Tuesday, February 28, 2017

End of February, 2017

I thought some of you might enjoy these.  They are typical of Northeastern Oklahoma.  One of God's ways of making up for the drought and the triple-digit summer heat, I guess.  I so miss the cloud formations, sunrises and sunsets when I'm living elsewhere.  When we lived in Oakland, California during the late 1960's, it seemed like the skies were always the same shade of blue, with not many clouds.  But I was young then and I didn't pay much attention to the beauty of God's creations as much as I do now.  Maybe I just didn't notice.  In northern Indiana during the 1970's, I certainly DID notice, and the Industrial skies were always gray. 










These pictures were all taken on the same morning.  Aren't I blessed to have all this beauty RIGHT OUTSIDE MY PATIO DOORS?


Spring is my favorite time of year.  Just so ya know.

The last few times I have walked over to see Bob and Gwen, I noticed the Juniper trees that are on my side of their workshop were full of berries.  I had myself a walk around the surrounding meadows that belong to some of my other neighbors, to see if any of their Juniper trees had berries, and, nope.  Just those two trees of Bob and Gwen's. 


If I'm understanding correctly, the trees that make the berries are the females.  This being Oklahoma, I imagine these trees are Juniperis monosperma, or "Oneseed Juniper".  Everything you ever wanted to know about the Juniper tree and it's growth habit can be found here:

http://www.desertusa.com/flora/junipers.html


Juniper berries are used to flavor Gin.  And so they have the odor that people who know the smell of gin will recognize.  Tom Collins was a popular mixed drink when I was a young adult.  We didn't put on any airs, we just mixed gin with 7-Up and ice.  Botta Bing.  But did you know that juniper berries are medicinal?  Antibacterial, diuretic and antiseptic.  Inhalation of Juniper essential oil is used to treat bronchitis and numb pain.  Topical application provides relief from joint and muscle pain.  We used to like to say, "I was feelin' NO pain...", could be the Juniper and not the alcohol?  Naw, I guess that's spreading things just a leeeetle too thin.... 

There is a great deal of information about the uses of juniper berries and even the bark and the "leaves".  Also the essential oil.  Some of the sites I found are these:
https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-juniper-essential-oil.html
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail30.php
http://www.eattheweeds.com/junipers/

Juniper is powerful medicine and I would personally not take it internally in any form.  And care needs to be taken if you've never used it on your skin, in case you are sensitive to it.  But I did happen upon a Witching YouTube in which the.... ummmm....  speaker said you can use the berries, about a ratio of 1 part berries to 4 parts bleach, added to your mopping water, to purify and protect your home from evil, but you have to use it fast because the bleach deteriorates the berries.  Here's that YouTube if you want to look at it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KatzxMLf7FY
She said you can string some into a necklace and hang it in your car to protect you from car accidents.  I'm really uneasy about witchcraft, just so you know.  I think there's a fine line between good and evil and a lot of people who say they are witches don't know enough about what they're doing to avoid stepping over that line.  Doing incantations may or may not conjure up something such as what horror movies are famous for but I'm not going there just in case.  You'll not see me dancing naked in a circle of rocks, either.  And you're welcome.  But I don't rule out certain beliefs about purifying things and taking advantage of the herbal benefits of things that grow, simply because I believe that God put all these things around us for us to use to keep ourselves well and healthy.

Native Americans sometimes burn Juniper or Sage prior to their gatherings, and to purify their homes.  I'm very familiar with that and I don't see anything wrong with it.  Hanging a Juniper berry necklace on the car mirror or putting it in the mopping water seems innocent enough.  I don't think I'd be doing anything in that regard that would grieve God.  I do enough wrong stuff just being me, I certainly don't need to be looking for things I can do on purpose.

Since Juniper trees tolerate heat and dry so well, and are habitat for birds, I thought I might try to start a few cuttings for planting on The North Fourth.  I saw a YouTube done by a man who grows Juniper trees from cuttings for Bonsai, and he said spring is the best time to take the cuttings.  We'll see how it goes.


I remembered having seen some Junipers with berries growing in the city park behind The Ponca House, years ago, so the other day while we were out, I had Hubs drive by there.  I didn't find ANY that had any berries on them.  I did, however, walk past the back of our old house, and I took some cuttings off the Privet hedge that I planted between what was then my back fence and the park's sidewalk.  They grew well, thick and tall, and provided us with some privacy from the park.  When I tried to buy some to put around the outer fence here, I could not find anything except a variety that didn't grow as tall. 


