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
Arrangements complete for two parties this week! The succulent flower combinations worked well and will last for weeks. When the flowers eventually fade, the succulents will continue to grow in the floral foam…or can be potted up or planted in the ground.
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.
These pumpkins topped with succulents were the most popular item at my holiday sale.
The barn owls that live and raise their young on our property have inspired the latest collection.
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…
The ladies have shed their livingwear to be watered naturally by the steady warm rain storm coming through today…. aka a ‘Pineapple Express’.
Their ensembles are laid out in the courtyard with the other tillandsias (aka air plants).
Well, another whole year has flown by and I am reminded of my resolution at the end of 2016 to blog more often. Although I have to admit, that didn’t happen… these are the reasons why:
- After working so many years as a programmer, I find it hard to sit in front of a computer when nature beckons me so! I would rather spend my days working the soil, and watching the birds and the bees.
- With Facebook and all of the other social media apps out there these days, it felt like there’s not enough time to post to each in a unique way.
- I find that I post pictures of the same things year after year (e.g., blooming plants, harvest, owls, etc.). Seems like I’m repeating myself (even though the plants are getting bigger and better every year).
I do like that I can search my blog easily to look up recipes, and other specific info, so I’m again promising myself that I will try to take the pictures… and the time to blog more often. Wish me luck!
Happy New Year!
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!
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.
The hummingbirds love the huge aloe flower spikes.
This succulent frame looks so pretty with the pink and green sedum poking out.
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