Category Archives: Environment

USDA Zone 7 – Purple Martin’s and Hummingbirds have been seen

As far north as USDA zone 7, Purple Martin scout birds and nesting pairs have been seen checking out nest sites.

Hummingbirds have been seen at feeders put out for early returning birds.

It’s time to clean and sanitize housing and feeders.
Cheap Hummingbird ‘nectar’ can be homemade. Cheap and easy, 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water – 1/2 cup sugar to 2 cups water or if you are feeding many birds 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water.

Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and add sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved.
No Not boil sugar water, your not making syrup.

Caution Experts in this area say ‘NEVER’ use Honey to make feeder nectar or add food coloring to your homemade feeder nectar.
Both can and often does kill Hummingbirds.

Soap Box Corner
Children, teens under the age of 18 years of age can not:
Buy a handgun, cigarettes, alcohol products like beer and wine , drive trucks or join the military.
They can not sign a legal binding contract.
Those under 16 can not obtain a drivers license or drive a car.

Below the age of 18 they are not mature enough to make ‘adult’ decisions.
Why then are we allowing them to make ‘adult’ decisions about sexual relations that will effect them for the next 70 or 80 years?

Our European friends take age for sexual consent even lower.
Europe, with countries setting different legal ages of consent:

14: years old: Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal
15: France Greece, Poland, Sweden
16: Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Russia and the UK
17: Cyprus

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Garlic – Spring planting for Fall harvest

For my gardening friends. You can still plant garlic for late summer and fall harvest. If your soil is not frozen solid. Dig and loosen your soil, till in compost if you have access to compost. Else stir in a little 5-10-5 or similar N-P-K rated fertilized. Plant your garlic cloves, [Don’t laugh, pointed end up] 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep. Measure from the top of your garlic clove. Space cloves about 4 inches apart.
Cover with mulch if you can. Other wise, wash your hands and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Growing Hint: Garlic needs from about 180 to 210 growing days from planting to harvest mature garlic bulbs.

Garlic types are either Hard Neck or Soft Neck.
Generally speaking, Hard neck varieties are better suited to be grown in the northern 1/2 of the U.S. Unless you want to harvest ‘garlic ‘scapes’, Soft neck varieties seem to be better suited to the southern 1/2 of the U.S. and seem to store for a longer period of time than hard neck garlic.

Going against what many gardeners say. I have never had any problems planting garlic that I picked up at my supermarket.

Garlic Nutrition :
Raw Garlic – 6 cloves – About Calories: 27
* manganese 15% —– * vitamin B6 13% —– * vitamin C 7%
* copper 6% —– * selenium 5% —– * phosphorus 4%
* calcium 3% —– * vitamin B 13%

There has been many millions of pages written about the good health benefits of garlic. Who am I to go against the opinions of so many expert gardeners and health specialist. A touch of garlic makes everything, except scotch wiskey, taste better.

Hint garlic can be harvested at any size. Try fresh young garlic in your recipes for a different and refreshing flavor. * Use tender young garlic tops finely chopped as a garnish to add flavor and color to pasta dishes.

I didn’t know this: Elephant garlic is not a true garlic, but actually a variant of the garden leek.

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Maching on to Spring

Mar 11, 2018 – Daylight Saving Time Starts
Sunday, March 11, 2018, 2:00:00 am clocks are turned forward 1 hour to
Sunday, March 11, 2018, 3:00:00 am local daylight time instead.

Sunrise and sunset will be about 1 hour later on Mar 11, 2018 than the day before. There will be more light in the evening.

Seasons of 2018:
SPRING EQUINOX March 20, 2018
FALL EQUINOX September 22, 2018
WINTER SOLSTICE December 21, 2018

A combination of an ice storm, covered by sleet then a few days of light rain my tiny garden has been treated with 2 5/8 inches of much needed moisture during the last 10 days of February.

Tree and grapevine pruning is mostly finished and waiting for the arrival springs warmer weather.

