Posts Tagged ‘photo’

The Great Sunflower Project – free seeds!

March 4, 2009

Do you have a sunny space where you can plant a few sunflowers?

They are tall but not too wide and can even be planted in large pots on your deck. All they need is full sun and  water.

Lemon Queen Sunflowers

Do you have 30 minutes twice a month look for bees on your sunflowers?

The “project” is all about pollinators…bees. As you may have heard, bee populations worldwide are declining.  This is an effort to track urban bee populations and determine areas where bee numbers are critically low. You can help and get free seeds in the process.

“One of our main goals is figuring out where bees are in trouble.”

Sign up by March 9, 2009

Go to the Great Sunflower Project website and sign up for your free seeds.

Four Easy Steps

  1. Sign up and plant sunflowers.
  2. Describe your garden
  3. Record time it takes 5 bees to visit sunflower (up to 30 min)
  4. Enter data online or mail it in
Bees on last years pumpkin flower

Bees on last year's pumpkin flower

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Success growing backyard pumpkins

July 17, 2008

Last year we tried to grow pumpkins and failed miserably. Admittedly, the attempt was half hearted. The planting bed was hard-packed clay in an area that was formerly used for storing pipe. I dug deep holes and filled them with planting mix and compost, but the resulting vines were spindly and produced a small, thin crop.

Our first try at Big Max (Giant), Lumina (White), and Jack-Be-Little (Miniature) produced only a few little pumpkins. I blamed the poor production on the lack of bees, but after the changes we made this year, I can say that the bees were not totally to blame.

On the left is the BEFORE pic of our strawberry box in front of the newly planted pumpkin patch. On the right you can see our flourishing pumpkins (AFTER), now invading the strawberries.

Before

After

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Success! Two white “Lumina” pumpkins on the vine.

Two white pumpkins

After making the changes below, I am happy to say that we have a strong crop of pumpkins this year and daily visits by the local bees. We’ve never been more excited to see bees in the garden.


If you want to grow pumpkins in your backyard, try these 6 steps:

  1. Full sun. We planted our pumpkins in the same spot this year because it gets full sun all day long. It has a southern exposure and is the warmest and sunniest spot in our yard.
  2. Raised bed. This year I built a 4ft x10 ft box and filled it with 6 inches of “garden mix” from the local landscape yard. In large beds, always add a few stepping stones or boards to walk on so that you won’t compact the soil. Pumpkins like to root their vines into the soil as they grow, which provides more nutrients to the plant and, more importantly, the pumpkins! A raised bed creates the perfect environment.
  3. Drip irrigation. Pumpkins like water…lots of it…and at regular intervals. I recently read about a woman who lost her prized Big Max pumpkin when it received a large amount of water all at one time and swelled to the point of cracking. Our drip system is on a timer so the pumpkins get a daily dose of H2O.
  4. Mulch. We added a 2 inch layer of shredded cedar mulch to the raised bed once the plants were about 4 inches tall. This serves two purposes: (1) Moisture is retained in the soil and is less likely to dry out on hot days and (2) the pumpkins have a dry surface on which to grow. If pumpkins come in contact with damp soil for an extended period they can discolor and, in the worse cases, soften and rot.
  5. Flowers and Bees. Pumpkins need bees. Bees like flowers. Attract bees to your pumpkin patch and your flowers are more likely to be pollinated. We planted a row of sunflowers along the back of the box, along with zinnias, marigolds, and rosemary, but the pumpkins grew faster than expected. There are pumpkins on the vine but no sunflowers yet (we’ll plant them earlier next year). Other bee-friendly flowers that we have in the yard include azalea, rhododendron, rose, thyme, red apple, agapanthus, lobelia, lavender, columbine, cosmos, daisy, pansy, primrose, lamb’s ears, sage, poppy, basil, boysenberry, orange. Check out this list of bee-friendly flowers for ideas.
  6. VF-11. We apply VF-11 plant food weekly. This stuff is incredible, and seems like magic. Buy some and use it on all your plants.

Check out these amazing photos that Calvin took of the bees in our pumpkin patch.

Two Bees

Can you say pollination?

