February 28, 2015

Saturday Gardening Thread: This Winter Is For The Birds [Y-not, KT, & Weirddave]
— Open Blogger

Good afternoon, gardening morons and moronettes!

SpringBirds.jpg

Today's thread is brought to you by Josh Groban's February Song:

Without further ado, let's see what KT has in store for us this week:

Chilling Out

My, it has been cold and stormy in parts of the East. Makes me think about retreating indoors for some low-stress activities - just out of sympathy.

After some unseasonably warm weather here, it turned seasonably cool and foggy late last week, then rained. We have had a little frost, too, so I am glad I had my tomato seedlings indoors at night. Some of the potato-leaved plants got a little lacerated in the rain. The leaves were probably a little tender from being indoors part time. Incidentally, I think potato-leaved tomato plants look something like bean seedlings at first. Front and center, below:

potato leaved seedlings 400 x 300.jpg

There was nothing here like the weather back east. I thought it might be nice for Morons to the north and east of me to have some garden topics they could browse through without thinking too deeply about what is outside their doors.

Florist's Cineraria - A low-stress gift plant

cineraria.jpg

Florist's Cineraria

I have a compulsion to attempt to plant out the gift plants I get, or to try to keep them alive indoors. If you know a gardener who is the same way, how about taking the stress off during this wintry weather by giving a plant which no one expects people to keep alive? Even if you are giving yourself a gift, one without long-term expectations can be nice.

Florist's Cineraria is also pretty low-stress where it is adapted outdoors, especially in the San Francisco Bay fog belt. It goes feral around abandoned homes there. It may also survive in gardens near the beach in more southerly parts of California. It may not look much like it came from a florist under these conditions, though.

If you live in one of these favored locations, cut the plant back after it blooms. If it decides to stay in your garden, it will grow over the winter to bloom again in spring. The rest of us can just toss the plants out or compost them after they bloom, like cut flowers.

Florist's Cineraria was first developed in the British royal gardens by crossing two species of flowers from the Canary Islands. It was originally known as Cineraria x hybrida. It is now known as Senecio x hybridus, S. cruentus or Pericallis x hybrida, depending on your reference.

I particularly love the blue, purple and magenta flowers. They can be found with either dark or light eyes. Pretty sophisticated for daisies. I think the saturated colors of many specimens are at their best in natural light, like outside, in the shade.

cineraria-4.jpg

Don't Eat the Daisies

But indoors in low light also works.

cineraria-1.jpg

Cheery, no?

Songbird Retreats in the Garden

One feature Mr. and Mrs. JTB would like include in their future garden is plants which birds would find useful for cover and, I am guessing, for food. No need to make any decisions now, but Birds and Blooms Magazine is right down the alley of gardeners who want to attract birds. It also includes information and photos on garden designs made with hummingbirds and butterflies in mind. But more on the latter in future episodes. Too cold for them in Virginia, recently. Songbirds would probably appreciate some food and cover in this chilly weather.

The Sunset Western Garden Book includes lists of plants that attract birds for nectar (orioles and hummingbirds) or for berries and seeds. It also includes details concerning where the plants are likely to thrive. I am not aware of an equivalent for the Eastern USA. You could probably find some good, fairly local information on the web if you looked around, though.

You can look up information on the habits of specific species of birds in Field Guides or online, where bird song samples may be available.

ChickadeePicture.jpg

Black-capped Chickadee

Some people need to chill out about their garden plans

I enjoyed our somewhat technical discussion of yard and garden planning last week. It is tempting to dream big during the winter. But maybe a more relaxed attitude would serve some of us well. A garden designer at the Garden Rant group blog has decided that the industry has gone too far in trying to make the outside of our houses seem like the inside of a house:

My heart is wanting the garden that is simple -- that has a place to sit, a place to eat with my friends, a place for me to settle in and enjoy a book. No chandelier, no throw over my lap in case of a chill -- let the chill come. I want to go outside and feel outside.

chandelier2.jpg

Can we reserve the garden chandeliers for weddings, etc.?

But maybe some other people are a little TOO chilled out

Also at Garden Rant, Messy Gardens - They're a Trend. Finally, a trend catches up with me! Though in my case, "messy" is not quite this deliberate, or expensive:

The songbird native planting area of Sing! by Mariposa Gardening and Design, a Berkeley design firm, was reminiscent of many Berkeley front yards: purposefully unmanaged (or at least, the aesthetic is to look unmanaged) flower fields.

georgiasfmessy475.jpg


Y-not: Thanks, KT!

As it turns out, KT's section about bird-friendly plantings gives me an excuse to share an experience we had a month or so ago involving our dog and our own backyard feeders. Our two year old collie, who is normally very healthy, had a bout of intestinal problems (both ends). She's prone to chewing on (and swallowing) things, so at first we just monitored her and made sure she was getting enough water etc. But after a few days she developed a fever, so we brought her into the vet who put her on a course of antibiotics. (She was better in a couple of days.)

As it turns out, we are 99% sure she had become infected with Salmonella. The source? Our bird feeders, more specifically the droppings below the seed socks. Our dog likes to eat snow and in the process of doing that she'd ingested a lot of the seed husks and, presumably, the bird droppings.

I'd never realized before that Salmonellosis could be a concern, but it is a common problem:

An outbreak of avian Salmonella or Mycoplasmosis can kill songbirds in the Bay Area. These diseases are spread from bird to bird primarily at bird feeders and bird baths. WildCare receives multiple calls about ill and dead songbirds in people's yards whenever there is an outbreak of bacterial disease. Our diagnoses are confirmed when lab test results from deceased patients show signs of Salmonella poisoning or when birds with tell-tale symptoms start arriving at the Wildlife Hospital.

