Saturday, February 27, 2010

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Last evening's calm reflection,

then an urge to break the barrier...

a final surge achieved!

This morning's waxing Gibbous Moon soon to be replete,

will you call February's Moon



or Hunger?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Do You Ever Wonder

Do you ever wonder how this

can become this

and in just 4 days?

My little mind cannot quite grasp the miracle of it all: that from those tiny seeds grew this life form, each with distinct characteristics, and that they will continue to grow and produce fruits for our table. Truly, it is remarkable.

Having said that, I'd like to share the following, for I had a good laugh at myself. Under normal conditions it takes about 42 days to maturity for the yellow squash, which puts that at around April 7. Our first frost free date is estimated at April 15. So squash in April... in the ground? I don't think so. We even had a surprise snowfall last April.

I best look at maturity dates before I go starting any more seeds. (wink) Actually I was testing 2009 seeds I had left over and as of this morning we have 4 for 4... 100% germination in each pot. I can't bear to throw them away. Would you like one of the plants to grow in a pot at your house?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Busy Weekend and Anna's Hummingbird

We hope you had a wonderful weekend. Ours was jam-packed as the weather participated and offered clear blue skies, and with a slight chill to the air the conditions allowed us to pretty well wear ourselves out.

More seeds were started indoors: a mild Mesclun, yellow squash, zucchini, bush beans, Sadie's Horse Beans, Fordhook baby limas; directly sown outdoors were three kinds of spinach, Walla Walla sweets and some Musselburgh Leeks, although the latter has a little greenhouse structure my husband built to protect them.

We trimmed some trees; cut and stacked firewood; more roses were cut back as well as other shrubs - barberry, spiraea - and we planted a few things around the greenhouse, plants we dug up (volunteers) and potted last year in anticipation of giving them away. But, since no one had claimed them so far, I found a spot!

The birds were loving it as well:
the Spotted Towhee partook of the Caryopterus seed heads.

Another (the Chickadee) was celebrating the weekend with a bath.

I was covered in pollen as I cleaned leaves from beneath Corylus avellana. The female workers were there as were the lingering female blossoms.

This evening while posting this, we had a beautiful visitor which I wanted to share with you... Anna's Hummingbird. Look at those delicate and tiny feet! and it wouldn't take its eye off me. Didn't it know that all I wanted to do was take his picture?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chickadees Are Here

Neither hide nor hair has been seen of our Dark-eyed Juncos. Besides the bullying Stellar's Jay who pops in early morning, we have had new visitors to the feeder the past several days: the tiny Black-capped Chickadees flit in and out, but...

... they do skedaddle when the Chestnut-backed Chickadee arrives.

In an attempt to welcome any Bluebird who would like to take up residence, we erected a new birdhouse. And who is already scouting it out? No way! There are plenty of other condos around the property.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Growing Potatoes In Pots

I don't know about you, but this morning I am excited as the sun threatens to burn through this fog and with a forecast of 60 degrees F, I am headed for the garden. Although there is a chance of precipitation tomorrow, the forecast for the remainder of the week is as today's.

On Saturday I directly sowed spinach, lettuce, carrots and two varieties of radishes in our raised beds; made seed mats for our Walla Walla sweets and Musselburgh leeks that will be planted in the main garden, although with a small cold frame to help them along. I also got most of the seed potatoes (I wrote about here) dealt with - another use for all those nursery pots that we have stored over the years.

Chitting: After I received my order of seed potatoes, they were placed in a cool (about 50 degrees F) sunny location for nearly two weeks. The natural light and coolness allowed them to produce short sturdy buds. Chitting or sprouting is the process of forcing the potatoes to produce buds and therefore an earlier harvest. Rather than put them in the ground we decided to give this process a go. I think it is a wonderful way of growing them and especially would be for those who might have limited space for vegetable gardening. For more information on chitted potatoes, go here.

And now I am heading to sow more vegetable seeds. Have a great one.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Corylus avellana 'Contorta' Blossoms

We had a wonderful day in the garden and dragged ourselves in only a short while ago. The forecast was for 60 degrees, but that temperature was never reached as the sun's rays failed to push through the layers of clouds. A few things are blossoming, but to my surprise is the abundance of flowers upon one of our large rosemary plants.

In high fashion are the catkins of Corylus avellana 'Contorta' (aka Harry Lauder's Walking Stick). The contorted filbert is monoecious, having separate male and female blossoms on the same plant, just as the birch tree does. The greenish-yellow and pendulous male catkins were abuzz throughout the day from our little friends, while the lovely diminutive red female blossoms stood quietly by and unnoticed. Be sure to look closely at the female worker bees and their tiny little yellow sacs of collected pollen.

(enlarge to see the beautiful little red female blossom)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oregon Bans English Ivy and Buddleia

Yesterday the Oregon Department of Agriculture announced banning the sale, transport or propagation of English ivy and Buddleia davidii (Butterfly bush) as they are invasive, noxious weeds that are a threat in Oregon. Here the AP reports that butterfly bushes cannot even be grown.

This is effective immediately for the Buddleia while the ivy's effective date is June 1, to allow businesses to sell the remaining stock on hand.

I'm still trying to reconcile ban with allowing businesses to sell and deplete remaining inventory.

What say ye?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicken Chili For 6

How long this recipe has been around, I am not aware, but I have made it for the past three years. It was given to me by a friend of a friend who was the wife of a coach... and she made it to feed a large number following home games. I reduced the recipe to the following more appropriate size for us.

Chicken Chili For 6

4 chicken breasts, split and deboned

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 1-2 Tablespoons dried basil
2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes in their own juice
2 (14 oz) cans beans, rinsed and drained (1 kidney bean and 1 black bean) or (kidney and pinto)…whatever your pleasure

Sour cream
Cheddar or mozzarella cheese, shredded
sweet onion, diced (optional)

Chicken: Bake these ahead while chopping the vegetables. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken pieces on baking sheet lined with foil (for easy cleanup); rub lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until done. Cool, then cut or tear into bite size pieces.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and sauté onions 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add sweet peppers and next 6 ingredients: chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, salt, basil; stir and cook for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and chicken. Bring to boil, then simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes.

Serve with a heaping teaspoon or two of sour cream on each bowl; add grated cheese, and we do like some chopped sweet onions. Any leftovers are great the next day. Serve with a fresh sourdough and side salad or it is a meal just by itself. Quick and easy, and I know you will enjoy it.

(Notes: We also like grilling the chicken breasts, and when preparing grilled chicken breasts for a dinner, will prepare four extra ones and freeze them for this purpose. The cost of sweet peppers determines the colors I use. Oftentimes the orange pepper is two to three times the price, so I simply double up on the yellow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

More Seeds and Butterflies

Look what I got in the mail: Thomas at A Growing Tradition sent me these special seeds for the garden. Although we love Asian greens we have not grown them before... I will not be able to say that anymore! Thank you Thomas for your very generous offering. Can't wait to see them poke their little heads through the soil.

Then we received this from Randy and Meg's Garden Paradise, a wonderful and comprehensive work by Randy: Butterflies of the Carolinas & Virginias, an interactive CD. I cannot imagine the years involved in presenting this professional compilation of butterflies by family and with such descriptive and beautiful photographs. Thank you Randy for this amazing reference guide!

Isn't the blogging world wonderful?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yellow Finch and Catkins

Having been formed by fall and remained tightly closed through the majority of winter, the catkins on most of the birch trees (Betula) are now gone, having expanded, flowered, released their pollens, withered and dropped to the ground. With yesterday's early morning walk toward the potting shed, in the distance I happily observed Yellow Finches partaking of the few lingering pendulous males whose final winged seeds would soon be spread.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy Birthday Bowie

Happy 4th Birthday Bowie!

It is so hard to believe how quickly you grew from here...

... to this.

(click to see the message on his shirt)

Grandma and grandpa love and miss you!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Islands As A Chorus Rise

Islands as a chorus rise
from fog swell trees that dream
that all is well
this day begins
I hear the robin speak. ~ Diana

Don't forget SkyWatch Friday for skies from around the world