Friday, April 29, 2011

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. (Martin Luther)

Our next door neighbors moved out.

This property has the most beautiful apple tree I have seen in a very long time. While I had been thinking about getting a bunch of cuttings for a while, I waited until they said it was okay.

That was today.

Hmmm, unfortunately, as you can see, the tree is already blooming and it is best to take cuttings, when the tree is completely dormant.

However, I did it anyways and am going to see what will happen. I chose twigs that were not yet blooming and that also did not have too much green on them yet.

I put the twigs in a jar with water and some rootone sprinkles to aid in the root development. 

There you go; keep you posted. . .

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Wild Sage Seeds Savings

Right now is a great time for taking hikes. When the sun hits all the aromatic herbs, the scents come out and while hiking, you are actually getting Aromatherapy.

Dried up wild sage blossom
When I hiked a few weeks ago with Aurelia, I picked up a few dried up wild sage blossoms, thinking to extract the seeds and grow some of these beauties in the Suburban Homestead.

And when I hiked with Roberto a few days ago, we picked up a few wild fennel seeds as well.

Now, I am extracting these seeds and store them for a little bit. 

I could seed them right now; there is nothing wrong with seeding immediately. However, I am practising Moon Gardening, a technic that schedules gardening chores after the cycles of the Moon; if you want to read more about this, please refer to my blog named "Gardening with La Luna".

Per this practise, seeds of perennials are best seeded in the First Quarter of the Moon cycle.

Since we are in the fourth quarter of the Moon phases, which is a dormant phase, I want to waitr until probably Monday or Tuesday, when we are into the first quarter of the Moon phases to seed these babies. 

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Thursday, April 28, 2011

BROKKOLI - Disasters and Seed Saving

Brokkoli plant
What happened to my brokks? I seeded them out when we still lived in the apartment in Marina del Rey and got about 60 beautiful plants, which I then transplanted into their dedicated bed in our Suburban Homestead.

My wonderful mother in law was already agreeing to take some of these expected way to many brokkoli heads. And then they grew and grew and flowered and no brokkoli heads were ever seen.

Where have all the flowers gone?

Well, as I learnt, when brokkoli flowers it is too late. Their heads need to come off before the yellow flowers set in. But mine never head big heads; they only had tiny little green blossoms.

Hmm, apparently Ms Open-Pollinator Heirloom had bought a variety that is very unhybridised and does not grow big brokkli-heads. This may very well be the ancestor of any modern brokkoli.

What to do now with all these brokkolis?

Robert suggested throwing them out because they took up space but Ms Frugal over-ruled him and decided to let them go grazy and bloom and then collect the seeds and reseed in fall. Yes, nothing goes to waste here.

Besides, in an environment of mass extinction, I strongly encourage everyone to save seeds.

So, I kept caring for my brokkoli; meaning I watered them.

About seed saving brokkoli:

Typically, brokks are an insect pollinated biennial but some can work as an annual (apparently this very original brokkoli does).

If you plant different brassica varieties (cabbage, brokkoli, cauliflower, beets), they need to be isolated by ¼ mile to prevent cross pollination. If that occurs, you never know what you get... No, seriously, throw away these seeds because nothing will grow that is even remotely related to either of the parent plants.

Barriers also can help; you can establish barriers to accomplish the brassica separation for seed saving purposes. So, Tree lines, woods or buildings in between varieties can allow for shorter distances.

Seed pods

Seed in fall, transplant in early spring and allow plants to flower after forming a compact

Broccoli seed can take a very long time to mature and may require some season

Anywho, you need to collect the seeds before they seed themselves. Reason is that you should not plant brassicas in a bed where brassicas have been the year prior. These plants suck the soil dry of nutrients. You may want to dedicate this bed to legumes (peas, beans and such), which give back to the soil. They are the so-called 'nitroogen-fixers'.

Seeds still in the pod
 Back to the seed saving: Collect the seed stalks when the seed pods are dry. Be careful to prevent losses due to shattering.

I read that a 1/8" screen can help with getting the seeds out of the pods. Of course I am planning on making a huge big mess on our dining room table.

Broccoli seed remains viable for 5 years under cool and dry storage conditions. I store mine in one of my gazzillion used almond butter jars.

Fall can come! When I then plant them, I am aware that I need to eat them before the pretty flowers show up.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PREGNANT BITCH - Get an Ultrasound, it may save your dog's life

So, our female Lab had been with the stud for a week straight in the week following her heat, which is supposedly her ovulating period and we were excitedly expecting puppies mid May.

Everything seemed fine. Schoko got fatter and seemed a bit lazy and mopy, just like any pregnant lady.

For no apparent reason, I felt the need to bring her to the Vet to have an ultrasound taken.

Roberto was not so crazy about spending that money (which BTW we don't have)  but I  insisted, saying that Schoko was already over 6 years old and I wanted to be sure everything was okay.

Also, our vet mentioned it was not that expensive;  a pregnancy ultrasound runs about $150 - $200 in the LA area. Still pricey, but I wanted to know that Schoko and the pups were alright.

When we were there, the vet ultrasounded my BFF and I could read in his face that something was not right. He said he wanted to do X-rays. This is when I asked him, what was going on and he said, he wasn't quite sure but he thought that there were probably no puppies.


After the x-rays, he said, "She is not pregnant. Sorry. Schoko requires emergency surgery. Come back tomorrow morning. This is very serious. There is some strange mass in her abdomen and we need to take it out."

The vet expressed his regrets in particular because he said he would definetely have wanted one of Schoko's babies. Yes, she is an exceptional dog.

In tears, I brought my BFF home. I guess, I was hugging her all night and when I brought her to the vet, I didn't want to leave her. It was hard to be confronted with the idea of loosing my BFF for almost seven years. I prayed.

In the afternoon, the vet called me to let me know that they had taken a soccerball size tumor out of my dog's stomach and that she was doing well. AH, THANK YOU GOD!!

When I picked up Schoko in the evening, she was soo happy. Because of her whining, a tech had to be sitting with her after the surgery until we came to pick her up. Yes, sounds like my dog. 

Had I not brought Schoko in for her ultrasound, she would have been dead now. Sometimes my intuition works beautifully.
After wearing a funny looking bandage for a few days, she now seems back to almost normal.

We were happy to have our girlie back and healing until I received this phone call today from our vet. The tumor was not benign; it was malignant and Schoko now has to go for regular check ups.

So, I am back to praying for my big girl. Please also send some love to my girlie. Thank you!!

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Friday, April 22, 2011

Aurelia Artista

And my mom always thought I am the one with the artistic streak.... no, seriously, looking at Aurelia's artwork, I can only tell my mom, "Your child has ZERO talent. MY girlie is the Artista in the family!" Look at this and bare in mind she is three years old ...

Floating Angel

Window to Heaven

This is from me ... I like Aurelia's stuff soo much better.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Stroll thru my backyard - SPRING IS HERE!

Every morning and every evening, I am inspecting the plants. Checking if everyone has exactly what they need and how they are doing.

Grab your coffee and take a stroll with me...

Here are the peas; look, they are starting to bloom.

Peas are great nitrogen fixers. Like all legumes, they will 'feed' the soil.

Of course, they are climbers and the dollarstore had these inexpensive wired arbors, which we got for them.

Amazing, how they use whatever structure they can find and twist their little vines around it to grow up up up to the sun.

This is our wall which separates us from our neighbor and teh peas aid in hiding teh not so pretty adobe.

Next, here are the Brussel Sprouts. Look closely! See the little buttons? These are the actual brussels. They grow next to the leaves right next to the stem. Eventually the leaves will turn yellow and fall off, showing off the gorgeous brussels on the stem.

Now  look at this ...

Lotta munching my salad.

Ah well, I guess we have enough to share with our feathered girls.

Yes, I do have a few solely ornamentals as well. Here is my Amaryllis bulb. I enjoy it's beautiful blooms every year.
The strawberries and blueberries are on the way ...
That's the news for today. Check back in soon...

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Monday, April 18, 2011

To bee or not to bee?

The hive, assembled
 OMG. We ordered bees. Not that either of us has any experience in beekeeping or clue on how to handle bees. Yes, you may argue that we have been swept away by the romantic notion of saving the honeybees and with that saving the world. So far for our James Bond ambitions.

Now for the reality check: At some point, I also ordered the Beginner's Kit, including the to-be-asssembled hive body, a complete suit, a hat with veil, a smoker and a bunch of other yet to be identified items.

The 'stuff' to go with the bees arrived  a while ago and I started assembling the hive. Now, I have quite some experience and have mastered a variety of Ikea items including an entire kitchen but somehow the instructions for this hive didn't make any sense to me.

Then the manly man came in and took over.

Took him a few hours to come rushing in from the garage, complaining about missing instruction papers. No. That was all that there was. Turns out, the instructions were incomplete and incorrect as well as assembly items missing. Great, so it wasn't just the girl. So if you ever order from drapers apiary, bare that in mind....

Of course, Roberto got the job done.

Now we are waiting for our bees to move into this hive. They were scheduled to arrive in April. Well, any day now. Any day.

We are pretty nervous because the NUC will be all Italian including an Italian queen. BUT with all our animals and Aurelia, I was worried they might be too aggressive, so I ordered a Carneolean queen. Carneoleans are supposedly the most docile queen bees.

The theory is such that after you replace the Italian queen with a Carni queen, within a couple of months all bees are Carnis and Mama sleeps better because chances of stings just got reduced dramatically.

Yes, we will soon after the transport requeen.
Yes, we are aware that this will send the entire colony into two massive shocks.
Yes, neither one of us has ever set up a NUC nor requeened.

With the dark outlook that has been portrayed as effects of the demise of the honeybee (no plants pollinated, no crops, no food), we decided to bee... and do whatever we can, even though we actually do not know what we are doing.

No, seriously, both of us have been doing a tremendous amount of research on beekeeping and Roberto's brother has had bees FOREVAH, so we are pretty optimistic. And yes, most definetely TO BEE!

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis
55 AD - 138 AD

IT'S A FULL MOON - Gardening with La Luna

It is a full moon!

La Luna influences the tides. Most of us are aware of that.

But did you know that the moon also influences the groundwater tables, the movement of fluids in plants, and elevation of continental land masses? And astrologers will tell you that whenever a big earthquake hits, La Luna was somehow involved in the alignment of the heavenly bodies. Midwives will tell you that on a full moon more babies are being born than on any other day in the month. And many hairdressers swear that cutting or coloring hair on a certain day will have a different outcome.

Per Sir Isaac Newton the tides are affected by the gravitational pull of the moon, which is stronger than the pull of the sun because it is closer to the earth.

Somehow, gardeners have put this to good use: The National Geographic reported that more gardeners today are planning their garden chores after the moon. This practise is called moon or lunar gardening and is based upon the moon's gravitational effect on the fluids in soil and plants.

But this is nothing new! Back in the day, everything including agriculture was planned in accordance to the heavenly bodies.

So, how does gardening by the moon work?

The moon moves through a complete cycle in 28 days, has four phases or quarters which each last about seven days. In the first two quarters, between the new and the full moon, light is increasing every night. The third and fourth quarters, after the full moon is when light is decreasing.

New Moon (Dark Moon) to Full Moon (Quarter 1 and 2)

In the first quarter, the lunar gravity pulls water up, causing seeds to swell and burst, plus the increasing moonlight creates balanced growth of root and leaves.

In the second quarter the gravitational pull is less, but the moonlight is strong. This makes for strong leaf growth. Plant two days before the full moon!

Q1/2 - Now it is time to:
  • seed plants that grow above ground, preferably annual crops that produce their seeds outside the fruit, i.e. beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes, but also lettuce, spinach, celery, brokkoli, cabbages, cauliflower, grain crops as well as cucumbers like this phase
  • repot and groom houseplants
  • fertilize
  • graft fruit trees
  • plant evergreen and deciduous trees
  • mow lawns in the first or second quarter to increase growth.
Full Moon to Dark Moon (Quarter 3 and 4)

La Luna shrinks from the full moon down to the new moon or dark moon. In the Third Quarter, the energy is drawing down, creating more moisture in the soil; energy is being focused on the roots.

Q3 - Now it is time to:
  • plant, transplant and harvest root crops (bulbs, peanuts, onions, beets, carrots, potatoes) as growths goes into roots
  • plant biennials and perennials because they need strong roots
  • prune plants as the water table is diminishing and so less sap will flow out of the cut ends.
In the Fourth Quarter we have decreased gravitational pull and less moonlight; it is a dormant or resting period.

Q4 - Now it is time to:
  • weed
  • eliminate slugs (let's send out the ducks!)
  • prune plants as the water table is diminishing; less sap will flow out of the cut ends.
  • mow lawns; it won't regrow as fast
"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Sunday, April 17, 2011

YOU ARE GROUNDED - About clipping chicken wings

While, it is somewhat contraversial to clip chicken's wings, a lot of people do it to prevent their feathered friends from flying out of their enclosure and straight into a coyote's or fox's mouth. Meals on feathers, so to speak.

Why is it controversial? It is NOT because it may hurt them. This actually (if done correctly) should not be painful to the birds at all and may be comparable to a mani/pedi. However, it is controversial because holding a bird still and manipulating it may stress her out and therefore negatively impact egg production. Also, the clipped feathers may not fall out during mold by itself and may require your assistance. Pulling feathers out of a living hen? Yep, not a fun idea. Use of pliers is suggested. And of course flying may be your chicken's last resort when getting away from a predator.

While I won't clip our babies quite yet - unless of course their flying adventures get too wild, I volunteered to clip the two chickens from Aurelia's school. These two girls have been clipped annually for several years but the 'clipper' is no longer with the school.

Do it after each molt when the new feathers are complete but it can be done at any time when flying becomes an issue.

However, after each molt you will have to redo it because all feathers (including the flying feathers) grow back after each molt. Don't clip chick's; wait until they are fully grown and flying truely is an issue, because it may be that your chickens have no intention of flying anywhere.

By clipping the wings, we are referring to removing the tips of the flight feathers from only one of the chicken’s wings. Yes, weired, huh?! This is done to throw the potential flyer off balance. They may still try to fly but they won't get anywhere anymore. Some people cut both wings, which seems a tad more humane to me since the bird won't be so off center. 

Use sturdy, sharp scissors with rounded ends to prevent accidentally stabbing the birdie. They can get pretty freaked out if they are not used to being held.  A helper may be a good idea. One holds the feathered girlie, the other spreads out the wing and snips away. A word about holding the chicken: If the chicken is not used to being held, hold it at the feet and gently wrap an old towel around her. If you are dealing with a docile hen, just hold her gently.

I have read somewhere that when you clip them in the evening, you can simply just pick your bird from the roost.

Before - Note the long flying
feathers in the front
Spread out completely the chicken’s wing. Look for the so called flight-feathers.

They are typically tucked under the other feathers, right at the front underneath the wing.

With some breeds they are easily spotted due to them being longer and of different color than the other feathers.

Be careful not to cut any new growth feathers, those are the ones with blood in the shaft.

Hold the wing into the sun: If they look pinkish, stay away! If you accidentally cut these feathers, you are majorly injuring your chicken and will cause severe blood loss.

Should however it happen, pull the feather (pliers), apply corn starch and apply pressure with a clean towel to stop the bleeding. If it doesn't stop within a few minutes, race to the Vet!

 Back to the cutting the flying feathers part: Cut 5-6 feathers about a third of the way down.

   Remove more length from the longer feathers at the tip of the wing and leave more where the wing attaches to the body. 

Clip feathers to just under the next layer of feathers on the wing to prevent that the cut edges irritate the bird’s skin and she may try to pick them out. To see this better, it may be easier to snip from underneath the wing.

As I said, you only need to clip one of the wings but clipping both seems more humane.

You are done? Great! Move the scissors somewhere safe before you let the bird go. Since the chicken will be racing to get away from you, make sure she cannot hurt herself on her flight.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Ants love my citrus trees - I don't love that!!!

The pomegranate tree that
I planted when Aurelia was born.
 Ahhhh.... spring is in full swing.

I am taking a stroll through our fruit tree alley with my morning coffee and enjoy the beauty of my fruit trees blossoming and the air being filled with sweetness.

I am inspecting each tree, (yes, I do talk to them) while Roberto waters them with the water from our duck pond (reduce reuse recycle).

BUT WHAT IS THIS??? Ants on my dwarf grapefruit....

OK, true. What's not to love about a citrus tree?

I understand why they are so fond of my Oro Blancos. Or, technically they are Roberto's Oro Blancos because he looves this fruit.

However, I do not approve that they are on it and most probably already have a plan to put their NASTY aphids on it and ruin my tree.

What can I do? And no, I do not want to bring out the big guns.

Well, I found some general rules to discourage ants from invading yummy citrus trees:  
  • Heavy pruning: Keep any branches 30 inches from the ground. Since this is a small dwarf (barely 30 inches in height) Oro Blanco and it is spring and the fruit is just starting to settle (only prune when no fruit is on tree), this is not an option for me.
  • Application of sticky material on trunk, something that contains polybutenes but is not oil-based, because the oil will cause harm to the tree. Reapply according to the directions, but generally the sticky material will last from two to 10 months. This still sounds not natural enough for me.
  • Watering away from the trunk. Prevent water from pooling underneath the trunk by building a circular mound around the trunk area with dirt.I will start doing this.
  • Set ant baits around the citrus tree. Ahaaa!!! Now we are talking.
Hmmm... I don't want to go out shopping to berid ants; I am looking into beridding these crawlers with stuff that I find around the Suburban Homestead. So, here is my plan of attack or the recipe for the ant traps:
Here is what I used:
Small plastic containers
Granulated sugar

In two of the small plastic containers which I have amassed (Philadelpia, Hummus, Pudding) with lids, I drilled about 5 or 6 holes evenly spaced around the outside of each container about an inch from the top. These holes should be about the size of a pencil to allow the ants to enter the containers of death easily. 

Mix Borax with granulated sugar in a 1:3 ratio.  

BTW: Borax, can be found in the laundry detergent section of any large grocery store.
Fill the plastic container about half full with the powdery mix.
Make sure to keep the levels about 1/2 an inch below the holes in the container.
Now, take the whole production to the sink.
Add enough water to make the mixture slightly soupy.
The exact amount of water is not important. The mixture will become like syrup over time.
Add about 1 teaspoon of jam or honey to the mixture. I read some people use peanut butter.
Stir until mixed and place the lid on the container.
Set the traps in ant invaded areas.
The bait works in two ways:
1. It is toxic to ants that ingest it immediately.
2. Ants will transport the bait back to the colony where other ants will ingest the bait and die.  
A word of caution: Borax is toxic. Do not place the traps in areas where animals (like the family pet) or children can accidentally open the lid and ingest the poison.

Here is some more information on ants:

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis


I believe nature knows best. So, if we only watched nature better and more, we could learn a ton from it. Here is what I learned about gardening: Some plants grow well together, others do not agree with each other one little bit and some plants can help controlling pests while others attract them.

This technic is called COMPANION PLANTING and I have researched it extensively for our garden. It can really make gardening so much easier. It also aids in making your garden overall healthier and low maintenance.

