in winter, when all the leaves are down and the landscape really shows her form, i plan stuff. i really want a swing, but i dont have any trees i trust yet. i was just thinking a rope with a piece of wood or recycled plastic, but then weburbanist got me thinking about things...like, why not make a grand statement and have a cool place to hang out with one of these contraptions from myburgh designs? i love the modern bubble and the pumpkin is pretty magical.
i had big plans this weekend, but due to the dog's surgery on friday i kind of hung out with him saturday and sunday: i organized my clothes/closet when he was relaxing in bed...i watched a little tv when he sat on the sofa looking out of the window at the blue jays and squirrels: i saw bobby flay from the food network cook his thanksgiving turkey on the grill: intriguing! coming from california, i use my grill almost every night to cook everything from vegetables to pizza, so this is a technique i want to try! i love turkey and could eat turkey sandwiches forever, so i think i am going to do this. my husband works at a family company and every year in conjunction with a food drive for s.o.m.e., all 300+ employees receives a turkey for thanksgiving (and a ham at christmas!). so, my dead bird will be here tomorrow, and I'm cooking it-stuffed with wild rice and sausage stuffing-on the grill... i better get a new meat thermometer as i melted the last one...oh wait: this wild rice and goat cheese dressing sounds way better!
have you ever had such an abundance of crops that you didnt know what you would do with it all? well, unfortunately: i havent! but i am sure you have: what to do with it all? master gardener and master programmer maureen farmer has developed a fabulous site for you to share the wealth! www.thefarmersgarden.com is a place where people can post free classifieds to sell, trade or give away their surplus backyard garden produce: what a great way to shop local!
plant an extra row and let others enjoy the deliciousness.
master your domain with the master gardener app for iphone and itouch! i have been using master gardener for a few days to organize my winter crops and plan for seedlings in january. i have a wish list of edibles i want to grow consistently, and the huge data base of 40,000 plants makes specifications so easy, plus i have wikipedia access for research and link purposes. i have to say: when i typed in 'arugula' i got a blank screen and had to enter it manually, but it was really simple and quick, frankly! i can easily add other gardens to my journal and include my own photos for reference. it is a gardening tool i can utilize in so many different ways! excuse me for saying 'it is kind of awesome!', because my brother, anita and myself designed it after a conversation last christmas dinner...eleven months later-and a lot of hard work- it was accepted into the apple store last thursday! please check it out and let me know what you think: we will try to improve it and version 2 is already in the apple pipeline for release asap. i love my iphone and this is just another reason i cant live without it: please join me!
my neighbor has this hydrangea shrub that has the most amazingly deep navy blue blooms in summer. I didn't notice until today how gorgeous they also are in the fall! this is an old plant that sits in deep shade under a tall dogwood which is under a taller loblolly pine. I guess the acid supplied by the pine needles is the reason for such intense color. lovely!
the weather channel got a big kick out of themselves for coming up with the name "nor' Ida" to describe this week's storm, which combined a nor' easter with tropical storm ida. whatever...the water got deep around here! the water was over the sea wall during today's high tide. you can see the water line in the leaves from yesterday. no damage though so, all is well! please note my awesome bertoia chairs which I got at a tag sale for $5 each. yes: i said "FIVE dollars"!
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation gave the Chesapeake Bay’s health a “D” yet again in its annual report, receiving only 27 points out of a possible 100. The stressed-out Chesapeake is the nation’s largest and most productive estuary but continues to harbor huge “dead zones” of oxygen deprived waters caused by unchecked pollution from sewage, fertilizers and animal waste. Despite pledges from federal, state and local governments to clean up this most important waterway by 2010, the water quality has continued to decline. According to the CBF, the Chesapeake is in “critical condition” and today’s Bay is worse than it was in 2000.
Most residents of Montgomery County live within a half-mile of a storm drain, stream or river which will eventually drain into the Chesapeake Bay. We must all do our part to protect the environment and pass on our knowledge to our friends and neighbors in order to preserve and possibly resurrect this national treasure, The Chesapeake Bay.
Here is a reminder of (10) important things you can do to help restore the Bay.
1. Fertilize Wisely
As you are making your spring gardening “to-do” list eliminate fertilizing your lawn. Fall is a better time to apply fertilizers as the rainy Spring season can cause run-off of excess nitrogen and phosphorous into storm drains and creeks, thus adding to the Bay’s woes. Before you even think of fertilizing have a soil test performed (every 3-5 years) to give yourself a more accurate picture of your gardens needs. Over fertilizing can not only damage the Bay, but can cause extra salts in your soil, affect winter plant hardiness and expand pest problems.
2. Control storm water run-off
Fertilizers and pesticides along with soil and other debris are deposited into storm drains which lead to local streams, rivers, reservoirs and the Bay. Reducing run off from your property can minimize the amount of substances entering the waterways and worsening water quality as well as damaging living organisms and their habitats.
3. Conserve Water
If you are not into xeriscaping, use plants adapted to our region which will tolerate periods of drought. Group thirsty plants together so periodic watering can be minimized. Collect rain water for watering planters and pots.
4. Mulch appropriately
Organic mulch layers should be 2-3 inches deep to help retain soil moisture, thus reducing the amount of watering needed, as well as preventing weeds and soil erosion. Mulching deeper than 3 inches could prevent water from filtering down to plant roots.
Mow fallen leaves and needles and use them as a mulch alternative or add to compost bins. Start a composter in a large plastic trash can with wheels and a clamping lid: drill with air holes, add leaves, yard trim, kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, shredded newspaper. Secure the lid with a bungee cord. Roll can once a week a few turns and you will have a wonderful compost in about 8 weeks.
6. Use IPM methods to manage yard pests
Get out in your garden and observe what is going on! Hand pick harmful pests and hand pull invasive weeds rather than applying pesticides, insecticides and herbicides. Plant wisely by selecting resistant varieties of your favorite plants to reduce pests and disease. Remove diseased plants and their debris to prevent spread from one season to the next. Attract beneficial insects to your garden and use environmentally friendly pesticides such as horticultural oils and soaps only as a last resort.
7. Reduce Household Hazardous Waste
There are many less toxic alternatives to commercial household chemicals. Both white vinegar and baking soda can be used separately and in combination to accomplish a myriad of household cleaning tasks; check the web or Fact Sheet s “Alternatives for Household Products-Helpful Hazardous Waste Reduction Hints.
Don't use toxins or high nitrogen products such as kitty litter to melt this year’s snow and ice.
8. Be responsible with your Pet’s Waste
Dog poop is the #1 polluter of the urban streams feeding into Rock Creek Park and other tributaries which feed into the Chesapeake. Please pick up your pet’s waste every time and either expel it through your household toilet (recommended) or deposit in your household trash for transfer to our local landfill.
9. Conserve Energy
Drive less not only to save money, but also to prevent fossil fuels from depositing pollutants directly into the Chesapeake Bay as well as on to the land where they can be washed into it’s watershed.
Fall and winter are wonderful times to plant: work trees into your planting plan where they can help reduce household energy consumption. Deciduous trees planted on the south and southwest side of your house will shade you from the summer sun, while allowing the winter rays to come through with warmth. Evergreen trees planted on the northwest side of the house will shelter you from harsh winter winds.
10. Make your Yard a Bayscape!
A Bayscape garden is the best thing we can do for our Bay. For more information on gradually transforming your yard into a Bay Wise garden, contact the Home and Garden Information Center for the Bay Wise Maryland Yardstick to see how your garden measures up!
looking for a holiday gift for that special birder or outdoorsman? maybe you should consider this hummingbird feeder novelty hat! notice how the hummingbirds look truly scared: fantastic! available on etsy from roy road fish company.
the environmental protection agency's draft on how to clean up the chesapeake bay (this time) is due this week. sediment samples from the 180-mile long estuary are being analyzed to pinpoint dead zones and help determine where actions need to be taken first. above is a photo of the vessel rachel carson carrying out research for the project by locating dead sediments, which are basically mud with little or no oxygen. Clams and worms and microscopic plants at the bottom of the food chain — down in the mud — need that oxygen and it isn't there. in oxygen's place is extra nitrogen and phosphorous, mostly from sewage, cars and fertilizer. The nitrogen and phosphorous act as food for algae, which eat them and grow into huge floating blooms. oxygen is removed from the water when the algae die and decompose: that's deadly.
the dog and i had a wonderful walk this morning: we found more walnuts to collect; saw a beautiful red tailed hawk; lots of different woodpecker-type, tree clinging birds and generally enjoyed being outside. it was a very nice day.
white nose syndrome has nothing to do with your friends from the 80's: it is a very serious infection wiping out 80-90% of bat populations in the northeastern united states, and threatening to move southward. just so you know: bats are cool! and useful: they eat their body weight in insects every night. this drastic reduction of over one million bats by white nose syndrome is estimated to increase the insect population 2.4 million pounds by next spring's growing season, leading to more pesticide use by farmer's and therefore higher prices for produce: not good! there is nothing you can do yet because scientists don't know what causes this fungus to grow on bat's noses, ears and wings. the u.s. fish and wildlife service received $800,000 in grants last week to research possible causes and solutions for the syndrome. no more caving for now, though: that is where the sick bats hibernate.
last night the mister and i carved pumpkins. we always do this ritual on halloween-while eating snickers bars and drinking whiskey- to keep in the holiday spirit. you see, we get no trick-or-treaters: we have lived in the same house for 25 years and we have probably never had more then 10 little goblins total! its so sad! so, while we were carving our jack o'lanterns, i roasted the pumpkin seeds for snacks today. it was easy : 1.preheat the oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit. 2.rinse the extracted pumpkin seeds and remove as much of the pulp from them as possible. 3.toss pumpkin seeds with olive oil and sea salt. 4.spread seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet. 5.bake til golden brown: about 45 minutes. 6. enjoy!
plan your scary halloween garden for next year by planting a Tacca chantrierior bat plant today. they do sell seeds for this terrifying flower, but it takes two to three years to grow in green house conditions (read: hot and humid) to produce a plant.
clearly i am obsessed with fall colors...but what about these crape myrtles? exfoliating bark...late summer blooms...fall color...what else? oh yeah: seed pods for winter interest. becoming a little over-used but still awesome!
my sweet potato vine is showing all of it's best colors for autumn: love the purple and gold! this year, I am going to see how these gorgeous ornamentals taste: I love sweet potatoes!! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
there is such a disconnect between food and its source, and in a lot of ways, i am no exception to this. growing up in berkeley, we had a small vegetable garden plus a lemon tree, a lime tree, peach trees, apple trees, an orange tree across the street, a pomegranite tree in katherine's yard, cherry trees and one of the neighbor's even had a meyer's lemon bush that was kind of awesome. we had organic plantings throughout the hood and plum trees lined the streets. heading to santa cruz to run the boardwalk, we would pass miles and miles of strawberry patches, artichoke plots, and avocado trees. during a trip to visit the tide pools in halfmoon bay, we would also pick pumpkins. if i travelled up to the sierra-nevada foothills to visit grandma, we passed through apricot and peach orchards, olive fields, hops fields for the beer companies and mile after mile of nuts: we always stopped at the nut house to pick up some freshly picked walnuts. now that i live in the mid-atlantic, i grow a few things, do buy from my favorite farmer, but tend to spend most of my time harvesting at whole foods. as i ran with the dog yesterday in rock creek park, a large black walnut fell from a tree, narrowly missing my head and causing me to have a nutty ephifany: hey, that was food that almost just knocked me out! looking around, black walnuts are every where right now, especially on the ground. why let them collect in bunches and clog storm drains when they are one of my favorite foods? so, i collected a bunch and went to the internet to figure out how i could harvest black walnuts. google-ing "how to harvest walnuts" resulted in a lot of info, but after watching a few videos and reading a bunch of articles, i think this is the one i like the best: basically, you collect the nuts, run over them with a car; collect the shelled nutmeats, and let them dry in the sun (hello, squirrels!) for a week; crack em and either eat or store in an air tight container: simple! one side note: dont compost the outer green/black hulls because they are toxic to most other plants.
everytime i drive by the grain silos in the northern neck, i dream of converting a few of them into a variety of living spaces. one would be a guest house; the second could be my studio; number three would be a very organized shed. wait: i need one more for a potting shed! the ones above are great inspiration. Abbey Road Farm Bed & Breakfast, shown in the photo on top, has three grain silos incorporated into one large structure. the silo converted to 1-bedroom loft apartment is a unit available for rent at the gruene homestead inn in texas. love these! via weburbanist.
washington dc is suddenly thick with farmer's markets: i blame it on the obama administration. another one rears its delicious head today 1-5 on woodrow wilson plaza @ 13th and pennsylvania avenue, nw . capital harvest on the plaza will host 18 local farmers who will be selling their stuff and cooking demos from the chefs at equinox and ps7. sounds yummy.
one of my favorite blogs is design sponge because it has so many cool things and great diy projects, including this one for an adorable autumnal acorn bird feeder. it is really simple and fairly genius: im making a couple this weekend in hopes of attracting a bunch of different migrating song birds. so great!
porcelain vine is a horrible invasive plant in the eastern united states that smothers native plants and is sold in nurseries for its decorative qualities. sure, the berries start as an awesome turquoise and eventually turn to a more awesome purple, but this plant pulls down trees, people! in the dc area, it was actually recommended as a decorative verticle plantscape to cover sound barrier walls around the beltway: stupid paid advisor! birds love the beautiful berries and spread them throughout the area: now they threaten to take over rock creek park. only the weed warriors care.