Big City, Little Homestead

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

Spring 2021: a long hiatus

Sorry about my long, long absence – I haven’t blogged in so long that the interface WordPress shows me is thoroughly unfamiliar, and between this novelty and overdue maintenance, I’m distracted by the new things I see and even more ideas of things to do on this blog.

In both 2019 and 2020 I had the intention to write much more, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I’d log in, do the routine maintenance, and like I’m experiencing now, a strong bout of snooziness overtakes me. And then the longer I failed to do something new and different here, the more I feel guilty. Not posting when-I-could-have is a lost opportunity to show thousands (at least several hundreds) of people the beneficial things I’d learned, or maybe the fun stuff I’d been up to that they might try.

The fact is, I’ve already set up my home with bird strike-proofing. I have a garden that grows food (or…not; last summer I got a grand total of 6 apple-sized tomatoes and maybe a pint basket of autumn-green, kitchen-ripened cherry tomatoes), flowers, and native plants. These activities may not be common, but they’re as quotidian to me as going through the motions of private daily life. So writing about them isn’t a constant source of inspiration like they were when I was adopting new, green practices. They feel more like empty bragging: look what I have; hope you can do the same!

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

Oh, hai, my patient or happenstantial reader!

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.

Two weeks ago, I had the city come and prune the locust tree, which 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 hopefully 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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