Monday, July 15, 2013

Honey Bee Die-Off Caused By Multiple Factors Including Pesticides (via Moyers & Company)
A federal study released today attributes the massive die-off in American honey bee colonies to a combination of factors, including pesticides, poor diet, parasites and a lack of genetic diversity. Nearly a third of honey bee colonies in the United…

Thursday, July 11, 2013

So true: The Hazards of Owning Backyard Hens

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Western Tanagers, Churl Horses and Apple Trees

The other day we went riding and to our delight saw a brightly yellow-colored bird with yellow bars on its black wings and red on its head.  After searching the web, I found out it was a Western Tanager-- a pretty cool looking bird with almost tropical colors and a song that we've heard quite a bit around here.  They're bug eaters in the summer, which makes them ideal for keeping pests down.

Our horses have been difficult.  My horse, Rocket, tends to go from surly and disobedient to okay, depending on any number of things.  First, Rocket had a tendon injury.  We then discovered that she needed shoes, which changed her attitude from slow and surly to fast and surly.  Then, we had to buy hay cubes because we ran out of hay and none was to be had for any price in Montana, so Rocket had gas on the hay cubes which made her cranky.  Then, Scarlet had sore feet, so she needed shoes.  With all that, the girls have been slow on their mileage and have decided to pull the same shenanigans as last year before they got good mileage under their belt. 

My plan for self-sufficiency is slowly taking hold.   The garden is doing okay, and I bought a blueberry bush and two semi-dwarf apple trees for fruit.  The apple trees are a Macintosh and a honey crisp.  I had wanted to get two honey crisps, but the guy at the nursery explained that I want  different varieties for cross pollination for better fruit.  So, I got two trees that would work for us.

My entryway to the house looks like a garden with a bunch of plants in pots and the two apple trees.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gardening and Heat Waves

It's no secret that I hate the heat, so hearing that we were going to have 100 degree weather made me wish I were someplace else--like Antarctica.  Even so, my neighbor loaned me her rototiller and I set to work on my garden.

Until now, we really haven't had weather that would support a garden.  Cold and rainy.  Now it's hot and dry.  I still have a bunch of plants that need to go into the ground, but I got the main garden in.  Some notes as to what I planted:

Eggplant: I love eggplant, especially in Asian stir fry.  I put a whopping 6 Asian eggplants in.
Sweet peppers: 2 plants but I have one I still need to plant.
Tomatoes: 2 in the garden; 2 in containers.
Thyme: orange thyme (yum!).
Tomatillos: 4 of these.  Yes, I love salsa verde!
Cinnamon basil: Amazing stuff!  Planted 2.
Genovese basil: I have plants I still have to put in the ground.  I want pesto, dammit!!
Lettuce: romaine, butter, red leaf, and mixed varieties.  I don't know if they'll survive the heat.
Purple kale:  Surprisingly, this has been very hardy, despite my poor handling.
Cucumber: I've planted one pickle plant.  I haven't had good luck with these.  We'll see.
Strawberries: 8 everbearing types.  I'm hoping these guys with add to the group with runners.
Watermelon: I picked one up on sale.  No clue how it will do.
Zucchini: Yep, got to have one. 
Potatoes: I planted 8 seed potatoes.  We'll see if anything happens.

I added marigolds to the garden too, and I'll be planting nasturtiums to keep the pests down.  I found that the regular thyme and Greek oregano came up from two years ago, so I have those as well.

Container Garden:

Sugar snap peas
Beans (not sure what kind--got them as a plant)
Tarragon
Mint: Chocolate and ginger (yum!)
Tomatoes (see above)
Strawberries
Lettuce
Thyme
Black Raspberry (I may plant this in the ground)
Parsley
Tricolor Sage
Basil
Oregano
Lemon balm

I still need to plant herbs and I have two other raspberry plants, including gold raspberry and heirloom raspberry.


What I didn't plant and why:

Carrots: I have trouble getting the buggers to grow.  Don't ask me.
Onions: Too warm to plant sets and husband can't eat it.
Garlic: Haven't gotten garlic bulbs to plant.  Will have to do that.
Radishes: Nobody likes them here.

What I would like to plant, but may be too late for them:

Bush beans
Cantaloupe
Kohlrabi