Friday, July 24, 2015

Mid-Summer gardening in the Upper Midwest- MID SUMMER?

Hollyhocks starting to bloom along our fence.

These are so old fashioned and carefree, I just love when they start spiraling to the sky and blush into gorgeous blooms. The bees love them and the blossoms hold for quite awhile. Better yet, they reseed themselves, (I do help-by spreading the last of the seeds in the area.

After a MISERABLE cold spring and a record wet cool June, summer has finally decided to peek out from behind the clouds and visit us in Northern Illinois. 

And today---we are on our FOURTH consecutive day of sunshine, another record for 2015, LOL.  

Here is our back pond(non-pond) this summer, as our granddaughter likes to play--way too much--in water. So it is tipped over for the year. The pond is normally a nice size water trough, rigged up to a 1880 rusty pump found in the bottom of the well in the old fish store. (more fish store stories later)

The trellis behind, is just starting to fill with the purple blooms of morning glories. I have been doing my weeding early in the day, 6 AM actually, so I can visit them and say "Good Morning". 

Above, the mass of greenery to the lower right is the marjoram plant I have cut back twice this spring.
The purple Liatris are just starting to fill out and a basil in front has huge leaves, in fact anything green is overgrown to say the least, while flowers are small and late. 

Except for the Tiger Lilies 
which exploded this week in the front yard, like left-over fireworks. 

The Edible Garden
has not faired well either. Here is one of our new railing planters with herbs: basil, spicy globe basil and thyme. However they were slow to drain and quickly became waterlogged with our record precipitation, hence the wilt yellow leaves.
Quick Fix now---more holes drilled in the bottom. 

We splurged and purchased lettuce plants in May. (cold weather crop and all that) 

Today, this is the last of our six kinds of lettuce.

 We got three good pickings. Most drowned and rotted with the cool weather or the slugs and slime bugs took over.

This was the last picking yesterday as I pulled out the rotting stems. So sad to see our salads 
go. This was the first year we got celery cabbage heads --One and a quarter  out of six plants, the rest slug food. I will try and start some more by seed, if I can't find plants.


The happiest plants and I'm not sure why--are the Asian Eggplants we planted from seed. They are dragging on the ground with beautiful small, sweet, purple goodness, as many as five to a plant. Anyway we have had them stir-fried, in eggplant lasagne, and just grilled. They keep well and everyone eats them here.

The zucchini are just starting, but no pickles, beans or yellow squash, yet. Tomatoes are struggling-the plants are full of leaves (some spotting yellow-again water issues)-but have only small hard fruit. The last few days of breezes and sunshine have helped.  But, we are now twenty-four days past our normal first big red tomato. We have had 3 puny ones, this week, which really don't count. 


It has been a weird year! We start our seeds in February and moved them out to a small greenhouse end of March, then to the large greenhouse (shown above after the move). All the plants are huge by the  May and get planted as early as possible. Some poor shivering cabbage and broccoli babies even suffered snow. 

I blogged about surprises in the gardening. 
Anyone who saves seeds or starts oodles of seeds, knows what label screw-ups are. I planted
Zinnas *I thought* around the base of the flagpole. I had a sneaky suspicion as the leaves grew larger that it might be something else.

So really large YELLOW ZINNIAS-- snicker,  at the bottom of the flagpole.

Like I said, it has been a weird year.

Now, as I write this the Cicadas are singing their first song of the year, fading in and out like an old crank Victrola…yes it is summer, finally.

May the Sun Shine, on your world for you Everyday!

Thanks for stopping by 


All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

Monday, July 20, 2015

Somethings OLD to REDO*~~~Junking Finds!~~~*

Quick share today.

Great JUNK from my last few junking excursions.

Flexible Flyer 1940-50s

I will start with my ultimate find, a Flexible Flyer 48" in pretty great condition at a garage sale for $10.00.  Will I REDO this, probably not---but next we'll be winter sledding on a hill down the street and probably used as a prop in many a Christmas Pic. I will clean it and put some mineral oil on the metal to keep it from deteriorating further. Love the chrome on the very front---making it a 'special' old sled. 

THE BEST PART only $10.00, junker's remorse at 'cheating' the owner---none what-so-ever, she was downloading her garage and she said her children didn't want it. Still has the great graphics intact. OLD clothes line still attached. These sleds were the ultimate in sledding in the 1950s, pretty controllable (except on ice--I cracked both my front teeth when I was twelve, careening into a tree), totally destroying the other sled brand, my American Flyer.

NEW Fairy, Gnome, Barbie greenhouse

I include this as a junking find, but its NEW found at a big box craft store for $4.00. 
It's perfect size for miniature greenhouse. The lid opens and screams to be painted cottage chic. 
REDO, maybe, I may wait on that and live with it as is for a bit as is.

Shallow Glass door cabinet cabinet

This OLD cabinet was a steal at $8 until I got to the register and found
 it was 1/2 price Friday at a remote Charity Thriftshop. Mind you thrift store's in Chicagoland are not always thrifty, but I seldom balk at prices in stores that are connected with charities, because profits go for good causes. My plans, a fresh coat of paint, a dowel rail across each shelf. The shabby cabinet should make a new home for polish, perfume and ephemera or maybe a jewelry cabinet, not sure yet.

