Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter Entertainment

Clever birds, crows....noisy and annoying at's true, however, I'm rather partial to them myself, admiring their determination, strength and primal beauty.

Three feeders in the back garden provide different "menus"...nuts, niger and sunflower seed. While not intended for them, the nut feeder is favored by the crows, and they will preform the greatest show and stunt exhibition, trying to please their appetite.

Where the green metal meets the plastic, there is a thin space; some crows have learned they can hook their talons in that space and hang straight down, grabbing as much food as possible, holding on as long as possible. The bird in the photo below has managed one claw around a perch while the other is clinging (unseen) to the green metal ridge.

The black beauties who don't know the "toe maneuver" (as we call it) or have the ability to actually feed "properly" as in the first photo, exhibit a little dance ... grasp two perches, giving a good flapping shake...knocking nuts to ground below. It really is quite remarkable to watch all this.

While the garden goes on, waiting for winter's leaving and spring's arrival. It won't be long and crow lovers will meet and crow babies will be made....healthy offspring of mothers enriched with good winter nut protein. Crows are the first birds we see in spring flying with nesting materials; before long, they return with their young who are equally as large as themselves. You know the babies though..the're the ones crying their hearts out to be fed...more nuts please.

Feed your resident birds through the winter, and they will be devoted to you and your garden all year long.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Snow Foggy Day on the South Shore

You'll find it hard to believe, but it is eight degrees out there; the snow is turning to fog, making for a beautiful, mild day. So first things first.... pick greens for a salad tonight from the raised bed and red shed.

I cannot tell you what a great experiment that raised bed has turned out to be. True, my greens would be much farther along if I had only planted them earlier but still, I am grateful and pleased with what has grown. A nice surprise.... two baby radish ready to pull and...the carrots have germinated after two months of being sown. The other thing is...the oat straw is germinating as well and if you look (click on photo) to the right of the radish, you will see the sprouts..yes..edible!! How amazing is that!

I smile to myself, smelling the warm humid earth and straw. "Spring can't be far off"...and I remember why I garden.....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soil Blocker Experiment

Click to enlarge photos

Many thanks to our Cousin Ted who so kindly gave us two soil blockers recently. What a great gift!..thanks Ted. I had seen them for sale in Johnny's catalog and also saw great soil blocking results at last year's Saltscapes where Bancroft Farm was selling their "Garden in a Box".

Being very keen to try them out, I watched the online videos and gave it a go. Within minutes I had all these lovely square nests with a dimple at the top for seeds to settle in and germinate. When that happens and the roots are growing vigorously, the small blocks will be transplanted into the larger soil blocks (which have a special depression to receive them). The benefit of growing from plastic pots to deal with! Also, instead of circling a plant pot, roots are supposed to grow to the edge of the block, concentrating their root mass in the center, so says Johnny's (and other sources online). When transplanted, "there is no root shock and the seedlings establish quickly to their new environment". Ummmm..

There are a few recipes for a soil mix, but I used what I had...a lovely crumbly compost from a local farm where horses are bedded in peat. I did add greensand to this, and a 'dash" of lime...mixing it all to a wet state and blocks. So it has been fun so far except, I didn't much care for the long horse tail hairs in the mix)))).. Oh Well!!

I note today, some of the seeds have germinated.....little cakes on a tray.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Red Shed and Greens

The Red Shed is a focal point viewed from our kitchen's where we go at this time of year to have a read, look through seed catalogues, share a glass of wine at the end of the day and talk about tomorrow's promise. Last Christmas, we opened our stockings there! If you have ached for a summerhouse, garden shed or outdoor "room"...go for it!! It will end up being more than you had ever hoped for, I am sure of it. We used recycled windows and doors to cut down costs, drew the plans up around their measurements and started building. A small heater inside keeps the chill away. You can start your seeds there, entertain friends who visit the garden in summer and so much more. It really is all about use..need, and want.

Two big wants for us, were starting our seeds early and, autumn growing on. We had great success with the spring seed starting but what about growing on? Thinking nothing would come of it..we dug out the last of the edible greens when the weather turned and put those in whatever receptacle we had available "just to see". Would they grow on or fail? Well, really, we were shocked to find, with  just a dressing of fish fertilizer every now and again how fantastic the growth has been. Here is a photo of the last harvest taken a few days ago.

Now we are spoiled. We want more! We have cut to come again and all seems to be growing well. Now, to try seeding a tray of greens...just to see if, with our lighting and marginal warmth, we can actually continue to have "summer fresh salads" in winter. Perhaps they will have to be germinated in the house where it is warmer but can be moved out to the shed later.

So, after many years of  wishing for it, the Red Shed cum Summer House already holds great memories for us. It wears our personality; inspires us to experiment and have fun with gardening. The sun was still shining when I closed the door today... the raised bed, bean wall, trees and blue sky reflected on the long glass panes.