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Category Archives: Nature

Wanting to Garden!

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I am so ready for springtime and gardening. I can’t wait to lose the winter doldrums and start planting.

The seeds I started indoors are getting out of control.

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The scarlet emperor beans are a foot high. The edamame have pushed through the potting soil. Lots of arugula ready to transplant.

The cardoons are getting feisty.

Purple tomatillo. Check. I also started a small pot yesterday with dill seeds for the herb garden out back.

We had our kick off community garden meeting today.

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There are 24 new gardeners at the Conservancy plots.

Next week. Row cover pick up. The following week. Garden work day. Next week, also is Greenfest at Howard Community College. The following week, is the coop to coop tour for the chicken coops in Howard County.

Sometime in there I need to go pick up my plants for my summer garden from Sharp’s, and put the potatoes in the ground in the yard.

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We are deciding where to put the root plants. The hoops with row cover. Where to put the tomatoes and the peppers.

Spring can’t come fast enough.

#hocofood

Searching for Signs of Spring

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As the skies in the west darken. The temperatures may drop forty degrees tonight. Storms will rip through. And, we may get one or two more snow events before winter leaves us.

Will spring ever arrive? Tomorrow we have volunteer training, including hiking, in temperatures that may barely hit freezing, as a high. That should be interesting.

Heavy rain is hitting the front of our house. Cross your fingers that our radio tower does OK. It is a year old this week.

I see no evidence of garlic in the garden. I planted it last fall, and covered it heavily with mulch. Normally by now, there would be something out there.

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This was last year on the 29th of March.

Tulips? Not very far along either. Barely seen. Not like last year when they popped above the ground in January.

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I moved the tractor up to the garage today, to get picked up for service tomorrow. I don’t think we will be cutting grass anytime soon.

This has been a cold winter. One that, I hope, will cut down on the number of destructive pests that kill my garden plants. If only it would kill the stink bugs. That would be celebration worthy.

Are you tired of winter too?

Tired of Winter

Officially, over it.

We have been working on the planning for the annual hike to the river out at the Howard County Conservancy.

It is scheduled for March this year. It gives us the opportunity to look for signs of spring.

March 8th, at 10 am. This hike is appropriate for most skill levels, but they are asking for a minimum age level of eight years old.

Last fall, we had groups go out. With lots of volunteers to shepherd groups.

If people felt it was too difficult, we had leaders who could bring them back to the building.

This is a fairly long hike, by our standards. It is a couple of miles in each direction. The first half, obviously, is DOWN to the river. The second half, you guessed it, uphill for quite a bit.

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When the group reaches the railroad tracks above the river, they are roughly halfway between Woodstock and Ellicott City. This land down there is part of Patapsco State Park. You don’t see houses or roads. It is quiet and really scenic.

This hike is one of the monthly free events, called the Second Saturday events. Many of us who regularly volunteer enjoy getting out and leading families, couples, friends, and singles to show them the little things about nature we have learned as volunteer naturalists.

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And, as a lead in to a request for new volunteers, the training for elementary school and middle school hike leading volunteers begins in two weeks.

Schedule for training is here.

I may be jumping ahead to promote spring events, but the thought of getting outdoors and saying farewell to the snow has me looking at the calendar and saying “Come On Springtime!”.

hocoblogs@@@

Heading Back Out There

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Putting together my spring calendar, in hopes of the weather changing. As usual, the Howard County Conservancy and my volunteer work will keep me busy for the next few months.

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How?

A hike and lecture this Tuesday. For naturalists and potential new volunteers and our friends.

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A lecture on the history of Belmont. The site over in Elkridge that the Conservancy will be managing. Where there will be events and summer camp and future field trips.

Saturday the 15th, we are celebrating the lunar New Year with a free event highlighting Chinese and Korean traditions to celebrate. 10 am.

Naturalist training begins in a few weeks. Field trips in April and May. I can’t wait to get outdoors and look for emerging signs of spring.

That’s because I am so tired of winter.

Anyone else ready to get outside?DSC_0012

hocoblogs@@@

Ice Isn’t Nice

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In the ongoing saga known as the winter of 2014. Now, we get ice.

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It was close to half an inch on every surface around our house. Now, as I write this, the wind is howling. I hope not to hear the CRACK, THUD we heard all day today.

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Only a fraction of the evergreen damage. Our property is surrounded by mature pines, spruce and fir trees. 20-30 year old trees. These by the driveway were many of the Christmas trees bought with the root ball and planted after the holidays by the original owners of this house.

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The tops still looked fragile, and the warming temps made us feel a little better. We have cleaned up huge amounts of branches over the nine years we have been here. It was nine years ago today that we moved our first things here and spent our first night out here.

Back then, we learned about the wind across the fields. How it blasts through these wide open spaces. How it is colder here than in Columbia. Whenever I venture into town, the temps in my car will rise 3-4 degrees sometimes.

Thankfully, my favorite tree, the lace leaf Japanese maple, is doing OK. Just don’t go near it, or the branches will crack.

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If it ever does stop raining, snowing, sleeting or freezing, we will have our hands full doing clean up.

Just another crazy winter week in the west parts of Howard County.

And, a lead in to reminding people to sign up for a very interesting program this Saturday night at the Howard County Conservancy. “Seeing Trees” — appropriate for what we are doing here. All of us “tree huggers”, and nature lovers.

hocoblogs@@@

Back In The Swing of Things

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A full month of good things to do where I volunteer. At the Howard County Conservancy, there are a number of days we have events. I volunteer at a few and attend others when I can.

This Saturday Ray Bosmans is coming back with his snakes. Always a very well attended free event. At 10 am.

Next Tuesday, we begin our series of volunteer winter hikes. New friends are most welcome. Hike at 9:30. Lecture at 11. The 14th we will learn about the soil at Mt. Pleasant presented by Dean Cowherd, NRCS.

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Then, same time on the 28th, Kerry Wixted or DNR will present Exploring Maryland’s Biodiversity.

February 11th, over at the Belmont site, The History of Belmont.

For me, these continuous learning opportunities keep me engaged. Learning more and becoming a better leader of field trips.

But, my favorite upcoming event is the Storytelling Event.

JAN 19- Sunday 3-5pm Tales of Nature: An Afternoon of Professional Storytelling with Adam Booth, Diane Macklin and Marc Young. An afternoon of storytelling that will delight and enchant both children and adults. Tales of earth’s creatures and Mother Nature will be among the stories told by three different professional story tellers from three different traditions: Appalachian, American & African Griotic, and Jewish. $5/person; $15/family. Space is limited, registration required!.

The description from the web site. If you have never seen truly talented story tellers, this is a must attend event.

Wow, add to that my program committee meeting, and I will certainly be busy in the New Year.

hocoblogs@@@

Frigid Weather

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The next few days are going to be tough to deal with, around these parts. Temperatures below zero degrees tomorrow night.

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We have snow on the ground and the birds are pretty active looking for food under the patio table and around the deck. We have unfortunately also had a number of hawk attacks. Lost a few small birds.

I am keeping the bird bath full. It is amazing watching them get into the basin and fluff up their feathers after dunking themselves a few times.

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We now have quite the collection of red bellied woodpeckers. There were three out there yesterday. I refilled the suet holders for them.

Tomorrow (today by the time I post this past midnight) is Little Christmas, the day I usually take down the decorations. I think that will occur later in the week when it warms up.

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The tree needs to be taken out to the landfill later also. They recycle them into mulch. As for the garland, it will become a bed around the rhododendron, where the pine needles can continue to add some acidity to the soil.

I have been heavily using the crockpot, making another batch of venison chili today. I learned a lesson though. My method of putting frozen items in the pot has resulted in a hairline crack in the ceramic insert.

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Thankfully, I do use the liners. Still, I have to buy a new insert. And stop putting the pot on high.

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I am slowly making my way through the Larriland tomatoes in the freezer. Next year I will be getting many more than this time, as they make a world of difference when used in soups and chili.

As for the next few days, I think we will find some indoor projects to tackle. Until it warms up a bit.

Stay warm, and watch out for black ice. And, think of spring.

hocofood@@@

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