Archive for the 'Gardening' Category


Plant for the Pollinators

Author: Meera, June 20, 2017

I seldom need an occasion to put in another bed of flowers, but this is National Pollinator Week. I think a new bed is in order to attract local bees, birds, bats, and butterflies–all considered pollinators. Having these small creatures around benefits landscapes, gardens, and orchards.

 

Between showers and periods of sunlight, this beauty showed up in the bee garden

Between showers and periods of sunlight, this beauty showed up in the bee garden

 

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has noted that over 75 percent of our plants are pollinated by birds, animals, and insects. We can help ensure these creatures will be around for a long time if we restore their habitats and ensure they have food and water.

 

 

 

A longhorn bee is twice the size of a honeybee

A longhorn bee is twice the size of a honeybee

 

 

 

There are many lovely plants you can grow that don’t require a lot of care.

 

 

 

  • lavender
  • bee balm
  • echinacea
  • sage
  • cilantro
  • thyme
  • sunflowers
  • sweet alyssum
  • anemone
  • borage
  • geraniums
  • scented pelargoniums
  • mint

 

The florets are falling off and the seeds have formed on this giant sunflower head

Sunflowers are a favorite of bees and the seeds are loved by squirrels and birds

 

 

 

 

A tapestry of colorful herbs and flowers beautifies your landscape and pollinators love the diversity. If you don’t have a lot of space, grow some of these plants in planter boxes, clay pots, or other types of containers.

 

Robins drinking from a pottery saucer

Robins drinking from a pottery saucer

 

 

 

Put in a water feature, too, such as a table-top or larger fountain that recycles water. Even a pottery saucer filled each day can attract pollinators.

 

 

It won’t take long for the bees and hummingbirds to find the water. Their frequent visits are fun to watch, and they’ll likely be sipping throughout the day.

 

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If you enjoy reading about farmette topics, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing. My newest novel includes delicious recipes, tips on keeping bees and chickens, and much more. Click on this URL for more information, http://tinyurl.com/ya5vhhpm

.

 

 

Coming Sept. 2017

Coming Sept. 2017

 

 

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Grow Seasonal Greens Now

Author: Meera, April 6, 2017

The cool season of spring is the optimum time to grow seasonal greens for salads and healthy blended shakes. In my kitchen garden, I’ve planted a variety of lettuces, spinach, kale, and chard. Most salad greens are easy to grow also in containers, raised beds, and window boxes when gardening space is limited.

 

 

Newly planted Swiss chard is a valuable source for Vitamins A, C, and K

The newly planted Swiss chard shown here is a valuable source of Vitamins A, C, and K

 

 

 

Add compost and aged chicken manure to enrich the soil with nitrogen. Plant heirloom seeds about 1/2 inch in the soil, cover, and water. Within a week or 10 days, you should see the seedlings pop up. The greens will be ready to pick in about 25 days.

 

 

 

 

Water the plants to keep them hydrated but don’t drown the plants. When you are ready to make a salad, snip the leaves you want with kitchen scissors. New leaves will soon form if the roots are not disturbed and the plant continues to get nutrients and water.

 

 

Spinach can be started in seed cell flats and then transplanted into your garden when all danger of frost has passed

Spinach can be started in seed cell flats and then transplanted into your garden when all danger of frost has passed

 

 

 

 

SALAD OF FRESH GREENS

 

1. Snip a variety of greens in the early morning. Wash and thoroughly dry the leaves.

 

2. Place them in a bowl and crumble on some sharp cheese such as your favorite goat cheese or a Gargonzola (blue-veined, sharp tasting, and crumbly).

 

3.  Add 1/2 cup sugared or candied walnuts.

 

4. Add some slice red onion and a handful of dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots.

 

5. Drop into the bowl some slices of a pear such as Bosc (considered the prince of pears).

 

6. Gently toss the salad and then spritz with red wine vinaigrette prior to plating on pretty salad serving dishes.

 

*          *          *

 

 

If you love reading about gardening and other farming topics, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries that include A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and A HIVE OF HOMICIDES.