Can you say pollination?

And here a few more pumpkin pics…

Jack-Be-Little

Jack-Be-Little

Lumina (white) on the left & Big Max (giant) on the right

Lumina (white) on the left & Big Max (giant) on the right

Trevor just finished an iPhoto class. Here’s his take on the pumpkin patch…

Thank you, Sarah, for the seeds!

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Four Steps to Perfect Boysenberries

June 3, 2008

Grandma’s Thornless Boysenberries

We picked our first boysenberries today!

I’ve picked my fair share of blackberries and boysenberries but I’ve never grown them before. As a kid we used to pick blackberries by the gallon in a huge vacant lot near our cabin in Monte Rio, California. The plastic buckets hung from strings around our necks so that we could pick with both hands.

The berry patch was massive with tunnels and rows made from old planks that were smashed down over the vines. It was hot and humid. Our hands were purple, itchy, and sticky by the time we finished. We kept wet washcloths in the car for afterward.

At Phipp’s Country Store and Farm near Pescadero, CA, you can pick olallieberries and strawberries then cap it off with a day at the beach.

Our Thornless Boysenberries berries were given to us by Grandma Rita who lives with Grandpa Ed up in Washington. She occasionally brings us goodies. The lillies she gave us are just beginning to bloom.

A couple years ago she brought a hunk of thornless boysenberries from her wonderful garden. It was in a one-gallon can. We didn’t have a place to put it at the time, so I proceeded to abuse the poor plant. I moved the can around the garden and often forgot to water it. That berry plant died and came back to life many times before we finally planted it.

Eventually, we bought a trellis at Costco and set it up in the garden. I split the vine in two and planted one on each side of the trellis.

We don’t have the room to plant the berries in the “proper” manner, namely a one or two-wire trellis row as outlined below. Given this year’s production, I’m not too worried about it. Our thornless boysenberries are watered regularly and get VF-11 plant food weekly during the growing season.

To properly maintain boysenberries, you need to learn two new words: primocane and floracane. Primocanes are the new stems that grow this year. They do not produce berries in year one. The Floracanes are last year’s growth and produce this year’s flowers and berries.

PRUNING IN A NUTSHELL

1. After fruiting in the summer, cut floracanes down to the ground.

2. Tie this year’s primocanes onto trellis and prune to 6-8 ft.

3. Thin semi-upright varieties to 4-8 canes.

4. In early Spring, cut side branches back to 12 inches.

More blackberry tips: Pruning and Training Thornless Blackberries

Baby Hummingbird photos for June 2 & 3

June 3, 2008

The young humming bird was sitting up on the edge of the nest today. I think she’ll be flying soon. Of course, when I try to get close with my camera, she hunkers down into the nest and I miss the perfect shot. Here’s what I did get…

June 2, 2008

June 3, 2008

Baby Hummingbird photos for June 1

June 1, 2008

Daily photos of the hummingbird in our front yard. Looking more like a hummingbird everyday.

hummingbird June 1 #1

Waiting for mom to return to the nest (or telling us to back off).

hummingbird June 1 #2

Baby Hummingbird photos for May 31

May 31, 2008

The kids and I are working on an instructional video. The clip is done but I’ve got a few more photos to take before I post it. In the meantime, enjoy today’s baby hummingbird photos.

We’re starting to see some tail feathers. Notice how the baby tucks herself down into the nest as I get closer.

Pencil added for perspective.

I still haven’t been able to film the baby and mom together. She’s really flighty these days and my camera only takes 30 sec clips at the highest resolution. I’ll keep trying. Happy Saturday.

Baby Hummingbird Movie

May 29, 2008

We took a one minute video of our baby hummingbird chillin’ in its nest. Not much action but he does blink a few times…

Baby Hummingbird Photo – May 28, 2008

May 28, 2008

Mama bird doesn’t sit on the nest anymore. She just hovers nearby. I saw her feeding the young one yesterday. That was cool. First time I’ve seen that. The baby is getting fatter and fuzzier each day.

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Today’s Hummingbird photo – May 27, 2008

May 27, 2008

Pretty darn cute.

Baby hummingbird May 27 2008