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Snails in My Container Garden

Yesterday as I was diligently re-twining the tender new shoots of my vining black-eyed susan plants, I noticed something odd in the soil...

Upon closer inspection I realized what I was looking at was a small army of tiny snails!

Excited, I ran to get my camera, my macro lens, the Canon Life-Size Converter EF and the tripod and started shooting.

It was only upon the upload of these pictures that I decided to use The Google to see just what, exactly, snails could do to a garden. Could they, for example, be responsible for all my holey coleus leaves?

Turns out, they COULD.


Of course, after my "photo shoot" with these little slime balls I'd let them slip back into the recesses of the soil so I couldn't find them again...but I'm now on a mission to hunt, capture and "remove" these garden slugs entirely from all my flower containers. Whether they evoke a sense of "home" in me or not (hey, gimme a break: I grew up on a lake), they're BAD business for my urban garden!

I don't even have the heart to post photos of my poor, torn little leaves instead I've opted to show you what's going well with my deck garden.

Of course, now some of the pots contain little containers full of beer – for the snails, of course – and since I haven't trapped anything yet there's nothing to report. But I'm still searching.

 You can run/slime, garden snails, but you can't hide...forever.

Swimming Lesson at Lake McCarrons

We've been having some crazy weather in Minnesota this year. I'm not complaining; just stating a fact. We've had cold-and-rainy immediately followed by warm-and-sunny, then a spate of pleasant, summery days and back to blustery, chilly weather. It seems to have no rhyme or reason.

 This Memorial Day weekend followed the "pattern:" a nice day on Friday followed by cool/rainy weather on Saturday...then Sunday it was in the upper 80s and humid.

What to do on an uber-hot, sticky day? Why, head to the lake, of course. And when you're covered in a fur coat, the lake water is the only way to go for exercise.

So the neighbors and I bundled the dogs (Gus & Zada) into the car and headed to Lake McCarrons. See, Gus had never been swimming – in fact, from what I understand he'd never even been in the water (on purpose) – so we took them to the boat landing for a swimming lesson.

Zada, of course, needed no prompting: I lobbed the tennis ball out into the waves and she plunged in. Since SHE seemed excited about the water, Gus bounded right in after her...until he realized the water got deeper. As soon as his short little legs couldn't reach the sandy bottom, he turned around for the safety of the shore.

But, each time Z would swim out to retrieve the ball, Gus would bound back out...just far enough to realize he still didn't really want to swim.

He did well for his first time "swimming," but he tired pretty quickly of the whole thing and decided being on shore was safer. Meanwhile, Zada kept retrieving (per usual) and wasn't too thrilled we weren't paying strict attention to her ;)

We weren't the only ones cooling our dogs off in the lake – when we first arrived there was already a pitbull on the scene (which ended up having to be leashed, since she wasn't dog-friendly...weird) and later a border collie joined us.

It was a good day for dogs to be swimming...and we humans didn't mind the wet legs and feet we got from the dogs shaking on us – it felt pretty good.

After about a half hour of swimming and enjoying the lake, it was time to go home...of course, we had to towel the dogs off before letting them jump into the car :)

***Note: these pictures aren't the best...some are pretty blurry since I was trying out a tele-converter for my 24-105mm lens.***

Yappy Hour with Hoy the Havanese

The other evening was a great "Yappy Hour" over at Dick & Jane's. Not only were there delicious mimosas (and these aren't your ordinary mimosas), but we had three dogs and four people in attendance.

One of my other neighbors wandered over with her dog (Hoy) to see what all the hooplah was about...she ended up staying for a mimosa and chit-chats – and then we saw her dog's special "toy" and that's when the cameras came out.

Get this: she's a farm girl from WAY down in south-western Minnesota, yet when she got her little Havanese dog a few years ago she learned her puppy really, REALLY liked this stuffed bunny she'd purchased for him at Target.

Well, when said bunny met its demise (as stuffed dog toys are wont to do after enough time has passed), her little dog was much chagrined, so she bought him a new one...which he promptly denounced as unworthy.

Since the little guy was so attached to the original Peter Rabbit, she had a great idea: merge the two stuffed animals so he'd "adopt" the new one. So she sewing the head of the old rabbit on top of the head of the new rabbit.

This has evidently been going on for almost four years – and since they're currently in the midst of a merger, we got to see first-hand the creepiness that is Hoy's Bunny.

We had QUITE a few laughs and jokes about this really weird process and how ODD this toy is (plus, how she's changed her erstwhile country-girl style)...but Hoy's so darn cute we had to cut him some slack.

Meanwhile, in the background Gus relentlessly tried to get Zada's ball out of her mouth (in typical Yappy Hour style)...and she – in a never-ending show of infinite patience – allowed him to endlessly pester her.

It was a great Yappy Hour with three happy, panting dogs and lots of laughs.

My Urban Garden in St. Paul

When I woke up this past Saturday morning, I didn't have any concrete plans for the day – except to get up and get my dog walk in before it got super-hot – so little did I know what was in store for me.
Since the mercury was supposed to creep up towards the 90s I had Zada walked (we went to/around Lake Como) and back in the house by 9am. Along Wheelock Parkway there were a plethora of "Garage Sale" signs on almost every block – evidently it was THE day for sales in St. Paul. 

Leaving the dog reclining in the cool of the air conditioning, I hopped in the car and ventured back to a garage sale where I'd put a rug on hold; I ended up with a few more knick-knacks (spent a whopping $11.50), and then on my way home I saw another sign advertising plants for sale.

I had a genius thought: why not get my deck garden started? I'd buy plants locally grown from my "neighbors" (I'm from the country; anyone within a radius of 10 miles is a neighbor!) and save money, too.

Turning down an alleyway, I pulled up alongside a hand-painted sign ("The Greenhouse is Open") and walked into a beautiful little urban garden – complete with quaint greenhouse – in the midst of Saint Paul. A nice man greeted me with a smile and I asked for the grand tour, which he happily obliged. 

He had herbs, flowers, coleus and a myriad of other plants I don't know (and some I can't remember) – in short, he had almost everything I needed for my container gardens on my deck. Last summer's deck garden was my second foray into the world of urban gardening and I did very well, so this year I'm expanding yet again...*gulp*...and I've added a couple more items to the list.

I bought 4 basil plants and 8 cilantro plants from him. Also, I've added two newbies to the urban herb garden: a cherry tomato plant and 4 "big dipper" pepper plants. This'll be my first time growing peppers OR tomatoes, and I've never had to stake plants before, so hopefully I don't botch it. In addition to last year's chives (which came up of their own accord in March) and lettuce (those started peeking through the dirt in the past couple weeks), I think I've got quite the little herb garden growing.

Of course, after getting a tad stumped by my brand-new, already-tall tomato stalk, I came up with a creative little solution (also free :) to help support the slender plant. I don't think it'll last very long – as the plant grows thicker and the tomatoes start to weigh it down I'll need something more sturdy – but for right now it's cute and works very well: two of Zada's on-hand throwing sticks that together create a convenient "notch" in which the tomato stalk can reside.

Last year's supports for my vining black-eyed susans is in place for the peppers – we'll see if that works! It's all a learning curve.

I also bought some coleus from him, but he didn't have the orange ones I'd hoped he sent me over to another local sale – where several neighborhood ladies collaborate and sell their perennials – and I got my orange coleus (plus a nice, hefty flower pot for $1.00!). 

Although I wanted to buy all my plants locally, I needed to head to Linder's anyway (for potting soil), and once there of course I loaded up on more goodies: a HUGE pot for my clematis (a gift from Clint – it's gorgeous!); some superbena; daisies; a couple varieties of osteospermum; colorful vinnias; ornamental grass and the soil.

By now it was mid-day and in my excitement of the day – and all my purchases – and forgotten to eat breakfast! After a quick snack it was out to the deck with my gloves and the iPod for an afternoon of potting, re-planting, digging-my-hands-in-the-dirt fun. 

It was sweaty, hot work (thank goodness for the breeze) but once it was done and I could step back to survey my handy-work, I realized that I have quite the beautiful urban garden :)

Time will tell how this year's deck garden fares...but it's looking good so far!