The diseases Salmonellosis and Mycoplasmosis are common causes of disease and death in wild birds. Bird feeders bring large numbers of birds into close contact with each other, which means diseases can spread quickly through multiple populations. THe bacteria are primarily transmitted through contact with fecal matter, so birds at a crowded feeder are much more likely to be exposed than birds in a wild setting.

Here are a few things you can do as a preventative:

Bird feeders should be disinfected every two weeks regardless of disease outbreaks.

Bird baths should be emptied and cleaned daily regardless of disease outbreaks.

For feeders: Do not use wooden feeders (click for more information). Immerse feeders in bleach solution (9 parts water to 1 part bleach.) Soak 10 minutes, scrub, rinse thoroughly and allow to dry fully, ideally in the sun, before refilling (a dry feeder will deter mold growth on seeds).

For baths: You can make a 9:1 bleach solution in a jug to bring outside. Scrub with a hard brush, cover with board while soaking to prevent birds bathing in bleach, rinse very thoroughly, allow to dry before refilling.

For hummingbird feeders: NO BLEACH! Change food often. Clean and fill with only enough to last 1-2 days (sooner if gets cloudy/moldy). Use vinegar and water in a 9:1 solution (9 parts water to 1 part vinegar) and special bottle brushes to get into small holes. Rinse thoroughly!

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling feeders or baths.

In our case, the problem originated from "seed socks" (often called Niger Thistle or Nyger Seed) -- and a dog so dumb that she ate seed husks.

SeedSockBirds.jpg

Here's a little more about this type of bird seed:

NIGER SEED IS NOT THISTLE SEED (AND OTHER CONFUSING THINGS ABOUT THE NAME)
Niger seed used to be called thistle, but it is not the noxious thistle weed we see growing on roadsides. It typically will not germinate under your feeders since the USDA requires that all niger seed imported to this country be heat-treated to sterilize the seed.

You can even grow your own. The flowers are very cheerY:

bf001a.jpg

There was even some research into its potential as a commercial crop in the U.S. and in Canada.

Here at Casa Y-not we have taken down our bird feeders. We'll probably go with a bird bath instead. Here's a DIY project that looks within my capabilities:

birdbath-fountain.jpg

Of course, as I predicted we had snow here last week, so I'll have to wait until Spring!


*Beep* Hi! You have reached Weirddave's gardening post. I'm sorry, but I can't get to the blog at the moment, if you leave your name, number and gardening question at the sound of the tone, I'll get back to you as soon as possible. *BOOP!*

We would like at announce a new feature for future gardening threads: Ask Weirddave. Post any questions in the comments today, and next week I'll pick the best ones and answer them, Ann Landers style. You may get serious advice. You may get insanity. Hopefully we can have fun with it.


Y-not: To wrap things up, moronette Jane D'oh has been watching the Great Horned Owls Cam that the Cornell Lab for Ornithology maintains. Here's a neat video of one of these amazing birds singing his territorial song at dusk:

Owl-y bonus: a Great Horned Owl swims in Lake Michigan after being attacked by falcons. Wow.


What's happening in your gardens this week?

Posted by: Open Blogger at 08:15 AM | Comments (117)
Post contains 1732 words, total size 14 kb.

1 Been a pretty mild winter here in the Seattle area. My hummingbird is in back. He has taken to sitting on the top branch of my maple tree and I think he's pissed that the feeder isn't out yet. Must be a progressive.

Posted by: Diogenes at February 28, 2015 08:24 AM (08Znv)

2 Still waiting for rain in the south bay area - it's threatening but will probably be mostly sunny and in the low 60's. They can hardly wait to start rationing us.

Our flowers go all year long, so our hummers always have something to eat. Wife refuses to give them handouts - they've gotta work for their food.

And I think it's Josh GroBan...

Posted by: Clutch Carg at February 28, 2015 08:27 AM (sH832)

3 >>And I think it's Josh GroBan... Thanks, Clutch!

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 08:28 AM (9BRsg)

4 It's been brutally cold here - even indoors; the house is over 100 years old - but we've been able to coax a few pots of cat grass along with no direct sunlight and only a western exposure. 2 out of our 3 kittehs absolutely love it and although they're usually non-verbal they both avidly beg for it whenever someone passes near the shelf it grows on.

That's all we have started. Life, death, plumbing, electrical, chimney fires, and sub-zero temps have kept us from starting the early plants this year. I guess we'll be spending some money at the greenhouse.

Posted by: Xavier at February 28, 2015 08:34 AM (sTWPi)

5 That salmonella thing sounds awful. 

I looked up the scientific name of "Niger Thistle".  Guizotia abyssinica.  Never heard of it before.  Comes from Ethiopia.  People eat the seeds in Southern India. 

I guess "EarlyBird 50" is the cultivar you want to grow as a crop. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 08:40 AM (qahv/)

6 I'm right in the middle of spending about $600 for seeds, hydroponic nutrients, net pots, perlite and various other garden starting materials. I have several hundred starts of various veggies sitting in my start room, starting more each week.

now

If this damned global warming would get going so I can put it all outside.

Posted by: traye at February 28, 2015 08:41 AM (DBybm)

7 >>I guess "EarlyBird 50" is the cultivar you want to grow as a crop. KT bringing the knowledge! :-)

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 08:42 AM (9BRsg)

8 Xavier, Sounds like you are going through a rough patch. Sorry to hear that. Only thing I have growing indoors right now is one of those "mushroom boxes" that Santa brought. Oyster mushrooms starting to appear. Sadly, I've been so out of it lately that I may have killed it. I was spritzing it with water every day (per the instructions), but accidentally spritzed it with "Resolve" fabric treatment instead of water! I rinsed the thing off as fast as I could, but I dunno if it'll survive.

