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Category Archives: Gardening

Corn Plot Layout and Dragon Hoses

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I plant 200+ corn plants in a modified circle/block so that cross pollination is more effective and I have found that watering with a hose is much easier, too. The blue lines are the hose paths and the black lines with red indicia are the measured distances in imperial feet.

hose paths & lengths

I have spent my life living and working in small spaces and I think hard about accessibility and ease of procedure. I used the principals of kitchen islands and office work flow centers to create this corn plot layout. I drag whatever hose is connected at the time but I prefer a shorter one. The shortest hose is ancient and kinks up like crazy but one of those new lightweight Pockethoses that have recently hit the markets is much easier to handle.

I love the new hoses, but I don’t like having to disconnect them and store them in a shady spot after each use. They are, however, a really bright green so the chances of mowing over them is greatly decreased. That’s a major hazard around our place. On the plus side, mowing does produce lots of short hoses.

I use drip hoses for the beds that are straight rows. It’s cheap, fun and easy. But it also involves watering where there are no plants. And there are always things that need specific watering as well as plantings in the corners of the fencing or filling the bird bath. I just haven’t wanted to deal with drip hoses strewn throughout the corn plot yet.

The Pocket hoses are connected to make a 100′ length so water can reach the farthest parts of the garden. I have a new plan for corner and fence plantings I’ll share with you all as the growing season progresses. It involves the veggies having their own hammocks. Another use for stash fabrics in the garden? We’ll see.

Dragging heavy duty hose is quite a workout.  The planted garden space is approx 75′ long and 28′ wide and the fenced in space is bigger.    I don’t have far to drag the much shorter corn hose and I don’t need to maneuver it very much for that matter as you can see from the 20′ width and 7′ length of the beds.   Every part of the planting is easily accessible.

hose paths

Once the corn has grown up a couple of feet and has developed a deeper root system that can benefit from flooding the trenches, I can thoroughly irrigate by laying a hose down at the head of the trenches. Squiggley X’s mark the spots in the picture below. As the water’s force moves the soil throughout the growing season I may have to redo the trenches to improve water distribution. Last year I found that plants in the junction of the inner half-circles could be easily washed away. I didn’t plant there this year and may have to reinforce the junction in some way.

hose position for flooding

With the corn planted in a raised or hilled platform the sides are more exposed to the sun and I stick bean seeds into the edges of the platform to maximize the growing potential of the tilled area. I only grow bush beans as heavy pole beans mercilessly pull the corn stalks down.

BTW I saw a old picture of mounded beds in a field in Ireland where the growing platforms like these were arranged in rows and approximately 4′ wide. I can’t find the source now but if I find it I’ll post a link to it. The trenches would have allowed for gravity feed irrigation such as what I’ve used here.

Due to last year’s spotty germination I could plant the summer squashes and cucumbers in with wax beans amongst the corn and put dill and nasturtiums at the ends of the beds. This many sources of nectar drew massive crowds of bumblebees and wasps to pollinate the plot.   These stinging guys made walking barefoot tricky and as things completely over grew the foot paths, it was difficult to see the veggies to harvest them in time before they grew too large.

The huge squash leaves overshadowed the younger corn plants to the point I had to fight to protect them (LOL, such a warrior woman).  Gaely demonstrated the issue in photos taken early last year before the squash leaves grew to be the largest they could be!

Big

Gaely in the Corn

Gaely in the Jungle

Squash gets its own row this year!  I am going to be a bit more lazy and plant only the beans and herbs.  I definitely worked way too hard processing the abundant harvest and can’t stand on my feet in the kitchen for as many hours as it took.  I am hoping that my hips and legs don’t suffer as much this year.  I wonder if the strain and scoliosis in my back ended up contributing to an outbreak of shingles on my leg. Hmmmm, well at my soon to be advanced age of 63 I wouldn’t be surprised. The nerves in the spine are where the virus hangs out.

Anyway, I resolve to be nicer to me this year!

And true to my new goal of being a lazy lady I am not going to try to compute the efficacy of using this space to grow XX number of plants. I’ll leave that to the more inquisitive of us. I just must say that working this plot is incredibly enjoyable, it is magical when the corn towers over me and I’m hidden from view. It is wonderful to look at and even more wonderful to experience. Fantasy land in the suburban back yard.

I am so easily pleased at times.

Tender herbs placed at the ends of each bed means that the hose becomes a lethal weapon if it is dragged across them so I pound in stakes in front of the ends to protect the plantings. Yet again another fantasy imagine: saving the tender young things from the dragon hose.

Dragons
Dragon

It’s so enjoyable to make your own fun, don’t you think???

End of June Garden

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The first tomato to show color is a Better Boy.

First Tomato

The Roma III paste tomatoes are covered with green tomatoes but none have gotten any color yet.

The corn plot is tilled and waiting for the corn seed

Waiting for the corn seed

I like to plant Peaches and Cream corn, a se (sugar enhanced) bi-color hybrid and couldn’t find it locally (shocked, I tell ya) so I had to mail order it. Two years ago I tried Sugar Dots corn but it was small and not as tasty as I wanted

Sugar Dots Corn

Last year 2012 I planted around the first of May and by the 15th I had maybe 30% germination of the corn seeds. Livingston Seeds Company really let me down.

May 15 Sprouts

I mixed cucumbers, squash and beans in with the corn.

Hills and ditches

So I bought more Peaches and Cream seeds (only offered locally by Livingston Seeds) and replanted. But I noticed that many of the original sprouts were stunted and puny.

Puny sprout 2012

Most of the corn sprouts planted in May and early June died.

Squash, Cucumbers & 3 Different Plantings of Corn

After only a few plants coming up I found the same type of seed from a different company and eventually we had a proper corn plot. The photo below is what the corn plot looked like on July 15. It took 3 plantings!

July 20, Corn is tasseling over the squash

This year I will only plant beans among the corn. Bush beans will put nitrogen into the soil. Corn loves nitrogen! If only the seeds will get here soon!

Garlic Gluttony: Killarney Red

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Garlic Killarney Red

Meet my first garlic bulb: Killarney Red, a rocambole type of garlic. One of its marketing points is that it survives wet soil better than most garlics. Chef Shop says its rare and rich and they charge a lot for it.

I ordered 3 kinds of garlic last fall from Burpee for my first foray into growing garlic: Elephant Garlic, shown here with Roma III tomatoes with baby ‘maters on them. The Romas will be caged today even though they are sold as not needing staking or caging.

Roma III tomatoes with elephant garlic

Italian Early, a softneck and milder for eating fresh and Killarney Red, rich garlic flavor for cooking and powder.

When I’m out of garlic I’m stopped in the kitchen and all bets are off. We live 5 miles from town so I wanted to have a stash of garlic. Ya, that’s right. Garlic gluttony.

Killarney Red is said to be hot and fiery, good for making garlic powder. I planted a row and it shares the bed with Italian Early, a softneck and more mild garlic.

Zephr Squash flowers, Garlic with Peas climbing in the background

Scapes grew this spring on the Elephant Garlic and the Killarney Red. The third type of garlic is Italian Early, a softneck which doesn’t produce a scape and is good for braiding. Scapes are beautiful to look at and wonderful to eat. Try them if you see them at the Farmers Market. And then pat yourself on the back and declare yourself one of the luckiest people around!

Filagree scapes

At that time I didn’t cut the scapes from the Killarney Red even though the elephant garlic scapes were soooo delicious and made me want more. I wish now I that I had.

The Burpee packaging said that the Killarney Red scapes would be double looped. I waited for that double loop. It didn’t come. I am finding out that there is lots of misinformation about garlic readily available. I’ll just have to learn on my own! I do think this Canadian grower has good information: Boundary Garlic Farm

Scapes

One day last week after a stretch of dry hot weather the scapes were upright, not looped at all, so I cut all of these very mature scapes and have been peeling their stems much like very mature asparagus stem and cutting up small bits and frying the softest parts in every dish coming out of the Stitchery Kitchen. Oh, yum.

Bunch of Scapes

An upright scape usually signals that the garlic is mature and ready to harvest.

Then it rained and rained as the tornadoes moved eastward from their dirty work in Oklahoma. Our little trenches filled up and flowed.

Trench Still Necessary

I feared the worst: bulbs rotted in the ground.

This morning some of the Killarney Red garlic tops were all brown. Alarmed, I lifted one:

Bulb

No wrapping skins on this one. This was not what I was expecting to see. I expected to see rotted bulbs from all the rain. I will let this one cure along with any more that I harvest today according to the advice given here by Garlic Farm I do trust a serious Canadian grower, don’t you?

Maybe they will become garlic powder one day this summer if they don’t face the frying pan first.

Out of the swamp and into the skillet. Oh, goody!

Surviving the Prune

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The landscape is doing fine in spite of my not being able to say I am a Master Pruner (nor Gardener). Proof:

Blooms after Prune

The Mountain Laurels were moved to a nice cool shady location and set out tons of buds. This is April 15

Mountain Laurels

This is May 14

Happy Mountain Laurel

Now they are blossoming

Mountain Laurels
Happy Mountain Laurels

The Cinco de Mayo shrub roses, which were heavily pruned on April 14

Shrub Roses

Are growing tall,
Cinco de Mayo Roses

budding out and starting to bloom

Cinco de Mayo

The Coral Drift roses are blooming too

Coral Drift

as are the Wing Dings

Wing Dings

The lavender is getting ready to burst forth and bless us

Lavender

as are the cherries, well, actually the cherries will bless the birds. We never get any

Cherries

Montmorency cherries

Almost Ripe Montmorency

Earlier the azaleas were all in full glory.

Azaleas on the Side

This one has been moved 2 times in order to find the right spot for it. It likes being under the holly tree
White Azaleas

This peony has survived in cool shade where the original gardener planted it over 13 years ago but it really needs to move to the sunlight

Peony

Maybe that will be done next year.

I haven’t managed to kill off this Malva even though I’ve tried for 3 years now.

100_3292
Hello!

I finally found some Evening Primrose to plant in a hot but semi shaded and dry location

New Evening Primrose

its got a pretty flower and a faint delicate scent

Primrose Blossoms

Time for a nap :)

Slow Gardening

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10 days of cold weather and way too much rain have made working the soil impossible. I had to tear up my beautifully laid out garden to put in a drainage ditch

Drainage trenches

It didn’t save some of the tomato plants I’d bought. I didn’t start my own seeds indoors this year. RIP goodly tomatoes!

RIP drowned tomatoes

But today it’s over 70 and I pulled the last of the carrots. They’ve been in the ground way too long.

Last Carrots

I am not happy with this year’s crop of carrots. They were too small in winter and now that they reached size they have started to grow a hard core. So much for Nantes Coreless carrots packed in the Ferry Morse Planting Strips. They are rather disappointing. I’ll go back to hand planting my old way and not try to winter over the crop.

I have more tomato plants and some green and hot peppers to put in but will have to wait until the soil dries out more.

I planted Diva cucumber seeds today and dug and transplanted the Zeyphr squash plant seedlings that I started in April. The peas and sugar snap peas seemed to have survived well but I don’t know how the garlic will react to this soggy land. Most of the lettuce seed washed away and will have to be replanted.

Shoveling Mud

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After 2 days of cold rain, flooding in the garden has threatened to drown the new peas, lettuce, zephyr squash and newly planted tomatoes. The garlic aren’t supposed to have poor drainage either, not ever.

Rain Day

I took a couple of hours this morning to dig trenches to drain the water. When I laid the rows out this way we were in a drought cycle and I was focused on holding rain in the rows by leaving the grass in between the rows. Now I have had to drain off the lake that each row became.

Drainage trenches

What a mess! As I worked the trench filled up immediately and water rushed to the back of the garden. Here the rush of water is down by half of what it was. And even now, hours later there is still water running through the trench.

Gaely GoLightly, The Hunting Dog, got into the action by deciding that little particles swirling down the trenches were something that she must capture. She dove right in to her job and worked along beside me. Westies are pack animals and we do everything together

My Helper

Westies are bred to “go to ground” after varmints and love digging in the dirt. No lie. This Westie loves water, too. Bath time!

