Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Spring Forward, Renewal, Rebirth, Revival and Joy!

March 8th is Spring Forward Time! A Garden Review!

 

spring, bird feeding, bees
Image from Pixabay

Yeah, for all our Naturalists/Gardeners/Backyard Enthusiasts and those who are patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for Spring's arrival.  From my own personal experience I know how most of us are feeling right about now.  We can't wait for longer days and warmer temperatures and getting our hands back into the soil.  We want to poke around to see what's about to spring up out of the ground.  We also look up to see where the birds are too.  That first robin or yellow finches just make us so happy.  Our time is coming quickly!


Things Outside are Changing Quickly!

 
Now that it's March, we can look forward to longer daylight hours (it's already light at 6:00 in the morning)!  The bugs and the bees are waking up from their long winter slumber and looking desperately for a food source.  Even the birds are making a comeback.  

Those of us who love hummingbirds will be watching the Hummingbird Migration Maps for 2020!  They are already in parts of Florida and coming to your neighborhood soon!  Be the first one in your neighborhood to mark the map with the first sighting in your area. 


Spring, so much to do and so much pleasure in doing it too!


If you hang out bird feeders, now is the time to get them ready.  Clean and disinfect them all carefully.  We want to feed the birds and not harm them.  Clean feeders are a must!  Pathogens that can harm them can and might live over in the winter months.  There is need to be extra vigilant in making the birds source of food a safe source.  

Wash down all bird feeders, clean out birds nests from last year and give this years birds a really good chance of thriving and surviving.  Clean them out with a mild bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to a sink full of hot soapy water).  Make sure you rinse them well and let them air dry before setting them out again.  

 

Special Care for Hummingbird Feeders!


Many people give up on putting out hummingbird feeders because they do require extra care.  It may seem wasteful, but their nectar needs to be changed every week.  Spoiled nectar in feeders can cause their death.  No one wants to be responsible for that!  So in the early spring, before you even see them, you need to change that nectar every week.  

Make only a cup of nectar at a time, so as not to waste all that sugar water.  And remember, red dyes are NOT NECESSARY  to attract those little flying gems.  Your hummingbird syrup should be roughly 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water.  The measurement does not have to be exact, but close is good.  Use only 1/2 to 1 cup of syrup in your feeders (keep the rest in the refrigerator) until you are sure the hummingbirds have found you!  Once you know they are coming to your feeders, go to town and fill it right up.


Maybe this is the year you decide to help the birds and the bees.

 
You can easily do this with bird feeders, bird houses and even bee houses.  The birds and bees give us so much enjoyment, it's the least we can do to make them welcome in our yards.  Our own Renaissance Woman will even teach you how to make your own bird feeders if you feel so inclined.  It would be a great spring time activity for your children or grandchildren.  Check it out right here: DIY Mason Jar Bird Feeder!

Building bird houses is also a lot of fun and an easy craft to share with your family as well.  The most important thing to remember is that certain birds require different housing.  Some are solitary breeders, while others love to be in community.  You might have to do some research to find out what kinds of birds come to your neighborhood, before you start building.  This review might help you get started! What you need to know about  Basic Bird House Construction!


The Bees are Getting a Lot of Press Lately!  The Key to Success

 
Science has let it be known that the bee population is in trouble.  If we don't have them as pollinators our whole food sources are at risk.  So let's help those pollinators by growing gardens that feed them all spring, summer and fall.  It's not hard to do and I'm sure you will enjoy the efforts that you put into making a beautiful "bee" friendly garden. 

There are a few guidelines that will help you to help the bees!  
  • Plant a garden that will give lots of blooms all season long.
  • Plant single flowered species rather than the big double and triple flowers.  The singles produce more nectar and the bees can easily get to it.
  • Plant lots of different annuals as well as perennials.
  • Build a bee house.
  • Have a water source available too!

Do you need more information?  I like this website for all inclusive information about bees and keeping them happy!  The  Honey Bee Conservancy  I like to keep my family happy, so, with my son-in-law being a beekeeper, this is for him!  I try to do my part in helping him help the bees and I get to enjoy some of the honey too.

Spring is a time of Renewal, Revival, Rebirth and Joy!  Let's make an effort to help Mother Nature in all of this,  by doing something to help all her little creatures.

feeding the bees, helping Mother Nature, hummingbird feeders
Image by jggrz from Pixabay








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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How to Grow Your Way to Happiness and a Great Garden A Review

Growing My Way to Happiness!  A Review!