I have added 2 new grown Cayuga ducks to my small poultry flock.
The Cayuga takes its name from Lake Cayuga, New York which makes it one of the few duck breeds with an United States origin.

Beware, Set, the Egyptian harmful storm god, lord of evil, & chaos can be found in your spring garden.
All though spring is only 19 days away, it is still more than 45 or 50 days from my last average spring frost date. So no out door planting before the 10th or 15th day of April.

Horus, the Egyptian beneficial storm god will drive Set out of your garden with the arrival of warmer May weather. Horus rules summer and fall gardens.
Soil tempeture will be warm enough for planting most summer garden vegetables after about the 5th day of May.

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Why is common sense so uncommon?

Lunar new year – year of the dog

2018 will be the first Year of the Earth Dog since 1958.
Anyone born in an Earth Dog year will be communicative, serious, and responsible in the workplace.
Chinese New year – year of the dog – begins February 16, 2018.

Plant something different in that sunny spot that is difficult to maintain.
Plant back rows with beautiful Hollyhocks. There are many colors to choose from to give just that right color to a corner flower bed. Hollyhocks are perennials and will come back for many years enjoyment.
In front of the Hollyhocks plant Okra. Even if your growing season is a short one you will still be able to enjoy its flowers.
The same is true for Cotton.
In the front row plant Cotton. Cotton varieties range from about 18 inches tall to some long season varieties that will grow to heights exceeding 3 foot tall.

All have beautiful hibiscus style flowers, are almost care free and will add interesting fall and winter viewing as well as food and cover for birds that may visit your yard.

Happy Gardening

Home and garden flying pest – DIY fly trap

Food, fly bait for your fly trap.
Of the many species of fly’s in and around homes and barns you will most generally be faced with one or more of the most common three fly pest.

Feeding Habits of Flies

Adult flies feed and harvest their larvae on organic decaying material. This includes, fruit, vegetables, meat, animal, plant secretions and human feces. Both male and female flies suck nectar from flowers as well.

Flies are most active when it is warm, for this is when their larvae are most likely to hatch. They are attracted to buildings because of the heat and odors they may emit.

What Do Common House Flies Eat?

House flies are general feeders, which mean they will eat everything from food to animal and human fecal matter. Because of their sponging mouths, they only feed on liquids, which means they must liquefy food through regurgitation. They are attracted to a variety of substances such as:

Overripe fruit and vegetables
Animal feces
Sugary substances

What Do Fruit Flies Eat?

Fruit Flies are attracted to fermented food and liquid sources, which is why they are so common in homes and the food industry. Fruit flies search for foods such as:

Liquids: beer, wine, cider, vinegar
Fruits such as bananas, grapes, peaches, pineapples, tomatoes, mustard pickles, potatoes, onions, etc.
Sugary substances, like candy

What Do Blow (Bottle) Flies Eat?

Blow/bottle flies are fairly large flies with metallic blue, green, bronze or black sheen. They are infamously known for burrowing themselves into their food, which is where they develop. They are usually the first insects to arrive after an animal dies. These flies prefer:

Fresh or decaying meat
Animal carcasses

Traps can be baited with molasses, sugar, fruit, meat and/or rotting shrimp.
Bait and water mixture should be within 2 inches of the trap funnel opening. To make the liquid more effective in killing fly’s add a few drops of dish soap and a small amount of apple cider vinegar to your trap water.

Fly bait stinks so keep in mind you want to attract fly’s away from your home. Place your traps 50 to 100 feet distance from your home.

DIY – Fly Trap This link presents several pictures and hints on building your first DIY fly trap.

Dry and windy start – 2018 garden

Weather wise 2018 is not starting off well for those of us that chose to live in the southwest corner of Oklahoma.
January I logged a total of 0.08 inches of rain and during the past 3 months, November 2017 – January 2018 my tiny garden has been blessed with 0.66 inches of rain. The National Weather Service classifies my area as being in a severe drought.

It’s still 70+ day until I will see my last freeze/frost and begin spring planting. That doesn’t stop me from planning my new wildflower and vegetable garden.

