Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 30, 2010 - Spring Break Huh??

Beings the lovely Mema works for the School District we get two Holidays together each year. The first being Spring Break and the second being Christmas. There is no Summer Holiday as she works for Summer School as well. This Spring Break it was decided that it would be a fantastic opportunity to sort out the MESS that her childhood home had become over the last five years that her father had been a widower. He became a bit of a hoarder and the three floors of the home suffered. We ordered a 20 yard dumpster delivered and soon filled every inch of the container, the last items tossed on to hold the load down were the five mattresses and box springs from the bedrooms in the home. We would start working at 07:30 and drag ourselves to bed around 10:30 or 11:00 every night. Our youngest son and his wife Jill came two of the days and really worked hard pushing Mema and I in the right direction when they noticed us getting overwhelmed with the memories and piles of things to go through. Little Taeya who was born with her fathers sense of comic relief would interject funny little comments and songs that would keep us all light hearted. It was hard to say goodbye to them when they would leave and head back to Portland leaving Mema and I to continue sifting through the memories. But sift we did and by the Saturday end of Spring Break we headed back to Menagerie Manor, arriving home at just after midnight. I don't know who was happier to be home, the dogs or the two of us. After loading all the boxes of things Mema and I could not part with into the back of the garage we stumbled into bed and slept better then we had slept all week, both rising early next mourning with unbelievable pains in our backs, legs and arms from all the work of the last six days. But it is all done and ready for the Estate sale we will have later in the summer.
Menagerie Manor is not an easy place to leave and go off on Holiday without a care. We had one neighbor come over in the AM and open the curtains and feed the animals=
Two ancient Tortoises - Ruby and Elmo
One very large aquarium of tropical fishes
Mema's Canary - Ray
The King of Felines - Maxwell
Then out to the Garden----
Mema's Ladies (Chickens)- Hazel, Tillie, Ella, GiGi and Tammy
My Aviary full of Parakeets
Feed my big collection of Koi in the pond
Water all the pots in the Greenhouse.
Then in the PM a good friend from further up Mt. Tabor came over and closed the house up and checked to make sure everyone had water and food to last the night, and then she would water all my seed trays in the Greenhouse again as they dry out so fast.
And last but not least our two dogs Betty the Pembroke Corgi and Sophie the Minnie wire Dachshund which we take with everywhere we go

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010 - Cherry Blossom

Back in the early eighty's my younger brother asked that I design the landscape for his new home in the west hills of Portland. It is a very large home built on a hill top, so there were a few obstacles but I got the job done. After the landscape was installed it turned out beautiful if I don't say so myself. As a thank you for a job well done he purchased this Mt. Fuji Cherry for me. I have maintained the canopy fairly short and in a sort of an umbrella shape. I just love the big pendulous double flowers of this specimen and if I happen to be working out front someone always stops and comments on how nice the tree is.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Araucaria araucana - Monkey Puzzle Tree

Today March 15 th 2010, about 14 or 15 feet tall

Planting day March 15th 2006, a Christmas gift from Nathan our oldest son.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cool Nest

I found this nest hanging about eight feet from the ground in an Oregon Red Cedar that is growing in my neighbors yard. She was having some pruners over to raise the canopy up a little this last fall, so since it was past nesting time I was able to safely remove and preserve the nest without robbing some pore bird of its home. It would have been lost to the work of the pruners if left. It was built by a "Bushtit", a very tiny bird (4") for such a large nest. Built of mostly moss and lichen and held together with spider webs that they collect....pretty amazing little architects.

Meanwhile back in the Greenhouse

Last fall I was a first time tomato seed saver. Mema had me dig out all our Cherry tomato's after she tasted Sun Gold that a friend gave her. The skins are not tough in the slightest and they are very sweet to the taste. So before she ate the last couple of tomato's I sliced them open and carefully removed the seeds. The following is the process that worked for me, as you can see from the picture germination was very successful.
1. Slice the bottom of the tomato and carefully squeeze out the contents into a clean container.
2. I tagged the container with the name and date that I started the process.
3. I had to add a little water as there was very little juice.
4. In about three days I noticed a whitish scum forming on the top, that is the fermentation starting and without fermentation you will not have any success.
5. Once the scummy stuff forms you need to stir the mixture daily to start separating the seeds from the pulp.
6. Once the fermentation had been doing its thing and I had been doing my stirring thing for a couple of days, I filled the container almost to the top with fresh water.
7. I then set it on the counter and let the viable seeds fall to the bottom.
8. I then carefully poured off the water and the floaters as they are not viable.
9. Now I dumped the remaining seeds onto a dinner plate with a couple layers of newspaper on it and then placed the plate on top of the fridge for a couple of days to completely dry.
10. Once the seeds were dry I rubbed them between my fingers to separate them and then put them in an envelope.

