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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
The ladies have shed their livingwear to be watered naturally by the steady warm rain storm coming through today…. aka a ‘Pineapple Express’.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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…