Carrie’s Bike Corner 7/19/12 

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Every year I write a similar column, and again this year, I’m writing it again. This time, I’m just going to spit it right out, and not beat around the bush. If you’re going to ride your bicycle on the highway, please understand that 4 wheeled vehicles have just as much of a right to be on that road as your 2 wheeled, human-powered vehicles. By the way, because your bicycles are considered vehicles, that also means that all the road laws apply to you. That means drivers of 4-wheeled vehicles, expect you to obey those road laws, just like they’re expected to. In other words, those stop signs also apply to you. In-town speed limits, also apply to you. Parking laws, also apply to you. For those of you who drive motorized 2-wheeled vehicles, the out-of-town speed limits also apply to you, as do all other traffic laws. Like, double yellow lines, for example.

Just about every single time I travel from town, to my home, there is someone operating a 2-wheeled vehicle that seems to think that the posted speed limit signs don’t apply to them. Almost without fail, I get passed by someone riding a motorcycle, and it’s always the “crotch-rocket” variety. People can complain about the noise a larger Harley Davidson motorcycle makes, but the one thing that I have never heard anyone complain about is someone on a Harley passing them on a double yellow line, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and acting like a general swine on the road. As a matter of fact, most of the people that ride those larger bikes, will be some of the first people to pull over, and help you, if they see you need help, or if there’s an accident, and help needs to be obtained. So, complain all you want about the noise, I have found nothing but good folks operating Harley Davidson motorcycles. Y’all with the Yakuza-level crotch rockets, on the other hand, many people take issue with, simply because of the way they’re driven.

So, motorized, or not, please, do yourselves, and everyone else on the road, a huge favor. Stop riding like you own the road, and 4-wheeled motorists owe you the courtesy of special space on the road. Yes, we keep our eyes out for you. Yes, we go around you. Yes, we will back off from going around you when there are blind curves, and we can’t see what might be coming towards us, that would put you, and us, in a tremendous amount of danger. NO, we will not break the laws, just so you have your special little space on the road. It doesn’t work that way. It’s called sharing the road, not giving it up. Oh, and the sharing part, also applies to you 2-wheeled, human-powered bicyclists. That being said, have a good, and safe, week everyone!

Editors Note: and when you are loading the shuttle or packing up your bikes, it is not nice to leave unfinished drinks, cups, bottles on the sidewalk or on the bench or atop a railing, there are trash cans all over town for your trash.

Carrie’s Big Kitty Corner 6/14/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

On Tuesday, 6/13/17, around 7:10am, I looked out my living room window to see death on 4 legs walking up my driveway. A 200 pound female mountain lion
was making her way, casually I might add, up my driveway, presumably heading towards her den after a night of hunting. This is the same lion that was meandering about my yard last Fall. She has a very unique marking on her tail, which is an extremely dark patch of fur just at the tip, and running slightly under the edging of her tail. She’s absolutely gorgeous.

My dog, who lives in her barn apartment during the night, was fortunately still in
her abode during this event, and the lion acknowledged the dog’s presence, but kept moving calmly along the side of my barn, and made her way back into the thick forest behind my house. Most folks that live here know full well to never try and get close to a lion. They are solitary ambush hunters, who prefer to ambush their prey from behind. They are also experts at the art of going into full stealth mode. Furthermore, they are also a protected species Not endangered, but protected.

Mountain Lions (aka Cougars) generally have litters of 2 – 4 kittens, which are generally born around this time of year. I should note here, that it is not uncommon for a Mountain Lion to give birth at any time during the year, it’s simply more common for them to give birth around this time of the year. The reason for this is because they usually mate between December and March, and since the gestation period is between 82 and 96 days, that puts this lion’s kittens firmly in the realm of new born. From birth, the kittens will nurse for about 2 months, after which they will travel with the mother, as she teaches them how to hunt. They remain with the mother for 1 – 2 years. While Mountain Lions have a very large range, this range differs between the males and females, with the males having a larger range than the females.

