squirrels, you’re off my nice list: a new kind of home invasion

We used to have an affinity towards squirrels. We placed them on our Thanksgiving table. We thought they were cute on an office desk. We even decorated our nurseries with them. Sure they would occasionally ruin a flower bed in the garden, but hey, that’s their domain, isn’t it? But now, squirrels, you have gone too far. You are officially on my rats-with-tails list.

You see, the other day we came home to discover this: a hole in our kitchen screen window. No, make that two holes. It seems that a bulb of garlic was just soooooo tempting to one of our yard squirrels that he (or she), gnawed right through our window screen and dragged it outside. Since that wasn’t tasty enough, he returned and nibbled on an apple that was on our counter. A palette cleanser, perhaps?

The next day, we borrowed a no-hurt trap from a neighbor and placed it near the scene of the crime. It took about two seconds to catch squirrel A. We transported him to our nearby woods reservation, and then did a step-and-repeat with his little co-hort.

The screen has yet to be repaired.

Have you had any invasive encounters with squirrels in your home? Share your dramas here!

From our partners

fantasy backyard: imagine telling camp stories around a fire bowl!


We’re in love with the idea of having outdoor fires in our backyard, even though we don’t really have the appropriate patio-space that may be required. That doesn’t stop us from dreaming! These new MIX fire bowls from EcoSmart are sure lovely. Highly functional and elegant, MIX Fire Bowls can be easily switched on or off and relocated wherever ambiance, heat and the light of a fire is needed. Graceful bowls made from weather-resistant concrete, these freestanding fires allow you to put a flame where ever and whenever you need it. Fueled with bioethanol, an environmentally friendly, clean burning and renewable energy source fuel, they provide over 8 hours’ usage. With the clean design comes a no-mess factor — no ashes or soot to clean up. But isn’t that part of the fun? The MIX fire bowl is available via ecosmartfire.com, starting around $1000.

From our partners

my first raised vegetable garden: maybe I overdid it…

 

There were so many alternate headlines I could have used here: Lettuce — rejoice and be glad! Lettuce eat! Lettuce entertain you! The point is, I’ve learned something already about vegetable gardening: just because you really like a certain vegetable, doesn’t mean you have to plant every last start.

I wanted to start small (ha) so I started just two kinds of lettuce indoors: arugula, which is my favorite, and Batavian Full Heart endive, just because I got the seeds free from a friend. I used Root Riot seed starter cubes and just kept them warm and watered and lit by a standard flourescent tube light. I was so excited at how well the lettuce took off, you could say I went a little overboard with my planting. I didn’t choose only the hardiest looking starts, no sir. I was so itching to put something in those beds, I planted ALL of them.

This, as you may imagine, is not advised. The photo above is of one day’s harvest, and I had at least eight times that much all told. It turns out arugula is a super-fast grower. Ooops. From mid-May on, we have been eating a lot of salads, to be sure, but I also became the local neighborhood lettuce pusher. Stopping by to say hi? Don’t leave without a bag of leaves! Oh, you garden? Let me pull up this entire plant to give you — no wait, how about four?

After a few weeks of this, I pulled out more than half the lettuce to make room for some other plants. Nothing else is ready for harvest yet, but I am experimenting with several varieties of tomato (they have flowers, yay), some scarlet runner beans, broccoli romanesco (why not), and even a couple ears of corn. But I have planted a very, very reasonable amount of two to four each.

P.S. Here’s a photo of our raised beds with the lettuce in mid-grow. The beds are built against a retaining wall in a little-used, oddly shaped lower section of yard. We’re using branches from a neighbor’s fallen tree as plant supports.

 

 

From our partners

indoor gardening: are cacti the new succulents?

We went through an air-plant phase. Then, terrariums. Then, table-top succulents were all the rage. All did wonders to bring a little green to our indoor spaces, and appeal to our modern, kitschy sensibilities. But recently we’ve noticed that trendmakers are starting to turn their well-manicured thumbs towards brightly colored catci arrangements, reminding us of a beloved plant from a long ago. Remember when every office had a little cactus sprouting in a pot? True, in certain spots of the country, cacti never go out of style — but we’re here to declare they’re in again. Because they don’t need much, other than sun and the rare sprinkle of water, they’re perfect to liven up any dreary space. We especially love the ones shown here, discovered via the UnCovet blog (above) and A Beautiful Mess, below.

Here are a a few tips on how to care for your indoor cactus plants, but remember: Those thorns are prickly! Use gloves and proceed with caution.

Related links:

Steal This Idea: Succulents in Bricks

From our partners

jewelry for your trees: mquan birdhouses

I am not a jewelry person, but there is one line of fine trinkets that always makes me swoon: Me & Ro. Their delicate, often-Asian inspired pieces provide just the right amount of sparkle to compliment any chic wardrobe. (In fact, it’s where my engagement ring is from.) So it goes without saying that I was tickled to learn that one of Me & Ro‘s founders, Michele Quan, has branched out to make lovely objects for the home and garden. Yesterday, Rima Suqi (who always has a great eye) pointed out in The New York Times that many of Quan’s objects are meant to dangle from trees. Especially lovely are her birdhouses. Meant to attract little wrens, sparrows and warblers, they also have holes for ventilation and drainage. Each is painted by hand, and features quaint flowers, leaves or astronomical patterns. They are pricey — between $250 to $475 — but verge more towards a work of art than a garden accessory. Visit mquan.com for more information.

From our partners