Wednesday, August 10, 2011

AS OF JUNE 29, 2011 - SunTiger MOVED!

Because I now live downtown in a city apartment, I no longer garden (except in pots) and can no longer maintain this blog as a result. Please check out my other blogs!

* - personal musings
* - all things horror (vampire books, vampire movies, zombie movies, werewolf movies, author guest posts)

* Vamchoir. (comics related to Ravena & The Resurrected an amazing vampire novel!)

Friday, March 11, 2011

How To Sprout Small Vegetable Seeds Indoors

It's the beginning of March and while all signs of frost may NOT have disappeared, you can begin planting sensitive food crops indoors. While most people can figure out how to plant seeds directly in small pots, with organic soil, I thought I might share a technique that my dad sometimes used to start very small seeds sprouting, such as tomato seeds, before he planted them in soil. In truth, I'm hoping to grow collard greens this year and because the seeds are rather small I'm going to start them this way.  (Note: collard greens are in the cabbage family and can be tolerate colder weather than other vegetable varieties - but I'm starting mine inside for fun.)

Step one: Gather three supplies. Water, old newspapers, and your tomato or other small seeds.

Step two: Open a sheet of newspaper and then open the seed packet and
Step three: Space the little seeds along one of the newspaper folds. (See image.) 

Step four: Spray the seeds with enough water to make the paper very damp. Then fold the newspaper so the seeds are tucked inside.

Step five: Spray the newspaper so it's really wet. Be sure to keep the newspaper wet for the next few days. 

Step six: Depending on how long it takes your seeds to sprout *usually 3-5 days) Unfold the newspaper and look inside. Your seeds now have roots and are ready to be planted in soil. Check your gardening zone. If it's too early in the season for your plants to go outside these can be potted indoors until the danger of frost has past. Otherwise, these seeds can be planted directly outside in soil suitable for the plant variety you are hoping to grow.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's Been Snowing For Days & Great New Book: Hydroponic Gardening

We've had record-breaking cold weather for this time of year, here lately. It's snowed nearly every day for the past week but fortunately, it changes quickly to rain and so the roads are clear for driving. Saw these two ducks while out on a walk and wondered how cold the water must be (sure wouldn't want to put MY that pond to paddle around).
Because heavy winds now gust here in the greater Seattle area I'm staying indoors and I just read:

Discovering Hydroponic Gardening: From Earth to Water by Alexandra Collins Dickerman and John Dickerman 

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this little paperback at an estate sale the other day and read straight through it. It's a personal account of a young couple's exploration into starting their own organic vegetable garden. The adventures begin when they purchase a small dilapidated farm and the heating system does not work inside the house. Parts of the book are quite humorous as the couple quickly learns that their newly purchase farm animals and vegetable growing are two ventures that collide.

"We now have discovered, that it isn't necessary to live on a farm to grow your own food," the authors admit, finally. "With hydroponics it is possible to live anywhere and grow a substantial supply of vegetables." This book gives instructions for a family of four to grow its own organic vegetables, spending only a couple hours each week for garden care, utilizing a 10-by-12 feet space using the hydroponics system.

"If the plant nutrients used are of the purest and highest quality, all the necessary nutrients for sturdy pant growth will be available to be absorbed directly by the plants as they need them."

The book, "Discovering Hydroponic Gardening," also suggests that water usage is kept to a minimum with this gardening system. The book includes black and white photos and effective drawings. The writing is very personable, easy to understand, and the ideas presented seem like they would be implemented rather easily provided the gardener has a little cash for setting things up.

The authors present a few different strategies for how to grow food they hydroponic way. The most complex-looking version is "the flooding method" and it involves a household timer, an aquarium air pump, a pan or container for the scaled reservoir, a growing medium such as gravel, the nutrient solution, and the pot the food grows in.

A more simple method is called "drip irrigation" where the plants are grown in peat moss and are watered with the nutrient solution to keep the roots wet but to allow little if any runoff.

The third system is called the "standing solution method" and it involves growing plants directly in the solution while aerating the roots with bubbles (perhaps using an aquarium pump).

This resourceful little book is a great reference for experience gardeners and an excellent guide for individuals wanting to start growing their first little garden.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nice Day South Of Seattle - Let The Chickens Roam

Rain is predicted for today, WedShowers48°F | 37°F, but it looked sunny and felt warm enough when I let the chickens out this morning. It's the first time they've been out of their covered chicken coop all winter. In this next picture, you can see, by how tall our grass has grown, that it has been raining much too often to mow. The grass has not been dry for months. 

