Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Helleborus Niger now Blooming!

A complete surprise finding an open bloom on the Helleborus Niger this morning! This is the same plant that last year bloomed during 5 ice/snow events. Here is a photo from January of this year.

It pays to watch the garden a little closer.

The cold frames are really growing we have 3 patches of lettuce ready to eat. The mustard greens, kale, Swiss chard and collards all are ready for the skillet tonight, our first meal with them. The Rainbow Carrots are 3/8 inch in diameter now, not long on those. Too cold for bees right now.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Daffodils in November??

Spent Thanksgiving in Wilmington, NC, hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

On Saturday we visited Airlie Gardens to see the camellias in bloom. The gardens were wired with lights everywhere, it was early morning so we did not see the displays lit up. We were taken in with the dozen or so bottle trees on display with lights all stuffed into the bottles on the trees. The bright sun prevented my getting a good photo of the bottle trees.

The Airlie Live Oak had several clumps of daffodils blooming under it. I did not find them to have be recently planted paper whites as these plants were firmly weeded in. Not sure what to think about these blooming in November? I'd enjoy any insight about them?

This was not isolated to just Airlie Gardens, a yard along the way back to where we were staying had some daffodils blooming as well. Then later on a walk in the neighborhood I found more daffodils in bloom....

Here is a 4 + inch camellia bloom found at Airlie Gardens.

And from our garden 'Kanjiro' one of our best camellias, this is a 3 inch bloom. Moondance had 7 blooms while were were gone, but they all looks bad, the new camellia likely needed watered.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fall bees and violas planted

Yesterday it reached 70 degrees here in North Carolina, could not beat a day like that. Meg and I worked most of the day in the garden, raking leaves, getting up acorns and planting pansies and violas. Meg also pulled up the remaining pepper plants done in late last week by an icy night. I tilled in one of the remaining beds and Meg sowed a cover crop of rye grass and crimson clover.

On Friday I stopped at the farm at the bottom of the hill and got a flat of mixed pansies, 48 in the flat. Saturday while running errands Meg and I stopped at the Durham Garden Center and bought a flat of violas for a winter planting, hoping the bees would use them for food.
 Here are some of the flowers we got. Above is Victorian Burgundy pansy, this one isnew to me.
 Above is Sorbet Orange viola and below is Sorbet Yellow Frost viola, I really like this one.
 We planted the one below last year Sorbet Orange Duet viola, clearly I like this one a lot.
 Below is Sorbet Yellow Baby Fa viola.
The bees were very busy yesterday, the entrance is reduced a lot more than in the summer making the bees dodge traffic to get in or out. We did see medium sized packets of orange pollen on a few bees. Lots of ants coming and going into to empty top feeder, might have to do something about that. Feeders so many choices, yet not found the ideal one yet.

The birds are visiting the feeders and suet, most of the usual suspects have stopped by.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bank mail do send it back!

I'm sure most of you get unwanted junk mail every day like we do. A day without junk mail is far and few between around here!

The worst offenders are the banks sending credit card applications and promotions. Seems criminal when we deposit money in the bank and we are lucky to get .05% on our money! Yet the credit card offers from Citibank alone had interest rates from 11.9% to 18.9% depending on which one you looked at.

Here is the bank mail we received in the past two weeks! Meg's ex even got one, though he has never lived here, he gets at least one a month. 10 of these were from the fine folks at Citibank.

So you know they all come with self addressed prepaid envelopes inside. The postage is only paid when the envelopes are sent back to the sender. Did you know hard mail costs a lot more than regular mail? I've a friend that told me he had friends that used to tape bricks to the envelopes and send them back. My shed is full of scrap wood. I found some 3/8 inch cuts from 2 inch lumber so I trimmed them down to fit neatly inside the envelopes, two to each envelope.

Here is the 14 envelopes I sent back today, 10 were to Citibank. Note in the photo below "Thanks - we're looking forward to your reply"

Going to make this an regular event sending these back. We have never requested any of this mail. Think of the millions of these they send out everyday, most of them returning either empty, stuffed with junk mail or blocks of scrap wood. Maybe they might end up selling kindling someday. OCCUPY their mail rooms!

