Life's like that!

March 31, 2010


Today's theme for the preschool story time at the public library was 'birds'. Only about 15 kids attended this program today. Initially I was going to skip today's program to have an early lunch at Sr. Nor's place. But my dear sister 'gently' lectured me not to let daughter miss this opportunity to learn something new, so I decided to bring daughter to attend the program. I'm actually glad that we attended it and I have to thank my dear sister for her 'reminder'.

poday daughter felt more comfortable to sit in the front row as previously she would only sit on the second row. So I think her confidence level to participate more in this group has gone up. She also took the initiative to help the librarian pick up a paper bird that fell to the floor. I'm so happy that she likes to help people.

1. Rhyme: Five Little Monkeys and Mr. Alligator
2. Song: I'm a Little Birdie (Tune: I'm a Little Teapot)

I'm a little birdie
Cute and fat
I eat worms
I don't like cats
When I see a cat
Came out to play
I spread my wings
and fly away

3. Poem: Five Little Birds Sitting on a Tree
4. Book: The Best Nest
5. Book: Birds
6. Poem: Two Little Birdies

Two Little Birdies sitting on a hill
One name Jack, one name Jill
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill

7. Game: Matching Birds
8. Rhyme: I saw a little bird and he hop, hop, hop
9. Craft: Bird Nest


Kaffir Lime and Asparagus

All praise be to Allah SWT, the Kaffir Lime plant is sprouting new leaves. Now that the night temperature is going to be above 50 degrees F, husband can put it in the backyard. And we can use the leaves to add more flavor in Tom Yum Soup.

The asparagus plants that husband planted last year is also coming alive. Two out of five (in the left pot) are sprouting baby shoots.

Allah SWT willing hopefully we will be able to harvest some asparagus this year.


March Egg Tally: 73

All praise be to Allah SWT so far this month we have 73 eggs from the ladies. Most of these were given away to Malay Muslim friends who invited us to their place to have delicious Malaysian food. They grew up in kampong, Malay villages, and their parents used to keeps chickens for eggs and meat. They were happy to receive farm fresh eggs that remind them of their childhood.

Allah SWT willing our chickens will give us the same number of eggs, if not more, next month so that we can share them will more friends.


March 30, 2010

Quails' Dust BathingTime

This morning I scooped some loose soil from the chicken's favorite scratching spot into a dish pan and placed it in the quail house. (It is important for the quail to have a place to dust bath in order to get rid of parasites on their feathers and skin.) Then I grabbed one of the brown female quails and gently pressed it down on the soil. When I left go of the quail, she stayed motionless for a while before deciding to indulge in dust bathing. About a minute later, the male quail joined in the fun.

Female (left) and male quails dust bathing.

Some of this brown quail's back and head feathers have been plucked out. when I examined her after her dust bath, I found that one of her wing tips is bleeding. I have no idea how she is injured, so will keep an eye on her for the next few days.

In the middle of her dust bathing, the male came into the dish pan and tried to mount on her. I think she wants to have her dust bath uninterrupted, so she ran away from the male. After chasing his mate round the white quail several times, the male gave up and got out of the dish pan.

Soon the other quails came to investigate the dish pan and see who is throwing out soil all over the place. At one time four quails were in the dish pan together.

Later two got out and waited for their turn. It is interesting to see how the quails establish their pecking order that determines who get to have the dust bath first. The white quail that has injuries on both wings is the last one to have the dust bath. So far the others have pretty much left it alone to heal.


Sunflower Seeds Sprouting

Today's temperature will reach 81 degree F, Allah SWT willing. The last recorded day that reached 80 degree F was on October 29, 2009. Yup, spring is here, and summer is not too far away.

The two sunflower seeds that I sowed in the front yard has sprouted. It will be interesting to see how big and tall they will grow in this pot. I may have to thin out one of them because the width and depth of the pot is only sufficient for one sunflower.

With night temperature hoovering around upper 40s/lower 50s degree F, I sowed okra seeds in two rectangular pots.

Now the only place left to sow vegetable seeds is the garden bed in the backyard. I'll have to get husband to help me out with this back-breaking task.


