Sunday, April 28, 2013

Procrastination: the ultimate motivator

No really, procrastination is the ultimate motivator. I get so much more done the more deadlines I have. I'm too busy doing a million other things to get those deadlines finished.

Firstly, the daffodils are done, still a few tulips, the aliums are coming, and I've had my first ever own-garden-bouquet:
My favorite tulip - I just love the color
I started seedlings a few weeks ago, sunflowers, sweet peas, Shasta daisies, and cucumbers (the "Burpless Beauty" heehee!). With the exception of the Shasta daisies, everything else made it into the ground. The daisies aren't quite far enough along for that.
And then the real procrastination started. Recycling candles! Mind you, I have three spreads for my students to finish, an application and a peer review to plan for, not to mention an Australian coming next weekend. But candles were the priority. 
All of the citronella candles from the last few years have been driving me mad. The wicks have burned down, but there is still plenty of wax (about an inch) in them. Put them together and you get several inches. I've been wanting to do this for quite a while, but the wick part of making new candles eluded me.
Step one: google how to make your own wicks. Since I am a pack-rat, I must have everything I need, turns out I do! Cotton twine, (I only have red, but when it's on fire, no one will notice anyway) salt, and boric acid. Boric Acid is what we use to keep roaches and ants at bay. Perfect. Soak the "wicks" in boric acid/salt/water solution overnight.
Hang to dry:   
here's a more focused image of my beautiful pink tree!
It sort of exploded into color one day last week.

Once the wicks are dry they need to be set up in the container: 

This requires lots of paper clips and interesting rigging. 
While one is fiddling with that, the wax melts down.  I have a bottle of citronella oil so I dumped some of that in as well to boost the existing scent.
(Those sugary coated looking things are the wicks!)  
When everything is melted, time to start pouring:  

While the citronella candles are cooling you can start to recycle all of those IKEA candles:
Same deal, melt wax, add wick, pour.

The result? four brand new candles! all for the price of - well whatever I paid for them last time and some cooking gas. But now I am ready for the hordes of mosquitoes that always plague me!
Then when you are finished, admire the mess you've made in the kitchen.  Have fun cleaning!
Just a little more procrastination....

Friday, April 12, 2013

Teaser or Warning

We had a glorious day on Wednesday, Tuesday wasn't bad either, but Wednesday was heavenly. 85°F in the shade. aaaaaahhhhhhhh. So nice to warm up the bones. I skipped yoga to sit under the pine tree which sweated sap all over me. Jacques thought this was a good plan as well. Thursday,  the temperature went backwards in that baffling east coast way. The morning was 68°F and we ended the day at 58°F with cold wind and finally rain. Today it's pouring. Yoga tonight - definitely.

But Wednesday....

The forsythia has been under threat of removal for several years now. This year it has given a few more flowers, but nothing worthy of keeping. In one last ditch effort to figure out how to make this thing the bright shock of yellow I want it to be, I did some more research. Turns out my first research was in correct. The forsythia has had a reprieve. I've made a note and will do the new recommendations next year.

 The one at the front of the garden did a little better. Hopefully with the new recommendations it will do even better next year. (Note to self, time to move that pile of bricks.)

Raspberries are starting again. I hope I get a better crop than last year, which was understandably a wash, due to the porch reconstruction.  

Other edibles are coming back as well. The ramps I brought back from Massachusetts last year have made a reappearance. These are wild garlic/onion plants. But as this clump is so little I think I will leave it alone again for another year. Maybe this year it will spread out and I can harvest some next year.

Melanie gave me two of her grandmother's heirloom garlic heads.  I planted them last fall and they have appeared beautifully.  The mustard greens I planted last year went to seed and I've been digging out the little plants all over the yard and putting them back into good soil. The big one is doing really well, the two little ones are struggling along. 

Then there are the others interesting things happening in the garden. Some are welcome, like this tiny moss:

Others are not! Like this nasty dandelion. It was removed seconds after this photo was taken. 
There is also sad news. My bees did not make it after all. In the middle of March they were buzzing around in a bit of sunshine which I dutifully reported to the BeeMan. Two weeks later there was nothing. I was about to report this when he stopped by personally, just to be sure and discovered that they had most likely starved to death. Not because there wasn't enough food in the hive. On the contrary, there was plenty of honey still in the combs! It just wasn't where they expected it to be, and since they aren't programed with strong intelligence - none of the 10,000 of them thought to look in the back of the hive where all of the honey was.  

I took the opportunity to take some photos of perfectly still bees, but it was still sad.
The crazy artist in me decided to collect a jar-full just in case I might need bees in the future for...goodness knows what.  He also scraped of some of the old combs which had been started in places they weren't supposed to be. They look like different kinds of bugs to me.

Later that same day, the BeeMan returned with a new hive of 12,000.   and a queen
He explained that the queen is always from a different hive. She lives in this little box for a week with a few of her attendants. The new hive feeds her through the screen while at the same time trying to kill her. !
After about a week the hive accepts the new queen, the BeeMan can release her, she can start laying eggs, and then there will be many many more bees. This will be an interesting experiment this year. We will find out if my honey was so good because of the bees, or because of what was available for them to make food. We will also need to monitor what will happen now that they will have so much more sun. Should be an interesting year.
Cleaning out the hive:
 Putting the new hive in front of the box so they can find their way inside:

And my handsome guy? 
Jacques is doing better. He is still itchy and cranky, and most concerning has lost a lot of weight, but at least he is not scratching himself raw anymore. He loves being out in the sun with me. His black fur warms up so nicely. He alternates between bright sun, and then a bit of shade. I hope we are really on the mend.