Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sun or more storms ahead?

Dear Readers,

I have had a kind of busy couple of days. On Thursday I rode the clinic’s van out to an appointment to get my bone density measured. While I am not all that much in favor of western medicine or ex-rays – in this case I recommend it. Something like three out of five women, get osteoporosis in their life times. This painful, debilitating, and crippling disease can be prevented for the most part.

A diet low in sugar, protein, saturated and trans fat is a good place to start. Adequate protein is necessary for health – but many of us eat way too much. The next dietary considerations that are helpful – high fiber, lots of dark green leafy vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. (Which brings us back to the garden!)

Also important are regular rhythmic exercise – weight bearing if possible. Walking is the best, but swimming or cycling will help if you are unable to walk. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, even if you have to work up slowly.

Supplementation with calcium, vitamins A & D, as well as folic acid, magnesium, and trace minerals is also helpful. Some people think the supplements are necessary, as we know longer grind out food in limestone mortars or grind up bones to add to our food. We are also unlikely to boil bones for broth – all this added calcium and minerals to the traditional diet. Modern diets are impoverished of minerals. I certainly take supplements and urge you to talk to your doctor or nutritionist about preventing osteoporosis.

Young people and men can get this disease. It is recommended to get your bone density measured once between 35 and 45, again 6 months to a year after menopause, and third test 1 – 2 years after that. This is just if none of these tests find anything. After the third test – if there are no signs of bone loss testing is done once every five years.

Now should they find that your bones are not as dense as they should be, I recommend starting off with all the natural remedies listed above. If you are all ready using them, try switching your calcium supplement to another form of calcium. The medication they prescribe can be problematic – it comes with side effects. Be sure to research side effects, contra-indications, and interactions before beginning any medications. Another woman in to have her bone density measured had depressed kidney function - down to 20% as a result of the medication. However she was not able to stand erect and had trouble walking. Osteoporosis is not something you want to get.

Anyway, I didn’t get back up the mountain till after five - and went straight to my friends house in Willow Creek – remember the Angel that did some of my shopping? That’s where I went. I got out of my jeans and into a my red skirt, a multi-colored knit blouse (black, red, etc – chevron stripes), a black and red sweater, and a black and red shawl, and we headed over to the poetry performance. We had quite a number of readers – I was one of them – and it was fun. The food was pretty dang good too.

I had trouble sleeping that night, because of muscle spasms, but I am some better now.

Lets see . . .

I got one of my other day lilies in the ground. I did nothing to protect them from gophers – so we shall see. I have some day lilies starting from seed too. I might tuck them into a raised bed when they are ready. I just don’t have a place in a bed big enough for the larger plants right at the moment.

I have more tomatoes seedlings coming up, and the snake gourd is out on the back porch – outside for the first time. I have it tucked up against the house where it can get some sun, but where it is protected from the wind. This is its first time outside. I have been checking on it every little while.

The flat of seedlings I carry in at night is having a kind of mixed time. Some are doing very well, some are suffering from lack of sun – today is the first sun we have seen in weeks, and some are being bullied by some sort of hitchhiker. Probably a tiny slug that I have been unable to find. So I doused the afflicted cells and quite a few of the other cells with some tobacco tea. I would have doused them all – but I ran out. So I now have more tobacco tea brewing on the porch.

Lets, see, the Agapanthus are doing great. One croaked – but I have 29 more . . .

It is mostly sunny today, here – but breezy and cool. Almost spring, and almost spring weather.

Hope you all are having fun in your gardens!


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Angels, Angels everywhere,

Dear Readers,

Last night, after spending most of the afternoon plotting the bus route and readying my bus fares – dang broken brain anyway, everything takes so much longer than before the accident – an Angel called me on the phone and offered to pick up the things in town that I was going to get today! So, just for today, I don’t have to leave the valley!

Hey, Remember those plums out my office window I told you were blooming? They are seedlings from my Prunus nigra, only a few years old. Well, after all the storms and snow and everything, they still are full of brilliant white flowers. From here they look larger than the flowers of their parent – and their stems are definitely greener then their parent – I am going to have to go out there and take a better look at those flowers! I will let you know all about it after a bit.

Ahhh . . . . I got off here and went to the local libraries anniversary celebration. That was fun. They had speakers and dignitaries and food. I took a bunch of pics – now we will have to see if I can figure out how to download them . . .