Many studies have shown that Growing a Garden reduces stress and increases your happiness with just getting your hands dirty. As I review this idea of growing seeds for the garden, I agree that these studies are true.  I know that in my own life, as February is coming to a close, I start to look for those little signs that spring is indeed on it's way.  Little sprouts coming out of the ground are cause for me to jump for joy!  My husband still doesn't understand that completely.  Oh well, I can't explain it any more than to say my heart does indeed leap with joy, and I know that better days are ahead.  No more Seasonal Affected Disease and no more need to sit under lamps to get us out of our "funk".  The countdown is on for when we can really get our fingers into the ground and just feel wonderful.

galanthus bulbs, snow bells, spring bulbs
Snow Bells in Spring
https://pixabay.com/en/flower-rod-snowdrop-garden-nature-2080981/


So now that February is almost done and we can honestly say that Spring is just around the corner, it's time to get those seeds started that we saved from last year.  Just to be on the safe side though,  don't start just yet.  It is still February!

Preparation is the Key to Successful Spring Seed Growing

All of my die hard gardening friends have already been to at least one "Seedy Weekend".  What is that, you might ask?  Well, for anyone who lives in an Urban area with either Greenhouses or a Botanical Garden nearby, most of these will have a late winter get together called a "Seedy Saturday or Sunday".  The whole point of the weekend being that gardeners get together to share the abundance of seeds that they have saved from their own gardens and share with others for seeds that they might have.  It increases the number of seeds any gardener has and let's them share stories of their own particular gardens with like minded people.  It really is a social for gardeners who have missed being outdoors during the winter months.  If you are in the Toronto area for a visit, this weekend is the Toronto Botanical Gardens Seedy Saturday(Feb. 25),  so come on over for some fun and some great new seeds.

Back to preparation for Seed Sowing

Make sure you have purchased new seedling soil for your seeds. You never want to reuse soil from previous years, as they might be harboring bacteria that will be harmful to new seedlings.  This special seedling soil is composed of  a mix that contains very little "soil or dirt",  rather it is made up of moss, vermiculite and perlite.  These can be purchased separately and mixed together one part of each, or you can purchase it premixed.  You can fill up your home made containers, using newspapers, or half egg shells, or half a toilet paper tube.  All of these would be perfect for seed starts and are bio-degradable. It also makes it so much easier to plant in the garden afterwards because you just plant the whole thing into the ground.  No need to disturb young forming roots.

seedlings, starter tubes, repurposing toilet paper tubes
https://pixabay.com/en/macro-nursery-plants-seedlings-1840261/

Have whatever containers you choose to set up for your seeding, on heat mats. You are trying to make the seeds think it's May with nice warm soil to grow in.  Warm soil and lots of light are the two most important things you need to start your indoor seeds off right.  If you just plant seeds into little pots and set them on a window sill, you will surely get the seeds to grow, but they will suffer in a few weeks time.  Why?  Well it's really just too early for them to growing without some added help.  Warming the soil with heat mats is akin to being outdoors in May.  The sun warms up the soil outdoors so that seeds will germinate and grow.  The days are getting longer with more hours of sunshine available than in March, so that the seedlings that are growing in the ground will be hardy and strong.  Indoors we need to mimic the garden in May as much as possible if we want strong seedlings.  Without the added attention of heat and light, your seedlings will be tall, lanky and very spindly looking.  Most often they will fall over because the stalks are not strong enough to hold them upright.  Once that happens you can almost count the days to total death of the seedling.  All that work is gone and you have to start over again, if you have enough seeds.  If you don't you will be buying more seeds in short order to start all over again.  

Indoor Gardening Done Right

If you decide that you really want to grow your seeds from scratch in the early months of March and April, then be prepared to have the right set up in place.  Yes there is a bit of effort involved, but  the end result will be well worth the effort.  You can purchase an indoor garden set up with shelves, heat mats and lights all in one unit.  This is usually more than enough for your average home gardener.  You are not going to become a commercial greenhouse operation, but you will have lots of seedlings for your garden and maybe some friends too.  Doing it this way is a little expensive, but you would have the unit for years to come.  I prefer the doing my seeds with heat mats and grow lights that I have purchased separately.  For my garden needs, this is more than enough space to grow seeds.  You have to decide for yourself which set up is right for you!