As with all real estate, planning a garden will be much involved about location, location, location.
Selection and preparation of the garden site is an important key to growing a home garden successfully.
An area exposed to full or near full sunlight with deep, well-drained, fertile soil is ideal. The site should also be located near a water supply and, if possible, away from trees and shrubs that will compete with the garden for light, water, and nutrients.
While these conditions are ideal, many gardeners have a small area with a less than optimal site on which to grow vegetables.
Yet, it is still possible to grow a vegetable garden by modifying certain cultural practices and types of crops grown.
Areas with light or thin shade can be used, such as those under young trees, under mature trees with high lacy canopies, or in bright, airy places which receive only one to two hours of direct sun per day. There are several vegetables which will grow under these conditions, including beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and turnips.
Unfortunately, few vegetables will grow well under full, dense shade.
If the site is not well drained or if the soil is thin, the use of raised beds can help with this problem.

In order to have a successful garden, the gardener must follow a few rules. The following tips may help to prevent some common garden problems from occurring, or help overcome those that do arise:
Sample soil and have it tested every three to four years.
Apply fertilizers in the recommended manner and amount.
Make use of organic materials such as compost when and where available.
Use recommended plant varieties for your area.
Thin plants when small.
Use mulches to conserve moisture, control weeds, and reduce fruit rots.
Avoid excessive walking and working in the garden when foliage and soil are wet.
Examine the garden often to keep ahead of potential weeds, insect, and disease problems.
Wash and clean tools and sprayers after each use.
Rotate specific crop family locations each year to avoid insect and disease buildup.
When possible, harvest vegetables during the cool hours of the day.

Bonding with your garden – Seeds and Seedlings

This article appeared in the May 2002 web issue of Horticulture Update,
edited by Dr. William C. Welch, and produced by Extension Horticulture,
Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

How to Start Seeds Indoors

Gardening is a wonderful pastime and filling your garden with plants you started yourself from seeds simply doubles the pleasure. If you think growing from seed is difficult and takes too much time and equipment, the steps and tips here will dispel those apprehensions.
Basically all you need to know about specific seeds is whether or not they require light to germinate and the number of days germination takes. With a fluorescent light or a very sunny window, a few containers – purchased or found – and a good germinating mix, you will be on your way.

The magic: watching a seedling push up above the soil surface creates a bond between you and your garden.

Materials You Need

Containers: any shallow receptacle that holds soil, such as flats with or without individual cells, peat or paper pots, egg carton bottoms or halved milk cartons. For transplanting seedlings, 2-1/2 to 4-inch diameter plastic, clay or peat pots. To ensure even moisture for seeds – and save yourself time – look for self-watering seed-starting kits.

Germinating mix: commercial or homemade.
DIY: Mix your own seed starter soil, with a 50-50 combination of fine sphagnum peat moss and vermiculite.

Transplanting mix: A good potting soil will do, but a mix specifically formulated for young seedlings is better. The latter usually contains a coarser grade of sphagnum peat moss than a germinating mix and often contains fertilizer.

Fertilizer: balanced all-purpose fertilizer. If you prefer to grow with organic rather than chemical fertilizers, use fish emulsion is very odoriferous but nutritious for plants.

Getting Started

Wet the germinating mix thoroughly and let it drain. It should be moist but not soggy.
Fill flats or individual pots with the mix to within about an inch of the top.

Make shallow row indentations with a ruler or your finger in the flats. It’s easier to separate seedlings when transplanting time comes if you sow in rows. Sow thinly so you do not waste seed. If using pots make shallow holes and set 3 to 4 seeds in each.

Check your seed packet to see if the seeds need light to germinate. If they do, press them lightly into the surface. If they require darkness, cover with l/4 to l/2 inch of mix or vermiculite and tamp it down.

Mist the surface with water to settle the seeds.

Cover the flats with a sheet of plastic wrap or set them in plastic bags. Set pots in plastic bags and close with twist ties. This keeps the mix from drying out while the seeds germinate, but check the mix occasionally and moisten if necessary by spritzing with water.

