This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT

You know you're a gardener when...
Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Dec 27, 2008

All is Well After the Storm

Christmas day I managed to get a pretty good shot of Peetree. I’m so thankful that he made it through the harsh winter weather we’ve been experiencing.

Today, the snow has melted quite a bit. We made it through and we didn’t even have to ‘hunker down’ :)

I went out to the cold frame yesterday to remove the snow and see if any of my test plants had made it. I was happily surprised to see that everything was just fine. I think God just designed things really well! Good thing too, because if it were left up to me, I’d kill more than I grow!

The corn salad, lettuce, and spinach look pretty good considering that had complete darkness for over a week. I waited as far into fall as I dared to give them time to germinate and grow a little before the really cold weather started and grow came to a halt- then when the warmer weather returns they’ll just take off, giving me some greens earlier than usual. These tests will give me a better idea of just how far I can push these varieties in cold weather- this will be handy information to have when I move to a colder climate,;somewhere in the Bend area of Oregon. I made sure to record everything in the Garden Tracker software so I’ll have the records later.

One of my favorite lettuce varieties ‘Red Star’ doesn’t seem to be available at Johnny’s Selected Seed- or at least I can’t locate it on their site. I’ve emailed them asking about it. ‘Red Star’ along with ‘Focea’ have been the only lettuce that haven’t gotten bitter on me. A lot of lettuce I’ve tried turn bitter, even when growing it in very cool weather- these two have never been bitter. With their fleshier, compact growth, they are great for the greenhouse and are perfect for mini-head production. See Johnny’s for their list of mini-head lettuces.

Here they are in all their glory

One baby in the greenhouse has surprised me- Dwarf Snapdragon. I went to check watering and found they had grown a little.

Most of them have grown a little- The one in the back isn’t growing, for whatever reason. I have these plants under lights and on a heat mat. This is the first time, since I purchased the greenhouse, that I’ve tried to start some flowers for some early color. After re-reading Shane Smith’s Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion, I thought I’d give it a shot. Usually I use it to start plants for the garden, to give them a jump on the season. We’ll see what happens, we have a long way to go before the warmer weather starts.

Eventually, when we move, I would like a much bigger greenhouse so we can have in-ground beds, as well as benches, and grow things the way Eliot Coleman explains in his book Four Season Harvest. It would be great to have that much space!

Well, back to work- so much to do out there now that the snow is melting. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas- and have a great New Year!

Happy Gardening!


Testing WLW (Windows Live Writer). Please stand by! :)

Dec 24, 2008

Winter Update

Hi all,

With all the strange and very harsh weather we’ve been having, I thought I’d better post some pictures!

They are saying this is one of the worst storms since 1968 (of course, the year I was born). We’ve definitely had a lot more snow than we had in ‘04, but ‘04 I think had more ice. They have declared a state of emergency for Multnomah County and Gresham. I certainly understand why. We’re all stuck! Power is out all over. And yes, of course I live in Multnomah County!

It all started out so quiet and peaceful, with a light feathering of snow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My bench has a beautiful light covering early on Dec. 14.  Later that day the cold frame has 3-4” on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Corn Salad in the cold frame was okay on the 20th. Good thing snow is a great insulator!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Then the freezing rain and more snow came.

The berries on the Glorybower were beautiful when frozen. Money Plant seed pods took on a golden sparkle in this shot. The Douglas Fir was so frozen- poor thing.

PZ3 demo #2Glorybower: I love the blue berries in winter! Photo by Tessa Neill










By the 22nd, we had so much snow- I couldn’t believe it!!! At least 2.5 feet in the very back of my yard. That was in the morning.

This photo was taken at about 6am.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Opps! Where did the cold frame go?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wow! My bench is covered!- the snow wasn’t stopping any time soon either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The snow came up to just under my knees- I couldn’t believe it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So, the question is, has anything survived in the cold frame and greenhouse?

The Cold Frame

As stated above, snow is a great insulator, thankfully. I can’t get my cold frame open, but I did water after the first hit of bad weather, so the lettuce, corn salad, and spinach should be okay- we’ll see :). I also had to remove the 1” (or more) layer of ice off it (leaving most of the snow), just before we were hit with more snow, so I hope that the plastic will hold up. All the plastic was replaced this year; 4mil,- we’ll see what happens. Tomorrow I have to go and take some snow off.