 

 

Coming Sept. 2017

The newest mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

 

 

  • Delicious recipes

  • Farm quips and quotes

  • Tips for gardening and keeping chickens and bees

  • An exciting whodunnit mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Grow a Fruit Tree from a Pit

Author: Meera, April 5, 2017

Nothing beats a breakfast of summer fruit picked fresh from a patio or backyard tree. I’m referring to fruit trees such as apricots, peaches, and nectarines. Cherries and plums are also among my favorites. The fruit from these trees is often referred to as stone fruit because of the hard pits (holding the seed) around which the fruit forms.

 

Ripe apricots can hang on the tree only so long before they drop

By mid-May, ripe apricots hanging on the trees in my backyard don’t last long–they’re eaten fresh, made into jams, and dried

 

 

Apricots in the Bay Area ripen in mid-May and peaches often ripen a bit later during the three months of summer (depending on the cultivar). If you love eating the fruit, don’t toss the pits. Consider that an apricot or peach grafted onto rootstock might cost upwards of $20 during bare-root season but $35 to $50 if sold in a pot. Growing from seed costs nothing.

 

Planting the seed extracted from the pit of your favorite apricot or peach variety can generate a tree with a very good chance of carrying the parent trees’ traits and producing fruit within three to five years. In fact, I’ve found that pits of my apricot, cherry, wild plum, peach, and nectarines that are left on the ground or discarded by the squirrels who’ve eaten the fruit will often sprout on their own.

 

Perfectly ripe peachs can be made into luscious jam

Perfectly ripened peaches make luscious ice cream, jams, pies, cobblers, and tarts

 

 

 

 

Use this ten-step method to grow a peach or apricot tree from seed.

 

1. Choose a pit from a locally grown ripe fruit that tastes juicy and delicious.

 

2. Dry the seed on a paper towel in your kitchen window for several days.

 

3.  Carefully crack open the hard shell of the pit to reveal the seed inside (it will resemble an almond).

 

4. Put the seed (or several seeds) in a sealed container in your refrigerator and let it chill for up to three months. The cool temperature exposure helps the seed get ready to sprout.

 

5. Time your removal of the seed from the refrigerator to a month before the last frost date in your area.

 

6. Cover the seed in water overnight and in the morning plant it a clear glass jar of potting soil (no lid on the jar).

 

7. Return the jar to the refrigerator and keep the seed moist until it has sprouted (about one month).

 

8. When the outside weather conditions are right (no more frost and the soil begins to warm), plant the seedling in your garden in fertile, well-drained soil.

 

9.  Dig a basin around the planting hole for watering.

 

10. Mulch to keep down weeds and ensure the roots stay cool. In three years, watch for blossoms in the spring with fruit to follow.

 

 

Cherry pits are much smaller than other stone fruit

Cherry pits are much smaller than other stone fruit; pits of sour cherries (and also wild plums) may self-seed but sweet cherries less so. Cherries must have a period of cold to germinate

 

 

 

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If you enjoy farmette topics like gardening heirloom vegetables, herbs, and fruits as well as keeping chickens and bees, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing–A Beeline to Murder, The Murder of a Queen Bee, and A Hive of Homicides.

 

Coming Sept. 2017

Available from online and traditional bookstores everywhere (release date is Oct. 2017)

 

 

You’ll find in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

  • Delicious recipes

  • Farm quips and quotes

  • Tips for gardening and keeping chickens and bees

  • An exciting whodunnit mystery

 

 

 

 

Also, check out MY POCKET MEDITATIONS, my newest forthcoming nonfiction title from Adams Media/Simon & Schuster, at http://tinyurl.com/l6lzorq

 

My Pocket Meditations: Anytime Exercises for Peace, Clarity, and Focus by [Lester, Meera]

 

 

 

 

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French Lavender–A Favorite of Pollinators

Author: Meera, March 1, 2017

It’s bare-root season, a special time of the year for me. I like to visit local nurseries and check out the new offerings of heirloom roses, fruit trees, berries, herbs, and flowers. No matter which nursery I visit, I always seem to spot the lavender first.

 

 

Honeybees love lavender

Honeybees love lavender

 

 

After we moved to the Henny Penny Farmette, we put in lots of French lavender. But after a few years, the stalks have grown old and woody.

 

Recently, on a visit to a nearby nursery, we purchased twenty one-gallon plants of French Lavender, an upright perennial that we’ve discovered blooms almost all year long in our Bay Area climate.

