How’re Them ‘Maters a Doin’?

I saved some of our Pink heirloom tomato seeds from last year with the hope of planting them this year.

First ripe Pink of the 2011 season!

After I saved the seeds with my own quick and ugly method I read other more scientific ways of saving tomato seeds and was fairly sure mine wouldn’t grow.  I planted them anyway.

The seedlings became leggy even though put outside on every warm day.

Then Charlie transplanted each seedling into its own 4-inch pot and left them outside day and night.  He put an old window over them on chilly nights.

Each tomato seedling in its own pot.

Finally the time came at the end of April when he could plant them out in the garden with little worry for their demise.  They have strong stems and are growing well.

Healthy plants set into the rich garden soil.

We’ve even given some potted seedlings to friends for their backyards or gardens.

Lots of healthy plants are ready for neighboring gardens.

Looks like the unscientific method may have worked.

This time!

What process do you do with your very own method? How does it measure up? Is it tried and true?


The 2012 Potager Planting

Deciding what was going where in the garden was an intense telephone call between Charlie and me. We had already chosen the seeds way back here, but which square gets what was the question of the day. Here’s the layout we finally decided on. (Why I’m involved I’m not quite sure since I don’t do any planting or tending, I just eat the harvest.)

The May 1st proposed planting guide.

The list of crops and square positions are as follows:

  1. Blue Lake Pole Beans
  2. Radishes/Sun Gold tomatoes
  3. Peas/Collards
  4. Collards/Radishes
  5. Runner cukes Hybrid II
  6. SunGold tomatoes
  7. Bush cukes Burpfree
  8. Onions/parsley
  9. Bush beans Tavera
  10. Pink tomatoes
  11. Bush cukes Picklebush
  12. Basil
  13. Squash
  14. Pink tomatoes
  15. Bush beans French filet
  16. Bush beans Tenderpick

Our goal date to plant the garden is May 1st.  In our area it’s a good idea not to plant too much ahead of time just in case there’s a late spring frost. Charlie actually did most of the planting on April 30th.

Collards with sugar snap peas behind.

We have a few more small squares not yet assigned but for the most part the 2012 Potager planting is finished.  Everything is in except the Sun Gold tomatoes in squares 2 and 6 which we get from a farmer friend a little later in the season. 

How doth thy garden grow?

I’m linked to No Ordinary Homestead

Paneful Repair

The dining room windows were broken during Hurricane Irene. Believe me, it could have been much, much worse.

2 panes need replacement

We had the broken storm windows repaired by professionals . We felt we were able to handle the small panes in the sash ourselves.  We had a lot of practice puttying windows last summer when we reputtied all the windows in The Cottage. None of the cottage glass was broken but the old putty needed to be removed and new glazing compound put in its place.

Draw the putty knife at a 45 degree angle and press hard to make a clean beveled finish.

For the dining room windows we scraped out the putty, pulled the glazing points, and removed the broken pieces of glass which took 2 adults a couple of hours.

Charlie carefully scrapes the old putty from the outside of the window. One of the mullions is broken, probably from the impact of the falling tree.

We used an elaborate scheme to keep the bits of old putty and broken shards from falling into the dining room.

To restrain the falling debris Charlie stacked an old sign (not seen in photo), a folding metal picnic table, a plastic tub of magazines and an empty wooden silver chest.

We bought 2 pieces of 10-5/8 inches by 13 inches glass which was custom cut by a Lowes’ employee. The glass fit perfectly. (We tried Home Depot first but they don’t cut glass.)

The glass was a perfect fit.-- good measuring, good cutting.

To install the windows place the pane into the opening made by the mullions and hold it in place with glazier’s points which you can press firmly in with the end of a putty knife. Sometimes the putty knife needs a few taps with a lightweight hammer.

Putty knife blade pressing in a triangular glazing point to hold the glass in the frame.

Then replace the putty which is explained in this tutorial. And voila, the window has been replaced.

The window is puttied but can't be cleaned for a few weeks until the putty cures.

It only took me 10 months to make this simple repair.

What are you waiting for?

Sidebar:  We recently noticed that one of the central window panes in the cottage has a crack  in it almost like a rock or pebble hit it. But now we’re experts, n’est-ce pas?

The Eyesore

The great huge eyesore in our backyard, right up against the house is our oil tank.

The oil tank is the large rust colored item up against the house.

Don’t worry, it’s not rusty. When it was first installed a few years ago I sprayed it with rust inhibitor paint that makes it look rusty.

Oil tank sprayed with rust inhibiting primer.

I had always meant to paint the oil tank the same color as the house to diminish its overwhelming presence. To make sure the house paint sticks to the metal tank as well as possible I started with a coat of Zinsser 1-2-3 Bull’s Eye white primer.

