There's a few things I keep meaning to show or tell you, but I keep getting distracted. Hence (ta da!) Mish-Mash Monday (A Collection of Random Thoughts). Feel free to participate, too!
First off, a few random photos! My round-lobed Hepatica bloomed a little while ago!!!!! I had looked and looked for it, and looked again, and nothing. Then, BOOM!, all of a sudden there it was. Noogie, isn't it darling? The sharp-leaf Hepatica is now up, too, but no flowers yet.
Also out of nowhere, my snake's head fritillary popped up! (Double noogie!)
The Pulmonaria have really opened up a lot, but they'll look even more blue and moundy in mid May!
I keep a bucket in my bathtub to catch the water as it warms up (I then use it in the garden or, in the winter, put it in my washing machine). Both James and Fiona love drinking from it. Fiona is smaller and very light on her feet, so she can sit on the edge of the bucket without knocking it over, even when very little water is in it. I noticed her doing this the other day, with her head way down near the bottom of the bucket getting a drink. Of course I found this pose so cute I got the camera. Of course, being a cat, Fiona did not cooperate and lifted her head up. But check out her tongue! HA! A cute shot after all. Fiona, incidentally, is not a big purrer, but she does purr when she drinks!
Next, I was so tickled that my students took to a little game I made for them in a recent composting class I taught at Washtenaw Community College. The idea came to me last year, seemingly out of the blue. Two hours is a long time to sit and listen to someone talk, so I try to break up the class somehow. I always welcome comments as I go (it's more interactive), and I try to have lots of things to pass around. Even if it isn't a hand's on class, I think looking at something (feeling/smelling compost) helps connect people to the idea and increases the chances of them doing it later at home. I cover a bit of the science of soils/compost and then get practical. But of course the biggest question is what to compost. I explain about browns and greens and give examples. Then I break them into small groups and give each group three envelopes marked browns, greens, and not compostable, plus about 30 pieces of paper with items written on them (such as grass clippings, shredded leaves, wood ash, chocolate, polyester pants, and 33%) that they have to, as a group, put in the correct envelope.
I didn't know how adults would react to this, but they seem to love it! They speak to one another and bring up good points and questions for discussion. You can see they are so engrossed in the task that they didn't even notice the pesky instructor taking photos for her blog, even if said pesky instructor announced that she was doing so!
Speaking of compost, I read somewhere that spent grains and liquids left over from beer making are great for compost. Well, I emailed the local brewing club and I got some good stuff. One gentleman, Bob, brought me a large ziplock baggie of trub (that's the nice smelling, gooey sediment left over after fermenting). It contains yeast, which kick-starts the composting process. I was so excited to add it to my bin that I forgot to take a photo!
Mike of the Ypsilanti Brewing Company gave me several other leftover plant materials (greens) for my bin:
...20 gallons of used malted barley (still warm, mmmmm)
...three bags of hops that had gone too moldy for brewing
...a bit of leftover liquid from barley distilling mixed in with one bucket of barley, and...
...a hops starter plant! Ooh, look at its rhizomes. I have no idea where I'm going to plant it (full sun with room/support to grow to 12 feet or higher), but I'm going to plant it!
Here is the lovely barley on top of my compost bin (which at this time of year has mostly chopped leaves from last fall) before I mixed it in.
On Friday, I volunteered at the annual Washtenaw County Conservation District Tree Sale. All kinds of trees are laid out in a long pole barn and when people come to pick up their orders, volunteers fill them. This involves a bit of walking and an awful lot of bending over, which isn't really a big deal, but getting up again is! Thanks to Linda who took this photo (Genevieve, note my purple gloves!). [ Update: I just learned that 50,000 trees and shrubs were sold in 439 orders--and I'm sure I filled at least 20 of those orders! :) ]
And finally, some winter-sown babies are up! Quite a few actually, in alphabetical order: bean, borage, catchfly, Centaurea (two kinds, one from Frances), chives, Clarkia, cosmos (from Tina), green pepper, hollyhock (pink from Tina and yellow from Beckie & Rose), hummingbird vine (from Adrienne), hyacinth bean (from Randy), Joseph's coat, lupine, Mexican hat coneflower (from Randy), Mexican sunflower (from Adrienne), nasturtium, pasque flower, snapdragon, tomatoes (Gajo de Melon, Ukrainian Heart, Ladino di Panocchio, Red Russian, and Canestrino di Lucca), and zinnia.
Yep, I did say tomatoes. Aren't they cute?!
The yellow hollyhock (which may be Russian hollyhock, Alcea rugosa) has its first true leaf!
And look at the sweet true leaves of lupine, and how crazy full the catchfly is (tiny seeds; I have to thin out). And the Mexican hat in the foreground is so sweet, too!
In winter sowing, you don't use artificial lighting or temperature to coax seeds along; they come up on their own natural schedule, which means like plants sprout at like times (within normal individual variation!), regardless of when they were sown. For example, I saw the tiniest seed leaves on April 2 for both Clarkia amoena (godetia), sown on January 3, and Clarkia speciosa 'Pink Buttercups', sown on March 17.
Likewise, I saw the first seedlings for two kinds of Centaurea cyanus on that same day: "dark burgundy" from GardenBabe sown on January 3 and 'Black ball' from Frances sown on March 17. Check out 'Black ball' yesterday — its roots are really developed and it's more than ready to be transplanted. It's by far my biggest seedling.
I have four trays and one milk jug with seedlings, which have remained uncovered overnight for the last few days, and five trays and one jug that remained covered at all times since no seedlings have sprouted in them yet. I'll post more progress as time goes on.
For now, thanks for stopping by and I wish you a happy Mish-Mash Monday!