Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Little Gnats and Stories

I read Leman's Country Life on line http://www.countrylife.lemans.com because they have so many good hints and interesting stories.  I've probably said this before and I'll mention again, Leman's was developed to service the Amish in Ohio who wanted/needed non-electric home equipment and supplies.  It has now become more important to others as we look to conservation methods.  They've also been smart to carry supplies that hold up over the years; not hoping for a flashy quick sale but hoping for customer satisfaction.  Whether you are buying or just reading, it's good stuff.

A reader tells us a help for indoor infestations of gnats:  Take something yellow (paper plate for example) and cut into strips.  Coat with petroleum jelly.  At this point, they can either be hung with string or stuck into potted plants.  Apparently gnats are attracted to yellow and will land on the strip and stick.  Worth a try.
Yesterday was a lesson in survival of the fittest.  I was doing laundry upstairs and looked out the window at my feeders.  A hawk was perched on the nearby arbor.  The arbor is covered with a thick mass of honeysuckle & clematis vines & leaves.  This vine haven provides a perch for birds coming and going to the feeders and rather good protection from winter weather.

This is the first time I've seen a hawk so close to my feeders.  They sometimes hunt in the yard near the end of winter; apparently when rodent pickin's are scarce.  All the feeder birds had immediately vanished from sight.  He just perched there surveying the neighborhood as if he had all the time in the world. 

I rushed downstairs to grab my camera for an up-close photo op.  Just as I was poised to snap, the hawk quickly flipped up-side-down and all I could see was his tail sticking out of the vines.  Just as quickly he came back up with a little bird and was gone.  I was so surprised I didn't even click the camera.

I don't try to orchestrate who lives and dies in the non-domesticated bird and animal world I call back yard.  They each have their cycle, benefits and needs.  I do love my little bird feeding area and hope this hawk doesn't make it his daily meal ticket. 
A reminder to check the bulbs and plants you stored in the basement or garage.  Throw away anything that's rotting and make sure to clean off any of that residue.  Anything in soil needs to have a bit of water (not much) and NO fertilizer.  If you have cats, make sure they haven't decided your pots are another litter source.  Covering the soil around the plant with aluminium foil usually stops them.  
It's a good time to start any Amaryllis bulbs you've been storing.  Stores have these bulbs on sale right now.  The perception that these are just for Christmas makes good shopping for the gardener.  Just the thing to perk up your home these gray days.
It's also a good time to think about forcing other bulbs.  Use a few of your own that didn't get planted or look around for them in stores.  These too may be on sale (just make sure they're not rotted or dried up.)  There are on-line directions on how to get spring blooming bulbs ready for indoor forcing.  The University of Illinois Extension site is always a great source and they also have a Facebook page that has gardening tips on a regular basis.  
Remember:  Don't use salt to melt ice.  There are commercial non-salt products in stores or use kitty litter, ground corn, or sand.  Salt WILL kill your plants and accumulate in the soil.  

Have a great winter day!   Drive and walk safe in the ice and snow.  

"All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I went for a walk
On a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day."
- Mammas and Pappas, California Dreamin     

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