Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

A herd of 7 white tail deer (does, fawns, and yearlings).  They are following behind a couple of bucks.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Buying Off Season for the Garden

I believe when it comes to gardening, there is no "off season". That being said, retail seasons change, and so do the deals (lucky for us).  I was able to pick up these items at 75% off their retail value.  Even if I am not sure where I might put something (ex. the greenhouse), if the deal is to good to pass up. I'll buy it!  What a great feeling to purchase something way below the listed price?  I don't advocate buying something you would never use.  I am too frugal for that myself.  Normally, I will try to "DIY" from items I already have, "collect" from the neighborhood, purchase at thrift shops etc, or build it myself cheaper.  But buying the end of season leftovers can save you lots of money and give you something to look forward to come spring!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Quack, Quack, the Ducks are Back!!!

"If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands."  Douglas Adams 


Ladies in waiting.

 Hey, we were here first!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Saving Cotton for Bird Nesting Material

Have you ever wondered what to do with the cotton that comes with vitamins and pill bottles?  For years, I just threw it away, until I came across an article on nesting materials for birds.  Nesting material is anything a bird may use to build a nest.  Many of the materials needed to build a nest can be found in the backyard.  However, supplemental material can be provided to encourage nest building.   Ever since, we have been saving the cotton and putting it out in early spring.

Attracting and keeping birds in your backyard is an excellent way of controlling insect pest.  Many birds are insectivores with 85% or more of their diet consisting of insects.   Basics for birds include food, shelter, and water.  If birds come and go, but do not stay around, then you are not giving them what they need!

Cotton from a vitamin bottle.

Saved cotton since last spring.  

Place in a clean suet container.  Hang in a visible area, preferably out of the rain.

"Spring would not be spring without bird songs."
- Francis M. Chapman

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Predictions of a early spring...according to "Phil"

I feel like winter is just getting started, but according to "Punxsutawney Phil" spring is just around the corner.  On Saturday, February 2, Phil emerged from his habitat and failed to see his shadow.   This is 1 of only 16 times in which an early spring is predicted.  Regardless if Phil sees his shadow or not, we still have 6 more weeks of winter, with March 20th being the spring vernal equinox.

Here are some signs of spring around my house!


Mums starting to grow.
Flowers on some type of evergreen bush.

Rhododendron bud


Hastas peaking up out of the ground

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Long and Short of Growing Onions

 "An onion can make people cry but there's never been a vegetable that can make people laugh"  
Will Rogers

My favorite soup is Onion Soup, with or with out the cheese and the bread.

Onions are part of the allium family.  Like chives, garlic, leeks and shallots, onions are edible bulbs.  The origins of onions are unclear, but believed to have originate in Asia, Iran  or Pakistan.  Writings dating back 5000 years, describe gardens with onions growing in them.  Onions grew wild, but may be one of the earliest cultivated crops.  Because onions are easy to transport, could grow in a variety of climates and soil conditions, stored well for later use, and fresh, prevented thirst, they became an important food source.

Onions are cool season crops, grown in early spring (long day) in the north, or the fall (short day) in the south.  The number of hours of daylight, triggers the bulbing action.

Onions can be started from seeds, or from sets.

In the North, start seeds indoors about 12 weeks before the last frost date.  In the south, start seeds indoors in August.  Onion seeds do not keep very well, so you may need to start with a fresh packet each year.  Seedlings should start to emerge in 7 to 10 days.  Thin to 1/4" to 1/2" apart when tops are about 4" tall. Trim the tops to about 1 inch using the greens in cooking etc.  Continue to trim tops to encourage root and bulb growth, stopping a week or two before transplanting outside.  Fertilize weekly.

Sets  are direct sown into the garden.  Long day sets are planted in early spring (April) while short day sets are  planted in the fall (October).   Choose small bulbs, spacing 3-4 inches apart, with tops at soil level.

Plant onions in raised mounds or hills, 4" high and 20" wide.  Leave about a 10" furrow between each row.  This allows for good drainage and prevents rot. Onions like a  soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8.

Onions are ready to be pulled when the tops have fallen over and turned brown. Young onions can be harvested for greens.

 Crock pot Onion Soup

3-4 large yellow onions...peeled and sliced into rings
1 stick of butter (divided)
2+cloves of garlic...minced
7-8 cups of beef broth
sea salt and pepper
IT flour
IT Worcestershire (or hot pepper sauce...few drops)
bay leaf
1/4 -1/2 t dried thyme
French bread (optional)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat 4 T of butter in a skillet on low heat, without burning.  Add onions and saute for about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and continue to cook until onions are translucent and soft.  Add the flour, stirring to blend.  Transfer to the crock pot.  Add the beef broth, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper to taste, Worcestershire, and remaining butter.   Cook on low for about 6 hours.  Remove bay leaf and adjust seasonings.
Ladle into ovenproof bowls.  Top with French bread and sprinkle with cheese.  Place under broiler, until cheese is melted and bread has browned.

"It's hard to imagine civilizations without onions"  Julia Child