Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oh Cabbages!

I have two updates and a new finding to share with you.

The first update refers back to my previous blog A Special Avian Visitor and Two'fers here. In the content of that blog I mentioned that, by only removing the outside leaves of red leaf lettuce, you might prolong your harvest, and prevent bolting. Since then by following my method, I can share with you a picture of lettuce I snipped for lunch today. 

5th Harvest
This is my fifth batch of fresh lettuce from my original and still thriving 7 plants. I also learned that the other benefit of this method appears to be that, although lettuce has a compact and shallow root system, the mature lettuces can go 3 or 4 days without needing additional water, vs. coaxing along additional baby lettuces. Just a thought.

Patio Salad Bowl 
I also have a salad bowl of the varieties: Grand Rapids, Red Salad Bowl, Oakleaf and Prizeleaf.  I am experimenting with them in the same way as the red leaf. PS. The red tag in the photo is a potato plant, and a reminder to myself not to add those  leaves to our salad anytime soon.

The 2nd update pertains to my blog on saponins and Quinoa  - here. A gardening blogger asked me to update my findings. The results were that using the water soluble, bitter, trace elements of the grain Quinoa did seem to prevent caterpillar damage. Unfortunately, the rabbits or raccoons were not deterred and actually had the cheek to chomp a couple down to stumps, along with my six fledgling broccoli plants.

My new finding: As dusk settled on the garden I was racking my brain for a quick fix to the nocturnal feastings. I grabbed the garlic powder, paprika and hot, red pepper flakes and liberally sprinkled this on the leaves of the remaining plants. Two days later those plants remain intact, but we will see if that continues to be the case. If anyone has any additional "Bunny-Stay-Off" remedies, I would be thrilled to hear about them. My husband suggested a scarecrow! Eww.. too creepy!

Chomped To A Stump!
The Remaining Crop

Lemon Boy

The Lemon Boy tomato shares a 25 gallon container with a Bell Pepper. When I planted these 2 little sprigs it was almost a joke that something 3" tall would grow so gigantic and spill over the sides of the container. My not-so-secret was this. I did not have enough Miracle Grow potting mixture to fill this container. 25 galls is a LOT of container space. I did have a duplicate-size, half filled, compost pot, comprising of both freshly discarded vegetable stumps, leaves etc., along with completely rotten vegetables, egg shells and newspapers. So I just used that (compost pot) and topped off with the potting soil. The tomato has dozens and dozens of flowers and very healthy leaves. Note to self: do this more often.

Last but not least. If my links to previous blogs do not connect you, I do apologize - I am still a fledgling blogger and cannot get my blog page to behave itself sometimes!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rain.......At Last!!!

Designer Rain Buckets
I was very happy to hear yesterday that we could expect some rain. A couple of times I saw huge black clouds closing in only to watch them waft away further east. Then finally, yesterday afternoon it poured. Luckily I had put out my designer rain buckets to catch the overflow from the roof. I know ....... I really should invest in a proper rain bucket, but in the meantime these will have to do.

Before the rain came, we had a little excitement here in the garden. If you read my previous blog, you will know all about my "prettying" up of my pots and wicker chair. At that time, my son and I wanted to paint the butterfly puddling dish, that the butterflies have never used for puddling purposes. However, when we turned the dish over - what do we see?  The dish is located right next to the Butterfly Weed.
What Have We Here?
We carefully replaced the dish and I took a daily peek until it turned almost purple on Weds. I don't know much about butterfly life cycles but I was pretty sure something was about to happen. And Thursday...ta dah! We took lots of photos quickly and left the poor little thing alone so it could dry its wings and be on its way hither and thither. And, I guess I will leave the dish alone and just enjoy its um, rustic charm as a butterfly nursery.

Newly Hatched
Drying Wings

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Something Old, Something New, and Something Blue Sky

Ok, who pushed the Spring Button? Here in South Florida, Spring is trying to make an appearance and nature being well, uh natural, is responding to the siren call.
Late Friday afternoon, I am buzzing around in the car with my 14 year old son and the radio is all yackity-yack, so, he says “I have a song I know you’ll like mom,” and he plugs his IPod into my car’s system (inward sigh here). To my surprise the oldie by George Harrison “Here Comes The Sun,” begins to play, and you know what it’s soooo good to have an IPod sometimes - in addition to an intuitive kid.
Singing along to this 30 + year old tune, I gradually felt an increased spring in my step - which resulted in the car lurching forward a few times, but it was in time to the music so that's okay. My spirit was lightened, and the New Year yawned before me with fresh gardening projects, healthy resolutions and, naturally, the inevitable spring cleaning of house and yard.
Saturday morning dawns clear, cool and fresh.
Here Comes The Sun!
 After the pre-requisite 2 cups of coffee I am newly enthused with cleaning the stucco of our home, which is supposed to be a pale Saffron color, but now the scales have fallen from my new, spring eyes appears to be almost Buttercup yellow. The flower bed bordering our front porch withers under my glowering gaze. With the invasive Mexican Petunias and leggy Pinwheel Jasmine, I just know it is time for a change.  5 hours later with the stucco scrubbed, the windows sparkling and a bare flowerbed with a lone Pinwheel and Sky Vine remaining, I am bone tired but uplifted. I did manage to find the energy however for an immediate check on our budget to see if more spring fever impulses are able to be funded.
Lemon Boy
Sunday morning arrives and my back aches but hey, I have to drive my kid and his friend to play paintball out west, 40 minutes away. On my way back home, “ELO” (that’s Electric Light Orchestra for you guys and gals under 30 years of age) is on the radio singing “Mr. Blue Sky,” which quite obviously is a subliminal message to take a detour to the big outlet and get a couple of hanging baskets to hang on my sparkling, light, saffron colored porch. While I am there,  without any additional musical prompting I might add, I pick up some trailing, scented, blue petunias and a couple of cans of blue spray paint to gussy up my tired, old planters and maybe the old wicker couch we have out in the yard on one of the meandering pathways in the back yard.
Looking Good
Later that afternoon, with a limp in my step, a worn but satisfied spirit and a definite crick in my back, I am sitting on my back patio. The birds are competing for air wave space with their singing and cheeping, complete with the weird bamboo-sound rattling from Mr. Blue Jay gang  (who can imitate the hawks as well), and lots of “cha, cha, cha,” (exclusive to the Woodpeckers) and, while I am watching them chasing each other around in the yard, over nesting boxes, territory and food, the radio begins to play a Bill Withers song that I have not heard for a very long time; “Lovely Day.” 
Fellow gardeners and bloggers alike, I rest my case. Have a wonderful weekend.
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