Oh guess what, after mailing these today I came home and found another Citibank letter in our mailbox.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Coldframe harvesting now!

On Wednesday we started eating greens from our cold frames. BTW Meg's second grade class is building their own cold frames at her school this Wednesday.

Thought I'd give you a tour.

Here is my newer design, I combined two cold frames into one. You can see the frame at ground level is made of 10 year old reclaimed 2 x 6s from a deck I removed this past spring. These cold frames are both 6 ft x 10 ft.  I took the left over scraps and made 2 x3s out of them and attached the 2 x 3s to the 2 x 6s with 2 - 3 inch decking screws.

Once the 2 x 3s were attached I attached the 3/4 inch conduit straps on the inside of the cold frame and placed a drywall screw to stop the 1/2 inch PVC pipe from falling down. By attaching these straps up higher like this we get more head room inside the cold frame to climb in and harvest. The 1/2 inch PVC are 10 foot lengths and span 6 foot across as you see. 

 Inside of the most recently(three weeks ago) planted cold frame. On the left that is Arugula, behind it spinach, more lettuce mix and at the left back more Rainbow Carrots. On the right side we have Lacinato Kale, Mesclun Lettuce mix, more carrots and Swiss Chard. This is the first time we have had two patches of Swiss Chard which we both enjoy greatly.

 Here is what we have started eating. This is the Gourmet Lettuce Mix planted in the first cold frame, behind it is kale. Bad news about this frame Meg planted Larkspur in this spot earlier this year, it is all those weeds you see.
 Here is our Rainbow Carrots they are doing pretty good, each cold frame has carrots in it. Freshly harvested carrots are one of my favorite things in the garden.
Salad mix with lots of Mizuna in it, we are eating this. I love mizuna. This is Meg's planting in the second cold frame. Note she casts seeds everywhere and we harvest like crazy, forget those stupid rows in your cold frame, this is how to do it believe me.

Other news about the garden. 

Yesterday I set out the bird seed and 3 suet cakes for the birds. No bird visitors seen yet. 

The bees I fed them 4 pounds of sugar yesterday, guess there are still a lot of them. As the sugar syrup was gone in less than 24 hours. Some bees got in, my mistake, downed maybe 10 bees rescued perhaps 20. Today it reached into the 70s for a brief period, I did see bees carrying pollen, just a handful.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Enough of this Bull!

Found this cool video today thought I would share it.

The Wall Street bull was sort of successfully attacked today by two clowns and a neophyte matador trying to "bring down this behemoth, world-famous for charging towards profit while trampling underfoot the average worker"; said the matador, "Come what may, I knew I must try." The matador emerged triumphant, but police arrested the clowns; watch them wrestle one - a clown, right? - to the ground. ¡Un esc├índalo! Video with fabulous soundtrack

FYI those New York Policemen are likely on Wall Street's payroll. They hire policemen for $45 an hour, most of that goes to the officers and 15% goes to the NYPD. While working for Wall Street they can arrest anyone they want to, unlike  normal bank security officers.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

GMO food labeling

Most of you already know Meg and I like fresh local organic food. This is why we grow our own veggies. Here is a speech by Vandana Shiva you might be interested in.

My back is better now, thanks to those who have asked about it.

I visited Occupy Chapel Hill yesterday, not much going on, no police presence what so ever. Here is an interview on Charlie Rose that helps explain the Occupy movement. Did talk with a few folks and gave a jobless guy a ride home and bought him some food for his family. My new friend is starting a job on Monday..

The garden is covering with leaves, the acorns have slowed down. The cold frames are doing great, we'll be eating greens in a few weeks I'm sure. Today I'm spreading mulch in the shade garden trail. Both the new camellias are blooming nicely and a few cyclamen are still blooming

The bees I saw some pollen coming in today, the temps are barely warm enough for them to be flying! I opened the top to the hive it was pretty quiet, two of the super frames still have capped honey. I peeped down through the frames and saw many bees  in the second brood box. I did not want to disturb them.