Archives for May 2014

Five-Gallon Bucket Tomatoes Year 2

Last year Mike and I were getting ready to plant tomatoes, and he said “why don’t we put them in these five-gallon buckets and keep them near the house?” And we did. I didn’t anticipate that so many people would be interested. Well over a thousand people viewed that post, and when I look at “key words” that lead people to RiverCliff Cottage, I see that there is still an interest.

We put out three more this year. Some with holes drilled in the bottom; some with holes drilled in the sides of the bucket. I love just stepping outside and grabbing a tomato. The only modification this year is that we used a garden soil that will retain moisture. I didn’t think this was necessary last year, because they love dry soil. However, not parched soil!

Tomatoes 1

Here’s all three looking nice and fresh early this morning in the shadows from the garage. I’ve already hung sheets on the line, too. Do you have a clothesline?

Tomatoes 2

I’m trying cucumbers now. The first year I grow cucumbers in a new place, I have less issue with cucumber beetles, so I thought by putting them in buckets, I can make this easier each year.

Cucumbers in Buckets

We’re getting ready to start a new project here at RiverCliff Cottage. I’m going to pick up two paint samples to brush on the bedroom walls to see which one looks best. I’ve had pink, green, yucky brown (current) and yellow in the bedroom but never blue. I’m ready for a change. This should take place in 48 hours, but with the way we do things, I’m betting two full weeks until we get this room finished.


Edible Plants In Mendota

I’ve had this grapecart for years.  Like almost 20 years.   WOW!  It’s an antique.

Grape Cart R

Do you see the edible plant in it?  Look close…

Flowers With Strawberry

Yum.  It’s strawberry time at Mann’s Farm in Scott County, Virginia.  Are strawberries in season where you are?

Strawberry 1

Here’s some more of what is growing here at RiverCliff Cottage…Blueberries in the new section of raised beds are coming along nicely. This is the first year for the ones in the picture. They are sleeping. Next year, they will be creeping, and finally, on the following year, they will begin leaping.

Blueberries 050414

Potatoes are up. Yukon Golds…

Potatoes 051414

We’re about sick of eating lettuce, but we’ll keep it up as long as it’s here.

Lettuce and Basil

And yesterday we planted three raised beds with these…

Mountaineer Half Runners

I keep returning to my apiary since last week I had the great fortune to catch a swarm of bees by doing nothing but setting a “nuc” trap beside the hive with a little lemongrass oil on a papertowel. Read about this big surprise here.


Since then, I am wearing a path out there going to see if this will happen again. Over and over and I keep returning with my head hanging low. Apparently, this must be like lightening striking twice or winning the lottery twice. It ain’t gonna happen.


Searching for Some Green

Today I had my long-awaited appointment with Danette Mayfield who is making slipcovers for me.  She is one hard lady to catch! However, I’m having a little more done than what I’d planned on, so I was thinking how I’d pay for it.    Looking for some green!

It was on the riverbank…but not exactly what Danette is looking for in return for her labor….

The Nursery

It was over in Steve McCroskey’s field…. this is pretty and John Deere should be paying for this picture, but they haven’t called…and I didn’t take the picture anyway…my friend Helene took this.  In fact, she took the one above it and below it, too!

First Hay

I might make a little green on some honey later this year, but that’s later. They sure are sweet. That’s me. Bee mama…talking to her little mean pets. Mike looking on thinking he’s married to a crazy person.

Mama and her bees

But I did end up with a little green finally today thanks to my pals Oscar Harris and Dale Jett…they ran into a musician friend who needed a place to stay for the weekend and remembered the guesthouse at RiverCliff Cottage. BINGO! Slipcovers are paid for!! Thanks guys!!



Back in Business and Why Do I Live Here?

We are back in the honeybee business. My brother-in-law, Gerald, was discouraged coming into the early spring, because he was down to one hive. I had two hives but one was very weak. I so wanted to keep going…I’m always optimistic…but I knew without his help, I could not do it. Mike has many good qualities but he is afraid of bees. He likes them because I love them.

So you can imagine how happy Gerald and I are as we come into May, we now have six hives. We’re talkin’ honey..talking next year…watching our bees settle in. Our two hives remain strong, and our weak hive has been requeened. We have three new hives from catching swarms. God seems to be smiling down on our efforts and encouraging us.

Welcome Hive Number 6! It’s two deep-hive bodies, and that’s sugar water with Honey Bee Healthy for a little extra help for their housewarming. Our babies are buzzing!

Three Hives R

And now for the second part of my post. Why Do I Live Here? This question was asked recently.

I shared something with some visiting friends about a recent event that bothered me. I was at Cheddars on Exit 7 in Bristol and someone at the table near us requested a different waitress before being served because the waitress working that area was Black. The swap was made. It turned my stomach. I didn’t realize people felt that way in 2014. The waitress was matter of fact about it and said it happened occasionally. Does Cheddars need the business so bad that they accept this from customers? I probably won’t go back. They will have to have their racists customers keep them in business; not me. My friends were appalled and asked “why do you live here?” It caught me offguard. I didn’t answer them as I should have.

First, I think most people are like me–not like those who were seated at the table near us. There is some bad everywhere. When I was in Alpharetta working, I stepped out from the hotel one evening to go to Bahama Breeze to have dinner. I was alone and within spitting distance of the restaurant. It was dusky, but not dark. The hotel employees insisted I call them to come pick me up when I was through, and they stood outside and watched me walk across the parking lot to get there. Really. Maybe they were making a big deal about nothing to make me feel welcome and secure at their hotel. I’m not sure.

Perhaps it’s that way here, too, and I’m just naive. I do know that if I drive into Mendota, which is 18 miles from a grocery store, and my car breaks down, I’m more likely to have help from someone or a fair idea of whose door I’m knocking on. We’re not perfect, but I prefer to live here. I’m still trying to think of the right answer to my friends’ question so that I don’t sound like I’m condemming another lifestyle above my own, but I don’t want anyone to think I do not prefer to live where I live.  I like to visit an IKEA but it’s not important to live near IKEA!   Ha ha!    The reason I started this blog was to answer that question. I’m not sure that I’m doing a very good job of it. I want to share the sweetness of my rural lifestyle.

So much for seriousness. Here’s some simpler reasons….my friendship garden. Plants that folks around here have just given me “starts” from. Friendships are more likely to be forever here–not until the moving truck takes us to our next assignment. These are Katie Harris’ irises that probably started in her father’s garden. Each spring they remind me of that family. Katie, her sister, Lisa, and I were sisters growing up. We all live here now. By choice.

Irs by Katie R

And there’s another special garden friend from someone I love. It’s from my True Love (Lowe’s). Got most of these off the half dead plant rack a few weeks ago. Look at them now! They are surely not half dead plant flowers anymore!

Half Dead Plant Flowers


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