The new owners of The Ponca House have not taken very good care of it, or at least, have not cared for it as I did and would have.  The paint on the house was badly faded and the privet hedge needed pruning badly.  So instead of being a nice thick hedge, it was a bunch of big trunks.  Every spring, I would show Hubs the biggest ones to cut out of the hedge and we kept it full and bushy that way.  I didn't even put my eyes anywhere in the yard.  They say, "you can't go home again", and you just shouldn't even look.  It makes me feel sad.

While we were out we stopped by Atwood's and Tractor Supply.  After Tractor Supply opened their store out along the highway on the way out of town towards Tulsa, Atwood's built out there, too, practically right next door!  They were more convenient to me where they had been, for years, in the Eastland Shopping Center.  But I did notice that their chicken feed and such were often chewed into by rats or mice.  I also once bought some nuts there that were rancid.  So maybe the new location will provide them with a warehouse area that will be better storage of their extra merchandise.  Not sure.  As it is, though, it seems like they and Tractor Supply have much the same stuff.  We went to Atwood's first, and now the only variety of seed that they are carrying is Burpee.  They used to carry several brands, including American Seed and Ferry Morse.  So I didn't buy anything there.  At Tractor Supply, I bought a Damson blue plum tree for $12.95.  I thought I had bought one from ArborDay, but it and the other two trees that were SUPPOSED to be something else, all turned out to be Santa Rosa, and I don't know what to do with them.  They are too tart to make anything with but jam.  And how much Santa Rosa jam can two old codgers eat, I ask ya??  I will prune this one back to about 3', according to instructions I saw on Oklahoma Gardening's show last Saturday.  It'll just become a whip in the wind if I don't, anyway....  I'm hoping to plant it in the same hole where the apple tree died.  Hubs cut it down at ground level with the chain saw and I think there's room left for it to grow.  The tree was completely dead and the trunk was splitting from the ground up.  So I think what's left of the tree under the ground will actually be well on its way to rotting and will be a "Hugelkultur wooden sponge" for the new tree. 

Also bought a Chicago fig, supposed to be hardy to zone 5.  We are 6A.  If it will live in Chicago, it ought to live through our winters but I'm not sure how it will tolerate our summers.  If it dies, it dies.  I'm NOT dragging it in and out.  I did plant it in a tub for now.  I'll need to dig a new hole for it and I haven't decided yet where I want it.  The box says it grows 10-12' and is self-fertile. 
 


Got this Issai hardy Kiwi, too.

I bought two last year and planted them near the trellis on the cellar bed, but if they lived, they didn't climb.  If they are still in the ground, I don't recognize them.  They are "fuzzless", smaller than the ones from the grocery store, and Stark's say they have 8 times more vitamin C than oranges and can produce up to 100 pounds of fruit per year.  Supposed to be self-pollinating, so I may go out there and trim that vine back and see if I can root the cut-off piece to get an additional plant.  I did that with burgundy raspberries one year. I think I might get a small "first fruit" crop this year from the burgundy raspberries. 

I walk around the garden daily to see if anything's coming up from the seed I've planted, or coming back from the roots.  I think I see a few peas beginning to emerge.  It's a little too soon to tell if it's peas or more of that dang Henbit.  I guess I should count my blessings, at least the Henbit dies back when it starts getting warm.  I keep watching for the Red Russian Kale to come up from roots somewhere.  My second-year plants went to seed last summer and I had baby kale plants all over the garden in the fall.  But so far I'm not seeing kale.  There's cumin coming back up from roots, though....

It'll be going to seed this year and making Coriander.  I wasn't sure about it because the butterfly larvae was all over it and ate it down to bare branches last year.  Fennel is only coming back in one spot, and that teaches me that I should've harvested that big bulb it made when the plant out in the garden made one.  I didn't get any seed because the larvae ate Fennel umbels before they went to anything else.  The seed I planted was just old seed from my herb and spice cabinet in the kitchen.  I think I still have some, somewhere.

Paula sent me some Candy onions.  I think she got a bit over-enthusiastic.....  But bless her heart.  I'm going to try to start getting them planted on Friday. 

Oh, and here is a poppy. 

