Author Archives: Shelly

Succulent Pumpkin – How to

Succulent pumpkins last for months when cuttings are just glued on. Tacky glue works well, although it’s not waterproof. The succulent cuttings don’t need water, so when it’s time, I just put them out in the rain, and they fall apart, so I can replant the cuttings and toss the pumpkin on the compost pile.

Start with an unblemished pumpkin. No pokes, scrapes, or soft spots that will lead to rotting. Wipe clean and circle with glue and add moss around the circle and press down. This provides a base that will help hold the succulent cuttings in place, and stop drips, while hiding the mess in the middle. It helps to let this dry for a few minutes before proceeding.

Start layering cuttings from bottom up. Dab a little glue along the stem of the sedum that hangs down, and insert under the moss and continue around in several spots, pressing down in place.

Add the rosette shaped (aeonium) cuttings. Try inserting into a spot, trimming the stem if needed to get a snug fit. Cut the stems at an angle, with glue on the bottom side, and insert into place.

Spaced evenly, the layers of cuttings help support each other. If something slips, stick it back in (with glue if needed), and cup with both hands lightly and hold for a few seconds.

Continue with remaining succulent cuttings, around in the empty spots. As it fills up, you can just put a drop of glue on the end for the last few stems.

Let dry, occasionally cupping and pressing lightly to keep everything in place.

2020 Fair winners

Exhibiting at the fair wasn’t the same this year. Entries were judged and posted online, but really missed visiting with other usual competing gardeners… and the festive fair atmosphere.

Snakes!!

Never Fear ~~ just gopher snakes. They are welcome here, where we are plagued by the blasted rodents, that have been known to take down 5′ tall sunflowers and small trees. In the last 26 years, we have seen only a few gopher snakes… about 3 or 4 feet long and very skinny. But in the span of 2 weeks recently, our cats have drawn our attention to HUGE gopher snakes! This one climbed the fence to avoid our cats, who were on both sides. Couldn’t believe it pulled itself up on the fence, and stayed there for quite some time. We think that the first one is bigger than the second one we saw, although it was in the same area. What amazed us was that they climbed so high off the ground, over 12 feet into the trees!

Around the grounds: May

 

Pincushions bushes are winding down and will be pruned soon.
Lots of red and yellow succulents and carnivorous plants by the patio.
Raised bed garden with cilantro, chard and lettuces going to seed.

Spring gardening in March

Got an early start this year on zucchini by keeping them warm under some old windows hinged together. Harvest started in April.

The garden shed where seeds are started before going outside. The light helps them grow sturdy until April when the days are a little longer. These peas where planted temporarily in the new spot for thornless blackberries, and they got huge!

 

Easter baskets

Living baskets start with a plastic container planted with grass seed. When it grows tall enough, I surround it with moss in a basket. It makes the perfect place for your colored eggs! This year’s addition was Pincushion blooms (Leucospermum), Pussy Willows, and some dollar store items.

Forced bulbs – grass seed vs sedum

Forcing bulbs is a way to ring in an early spring or make the holidays festive. Adding grass seed to the pots has been my way to dress up the display during bloom. Timing is easy for Paperwhite Narcissus for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They shoot up quickly, even in cool weather. But spring bulbs take a lot longer and sometimes the grass got too tall, especially in warmer weather.
This spring I used two types of sedum cuttings in addition to grass seed. The grass pots needed more water, and the roots competed with the bulbs.The succulents are drought tolerant and they will be something that you want to live on, like the bulbs, when planted outside.

More about forcing bulbs

Valentine’s Day Sale


Heart shaped succulent wreaths, full of cuttings will last all year long. 14 inches $50 each
Also smaller round wreaths 10″ for $35 and one larger 16″ for $60
Handmade with love, these felt keepsakes show them how much you care.  3″  $8 each
Mini pots with floral foam, moss, pepper berries and succulents.  $4 each
Wood signs: felt flowers for inside and ceramic embellished for garden  10″-18″  $20 each
Original watercolor card creations. Blank inside for your own message of love. $5 each or one free with purchase.

Succulent & flower boots

Salvaged boots that are practically brand new are too pretty to plant with dirt. The perfect solution is a plastic bag of gravel in the bottom and a plastic cup with floral foam to hold the plants. The foam holds everything in place better anyway. After the flowers have faded, the succulent cuttings will root and continue to grow if watered occasionally. 

This faux snakeskin boot needed a little more tropical look, so I added some carnivorous pitchers.

Lottie: 2 month update

No longer sequestered to the spare bathroom, Lottie is nosy and curious… and keeps up on what’s going on throughout the household 24/7. She has had all her shots and has been spayed, and is very active, healthy and happy.  Although she has access to the great outdoors, and loves to stalk birds and hunt for gophers, she stays inside more often lately, following Shelly around like a dog. She plays well with the other pets (for the most part), and likes to bathe and snuggle with them. A former TP shredder, she still loves to bite paper and cardboard. This box is super-fun! It was so cute when she discovered the fish in the TV tank.

Sharing the heating pad with Rose. Her little tummy looks like a parker house roll where they shaved her. Interesting how her feet are white like Rose, but all of her pads are black instead of pink.

Feline happy ending

This tiny little kitten survived more than three week living in the rose bushes in the median…in the middle of a busy parking lot. Obviously dumped there, it never ventured far. After sitting on the curb trying to catch it with a can of cat food for hours, we set a live trap and captured it. Starving and traumatized… it stayed in our spare bathroom for a week before we could hold it. She checked out at the vet a few days later and we decided to keep her and name her Lottie for her harrowing adventure. Three weeks later, she is super lovey dovey, purring instead of hissing and growling and she is silky soft and healthy. She is slowly getting introduced to the rest of the house and our other pets…and has already wormed her way into our heart. She has a wonderful life ahead of her as an indoor/outdoor cat in the country. Stay tuned for more Lottie adventures…

2018 Monterey County Fair Winners

It’s always fun to enter things in the county fair and see what everyone else is doing… here are this year’s winners.


The succulent side table won First Place AND Best of Show!!  It was our first year entering the Compost Challenge… took 1st place and won $50 prize money. The scarecrow competition was pretty tough in the ‘Shake your tail feathers’ theme catagory… but we took home 2nd place.

Chicken yard upgrade

Since allowing our hens to free range resulted in a hawk getting a free chicken dinner, we now keep our girls locked up tight. Chickens are very industrious and will turn their yard into dry bare dirt in no time. I wanted to encourage more biological activity (aka bugs and stuff). So we’ve put in some 2.x 4s topped with wire. Separating the chickens from the ground will build the soil instead of letting it erode. Underneath is compost and grass seed. It’s starting to come up nicely and the girls are keeping it freshly trimmed and fertilized. On the lower level, we’ve added oak leaf mulch (which is abundant around here), to create a nice deep litter level. I tossed some diatomaceous earth and ashes in with the dirt in the corners where they like to take a dust bath to help with mites and fleas. Happy hens lay delicious eggs!

Around the grounds: March

The raised vegetable bed is doing fabulous with all the winter rain. Harvesting this month: Swiss chard, cilantro, lettuce, kale and green onions. Colorful aeoniums are spilling out of the milk can lamp post. A pair of ducks have moved in across the way, enjoying ‘Lake Perkarsky”. This cozy little lake only happens during years with above average rainfall. Such a pretty little red centipede!  Found it snuggled up under a piece of driftwood. The chicken shed is being engulfed in succulents.

Forcing bulbs

Every fall I order bulbs to force for the holidays and spring. This season’s selection was Ziva Paperwhites (a classic for Thanksgiving and Xmas), and Narcissus. Silver Chimes are my absolute favorite, and then I usually pick another variety to try out. Paperwhites can be potted up in October, but the narcissus bulbs go into the garage refrigerator (where there aren’t any fruits or vegies to give off gas that can affect bloom) for about 6 weeks. Then they are potted up and placed outside in a cold, shady spot until the leaves are about 4 inches tall.

Then I sprinkle a big pinch of grass seed on the top and cover with bird cages (to keep the birds from eating the seed). Be sure to keep moist until the grass germinates.

The results are fresh looking, fragrant flowers that look so natural inside or out. When the flowers fade, the bulbs can be planted outside, where they will re-bloom year after year.

Chicken coop upgrade

Last January, we added a new coop behind the chicken shed. It is a nice covered shelter with 2×4 roosts up off the floor. This made room for more chicks and provided an easy way to collect eggs and chicken manure for our compost pile.

The four new hens have just started laying and we obviously need another nest box. The girls were making such a racket trying to share this spot! So I added another hole that opens into the inside cupboard, by cutting a board and adding some trim. Complete with a divider and plastic tub of hay ready to go. The new girls (4 out 6) love the new coop and roost in here every night. But the older hens still like to sleep in the original nest box where we brooded the new chicks last summer. The tarp on the floor catches the chicken manure for the compost pile.They started using the third nest box right away. It’s so easy to collect the eggs from the inside cupboard. Every hen lays a specific size, shape and color, so it’s easy to tell the difference.

Baby owls for Christmas

Since our owl nest box overflowed with litter in 2011, we stared cleaning it out every year beginning for the babies of 2012. It became a tradition to empty it out every year at Thanksgiving, after the young owls had moved on, in preparation for use in the spring. This last year on 11/24/16, we got a surprise. When we started lowering the box, an owl flew out!  We thought it was roosting in there because of the cooler weather.  But when the box tilted we heard two cracks against the side. Shocked to see eggs inside, we put it right back up…. and waited to see what happened. The eggs were due to hatch at Christmas time.The mating behavior continued through early December and the female owl stayed in the nest box every night. Since they normally lay 3 to 5 eggs, we hoped that even if the two were damaged, it would be OK. The female was nervous after that… leaving the box and making noises in the palm tree when we weed whipped below. The weather since then has been rainy and cold… frosty even. After receiving 6 inches of rain in the last week or so, I was finally able to sit out and listen last night.  It’s official!  There are definitely baby owls in there. The female flew out to hunt with her mate, leaving the young alone for awhile. I could hear at least 2 or 3 baby owls screeching inside.

As to why they are breeding during the winter, I have a theory. Our last brood of young owls left last June. We also have a neighbor with owl boxes that had several babies during that time, so there were lots of owls looking for new territory.  In late July, there was another couple of owls that were trying take over the nest box and our resident pair were very upset! There was fighting like I’ve never seen before. Screeching (even during the day) and going after each other like crazy! I think that this may be a new couple, and they wanted to breed and make the box their own as soon as possible. Be sure to stay tuned…

Our barn owl history with stories/pictures  More owl posts