Tag Archive | nature

Monday Memories

This also gets me off the hook for fresh material on the busiest day of the week  😉

The Willows are starting to turn yellow here. wpid-20140304_070015_richtonehdr.jpg

This is right on schedule with last year. This photo is from last year and had I taken a new one last Friday, it would have been void of snow. However Mr. Jack Frost is not done wit us yet! We’ve got 3-5 inches predicted for this evening! (Technically, I’m writing this Sunday night ~ We’ll see in the comments if I’m right!)

Summer blend gas is on order.

Our gas prices are starting to rise, even though the cost of a barrel of oil is going down. Yeah, living by a large city is awesome!! Not. So even though there is plenty of gas made and ready to go, the refineries have to make summer blend for the area that drives the price up almost double. $2.97 per gallon now will be $4.50 in June.

The upside is usually the price of diesel stays the same price throughout the year at about $2.70 per gallon. This is good when we are camping and driving a bit to get where were plopping for the weekend.

s daliDaylight Savings Time

This was a few weeks ago, however I think it’s important to understand where these notions come from and just why do we do it?!?

Many think this was all done to try to save resources, energy and money… However, environmental economist Hendrik Wolff, of the University of Washington, found that the Daylight saving did indeed drop lighting and electricity use in the evenings… HOWEVER, higher energy demands during darker mornings completely canceled out the evening gains.

rain barrel35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

  1. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.

  2. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.

  3. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.

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99 Edible Plants for the Midwest Forager

Many young weeds are great for food! Take a look at this list and get ready for fresh, free veggies!

Plants can be your best bet for long term survival or your short ride to being plant food. Here’s another wonderful site: Plants For a Future that lists over 7,000 plants and their medicinal purposes, really really great stuff going on there.

Asclepias spp. – Milkweed ~ Young pods, before they set seed*

Asimina triloba – Pawpaw ~ fruits (I’m dying to try these)

Artium spp. – Burdock ~ The root

Barbarea spp. – Winter Cress ~ The young leaves & flower

Betula spp. – Birch ~ The sap, inner bark, twigs

Brassica spp. – Wild Mustards ~ The young leaves, flowerbuds, & seeds

Capsella bursa-pastoris – Shepard’s Purse ~ The young leaves, seedpods

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Hurry Up, Already! Spring Can’t Come Soon Enough for Me!

Although I really can’t complain about our Midwestern winter this year, its still lasting too long for me. I’m hoping for an early spring, however it usually doesn’t happen like that when we’ve been teased so early in the year.  In mid-February, we had a week of 60F / 16C… That was just crazy weird! Of course the convertible top was down all of those days =-D We got a lot of yard work done that weekend. My front garden is all pruned and ready to be posted about. (I’ve been holding out on ya’all regarding showing you my whole front foundation bed!)

I’ve been out checking the status of the daffy and tulip bulbs, along with the buds on the lilac bush. The bulbs are barely out of the ground and no action on the lilac. I used to have a fair amount of crocus, snowdrops and grape hyacinths in my lawn. I haven’t replenished them in a few years and I think the squirrels have accidentally dug them up or they’ve perished, as I don’t see any yet. That’s OK. When things decide to pop, they tend to do so in a hurried manner. Spring bloomers, to me, are like the ocean or a 2 year old… turn your back on them for one second and they quickly change their status from OK to OH!

My quince are starting to bud. I love quince. Such a vibrant display of color. These shrubs are quite small right now, however as part of my front bed, I’m not planning on letting them get too large. I’m focusing on pruning them to be fuller shrubs. Quince can be quite leggy without proper pruning early in their lives. Since the blooms tend to be in the lower, inside regions of the plant, the more inside area, the more numerous the blooms. Same goes for my mock orange. These are a dwarf variety, however they have the same blooming location as the quince. Proper pruning will give these guys a thicker branching structure, lower in the plant. Of course you don’t want to get too crowded of a crown, that promotes less air circulation which lead to other problems. Like Goldilocks’s liking… not too much, not too little 🙂 This is a great argument for purchasing smaller, younger plants… so you are able to prune and train them to your liking.

This may be my last Friday off this Spring. Sad face. Although I am writing this post on St. Paddy’s Day, these photos were taken before the snow… There is still about 3″ (9cm) of snow on the shady parts of the yard. I’m going to try to eek one more Friday out of this month, however that’s pushing it. I’m actually doing rain/bad weather dances, as that will delay any construction / clean-ups until April 1, when our contracts actually start.