'Rock Chick' Mood

Yesterday afternoon while daughter was taking a nap, I was in a 'rock chick' mood. So I put on Jay Chou's 2007 world tour DVD, a gift from my dear sister, played it on my laptop and rock to the music. This concert was put together quite well, and I am impressed by Jay's performance.

And what does my Niko, whose cage is placed next to the laptop, thinks of me as a 'rock chick'?

Can't be bothered...


March 29, 2010

Safari in the Backyard

Yesterday morning husband and I brought daughter and Sr. Nor's six-year-old daughter to the River Legacy Park. While husband went cycling along the bike trail, the two girls played at the playground and run around the park. After sharing an extra large pizza (from New York's Famous Pizza) at the park for lunch, we headed home as wind gust got up to 30 miles per hour.

For the rest of the afternoon, daughter and her friend played in the backyard. Since there are no toys in the backyard except a tricycle and two kid size trowels, I was happy to see them using their imagination to create play themes. At one time they went to a 'safari' to collect some trees (small tree branches), then later they went 'shopping' for things like leaves and wild flowers. They were not afraid to get their hands dirty with digging in the soil, and had fun building 'sand castles'.

I am really happy to see young children using their imagination to play. I don't understand why some parents prefer to host 'princess' parties for their children rather than letting them find their own entertainment in a natural environment. Husband and I want daughter to grow up appreciating the beautiful world that Allah SWT create for us, and to have an long-lasting connection with the world around her. This way daughter will be thankful for the wonderful bounties that Allah SWT give us in this world.


Location, Location, Location

In real estate, location of the property plays a very important part in determining the price.

In the chicken coop, the usual nesting area is on the upper level.

The chickens have found a new prime spot to lay their eggs - on top of a box on a table.

Yesterday I watched one of the ladies laid an egg at this spot. I think maybe the height of the box makes it a relatively safe place for the lady to do so. Maybe its time to make a nesting box so that they can lay eggs more comfortably.


Fatal Attractions on Animal Planet

Last night husband and I watched the documentary 'Fatal Attractions' on Animal Planet. Its about people who were killed by animals that they kept as pets, such as chimpanzees, tigers, monitor lizards and poisonous snakes.

These people thought that since they raised their animals from young, they will not be in any danger as their animals grow bigger and stronger. But somehow the animals' basic instinct to hunt and kill just showed up one day and resulted in the owners' and/or innocent bystanders' horrific injuries, if not death.

I strongly believe that wild animals can never be tamed like a rabbit. It is understandable that their natural animal instinct will kick in one day, because that is how they are created. No matter how experienced an animal trainer is, he/she should not assume that the animals will submit to them completely. A number of psychiatrists who were interviewed on the documentary said that wild animal owners possess some sort of compulsive behavior disorder, so they can easily think that they have power over their animals. I hope that current wild animal owners put more priority on their own safety and the safety of their family and innocent people above their obsession with their pets.

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March 27, 2010

Three New Quails

After discussing about whether we want to get replacements for our two dead quails, husband and I decided to get 3-5 new quails at an animal farm. Eventually we bought one male and two female quails at the farm.

One of the brown quails is a male, while the white one is a female.

Three new quails settling in their new home.

Husband is going to spend some time to design a safe and sturdy quail run. Until then, I will be watching how the new quails are doing in their new home. Allah SWT willing I hope they will be happy and healthy.


Hayes Farm, Mansfield

After discovering two dead quails this morning, husband and I brought daughter to the Hayes Farm in Mansfield to get some quails. The farm is about 35-45 minutes away, and it was quite easy to find.

Entrance to Hayes Farm

Turkeys and chickens

Goats eating hay



Although the farm sells quails at $4 each, they are not sold as pets. So we headed to another animal farm to get the quails.

The farm provides slaughtering and processing services for animals that are purchased and killed there. The price of a live goat is $1.90 per pound. Now we know where to go when we want to sacrifice a goat for Eid celebrations.

Hayes Farm
7580 Bennett Lawson Rd.
Mansfield, TX 76063
(817) 477-1661
(817) 473-1971

Operating Hours
Closed Mondays
Tues-Thur: 9am-5:30pm
Friday: 8am-6:30pm
Saturday: 7am-6pm
Sunday: 8am-4:30pm

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Two Dead Quails - Who Dunnit?