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 08:44 AM (9BRsg)

9 >>> What's happening in your gardens this week? I was going to trim the hydrangeas in early April, but I have to get back there to get snow away from the foundation. A few stalks might get hacked by a shovel.

Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 08:46 AM (Ua6T/)

10 If anybody wants some help choosing a landscape tree or shrub and wants to send me their zip code via a Twitter message, I'll follow WeirdDave's example and address the topic in a future post.  Won't disclose your zip code. 

KT@KTbarthedoor

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 08:46 AM (qahv/)

11 I'm trying to plant my red potatoes today. I've turned one bed but I'm oddly unmotivated.

Posted by: toby928(C) at February 28, 2015 08:47 AM (rwI+c)

12 Wow, Traye. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 08:49 AM (qahv/)

13 One of the most cryptic entries in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:
"In this year there was the great death of birds."

That's it. For the year.

Posted by: [/i][/b]Stringer Davis at February 28, 2015 08:50 AM (xq1UY)

14 Those Cineria flowers are so pretty. Nothing blooming here yet, but my roses are starting to green up. I really need to get in there and clean out those beds.

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 08:50 AM (9BRsg)

15 "That's all we have started. Life, death, plumbing, electrical, chimney fires, and sub-zero temps have kept us from starting the early plants this year. I guess we'll be spending some money at the greenhouse." That might be the only upside to this winter. My wife likes going to nurseries in the spring. My new hobby, shoveling snow, is making me fit. Putting in shrubs will keep me strong.

Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 08:50 AM (Ua6T/)

16 "I was going to trim the hydrangeas in early April" Is that a euphemism?

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 08:51 AM (9BRsg)

17 Xavier, I've got seed for cat grass that includes two kinds - one is variegated.  Same as yours? 

I've been thinking about starting some for the dogs, too.  Those horrible foxtails are starting to form heads, and we need to clear out a lot of wild grasses. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 08:51 AM (qahv/)

18 bird feeders....

heh: i have 47 (yes, you read that right) hummingbird feeders in the back yard.

we get a few birds. each 8 ounce feeder goes dry in 2 days or less, and that's filled with hummingbird crack, not the 4:1 water sugar mix they tell you to use.

Crack recipe:
10#s sugar
10 cups water
bring to a boil then let cool.
decant syrup into 4 1/2 gallon bottles, each containing 2 2/3rds cup of water.

close bottle and agitate to mix solution to final concentration.
each bottle will fill ~7.5 feeders, since they actually hold a bit more than 8 ounces each.

a 50# bag of sugar lasts 7-10 days, strictly for bird food. yes we have a few hummers, and yes, we feed year round.

this is SoCal, after all.

Posted by: redc1c4 at February 28, 2015 08:53 AM (lsWof)

19 Oddly enough, I have been attacked by falcons. It is no fun, man.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 08:56 AM (POPOp)

20 For those of you who do not have enough reason to hate me, it is about 60 outside right now, sunny and perfectly clear, and I can't prune dad's pears anymore because the flowers are breaking bud. 
Now just pray for no hard freezes from now on in Western Oregon, and we should have pears this year.


Posted by: Kindltot at February 28, 2015 08:58 AM (t//F+)

21 >>> Is that a euphemism? I don't manscape, thank you very much.

Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 09:00 AM (Ua6T/)

22 Fluffy, feeling for you there, with the ice and drainage issues. I have a one-day extreme thaw coming soon, and am having to consider chewing up a ten-foot-high glaciated snow pile (of my own creation) to avoid having a foot-thick ice base when it goes back below zero the very next day. It's all about the water, as Thales said. Or maybe "everything's wet," depending on translation.

One of my gardens has an interesting problem. It's a swale, on purpose for onions. Great soil in the actual garden, but an interesting mixture of types between there and where spring-flood water can go. When the frost is deep, I get an ice-rink next to the garden that lingers throughout the spring. Delays planting, kills the grass, and until we figured out the civil engineering issues, got blamed for water in the basement of one of our buildings.

I sure don't want to have a permanent ditch through that whole garden/lawn/woods complex, and I'm also not looking forward to trenching a drain tube, since it crosses several soils, close by mature tree roots, under a fence and a brick pave. Seriously considering a pretty darn deep "swale drain." But if this global warming trend continues, it could freeze solid ten feet down, too...  

Posted by: [/i][/b]Stringer Davis at February 28, 2015 09:01 AM (xq1UY)

23 >>> I have been attacked by falcons. It is no fun, man. Worse than fucking monkeys, are they?

Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 09:04 AM (Ua6T/)

24 >>> I have been attacked by falcons. It is no fun, man. ---- Worse than fucking monkeys, are they? --- Pretty sure Garrett efts bears, not monkeys. I keed, I keed!

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 09:05 AM (9BRsg)

25 EFFS not EFTS Stoooopid autocorrect.

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 09:06 AM (9BRsg)

26 Trying aos on my new blackberry

Posted by: The Jackhole at February 28, 2015 09:06 AM (qpPn/)

27 Succes

Posted by: The Jackhole at February 28, 2015 09:07 AM (qpPn/)

28 Y-not, do you ever see efts in the woods?

Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 09:07 AM (Ua6T/)

29 Here in the Great Lakes region we are frozen solid. The thermometer read 2 F this morning. The Great Lakes themselves are just about frozen over. A few winters like this with a few more cold summers like last summer, and we could have our own flyover country ice age attraction.