Someone Needs a Bath

She didn’t want one and she really hates being photographed. Clean Grumpy Dog

After-Bath

And The Dog don’t pose neither.

No Photos Please

She’s so helpful! If I could just teach her to run the vacuum.

Cabbage Ravisher Caught!

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I’ve had very bad luck with computers and internet lately. In fact I’m totally burned out and in spite of being on the very edge, I’m still stubbornly trying to fix things. Now I’m fixing things the repair guys messed up.

OK, I’ll spare you all the major whine brewing in my soul and tell you that we have finally captured the critter that has been eating the cabbages in the garden. And she sleeps in my bed every night.

(These are pictures from last summer)

Gaely in the Garden 2012

Sigh, so cute

Yes, Gaely GoLightly is the prime suspect.

How could that sweet, innocent looking dog be our cabbage ravisher? Any why???? Who knows.

Since we have prevented her access to the garden by blocking off the porch stairs,

Gaely Guarding 2012

not one cabbage has been chomped.

Who Ate the Cabbage Last Night?

I sure hope May is an easier month. I could use some smooth sailing!

No Snow, Light Rain, So No Sewing

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We have to do some Mud Play outside instead.

I wish I had known more about roses when I planned and planted the front landscape two years ago. Here, they looked so small compared to the plants we’d removed: Front Porch and here: Bedragged…

We heavily pruned back the Cinco de Mayo floribunda shrub roses and the Coral Drift roses. I have absolutely no idea how to properly prune but we got out the book and tried our best. It’s not pretty YET but here’s what we did:

Shrub roses, Cinco de Mayo, get very large and we found lots of weeds to pull after we pruned
Shrub Roses

They have vicious thorns but my rose pruning gloves performed perfectly

Cinco de Mayo has vicious thorns

We painted all the cut branches with wood glue to prevent intruson into the plant by The Baddies. We raked out the dead leaves and fertilized, watering it in.

This is a heavily pruned and cut back Coral Drift rose. It’s description led me to believe that they were much smaller and more disease resistant than they proved to be. They spred and overtook the front planting, and did NOT respect the dwarf boxwoods planted around them. I may have to move them in the future. (Arghhh) They are so thick it is impossible to weed around them.

Stubs painted with wood glue

and we dug up a dead azalea and a volunteer holly tree to make room in the shade for the Mountain Laurels (Kalmia latifolia “Keepsake”) that were being burned by the sun in the front yard. I hope they are happy here in the cool shade

Mountain Laurels
Mountain Laurels again

We moved the remaining shrub rose away from the front walk way so we wouldn’t have to prune it so heavily. It’s companion had developed rose rosette disease and had to be removed last year. That leaves the front planting unbalanced but right now I don’t have plans to plant more. Our butterfly bushes will have more room to spread now.

Moved Shrub Rose

We more lightly pruned the Wing Ding roses. They are a miniature polyantha, very sweet but have no fragrance

Wing Ding

The only blooming, pretty things now are the pansies

Pansies

and the dogwood

dogwood

There is so much more to do but I have to get some commercial sewing done today so I hope the weather allows me to weed and start to mulch tomorrow.

But my hands are nice and smooth thanks to Bag Balm and those really great gauntlet rose pruning gloves. I found the Onion pattern 1045 Anarok worked very well in the light rain, too. I hung it to dry before putting it away in the closet. Wool is a wonderful fabric :)

Let the Gardening Begin!

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Bag Balm

In case you haven’t heard: Bag Balm is the gardener’s friend. It saves hands from the roughing up they get when working the soil. Must have smooth hands for sewing and knitting you know!

I just received this pattern in the mail yesterday and had planned to sew it up this week in a wind blocking technical fabric but temperatures are going to be in the 70′s and 80′s for most of the week.

Coverall Pattern

I’ll have to cut another pair of overalls instead. My new brown ones don’t show dirt very much but they will need washing soon. Here’s how they look after a day in the dirt: not too bad. You just can’t beat good quality fabric, that’s my thoughts on the matter :)

Work Clothes

The overalls got a good workout yesterday. It was a wonderful day. First, Husband worked just a few hours in the early morning and when he came in we took the dog with us to the Rose Society’s Education Day at a local nursery.