Do yourselves a huge favor. Stay far, and clear, of a Mountain Lion. While they are solitary hunters, they are well trained hunters, and extremely dangerous animals. Do not try to get near a lion, no matter how docile it may appear. Make sure you have the phone numbers of the Sierra County Sheriff’s Department handy at all times (530-289-3700), the DVFD dispatch number (530-289-3333), and the US Fish and Wild Life number (916-445-0411). If you see a Mountain Lion, stay as clear from it as you can. DO NOT RUN. Back up slowly, and try to keep your eyes on that lion as much as possible, until you get to a safe location (car, house, camper, etc.), and lock the doors behind you. Do not attack the Mountain Lion in any way. The lions are out, and they are extremely active right now, and they will be for several months, until their kittens are weaned, and learning to hunt on their own. Be safe. Be cautious, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Carrie’s IceCream Corner 6/7/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

I don’t know about you, but ever since Memorial Day, all I’ve been seeing in the news lately are articles on bad politics, terrorist attacks….and a summer body. These so-called ‘headliner topics’ were on the same page of a news paper’s web site. Seriously, how does one comprehend any level of a connection between bad politics, terrorist attacks, and a summer body? Furthermore, what, exactly, is a ‘summer body’? Does the fashion industry honestly think that the general population goes out and gets a new body every time the weather warms up a bit? Look, I am all for someone trying to get themselves into better physical condition. Sometimes, that choice can quite literally save their lives. However, when I see someone who looks just fine the way they are (you folks know who you are), and they start any sentence regarding food, and/or their life styles, with the words: “I’m on a diet, but…”, or, “I’m really trying to watch my weight, but…”, stop them right there.

Unless that person has some kind of a medical problem, that requires them to maintain a certain weight, they need a hug….a good set of ears…and probably a nice piece of chocolate cake. How many times have any of us ever had an issue when it comes to chocolate cake?! I know I haven’t. OK, maybe someone who’s allergic to chocolate, or is diabetic, but other than that? Nope! It’s chocolate cake!! How can anyone expect to have that magazine perfect body, when there’s any type of delicious summer-time treat within 10 feet of you at any given point?! Think about that. Pop-cycles, ice cream cones, ice cream sandwiches, smoothies, ice pops….chocolate cake for any reason what so ever. Furthermore, I personally would never want a magazine type body. Why? Because they’re all photoshopped to death. It’s impossible for anyone to gain that type of a body, without doing some serious damage to themselves – on at least 1 level.

Look, if you feel that you need to tweak the rough spots a bit, fine. Just remember, be yourself. Enjoy your life. Be happy with who you are, inside and out. Within your lives, there will always be only a hand full of people who you can truly call your friends. Hang on to that, and treat that like gold. Love yourself, just the way you are, and let that happiness shine through. While you’re at it, spread that happiness all over the place! Also, eat the chocolate cake. Besides, we all know the truth about chocolate. Chocolate comes from a plant. Plants are part of the vegetable family. Therefore, chocolate is a vegetable. There, I said it. Have a great week everyone!

Carrie’s River Corner 5/31/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

WARNING! Keep out of river! Large,dangerous currant!

ATTENTION!! The rivers have water in them! They are wet! They are cold! Also, they are deadly, and that is absolutely no joke. On Monday, May 29, the CHP in Grass Valley reported about a 23 year old man who decided that it would somehow be a great idea to try and boogie board his way down the river. Obviously, he didn’t last too long, and the Nevada County search and rescue team had not found him, as of 10 hours prior to this writing. Or, last night, around 7pm. This area is not the city. It is by no means some kind of well-maintained wildlife theme park. It is part of a national forest, that is inhabited by species that are mostly not humans. This past Winter was particularly harsh, having caused numerous land slides, as well as dumping a large amount of snow in the upper elevations. As a result, the rivers are still running between 5000 and 3000 CFS (cubic feet per second). This is not safe water. The rapids will take you under before you can blink, and they are not human friendly.

Rarely do I write an article that is packed with such warnings. Usually, as my readers well know, it’s packed with tid-bits of information, and it’s generally light hearted, and fairly easy on the eyes. Not this time. I can not stress this enough: Read the warning signs. Warning signs are not paragraphs long. No one has any excuse what so ever when it comes to ‘not bothering’ to read a 2 line warning (tops) near a body of raging water that can kill you. If the rapids don’t kill you, the temperature can. When the mountains decide to give way, there’s a lot more than just dirt that comes down off of a mountain during a land slide. Everything comes down. Trees, boulders, naturally felled logs, tons of dirt and debris….and, whatever type of road happened to be in the way when the mountain slid, including the metal guard rails that line the road.

