Crocus4

I’m amazed it has taken me a little while to post the first crocus bloom info this year (because I always get so excited when I see them!). I was pleased it was back to being a bit earlier than it was last year (Feb 25 – sheesh!). And as I explain each year,  the “first bloom” site has moved back and forth between two locations recently (ruining any scientific merit for using my observations for anything beyond fun). For many years, it was always a few blocks near my house in what we’ll call Location #1. Then a few years ago, my husband discovered Location #2, several blocks further away. This year, for the first time, I saw the first blooming crocuses in BOTH locations on the same day! And…I suspect they may have actually started a few days before, but I can only report the date I saw them.

 

So this year, it’s…..

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Wow – I was starting to worry the house finches were taking this year off from mating season! Every year, I ponder what the factors affect how early I hear them start singing their mating song. I know day length has to be part of it, but other factors must come into play as well. 

Over the past many years, they’ve been getting earlier, especially during years when early January is quite warm and sunny. This year, we’ve had some long GRAY stretches, along with occasionally  very VERY cold temperatures. I don’t know if these are actual factors, or if they just affected how often I was outside to be listening.

So this year is the first one I can remember in which I had to start actively listening for them (most years, they surprise me while I’m out on a walk or run – “Oh right! The first house finch song!”) But this year, there were several instances when I stood out on the deck listening hard, or stopped between the car and the house on a sunny day, just SURE I’d hear one of them singing. Occasionally, I’d hear a house finch to a note or two, kind of like he was warming up, but then….nothing. Finally, on a morning jog, one of them surprised me just as I was about to enter Monument Valley Park. He sang one full song, and that was it. Glad I caught it! Three days later, in the same spot, more than one was singing and they were doing multiple verses.

So this year, the winning date for first full house finch song is

Jan 23! (It was ten years ago that I heard one this late!)

Here are my results from the past several years:

2014: Jan 2

2013: Jan 17

2012: Jan 3

2011: Jan 3

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23

A few months back, I posted the article “What to Expect (maybe!) and Tips for Your First Year in a CSA.” In it, I mentioned that my second year (2014), I kept track of the produce we got each week in our half-share from the Greenhorn Acres CSA, and then documented what I did with it. This is going to be so helpful to me in future years. If I get a ton of, say, eggplant, I can quickly reference what we did with it before. It occurred to me that others might find some good ideas here too, so I decided to share the information.

Csaturnips Csaproduce1

Here are the veggies (and a few fruits and herbs) followed by a list of the various ways we ate it (or, um, got rid of it).

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6571t

I’ve gotten into sewing my own fitness clothing this past year, and my most recent make is the Fehr Trade Surf to Summit Top. I haven’t written up posts about most of my sewing projects because I’m usually fairly late to the party, and there are plenty of other people who’ve sewn and written about the patterns by the time I get there. But this time, I bought and sewed the pattern just a few days after it was released, and I figured I might be able to help out others who might be considering the pattern. (more…)

Csa small We just completed our second year participating in a CSA (community supported agriculture). Most people have heard of these, but in case this is new to some of you, here is a quick description. CSAs typically work by having members sign-up for weekly shares of produce from a specific farm or group of farms over a growing season. The price is set before the growing season. This way the farmers are assured a certain income, no matter what happens during the growing season – sometimes this is described as members “taking the risk” with the farmer.

Our first year represented a big change in how we shopped for and used produce, and I learned a ton. It can be a bit intimidating, so I wanted to write a series of CSA posts to share our experience with those just considering participating in a CSA (and to provide encouragement and tips for those who already are participating). If you’d like to just jump to the “Tips for Your First CSA Year”, scroll on down to the bottom and skip the witty, fun details of our first season.

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Hail2

Agave, Mirabilis, and Sphaeralcea After Hail Storm

I usually write an annual hail post for another blog I contribute to (Pikes Peak Area Garden Help) offering tips and sympathy from those hit by the current year’s big storm. Well this year, on May 21, that storm finally hit my neighborhood, along with a big swath of the Colorado Springs area from the Broadmoor area through downtown.

Around noon, a friend-of-a-friend mentioned he’d seen something about a possible severe storm hitting our area in a few hours. My weather source hadn’t made a peep about anything like that. So…I rolled my eyes and headed home. But….I put the car in the garage, and then grabbed a few spare empty one gallon pots and put them out by the newly planted veggies and mentioned to my husband that the pots were out there if he happened to hear any hail starting. (more…)

Squirreltomato2

I laughed when doing a search on “squirrel” on this blog and finding several posts that began with “Sigh….”. Over the years, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the little buggers. Most of the time, we get along fine, and I enjoy having them as part of the community that lives around my house. They provide quite a bit of entertainment. But there are two times when our relationship becomes a bit strained (when you just might overhear me calling them….well…uncomplimentary names): (1) When attempting to plant a large number of bulbs in the fall, and (2) when the tomato plants have a decent number of sizable fruit on them. 

As for the bulb issue (see Bulb Battle with the Squirrels – Part 2 and Part 3), I’ve given up on the idea of an early season bulb lawn in the buffalograss for a variety of reasons. So now I only plant smaller quantity of bulbs, and when I do, I paint them with a liquid repellent and dump cayenne in the holes for good measure. This seems to do the trick!

Now on to the tomatoes…I cannot imagine ever giving up on having tomatoes in my vegetable garden. I’ve worked hard over the years to hone my tomato growing skills. But when the squirrels decided they liked trying the tomatoes, I was in trouble. In the early years, they might just try a red one and leave it near the garden with a bite out of it. I hoped that meant they were learning they didn’t like tomatoes, but no. So I started picking the tomatoes as soon as they started to blush. This was good enough for a bit. But apparently the squirrels started really acquiring a taste for my tomatoes. By the time we got to last year’s garden, in addition to red ones, they were picking hard green small tomatoes and eating most of those too. 

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