All Things Andrea

All Things Andrea

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bunny #4!


I actually got to witness this momentous event, a day after catching my third rabbit!  I happened to glance out the window this morning just as bunny #4 was checking out the trap.  I was so annoyed - his bunny buddy on the right was sprawled out under the pine tree, acting as if she owned the place.  And, I was sure bunny #4 was simply terrorizing me,
 would check out the bait, but then go on his merry way.  But alas, his curiosity resulted in his demise.  It was very amusing - his buddy fled the scene as soon as the trap snapped shut, nervously eyeing his condition from the safety of my neighbor's yard, never venturing back to see if she could offer any comfort to her companion in his hour of need. 
(Sorry about the quality of this picture, but I took it from inside the house, through the glass of my patio door - I didn't want to take the chance of thwarting a successful catch!)



I found a lovely drop off spot for him, but...


... he preferred the berm again!   (I guess development bunnies don't appreciate green grass??)  This time, he headed for Mount Gretna instead of my house, thank goodness!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Smoothie Beauty

Making Progress

Bunny #3!



Release site

Now, if you were a rabbit, wouldn't you head toward the trees instead of the road??
Nope, not this guy!  Not only did he head for the road, but he hopped along the berm for as long as I could see, heading in the direction of Etown.  AAAHHHHHH!!!
Hopefully he'll have second thoughts when he realizes how far he has to go!

I was feeling good about my progress until I just looked out the window and saw TWO rabbits playing in the back yard.  I have to admit - I thought they were kind of cute...
 ...UNTIL the little stinkers headed for my sugar snap peas and started chomping on them!
Double AAAHHHHHH!!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Seed Markers


Popsicle sticks worth great for seed makers for the garden - they're inexpensive and then can be tossed in the compost pile after they've served their purpose!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Worth Contemplating

"Never apologize for your cooking."
- Julia Child in My Life in France

Garden Glimpses

Hosta



Gerbera daisy

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Potting Tip



Some empty soda cans in the bottom of your large pots will cut back on the amount of potting soil you'll need as well as making the pot lighter in weight.  No need to drink any soda (bad, bad bad!!) - collect some from a neighbor's recycling bin, then use them over and over; the cans will last from year to year since they're aluminum!  :)


God, the Ultimate Master Gardener


Every time I look at this flowerbed, I have to smile to myself.  I never planted the Bleeding Hearts in the background, nor the Lamb's Ear.  Both plants came up on their own - the Bleeding Heart reseeded itself from another flower bed, and I have absolutely no idea where the Lamb's Ear came from since I have never even planted any Lamb's Ear in years!  But the silvery foliage of the Lamb's Ear is perfect with the pale pink clematis and the white concrete bench, and the pink bleeding hearts are always a hopeful sign of spring.  I never would have thought of including either plant in this particular flower bed.  I had a local garden center draw up plans for my beds years ago, and tried the recommended plants numerous times, only for them to die out yet again.  I've now concluded that the best plan is to go along with what He wants to grow in your garden!

Garden Glimpses

Magic Carpet Spirea



Peonies

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vera's Place



A friend introduced me to this lovely little spot for buying flowers today. 



But even lovelier than the flowers was Vera, the beautiful proprietress.


Her blue eyes were prettier than any of her beloved flowers and plantings.  I wish I could have snapped a photo of her, but her conservative religion wouldn't allow such vanity.  However, I will always remember her simple beauty that surely flowed out of an uncluttered life that allowed her space to focus on something she loved.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fresh Lettuce Storage




Those plastic bins that spring lettuce mixes come in at the grocery store also work great for storing fresh greens from the garden!

Is there any justice??!!


AAHHHH!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Kindred-Spirit Gardeners



As much as I love gardening, it's often more than I can manage with ever present physical limitations.  It's a love/hate relationship!  I love the beauty of tidy flower beds and a manicured lawn, but dread the aches and pains that go with it, and hate feeling overwhelmed when the workload gets out of control.  When I was in the midst of cancer treatment in 2007, a dear friend offered to come weed for me.  What a blessing!!  It was the one thing I most needed, but also the very thing that few people would enjoy doing, or would do well.  I was still recuperating from surgery and needed to sit in the lawn chair and just watch most of the time, but my friend cheerfully and efficiently breezed through the task.  Suddenly, the weedy flowerbeds that had felt so overwhelming and such a reminder of my limitations were now a thing of beauty and the very thing that breathed life back into my soul.  Since that summer, she has come numerous times to help me, including today.  I so enjoy working alongside someone who loves being outdoors and loves seeing the finished product as much as I do.  And, she is even willing to help me with my compost piles!  What more could I ask??!!

Gold in the Bank!

I LOVE composting!!! 
I've been hooked ever since I started composting almost 15 years ago.
As my sister said, when I excitedly showed her my accomplishments, "You need to get a life!!"
My response:
"Hey, this is LIFE!!"

Can you believe that this pile of kitchen scraps, yard and garden waste...



...can turn into something so beautiful, rich and beneficial,
and, without a tremendous amount of effort.
Plus, it's free!
Is this cool or what?!!!

Here's a picture of my compost bins:


From a gardening catalog, I purchased a system of three wire cages with wire pins that slip in and out of the corners, allowing easy assembly and access.  It's a great concept - simple!  I don't mess with special compost recipes, don't bother stirring it, don't use a tumbling composter.  I simply pile everything into the first bin.  When it's full, I fork it over into the middle bin and start filling the first bin again.  When the first bin is full again, I fork the practically composted waste from the second bin into the third bin, then fork what's in the first bin into the second.  By the time the first bin is full again, the process is usually complete - there is wonderfully rich compost in the third bin, ready to be used in my vegetable or flower beds.

