My Life is really in the Garden

Enjoying and sharing the daily discoveries of the beautiful nature that surrounds me in my lovely garden and everywhere else!


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I began my day today with a simple idea of dehydrating celery and this led to a whole day of cooking!!! Oh, and it actually snowed a bit today!

So, here in little Victoria, we had a little bit of snow, a little bit of freezing and a little bit of sun!

I swore I wasn’t going to take any snow photos this year, however, once i went outside and saw a few icicles dripping off one of the bird feeders, I just had to go back inside and fetch my camera!!

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I do clean out the bird feeders every few weeks, as I want to keep the feeders clean!  This is the only feeder that showed icicles on it, so of course, I had to take a pic!

Then I noticed the scarlet red runner beans, the seeds hadn’t fully formed, so I might just leave them here on the vine, or I might just take them inside to juice them along with apples and carrots.

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Strawberry plants growing in plant bags .. I really need to root these, in order to get fresh plants so new strawberries can grow.

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This year, I planted all my garlic in large containers.   I’ll be working on prepping the yard for a basic grassy area, so will grow all my crops (peas, beans) in containers like these.  They work well.

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Vigorous elephant garlic, greens growing away like crazy!  Very healthy soil.  And leaf mulch!

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Snowy covered grass.  I really should have cut the grass a few weeks ago, but, procrastination won out in the end.

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Blue skies from yesterday, sparrows were flying every which way!

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From yesterday also, I discovered this healthy raspberry cane growing away amidst some tall plants at the back of the yard.   Don’t expect any fruit, but am impressed with the vigour of this cane, so I’ll pot this one up!!

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Sweet Mock Orange, from yesterday, before the snows came.  The flowers are still there today.

dec-6-03Well, that is it for photos.

Now I’ll tell you what else happened today!

And I seem to remember that what happened today has occurred in previous years!

Today, for some strange reason, perhaps it is due to my genes and preparing for winter!  I just seemed to morph into a kind of little busy bee that was hell bent on preparing food for the winter.

For I found myself just mindlessly going into food preparation mode!  This has happened before!

Oh, wait!  I didn’t mention that really, my day of food preparation started off with a lowly bunch of celery!!!  Organic celery.   I just didn’t want to use a bit of this in soup today and wanted to dry it for use for the winter, so that it wouldn’t go bad.

Thus, I started to search online for celery powder, which led me to onion powder, this in turn lead me to garlic powder.    This is how I began my culinary day today!!

I found some sites which showed how delicious it could be to combine powdered veggies would make a good alternative to salt, so that is how I began my dehydrating section of the day!

Then I found myself searching online for the best ideas for making freezer hash-browns!   I had a bag of organic potatoes which had begun to sprout roots!   And so I became an industrious busy bee, peeling potatoes, shredding them, putting them in a large pot of boiling water and then after a few minutes, cooling them off in a bowl of iced water.  Followed by layering them in paper towels and clean tea towels, twisting them to squeeze off excess water and then layering them on a cookie sheet in the freezer.    And, once frozen, placing the finished product into zip-lock bags for future hash-brown breakfasts.

Then it was time to reduce the recently baked organic chickens that I had baked a few days ago – broth for soup and chicken shreds for the soup and then for quesadilla’s for the freezer (with lots of shredded cheese and capers!)

After this, it was time to remove the bags of frozen garlic cloves (from my recent harvest of July).   Prepare them for the foil squares & drizzle of olive oil & bake in the oven.  Following that, time for cooling off and a few hours of time spent squeezing the garlic paste out of the cloves, mashing them and putting dollops on waxed paper on a cookie sheet and in the freezer!

OMG.

After I removed the delicious chicken soup from the slow cooker, placing it in the fridge for tomorrows lunch time meal .. I began the tedious task of cleaning up my dishes and the counter.

It has truly been a day!

A day of hanging around the kitchen, preparing food for the winter.  Constantly cleaning up pots, dishes and the stove and kitchen counters.

Not a day that I would repeat too often, but,  a satisfying day.  One that didn’t require a lot of thinking, but one which was, nevertheless, highly satisfying.

A happy day!

🙂

 


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More on Seedy Saturday ….that wonderful sunny day!

Continuing on with more photos from last Saturday’s Seedy Saturday.  Here are some honey bees …buzzing away, safely inside their container!
33Some racks for the beeswax and there is a smoker on the top left .. used to calm down the bees I believe, when the screens are removed so that they can be whirled and twirled to release the honey.  I know that isn’t the terminology but it seems to fit the activity!

