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DON'T LAUGH!!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  carolintexas on 5/20/2010, 12:36 am

I just used white nylon clothes line and nailed it down. Here is a photo from my personal gallery. My dog, Max Schnauzer, thought I needed close supervision!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 5/23/2010, 4:21 pm

What a fabulous weekend! Yesterday I got the butterfly bush and oregano planted in their beds. Kid's bed #2 is filled and now has 2 bush sugar baby watermelons, an eggplant, and whatever bean she grew from seed at school. She added a watermelon to bed #1 along with a sunflower, so that bed is now full. I filled the strawberry bed and planted those.

And horror of horrors, the deer finally found my peas. Every beautiful stem has been chomped. So after planting yesterday, we spent much time playing defense. I put netting all the way around my early spring bed and over the strawberries. I'm not as happy with how it looks, but if it protects my babies, then I'll learn to live with it.

I'm spending a small fortune on mix, so perhaps I will fill just one more bed - even tho' I still have plenty of the free wood left. The only other thing I really want is pumpkins. I also want beans, but I think they can go where the lettuce is now. I don't think it (the lettuce) will last much longer.

I met even more gardeners this weekend. And Ed told me I could take some of his strawberry runners, so we added a few more today. And Dave (the guy who mows) told me a family with 3 girls is taking the plot next to me, so hopefully the kid will make some garden friends her age.

As for the wildlife update, the tadpoles are growing like crazy. We have seen dozens of red admiral butterflies this weekend. They love all the sage people have planted down there. We saw more frog eggs in other rainbarrels, but we aren't bringing anymore home. I won't have room for the ones we have when the get bigger. Oy! Still no monarchs, but we did see a yellow swallowtail yesterday, too! And I saw my first honey bee today on my salvia.

Here are a few more pics.

The butterfly bush & oregano:



the new strawberries:



and the chomped peas:


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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 6/5/2010, 1:10 pm

First a wildlife update - the tadpoles are beginning to get their back legs! I borrowed a 20-gallon aquarium from a friend and put about 3 inches of water in it. It seems to have enough room for all of them. Dare I say it - still no losses. And we brought home the tiniest monarch caterpillar the other night. He has molted twice and is now a very hungry 3rd instar. We also have a few eggs, but I really have little luck hatching caterpillars from eggs.

The flowers in my yard are blooming and it looks so lovely! The bees have found us and I saw a gold finch the other day. Things down at the garden seem to be going well, too. Except for my Rutgers. I think it has early blight. Whatever it is, it really isn't happy:

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The kid's beds are very exciting. The watermelons are doing great! And we added a black cherry tomato to her bed #2 today. Her other tomatoes look awesome.





Here is the butterfly bed. I took a cutting of my swamp weed at home and have been rooting it for about a month. It got added today. I broke down and ordered some butterfly weed as the seeds just don't like me! They will go in the front row when they arrive. The purple coneflower is about to bloom!



I put an isis cherry tomato in the sauce bed today. The nasturtiums have been looking sad for a while and today I realized they have slugs - love that silvery little trail. So tonite or tomorrow we'll try to fix that situation. The peppers aren't growing much, but the herbs look happy.



I pulled the spinach today - it had bolted already. The lettuce is hanging in there. And we harvested peas today!!! We also found an interesting green worm on the peas, so we removed him. One of the broccolis has a head, the other not yet.



We've been having August weather already - hot & humid with a chance of rain every afternoon. Many parts of town did get rain - but not us. Here's to a lovely summer storm this afternoon!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  Garden_State on 6/5/2010, 2:00 pm

Everything looks great!!!

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I have the best kid in the world!

Post  nancy on 6/8/2010, 11:03 am

Yesterday was the first day of summer camp and the 6-year-old was pooped! But I made her go down to the garden with me anyway. We needed to water, harvest peas, check for bugs, and look for butterfly eggs. She is a pro at picking peas now.

We found some little green worms on the broccoli that I hadn't seen before. And every time we found one, she asks, "Mama, can I pick it?". I'm so proud that I have raised a kid that doesn't say "Ooh gross!"!! The horn worm we saw on Sunday in the peas jumped when we tried to grab it, and she rooted around until she found it. I hope my poor broccoli recovers.

There was another gardener down there, too and my kid offered her some peas while we were looking for the eggs in her garden (she has tons of common milkweed!). She came over so we could give her a tour and she was so impressed and laughed as we picked the worms. We were down there much longer than expected, but we had a great time!

