Saturday, August 4, 2012

Revolt Against High Prices and Food Recalls---

It's time to revolt against the skyrocketing costs of feeding your family healthy, safe food. A new book released just this week will help you do that. One Woman's Organic Gardening Techniques, Tips, Tricks, Methods to Work With Mother Nature...will help you garden.

It doesn't matter if you have space for only a few windowsill contains, a balcony, patio, rooftop, or a front lawn patch--you can grow some of your very own fresh produce. It's a family affair. An easy, healthy alternative to ify store bought produce.

Available from Amazon as a print edition for only $7.95 you can't go wrong.

If you prefer the kindle edition for a brief period you can go here to get that with a different cover, same book at a drastically reduced price - go take a look.

There is one page that has the formatting messed up, but if you send me an email I'll send you a printable PDF file to download --It's a section on Ant Control with a couple formulas for that. And if you find their path into your house you can always lay a dryer sheet over their entry way and they will not cross it. (any brand- and it smells way better than raid) and is not hazardous to pets or children. 

Questions or comments welcome. See you next time.

P.S. Sign up for The Mystery Reader Connection Newsletter to stay abreast of all my events, books, and news as well as news from other columnists who write in many genres other than or as well as mystery.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Freeze it in the Summer

From the Birds and Bloom Magazine this little bit of wisdom is sure to please you. 

Shelly Jeanne's arrangement
 Birds and Blooms Gardening online edition

Frugal Backyard Tip

A Taste of Summer

In the summertime, I collect rainwater in containers, transfer the water into zipperlock freezer bags and store them in my extra freezer. In winter, when I need to water my houseplants, I set out a few bags to thaw and give my indoor plants a taste of summer in the winter. –Patti Cichy, Round Lake, Illinois

My Mom used to scoop snow and put it in her houseplants all during the winter and let it melt to water them. They loved it - even though it seemed they shouldn't like the chill of it.

Can't beat rain water for giving your plants a boost. Try it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Some Pants Are Hazrdous To Pets and Children,Do You Know Which Ones?

Just getting done with Christmas Holidays when Poinsetta plants (in more colors every year are making sure there is one to fit every decore) I'm reminded as are all pet owners they can be hazardous to our furry friends. But there are more plants that are dangerous to pets, children and even toxic to adults if ingested.

Some I was aware of others not - here is a short list from The DailyDirt Blog
1. Periwinkle

You may know it as myrtle or Vinca minor. It’s a popular groundcover in some parts of the country. It is pretty and requires little care--a perfect choice as long as your pets don't nibble on it.

2. Yew

Those pretty red berries (botanically referred to as arils) on English and Japanese yew shrubs are extremely poisonous to pets and people. Keep pets away from bark and leaves as well. Sounds like the whole plant should be banned (except they are great landscape plants).

The Flowering Quince is banned in some areas not because it's poisonous but because of its long, dangerous thorns. The hummingbirds love them, your neighbors won't if they have to mow near them. Trade offs I guess. I wanted a hedge of them to keep children and dogs out of my flower beds - but, they are considered hazardous vegetation, LOL.

3. Castor Bean

The seeds of castor bean plant are highly toxic. Just one or two seeds is close to a lethal dose for an adult. Wow, I've never tried to grow this one. I do have to wonder if its safe to work around or prune then?

4. Ivy

Another reason to rid our landscapes of this pesky invasive vine is that the leaves are considered moderately toxic causing gastrointestinal symptoms, difficulty breathing, and possibly inducing a coma if enough of them are ingested. This happens to be my sisters favorite plant in the whole world - so much so she even used her handle for the internet incorporating it...I'll have to send her this bit of toxicity information. I doubt she'll quite growing or decorating her living space with painted renditions though.

5. Sago Palm

All parts of the sago palm are poisonous, particularly the seeds. I have tried repeatedly to grow this one as a house plant, so far all my efforts have failed. Perhaps, because while I'm in my writing mode I pretty much ignore my plants and only the strong survive. {shame on me}

That is why I love plants that warn you they are thirsty - like the coleus - or the Swedish Ivy. Then I water everyone, whether they need it or not.

So be careful what you grow, or becareful how you handle what you grow. My kitten totally devoured my bamboo - no matter how I tried to protect it and how I reprimanded her...It must have been too delicious to reisit. Thank heavens she doesn't like the other plants that well.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Gardening Requirements

"A garden requres patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambtions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive becase someone expended effort on them." Liberty Hyde Bailey said this and I couldn't agree more.

I notice also that the more time I have to look at my houseplants the more they flourish - I guess it's true that gardening, like most other things worth nurturing, take time. So, as you make your New Year's resolutioons be sure you slip in some time to be amazed, wonder, and nurture life around you.

Happy New Year may it be better than anything you ever experienced before--grow with it!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gardeners Beware! You are warned!

I just finished reading a compact book you should --no--you MUST run right out and get or go to your favorite online bookstore and grab a copy - see below for the details.

