Monday’s Photo: Kiss with the Nose

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My Best Garden Helper

Titania is our 2 year old pit bull that we adopted about 1 year ago.  Sweet thing that she is, stole our hearts instantly, and no matter what she does or eats or destroys, her puppy eyes and droopy ears can instantly turn my yelling and reprimanding into pets and scratches.

Titania is my best garden helper, making cameos as sunbather extraordinaire.

She keeps husbands distracted by playing with them. 

Recently she has helped solve the mystery of why my arugula seeds are not coming out as fast as my lettuce seeds which I planted the same day.  She sleeps right on top of them in the afternoon sun.

I’ve seen her several times when I come home, basking in my raised bed, oblivious to anything but the warmth of the sun and dirt.  I tried yelling, telling her bad dog, but those pleading, puppy-dog eyes say “I never meant to do anything to make you mad; I just like the sun.”  How can I stay mad at that face.  Sigh…I’m such a sucker. 

Playing around with an SLR Camara

My life has just been transformed.  It’s like tasting the difference between good wine and two buck Chuck.  For as long as I’ve been blogging, yeah, I know, not that long, I’ve just used my measly Blackberry camera phone for images.  Once or twice, since it’s recently been found, I’ve been able to use our pocket digital camara, an Olympus FE-20, but now, I’ve tasted the joy of my first ever SLR camera.

No, I haven’t forked over $600 for one…yet.  Actually, it’s a pretty great set-up.  I contacted the photography teacher at the school I teach at and asked if I’d be able to borrow a camara, just like the students do.  Mark, that’s the photography teacher’s name, was encouraging.  So now, for the next week, our Spring Break, I have the most incredible camara I have ever used in my possession.

Within the first hour, I’d already taken about 100 shots, playing around with the automatic settings, mainly portrait, close up, and no flash indoors.  Here are my favorites.

My first shot eva'

While Kris stayed inside, I went outside where the sun was shining.  Everywhere I read said USE NATURAL LIGHT, so I followed suggested directions.

Here’s a close up shot of one of my succulent plants.

I love the color that the camara picks up

If you look close, you can see the tiniest trace of a spider’s web on the left side of the succulent.  I love how the camera picks up the waxiness and light bouncing off the plants’ bumps.

This picture is of weeds!  Weeds!  And look how pretty they are!

Weeds next to my raised bed

Then I went to take pictures of the flowers on our peach tree, and this camera truly catches the exuberance of Spring.

So detailed and fast that I photographed a fly

Close up of peach blossoms

Of course, I went crazy photographing Titania.  She actually followed me outside, unlike my husband.

Titania, profile shot

Titania sniffing the air

Titania, over the shouldar pose

Another sniffing the air shot

Titania, a regal shot

This is so exciting.  This camera is truly able to show how incredibly cute our dog is, not to mention how funny she is too.

Oh…I’m in love.  My life has either been ruined or saved, depending on your perspective.

The Avocado Tree That Carries All Hope

A gorgeous California February weekend demanded that I spend it outside in my backyard, working on the garden.

One major task was adding fertilizer to our avocado tree. Of all the trees on our property, this is the one that we are most excited about.  By we I mean myself, Kris, my mom, my neighbor Kathy, my godmother, and all of our friends who know we have this tree. We’ve eaten its two previous fruits, and this year, we all want more.

Of course, there were plenty of weeds around it, and I didn’t want weeds sucking up my expensive organic fertilizer. Titania helped out in her usual fashion; while I went ripping away at the bermuda grass et al, she sun bathed in her favorite spot.

 

Sunbather Extraordinaire

It took forever to get this picture because every time I came close, she’d look up and give me her big pit bull smile.

 

Smiling in the sun

Meanwhile, I worked on clearing space around the avocado tree in order to add fertilizer.  I noticed that the bermuda grass and other weeds were coming out quite easily, then discovered that it was because of landscape fabric put down by the previous owners.  In my zeal to get rid of the weeds, I’d ripped the fabric up.  I had to fertilize the tree, not the dirt above the landscaping fabric.  My hoe and gardening claw dug into the rich soil, full of earthworms and ants, creating a little circle around the tree.

 

Ooophs, ripped the fabric

Here’s the fertilizer I used, recommended by my local nursery.

 

E. B. Stone Organic Citrus Fertilizer

I staged it on top of the weeds I’d pulled, hoping that someone (besides me) would appreciate the irony.  I know the nursery probably just recommended the most expensive one; we’ll see how it does. A lot of people have high hopes for this tree.  Who wouldn’t? Look at these cute little buds; these are going to become flowers, and eventually…fruit.

 

Lots of Little Buds

I bought one 4 pound box, thinking I could use it for the many trees around our house (2 giant orange trees, an almond, a lemon, an apricot, a peach, and a cherry).  Then, I read the directions which explained that for a 5 year old avocado or citrus tree (I had to guess the age), I’d need to apply 4 pounds every time I fertilized!  The whole box for just one application!  Then, on top of that, I’m supposed to fertilize 3 times a year.  Is this normal?!  I am just flabbergasted (love that word).

I ended up following directions because, well…because I’m a teacher and appreciate when my students follow mine.  I mixed in the entire box, four pounds of fertilizer, around the tree.  We’ll see how she does (although I’m not sure if it is a male or female avocado tree).

Then, of course, Titania comes over to sniff out what I’m doing.  While my back is turned, mixing the powder into the soil, she grabs a quick lick of the fertilizer’s box.  I freak out, hoping it won’t poison her, good thing it’s organic.  When I look at the ingredients, I see that the first one is blood meal.  Go figure she’d want to lick that.

I decided I need to protect the fertilizer, not just from the dog, but from weeds that want to leech off of the richness I just added to the ground.  At this moment I wished I hadn’t ripped the landscape fabric so much.  I didn’t have any mulch, but what I did have was a lot of cardboard.

 

From a recent IKEA purchase

I’d just cut it, lay it around the tree, and remove it when I needed to water.  The size was perfect, and I didn’t even have to do my usual measuring by trail and error.

 

A resourceful substitute for mulch

Knowing that Titania would still be able to burrow her head under the cardboard, I found some bricks by the orange tree and moved them to use as weights.  Perfect dog/weed barrier.

The perfect makeshift mulch

Naturally, the dog keeps sniffing out the area with a guilty look on her face.  Hopefully my yelling and reprimanding plus the cardboard barrier will stand up to her pit bull stubbornness.