2015 Fall/Winter Garden Experiment: Garlic; It's ALIVE!!!

Those of you who follow this blog, know we are always trying to raise new things in our garden beds.  We have a few square foot style garden boxes. The lengths vary, but none of them are more than four feet wide.
  One of our oldest 4'x4' boxes has been through several different incarnations.  We created it to be a simple, unassuming herb garden, and for several years it worked quite well, producing a variety of herbs, but also included one 'rosemary monster' who rose up and took over half the box one season. 
  We uprooted Rosemary and moved her to another part of the yard, where she pouted and decided to give up the ghost, no matter how hard we had tried to appease her. We tried resurrecting her, in a way, by buying more of 'her', time after time, planting, then digging her back up 'cuz she didn't like it there...or there....or nope, not there either. Finally,  we put her in Peg's new shade garden; the same spot 'she' had liked so well before. Well...so, then she got 'squashed' this year in the onslaught of the "Great Renegade Butternut Squash Takeover, Summer 2015." She's dead again, or so it appears.
  Next, in this same 4'x4' garden, we planted strawberries. This experiment lasted for several years. We bought strawberry plants from the local big box garden centers, and from the local ag. Since both of those efforts were unsuccessful, we then we hunkered like fiends over brightly colored seed and plant catalogs and rubbed our hands together waiting for our next strawberry specimen's arrival. Meanwhile, we fluffed up their bed with fresh straw from a feed store 15 miles down the road. We fertilized and watered and checked the chemical makeup of the soil. The healthy young strawberry plants arrived and got planted in amongst the paltry few who were still faltering, in their effort to survive. 
   Oh, they grew alright, these new ones. The bugs, the birds, and the blankety-blank weeds were having a ball in that bed, but we got barely a berry. And that last sentence was the best thing that we got out of that whole strawberry box deal.
   Talking with folks, we agree, that because of our extreme southern heat, strawberries will never do well here; at least in our yard. We live just south of prime strawberry growing territory. Drat! Foiled again.
  Back to Square One. What to try next?  Research!
  After picking a few brains; that of friends and garden forums, we decided to grid off the 4'x4' plot and try to bring new life into it. The body of our investigation and consultation of my associates led us to believe that we might be able to breathe new life into our garden by growing garlic. With that  in mind, we decided to execute this plan.
We dug through the old soil, worked it over and prepared it for another undertaking. 
 We scurried to the market and brought home a few cloves of garlic, then we pulled off their toes and stashed them in a large aluminum wash basin.  
    To make sure they were properly spaced, I dug out our old 4-hole garden stencil. Wiping off the cobwebs, I discovered it looked like it was old, decrepit, crumbled and mangled, so I quickly disposed of it.  Peg, my accomplice, unearthed a 1 foot square piece of cardboard and I laid out plans for making our new stencil.  The trick is to go in 3 inches from all the edges; that way all bulbs get planted 6 inches apart with 4 to each square foot. This way they will be buried 6" from their neighbors, as well.
After laying out the grid, I used a circle templet for the holes, then knifed them out with an exacto knife.
They didn't come out exacto, but what the heck, close enough for planting garlic.
This old pine box is, as best as we can remember, around 13 years old. The 2"x12" boards are starting to decompose and several of the nails slipped out and had to be relocated. Several others had were rusted, decayed and broken off .  I put the pattern down on the bed and poked holes into the sod with my finger, while Peggy took pictures and helped me place all the toes in the plot, and cover them. It was hot and thirsty work, and frankly, my stein of beer made that whole body of laborious toil well worth it.

We had prepared the garden box by working the old soil and adding compost, organic garden fertilizer and to top it off, we dumped in a sack of Miracle Grow garden soil. When we find it deeply discounted, we get a few sacks and use it to supplement whatever needs burying or worked into the soil around the yard...whenever it's called for. 
    This was 5 days ago. We must have done something right 'cause this morning when Peg went outside strolling and looking at the empty plot, she saw something coming up out of the ground! An early riser poking its little garlicy head out of the ground. So far, this experiment looks like it's working! This time if we have a successful crop, we'll be able to say, "That stinks!" but this time it will be a GOOD thing.


Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

   We wrote, "The Tolling of the Great Southern Belle" ten years ago, after Hurricane Katrina had devastated South Louisiana and the coastal cities of Mississippi and Alabama.
   Cappy was out on the boat, riding it out. His boat was tied up and he was alone. Everyone else had 'jumped ship', until after the worst was over. I heard him try to stay calm over the phone, but it was difficult, when he kept getting thrown hard from one side of the wheelhouse to the other. He thought he might not survive, but didn't tell me until much later.
  I had 'run' to Texas to take a young woman there, in my SUV loaded with her stuff and cat, plus our two dogs. We were in a news blackout so didn't hear how badly things had gotten back in New Orleans, until the next morning in the hotel. I was only getting bits and pieces between times when the young lady (I had driven there and I had paid for our hotel suite) kept turning off the television, disgusted that "anyone would want to watch that stuff." (The original mold of ingratitude was not created because of her, but just one more thing to have to endure because of all the confusion due to the storm.) The first indication that let me know I had run from a very bad situation, was from Cappy, when the phone service came on temporarily between us. He said, "Oh, Peg. This is not good. The levee breached and there are bodies floating in the streets of New Orleans. I've never in my lifetime heard of that happening." 
   At the time I wrote the "Tolling" blog post, here at home, a few scant days later, anarchy seemed to be ruling the streets in New Orleans. Chaos. Panic. Death caused by the hurricane and flood was now accompanied by lawlessness. The death toll kept rising. 
   I feared that the beautiful city of New Orleans may have been completely gone forever, and so I wrote:

            The Tolling of the Great Southern Belle  

She was one of a kind, our Nola. She was a grand lady, the finest example of gracious Southern Hospitality. She was a beautiful hostess, a lady of refinement, gentility, and humor. (And her food!...My, Oh, My, Momma NOLA's Cookin'!) But for all her artisocracy and proper Southern manners,we all knew that beneath all the lace and petticoats, she was a foxy seductress, a siren, who's wanton, bluesy, raunchy, soulful, music wafted through her French Quarter. We loved her for all that she was...with all of her sins and for all of her goodness.
What a terrible 'cat-fight'. Nola had been able to defend herself against Betsy and Camille; been battered and bruised, but recovered...eventually. It appears that Katrina has beaten our Dear City and surrounding area.
New Orleans Saints have multiplied beyond number as of yet. More go Marching In all the time; those not having been rescued, and now more recently, victims of crime. No one knows how high the death toll is going to be. New Orleans, Louisiana, or 'NOLA', the Great Southern Belle is still tolling.


Could Ya TRY Not to Get Creeped Out By These Very NICE Banana Spiders?

When we see the first banana spider we know Fall can't be far behind. (These are not to be confused with the Wandering Banana spider indigenous to Brazil, which is poisonous) Another name for these huge 'ladies' is the Golden Orb Weaver.
  This one took up residence under the patio underhang, not far from where the doves had raised their small family last month. What an intricate and fancy web she's got going for her this year. Looks like she's got it on zigzag.
She's apparently camera shy, and scurried to hide, but I caught this nice shot of her, below, as she hurried away.
She usually stays parked in the middle of the web unless we scare her by walking too close to her setup. She seems to be making a good living up there. 

She's rather small by comparison to our other banana spider standards. She looks to only be about the size of the palm of my hand.  As Fall approaches, there will probably be several of them setting up shop in various spots around our yard.  We try not to bother them unless they block a path.  They are great at catching skeeters and we appreciate that, as well as their beauty.  (It took Peg awhile to be able to look at them as one of God's creatures, and it helped that they ate a ton of mosquitoes.)
   As more show up, I will try to get some pictures of their webs covered with morning dew shining like glittering strands of tiny jewels sparkling in the morning sun.  
Sadly, these wonderful creatures have become the bane of Fall hunters as they walk through the woods, hunting.  Imagine creeping through the woods, concentrating on the tops of trees for elusive squirrels, or looking down, eyes darting behind bushes or shrubs for prey and walking face first into one of these huge spiders, whose web is exactly nose high.
Here, below, is a link to a couple of stories where Peg thought one 'got her', and only because of these dreaded South Louisiana mosquitoes, has she finally come to terms with the realization that, a lot of the bigger bugs are really on her side (NOT Literally!!) after all. 


