Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

Milkweed seed offer, to plant before the ground’s too frozen

Oh, hai, long-forgotten blog, and my patient or happenstantial blog reader!

I have not died. While I may have disappeared, I haven’t gotten sick and/or completely wasted away. I simply took a solid year off, using COVID as a flimsy excuse while the rest of the world rediscovered the joys of gardening and baking bread. These were things that I was already doing, sometimes well, sometimes badly. Unfortunately for me this year, I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to blog about them. I was enthusiastically doing other very quiet things this year.

I can always talk about them in the coming year, and as a matter of fact, I do expect next year to go better in the garden. Two weeks ago, I had the city prune the locust tree that was casting too much shade to produce the bumper crop of tomatoes I’d hoped for. The tree will grow taller, and its twinned apple tree may also fill out and add shade in future years, but the opening up will let more sunlight hit the ground.

I also thinned more than half the violets from my prolific patch in the front yard and weeded out all but one or two clumps of the equally-prolific feverfew. Along the fence where the vegetables go, I added more mini-bulbs from the previous year’s tulip harvesting; these will not produce flowers for a few years, but each year that produces a leaf will strengthen the bulb for eventual flowering. Unless the squirrels get to them first.

A very satisfied squirrel, who wasn’t fazed one bit by my chasing him/her up the tree, tulip bulb in mouth.

Next year I may prune back the box hedge even further, but this year it was a source of great pleasure (and some nutrition) for my rabbits, who hid between the fence and the bushes and pruned them from the base to as high as Parker could reach, standing on his hind legs (he’s my main garden assistant). New bunny Willa, found in the park across the street on August 23rd, also taught the boys to resume their lawn-mowing duties.

New founding rabbit Willa
New rabbit Willa, the week after I found her, getting her used to the idea of outside-at-home. Soon after this, I let her out with my boys and she reinterested them in grazing.
Inspiring cooperation at the one job I give them

After having moved around a few more plants that I hope took root this autumn, I’m thinking of transplanting the milkweed to the back yard – rather: seeding it, and once it’s taken, remove all except the best-placed two to three from my front yard.

Which brings me to today’s offer

…which I posted on Facebook and Instagram and didn’t think to mention here until after Indian Summer was over:

As the caption says, there’s still some time to plant milkweed, because the seeds need to freeze to germinate. So long as you can scratch it into the soil and then add some compost, you can plant it.

I bought a lot of these milkweed packets as a gift for people subscribing to my mailing list. I still have about sixty packs to sell and donate. You can buy-1-donate-1 where I will donate a pack to an organization or establishment for every one sold, or buy-1-gift-1 to give to someone you know who will plant them. 1 pack for $2 or 3 packs for $5, postage included. Click the link to PayPal me, and include your address and which option you choose: Donate or Gift.

If you receive the seeds too late this autumn, you can keep them in the fridge (which is where I’ve been storing them) and plant them early next spring.

There. Blogging drought ended. I have a few more projects to tell you about soon. And if you have any questions or comments, I’d like to hear from you as well!

DIY: easy Acopian Bird Savers for apartment dwellers and 2nd floor windows

Acopian Bird Savers are a relatively inconspicuous (visible, but not unsightly) way to prevent bird crashes, guaranteed. They’re a light curtain of strings that wave in the wind, in front of your windows – so birds don’t mistake them for trees or sky.

They have a Build-Your-Own tutorial on their website; if you need a more custom solution or just want the materials done right from the get-go, you can order it from them online.

It’s fairly easy apply decals and UV liquid (remember, only useful for some bird species, not all!) by leaning outside and doing it, but the real fix — Feather Friendly — requires access and time to apply it properly. Feather Friendly is probably the most effective solution out there, and it’s meant to last. It’s easy to apply when you live on the ground floor, but not so easy at higher floors. But higher floors still need effective protection.

That means many apartment dwellers and homeowners who don’t have access to an extension ladder might find it troublesome to prevent birds from crashing into windows. (And because they don’t notice the crashes, they doubt they occur.)

I wrote this to help people who either have casement windows or modern sash-hung windows where you can tip the window inward in order to clean it. You need to be able to access the top of the frame of the window on the outside. Also, this DIY fix is affordable, and as it’s not a permanent alteration to the dwelling, you don’t need your landlord’s permission to use them.

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It’s summer – get your tulips 🌷🌷🌷 ready for replanting!

This quick tutorial on getting your tulips ready for next season is something I first posted on BCLH’s Instagram account. Please follow me there!

Did you know it helps your tulips if you dig them up in spring and replant them in the fall?

Preparing tulips for a beautiful garden begins when this year’s flowers have withered and you have the seedpods left on the stems. Deadhead them! Chop off the seedpods unless you’re cultivating for seeds, in which case you probably know what you’re doing (or else: do your research). Deadheading puts the plant’s energy back towards the bulb. For other flowers, it puts energy towards more flower production.

A deadheaded pink tulip

Leave the tulips for another week or so, and then dig them up (carefully). Keep them sorted by colour if at all possible! You’ll find that the bulbs have likely multiplied into smaller ones. (Dig deep, and carefully).

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Creating lawn habitat for endangered bumblebees

In April 2017, news got around about the first bee to land on the US endangered species list: Bombus affinis, commonly known as the Rusty Patched bumble bee. It has a, well, rusty patch on its back. It’s endemic to North America, which means its range is only North America – and not all parts, either. Rusty-patched bumblebees have been decimated nine times over – that’s 90% – from earlier population counts.

This article is a prelude to next week’s Pollinator Week, June 17–23, 2019, whereby I’ll be updating and sharing posts I’ve already written earlier about how we can help bees and butterflies (and maybe even bats). It’s timely, given my previous post on converting lawn to meadow, and how June’s a productive time in the garden where you can still get started! We need honeybees, bumblebees, and native pollinators to help us. So please help them.

Also — bumble bee, bumblebee — it doesn’t matter which one you use. So I use both!

Jane

Bumblebees are important pollinators of native and fruiting crops. In some crops, the flowers need the particular buzz of the bumblebee to shake the pollen loose – they aren’t going to give it up for just any old insect!

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