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Archive for June, 2013

the speed of now

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This weekend was a celebration of my arrival on earth, and we spent it enjoying all things earthly, in nature. We spent much of the weekend in and near the water, kayaking, swimming, picnicking. We watched a pair of baby deer nursing no more than 15 feet away, a sparrow hunting in the grass as we sat low nearby, drove out into the dunes at dusk, stayed outside well after dark in the warm night air. We talked about life, and time, and what’s really important – where my energy is at and where it needs to be. I felt like time moved slower. The days were full and nourishing.

A friend gave me a fun deck of insight cards, and I pulled one out while we sat chatting.

“Life moves at the speed of now”

This year I’d like to slow life down. We’re in no hurry to be anywhere.

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I have a fun, simple project for you this week, and it will most likely cost you nothing, take you just a few minutes to make and will create habitat for garden pollinators. It’s also an enjoyable way to observe nature at work. With a little pile of scrap wood we made a few mason bee houses for our garden and yard, and a couple to give as gifts as well.

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Mason bees are small, cute, oblong, fuzzy little bees that make efficient pollinators in the garden. They can be blue-green, or dark-colored like the one pictured above. This little lady is not the first to make a nest in this hole in our unfinished door frame.

The female mason bee gathers nectar and pollen and stashes it in the back of the hole until there is a sufficient food store for her young. Once there is enough food to supply the larvae, she lays an egg on the food store and then seals the egg in with a bit of mud. She then brings in more pollen and nectar in front of the previous mud layer, lays another egg, covers it with more mud, and stacks like so until the cavity is full. Once the cavity is full, she seals the hole with a final layer of mud. Maybe you have seen these mud filled holes and wondered what was in there.

Here is a link to more information on mason bees, if you are interested in learning more – http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/inse006/inse006.htm. I think these little bees are pretty fascinating!

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We have an endless supply of scrap wood from our various home projects and are always looking for functional ways to use it up. We cleaned up some sections of 4×4, cut an angle at the top to accommodate a little sloped roof, and then drilled 1/4 inch diameter holes in the outer rows and 3/16″ holes down the center. We used all the depth we had in this case, and drilled almost to the back of the 4×4. Typically, larger diameter holes are recommended (5/16″), but maybe our bees here on the coast are pretty small, or maybe they actually prefer smaller than the recommendation. The hole in the door frame is about 1/8″ in diamter, for example.

We used sections of old fence pickets for the roof (not totally necessary, but shelter from rain is nice, right?) and as a backing to make mounting it easy.

Apparently, it is best to hang the house facing east or southeast, for morning sun. The face of that door frame above is pretty much dead south, so a little variation from that recommendation probably won’t break the deal.

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I’m looking forward to observing these bees more closely. We really enjoy creating habitat for beneficial species of all kinds at our place.

How do you invite beneficial insects to your garden?

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The Rucksack is now available in black. This one comes with a detachable leather shoulder strap so you can wear this backpack like a messenger bag as well. All leather details, as usual, are hand cut, hand stained, vegetable tanned leather. This is a really handsome bag, if I may say so myself. I am really happy with it!

(Shown with our hand stitched leather wallet in the second image, and a 15″ macbook pro for size reference).

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summer

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* Happy Solstice ^*^

Cheers * to wildflowers, large bodies of clear cool water, abundant sunshine, wispy cotton dresses, bare feet, puff ball clouds, blue skies, the sweet vanilla scent of the warm forest..

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june 23

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A couple new clutches are in the shop this weekend; two different prints and two different sizes. Both are made with limited edition cotton prints.

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This is a repost from a blog article I recently wrote for Tend with a few additions I have learned since I originally wrote it. I have also added a list dedicated to flowers here. I have had a few searches for “deer resistant flowers” showing up in my stats, so I thought it might be useful to share this here as well.

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Young bucks, in the wildflowers last summer

When we first moved to our home, we felt pretty lucky to have deer frequent our yard. They are beautiful, peaceful creatures and we love to observe their antics, and behaviors amongst each other. As soon as we started to think about gardening though, and particularly landscaping, we realized we were in for  quite a challenge. Our dream landscape, which would be somewhat of an unending, textured garden; with fruit trees, berries, and a diverse array of edible and medicinal herbs and plants…. vs reality…. Oh my. Where to begin.

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Lavender is distasteful to deer but so useful, fragrant and beautiful to us

One of our very first projects here was to fence in a small veggie garden, and then to fence in a few fruit trees. Fencing was a relatively easy solution, even though not ideal. The greater landscape has posed a much bigger challenge, and one we have been slowly trying to learn how to overcome. A lot of the things we like to eat, deer like to eat as well.

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Dwarf Greek Oregano and other small leaf varieties are left alone by deer

Now that we have lived here for nearly 4 years we have learned some things, and finally, I am starting to feel like it is actually going to be possible to achieve a full, lush, beautiful, and even edible landscape.

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Rosemary in bloom. The bees sure love it but the deer do not.

We started out knowing of very few plants we could successfully grow unprotected (we planted lots of lavender and rosemary that first year!). Some of the things that are said to be deer resistant aren’t necessarily, and there were some tough lessons involved there. And sometimes plants that are typically pretty resistant, will suddenly get eaten for a short period of time, though in these cases, it usually passes and the plants will fully recover (some recent surprises included lemon balm and catnip). With time, observation and experimentation, we have a growing list of plants we can grow and enjoy here.

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Rhubarb has toxic leaves. They are occasionally tasted in the early season, but nothing more.

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Fennel grows big and bushy, and shows no pressure from deer

Following, is a list of edible and/or medicinal plants that have proven to us to be deer resistant. This doesn’t mean the deer don’t taste some of these things now and then (and keep in mind, a taste can mean a whole plant if you only have a small amount), but these plants have stood the test of time, and are thriving and look beautiful – or in the case of annual edibles, are able to produce a harvest.

calendula
sage
dill
fennel
rosemary
lavender
oregano and marjoram (smaller leaf varieties)
thyme
savory
mint
lemon balm
catnip
chives (sometimes!)
rhubarb
artichoke
garlic
onions
potatoes
jerusalem artichoke (tops are often getting nipped here, so don’t be bummed if you don’t get many flowers, but you will have edible tubers)
summer squash
winter squash

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Flowers:

foxglove
poppies
daisies
black eyed susan
lavender
calendula
cosmos (to some degree)
catnip
rhododendron
daffodils
sweet woodruff
calla lily (which is not a true lily)
iris
grape hyacinth
lamb’s ears
hellebore
fuchsia

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Calendula has been of no interest to the deer. This one still surprises me.

Part of my goal for this post was to offer some of our experience to those of you who have similar challenges, but also to see if there might be some of you that have learned some things about deer resistant gardening that you could share.

We will be working on adding to this list this year. If you have anything to add, I would love to hear! With what I’ve learned so far, I have a better sense of what deer like and what they don’t, and am looking forward to experimenting with some new herbs this spring and summer.

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mid June

 

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A few June highlights

Hi friends. Welcome to a new week.

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