Even though there are designated swimming areas along the river, there are also warnings. Please take heed to these warning signs, they can save your life! The river is not friendly to humans, especially right now. Yes, there are designated swimming areas. Yes, those areas are normally mostly human friendly. However, right now is not a good time to get into that river. There is still a tremendous amount of snow that is still melting in the higher elevations, and all of that run off is heading straight for the rivers. Please be advised that there is still a very good amount of snow pack in the higher elevations, which means that swimming in the rivers will not be safer for at least another month – if not longer. Please, be very safe! Take extra precautions when you’re around the rivers, and regardless of what time of year it is, please, never try to boogie board your way down the river. Stay safe everyone!

Carrie’s Heated Corner 5/24/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Oh what a week it is turning out to be, and oh Lord when will this heat even out? It won’t. Well, not until at least mid-September. Now that we don’t have an abundance of rain, sleet, snow and hail to complain about, we can begin complaining about the heat, humidity, fire hazards, dry under brush and flying dry debris in our faces every time the wind sneezes in the wrong direction. That being said, it is now time for my semi-annual article on ‘how to not accidentally put yourself in the hospital from being too stubborn to cool yourself down’. Before you begin reading further, it might be a good idea to grab a glass of ice water, and sit in a cool location to read this. Now that you’re comfortably cool, read on.

First, and foremost, it’s a good idea to know what your core temperature is. For most people, that’s 98.6. However, some of us, myself included, have a lower core temperature (mine is usually 97.5), and some people tend to have a slightly higher core temperature (which is more uncommon, but not entirely unheard of). People who have medical conditions should never allow themselves to be over heated, for any reason what so ever. Remind them to keep themselves hydrated with plenty of clear fluids, and keeping themselves in cooler temperatures. Kids, we love them to no end, but they are also very good at getting themselves over heated, sun burnt and physically exhausted from heat exposure. When your child comes in from playing out doors, make sure that they are given a cool wash cloth to rub on their arms, neck, shoulders and legs. Let them play in a tub of tepid water. If the weather is too hot, limit their time out doors, especially if they have medical conditions that can be made worse from long periods of heat exposure.

Finally, keep the fridge, and freezer, well stocked with plenty of healthy, but cooling, treats. Ice pops made from fruit slices and water. Iced tea. Natural fruit juices…etc. Keep some healthy produce handy as well. A good, cold salad is always a nice meal when it’s hot outside. Stay safe, stay healthy and, as always…stay cool!

Carrie’s Corner 5/17/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

While filing through some of my books this past week, I came across a Farmer’s Almanac paragraph that ringed rather familiar to me. I later realized that it was due to the fact that this very writing had been edited, and placed in this year’s Farmer’s Almanac wall calendar. It’s about carrot seeding, of all things, and, quite frankly, something I never really have given much thought to. However, after reading this, and finding it to be very interesting, I thought I’d share it with you. It reads as follows:

Carrots come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, but all have tiny seeds that are hard to sow. One clever seeding tip is to mix the carrot seeds with radish seeds. The radishes germinate first, marking the rows and loosening the soil for the carrots. The radishes will be ready to harvest long before the carrots. You can also mix carrot seeds with sand for easier sowing. Carrots grow best in loose, sandy soil and take about 75 days, on average, from sowing to harvest.

Then, the question popped into my mind: Well, that’s a great tip, but what if people don’t like, or want, radishes? My answer? Double plant the carrots, and thin out the greens when they’re about 2 – 4 inches out of the ground. At this point, the carrots will have developed a strong enough root system, to survive a transplant, should you want to have an additional bed of carrots some where else. Also, it will not slow the growth process, so long as they are transplanted into the same kind of soil. So, take carrot of yourselves, be happy and enjoy the nice weather that…well, the nicer weather that’s on its way.

Carrie’s Transplant Corner 5/10/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

As we all know, up in these parts, the weather can change from great to ‘you remember Spring…it was 3 hours ago’, in the blink of an eye. Saturday proved to be such a day, and, thanks to a brief moment of writer’s block, a dear friend of mine reminded me that some people may not really know what to do when they’re in the middle of certain gardening chores (such as transplanting), and the weather changes before they’re done. NOW what do I do? Is often the question that pops up into people’s heads. First of all, don’t stop transplanting, unless you’re getting showered with a torrential down pour. Get them transplanted, but be sure to protect them, if that’s what they require. Some plants require protection from heavy winds, and hard rains – especially new plants that are just barely strong enough to keep themselves upright in the soil. Tomatoes, for example, or Zinnias.

