Rabbit Poop is Great for your Garden!

rabbit poop

I have noticed one thing in common in the gardens I have done spring cleanups in: lots of rabbit poop! There seems to have been an explosion in the rabbit population in my Kanata suburb of Ottawa. I see quite a few rabbits on my evening walks through our neighborhood so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the increased amount of their poop in the gardens.

The good news is that rabbit poop is great for your garden.

Hot vs Cold Manure

Cow, steer, sheep, or chicken manure is considered “hot” meaning it requires an aging or composting process before use. Otherwise, it will burn your plants. For that reason, be sure when you use this type that the label says “composted.” Rabbit poop, however, is “cold” manure requiring no such process before use. That’s because it is fermented and broken down in the rabbits’ gut before leaving its body.

The other advantage of rabbit manure is that it only has a mild smell to it.  The smell actually brings back childhood memories of the pet rabbits my father used to bring home each spring at Easter time.

How to Use Rabbit Poop

Simply dig the round pellets into the soil between the plants, providing a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for your garden. You can also add a pile of poop to your composter as a nitrogen layer. Another option is to make compost tea by adding a pile of poop to a bucket of water. Stir it well and frequently for a few days, and then pour the “tea” onto your garden.

Any way you use it, rabbit poop is a free and convenient fertilizer for your garden!

rabbit poop
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Garden Successes for 2019 Season

Well, it appears my garden season is over for 2019.  The increasingly cold, wet and miserable weather is telling me to give it up.  It was a great season, with lots of garden successes to snap pictures of. When I remembered to that is.

Success with Annuals

Still one of my favourite annuals, these gorgeous cleome (AKA spider flowers) went crazy in a garden at the hospice I volunteer at.  Unfortunately, they are non-hardy annuals in our climate, but I will definitely plant some again next spring.  I like to plant as many colour variations that I can find, this year I used dark pink, pale pink and white…

Other annuals starring in my garden successes included coleus (they come variegated in contrasting colours), miniature multi-coloured hibiscus (for a tropical look), portulaca (for full sun colour) as well as black-eyed-susan and sweet potato vines…

Eye Popping Colour Combinations

Another of my garden successes this season involved the colour combinations I chose in several containers.  Remember, the best colour combos are those that are opposites on the colour wheel.  Don’t try to match your colours if you are going for the WOW factor, contrasting colours give more of an impact…

Container Gardening

The containers I planted for clients and myself were garden successes too.  As described above, I aim for colour combinations that create splashes of bold colours…

These window boxes were created to add a splash of colour to the otherwise bland white older portion of the same hospice mentioned above.  The empty window boxes came from a client that passed away a few years ago.  I added perennials from my own gardens and a few annuals for contrasting colours, then attached six of them to the wall below the windows with brackets…

Wedding Flowers

I attempted more wedding flowers this season and am happy to say these too were one of my garden successes. This time I had the pleasure of creating small tabletop arrangements.  The biggest hurdle was the colour scheme.  The bride and groom wanted blue and silver but anyone with a bit of flower savvy knows that neither blue or silver are abundant colours in gardens.  Unless of course you want to order (expensive) exotic varieties from afar. They turned our well, phew…

Other beauties

My lily trees just keep getting more and more gorgeous every year.  Their very first season they grew to about eighteen inches with a few blooms.  This year I had multiple, thick, sturdy stems with tons of spectacular blooms…

This time of year any nice days are a rare bonus, we were fortunate to experience a few last week.  This picture shows a rose bush in a client’s garden that would just not quit.  It is (was) so beautiful that neighbours thought the blooms were fake.  When they saw me preparing the garden for the winter, one neighbour came over to comment and check for herself…

gardens successes
ever blooming rose

 

Cottage Renovations Never End

The winter of 2015 was so cold our buried water pipe running between the lake and our cottage froze in Ompah, Ontario.  This has never happened before and the cottage was built way back in 1972.  Apparently, the frost line was deeper than normal for this area of Canada this winter.  Digging down to find the buried water pipe, we found the ground frozen solid six feet down!  Fortunately, the soil at the cottage is sandy rather than full of clay as it is here in Kanata, although it was still a big job.  This was just the beginning of our cottage renovations that just keep on going.

Image result for cold winter

Replacing the Water Pipe

The good news is we had planned (eventually) to rebuild the patio, so the frozen pipe turned out to be the motivation to start the patio project. This project turned out to be an ongoing adventure, however, snowballing into rebuilding the patio and deck, which then lead to considering replacing doors and windows.

The pipe was rerouted so it no longer goes under the covered patio, but instead will be snow-covered for better insulation in winters to come. This first set of pictures shows the soil that was displaced while attempting to move the water pipe…

Patio Renovation

Next up was digging up the existing patio and expanding the width. length and depth so it is more comfortable. Eventually, we plan on replacing and adding to the existing patio stones so they extend out further than the deck above. Perhaps the addition of a hot tub is on the horizon too.

Deck Renovation

Then came removing the old deck, and discovering the damage caused by carpenter ants…

then replacing the old, chewed boards, footings, and joists with new ones…

Up next we added a waterproofing system to keep the patio dry, added the floorboards, then the posts and railings. Final results: an upper deck for viewing or sunbathing, and a lower, covered patio, perfect for storm watching, reading, or working in the shade…

Unfortunately, our cottage renovations have been put on the back burner because of a family issue.  My father-in-law fell and broke his hip and the ensuing drama had us very busy.  The side railings of the deck still have to be installed, including a hummingbird fence insert for a privacy screen.

New Windows and Doors for Rooms with a View

As renovations continued at our family cottage, our front door and bedroom window have now been replaced with patio doors, creating rooms with a spectacular view of the lake…

We enlisted the help of two sons and a friend to remove the old door and window, create the necessary rough-ins and install the new doors…

The process of finding, ordering, and getting patio doors delivered to the cottage was a frustrating experience.  In this age of online shopping, it was next to impossible to see the doors in real life before ordering.  Due to the possible extreme weather conditions at the cottage, we wanted something more durable than the base models available at local DIY stores like Home Depot or Lowes.  Stores that specialized in patio doors could not show us any doors and were very confusing on the details of what we were trying to order.  Thanks to the manager of the Lookout Home Hardware Building Center in Plevna we were able to order doors specific to our needs and even get them delivered to the cottage.

Now that this project is complete, we plan to add windows to the side of the cottage and replace the door at the side as well as the window at the back with patio doors. 

When the exterior is complete, including new siding, the interior renovations begin…stay tuned!

Lumber Shortage Thwarts New Dock Steps

Anyone trying to complete a DIY project involving wood recently knows what I mean about a lumber shortage. I’m not sure just how widespread the shortage was, but we sure felt it here in the Ottawa area. Of course, the shortage is COVID related, isn’t everything bad related to the dreaded virus these days?

Last fall, when we dug up most of our cottage property to install a new water pipe, we decided to replace and widen the ancient steps and base to our dock. We figured we could get them replaced before cottage season began in earnest.

Enter the pandemic, throwing everything and everyone into chaos, even the best-laid plans.

Luckily hubby had some pressure-treated lumber stashed away, remnants from our deck project several summers ago. I won’t be living down this (only) advantage of his “discard nothing” personality anytime soon!

We were able to get started using this leftover lumber but had to wait (what seemed like) forever for the floorboards. I was finally able to locate some 12-footers we needed to finish the project this past week. Thankfully, our son has a large truck and could transport the boards from Ottawa to the cottage for us.

We finally completed the project, a few months later than planned. This base will look awesome next summer when the cedars are trimmed and a few of my specialties, planters full of colorful flowers, are added.

Back Veranda and Garden

On days when the wind is blowing off the lake from the north, we prefer to sit on the south, sunnier side of the cottage. A new veranda on that side of the cottage was just the answer. It also makes cleaning out the eavestrough easier for hubby.

Once the veranda began to take shape, I marked out a design for a new garden bed in front of the veranda. We removed the sod from the area, transplanting it to the slope that leads down to the lake. We also added stepping stones so we could easily cross the yard.

The pictures show the progression of both the veranda and the garden…

Ideas for more cottage renovations just keep turning up…stay tuned!

Daughter From Another Mother

I am devastated this week after hearing of the sudden and unexpected death of a dear friend.  The initial shock is fading, but I am still having difficulty believing that she is gone from my life.

Although she started out as a client in my gardening business, ….. Continue reading “Daughter From Another Mother”

Leaves Make Great Garden Mulch

fall leaves on ground

When all the pretty leaves fall from the trees this fall, instead of bagging them to put out on garbage day, use them in your garden as free mulch.  Most leaves, with the exception of oak leaves, break down easily over the winter.  They add nutrients and humus to the soil in your gardens.

If you do not have a leaf mulcher, you can break (mulch) the leaves up by running them over with your lawn mower while they are still on your lawn.  Then rake the debris onto your garden between the plants.

Your soil and plants will love it.

photo credit

Happy birthday from above

I read somewhere that when a cardinal (the red bird type) makes an appearance in your yard, they have come to tell you that a departed loved one is thinking of you.  As I was pouring a cup of coffee first thing this morning, I noticed this bright red cardinal in my garden…

As he hopped through my (still snow covered) garden, he stopped to pose a few times and sing a few notes before a female cardinal joined him.  As she is less brilliant in color, a brownish red instead of the bright red, she was harder to photograph.

I think the cardinals were a Happy Birthday message from my dearly departed parents.  My dad was an avid bird lover, and my mother was never far from his side…

Gardens4u now offers virtual garden designs

GARDENS4U is my business here in the west end of Ottawa, Ontario.  Until recently I have been limited to offering my garden designs to clients in this area.  I now have a computer program that can design a garden for you from anywhere!

Here are examples of before and after pictures:

 

 

All I need from you is a picture (JPEG) to download to my computer program.  I can then (virtually)add gardens to your landscape, complete with plant selections suitable for your region.  The database on my computer program has thousands of plants to choose from. All you have to do is prepare your new garden beds, then purchase and plant the chosen plants.  You can do so at your own pace as your time and budget permits.

If you live in the west end of Ottawa, I can take the pictures and even dig and plant your gardens if you need me to do so.  If you do not live here, send me a picture of the area of your yard you would like to change.   I have time to design a few virtual gardens before my season starts here.  Next winter I hope to design lots.

Email me your picture today to gardens4u@mail.com.  Take the picture straight on (not from an angle) and up close. Take several pictures if the area is large or you have more than one garden bed you would like designed.  I charge twenty dollars per hour, so your cost will depend on how large and complicated your project is. So far my average design time is one hour.  Payment can be made through PayPal or electronic transfer.

My Gardens4u business website has been updated

hen & chicksB

If you haven’t checked out my business website GARDENS4U  recently or at all yet, please do so and let me know what you think.  It has just been updated with the pictures I took last season and I would love your opinion, comments and suggestions.  I know many of you are website and photographic geniuses; I am neither of those but am always looking to improve!

 

A busy birthday week in Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas is a beautiful city to visit, especially when the weather is cold in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  Last week I surprised my sister for her birthday, spending a whole week with her visiting all of the popular tourist spots and catching up on sister stuff. The surprise party was held at Talon’s Sports Bar, owned and operated by friends of my niece, and a great location for the party to kick off the birthday week…

As mentioned in my previous post, I did manage to get some gardening in by planting a garden in my sister’s front yard.  I do love seeing the different varieties of plants that grow in the places I travel to.  I knew that succulents and cactus are prevalent in Texas, I just never knew there were so many varieties of each…

Another great thing about vacations is that I don’t have to cook.  This past week I experienced most of the culinary delights Texas has to offer.   At restaurants, a few of which are located right on the water, I feasted on seafood, including delicious crab cakes and gumbo, Mexican, Italian and Thai food,  and of course steak, a Texan favourite.  Home-made, deliciously spicy, chicken tortilla soup, pico de gallo and guacamole prepared by my niece, as well as jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, then wrapped in bacon, grilled to perfection and served with sausage wraps on the beach by her husband.  I think I will stay away from the scales for a few days…

To wear off some of the calories, I was coerced into dancing, Texan style, at my sister’s favourite nightclubs Whiskey River and  Ropers . Thanks to her very patient and kind dancing friends Sinoel, Martin, Benny, Ray and others, I had lots of fun and many laughs trying to master the art.  One-two-three and quick-quick-slow are still echoing in my head…

Of course, when heading south to escape a Canadian winter, you have to go to the beach. The beaches in the Corpus Christi area of Texas are spectacular and plentiful.  Padre Island National Seashore, McGee Beach, North Beach, Packery Channel and Mustang Island are just a few popular spots.  Even though this was my fifth visit, I still find the waterfronts confusing.  Bay, gulf, channel, port…

My last day in Texas was the only one warm enough (78F or 26C) to hit the beach.  Although I found the water was too cold for anything more than dipping my toes, there were a few brave people playing in the waves.  It is winter in Texas too, although winter temperatures there are much more enjoyable than those here.  We walked the beach during the day and then enjoyed a bonfire on the beach using dried out Christmas trees collected from curbs in my sister’s neighbourhood…

We spent a few hours shopping for bargains too, and even though the Canadian dollar is currently so low in value, I was still able to get a few good deals on clothing.  Although we did not venture across the border into Mexico, I picked up a few Mexican inspired souvenirs in Texas, including an adorable ceramic gecko for my garden and some tequila…

The best part of this trip to Texas was the opportunity to spend quality time with my sister, her children and grandchildren.  I kind of put her on the spot by showing up, not just for her surprise party, but also announcing that I was staying at her place for a week.  I had already made arrangements with her son to use his bedroom in her home for the week.  Thanks to Facebook messaging, I was able to make plans with my niece and nephews before my visit without my sister suspecting a thing.  The only time she was suspicious that something was going on was when her son got up early the morning of my arrival to clean up his room.  Also fortunate, and much appreciated, was the fact that she was able to play hooky from work all week to spend time with me, thanks to her staff Cristi, Chrisy and others.

The birthday week in Texas was a huge success and tons of fun, but over much too fast.  Reality has called me back home to Canada and my sister back to work.  Arriving back in Ottawa via Houston and Toronto, I was greeted by snow and missing luggage, both indicators that all good things must come to an end…

Oh, by the way, my gardening website can be viewed at GARDENS4U