Place the flat in a warm, bright location or under a fluorescent light. Check the seed packet for specific soil temperatures for germination. Generally, seeds germinate with soil temperatures of 70-75 degrees F.
Hot peppers sometimes will not germinate until soil temperatures reach 80 to 85 degrees F.

When the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic covering. Seed packets give you an idea of germination time, usually 7 to 10 days, sometimes as long as 2 to 3 weeks.

Keep the mix evenly moist, not soggy. Water from the bottom by setting flats and pots in a sink filled with a couple of inches of water; remove them when you see moisture on the surface of the mix.

The first leaves on a seedling are cotyledons, not true leaves. Their shapes usually do not look like the plants familiar leaves. When seedlings in flats grow at least two sets of true leaves, transplant them into larger pots.

Moisten the transplanting mix and let it drain. If you use an all-purpose potting soil, add a handful of vermiculite for each quart of mix to lighten the texture.

Fill 2-1/4 inch pots about three-quarters full.

Use your fingers or a pencil to pick each seedling out of the flat, carefully holding each by the leaves not the stem (plants readily grow new leaves but not broken stems).

Set the transplant in the pot, filling in around the roots with more mix and firming the mix down.

Place pots on a sunny windowsill or under a fluorescent light.

Water transplants regularly from the bottom until they grow 3 to 4 inches tall. Then you can begin to water from the top.

Feed as you water by diluting a water-soluble fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, to half the strength recommended on the label. Or, feed at regular strength every week to 10 days.

You do not need to move most flowering plants into larger pots before setting them outdoors in the garden. Some vegetables, such as tomatoes, produce extensive root systems and grow quickly into lush plants; transplant them at least one more time into larger pots before the weather warms up enough to put them in the garden.

To encourage compact, bushy plants, occasionally pinch off the growing tips of herbs and most flowering plants.

Many seeds germinate best – more quickly and more abundantly – if you do not cover them with a mix when you sow.

Ageratum Lettuce Begonia
Nicotiana Coleus Petunia
Columbine Parsley Dill
Feverfew Savory Salvia
Gaillardia Impatiens Yarrow

A Few Do’s

Know the date of the average last spring frost in your area; you need to start most plants indoors a certain number of weeks before that date. Seed packets include that information.

Give pots on windowsills a quarter turn every week so plants grow straight instead of bending towards the light.

Opt for the easiest plants to start indoors if this is your first attempt.
These include basil, coreopsis, dianthus, gaillardia, gloriosa daily, marigold, oregano, yarrow and zinnia.

Label your seed containers as you sow.

A Few Don’t s

Combine different varieties of seeds in one flat unless they germinate in the same number of days.

Let seedlings in flats grow large before you transplant them. Their roots become too entwined, making them difficult to separate without damage.

Start root vegetables indoors.

Over water seedlings. Soggy soil promotes fungus and root rot.

Outdoor Preferences

Some plants resent being transplanted, but if your growing season is short, you can start them indoors in individual peat or paper pots, which biodegrade; set plant in its pot in the garden.

Annual Phlox Fennel Chervil
Lupine Cucumber Nasturtium
Dill Poppy

2018 Tomato Season

Disclaimer. I do not work for nor do I receive any benefit from this seed seller, however I have had good success using seed I purchased from them.
The big thing is they have more than 600 different types of Tomato seed that are Hybrid or Heirlooms to choose from.

Tomatofest Seed sale Annual Heirloom Tomato Seed Sale through Friday, January 19, 2018.

Our Annual Heirloom Tomato Seed Sale is designed to reach our newsletter subscribers and past customers as our “thank you” for choosing TomatoFest® for your organic heirloom tomato seeds.

From our online heirloom tomato seed catalog of more than 650 tomato seed varieties, we are currently offering you 350 of our most favored heirloom tomato varieties.

We selected many of our most popular and rare heirloom tomato varieties for this sale pricing. Up to a 50% savings off our regular price.