The meeting was incredibly informative and just as I suspected: our area is overrun with dying roses that carry the incurable Rose Rosetta virus. Here’s some more pictures at Fine Gardening

Here’s a wild rose in our neighborhood field that has the disease but is still growing and spreading the mites that carry the virus. The diseased branch is red, while a healthy branch on the same bush is in the background

Rose Rosette Disease on a wild rose

RRD Closeup

RRD Closeup

The virus was introduced originally to kill off the wild roses that can take over whole fields. That was done about 27 years ago and now it’s killing off domesticated roses in wide swathes across the country.

It is potentially devastating for the rose industry but only just now are there studies being done to see what cures might be developed. Turns out that our little local Rose Society is full of incredibly knowledgeable folks and the Society provided the seed money for the first year of such a study, YAY for them! Dr Mark Windham is conducting the investigation. I do hope a prevention or cure can be found.

I have had to remove one whole plant last year when this virus continually sent up shoots from it’s root stock that were afflicted with the disease. The plant itself looked OK but one tiny mite, blown on the winds, can carry the disease to all the other roses. Another of the same species is exhibiting this disease in just one area and I’ll keep pruning those branches and hope that it doesn’t spread to the other roses. Yesterday I learned that if I get all the roots out of the hole from where the infected rose was removed I can plant another rose in that space. That was not the thinking last year. And I learned that I could just continuously prune off the branches that show this disease and perhaps the plant will survive.

Roses are a lot of work and even the disease resistant “Knock-Out Roses” are not as resistant as they have been touted to be. And I had just redone the front landscaping in 2011 with 13 roses. Ahhhhh, what have I done?

I had hoped to prune down hard all the roses with Husband’s help but the advice from the Rose Society’s expert is to wait until the new growth is 3 to 4″ long. Mine is only just over an inch right now. So we’ll wait a week or so to prune. Pruning is not my forte but I do try to do things properly so I’ll study up on it. It’s an annual ritual: re-reading rose pruning techniques.

So now: on to the vegetable garden.

Why do I grow the garden? Simple economics: the more food I grow and put up, the less money is needed to run the house, and the more money is available to pay employee salaries over the winter time, our slow season. I’ll bet I only went to the grocery store 4 times this past winter. And so I work, hard.

In the afternoon we planted peas, spinach, and lettuce.

Pea Fence

The peas will grow up a 4 foot wire fence and shade the spinach and lettuce behind it. They will only get direct sun in the mornings.

This row held tomatoes last year and being the closest to the creek and the wettest part of the garden grounds, proved to be a hotbed of the anthracnose fungi, Colletotrichum coccodes. WARNING: The following photos are not for the faint of heart: My homegrown Anthracnose Colletotrichum coccodes I did a really good job of letting it thrive! Duh.

Boy, that decimated the ‘maters! I had overplanted so I still got a harvest that kept me quite busy. I pulled the most infected plants and doused the ground with vinegar and water but it didn’t really seem to do much. I still had wet spots even though I didn’t allow any more filaments to form. Perhaps the wet spots were a different form of tomato malady. There are so many wilts and fungus that beset tomatoes!

This year I will plant, water only on the ground, lay down a ground cover, prune all but the growing tip and stake the tomatoes. Labor intensive but with this kind of a fungi in the ground I need to provide prophylactic measures.

I will also cover the ground where the peas, lettuce and spinach are going to grow to keep this fungi off their leaves. I’m not so sure I’ll be able to do as much canning and freezing as I did last year.

We also pulled all the collards and I cooked up a big pot this morning, some of which will go into the freezer.

Collard Greens and Country Ham

using this recipe from Men’s Health. It was different than the way I usually do them but quite good. I used a packet of country ham, I just couldn’t go without the ham flavoring.

when I went out to the garden to get the shot of the now dirty overalls I found this:

Who Ate the Cabbage Last Night?

Who ate one of the cabbages last night? Some animal with very sharp, tiny teeth and a big wide bite. I’ll just bet that opossum who checks in on us got hungry for a sweet cabbage dinner! I can’t blame the poor critter. And raccoons eat cabbage, too. So now, I’ve got to figure out how to protect the cabbages from hungry omnivores. One article suggests planting a critter garden. Oh no! That’s more than I can even think about. Don’t know exactly what I’ll do about this. Any suggestions?