Our Book got a 5 Star Review!!

After a year and a half of researching and writing, we finally got our book, "Space Freighter First Dock: Neo-Eden" published, for now, as an online ebook. This was a little more than two weeks ago. We have since, been anxiously awaiting any kind of feedback for all the hard work we'd put into the venture. We have been in the dark, wondering if any of the twenty or so buyers actually like what we had written.
   It's a long book, (nearly five hundred pages) with rich characters and a lot of, what we feel, are fun and interesting stories wound around the main story line. We were hoping and praying others would agree. That being said, we should have known it would take anyone some time to get through it, and comforted ourselves with that thought.
 (Peggy here: it's not what I'd call the usual sci-fi, but more read as though it were a fun tale taking place, even today. No vulgarity or bad swearing. Plus, despite, in today's world, it being politically incorrect, we honor God.) 
  So, two weeks went by and still no sign of anyone letting us know their thoughts on the matter. 
  Finally, we woke up the other morning and found this review accompanied by 5 stars on Amazon:  
Sci-Fi Fans take notice and buckle your seatbelts! Ray and Peggy Robin (Cappy and Pegody) authors of Space Freighter First Dock: Neo Eden, have written an exciting new book.
Original story line from Earths future filled with page turning delight. Well-developed characters, fast paced, outstanding descriptions of old and new earth, their ship the Intrepid, and other worlds.
Delicious mystery, thought provoking intrigue and brilliant dialog.
Space Freighter First Dock: Neo Eden is truly a page turner that catches the imagination and won’t let go. This is the best new Science Fiction story I’ve read in years and I’m sure it will become a fan favorite with the promise of many more installments.
Look for Cappy and Pegody to be 2016 Hugo or Nebula Award winners, if not both!
Truly a must read for Sci-Fi fans everywhere.

Just in case you think we made it up it is here on the Amazon link:


Don't forget you can get a free sample and distributor discount at smashwords:


If you decide to read our book, please do like the angel who wrote this review on Amazon and give us the review you think we deserve and/or drop us a note and let us know what ya think.
  It must be noted: the man who wrote the review above, is a noted author, himself, J.D.Ludwig, who wrote Overreach: Blood of Patriots, also available online and in bookstores.
  Whaa Hoo! It's getting to be a fun ride now!


The Mad Experiment Continues

Last Spring, as an experiment, we planted some yard-long beans in our little square foot garden.  We were told they were good hot weather plants that could withstand our South Louisiana Summers.  If you look a little ways back into our blog archives, you will see how we were thrilled when we planted them and they practically jumped out of the ground! Now, with them growing, we've harvested plenty and cooked them several different ways.  Well, here it is the middle of an almost record dry, extremely hot August, and we are happy to report that the beans have survived without us even watering them. Not wanting to venture out into the miserably oppressive heat, ourselves, we had given up, but they didn't. They are still producing aplenty, so here's a picture of yesterday's harvest:
These, along with a few okra and some small peppers are all the garden is producing in the summer heat. Peg used up the peppers already, or they'd be smilin' at ya, here along with the beans and okra.  
So, this is the freezer's haul for one day. Not a bad deal. Not shabby at all. (shade garden notwithstanding)
Even though the volunteer squash has retreated, because the heat has beaten them back,
taking another look this morning, it looks like they've gotten their second wind.
Maybe they plan to take over Peg's shade garden and the yard again this Fall. A few of her flowers survived the onslaught of Summer drought and squashes taking over their bed. If those viney beans and viney squash ever crawl across the yard and meet in the middle, head to head, who knows what kind of plant versus plant entertainment we'd find ourselves watching for the next few months or so. I guess this proves what simple folks we are. It's the little things in life that tickle our fancy that we find "Madcap" fun. Muah ha ha, anyone? (anyone?)