What a beautiful couple of days we’ve had in the Spokane area! Sunshine and temps in the upper 70′s makes for perfect gardening weather. I took this picture this morning, standing under the arbor covered in hops (if you have anything you want covered quick and thick, hops are the way to go! By mid-June, in my 5+ planting zone, the arbor is covered. Some mornings I have to cut my way into the garden!). Continue reading
One reason my gardens are bursting with flowers and berries and veggies this year is because I’m treating them to a regular dose of llama-poo tea. Yep, you read right…llama-poo tea! We have three llamas; Calamity Jane (who fell out of a moving trailer when she was young…thus her name), Rosie (Calamity’s daughter), and Zoe (who sometimes feels like the third wheel…I can tell). The girls aren’t particularly personable, unless it’s the middle of winter and you have a pocket full of alfalfa pellets, but they keep some of the fields mowed down with their grazing, they’re fun to watch, and they keep our sheep (Ben & Jerry) safe from coyotes (llamas hate dogs they don’t know).
Llamas (and alpacas) are unique among grazing animals in that they dedicate a spot or two in the fields as their bathroom. As time marches on, lovely, black piles of fertilizer begin to mound up in the fields, making collection very, very easy! Thank you, girls, for being so accommodating!
Rather than sprinkling the pellets directly on the garden beds (where they take a surprisingly long time to decompose), I’ve discovered that using llama-poo tea to water my plants gets the good stuff to the roots much quicker.
Here’s a little video I shot a couple weeks ago. The bees were finally happy because things had warmed up, which meant there was pollen to be brought in. Pollen is the bees protein and the queen won’t start laying eggs until she decides enough pollen has been brought into the hive to feed the youngsters.
As I write this on a Friday afternoon, there is lightning, thunder and a lot of rain outside. A practically-perfect day, in my opinion, mostly because Mother Nature is watering all the gardens for me and I appreciate the help this time of year!
Every year, My Carpenter, tries to get me to agree to automatic sprinklers in the beds, or at least drip hoses, and every year I assure him I don’t need the help. He thinks I’m being a control freak because our well is a low-producer and July and August are such water guzzlers. He says I’m worried something might leak or forget to turn itself off, thus wasting precious drops. While I am pretty water-conservative (especially in the hot, dry months), I actually like dragging the hose over, under, and around things in the garden. It keeps me up-close-and-personal with each plant. I notice things…I pull a weed here, pluck a few dead-heads there, question whether that “flower” might really be a weed run-amok, and make a mental note on what needs moving this fall. But all that watering can take at least an hour each day, so I really do appreciate Mother Nature’s help on days like this. Besides, the gardens and lawn always look so refreshed and lovely after a summer thunderstorm!
A simple way to add character and joy to your garden, deck or patio is to plant flowers in unexpected containers. Pots are nice…they come in a myriad of sizes, shapes, and colors, and guests usually ooh and aah over the carefully-placed flowers. But I’m hoping they laugh in delight when they see what I’ve planted in my husband’s old boots or an old cookie jar missing its top or a garage-sale-50-cent teapot…or my latest plantings in thrift-store purses!
A few years ago, my church started holding an annual Spring Tea. It isn’t so much a formal event as a fun one, with exotic teas, delicious sandwiches and desserts, a speaker, and a hat contest. I have been in charge of centerpieces (they become door prizes at the end of the tea) and I scour thrift stores and garage sales for unique containers (mostly homeless tea pots for the past two events). One of my favorites the first year was a beat up, old, metal lunchbox…the manly, rectangular kind. I planted both the lid and the box, and since it was a lunch container, chose to fill it with food stuff like lettuce, chives, and other herb starts taken from my garden.