Wednesday, March 30, 2011

be careful what you wish for

Three weeks of drought end with three days of rain.  We had two and a half inches on Monday, a lot of clouds and sprinkles Tuesday, and today we have ominous skies, gusty winds, swirling clouds, thunder, lightning, and more heavy rain.  The forecast tomorrow is for up to 70 mph gusts, thunder storms, and we have a tornado watch.  I guess I shouldn't have done that rain dance.

Most Native Floridians I know complain about this kind of extended rainy weather.  I adore it.  I can do without tornadoes and hail, though, thankyouverymuch.  This is good for the garden.  It was thirsty.

I have tomorrow and Friday off.  Tomorrow's forecast bodes well for a day of watching the extended version of Lord of the Rings and knitting like a maniac trying to finish the gift for my dear mother-in-law.  Dora Lee turns 80 on April 2nd.

Happy birthday, Mom.  Dora is an amazing woman who runs a drinking establishment in northwestern Florida.  She takes care of 2 dozen or more orphaned and abandoned cats.  My wish for Mom is for health and happiness for a very long time to come.  This is a very carefully thought out wish.

The little parachute vine is coming back from nearly freezing to death.
From Garden
The dogwood cutting that Carl and Gladys gave us is loaded with flowers.
From Garden
A white bird of paradise we bought as a baby plant 10 years ago has a big (!) flower bud on it.  I will post a picture when it opens.
From Garden

There are so many orchids blooming right now, I'm going to save those for another post.  If there was any suspense involved, we could call this a cliffhanger.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

garden zen

Spring in Florida is marked by rampant growth in our garden. Everything is popping up or in bud or coming back from what we thought was dead after several hard freezes this winter. The only thing we need now is rain. It has been dry for almost 3 weeks. Rain is due to move in sometime after midnight tonight and I am very happy about that. I miss the sound of it.

Wayne and I have had the urge to change things. Renewing the outdoor living room by putting down a rug, new cushions for the rocking chairs and a "grass" (recycled plastic bag) umbrella for the picnic table. Wayne was so enthused by the urge for change that he moved all of the furniture in our bedroom while I was at work last Saturday. When I came home, he seemed a little sheepish. Why? He thought I wouldn't like it. What's not to like about a guy who moves furniture so he can banish dust bunnies that aggravate his significant other's allergies? The bed is now east/west in the room instead of north/south. We hadn't changed it in 20 years. It's kind of refreshing. And...I can breath now. We have a lot more planned for change, a new greenhouse, front walkway and back patio roof, but here's what we've done so far...
From Garden
From Garden
From Garden
We had a diseased water oak removed two weeks ago. This will be where the new greenhouse goes. Tony, the tree guy, left the stump cut level at 3 feet high, which we can use for a table.
From Garden
I love this umbrella!
From Garden
White petunias and African marigolds in an old cut-down air compressor tank.
From Garden
Up by the patio, an 'as is, final sale' water fountain adds soothing sound. Wayne fixed it as it was missing a few parts.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Kayla and Chris

This is the lovely Kayla wearing the hat I made for her. Posing with her is her handsome boyfriend, Chris, who is in the US Navy and was given leave to attend Kayla's senior prom.
From family and friends
I'll add that my friend Jimi (Kayla's grandmother) took this picture. Thank you, Jimi. Now, if only I could get my sister and my son to send me pictures of them wearing the knitted items I slaved over...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

big beautiful moon

I took my Panasonic Lumix and tripod out to the yard tonight to try to get a great picture of the moon at apogee. It was just rising over the trees and is the closest it has been to earth as a full moon in 18 years. I used at least 5 different settings, but found I miss my old manual 35 mm for this. The one thing I did not do is find the manual focus. That would have done it maybe. I still think the picture is kind of nice, with the focus on my house and the lights inside. I did a better job when the moon was in eclipse.
From Blogger Pictures

Mara, I took your advice even before I read it! I'm fascinated with astronomy, especially moons. Twice a year we host a Star Party at my library. I am honored to host the St. Petersburg Astronomy Club volunteers who bring their big BIG telescopes out for everyone to look through. Our next Star Party will be in November (damn you, Daylight Savings Time!).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

calm post

It's finally warm weather and we're cleaning up the yard.  There are a gazillion oak leaves and 500 bazillion acorns everywhere.
From Blogger Pictures
It seems there is a tool for picking up all of those acorns.  I knew someone must have invented a nut-picker-upper.  The folks at the local home improvement store had never heard of such a thing.  "Sounds like a good idea", they said.  Our acorns are small, and the description on Amazon doesn't say exactly what size nuts it picks up.  We may continue to rake and shovel them.

Of course, the leaves go into the compost bin.  Acorns will sprout and grow, so we can't put those in the compost. We've had a compost bin for years. We keep adding kitchen scraps to it and leaves and turning it and at one time it was 1/2 full, and now it's just a couple of inches of not really great stuff to use on the garden.

We discovered that we are doing a couple of things incorrectly.

  • The bin was a bit large for the amount of waste we were adding.  
  • We were turning it too often, not allowing decomposition to do the work of breaking down the organic matter.
  • We didn't monitor the level of water in the compost.  If it rained...fine.  If it was dry, we didn't add water.
Last week we bought a Soilsaver Classic Composter which came with an instruction book called "A Sense of Humus".  
From Blogger Pictures
It is about 2.5 feet square and 3 feet high and has doors at the bottom from which you can remove the finished compost.  It has a cover over the top.  We positioned it in a sunnier area of the back yard and started with about 4 inches of the half composted compost from our older bin.  Then a layer of garden soil and sprinkled on some bone meal to get the microbes going.

What NOT to add to the compost:
Wet grass, meat, fats, bones, fish, dairy products, cooking oil, pet waste.

DO add:
Leaves, dry grass, weeds (not seeding), soft plant stems, fruit and vegetable matter, crushed egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds and filters.  I've got a nice porcelain container by the kitchen sink for kitchen waste.

I hope to have useable compost in about 2 months.  Compost tea can be made to feed the potted plants.

A good book on the subject of compost is Compost: the natural way to make food for your garden by Kenneth Thompson.

From Blogger Pictures

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

sunlight through orchids

With the return of warm weather, I am out taking pictures of flowers.  It is late afternoon and the sun is shining just so through the purple spotted phalaeonopsis, setting it aglow.
From Sunlight through Orchids