Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Birds' Nests and Black Swallowtails

House finch nest with eggs (and poop).

Early Spring, a house finch couple were adamant about making a nest in my little greenhouse.  They were getting in through an opening by the roof.  I dismantled the beginnings of one nest, but they started a new one, so I just let them go.  When seedlings time came, I was in and out of the greenhouse to take care of the plants.  Of course, that disturbed her sitting on the eggs.  Finally she got fed up with me and abandoned the nest.  After waiting for awhile (to make sure she wasn't coming back), above is what I removed from the greenhouse.  I had to smile upon seeing how much of my dog’s hair was incorporated in her nest.  : )  In hopes that birds will use it, I'm always brushing or putting his fur outside.

Meanwhile, an old nest in a Japanese maple next to the house has been "rented" by a mourning dove.  This picture was taken through the bedroom window.  I'm watching and awaiting babies!

Also, a follow-up on the black swallowtails I posted about last September (click here for post)...  I ended up with five chrysalises on sticks, and set them in a goldfish bowl.  They sat in the garage all winter, and in the past week or so, three emerged, but I missed seeing them come out.  So I put the bowl in the kitchen, and this morning I found the fourth emerged and sitting on the stick, dripping wet.  So now... one left, and the chrysalis is green (you can see it in the goldfish bowl still).  Will be interesting to see if the butterfly is different since all the other chrysalises were brown.  Unlike the monarch's chrysalis, when it's time to emerge, these don't turn transparent.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Seedlings and Garden Status

Yay, Spring is here, and with warmer weather (finally!) comes the outdoor tasks – mowing, trimming, leaf cleanup, pulling weeds, planting.  Much work to do, but I'm so happy to be able to wear light clothes and go barefoot again!  Thought I'd post a current status of my seedlings and garden at this point in time.

In my little greenhouse, seedlings are getting bigger.  I cleaned out the old cardboard planting boxes and reused some boards and cinder blocks to make a shelf in front of the windows.

Another shot of seedlings.

Seedlings Sown Indoors in egg trays or newspaper pots:
Lettuces – Winter Density, Buttercrunch, Red Sails, Prizehead (some transplanted to garden)
Onions – Copra, Red Wing
Tomatoes – Heinz Class, Roma
Pepper – Alma Paprika
Cabbage, Chinese - Soloist (transplanted to garden in May)
Brussells sprouts – Jade Cross
Gourds – Luffa and Corsican
Calendula - Lemonade
Marigold – Queen Sofia
Snapdragon – Briton Rock
Statice – Heavenly Blue
Tithonia Torch
Zinnias – Carousel, Lilliput, Persian Carpet, Thumbelina, CA Giant, Classic Mixed (can you tell I love zinnias??)

Brussels sprouts and gourds in liftable newspaper pots (see below link).

Direct Seeded in garden so far:
Spinach – Bloomsdale
Potatoes – Kennebec seed potatoes

In The Garden from last Fall:
Lettuces and Spinach – growing bigger and am clipping for salads
Garlic – tops fairly tall now; added straw on top of the dead leaves for thicker mulch
Onions – tops also getting bigger

Older lettuces from Fall in foreground.     Older spinach (Fall) in foreground.

Past Posts of Interest:
Supplies for Starting Seedlings
Making Newspaper Pots

Birds that are back (or never left):
Baltimore orioles, orchard orioles, red-winged blackbirds, catbirds, bluebirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, house wrens, cardinals, chickadees, goldfinch, house finch, nuthatches, juncos, bluejays.  Haven’t seen a hummingbird yet, but my girlfriend did, so my feeders are out.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Two Hens in a Box

Marlayna (left) and Oda Mae nesting the other morning.

Funny thing about having only two hens - there is none of that pecking order stuff, at least not with these two.  They are like best friends, and sometimes share the nesting box when duty calls.  Oda Mae, my ISA Brown hen, still lays daily; it's a rare occurrence when she skips a day.  Marlayna is an every-other-day girl, but sometimes has a run of daily laying.  They are two years old now.  When we went to Bisbee, we moved them to our neighbors' barn so they could more easily care for them while we were gone.  The girls didn't miss a beat, and kept on laying.  When they came back home, same thing.  Such good girlies. : )

Happy Earth Day!
Make every day Earth Day!!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gerber Daisies, Back to Life and Blooming

Some outdoor potted plants endear themselves to me, and I just can't let them die at the end of the season.  Like my Gazanias and my Gerber daisies.  The flowers are sooo beautiful!  I bring in potted geraniums too.

Last summer's Gerber daisies, blooming again now.

Funny how things go... they live, but look kind of ratty throughout the winter.  Like they'd rather just give up.  But then Spring arrives.  Being indoors, how to they know??  Is the light different, or do they notice the lengthening days through the windows?  The temperature in the house is pretty consistent.  The potted plants start perking up, looking greener.  New leaves start to appear.  In the case of my Gerbers, they have started blooming again.  Oh those pretty colors!!

New shoots on calla lily.

My girlfriend gave me a calla lily, and by the end of winter, most of the leaves fall off or are yellow.  But once Spring is here, new shoots start poking out of the dirt.  Somehow, even indoors in a closed-up house, the plant knows it's time.

We were watching a NOVA program last night that showed how living things in the natural world are in tune with the Earth.  What an awesome planet we have.  There was another very interesting show on PBS's Nature recently about plants and their knowledge and capabilities.  "They lack a brain, but some scientists think they can communicate, cooperate, and even wage war."

Nature:  What Plants Talk About -

Friday, April 12, 2013

Crocheting, Planting and Painting

Crocheting Projects - Been working on "rag" rugs (well, sheet rugs really) for the kitchen.  I took crocheting stuff along to Bisbee and scored some cheap sheet material at the Salvation Army in Sierra Vista.  Made this small rug that sits on the floor beneath my kitchen sink.

Now I'm working on a longer runner-type rug, for the back door area.  Found (for $1.49!) lovely chocolate brown sheets in Egyptian cotton.

Planting - Seedling time is here.  So far, started (indoors) two types of lettuces and tomatoes (Roma and Heinz for canning), paprika peppers, and red and yellow storage onions.  They were in my little greenhouse, but cool temps are back, so they're back inside under a shop light with a heating pad (for those not sprouted yet).

I'm using my typical egg carton 4-packs, which saves sterile seedling mix.

Painting – I wish this mean meant something creative, but I'm talking walls.  It was time.  Our old flowery wallpaper and borders (ugh) in the living/dining room had to go.  Thankfully, the wallpaper came off with ease.  Then came picking colors and getting agreement from Paul (ugh again).  I made multiple trips to get paint samplers.  Our trim is natural with a dark reddish brown stain, and I wanted to get something to compliment the trim, without being too red.  Colors just didn't seem to jive too well with the stain color.

Trying out paint colors - sampling darks below, light on top.

Because most of the trim looks dark (except in brighter light, like in above photo), I finally picked a deep plum for under dining room chair rail and a lighter color in the same palette for the walls.  I wanted rich color, not bland.  Did the walls yesterday... Well, it was not what I had in mind.  Think raspberry sherbet or cotton candy.  The muted light-purple looks pink in darker light.  I don't think this is going to work... Yes, ugh x 3.