Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Seeds Ordered So Far

Here's a list of seeds ordered so far:

From Select Seeds:

Morning Glory 'Scarlett O'Hara
Poppy 'Danish Flag'
Poppy 'Heirloom'
Poppy 'Imperial Pink'
Poppy 'Ladybird'
Poppy 'Lauren's Grape'
Poppy--Peony Black
Sweet Pea 'Chatsworth'
Sweet Pea 'Elegance French Blue'
Sweet Pea 'Mollie Rilestone'
Venus's Looking Glass

From Seeds of Change:

Orange Temple Bells Celosia
Texas Hummingbird Sage
Goldy Double Sunflower
Tiger's Eye Mix Sunflower
Belstar F-1 Broccoli
Corno Di Toro Pepper
Stupice Tomato
Famosa F-1 Cabbage

From Thomson and Morgan:

Sweet Pea Ballerina Blue
Sweet Pea Tickled Pink
Sweet Pea Apricot Sprite
Chrysanthemum - carinatum Sunset
Sweet Pea Zorija Rose
Sweet Pea Elegant Ladies
Salvia - patens
Pepper Gypsy Hybrid
Tomato Sungold

From Burpee:

Sweet Pea, Spanish Dancer
Corn, Ruby Queen
Pea Super Sugar Snap
Pepper Jalapeno False Alarm
Tomato Super Sweet 100
Tomato Bloody Butcher
Tomato Better Boy
Morning Glory Candy Pink

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sempervivums, Sedums and Hypertufa Revisited

A little over a year ago I posted about some recently acquired hypertufa pots and some plants to put in them. Well, not only did the plants I bought do well, but I went and bought some more pots from Fox Meadow up in Fort Collins, Colorado and then went hog wild buying plants. It didn't help that Timberline Gardens, a local nursery in Arvada, Colorado, has an unbelievably large variety of sedum and sempervivum. This variety, combined with Timberline's discount table where many cool plants can be had for only a $1, cause me to go crazy and buy way more plants than I had pots or gardens for. I guess I'll just have to get more pots and dig up more of the back yard.
The picture above shows the pot I pictured in the 2009, only all potted up with some sedums, sempervivums, jovibarba and a tiny dwarf ice plant. The pot below is my old, home made hypertufa pot filled with sempervivum Oddity, S. funckii and S. arachnoidium. Click on picture for a much bigger image:

The other new hypertufa pots from Fox Meadow are shown below, all planted up. Click on the pic for a bigger image:

Plus, there's a new pot made from left over Quikcrete and a bit of cement colorant:

And then there faux hypertufa, or as I like to call it, faux faux Tufa since hypertufa is meant to simulate tufa, which is a naturally occurring rock. These pots are made of Styrofoam boxes that have been roughed up and painted with leftover house paint and some acrylics.

All of the pots, whether they are hypertufa or styrofoam have plenty of drainage holes in the bottom.

The plastic pots planted up with sedums, iceplants and sempervivum in the spring filled in nicely:

It was fun the see the radical color and appearance change in the sempervivum throughout the year. These pictures show the color change Sempervivum Calcerum Pink Pearl went through from May to July (click for larger pics):

These pictures show the range of colors S. Spherette went through from May to September:

Sempervivum Fuego also undergoes a radical color change. Here it is from April to September:

As winter arrived, some became an intense shade of red, while others became more green. Some changed from blue green to purple. Some stayed pretty much the same. I have lots more pictures here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

Now that winter is here, we make more suppers in the oven. One that my spouse makes is Sheperd's Pie. Traditionally, it's made with ground lamb, but we don't often have ground lamb so we use ground beef instead.

1 pound lean ground beef - we use 93% lean
2 eggs
1 cup oats
1 cup milk
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 teaspoon Better than Bullion

cheddar cheese
enough mashed potatoes to cover the top

Stir the beef eggs, oats, milk barbecue sauce, bullion and onion all together like you would a meatloaf. Put this in the bottom of a 9 inch glass pie plate. Cover with a layer of cheddar cheese slices. Cover this with enough mashed potatoes to cover the top. Usually this is 6 medium pototatoes, smashed with some milk and a couple tablespoons of butter. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, then reduce temperature to 300 and bake another 15 minutes.

This year we had some roasted sweet peppers and put a layer of those between the meat and cheese. That was excellent!

This feeds six people.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Backyard Pollinators: Honeybees

The days are getting so short and the nights long right now near Denver, Colorado. It's cold and windy outside, the trees are bare and the gardens give the appearance of being dead.

This is a good time to go through all the pictures taken during the summer months and see what I actually got. During the spring, summer and fall, when the gardens are full of life, I take many pictures of the flowers, plants and bugs. I go through these photo albums multiple times during the winter, each time seeing different things that grab my interest.

Today, the bugs in the photos captured my interest. More specifically, the pollinators. But, since there are many pollinators in my photos, I'm first just going to focus on the most common ones in the pictures - the honeybees.

Honeybees seem to really like my yard. Is it because there are flowers blooming constantly from early spring until late fall? I think this is probably so, plus I have multiple water gardens to provide water as well. As soon as there is a crocus blooming in spring, there is a bee in it.