But first, let's look at how companion planting works...   If you plant certain companion plants together, this may assist in
  • killing pests e.g. french marigolds killing non cyst-forming eelworm.
  • tricking pests by masking crop scent e.g. growing onions (stronger scent) inhibit carrot root fly.
  • attracting the pest away from the crop. e.g. nasturtiums attract blackfly, redcurrant attract birds away from blackcurrants.
  • reducing the chance of pests settling on the crop plant itself.
  • overall health and resistance of plant e.g. lettuce resistant to downy mildew.
  • providing food and shelter for natural pest predators as well as shelter from wind and sun
  • reducing weeds, by shading or otherwise inhibiting weeds.
  • improving soil and stimulating growth around the crop. e.g. nitrogen fixing root nodules on beans.
  • providing support for climbing plants. e.g. corn and climbing beans.
Be aware that correct timing is a critical factor if companions are to benefit your plants as they can.

BFF: Best Friend Forever
AE: Arch Enemy

BFF: Corn, Onion, Potato

Anise - Plant anise and coriander seeds together.  They will both germinate more quickly.  Keep soil moist and separate when seedlings have grown a little. good host for predatory wasps which prey on aphids and it is also said to repel aphids. Deters pests from brassicas by camouflaging their odor. Improves the vigor of any plants growing near it. Used in ointments to protect against bug stings and bites.
BFF: Beans, Coriander
AE: Basil, Rue

BFF: Chives, Climbing Nasturtium
AE: Potato

Asparagus - Becomes more vigorous if planted with parsley.
BFF: Aster family flowers, Dill, Coriander, Strawberries, Basil, Marigold, Nasturnium, Parsley, Tomato
AE: Mint, Onion

Basil repels Flies, Mosquitoes - Use 3 basil plants to each tomato plant.  Basil also repels flies and mosquitoes, so useful in kitchen, outdoor barbecues. 
BFF: Beans, Cabbage, Marigold, Pepper, Tomato
AE: Rue

Beans - Less likely to suffer from beetles if petunias also planted alongside.
BFF: Beets, Borage, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Collards, Corn, Cucumber, Nasturnium, Petunia, Potato, Squash, Strawberry, Summer Savory, Sunflower, Tomato
AE: Chives, Onion, Garlic, Fennel, Gladiolus, Leek

Bee Balm
BFF: Tomato
AE: Field Mustard

Beets - great to enrich soil
BFF: Basil, Bush beans, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Onion, Sage, Tomato, Mint (but since Mint is so vigorous, just spread a bunch of mint clippings around the beets and they will be soo happy)
AE: Pole beans, Mustard

Bergamot (or Red flowered Bee Balm) - Bees and hummingbirds loooove this flower. Great for tea!!
BFF: Echinacea

Borage - Plant with strawberries to increase crop.  Also good with tomatoes and squash.  Attracts bees to the garden.  Deters tomato worms, attracts bees, helps growth and flavour. BFF: Squash, Strawberry, Tomato

Broad Beans
BFF: Corn
AE: Kohlrabi

BFF: Beans, Celery, Chamomile, Dill, Mints, Nasturtium, Onion, Oregano, Potato, Rosemary, Sage
AE: Lettuce, Strawberry, Tomato

Brussel Sprouts
BFF: Beans, Celery, Dill, Hyssop, Mints, Nasturtium, Potato, Rosemary, Sage
AE: Strawberries

Cabbage - Any member of the cabbage family should also be planted with potatoes, tomatoes, celery, dill, chamomile (best), sage, thyme, mint, rosemary, lavender, beetroot or onions.
BFF: Aromatic herbs (repel Cabbage Worms), Bush Beans, Beets, Celery, Chamomile, Dill, Geranium, Hyssop, Lavender, Marigold, Mint, Nasturnium, Onions, Oregano, Potato, Rosemary, Sage, Tansy, Thyme, Tomato
AE: Dill, Grapes, Mustards, Rue, Strawberries, Tomatoes

BFF: Tomato (Repels tomato worms, asparagus beetles)

BFF: Peas
AE: Fennel

Carrots - Carrot fly is repelled if carrots are planted with sage or onions.  Also plant with peas, lettuce, chives, leeks, rosemary or tomatoes.BFF: Chervil, Chives, Leaf lettuce, Leeks, Onion, Peas, Radish, Rosemary, Sage, Tomato, Wormwood
AE: Anise, Dill

Catnip repels Flea Beetle, Ants

BFF: Beans, Beet, Celery, Chamomile, Dill, Hyssop, Lavender, Mints, Nasturtium, Onion, Oregano, Radish
AE: Dill, Strawberries, Tomatoes

BFF: Beans, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Leek, Onion, Spinach, Tomato
AE: Corn

Chamomile - Compatible with onions and cabbages but don’t plant too much.  Chamomile tea, made by soaking blossoms in cold water for 1 to 2 days, is excellent spray for damping off.  Improves both growth and flavour of onions and cabbages.
BFF: Cabbage, Mint, Onion, Squash

BFF: Bean, cabbage family, tomatoe, onion, roses
AE: cucurbits, melons, corn or herbsChervil
BFF: Carrots, Radish

