Author: Sue
•2:02 PM

Well this is off track a bit from gardening but I thought I'd let you know what i have been up too!

I have been looking for a job everywhere and every kind of job you can imagine! I haven't worked since November and I'm getting desperate! I have applied for jobs I never would have ever considered years past. I use to scoff at people saying if they really wanted a job they could get one! Now I don't even think I could get a job at Burger King! Not saying anything bad about Burger King in case you are reading this. All jobs look pretty good to me at this point. What I find ridiculous is having to apply online instead of speaking to actual people. You never know if any one is actually viewing your application or is it sitting in outer space somewhere? There is never a response from an actual person and there is no one to talk to about it. Do you wait forever just in case or do you keep applying and hoping for something that will never happen. How do the employers know who is right for the job? They may be hiring a psychopath that knows the system and just what to write down. What happened to the old days of selling yourself? I say we should all have an uprising and revert to the days when people actually communicated with each other. So much for my ranting and ramblings.....

If there is anyone out there in cyberspace preferably in the Merced Ca. area that needs a dedicated hard worker like myself please let me know!

Thank you all for listening! My next post will be back to normal LOL I promise!!

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Author: Sue
•10:00 AM

The Internet is just truly amazing! I got curious so I looked up “The Secret Garden” and found out I could read it for free from Google!

So here it is if anyone is interested!

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Author: Sue
•8:39 AM

401px-The_Secret_Garden_book_cover_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_17396 When I was just a kid I read a book called the Secret Garden. I don’t remember exactly what it was about but through the years I always fantasized about having a secret garden of my own.  I would daydream endlessly about this garden. It would be enclosed by Morning Glory Vines for walls. The birds would be chirping in the trees, butterflies could be seen gracefully dancing from flower to flower sometimes landing on me if only for a moment. At night fireflies would light up my garden revealing hidden treasures; my own personal light show. I began to be aware that the times I indulged this daydream most often were times of great stress in my life.  I realize now the immense importance of Gardens in our lives. They are a place to go when the soul needs healing. Having your own garden, no matter how small, creates an environment for our bodies to heal naturally. Perhaps that is why we all try so hard to create the “perfect garden”. My husband has been out of work the last few months. He is a man of little words but I know the stress has been building up inside of him. He has taken it upon himself to water my garden every morning and I  see him pruning the bushes and pulling the weeds. I leave him alone while he works because I know he needs this time for himself to mend.

So no matter what your garden looks like; whether it be a few potted plants on a terrace or a work of art straight out of “Better Homes and Gardens” we are better off for it because we have created a way to heal our minds and bodies through nature.

My next blog will be on “Healing Gardens” with a few tips to help you make your garden into your own private retreat. 

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Author: Sue
•12:02 PM

Photo by Charles Chien



My dear friend Malcom stopped by yesterday. He’s the kind of person that always has valuable information on just about everything! Needless to say I was anxious to show him my new blog and wean any kind of information I could get from him.  First thing he mentioned was Aphids; the reason I started this blog!

He had information I had never heard about that was so interesting I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone.

It seems that aphids excrete a sweet liquid called honeydew that the ants just love. The ants rub their antennae against the aphids to make them poop out this succulent honey!

You can actually see this in the great macro above. It seems the ants having discovered this wonderful food supply actually guard the aphids from predators wanting them only for themselves!

ladybug and ant


In this picture a ladybug is being attacked by two ants as she tries to feed on some aphids which happen to be one of the ladybugs favorite foods. This amazing macro can be found at

Antje Schulte is the photographer.

If you see swarms of ants climbing up your trees it is quite natural to assume there are aphids around.  The ants actually herd their aphids much like ranchers herd their cattle. The ants have been known to bite the wings off the aphids in order to stop them from getting away.

“Chemicals produced in the glands of ants can also sabotage the growth of aphid wings. The new study shows, for the first time, that ants' chemical footprints -- which are already known to be used by ants to mark out their territory - also play a key role in manipulating the aphid colony, and keeping it nearby.” More about this can be found here

So bottom line…if you want to get rid of your aphids you need to get rid of the ants!

What a vicious web we weave!

So here are a few suggestions I found on getting rid of ants in your trees!

“ If you see ants crawling up aphid-infested trees or woody plants, put a band of sticky material (Tanglefoot,etc.) around the trunk to prevent ants from getting up. Teflon products, which are too slippery for ants to climb up, have also been used. (Note: Do not apply sticky material directly to the bark of young or thin-barked trees or to trees that have been severely pruned; the material may have phytotoxic effects. Wrap the trunk with fabric tree wrap or duct tape and apply sticky material to the wrap.) Alternatively, ant stakes or baits may be used on the ground to control the ants without affecting the aphids or their natural enemies. Prune out other ant routes such as branches touching buildings, the ground, or other trees.”

