I have a confession: I’m a dollar store junkie. I especially love going to the dollar store to get my car camping fix. If you’ve ever wandered the aisles of your local 99¢ Only (or here in California, we have the absolutely fantastic Japanese 100-yen store called Daiso — which, silly as it sounds, is actually the $1.50 store once you convert the currency), you might be overwhelmed by all the cheap and practical car camping goods you can buy.
I always stock up on dish rags, scrubby sponges, plastic tablecloths, aluminum pans, aluminum foil, food containers, and zip-top bags on my dollar store sprees. I also replace utensils (especially grilling utensils) that get lost or left behind at campgrounds and cabins.
You know what else the dollar store is good for? Seed starting supplies.
While I always advocate repurposing and reusing what you already have around the house, sometimes you need to buy a few things to round out your collection, and the dollar store is a great way to get started with minimal expense. Anyone who says seed starting is an expensive endeavor should look beyond the traditional garden centers and nurseries, and even beyond the gardening aisle of their local dollar store.
Strange as it seems, the best seed starting supplies are actually found in the non-gardening aisles!
I have beautiful chickens… and I’m not just saying that because they’re my chickens. It wasn’t too long ago that they were just a pair of raggedy looking ladies with cowlicks and bald spots, suffering through their seasonal molts (albeit with dignity).
When I look at them now, with their full and fluffy new coats and bright combs again, I’m amazed at what those ladies went through to shed and regrow all their feathers in a relatively short period of time.
Have you ever wondered what actually happens during a molt? How and why they start, and when those pin feathers unfurl into beautiful plumes?
I just spent seven days in the Tushar Mountains of Utah, chasing the storm from Los Angeles to Beaver (77°F to 7°F in less than 24 hours!) and riding in the softest, lightest, fluffiest powder I’ve seen in three winters out west. With no wifi and very spotty reception in our cabin, this post is now a week overdue and that unexpected week of disconnection turned out to be a blessing… the first little thing, you could say. So, here are the five other things that made my week (two weeks, that is)…
1. Our daily commute through the windless winter wonderland from our cabin to the summit. No such thing as rush hour.
It probably sounds ridiculous to those of you swaddled in snow in other parts of the country right now, to know that also right now, my most prolific harvest from the garden are these darling chile peppers called Filius Blue.
It’s February, Punxsutawney Phil is telling us six more weeks of winter, but apparently California missed the memo. (Not that Phil’s ever been right, anyway; according to NPR, the poor fella’s only had 39 percent accuracy since he started his forecasting career in 1887.)
With our own weather lingering in the 70s and 80s all winter, these little peppers have been flowering and fruiting like gangbusters. Every other week I bring in another handful of deceptively tiny peppers that are so potent, a little goes a long way. That means I’ve been inundated with peppers all season long and keeping a bowl in the kitchen where I dump them all, ready for drying.
I started my first seeds of the season last week — tomatoes, my favorite summer crop. I like to give them a head start by sowing the seeds indoors so that come March (if I’m lucky), I can harden them off and transplant them outside.
Right now I’m starting six varieties of tomatoes, a purple tomatillo, and a shishito pepper in 16 tiny seed starting pots recycled from years past. While 16 sounds like a reasonable number, it’s not uncommon for me to have upwards of 100 pots or more, of all sizes, once I’m in the thick of seed starting season. And, I rarely buy new pots.
My chickens are quite the pampered ladies. Not only do they get the occasional spa treatment in the house, but they also get self-imposed spa days in the backyard.
Have you ever watched a chicken take a dust bath? It’s one of the most intriguing and entertaining things of raising your own flock. Watching this plump, rumpled, bouncy ball of feather luxuriate in the dirt, sometimes upside-down and sideways, groaning and purring in pure contentment, makes me almost want to roll around on the ground myself.
The drought in California, which was officially declared an emergency by Governor Jerry Brown a few weeks ago, has definitely taken its toll on my garden this winter. What’s usually filled with hefty vegetables and verdant vines is a plot of seedlings struggling to get started and a trellis of peas barely hanging on in our unseasonal heat (six weeks running with no rain in sight).
But while the winter garden may already be on its way out, I can always count on my citrus trees (some of them over 30 years old) to bear the most beautiful bounties this time of year… like this lemon tree.
Or this orange tree.