The Greenhouse

The greenhouse has had snow and ice on it. Early on, when we first heard bad weather was coming, I put the heater out there right under the plants. Everything is fine in there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This isn’t everything, but all of these, at left ,are cool weather plants, so they should be fine…unless we lose power! Then I’ll have to bring them in.

  • Lettuce ‘Red Star’
  • Lettuce ‘Focea’
  • Pansy ‘Winter Pansy’
  • Pansy ‘Blue’
  • Bulbs- pink Grape Hyacinth and burgundy Hyacinth
  • Dwarf Snapdragon
  • Argeratum

The greenhouse temp has gotten as low as 34 degrees, and there is ice clinging to the outside.


How is Peetree? Well, we have been keeping his feeder , or ‘Peetree dish’ as we call it ;), as defrosted as we can. The light is helping- and we put insulation stripping around the base and on the bottom. There is a little area in the center of the feeder that kept filling up with snow or freezing rain and then iced over solid- we put cut up strips of cloth in there and it stopped freezing, except at night or if we have the wind, and then we’d just bring it in.

On the 21st I didn’t see him until about 11am- I thought for sure he had froze to death. Yesterday, I saw him perched on a branch and he got stuck to the twig he was on, one foot frozen to it- scared me half to death! He finally got off and after that he moved more frequently from branch to branch.

This was taken on the day it was really cold and we had freezing rain. I really wish I had a better camera, so I could take pictures from farther away…like from inside!

Everybody is very hungry…except this Song Sparrow! I think he needs to cut back a little. They all need to eat more to stay warm though, so we make sure we keep up with the food this time of year.


We’ve made it a habit to watch the news and weather channel every hour or so, and it’s driving me crazy that the news reporters keep using the term ‘Hunker down’! Just where did this saying come from, anyway- and does anyone know what it really means. I know it’s one of those things that we say that we don’t really know what it means (Okay, I’m sure some body does- somewhere) but everyone nods their heads, and understands. They say it over and over again…really annoying! Like some weird disease the term has spread to all the news channels. All kidding aside, however, they have predicted accurately throughout this whole ordeal. They are saying tonight that snow, more snow, and then freezing rain are expected again for Christmas. We managed to dig ourselves out today and make a run to the store for a few things and pick up some stuff for my sister. The roads were awful!

So, what to do now? ‘Hunker down’ (you want me to do what?) and make some 15 bean soup and fresh bread (No, silly, not the old fashioned way, you’re funny!…try bread machine:) Of course, I’m not sure that is a good idea…when we can’t open the windows.


I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Happy Gardening!


Dec 18, 2008

Photos to paintings!

Hi everyone,

I have managed to get some pretty good garden shots this year, including the birds, and I thought it would be cool to take these photos and make them look like paintings. I have Paint Shop Pro 7, that my sister gave us, but I'm not sure that it can produce the results I want, not to mention the fact that I have no idea how to use it! My sister showed me a trial version of some software she really liked that does this beautifully, so I thought I might try it. It's called...

Corel Painter Essentials 4- and I love it! Take a look at all the fun I've been having.
Here is my first attempt- and I can't tell you how easy it was.

A beautiful blue Morning Glory.

I have to throw in my old boy Blake!



My garden bench.

Be sure to let me know what you think- and to my family and friends viewing, if you have a special picture that you would like me to try just email it to me and I'll see what I can do. I only have the trial to the software, which runs out in about 50 days. I plan on buying it when I can.

Happy Gardening!

Dec 17, 2008

Northern Flicker

Mr. Flick was kind enough to hold still! He is a pretty big bird and is very loud. I heard him from inside the house and grabbed my camera. As the weather got colder and colder, we've been seeing him eating in the yard. Usually we only see him up high in the trees, so this was a treat. He is pretty easy to identify with his black necklace and spotted chest- and did I mention he is loud, you can't miss him!

Note: To see more pictures of all the birds from '08 click on the label 'birds'.

Happy Gardening!

Dec 16, 2008

Winter help for hummingbirds

Note: Make sure you put your cursor over some of the pics for a better look- they zoom!