Posted by: Boots at February 28, 2015 09:08 AM (l9mF2)

30 Fcuking Falcons

Posted by: The Jackhole at February 28, 2015 09:09 AM (qpPn/)

31 I've heard that of all the raptor birds that swoop down on you silently, the great horned owl is the quietest. I watched an eagle grab a swimming mink out of the AuSable one time, and the wings flapping once laden was pretty damn impressive. About knocked me out of the canoe. I followed that guy for half an hour.

Now here were some inspired gardeners: during the Mormon migration, much of which was by handcart, "ranchos" were established to provide fresh vegetables to the travelers. At several spots in Wyoming, a foot down under what looks like parched desert, there is solid frost in the middle of the summer. They harvested that.

Prolly some 'ette or another lives right on top of one of those. Report, please.

Posted by: [/i][/b]Stringer Davis at February 28, 2015 09:11 AM (xq1UY)

32 redc1c4 at February 28, 2015 01:53 PM

That's A LOT of hummingbird feeders.  On the Hummingbird Crack:  any truth to the statement that too concentrated a sugar solution can cause liver damage in hummers? 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 09:13 AM (qahv/)

33 The Great Lakes themselves are just about frozen over. A few winters like this with a few more cold summers like last summer, and we could have our own flyover country ice age attraction. Posted by: Boots at February 28, 2015 02:08 PM (l9mF2) --- Mastodons -- Official state fossil of Michigan. I keep hoping some mad community college scientist will find a way to clone them and bring back roaming herds of the lumbering shaggy beasts. Immanentize the Ice Age!

Posted by: All Hail Eris at February 28, 2015 09:14 AM (KH1sk)

34 Kindltot, why  can't you prune your Dad's pear trees after the buds break? 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 09:15 AM (qahv/)

35 There is no longer any scientific doubt (!) that Neanderthal women hunted mastodons. So you have that to look forward to.

The giant sloth almost certainly co-existed with Cro-Magnons in Ohio. Some days at the grocery store, you'd swear they never even went away.

And like any Ohio sportsman, let me be the first to say that Giant Sloth are good eatin' if you fix 'em right.

Posted by: [/i][/b]Stringer Davis at February 28, 2015 09:18 AM (xq1UY)

36 Soothie is the monkey fucker. And i may look like a bear, but I am all lipstick. Serious, though. We have no natural defense against raptors. Less a shotgun, they are a real problem once ou piss them off. And apparently it doesn't take much to piss them off when they have a nest full of fledglings nearby.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 09:19 AM (POPOp)

37 Haven't seen an eft in the wild for ages, but in college I did some experiments on newt limb regeneration. Had to do operations on 105 newts over the course of a semester. If The Almighty is a newt (or salamander), I'm boned.

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 09:19 AM (9BRsg)

38 I got better!

Posted by: Some Newt at February 28, 2015 09:21 AM (lbgjb)

39 I regret that I've never had an owl living near me (that I know of). Only seen a few in the wild and none of them close up.

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 09:23 AM (9BRsg)

40 We have lots of owls around. They are very cool birds.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 09:25 AM (POPOp)

41 OT: Our long national nightmare is over. Boehner promises a clean bill next week.

Posted by: The Great White Snark at February 28, 2015 09:25 AM (LImiJ)

42 We had a pair of Great Horned Owls hanging around for a couple years. Haven't seen them lately. Also had a mother and four young Great Horned Owls hanging around last fall. The young'uns had just learned to fly. Great fun to watch.

Posted by: Ronster at February 28, 2015 09:30 AM (ymjdW)

43 >>> And apparently it doesn't take much to piss them off when they have a nest full of fledglings nearby. I got strafed once by a small raptor on a peak I shall not name. When I went back a few years later, there was a very annoyed bird flying around and shrieking. I left before I wanted to because I assumed they were worried about a nest.

Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 09:34 AM (Ua6T/)

44 I once rescued some sort of medium-large owl that was being harassed by crows that wanted it to leave a palm tree.  It was totally disoriented in the daylight. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 09:34 AM (qahv/)

45 Cinerarias seem to hit the big box store here about Valentin's Day, when the temps are likely to be 40 to 60 degrees.   They probably arrive later in other parts of the country.  Of course, florists will be able to get them at other times. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 09:37 AM (qahv/)

46 Stay out of the water, Y-not https://twitter.com/fluffyaoshq/status/498290351502012417

Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 09:37 AM (Ua6T/)

47 How many bags of llime do you need to decompose a 200lb animal buried in a garden. Asking for a friend.

Posted by: anonymous at February 28, 2015 09:39 AM (glJL/)

48 How many bags of llime do you need to decompose a 200lb animal buried in a garden. Asking for a friend. Posted by: anonymous at February 28, 2015 02:39 PM (glJL/) --- Make sure to pull out the animal's teeth first. Save the fillings, natch.

Posted by: All Hail Eris at February 28, 2015 09:40 AM (KH1sk)

49 I got strafed once by a small raptor on a peak I shall not name. When I went back a few years later, there was a very annoyed bird flying around and shrieking. I left before I wanted to because I assumed they were worried about a nest. Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 02:34 PM (Ua6T/) --- I immediately thought "velociraptor" and "Mons Veneris". I'm not the only one, right? Right?

Posted by: All Hail Eris at February 28, 2015 09:42 AM (KH1sk)

50 The best bird story I have.  Trout fishing on the Snake river in Idaho.  Have fish on, bringing him in and a Osprey swoops down and grabs my fish out of the water.  Then flies back to show me the fish.