This morning when checking on the quails, I noticed two of the five quails are not in the cage.

Then I found this.

At the end of the quail run, I found a half-eaten quail and a dead one. I was stunned by the horrific death of our quails. After about 5 seconds I went to check on the other three quails. One of the white bobtail quails has blood stains on both wings, but she appeared to be walking alright.

I waited for about 1 hour until husband woke up to tell him the bad news. He was as shocked as me to see the carcasses. I asked him to bury the dead quails as soon as possible while I gave daughter breakfast. Later he told me he buried them in the garden bed.

Initially we thought that the neighbor's cat might be the culprit. Then husband remembered that a neighbor told him about a hawk flying around the neighborhood. We concluded that since only a hawk will be able to pluck the feathers and meat through the chicken wire, so it will be the only logical suspect for this incident.

I feel so sad to witness this crime scene, and asked husband to modify the quail run to prevent this tragedy from happening again. Until then, the quail run is off limits to the quails.


Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Last night husband and I watched the show 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution'.

I am still in shock after seeing how in one elementary school classroom, the children had no idea that french fries come from potatoes, and were unable to identify tomatoes, eggplants and other common veggies. In order to spend less on food to feed school children, school administration choose to provide processed food and drinks for breakfast and lunch. Even some of the parents only feed their children frozen pizzas, donuts and hamburgers for all their daily meals - no greens like lettuce and cabbage, and no fruits.

This is why so many young children in the United States are obese and getting diabetes at an early age.

All praise be to Allah SWT I am so thankful that husband and I grew up in Asia where we ate veggies and fruits on a daily basis. I don't stock up on candy and soda at home. The only natural sweet stuff we buy are fruits and 100% fruit juice. I only bake a cake once a month, and we rarely eat out at all. I hope that daughter will grow up knowing where food comes from, eating healthy and be conscious about her choice of food.

Allah SWT willing I hope that as more Americans watch this show, they will examine their own diet and choose natural foods over processed one for themselves and their family.

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Spring Time

Daughter and I made this popsicle stick flower during last Wednesday's preschool story time at the public library. About 25-30 kids attend the program and it was great to see most of them participating in the action rhymes.

Theme: Spring Time
1. Song: My hands say hello every time I see you
2. Animal puppets e.g. bird, raccoon, fox, rabbit, bear and frog (Book: Are You Spring?)
3. Song: Itsy, Bitsy, Spider
4. Rhyme: Open hands, shut them
5. Book: Bear Wants More
6. Storytelling: Herman The Worm
7. Action Rhyme: Wiggling the Worm
8. Book: Wake Up, It's Spring!
9. Song: If It's Spring and You Know It Clap Your Hands
10: Craft: Popsicle Stick Flower


Backyard Problem Solver

Yesterday I received a book that I ordered from

The book 'Backyard Problem Solver: 2,168 natural solutions for growing great grass, super shrubs, bright bulbs, perfect perennials, amazing annuals, vibrant vegetables, terrific trees, and much, much more!' by Jerry Baker contains lots of useful information for growing healthy veggies and flowers.

This book contains a chapter about caring for the garden during each month of the year. It also has recipes of Timely Tonics, concoctions of common garden and household ingredients, for all kinds of problems in the yard. I didn't know that baby shampoo and liquid dish soap 'help soften soil and remove dust, dirt, and pollution from your plants so that osmosis and photosynthesis can occur more easily. They also send bugs packing-one taste and they'll be doing the Green-Apple Shuffle to the bug bathroom quicker than you can say "Holy tomoley!".'

All praise be to Allah SWT I have to say this book is really worth the price, and it will be one of my constant companion this year.

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March 26, 2010

Munstead Lavender, Rudbeckia Goldsturm and Petunia

This afternoon I brought daughter to another garden center to get Munstead Lavender, Rudbeckia Goldsturm and Petunia. I have tried to grow Rudbeckia Goldsturm from seeds in a seed starting tray since January but they never sprout. So I decided to get it rather than try starting from seeds again.

Rudbeckia Goldsturm 'Black-Eyed Susan'

Munstead Lavender


I also sowed Delphinium and Moss Rose seeds into two rectangular pots in the front yard. Somehow they never sprout in the seed starting tray, so I am giving it another try. Allah SWT willing hopefully they will sprout in the pots.

To get daughter interested in gardening, I gave her two pots of bush bean plants to water daily. Allah SWT willing she will be able to harvest some beans from the plants in summer.


March 25, 2010

Video: Chicken Agility

First seen here. Maybe I can train the ladies to do these tricks...


Poem: The Gardener's Prayer

Thank you for my garden, Lord, and for each tiny seed

that sprouts and blooms so beautifully to fill my soul's true need.

Thank you for the pleasure, Lord, I find here on bended knee

for my garden's glory surely is a blessing sent from Thee.

I see Your love reflected in the color of every bloom;

a rainbow of Your splendor in every tint and hue.

Each tiny, dew-drop coated bud a promise of Your love,

nurtured by warm, summer sun You send from up above.

I thank You for the gentle rain that that feeds the dry, parched earth

and freshens air and leaf and tree and gives each one new birth .

I thank You for the gentle breeze that bends each petaled head

and gently carries butterflies throughout my flower bed.

I ask You for Your Blessing, Lord, upon my little plot of land,

may it grow and flourish guided by Your hand.

Thank you for the pleasure, Lord, I find here on bended knee,

and in each flower that blossoms as a blessing sent from Thee.

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Poem: A Farmer's Prayer

A Farmer's Prayer
by JM Kenyon

Make sunrise early and the sunset wait;
make summer early and the winter late!
Allow the crops to sprout and thrive
and give me hope to man the drive.

Please let the raindrops fall at night
and keep the ground firm in daylight.
Make all my callouses a bit more tough
when times are hard and life gets rough.

Please, bless the plow that parts the furrow
and earth in which our hopes shall burrow.
Supply enough of sweat and blood
to drive on when bad luck should flood.

Dear Lord, I ask you bless the seeds
and spare them from the choke of weeds.
Help them arise from in the ground
and bear enough to go around.

But most of all...

Please keep my spirit in your palm
my will intact, my body strong,
my family close, my faith untaxed,
my heartbeats tight, my laughs relaxed!

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Poem: Relationship of Mother and Daughter

Relationship of Mother and Daughter
by Anonymous

You can see it in their eyes,
in tender hugs and long good-byes,
a love that only moms and daughters know.

You can see it in their smiles,
through passing years and changing styles,
a friendship that continually seems to grow.

You can see it in their lives,
the joy each one of them derives,
in just knowing that the other one is there...

To care and to understand,
lend an ear or hold a hand,
and to celebrate the memories they share.


Poem: Garden Magic

Garden Magic

by Mary Nettleton Carroll

This is the garden's magic,
That through the sunny hours
The gardener who tends it,
Himself outgrows his flowers.

He grows by gift of patience,
Since he who sows must know
That only in the Lord's good time
Does any seedling grow.

He learns from buds unfolding,
From each tight leaf unfurled,
That his own heart, expanding,
Is one with all the world.

He bares his head to sunshine,
His bending back a sign
Of grace, and ev'ry shower becomes
His sacramental wine.

And when at last his labors
Bring forth the very stuff
And substance of all beauty
This is reward enough.

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Poem: Will to Live

Will to Live

by Mary Triplett

I think of all things that show a zest
For life, the dandelion beats the rest.
The little winged seeds from its white fluff ball
Settle and grow with no urging at all.
Settle in most unlikely places
And soon there's a crop of dandelion faces.

They are man's worst pest, but a child's playthings.
Sometimes I wish I had light down wings
Like a dandelion seed, and could settle at will
On a velvety lawn or a sun-spread hill,
And live with the eagerness and zest
Of the wanton little dandelion pest.

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Poem: Prayer in a Garden

Prayer in a Garden

by Eva Sparks Taylor

Today the world seemed cruel, but evening hours
Were filled with perfume from forgotten flowers.