Chives - Carrots grow larger planted near chives.  Helps prevent apple scab if grown underneath apple  trees.  Also helps control aphids and black spot on roses.  Cooled chive tea made from chopped chives in boiling water helps combat downy and powdery mildew.BFF: Carrots, Grapes, Parsley, Tomato
AE: Incompatible with Peas, Beans

Clover - Best to be planted with grapes, attracts many benefitials

Collard Greens BFF: Tomatoes

Coriander / Cilantro - Sown with anise seeds aids germination in both. Don’t grow near fennel as it hinders its seed formation. Repels harmful insects such as aphids, spider mites and potato beetle. A tea from this can be used as a spray for spider mites. Partners coriander are for anise, caraway, potatoes.
BFF: Anise, Potato
AE: Fennel

Corn - Sowing with beans or peas provides an increased nitrogen supply to the corn (if corn and peas/beans are planted in alternate rows).  If sunflowers are planted with corn, the incidence of armyworm decreases.  Also plant with potatoes, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash.  Vining things like this shade the ground, keeping weeds down, and use the corn stalks to trail up on.
BFF: Pepper

Amaranth, beans, cucumber, white geranium, lamb's quarters, melons, morning glory, parsley, peanuts, peas, potato, pumpkin, soybeans, squash and sunflower. A classic example is to grow climbing beans up corn while inter-planting pumpkins. The corn provides a natural trellis for the beans, pumpkins smother the weeds and helps corn roots retain moisture. Corn is a heavy feeder and the beans fix nitrogen from air into the soil however the beans do not feed the corn while it is growing. When the bean plants die back they return nitrogen to the soil that was used up by the corn. A win-win situation. Another interesting helper for corn is the weed Pig's Thistle which raises nutrients from the subsoil to where the corn can reach them. Keep corn away from celery and tomato plants by at least 20 feet.

BFF: Amaranth, Beans, Cucumber, Geranium, Lamb's Quarters, Melons, Morning Glory, Peas, Potato, Pumpkin, Sow Thistle, Squash, Sunflower 
AE:  Celery, Tomato

Cucumbers - Plant with beans, corn, peas, radishes, and sunflowers.
BFF: Beans, Broccoli, Celery, Corn, Lettuce, Marigold, Nasturnium, Onion, Peas, Radish, Savory, Sunflower, Tomato 
AE: Potato, Rue, Sage

Dead Nettle repels Potato Bug

Dill - Cabbage grows well planted near dill.  So does lettuce, corn & cucumber.  If dill is allowed to flower it suppresses the carrot crop, if not allowed to flower it is fine.  Don’t plant near fennel as they may cross fertilise.
BFF: Cabbage, Lettuce, Onion
AE: Carrot, Tomato

BFF: Lavender, YarrowEggplant - If planted with aramanthus, there is less likelihood of insects on the eggplant.  Also, beans planted with eggplants repel beetles which would otherwise attack the eggplant.
BFF: Amaranth, Beans, Peas, Spinach, Tarragon, Thyme

Fennel - Don’t grow fennel in the vegetable garden.  It is hated by tomatoes, kohlrabi, caraway and wormwood.  If planted near dill may cross fertilise.  Repels fleas, so grow it around dog kennel or teh chicken coop.
AE: Incompatible with Beans, Caraway, Dill, Fennel, Kohlrabi, Tomato, Wormwood
AE: Incompatible with Rue

BFF: Carrot, Potatoes

Feverfew repels attracts aphids away from other plants

Flax repels Potato Bug

Garlic - Planted near roses keeps aphids away.  If grown around fruit trees effective against borers.  Protects peach tree from leaf curl and apple trees from apple scab.  Grown near tomatoes deters red spider mites.  However peas, beans, cabbages and strawberries hate it.  Garlic spray may be made by crushing 4 cloves and steeping in a litre of water for several days as an insecticide for vegetables and flowers. Garlic repels Japanese Beetle, Aphids
BFF: Beets, Carrots, Chamomile, Lettuce, Raspberry,  Roses, Tomato, Summer savory
AE: Beans, Cabbage, Peas, Strawberries

Geranium - Plant near roses, grapes and corn.  Repels cabbage worm.  Oil of geranium prevents red spider mite.

Grapes - Planting clover increases the soil fertility for grapes.  Hyssop likewise increases the vine crop.
BFF: Clover, Geranium, Hyssop, Oregano
AE:  Cabbage, Radish 

Horseradish repels Potato Bug

Henbit repels Insect Repellent

Hyssop - Good for cabbages and grapes.  Hyssop repels Cabbage Moth. Helps deter white butterflies.  Good insect repellent if planted in  vegetable or flower garden.  Keep away from radishes.
BFF:  Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Grape

Lavender: Attracts butterflies.  Lavender bags repel mice, ticks and moths. Lavender repels Moths 

BFF: Beets, Cucumber, Onion
AE: Pole Beans, Pepper, Strawberry, Tomato

Leek - Leeks grow better if planted with carrots, celery or onions.
BFF; Carrots, Celery, Onions
AE: Beans, Broccoli

