19 December 2020

moved the small guys

I put my amano shrimps into tanks- two in the tenner and two in the window tank. Since there's not fish that will eat them (no betta, no paradise fish) right now, I figured they can help clear out the thread/hair algae, I can never get it all by hand. Also, now I can see them and find some amusement watching their busy antics. I dropped a few more snails in the 1.5 gal bowl to keep it going meanwhile...

In the tenner:
A day later there's significantly less algae on the sponge filter already!
Pics of the two in the 33L, among the blue buce 'Selena'
under a crypt
walking over the rock I failed to grow moss on
and through the standard vals (one has finally grown full tank height!)
blending in against the rock behind buce 'green wavy'
creeping back into the sagittaria thicket (growing up steadily!)
bonus pic of the buces in my tenner flowering

17 December 2020

windowsill plants

the coleus are cheerful greens
though of course like usual I took cuttings too early in the fall- these photos from a week ago
already they are starting to get top-heaving in their pots
soon I will have to take cuttings to reduce height, and decide if I want to grow those on as well- 
which quickly becomes too many plants really
sweet potato vine fits in that category too, although I don't mind just letting it sprawl all over the place until spring

16 December 2020


It's still coming down, with icy rain now. Pics from earlier this morning- snow on my panicle hydrangea
on the lavender and winter savory-
sweet alyssum- 
over the cloches I still have on the tokyo bekana
still green under there!
and my bench

15 December 2020


Moving shadow on the dining room table alerted me that a bird was very near the window- I was actually able to get a few photos of it in tree branches right outside. I think it's a downy woodpecker, but maybe the hairy woodpecker- it was moving constantly so the photos aren't sharp and hard to tell. I wonder if it's the one that cleaned out the hole in our maple tree.

14 December 2020

small eats

Not much alive in the garden now. Rain, and possibly snow this week. Found a way that I like to eat the sculpit: sautéed with onions in a bit of butter, with pasta or cous cous. 
Tried it the first way in some leftover mac 'n cheese to dress it up, surprised how good it was. Cut more next time, served it as a side dish with cous cous and salmon. Very good like that!
Also have finally started using the winter savory regularly, it thrives all winter so might as well. Last week I simmered lentils with just the winter savory and a bit of salt at the end. It was so flavorful my husband asked if I'd put a chunk of pork fat in there (though it's been a long time since I trimmed pork chops for that). Nope, just the winter savory! 

Yesterday I made a small meat pie, which I usually like with thyme and bay leaf. I used the winter savory this time, plus a handful of baby kale leaves- and again, it was better than I'd expected. Definitely to repeat.

10 December 2020

greenhouse fix

It was warm today- nearly sixty! I spent some time out on the deck repairing my greenhouse. Some of the plastic sheeting had ripped in the wind. Had a large panel of polycarbonate that just fit the door so I drilled holes and fastened that on. Then put smaller patches of thinner plastic panels from various things on either side of the door. It looks so clear! but you can tell by how many screws are showing, how patched-together it still is.
Sides and back are still just plastic sheeting, I'm fine with that for now.

08 December 2020

another violet!

Hard to see, but in one cutting pot I found a bit of soil pushed up- it's finally growing! The bit of new growth is on the left edge- 
It's barely even green yet, so tender pale. It will be 'vintage lace'. So yes, worth keeping them under glass for nearly a year waiting.

04 December 2020

03 December 2020

surviving bekana

Last night was supposedly 26° (I didn't get up at the coldest point to check) so I cut all the lettuces beforehand- light leafy simpsons
and the darker romaine/ceasar, webb wonder and crisp mint.
(The sad thing is my kids don't appreciate it. My oldest said yesterday when I made a salad: "I don't like your lettuce, Mom. Why don't you grow iceberg lettuce?" Gah!) Cut the lettuces because I didn't want to find them all a frozen slushy mess the next morning, but I pushed mulch up against the tokyo bekana and covered all of those with plastic cloches. They are just fine (and have less slug damage):
I also tossed more leaf mulch and an upended pot over my lemon balm, which is still green, knowing there's more warm days ahead might as well keep it going a bit longer.
The rest of the plants, just have mulch. I didn't even cover my camellia. Rhododendron leaves droop and curl at night. Sweet alyssum just keeps on thriving! This is why I bought seeds of several colors, I'd love to have this edging the front bed next spring/summer/fall- heck maybe all year round! right now that space I extended is just a wide swath of leaf mulch, I need something in there to look decent late in the season and I bet this will be it.
Another plant doing fine even though it's colder, is the sculpit. Its leaves are twice from in spring!
I ate some in scrambled eggs with tatsoi yesterday. It's not my favorite taste, but I want to find ways to use a plant that does so well in the early spring/late fall. 

angelfish update

She's a little better. Scrape on the head is already healing, and the pectoral fin is in use, although she seems to move it gingerly. Half got completely torn off- oh it must hurt. I feel so bad for her.

02 December 2020

a little work

Outside. It's getting colder. The ground muddy from recent rain. Some of my little contraptions holding soap to deter deer aren't in good shape- the one that's just a peak over the soap basket keeps riding up on the line, and another made from a tray that had holes I taped over, looks like it leaked. I replaced both today with new upended containers, that will shield rain off the soap better. So far seems to be working- I can't really tell much because the hostas have gone dormant, but the forsythia, young shrubs and oakleaf hydrangea appear untouched. More telling, I no longer see tracks or find piles of deer droppings in the yard.
Dumped my slug traps this morning. I've caught four or five fat slugs each time I refill- leave sit for three or four days and then empty before it gets smelly. I do my mixture leaner than the recommendations I found online. I use about two cups warm water, one teaspoon sugar and one teaspoon yeast. I bet I could do with less sugar, too. It lures the slugs, but doesn't get stinky as fast (first time I also used flour, as one website suggested- that went rank very quick! Don't need the flour). 

Squirrel has been digging among the lettuces and in the empty beds again. He can't make a mess of my planter boxes though, because I put wire over those. Which bows down in the middle now so I bet the squirrel was there sitting on it at least once.
My meals this week are planned around eating what little is left in the garden, before colder nights and/or snow finally kills the plants. Last night cut all the chard for a pasta dish (the leaves were small but plentiful). Today I'm putting tatsoi and sculpit in eggs for lunch, tomorrow will use sage and purple dead nettle in quesadillas- there's plenty of that coming up around the garden and yard again.
Tonight will cut lettuce to go in hamburgers and maybe a small salad. Tomorrow will use tokyo bekana in a stir-fry. And then I might finally make a pie from the sunberries I froze all summer.

bird encounter

A few weeks ago- when my pole beans were still up- I was down under the deck and saw a bird flit out of the euonymus into the bean vines. I thought it was the wren, but when it came closer, hopping through the lettuces and up onto the dry clematis stems, I saw it had a dark tuft on its head, and a perkier stance- a titmouse! It came closer, hopping onto the wood bench near where I usually sit, and then up onto a pot with dried coleus I hadn't cleaned up yet. I stood very still- I was only a few feet behind the chair. It seemed to have a very large nare which I thought was odd, then it started poking its beak in the soil just inside the edge of the pot, tipped its head to look, poked again. I saw it was actually holding a large seed (the open space behind the seed was what I'd thought to be its nare). How I wish I'd had my camera in pocket. Then I must've made an involuntary movement- the bird suddenly and very quickly flew away. I keep remembering the moment though, how perfectly lively, alert and dainty the bird, how close it was.

One of the maples on the shady sideyard has always had this big dark spot on its lower trunk- looks like where a branch once came off. Now it's obviously a hole, with raw scraped edges. 
I am pretty certain an animal cleared out a cavity to live in- unless my movements nearby made it decide that's not a safe place after all and it didn't stay. It looks too small for a raccoon, so I think probably a woodpecker. But I've been watching and haven't yet seen a bird (or other animal) go in/out.
Even longer ago- many weeks now, there was a morning I looked out the kitchen window and surprised to see two birds very close- a northern flicker and a smaller woodpecker - downy or hairy?- both on the balusters of the deck where there's holes from the carpenter bees last year. They were only a few spaces apart from each other, inspecting the holes together. I did run to get my camera that time, but when I came back they were gone. Darn. It would've been a great photo, so close, and then I might have been able to identify the woodpecker.