Friday, April 30, 2010

May is Bike Month

Time to drag out that old rusty cruiser or brand new one and put some miles on it. Commute to work, ride to the store or just ride for fun. I got out my old commute converted ParkPre mountain bike and got it ready for monday. I normally commute to work almost all summer from May until October but haven't the last two years due to the smoke from the big fires 2 years ago and all the winds last year. I can't commute the rest of the year even when the weather's nice as the rural type road to my work is too unsafe on a bike in the dark. It's really not that safe during the summer but I feel better about being able to be seen. I'll probably get out my vintage (fancy word for old) mountain bikes and ride them to the store. One is ProFlex 857 with the old Girvin fork that I outfitted with all time period accessories (Ringle stem, seat post, skewers, and water bottle cages, and Kooka cranks). The other is a GT Ricochet in Tequila Sunrise outfitted similarily that my son rides.
Register here and log your miles.

One Down Four to Go

Completed one planter today out of the 5 I am building. I'm experimenting with utilizing Doug Fir covered with plastic on the inside instead of redwood. The Doug Fir 2X12s are less than a $1 a linear foot. While not as rot resistant as redwood, actually not even close, I'm hoping the plastic will help me get somewhere near the same life span. If not I'll replace it with redwood or manufactured lumber at a later time when the Doug Fir is rotted away. This planter is a 3'X8' that I am using for herbs and a bee garden. It gets 4 hours morning sun and 3 hours late afternoon sun. The other planters will be a 3'X4' located in midday shade also that will be used for lettuce, radishes, and carrots as well as 3 - 4'X10' planters in direct sun all day. These will go into rotation with my fence planters and my 20'X20' garden area.

A Little Light Reading

Picked this guide up at Sam's Club. Not really jam packed with information and kind of geared for an audience of beginning vegetable gardeners. It does suit the purpose I bought it for. That purpose was to get some new ideas on what to plant in some of the 5 new raised planters I'm building this week.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

If It Ever Warms Up and Quits Storming I'm Going To

Plant Some More Summer Garden

In the meantime I needed some mental health days.

new york

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Of Perception, Beauty, and Necessary Evils

It was great talking to Bill Bird of Sacramento Vegetable Gardening on friday. Didn't give him the nickel tour as it's only worth 2 cents currently. I have not really started the prep work for my summer garden as I have been wanting to get my trees trimmed before I put fragile flowers in the back yard. My trees haven't been trimmed in 35 years or so. They were overgrown on the outside and congested in the middle with crossing branches and some hangers stuck in there. The magnolia was starting to show some signs of stress, the pine tree has pitch beetles, and the sycamore was providing too much shade in the backyard as evidenced by the moss on the garage and house roof. I also wanted to get more hours of sunshine on my fencerow vegetable planters as well as the new bee attracting flower bed I'm getting ready to plant.

Even with the overgrowth man did my trees look good. The magnolia was a 50 tall, luscious green, solid mass of beauty. Covered in giant white flowers in late spring it was by far the most magnificient tree in a neighborhood of many beautiful looking trees. It provided great shade to the front yard, my house in the morning and my neighbor's in the afternoon and evening.I knew I had to have them trimmed. I did not want to alter their looks but trimming would do just that. Pruning was a necessary evil to promote their long term health, the life of my roof and the success of my new fencerow planters. With much reluctance I had collectied quotes and finally had chose the company to do the deed. The date was set and they arrived, climbed around in my trees for 4 hours with chainsaws blaring, lightened my wallet by a grand and left. The tree you see on here is my formerly solid beautiful magnolia. I know it will be beautiful again and even healthier but for now I tend not to look at it. I can't stand how it looks. All my friends and neighbors say it looks fine and is better off.
The dove that nests in it every year even eventually found her nest in it. I think it looked as different to her as it does to me. She flew up to a crook four feet away from her nest and then to the ground repeatedly for an hour trying to find it. One she found it she settled in and has been fine. I hope our next storms do not have alot of wind with them as she doesn't have very good cover from a south wind anymore.
The minimal pruning that was done to my pine to get it out of the city's sycamores out front has probably displaced an annual visitor to my yard. That is if she hadn't already left due to my new finch sack feeders. The hummingbird that returns every year to nest in the same nest in my pine tree was not a big fan of the noisy finches that had congregated to eat thistle seed from the socks. For some reason the pruner decided to cut back the branch that contained the hummingbirds nest so I don't know if she'll show up again and nest here or not. I have put in some hummingbird flowers out front just in case.
Time will bring back the beauty of the trees and hopefully the hummingbird as well.

Here's a few pictures of my neighbor's roses. Most of mine are still buds.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wood Duck Conservation with a Suprise

Today I had some friends from the duck hunting world and California Waterfowl Association come do some banding of hens that use the nesting boxes on the project I maintain. We met at my house at 9:30 and headed out. After checking a few boxes that did not show any activity we hit pay dirt. The first lady of the day. We gave her a little bling on her leg and continued.

The Region 5 manager was on hand to observe my project as well as do some community outreach with the individuals who had questions while walking by. We continued banding and checking boxes the rest of the morning and ended up banding 7 hens, having 3 nests already hatched with 35 ducklings coming from them, and counting 113 eggs in current nests. The nesting season runs through July but the busiest months are April and May. Robert, a CWA volunteer and different Region Manager was the official bander for the day.The suprise of the day came when we opened a box and found a Hooded Merganser hen sitting on 12 of her eggs and 2 wood duck eggs. In 17 years of managing my progect I have never got to get one banded. In fact last year was the first year I ever had one in a box.

Here are some other pictures

A Nesting Box

A Pretty Lady

A Little Bling


Another Lady

With the gracefulnees of a lumbering ox I take my svelte 280 pound frame up a ladder

The special lady

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bee Bop

Friday was an exercise in futility trying to locate a good number of Mason Bee attracting flowers at a local nursery. I did purchase a few flowers but they were for honeybees, bumblebees, and the hummingbird that resides in my pine tree. The only Mason Bee flowers I found were a purple variety of Salvia. I purchased 6 Spanish Lavender for hb/bbs, 2 varities of Beard Tongue for the hummer and the Salvia for the mbs. I'm planting some out front but will be adding flowers to the back yard to attract bees to the houses and around the garden. I just have to pry my cheap fingers off the $1100 to get my trees trimmed (wouldn't want branches droppend on new flowers or vegetables). Saturday I was able to acquire a wondrous new garden decoration. I still can't believe the people at the Boy Scout yard sale did not think anyone would buy it.

The new garden decoration

Spanish lavender out front.

The Beard Tongue and Salvia awaiting next week.

One of the few roses that have opened.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Recent Pics

The Kale that won't bolt.

Garlic looking good.

The late maturing cauliflower.
I'm going to have to decide whether to yank these May 1st or delay planting my tomatoes. The cool spring slowed the maturity of these cauliflower and their right in my tomato bed for this summer.

Besides the summer garden and house renovation I have a few garden projects planned. Flowers strategically placed for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds as well as an experimental shade vegetable garden. I'll post up as I do the projects.