I have slowly been reading through my Cottage Living Magazine – it has a great article on seed swapping, and there is a really cool article on gardening with annuals. They have photos of an eye popping front yard almost completely planted with annuals.

On the home front – I actually got out and dug a hole, fed the worms, and planted a day lily. Now a storm is blowing in!

Hope you are all safe, warm, and dry!


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Busy Mail Box, Etc.

Dear Readers,

Gosh darn it, I am still feeling quite beat up from running the weed eater – and this is my second day of more or less rest . . . Tomorrow I am going to have to take the bus to the coast for some groceries. It is a twelve hour trip, and I can only get a small backpacks worth. I have it worked out to a science – exactly what I am going to purchase and how I am going to pack it. I will ride 4 different buses on three different bus lines just to get to one store! I have my fares in labeled zip lock bags, and will have to make a stop at the bank to get exact change for my homeward bound fairs. I have notes to myself as to when and where I am catching each bus . . . Dang – it is much harder to navigate the world with a brain injury than it was when I could drive and just hop in my car. But you know, life goes on.

My P.O. Box was a very busy place today. Of course it has probably been building up – as I am not able to get to the post office on a regular basis. But it was great fun to poor through what I found there.
1. Current issue: Cottage Living - I haven’t even had a chance to check it out yet. Looks like there are a number of gardening articles!
2. Catalog: Growers Supply – They carry all kinds of green houses and green house kits and supplies. They start very low end – small for under $50 – on up to huge profession 4 figure green houses. They have heat mats, etc. for reasonable prices.
3. Seed Bank Order: I received a rainbow selection of sweet/bell peppers, a mix of summer squash seeds, cut flower kale in two colors, quince and crab apple seeds, and two sunflower seed mixes – one tall and one small. OK, I am all set for spring through fall I think . . . LOL
4. Welcome Kit / Bill: National Home Gardening Club – I actually got two pieces of mail from them – booth contained bills. One also had a couple of packs of seeds – Flanders poppies and baby’s breath. They had all ready had sent me a pack of the poppies before . . . Anyway they claimed that I had already received a copy of their publication – which I haven’t – so I sent them a note to that affect.
5.Seed Catalog: Select Seeds – Man, ya just got to drool . . . There is some stuff in here I know I can’t live without. So even though I definitely don’t need another seed I am going to make a small order. Check them out!

Ok friends, catch you all another day!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Snow, hot seedlings, busy week

Dear Readers,

Believe it or not I didn't seem to loose a single plant outside in all that snow! I have Zabrina Mallow and Giant Walking Stick Kale out there - plus lots of other stuff. Those two are what I am most excited about.

I also have a number of seedling - but the ones with bottom heat under lights are the ones I fussed around with today. I have peppers, some squash, heirloom tomatoes, tobacco, gourds, purslane, Malabar and Egyptian spinach and I am trying to start some ornamental Datura cultivars. The tomatoes are what is doing the best - so I added a few more today.

I also wrote next weeks article for the newspaper today - Oh and yesterday I ran the weedeater - now I am about 3/4 dead . . . LOL . . . And I only did 1/2 of the side yard. If that is all I can do in a day it would take a week to finish the yards. And if it takes me a week to recover from each bit . . . Well heck . . . Maybe someone has a goat I can borrow?

I have a busy week coming up. I think I have events or appointments every day this week. But I will still try to get over here and post a little something from time to time.

Whirled Peas!


Sunday, March 12, 2006

Lovely Columbine

1,001 words, Copyright, 2006, Harvest McCampbell
Published by the Hoopa Valley People Newspaper March 7, 2006
Posted here with permission

The first time I laid eyes on the lovely native western columbine I was hiking up a mountain stream with my Grandmother. We came around a bend and there in the dappled shade the bright yellow and red flowers glowed like rare and strange jewels. The shade was cast by alders and firs that shared the bank with a tumble of large stones. Two hummingbirds darted down from the trees, quarreling over the nectar rich flowers. I was entranced.

Columbines in a variety of species and colors are found growing wild in many areas of the world. Gardeners have long been entranced with columbine and have carried their seed home. Collectors have scoured the high moist places that columbine loves. We now can grow columbines from many countries and in many colors.

