Category: Southern Living

Nov 15, 2022
By Michael Rupured

Fall Garden 3.0

My third serious attempt at a fall garden is in. This time, I started all the veggies from seed. Tootsie “helped.” Back in June, I started some Foxgloves and Canterbury bells inside. These beauties are biannual, blooming in the second year and then dying. I’m testing my hypothesis that going through winter triggers bloom — not the age of the plant. Will fall-planted specimens do as well as those planted in spring? I predict shorter stalks with fewer blooms. Two flats of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, cabbage, and spinach went under lights in early August. Once they came up, I moved the flats to a shady spot outside. Keeping Tootsie away was a challenge. She didn’t bother the plants, but …

May 14, 2022
By Michael Rupured
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May Flowers

Hard to believe nearly a month has passed since my last post. Funny how time flies when you’re retired. Just thinking about work is enough to stress me out, and blogging often feels like work. Running was the subject of my last post. Since then, I’ve logged 20-25 miles a week running three to six miles just about every day. My weight has dropped two more pounds. The new goal is 180 pounds. A garden update is long overdue. The seed-starting operation closed for the season weeks ago. Many of the summer annuals are in bloom with lots more to come. The biennials I started from seed last year are blooming. The foxgloves have just peaked and never needed staking. …

Apr 19, 2022
By Michael Rupured
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Running Cold

Sticking to my running regimen has always been a challenge. Work, foot problems, and less-than-perfect weather too often keep me inside. Retiring solved the time issue. Skechers ArchFit shoes fixed the foot problems. Weather is beyond my control, but my preferences have changed to expand the window of opportunity. I can’t complain. The climate in Athens is just about perfect. Long, hot summers are too much for some, but a small price to pay for short, mild winters. Before this year, sunny skies and a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees were required for me to run. Foot problems have been a bigger issue. Plantar fasciitis stops any running for months at a time. A case in the fall of …

Mar 31, 2022
By Michael Rupured
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Wishful Thinking Disorder

Confession time. Wishful Thinking Disorder (WTD) has plagued me for as long as I can remember. WTD is essentially optimism on steroids. My glass isn’t just half-full — It’s going to run over any day now. This time of year is particularly difficult for WTD gardeners. Symptoms kick into high gear around Ground Hog’s Day. How soon can I plant stuff? In January, a web site with daily forecasts predicted no frost for the next 90 days. I planned my seed-starting operation accordingly. Silly old man. The forecast on my phone changes every time I check — sometimes dramatically. Accuracy is often laughable. I know this, and yet, WTD made me believe the rosy forecast would be 100% correct. Imagine …

Feb 16, 2022
By Michael Rupured

Nursery Update

My little seed-starting operation is going gangbusters. Some of everything I planted germinated — including several varieties that didn’t come up last year. This unprecedented success was a nice surprise that meant running out of room sooner than expected. I hit the max (eight flats) earlier this month and would have been in trouble had all the coleus cuttings survived. Fortunately, warmer weather arrived before I had to expand to the kitchen table. Making the most of the space I had was a challenge. Turning flats (from end-to-end to side-to-side) doubles capacity on the shelves but is less than optimal for lighting. Flats have to be rearranged every day to keep seedlings from leaning. The closer to the light, the …

Jan 27, 2022
By Michael Rupured
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Garden 2022: The Nursery

Since downsizing in 2012, I’ve chosen to fill my garden with annuals. They’re colorful, fast-growing, widely available, and easy to grow. Changing things up every year also appeals to me. Browsing garden centers is a related hobby. Impulse purchases are common. Last winter, I bought a timer, LED light and cold frame to grow plants from seed. Despite a late start, home-grown plants filled most of the garden all summer and fall. I learned a lot in the process and am growing even more from seed this year — so much I fear there won’t be room for any impulse purchases. Browsing seed catalogs is almost as fun as hitting garden centers. Catalogs offer pages and pages of different varieties …

Dec 01, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Cool Running

Weather has long determined if I go for a run or not. Preferred conditions include sunny skies with a temperature from 65- to 7degrees and a light breeze. There’s a little wiggle room, but anything beyond that is a deal breaker. An aversion to sweat is the issue. I don’t mind sweating so much these days, but can’t stand a wet, clingy shirt. Running shirtless solves that problem. Work further restricted the window of opportunity for running. The return to Standard Time every fall made running a weekend activity. Retiring solved that problem. Once remodeling projects wrapped up earlier this year, establishing a running routine became my top priority. Bouts of Plantar fasciitis sometimes force me to stop too. Recovery …

Apr 27, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Plant Factory Update

The little seed-starting operation I set up in January has been a success. I’ve grown hundreds of flower and vegetable plants from seed and counting. The exact number or even a good estimate is unknown — I’ll keep better records next year. At least a few plants came up of everything I planted. Varieties include black-eyed Susan, Canterbury bells, foxglove, delphinium, calendula (pot marigold), sweet allysum, petunias, marigolds (2 varieties), zinnias (2 varieties), tithonia (Mexican sunflower), love-lies-bleeding, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and a ton of lettuce (3 varieties). ‘Dragon Wing’ begonias were the exception. The microscopic seed are slow to germinate. Algae covered the seed-starting mix before they had time to sprout. I’ve had the same issue with petunias. A …

Mar 08, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Practically Perfect

The home renovation and remodeling projects I’ve been talking about since September are drawing to a close. The bathroom is done, the entire interior has been freshly painted, and the bedrooms have new carpet. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Everything in the house had to be moved — twice. Putting things back was an opportunity to purge and reorganize. Rejects that fit in my car went to the Goodwill store in one of many trips over the past two months. Everything too big for my car vanished soon after being placed by the curb. I’m very proud of the neat and well-organized closet. I hate to brag, but have practically perfect closets is rare. We’ll see how long …

Feb 25, 2021
By Michael Rupured
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Late-winter Veggies

My second attempt at a winter vegetable garden has been more successful than the first. I can’t really take credit. Success came down to an unusually wet and cool September followed by months with only light freezes. The bar is admittedly low. Merely surviving the winter is a success. Months of root growth will pay off later for annual flowers. Any harvest is icing on the cake. My approach to growing vegetables is more than a little random. I don’t have room for a full-on vegetable garden and don’t want more than I can eat or easily give away. Mixing produce in with flowers works for me. Spinach is my biggest success so far. Freshly-picked leaves have been turning up …