I thought this was random, till an hour later the same bird grabbed another fisherman's fish.



Obviously the birds knew an easy way to "catch" fish.

Posted by: Nip Sip at February 28, 2015 09:46 AM (0FSuD)

51 How about a Make Up Tips for the moron horde. http://tinyurl.com/mro775q

Posted by: RWC - Team BOHICA at February 28, 2015 09:47 AM (HKu0W)

52 The Osprey will do that shit to you. There are a few eagles around here that you can feed trash fish to if you know where they hang out. Just anchor up above their favorite perch and toss a dead Squaw into the seam and watch the show.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 09:50 AM (POPOp)

53 Squaw fish = Western Pike Minnow.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 09:51 AM (POPOp)

54 I watched a true life crime show a while back. Author Michael Peterson, who is a lying jerk FYI, was charged with and convicted of murdering his wife by staging her fall down the stairs. A subsequent investigation revealed owl feathers in her hair near some lacerations. There was, in fact, a crazy owl in the neighborhood who had attacked people. He has won a new trial on the theory that the victim was attacked by an owl, became disoriented, went into the house and fell down the stairs to her death. We'll see what a jury believes. Plus an owl tore the hell out of my sister's cat. Owls: sociopathic lone waves of the sky.

Posted by: The Great White Snark at February 28, 2015 09:52 AM (LImiJ)

55 "Lone wolves"

Posted by: The Great White Snark at February 28, 2015 09:53 AM (LImiJ)

56 We're taking a long term approach to attracting butterflies, humming birds and bees, several years probably. Between what we learn here and from our local Extension Service people we don't lack for ideas. Fortunately, we have a good sized wisteria in the middle of the yard which attracts bees and humming birds. It is thickly grown for shelter for song birds as well. (I think it would stop a battle tank.) Last summer I was able to approach a humming bird feeding there. This little flying jewel was just inches from my hand. It was an extraordinary experience. So I'm adding a humming bird feeder this year in hopes of attracting more. They also appreciate the line of rose of Sharon along our fence. And we discovered that a few borage plants will keep the bees swarming and happy. Now to establish a few butterfly bushes.

Posted by: JTB at February 28, 2015 09:55 AM (FvdPb)

57  @KT

I received a Chia pet cat grass planter for Christmas. It doesn't take the shape of a cat, as you might expect, but it came up quickly and was solid green. That quickly got chewed down to the nub and apparently it doesn't grow back once it's chewed off.

We ordered several packets of seed from Jung to replant, and it's just getting to the point of being edible, about 4". Oddly, about 1/3 of this batch has no color - it's almost translucent. Maybe the lack of direct sun is the cause. Anyway, where did you get the variegated cat grass? I'd be interested in getting some. We plan to let some seed out this summer and hopefully we'll have enough seed to last the winter - the cats are crazy for it.

Posted by: Xavier at February 28, 2015 09:56 AM (sTWPi)

58 Teensy li'l sparrows will gang up on a hawk and give him a hell of a time. Last year I was having a lot of "murder of crows" visits, to just about the point where I was strategizing, since the corn was up. A couple of red hawks moved into the neighborhood for a few days, and the crows skedaddled. I was all for this. Now if I could get them to try the squirrel...

One year a hawk decided the armored bed of my military dump truck would be a great nesting site. My fault for leaving the bed up. I felt bad about it, but had to go whoa-bitch on that one. Compact-looking birds, at rest, but I'd bet the wingspan was over 5 feet.

Once you have a permanent population of eagles, they are a major pain in the ass. Not at my place (yet?), but an old scouting friend right on the big lake has them in his neighborhood, and no small dogs, to speak of.

Posted by: [/i][/b]Stringer Davis at February 28, 2015 09:57 AM (xq1UY)

59 OK, O/T after watching that Drunk make up video, did you notice there were about 10 more like it?


What to women do all day, make you tube videos to get "discovered"

Posted by: Nip Sip at February 28, 2015 09:58 AM (0FSuD)

60 I went back to last week's gardening post and read Weirdo Dave's part about his new vacuum sealer. I tried mine out last night for the first time. I made a mistake by buying too small bags. 6x10 bags are too damn small to be useful for anything, so let that be a lesson for all.

Posted by: Soothsayer is S.I.G. at February 28, 2015 10:01 AM (hbvPW)

61 My bird story isn't exactly mine, but I'll share it anyway. My stepfather was walking through the yard with a baseball cap on when something hit him in the back of the head. It knocked his cap off and it was then he saw the redtail hawk, which was the culprit, snag a chipmunk (we call 'em grinnies or ground squirrels) out of the yard. He'd been directly in the glide path and the hawk was so focused on his prey that a little old thing like a human head wasn't going to stop him.

Posted by: Xavier at February 28, 2015 10:03 AM (sTWPi)

62 @60 Hell, no, you'd never cram that in the cram-hole.
(Put the instructions in Basic English, and men will remember them!)

Posted by: [/i][/b]Stringer Davis at February 28, 2015 10:03 AM (xq1UY)

63 P. S. on the Michael Peterson trial: one of the two prosecutors on the case was Mike Nifong and if you can't trust Mike Nifong . . .

Posted by: The Great White Snark at February 28, 2015 10:05 AM (LImiJ)

64 Also, when vacuum sealing cooked meat that you just cooked, the main problem you'll run into is the juices from the meat. The vacuum sucks up all the juices which can prevent a good seal and the moisture is not good for the unit. To remedy this, some use a paper towel to absorb the juices, but still...