A couple of years ago, Glenda sent me a bunch of poppy seed, of all different colors, and the ones I had planted in this spot were red, some were orange.  I had Dame's Rocket planted there, too, and the purplish blue of that flower against the poppies was just Eye Candy, for sure.  Glenda told me the red and the orange ones were perennial and I was tickled pink about that.  Last spring, I had one come up in exactly this same spot, but then it was gone.  I don't know what happened.  Maybe Hubs hit it with the weed-eater.  Maybe the Dame's Rocket shaded it out.  Maybe some critter ate it.  Well, it's baaaaack....  This time, I'm putting a tomato cage around it and I've pulled away every other thing that was growing around it.  I want it to grow and thrive and make extra seed to scatter. 

Other things up:
 Garden Heliotrope.  Oh, the scent is heaven when they're in bloom.

Oregano.  Somebody said, as good as Oregano is for us, we ought to be juicing it and snorting it.  LOL

I looked for the red-flowered Bergamot I moved from the herb garden to two spots last spring, as it was taking over the herb garden.  The hummers love it, and it makes really pretty flowers, so I don't want to lose it.  I want it somewhere that it can go rampant if it wants to.  I don't find it at all in one spot.  But it is present on the north side of the chicken house.

And there's still some in the herb garden.  When it likes its spot, it likes its spot.

Dr. Oz had a show on the 27th about natural cleaning products.  Apparently grapefruit seed extract in some water with tea tree essential oil is a good all-purpose cleaner.  And then he went thru the getting rid of roaches with diatomaceous earth and deterring ants with coffee grounds and obviously he either has not done his homework or has wimpy roaches and ants, because I never found either to work for me.  Also had a piece about mold and said not to use bleach, that just liquid soap and water would do just fine.  That made me think about the Juniper berry and bleach thing and you know, I think the bleach is just unnecessary.  Why wouldn't steeping the berries in distilled vinegar do just as well?  I was disappointed that Dr. Oz didn't say anything about vinegar for cleaning except he did show it being poured down a clogged drain, to wash down a mixture of half salt and half baking powder, poured into the drain ahead of it, and then followed with boiling water.  But I keep a spray bottle of distilled vinegar under my kitchen sink cabinet and I spritz it on my counters, and on fresh fruit from the grocery store, wiping it off after a bit, of course.  I've yet to find ANYTHING that cleans toilets any better than just a little bit of bleach, though.  But I know that's probably not good for my septic tank.  Salt isn't good for a septic, either.   I don't pour pickle brine down the drain.  I take it outside and dump it on the ground where I don't want anything to grow.  We don't use a lot of pickles so I don't have a lot to dispose of.  If I did, I seriously don't know WHAT I'd do with it.  All that salt has to go SOMEWHERE and at what point will it start seeping from places from where you don't want stuff to grow TO where you DO? 

Do you ever wonder if merchants get deluged with requests for things after Dr. Oz (or someone else) mentions it on their TV show?  If I were dabbling in the stock market, I think as soon as that happens I'd go buy stock in whatever company produces it.  Because, even if it doesn't work, lots of people who have watched the show will go out and buy at least one.  Depending on the popularity of the show / size of audience, this could be a real shot in the arm for the company that makes it.  And we will all be able to tell if it didn't work, because by summer everybody will have it in their garage sale.  We, as consumers, are not very discriminating.  We'll buy anything.  Sometimes just telling us it's "flying off the shelves" and/or there's a shortage, is enough to make us stand in a long line, pay higher prices for it and/or punch our fellow American out just to get one.  It's insane.  And if they want something to "fly off the shelves", they just say it's normally priced at twice the asking price.  Sheesh.

I'm looking forward to March, even though it heralds tornado season, violent electrical storms and what not.  The extended forecast warns of more roller-coaster highs and lows, and so far not seeing much rain.  There was a lot of smoke in the air this morning, but we couldn't find out where it was coming from and not long after first notice, it was gone.  We do have stuff to be grateful for. 

Rock on, my dears.  Be well and safe.  Hugs xoxoxo

2 comments:

  1. I am happy to hear you are stopping long enough to enjoy the beautiful skies. I loved the pictures.

    Thing are beginning to pop in various spots here too. I have started some seeds under lights. I hope my enthusiasm lasts!

    We have to be grateful each day for what we have and what we are able to keep doing even if it might be less than the year before.

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