Any of the more delicate plants should be brought inside, or lightly covered, until the main part of the storm passes. If you have plants that you think may get wind burnt (yes, that’s a thing), or pummeled with heavy rain fall, bring them into a more sheltered area, if possible. Try placing them on a porch floor, under an awning, just inside the garage, or just inside the house, during the storm. While some elements are good for your plants, during this time of year, those elements should be allowed in extreme moderation, so the smaller, newer plants have a good chance at growing big, strong and healthy.

If you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to ask someone who knows, or look up the information on the Internet, or grab a book at the local book shop, or library. The more you learn, the more you know, and the happier your plants will be! Have a great week everyone, and enjoy the full Flower moon on the 10th!

Carrie’s Mayday Corner 5/3/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

So here we are, in May. Did everyone get all of their celebrations done for May Day? No? I didn’t think so. See, May 1st, often called May Day, just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neo pagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday. Then, there’s the Cinco De Mayo celebrations, which is a holiday commemorating the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). For those of you who may have friends, or relatives, in Missouri (like I do), many of them will be celebrating Truman Day on the eighth. All this is immediately followed by a full moon on May 10th. So, as you can see, there is a lot going on right in the beginning of the month, with lots of reasons so celebrate, and that’s just in the first 10 days. There are still plenty of other celebrations to be had throughout the month, so be ready to be happy!

Speaking of happy, many of us gardeners out here are thrilled that the weather is finally warming up a bit, at least enough to start planting things outdoors. Heck, I spent a few hours taking care of some yard work, and already managed to get a bit of a tan. In many parts of this area, however, getting enough space for plants that require full sun light can be a bit of a chore, at least when it comes to planning it all out for the first time. So, if you’ve got that kind of ‘where in the world am I going to plant all this stuff’ problem, here are a few hints that have you celebrating Spring once again.

First, don’t ignore the shady spots. There are lots of herbs, and vegetables, that do very well in the shade, and some prefer it! Second, plants can become wind burnt. So even if the plant is in the proper place, you may have to worry about the wind as well. So don’t feel bad about giving your plants a little bit of extra protection from harsh winds – especially up in these parts. Finally, If you still have problems finding enough sun light, sit indoors, and look out the windows. Figure out which side of the house gets the most sun light during the day….and plant your plants accordingly. Take it easy. Don’t worry, be happy, and celebrate Spring!

Carrie’s Garden Corner 4/26/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

By now, all of the gardening folks have been well into their gardening season. For some of us, myself included, we’ve had to start just a bit later than usual, due to unforeseen circumstances which are beyond our control. Like, mother nature fitting all weather types possible into a 1 week period, for example. For anyone out there who is just starting to get into gardening, do yourself a favor…do NOT think it’s some kind of hyper-complex skill that will take you the rest of your life to master. It isn’t. Most gardeners have a ton of gardening books. They have these for one reason. Reference purposes. Want to learn about plants? Plant something, and study it as it grows. Really, it’s that simple. Don’t know how to properly plant a seed? NOT difficult. Simply get a small pot of dirt. Then, stick your index finger into the center of the pot until you reach the first knuckle. Pull your finger out of the dirt, and drop a seed into the hole you just made with your now soil covered index finger. Cover the seed with the displaced dirt. Water lightly. Oh my God! You just planted your first seed! Congratulations!

It is said that patience is a virtue. That being the case, gardeners are probably some of the most virtuous people on the planet. Like people, plants take their own sweet time to grow. I’ve had seed packets, where the contents all seem to have their own different agendas, all growing whenever they darn well feel like it, but somehow ending up fully matured within a week of each other. When you read seed packets, and it tells you how long it will be before the seed grows into maturation, trust me, it’s a ‘well educated guesstimate’. You can read all the educational material you want to, but until you plant your first few seeds, all of that knowledge will be moot.

Talking to more experienced gardeners does help. If you run into things that you think may be an issue, take a photo, and show it to someone who is a more experienced gardener. If they can’t figure it out, perhaps they will know someone who can. Never be afraid to ask questions, no matter if you think they’re ridiculous or not. Gardeners are people who can generally read plants, the way teachers read books. One look, and we have a really good idea as to what’s going on with the plant. Also keep in mind one very important note: If you’re going to plant an organic tomato seed, and hope it turns out looking like the pristine ones you see in the market, you’re putting far too much hope in nature. Chances are, nature will make it look better, taste better, smell better and cook better. So grab a packet of seeds, a few small pots, some dirt, some water….and just plant something. You’ll be happy you did.

Carrie’s Salty Corner 4/12/17

by: The Unusual Suspect

Many folks, along with myself, have been suffering recent bouts of severe allergy attacks. This most barbaric onslaught of allergens has been brought to you, in part, by this year’s overly abundant precipitation events. Much to our dismay, this type of prolific infiltration can not be avoided. It can, however, be easily treated. Preventive measures, on the other hand, do not seem to deter the most devious determination levels of said allergens. This being said, it would be in our best interests to take stock of our natural medicinal belongings, to at least aid in guarding ourselves against our microscopic predators.

A good, solid, arsenal is the best place to start. Having a large cache of the following items will help to improve your chances of withstanding this year’s level of absolute allergen macabre. First, and foremost, you’ll want to have a good supply of raw, unfiltered, organic, local honey. We all know that the word ‘local’ is a relative term up in these parts. None the less, get as close to this as you can, and in large quantities. Second, you’ll want to be sure that you have a decent supply of green tea (organic is always preferable, but in this case, as long as it’s green tea….you’ll be fine), lemons, oranges, ginger and salt (any salt will do). Before anyone thinks I have lost my mind (again), be assured that no, you are not going to be putting salt in your tea. If you ever did that, I’d have no choice but to come to the conclusion that you’re more bonkers than I am, and I’d have a problem with that.

The salt is used as a steaming agent, which will help dry out any of your unruly sinus cavities, that have decided to break the land speed record in an attempt to exit your nasal passages. Boil salt water…hold a towel over your head (which helps to direct the steam into your sinus cavities), and take a few deep breaths. The steam will help loosen up any solid bits, so you can remove them, and the salt particles in the steam will help to heal up any damaged areas within the sinus regions. The rest of the above mentioned ingredients are for the tea. Easy tea recipe. Throw it all into a pot of boiling water. Let it steep on low heat for about 15 minutes. Pour it into a mug, and drink. If your muscles are tense, add Chamomile. If your nasal passages are clogged, add Peppermint or Lavender. The honey, by the way, can also be taken twice daily, as a natural form of allergy aide. 1 tablespoon in the morning, and one at night. Warm lemon water is also helpful. Stay well, clear those nasal passages often, get some rest, and have a hoppy Easter everyone!

Carrie’s Mostly Corner 3/29/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley – Mostly

Armillaria Ostoyae (a.k.a. Honey Mushroom), is the world’s largest living organism, as well as one of the oldest, with one specimen covering over 2,200 acres, and being just over 2,400 years in age. Marie Curie, and her husband, Pierre, discovered the phenomenon of radioactivity, and two years later, discovered Radium, which is so radioactive that it actually glows in the dark. Bookworms are real, but more resemble flies, and they hate paper. Thirty two species of bats live in Texas, the most species to be found in any state in the country. Lake Erie is one of the most, if not the most, polluted lakes in the nation, which they’re still trying to clean up, since 1970. The Red Sea was named after it was seen during a full bloom ofTrichodemium Erythraeum…or, a type of marine algae that is rich in phycoerythrin, which, is red.

The call of the Blue Whale is the loudest on Earth, registering a whopping 188 decibels. When an elephant stomps its foot, the vibrations created can travel 20 miles through the ground. The roar of an African Lion can be heard up to 5 miles away. Sea Horses only travel just less than 1 foot per minute. It is possible to grow your own Penicillin. Rats, mice, lions, chickens, caterpillars, seagulls, crows, spiders, mantid, hippos and sand gobies are all known to practice cannibalism. Bats are not blind. There, now it’s up to you to decide if all of these above statements are fact, fiction…or a little bit of both. The answers can be found in In Libro Fatum insolitus et Triviae libare.

Carrie’s Hoard Corner 3/29/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

We’ve all seen those organizational videos, where some lady seems to have it together, and can seemingly organize her entire house in a matter of a few hours. We sit there and think that we too can organize our home in a matter of a few hours, if we just follow those ‘easy’ step-by-step video instructions. Then, we look at what we have to organize, and get overwhelmed, stressed out and, at times, totally perplexed. Seriously, how many twist ties does 1 person actually need before it’s over kill…and why, for the love of God, are we saving every single plastic container, and jar, that enters our home?! I was organizing my pantry the other day, and came to the realization that I am a jar hoarder. That was, until I looked in my kitchen drawer, and realized that I am also a rubber band hoarder. Did I throw out those jars? Heck no! Glass is easy to sterilize, easy to clean and can be used for a multitude of things – inside, and outside. Need a small greenhouse effect for a new plant? Turn a glass jar upside down over it. Instant outside terrarium. Glass jars also make for excellent water-proof, puncture-proof, organizer containers, which are also difficult for little critters to open with ease (squirrels, raccoon, ring cat…etc.).

Organizing is something that most people really need to get the hang of before they start watching those ‘how to organize your life’ videos. We all hoard something. Regardless of what that something is, we’re all guilty of it, at least during some portion of our lives. I have never met a true minimalist, for even self-proclaimed minimalists hoard at least 1 thing (even if that 1 thing is a paper clip collection). The secret? Use what you hoard. The other secret? Have multiple uses for what you hoard. Easy example: paper towel rolls. Not only can they be used for storing taper candles, but they can also be used to store cloth napkins, kid’s artwork that you don’t want to lose, stuffed with used paper towels to be thrown into the wood stove as fire starters, gift containers, children’s craft projects and, well, I could go on for hours about that one example.

Now that the warmer months are creeping in, many of us are turning our thoughts to the yard, and garden. For nuts like me, our minds never left the yard, or garden. So, what do you hoard that can be used for something else outdoors? Twist ties can be used to hold plants to their stakes. Rubber bands can be used to secure bundles of seed packets together. Pie tins can be used as water saucers under plant containers (as can any other type of lid you can possibly think of). Plastic utensils can be reused as plant markers. Jars, of almost any size, can be used as miniature greenhouses for new plants. Old pots and pans can be used to hold rain water, as well as mixing up plant food. Old scoops, measuring cups and spoons can be used for dirt scoops. Broken ruler? Use it as a plant guide for depth, and/or width. Just use your imagination. Look, when you’ve seen someone use an old pink toilet as a cactus container….you realize that there is no limit to the imagination, or the humor level, and it’s game on! Have a great week everyone!

Carrie’s Thumb Corner 3/22/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Calling all pot heads out there!! OK, all plastic pot heads. FINE….plant container users. Spring has sprung, and it’s time for all you gardeners out there to start getting those containers ready for your crops (if you haven’t already started). You all know who you are, and you know the drill. For those of you who do not know who these people are, nor do you know the drill, but would like to be filled in on such things, allow me to help you understand this ‘drill’. Containers, as defined by normal people, and containers, as defined by gardeners, are normally two very different things. Non-gardening people see ‘plant containers’ as some type of plant pot, usually cylindrical, that you fill with soil, and a seed. Gardeners even so much as think of the word ‘container’ and it’s game on. ANYTHING can be used. We’re not even close to joking about this.

A gardener can find a way to fashion a plant container out of almost anything, from metal to newspaper, and back again. Don’t want to spend money on a plant container? Ask one of our handy duty gardening nuts. We’ll be more than happy to help you out. The key? Using your imagination. Old boots, old shoes, egg cartons, berry boxes/baskets, toilet paper rolls, cut up paper towel rolls, pants, old bags, old mugs, old drinking glasses, etc. Take us to any 2nd hand shop, yard sale, garage sale, junk shop or road side flea market…and we’ll have you leaving with a car load of stuff that you can use as a plant container. Heck, maybe even 2 car loads of stuff!

They key to a successful garden is not having a green thumb. Thumbs are not required in order to garden, much less green ones. In fact, if anyone actually has a green thumb, they should probably see their doctor as soon as possible. So, if you’re wanting to start some plants from seed, and are lacking containers from which to start them….just open the fridge. Egg cartons, milk cartons (cut in half, sans the milk), berry baskets, wide mouthed small jars (such as jams, jellies and mustard jars), egg shells (YES, egg shells), soda cans (cut in half, and sans the soda)…etc. Again, use your imagination and enjoy the creativity. Be safe while doing this, however. No one wants you to get too creative and end up hurting yourself over a plant container project.