Totally Kitschy Iron PINK? shelf -1940-50s

Found this at the Northwinds Perennial Farm show from my June post, Great Show! 
I did pay $10.00 for this, but I have never seen a three-tiered one before. First thought--REDO the PINK-- and turn it upside down, use it for jewelry, and display, 
but maybe for a shelf in the shipping craft room. Such a dilemma!

OLD wooden dresser insert

This was OLD and dovetailed, had disgusting silver cloth in it, from who-knows-when. The wood is not terribly heavy, but after cleaning will make a tray with the addition of handles and some trim. This will definitely be a REDO.

Drawer does scream to be a shelf though.

OLD plates for mosaics-99cents to $1.99

The red plates are vintage Wachtersbach from matching their holiday pottery. I have quite a few mugs, so these may not go to the mosaic collection, unless I am desperate for red. The strawberry plates are Royal Stafford Wildberry or Strawberry and are not that old, but I love the green leaves. 
 The small navy blue has a great raised border and the lighthouse plate has a chip but great colors.

Last plate Marked Japan "La Ville"

This is a great old 'crazed' dinner plate, this will be great in mosaics, can't wait.

 OLD Silver Plate Shell bowl

I did think twice on this piece, $12.00, it was from a Goodwill and has adorable little feet. Unpolished, it has already found its home at the feet of my garden nymph and will be part of her new garden pool.

 Nymph Garden Pool

That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by and visit again soon.


All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What's NEW, OLD and GREEN? An unexpected Visitor and accidental Raspberries

Somethings: New, Old, Green and unexpected.

Hiya! I want to welcome you to our soggy part of the world, water-soaked Chicagoland, way, way out in the Northwest Suburbs.

Yesterday, between thunderstorms and the brutal HEAT, I ventured out to pull a few weeds. I saw this poor soggy little Toady. He lurked in the stones around the water trough pond and then escaped into the herb garden---or mushroom-weed garden depending on how you look at it.

Two things that love the record producing rains Chicagoland has suffered along with about one-third of the country, are mushrooms and weeds.  Now I don't mean those little scrape away weeds, I mean three-foot high thistles and tons of nasty looking stuff I have really never seen before. And the spearmint, OMG, it is like an alien scourge that will swallow our world, as we know it. (I have been pulling the same dang mint, since 1984.) Seems nothing besides poisoning the environment will rid us of it, either! NOT--We go GREEN!

So, with every clump of thistle, silver maple, or mint tangle and enthusiastic-alien-weed I pulled, this poor little Toady jumped into the next batch of weeds.  After I tickled his head, he finally disappeared into a mass of tarragon and I left him in peace. 

Today, Toady was hiding under the Saucers

Poor little guy---I had dumped five huge saucers of water right around this stump, and it wasn't until I moved the last one, did I see him. He finally jumped into the fenced garden, probably in totally paranoia from the water monster chasing him.

Then I moved my flower pots around into the less colorful areas, as I often do as the landscape changes. Everything is totally overgrown and green because of the weather.

Somethings: OLD

 While Junking, I found this OLD marvelous silver-plate shell bowl at a Goodwill--it's huge, and the plan is to add a new pump for my Nymph fountain, if I can figure out how to hide the tubing or maybe let the water spill over the silver edge into another container. 
We had a washtub under the Nymph's decking last year, but the frame has sunk so deep into the saturated soil, I can't get the tub back under there? 
I will have to see what is available to slide under the existing decking. 


One of the great joys of gardening, besides the wonderful fresh food, exercise, 
and commiserating with nature is the experience (not always comfortable) of really never having
 ANY control. 
Be it weeds, bugs, weather, or cold temperatures, there are always 
the curses, joys and an occasional surprise of unexpected Gifts. 

The house behind us sold two years ago. The previous owner was a great guy and gardener. We shared our bounties back and forth over the fence. His rhubarb was divine and he had a raspberry patch that backed up to our fence. We got to pick what ever berries from the canes spilled onto our side.

The new owners, not quite as enthusiastic about gardening---dug up the rhubarb and gave us some, we have it growing now on our side. But, I was really disappointed in fall, to see all the raspberry bushes gone: cut, burned and dug out. 

This year, low and behold, raspberries invasive as they can be, traveled along their unwanted roots across into our welcoming yard and filled up the skinny boxes we have along our fence. Waalaa! Six-foot high canes full of huge cascading red raspberries! 

New Accidental Rasperries

Fighting the birds and mosquitos this morning, I picked about 3 quarts of really ripe raspberries.

After a very quick dip in fresh clean waterand a quick shake in the sieves (Granny's)

I drained them on paper toweling as they are very water-soaked and so ripe.

I think I will make a thick sauce we can pour over frozen yogurt tonight.


The raspberries, moldy or over ripe, under ripe and miscellany went into the compost bowl.
Yes, we compost almost everything. I buy GREEN paper products that decompose.
Our vegetable waste, eggshells, coffee grounds, and tea goes into the compost bin and eventually to the pile. In the bowl, you can see the rinds of the casaba melon we had this week, and the lemons from our tea, and eggshells from breakfast. Now out it goes to the turning bin with some compost starter. 

Sorry to end on the note of garbage, LOL. But that is the day in the life of a gardener, toad keeper, nymph enhancer and composter.

Thanks for stopping by, and please come back again.


All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle