Friday, December 31, 2010

A blessing for the new year

Something just beyond the horizon beckons us forwards to become who we already are but do not know it yet... Rilke
This natural impulse for growth: I see it in the seeds I sow, the plants that grow, the flowers that bloom. What is that all about? I don't know but this drive for growth seems to be something quite fundamental about life. With that thought in mind, sending this blessing out to all: may this new year be a good year of growth for all, in whatever form it may take!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New condo for the worms

As a gardening geek, getting a trendy looking new worm condo for my holiday present was a stroke of pure awesomeness. This one is available to residents of our city for a discount. If you are in southern California, google your city or county to find whether your municipality offers this.
worm bin
The worms' new condo, named Wriggly Wranch tm, comes with a bottom level spigot for the precious worm tea, legs to keep off the ground, and coconut coir for the worms' first bed.
worm bin

The good: Nice to have two trays so that you add the fresher veggies in the top bin. The spigot is a nice addition. In the previous setup, I had been using my turkey baster to suck up the worm 'tea'. Maybe I can retire the turkey baster from gardening.

The bad, maybe: Wriggly Wranch tm used to come with three trays instead of the two. We'll see if I need that third tray. The collecting spigot is also located about an inch above the bottom of the tray, which means in order to get any worm goodness, you'll have to have more than an inch of liquid to accumulate. Seems like a lot of liquid to just have hanging around. On second thought, I may have to bring out the ol turkey baster out of retirement.

Nice FAQs on worm composting explored on this blog post at North Coast Gardening.

I'll see how this works out.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry sweet peas to all

For the first time, I have a spray of my favorite flowers just in time for the holidays. Yup, this is early, even here in Southern California.
first sweet peas
Directly seeded into the ground in August, and note this is NOT when I usually plant, my sweet peas grew like weeds. I think they liked our weird cold summer combined with those few weeks of weird hot weather in November and December. For support, I use one of those horribly shaky and wobbly 'tomato cages' you can purchase at chain garden stores but I turn them upside down, the legs up in the air, and use stakes to stabilize the whole thing. I tie a ribbon round the legs and the peas grow up the sides, confining the sweet peas to a small spot, perfect for a tiny garden. Sweet peas are my favorite fleur. Their fragrance always reminds me to take a moment and relax so I am happy to share these with you this holiday season in this way.

first sweet peas

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Hummingbird Wars

During our amazing December warm spell, right before the record-breaking big rains in southern California, I noticed intermittent buzzing sounds in my bicolor tree mallow, followed by feathery swooping things whizzing by my head.

malva and the bee, originally uploaded by luvarugula.
No way could I ID them visually as all I saw was a blur, the usual for me with hummingbirds. Although a novice birder, I use sound so I knew they weren't Anna's nor Costa's. When it escalated to be quite the epic battle I wandered over to the tree mallow and came upon one fearless hummer, refusing to budge as he sat on a nearby branch as though daring me to do something. Fine, I thought, I'll get a shot of you so I left to get my camera. When I came back, he was still there so here he is, giving me the evil eye. An Allen's, I think. hummer number one

Then along came the other hummer, a bit larger and greener. It chased Allen number one off but hummer number two was a bit more elusive after he secured the tree, so skittish so I couldn't get a better shot.

hummer number two, originally uploaded by luvarugula.

Allen number one, of course, came back in full attack mode. At which point, I needed to leave. But all throughout this month, even in our epic rain, I could still hear them battling even though I couldn't quite see them.

I'm wondering if they are migrating through. I usually don't see Allen's as much as Anna's hummingbirds.
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