Archive for June, 2011


Soulful Plotting

June 17, 2011


Word used to describe soil with a pH level above 7.0.


Snapdragons Remind Me of My Father

June 15, 2011 Registered & Protected

By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

Right from the start, anyone could see that I was the apple of my father’s eye.  A big man, he was somewhat awkward handling a tiny squirming bundle, but his heart lacked the clumsiness of his hands because it was filled with love.

I don’t know where he learned his parenting skills being the last of 12 children whose father died when my father was barely two years old, but without benefit of a paternal role model, he did a wonderful job in filling a father’s shoes.  He loved me with all his heart because I was his baby daughter.

Over the years my father gave me some good advice. He told me “never lick a knife, because you might cut your my tongue, and be careful with pocket knives because you might cut your finger.” I guess my father knew the consequences of these acts from experience because he always carried a pocket knife that he used to sharpen pencils, cut string and slice fruit.

When I was two, we moved to a brand new home in the suburbs. My father took pride in his property, watering the lawn and caring for the yard, always with his precious daughter by his side.  My father’s favorite flower, the snapdragon, filled our flowerbed. He showed me how to pinch open the colorful blooms, exposing the yellow pistils.  “Don’t you be like these flowers,” he said.  “They don’t brush their teeth and they are all yellow.” Then we laughed like a father and daughter should.  Every time I see snapdragons, they remind me of my father.

  • Snapdragons are easy to grow
  • Come in a variety of colors: white, yellow, purple, crimson, bronze and pink
  • Excellent in flowerbeds
  • Attractive as edging and borders
  • Cut snapdragons make nice arrangements either single stems or when combined with other flowers

Is it Summertime Yet?

June 13, 2011

After all that rain and a full week of sunshine, does . . .

a few sugar snap peas,

one crookneck squash,

 a thirst for water,

 and freshly harvested lettuce mean it’s finally summer?

I sure hope so. What signs of summer do you see in and around your garden?

If you want, email a photo to me and I’ll post it.

Just make sure it’s small as I have dial-up.


A Great Day for the Whole Family

June 10, 2011

Jun 17-18: Sierra Earthfest. If you’re willing to drive a little bit, there’s an interesting selection of garden/nature workshops mixed in with general fun next weekend in Tuolumne County at the Mountain Sage Nursery in Groveland, CA. Contact: for more information.

The 17th is Pre-EarthFest Event Seminar: 7 pm – 9:30 pm Seminar: “Turning Drains into Sponges, and Water Scarcity into Water Abundance” by Brad Lancaster, author of “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands.” $15 suggested donation.

On the 18th, starting at 9am, the day includes Yoga by Balanced Rock Yoga, California Native Flower Essence Craft by Diane Swanson of Wahela Healing, Hands-on Rainwater Workshop, History of Salmon in the Tuolumne River, Green Building Techniques for Good Fire Ecology, Grow Soil to Grow Plants, Easy Worm Composting, The Littlest Bird string band stroll, Yellow Star Thistle Control, Rainwater: Putting Water Back Into Streams for Salmon, New Research on Great Grey Owls, Installing Rainwater and Infiltration Gardens Wrap-up by Brad Lancaster, author of “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands.”

Plus, Ongoing Activities at booths: Rieki Seminars, Solar seminars, Cob oven seminars, Greywater toolkit and ecological waterfeature hands-on booth and Kids Activites: Booth crafts, interactive learning booths, storytelling.


Soulful Plotting

June 10, 2011


1.  The small seed of a fruit like that of a strawberry, orange or an apple;

2.   An individual rootstock of Lily-of-the-Valley or similar plant.



June 8, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I moved the pullets* from the cow trough (in the garage) to the chicken coop. The pullets are growing rapidly but they’re not large or old enough to defend themselves against the hens. Without a shielding mother, hens will peck at a younger flock. For now, segregation is necessary. Therefore, each morning we play musical chairs. Both flocks sing (not all that well) while I rotate them. Until sundown, when rotation takes place in reverse, the hens free range with access to the coop for egg lying while the pullets play in the running pen. Twice daily, the music stops and everybody’s happy in their prospective stations.

Soon the pullets will know the coop and running pen as home base. There they will find a small supply of organic feed, water, and little nesting boxes to lay eggs next spring. As the pullets familiarize themselves with the new surroundings, routine patterns will fall into place. When the hens are nearby, free ranging, the pullets can observe scavenger skills and dust-bowl baths. Although these behaviors come naturally, like humans, even pullets can learn from peers.

Soon, when I open the hatch at twilight, the pullets will learn to go into the coop. Right now, I have to chase them. I’m glad there’s no hidden camera. Scurrying after seven pullets, dodging poop, bumping my head on the perching bar, and nearly landing on my face as I reach out to grasp one is a shoe-in for America’s Funniest Home Videos.

This flock is different from the breeds I’ve had before. The Buttercups are nervous around humans and are the first to take flight if I get near them. They’re small, active and quick, white egg layers that don’t do well in confinement.

The Australorp is from Australia. Known for their high brown-egg production and sweet temperament, they’re also good meat birds. I have yet to hear a peep out of these quite, black beauties which make them suitable for town folk concerned about annoying their neighbors.

The Silkie bantams are from Japan. They’re so cute, calm and friendly you want to cuddle them. They’re feathers are fur-like, slick and fluffy. Silkies stay small and produce mini, ornamental eggs. With their motherly instincts, they make great brooders** and loving mothers. Children adore them.

*Pullet:  A female chicken less than one year old.

**Brooders or broody:  The desire of a hen to sit and hatch eggs.


Learn How to Grow Blueberries

June 7, 2011

This workshop just came through my inbox and I thought I would share it with you. Sounds like a good class to attend.

Saturday June 18: FREE! Learn How to Grow Blueberries in the Valley. 11:00am. Join Roger from Rancho Azul to learn all about soil and water requirements, best varieties and more! Plus, enter to win a Blueberry Starter Pack! Scenic Nursery, 1313 Scenic Dr. Modesto, CA 95355 Contact: | 209-523-7978

%d bloggers like this: