Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fun With Seeds

This year, for the first time in many years, I am trying to grow veggies from seed. This will also enable me to use a grow light I purchased several years ago when I intended to do this...my "round tuit" turns rather slowly. :) Anyway...for the record I want to proclaim that this is what all seed packets should look like, information-wise:

Sure, I like a color photo too, but on the front is a detailed description, the year it's packaged for, and even the price so you can keep it straight. On the back it gets even better:
Now it may seem basic, but I have been frustrated to distraction this year by packets that don't tell you days to germination, thinning...some barely admit what the heck is in the packet! Or they give you very generic "vegetable" growing tips, when the contents are an herb...*sigh*. Even referring back to the catalog description is no help sometimes....okay, I'm done whining. So here is my garden book with pics of some of my ordered seeds.......the 'Queen Red Lime' zinnia on the far right was out of stock, but look at that adorable pointy cabbage! I just couldn't resist, the heads are supposed to be small and yummy!I really enjoy vegetable spaghetti squash, and this is a "single serving size"-cool!Using my old plastic plant tags, I cut small slivers that will fit in my seed trays.......and used a jelly roll pan (to organize the envelopes) and ice cube tray to soak some very old seeds (as much as 11 years old!) I don't really expect any of the oldest to germinate, but you just never know and I can't bear throwing them away without trying. It's a sickness. :)My plan was to use these individual "jiffy-type" coir (and some peat) pots so that I could remove germinated stuff from under the cover as they emerged to prevent damping off. In hindsight, they dry out too fast and the roots don't always grow right through the sides as well as they should...next year it will be different. (Of course when using some old seeds alongside new seeds, I wanted to plan for my invariably variable results :) Well lookit here! Some sprouts already (this was actually several weeks ago). The bonsai tray is in there to lift some pots off the heat mat for seeds that don't want to be quite that warm...
....this is "Goliath", my grow light. He's very wide and reflective, with 4 long bulbs. His ballast and legs are aluminum, so he's very lightweight to handle...a "light light" (sorry, I couldn't help myself). I put the heat mat atop a coffee table covered with an old metal insulating mat that was under the propane heater that used to heat the house. Man, I'm glad I didn't throw that out!
My first potential victim of poor planning, this moonflower has since been transplanted to a larger container...twice! So it started out very simply, just one tray of seedlings in the plant/junk/computer room. Gizmo is making sure nobody (else!) gets to the seedlings...

...but as they sprouted and success was realized...

....I put a fan on them for awhile each day to strengthen the stems, and began to feel like a powerful, omnipotent vegetable-growing queen... ....but now I'm clearly out-numbered!
Somebody please stop me before I have to buy a greenhouse! ;-)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today is Save the Frogs Day!!

Happy Save the Frogs Day!!! I hope everyone will take the time to visit the link in the text here and learn about ways to help conserve our amphibian friends, whether you can afford to donate or not. If we don't act now, then we may never get to see a cutie like this again....

...or hear sounds like this in the spring...

video

Eventually if the amphibians continue to disappear, this may be the only frog you'll see "in the wild"!

Please help Save the Frogs!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Composting Technique

So I joined an online forum called Wildlife Gardeners , and there was a post about making your own "Bokashi Buckets". Has anyone else ever heard of this? Evidently it's a type of indoor composter that uses anerobic methods to compost your scraps on a smaller scale. I don't think I'll try this, since I have my worm bin and room for outdoor composters (I have two, actually). But it sounds interesting....more about it here. What do you guys think?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fuzzy...