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More bee paraphernalia .. I don’t know much about beekeeping but this all looked so interesting.  There is a little Mason Bee house beside the combs.

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I just love his artwork .. very happy and carefree.

32A local company .. and good to see the permaculture aspect of landscaping.

30I like the name of this company …. sweeeeeeet ….

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Olive trees for sale!  Oh,  I was tempted … how lovely it would be to have an olive tree.

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Hugelkulture .. the word caught my eye so I had to stop and look at this display.  Is this the best type of gardening ever?  I think so.

23My oh my .. someone has been very busy!

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21I’ve purchased seeds from this company … they have a diverse variety.  And of course, all organic!

24Now, this booth was quite interesting.

25Their packaging was quite unique and I liked the mix of fonts.

27But this is what quickly caught my attention.  I love wood and was curious about these screens.  Well, as it turns out, they are used in the process of seed winnowing!  I participated in a hands-on session and will post photos tomorrow.

26This is the winnowing machine.  The hand crank (lower right) is turned at a steady, slow pace and this gets the internal parts going so the seeds can be sorted and they exit the machine via the two openings down below.28Seeds of Diversity .. a seed bank.

36Important.

37And quite an interesting article about planting over 3,000 cloves of garlic.

 

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It was a very interesting day and I so loving being there!

So many new ideas of how to grow plants and new (to me) plants.  I’ll  also be looking at my wooden items at home, wondering how they can be repurposed to hold seeds or plants or maybe just paint them for display.

The atmosphere at Seedy Saturday is very nurturing .. a great place for all of us gardeners to be!

🙂


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JaneE my cat is such a sweetie .. and I’m curious about garlic ..and admiring the blue skies above

Here is our lovely little kitty – JaneE cat!   She is a Calico Manx and she was born during the “great snow storm” of ’96 (Victoria, BC) which makes her 19 years old!  Doesn’t she look lovely.  She came outside this afternoon to enjoy the sun. … check out the yard .. and visit with me.   I was so happy to have her outside with me.

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Here she is .. sniffing out the catnip plant .. and there is my shadow .. taking this photo of her.

107Something caught her attention .. her hearing has greatly diminished lately …so I think a movement caught her eye.   She can still hear when I tap a spoon against a glass, though.

106She still plays like a kitten!  I bought her a small knitted catnip mouse recently.  It was knitted by a 90 year’s “young” lady from Sidney, BC and these are sold to raise money for protecting cats.  I bought it at Elements Compounding Pharmacy, located nearby.  Anyway, JaneE was batting that little knitted mouse around and we were happy to see her behaving in such a fun, joyful manner!   So .. she still has this playful manner, as you can see in this photo.  I have an airplane windshield to act as a little greenhouse.  Lots of sedums propagated here.  JaneE saw the little opening and within seconds, she was inside, exploring.  What a Cat!

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Lovely skies … so cheerful.

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Ok .. I spent more time looking up ..

110And feeling overjoyed at the clean beauty of these skies.

109This garlic was shedding a covering .. strange .. I thought …not having noticed anything like this before.

102And  had to admire the sunlight showing through the strong leaves of the Elephant garlic  …such a sturdy plant.

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And then I started looking more closely at the garlic greens.  Although I’d planted them all the same, pointy ends up .. it appeared that some leaves were growing in a different direction than others.  Some leaves were facing one direction and some were facing a different direction.  Now .. why is that?

104I think winter is over .. it feels like spring is here.  Many of my “winter sown” seeds are ready to pot up.  Kale and Mizuna, fast growing .. are at the 2 leaf stage, it won’t be long before they’ll be big enough.  My assortments of wild flowers and grasses .. I just threw the seeds into the milk containers .. so when they are bigger, I will just lift out small square sections of them and pot them up in 4 ” containers and when ready, I’ll plant them here and there.

A few days ago I picked 3 young daffodil stems.  The flowering capsules were small .. they hadn’t bloomed yet and I thought that I would pick them and take inside to see if they would bloom.  So, the magic of plants has proven itself yet again .. these flowers are nearly ready to escape the tight confines and bloom.  Amazing.  Magic.  Plants. Nature.

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I want to update some boring plastic garden pots and have spent a fair bit of time researching ideas online.  I’ve come up with a few simple ideas and plan to test them out.  Just simple ideas, nothing fancy, mind you .. and plan to do this over the next few days.  I’ll post the results when they are done.

Well, it’s been a day!

