Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't Miss the Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight!

The moon will become completely immersed in the Earth's shadow tonight, Feb. 20, resulting in a total lunar eclipse. During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon's disk can take on a dramatically colorful appearance from bright orange to blood red to dark brown and (rarely) very dark gray.

Almost everyone in the Americas and Western Europe will have a beautiful view of this eclipse if bad weather doesn't spoil the show. The moon will be high in a dark evening sky as viewed from most of the United States and Canada while most people are still awake and about.

The total eclipse of the moon on February 20 will be the last one we’ll see until December 2010.

For continental U.S. time zones, the partial eclipse begins the evening of Feb. 20.
8:43 p.m. EST
7:43 p.m. CST
6:43 p.m. MST
5:43 p.m. PST

Totality begins on the evening of Feb. 20.
10:01 p.m. EST
9:01 p.m. CST
8:01 p.m. MST
7:01 p.m. PST

Greatest eclipse occurs the evening of Feb. 20.
10:26 p.m. EST
9:26 p.m. CST
8:26 MST
7:26 PST

The total eclipse ends the evening of Feb. 20.
10:51 p.m. EST
9:51 p.m. CST
8:51 p.m. MST
7:51 p.m. PST

Monday, February 18, 2008

Rosemary in Bloom

Isn't she beautiful? Two days later we had some very strong wind and rain and every bloom was blown off. Good thing I snapped this photo when I did.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

February Gardening Chores

February is half gone, but the weather hasn't been agreeable for much gardening (and I've been doing a ton of computer work), but today it's 61 degrees F. so we decided to get out there and get dirty. Jay took the little one to the Famer's Co-op this morning to buy onions and cabbage plants and a 50 lb sack of corn to crush for the chickens. Mama sure did need that break.

February is a good time for seed shopping, for the best choices and availability. We live in Zone 7 and February is a good month to plant onion sets to ensure big, hearty plants at harvest. Last year we didn't plant our onion sets until April and they never got bigger than 2.5 inches in diameter.

Good onion set info from the Univeristy of Illinois Extension: "Purchase firm, dormant sets early - before they begin growth in heated salesrooms. Store sets in a cool, dry, dark environment if planting must be delayed after purchase. Divide the sets into two sizes before planting. Large sets (larger than a dime in diameter) are best used for green onions. If allowed to grow, these sets may "bolt" and form flower stalks. The small sets (smaller than a dime in diameter) produce the best bulbs for large, dry onions; and they usually do not "bolt." Extremely cold weather during early season growth also may condition onions from sets to flower.

Round onion sets produce flat onions; elongated or torpedo-shaped sets mature into round onions. Most gardeners prefer white sets for green onions, although red or yellow sets are also acceptable."

We're not planting our onion sets until next week after the moon starts to wane. Below ground, or root, vegetables like onions, carrots and potatoes should be planted during this time, preferably on a "good" moon sign day. Vegetables that grow above the ground should be planted on days when the moon is waxing, or "growing". More on this subject later.

So today we planted one bed of eight Early Jersey Wakefield cabbages (see below, before and after only .. I would have taken pictures of the actual planting, but I did it myself and didn't have a "photographer"). Yes, it's early for planting, and we may have to cover the little plants a night or two before it's over, but that's ok. We turned a 4' x 8' bed with cow manure and some dirt my father-in-law dozed up from the bottom of the pond this summer (mmm mmm good soil) while it was dry (drought, drought, drought). A good watering and a thick mulch of leaves, and I think the cabbages will approve.

We've weeded or turned all of the best and will be pulling up the bed boards as another step toward Naturally Grown Certification. I cringe to think of it, but it must be done. The goal is to have every bed in the garden framed with mountain stone by the end of the summer. My chiropractor will love it.

I've started flat leaf parsley and lavender indoors and will be starting many others in the coming weeks. I'm waiting for the chickweed in my yard to get just a tad bigger, and then I'll have a major harvest, and I'm ordering medicinal herb seeds Monday, woo hoo!!

Next week I'll be wild herb hunting, weather permitting.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wedding Point

I'm compelled to share these photos because they mean so much to us. The first photo is the view from my in-law's deck next door. Isn't it amazing? That's the Tennessee River! We can also see it from our house, but only through the trees in winter when the leaves are down. The lights from the valley are so beautiful at night. The second photo is the "point" where Jay and I were married, at 6:00 am in the morning on October 20, 2000. My brother, Matt, performed the ceremony and it was beautiful. Small crowd (not many folks willing to rise and shine that early for a wedding on a Friday morning), great food (home cooked breakfast, courtesy of Jay's mom), and a phenomenal weekend in the Great Smokey Mountains. Sigh.

Mama Silky's New Babies!

The resident Silky hen's brood has hatched, and are they cute or what?! Mama is very protective but very generously allowed me into her house to document the first week of her babies' lives. It took some patience, but we waited her out and she finally stood up so we could see them!

Another Snowy Girl Today

Melissa officinalis, my sweet Lemon Balm which happens to have taken over one of my front yard flower beds. Oh well, I knew better, so now she is happily meandering around the Gingko tree and down into the yard! Here she is, peeking out from her mulch and being dusted with snow.

I'm so ready for Spring!

Stellaria media in the Snow

I love, love, love my Chickweed, and it loves my yard! I can honestly say she takes up more space around here than grass, and is winning a competition with the Dandelions, my other dooryard favorite. It snowed this morning, so I thought I'd snap a frozen patch to share.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jackson Co. Alabama Storm Damage 02.08

The above photos were taken after a line of thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the mid and southern sections of the United States last week, killing more than 50 people, injuring scores of others, destroying dozens of homes and buildings and damaging hundreds. The town of Pisgah, Alabama, where I graduated from high school, as well as the neighboring town of Rosalie (where the photos are from), and Flat Rock (where I live), were hit by an F4 tornado and a beloved member of the community lost her life. Many families have been displaced, several people are still in the hospital, and there are families who have lost everything and have no insurance. The Red Cross has been there from the beginning, helping in every way they can and making a huge difference in the lives of these two towns. Please take a minute to visit the Red Cross online and make a donation today!