Category Archives: My One Acre of Gardening

Winter Cardinals in Oklahoma

I absolutely love Cardinals! I think both the male and female are crested beauties! The males have a black mask upon their glorious red and the females are a mellow brown with touches of reddish orange here and there. My, my, how that red stand outs against a bleak and snowy landscape.

Cardinals do not migrate in the winter and often come together in flocks to band against the winter harshness. I can look out my window on a dreary winter day and see flashes of red in the thicket in the pasture. This bird is a seed eater and some of its favorites seeds are sunflower, cracked corn and safflower. An excellent sight for birdwatchers in Oklahoma, Bird of Oklahoma.  Today I found a site for birdsongs, it’s wonderful on this arctic winter day to hear sounds of spring.

If you want to draw Cardinals into your yard be sure to plant vines, climbing roses and evergreens. Tangly, hardy vines like the clematis, honeysuckle and trumpet vine make good hiding places. Cardinals like to build their nests in shrub and climbing roses; the thorns make for good defense. Evergreens make good plants for roosting, especially in the Winter.

Alex and I made Orange Baskets treats for the birds on this wind chill factor -10 day. Turn the orange with the stem end up and cut wedges out of the top on both sides thus leaving a “handle” to hang the basket. We used recycled old ribbon for the hangers. We decided the orange smelled so good we ate the wedges or if you can resist the temptation, feed the wedges to the birds. The Orange Baskets will be hung from the Pecan tree in the backyard.

Orange Baskets for the Birds

My Impressionism era photo of Winter Cardinals.

Farmer’s Market One Yard Wonder

My Christmas Present

One of my plans for 2010 is to start a Nowata County Farmer’s Market at the Fairgrounds.  Gardening has always been my passion and therapy. I have also been involved with a series of Economic Development meetings for Nowata City/County and believe that Agritourism is an important aspect of  Nowata’s economy. I have been working on networking and planning since October 2009 for the market. Another page will be added to this blog about the market and keeping everyone updated about the progress.

Vintage Design

My very creative daughter, Holly, made this bag for my Christmas present using a pattern from the book, One Yard Wonders. She used vintage material for her creation.  I love it, love it! Holly and her friend, Audrey, have developed a collaborative creative project, Mama Says Vintage. Please stop by to read their unique blogs.

Rolled Up to Store

The bag rolls up and has a velcro strap to secure. You could store it in your purse or glove compartment or in a milk crate in the back of your mini-van. I have a plastic milk crate that I keep the following items:

  1. cloth shopping bags (from various stores)
  2. newspaper for wrapping my junking finds
  3. a few recycled plastic bags for multiple purposes
  4. a box of baby wipes
  5. hand sanitizer
  6. paper towels
  7. 2 small size quilted moving pads to protect my junking furniture pieces
  8. 3 bottles of water
  9. disposable cups/snacks
  10. a box of various size plastic storage bags

My van hauls grandkids to various activities and always seems to stop at garages sales, estate sales, flea markets, etc. so the above items come in very handy. One never knows when and where one might need any or all of the items. Like maybe on a trip to Tablerock Lake through the ups and downs and curves with a 4 year old sitting in the back seat who got carsick…… which we did not have because we were in Grandad’s truck.

If you are reading this  and live within 40-50 miles from Nowata and are interested in the farmer’s market, please make a comment and I will let you know about the planning meetings, etc.

I will be a fashionista at the Farmer’s Market with my new one-yard bag!

Vintage Tupperware & Harvesting

Harvesting Green Bell Peppers

Harvesting Green Bell Peppers

 My set of three “harvesting” items, a vintage Tupperware Cutting Board, a handled red garbage bowl and a washing bowl.  My garden is small so I developed a method for processing small amounts of produce. I first put a small amount of produce in the green bowl and fill it with water to wash the dirt off of the produce. The vintage tupperware piece is fantastic for chopping produce and pouring into small plastic freezer bags. The red garbage bowl is for the bits and pieces from chopping the produce and the contents go in the compost heap.

Diced Green Bell Pepper

Diced Green Bell Pepper

My sweetie doesn’t really like green peppers, therefore, I only use about 1/4 cup in various dishes like chili, spaghetti, taco filling, etc.  I pour about a 1/4 cup into a small freezer bag and seal it then put the freezer. When the batch is frozen I put the bags of green pepper into a larger plastic freezer bag. When I need some diced green pepper for a recipe, I just grab a small bag from the freezer. Easy!

A Finished Batch Ready for the Freezer

A Finished Batch Ready for the Freezer

I process several veggies this way, onions, other peppers and various squash (zucchini for bread, yellow for casseroles). Just adjust this process to fit your garden and family size and likes. A combo of green peppers, red peppers and onions could be processed into one Southwest Seasoning combo for stews, soups, etc. I will share my recipes for Zucchini Bread and Squash Casserole later this month.

Old Junque Art Gardening

Hen & Chicks in Old Enamel Pot
Hen & Chicks in Old Enamel Pot

I love using old pieces of the past in my gardening. I often plant perennial succulents or annuals in old chipped enameled pieces. Be sure and punch a few holes in the bottom before planting or the rain can stand in the pots and cause rotting to occur. Sometimes you can use a big nail and hammer or use a drill with a sharp drill bit to punch holes, this depends upon the condition of the enameled pot.  These old enamel pots and pans can be found in flea markets, antique stores or yard sales. The price can range from WOW to very cheap (a $1 per pot), just shop for those bargains. Gardening Notes: 1. Keep moist in winter. 2. If the temperature drops 20 degrees or below put the pots in a protected place, like a garage or shed.

Perennial Succulent in Green/Beige Enamel Pot
Perennial Succulent in Green/Beige Enamel Pot

I look for unusual items to place in my landscape to add interest and detail. In my new butterfly garden  I put a vintage hand driven cultivator and a red and white enamel dish pan. The cultivator adds some ambiance from the past and provides for a trellis for the recent planted Passion Vine. The dish pan provides water for the birds and butterflies, it needs a unique rock or something for the butterflies to land on to drink.

Butterfly Garden with Cultivator and Dish Pan
Butterfly Garden with Cultivator and Dish Pan

Old rusty iron pieces have a special appeal to me, the bits and pieces remind me of days gone by when they were used by the farmer out in the field or by the farmers wife in the milk house. I have combined a rusty piece (milk separator??) with a vintage tin watering can; both pieces have drought resistant annuals planted in them because of the intense heat of Oklahoma Summers. The rusty planter displays bright pink rose moss and the tin watering can displays multi-colored periwinkles (vinca minor); both are heat and drought tolerant.

My Junque Art
My Junque Art

Old junque art pieces not only add interest to a garden but it also recycles odd bits and pieces that would otherwise end in the trash pile. Our small towns have an abundance of junque art in the yards and gardens. I love to drive around and look at all the ingenuity of fellow gardeners. What a great one day trip! Just go to small towns and look for junque art, take pictures and enjoy lunch at a restaurant with local cuisine. I might just have to take a day trip soon! I know that there are many of you out there that also have found unique pieces of junque art and have used the great finds in creative ways. Please comment and leave a link so we can all share in this joy of junking.

Rose Moss
Rose Moss
Multi-Color Periwinkle

Multi-Color Periwinkle

Hummingbirds, Butterflies and Toads

Here on my acre I have all three of these great creatures that either live or visit here every summer. Monarch Butterflies’ migration pattern is north from Mexico and comes through my section of northeast Oklahoma. One year I experienced one of those rare and precious events in life; I walked out my door to see a huge tree covered in Monarch Butterflies, thousands of them.

Hummingbirds

Here are some guidelines for caring for Hummingbirds in Oklahoma:

  • Hang the feeders by April 1 and take the feeders down November 1.
  • Make your own nectar: 1 cup boiling water and 1/4 cup granulated sugar or brown sugar; let cool before using.
  • If your feeders sit empty for very long, the cute little busybodies will go elsewhere.
  • A special treat for the tiny birds is a small amount of orange juice added to the mixture; just a few drops per feeder.
  • DO NOT use honey or sugar substitute.
  • Place feeders in the shade.
  • Hummingbirds are very competitive, so hang several at different locations.
  • Clean feeders with vinegar and hot water: Once a week in cool weather and once every three-four days in hot weather because a bad fungus can grow in the feeders if not cleaned.

Ants can be problem on the feeders. Here are a few tips:

  • Make a duct tape barrier. Wrap loosely around the hanger with sticky side out then wad up around the hanger.
  • Make a mixture of 1 cup vinegar and 1 tablespoon cloves; put in a clean spray bottle (new spray bottles can be found at the $1 store). Spray around the trail to the feeder. This mixture would be good for ants anywhere; safe and non-toxic. Mark your spray bottles “Ant Clove Spray”.
  • Save your spray paint tops with the two chambers. Punch a small hole in the inside chamber (try using a ice pick). String on feeder’s wire hanger and then fill the outer chamber with veggie oil.

Some suggest adding red food color to the feeding mixture, this is not necessary. Believe me, Hummingbirds are worth the effort! I love just sitting on my porch and watching the little birds.

Help one of the Oklahoma Wildlife’s biological surveys track Black Throated Hummingbirds in Oklahoma. Biologists are studying exactly where the Black Throated Hummingbird are raising their babies in Oklahoma. If you would like to take part in this exciting survey, go here www.wildlifedepartment.com/hummingbirdsurvey.htm

Butterflies

Summer in Oklahoma can be on the dry side and butterflies are attracted to water. Therefore, supply a source of water for these flutter-bys. Here are some ideas.

  • Use those mis-matched or broken tea cups or saucers. Sink the cups or saucers into the soil in your flowerbeds or even in a large flower pot. The water needs to be shallow, so the saucers are fine “as is” but in the cups put a piece of sponge and keep it wet. The cups probably need to go in shady areas or you will keep watering that sponge three or four times in that hot Oklahoma sun!
  • Use a shallow pan (any type) with water and put flat stones, inverted plant saucers or just about anything that the Butterfly can walk and flit in, very shallow.

I bought these garden flower stakes for $2.00 each at a flea market. I set the stakes around in my flower beds for hummingbirds and butterflies water supply.

Metal Flower Water Cups

Metal Flower Water Cups

Other various ideas for the flutterbys:

  • Male butterflies suck nutrients and minerals out of dirt or sand; this is called “puddling”. Mix a small amount of dirt in sand to fill cups, small pans or muffin tins. You can find many really neat used items at garage sales, second hand stores, etc.
  • Make a buffet of overripe fruit such as apples and melons on a platform feeder or a clay plant saucer placed on a stump. Caution: Overripe fruit will also attract bees and wasps so be careful about children playing around these buffets! However, there are beneficial predatory wasps, such as the Muddauber,that kill caterpillars that can feed on your garden plants. I have never been stung by a Muddauber but I am sure they can sting.

Another idea is a “Tea Party for the Birds”. Choose an area in your flower bed and put the mis-matched cups and saucers on a stump or a small old table  placed in a partly sunny area. Put water or old fruit in the saucers and “dirtsand”, water and bridseed in the cups.

Oklahoma’s State Butterfly is the Black  Swallowtail. Visit this site for more info on Oklahoma Butterflies:

www.wildlifedepartment.com/species/butterfly.htm

Toads

Toads are very beneficial to your gardens because they eat garden pests. I named the toad that lives by the garage, Prince, but I am not kissing him to find out! He has shown up for about 5 years now, once warm weather is here to stay.

  • Home for toads have become a trendy item in the garden shops. Whether toads need homes is open to debate. You can get very creative with Mr. Toad’s houses, like clay pots painted and laid on it’s side in the garden.  This would be a great kid summer activity. Use chipped or cracked dishes, like teapots  or old bowlsfor that touch of whimsy. Place the spout side up.
  • Most ideas for butterflies can work for toads, also.

I am going to make a Butterfly Garden this year. I have been putting grass clippings on the spot for about a year to admend the soil when rototilled. Some of my ideas for this garden:

  • Putting different color of wine bottles(less is more) at various places in the garden upside down to collect water for the butterflys.
  • A stump with a shallow saucer with pretty stones placed in it for additional water for birds, also.
  • I purchased a used vintage hand driven cultvator to add a interesting piece.
  • I planted a Golden Flamed Honeysuckle on a trellis (a used gate) nearby a couple years ago. Honeysuckle attracts hummingbirds.
  • List of plants I am using: shrubs: Butterfly Bush (purple)/ Perennials: Indian Blanket, Purple Coneflower, Butterfly Weed/Annuals: Lantana, Verbena. I want a color combo of purple and yellow.
Oklahoma Native Indian Blanket

Oklahoma Native Indian Blanket

If you have plans for hummingbirds, butterflies and toads this summer, please let me know about them. I am sure many of you have some great ideas for these creatures on your acre, ranch, balcony or rooftop.

I hope you find great enjoyment in watching all the fluttering and hopping around this summer.

Ode to William Wordsworth

 One Daffodil
Daffodils
(1804)
I wander’d lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They strech’d in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay;
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee;
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company;
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought;
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
By William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

I have Faith that Spring is Coming!!!

Spring Daffodil

This winter seems the longest one in my life, a never ending cycle of cold, ice and dark days. I thought that something was going on with me because I just seemed to be very COLD all the time. Last week the local weather reported that this has been the actual overall coldest winter on record for NE Oklahoma and the Northern Hemisphere. All the ice that had melted from the Polar Ice Cap had been replaced because of the record cold. What happened to global warming?! Now before all you treehuggers get on your soapbox, I know there is alot more to the issue than the polar ice cap! And I am a sorta treehugger myself! So climb down and take a deep breath.
While I never REALLY thought Spring would not come, there were some days I wondered. However, when the daffodils starting poking their little green tips up through the dirt on the south side of my house, I jumped with joy!
Today winter made a big showing with temps in the 30’s and a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. The wood stove is aglow with warmth and there is a pot of chili on the stove to chase away the chill in both home and soul. And while I know this may not be the last Old Man Winter blows, I rejoice that his days are numbered. Recently I bought seeds and a cute little bluebird house to help with the winter doldrums.
Blue bird seeds
I have many plans for the garden, like sunflowers, herbs, green beans, etc., etc. I am going to enlarge my garden space this year, so I think two hills of pumpkins are in order. Come Fall, I hope to have a few pumpkins to decorate this house and carve into Jack-o-lanterns. I also think this acre needs a few dwarf fruit trees, so I have to research for some varieties that do well in Oklahoma. We will also need to plant a few ornamental trees to replace the few we lost in the infamous ice storm of 2007. Maybe a Redbud or a Goldenrain Tree or a October Glory Maple Tree or maybe all of the before mentioned!
My friends, I hope this day finds you warm and cozy with thoughts of Spring dancing in your head!