Then this morning she tells me that I need to clean the tadpole water in that huffy 6-year-old tone. And then promptly ran out to the backyard to pick a milkweed leaf for the caterpillar and insisted on holding him while I cleaned out his cage.

I say it every year: I never expected being a mom to be so much fun! And she is finally old enough to really be able to help. It's so much easier to garden with her! Woo Hoo!

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Monarch update

Post  nancy on 6/9/2010, 9:39 am

I thought that little caterpillar was only a 3rd or 4th instar, but this morning he was hanging from the top of his enclosure ready to make his chrysalis! Hot diggety dog!!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  martha on 6/9/2010, 11:20 am

@nancy wrote:I never expected being a mom to be so much fun!


Awwww! I have been enjoying reading your story, but this squeezed my heart!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 6/12/2010, 9:24 pm

Oh What A Night!

We released our first frogs of the year today. We let 7 little froglets go in the garden to hopefully eat lots of unwanteds. We see a lot of baby grasshoppers - I think that would make a great first meal!





We've separated out another 7 that still need to lose their tails. They will hopefully be released tomorrow.

I finally have monarch eggs in my yard! This is year #4 of a monarch garden, so hopefully I have lots of visitors this year. Thursday I brought 6 eggs in: 4 from my butterfly weed and 2 from a tropical milkweed. Tonite I brought in 4 more eggs from the butterfly weed! That little cat that I mentioned previously made it's chrysalis Thursday while I was at work. And this is what's happening right now as I type to the other fat cat:



You can see part of the 1st chrysalis in the upper right.

As for the gardens, I added yet another tomato this week. I bought an empire from a farmer's market. And I heavily pruned the rutgers. It is beginning to make flowers. Yea! And we have been harvesting sugar snap peas all week. Yum!

Alrighty - I'm stopping now - the excitement on the table is drawing me away.

ttfn

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  camprn on 6/12/2010, 9:28 pm

Nancy, I really, really like your posts about your critters. Very Happy

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 6/13/2010, 8:18 pm

Oh, I'm so glad you like them! I think of all of these tadpoles & caterpillars as my babies and as a proud mama, I love to share their adventures. We released another 18 froglets tonite and ALL of the monarch eggs have hatched into the tiniest cats!!

The enclosing cat was still in his "J" this morning, which surprised me - but my kid & I got to watch the chrysalis process from beginning to end. What a miracle; it takes my breath away every time! No - really, I find myself holding my breath!

Here he is 24 hours later. His cat skin is still clinging to him, but is not a problem.



Thanks for reading!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 6/21/2010, 12:34 pm

Thursday when we got home, the first chrysalis was beginning to darken. I knew we'd have a butterfly by morning!



Sure enough, she eclosed early Friday morning. We got to watch!! And it's a girl!



We let her go Saturday afternoon. The second one eclosed this morning. I haven't been able to tell just yet if it's a boy or a girl. If this storm passes through, we'll release it later today.

Wednesday evening I was able to get all 9 caterpillars on one leaf:



I lost 2 over the weekend - literally: I couldn't find them. One has re-appeared today, so I have 8 very hungry caterpillars chewing their way through every leaf I give them.

We released 4 more frogs into the backyard last night, which takes us to a total of 87 released. I've had a few of them die on me while growing their legs. But I figure if only 10% of eggs laid make it to adulthood, then I'm ahead of the curve.

As for the gardens, we've taken out all the spinach and a few lettuces. I've added 3 squares of bush beans (just one row each so far). The roma & empire tomatoes are both bearing beautiful babies so far. The rutgers is looking better this week. All of the cherries are growing well. The heat has been good for them so far. And the biggest watermelon plant is tall enough to reach the first rung on it's ladder. The other 2 are still behind. I still don't see any improvement on the peppers, but the eggplant is growing nicely.

Oh - and we picked our first broccoli this week! It was so yummy! The other one never did flower - I think the peas shaded it too much. Speaking of, I think the peas are about done. I will definitely replant them for fall. They were so much fun!

I have no vegetable pictures this week, but I hope you enjoy my other babies. I'll try to get a good pic of this monarch before it flies away. And maybe a froglet will pose for me, too.

Happy first day of summer!!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 6/30/2010, 9:15 am

A lot has changed in the last week. It was really hot & humid here, so we didn't make it to the garden as often as we should have. I have pulled the rest of the lettuce and all of the peas in the early spring bed. The carrots seem to be happy:



I plan to add more in the next few days. A friend is sending me some bush bean seeds (thanks Jen!) so they will go in this box, too. This is the same broccoli that I picked a week or so ago:



It will get picked today or tomorrow. Woo hoo! The other one - the one that is in the back right corner that was shaded out by the peas - still isn't doing much. I might try feeding it. Now that it is getting enough sun, I'm hoping it will produce for me.