More on this at this site.

So the family is calling for me! I can hear their cries in the other room, enough to drive one up the wall! What would they do if I wasn’t around any more. Honestly it is enough to drive me crazy. The dog is scratching my legs up because he wants attention and I am trying to finish this blog! Yet life goes on another day…….

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Author: Sue
•10:31 AM

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Joy of Arizona.


I was delighted when Craig sent this great new website, having visions of the yard looking like Home and Garden's.   We spend about half the year in cool
 Ariz. high country at 5000ft. elev. Unfortunately the small birds return from their long migration shortly after we do, just in time to feast on the new flowers I put out in 6 packs each spring.   The birds scatter whenever I come outside, thinking I'M the garden pest, SO I made a scarecrow from a broom, plastic bag and my old stocking cap, which worked - for 8 or 10 days - whoopee. The birds are now back for the rest of the flowers.   I can't have the flower bed in our unfenced front yard because of another flower devourer, the South West's feral pig, Javelina, whose odor you wouldn't believe is stronger than a skunk's.   P.U. If there are any solutions, SOS and Mayday! 

Hearing about these Javelinas compelled me to do some searching for them. I thought I had it bad with the deer! These guys stink and destroy your garden!

So in a nutshell here are some suggestions from others like you who have to deal with them. The links below go into greater detail.

1.  Coyote Urine, not the Shake-Away powder stuff that is mostly chemical urea or ureic acid

2.   Fencing

As for fencing, it must be at least 2 to 3 feet tall and not less than 3 inches below ground. Some pet and feed stores sell low-voltage electric or solar-powered fencing, which can be effective. Hang a single strand 8 to 10 inches off the ground around the edge of your garden, the experts suggest.

3.   You can try coffee grounds around your plants. The smell and the texture have been known to keep them at bay.

4.   Some have tried Garlic Water, Cayenne and hot sauce but I’m not sure if they had any success.

5.   Lastly here is an unusual method that this reader uses and claims some success with!

“Here is my Javelina deterrent method: OK, this is really gross but it is free and only for garden lovers who are determined to persuade the neighborhood Javelinas (and rabbits as a bonus) that their garden just isn't yummy anymore. This has worked perfectly so far, and here's what you do. I took several large dog droppings and put them in a gallon of water (I used a plastic pitcher with a top that rotates to open, then you don't have to touch anything that comes in contact with the droppings and liquid mixture), then I just let it sit a few hours to break down and liquify. If you need to mix it up you can use a paint stirrer like you get at a paint store. You want it thin and watery so that when you pour it on the plant you really don't see it, more like dirty water. It doesn't smell as bad as it could because it's so thinned out.

I poured that mixture around the base of the agave and cactus to discourage digging for shoots and poured some on the pads and leaves of the cactus and agave and around the base of the Penstemon so they wouldn't eat the flesh. I have been completely successful, and went from nightly raids where they ripped my new plants out of the ground and dug under my agaves to leaving my plants untouched and my garden pristine for the last two weeks.

At first, I saw hoof prints around my front garden but no damage and after two days of that, now, they don't even set foot in my garden! I used a broom on the gravel to smooth it out to really see if anything was disturbed and it wasn't! The Javelinas and rabbits aren't even walking on my property. And it doesn't smell horrible either to humans because you don't use very much, but the animals can sure smell it.

I am going to repeat this bi-weekly for a while and then space it out to weekly and then monthly.”

One thing I did find out 

is never let your dog near them. They hate dogs and will tear them apart!

This is a story I found from a couple that was very interesting to read. I could just picture them doing all this and it reminds me of all my struggles with my deer and what we go through to have a simple garden!

“Actually, Javelinas can show up at almost any time, but they ALWAYS show up for a meal or two in late summer. I don't know where they came from or where they go, but they come in late August and September like clockwork. When they do, expect trouble. Javelinas and any wild pig, being "rooters," can shove their snouts into any kind of ground with enough determination to get under any fencing structure, lift up the fence wire, just enough, to get under the fence, and feast. One has to create a foot-deep trough or so, place the fence into the trough, and keep it covered over with rocks or cement to assure keeping these critters out! But unfortunately, you can't create such structures where it matters most--your garden gate! And it is THERE that Javelinas are most likely to find their entrance into your garden. Even if your gate is thick aluminum or steel at the bottom, unbendable, wild pigs WILL find a way to root and dig under it! And, sure enough last weekend, Saturday morning around 7 am, at least one Javelina (it is rare for Javelinas to travel alone; more likely it was a family) got into the garden and ate a few yellow squash plants, stomped in the dirt where we'd just planted radishes, knocked over some seedlings, and stomped into the ground some greens on the way to the squash. In other words, they only messed up a small section of garden (they could have wiped it out...and I still don't know why they didn't). So, I put some flat, heavy rocks at the fence where it was clear they probably got out and could have gotten in, but of course, they most likely got in under the gate. So for this week we did "Javelina watch," getting up around 7 am to check the garden. So far, so good.

However, this past Thursday (Sept. 19), I got up to use the bathroom at 5:30 am, went out to check the garden and all was as it had been since the last invasion. Went back to bed, and got up again at 7:30 am. When I went out to check, more squash had been eaten! Plus, I noticed that the gate had been pushed up some more! Well, that's enough of that! We are down to our last couple of squash plants, and WILL NOT LOSE ANY MORE!


So this is what we've done: fill up water buckets with water (that can also be used to water the garden); put the buckets right in front of the gate so that Javelinas CANNOT get under the gate without toppling over four water buckets onto themselves (Javelinas do not like water on them! When it comes to water they are as skittish as cats...I cannot vouch for other kinds of wild pigs, however). Further, to make things more interesting, my husband put long, metal fence posts into the buckets standing upward, leaning against the bar that keeps deer from jumping over the gate...that way, if the critters do topple the buckets they will not only get wet. They will also get some heavy metal posts crashing down on them!

The noise enough should scare them away! Plus, the racket will send either me or my husband out to make sure the pests exit pronto!

That is, if you really want to mess with Javelinas! Now, Javelinas aren't mountain lions or bears, but they could, if there were enough of 'em, potentially rip you to shreds anyway. They have somewhat short, but potentially harmful, tusks that act as teeth (sort of like a wild boar or warthog). Make 'em mad enough and they will attack. In fact, if you have a dog that likes to go after skunks, raccoons and the like, you might want to keep it at bay. We had friends once who owned a Rhodesian Ridgeback. These powerful mastiff dogs were bred to hunt African lions. Well, their dog once got into it with some Javelinas and would up going to the vet with a six-inch deep gash in its side! Took at least a month to start looking like it was going to heal. Lesser dogs such as Rottweilers (!), Fila Brasilieros (which hunt jaguars and, formerly, runaway slaves), and German Shepherds are also no match for these porcine pugilists. In fact, if you want a dog that'll take on Javelinas successfully, get yourself a Chihuahua! These little guys can nip the heels off of a bear (provided they don't get stomped on!)


I’m going to leave you with a list of links that I found on the Javelina

This first one is a nice pamphlet from the Fish and Game Department

The following links are from others like yourself that are trying to deal with these critters!

I got the pictures of the Javelina from these two places


Craig found these links about Javelinas.
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Author: Sue
•8:12 AM
I love the Internet! You can find information on anything you want! I found so many ways to get rid of ants I am just going to list some of them and in the process I may try them all to see what will work! The first thing I tried was to sprinkle baby powder around which supposedly the ants hate, especially the scented kind. To my amazement it seems to be working! Not only are they afraid to cross it but they are scurrying away from it! Vinegar and water sprayed on them works also and doesn't smell as strong as the insecticides which is overpowering me at the moment. 
To repel them use:
  1. Cinnamon
  2. Black Pepper
  3. Mint
  4. Cloves 
  5. Cayenne pepper
  6. Bay leaves
I know in the past I have sprayed them with Windex, Simple Green, anything I could find and it kills them for the moment but they do return so I am going to try these repellents instead.
As for the sprays I may just use Windex and Ivory soap combination to spray them with because it doesn't smell as bad as the Ortho spray. So just so you know the ants have retreated for the moment shortly after sprinkling the Baby powder around! I am delighted to see that something actually worked!
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Author: Sue
•7:48 AM
How dare they! Armies of little ants marching over my keyboard, spilling over my Monitor, crawling through the disarray on my desktop appearing from no where ready for battle. Why not the kitchen? Why my sacred domain? This morning I sit at my computer with the fresh scent of Ortho Home Defense in my nostrils, sipping my coffee and trying to make sense of it all. By the end of my first battle I leave scores of dead ants scattered about my now cleared off space. If nothing else good comes out of it at least my desktop has finally been cleaned. As I sit here typing I see fresh warriors surfacing for battle. I see that those insect repellents you plug into the wall are not doing their job or are the ants simply too clever to be bothered by them? Where are those Ant lions when you need them? I suppose I need to go outside and try to find the source of their entry... but for now I shall try to enjoy my coffee and share some quality time with my new found friends. 
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