Hi all,

I've done a few posts recently about Peetree, my new pet hummingbird. We debated whether or not to feed Peetree in the winter or not. I did a little reading online, and also asked a local expert about it...

Everyone said the same thing- they are here year round, so feed them and give them a better chance of survival. We agreed. Portland has been experiencing a weird year, so I kind-of expected a weird winter, as well.

We wanted to help Peetree get through the winter, so we put up a light to keep his food from freezing- with the snow we've had recently (Yes! I said snow.), we're not too sure this will work. I did get the idea from a guy in Bend, OR where it gets a lot colder- we'll just have to see how it goes.

Take a look at what we've done.

Peetree sat under that light to eat as soon as we put it up.

Note: To see more bird pictures, click on the label 'birds'- there is a slide show there!

I'm really surprised at just how cold it is getting- and I love the snow, of course, I'm just a little worried that Peetree won't make it. The winds have been so cold!
This was early in the morning- it got much worse. The bench looks so pretty!

This was taken in the evening- there was about 4 inches on the cold frame!

Camelia- early morning. It was so pretty with the snow in the middle of the leaf and the green edges still visible.

Peetree seems to be doing well- chasing all the other hummingbirds off as usual! I wish he would learn to share! I'll be sure to keep you posted on how he's doing.

Happy Gardening!

Nov 16, 2008

Peetree again!

Note: Make sure you put your cursor over some of the pics for a better look- they zoom!

In case you haven't guessed, I decided to re-post these pics, with a little added tweak- hope you like it. (hover over images)

Hi everyone, here is my new friend Peetree! He's so cute- now if i could only get him to eat out of my hand, which is my next project- wish me luck. Enjoy!

I'm about ready to just camp out so I can get some really good shots- wish I had a better camera!

Did You Know?

Hummingbirds are unique birds found only in the Western Hemisphere.

They can fly forwards, backwards,up, down, sideways and even upside down briefly, at speeds up to 25-30 miles an hour...but they can't walk.

They take up to 250 breaths a minute.

Hummingbirds can go into a state of torpora state of suspended physical powers and activities or dormancy, as of a hibernating animal

They consume half their weight in sugar a day.

They eat small insects for protein.

Hummingbirds don't flap their wings, they rotate them. When hummingbirds fly, they move their wings in an oval pattern, except when they are hovering. When they are hovering they will move their wings in a figure-eight motion.

Hummingbirds are missing a few parts that other birds and mammals have. These include a bladder, a gall bladder, a penis in the males, and a right ovary in the females.

Click for Hummingbird Anatomy

Because Anna's hummingbirds stick around in winter here in OR, it is important to take good care of them.

Ways you can help your hummingbirds in winter

1. Make sure you continue feeding them throughout the winter! Even upping calorie intake a little by making the sugar water slightly stronger (white regular sugar only). Contact your local expert for advice on this.
2. Put out some banana peels, or apples, to attract small insects- close to their feeder.
3. Clean feeders weekly- watch out for that mold.
4. Make sure their feeder has an umbrella to keep the rain from diluting it.
5. Secure the feeders from harsh winter winds.
6. Keep feeders near a source of cover- those damn hawks!
7. Feeders should have a light above them that will keep them from freezing. Check out this blog for directions.

And for heavens sake, make sure your neighbors are not around when you talk to them!

Happy Gardening!


Nov 7, 2008

My new friend 'Peetree'

So, while wondering around in the garden I spotted a hummingbird- the same hummingbird that has been hanging around since we bought the Hummzinger. He has been making a strange noise and chasing off other hummingbirds that come around too.

I discovered the other day that he sits in my camellia in the same spot everyday...not far from the feeder, of course, so I grabbed my camera to try and get some shots. To my surprise, he just sat there waiting for his photo to be taken! He's so tiny and cute! I decided that he should be named 'Peetree'. I just love these photos and can hardly believe I managed to get them. I hope you enjoy them too!

If you want hummingbirds in your yard, I recommend getting the Hummzinger- it is the only one that I have found that stops yellow jackets from getting to the good stuff by inserting these stoppers- the yellow jackets can't reach the food, but the birds can. When the yellow jackets can't get to it they go elsewhere.


The photo's were very big so I had to resize them- do they look a little blurry to you? They are the most clear and detailed photos I have ever taken of these birds-

Happy Gardening!