(Clicking on each picture will being up a much larger version of the same image.)

A little later, the hyacinths, tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs are full of honeybees:

Later in the spring, all the fruit tree bloom and are so full of bees the trees seem to be humming. But sometime after that, the roses start to bloom.

There are over 400 roses in the yard and many thousands of blooms. The above picture is most likely of the rose Darlow's Enigma.

Here is a photo of a bee busy in one of my dark red gallica roses. This is a particularly clear image of the bee, especially in the larger photo where even the hairs on the bee's head, thorax, abdomen, and legs can be seen.

As the summer continues on, the bees search out the blooms on the petite, but repeat blooming miniature roses.

The poppies attract many honeybees.

Some share a flower. These two bees in this flower look different to me, although they both spent quite a lot of time in there without any squabbling. Are they from different hives or is one older than the other?

Later in the summer, the anise hyssop, also known as agastache, is buzzing with hundreds of bees. The lavender, daylilies, sunflowers, dahlias, salvias and many other flowers are also thick with bees.

There also seems to be some very dark, or black honeybees visiting the flowers. Are these a different species of bee or just a color variation?

There are bees coming to the gardens into the late fall, drawn to the flowers of the sedums and the last hurrah of the repeat blooming hybrid teas and miniature roses.

All in all, there are a lot of bees in the gardens. Later, I'll post about the native bees and other pollinators in the gardens as there are a lot of them too.

Next spring there may be even more bees in the garden since some bee keeping friends are considering putting some hives out back near the fruit trees.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hot Peppers! - Ring of Fire

This year I wanted to make pepper jelly again, only hotter. In the pepper bed, I grew only Marconi peppers for the sweet pepper part of the jelly and grew Jalapenos and a new one I never tried before called Ring of Fire. I was originally thinking of making the jelly using all of peppers grown this year. That was the idea until I tried the Ring of Fire.
Ring of Fire is definitely one of the hottest peppers I've grown. I grew a few Habaneros in a pot, which are also pictured above, and thought they were hot, but these turned out hotter. They are a long thin Cayenne style pepper with not much juice in them so I dried them instead. I cut the first batch up with bare hands which was a mistake because I couldn't get all the oil off my fingers, even when scrubbed them with lots of soap, which I found out when I accidentally touched my eye. Since they are a very productive pepper, I had more to dry, but wore latex gloves when cutting them up.
Once dried, these peppers were ground using a grinder dedicated to just peppers. The powder is a bright. toxic orange. About 1/4 teaspoon can well season an entire pot of chili.
I ended up using all the Marconi and Jalpeno pepper juice for the jelly, but only added about a pinch of the Ring of Fire pepper powder to each jelly batch, which proved to be plenty hot.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Burgundy Woolly Acorn Earrings for sale

Since selling directly off this blog has worked well so far, I'm going to offer a few more things.

These little burgundy wool earrings are made using felted wool and real red oak acorn caps, along with brass beads and findings.

The wool is needle felted from corridale wool and then wet felted to create a very firm, dense and smooth little acorn.
The ear wires are Vintaj natural brass and are nickel free.

The entire earring is about 1 7/8 inches long, from top of ear wire to bottom of the dangle. The ear wires pictured are 1 inch from top to end of back curve and the dangle is 1 1/4 inch from top to bottom.

There are four different styles of ear wires available. One is a nickel free brass colored lever back and the other three are Vintaj nickel free brass.

These earrings, as well as all my jewelery, come packaged in a brand new jewelry box tied up with ribbon to keep it safe in its travels.

Burgundy Woolly Acorn Earrings
$14.00 includes shipping in the USA
Ear Hook Type

Monday, October 25, 2010

A rare occurance - Morning Rainbow

We rarely get early morning rainbows. Usually the rainbows come in the afternoon, when most showers happen, when the sun is in the west and the rainbow in the east. But at 8:00 this morning, the sun was shining brightly in the east and the rain was coming in from the west, making a beautiful, full, double rainbow over the mountains in the west. I couldn't fit the entire rainbow in the camera lens, so I got as much as I could. It lookd like the clouds obscured most of the mountains:

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Fuzzy Nuts: Woolly Felt Acorn Earrings

It's been while since I posted a new blog entry, but now it's time I do something about that. Once of the things I've been keeping busy with is making lots of felted acorn earrings out of wool. Nice soft light weight fuzzy earrings. I started making them last year and put a few on my Etsy shop. This year I'll be selling them at the local handweaver's guild sale as well, and I think I'll put a few up on this blog too.
The nut is made of wool that is needle felted and then wet felted to create a very firm, dense and smooth little acorn. Usually the wool is Merino but sometimes Corriedale is used. Sometimes the nut is hand felted and then died using a good, light fast commercial protein fiber dye and sometimes it's felted from pre-dyed wool.
The caps used are oak acorn caps and vary from red oak,

to white oak:

to fuzzy burr oak caps:

The metal parts are brass and the ear wires are either Vintaj natural nickel free brass french ear wires in small or large, or nickel free brass lever backs.