Lemon Balm - spreads fast and will compete for space; plant with other vigorous perennials, such as Mint

Lemon Basil - herbal tea

BFF: Beet, Cabbage, Carrot, Clover, Corn, Cucumber, Melon, Onion, Peanuts, Peas, Radish, Strawberry, Sunflower

BFF: Beans 

Marigold - Plant everywhere!  Deter many insects and slugs. Marigolds repels Mexican Bean Beetles, Nematodes, others Melons
BFF: Corn, Nasturnium, Radish

Mint - Due to their vigorous nature, they are best confined in containers. Repels cabbage butterfly, grow near cabbage family or tomatoes.  Repels fleas, ants and mice.  Keep mint and parsley away from each other. Mint repels Cabbage Moth, aphids, flea beetles
BFF: Cabbage, Tomatoes 
AE: Chamomile, Parsley 

Nasturtium - Useful insect repellent.  Plant around broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage family, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers and fruit trees.  Deters white flies, squash bugs, and are a trap crop for aphids.  Limits wooly aphid damage to apple trees if planted in a circle around them. Nasturtium repels Aphids, Squash Bugs, Striped Pumpkin Beetle

Nettle - Increases the oil production of herbs

Onions - Planting chamomile with onions improves the flavour of the onions.
BFF: Amaranth, Beets, Cabbage, Carrot, Celery, Chamomile, Leeks, Lettuce, Pepper, Potato, Roses, Sow Thistle, Strawberry, Summer savory, Tomato
AE: Incompatible with Beans, Peas

BFF: Cabbage, Cucumber

BFF: Asparagus, Carrot, Chives, Onions, Roses, Tomato
AE: Mint

Peas - Grow them almost everywhere, peas add nitrogen to soil.  Growing interplanted with corn enhances growth of the corn.
BFF: Aromatic herbs, Beans, Carrots, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Potato, Radish, Spinach, Turnips
AE: Garlic, Gladiolus, Leek, Onion, Potoato, Shallots

BFF: Beans

Peanuts - If grown with squash or corn will increase the yield.
BFF:  Squash, Corn

BFF: Corn, Basil, Carrot, Lovage, Marjoram, Onion, Oregano
AE: Fennel, Kohlrabi 

Pennyroyal repels Flies, Mosquitoes, Fleas, others

Pot Marigold repels Tomato Worm, Asparagus Beetles, others

Pyrethrums as a dried flower repels insects

BFF: Horseradish

Pole Beans
BFF: Radish
AE:  Beets, Sunflower

Potatoes - Plant horseradishes with potatoes to make them more disease resistant.
BFF: Amaranth, Beans, Corn, Cabbage, Eggplant, Flax, Horseradish, Lettuce, Lima Beans, Marigold, Onion, Petunia 
AE: Cucumber, Pumpkin, Radish, Raspberry, Sunflower, Squash, Tomato

Pumpkin - Plant with datura to increase the vigour and health of the pumpkins.  Also plant with corn.
BFF: Corn, Datura
AE:  Apple, Potato, Raspberry, Rosemary, Tomato

Radishes - Plant with climbing beans, and both grow better.  Plant with lettuces, and the radishes become more succulent in summer time.  Also plant with peas, nasturtiums and cucumbers.  Deters cucumber beetle and other insects.
BFF:  Beans, Beets, Carrots, Chervil, Cucumber, Lettuce, Melons, Nasturnium, Parsnips, Peas, Spinach, Squash 
AE:  Brussels sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Grape, Hyssop, Kohlrabi, Potato, Turnips

BFF: Tansy
AE:  Potato

BFF: Columbine, Garlic, Onion, Roses

BFF:  Beans, Cabbage, Carrot, Sage
AE:  Potato

Rosemary - Rosemary repels Cabbage Moth, Bean Beetle, Carrot Fly
BFF: Beans, Cabbage, Carrots, Sage, thymes, oreganos, and savory should be spaced so that they don't touch the foliage.AE:  Potatoes 

Rue repels Japanesa Beetles
BFF: Figs, Raspberry, Rose, Strawberry
AE:  Basil, Cabbage, Sage

Sage - Repels Cabbage Moth, Carrot Fly, Flea Beetle, Slugs. Plant near rosemary.  Good grown with cabbage and carrots, peas and beans.  Keep away from cucumbers.  Sage tea can be sprayed on mature plants not seedlings.
BFF: Beans, Cabbage, Carrot, Marjoram, Peas, Rosemary, Strawberry, Tomato
AE: cucumber, Rue

BFF: Beans, Onions

Southernwood - - Southernwood repels Cabbage Moth
BFF: Cabbage

BFF: Corn, Onions, Tomato

BFF: Everything

Spinach - Plant with strawberries, and base of trellised peas.  Spinach benefits from shading of peas and wind protection.
BFF: Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Eggplant, Onion, Peas, Strawberry

BFF:  Beans, Corn, Cucumbers, Icicle radishes, Mint, Nasturtium, Onion
AE: Incompatible with Potatoes

Stevia - best by itself in a container

Strawberries - Planted with borage improves the soil nutrition for the strawberries.  Also plant with bush beans, spinach and lettuce.
BFF: Asparagus, Beans, Borage, Comfrey, Lettuce, Onion, Spinach
AE: Incompatible with Broccoli, Brussle Sprouts, Cabbage, Califlower, Kohlrabi

BFF:  Cucumber
AE:  Cabbage

Summer Savory repels Bean Beetles

Tansy - repels Flying Insects, Japanese Beetles, Striped Cucumber Beetles, Squash Bugs, Ants, Flies and moths.  Rub leaves onto fur of dogs and cats to repel fleas.  Plant near fruit trees and roses.  It concentrates potassium in the soil so good for compost heap.

BFF:  Fruits, Peppers, Potato, Rose, Raspberry

Thyme - Attracts bees and deters cabbage worm so plant near members of cabbage family.  Beneficial effect on plants near it.
BFF:  Cabbage

Tomatoes - Tomatoes grow and produce better when planted with marigolds; the same rule applies to basil planted with tomatoes.
BFF:  Asparagus, Basil, Bee Balm, Carrot, Celery, Chives, Garlic, Lemon Balm, Onions, Marigold, Mint, Nasturtium, Parsley, Peas, Sage
AE:  Incompatible with Cabbage, Cauliflower, Corn, Dill, Fennel, Kohlrabi, Potato

BFF:  Peas

Valerian- Excellent addition to compost heap as stimulates phosphorous activity in soil.  Earthworms love it.

Wormwood - Grow by itself edge of garden as inhibits growth of other plants.  Spray discourages slugs and snails.

Wormwood planted as a border aids in repelling animals

Yarrow - Increases essential oil content enhancing aromatic quality and making more resistant to insect attack.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis


Friday, April 15, 2011

Roo or Hen? Of sexing chicks

How do you sex chickens? Our babies are three weeks old now and I have the slight suspicion that we have two gals and two roos.

OH NO! Oh yeah ....

Here are some hints for sexing them:

He's a Roo
 #1: If you pick them up on their body with the feet dangling in the air, a hen-chick will be just hanging there while the dude will try to get away and be very noisy.

#2: Female chicks feather out sooner than their male buddies.

#3: With some breeds, watch a tail developping. Especially with the Sumatras, the boys have gorgeous tails.... I know, this sounds funny.

#4: General behaviour: Strutting around with a roo walk ... yeah, if it walks like a duck, ...

So, according to this. we should have:
  • one Sumatra hen, who is all black, hence the name BLACK,
  • one Sumatra boy, with splash coloring, he is called SPLASH,
  • one Rhode Island Red girl, named SUNSHINE and
  • one Rhode Island Red boy, named POPPY.
Let's see when the combs kick in, whether we diagnosed correctly.

Sexing all fowl, baby chicks, game birds, cage birds

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Ducks and Chicks

Gotta admit, I was suspecting that they would not get along too well. But I was still hoping.

Two of our chicks with Big; note her bad leg.
We had our three week old chicks out with our two ducks today and guess what:

Whenever one of the little pointy-beaks came close to the round-beaks, Lotta (one of our two ducks, the one that can move) spread her wings and started hissing at and running after the little fluff-ball.

Thank god we are free ranging and have a large yard, so these birds can simply avoid each other and I am expecting no losses due to establishing of a pecking order. Typically it is more the chickens that are into pecking. And with their pointy beaks they can cause quite some damage on a duck who due to her round beak basically has no ways to defend herself. But since our ducks are the big guys, hopefully the chicks will respect that and noone gets injured.

I am realising I am a total duck person. My ducks are way more docile than the chicks. They let me pick them up and pet them. Of course I think they are cuter. And I am convinced, Lotta talks to me: she yells for food, shade, water and in the evening that I bring Big in the duck house. Yes, Lotta-dear, I am coming!!!

Ducks are amazingly social and caring animals. Since Big cannot walk right now, Lotta not only won't leave her side but she also protects her from everything and everyone.

Whenever one of the chicks or another bird comes flying towards the food bowl, where Big typically hangs out, Lotta jumps to action. It is kinda funny to watch.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

Repurposing old linen tutorial - CROCHET

We have had this old ragged white bedsheet for way too long but Ms Thrifty didn't feel like throwing away such a large piece of fabric.

So, I ripped it in strips of about 2 inches each, tied them up to one loong line and started crocheting away.

I started with one large loop.

In this initial loop, I crocheted 8 double-crochets, each divided by one cast and then closed the loop.

For the next row, I started with 4 casts, * then into each cast from the previous row, I doublecrochet one, followed by one cast *. Repeated until end of circle and closed with a loop.

I continued this pattern until the fabric-yarn was all crocheted up.

Good-bye old bedsheet, hello new seat-cover!

Ahhh, nice and cozy now on our wooden bench...

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis