August 30, 2006

September Morn -- almost :)

This September birth flower, the morning glory, recently volunteered in my garden. I thought it was the latest birdseed mix I purchsed, until my neighbor The Magnificent Garfner told me he planted both morning glories and beans. Did I mention a bean of some sort volunteered right next to it? My whole garden was covered in vines! --Kate, Windsor, © 2006 Posted by Picasa

August 24, 2006

Myth of the Week 2003

The Renegade Gardener
...Big news rolled out of the University of Minnesota two years back. After checking over 500 potted trees randomly selected from wholesale and retail nursery yards, University researchers discovered a great many that were potted too deep, with, on average, six to eight inches of soil packed above the first set of lateral roots (or 'shoulder' roots). The same situation has been found in trees dug and sold with the root ball wrapped in burlap.

If homeowners plant a tree at the same level as the soil in the pot, but don't check to see if excess dirt has been packed over the top of the shoulder roots when the tree was dug and prepared for sale, they could be planting the tree too deep. Planting a tree even six inches too deep can cause root girdling, as the roots, sensing they're too far below the surface, tend to grow up, then in, circling the trunk. The tree dies in five years, or goes down in a storm in twenty, or lives a long, sickly, bitter life.

Garden Rant

Garden Rant: "John Woo's Gardening Tips

What if John Woo, director of Mission Impossible II, had a gardening show?"

Hilarious home video... well, it's hilarious for a gardener ;-)

August 19, 2006

Night visitor

We've had things kind of opened up at our house during hot weather. Sometimes there is a ground-floor, unscreened window left open for our cat, or the back door propped open.

The past few days, I have noted some curious occurences and then evidence of a visitor.
  1. Our cat's appetite increased, and she began finishing her food off.
  2. The cat seems reluctant to walk on the floor, preferring to sit on the dining table and travel from table to chair, to newspaper stack, to hassock, etc. instead of jumping down. She seems a bit edgy. Fleas?
  3. Someone or something got into the bag of sunflower seeds on the porch, poking holes in the bag, and apparently spitting out or regurgitating clumps of seeds. Mouse? (Cat brings them in) Squirrel??
  4. On top of a group of kitchen roasting pans too big to fit in our cupboards, I yesterday found a fresh turd. It was a bit larger than our cat typiclly produces.skunk? Dog? not up off the floor like that. Very strange!

I have seen three skunks in the side yard chowing down on bird seed. Skunks, however, do not seem very inclined to climb or jump, and any animal entering our house would have had either to jump up about 3-4 feet to enter the open window (easy for a cat), or go up a set of four wooden steps onto the deck. I expect a skunk could do that, but they really don't seem very inclined to.

So naturally, I thought of the large neighborhood cat that comes into our yard fairly often and another cat which once came inside and was trapped on the back porch - what a panic leaping against the porch windows, until I opened the back door for it!

This morning I was awakened before dawn by a slight noise at my (second-floor) bedroom window, a spot where our cat sometimes sits to watch bird and squirrel doings in the side yard. My radio was on; the cat turns it on inadvertently by stepping on the ON button as she crosses from my desk to the windowsill.

It was nearly 4 a.m., so I got up, went downstairs and put on a pot of coffee, thinking to read the Hartford Courant and await daybreak. The paper wasn't here yet, so I began looking at yesterday's, which had only a cursory read-through before work on Friday.

The cat was sitting in the kitchen on a stool, doing her daily ablutions. I heard a noise on the floor, and looked up to see an oppossum entering the room from the direction of the stairs. It saw me at the same moment and had that "oh, shit" look on it's face that I've seen on the big black cat that comes around our yard when no one (it thinks) is looking.

I was glad it wasn't a skunk, as it seemed it would be less risky to get it outside. I did NOT want to have a skunk explosion indoors- outside a window would have been bad enough.

So, the first thing I did was open the front door WIDE. The 'possum ran to the third step of the stairs, which go around a corner on step three. It kept very still ("playing possum"?). I walked over to look at it and it keep quite still, except I noted a very slight turn of its head as it followed my movements. I did not want to chase it upstairs!

I went to the kitchen to get a broom, thinking to block it from going further up; I pulled a hassock over to stand on, so as to avoid having it run over my feet. I stood on the hassock and looked over the railing -- it was gone!

Just to be sure, I checked upstairs and saw no sign of it, so I went back down and shut the front door.

With animal intruders, as with enemies, it helps to leave them an out.