Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

African Violets – Put Down A Leaf

Garden Dreams.....Flower Visions

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Wow! that’s a lot of leaves

When the African Violet bug bites, the virus really catches hold,, the Newbie finds herself drawn to advertising that offers collections of leaves for a ‘can not resist’ price.  Little does she realize each leaf can produce six or more babies.

Each Mommy leaf probably comes with a name tag attached.  Things become personal, now!                             ???

The bonding process, that is so much a part of the African Violet culture, begins to manifest itself, from this beginning.  Suddenly, this is not a leaf!  This is my precious ” Adera”  who is going to make me a  Mommy soon!.

You seasoned growers know exactly what I am talking about.  If you are not smitten with the virus you are thinking this is the most stupid thing I ever read.   I smile  ..I…

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Go Ahead Grandpa, You Can Chuckle

Gardening, Creatures and Life In A Small Town

My grandfather was a one-mule dirt farmer.

He grew an acre of corn and was allotted two acres to grow cotton. His garden was enormous, with rows that seemed to go on forever, when I was sentenced to hoe them.

Plants growing in pots were strictly a diversion the women messed with. No self-respecting man put plants in a pot (named thusly because the women usually used discarded chamber pots).

Now, three generations down the road, a friend and I are actually admitting we use containers (can not find chamber pots anymore) to plant, of all things, vegetables in!!

Huh! Huh! (Grandpa did not actually laugh at such foolishness he just made low kind of “huh! huh! huh!” and you could see his belly bounce under his overalls).

“The young fools growed up on a farm and they didn’t learn a darn thing.”

(Huh!huh!huh!)

Container gardening has become the rage for…

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Gran’ma Daisy – gave me a dahlia root

My world-simple thoughts of a simple man

It all started with Gran’ma Daisy

Five generations from Germany, she was a hardworking mother and farmer’s wife. She did not have a lot of spare time, but she made time for her plants. They were gorgeous and one of the few things I remember about her.

The back porch, always used as the entrance was a veritable jungle of greenery, planted in miscellaneous large discarded enamel kitchen pots. Huge ferns dominated the entrance along with a star flower plant that every year had the largest bloom I have ever seen.

In the cold winter she would put these plants in the unheated dark hall that ran down the center of the old house. They always survived to live another year on the back porch.

Her outdoor love was her dahlias! I remember them as tall, lush and topped with dinner plate sized colorful blooms.
To me they seemed exceptionally…

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I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN MIND

Our pets are our children. Amazingly human in actions, they let my wife and me know when they are unhappy. Gray Tabby was very unhappy about this situation!

My world-simple thoughts of a simple man

My Guest author,  Gray Tabby  has been a part of our household for 15 years.  She has experienced and lost great loves in  her long life.  She has been uncomplaining and usually cooperative, except for one long lasting episode.

Now  her life has taken a drastic turn.

“I just don’t understand this whole situation,” she explains, ” have I not given  my all, have I not put up with my people in order to maintain  a peaceful home.   Now I wonder, what, after 15 long years has gone wrong?”

Ms. Tabby explained to me as we spoke, “I am going to speak my mind!  It is just not fair. I want no misunderstanding in this matter.”

Here is her unedited statement of the situation as  she sees it.

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE HUMAN MIND

Gray Tabby

In 1995 I was borne into a litter of kittens that resulted from…

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Gardening – Extend the Pleasure

Garden Dreams.....Flower Visions

Anticipation

Every January it’s the same!  An unconscious response to  additional seconds of daylight triggers that urge to rush the growing season!   Anticipation wraps me in its warm embrace.   Dreams of gardening activities fill my head.

next doorIt’s too early.  I will not sow any seeds for at least two months, I swear on a stack of seed catalogs and a folder of internet nursery sites!

 I lie!

By mid-February, like an addict, satisfying his cravings, I have “just a few” seedlings reaching toward the lights.  Oh, what satisfaction this defiant early start gives, even with the problems it creates!

Activity

Here in zone 8, despite  a few setbacks, gardening activities are humming by mid-March, at the very latest.Spring bulbs put on a dazzling show, followed by flowering shrubs and

Memories are made of  this Memories are made of
this

trees.

First rainbows of bearded iris, then  dazzling displays of day lilies  carry us through April – May.

I used a simple photoshop with this I used a simple photoshop…

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Incubator Extraordinaire

Unnie    9 days

Unnie 9 days

A tiny yellow puff of fuzz, darting about, insisting on her share of feed off the floor, she was one of four tiny chicks who had  arrive at last.

Finally here, after four months and one mis shipment from the hatchery, Unnie, was destined to show I had spent a lot  of  unnecessary time, frustration, and money in five years attempting to increase my flock using artificial incubation.

Unnie is a white silkie bantam.   She was the only female of the four.  A  little under two pounds of white furry growth, wearing heavy white stockings, she is one productive, good looking girl!

But I am getting ahead in my story

Five years ago, I ordered fifteen chicks from a commercial hatchery.   Included in the peep were four tiny silkies.    All I knew about silkies was they were cute.  Those little creatures stole my heart and were the beginning of a love affair.

Incubation seemed a logical way to maintain my flock.

The parade of incubators followed

First came the styrofoam unit.    Quail, chickens, even ducks successfully hatched in this setup.    While the hatch percentage was good, could I build a unit that was sturdier, less labor intensive, I wondered.

That’s how the square pine box, complete with egg turner came about.

Folks, I could have bought a ready made unit for less money, but, hey, I would  not have bragging rights to “I made it myself, and it works!”  I was moderately successful, but after a few tries with parcel post shipped eggs, all incubators became a put away toy.

Unnie provided a perfect excuse

Then came Unnie!  My standard flock is hens, no roos.   img_1887 With the silkies I now have two roosters, and Unnie.   Unnie is productive, almost an egg a day, until she has laid  a dozen or so eggs, she becomes broody.

I wonder?

Now, more chicks is the last thing I need, but chicken folks are not the most disciplined creatures on God’s green earth.

In early June, Unnie began to cluck.  I left eight eggs for  her to hatch.

The wait was on.

In  about three  weeks Unnie was the proud Mama of four little black balls.  Maybe I was mistaken about the partridge, but I swear, I know I heard him crowe!  She raised three black young’uns in the warmth of summer, with no help from me, except feed and water

In September, Unnie was laying again, she was partnered with the partridge roo.  Sixteen eggs this go around, I left them all in the nest.

???????????On October 16 her clutch was complete, fourteen patridge colored chicks!

An early freeze—could she care for them?

Freezing weather came early this year.  Less than a week after the hatch,  temps dropped to freezing several nights in succession; temps remained abnormally low. Could this tiny hen, weighing less than two pounds, successfully care for fourteen chicks under adverse conditions without my oversight?   I provided normal shelter, feed and water.

Now, six weeks of age, twelve of these chicks are balls of partridge fluff, each about half the volume of the white, ??????????????????????????????????????????diminutive, Unnie.

My lesson

While fairly successful using artificial incubation, I was also spending a lot of money and time caring for the hatch during the 21+ day incubation period; with this tiny hen I can hatch all the chicks I need for a season with little effort or frustration.  Unnie has shown that Mama can care for a family.

Postscript: December 9, 2013    When we went out to feed Unnie this morning, we found an animal had come into her coop during the night and killed her.     Only the brain had been eaten.     All twelve of her chicks survived the attack.

 

Frugal Gardener-Could Worms Be The Answer?

Costs continue to spiral.   Attempts  to  become  more self sustaining  are , well,  discouraging.

Grow my own.  I need land!  I need seeds!  I need fertilizer!

I NEED HELP!

I have experimented with container gardening using the e-Bucket system.   Raised beds  utilizing close spacing similar to square foot methods has given gratifying harvest.    Conventional  gardening with chemical fertilizers has  given good results but they all are less than cost effective; I rely on outside sources for fertilizers and soil amendments.

I prefer organic materials to chemical additives but compost has been scarce when I attempted my own and expensive  when  obtained from outside sources.     What is a body to do?

A few chickens offer a source for manure for my compost;  a generous gathering of leaves will supply an abundant  source of carbon for my pile this year.  BUT limited energy  plays havoc  with  plans for larger compost piles.

I am on my way, but spring is fast approaching; my compost pile is slowly doing its thing—I don’t have the stamina to finish it via the 14 day method.

What’s A Body To Do?

Vermicomposting just might  be the answer to my dilemma.  If half the hype is to be believed, I can look forward to some interesting results.worm  bin

Cost wise, after start up, I got it made.

Scraps that I have been wasting will be returned to the earth from which it came.  Why, even junk mail and newspaper waste will be part of my fertilizer cycle, Fetida and Hortense will turn them into that substance that I call the junk when I receive it.

My chicken manure composting process will be speeded up and enhanced with worm poop;  the wigglers will finalize the process with no strenuous effort on my part.

Vermicasting tea promises not only fertilizing properties by insecticidal and fungal control  as well.  Simple to make,  easy to  use; cost effective, too.

MEET MY MIRACLE WORKERS

December 20, 2012 I took the first  step.

The Eisenia fetida, also known as the Tiger worm or Red Wiggler, became a part of my gardening plan when I plopped them into their new home in my computer room.   YEWH!   Guess what?   Two months and 10 pounds of kitchen scrap slurry later, THERE IS NO SMELL !!!    Fetida are slender, short, little squirmier, they are great eaters, but I want some substance in my worms,too.

That’s why I prepared another bin and installed “Hortense” (Eisenia hortensis ) in a new home today.  About the size of a pencil and up to 8 inches long, I figured they should really chow down on the waste I feed them.  Who knows, I might even get  some fisherman interested in using a few.

Vermiculture (worm farming) is going to be an interesting experiment for me this year.   Already I have learned more than I ever knew about vermi poop.

Will  worms prove to be an answer to some of my problems?   We’ll see.