The sauce bed is giving me mixed results. The rutgers is looking much better. It looks more like a tree since I pruned all the blight-looking leaves. It even has a few flowers! Yea! The empire has 1 tomato so far. The leaves on this plant aren't looking very happy, so hopefully some fish emulsion and/or coffee grounds will help it perk up. The peppers still have not grown at all. Which is fine - I don't like peppers, but still... I have a cherry tomato in here, which is doing okay. The nasturtiums are going gangbusters. But the one I'm really excited about is the roma:



Last night I counted 20 babies on it! The basil looks pretty good still, as does the parsley, but the dill & cilantro have gone to seed. Ah well.

The butterfly bed is filling in really well. The purple coneflower is blooming! The fennel shows new growth and the tropical milkweeds are taking off:



There is a dahlia, a short cosmos, a daisy, and a swamp milkweed here as well and all seem to be doing well. It's still June - I can't wait to see it in August!!



The kid's beds are doing fantastic! She has several tomatoes all of which seem happy; an eggplant that is finally growing; a bean that she started at school that is beginning to show some flowers, and 3 watermelons.



I really hope a deer doesn't find this one! It's the biggest. There are a few other tiny globes that might develop. How many melons does a plant usually produce?



I don't know if you can see it, but the watermelon is in the back right corner growing on a green ladder (behind her rock statue).

I thought I had been doing a good job of picking off strawberry flowers. The plants are looking pretty good and are sending out runners that I plan to train & grow. However; the kid found this last night:



And she didn't even share!

Now for the critters ~ there is just 1 froglet left. He will get released tonite. I haven't seen any of the ones we've released since we let them go. Hopefully they are gorging on tiny crickets & grasshoppers, of which we have an abundance! And we have 8 gorgeous chrysalises on the dining room table. I can't wait to release them. I'm secretly hoping some of them mate and give me more eggs. It seems weird to not have critters to feed right now. It is giving my milkweed a chance to recover, tho'.

I think my garden has also been discovered by the flea beetle. I sprayed everything with neem last night. I will try for tonite, too, but I also want to feed the plants. Can I combine neem feeding with fish emulsion - feed the plants and starve the bugs - at the same time? Other than that, my pests seem under control (crossing fingers). I saw several lady bugs last night - yea!

Okay - this is now long enough. I hope I didn't lose you. A lot has happened since my last update. I bought canning jars last night and am going to be searching for simple marinara sauce recipes soon.

ttfn!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  kimbertangleknot on 6/30/2010, 10:22 am

How many melons does a plant usually produce?

It can produce as many as you want it to honestly, but it is much better to only let a few melon's produce. Too many melons can mean small, tasteless melons, or they might not fully produce at all. I have one melon vine and I only let 4 flowers produce. They are all growing very nicely now except the last one. It might have been a bit to late for it to catchup to the rest.

If you want 1 large pumpkin, pick all flowers after you have "the one" you want to turn into your mammoth.

I think it is so awesome about the butterflies! We don't get a lot of butterflies around here, but we do have a lot of birds. Totally fascinating to see your pictures!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 6/30/2010, 11:25 am

thanks, kimber!! right now the biggest plant is about 2 feet tall and the first melon is on the bottom - in fact it's hanging over the side of the bed, which i'm allowing because it's not sitting on anything yet. i may change that when it gets heavier. there are about 5 or 6 blooms on the plant, but i didn't know how many would turn into fruit. i can't wait to taste it! and i hope the other 2 plants catch up. all 3 seeds were started at the same time, so it's funny that there is such a difference in their sizes.

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nursekat424 on 6/30/2010, 1:16 pm

Just wanted to let you know how much i love your posts. I just returned from a visit "home" and before i left and even since returning your posts have kept me updated on the stages in Ohio. I moved here (minn) 3 years ago and now feel like i have 2 homes. i lived in southern Ohio my whole life till 07. pretty close to you i'm guessing- hillsboro/lynchburg. i worked in Cinci as a nurse for several years. so anyhow thanks again for all the wonderful pics and updates about your lovely garden in my old neck of the woods.

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Very intrigued....some questions though...

Post  middlemamma on 6/30/2010, 3:14 pm

Hi! The idea of having frogs and butterflies is really intersting to me. Can anyone have frogs? Or do you have to be near water?

Where did you learn so much about butterflies and how to facilitate their growth and know if they are makle or female?!! I am in awe...maybe the OP could post a frog post with all your knowledge and experience and a butterfly one as well in the Out of the Box forum?? That would be wonderful... Smile


Last edited by middlemamma on 6/30/2010, 3:14 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : just fixing embarassing type o's)

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Tadpoles & butterflies

Post  nancy on 6/30/2010, 4:11 pm

Thanks all for the interest!! I love sharing about my babies!! I used to work for the museum of natural history and several of my best girlfriends still do. So part of this came from them. Another part is because I refuse to let my daughter grow up thinking nature is gross. I want to cultivate her curiosity in our world and how it all works together.

This is my 4th year raising tapoles. This year we actually collected them as eggs from a rain barrel in the community garden. I think most frogs lay their eggs in water. I thought we brought home 30-35 eggs. A few days later I had over 100 tiny, tiny tadpoles. I think the most I've had at one time before was 25 - maybe. So this was a lot. They require very little work - except that 100 tadpoles poop a lot!! I feed them spinach balls: cook frozen spinach, strain every bit if water out of it, roll it into marble-sized balls and freeze. Once they get their front legs and lose most of their tail, they get released - either into the backyard or back down at the garden from where they came. We have only raised gray tree frogs and we've never kept any. Of that 100; I think 91 were released this year. A few have died for various reasons. We do this to help restore diminishing frog populations. And it's the #1 reason I won't use chemicals anywhere near my yard. With a little luck they make it to adult-hood and perhaps it will be their eggs I collect next year.

Probably 99% of that I have learned about rearing monarchs came from the forums at http://www.monarchwatch.org. I began planting milkweed 4 years ago and got my first butterflies last summer. (My avatar is one of them.) Watching one go from an egg to a very small caterpillar to a very hungry caterpillar to a chrysalis is one of the most amazing things I've ever observed. This past winter the monarch population suffered severly with the cold in Mexico and then the floods. They think millions of them died. So my goal for this year is to release 100 butterflies. However, I haven't seen 1 in my yard yet. I know one has been there - that's where I found several eggs. I'm very worried that I won't meet my goal. I've released 2 and will have 8 more soon. Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed, so you need to have a good supply. And you need a nectar source for the butterflies - dahlia, zinnia, cosmos, etc. If you are really interested, also check out Journey North. They have simply amazing maps where "citizen scientists" post their first sightings of eggs, milkweed, adult monarchs, etc. (http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/) and lots of other wonderful information.

Thanks so much for asking! And for reading!! I'll keep you posted (hee hee) about their progress.

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thank you

Post  ander217 on 7/1/2010, 9:12 am

Somehow I've missed your wonderful posts until now. Thank you so much for allowing us glimpses into your garden, butterfly, and frog projects. I've been wanting to do something for butterflies but didn't know where to begin. You've given me inspiration.

You mentioned that you pruned your Rutgers tomato. I grow Rutgers, also, and they are determinate tomatoes, which means they shouldn't be pruned. They are bush or semi-bush rather than vining, so staking and pruning isn't usually needed. They produce most of their flowers toward the ends of the branches and they give a good crop all at once and are then mostly done. If you prune, you will reduce the amount of fruit produced. Indeterminate tomatoes keep growing and producing flowers until frost.

Thank you again for being such an inspiration, and good for you for teaching your child to love nature.

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 7/1/2010, 11:22 am

Ack - I didn't know my Rutgers was determinate! No wonder it seems so sad. I pruned the bottom half of the leaves off because they were the ones that appeared to have early blight. None of the other upper leaves look affected. Should I still pick suckers? I'll leave it alone other than that. It's the tallest of my tomato plants! Thanks for the heads-up!!

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pruning

Post  ander217 on 7/1/2010, 11:51 am

No, don't prune suckers on determinate tomatoes. It's okay to prune off sick-looking lower branches. Here's a link to a Cornell University article which tells about the three tomato types, - determinate, indeterminate, and semi-determinate, -with a portion of the article following:

http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pubs/ask/tomato_qa.html

Determinate types, however, are pruned slightly if at all. Any pruning done on a determinate removes a finite number of blossoms and fruit. If you prune all the suckers on a determinate type you will have a small plant, few fruit and lots of sunscald due to a lack of foliage and shading. You will also dramatically reduce your yield.