....wuzzy...
....was a .... ....bear! I was driving home from work last week, and saw a car pulled off the side of the road with people standing next to it. As I slowed to see what was going on, I realized they were watching this very large bruin about 100 yards away. As you can see from this last picture, he was watching them, too.
I wish my little cameras' zoom could have been better, but it was cool enough to finally have photographic evidence of the bears I've seen up here. For some reason, every single year since moving to Wisconsin I've been lucky enough to spot a bear. Usually they are just dashing across the road, one time I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision. (Although I did have a more personal experience with a bear I never actually saw.) It seems that the big ones like this are more casual, just sauntering along like they own the place. (As far as I'm concerned he does.) Submitted to Friday Ark.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Save the Frogs Day April 28th

You may have noticed a new icon in my sidebar for "Save the Frogs Day" on April 28th. I stumbled upon this website, and I'm very glad I did! I'd always known that amphibians (or the lack thereof) can tell a lot about the health of an ecosystem. Since I went off pesticides, my yard has reflected the difference.........this fine friend is a Mink Frog and has been a species demonstrating sensitivity to environmental changes with various deformities. Luckily this one looks fine!
This is a Wood Frog, one of my favorites as a child (we had them in Indiana, too).



I'm pretty sure this is a Gray Tree Frog , looking green and calling out to a friend.......who's apparently listening!They can display an amazing array of colors, this guy was very near a white yard light.......but is this the same frog? The face looks like it, but the pattern is different.Whoever this is, he's wishing for a parachute!


The point of this post is just to remind everyone how much froggies contribute to our gardens, from catching bugs....

....to just hanging around...

...looking cute!


They sure add a lot of fun to my water gardens...

...and to the damp places under logs. Wait a minute! How did this Blue-Spotted Salamander get in here? No matter, he is an amphibian as well (just as cute too, IMO :)

I would really miss these creatures if our polluting ways causes them to become extinct...


...and I hope more folks are concerned enough to get involved.

Just look at my "night watchman" here-how can I get along without him?


It's an unfortunate fact that frogs and amphibians are disappearing, and we need to do all we can to stop this! Per the website: "...only a small proportion of our public is aware that frogs are disappearing, and that amphibian conservation efforts will not be successful until amphibian declines are common knowledge: think of how long it has taken for any political action on global warming to occur! Politicians rarely act until the public demands action. Our goal is to make the amphibian extinction crisis common knowledge by 2010: help make it happen!"


My buddies already have to seek out "alternative housing"! ;-)


But when my grass gets longer in mid-summer, they appear instantly with nearly every step I take...


...and relax amongst the tall fern fronds...



...or anywhere they can!


Whether by day...


...or by night, I want to keep these adorable creatures around! If conservation efforts aren't sucessful...

...then camo won't be necessary to hide our froggies-you just won't see them!


Please help Save the Frogs! Submitted to Friday Ark.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Spring Happens

Slowly but surely my yard is awakening, between dustings of snow.... .....luckily the hellebores don't mind.

Hey! My lavender is alive! This is the second year it's returned, even here in zone 4!

This Turkey Tail fungus is even green, in the spirit of the season (or because it's covered in algae...whatever :)


Lamium is greening up and bustin' through the snow...well, as much as a plant can "bust through".....


...some Naked Ladies/surprise lilies emerge as well.
Gizmo and Bentley sure appreciate the increased bird activity...

...and the river ice is melting in big chunks. Heh, the one to the left looks like "home plate" to me.


I love to see the water clearing off....

...it sounds really noisy as the ice floats by!

video

Mr. and Mrs. cardinal are regular visitors now-hooray! I hope that means they'll nest nearby after all these years. (I've only begun seeing cardinals here recently, despite feeding birds for the last 10 years.)

About every other day it's another sprinkle of sugary snow...
...followed by a quick melting. Looks like my fancy "pot stand" is a goner! Ah well, dust to dust, eh? :)

Some of the manure in my truck thawed enough to spread on my asparagus bed... ...but the wheelbarrow will be no help, and I can't find my tarp to drag it on. Guess it's "plan B"...

...aha! When is a cooler not a cooler?


When it's an "amendment hauler"! Now you may be thinking "Yuck! I'll never picnic with this broad!" Fair enough. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do for her asparagus...
...especially when it's a weedy mess like this!


Under the old foliage remains some ice...
...there! Now the dark manure will help melt the ice and feed my hungry spears...

...and once the snow is finally gone they can feed me!


Hooray for spring!