 

 

Pots of lavender await planting

One-gallon pots of lavender await planting

 

 

 

 

Now, they are hardening off in my garden until I get around to planting them.

 

 

The word “dentata” means toothed and a closer examination of the foliage reveals fringed indentations.

 

 

This aromatic, shrub has been around for centuries. Valued for its ornamental and medicinal properties, it also is used for soil erosion control. Once established, the lavender is drought tolerant.

 

 

Many gardeners love this lavender for its gray-green leaves. When other flowering plants in the garden have finished their blooming cycle, this lavender keeps producing tall spikes of bright purple florets.

 

 

Not as brilliant in color as the English or Spanish lavender, the French lavender is lovely grouped together in a single area where its flower stalks can sway in the wind. Our honeybees and other pollinators love it.

 

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

 

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries and love farmette topics like gardening of heirloom vegetables, herbs, and fruits as well as keeping chickens and bees, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries from Kensington Publishing.

 

 

The first book in the Henny Penny Farmette series, Kensington Books 2015

The debut novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series sold out its first printing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides a cozy mystery to solve, these books mix in delicious recipes, farming and gardening tips, facts about keeping bees and chickens, and morsels of farm wisdom.

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017

COMING SOON– Sept. 2017, the third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

 

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

The second cozy mystery in the series

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The Star of Spring–the Mighty Magnolia

Author: Meera, February 24, 2017

My spouse hails from the Caribbean where a variety of magnolias grow, but many in the islands are under threat from deforestation and small distributions. He’s wanted to plant a magnolia tree since we moved to the farmette. Recently, on a rainy evening, we ventured out to our local nursery and purchased a Royal Star and a Jane magnolia for the large entrance area at the front of our property.

 

 

A honeybee checks out the blossom on this Royal Star magnolia

A honeybee checks out the center of the fragrant blossom on this Royal Star magnolia

 

 

Often, it is the m.  grandiflora that comes to mind when someone mentions a magnolia tree. It’s a big evergreen tree with glossy leaves, large tulip-shaped white flowers, and dense canopy. This tree blooms summer and fall, while other types of magnolias bloom before their leaves show in the spring.

 

Magnolias offer gardeners many options–evergreen or deciduous types, wide-range of flower colors, slow or fast-growing trees, and small to large and stately specimens. Named for the French botanist Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), the genus includes about 100 species.

 

Magnolia blossoms are fragrant and attract various pollinators. While some magnolias grow well in containers for a few years or as espaliers, the larger, showy trees are often planted along city streets and in parks.

 

Until we have settled on the exact planting site for each of our magnolias, they will remain in their pots. Where to plant them is an important decision since magnolias do not like to be moved once established. As a general rule, they need rich well-drained soil and benefit when the soil has plenty of organic matter like leaf mold, peat moss, and ground bark mixed in at planting time.

 

 

Unfurled buds of the Jane magnolia hold the promise of gorgeous blossoms to come.

Unfurled buds of the Jane magnolia hold the promise of gorgeous blossoms to come.

 

 

Magnolia trees must be planted no lower than their original soil level (where the trunk begins in the planting pot). Because they need plenty of water until established, it’s a good idea to dig a watering basin around them. Young trees must be staked to protect against wind damage.

 

 

We chose the Royal Star magnolia (magnolia stellata) because it can hold abundant and spectacular white (or pink) perfumed blossoms throughout spring into summer. Reaching a height of 15 feet with a canopy spread to 10 feet, this beauty looks magnificent against a garden fence. Such a barrier will help protect it against the wind and also create a foil for the blossoms. Come autumn, songbirds will feast on the high-fat content of the star magnolia’s capsules of orange seeds.

 

 

Still in its pot, this "Jane" magnolia is positioned in what will be its planting hole

Still in its pot, this “Jane” magnolia is positioned in what will be its planting hole

 

 

The Jane magnolia is one in a Little Girl series of hybrid magnolias that include: Ann, Betty, Judy, Pinkie, Randy, Ricki, and Susan. These magnolias were developed in the mid-1950s at the National Arboretum by Francis DeVos and William Kosar. Jane has large-cup flowers opening reddish-purple with white interiors. Shortly after the blossoms show, the leaves emerge as a coppery-red before turning green.

 

At the moment, our Jane magnolia, with its roots balled and wrapped in burlap and looking like a shrubby bush, is covered with an abundance of buds as yet unfurled. The buds hold the promise of the fragrant purple blossoms in a couple of weeks. This slow-growing magnolia will reach a height of 10 feet with a 10-foot canopy spread. The plant will be a sure show-stopper in any Northern California  garden, especially in spring.

 

 

 

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

If you enjoy reading about gardening or other farm topics like keeping bees and chickens, check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and (coming Sept. 2017) A HIVE OF HOMICIDES (in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

My farm-based novels feature delicious recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, BAM, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

 

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017

See, http://tinyurl.com/zsxqmm3

 

 

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20 Things to Do on a Farm When It’s Raining

Author: Meera, February 6, 2017

Rain . . . unrelenting rain makes working outside near impossible. Since rain is in the forecast for the rest of this week, I’m doing indoor projects here on the Henny Penny Farmette. Why? Because let’s face it: try driving screws into wet fence boards or digging when the earth is like a giant mud ball, or pruning trees when looking upward against a downpour is rather ridiculous. Here are some things to do inside until the weather clears up.

 

1. Clean the clutter from the kitchen and test some new recipes

 

2. Read seed catalogs

 

3. Order beekeeping supplies (to be ready when the weather turns warm and the bees get active)

 

Blood oranges keep that lovely red color when made into marmalade

Blood oranges keep that lovely red color when made into marmalade

 

 

4. Make a batch of blood orange marmalade (since blood oranges are ripe now)

 

5. Feed bees, birds, and other wildlife

 

 

 

Crew Cut, our resident black phoebe

Our resident black phoebe eats a lot of insects but other birds are attracted to our feeders

 

 

 

6. Work on indoor renovation such as finish the installation of base boards and crown moldings

 

7. Sew curtains; make a quilt, or start an embroidery or knitting project

 

8. Start the spring cleaning in one or more indoor rooms

 

9. Plan the spring vegetable garden on paper with a drawing

 

 

Rhubarb takes about three growing cycles to produce enough stalks for harvest

Rhubarb takes about three growing cycles to produce enough stalks for harvest

 

 

 

10. Clean out closets and recycle unused items from cupboards and drawers

 

11.Make herbal teas  (for example: dried leaves of herbs such as mint, dried lemon or orange peel, spices, rose hips, and dried berries)

 

12. Catch up on your reading for pleasure or books and periodicals about farm and homesteading topics

 

13. Bring your beekeeping or gardening journal up to date

 

 

Bantam is a small breed; here, a rooster

This Bantam rooster likes to strut his stuff

 

 

14. Order supplies–antibiotics for the chickens or medicines for your bees and other domestic stock

 

15. Bottle honey from the bucket and affix labels

 

 

 

 

Filling from the bucket spigot goes fast because the honey flows quickly; it's quite heavy

Filling jars of honey from the honey bucket in the kitchen

 

 

16. Make a dazzling dessert

 

 

This sunflower bundt pan turns out a pretty cake

The  sunflower cake comes out near perfect when baked in a bundt pan

 

 

 

 

17. Mend clothing

 

18. Start working on the taxes for the upcoming season

 

19. Play your fiddle, piano, horn, or drum

 

 

 

 

Amendments are easy to work into the soil in raised beds

New seedlings moved to an outdoor raised bed

 

20. Start heirloom seed in flats or get some sprouts growing in a jar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

If you enjoy reading about farming topics, check out my cozy mystery series from Kensington: A Beeline to Murder, The Murder of a Queen Bee, and A Hive of Homicides. Delicious recipes, farm lore, and tips for keeping chickens and bees add to the charm of these delightful mysteries.

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017
COMING September 2017
These books are available through online retailers and traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

A Beeline to Murder is the debut novel that launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries.

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

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How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Author: Meera, January 23, 2017

Here on the Henny Penny Farmette, we love watching the spectacular aerial maneuvers of male hummingbirds attempting to attract the interest of a nearby female. These gorgeous feathered flirts know how to bedazzle a potential mate with spectacular maneuvers that show off the intense coloring of their iridescent feathers.

 

 

A hummer's iridescent feathers shimmer as it perches in sunlight at the end of an apricot tree branch

A hummer’s iridescent feathers shimmer as it perches in sunlight at the end of an apricot tree branch

 

 

Depending on the species, these tiny birds can flutter their wings in a figure eight pattern (they don’t flap them) from 12 to 80 times per second. All that fluttering requires tremendous energy.

 

Hummers are attracted by the intense hue of certain flowers such as nasturtiums

Hummers are attracted by the intense hue of certain flowers such as nasturtiums and the promise of nectar

 

 

Hummers mainly get their energy from plants with brightly colored, nectar-rich flowers. They will dine at hummingbird feeders filled with red sugar-water and hung around gardens that feature plants with brightly colored blooms, especially if those blooms are high in nectar.  The following is a list of plants known to attract hummingbirds.

 

  • Impatien
  • Nasturtium
  • Phlox
  • Nicotiana (flowering tobacco)
  • Salvia (scarlet sage)
  • Snapdragon

 

Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) is a vine with tubular flower loved by hummingbirds

Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) is a vine with tubular flowers loved by hummingbirds

 

 

If you like plants that return each year, tuck in these brightly colored perennials.

 

Alcea rosea

  • Aloe
  • Bee Balm
  • Columbine
  • Coral Bell
  • Four-o-clock
  • Gladiola
  • Penstemon
  • Phlox
  • Salvia

 

 

Shrubs such as the butterfly bush (Buddleia) and the flowering maple, hibiscus, and rosemary hold a special appeal for the hummers. They also will be attracted to blooming vines (especially those with trumpet or tube-shaped flowers in intense colors). Tuck in Cape honeysuckle, flame vine, or the blood-red trumpet creeper and watch the hummers darting in and around these vines from dawn until dusk. For more ideas, visit your local nursery or birding store.

 

*          *          *

 

 

Do you enjoy reading about farming topics? Check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE  (both in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

My farm-based novels feature delicious recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. For more info, click on the links under the pictures.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, BAM, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

A Beeline to Murder is the debut novel that launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries. Initially released as a hardcover novel and in e-book format, it is now available as a mass market paperback.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flowering Cherry Trees Create Drama in a Landscape

Author: Meera, January 20, 2017

We just planted a couple of flowering cherries as a dramatic focal point for our front entrance area. Reaching a height of 30 to 40 feet, these ornamental trees require little beyond full sun and well-drained soil. If drama is desired in a landscape, these trees won’t disappoint.

 

Before leafing out, swollen red buds open to a mass of pale white-pink color

Before the tree leafs out, myriad buds open to reveal a mass of pale pink-to-white  color

 

 

Although California’s extreme five-year-drought has been declared over here in the Bay Area, a front lawn seemed to us unnecessary. Instead, we’re spreading small pebble gravel in a landscape that includes statuary, garden furniture and potted plants. We have a natural stone curved path lined with roses that leads from the driveway to house and raised beds of flowers, roses, and bird-of-paradise plants along with a few small trees–lilac, smoke, and citrus.

 

The flowering Japanese Yoshino cherry trees will provide palest pink blossoms with a light almond scent in the spring and shade in the summer. The trees are fast growing–exactly what we need to replace the massive (and yet fragile) elm tree that came down this past year. It stood next to the house and provided cool shade over the front porch until it split and fell.

 

Bare root season is a good time to purchase flowering cherries and other ornamental and fruit trees. The bare-root trees are also less expensive, but no less viable when planted according to instructions on the packaging around their roots. If you like drama in your landscape, consider these hardy, drought-resistant trees.

 

*          *         *

 

If you have enjoyed reading about this farming/gardening topic, check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE  (both in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

My farmette and bee-based novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. For more info, click on the links under the pictures.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, BAM, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

A Beeline to Murder is the debut novel that launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries. Initially released as a hardcover novel and in e-book format, it is now available as a mass market paperback.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )

Critter-proofing Your Bulbs

Author: Meera, January 5, 2017

I planted bagfuls of tulips, daffodils, crocus, and grape hyacinths over the last two years in the autumn. The daffodils are blooming now and the other bulbs in my garden have plenty of foliage.

 

 

Masses of blooming daffodils provide a focus and cheery greeting in a bleak winter garden

Masses of blooming daffodils provide a focus and cheery greeting in a bleak winter garden

 

Because voles, moles, gophers, squirrels, raccoons, and other critters will dig and eat the bulbs and deer will devour the blooms at first blush of color, a savvy gardener must figure out how to protect these beautiful flowers.

 

The bees are drawn to the sweet scent of narcissus that have naturalized in the yard

The bees are drawn to the sweet scent of narcissus that have now naturalized in my Henny Penny Farmette gardens

 

 

Throughout the Midwest of my youth, hillsides, front yards, and cemeteries were always places where daffodils grew in perfusion. Along with the arrival of robins and other songbirds, these flowering bulbs herald the coming light and warmth of spring. I’ve lost plenty of these plantings myself so have some tips to help you prevent such a loss.

 

These fragrant lilies return every year and bloom mid-summer

These fragrant lilies return every year and bloom mid-summer

 

 

Seven ways to protect flowering bulbs.

 

1. Grow them behind a double fence barrier. Deer can jump high and might go over one fence, but not a second one built near the first.

 

2.  Use mesh to deter moles, voles, gophers, groundhogs, and other digging critters.

 

3. Erect fences that are at least three feet tall and with at least a foot buried beneath the earth.

 

4. Plant in raised beds covered with mesh. The bulbs will be protected while the foliage and blooms poke through toward the light.

 

5. Clean up the area in the fall after planting the bulbs. That way, critters won’t be attracted to your bulb beds.

 

6. Consider using deer-repellent sprays on tulips and growing deer-resistant bulbs.

 

7. Use ammonia-soaked rags in coffee cans or old planting buckets around the garden to repel pests with a keen sense of smell such as rabbits and opossums.

 

 

*           *          *

 

Enjoy reading about farming topics? Check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE  (both in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing). Kobo Books has A BEELINE TO MURDER on sale. Check out this incredible deal on https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?Query=Meera+Lester

 

 

My farmette and bee-based novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. For more info, click on the links under the pictures.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, BAM, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

A Beeline to Murder is the debut novel that launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries. Initially released as a hardcover novel and in e-book format, it is now available as a mass market paperback.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter Solstice Day

Author: Meera, December 21, 2016

It’s that time of the year when we mark the shortest day of the year, the beginning of winter, and the return of the light. I like to think of it as a day when I decide what I do and don’t want to take with me into the coming New Year.

 

 

Cold winter night with moon's wan light

The moon casts its cold light over the farmette through trees hanging onto their leaves.

 

 

 

We’ve had a run of cold nights with temperatures in the upper 20 degrees Fahrenheit. But the light will soon return and warm the Earth. Late January-early February marks the beginning of bare-root season. My work now includes pruning and spraying and clearing out the old to make way for rebirth and renewal.

 

 

 

 

Among the plants that renew are the fruit trees.  The pruned branches, garden clippings, and old vines are being recycled into compost for next spring’s garden. Come late spring, I’ll have trees with gorgeous canopies and tons of fruit to make into jam.

 

 

 

This DIY birdhouse is crafted from a repurposed fence board. Not all birds will take up residence in a house, but many will.

This DIY birdhouse is crafted from a repurposed fence board. Not all birds will take up residence in a house, but many will.

 

 

 

Garlic and onions are growing now and will through the winter months, thanks to our mild Mediterranean climate. But there is so much cleanup of the property that needs doing, I can only hope to start that today.

 

 

I’m putting out seed balls for the birds as well as refilling feeders and suet holders. Easy-to-find food keeps our feathered songsters around through spring when they start their families. For directions on making a birdhouse for your garden, check out https://hobbyreads.wordpress.com/category/crafts.

 

 

 

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Enjoy reading about farming topics? Check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE  (both in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

 

JOIN THE CHRISTMAS EVE FUN–Read a short excerpt from my newest book, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE and check out blogger Brooke Bumgardner’s interview of me at http://www.brookeblogs.com

 

My farmette and bee-based novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. For more info, click on the links under the pictures.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, BAM, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications. Get your copy while you can. It’s sure to sell out like novel #1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

read comments ( 0 )