Here's a picture of the second bin:


And, a picture of the third bin:


There's just a little bit of compost left in this bin.  Once this bin is empty, I'll fork the partially composted waste from the middle bin over and let it finish its process.  I usually end up with more than enough compost for my needs.  Last year I had so much that I ended up broadcasting it over my lawn!

As you can tell, I'm hooked!!

I compost just about all my yard and kitchen waste, as well as:
cardboard egg cartons
 shredded newpapers
brown paper bags
paper towels
even cardboard if it's too dirty for recycling!

The only things I don't include:
weeds with seed heads
diseased garden plants
cooked food scraps
meat of any kind
thick branches
paper towels contaminated with non-organic cleaning products
used potting soil (if it's not organic)

I've made the switch to organic lawn fertilizers, so there's no harm in throwing grass clippings or debris from edging the lawn. 
And, since I use primarily organic produce these days, there's no concern about pesticide residues ending up in my vegetable beds and ultimately in my body.

Cool, huh?!


Garden Glimpses


Coral Bells

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dirty Dozen Updated

The "Dirty Dozen" is the list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticides when grown conventionally.  You can reduce your pesticide load by as much as 90% if you stick to organic produce for these 12 items. 
I had posted this list back in 2007, but it does change from time to time.  This is the most recent list I've come across - kale (for those of you who eat it!) has bumped spinach off the list.  Actually, I have a good recipe for kale chips - be sure to check it out!

The Dirty Dozen
(in alphabetical order)
apples
bell peppers
carrots
celery
cherries
grapes (imported)
kale
lettuce
nectarines
peaches
pears
strawberries

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Report from the Rabbit Trapper!

Two rabbits gone, who knows how many more to go!! I caught my first rabbit Sunday morning, then a second one yesterday morning. This morning would have made three, but the rabbit snuck in the trap, nabbed the carrot and proceeded to chomp on it outside the trap without getting caught. :( Still, I'm feeling like quite the successful rabbit trapper! I drove Sunday's catch across the county line and released in the woods; I did NOT want to take any chances of it finding its way back to my garden! I didn't have as much time Monday morning, so I just drove it several miles away to a park; two miles is usually far enough as rabbits stay pretty close to their area of birth. I almost felt like I was the chauffeur in "Driving Miss Daisy"! :) I do have to admit, though, I did feel a bit guilty uprooting them from their happy home. Both times, the rabbit bolted out of the cage, then suddenly stopped and looked around, trying to get its bearings. He'd hop a little further, then look around again, trying to decide where to head. The one even looked back at me as if to say, "You really aren't going to leave me here, are you??" But then I reminded myself of how brazen these guys are and how much they have seemed to enjoy terrorizing me. They are so tame - they would even watch me set the trap! They also enjoy taunting the neighbors' dogs by nestling down at the end of their leash range. One of the baby bunnies lives in my strawberry patch and startles me every time I pick strawberries; it was getting to the point that every time I heard something rustle in the garden, I'd think it was a rabbit! However, when I read the facts on rabbit reproduction, I lost all sense of guilt; according to the Havahart website, "a female rabbit can produce three or four litters a year, with four to six young in each litter. Over a period of five years, a single pair of cottontails and their kin would number around 350,000." Now can you understand why I am on a mission to rid my neighborhood of these rabbits?!!!
The Havahart cage traps are pretty slick. I borrowed this trap from friends who are accomplished squirrel trappers (200 plus catches over the past 15 years!). They were kind enough to show me how to operate it and let me give it a trial run. I've found carrots seem to be the best bait; the secret is placing the trap where the rabbits like to nestle down (under the pine trees in my back yard). I can easily glance out the window and check to see if I've gotten a catch; you don't want to leave the rabbit in the trap any longer than necessary. After a catch, it's a good idea to cover the cage with a towel for transporting so it's not too traumatic for the rabbit. I went ahead and ordered a trap for myself now that I know it does the trick. Since these traps are made in Lititz, I figure I'm supporting the local economy! I'll start trapping in the early spring next year when the rabbits start in on my crocuses.
I did wonder if I should start tagging their ears to make sure I'm not catching the same rabbit over and over again, but hopefully that's not the case....
Hope your gardens are rabbit free!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Amazing


Isn't it amazing - this pretty little blossom...


turns into...



something so luscious, so beautiful, and oh so healthful!!

Still waiting...


Strawberry Spinach Salad

This is a photo of today's strawberry harvest - just the right amount for this salad!
Adapted from Pampered Chef

Dressing:
¼ c. sugar
¼ c. vegetable oil
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/8 t. Worcestershire sauce

Salad:
½ pint strawberries, sliced
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ small red onion, sliced
1 pkg. (10 oz.) fresh spinach leaves

For dressing, whisk all dressing ingredients in small bowl. For salad, combine all salad ingredients in salad bowl. Add dressing to salad; toss.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Friday, May 7, 2010

Garden Glimpses

Poppies

Landis Valley Herb and Garden Faire



Anyone who is interested in heirloom herbs and plants knows about this event - people come from all over!  I had never checked it out until this year - not sure where I've been all this time!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Battle Plan

A New Battle Plan


The Weapon


The Lure



The Enemy