Columbines have been specially designed by nature to have a symbiotic relationship with hummingbirds. Their long and unusual spurs are well stocked with nectar. As hummingbirds hover in for a refreshing snack their head feathers get dusted with pollen. This pollen is then carried to the next flower where it provides fertilization for the next generation of seeds.

Gardeners soon discovered that the columbines in their collections were easily cross pollinated by the attentions of the tiny glitter-feathered birds. Off-spring of these crosses often bore little resemblance to either parent. The exciting field of columbine breeding was born. Columbine plants are now available that grow no more than 8 inches tall. Some grow up to 3 feet. There are columbines with bronze, silver, chartreuse, and variegated foliage. Some sport 4 inch flower spurs, while others have flowers with no spurs at all.

Whether you have an interest in heirloom flowers, native plants, or the latest offerings of scientific plant breeding there is a columbine for you. They are available in the brightest colors imaginable which match the current trends in city landscapes. However, they are also still available in pastels, in single colors, bi-colors, and mixed colors that could compete with any rainbow. As far as I am concerned the native western columbine still rocks. But no matter what your taste in flowers runs to, there is a columbine for you.

Columbines thrive in our cool wet winter weather. They love our summer high mountain or ocean and river influenced cool nights. While there are columbines that will thrive in full sun, most are happiest in coastal fog or dappled light. They can be planted in containers, in flower beds, or mixed borders on the shady side of the house or under the protection of trees.

Columbines were once employed by pharmacists in compounding medicines, but they have long been abandoned for safer substances. The truth is, the foliage is somewhat toxic. Something to bear in mind if you have young children who might be inclined to sample everything you grow. On the other hand, if deer or rabbits are a problem in your plantings, columbine might be just what the doctor ordered. Columbines are considered one of the most critter resistant and carefree flowers we can plant.

They are bothered by few pests. The exception being slugs – but that is only when they are seedlings. Columbine does need careful irrigation though its first summer, but once it is established it is quite hardy for being such a delicate and ferny looking plant. For those who would rather not be bothered with seeds potted columbines are often available from local nurseries. Right now some of the larger nurseries have 1 gallon columbines in bloom. Later in the season, bargain shoppers will find columbines in mixed colors available in six packs.

If you have the time and energy, seeds are the least expensive way to go. (Especially if you can convince your aunty not to dead head her columbine so you can get free seeds.) By starting with seeds you also will find the greatest selection of varieties. Which can definitely be a bonus if you need a critter resistant landscape. Right now is a perfect time to start columbine from seed.

Columbine seed benefits from our late winter and early spring weather. Periods of cool (even freezing) weather, interspersed with warmer days actually help columbine seeds germinate. Unlike some flower seeds, they will not all pop up at the same time. Rather, a few seeds will germinate at a time over several weeks to several months. Your main job during this time will be to keep them moist, and to keep the slugs away.

I really like sprouting my seeds on wet paper towels placed in a zip lock bag. This provides for the even moisture and slug protection. However, if you don’t check them every day, and transfer any seedlings to pots, the poor things will die. After the seedlings are transferred to pots, I keep them all in a nursery flat, which I bring in at night. This provides for some on going slug protection. Once the columbines hit about 3 inches tall, which takes four or five months from germination, the slugs are likely to leave them alone.

When you are shopping for columbine it is good to be armed with the botanical name. “Aquilegia” is the genus all columbines are grouped under, and it is often the name they are sold by. (I would suggest writing it down, as I have no idea how to pronounce it.) If your local nursery (or your auntie) does not have columbines that suit your fancy, you will find a great selection of seed from: (If your seeds arrive after the weather warms up, you can imitate nature by placing them in the fridge for a few weeks prior to planting.) Plants, which are definitely easier, are also available mail order from:

For more information on growing columbine ask your local library or bookstore to request “Perennials for Northern California” by Bob Tanem and Don Williamson, Lone Pine Publishing, ISBN 1-55105-251-2; or “Wildly Successful Plants / Northern California,” by Pam Peirce, Sasquatch Books, Seattle, ISBN1-57061-358-3.

1,001 words, Copyright, 2006, Harvest McCampbell
Published by the Hoopa Valley People Newspaper March 7, 2006
Posted here with permission