Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest to be the Best

Good Morning!

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My quest is to have the best blogs I can from this day forward. Now let’s see if I keep that promise. My goal had always been to provide needed information to others regarding many aspects of living in todays very confusing world, with a little entertainment and pretty pictures.

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I want to give others ideas and shortcuts to living in a world that will rob you blind spiritually as well as financially. It was supposed to give definite tips to save money, offer suggestions to solve various lifestyle issues such as cooking, cleaning, decorating, gardening and crafting. I have really fallen short in this area because as my mother used to say “obviously, it’s too much like work” now.

Even though I have experienced the joys of motherhood myself, it was so many years ago this is definitely not a “mommy blog.”

I plan to have more recipes, gardening tips and photo enhancement tips from Photoshop, which I seldom use, Microsoft Photodraw the first photographic software I purchased and still us even though support stopped many years ago to Ulead PhotoImpact which has awsome particle effects like lighting and fog.

Thank you all for your patience and I hope you will enjoy the new, improved Po’ Girl Shines. I owe my faith and hope to Jesus. God bless you all. Peace to you all.
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Partners

Just a little fun with Microsoft PhotoDraw.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Starting Your Intricate Herb Garden

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With too many herbs to mention by name, where you live determines what and when to plant.  When I was first gardening, I learned the hard way not to assume we were warming up early just because we had an early warm up.  Living in southern Michigan, I plant my cool weather or hardy plants mid-April and the warm weather stuff by Memorial weekend, or end of May sometime.  Check for your area on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and prevent frost damage to tender seedlings. As long as your soil is enriched and aerated, all you need to worry about are the three W’s, Watering, Weeding and Watching for pests and your garden should be a success. My most successful gardens were dug by hand in clay soil.  I worked in some peat and manure and that was it, besides watering and organically killing any pest, usually by hand.  Because it was near the country, all the bigger varmints killed the little ones so no varmint damage like I have experienced trying to garden in the city.

In front of my first Garden.

In front of my first Garden.

You need to decide by choice or convenience if you prefer to purchase young plants or start them by seed.  Some seeds you can just toss in the garden soil and some you will want to start indoors and harden off before planting outdoors.  You might try experimenting depending on the type and size of the herb.  Know the size and the needs of all plants so you can better design where you wish to place them in your garden.  Find out which ones are annuals or perennials so you aren’t surprised when come back the next year with a vengeance!  I’ve had spearmint go wild on me, much to my neighbor’s chagrin, and had to weed it back to keep it on my side of the fence.  I would have loved the free spearmint if it were the other way around, but some city folks want their perfect little lawns. You can find a treasure trove of plant and garden information on the various Cooperative Extension Service sites offered by local colleges online now.  Below is a sample page from the book “Vegetable Gardening Know-How” in the herb section to give you some idea.  The author took it from the Cooperative Extension Service of Kansas State University.  The book was published in 1975, FYI. img890 Get to know your herbs.  Currently I only grow those I intend to use for cooking.  I used to grow lavender to give to others that loved it.  I had an allergy with this plant so I finally stopped, as beautiful as it is.  You can decide to grow a little around your yard, planting some in between your other garden plants or actually design a beautiful garden  that you designate for herbs only.  Be sure to lay out your design on paper first, keeping in mind the size and needs of each plant so you don’t end up crowding or shading some.  Don’t plant herbs requiring rich soil right next to those needing dryer soil or shade loving plants next to those needing full sun.  Be aware of these things and you should be OK, providing you don’t over water your garden.  Some starting out actually kill their plants with kindness by over feeding and too much watering because they are afraid the least sign of dry soil means certain death for the plant.  Most need to dry a little between rainfall or watering.  You’ll get the hang of it once you start.  Try to use containers to trap rain if you can.  Some have gone back to actual rain barrels which are great!  WARNING!  Check to be sure you are not breaking the law locally if you do this.  Yes, I am being serious!  In some states, like Colorado, it is illegal to gather rain for gardens even though it saves water in the long run.  It has to do with some petty “you own your home but don’t have water rights.”  First place, I would take that all the way to the Supreme Court if I had to for the simple reason is rain is not water.  It’s rain and can be proven so if facts are presented.  If any area of our government in America becomes that petty and controlling, it needs to be stopped and to do this, you must not obey it and fight it.  That’s the only way we have managed any freedoms in this world at all.

I hope you enjoy the intricacies of these various herbs.

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Happy gardening!

Summer Garden 2014

I’ve had this Hydrangea shrub for many years.  I admit to having transplanted it several times due to the shade that keeps appearing every couple of years.  Some caused by my trees and shrubs sprouting up in the vicinity and once due to a neighbor planting several very large privacy shrubs near his fence line.  Making up for lost time, it not only decided to bloom all the colors of the rainbow on one shrub.  Nice feat when you consider that the Hydrangea’s color is determined by the PH balance of its soil.

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Check out the 3 butterflies I caught in mid-air to the left of the flower!

Check out the 3 butterflies I caught in mid-air to the left of the flower!

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My First Real Garden in The Burbs

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Standing in front of my first garden in the burbs.

How Green is Your Garden?

I am chemically sensitive and I have been for many years.  I know a lot of people that have the same problem and the numbers are growing.  Chemicals are big business and the only way this will change is if we stop using those products.  Less demand means less production, less money for advertisement to convince you that you need them, hence less pollution.  We use chemicals for cleaning, lawn care, health and beauty aids, even in our foods.  Now when did granny say, I’ll just add a little more MSG or cottonseed oil when she was cooking dinner?  There is simply no legitimate excuse for our dependence on these toxic additives to our foods especially. 

I understand that there can be a concern at times about a product’s ingredients becoming stale or unstable without their use, but if foods were received fresh and used as intended, the need for many of the additional additives would subside.  Insisting on fresher products may force our governments to allow us to consume products grown or produced in America, which in turn puts more Americans back to work.  Most of our products come from other countries and there is a longer time span from production or harvest to market due to all the import, export procedures and regulations.  Personally I fear any product that should only last a week, tops, lasting for months on a store shelf

Living green means living fresh and organic, as we were created to live.  We were certainly not created to constantly ingest man-made garbage.  There is so much talk about finding a cure for cancers, but I have yet to see the people responsible for this quest do anything remotely that will bring this about.  We certainly don’t need all the marching for donations, which is big business for some.  We need our world leaders and governmental agencies to do the right thing for a change and reduce the world’s pollution that is almost out of control now.  I don’t know about global warming, but I do know that toxic chemicals pollute and poison our air, water and earth daily.  Soon this may not be reversible.  This smog destroys people’s lungs and many inner city children show signs of asthma right away due to their tender membranes and tiny bodies.  Some don’t stand a chance.  Instead of trying to stop this madness, Doctors give these children more chemicals and toxins in their bodies to try to counteract the symptoms.

Most cancers are caused by irritations and the body’s homeostasis being altered allowing the cancers to grow.  I live near numerous factories and since moving here my lungs have become so much worse.  I don’t smoke and never go by smokers anymore due to the chronic bronchitis this causes me.  Gone are the days of drying laundry outdoors unless you live out in the boonies, and that air is still not really fresh anymore.  Our air circulates globally and China is a big polluter next to the U S.

I encourage you to write to your state and federal governments to see what ideas they are coming up with to improve our environment.  Please feel free to offer any suggestions to them that you think may help, just keep it “clean.”

Creative Gardening

Artful Gardening Ideas from “living artfully” by Sandra Magsamen

  • Instead of potted plants, make little herb gardens to serve as dining table centerpieces.  Or use glass bell jars as terrariums.

  • Cut a heart shape in the lawn using a mower.

  • Plant a garden with butterfly bushes and enjoy the visits of hundreds of butterflies.

  • Make a garden pathway using stones you craft with cement.  Pour the cement in a box of the size of the desired stone and place objects, like shells, sea glass and mosaics in the wet thick mortar.  Carve your name with a stick or even stick in your bare foot to make an imprint before it dries.

  • Plant lots of red tulip bulbs in the shape of hearts in your garden so that in the spring, your garden will blossom with love.  Secretly plant a heart tulip bed in your neighbor’s garden.

  • Pick a handful of pansies from your garden and tie together with a velvety purple ribbon to give to a neighbor.

  • Hang several hummingbird feeders outside of a main window and watch as the birds joyously flit back and forth.

  • Build a koi pond and fill it with colorful fish.

  • Make feeding balls for birds.  Simply spread peanut butter on an orange and then roll it in birdseed.  Hang these beautiful balls from branches and watch as the birds enjoy the bounty.

  • Learn to build (or have built) a water garden and transform your yard into a babbling brook.

  • Add elegant and colorful pinwheels or figurines to your garden.

  • Plant a mini forest of large sunflowers and when their stalks grow tall, walk into the magical thicket.  Allow the flowers to dry in the sun and hang as bird feeders from the trees in the late fall.

Early Spring

As the blog writer, I am writing this disclaimer that I do not fully agree with some of these ideas, but printed them verbatim from the book.  I don’t think it a good idea to surprise any neighbor by planting things secretly in their yard, depending on the items and the neighbor.  You want to be careful mixing cement for the garden stones and wear proper equipment to protect skin, lungs and eyes, so I am not sure you want to put your bare feet into the cement, unless you wash off right away.  I am not a fan of ponds.  My home had one when I moved in and I would find small animals and birds drowned in it occasionally when I came home from work.  Found that too upsetting and had it dug out and replaced it with a small herb garden.

I also have a problem with the suggestion to walk into any thicket of sunflowers.  Bees and hornets love them!  As beautiful as they are, you may want to keep your distance, especially if you have allergies.  Unless I was planning to eat some of the sunflower seeds, I let them dry on the plant and the birds and squirrels help themselves.  I am not into super-cleaning up my garden at the end of the season.  There have been things written by so-called experts that this reduces plant disease.  This is not true unless you know you have diseased plants, in which case you will want to take care of them at the time you find this out.  Leaving the plants be at season’s end, makes your garden more attractive & interesting.  It also makes it bird and animal friendly.  They make use of all kinds of plant substances by eating it or using it for bedding or nesting.  Some left over plants make nice perches.  I usually do my major bed cleaning in early spring but make sure all plants and leaves are kept off the lawns and ground cover year round.

Parsley is also a shrub!

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