With all this garden work I’m facing I would like to applaud this little pot that needed nothing from me all winter: The Italian flat leafed and the triple curly parsley managed to thrive all on their own

Wintered over parsley

When the dog and I went out to the field to get the wild rose shots we crossed over to Cane Creek and Gaely investigated an animal trail down by the water

Investigating An Animal Path to the Water

and did her usual trick of getting a drink of water while wading

Getting a Drink

The field was full of field pansies AKA Johnny Jump-Ups. From the leaves I’d say they are Viola Bi-Color

Field Pansies AKA Johnny Jump-Ups

I do miss living up on the mountain where wild diversity was so much richer than here in this settled, cultivated valley. But I take pleasure in the wilds where ever I can.

Overalls for Her Jalie 972 and Jeans Rivet Setting Tute Improvement

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Front Side

This pattern has cutting lines for 32 different sizes for each pattern piece. That’s a lot of lines! This time I laid a sheet of tracing paper on top of the fabric, laid the pattern piece on top of the tracing paper and used a solid tracing wheel to mark the lines directly onto the wrong side of the fabric. My measurements fell between the largest “regular” size and the plus sized. I cut the regular size and can wear regular pants, leggings, and a sweater under them anyway.

972b

There are some problems with this pattern or maybe with the pattern cuter but the cut fabric matched up with each pattern piece. So here’s what to watch out for:

Straps are not the correct angle to lie flat in the back when worn. Even the instruction drawing shows them crossing over each other. I didn’t discover the problem until I had done all the double top stitching and was not going to pick all those stitches to make the correction.

100_2929

I took a tuck and then put a rivet in each corner. I also had to narrow the straps (yes I did unpick two rows of top stitching for that) and cut off 8 inches of length.

Reset and reinforced back

Pocket piece is not wide enough to allow proper installation of button band. This is a crucial 5/8″ of fabric but I managed to squeeze through the construction by triple step stitching the edges and turning just once.

Add at least 5/8″ to the outer edge of the pocket and pocket facing. It will save a bunch of time in construction.

Pocket Problem

Missing Seam Allowance

Triple Stitch and Top Stitch

The next time saver is a big one and so simple and logical I can’t believe I didn’t find this in any of the two How-To-Use Jean Rivets tutorials published by Fehrtrade or TaylorTailor Oddly enough both of these tutorials were published on the same day May 15, 2011. I found that interesting. Wonder what was going on there?

But here’s the deal:

Rivets nails should be trimmed down after inserting into hole

if the thickness of the fabric doesn’t require the full length of the nail. Sooooo simple. It allows you to see how much you need to trim and since the nail hasn’t been crimped and it sharp point removed it slips right through the pre-made hole.

Comparison

See that ragged edge?

Shortened

It catches on on the fabric threads and takes forever to get pushed through

100_2974

100_2975

Even with the pointed head left in tack threads can be split and cause a few troubles

Point Slips Fabric

but the point takes much less time to insert. I got my rivets years ago from the nice man at Castbullet. I see that TaylorTailor also sells them and in more colors

As I was working with this fabric I’ve had for years and had always planned to use for overalls, I was wondering why I’d put this gorgeous twill aside for work pants. The answer came as I was applying the rivets to the side tool pocket

Tool Pocket

and found this

Hole

It is clearly abraded and marked and must have been there when I received the fabric. I zigzagged over the edges and applied a patch.

Patch

Another odd thing about this pattern is that there are no reinforcement suggested for the location of the buttons or buttonholes. I put them in without adding anything since I wasn’t going to do the ripping needed to add in a backing material.

The pattern has you “tack” over all the stress points but I only used them on the faux fly area

Bar tacks on faux fly

and used the rivets where there would be real stress.

Reinforced Tool Pocket

I am glad this pair is done. I compared the pattern pieces with the other two patterns I have in the stash and they are similar in shape. I hope the instructions are better. We’ll see.

Overall patterns

Gratuitous Dog Bomb

Dog

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