Tag Archives: Plants

Mason Bees

I’ve wanted to keep bees since I took a beekeeping class at Evergreen last year. The proble, however, is that bee hives take a while to get going, are large, and I want to be around for a few years when I do it so that they have time to really get established. That’s for honey bees though.

I’ve been hearing rumblings about mason bees for a while and I decided to do some research. Mason bees are solitary little creatures. The female lays her eggs in existing wood holes and pollinates your garden. Apparently two or three mason bees can pollinate the equivalent of a mature apple tree each spring. Neither male or female bee is able to sting. While they don’t make honey they do pollinate your garden. Plus mason bee houses are super easy to build. All you have to do is find a thick block of untreated wood (between 4-6 inches) and drill 5/16″ holes as far into the wood as you can without drilling through the other side. Space the holes 3/4″ apart. Block should be erected in early spring and placed at least three feet above the ground.
Position block to face southeast, allowing it to get morning sun. That’s the basic house.
I found this sweet one over at Free Range Living where there’s a great explanation about mites and how to clean out your bee house. You can buy all manner of mason bee houses if you don’t want to spend time constructing one yourself.
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This has a very sweet exterior… I can’t figure out how they deconstructed it to get to the insides (see below photo). I would LOVE to have a little bee house like this! It looks really easy to clean out and take care of (plus it’s home to leaf cutter bees as well!).trays

It might be a little too late to start this for this year, but it might not be. My garden is just starting to bloom so maybe some mason bees would move into my house if I made one this week. Maybe not. It’s on my list!

Paydirt Never Smelled So Lovely

I heard tell (via. Little House in the Suburbs) that if I girl were to go into Starbucks and ask them for their used grounds, they’d give them to you…. for FREE! I’d tucked this little tidbit in the back of my brain for later. Well, it turns out that “later” was today! Shawna and I stopped in to a Starbucks to see if we could get some grounds and we walked away with a 5 pound bag of the beautiful stuff. We stopped into one more on the way home and got two MORE 5 pounders.

You might be asking yourself why I would want used coffee grounds. They make wonderful, black compost. You can stick them in a composter and leave them to do their thing or you can toss them right into a garden and let all that good stuff sink in among the roots of your plants. Either way it’s totally free and it smells so good (much better than poop). Starbucks even sticks them in these nice bags and sets them by the doors for you!

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The three bags we picked up in about ten minutes of driving (for once I was glad Starbucks is everywhere).

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The difference between the three bags of grounds and the clay dirt we had before.

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And everything all spread out! That was about 15 pounds of grounds and a 3 x 3 foot box… it looks like one of the stores didn’t bag the grounds right because they came out in a soggy nasty mess. I don’t know why that one was so full of liquid. It’ll dry out and look like the other two bags soon though.

Garden Update

Well, it’s that time again. Yes, it’s garden time. Ya’ll should be glad that I don’t post about this stuff every day (although I do go out and fawn over it several times a day).

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Those ‘taters are looking quite pretty today. They’re getting to be really big and no sign of flowers yet… so I think they’re going to get much bigger.
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I think I might stick to doing beans and peas! Sheesh. I need that instant gratification (I can see these guys growing, they move so fast!) and the carrots are definitely not doing it for me.

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Mom and I went to Burns feedstore yesterday and got some patty pans (left) and slicing cucumbers (center) and then in the picture below there are some beefsteaks and a roma tomato plant (along back of box) and some chickpeas (yes, those are some red curlers sheltering the chickpeas). I’ve never done chickpeas before, so that should be interesting.
dscn0662dscn0663The thtwabewwies are ripening up… Mom’s been sneaking some of the riper ones. There is nothing better than fresh strawberries still warm from the sun.
dscn0660My carrots! They’re…. doing things. Slowly. Boooorrriinnnggg…. Still no sign of the parsnips either.
dscn0656But their pea neighbors have already made it up to the second string! Woot!
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The basil is also doing things…. slowly. I hope they’ll make it. My hopes aren’t high, they seem to be really weak and prone to falling over.
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The sage, on the other hand, was off to a slow start but it seems to be making up for lost time. They’re sturdy and I can see some little “real leaves” poking up between those little baby leaves already.

Eatables Update

It’s that time again, time to check in with the garden greenery. This past week I planted the beans and parsnips in the beds. Hopefully we’ll see some action in a couple of weeks from those guys. The only seeds I have left to plant are brussels sprouts, cucumbers and squash!

strawberries_42The strawberries are growing dandily, they’re even starting to blush a little red around the edges and sending out runners.
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Both ‘maters are doing really well, there’s a good handful of green tomatoes on both despite the crazy weather.
carrots_45Oh man, the carrots have finally decided to put in an appearance. I was getting really tired of waiting.
peas_43The peas are still chuggin along. Some of them are trying to strangle their neighbors and others are climbing right up my rather unattractive trellis. Maybe some flowers will start to appear soon. That would be cool.
basil_54Inside, the basil is still popping up, doing their thing in the window.
sage_55And I even found a tiny sage plant, it took long enough didn’t it? I think so.
blue_flowers48Our Forget Me Nots are so happy and pretty! We got a plant from one of our neighbors and found the other somewhere in the yard. The bees love them and, if you get real close, you can smell them faintly.
potatoes_39Potatoes grow between the roots and the top of the plant, so if you keep adding more dirt around them as they grow, it’ll creat more potatoes as the plant grows taller to reach for the sun. I added a couple of inches to the taller plants today and I think I’ll just keep slowly mounding dirt as they grow at their own pace.

The Garden Update

Well, it’s been about a week since the last post about the garden and it’s high time I documented all this growth! It’s been a very good week. We’ve been battered and bullied by wind and hail and tons of rain but that hasn’t seemed to bother any of the plants (with the exception of the tomatoes… they’ve definitely seen better days).

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Every last one of the potatoes has decided to poke their starchy little heads up! It’s very exciting. They’ve been growing at least 1/4 inch a day, the blue potatoes are about four or five inches tall now and the yukon gold’s have only been up for a few days and look how big they are already!

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The peas are going gangbusters, especially since they’ve finally reached their trellis. I’ll have to tighten things up a bit after all that stormness.
peas_13Ooooohhhh! Look at them twine! It’s pretty darn cute, if you ask me. And you did ask me, right? Good, I thought so.

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Peas peas peas…
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Oh, and I’ve more or less neglected to tell you about the beds in the front yard. So far we have chives, pineapple mint, apple mint, spearmint, mint, blackeyed susans, poppies, lemon verbena, thyme, sedum, forget me nots, and tons of other plants neither mummy or I can remember. It’s going to be so good this summer!

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Oh and P.s. the artichokes are doing really well too! Go artichoke go!

No sign of sage seeds or carrots yet… sigh… I feel like Pongo and Perdita in 101 Dalmations after the puppies were born… or something. Too far? Yeah, probably.

Baby Basil

Wow! Look how teeny it is! I check on these little paper pots four or five times a day and surprise surprise, something actually happened this morning! I think I can spot another even teenier one coming up in another pot but I’m not going to go poking around or anything. I’ll save that for when I check on them again in the next hour, and again four hours after that, and then again right before dinner… etc. etc. etc.

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Gweenewy

It’s spring. Things are growing and getting all chubby with stuff like our strawberries:

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They have little fuzzy strawberries that look like little, green, upside down clover.p1030418

And the blueberries are flowering…

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and the tomatoes are getting tomato-like. Unfortunately we’ve been having lots of wind and severe rainstorms so things are getting bent and bruised and generally bedraggled. Survival of the fittest, eh?p1030405

My blue potatoes have finally made an entrance! There are nine little black leaved plants poking their heads. No sign of the yukon potatoes yet. Hopefully they’re alive down there, somewhere.

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Lastly, the peas have been taking off like rockets! This is going to be so cool!

Plant those Presents!

I have a card lying around here somewhere that I’ve been meaning to send to my ASL teacher back at Evergreen and I haven’t done it yet (shame shame). What got me thinking about it again is this pre-seeded gift wrap I found today. When you’re done tearing through all those layers of paper to get at the present inside, you can skip out back (tra la laa) and stick the paper in a hole. Soon enough there’ll be little baby flowers growing from your newly recycled paper. Why throw it away when you can get even more pretties from your presents? It’s not that expensive… especially when you think of it this way: a bunch of flowers will cost at least $30 if you order the damn things online, about $20 from a store in town and they’re already cut and on their way to deadness. With this wrapping paper you can plant it and have live flowers for a long time and maybe they’ll even come back another year! I just wish I could find some in a shop around here instead of having to go on the internets AND I wish I could find some with native species instead of this Icelandic Poppy and German Catchfly business.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even try to make some myself…

Green Things

photo171So, I promise I’ve been doing this these past couple of weeks… besides updating this blog. One of these “things” just happens to be gardening. Here’s a plan for what’s going to be in our raised beds, if it’s not in there already…

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The potatoes, peas, strawberries and carrots are already in. We had to put an old iron gate over the beds to keep cats from pooping all up in the teeny tiny seeds. Yucky cats. Oh and those big bushy things in front of the beds are three blueberry bushes.

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Remember how big the peas were last week? Well now they’re getting some leaves and I’m pretty sure they’re all up now. Rows and rows of tiny green pea-babies.

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I found a tutorial on Little House in the Suburbs last night for little containers to start seeds in using recycled newspaper. Speaking of newspapers, Mom canceled our subscription to the Oregonian after they repeatedly failed to deliver the paper, even though we called to tell them they hadn’t been by. You can get all that newsy stuff online these days anyway and save some trees in the process. Well, since we canceled we’ve been getting more “free trial papers” plunked on our mailbox than we ever got when we were actually paying for it. The bastards are essentially littering on our lawn by leaving their stupid papers to get rained on and yucky. They’re mostly full of advertisements anyway. Can you tell I’m more than a little irritated?

Sigh.. back to my point. Now I got to use up four pages (yes, a stupendous sum, really) to plant sage and basil in. I’m pretty sure that by the time they’re big enough to transplant the containers will have naturally decomposed a bit too! This is a much craftier way of starting seeds than the old egg carton method.

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Oh and we have our planter boxes all done in the front yard! I planted my lemon basil, lemon verbena, spearmint, chocolate mint and apple mint in there… ohhh this is going to be so good!

For more pictures and info about all the landscaping we’ve been doing, you can go to Dad’s house blog:

Bringing Home the Mulch

Bark Chips and Potatoes

Paths, Boxes and Berries

Glamorous Greenery

Mom and I took off early from school to go see what kinds of plants a nearby nursery had. It turns out this place was my kind of heaven. You drive down this steep driveway, over a bridge straddling two ponds full of ducks, past a large chicken coop full of about 50 ducks and chickens, past a shed full of meat rabbits, past a goat pen with five goats and finally stopping in front of a tiny greenhouse. Everything looked cobbled together in a charming, ex-hippy sort of fashion and the poultry were some of the fattest, happiest birds I’ve ever seen. And yes, the did have a little radio tinkling out classical music for the chickens. We picked out an Oregon early and a red cherry tomato plant, spearmint, four lavender plants, a Himalayan rhubarb, an officiannale rhubarb and a chocolate mint plants. Now I’ve got some teeny tiny baby rhubarb to keep my ceramic pig company for a few weeks while they get big enough to plant outside in the big, bad world.

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Baby Rhubarbs, growing away…p1030268Tomato plants hanging out on the back deck.