One coat of primer rolled on.

Then I covered the primer with 2 coats of our house paint color Glamour Gray by Duron.

First coat of house color brushed on.

Finally I used some dark grey etching primer to finish the bottom and legs. Oops! My hand slipped when I was spraying the dark grey but I’ll fix that soon.

Not perfect, but much improved.

Even though it hasn’t totally disappeared it’s not quite so noticable as before.  Maybe some day we’ll surround it with it’s own little structure and some plants that will also hide the dreaded trash cans. I found the inspiration below on Pinterest.

Source: via Jo on Pinterest

To help the cause we also removed the clutter that was collecting at the back of the house: convenient – “Yes”, lovely – “No!” Little by little we’re making “improvements”. At least we hope that’s what they are.

Have you made any new improvements?

A Shocking Experiment

We’ve been having a lot of fun growing radishes for the first time this year.

We've been enjoying these spicy little vegetables.

After the first hard rain we noticed someone or something had been snacking on our radishes while they were still in the dirt.

These radishes would have been beauties except for the missing bits.

We determined the culprit or culprits were big ugly slugs because I caught one in the act of decimating a radish. (Unfortunately he was camera shy so I didn’t get his mug shot.)

Charlie stapled copper wire extracted from old electric cord onto the frame of the raised bed.

I had heard or read that if you put a copper wire around a crop that slugs like they won’t cross the wire because it gives them a shock.

The wire runs the entire perimeter of the square.

We certainly hope that’s right because we planted another square of 256 radishes and we prefer them without gnaw marks.

A 4-foot by 4-foot raised bed of radishes.

We’ll let you know if the experiment works.

Have you done anything shocking lately?

Replace It or Patch It?

Some the screens in our storm windows have holes in them: some holes made by nature, some made by man.

A 2-inch square rip in the screen

In the past I have replaced screening in old-style wooden screen doors which I showed you here. Screen doors get a lot of action and the screen in them gets a lot of abuse.

Not long after I rescreened it someone caused a tear in the Cottage screen door.

The window screens, however, are not usually at much risk for repeated damage and repairs are not so obvious.   When this dining room storm window screen (wire mesh) was torn during Hurricane Irene I was going to take it to a screen repairer because I didn’t want to get involved in buying a new gasket, gasket tool, appropriate screen, etc. to repair it.

The screen was torn and bent out of pace.

When I took a closer look I noticed the original rubber gasket was definitely doing its job holding the screening in the aluminum frame. I’m sure it’s brittle but before I could get to replacing it I’d have to remove it, the part of a job I don’t care for.

The sides and corners were still snugly gasketed.

So I decided to try my hand at patching the screen.  I had available some old screen which, unfortunately, was black and not grey like my screen but I used it anyway.  Following Martha Stewart’s instructions  I trimmed the hole in the screen to a tidy square.

Trim hole in screen.

Cut a piece of screening half-inch all around larger than the hole.

After cutting the patch fray the edges about 1/4 inch all around.

Then bend the frayed edges in a right angle with needle nose pliers.

The ends can be trimmed later.

Set the patch over the hole and let the ends push through to the other side.  Flatten the ends away from the patch and trim them if they seem too long.

Flatten the patch as much as possible by pulling the loose ends with plyers.

This patch is invisible from both inside the house and outside.The patch can be seen when the screen is in place probably because the patch is black.

The patch can just be seen.

So I’ll just pull down the shade and worry about it tomorrow.

The screen is behind the shade.

In the morning light things looked better.

The repair from inside.

The view from the back yard wasn’t too bad either.

Repair is just visible on the right side of the window.

Have you tried any new-to-you techniques?

Desk Project Plans

I have been planning to paint this Pennsylvania House desk black for a long time.

The desk among other junk in the Cottage.

It was in good condition until our son used it as a study/coffee station and ruined the finish on the surface toward the back.

The abuse this desk has endured has left the top without finish in places.

One of the things that stopped my progress dead in the water was that I could not remove all the drawers; they were really stuck.  I finally had to resort to forcing them open a little then banging them out with a hammer. 

All the drawers are finally out.

One of the drawers needs to be all but totally rebuilt.

The bottom right drawer is in sad shape.

I believe the others just need to be planed down a little with the Surform and sand paper.


Once the drawers fit and glide I’ll sand the entire surface and lay on some primer. Then I want to paint the whole thing black. Kristen at The Frugal Girl has a great tutorial. It might look almost like the one below from Pinterest.

Perhaps I’ll distress it a little also like in the one below from Alchemy Fine Living.

And I think I have a surprise for the hardware; I’m just not sure yet. 

The drawers have traditional hardware now.

Do your projects have unexpected drawbacks?