Carrie’s Bird Corner 3/8/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Have you been seeing a lot of birds in the area lately? I have. I’ve seen a notable increase of Robins, Flickers and even some Finch. The bird feeders are soon to run dry if this continues – and it will continue. Spring is just around the corner, even if Mother Nature is telling us otherwise. Living up here, we all know that it can snow as late as June (I’ve heard stories of it snowing in July as well). So ‘warm’ is a rather loosely used word in these parts, and often refers to someone sitting in front of a wood stove, or having spent all day cooking/baking in a kitchen. To a bird, however, ‘warm’ is a necessary thing, especially during the time when they have eggs in the nest. Keeping themselves well fed can also be another issue. So, here are a few things you can do to help them out.

If you have a dog, or a long haired cat, grooming them can produce enough hair/fur to construct an entirely new pet. Don’t throw out that hair/fur! Instead, combine it together in an empty suet feeder, and hang it on a tree branch. Birds will collect this and use it in their nests. You can also use hair from your own hair brush for this as well (those of you with long hair, like mine, will understand the human shedding process all too well). Bits of stuffing from old stuffed animals, and pillows, will also work for this. Just bunch it all up and shove it into the empty suet feeder. The birds will thank you for that.

 

Food for the birds is also rather easy to make. They love Sunflower seeds, as well as dried cranberries, blackberry bits, blueberries, and cherries (preferably cut into smaller chunks, or dried). Millet (specifically White Millet) is also a good ingredient to add to the bird feed. Shelled peanuts (not flavored, nor salted), shelled Walnuts (chopped into smaller bits) and shelled Pecans (also chopped), are other good feeder adds. Just throw all this together in a bowl, and then toss it into the bird feeder. If you want to, you can roll a pine cone in some peanut butter (crunchy, or smooth, is fine), and then roll that in the bird feed. Just use your imagination. Keep in mind that there are a few types of seeds that birds will stay far and clear from in the wild. Apple seeds, and Peach pits, to name two. Be sure never to have anything that has flavoring, or additional salt added, as well as sweetened dried fruit. These can be dangerous for the birds, and can do more harm than good. So, enjoy stuffing the suet feeders, and rolling the pine cones around….and have a nice week everyone!

Carrie’s Water Corner 2/15/17

by: Carrie A. Blakley

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink! Well, not for humans at least. Plants, on the other hand, are getting a lot of water. For some plants, it might be too much water. Roses, for example, and other such waste-land plants. Yes, roses are a type of a waste land plant. We typically think of a rose as being some type of delicate, dainty, sweet smelling flower that needs special care, special soil, and a special place to be planted. Think again. Roses are one of the hardiest plants out there. The reason there are so many rose enthusiasts out there, who tend to be quite a bit over protective of their dear roses, is because roses are prone to various problems, ranging from minor diseases to total root rot, and back again. Larger roses also happen to be a favorite food of the local wild life, most specifically, deer. What of the miniature roses though? Deer almost never even bother to give them a second look. But, why?

I did some research on this a few years back, as I too was asking myself the same question: Why are the deer mowing down my larger roses, but not the abundance of miniature roses that are sitting right next to the larger plants? Answer: Because there aren’t enough little roses to make one bit of difference to a deer, and because most miniature roses often have twice as many little thorns, that run almost all the way up to the base of the flower, the deer just don’t seem to see the point in eating something that’s going to inevitably puncture their mouths with tiny perforations. Well, that certainly makes sense. So now, I invest in miniature roses, rather than their much larger relatives. There is one draw back to caring for a miniature rose, and it’s mentioned in the above paragraph – too much water.

Water ‘mold’, and mildew, are the two top causes of roses getting those horrific black spots all over the leaves, and once it sets in, it can be a royal pain in the neck to get removed. First, and foremost, do not let any of these leaves get onto the soil. If they do, remove the top layer of soil, and replace it with a very dry, sterilized soil (you can sterilize potting soil by baking it in the oven at 200F for about 30 – 60 minutes, in a 3″ deep dish, that’s covered with foil). Clip the remaining leaves that have black spots all over them, but do not let these leaves fall to the ground! Make sure you clip the leaves over a container. If you see any smaller branches that are also covered in these spots, prune those as well. It can be a chore, and by the time you’re done, the poor rose bush will look like it just got the world’s worst hair cut. In the end, however, it will flourish, and you’ll be very happy with the results. So, stay safe, stay dry and, if you’re feeling a bit down, go out and stay with a rose bush for a bit. You’ll be happy that you did! Have a great week everyone!

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