Meanwhile, I'm heading out doors! Hopefully I'll get some very necessary yard work done before the weather changes!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thinking Of Bulbs

Heavy rainfall washed away the snow and ice that glazed Portland, Seattle and other parts of the Pacific Northwest last night. As forecasters predict rain will continue falling in the days and weeks to come, I think about all the many varieties of flower bulbs I planted these past five years, and this last fall. I hope the flowers, garlic and onions are all surviving the moisture. Hopefully they will not rot in the liquid Earth as my dahlia bulbs did last spring. 
Only time will tell. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spring Planting Catalog - Just Arrived!

[Click on the map to enlarge it and check the zone you garden in]

I felt so happy to find that my 2011 Garden Catalog by Burgess Seed & Plant Co had arrived in the mail today. (Their address is 905 Four Seasons Road, Bloomington, IL 61701 if you'd like to contact them that way).

Now is certainly the time to start planning to order seeds for your spring and summer gardens. Meanwhile, the catalog sells tiny saplings (e.g., weeping willow trees) as well.

For ordering the plants that are most likely to thrive in your neighborhood, view the hardiness zone map, above and order according to your zone. Now (here in the Pacific Northwest) it is time to be watching for crocuses to bloom from the bulbs we planted a few months back. A neighbor of mine (we're in zone 7 and 8) said the daffodils she planted up next to her house are already peeking like zombie fingers out of the cold, cold ground.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Moss Covered Sidewalks

Only in Seattle can this much moss grow on a cement sidewalk. Well, okay, so maybe it could also happen in Forks (if Forks actually HAD a sidewalk in its rural town). Maybe this could also happen in Port Angeles. But the point is, there are not too many places on our planet besides the Pacific Northwest that gets this much rain. Granted the fir trees also offered shade to this residential walk and shielded the moss from the sun ...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Update On Why So Many Birds Died In Flocks

Did you know, an estimated 1.5 million Lapland Longspurs (pictured) died together in Minnesota and Iowa? It was back in March 1904. A great storm brewed and reports say the weather is what killed all those birds in a mass death scenario.
That's a small consolation to anyone who still feels grief over all the red wing blackbirds (and starlings) that are reported to have died here recently down in Louisiana and Arkansas. Nobody knows the cause.

This report, tells a more horrific tale of how frequently massive bird deaths happen. (Not at all common).

I'm really glad my friend Arawn shared the above article with me. I still think some of things that are recorded in that piece are RIDICULOUSLY STUPID. Beyond the 1904 scenario, these recent events look like one of the largest migrating bird kills on record (and they did NOT happen due to some horrific natural storm).

I hope nobody takes Paul Slota's statement (he's a spokesperson for the USGS National Wildlife Health Centers) and becomes complacent or supposes we might not have ANY kind of responsibility for killing so many animals. Paul said: "I think people should be aware that mortality events in wildlife are normal. They are a fact of life." 

It makes me want to ask Paul Slota if I shoved a fire cracker up his ass -- would he still consider it a "fact of life?" (The article seems to insist that fireworks on New Year's Eve is what killed the birds.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Horrified By Arkansas Bird Deaths

You'd have to be a hermit, with no Internet, phone, television or radio connections, to NOT know about the 4,000+ red wing black birds that died in Arkansas this week. (500 more birds fell from the sky in nearby Louisiana). While the story is terribly horrifying, it's also fascinating to  read all of the hysterical suspicions about what may have caused this phenomena to transpire.

All that hype about end-of-the world scenarios? "Phlllbbbttt!"

As a gardener, and a "watcher of birds," I feel ridiculously suspicious of news reports that claim to know what caused the deaths. I also feel suspicious of claims that "only red wing blackbirds and starlings have died." On some level, I wonder if reporters have mistaken the female red wing black bird (see picture)
for the starling ... (see picture below).

Time will tell what caused the terrible hemorrhaging (broken necks, wings, internal bleeding) that forced the birds to fall. For now, one can assume that fireworks were NOT to blame (not when birds fly by day, fireworks typically happen after dark AND we've been lighting fireworks for centuries and never had this happen before.)

I also do not believe the birds suffered from some poisonous gasses that Fox News (cough) reported was released by a government official. (See previous comment about the birds suffering from hemorrhage, severe physical trauma - symptoms that gas exposure does NOT create).

I also do not believe it is the end of the world. The world is certainly changing. Plants, birds, land animals are all migrating to new (more amicable) places to live. Climate change is certainly happening whether we know the cause or not.

I do believe we need to determine the cause of these recent bird and fish tragedies so intervention can be made and  loss of wildlife will not continue.

Blessed be!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Gilman Village, Issaquah, WA [USA]

I believe this photo illustrates how cold it is here right now. A bit too chilly for doing much gardening, I'm afraid.