🙂

 

 

 


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Sunny .. sort of .. Sunday .. my “winter sowing of summer seeds” is progressing very well.

I started my “winter sowing summer seeds” at the end of January.    Guidelines thanks to Kevin:  http://www.agardenforthehouse.com/2012/11/winter-sowing-101-6/

This year I carefully labelled everything, writing the type of seed neatly, with permanent ink, on garden markers.  And I wrote the dates and details of each seed that I sowed into a hard covered notebook.  How veddy veddy mature, wouldn’t you say!   Last year I emptied the full packets of seeds into the containers.  And the seeds grew so well that I had way too many seedlings. So this year, I only sowed partial envelopes.  Except for some wild flower seeds and nodding onions (which my pal D, gave to me).   I can be constrained for so long and then just throw caution to the wind, as it were.  Here are some of my containers.  I ran out of milk jugs and decided to use the clear containers from lettuce and berries .. they worked out just as well.  Many of the seeds that I started at the end of January have sprouted already!!

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Here is a container of glass chunks that I uncovered when I was digging and sifting the ground, a few years ago.  There used to be a glass factory in the neighbourhood and our property sits on a portion of it.  I’ve uncovered a few cement foundations that I was going to use for a garden feature, but decided that it wouldn’t work out well so I covered them up.  The greenish glass is rather pretty and I’ve been thinking how best to show them off to their best advantage.  Still working on that.

301I use a fair bit of coconut coir in the garden, buying blocks of the compressed material and I leave them outside to crumble in the rain.  Far better than using peat moss, which is a non-renewable product, compared to the readiness of coir.  The plant cell flat is just waiting for the seedlings to grow a bit bigger so I can prick them out of the milk jugs and plant them in these cells.

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Ah .. garlic.  This was the year when I was only going to grow garlic in just 2 areas of the yard.  I’d created 2 temporary garlic beds, creating circles with 2 levels of brick.  Wonderful new soil, mixed with glacial rock powder, coir, compost.   I’d placed way too much organic straw on the bulbs and had to remove most of it to allow the greens to welcome the rays of the sun.  So, here are my two garlic beds.

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However, as I still had lots of garlic left, I thought, why not plant a few more cloves?  So I did just that.  I created forms with bits of wood that my DH had in his workshop.  Fastened them together with screws, filled with the above mentioned soil and planted the garlic.  Ok, thus far.

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But, wait, I had a few more garlic cloves, sprouting greens, and I thought, what’s the harm in planting these.  So, this is part of the side of the yard.  Garlic happily growing there.  Lots of seaweed tucked around them.

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Then I noticed more cloves sprouting, so I planted a few more on the other side of the yard.  After this, I planted some more by the garden gate, but haven’t yet taken a photo.  I’m hopelessly in love with garlic.  And dream of growing much more than this.

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Last fall I wasn’t able to “tidy up” the yard and thus there is still lots of things to do.  I found a container into which I had tossed a pile of bulbs and had forgotten about them.  I discovered some interesting things.  One was that this tulip bulb, thrown upside down in the pot, was still determined to grow roots and see how they have grown!

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Another thing I discovered was the magic of bulbs.  Determinedly flowering away despite the lack of soil.  No care whatsoever.  So what’s a gardener to do?

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Well, I potted them up, that is what!  I think these are Muscari bulbs, quite pretty. Grow on, bulbs!

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I took time to walk around the yard.  And I stopped by one of my two dwarf weeping willows.  One is quite strong (this one) and the second is needing a bit more love and care, which I happily supply.

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How sweet are these diminutive little willow buds.

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There are a couple of Flickers who visit the yard.  They really seem to prefer one of the plum trees for some reason.  And at this time, one was hunkered down by a suet block.  He did spend some time wrapped around the suet container, plucking out lots of the suet and now he was taking a break.

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Later on, he perched onto the trunk of the wild and crazy tree.  He stayed there for quite a long time.  Whether resting, or hiding from a raptor .. I didn’t know … I just was happy that he had a place to rest.

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A short time later, I was unloading things from my car when I noticed this eagle flying overhead, so I quickly got out my camera and clicked away.

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And he landed atop a tree way down the road.

317I just stood there for awhile, leaning against my car, clicking away, while this majestic raptor looked around, patiently, for the next meal.

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When the eagle left .. the Coopers Hawk took up residence.