Don't feel bad. I did the same thing to a green grape tomato, not realizing it was a determinate (some say semi-determinate) variety. The poor thing finally managed to start growing and blooming after I stopped snipping out the suckers.

BTW, many roma tomatoes are determinate, too.

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thanks for the inspiration

Post  nursekat424 on 7/5/2010, 7:01 pm

Because of all your wonderful posts i have decided to try my hand @ buterfly rearing. my hubby and i were taking a walk and i said "oh whats that flower" and when i went over to look @ it there was a monarch cat on it. so i plucked that leaf and took it and another home with me and here is my newest baby- lol


isnt it so cute

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thanks for the inspiration- take 2

Post  nursekat424 on 7/5/2010, 8:21 pm

ok just had to share this latest development. after i posted to you earlier i went out to mow. first i checked it still had enough to munch on and out i went. i just came back in a few min ago, was out little over an hr. and this is what i came back to



looks like i found it just in time to watch the magic happen. too cool. this is just awsome. thanks again for all you excellent posts. if not for them i never would have thought to try this.

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 7/5/2010, 9:11 pm

how wonderful!! i'm really excited for you! they go on a "walkabout" before they begin the whole changeling process looking for the right spot (they do this to molt, too). then he'll make a "button" of silk from which to hang. then he'll make a "j" and will hang from his bottom. he'll begin turning a bit green. you'll know the enclosing is about to begin when his antenna hang completely limp and he looks really relaxed. the transformation is incredable!! i'm thrilled for you - and very grateful you are helping there to be one more butterfly. we released all 8 this weekend. i told each of them to be fruitful & multiply as they flew away. Yea you!!

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 7/6/2010, 7:45 pm

Weekly Update 7.6.10

We set all 8 butterflies free over the long weekend. It seems strange not having critters to feed. Hopefully they will be multiplying in my yard soon.





At the garden we did some work this weekend, too. We added 2 squares of carrots and 2 rows of bush beans. I added support to the watermelons. The two smaller plants still are not producing. And the bigger one just has this:



I used a very old pair of glittery silver/gray hose. What a hoot!

The sauce bed has a column of nasturtiums along the left. Center left is a purple basil that doesn't seem to like the heat much, cilantro that I let go to seed (oops), a pepper that hasn't grown a bit, and parsley. Center right is dill, an empire tomato (in the red cage), another pepper (too small to be seen), and sweet basil. Right is a roma (do they need to be staked?) (and it has 2 turning red!!), my beloved-but-not-producing rutgers, and a black cherry.



And here's the butterfly bed. The daisy just was dead-headed and has several buds. Yea! I cut off the top of the purple coneflower in this shot. The swamp weed cutting has new growth - yea! The feathery one is fennel for the swallowtails. And I had bought zinnias for my window boxes but never got that far. So I stuck them in here so they wouldn't die. Ah well. The front row is still waiting for some butterfly weed I ordered.



It's in the mid 90s with HIGH humidity this week. I've been worried about everyone getting enough water, but when we were planting on Saturday I noticed that the first inch to inch & a half was very dry, but underneath was still damp. Woo hoo! Oh - and I noticed a bed was being made in the butterfly bed out of dried grasses. Fortunately no one had moved in yet. I cleared out as much as I could and added flowers, so hopefully they won't come back. Not sure whose it was, but bunnies came to mind first.

Happy July!!

nancy

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Join date : 2010-03-16
Location : Cincinnati, Ohio (6a)

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

Post  nancy on 7/15/2010, 2:05 pm

Last night we cut the first watermelon. Unfortunately, we cut it too soon!



This picture makes it appear more red than it was. We tried it anyway and it was pretty tasty. I don't see any others growing on this plant, but the other 2 have 3 or 4 more at various sizes, so next time we know to wait longer. I tried the thump test and it sounded ready. Ah well.

I'll try to get more pics of the beds this weekend. We finally got a good rain on Tuesday - over 2" on my part of town. The rain barrel is full again! Which is good because it holds about a 6-day supply of rain for me. I fill six gallon-sized milk jugs and two 1/2-gallon milk jugs to take down there with me and I was literally at the bottom of the barrel after Sunday's watering. The backyard flowers are happy now, too. Oh, and I got my hanging baskets and window boxes filled over the weekend. They make me so happy! I'll try to show you some pictures in a few days. I want everything to get a chance to fill in.

Happy Thursday!

n. - who is especially grateful this day as my nephew with cf turns 5 today!

nancy

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Re: DON'T LAUGH!!

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