Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Container garden update

I mentioned in early spring, that this year Carter and I were going to plant a couple of vegetables. Each of us chose one to call our own - he chose a Roma tomato plant, and I chose red Bell peppers. I thought I'd update proudly and brag a little bit about how green our thumbs have been this year. Even my niece ate the first Roma from the bush a couple of weeks ago and loved every succulent bite. I should have thought to document her tasting, and perhaps have a ceremony to celebrate the fact that we didn't manage to kill the plants before harvest time. But we were so giddy about getting to pick the first (semi-ripe) Roma from a branch, that we were too busy to grab the camera.

I'll start out by saying how much I have babied these plants, checking in on them several times a day. Making sure they had a good soaking each night after dinner because they were grown in hot clay pots on my full-sun exposure deck. They were thirsty every day. I pruned the gnarly leaves if they appeared, took care to look for bugs and other pests or fungus that might ruin our crop. I think we looked like peacocks strutting our stuff on the deck after each end-of-day inspection. If Carter was of age, we probably would have raised a glass for a nightly toast for a job well done and a hip-hip-hooray that they were STILL alive another day. You may have figured out by now, that I am not a gardener or have a very green thumb, and therefore you can understand my ridiculous carrying on about these two $4.99 plants. Look how lush! Look how beautiful! Please, click each picture to get a larger view for the full effect!

So I notice one day while caressing my, er Carter's Romas, that there is something funky going on with the bottoms of some fruits. I quickly pull them off the plant and put my Google degree to good use. I came to the conclusion that I had what's called End Rot.

So instead of going straight to the nursery for some fancy 'stuff' to help my plant, I thought I would attempt to be a little more organic and use what I could from home. Egg shells! My soil needed calcium. So to contribute to this experiment we indulged on many an egg for a few days so that I could collect the shells and carefully mix them into the soil. Voila! End rot gone! :) Again, the peacock strut was becoming a common dance move here in this household. Seriously, I was feeling like I could actually be growing a hint of a green thumb!

Fast forward to this week now, when we return from vacation. We were gone 9 days, perfect amount of time to see our crop ready for picking when we returned. Imagine the smiles on our faces when we threw open the curtains and peered out onto the deck and saw handfuls of glowing orangey-red goodness calling our names! I start telling Carter that we'll make some pizza this week and I'll slice some of his tomatoes on top before we bake it and I have the perfect recipe! So we finish puttering inside and alas, I'm able to go outside to inspect my babies up close. I notice that the plant looks, oh, strange maybe? I don't know, I couldn't quite put my finger on it. It looked sparse or something, but I thought maybe it just needed a drink - it was pretty hot out. But first, I need to pick some of our long-awaited Romas, the water will have to wait.

And that's when it happened. That sinking feeling one would get when you didn't do so well on an exam. That pit in your stomach when you accidentally break something you treasure. Oh no! The tomatoes! I see what is wrong - the leaves have been eaten! There is dried scat or something all over the deck near the pots - I suspect some damn rodents have gotten to my beloved Roma plant. Rodents? Where the heck would they come from? Hmmm... too small to be rabbit poo. Too small for squirrel poo too. Birds? No. Field mice? Maybe. Oh. My. Gosh. I grabbed a tomato and it was nasty! Eaten, devoured, enjoyed by one (or many) of Mother Nature's creatures! How could this happen?

Here's the evidence #1 on the deck:

Enter into evidence #2, the scraggly Roma plant now:

And the final evidence #3, the wasted crop. Every. Single. Last. Tomato. A couple of my Bell peppers were chewed a bit, but they didn't seem to care for those.
Needless to say, after picking every fruit from the bush and looking it over like I had become a medical examiner, I rushed into the house to put to use again my Google degree. I looked up all sorts of things that could be eating my tomato plant. Scat, poo, dung - whatever nice word you want to call it all over my deck was the only real clue I could use. So there I was, yes, my eyes glued to the monitor as I looked at picture after picture of feces. All kinds of creatures I could think of that might have been the culprit enjoying my precious plant. Nothing was adding up. I proceeded to go back outside scratching my head to further look at the plant, and that's when it happened. I spotted it. That THIEF! That RASCAL! That down-right, good for nothin' parasitic piece of mother nature...

The Tobacco Hornworm! (apparently tomato hornworms look the same but have a black horn - whatever. This pest liked my tomatoes too!) There it is, right on a stem getting ready to devour it right in front of my eyes!

This freak of nature was so well camouflaged, that I jumped back when I finally noticed it because he was HUGE! Plump, full, content. Of course it was, because it ate EVERY SINGLE TOMATO FROM MY PLANT!

Well, there will be no Roma crop this year. There is hardly any life left in the plant. All the leaves have been chewed, most completely down to the main stems. No flowers showing signs of life after death. Gone. Kaput. Start the trumpets because Taps needs to play. I am still sick over this. I nearly drop a tear when I look out onto the deck and see my dilapidated Roma plant. Naked. Eaten. Surrendered.

My little neighbor came over to see the "caterpillar" that Carter bragged about. He didn't really care about the tomatoes, the worm thing was way cooler. The little girl wanted to keep it in her caterpillar container, so I snipped the branch it was on and lowered the whole thing into the contraption. Trying hard to resist the urge to stomp on him. She skipped toward her yard with a sing-song voice saying, "I'm going to go put it on MY tomato plant!"..... I quickly had to tell her, "nooooooooo! That is not a friendly caterpillar! He will ruin your plant!" She had a solution though, she said she would just give the worm one of her rotten tomatoes.

Hmm, I wonder if Mr. Hornworm had already been next door...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vacation 2008

We vacationed in Florida last week and had a BLAST! Naturally, none of us wanted to pack up and come home, but we managed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Home Sweet Indianapolis

It's not often that I have anyone to plug my midwest home to, and brag about the array of things there are to do here - except of course, those friends and relatives that still have not come to visit me from the East Coast. I know sometimes we get thrown into the stereotypical midwest/corn/soybeans/basketball/boring category - but really, that's not what the Crossroads of America is all about.... like the title of my blog says, there is really more than just corn in Indiana...

Recently, a couple of guys that work for the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association won a national "Telly" award for a music video they created about the city of Indianapolis. It features the music of Indiana native and music star Jon McLaughlin, singing his hit For You From Me.

It's a pretty cool video highlighting some of the great things to see and do right here in the city - check it out below - remember to turn up your sound!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Toilet for Two

I couldn't make this stuff up - but it is definitely worth blogging about! I know it might be a little out of most of our price ranges ($1,400), and probably bathroom space, but isn't keeping your marriage strong worth it?

The TwoDaLoo is billed as the world's first toilet two people can use ... at the exact same time (just what we've all been waiting for, right?). It brings couples closer together and conserves our water supply all with one flush (I'd rather waste water then have a co-pilot). The TwoDaLoo features two side-by-side toilet seats with a modest privacy wall in between (is that a fancy way of describing a splash guard? Gross). An upgraded version includes a seven inch LCD television and iPod docking station (isn't that nice, another place to fight over the remote control).

Geez, nothing says "I Love You" like, 'honey, can you pass over the roll of toilet paper?'

Disgusting. 'nuff said?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Picture Update

Happy 4th of July!

It's so nice to have the main PC back from the doctor, so here's my latest picture update! You can click on any picture to enlarge it!

Here are the kiddos before our neighborhood bike parade. I would have taken some pictures outside too, but it was pouring rain and I didn't want to get the camera soaked!

Carter enjoying one of my least favorite fireworks - the 12,000 degree sparkler! We had a nice holiday with friends and family. On the 3rd, we had a little fireworks block party with around 7 families at dusk. We all conviened on my front lawn and watched the guys launch all the loot. Turns out that Olivia was petrified of the fireworks, so Mom took her inside and kept her calm. On the 4th, we had a nice cookout with the family and then enjoyed the sounds of more neighborhood fireworks. We decided not to go to our Town's show because Olivia was so freaked out by the noise. Next year hopefully we'll get there!

Olivia being her happy self - I was trying to get a shot of her wild curly hair, but the cute cheesy smile got in the way!

Here she is being her diva-self. She loves hats, purses, bracelets - anything girly and especially if it blings! It's so cute to observe her putting on a hat and bracelet and prance around the house like no one is watching....

Here's my two monkeys...

Carter enjoying one of his favorite pastimes. He's taking lessons 2 x a week through the summer. He's a little frightful of the deep end, so we're working on that.

These are some cute little dress-up items that my mother couldn't resist. Olivia just happened to be wearing purple clothes when she got to try on the boa, sparkle purse and tulle tu-tu - so cute!

Boys and trees - how can they pass one up? This is in my parent's yard...

Here is Carter playing "The Joker" with my neice Jillian. Jilly's bedroom has a really neat alcove built into the room that they use as a stage and play area. They were putting on a play - Jilly said she was "The Queen". So true.