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Posts Tagged ‘gardens’

Blooms

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oriental poppy

We all need a break from the baby sometimes, don’t we?  I know I do.   Here are a few photos of beings that never make trouble or keep one awake at night.

"hey baby, hey baby" (if a cactus could speak...)

“hey baby, hey baby” (if a cactus could speak…)

Maya’s insatiable appetite has returned, and last night I didn’t have quite enough milk to fill her up.  We broke out the stash of emergency formula.  The look on her face when she tasted what was coming out of the bottle was priceless.  I didn’t know that such indignant disdain was part of a baby’s facial repertoire.  On second thought… maybe she wasn’t quite SO hungry after all.

just a plain old tulip

just a plain old tulip

So, I’m pondering topics for future posts.  Silly decorations on baby outfits, anyone?  Or how about the insanity of all the different kinds of advice for new mothers (in particular, regarding breastfeeding)?  I’ll probably just keep writing about growing things, i.e., Maya and plants.  Let me know if you have any suggestions!

okay, here's today's gratuitous baby pic

okay, here’s today’s gratuitous baby pic

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Fresh Food

IMG_6530After spending the winter in their coldframe home, the lettuce plants are finally ready to pick!  The tidy little plants remind me of an illustration of Farmer McGregor’s garden in the Peter Rabbit stories (especially with the carrots growing in the next coldframe over).

220px-TaleofPeterRabbit8Lucky for us, we have no pesky Peter coming in to pilfer our veggies (knock on wood!), and so we’ve been enjoying salads and kale with our meals for a week or more.

gratuitous baby photo

gratuitous baby photo

It feels good to have fresh food so close and available.  Plus, we know that it was grown without chemicals, and we’re both extra sensitive to issues like that, now that we’re responsible for a new little person.  She’s too young to enjoy garden veggies, but she gets the indirect benefits through me!

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Winter Carrots

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We picked some carrots from the garden yesterday.  They are a variety called “Carnival Colors,” which is why some of them are red and yellow. They’re not very large yet– the longest one was about 7 inches and very tapered, as you can see.  But most important– they taste good!

IMG_6306After a good-sized snowfall at Christmas and more than a week of sub-freezing temperatures, it was fun to uncover the beds and have a look.  Some plants were a bit wilty (as were the tops of the carrots we picked, from the “cold” end of the carrot bed), but everything was still alive.  With sunny weather and temperatures in the 50s the next few days, everything should get a re-charge.

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Late November Scenes

November 21

So far, we’ve gotten through most of November without having much in the way of winter.  But, such is the character of Colorado, I’m told.  Bo’s “winter” gardening efforts are proving successful so far, and we’re hoping to serve a Christmas salad with home-grown greens, and perhaps some shredded home-grown carrots:

While we’re at it, we’ll have to make something with lemons:

see them turning yellow? that means they’re almost ready!

To be clear, the dwarf myer lemon tree is an indoor-outdoor plant– it’s usually in at night.  And here’s a critter that would like  come inside, apparently.  He scavenges out of Joda’s food dish every morning after she eats breakfast, and probably figures he’ll hit the motherlode if he could just get inside.

Our strange weather patterns are letting us enjoy some lovely morning and evening displays.

And, that’s all for now, folks!

The End

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Battening the hatches

Bo’s latest project is winter gardening.  Before you laugh, just consider that we lost most of our summer crops before June 1st this year, due to the extreme heat and dryness.  If it’s too hot to garden in the summer, why not try fall and winter?

However, you need to provide a way for some of the more delicate stuff to be protected from the occasional winter weather extremes.  Above is a hoop house, basically a mini-greenhouse built on a budget, with PVC pipe hoops and utility plastic sheeting.  It’s sheltering the mature tomato and bell pepper plants that were the only survivors of our hot summer garden.  Of course, they didn’t really start producing fruits that we could harvest until September.

Then there are the cold frames.  The upper one is shielding carrots and micro-greens, both young crops that were planted in the fall.  The lower one contains baby swiss chard plants.  Bo built them with used windows that he got for free from a Craigs List ad, and for the lower box, some inexpensive red wood acquired through the same venue.

Lemongrass plants on the right, dwarf Meyer lemon in the middle

Of course, there’s always the bring-it-inside solution, for the potted stuff, anyway. We’re lucky to have a sun room that hasn’t been claimed for any function other than nursing plants (although one of our houseguests commented that it would make a nice yoga room in the winter!).

Despite our 80 degree weather this week, we were promised temperatures in the 30s on Wednesday night.  So, as much of the rest of the country watched the first presidential debate, we were scurrying around in the gathering gloom and howling wind anchoring plastic sheeting, covering the herb box with agro-bond (a gauzy stuff that protects plants), and stowing everything that might otherwise blow away.  And, lo and behold, ahead of the forecast, look at the sight that greeted us on Friday morning.

We’re supposed to have low temperatures around 17 degrees tonight, but it’s supposed to be in the 60s and sunny by Monday.  Stay tuned, true believers!

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Katydid

We had a fairly eventful week, and I took a variety of photos– but mostly on my phone, not my camera, and it’s difficult to download from the phone.  So here’s a post that incorporates the photos from my camera.

I came home from work on Monday to see a leaf of lettuce inside a mason jar on the counter.  “Is somebody in there?” I asked Bo.  It turns out this odd-looking insect was clinging to our screen door, so he captured it to show me.

It is a katydid, a relative of grasshoppers and crickets.  It eats leaves and makes noise like a cricket.  It also looks just like a leaf.  After we stared at it for awhile, we took it out to one of the deciduous trees in the yard and released it.  A few times throughout the evening, I went out to check on it, and it fooled me each time into thinking that it had left, when really it was just blending into the leaf.

The only troubling thing was that most katydids have much longer wings and more of a long, tapered shape (almost like a maple seed wing).  Here’s what I mean:

So, what happened to ours?  My first thought was that a bird chomped on it, but only managed to get its wings before it escaped.  But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it was just in a nymph stage, and hadn’t developed its wings yet.  Despite its odd stubby appearance, it really didn’t look torn or damaged at all.  Katydids go through a whole series of nymph stages before they become adults.  This actually cleared up another mystery preserved on my camera:  what kind of strange insect was on the leaves of our basil plant?

It must have been a less-developed katydid nymph!  Aha!

Now, to worry about our basil getting eaten…

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More Box Elder Bugs

Those little amusing bugs in the back yard that I wrote about almost 2 months ago are becoming less amusing these days.

To put it bluntly– they’re everywhere!  They still don’t bite or sting, or even eat the plants we’re trying to grow, but they do seem to flock to the trailing thyme and other ground cover we’re trying to encourage.  And, some of them are flying now!

I tried some more Google searches, this time on “box elder bug infestation” instead of just “box elder bug.”  It’s interesting how different the results are with the addition of that one word.  Of course most of my results this time were .com sites trying to get me to buy their pest control products:  bug sprays and foam sprays to seal up my house to keep the bugs out once the weather gets cold and they seek shelter inside.

This species goes through life cycles, which means that there are successive stages of growth separated by molting into the next stage.  I guess this explains why there are teeny tiny flame-red bugs running around with slightly larger flame-red companions, accompanied by really large flame-red critters and the grey ones with red accents, some of which possess wings.  The non-commercial sites (like those hosted by various university extensions) point out that the bugs prefer certain kinds of buildings to get into during the cold season:  tall, with wood siding with lots of nooks and crannies, preferably on a hillside, with lots of southern and western exposure.  Hmmm.

Well, some of the easiest remedies for knocking back the population of box elder bugs are close at hand:  dish soap, and a shop vac.

The sites I looked at for information on box elder bugs included the University of MN Extension,  Animal Spot, and North Dakota State University Extension.

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