With some of these choices you can start your own indoor gardening center and have some really good success with it too. The heat mats are inexpensive and will provide that much needed warmth at the soil level. The grow lights are also inexpensive and will help to keep your seedlings compact and strong.  The additional light with at least 8 to 12 hours of light, will mimic the days in May and June. Or if you really want to guarantee success, you can try one of the Areo Grow Systems for indoor herb gardens.  They have the lights and warmth built right into the unit, so that your success with these is almost a given.  Gardening is a joy especially for us northerners.  We love our changing seasons, but the change from Winter to Spring is the one that we seem to love the best.

Happy Gardening and Seed Sowing to all of you!


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Monday, March 14, 2016

Spring Forward and Spruce Up that Balcony

My springtime sunset view
Our clocks have just sprung ahead and spring becomes official in a matter of days. Whether you live in an area that is celebrating the end of blizzards and ice storms or an area that remains mild all year, the sun shinier days of spring bring on a desire to embrace the outdoors. And there is no better way to celebrate spring than to include your outdoor living space in your spring cleaning and redecorating.  Here are five inexpensive ways to spruce up your small balcony or patio areas.

If you gift yourself a comfortable and personalized place to relax, your outdoor living area will become an extension of your home.  As you can see, the experience and the views while sitting outdoors can be priceless. 


Low-Cost Outdoor Seating


Patio and balcony seating does not have to cost a small fortune. Neither does it have to be large and bulky.  You can create seating no matter how small your outdoor area.


I wish I had a slightly larger balcony so that I could DIY my own furniture.  But because my balcony is so small, and because I want to make sure to save sufficient space for plants, I tend to use an assortment of ever-changing rugs and cushions to keep my space comfy. 

The best part about using cushions is that they are easily changed to suit the season or your mood. My textiles on the balcony have changed from animal prints, to bright florals, to very earthy/neutral colors, and back again. Go ahead, spruce up your balcony with a few new cushions. 


Beautiful Bird Pillow


Indoor/Outdoor Loveseat-sized Cushion

Outdoor Flooring


I love the coziness of a rug on my balcony. Rugs add so much comfort to an outdoor area.  People are right to be concerned about the deterioration of indoor rugs that are exposed to the elements and the damage that can be done by wet carpets on balconies.

I have wooden flooring on my deck. During blowing rain, my rugs are sometimes soaked. But that does not stop me from using rugs (especially runners) to add color and comfort. I am careful to use rugs that are suitable for the outdoors. Sometimes, I use thinner indoor rugs but am sure to watch for moisture gathered under them and hang them over the rail to dry when necessary.


Indoor/Outdoor Floral Runner




Green Space: Morning Glories and Other Suitable Greenery


We know this world needs more green space. Not only for the health of our earth, but I fully believe for our own health.  No matter how small your outdoor space, you can certainly find some suitable greenery.  


My green privacy screen
Over the years - through trial and error - I have found that marigolds, morning glories, tomatoes, mint, lavender, and rosemary flourish in my third floor balcony garden.  I had some success with blueberries, believe it or not, and would have likely had better success had I remembered to have someone water my blueberry bushes during a period of time that I was away.

My favorite part of having a living balcony is my morning glory privacy screen. Each year, my morning glories twine up the railing and provide a living green screen that delights me with the increased protection from the prying eyes of neighbors and provides the visiting hummingbirds and bees with an extra snack. 



Soothing Sounds - Water Features and Wind Chimes


Two very popular items for outdoor areas are water features and wind chimes.  

I gravitate toward wind chimes. Listening to them tinkling in the wind is something that soothes me.  Small wind chimes can tinkle like tiny bits of glass and large wind chimes can sound like distant church bells on a country Sunday morning.  Bamboo chimes have a natural, "woodsy" sound. Some chimes including shining and sparkling bits that reflect prisms as they move in the breeze.  Frankly, wind chimes and the different varieties deserve their own article.

I have found a great many people who have "desktop" water features on their small balconies. What a great idea!  I am tempted to make room in my outdoor space for one of these so that I too can listen to running water while just steps outside of my livingroom.  I think the Alpine Tabletop Leaf Fountain would be a great addition to my balcony garden. 





Going to the Birds



Balconies and Bird Feeders go together like peanut butter and jelly. At least they do around my place. I love bird feeders. I have kept seed feeders on my previous balconies and enjoyed the many feathered friends who came to visit.

My current balcony is not as suited to a seed feeder. So I stick with a hummingbird feeder.  These winged miracles are so fun to watch and to listen to as they flit around.











Related Links: 

Cheap Seats: Cushions and Poufs -- Photographs that include examples of cushions and poufs being used for seating on tiny balconies. And a sample of a DIY couch made of cinder block, post, and cushions. You may feel limited by the size of your outdoor space but as some of these photos show; the sky is the limit. You can turn your small outside space into a pretty, useful, and comfortable living area.

FUNK'N Practicality with Reversible Patio Mats -- These mats are too large for my teeny balcony but I'd still love to have one. I have friends that use these mats for outdoor gatherings. They are durable, beautiful, and portable. 

Morning Glory - The Beautiful Privacy Screen -- For the past two or three years, I've grown morning glories on my balcony rail.  But this article shows a floor to ceiling green screen. And an important warning about pets and morning glory seeds.

Tuned Wind Chimes Review -- If you love wind chimes but have never heard of tuned wind chimes, this article is a must-read. The lovely sounds of good wind chimes playing music in the wind is something I enjoy very much.

First Hummingbird of 2015 -- The story of how I finally attracted hummingbirds to my balcony for two years in a row. This was after years of unsuccessful attempts. It's as easy as homemade sugar water and an inexpensive hummingbird feeder.








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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On Belonging, Astonishment, and Becoming Spring


Each Petal a Heart... My Heart
“Every spring is the only spring—a perpetual astonishment.”  ~Ellis Peters

There are mornings, such as these, when I am baptized by astonishment.  And in these moments of breathtaking wonder, I belong—I belong to the land, to the first wildflowers of the season, to the mountain chickadee and bluebirds, the oriole, the purple martins, and the mighty hummingbirds.

What is the purpose of green living if not this—to belong to that which is a perpetual astonishment?  Without that sense of surprise and sheer delight, the days would merely be hours.

I’m supposed to be writing reviews, but my spirit wants to sing a different song as this glorious day unfolds.  To deny the song would render my writing moot.  One can only write what one feels deeply, madly, and truly. 

On what feels like the first day of spring I have ever truly known, the words that want to be written are tender, unfurling leaves.  To stand under a young elm tree, witnessing buds giving birth to green... how does one review that? 

Perhaps, if I get still, and quiet, and deeply absorb all this green, it will become embedded in my DNA and I can be a perpetual spring. Wouldn't that be something to write on my heart?



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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Craft Egg-Citement!

Easter Blessings!


It's not too late to get crafting for Easter - we have been busy making little chicks, coloring in Easter bunny paper dolls and even making some little chocolate eggs of our own with a chocolate mold.  

The past week we have also made baskets for an egg hunt, and were lucky enough to attend a willow weaving workshop at our local zoo, where we learned how to make these bird nests pictured! These make a lovely Easter gift, with a knitted bird or two and some pretty foiled eggs. 

This time of year is a haven for crafty ideas - spring is in the air, nature is abundant with bits and bobs to use in crafting, and we have Easter and Earth Day to inspire us! Tomorrow we're going to combine the two events by recycling the pretty colored foil that my children's Easter hunt eggs were wrapped in (below), and using them to create some kind of object or collage. We've not decided yet! 

Squidoo is the perfect place to find Easter craft ideas, or to write your own how-to's and reviews! Whether you want inspiration for a craft, or want to see how you can share your own ideas, take a look at some of these terrific pages

Older preschoolers might like to help (or receive!) these Resurrection Easter Eggs, demonstrated by ideadesigns. And if you're all out of painting and decorating eggs enthusiasm by now, why not try something different, such as this great idea by prosperity66, who shows you how to make Easter Bells from plant pots!

Finally, I love this tutorial from KyraB. Now spring is here, we are itching to get gardening, and have been looking at making a fairy garden in a barrel and a terrarium. So her lens on How to Make a Christian Easter Planter seemed like perfect timing for getting crafty with planting, with an Easter theme!

I was delighted to see my Chick in Egg Easter Cards tutorial selected as Lens of the Day today! This is a great craft for little ones as you can keep it simple (a colored chick in a plain egg) or have fun decorating, coloring or painting it to the hilt! 

I am also delighted to have been blessed with the new regular position of Saturday poster for Review This, so from next weekend you will be able to find reviews, tips, inspirations and ideas from Little Crafty Kids here every week! 

Once again, have a Happy Easter, and happy crafting!  




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