Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Full Worm Moon

The full Worm Moon was given its name by the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior.

At the time of this spring Moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins. This is also known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.

And, if like me, the robins have yet to return to your area, here's a site with all the song sounds of the robin.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Seven easy ways to help the honeybees

1. Include nectar- and pollen-rich plantings in landscapes. Focus on plants that bloom during the important feeding windows of late winter, pre-spring (February – April) and during the high summer when there is usually a dearth of nectar (June – November).2. Choose bloom colors that will attract honeybees. Honeybees cannot see the color red, so selecting blooms that are white, yellow, violet, orange, blue and ultra violet is a good idea. Also, plant in clumps or cluster patches of same-color blossoms. Single plants/blooms are much less attractive. 3. Ditch the chemicals (even the organic ones). Herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are detrimental to honeybees. Even organic Neem-based products are a no-no.  Instead, implement beneficial companion plantings and other no-spray practices in your yard, garden and farm.4. Welcome the weeds. White clover and dandelions are honeybees’ early- and late-season food sources for nectar (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein). Nutritional deficit may very well be a contributor in honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), so the more natural food sources you can provide, the better.
5. Provide fresh, safe water. Placing layers of large pebbles just above the water line in your birdbaths or even a shallow dish will give honeybees a safe place to rehydrate and rest before returning to their hives. Birdbaths, otherwise, may drown honeybees.
6. Spread the word. Encourage your friends, family and neighbors to follow these simple steps to support foraging honeybees across your local community.
7. Buy local and sustainable. Purchase not just honey, but as much of your groceries as possible from local producers who are using all natural methods and practices. Sustainble honeybee stewards ensure their bees are treated well and local, organic farmers provide the right environment for both native and cultivated pollinators.

Thank you Amanda at Rodale Institute for this.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Gardening to Reduce your Grocery Bill

Food prices are climbing, the economy is weak, and food safety
scares are rising. The solution is as close as your backyard.
More than 43 million Americans are planning on following
Michelle Obama's example and planning a vegetable garden.
For the frugal, it makes perfect sense. According to the US
Department of Agriculture, for every $100 you spend on
gardening seeds and supplies, the potential harvest is $1,000.
Not to mention the satisfaction and pride in knowing your hard
work paid off in healthier and tastier food for your family.
Begin by deciding what vegetables to plant. There is no sense
planting something that no one likes, although fresh from the
garden taste has been known to change minds. Kids who wouldn't
touch peas or spinach with a ten-foot pole are fighting over
who gets to pick the latest batch. Tomato haters find
themselves melting to the burst of a sun-ripened tomato
plucked right from the vine and washed.
There are three types of gardens, including in the ground,
raised beds, and container gardening. Decide what is right for
your area. Then lead with location. Most crops want six to
eight hours of sun daily with a handy water source nearby.
Search for suitable soil. Well-drained soil is best. Check
with local horticulturists or an expert gardener to see if any
additives are needed. Then mix a potting soil mixture, manure,
or humus into the soil about nine to twelve inches. Another
good additive is shredded dead leaves.
Sketch a layout of your garden plot. Keep in mind that some
plants, like tomatoes, need two or three feet in between,
while other vegetables like lettuce or carrots can be planted
close together. Don't be overly ambitious your first time out.
Start small so that you don't become overwhelmed.
Pick the perfect vegetables to plant. Local plant dealers and
nurseries stock the varieties that are suitable for your
growing region, and tend to stick to the reliable varieties.
Bonnie plants are known and sold coast to coast in a large
variety. Hybrids are a blend of different qualities and are
sterile, meaning they will only produce one season, while
Heirloom varieties will keep producing year after year. Remember 
my warnings about GMO posted earlier this month.
Check with fellow gardeners or your county extension office to
determine the best time to plant. All threat of freezing or
killing frost should be past, which varies region to region. 
I am in two different zones, 5 and 4b depending on what zone 
map you use. 
Starting from seeds is the most economical way to garden. They
do require more care, transplanting, and about six weeks headstart, 
so the beginning gardener may choose seedlings and established
plants. Here are the steps to starting from seeds.
- Plant the seeds in a seed mix, not potting soil. Use
whatever clean, empty containers you have, including paper
cups, margarine tubs, or deli trays. The clear plastic lids
make ideal mini-greenhouses.
- Put holes in the bottoms of the containers for good
- Keep the seeds moist by misting them daily. Pouring water or
spraying heavily can damage or kill tender young shoots.
- Once you've planted the seeds and moistened them, cover with
plastic or the clear top some containers have.
- Give the seedlings adequate light by putting them under a
fluorescent shop light or ultraviolet light. Hot, direct
sunlight may be too drying or kill the tiny plants.
- When the seedlings get three or four sets of leaves, they are ready
to go into the garden
Whether you started with seeds or plants, you are ready to
plant your garden. Read the directions carefully on seed
packets or plant containers. Follow the recommended depths and
spacing carefully to ensure your plant's best productivity.
Provide trellises, cages, or other support for climbing plants
like peas, beans and tomatoes.
Adding a layer of mulch will control weeds and eventually
decompose, adding nutrients to the soil for next year's
garden. Old newspapers, wood chips or shredded leaves are
excellent inexpensive choices.
Choose easy to grow plants, especially if you are a first time
gardener. Here are ten crops that even a beginner can nurture.
- Tomatoes are the most popular backyard plant. Pick disease-
resistant "Better Boy" or "Bonnie Original." Or go with the
extra-easy cherry tomato "Sweet 100."
- Summer squash are very productive and easy to grow. Try
zucchini "Black Beauty" or yellow crook-necked squash, my fav.
Ambitious gardeners can do a follow up crop of winter squash
if your area has a longer growing season.
- Parsley is rich in vitamins and sweetens breath. Choose flat
Italian parsley or the curly type.
- Lettuce is a garden staple. Pick easy leaf lettuces like
"Buttercrunch," "Red Sails," or "Romaine." You'll never want
supermarket lettuce again.
- Eggplant thrives in hot summer weather and is a favorite
among gardeners. Try "Black Beauty" or the white-skinned
"Cloud Nine."
- Cucumbers should be planted after the weather warms. Choose
the standard "Burpless Bush Hybrid" or the mild Japanese
- Chard is a leafy green that tolerates cooler temperatures.
"Bright Lights" have brilliantly colored stems.
- Bell peppers can be harvested when green or red. "Bonnie
Bell" is a standby, or go wild with the new hot pepper
- Beans come in bush types like "Bush Blue Lake" or taller,
pole-types, which have a higher yield.
- Basil is the perfect complement to tomato dishes. Plant
sweet basil or "Spicy Globe."
Planting a garden can boost your bottom line. Most crops are
ready in the fall, which is why canning for the winter is so
popular. Also, fall is the perfect time to pick up supplies
for next year's garden, including seeds, tools, compost, mulch
or metal trellises at rock-bottom prices. Learn to appreciate
the value of planting, nurturing, and hard work to reap a
bounty of produce, and even a budding gardener will bloom.
Growing your own food makes you more self-reliant and can
bring in a harvest of savings. Now excuse me; I have to go
pick some groceries from my backyard.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How to build a Mosquito trap

Materials Needed:

2000ml (2 liter) bottle
50 gram coarse sugar
1 gram yeast (comes in little packet in baking section of store)
Measure cup
Black paper

1. Cut the top of the bottle at the neck to create a funnel top and open bottom.
2. Put 200ml hot water in the bottle, stir with 50gram coarse sugar. Put the sugar water in cold water to cool it down til 40C (temperature).
3. After cooling down, put the sugar water in the bottle then add the yeast.
No need to mix the yeast with the sugar water. When yeast ferments, it creates carbon dioxide.
4. When you cut the bottle, don't throw the top part away because that will be needed for step 4 - put the top upside down to fit into the bottle.
Carbon dioxide will be released from where we drink the bottle so make sure to seal the edge.
5. Put black paper around the bottle since mosquitos like dark places and carbon dioxide.
This mosquito trap will then start working.

TIPS: Put the trap in some dark and humid place for 2 weeks, you'll see the effect. You'll have to replace the sugar water + yeast solution every 2 weeks. Or, the whole thing if it causes you to be queasy dealing with a lot of dead mosquitoes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Repurposed drink cartons

What a nice cheap way to get seeds started. Drainage would be some holes in the bottom of the carton, or, opening the cap if you overwatered that much!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Gardening: Successful gardeners in the old days were adept at watching natural indicators to know when to plant their seeds. The science of appearances, called phenology, has given rise to a few planting “rules.” Here are some examples.

Plant corn when elm leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear, when oak leaves are the size of a mouse’s ear, when apple blossoms begin to fall, or when the dogwoods are in full bloom.

Plant lettuce, spinach, peas and other cool-weather varieties when the  lilacs show their first leaves or when daffodils begin to bloom.

Plant cucumbers and squashes when lilac flowers fade.

Plant tomatoes early corn, and peppers when flowering dogwood is in peak bloom or when daylillies start to bloom.

Plant pansies, snapdragons, and other hardy annuals after the aspen and chokecherry trees leaf out.

• Plant beets and carrots when dandelions are blooming.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Vernal Equinox

Spring begins with the vernal equinox bright and early tomorrow morning, March 20, at 7:02 A.M. EDT.
The word “equinox” is derived from the Latin words meaning "equal night."

So why hasn't anyone told the weather fairies? We have about a foot of new snow on the ground since midnight and are expecting more today. AGH! 

Wind northeast or north at noon of the vernal equinox, no fine weather before midsummer. If westerly or southwesterly, fine weather till midsummer.  

Don't know where this little ditty came from so can not give the author credit.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I was telling a friend about some seed companies that I order from that do not sell GMO seeds and are NOT owned by Monsanto (which is pretty hard to find since Monsanto and their wholly owned subsidiary Seminis owns about 90-95% of seed companies). 

I just happened to keep surfing and reading and was pissed to find that six companies I get catalogs from, and have ordered seeds from before, are owned by Monsanto. This just goes to show that you really need to do your research about where your seed suppliers are getting their seed from.

Even if a company sells non-GMO seeds, you need to call and ask where they get their seeds from. If they say Monsanto or Seminis find another supplier. Here is just a small list of companies that is either owned or supplied by Monsanto or Seminis (owned by Monsanto) that I found on a blog I was reading called  The Urban Organic Gardener:
* Totally Tomato 
* Vermont Bean Seed Co. 
* Burpee (you see these EVERYWHERE!)
* Cook's Garden 
* Johnny's Seeds 

* Territorial Seeds 
* Earl May Seed 
* Gardens Alive 
* Lindenberg Seeds 
* Mountain Valley Seed 
* Park Seed 
* T&T Seeds 
* Tomato Growers Supply 
* Willhite Seed Co. 
* Nichol's 
* Rupp 
* Osborne 
* Snow 
* Stokes 
* Jungs 
* R.H. Shumway 
* The Vermont Bean Seed Company 
* Seeds for the World 
* Seymour's Selected Seeds 
* HPS 
* Roots and Rhizomes 
* McClure and Zimmerman Quality Bulb Brokers 
* Spring Hill Nurseries 
* Breck's Bulbs 
* Audubon Workshop 
* Flower of the Month Club 
* Wayside Gardens 
* Park Bulbs 
* Park's Countryside Garden

The first six are in bold type because these are companies that I have purchased seeds from in the past. I was SO distressed to find this out. Thankfully, the company I purchased from this year does not get its seeds from Monsanto or any Monsanto owned companies. 
 On that note, here is a list of seed companies that I have purchased seeds from before that YOU CAN  safely purchase non-GMO, non-Monsanto owned or supplied seeds from (the names are links to their websites):

Pinetree Seeds 
Organic Seed Alliance
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
High Mowing Seeds
Seeds Now

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Building a Trellis

Looking at different ways to trellis our beans and peas this year. If our willow were large enough, we could harvest some of it's branches.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Plant a Pollinator Garden

Pollinators (think of bees and butterflies) are essential to harvests—and flowers are their food source. Plant flowers in the garden, among fruit trees, and in containers. Every flower helps. Here are a few tips;

Bees are basically looking for 2 things when they visit your plants:
  1. Nectar - nectar is loaded with sugars and it’s a bee’s main source of energy.
  2. Pollen - pollen provides the balanced diet of proteins and fats.
Many popular flower varieties are hybridized for features that are valued by the gardener, like disease resistance, flower size or color and bigger, longer blooms. Unfortunately much hybridization has reduced the production of nectar and pollen and sometimes leaves the resulting plant completely sterile and useless to bees and other pollinators.

Another factor is that the amount of nectar secreted is dependent of climate conditions such as temperature, humidity and moisture in the soil. Here is a plant list of natives to attract the pollinators to your garden. This list is not exhaustive; there are many other plants good for bees and butterflies.

  • Aster Aster
  • Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
  • Caltrop Kallstroemia
  • Creosote bush Larrea
  • Currant Ribes
  • Elder Sambucus
  • Goldenrod Solidago
  • Huckleberry Vaccinium
  • Joe-pye weed Eupatorium
  • Lupine Lupinus
  • Oregon grape Berberis
  • Penstemon Penstemon
  • Purple coneflower Echinacea
  • Rabbit-brush Chrysothamnus
  • Rhododendron Rhododendron
  • Sage Salvia
  • Scorpion-weed Phacelia
  • Snowberry Symphoricarpos
  • Stonecrop Sedum
  • Sunflower Helianthus
  • Wild buckwheat Eriogonum
  • Wild-lilac Ceanothus
  • Willow Salix
• Plant flowers in clumps at least 4 feet in diameter. Large clusters are more attractive to pollinators.

• A succession of plants that flower from spring until fall will support a wide range of bee species.

• Flowers of different shapes attract different types of pollinators.

• Pesticides are a huge threat to pollinators. Use products that don’t harm pollinators.

Little old me...

My photo
An american yankee up past the 49th parellel.


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