Chicken Tantrum

The "Ladies" are a little peeved with me as I saw a Raccoon sneaking around late the other night when I let Betty and Sophie out for a romp and piddle. I don't want a repeat of last years massacre, so they have not been aloud to free range through the garden. Tillie the Black Australorp threw a real tantrum and when that got no results she grabbed Hazel the Americana by the tuft. It amazes me that Hazel doesn't just beat the crap out of her. All are laying almost every day so the egg basket in the fridge is overflowing and anytime one of the kids come for a visit they leave with a dozen eggs.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March 9, 2010

Just opened in the greenhouse - Odonticidium "Wildcat"

It is quite cold out and supposed to drop into the thirty's tonight, so as much as I hate it I turned my second heater on in the greenhouse. I really need to check into some solar panels. My Sun Gold tomato's have sprouted and the chives have been up for about three days. We are going to purchase a six foot long metal stock tank to plant the tomato's in this year and I have some really heavy duty castor's that I hung onto for years just because they were to nice to toss out, glad I kept them. They will enable us to roll the tank around for more convenience. It will make a nice road block at the end of the drive when the "Little Terrorists" are over and playing out there.

Monday, March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010

Saturday Mema and I went out to Forest Grove for a visit with her father at the Hospital. On our way to visit I stopped in at Larsen's Nursery and bought a one gallon sized Kiwi arguta "Issai" smooth skin for $14.99. It is a self fruiting hardy plant that produces green fruit about the size of a large grape. Don't know anything about them but that it is less invasive then the regular Kiwi vines. Crazy Cat Lady next door has several regular Kiwi's and they grow extremely fast and are out of hand in a short amount of time.
When we got home I transplanted the three Boxwood's from Mt. Vernon in the Mickey Garden. It will take a while for them to fill in but they are large enough for passersby to see what the idea is. The marigolds we planted every year did a nice job but they took a lot of care, so this will be lower maintenance and I love Boxwood in the garden. When we vacationed in D.C. we visited Mt. Vernon and I purchased Boxwood cuttings from the original plants that Martha Washington planted around the kitchen garden on the estate so these have a great history as well as depicting Mema and my favorite character "Mickey Mouse".

Friday, March 5, 2010

March 5, 2010

The Koi are becoming very active with this warmer weather, the small silver disk is the top of the floating thermometer. I think they are watching to see if the temp rises enough for feeding time to commence, they constantly bump it around as if they are trying to convince us its warm enough now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2008 The Year My Dream Came True

Ian, my youngest of our two sons and his wife Jill spent the day building my Greenhouse with the stipulation that I "look but don't touch".

Just sitting and waiting for spring

The tarps are off

Look at all the parts

Jill....taking over and getting it done right

Ian....."Job Sight Boss"

"Someone move him or I will"

"Oh guys.....nice wall...but it's on the wrong side"

Putting doors together

"I said, someone move him"

Nice work

Starting to look like a greenhouse

Ready for orchids

Maxwell - The Govenor of the Manor

Maxwell has always had his way, and if you don't agree with him, you get "the glare"

March Calendar

Roses - Fertilize roses. After you’ve pruned established roses and before spring growth starts, feed plants. Wait to feed newly set-out plants until after first bloom.
Prune roses. As new buds swell, remove dead or diseased branches. Next remove closely parallel or crossing branches. Then prune for shape.
Early March - final pruning of roses.

Seeds - Sow flower seeds. Bachelor’s button, calendula, clarkia, cosmos, godetia, larkspur, Shirley poppy, snapdragon, sweet alyssum, Love in the Mist, Poppies can all be sown in the garden now. Put them in full sun.

Vegetables - Plant cool season vegetables. Beet, carrot, lettuce, pea, radish and spinach can all be sown this month, as can most cabbage family members. A cloche helps warm the soil and gives seedlings an early start. Bare-root artichokes, asparagus, horseradish and rhubarb are available.

Ferns - Last week, cut back all old fronds.

Orchids - Liquid iron on all orchids.

Berries - Feed berries. Put a complete fertilizer on all kinds of berries except strawberries. (you feed them after the June crop) Before you put in new berries or divide old ones, amend the soil with generous amounts of compost.

Perennials - One trustworthy sign that clumps need dividing is reduced flower production or lackluster growth last year. Divide overgrown clumps this month, and plants will be more vigorous this summer. Use a shovel to dig in a circle around clumps, then pop them out of the ground and slice them into chunks. most plants will do well cut into pieces 6 - 8 inches across. Replant divisions into well-amended soil or put them in pots. If you have too many plants, consider giving your excess to a worthy organization for its plant sale. (or Debbie)

Blueberries – Starting on St. Patrick’s Day feed with Sulfate of Ammonia.
When new growth starts and while wet weather is still with us fertilize with Rhodibloom.

Fruit Trees – Apply lime to strengthen branches.

March 3,2010

I planted quite a few more vegetables in trays as well as in the garden. I planted a double row of Spanish Onions but the crows keep pulling the sprouts up and leaving them to dry out on the ground, good thing I saved that hunk of bird netting.
Onion sprout remnants

Next year I will buy the sets instead of sprouts that way they will root well before the emerge from the soil. Mema's Ladies are laying lots of eggs with this warmer weather.
Neighbor lady Trish gave me her excess Pansy plants and I planted them around the new Blueberries I just put in. One of the trays of seeds I planted was an Heirloom Tomato called "Stupice", it is an early producer and is cold tolerant. I also planted a whole tray of Lupin's. Sometime this weekend I will plant the new Rose I got, "Summertime Souvenir". Sounds like it will be a great addition to the collection.