questionswhat outside project got away from you this…

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I had a strange prophetic dream that if I planted the seeds from the canary melon I'd bought at Costco, they would grow into lush plants. I live in the desert, on the side of a sandy stone mountain, and growing anything is nearly impossible. I have never grown anything from seeds. But I obediently dug a little trench in an old flower bed and dumped the seeds in there, and sure enough they grew into beautiful, lush climbing vines with big leaves and hundreds of little yellow flowers. The problem? That was in August. The poor things are just barely starting to make little melons behind the flowers, and although the weather is highly unpredictable here, it often gets cold by the end of October. I'd like these plants to get to live out their full life cycle and finish making their melons. My friend and I have talked about building a frame and laying plastic on it for them, but I don't know if it's worth trying.

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@moondrake: Might be worth a try. Ya never know... and you just might have some tasty melons later on ! Keep us updated.

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I have a 40' flowerbed that got invaded by fire ants. Since the spring I have been dumping various types of supposed killers in, to no avail. In the meantime I couldn't get in there to weed. At all... in Florida, over the entire summer. Needless to say, it was an embarrassment. I finally got the majority of the ants killed, and cleared it out this past weekend. I filled 2 large cans and 3 lawn bags, got bit about 30 times by ants and twice by wasps, but I still feel like it was a victory.

@moondrake I'll bet you could get pretty far by covering them, I always pick up children's pop-up play tents at garage sales to cover my plants, I wonder if you could use something like that.

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@pickypickypicky: I do have a little tent I bought on the cheap. But I would have thought they would need more sunlight than that. Did you try diatomaceous earth for your fire ant problem? It takes time but it's a very green solution and is safe for food-bearing plants.

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@moondrake: I just cover them at night, should have specified.

Regarding the ants, the first thing I tried was diatomaceous earth. I use that on our notoriously horrific palmetto bugs, with great success. In this case, the ants just moved, and only a few inches at that. I even tried mixing it with sugar and then walnut oil, to bait them, still nothing. I ended up trying 3 more organic solutions, and then went through the standard homeowner applications, as well. I finally asked a lawn care guy I am friends with, to use whatever vile stuff that they use, while I tried not to think about it too much.

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@pickypickypicky: Ah, that makes sense. Within the next couple of weeks I will be getting home from work after dark and leaving for work in the dark (I work a 10/4 schedule), and I am not keen on trying to manage that in the dark. I think I'd have to use a transparent cover that could stay in place. I am thinking the same thing for my potted lemon tree. He isn't doing great and this will be his first winter so I expect I will likely lose him. We've had a very mild summer wit heavy rainfall for the desert, so we are thinking this may be an especially cold winter. But we have sun 365 days a year so maybe if they are covered with clear plastic they will still survive.

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@moondrake: You can't leave the plastic on during the day. You'll either cook your plants, or smother them. That sun is pretty forceful. Just put it on at night, and take it off in the morning, before you leave. You might also try a Wall of Water.

They come in lots of shapes and varieties. Here's some examples from good old Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Wall-Water-Gardening-Teepees-3-Pack/dp/B0006IH400
http://www.amazon.com/WALL-O-WATER-3-PACK/dp/B0000DI86C/ref=pd_sbs_lg_1

I've only used the second kind. They're much better than clear plastic, and as you see, they permit the plant air, and don't cook them. You can probably just pick them up locally. That second link ships with Amazon Prime, and I always prefer storefronts that use it (it just feels safer, or more trustworthy, somehow).

[Edit] Even cooler. Here's a do-it-yourself wall of water:

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/lab/msg0516363918431.html

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@pickypickypicky: Love the pop up tent tip. I am always taking out old sheets , trying not to crush the plants.
In the spring use gallon jugs to make little green houses.

It's going to get really cold here this weekend, so I think for the most part it's time to say good bye to the ones I'm not going to bring in.
Always sad. Lakes {Great} are warm --record levels. We're going to get a lot of snow this winter.

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@pickypickypicky: bummer about the ants. Those bites can really be nasty. I think I'd take the wasp over a lot of ants.

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@ceagee: remember, you can't save them all, and, if you are like me, there will be lots of new plants to fall in love with later. My rule of thumb is to winnow out the plants that will cost less to replace, rather than to nurse them through the (in my case) mostly just dry season. But when it does drop down to freezing, the pop up tents do add a festive look to the yard,. Thomas the tank engine likes tomatoes. :-)

As for the insect bites, the wasp stings were my favorite, of the 2. Already pain free, unlike the darned ant bites. Maybe I can work them into a Halloween costume. Smallpox victim, eeew!

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@pickypickypicky: I did Masque of the Red Death here at work one year. Got rave reviews and won money in the office contest despite practically no one knowing what the hell I was talking about. I wore a fancy Victorian men's costume with a red brocade coat and carried a beautiful mask-on-a-stick in front of my face, then would drop it to reveal the grotesque red sores and drooping skin. I did a really good job on the makeup, people couldn't stand to look at me when we talked. One of the ones on my hands was particularly gruesome, I was sitting in the audience waiting to be called up during the costume competition and tapped the person in front of me on the shoulder to ask her a question. She saw the "sore" on my hand and shrieked, then looked back at me and genuinely screamed. It was freakin' hilarious.

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@moondrake: OMG, that's wonderful, bonus points for the Poe reference.

IMO, the best scary costumes are the ones with great F/X makeup. My favorite was when I did the "black velvet ribbon" costume. I wore a Victorian costume, which put people at ease. When they least expected it, I would allow my ribbon choker to slip and reveal the gruesome slashed throat.

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@pickypickypicky: Showing my age here, but wasn't it the original Dark Shadows that had the girl with a ribbon around her neck, if you took off the ribbon her head would fall off? I used to race home from elementary school to watch Dark Shadows. I've loved vampires since I was a teeny little thing. My parents let me name my littlest brother and I named him Christopher Lee (I didn't think I could get away with Bela Lugosi).

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@moondrake: yes that was on the original show (so I have heard, ahem, cough, cough). But it is actually much, much older than that. That story has a very long oral tradition, probably predating bluebeard, possibly related to Gilles de Rais. For the record, I am not old enough to remember him personally.