Hummingbirds Winter Care

Keep hummingbird feeders clean to prevent mold and fungus, which can be fatal to hummingbirds. Refill feeders frequently so there is always an adequate supply of nectar for overwintering hummingbirds.   Do not prune shrubs or trees near feeding areas in fall so hummingbirds have plenty of sheltered places to perch and rest between feedings. Bring feeders indoors to warm/ defrost and rotate out with other feeders.

Below are some methods to keep the nectar from freezing:

Hummingbird_feeding_in_winter

Photo by: Dan David Cook

  • Use a dome to protect from snow, sleet and ice.
  • Position the feeder to protect from cold winds and exposure.
  • Attach hand warmers to the feeder.
  • Heat tape such as used for preventing pipes from freezing.
  • Place a clamp-on/ clip-on shop/ work light adjacent to the feeder—about 12-24″ away would be as plumbers do when defrosting frozen pipes. Test the distance before you walk away. Try a 125 Watt infra-red light bulb, but not the red-glass type. Get an I.R. bulb with clear envelope, it casts a more natural light. Connect it all to a timer.
  • Place holiday lights around, above or below the feeder.
  • Insulate with any fabric.
  • Some say to alter the water:nectar ratio, but don’t do this! Keep ratio the same for hummingbird’s health and nutritional needs
  • Do not obstruct access to feeding ports. Use common sense and your best judgment.
Information from: hummingbirdmarket.com. http://www.hummingbirdmarket.com/hummingbird_articles/feeding_hummingbirds_in_the_cold.html
And, Seattle Audubon –  http://www.seattleaudubon.org/sas/Learn/SeasonalFacts/Hummingbirds.aspx

 

Advertisements

Christmas Cactus

 Scientific Name: Schlumbergera

A Christmas Cactus in full bloom makes an extraordinary gift for gardeners, and non-gardeners, alike.  With proper care a Christmas Cactus is very long lived. The one shown here is over forty years old and still provides an amazing display of flowers every Christmas season.

Christmas Cactus Care:

Light/Temperature:  Prefers a warm location with bright indirect sunlight. Shade it from intense sun and keep the plant away from heater vents, fireplaces and cold drafts.

Soil:  Plant in well draining potting mix made for succulent plants. Its ideal soil is composed of equal parts of garden loam, leaf mold or peat, and clean course sand.

Water:  A Christmas Cactus is a tropical succulent, it is NOT a true cactus, therefore it requires more water than a true cactus. Its watering needs vary with air temperature and humidity, but in general keep the soil just barely moist throughout the year. But, do not over water or the stems will get flabby and droop,  and don’t under water either or the stems will be shriveled and limp. Note: if your plant tends to dry out and/or wilt frequently, then it’s time to re-pot it into a slightly larger container.

Fertilizing: Supply plant with a weak solution of houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.

Flowering:  The secret to good bud production is cool temperatures and extended darkness.

Cool temps: The best temperature for bud development is 55F-61F degrees for a period of 6 weeks.  Start providing cool temps in November for Christmas blooming.

Extended Darkness: The plant also needs 12 hours of darkness every night for 6 weeks.  You can accomplish darkness by covering the plant with a cloth each night or move it into a dark area overnight.  For cactus to bloom at Christmas time, darkness treatment should start in early October. Then, when buds start to appear increase its light exposure.  Do not move the plant when it starts blooming, because it is sensitive to location during this time.

Color:  Flower colors ranges from pink, white, yellow, salmon, fuchsia, red and any combination of these.

Rest time:  In February, after it has bloomed, the plant should have a rest period, so during this month water it sparingly and stop fertilizing.

Re-potting:  A Christmas Cactus blooms better if slightly pot-bound, so re-pot only when needed every 3-4 years.  Re-pot the plant into a slightly bigger pot in the spring when it is not in bloom.

Propagation:  Propagating Christmas cactus is easy. Cut a y-shaped segment off the tip of the plant, this cutting should have 2-3 joined segments.  Allow the cutting to dry for a few hours and then plant it in moist peat & sand soil mix, insert about a quarter of its length below the soil surface. Place it in a well-lit area, avoid direct sunlight and water it sparingly to prevent rotting.  In two or three weeks the cutting should show signs of growth at the tips of its leaves, these are usually reddish in color. Once it has rooted transplant it into a pot.

submitted by Carlotta Lucas

 

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie

Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie
Preheat oven 425° F
Ingredients:

2/3 cup organic white sugar, or raw brown sugar
3 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 – 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 – 9” pie crust

FOR FILLING:

MIX sugar, tapioca flour, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in large bowl.  Stir in pumpkin, 1/2 cup almond milk, water and vanilla extract until combined.

POUR into unbaked pie crust.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 350° F; Bake an additional 35 to 45 minutes until center is set. Cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for 1 hour.