I saw again familiar filigree
Of moonlight through my lacy Lilac tree;
I heard the robins stirring in their nest;
And saw the path that fairy feet had pressed;
Reflected stars were in my garden pool;
On my warm face the breeze was kind and cool.

The silence seemed to speak, my head was bowed,
Then ramblers that had grown into a cloud
Lifted my eyes that, tear-washed, now could see
The beauty that today was lost to me.

Dear God, who is so near to flowers, and birds,
Be nearer still, as I shall search for words
To thank Thee for the blessings night revealed,
Which through the day discouragement concealed.

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Poem: I Meant To Do My Work Today

I Meant To Do My Work Today

by Richard LeGallienne

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?

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Ideas for a Children's Garden

Yesterday we went to the public library for daughter to attend the preschool story program.

Before the program started, I browsed the shelves for gardening books and found these interesting titles.

A Child's Garden: 60 ideas to make any garden come alive for children by Molly Dannenmaier

Big Gardens in Small Spaces: out-of-the-box advice for boxed-in gardeners by Martyn Cox

Small Family Gardens: the step-by-step guide to creating stylish modern spaces by Caroline Tilston

I really got a lot of great ideas from the book A Child's Garden. Since I am introducing daughter to nature and getting her to love to grow plants, this book is exactly what I need. One of the ideas in the book is to build a pole bean teepee that daughter can explore and harvest beans. Another great idea is to grow palm and non-invasive bamboo to create a secluded forest for daughter to play in. Since bamboo is one of my favorite plants, Allah SWT willing I will try to see if we can grow it in the backyard this summer.


Bye, Bye Cucumbers

The freezing rain on last Saturday left most of my cucumber seedlings half-dead. Although I covered them with plastic bottles in my attempt to provide some protection, they didn't make it. Only two or three of the cucumber seedlings look like they survived the rain well enough. So I pull out the goners and toss them to the chickens and moved the containers to the front yard to grow Hot Thai Chili Peppers. Allah SWT willing we will get a small harvest from the remaining cucumber plants.

Now that I'm really into gardening, I have been watching the weather on a daily basis, some days on an hourly basis. I guess patience and vigilance are essential qualities of a successful farmer.


The 5 Foods You Should Eat Every Day

Received from a mailing list.

The 5 foods you should eat every day

Eating right on a budget can be a challenge, but it's certainly not impossible. Consider this your cheat sheet to the 5 inexpensive foods you should eat everyday for optimum health.

#1 Leafy greens
Medical experts call them one of nature's miracle foods. Leafy greens like Swiss chard and kale are high in nutrients like folate and vitamins A and C that can lower your risk of cancer. Just one cup of dark, leafy greens a day could also prevent diabetes and high blood pressure.

#2 Nuts
Many nutritionists recommend nuts like almonds, cashews and walnuts because they're high in natural fiber. Fiber slows your digestive process, keeping hunger and unhealthy mid-afternoon snacks at bay. Goodbye vending machine runs!

#3 Onions
Studies show that consuming onions on a regular basis may reduce symptoms of asthma and the risk of developing stomach cancer. Add them to soups and stir-fry, and just remember -- the stronger the onion, the greater the health benefit.

#4 Whole grains
Refined grains, like white rice and pasta, have lost 90% of their nutritional value through the refining process. As if that weren't reason enough to choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and whole oats, a recent study showed that a diet rich in whole grains actually flattens your belly by reducing fat storage in your lower abdominal region.

#5 Yogurt
Making yogurt part of your daily eating routine can improve your digestion -- if you're buying the right stuff. Check that the label lists "active cultures" to make sure you're getting healthy probiotics, and pick a yogurt rich in vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis.


March 24, 2010

World Tuberculosis Day

Today is World Tuberculosis Day.

Why do I care? Because husband was infected with TB when he was staying in a Thailand refugee camp after escaping from the Khmer Rouge War in Cambodia. All praise be to Allah SWT he received timely treatment in the camp and after he came to the United States. However he cannot take medicines that contain steroids to treat any sickness in order to prevent TB from flaring up in his body.

Whenever he mentions the desperate conditions in refugee camps, I always thank Allah SWT for giving me a safe environment to grow up in, and thank Allah SWT for sustaining husband during those terrible years as a Khmer Rouge War survivor and as a refugee.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):

'Tuberculosis, or TB, is an infectious bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which most commonly affects the lungs. It is transmitted from person to person via droplets from the throat and lungs of people with the active respiratory disease.

In healthy people, infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis often causes no symptoms, since the person's immune system acts to “wall off” the bacteria. The symptoms of active TB of the lung are coughing, sometimes with sputum or blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Tuberculosis is treatable with a six-month course of antibiotics.'

Refugee camps

Over 85% of refugees originate from and remain within areas of high TB burden, of which up to 50% may be infected.

TB becomes an important health problem in many refugee settings once the emergency phase is under control. Due to the changing nature of low-intensity conflicts in today’s world, complex emergencies are becoming common and refugees are forced to remain outside their countries for prolonged periods of time.

Refugee populations are vulnerable to TB because of:

* overcrowding

* poor nutrition

* high transmission/incidence of HIV

* coexisting communicable diseases

* high stress

* poor health care

* unstable environment

As with any confined and limited environment effective TB control activities can be initiated.


March 23, 2010

New York's Famous Pizza

The last time I had KFC fried chicken was more than seven years ago. Lately I have been craving for fried chicken but have not been able to find any halal ones. I don't really like to fry chicken at home because of the heat and amount of oil needed to fry just a few pieces of chicken parts.

This afternoon after searching on the internet for a nearby restaurant that serves halal fried chicken, I found good reviews on about the New York's Famous Pizza, located on 629 West Pioneer Parkway in Arlington. After husband came home from work, we went together to the restaurant to get some fried chicken. The restaurant was easy to find and a 'Halal' sign is displaced on the side of the entrance.

The restaurant's deco is quite simple with lots of seating area for customers. There are black and white mural paintings of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge on one side of the wall.

While waiting for our order, the manager offered a free banana ice cream cone to daughter. I ate half of it so that the ice cream would not drip all over daughter's shirt. Our order included:
- 8 piece chicken with mashed potato, coleslaw and 4 rolls
- 6 piece hot wings
- Onion rings
- a slice of New York Cheesecake

The fried chicken pieces were quite well seasoned, and the hot wings were well coated with a tangy and spicy sauce. The onion rings and coleslaw tasted delicious too. My favorite part of the meal is the cheesecake - it is what a New York Cheesecake should be. Even daughter likes to eat it.

Allah SWT willing we will return to this restaurant soon to try their pizza.


Front Yard Vegetable Garden

Yesterday morning I spent about two and half hours preparing (mainly digging and mowing) a narrow ditch along a small section of the front yard for vegetable gardening. I did not want to spent hours digging up grass for the vegetable garden. So I found information about sheet mulching on this web site on how to remove a lawn section without digging.

After lunch, I brought daughter to the nearby garden center to buy hardwood mulch and weed fabric. I was really glad that the check-out staff helped me to carry four bags of heavy mulch to the car. After about one hour of staking the weed fabric in place and putting an even layer of mulch, the project was completed. All praise be to Allah SWT husband was happy about the way the front yard looks.

This morning I moved a few round and rectangular containers to the front yard. Here is the layout of the garden from left to right:

1. Spearmint and Peppermint
2. Onions and Marigold
3. Thai Siam Queen Basil
4. Giant Thai Chili Pepper and Hot Thai Chili Pepper
5. Thai Siam Queen Basil
6. Onions and Marigold
7. Sunflower Hallo (Height: 5 Feet)

Allah SWT willing this sunny spot will be a good place to grow sun loving plants.


Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers

This post is not about horror movies - instead it is about a three-ingredient recipe for beautiful container gardening. The general rule of thumb for container gardening is 'something tall, something medium, something short and vining'.

According to Steve Silk on FineGardening,com,

'...I’ve come to realize there’s no mystery in making a scrumptious container planting as long as I follow a simple three-ingredient recipe. First and foremost is what I call a “thriller,” a centerpiece plant with star quality, something big, bold, and beautiful. Then I add a few spicy “fillers,” foliage or flowering plants that will complement but not overwhelm the main player. Finally, I add a savory splash of mischief, a “spiller” that just tumbles out of the pot. As long as I use each of those kinds of plants—in various proportions—and take care to balance colors and textures, I can create a pot with pizzazz.'

Allah SWT willing I will apply this principle for the flower containers on the front porch.


McMillen's Texas Gardening, Square Foot Gardening

As I got more and more into planting vegetables in the patio garden, I started looking for books that provide information on difference gardening techniques.

I found the book 'McMillen's Texas Gardening: Vegetables: features, tips, plans and ideas exclusively for Texas gardeners and gardening lovers' by Sam Cotner at a Half Priced Bookstore by accident. Once I picked it up and read the first few pages, I knew that I had to buy it. It is one of those no-nonsense, easy to understand gardening books with sufficient useful information. Best part is that it provides relevant information for Texan gardeners.

The book 'Square Foot Gardening: a new way to garden in less space with less work' by Mel Bartholomew helped me to reduce the amount of tedious work associated with gardening tremendously. I don't have to worry about over-planting and under-watering vegetables. So far the square foot gardening technique is my favorite gardening method.

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Fruit and Vegetables, The Children's Kitchen Garden

Even since I started gardening in 2007, I have been buying gardening books to better educate myself how to grow the best veggies.

Before I introduced daughter to gardening, I showed her pictures of vegetables and how they are planted. There are lots of full-color photographs in the book 'A Creative Step-by-Step Guide to Fruit and Vegetables: how to reap a nourishing harvest from your garden' by Peter Blackburne-Maze and Neil Sutherland. This book has been a good reference for me when I started gardening.

'The Children's Kitchen Garden: a book of gardening, cooking and learning' by Georgeanne and Ethel Brennan has lots of good ideas on how to introduce kids to the joy of gardening. It was inspired by the French tradition of teaching children to appreciate fresh and healthful foods. It includes lots of delicious recipes children can help prepare. It also has fascinating and fun projects for children and adults to explore together.

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March 21, 2010

How to Keep Squirrels Out of a Vegetable Garden

There are many squirrels in my neighborhood that visit our backyard on a daily basis.

This worries me.

What if they eat all the juicy yummy tomatoes before harvest? What if they devour the delicious cucumber before we could get to them? That would be any gardener's worst nightmare.

All praise be to Allah SWT, many gardeners revealed that bird netting works really well to keep squirrels away from the vegetable garden.

I also found this article about how to keep these critters away:

1. Create a cayenne spray.
2. Use a variety of repellent - cayenne pepper/black pepper, mothballs, white vinegar, bone/blood meal and coffee grounds.


Niko's Outdoor Play Time

On Friday I put Niko in the quail house so that she can have some fresh air and access to insecticide-free grass. I didn't see her bothering the quail, although I can sense that the quail are keeping a safe distance away from the 'invader'. In the picture below, one of the brown quail looking at Niko quietly. After about one minute it went inside the enclosure.

She is such as happy bunny when she gets to go outside. She loves to rest and relax after munching on some grass and observe her environment.

After I put her back in her play area, she just laid there quietly and chill out.

She is such a cool bunny!


Snow on Second Day of Spring

Just when I start day dreaming about having a lush veggie garden soon, the weather took a turn this morning.

We wake up to a blanket of snow everywhere, and temperature now is about 34 degree F, with a wind chill factor in the 20s degree F. Last night I covered cucumber and some of the pole bean seedlings with plastic bottles to protect them from the cold, Allah SWT willing I hope they survive the freezing temperature.

Cucumber, asparagus and bush beans covered with snow.

Onions, marigold and pole beans covered with snow.

Husband poured hot water in the water container and put a heat lamp for the quail.

Husband found an egg in the chicken coop this morning when he poured hot water in the water container. The ladies will not be happy about the muddy slush on the ground.

Allah SWT willing today will be the last frost date of the season. I already have plans for start working on the veggie garden tomorrow when temperature will be between 40s and 60s degree F. I'm sure the ladies will be looking forward to scratching in the compost pile tomorrow.

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