Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Strange Bird

A female Brewer's blackbird with a condition called leucism - meaning loss of pigmentation.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Bumper Crop Already This Year

I spent much of the weekend harvesting weeds. It was beautiful weather and that was a temptation to put out tenders, but freezing temps are in the forecast this week. We're not out of frost danger until about the second week in May.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Violets in Bloom

The ground-cover violets are in bloom. They re-seed themselves and are easy to manage. To the left: faded primoses. The greenery is a daylily.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Columbine Volunteer

I didn't plant this, but it's certainly welcome in the strawberry patch. Columbine re-seeds easily, so a bird may have brought it to me. This plant popped up near a bird-feeder.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

First Sprouters

I expected the cucumber to be up after 4 days...but not the tomatoes. Eager seedlings are popping up quickly this year. Notice that I'm using toilet paper tubes for seed-starting this year. It's an experiment.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Heartbreak Among the Roses

Bacterial cane blight. Notice the purplish area and then the black? This darn bacteria is ruining roses all over the valley, and this infection was found on my Princess Diana rose bush. When the infection is localized, cut below it several inches and be careful that the cane doesn't touch any other canes. Try not to touch the infected area. Put the cane in the trash. Sterilize clippers with Lysol after every cut. If there is a lot of infection, pull up the whole plant and discard. Do not compost the clippings. I have found this on every rose plant in my yard except for the miniatures.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Seed-starting with Toilet Paper Roll Tubes

I saw it on Pinterest! Seed-starting using toilet paper tubes. So, I'm giving it a try. I moistened seed-starting mix so it was damp enough to hold its shape when I squeezed a handful. It's important to start with damp soil. You don't want to have to try to water the little pots because the seeds could float away.

I cut a few slices into each tube so I could fold the edges to create a bottom.

The Pinterest posts I saw promote how the tubes would decompose and the plants would be ready to go directly into the soil. That's not the ideal seed-starting situation. Really, once seedlings grow their first true leaves, it's best to re-pot them in garden mix to they can continue becoming strong before they live outdoors. Also, the tubes are dry, porous material, so they will wick water away from the soil in inside - robbing the seeds of moisture. It's true the tubes disintegrate quickly, so it's best to use twine - I used rubber bands - to secure them before dipping them into a bath to moisten.

After a quick dunk for the tube, stuff it with moistened seed-starting mix. Plant seeds according to depth recommendations on the label. I use craft sticks for seed-starting because they also double as a dibble - to make a hole for each seed. I move the stick to the edge as a label.

All the pots went into a covered plastic bin, placed in a south-facing window to bring them to life. (you can use a big, clear plastic bag - or do a couple in a zip-lock bag). These babies will not need to be watered until they emerge and start producing leaves. That's when I'll re-plant them. Just keep the lid closed and they'll have all the water they need to get started.

My Bird Feeder is a Squirrel Ba-Ba

They're so clever.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tulip Happiness

Little pockets of sunshine all around the yard this week.