Posted by: Soothsayer is S.I.G. at February 28, 2015 10:05 AM (hbvPW)

65 >>> Now to establish a few butterfly bushes. We have one near our bird feeder station. It's a nice compliment. We get hummers and hawk moths and the songbirds have a sheltered spot near the feeders.

Posted by: fluffy at February 28, 2015 10:06 AM (Ua6T/)

66 6x10 can be used for sauces and other liquids. If you have to, seal the long end empty and cut the short end. Then you can stand it up in a glass to fill.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 10:08 AM (POPOp)

67 Kindltot, why can't you prune your Dad's pear trees after the buds break?

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 02:15 PM (qahv/)


I tried it once.  IF you prune off all the flowers you don't get any pears. 

It was like the year that I discovered that my Concords grow grapes on year-old wood.

(Sorry, taking advantage of this lovely weather to dig the weeds out of the strawberry patch and put down an inch of old compost.  Better than Xanax)

Posted by: Kindltot at February 28, 2015 10:09 AM (t//F+)

68 >>65 >>> Now to establish a few butterfly bushes. Always a tasteful topiary design.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 10:09 AM (POPOp)

69 Then you can stand it up in a glass to fill. Clever.

Posted by: Soothsayer is S.I.G. at February 28, 2015 10:11 AM (hbvPW)

70 He'd been directly in the glide path and the hawk was so focused on his prey that a little old thing like a human head wasn't going to stop him. - When combat pilots do that it's called target fixation.

Posted by: The Great White Snark at February 28, 2015 10:14 AM (LImiJ)

71 Thanks to Jane d'oh for the link to the owl cam. I check it at least a couple of times a day. I think owls look interesting and the way the early morning sunlight turns the feathers to a deep golden hue is gorgeous. We have owls in the neighborhood but rarely see them. They must be effective hunters because we see very few mice or moles in the area. Once or twice a year we hear a loud 'thunk' against a window. It is usually a sparrow or finch trying to escape a red tailed hawk that likes our neighborhood. But during nesting season I've seen a bunch of these little birds gang up to chase away jays, crows and hawks.

Posted by: JTB at February 28, 2015 10:14 AM (FvdPb)

72 I tried vacuum sealing beef and brine so I could make my own corned beef. 

The vacuum sealer sucks the brine out.

So I vacuum sealed meat, salt, sugar, spices and ICE.

Phase transition FTW!

Posted by: Kindltot at February 28, 2015 10:16 AM (t//F+)

73 My Vac-seal Fu is strong. Makes game processing a breeze.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 10:17 AM (POPOp)

74 Kindltot,

I don't think pears make blossoms on brand-new growth.  You can prune to shape your trees, since you know where the blossoms are.  Just don't prune them off.  You might want to wait until fireblight season is over, though. 

If you prune deciduous fruit trees when dormant, you stimulate growth only at the places you cut.  If you prune during active growth, you won't get a burst of new branches at every cut. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 10:19 AM (qahv/)

75 So I vacuum sealed meat, salt, sugar, spices and ICE. Phase transition FTW! Clever.

Posted by: toby928(C) at February 28, 2015 10:22 AM (rwI+c)

76 I have some studying to do, then.  I am planning on putting in some apples so I need to figure out what I am doing. 

Posted by: Kindltot at February 28, 2015 10:23 AM (t//F+)

77 You can minimize issues with liquid loss by elevating the sealer . I put mine on a 4-5" slab of old butcher block to get it well above the bag. Previously I used the edge of the counter and would let the bag hang over the edge a bit.

Posted by: Garrett at February 28, 2015 10:24 AM (POPOp)

78 Le Nood with CBD

Posted by: JustTim at February 28, 2015 10:26 AM (xD5h5)

79 Just came in from filling the bird feeders and noticed that a few daffodil shoots are starting to show where the snow and ice have melted. I'm surprised as our temps around here have been much lower than normal. Maybe it's more about the amount of daylight? At least we haven't had the unusual amount of snow like the last two years. Spring is just 3 weeks away!!

Posted by: JTB at February 28, 2015 10:28 AM (FvdPb)

80 Xavier, I got mine from a commercial catalog which you probably don't want to bother with - Twilley's.  They don't have an online catalog. 

Park sells the shorter variegated one.  I think they used to sell the mixture to two kinds.  I like that they include the scientific name.  I think several different species are called "cat grass". 

http://parkseed.com/cat-grass/p/51091-PK-P1/

Botanical Interest's cat grass is Oats.   Some people sell wheatgrass for cats.   It's sold on Amazon. 

Here's a "non-puking" formula containing wheat, oats, rye, barley and flax - which is not grass, of course. 

http://sproutpeople.org/cat-grass 



 


Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 10:33 AM (qahv/)

81 I think I found the perfect woman. This adorable lady is everything I've ever wanted in a wife. I want her. I call her Happy Fun. Watch her videos; she has great ideas for meal prepping. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk-X91WnKks

Posted by: Soothsayer is S.I.G. at February 28, 2015 10:34 AM (hbvPW)

82 I have a question for WeirdDave:

Can you educate us about flowering cherries?  Sweet cherries probably aren't real big commercial crops in your area.  Any wild cherries around where you live?   Do people eat them?

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 10:36 AM (qahv/)

83 Sorry about the garbled comment on cat grass.  Don't know what happened to my mind there. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 10:38 AM (qahv/)

84 Wow, I must be getting old...and odd. Her most attractive feature, to me, is her organizational skills.

Posted by: Soothsayer is S.I.G. at February 28, 2015 10:39 AM (hbvPW)

85 Remember to pay attention to rootstocks, Kindletot.  Especially with apples. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 10:39 AM (qahv/)

86 Cold wet and miserable here in Texas. No gardening today so I guess I have run out of excuses to clean the house. We are still picking kale, collards, lettuce and lots of spinach-too much spinach. We planted peas in November and they are just starting to give us baby snow peas and sugar snaps.