Take advantage of this Tomato Seed Sale to acquire tomato seeds for varieties that you want to grow, even if you do not have the space to grow them this year, as some varieties may not be offered in the future.

Tomato seeds will last 3-5 years if stored properly.
We guarantee the quality of TomatoFest® Heirloom Tomato Seeds

(Note: The balance of our 650 varieties will be at our regular price and we still require a $15 minimum order. Your order may mix sale items with regularly priced items).

Tomatofest Seed sale

“Top Ten” Heirloom Tomato Collection
Dagma’s Favorites Tomato Collection
Gary’s Favorites Tomato Collection
Gourmet Tomato Collection
Sauce Tomato Collection
Favorite Canning Tomato Collection
Cherry Tomato Collection
Rainbow Tomato Collection
Novelty Tomato Collection
Giant Tomato Collection
Short Season Tomato Collection
Cooler Coastal Tomato Collection
Tropical/Hot/Humid Tomato Collection
Tropical Container Gardening Tomato Collection
High Altitude Tomato Collection
Patio Container Collection
Indoor Container Collection 1
Indoor Container Collection 2

Happy 2018 Gardening Season

Russia Invades Southeast United States

Russian winter weather colludes with President Trump’s administration weather service to invade Americas Southeast states as well as Americas Northeastern weather system to dump snow and ice from Florida to New York. Congress democrat Nancy Pelosi demands President Trump be impeached.

Alvarado shortage is attributed to President Trumps border wall preventing Mexican alvarado cartels an off shout of Mexico’s drug cartels inability to smuggle fresh alvarado’s to American supermarkets. Nancy Pelosi demands President Trump be impeached.

North Korea’s president Kim Jong Un said he will attack the United States because of President Trump’s efforts to cut off North Korea’s supply of cheap Chinese imported whiskey. Nancy Pelosi demands President Trump be impeached.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared his support to left wing democrats in the US congress after it was discovered Prophet Muhammad had concluded with President Trump’s administration to import BLT(bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwiches. Nancy Pelosi demands President Trump be impeached.

As for me, in my little part of Southwest Oklahoma my tiny garden has received about 2.5 inches of rain sense the 15 day of August 2017 setting us on the path for another drought year.

Happy 2018 Gardening Season

Pruning Will Enhance Production #3 – Grapes & Blackberries

Before you start pruning grape and blackberry vines you must know and understand it’s fruiting habits.

Blackberry vine pruning. You may want to stake or trellis-train your berry plants to keep them more compact and upright.
Pruning will vary depending on the blackberry variety you plant. Most berry bushes bear only once on 2-year-old canes. After the canes have produced fruit, you should prune them back to the ground to leave room for the stronger, 1-year-old canes.

Some pruning should be done every spring to keep the plants from becoming tangled and to improve their ability to bear. Prune trailing blackberries in the spring for good growth habits. Prune each main cane back to 3-4’. Then cut back side branches to about 12”, leaving five or six buds on each. Erect and semi-erect varieties should be tipped or cut back to 3-4’ in midsummer. This forces lateral branches to emerge from buds below this point.

Later in the fall, after they are dormant, cut back the laterals to 16-18”. Fruit will be borne on these laterals the following summer (after which, the canes should then be removed to make room for next season’s growth).

Everbearers fruit twice on the same cane. These canes will fruit at the tip during the fall and then bear again the following spring farther down the canes. If one large crop is desired, cut the canes back to the ground after the fall crop. This will result in a single, large crop the following fall.

Grapevines pruning. Grapevines need weeding, fertilizing, insect and disease control, and proper pruning to assure a bountiful harvest. Proper training of grapevines is essential to maintain plant size, shape and productivity. If left unattended, grapevines can become unruly, and fruiting will be poor due to overproduction of vegetation.

You must be ruthless when pruning grapevines to remove 80 or 90 percent of last years vines to ready what remains to produce this years crop.

I think this video can help you understand grapevine pruning much better than I can describe here.

State Oregon State University (youtube video) pruning grapevines