! Christmas Eve Day saw gusts upwards of 75 MPH, with a steady 45 MPH in between, that caused blowing snow and all kinds of good things floating in the air. Found a section of flexible drain pipe laying in front drive that drifted in from somewhere; plastic bags were decorating the bushes and trees; empty garbage cans were rolling around before their owners could get to them, and the tube bird feeders were flopping in ALL directions!
That night, about 9 p.m., was watching a program called "Ghost Hunters" when something hit the front window..right in back of my chair!..with a THUD, followed by "thloop! Thloop! Thloop!" that had me outta that chair in nothing flat! I thought I'd been HAD and that the "spooks" were surely knocking on my door! Looked out just in time for the SECOND "attack" that got me back paddlin' faster than I realized I could MOVE! The culprit was an Eurasion collared turtle dove that I went out and rescued with shaking hands (and whole shaking body!), took out into middle of yard an released..minus a few feathers. There's been a number of them present lately, roost in the cedar tree by front door, and all I can figure is it kinnda lost its grip on a branch and the WIND did the rest, causing a number of NEW gray hairs in the process! That was Christmas.
New Years Eve day, winds were at it AGAIN, but loaded up my little Australian Shepard and went to do some much needed shopping. Went by a not-yet-completed duplex being built whose newly shingled roof didn't look "just right": at LEAST 24 shingles had been loosened and were standing UPRIGHT due to the winds: thought "that contractor isn't going to be a very happy camper" when he returns to work! From there, it was dodging bags of garbage blown out of tipped over cans, getting the truck "rocked" at stop lights til I FINALLY made the store! Got out of pickup, then went PARI-SAILING across parking lot to front door of the place in RECORD TIME, looked like an old witch that just had a very bad ride around the neighborhood on her broom! Got what I needed, including a 50 pound bag of birdseed, and headed back to the truck, going INTO the wind this time! Cart, groceries, bird seed and I went east, west, a bit south then due north before getting back heading east again to..eventually..make it. Unloaded the items into truck bed (while trying to keep cart, with my foot, from taking off to parts unknown), just closed the tailgate and shell topper when a GUST hit me so HARD I was 10 feet down the parking lot before I knew it! Some nice gentleman, going by, laughingly offered to take the cart back..I didn't ARGUE one bit, said "thank you, SIR!", but think the words blew into the next town.
Winds continued into New Years Day, and here She is, another howler this one. We DO get the WINDS, yes!, but my heart goes out to those on the East Coast who've had devastating ice storms, snow and unusual winds for there. Our trees are use to the abuse, grew up with it and have adapted to their surroundings, not so those stately eastern rigid oaks, etc. who've suffered a lot of damage due to the elements, wind just isn't in their vocabulary!
I think I've "winded" enough...

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ENDING 2008

Category: gardening | Posted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:09 pm

First of all, I would like to wish everyone a very happy, prosperous and good-growing New Year in advance of the change from 2008 to 2009. Secondly, I would like to let everyone know how MUCH I APPRECIATE this site and all the people involved: it is so GREAT to learn from people all over the world about differant methods of raising plants, problems/solutions associated with such! I THANK YOU ALL!
Am in the process of trying to figure out IF I can grow everything in containers I'd like to in the coming year, and where the devil to put them! My yard(s) aren't small but there's a lot of "spot" shade places due to perimeter trees on property. Have an area between house and massive workshop that would be IDEAL for vines except for two factors: antelope invade that section to browse on "succulent, ABUNDANT weeds" (got to cater to these critters all I can! Are being forced off native feeding grounds under the guise of "progress"), and the area receives NO air circulation at times, temps can get upwards of 120 degrees between the buildings on a still (YEP! Actually get those every millinium in Wyoming) day. As I don't want the fenced in area, where I grow 100% of plants now, looking like a hodge-podge container nightmare, have spray painted "regulars" with a color that blends in with color scheme of ground and makes them almost invisable from a distance..think I have MORE work ahead of me if I want to eat well in the future, cram things just a bit closer into a somewhat pleasing style (isn't that part of the gardening EGO tho'? Gotta have everything "just so".. container-wise or in a plot/lottie. Us gardeners are PROUD people and WELL we SHOULD BE when it comes to eye-appeal, square foot/companion planting and blending everything into surroundings, PLUS what we attain from it all for personal use or to give away to someone needy. We're GOOD at what we do! Need I say more?)
Tears in beers; weeds from seeds; rain and pain; flops in crops: may your New Year be an exceptionally productive, GOOD one regardless. My best wishes to ALL, Weeds n Seeds



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The "Woman's Knife"

Category: gardening | Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:18 pm

Several days ago I made a huge pot of split pea soup and relied on my 20 year-old ulu, as usual, to chop the necessary vegetables into edible pieces. Now, you ask "what the devil is an ulu"?
First of all, the implement's name is pronounced "ooo-loo"; it dates back some 2,500 years; is the Alaskan Inuit womans all purpose knife that's used for anything from skinning/cleaning animals to cutting a childs hair and everything inbetween! At one point in time, the ulu was made with caribou antler for the handle and sharp slate rock to cut with, then came the introduction of metal for use as the blade (old, discarded saw blades were once used and honed to a fine cutting edge). The overall design hasn't changed a bit over the centuries, is basically the same as it was eons ago.
When I lived in Southeastern Alaska, ulus were for sale anywhere there was a souvenier shop, were touted as being only available in Alaska. I was in Anchorage for a training seminar, happened into a grocery store that had wooden-handled ulus for $4.98, so purchased one as the price was sure right (these can sell for as much as $200 depending on craftsmanship involved): was one of the BEST investments I ever made!
Because of price, I didn't have much hope as to its cutting ability. Included instructions WARNED of the blades' sharpness, took a few good finger cuts to realize the warning was NO JOKE: I even managed to trim fingernails, once or twice, when I got a bit too careless!
That was 20 years ago, I have GREAT RESPECT for my ulu to this day. I use it CONSTANTLY for dicing, slicing and whatever, have found it to be invaluable in the kitchen! It's been said these can even be used for filleting salmon and other fish. However, since someone gave us an electric filleting knife, I got lazy and never tried the ulu on those projects, but have used it to cut fish strips for smoking..sliced right thru the fish fillets like they were butter! Or my fingertip!
I've had many friends book tours to Alaska and I highly recommended they buy an ulu while there as they'd never regret the purchase.. ONCE they got USED to using it without fatality that is! Ulu's ARE classified as "dangerous weapons" because of blade sharpness, MUST be packed inside checked-in baggage at airports or security will be at your elbow and threatening confiscation..can be a very EMBARRASING situation!! I KNOW! They can be purchased on the internet now, but only thru Alaskan dealers as the ulu is "native" to that State, won't find the TRUE one anywhere else!
Now you also know what an ulu is. For pictures of various types, and a great history of them, type in "History of the Alaska ulu" and go to the Wikipedia site. You really have to LIVE with one to fully enjoy and appreciate it's values tho'..and keep the bandaids handy!



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