Posted by: dreadpirateroberta at February 28, 2015 10:50 AM (eB2N0)

87 I live in a flood basin, and the whole creek system is full of red-shouldered hawks and barred owls. A pair of red-shouldereds used to nest nearby and used one of our trees for their numerous marital relations sessions, so that was interesting to watch. Have you all ever heard barred owls when they get to barking back and forth to each other? They sound like flying monkeys on meth. It's creepy until you realize what it is. I think it's a pair bonding activity too. They also have a weird screech that will get your attention when you're not expecting it. Since a couple of years ago there's also a pair of caracara in the basin. That's unusual because that's mostly a border area bird, or used to be.

Posted by: stace at February 28, 2015 10:52 AM (ImzkZ)

88 Come to think of it, we have always had trouble with mold in the hummer feeders and I try to stay diligent about cleaning them. The honeybees seem to like the nectar in the feeders and I always wondered if the mold would harm them. I would hate to think that I was responsible for any of the bee "die-off". Say is that a question for next week? About the mold I mean.

Posted by: dreadpirateroberta at February 28, 2015 10:57 AM (eB2N0)

89 Come to think of it, we have always had trouble with mold in the hummer feeders and I try to stay diligent about cleaning them. --- I've always been reluctant to do hummingbird feeders for this reason. I don't have confidence in my ability to keep them clean.

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 11:01 AM (9BRsg)

90 Posted by: dreadpirateroberta at February 28, 2015 03:50 PM (eB2N0) It is just raw out there, isn't it? And I caught the flu this week, after getting through the whole winter without any colds or cedar attacks. I hope they get a better flu shot next winter. This one was a big FAIL.

Posted by: stace at February 28, 2015 11:04 AM (ImzkZ)

91 We have various ornamentals to attract butterflies and bees but in the garden I let a row of kale and a row of broccoli flower and go to maturity. The small yellow flowers on both attract bees and butterflies better than anything else I've seen and they bloom for a long time. We save the seeds for the next year's crop. Cheap and effective. 

Posted by: Xavier at February 28, 2015 11:05 AM (sTWPi)

92 87 I hear the owls screeching at night. We just moved to our ranch last summer. I also hear the other owls as well. The ones that screech are barred? The ones that whooo are horned? I have seen an owl in the tree, not sure what kind though

Posted by: CaliGirl at February 28, 2015 11:07 AM (BHl9S)

93 87 I heard weird screeching the other night. Sounds like bats but there aren't bats yet, it's too cold. I am trying to figure out what I am listening to. We also found a dead coyote in the bushes 10 feet from the back of house. My guys said it was enferma.

Posted by: CaliGirl at February 28, 2015 11:10 AM (BHl9S)

94 I've always been reluctant to do hummingbird feeders for this reason. I don't have confidence in my ability to keep them clean. Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 04:01 PM (9BRsg) For some reason I quit feeding the little darlin's, but I do grow flowering shrubs they like. When I used to put up a feeder, I swapped it out with a clean one every other day, and ran the dirty one in the dishwasher. I only used ones that were easy to access every surface for cleaning (ex: Aspects Hummzinger), out of paranoia of all the cooties that adore this hot humid climate. Heh--I wish I were that tidy about the rest of the household.

Posted by: stace at February 28, 2015 11:15 AM (ImzkZ)

95 >>Heh--I wish I were that tidy about the rest of the household. *fist bumps stace* I hear ya!

Posted by: Y-not at February 28, 2015 11:30 AM (9BRsg)

96 Hmmm! With all these cautions about mold, etc. in humming bird feeders I may skip them just go with plants. Even with the best of intentions I'm likely to forget cleaning the feeders for days at a time or longer.

Posted by: JTB at February 28, 2015 11:35 AM (FvdPb)

97 I only use the hummzinger feeder too. It's the easiest to keep clean. I change it out every other day in central/south Texas. I usually have two up on my back porch, it's like the fight club for hummingbirds, very entertaining. I also have several coral honeysuckle vines, tons of salvia and skullcap which they love. I put out the feeders as soon as I hear the first hummer. They come for the coral honeysuckle which has started to bloom already and will continue until late fall/early winter.

Posted by: lindafell in her own time zone at February 28, 2015 11:41 AM (LbPGR)

98 92,93 Cool that you live on the ranch now, even with the coyote enferma. Your screeching could some other kind of owl. Barred owls aren't found in CA, but I bet you have all kinds of other owls. I have the Ibird app, which is kind of pricy, but has a pretty good selection of calls for most birds. I just checked out the Cornell site Y-not linked in the post, and that seems to have an even better collection of sounds.

Posted by: stace at February 28, 2015 11:46 AM (ImzkZ)

99 Speaking of robins...someone came in to work today and said they saw a flock of robins in the trees and bushes by the library. There's some shelter there that must have attracted them. For crying out loud, it got down to -7 last night, I'm pretty sure spring isn't right around the corner.

Posted by: Farmer at February 28, 2015 11:50 AM (3hlFs)

100 More on the cat grass thing, Xavier: 

I guess the variegated one is a type of common barley.  One brand name is "Tabby".  If you don't care about variegation, you could probably just plant barley from the feed store.  http://www.rareseeds.com/variegated-cat-grass/

If your cats especially like the Chia Pet variety of cat grass, whatever it is, refills are available on Amazon or at Walgreens. 




Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 11:51 AM (qahv/)

101 Wow, Farmer, -7 degrees!

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 11:52 AM (qahv/)

102 Xavier, I have broccoli and turnips flowering now.  I'm eating some of the bolted broccoli buds.  They're sweeter than un-bolted broccoli.  Have a little different flavor.  The turnip buds and blossoms I don't like as well, but the bees like them. 

Unlike you, I don't plant broccoli from seed because of our hot summer climate, and I plant hybrid turnips, so I don't save seed of those, either.  I have saved kale seed, though.  Have one plant now that has not bolted.  Red Russian. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 11:56 AM (qahv/)

103 98 I will check that out. I am fascinated with the wildlife here. I always lived in town. I am loving it out here.

Posted by: CaliGirl at February 28, 2015 12:04 PM (BHl9S)

104 Hey, lindafell, are icy roads causing you any problems?

Posted by: stace at February 28, 2015 12:06 PM (ImzkZ)

105 just got back from the gun store... Woot!

we developed the high octane food out of self defense... it was the only way to fill feeders that would last at least a whole day. (same reason we have so many feeders: they were always empty)

even with the high concentration, and large numbers, they are all dry in two days if i skip a refill cycle.

since there are plenty of other food sources in the area, both the yard and generally, it is not the only food source for our air force. i see birds tank up, then fly over to flowers and feed there as well, and, since we've been feeding like this for years now, i believe we would have seen some sign that there was a problem.

hell, we get bumps in food usage every spring when everyone starts heading north for the summer, and similar, but less noticeable increases in the fall as well.

Posted by: redc1c4 at February 28, 2015 12:48 PM (jMMCO)

106 JTB,
Your wisteria could be a host to some little butterfly larvae, too.  Chinese wisteria is mentioned as a host for certain skippers, hairstreaks and blues.  Maybe a sulfur butterfly or two.  Not sure about that last one. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 12:50 PM (qahv/)

107 redc1c4 at February 28, 2015 05:48 PM"

"air force". 
Heh. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 12:53 PM (qahv/)

108 KT ... We do have some butterflies but I don't know what type. Something else to learn this year. They might well be using the wisteria but the growth is so dense when they would hatch I wouldn't be able to see them unless right on the outer leaves. I don't know much about them but the last few years we've seen some hummingbird moths. At first I thought they were dwarf birds. Fascinating creatures of all kinds a few feet from our back door.

Posted by: JTB at February 28, 2015 01:11 PM (FvdPb)

109 Kindltot,

Per the Sunset Western Garden Book, pears produce fruit on knobby "spurs" that remain fruitful for up to 5 years. 

Many apples also produce fruit on spurs.  There are some old cultivars from which strains which make a lot of fruiting spurs have been selected to increase productivity of the trees. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 01:13 PM (qahv/)

110 Some hummingbird moths make those big tomato/tobacco hornworms, JTB. 

Most of the caterpillars which are hosted by wisteria would be small ones.  I like the little hairstreaks and blues that flit around quickly.  We have some around here that favor some of the weeds that live on alkaline ground.  One hairstreak is an actual pest of food crops, though.  Might be true of some of the skippers, too. 

Skippers are not "regulation" butterflies.  Their wings are open, or partly open, at rest - sort of like a moth. 

Posted by: KT at February 28, 2015 01:18 PM (qahv/)

111 I can hear an owl whooing right now. It is only 3:30 PM. And it is not a dove I know what they sound like.

Posted by: CaliGirl at February 28, 2015 01:22 PM (BHl9S)

112 Too bloody cold in South Texas this weekend to do anything more than dream. The daughter-unit wanted to hit up a little resale shop she knows of in Spring Branch, so drove up and regretted it. 30 miles north from us, a torrential drizzle and ice forming on tree branches and forming beards of icicles along the bottoms of metal signs. Ugh. The middle of March is the beginning of the planting season here, as that is the historical time of the last possible frost. I have a bunch of seed potatoes, and a bag of gladiola bulbs stashed in expectation of that day. Until then, the sheets of plastic around the back porch which are the temporary greenhouse for the various tender potted plants remain in place. Home to have better weather for the gardening thread in two weeks ...

Posted by: Sgt Mom at February 28, 2015 02:10 PM (95iDF)

113 My red currant bushes arrive in 3 weeks. Gonna build a bidness afore we be done.

Posted by: butternut at February 28, 2015 02:13 PM (F6ceQ)

114 Posted by: redc1c4 at February 28, 2015 05:48 PM (jMMCO) That's an amazing operation you have! What are some of the species you get? I'm always jealous of places farther west that have swarms of hummingbirds.

Posted by: stace at February 28, 2015 03:02 PM (ImzkZ)

115 Stace, I don't know about the roads, I didn't leave the house today. I know that school events and my boys Cub Scout blue & gold banquet were cancelled this morning because of the weather. The neighborhood traffic seemed unusually light. We mainly get Ruby throated hummers and another type. I hate when they fly into the windows, most of the time the are only stunned and can fly away after a while if nothing gets to them. Last year I had to take one to a rescue place after it couldn't fly the next day.

Posted by: lindafell in her own time zone at February 28, 2015 03:53 PM (LbPGR)

116 Here's kind of a fun LaRue ad I just got in my email. http://tinyurl.com/qzfqn55 They drop the rifle out of airplane, and the guy on the ground assembles it, shoots down a little drone, then goes for some long range steel.

Posted by: stace at March 01, 2015 08:20 AM (ImzkZ)

117 Oops, wrong thread!

Posted by: stace at March 01, 2015 08:21 AM (ImzkZ)

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