Saturday, 26 March 2011

Celebrate - Earth Hour 2011 Today!

Earth Hour - 2011

The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney Australia and during the 60 minutes of darkness, when 2.2 million Sydney residents and 2,100 businesses turned off their lights, energy usage decreased by 10.2 percent -- the equivalent of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year.

Turn off to plug in ---
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Earth Hour takes place today, March 26, from 8:30 pm - 9:30 pm, so turn off the T.V.,
switch off the lights and join millions of people for Earth Hour.
During this quiet hour of darkness, dream about how we can make the
Earth a healthier place to live.

Pass it on...!
The goal is to have 1 billion people turn out their lights.

Why?

Because the more lights we turn off, the stronger our message will be that the
world needs action on climate change now!
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Our governments around the globe need to know that we are all ready to take action for our planet and we expect them to take action too.
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To sign up for Earth Hour, check out these links:
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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Garden Trends for 2011 - One Gardener's Perspective!


Native, Organic & Heirloom Gardening
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One of the most positive gardening trends is the commitment of gardeners towards organic practices in their garden.
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There is an increased awareness and interest to view the natural landscapes of woodlands, meadows, and wetlands for inspiration in their gardens.
There are many ecological and environmental reasons to use native plants in the garden. It makes for an increase in biodiversity, provides habitat for creatures such as butterflies, birds and other pollinators, and can become a refuge for the many native plants that are increasingly becoming rare in their natural habitats.
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Using native plants helps to conserve water and eliminates the need for pesticides,
fertilizers and other chemicals that we are realizing are unhealthy practices on our planet.
The benefits of native plant gardening include less work and a beautiful garden.
Native plants evolved here and adapted to the environment in which they grow.
That means the weather patterns and the other flora and fauna that have evolved with them are equally comfortable together.
These variations of adaptability to the regional environment are what make native plants so effortless to raise.
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Garden Rooms
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Rooms out of doors will continue to "grow" in popularity as people are spending more time entertaining friends and family at home.
Partly due to the economy, but also because it is a popular trend enhancing our homes as a sanctuary for our own well being.
Enlarging gardens, replacing travel with new patios, barbecue areas, water features, as well as other landscaping options, has already becoming popular for a many.
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Outdoor areas can be utilized to the enth degree as individuals continue to create their own version of paradise with the use of exciting new varieties of plant material, planters, and weatherproof decor and other architectural features.
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Home & Community Edible Gardens
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Due to the previous downturn in the economy it's my belief that more and more people will see the benefits of growing their own food, or art at least growing some food to offset purchases from the grocery store. This also includes community gardening, which is a huge asset and benefit to any city, not just for the food that is grown, but for the social aspect of gardening as well.
And, with the growing concern of chemicals used by food manufacturers, there is resurgence or renaissance with edible gardens. Just look at the Whitehouse garden, and the impact that has had on many to follow in it's footsteps!
Gasoline prices continue to be a factor in higher food costs, so a greater reliance on domestic and local growers of food will become the norm. It's already happening, and the timing couldn't be better, really!
Gardening, for some time has been considered more of a hobby, but will become more important as people develop into a more cautious attitude about what food they eat and where it comes from.

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Kitchen Gardens and Potagers
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Herb gardens can be created indoors on windowsills and of course, outdoors.
Some may be small in size, ie. container herb gardens, but these flavourful and useful plots will continue to become popular as people learn how vast the choices are for herbs in which to grow and use in their food.
Heirlooms herbs and veggie's will also become more common as people start to realize that food products grown with GMO's are doing more harm than good for both our health and well being, and to the environment.
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Also, many are beginning to realize that so many of our
older heirloom varieties of vegetables are being lost,
due most in part to giant Agricultural monopolies and corporations who grow only a few limited varieties of food, mostly because it ships easily, and not because of taste,
which means lack of diversity for the human race to feed upon.
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That's why the potato famine happened!
We don't want that to ever occur again.
Relying on only a few varieties of produce will surely lead to that.
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So, these are just my thoughts. Loosley based on what I see on other garden sites and initiatives, plus what I would like to see happening!
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Feel free to share what you’re gardening trends will be this year!
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Happy Gardening!
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Monday, 21 March 2011

Dandelions! Time to Embrace them. They're not the enemy!

Call me crazy, but I like Dandelions.
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That's right. And, I couldn't help but think of them this evening.
Here's why:
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As I watched the news this evening, mostly pertaining to events surrounding the tragic things happening to our Japanese friends, like many, I watched in horror.
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The newscasters once again presented me with horrible news,
that being the radiation levels in some parts of Japan has affected their food supply, especially milk and vegetables, and has now spiked to dangerous and deadly levels.
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Then came a commercial break... I was about to get up and make a coffee, however...
A commercial came on that caught my attention.
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It was a commercial for Roundup®. You know that stuff.
It's a poisonous chemical herbicide, created by that giant chemical conglomerate, Monsanto.
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You've heard of Monsanto, right?
They were the co-creators of Agent Orange.

Wasn't that nice of them?
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A real tribute to mankind.
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So, back to the Roundup.
You know the stuff. It's the chemical you have to actually pay for, so that it can be sprayed in the garden, perhaps on food being grown, Food that you might feed to kids, friends and family members.
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So, picture this...
A cowering little Dandelion. A big bottle of Roundup®, aimed & ready to open fire on that Dandelion.
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Talk about playing up to an old Wild West Mentality!
I actually laughed at the absurdity of it all.
Absurdity mixed with a heaping helping of disgust.
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This chemical company is telling me that a useful little yellow flower is my enemy!!
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What does Monsanto have against dandelions?
What did a dandelion ever do to deserve such a powerful enemy?
Why do they want to instil such hatred into my head for this little flower?
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Dandelions have never done anything to me.
Have they ever done anything to anyone?
Not that I know of...
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So, I'll tell you why...
It all comes down to corporate profit.
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If Monsanto can't promote the dandelion as an enemy to you and me,
no more profits for them or their shareholders.
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Well, I don't give a damn about their shareholders.
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There is cause and affect for everything we do.
Perhaps people don’t realize that the chemicals they spray has to go somewhere.
It doesn't just miraculously go away..
It leaches down into the soil.
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The earth we live on.
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Right into our water supply.
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Hmm, I have a well on my property.
I don't want to drink this poison, or have my children drink it either.
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That, my friends, would be asinine. It makes no sense.
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Who in their right minds would want to choose to poison their own water hole?
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A 2008 scientific study has shown that Roundup formulations and metabolic products cause the death of human embryonic, placental, and umbilical cells in vitro, even at low concentrations.
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So, my point is that there’s no need for Monsanto's poisons if Dandelions aren't really our enemy.
Hmmm. That sounds pretty good!
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I mean, come on.... Is one plant, growing between the cracks in our patio's so hideous, and such a blight to our sensibilities as human beings, that we're ready to spray deadly and harmful poisons on our own property,
which may subject us and our children to ill effects down the road.
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Consider this, a main active ingredient of Roundup is the
surfactant POEA (polyethoxylated tallow amine),
known for its toxicity in wildlife.
It increases herbicide penetration in plant and animal cells.
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Consider also the fact that several weed species, known as
superweeds, have developed resistance to Monsanto's herbicides,
largely because of repeated exposure.
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Superweeds?? This sounds like sci-fi thriller. But it's actually happening now. And, it's part of the reason our food costs are higher.
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Monsanto now has to create more powerful herbicide chemicals to combat
those superweeds they've created.
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Sounds like the lady who swallowed the fly...
More absurdity.
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Is a dandelion really worth all of this?
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If a weed really bothers a person, I ask them to please consider boiling kettle full of water and pouring that boiling water on the crack that contains that little dandelion.
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That'll do the trick. Really. It's that simple.
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Consider our children, our future, our planet.
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Consider the fact that using chemicals to spray a few weeds is overkill on so many levels.
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Consider the fact that our Japanese friends now have poisons on their food supply that will likely be there for a hundred years.
It will make them sick if they eat it.
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Why would we, smart as we are, pay for a toxic product and willingly do this to ourselves??
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It's not really that much different when you think of it.
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Things to make with Dandelions:

Dandelion Wine
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Dandelion Jelly
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Dandelion chains ( Remember doing this as a child?)
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Dandelion leaves in salad. They're tasty and nutritious, too!
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Dandelion Tea
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Thanks for visiting!
Happy Organic Gardening!

Tomatoes and Herbs

Banana Legs Tomato and Italian large leaf Basil in behind.
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Dill "bouquet"
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Cilantro "slo bolt"
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A sampling of the seedlings growing right now.
I'm really happy with the Banana Legs Tomatoes! It's coming along nicely.
As are my chocolate peppers. Will have add a photo on a future post.
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Can't wait to get the herb garden growing outside.
Thinking for now that when these get too large for the coir pots, I'll transplant them into nice containers for the windowsill, and plant more outside in the raised beds.
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Thanks for visiting!
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Sunday, 20 March 2011

Spring has Sprung!

Well, this is my offering to celebrate Spring's arrival.
(And not a moment too soon. I really can't take any more Winter).
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Here's a wee painting from my easel.
(For those of you who didn't know, I'm also a painter.)
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And, it may be Spring on the calender, and it was a really beautiful day, too, sunny and mild,
however, it's still fairly snow covered in my neck of the woods. Hence a painting and not a photo of flowers blooming in my garden. That comes soon, I hope!
But, thankfully, the snow is melting! : )
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Happy Gardening, wherever you are.
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"Rannunculus" - 8" x 10" - Acrylic on canvas
by Karen Sloan
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Friday, 18 March 2011

Friday Flower - Cross Pollinating Amaryllis

Above is pollen (stamens) I saved from my Amaryllis vittatum.
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Amaryllis vittatum. (Above) An heirloom variety.

Red Lion Amaryllis. (above)
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Well, this is what I've been waiting for.
I was told that the heirloom Amaryllis vittatum that I have, which, if you haven't visited here before, and is over 120 years old,
is supposed to be a good variety to cross with other Amaryllis' and create new varieties.
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I was certainly intriqued!
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When my vittatum last bloomed, I saved some of the pollen.
I actually have no idea if I stored it properly, or if this is really going to work, but I did use that pollen on the Red Lion variety I have, and just dipped the stigma into the little jar you see above.
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Now it's a waiting game for the seed pods to form.
Then, I'll have to plant them, which means another 3 or so years before a flower appears from those seeds.
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Good thing I have patience!
Good thing I'm not playing with orchids. They take 10 years!
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Thanks for visiting!
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Happy Flowering Friday!
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Wildlife and Feathered Friends. Wild Turkey's lurking in our yard again!

Turkey's Lurking!


Playing follow the leader....
Well, there were 5 of them, now there's only 4.
Hmm, put's me in mind of an Agatha Christie novel.
We do have Wolves and Coyotes, too, so perhaps one of them became a meal.
Poor things. Nature's way I suppose.
But I love it when they visit.
They're hanging around today. Usually they just pass through.
You'd think I'd have better things to do than just sit at the window and watch wild turkeys!
I do, but alas, the turkey's are much more interesting!
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Have a good weekend!
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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Making Recycled Newspaper Seed Starting Pots - Eco Friendly!

The pots hold up well. They're the perfect size for starting any seed!
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Well, I finally broke down and purchased a pot maker.
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I'm so glad I did! It's really easy to use, and, the pots are the perfect seed starting size!
The fact that I'm using recycling newspaper, which will quickly break down, and won't harm the environment played the biggest part in my decision to try this.
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Sure, peat pots are easy to use, but I'd found that peat seems to suck up moisture really quick, which means the soil they contain, and the seedlings in them, dry out much quicker than the newspaper cups do, which means more watering.
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Not to mention the cost of them! I start hundreds of seed pots each year.
This can really add up.
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Plus, since I'm trying my best to be ecologically aware and I try to do what I can for the environment, I'd like to share some information about why using peat pots to start seeds isn't such a great idea.
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The effects on the dwindling wetlands and peat bogs has me concerned.
I don't want to take from nature what is not renewable, if given the choice.
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After much reading, I've discovered that Peat bogs are are a finite, non-renewable resource, and that since the 1960's, there has been a new threat to these valuable bogs.
They produce the peat suitable for horticulture, but, instead of being cut out slowly by hand, the peat can now be extracted far more efficiently & thoroughly by huge machines by processes known as sausage extrusion and surface milling..
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I could go on, but there you have it.
My choice is clear! Newspaper!
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Happy Gardening!
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Sunday, 6 March 2011

Red Lion Amaryllis - Just about to roar!


Don't you just love it when a plant is just about ready to bloom?!
This one's teetering on the precipice!
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A Red Lion Amaryllis variety. The second year in a row it's been kind enough to send out a flower stalk for my enjoyment!'
A good thing, too. We had 6 inches of snow fall overnight here.
The budding flower keeps my hopes alive for Spring's immanent arrival!
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The flower, so far, looks a little washed, but the actual colour it will become when fully opened is a beautiful, deep velvety red colour.
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Happy Gardening!
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Saturday, 5 March 2011

Wild Turkeys in my yard - Trudging through the snow.

I just love seeing the wild turkeys!
Haven't seen them for about a month now.
Just happened to be lucky enough to be looking out the window when they were traipsing by.
Most often, I just see their tracks in the snow!
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A real trudge trying to navigate all that snow.
Nature and wildlife never fails to impress me.
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Thanks for stopping by!
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Sharing a Garden Treasure

(Top of box) - I just love the 1920's - 1930's vintage image.
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Little file cards, chock full of information on all kinds of gardening subjects.
Mostly what we would consider heirloom gardening, today.

The Treasure Box
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Another picture of the lovely ladies.
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Have you ever purchased something, epsecially something garden related, that you couldn't actually use in the garden, but just couldn't resist?!
That's what happened to me when I saw this little vintage set of file file cards.
It was the charming images and artwork that I responded to.
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When I got it home, I carefully opened the box and was just blown away by the fabulous information on the cards. Invaluble to someone like me, who is trying to learn all I can about heirloom and historic gardening.
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A much more innocent time, and way of living.
Working with nature, instead of against it.
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Thanks for visiting!
Happy (organic) Gardening!
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Friday, 4 March 2011

Okay Spring.. Hurry up!! This gardener is officially done with Winter.

Wall Flower Studio. Aka, my home!
Overcast right now as you can see, and the chance of freezing rain.
Thinking I'll be staying indoors this weekend, making more Seed Balls!
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That poor Scarecrow... I forgot to bring him/her in last Autumn.
Ooops!
It's actually standing in one of my raised beds, believe it or not!

My garden is under there somewhere.
I wonder if it's longing for me they way I'm longing for it?
My Mom would say patience is required, and she'd be right, but like I said, I've had enough!
Pretty sure I'm not alone feeling that way!
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If hydro wasn't so expensive nowadays, I'd consider getting out the extension cord, plugging in my hair dryer and starting the Spring melt that way! ; )
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So, back to indoor gardening for now...
Seeds are coming along nicely, and I still have more to sow.
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To all those out there who can, (especially my friend Bee, in Florida),
Enjoy the sunshine and Happy Gardening!
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Thursday, 3 March 2011

Herb Seedlings - A growing concern!

Large Leafed Italian Basil seedlings
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Dill "Bouquet" seedlings (front)
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Banana Legs - Tomato seedling in front.
I can't wait to harvest these ones especially!
Hoping they taste as good as I'm told they do, and that they look as unusal as their name suggests!
So far, it's kind of hard to tell! ; )
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I'll be planting them all in my raised beds, just as soon as I can, which means waiting for about 4 feet of snow to melt, and the soil to warm up.
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Thinking I've got a bit of a wait ahead of me.
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Every year I plant my tomatoes and basil plants near the borage.
I was told a few years ago that in doing so, it will keep the hornworm at bay.
So far, so good!
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Thanks for visiting & Happy Gardening!
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