How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack
By Chuck Sambuchino 
Ten Speed Press 
ISBN 978-1-58008-463-5 
Reviewed by Billie A Williams 

“Keep reading if you want to live.” Talk about a hook. If that doesn’t get you, nothing will. Am I reading Tess Gerritsen or Stephen King? Neither.  I’m reading How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack by Chuck Sambuchino. 

 I have three of these little Garden Gnome predators, but they decided not to come out this year to sit in the Keebler Elves type doorway created by a major branch breaking off our willow tree.  When another one quarter of this willow tree toppled in a windstorm this summer, I realized how very clever devious and clever these  little Garden Gnomes have become. Sambuchino verifies my observation. 

A delightful tongue in cheek, but clever look at thwarting an eventual takeover by these increasingly prolific and clever Gnomes awaits the reader. Garden Gnomes do seem to multiply. They come in various sizes and colors to fit any landscape or indoor d├ęcor. 

Tidbits of ‘Gnomenclature’ (coined by Chuck Sambuchino) impart knowledge and a question in the reader’s mind –truth or "Sambuchinoed"—you might ask. An interesting trip through some natural world wonders, complete with photographs, impart wisdom, exploration and do a great job of raising the curiosity level of the reader. 

This book is a delightful treatise on our penchant for collecting. It’s an innocuous, harmless habit – or is it? 

Would you worry about reaching into your mailbox if you knew that, perhaps, a gnome waited there to attack that hand?  Would you opt for a Post Office Box even though it cost you time, travel and money to retrieve your mail every day? See page 45. It’s scary. 

Do you know how to make quick sand? See page 36, it’s for your own defense. 

You know about crop circles don’t you? Do you know how they are formed? See Page 22 for insider information. 

On every page there is a footer. Each footer is marked, yes by yet another infiltration of the dreaded Gnome takeover--there is a -- a pointed, little red, gnome cap. There is no escape! 

You’ might laugh. You might question the sanity of the message. You will look with new eyes on that garden gnome you thought was a mere, sweet little elfin garden ornament.

I found myself wondering as I finished this marvelous small book; when will How to survive a Pink Flamingo Attack, be released? 

I highly recommend this book to gnome lovers/owners everywhere. Even if you are not a gnome owner, but a gardener or have a neighbor who gardens—you need to read this book for your own protection-- or-- for a laugh a minute if you prefer humor.
Billie A Williams
Money Isn't Everything, Best Seller
Mystery Suspense, Wings Press

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Goldenrod - Friend or Foe?

The Best of Organic Gardening: Over 50 Years of Organic Advice and Reader-Proven Techniques from America's Best-Loved Gardening Magazine

I had never thought of deliberately planting Goldenrod in or among my flower beds. When I see the beautiful bouquets Mother Nature makes on the road beds as we travel from town to town, I wonder at my wisdom. I equate Goldenrod with hayfever--sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyed culprit? Am I wrong?

I could be...could it be that it's the ragweed that blooms so near, that blooms so readily at the same time as the beautiful, butterfly attracting Goldenrod? The Goldenrod loves full sun, and nearly any soil--but a light soil works best, like the road banks along our country roads. Its tall, it blooms for a long time and at a time when our flower beds are looking tired and in need of a spark of sunlight. I'm rethinking my garden design. I don't need only Black Eyed Susan's and yellow mums, or coneflowers - why not Goldenrod? I'm sure I can find a spot that cries for color and longevity of bloom. Organic Gardening (2-year)

You can even find sources for seeds for a variety of Goldenrod types such as Forestfarm, in Williams, Oregon at or how about Michigan Wildflower Farm, in Portland Michigan, 

I believe the lowly Goldenrod's time has come to be brought back out of hiding. The bees, the butterflies will thank you. It seems our bumblebees are disappearing, perhaps we can reintroduce a few native plants and invite them back.

Let me know if you agree or disagree. Will you try it next summer?
Billie A Williams

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What is That White Stuff?

It's that time of year when Powdery Mildew (Microsphaera penicilliata) is likely to raise its head in one woman's garden - mine or matters not. It mars the beauty of the end of season blooms. Usually affecting plants like roses, pumpkins, squash, lilacs, bee balm, phlox, that seem to be most susceptible.

Plants growing in shady areas or crowded together with poor air circulation along with overcast skies, higher than usual amounts of rain, and higher humidity levels (at the microclimate level as well) make powdery mildew a common problem and everyone knows, in our Northern Wisconsin summer, this year we have had plenty of both. It's sad and right away I want to know what to do? 

Actually, it won't kill your plants in most cases. You can get rid of it with a solution of baking soda (gotta love that product - it has as many uses as duct tape or WD40)and water. Spray the affected plants and you should see it clear up. There are fungicides on the market that you can use as well. But, whenever possible I prefer organic. If you have excess milk, a more costly solution than baking soda,  you can dilute that and spray it on affected plants as well. Roses: Placing Roses, Planting & Care, The Best Varieties

Now, when these leaves fall off, do not compost them but instead burn or otherwise dispose of them so as not to create a possible problem next season.  
Happy gardening.