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It’s been an interesting time in the garden again …


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Spiders and seaweed .. some of the things I have in my garden. Plus some photos of the moon .. how fun

This is one of 2 Silverberry plants that I bought many .. many years ago.   Tough as nails these plants are.  They survived neglect (kept in a plant pot out in the garden .. forgotten) and although they didn’t grow much, they didn’t give up.  Bless em.  4 years ago I finally planted them and last year they started to flower.  These plants are quite large now and I’ve begun pruning them.  The flowers are a positive sign that they are happy …and I’m loving them for hanging in!  This is just a small section to show the flowers up close .. there are hundreds of these tiny little beauties of joy.

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A few days ago I was removing plants that had come to the end of their growth .. trying to make some space for kale,spinach and mizuna plants.  I noticed this spider had settled in on the squash vine .. so, not wanting to disturb him … I left the removal of this spent vine for another day.

02Finally all the seaweed sacks were emptied, the seaweed either dug into the soil or put in the compost bins.  These were then rinsed thoroughly and draped on the conduit frame and bamboo, wherever there was space .. to dry and soak up the sunshine.  Ready for another trip sometime in the future.

03At the end of the day …. spider was still there … he looked settled in so I left him in peace.

04Part of an old window from our house and a little stained glass sunburst them I made years ago.  Just waiting for me to re-purpose them into something artsy for the garden.  For now they will just stay put .. pretty to look at and not in the way of anything.

 

05Last year my pal D and I went to the beach shores in Sidney, there is a small section which receives a lot of broken ceramics and bricks .. washed ashore from a nearby island.  Lots of treasures to be found .. I might sprinkle some into a fairy garden, they would be perfect.

06Each sunflower is different, some have broader petals, smaller faces .. each one is beautiful.

07The moon two nights ago .. I was playing with my camera to see how close I could aim with the 30 zoom (Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40) …. loving this camera .. here are some views that I took ..

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11The moon doesn’t really seem that far away .. shapes and craters can be seen ..

12And just as I finished my little tour around the garden .. I noticed that a potato had been growing away in bean container.  Fancy that .. I must have used some compost here .. it will be interesting to see if I harvest any little taters here!

10Well .. its’ a new day, lots to do .. .which includes a garlic workshop at the Victoria Compost Centre later on in the day.  I intend to learn a lot about this lovely crop!

🙂

 


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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Today the weather was sunny and a bit of overcast ..but last Sunday, there was snow!  My garlic is all covered … but it is very resilient.

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My winter sown summer seeds are safe in their individual greenhouses

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Monday .. more snow and some rain .. here is my wonderful garden cart … I really should have put it away from the elements .. but it is a tough little cart.12

My little crop of lettuce, spinach and Mizuna and other greens were doing well, during the snow/thaw/snow/thaw routine.   And a few days ago I removed all of these containers from the old hot tub cover and took down below to my potting area.   There was lots of cilantro .. I potted some of that up .. will show later.

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These stair photos are from last Friday .. here is a view at the top looking down (and thank goodness we only made one trip down and one trip up!)

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This is the view from the bottom (at the beach part) .. lots of stairs..

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Last Wednesday, as we walked briskly along .. I happened to notice this beautiful formal pond and statuary down below .. can you imagine having such a garden?  So peaceful.

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We continued on to the most wonderful Finnerty Gardens at UVic

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Ok, this was a bit funny to me .. this is obviously an oak stump .. talk about excess signage .. still, rather sweet..

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I believe this is a deer tongue fern ..2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in the city of Rhodo’s .. here is yet another …There is another park, Playfair, in Victoria, which has a forest of rhodo’s .. the park is also a doggy park and I spent many many hours there with my lovely dogs.

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Back at home, I noticed many daffodils, snowdrops, tulips and other bulbs that were preparing to show their flowery wonderfulness .. here are some daffs …

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Our neighbourhood squirrel was trying to get a drink of water out of this bucket .. however, I had emptied it .. so she was a little surprised.   There are lots of water sources in the yard for the birds and squirrels.

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Here she is, attempting to hide her cache of peanuts .. oops .. she sees me ..

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Yesterday’s glorious skies …

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Lovely …. sky art ..20So, some snow, some rain, some sun, some rain.  Typical Victoria weather .. aren’t we lucky!

And today I went to get some lovely Llama manure .. more about that tomorrow.   Today also I attacked my triple compost bins .. emptying, sifting, mixing, spring is definitely on its way!
🙂

 


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Saturday, February 8, 2014

We actually had a smattering of snow yesterday!  I was going to cancel out of going to the Friday workout and actually called my pal D… who convinced me to go and R would drop by and pick me up.  So despite myself I went exercising with the others and it was so very beautiful.  I took lots of photos and will post them tomorrow.

