I've now put together my fourth Staghorn Fern that is mounted on a board. But, just the second one that I've kept for myself; the first one being the tiny one I posted about last week . I gave the first two away as gifts, but after those initial mountings, I had three Staghorn Ferns in containers that I needed to do something with. So, I got busy mounting another, large one. This is the third of four of the good-sized plants that I bought at Home Depot in February . I mounted this one - just like the other ones - on a board with a Sphagnum Moss base and 'volcano' using some fishing wire and drywall screws. The board has a knot hole on it, so I mounted this one a little lower so you can *see* the hole in the mounting board. Here, below, is the new fern mounted and hung on the wall in my office. Here, below, is a profile shot showing how far the Staghorn Fern sticks out from the board. One of the things that I've been thinking about is adding a sort of 'bum
Showing posts from February, 2022
I used to not mind rabbits. Now? I do NOT like them at all. Earlier this month, I showed off some Oakleaf Hydrangea damage from some critters . Today, I found a LITERAL MOUND of evidence of who is doing it: a bunch of stinkin' rabbits. How do I know for sure? Well...Here's a look at what they left behind - right next to the Oakleaf Hydrangeas. Bunch of jerks. They gnaw off my hydrangeas and then leave their turds all over the place. Why I oughta....
Last Fall and this past Winter, I made my first batch of Black Walnut stain using found walnuts in my backyard . I made a slurry and let it stand for a few months, then bottled it up with a 1:1 ratio of filtered slurry : rubbing alcohol . I gave away a couple of pints of the stuff to family and one of my brother-in-laws gave me some feedback: See below. Note to future Jake: Collect and use more walnuts and reduce the rubbing alcohol by 50%. Use 2:1 walnut slurry:rubbing alcohol this time. Something else to add to my 2022 to-do-list .
I've been a proponent of a low-moisture cheese for pizza making for a number of years. A special cheese, specifically: Chellino Scamorza Cheese . It isn't smoked and is most-similar to the traditional low-moisture Mozzarella that you find at the Jewels or Marianos. But, I've been experimenting with a different set of cheeses with my Bar Pies. I took that class with the OG Pizza-online-guy Adam Kuban last year where he talked about his "KuBlend" where he talked about how he blends a couple of cheeses for Bar Pies. For some recent Bar Pie experiments , I've moved away from the Chellino Scamorza and have begun to trial this 2 parts Whole Milk Mozzarella (low-moisture) and 1 part Fontina. Fontina has been on my radar for a bit as the folks at Via Napoli in the World Showcase at EPCOT Center use it (see this post from 2017 that shows a few cheeses they use including: Robiola, Parmesan, Provolone and Fontina.) Below are the two products that I've been
I've owned a Staghorn Fern (Dutch Staghorn) for almost a year, but it took buying a second, smaller one to finally compel me to get it properly mounted on a board and hung. And, now, it has a home on the wall in my office. You can see the mounted board below, hanging on a peg near a corner that looks at a western-facing and northern-facing set of windows. My current plan is to keep my mounted ferns on boards in my office during the cold weather, but as soon as the temperatures improve, I'll get them out on the screened porch along with my other containers. Below, you can see the mounted Dutch Staghorn Fern - a small one - on a board with Sphagnum moss as the base. I used 1-1/4" screws around the perimeter and fishing line to keep the moss down and attached. One of the things that I'm going to adjust - going forward - is using a more water-hardy species of wood. I used pine because I had it on hand, but that's not the best choice. I *did* apply a clear c
I'm calling it: our Amaryllis season lasted until February 23rd, 2022. Early February showed this Lemon Star Amaryllis in full bloom and today shows the last flower in decline. Our 2020/2021 blooms were last documented in late January 2021 . The Star of Holland Amaryllis from 2019/2020 season was in FULL bloom in mid-February , so I'm thinking that season lasted longer than Feb 23rd. And, our 2018/2019 season went the longest - with this full-double-bloomed flower all the way late on March 3rd, 2019 . My plan is to leave this Lemon Star bulb to leaf-out this Winter/Spring indoors and then move it outside to the patio come Spring/Summer and attempt to keep it for next Christmas. 2022 to-do list should include bulb management and reuse, right?
One of the kids pieced together this collection of Disney Tsum Tsum trading pins that I found when digging out some of our Disney stuff. You have 'Disney Parks stuff', don't you? As for these pins....I don't think Tsum Tsums are 'a thing' any more, are they? I never really *got* them - they were stackable - that was the appeal. But, they're mostly hamster-looking Disney characters. Not for me, but that's ok. Same with Funko Pops. Not drawn to them. These Tsum Tsums *do* have cute faces, though. This collection of pins will join some other Tsum Tsum pins on our big boards in the garage . There are a few interesting ones in this group - Obi Won from Star Wars, Baloo from Jungle Book and the pair of birds that are from an Adventureland Booster set. Juan the Barker Bird from the outside pre-show at the Tiki Room is pretty awesome. And, so is one of the Showgirl Birds - the cockatoos who come down from the ceiling during "Let's All
In late January, I tried a succulent propagation experiment with one variable: cutting vs callus'd-over pieces of Burro's Tail. I used rooting compound and went about planting two small containers of little pieces of succulent. In the green, plastic container, I planted segments that I sliced in-to and then applied the rooting compound. In the clay pot, I left the segments with their calluses and just rubbed rooting compound on the surface. The little white post-it note says: "Uncut = Clay". (I keep an offline garden diary of sorts, too...) Four-or-so-weeks later, here's what those two containers look like: What has happened? The cuttings on the left - the ones that I sliced into with a knife BEFORE applying the rooting compound have just melted away. On the right - the ones that I left intact? Many of them are still there and doing just fine. Lesson learned: when propagating succulents, make sure they have completely callused over before attempting
Day three of the front-yard tree buds in Winter - first with the Saucer Magnolia fuzzy flower buds and then yesterday with the Red Fox Katsura . Today, is the Chanticleer Pear flowering tree that is in the 'in between two driveways' island and planted pretty close to the Katsura. This was a replacement tree that was planted in 2018 after our first one died. This one STRUGGLED. By October of 2018 (four months after planting), it was in bad shape . Turns out, it was planted in a 'clay bowl' and the roots were drowning in what is called the ' bathtub effect ' where water had no where to go. It seemed to continue to decline in 2019 - but by Spring 2020, I was seeing the very FIRST flower buds . Not everywhere. But, some flowers. Then, last Spring - 2021 - we seemed to have a big part of the tree that had died back. And a bunch of the tree that looked to be back on track - and flowering . I ended up cutting off all the dead stuff and created a prett
Yesterday, I started with the first of the late-Winter tree bud photos. I like to document these things throughout the year so I get an understanding of how things are going and what is struggling to return from dormancy (and which trees I shouldn't worry about because they're right on schedule). I posted the current state of the buds on the vase-like Saucer Magnolia tree in our front yard . Medium-sized, fuzzy and starting to crack open. They're fun to look at right now. One of the other front-yard trees that I haven't tracked the buds and their setting/swelling/opening series on in the diary here is the Red Fox Katsura. Planted in the Fall of 2020 , this is a tiny, whip-like tree that hasn't grown much at all and has very few limbs. It suffered a bit from heat and drought stress last year, but it has - as of now - set some buds on the limbs that *do* exist. Below you can see them. To me...they kinda look like buckthorn tips - but on the middle of the br
Late February and Early March is usually the time when I start to get a little garden-stir-crazy and begin to get back out to examine the winter damage and build up my hopes for the coming growing season. It is when the tree and shrub buds begin to swell and we can start to see what is going to pop. It is also a sloppy, wet and muddy time of year. Or, a frozen-solid, snow-covered time of year. This past week, it was a mix of both. We had some warming temperatures with snow melting and some rains which made the ground soggy and saturated. They say you're supposed to stay out of your garden beds during the wet season of Spring to keep the ground from compacting too much, so I've mostly tooled around the lawn this week. It is a good time to document in the [tree diary] and [garden diary] the state of some of the buds that are beef'ing up and getting ready to put on a show. I'll start where I have typically started before: with our Saucer Magnolia. Below, you can
Over the years, I've written a few times about the Chicago Athletic Association . It is NOW (or...I suppose when I say "now", I really mean pre-COVID because I haven't been anywhere near the CAA for a couple of years) a hip, boutique hotel with a great rooftop bar (Cindy's) and a cool lobby-adjacent bar and gameroom . But, that's the place's second life. The first life was as the real-deal Chicago Athletic Association. A membership-based club like the Union League or University Club. Old-school. It also was the place where my oldest sister was married. All the way back when I was in high school. I also was invited to have a few lunches there from Tom Roeser back in the aughts. Was always a lot of fun to hear Tom tell stories. Years after that, the club failed. I think the membership aged out, the value of the real estate was too high and they couldn't make it work. But, it was always a place that was on my radar. And, because it was around
This is now - unofficially - Staghorn Fern Week - on in my garden diary. This is the third post in as many days about Staghorn Ferns starting with my first post about bringing home a small 4" Staghorn Fern that the kids and I mounted on a pine board . Then, yesterday I posted a little story about how I found four 6" - and more mature - Staghorn Ferns at Home Depot and decided I was going to make up a few mounted ferns for Valentine's Day this year. In that first post, I showed a little look into how we (the kids and I) put together the first mounted fern. Here, below, is a closer look (with more photos) of how I put together one of these larger Staghorn Ferns using the same process. I started this larger, more mature Staghorn with the same size board, but I used a larger bowl to make a slightly larger circle. Below, you can see the circle I drew in pencil along with the 1-1/4 narrow-threaded drywall screws that I put around the circumference of the circle. I used
After experiencing the joy of mounting our first Staghorn Fern on a board that I shared yesterday , I decided that I was going to do another one and give it away as a Valentine's Day present to my Mom. So, one evening after work last week, I ran out to Home Depot. Now, we live in a spot where there's a "close" Home Depot. That's the one I normally go to on most occasions. It is a normal HD in terms of size and inventory. But, we also have two other Home Depots that are *pretty* close. Like a couple of minutes further away - but in different directions. One of those other Home Depots is one of their MASSIVE stores. I don't know if you've been in the B I G Home Depots, but some of them are just bigger than others. And that means that the garden center is usually bigger than most. Because I KNEW what the inventory was of my "normal" Home Depot was (in terms of Staghorn Ferns), I figured...why not run to the large one. It was just a few m
Yesterday I posted a couple of photos of our second Staghorn Fern - a tiny one that we bought with the intention of trying to mount it to a board - as is typical for these kind of ferns. Having poked around the Web and watched dozens of YouTube videos of how-to's, I settled on this process: 1. Find board, cut to size. 2. Seal said board. I used a can of clear coat spray that I had on hand. Don't think this is necessary, but since you dunk the board AND fern in water to keep it hydrated, I figured this little extra step couldn't hurt. 3. Draw a circle on the board, a little bigger than the container it arrived in. 4. Drill a couple of short screws in the back that I can run picture-hanging wire from. I did these first, because I figured that once the fern was mounted, I wasn't going to be able to flip it over and apply pressure with an impact driver to get these screws in. 5. Flipped it back over and laid down a temporary piece of wood that it rested on top of
My journey with Staghorn Ferns starts where a bunch of my gardening, craft and DIY interests came from: Martha Stewart. Back in the aughts, we used to get Martha Stewart Living magazine delivered in print. In one of those editions, she covered Staghorn Ferns. That was my first exposure. I found this old, 2008 Martha Blog post about her Staghorn Fern that might have been *around* the time of the print piece. Since then, they've been on my radar. She posted again in 2018 when she talked about mounting a few new Staghorn Ferns and how she puts them on her front porch. In March of 2021, I bought my first Staghorn Fern - a six-inch container from Home Depot for $10. In that post, I talked (again) about Martha . I kept this one in the container and moved it outside during the Summer where it spent a few months on our front porch - just like Martha. Because I left it in the container, I decided to drill a bunch of holes in the plastic nursery pot to make it more basket-lik
We were out and about when I parked the van next to a normal-looking car. But, the license plate was anything *but* normal-looking. It was a diplomatic license plate. What do I mean? Instead of having a state listed on it, it instead read: CONSUL. And had a seal in the top left from the US Department of State. Here is a photo of it below. Note...I'm posting a photo of a license plate that I normally would blur out, but since the photo doesn't show the vehicle, nor am I stating the location, I feel pretty good about sharing this photo. Kinda cool, right? I went online to figure out what the story is/was with the plate and I turned up at this tool from Quartz: a Diplomatic License Plate Decoder . Pop in the plate number and you discover this is from a Japanese diplomat. And...based on the location, that *totally* makes sense. From Quartz's tool: I learned something today. What do they say? Get smarter everyday. Done and done.
'Tis the season for documenting our house plant collection in the [ container diary ], it seems. I've done Nat's large Fiddlehead Fig tree , my wire vine plant that we brought in from outside, my only (for now) Staghorn Fern and my Maidenhair Fern that I recently repotted . However, I have a potted plant (a cactus) that I've had longer than any of those - in fact, it might be the oldest house plant/container that we have on hand: a Firesticks Cactus Succulent. Seems that I've long called this a "pencil cactus", but that's not accurate. This is a succulent and officially named: Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on Fire'. I posted some photos of this succulent when it arrived in March of 2018 - almost four years ago. I had it in an orange container that I've moved on from - I think it cracked - because the current container isn't much larger than the original one (hence...I don't think I sized-this-up). What does it look like fo
There's a pattern in our house with *some* houseplants: We buy one from Trader Joe's. Bring it home. It looks great for a bit. Blooms right away. Then, heads into decline. Which, usually leads to being put outside (during the Summer) or tossed into the compost pile when it dies. One of the plants that has come home a couple of times from TJs is the African Violet. It blooms, but is, frankly...disposable. Or at least, that's what I thought. I came across this video on Garden Answer's YouTube page where she talks us through propagation of succulents, some fishbone cactus and African Violets . Wait, what? Taking apart and planting cuttings of African Violets to make MORE of them? This is the part of the video (10:09) where she starts the African Violets . Huh. Had no idea. Watching that sent me down a little Web digging hole where I found this post on the Spruce that has a headline that scratches me right where I itch: African Violets Shouldn't Be Throw
Sometime in 2021, we bought a couple of prayer plants. They were on a deep discount sale at Home Depot and as you all know: I love a deal. These are formally called Calatheas and are part of the family Marantaceae . And, they're always listed as one of the houseplants that tolerate 'low light' , but after having this one around for a bit, I've learned a few things. When we brought this one home - you can see how it currently looks below - it was a more-full plant in a 6" plastic container that had drainage holes in the bottom. What happened? Well, the plant struggled. Brown tips, die-back and curled existing leaves with very little growth. It was spending most of its time on the screened porch, but like everything else, I brought it in during the cold weather in January. Below is a look at one of the mature, existing leaves. These all had brown tips that I trimmed off and have been monitoring them since that haircut. I believe this was a due to a couple
It has been a number of years since I lasted added a post about a new (to me) Lionel train car to the blog, but today I'm sharing a car that I've had for a couple of years (I think), but since I just cleaned out a closet, I found it. It is: 6-39391: U.S. ARMY MADE IN USA FLATCAR. The listing on Lionel says that it was from the 2016 catalog - which means that I likely received it in 2017. The listing says that there's one of these for each of the branches of the military - this one is for the US Army. It has a separate 'load' from the flatcar that you can see in the box below. I mentioned in January that we *did* set up our Christmas train this year , but we didn't run this car. It will go into the tubs and maybe get a shot at the layout next Christmas.
