"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away?"

Author: Unknown

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Off To The Beach!

   Well Saturday morning, we are off to the beach for 10 days. I cant wait. There is something sooo relaxing, and soothing about scrunching your toes in the sand, feeling the gentle breezes flow across your face and thru your hair, and looking out over the ocean. For the past 5 yrs or so we take our fifth wheel and stay at Lakewood Campground in Myrtle Beach. I would prefer the quieter, calmer atmosphere of North Carolina beaches such as Duck and Kitty Hawk, but I havent found a campground there on the ocean with full hook-ups. We used to stay in NC when the kids were smaller and we traveled with friends and shared a house on or near the beach. Now its just us. I much prefer to stay in the camper than a hotel .  So I guess after Friday, things will be a little quiet around here for awhile  :)

                                                          See ya later.......................................

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sustainability Through the Consumption of Things Conserved

A few days ago, someone contacted about being a guest blogger on my lowly site. His name is Dan Grifen. The idea he had for an article sounded very intriguing. He sent me the article, and I read it. I felt the article to be very thought provoking, and I hope others may find it interesting and informative as well. I would love for you  read the article in full below, and please leave comments , and let me know how you feel about it.
  What has been concerning me about the state of our food supply is how in recent times we have been having a scourge of bacterial contaminates in our food supply. Causing people to become sick, and shortages of one product or another. There is also concern of bio-terrorism. How safe IS our food supply from terrorist attacks. We have already seen that we are no longer safe on our own lands. I think a return to greater self sufficiency now a "must" rather than an option. And he is right , when you go to the store, there are only a few varieties of the different produce. What would seem like"saving" of a certain variety could actually mean its loss . Its fun to try new things. Isnt that what we teach our kids?
Tell me what you think.

                               Sustainability Through the Consumption of Things Conserved
"In other environmental issues we tell people to stop something, reduce their impact, reduce their damage," - US Ecologist Gary Nabham
Since the beginning of the green movement, there has been a rise in the number of organizations and businesses that are doing their part in the promotion of sustainability through conservation. As human beings, we're told to reduce our carbon footprint, consume less unhealthy foods, and spend less time in the shower! But let's take a minute to step back and look at this from a different perspective; one that Gary Nabham strongly suggests.
Gary Paul Nabham, phD., is a Arab-American writer/conservationist who's extensive farming work in the U.S./Mexico borderlands region has made him world renown. Specifically speaking, Nabham is known for his work in biodiversity as an ethnobotanist. His uplifting messages and attitude towards life and culture has granted us access to multiple beneficial theories including his latest of eat what you conserve.
According to The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, about three quarters of the genetic diversity of crops been vanishing over the last century and that a dozen species now gives 90% of the animal protein eaten globally. In accordance, just 4 crop species supply half of plant based calories in the human diet.
Nabham claims that by eating the fruits and vegetables that we are attempting to conserve/save, we're promoting the granular dissemination of various plant species. But this goes beyond what we typically buy in supermarkets, particularly because of price and abundance. We must remember to try new things and immerse ourselves in the very concept of diversity. Keep in mind; the benefits of splurging for that costly fruit/vegetable supremely outweigh the cons. Not only are you promoting biodiversity and further eliminating the needs of farmers to remove rare, less purchased crops off their agenda, but you're also effectively encouraging healthier lifestyles.
Agriculturist Marco Contiero mentioned that "biodiversity is an essential characteristic of any sustainable agricultural system, especially in the context of climate change."[1] With sustainable crop efforts being lead by the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) and the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) the duo plans to provide a more sustainable crop, untouched by natural disasters, much like the ones experience in Haiti and neighboring areas. Contiero goes on to state "We need to ensure this is the basis for the future…" – This is exactly what Doug Band, the CGI, and the IRRI are doing by engaging in sustainability efforts.
So remember, next time you're in the supermarket picking out navel oranges or strawberries, turn your attention to something that's a bit more "out of season," or exotic in nature. The same goes for salads/salad ingredients; shop outside the norm, picking spices and vegetables that you wouldn't normally incorporate into your everyday diet. During such economic downtime it isn't always easy to maintain the same level of grocery shopping intrigue, but we must also not forget that in this sundry of foods we can find fun!
Dan Grifen – Supporter of all things green and progressive.
If you would like to contact Dan about his article, you may email him HERE:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bloomin Tuesday

  It's Bloomin Tuesday, and I have lots to contribute. Lots of things are new for me this year. So I am very thrilled at  all the little surprises I find every day.
My first Echinacea "Tiki Torch" bloom. I bought it late last year and it was too young to bloom yet.
This Rudbeckia is bloomin like gangbusters. I love the color varieties in every bloom.

Rose Mallow, first bloom from a winter sown plant.
Balloon Flower "Sentimental Blue". However this guy is twice as tall as it was last year. It must really be loving the horse manure that I top dressed the garden with in spring. last year it was only 6" tall. The flower is just in its "balloon" stage and has opened yet.

Lavatera "Pink Beauty". Another first blooms from a winter sown plant.

Lysimachia "Alexander". This is my second year for it. It is supposed to be variegated, but for some reason, half of the plant reverted back to a solid green. It is still pretty tho, but to be honest, I prefer the variegated.

Another Asiatic Lilly I got in the fall last year when Lowe's had them clearanced for a dollar. This is the first time I got to see my prize.

This is Stella d'Oro lily. I love the bright golden yellow of this plant. it just keeps getting prettier every year.

Lychnis. I received this from a Gardenweb friend last year. I love the bright jewel tone color.

Clematis Jackamani growing in with an un-identified white climbing rose.

Nicotiana "Hot Chocolate". This plant was started from seed by winter sowing, and planted Hunk-O-Seed style. As you can see there is a great variety of color here in these two blooming plants, But I think that is what makes them so pretty. While photographing them, I had forgotten about the wonderful scent Nicotiana has, until it hit me.

I have posted pics here of one of my favorite roses....Madame Isaac Pereire. This past winter I decided to try sowing some of her seeds for the first time. I have never grown roses from seed before. Most likely they will not be true to the parent, but so far the color matches.Here is mine now only 6" tall and getting ready to open. "I 'm not as young as I once was", oh wait thats one of my favorite songs,lol. Well anyway thats my excuse for not getting down on my knees and putting my nose to the ground to see if it smells as heavenly as Madame.
This is, I think, Nasturtium "Milkmaid". I planted several of these in the potager.I love the deep, blood red color of the blooms.

These are my first blooms on winter sown Catchfly. 

This is Rudbeckia "Tiger Eye Gold" that I rescued from Walmart's clearance pile. It was looking pretty ragged. I am surprised, Walmart doesnt usually discount their flowers. they always told me before that they return them. They must have changed their policy.

Petunia "Laura Bush" from winter sown seedling. I believe these are supposed to return every year. I am hoping.

Balsam Impatients. I havent grown these for many years. I remember how the pods "snap" open springing their seeds out. I cant wait to show my grand daughter.

These are the Hydrangea "Annabelle" grown from cuttings a few years ago. I love the bright white of these blooms.

White Yarrow

Shrimp Plant. This was grown from winter sown seeds as well. The flowers are rather small and non descript. But I like the foliage.

Another Asiatic Lilly I bought last fall on clearance. This one is a pretty white and called "Tiny Snowflake"

This is a pretty pink Hollyhock.

Malva "Mystic Merlin". I love the color of these.

Antirhinum "Rembrandt" grown from winter sown seeds. I hope these guys grow, cause in the pics on valueseeds.com they look to be at least a foot or so tall. This one blooming is only about 4-5" tall.

And updates on the potager....The first is my tomatoes. Early girl has green tomatoes on her about 2" across, the others just have some blooms.

The pole beans are growing very quickly as well.

This is a shot of the back of my house taken from the backyard over looking the top of the stone retaining wall.

Monday, June 14, 2010

How to save Columbine Seeds

   I don't know the particular variety of Columbines (Aquilegia) that these are. My father-in-law gave me the plant when he was still running his greenhouse probably about 30 years ago. He is no longer with us, but I still have these beautiful flowers. They bloom in spring a pretty, dark, bluish/purple color. More purple than blue tho. They require absolutely no care from me. It grows best in zones 3-8, and will tolorate full sun to partial shade. Do not plant them in full sun in zones 7-8. Even in my zone 6, it might get too hot. It seemed the ones I had planted in partial shade got about a foot taller than the ones in more sun. Those in full sun were easily 24" to 30" tall. They grow from a central rosette of leaves that kinda of resemble a frilly clover leaf, only larger.

The camera really distorted the flower color above. The true color is in the first pic.
To save seeds from these pods, you should wait till the pods are brownish.Then the seeds will be black.
This is what the seed pods look like after the flowers are gone. The pods are still green yet.

Now when the pods turn sorta brownish, you can see the pointy tips start to open and show the seeds inside.

Now just tip this pod over and wiggle it around and all the seeds will pour out. And you have this:

You can easily get 50 seeds per pod. 
Seeds need light to germinate so dont cover them. You can sow them this time of year like mother nature would, winter sow them. They need stratification if you sow them in spring. Winter sowing works ideally for this type seed. 

My First Poppies

  I winter sowed poppies for the first time this past winter. I am now getting some very pretty blooms. Look at this strange little square one. I kinda doubt, this is its normal behavior,lol.

I think poppies are supposed to re seed. So hopefully all these should come back for me next year.