Christmas Tablemat

Last month I went to Quilt Odyssey in Hershey PA to take a class from Primitive Gatherings, Lisa Bongean.  It was a full day class and she schooled us on her method of wool applique with pearl cotton blanket stitch and embroidery.  It was informative and I learned a few tricks to add to my basket.  Now I need to get the project finished!  Last night I burnt the midnight oil as I finished prepping the mat for stitching.



Here is a close up of the work we accomplished in class.  Blanket stitch, stem stitch, back stitch, colonial knots.  Hope to get the rest completed in time for the holidays!!

Wrapping Up the Gardening Experiment – August 2012

I haven’t done a very good job with showing the progress of my garden experiment.  As you continue to read, it will become evident why.

I planted my bales after 2-3 weeks of initial composting.  I planted with 4 different variety of tomatoes, a grape tomato, a Roma tomato, an heirloom tomato, and a canning tomato.  I also planted 6-8 marigold plants around the sides of the bale in hopes of “stinking” away some nasty pests.  Surprisingly enough that seemed to work or it wasn’t a very buggy summer.  Here are my bales after I planted them:

Nellie was such a good helper and guard dog…more on that later!

Just look at the view my tomatoes and my dog had!!

In a month or so my garden experiment looked like this:

In addition to the slow release fertilizer I used Miracle-Gro every 2 weeks and watered daily, sometimes twice a day…it was a hot summer!  At this point blooms were developing and I’m telling you the plants were loaded with radiant yellow blossoms.  I was dreaming about all the caprese salad, bruschetta, and panzanella salad that we would be enjoying from my little “farm” by the river.  The marigolds were working too…not a bug anywhere!

Soon they needed to be staked and every week I needed to tie them for support.  The bloom was setting and my baby tomatoes were growing every day.

They plants eventually were taller then I was and tomatoes were everywhere, but then I noticed, there were a lot on the ground too!  What was up…or rather down?  I checked the mildew, no bugs, no dry rot.  It left me wondering……

A few days later, I started finding green tomatoes, partially eaten little nuggets on the ground by the bales and on the patio and even by the side door.  We do have some birds but I haven’t seen many close to the house, thanks to the vocal talents of our dog!

One morning as I peered out the door, drinking my morning coffee, I discovered my issue…

And this is his family:

They are playing a game of poker after a meal of fried green tomatoes!  Believe me they invited their entire extended family and all of their friends over for dinner!  Once they discovered my garden jewels, it was all out war!  What bothered me most is not even 20 feet away is a 50 foot tall pecan tree…really, squirrels who prefer green tomatoes to pecans!

In the end I did get tomatoes…about 5!  Out of hundreds!!

This was my first gem and there were 4 more just like it….

I’m so proud!

So what do you think?  Was my garden experiment a success?  Well, if it’s defined by a harvested crop, then no.  But the potential is definitely there.   Next year I need to devise an enclosure or buy a bee-bee gun or cannon!!

A Gardening Experiment – May 2012

I rarely walk away from a challenge or trying something new.   I seem to think it is in my DNA.  This year I am trying to grow tomatoes in an atypical fashion.  No they aren’t upside down, or in a hanging basket or patio pot.  I will plant them in straw bales.  Folks have been doing this for some time but I thought it would be fun to try it for myself.  My father, several years ago, was a consultant on a similar project of mine that had mixed results.  After thorough analysis, he decided the location was not optimal…it didn’t get enough sun.  There was a small harvest but nothing to get excited about.

This time, although Dad isn’t here to give me advice, I will try again and post the outcome.  I have researched via the Internet and will combine several methods others have used.  Not surprisingly, I have already tossed scientific method out the window by using more than one variable… I tend to get a little too creative at times!  But sink or swim we will see how it goes.  I hope you will follow along too.

Step 1 :  Preparing the bales

Fortunately I have a friend who has horses and happened to have some old bales of straw she didn’t need.  She brought to me these 2 bales and I’ve started preparing them.  First I positioned the bales so that the binder twine is parallel to the ground.  For a period of 10-14 days I will give them a thorough soaking with water daily.  At about the 4th day I will begin adding some fertilizer.  My brother earlier this spring gave me a package of earthworm castings, an organic fertilizer, and I decided to water them into the bales to see what happens.  As the bales begin to decompose the internal temperature will begin to rise.  The temperature will actually become too warm for the delicate roots of transplants.  So patience is the key…I must wait for 10 days! (But I really want to plant my tomatoes now!)

Journal Cover – March 2012, wool applique on denim sandcastle fabric

Journal Cover – February 12, 2012

I have done so many projects that it’s hard to know where to begin.  So to alleviate my dilemma I will just post as I complete projects.  Today I put the finishing touches on a journal cover.  These are fairly quick and very easy projects using a base fabric and felted wool applique.  The covers fit over the basic composition books (old time black and white  ones from an office supply store.)  They make wonderful gifts and I’m using mine as a guest book for our home.  Come to visit so you can sign our guest book and I might even throw in a good meal too!

My first rug…”My Favorite Things”  This project was a block of the month and one of the first rug hooking projects I made.  I’m really glad I put my initials and the year in the corner.  I started “hooking” in 2002.  If you aren’t familiar with rug hooking this is the process.  Wool is felted (washed and dried in the washing machine) and sometimes hand dyed ( look for more on that in another post).  The felted wool fabric in then cut into narrow strips.  I usually hook with 1/4 inch strips with a rug hook which is similar looking to a crochet hook.  Loops of felted wool are pulled up through a base fabric in the design of the rug.  If you haven’t tried it…well, it’s a lot of fun and very addictive.


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