I finally got a real nice, competent co-worker to fill a much needed gap in our company. She’s very young, however hungry to learn. Who knows? Maybe she’ll like horticulture and follow that into college. Maybe not. I just hope she stays long enough to straighten this place out a bit. After only three weeks, she’s proved herself immensely in keeping all the records straight. You just don’t understand how stress relieving she is to me! I’m a horticulturist, Jim! Not an office manager!! 😉 I’m hopefully going to get out into the field a bit more because someone is there to man the office. Sadly, I did get my wish last Tuesday and had to drive to the North Shore in a snowstorm for an emergency tree locate. That was super!! NOT. In the end, it wasn’t that bad and I proved myself where 2 other ‘Master Arborists’* failed. Three’s a charm, they say…

As it is Spring around here… A time for new beginnings and all that. I’m going to try to get my life in a bit more order. First, I need to get myself in better health. I don’t know how I got so fat. I hope I don’t have a heart attack when I go out planting Spring flowers in three weeks =-O

Next, I need an income plan. Life at my job right now is pretty awesome (along with the pay), I’m not going to leave anytime soon. Yes, I have complained about it in the past (who doesn’t???), however now that I’ve got some well needed help, I can focus on what I consider more fun and that is working with plants.

Yes, I will continue with my blogging here. Honestly, during the flowering season, posts write themselves with all the photos. It only takes me a second to stop and shoot the flowers.. Haha!! I’m still hoping for that perfect writing job. Ya know…. The one that pays you enough to actually eat better than Ramon noodles? That is another reason I keep the blog going. It is a portfolio of sorts. It also shows I’m capable of finding stuff to write about.

Speaking of which… I thought of a great ‘Tuesday’ feature, that will also showcase some of the awesome blogs I follow. It’s a win / win. I’m not an ‘Awards Blog’, however I understand that they are around to try to promote each other’s blogs and share. I’m just not a big sharer of personal info, that’s all. However, I’m all for promoting each other! I’m not going to give the premise away just yet… They say you should always leave your audience wanting more….

 

*I’m only a test away from ‘Master Arborist’ status. It requires 10 years of active service, educational goals and passing a test.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

CBD Oil – A Newbies Lesson in Review

Cannabidiol (CBD) works through a number of complex mechanisms. Studies have indicated that CBD has analgesic, anti-convulsant, anti-psychotic and neuroprotective effects. This means that sufferers of chronic pain, anxiety, nausea, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, schizophrenia, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, PTSD, alcoholism, epilepsy, strokes and cardiovascular disease have another aid in their corner.

CBD’s use to treat epilepsy has caused quite a stir among folks here recently. The video below brings hope to many people.

In short, unlike THC (9tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not bind to the CB1 or CB2 cannabinoid receptors, which is why it does not produce THC-like psychedelic affects.

Here in the USA, the FDA has ruled CBD to be treated as a nutritional supplement. As such, all supplements are required to have at least a basic nutritional label on them. Along with nutritional information, labels also require a suggested serving size. Because all manufacturers are required to put some form of serving size on the label, it gets confusing when it comes to dosing. This is a huge disservice to anyone trying to figure out how much CBD to take. Most people read the label and figure whatever it says is how much they should take. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The servings chosen are either arbitrary or can be helpful to some degree, however not necessarily any indication of how much CBD you should take. For instance, on many brands, 10 drops is a serving size and how many milligrams of CBD will be indicated. This is because it is important to know how many milligrams of CBD you are taking. For instance, you determine that you need 10 milligrams of CBD. The label indicates 10 drops has 5mg of CBD. You would take 20 drops to get 10mg.

CONDITION 2 – 25 LBS. 26 – 45 LBS 46 – 85 LBS 86 – 150 LBS 151 – 210 LBS 241+ LBS
MILD 4.5mg 6 mg 9 mg 12 mg 18 mg 22.5 mg
MEDIUM 6 mg 9 mg 12 mg 15 mg 22.5 mg 30 mg
SEVERE 9 mg 12 mg 15 mg 18 mg 27 mg 45 mg

 

An effective dosage can range from as little as a few milligrams of CBD-enriched oil to a gram or more. Begin with a small dose and take a few small doses over the course of the day rather than one big dose. Use the same dose and ratio for several days. Note the effects and if necessary, adjust the ratio or amount. Cannabis compounds have biphasic properties, which mean that low and high doses of the same substance can produce opposite effects. Like alcohol, small doses tend to stimulate; large doses sedate. “Less is more” is often the case with respect to cannabis therapy.

For instance: I found the best dose for my 151-210 pound frame, treating anxiety (medium condition), would be about 20-25 mg a day. I break it up by taking about 10 mg in the morning and the 10-15 mg balance at night. The lower dose in the morning is treated like coffee by my body, and the larger dose at night works like warm milk… allowing me a great night’s sleep.

Things to look for when choosing a CBD oil:

  • Cannabis Not Industrial Hemp: Compared to whole plant cannabis, hemp is typically low in cannabinoid content. A huge amount of hemp is required to extract a small amount of CBD, raising the risk of contaminants because hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning it draws toxins from the soil. The balanced profile of whole plant cannabis enhances the therapeutic benefits of the CBD and THC.
  • How it’s made: a 10% CBD oil that has been CO2 extracted and processed without heat so it maintains a full cannabinoid and terpene profile, is better than a 50% oil cheaply extracted with butane and heated excessively so it has no more terpenes left. Also, many products are made with isolate, which is 99%. Very high %, but it is an isolate so it’s missing the rest of the “whole plant” compounds and therefore, likely to be limited in effects.
  • Easy to Read Labels: Look for clear labels showing the quantity, ratio of CBD, THC per dose (if applicable), a manufacturing date and lastly, a batch number.
  • Lab Testing: Look for products that are tested for consistency, verified as free of mold, pesticides, bacteria, solvent residues and other contaminants.
  • Quality Ingredients: Select products with quality ingredients. No corn syrup, GMOs, trans fats, and artificial additives.
  • CBD and THC-Rich Products: For maximum therapeutic impact, (If living in a Marijuana legal state) choose products that include CBD and THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis. CBD and THC enhance each other’s therapeutic benefits, that’s why Mother Nature put them together 😉
  • Safe Extraction: Avoid products extracted with toxic solvents like BHO (Butane honey oil), propane, hexane or other hydrocarbons. Solvent residues are especially dangerous for immune-compromised patients. Look for products that use a safer method of extraction like supercritical CO2.

Here are some of the brands I tried and my notes. In the end, Diamond CBD will be getting my business.

PRODUCT PRICE SIZE MG TASTE RATING
Honey B $30.00 1 oz / 30 ml 100 mg Berry My starter bottle. I really liked the mild taste. Only 3 flavors.
Tasty Drops $60.00 1 oz / 30ml 300 mg Berry Thick black oil. Did not like the thick ‘hemp’ taste.
American Shaman $60.00 .5 oz / 15ml 300 mg Grape Strong hemp flavor, but grape covered well.
Pure Science Lab $60.00 .5 oz / 15ml 400 mg Vanilla Horrible taste. Lingered for hours. Required refrigeration.
Diamond CBD $70.00 .5 oz / 15ml 350 mg Cherry Best tasting so far. Nice dropper. Have different flavors on order.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Grass Flip-Flops Brings Summer to Winter

When it’s cold outside and there’s snow on the grass… These grass-lined flip-flops sure bring back memories of summer.
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Brrr! Only about 4 more months till summer… Sigh.

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PS – (Added to post much later than above was originally written) To a keen eye or another Midwesterner… This photo was clearly taken over a month ago, back when there was actually snow on the ground. True. It’s been floating in my ‘Scheduled’ folder for awhile. I almost thought about pushing it off yet again, until there was some snow on the ground to exaggerate my point of needing these grass-lined flip-flops… After checking the forecast for the next few months… I feel there’s very little hope in seeing any decent amount of snow the rest of this winter. Oh. so. NOT. sad!!!! Seems we may have an early spring. I sure hope so. Toes crossed!

© Ilex ~Midwestern Plant Girl

 

The Crab Apple ~ Malus Species

Like many heralds of spring, crab apples explode with color upon the dreary backdrop of April.  For a tree that can grow in almost all 50 states, there are not many other species that can offer the colors, shapes and sizes the crab offers. It also has three season interest (as seen below), with blooms in spring, beautiful green (or red) foliage in summer, along with berries for winter. Fall is usually uneventful, as fall color is unknown to this tree.

Crab apples are loved by many of our wildlife friends.

  • The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of many moths and butterflies.
  • The flowers provide an important source of early pollen and nectar for insects, particularly honeybees.
  • The fruit is eaten by birds including cardinals, robins, thrushes and finches.
  • Mammals, including mice, raccoons, vole and squirrels also eat crab apple fruit.

Although all of the blooms are similar shaped, they come in a plethora of colors, buds that bloom to another color and different bloom times. Crabs can grow from 5′ – 50′ feet, but on average, stay between 15′ to 25′ feet range. This makes them a great choice for under wires or a street tree, along with the fact they are salt tolerant. Varieties can vary from columnar, weeping, spreading, vase-shaped to pyramidal which allows them to be planted almost anywhere. Click here for my favorite ‘cheat sheet’ (It’s a PDF) on crabs, which shows size, shape, bloom and berry colors, along with other great info.

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Sadly, there are many things lurking out there to attack crabs. Although many of the new varieties are resistant to one or more disease; scab, fireblight, leaf spot, rusts are among the top killers of crabs. Buying a resistant variety is the key to longevity.

Although the fruits are very tart, they are plentiful and able to be turned into jellies and jams quite easily, due to their high pectin. Here’s how you can do it!

A Makah Legend

The Indians who live on the farthest point of the northwest corner of Washington State used to tell stories, not about one Changer, but about the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things. So did their close relatives, who lived on Vancouver Island, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

When the world was very young, there were no people on the Earth. There were no birds or animals, either. There was nothing but grass and sand and creatures that were neither animals nor people but had some of the traits of people and some of the traits of animals.

Then the two brothers of the Sun and the Moon came to the Earth. Their names were Ho-ho-e-ap-bess, which means “The Two-Men-Who- Changed- Things.” They came to make the Earth ready for a new race of people, the Indians. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called all the creatures to them. Some they changed to animals and birds. Some they changed to trees and smaller plants.

Among them was a bad thief. He was always stealing food from creatures who were fishermen and hunters. The Two-Men-Who- Changed-Things transformed him into Seal. They shortened his arms and tied his legs so that only his feet could move. Then they threw Seal into the Ocean and said to him, “Now you will have to catch your own fish if you are to have anything to eat.”

One of the creatures was a great fisherman. He was always on the rocks or was wading with his long fishing spear. He kept it ready to thrust into some fish. He always wore a little cape, round and white over his shoulders. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Great Blue Heron. The cape became the white feathers around the neck of Great Blue Heron. The long fishing spear became his sharp pointed bill.

Another creature was both a fisherman and a thief. He had stolen a necklace of shells. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed him into Kingfisher. The necklace of shells was turned into a ring of feathers around Kingfisher’s neck. He is still a fisherman. He watches the water, and when he sees a fish, he dives headfirst with a splash into the water.

Two creatures had huge appetites. They devoured everything they could find. The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things transformed one of them into Raven. They transformed his wife into Crow. Both Raven and Crow were given strong beaks so that they could tear their food. Raven croaks “Cr-r-ruck!” and Crow answers with a loud “Cah! Cah!”

The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things called Bluejay’s son to them and asked, “Which do you wish to be–a bird or a fish?”

“I don’t want to be either,” he answered.

“Then we will transform you into Mink. You will live on land. You will eat the fish you can catch from the water or can pick up on the shore. ”

Then the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things remembered that the new people would need wood for many things.

They called one of the creatures to them and said “The Indians will want tough wood to make bows with. They will want tough wood to make wedges with, so that they can split logs. You are tough and strong. We will change you into the yew tree.”

They called some little creatures to them. “The new people will need many slender, straight shoots for arrows. You will be the arrowwood. You will be white with many blossoms in early summer.”

They called a big, fat creature to them. “The Indians will need big trunks with soft wood so that they can make canoes. You will be the cedar trees. The Indians will make many things from your bark and from your roots.”

The Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things knew that the Indians would need wood for fuel. So they called an old creature to them. “You are old, and your heart is dry. You will make good kindling, for your grease has turned hard and will make pitch. You will be the spruce tree. When you grow old, you will always make dry wood that will be good for fires.”

To another creature they said, “You shall be the hemlock. Your bark will be good for tanning hides. Your branches will be used in the sweat lodges.”

A creature with a cross temper they changed into a crab apple tree, saying, “You shall always bear sour fruit.”

Another creature they changed into the wild cherry tree, so that the new people would have fruit and could use the cherry bark for medicine.

A thin, tough creature they changed into the alder tree, so that the new people would have hard wood for their canoe paddles.

Thus the Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things got the world ready for the new people who were to come. They made the world as it was when the Indians lived in it.

 

*** Did you like this post? I have more coming that show trees in all of their seasons. Stay tuned!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl