Sunday, February 27, 2011

Maybe Phil was right

Since Phil saw his shadow on Groundhog day, we've had some cold days, but a definite change from the unrelenting winter we've had this year. 

One of the things I have learned about since moving to Kentucky are "Redbud Winter," and "Dogwood Winter."   That means even though we might have a February thaw, there will still be two more cold snaps, one at the time of the Redbud trees bloom, and another at the time of the Dogwood bloom.

This morning it even felt like Spring.  Taking a look around the garden, I found a few signs...

This is Artemesia "Silver Mound."  Artemesia (or Wormwood) is good for repelling lots of insects in the garden.  The dried fronds made into a sachet are said to repel moths!!   "Silver King" variety is best for that though.  The big drawback to Artemesia is it is toxic when ingested by people or animals, so if using it, be sure it isn't anywhere your livestock - or your pets or kids - will eat it,  Silver Mound stays put, but the other varieties are very invasive, so they need to be grown in an enclosed bed.

This is Feverfew, with some daffodils coming up in the background.  (the white patches are bunny wool)  Feverfew is used for migraines, among other things. 

I have always grown herbs.   They are so easy to grow, and their uses are very interesting, although some writers are, well......out there.  SUPER CAVEAT HERE  I would be very, very careful about taking any herbals until I had done my homework with a good herbal book - or 5 or 6 of them.   Before the days of modern medicine of course that's all there was, and gardens were developed for the growing of medicinal plants since the days of the monasteries and beyond.  The most famous still in existence today is probably Chelsea Physic Garden .  Not to be outdone, America has its own, Philadelphia Hospital Physic Garden .  

Back to my garden, with much smaller ambitions, when Spring is really and truly here, I'm ready!   

Until next time, from Wren Cottage ......

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Did you know?

The Ferry-Morse Seed Company is located right here in Kentucky, and seem to be the oldest seed company in America (est.1856).    They have signed the Safe-Seed Pledge, and will not sell any seed that has been genetically modified. They sell mostly conventional seed, but also have a good-sized selection of organic seed.   Who knew?   Since they are found everywhere, I just figured they are a big corporate entity not interested in quality and safety in the food seeds they sell.    I bought a few packs at Walmart yesterday. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

A few days of mild weather here have gotten me outside, and thinking about this summer's garden.  I have never planned much.  I just filled pots with what I like, and tucked things into the existing garden where I could find a spot.

I have a lot of bulbs and "Spring" plantings - bulbs, 2 peonies, a large rosebush - already in the garden.   The peonies have already been moved once - and survived.  It is my understanding that once established, they will live practically forever, but don't like to be transplanted.  The bulbs are the real problem.   Their foliage takes up so much room, and by the time it dies down, it's well into the heat of summer and too late to plant anything there.   I need to measure my little patch.   My guess it's about 8 feet wide, by 12 feet long. (oval) Perhaps that book about 'square-foot gardening' would be a good investment? 

I also want to try some companion planting  this year, and along with home-made 'natural' sprays, to try to battle some of the bug problems I had last year.   Abigail has gotten spoiled and turns her nose (? beak?) up at anything but layer mash and scratch grain.   I'm hoping once she gets some outside time in a temporary enclosure, she will develop a taste for greens and bugs.  I would be happy to feed her some Japanese beetles, but the tomato hornworms are just too yucky for me to handle!

Keeping in mind what did well last year, what did not, what I will still grow in pots, and what I want to move into the garden, I will go through my saved seed soon, and supplement with some store-bought ones.   I would like to try "Kamo" eggplant, but I can only find it here, and I don't know if I want to order enough other stuff from them to make it worth-while. 

I also want to be sure to add more flowers. Nasturtiums and French Marigolds are a natural in the garden, since they repel so many pests, but I am eager for color in general after such a gray and white loooooooong winter.   I was raking and digging a little last night (smoothing out the heaps of compost) and spotted a few bulbs just barely beginning to peek up from the earth.   Spring is coming!!!    

Monday, February 14, 2011

Promised photos

WHOO-HOO!  I'm up and going again.  After my last post, I did something (?) to the computer that locked it up, and it has taken all this time - and the help of the IT guys at work - for me to get it straightened out.

The last time, I said I would post pictures of some of the gifts I've been given lately:

A lovely red transferware plate, and some silverplate flatware - 2 serving spoons, a regular tablespoon, and a fish knife I will use for butter or party spreads.  I think the flatware might be hotel 'silver.'  The serving spoons are engraved with the initial S.

Jan and Mary also gave me:

More transferware - this time a "breakfast" cup (larger than a coffee cup) with saucer, and a sterling teaspoon with hand-engraving on it to add to my collection. The bunny in the photo is Orion, to give perspective. 'Rion is a teensy guy. I thought I might show him, but I need to weigh him to see if he will make senior weight. The new doe is the same size he is at almost seven months, and she is only three months.

What!! New doe, you say! Yes, here she is, Redelman's R792.

'Just one more, a potential mate for 'Rion - IF anyone expresses interest.   I think she is going to be a big girl.  I hope she grows into those ears!   Even a Mini Rex novice like me can see that she has got some ears on her.  Right now they don't exceed the maximum.  I bought her with the thought of showing her, but we'll have to see if this is just an awkward stage, and if she will even out in time.  She is a sweetheart, and I think I'm going to call her Juliet.   Since I got her at Valentine's Day time, I wanted a romantic name, and Juliet fills the bill.

NONE of the other buns wanted their picture taken, but I got a few so-so ones.

This is Holly - clipped about 3 weeks ago.   She is snuggling with her 'blankie.'  A couple of weeks ago I put an old bath towel in each of the French Angora girl's cages.   Holly wuvs her blankie - to the point that if I so much as touch it, she growls, lunges and shows her teeth.  If I scold her,  she wimpers.  She just doesn't want me to take it away - even to wash it.


You can see me trying to hold Niko still - and his expression says 'you're no fun at all!"   I couldn't get a side shot.  He was exploring too fast!   I plan to clip him this week.  That will be all my "clip' buns done.  I think I'm discovering that Ivy is a 'plucker' - at least partially.  I've only clipped her once since I got her, but I've been able to pluck her some.  She was so determined not to have her photo taken, she backed into the darkest corner of her cage, and since she is in the 'bottom bunk,' it was too dark, and a yucky picture. 

Truffle looks miserable, but it has nothing to do with being clipped last week.  By the time they have been in full coat for a while, they all love getting that hot old coat off.  He just doesn't want me to reach in and take
him out of his cage.  His infected eye - the one looking dolefully at the camera - is all healed up now.

When they've just been clipped, they look like aliens - after seeing a giant puff-ball for a while, when clipped they suddenly have what looks like a tiny body, and an enormous head.  Truffle is smaller than my other Angoras, but here he is just backed up in a corner.

Well, all caught up now!  Until next time, from Wren Cottage......