It was a little bit over a year ago that I posted some photos showing the successful reinvigoration of a wire vine that I had brought in from outside but had suffered some indoor, Winter neglect. I give it a haircut to get rid of all of the dead/dry vines and it bounced back. We kept this container in the screened porch almost the entire year - until it was brought inside in early January. It went upstairs to our extra bedroom - which is where good plants go to die. This vine was in great shape when it went up and it was, as expected, promptly neglected. And dried out. The humidity we have inside the house isn't high enough to provide the ideal environment for most container house plants. So, I decided to bring it down and try to give it some life. That meant that I submerged the entire container in a large bowl of water for about 45 minutes to completely saturate the soil and roots. A day or two later, the dried, brittle fronds had bounced back a bit. It wasn't com
I posted about this same situation last year (a little later into February) where I talked about how, due to the somewhat narrow strip of land between driveways, the snow tends to pile up pretty deep . First up is the Red Fox Katsura tree that you can barely make out. It is a narrow, thin trunk. I planted this when I thought that our flowering pear tree was failing. Now, they're close together and we're going to have to make a choice. I know (already) which way I'm leaning. Next up is the Bald Cypress tree that experienced a ton of growth this past year. This tree was once as skinny and thin as the Katsura, but has bulked up and now is clear to make out in the photo. The snow for the Bald Cypress is about four inches or so BELOW the bottom branches. Looks similar to last year . These big piles of snow certainly help provide a D E E P watering once we start to see melting. That will be a good thing. I also have to start thinking in more detail about what I nee
My reasons for keeping my own [garden diary] are the usual ones: get smarter (make better choices) and to document changes over time (appreciate wins/losses). I've taken that same approach to some of our indoor house plants . I'm interested in understanding what they look like during different seasons - seeing if they're growing, if they're in trouble, etc. That's covered my Staghorn Fern , my Standing Mickey Topiary and even one of our umbrella plants . Just this past week, I documented my re-soil'ing of my Maidenhair Fern . But, I haven't tracked - via my [ container diary ] the largest houseplant we have: Nat's Fiddlehead Fig Tree. I don't exactly know how long we've had it, but I know it was introduced in our new house - at some point. It sits in a room that has southern exposure and has just grown and grown. This isn't a plant that I tend to - at all. This one is all Nat. She waters it. Feeds it. Cleans it. Turns it. Al
When you plant a series of Amaryllis bulbs in November , they tend to go off on different schedules. At least that's been my experience. And that's one of the big reasons that I like to plant a variety of bulbs - so we get blooms throughout Winter. In my ideal outcome, I'd see blooms starting the week of Christmas. Then, carrying all the way through January and parts of February. This year? That's exactly what we've seen. Are all of them still blooming now - in February? Nope. Just one. The Lemon Star . It was the slowest starter. But now? It is the last one left and is getting its time in the spotlight (meaning...it is the only one on our kitchen counter right now). These bulbs and some of the tending that I'm doing to our houseplants is a good bridge through the dark, cold Winter in terms of gardening. Below, you can see the blooms on the shorter of the two stalks that emerged this Winter. Lovely green centers. The last time that I posted
The last time that I did a Firewood check for the diary was back when we had our Fall delivery in October of 2021 . That was three full facecords - one Cherry, one Birch and one 'Super Mix' (a combo of Oak and Hickory). We're now four full months later in terms of burning season and it was time to note where we stood in terms of tracking how much is left and whether we need to reorder. Looking back at that October post , it seems that I started the season with the 'inside racks' being mostly full. That meant that I filled up the two outdoor racks, the stoop rack (plus a side pile) and a stand-alone stack in the garage. Where are we standing today? The outdoor racks have been basically exhausted. My strategy was to pull from these racks early in the season - while the weather was nice and we didn't have a lot of snow on the ground. As things got colder and there was snow, I'd move to the stoop and garage racks. That worked - and I've left the i