Anyway .. look at this beautiful sky!! I went outside this morning to re-fill the hummingbird feeders (otherwise they freeze) and replenished the bird feed.  Looking up .. what sky eye-candy!

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more….

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and more .. and then I really had to get going … although the sun was a little warm, the air temperature was not!

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A chubby little Robin flew past me and settled onto this little gate post.  This is one of my new raised beds full of garlic .. see the lovely green leaves.  And this funky gate is so lovely and I plan to use it as a little feature all throughout the garden.  Then you can see the pvc loop (I put green plastic mesh for climbing plants) and then there are those wonderful garden trellis planter things .. I have 3 and they are very portable to put throughout the yard.   I’ve just left them here for the winter.

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Here is a longer view of that same photo of the Robin.   All those pots you can see in the background have garlic growing.  Even those little buds from the bottom of the Elephant garlic are planted in shallow pots.07

Then I caught a glimpse of the little grey squirrel, racing up the sidewalk and heading for the stairs … excited to fetch two more peanuts from the sundeck above.   They have to eat .. theirs is  a precarious life and so I am happy to provide them with food during this freezing weather.  Can you imagine if humans had to travel so far for so little and survive on these few peanuts?  I thought about that last night as I grabbed a handful of peanuts from the large bag that I bought (for them!) and thought how easily I can provide them for myself, compared with the little squirrels, who value these treasures and travel far and wide to gather them, cache them and save for future meals.

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I was still watching the little Robin when I caught sight of the squirrel racing away with his treasures.  I clicked the camera and hadn’t expected to actually get a good photo!  He’s racing like mad.

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Oh, I must share these photos.  Dh & I had this ficus for many years.   It flourished well .. except for a time last fall .. when all but a few leaves survived on a sad looking dried branched tree.   It had developed soil mites .. they were little little fruit flies.    I searched for remedies and tried them .. like putting a layer of sand on the surface of the soil so the eggs wouldn’t hatch.  That didn’t work.   I put the plant outside for weeks .. .the mites were still there.  Drastic measures called for a new pot, new soil.  I removed the figus from the old pot, washed the rhizomous roots in a light solution of Ecos laundry soap and then rinsed thoroughly with clear water.  Into the new pot, with new soil. And .. a good application of EM .  I didn’t bother to even trim away the dry branches, as I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Well .. a few months later and we are astounded at the tiny little new growths and now these have become leaves and stems!   I believe it was the EM that saved it and encouraged the tree to grow.  Isn’t it lovely!  I’ll trim away any dried stems in a month or so.  We are so happy .. DH, myself .. and the ficus, all three!

11Then there is another success story.  This plant below, was purchased from a “big box store that I will not name” over 10 years ago.  I don’t know the name of the plant.  If anyone could identify it .. I would be most grateful.  This plant is tough.  It has survived on no care, no water and has been moved about a lot.  For the past 4 years, it has sat in the back room of the basement.   I moved it outside for the summer and back inside for the winter.  Then, a few weeks ago, I felt so bad for this living plant that just wanted to keep on growing and wouldn’t die.  So I added a bit of soil to the top surface.  Gave it a liberal dose of EM and some sunlight.  And look!  It is so very happy and is growing so well.   The power of a tough plant and the magic of EM!  I love you little plant.

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Just can’t get enough of this beauty ..

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Thank you .. lovely skies up above for this glorious display!  I could look at you all day!03

And finally … a friend told me about a little bird that was drawn into a Buffalo (airplane!) which was flying low and slow .. the little bird perched on the Captain’s finger .. I found this to be such a fabulous photo & story and I’m sure you will agree:

http://www.rcaf-arc.forces.gc.ca/en/news-template-standard.page?doc=search-and-rescue-crews-take-unusual-passenger-on-board/hkdonpzz

The tiny bird sitting so confidently  .. while flying inside the mighty Buffalo!

I sent the photo to Ann Nightingale, a birder extraordinaire, based in Victoria, BC.  !  I haven’t met her in person yet, but whenever I have a photo of a bird that has issues or a bird that is unusual, I always e-mail her and she always has the right answer for me.  I look forward to meeting her someday.

Anyway, here is Ann’s information on this little bird:

“It’s a Kinglet … perhaps (because the photo is from July) a baby Golden-crowned Kinglet .”  How magical!!!

Sigh .. what a wonderful world!  And such amazingly wonderful people!

🙂