Stacey Mollus is a humor columnist who believes laughter is the best form of exercise. She is a gardening diva who hates worms, but loves to get her fingers in the dirt. Besides gardening, she loves her family, chocolate and clothes that are stretchy. You can find her personal blog site at "queenofchocolates.com ", and tweets at “queenchocolates”.
 

Recent Blog Posts

Aug 25
The Arch Enemy of the Green Bean  

Jul 11
Time to Hit the Sales  

Jun 05
Mother Nature Needs Prozac  

Apr 30
Please Don’t Eat the Tulips!  

Apr 03
Berries are bursting!  

Mar 17
Overcoming a Gardening Challenge- living with a spunky golden retriever!   (2 comments)

Jun 22
Teeny Tomato Plants, But Lots of Fruit!  

Jun 01
Mowing Rookie  

 

 

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Please Don’t Eat the Tulips!
by Stacey Mollus - posted 04/30/14

If you are like me, this is the time of year you begin to move your houseplants outdoors. I am also beginning to make a list of what type of plants I am going to put into the containers that will be placed in our outdoor living space.. I am hoping when I am done, everything will look just like a beautiful picture cut straight out of the Missouri Gardener magazine!

This has long been my spring tradition, but this year, there is something very important I will be considering before I pull out the potting soil,

That consideration is, my pets.

I am a loving pet owner, and my doggies are usually right by my side when I am on my knees digging a spot for the new plant I just purchase, but recently. an acquaintance of mine had a tragic situation arise when her little dog became very ill. After a trip to the vet, it was brought to her attention that the plants she had surrounded her house with were toxic to animals, and her pup had severe liver damage because of he spent much of his day chomping on her plants.

This terrible example made me consider something I had never really thought about before. I always knew I needed to keep my houseplants away from my pets, but I never considered the annuals and perennials as a possible toxin before. Since I was uneducated about this subject, I went straight to Dr. Google! "He" knows everything, and I thought he might shed some light on this subject..

After a bit of research, I found a great link I would like to share with you so you can avoid a possibly life threatening situation with your fur babies. It is a website that has hundreds of plants listed, their level of toxicity, and the symptoms your pet will experience if they eat it. The address of that site is:  http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants.

I will be spending some time searching this very exhaustive list before I pick out my container plants this year, because typically, I see Lucy, our feisty golden retriever, pluck a plant from my garden and take off running across the yard with it hanging from her mouth, hoping I wont see her thievery. Because of her incorrigible ways, I think it is best that I know what she can safely eat before I plant anything. That way, I won't have to keep my veterinarian on speed dial!

I hope you never need this information but I felt compelled to sound the warning.  I hope you yard is fully in bloom this year with your kitty or puppy soaking up a sunbeam right beside your beautiful plants. I know that is what will be happening here at my house. That is if Lucy, doesn't eat everything!
 

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Berries are bursting!
by Stacey Mollus - posted 04/03/14

Watching Dr.Oz the other day made me realize I did the right thing last year by planting some strawberries. The great doctor stated that strawberries can do more for lowering cholesterol than oatmeal. My motives for planting a berry patch was not to make my blood tests more acceptable, I did it because the flavor of a pesticide free, fresh berry would knock the socks off of my family.

I wasn't sure what kind of berries were the best or how many plants I should plant, but from what I had been told by other berry growers, they are so easy to care for, I had to take a chance.

I put in a bundle of June Bearing berries (larger, but only harvest once a year), and a bunch of ever-bearing (smaller berries, but harvest all summer), and hoped for success. I can honestly say, if you count success by how fat the strawberry fed bunny rabbits are that live in my yard, then I am the Queen of Berries. Sadly, I can say I only got three berries after putting in over twenty plants, because those little fluffy creatures ate almost everything! I would see an unripened berry one morning, and by the next day, I would find the berry with a huge bite taken out of it. I did consider eating around the bite mark, but I knew I just couldn't trust where a rabbits lips have been, smile 

Some friends of mine planted strawberries as if they were annuals, growing them in flowerpots, raised beds, and even hanging, plastic bags, then they dispose of the plants at the end of fall. Personally, I wanted a berry patch that came back and filled in each year, getting larger and larger. In the hopes they would not die off, I babied those suckers, covering them to protect them from the cold winter winds.
Since I am confident the snows have passed, I crossed my fingers this week and began pulling back the dead leaves I covered the yearling plants with to protect them from freezing. Wow, was I happy to see several little green plants popping up from the ground! I did a little dance of joy, The berries made it through their first winter. I must have done something right. 

Now I patiently wait to see what type of harvest I will get after all of my dedication. I just hope the rabbits and I can come to some type of compromise. I will gladly share with them as long as they leave me enough to make at least one jar of homemade jam. 

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Overcoming a Gardening Challenge- living with a spunky golden retriever!
by Stacey Mollus - posted 03/17/13

Last year, we brought a redhead ball of fun named Lucy, home to live with us. Having raised two other golden retrievers, we knew that it takes those big clowns a lot longer to mature than other breads of dogs and we were ready to take on that challenge.

We know that fighting thru the chewing, digging, and stealing of your underwear when you are in the shower, was a small price to pay for all of the love and laughter these great animals provide.

Here was my greatest obstacle to totally embracing my canine bestie. Lucy apparently is a closet vegetarian, because last year she ate all of the vegetables right off the vine! Every tomato, watermelon, cucumber and even radish ended up in her belly. She either ate them or made them into a spherical play toy, which in her defense, most did look like a tennis ball.

So now is the time of year I begin to dream about what I'm going to plant. I have been pacing around my backyard, looking at destruction that Lucy has left in her wake over the winter months. Even though the little stinker is an indoor dog and she only goes out to potty and burn off energy, she found a great winter hobby to keep her busy if she became bored while on her potty break. She has dug up all of the weed mat from the bottom of my beautiful raised vegetable gardens. The gardens I have spent years building.

Now please know, she is already 60 pounds. That means, as she dug out the weed mat she also moved the cinder blocks that surrounded the perfectly placed gardens. It looks like a bomb went off in our backyard! Technically, a bomb did go off. A bomb named Lucy.

Knowing that I am a species of higher intelligence than a dog, I knew I could figure out a way to grow veggies without getting rid of the puppy that has stolen my heart. Then it hit me!

Since my dog is too spoiled to go into the dog pen that was custom built in our yard before we moved here, why not put my garden where the dogs never go. In that dog pen!

This pen is 30 feet by 20 feet, and it is surrounded by a 6-foot high, chain link fence. It is an area that is untouched, except by our mower and weed-eater. There is a tree on the other side of the fence, but I am convinced it will not interfere with the mandatory six hours of sunlight I will need to make my garden grow.

I can still garden while we walk through training Lucy to be more "garden friendly".

I walked around the pen and started to dream a gardeners dream. I get the privilege of building a garden from scratch, and I haven't done that in years.

I get to start up the tiller and break up the ground that has never been turned. I get to do soil sampling to find if I need to add something organic to make the soil more, "veggie friendly". I get to decide which direction I want my rows to go, and I am so excited I am almost giddy about looking thru garden magazines to find out if I want to add something unique to my new garden since my plantable space will increase greatly.

I will sadly, say goodbye to my raised beds. They have been wonderful and I have loved the convenience when weeding, but I am also kind of looking forward to spreading newspapers and straw between the rows of a much larger garden.

And the best part is? I will have the best protected garden in town! I mean seriously, who else can say they have a 6-foot tall protective fence around their cantaloupe? 

 

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