All posts by Dustytoes

About Dustytoes

I grew up in New England but spent most of my life living in central Florida and blog about seashells, beaches, gardening, boating, fishing, hiking, photography, PKD, and my work as a designer at Zazzle. I move around a lot and try to discover the best in all places I live. Life may be tough, but it's not boring.

fishermans rib stitch

Fishermans Rib Stitch Video Tutorial

The Fishermans Rib stitch is best for making warm hats and scarves (with wool). It’s an easy stitch and you don’t really need a video, but here is one anyway. She blabs on about a lot before she gets to the stitch, so begin this video around 4 or 5 minutes to see the actual stitch.

Basically – cast on in multiples of 2+3, and then knit the first row.
Beginning row 2 – *purl one, and knit into stitch below – repeat from * across.
Every row ends with a “knit” and begins with a “purl”.

Follow the stitches in the row above – a purl will be a purl and a knit will be a knit-into the-stitch-below.

I used big needles with green cotton yarn so my stitches are very loose and therefore look different from the tutorial.

That’s it… simple. I’ll have to find something to make using this stitch.

fishermans rib stitch

The edges on this cotton dishcloth are not right. (I need to figure out how to make the i-cord edging, which I used to know how to do.)

fabric pots

February Yard Work Getting Some Planting Done

This past weekend (mid-February) I did some garden work and planted a few seeds. It was a hot day but I decided it was time to move the lemon tree from the front to the back yard. Thanks to that digging and lifting my back was aching the next day. But I have high hopes that the tree will recover and give me some lemons one day. (Photos below)

The raised bed still needs more soil. While my son was cutting the grass he bagged up some oak leaves (oak leaves are small here, not like the majestic oaks of the north which drop big leaves) and dumped them into the bed.

raised bed garden
Adding oak leaves to the raised bed

Creating good garden dirt takes a lot of adding and mixing, not unlike making a good soup or stew. All the ingredients together will give me some delicious dirt to help my vegetables grow well.
I still have two potted crotons which were cuttings taken from the big croton out front – which is now dead thanks to the cold. I’m not sure what I will do with them.
fabric pots
Filling the fabric pots to be ready for planting

Bone meal and blood meal was added, and I threw in an old tomato (I regularly add kitchen scraps to make compost within the bed. I’ve even seen a couple of big worms in the dirt recently …. yay!
gardening in February
Eggplant coming back after the freeze

During the winter months it’s not a good idea to trim back dead growth, but I made an exception with my eggplant. With all the top brown branches trimmed away I can more easily cover it if cold temperatures come back.

I planted lettuce seeds in one black pot and yellow squash in another. I should have planted the lettuce earlier, but oh well.

The Lemon and Lime Trees

About a year ago I added a Persian lime tree and Lemon tree to my yard. The lime tree has done very well, providing me with loads of limes in the Fall season. I kept it in it’s original pot and it’s in the backyard.

The lemon tree was planted in the ground in my front yard. Right off it began to have problems. When I planted it, I wasn’t used to our new home location yet. I didn’t realize that front yard gets a lot of wind which makes it an inhospitable place for most plants. Even though the new tree bloomed and grew some lemons, it’s leaves fell off and none of the lemons were nice enough to eat.

lemon tree
Moved the Lemon tree – Feb. 2018

This was a lesson in choosing a good spot for my trees and shrubs. I doubt I will try to grow anything out front.

I really thought the tree would be dead by now. Besides the wind, we’ve had a few nights of cold temperatures. I covered the tree, but lots of things died even though I covered them. Still the tree lived on.

Many of it’s branches are bare and it looks like some animal maybe had been chewing on the stems. Plus my son often hits the branches with his weed-eater.

Even after all this, the lemon tree still grows. Below you can see how pretty the Lemon tree was when I planted it. Because it is still trying to live, I feel guilty for leaving it unattended for so long.

I’m hoping that with it’s new spot in a fabric garden bag in my backyard, I can bring this tree back to it’s original beautiful form.

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Meyer Lemon Tree – 2017

Photos of the Dahoon Holly Tree Trunk, Branches and Berries

At the edge of my property a stand of trees, with winding branches and dark green leaves makes the perfect hideout for wildlife. They are wild Dahoon Holly trees. For the past month or so some of these tree branches have been loaded with red berries.  It is February as I write this.

backyard
Trees with red berries

This thick area of trees and shrubs is where the raccoons come from each night. It’s also where the zillions of stray cats walk as they pass through the yard.
I don’t know if the birds knew I wanted photos today, but they showed up in droves.  Unfortunately I am not such a good wildlife photographer!  I saw a bunch of grosbeaks gathered on a berry laden branch, and got this photo of a robin (center of picture) – not a good photo, I know.  In fact, the many birds have nearly eaten all the berries!

Robin on branch of a Dahoon holly tree
Robin

Now I’ve been trying to find some information about this type of tree. They are similar to the East Palatka Holly. But the Dahoon likes wet feet. It grows best in areas that are soggy.   The land where it is growing is often wet from rain runoff from my yard, so it makes sense that the tree would grow well there.

The trunk can actually be split into many trunks, like in my photo below.

You need a male and female plant to get the berries to grow. I’m not sure yet how to tell the trees apart, but obviously they both grow in the woods next to my house. I may try to propagate this tree so I can have one in my yard.  I need to find more information.

Dahoon holly tree trunk
Base of Dahoon Holly tree trunk.
Dahoon holly tree with red berries
Wild Dahoon Holly tree with red berries

Next Fall I will pay closer attention to this tree when it blooms and sets the berries.

red berries dahoon holly
Red berries of the Dahoon Holly tree
branches, thicket underbrush
This undergrowth is something wildlife loves.

The many branches of this holly tree create a beautiful tangle of perches for birds. It’s tough for predators to grab a bird from that mess!

If anyone ever decides to clear the lot where this stand of trees grows, I hope they leave these trees standing.
The day I took these photos of the berries, birds flocked to the trees and ate almost all of them! Glad I got the photos in time.

I’ve also seen this tree growing on islands along the Indian River. Apparently they can tolerate salt water as well.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 6.22.02 PM
Indian River at Edgewater, Florida
chickadee in birdhouse

Getting Birds to Come to The Backyard

Wildlife is abundant in Florida.  Birds are everywhere so getting them to come to the backyard is not difficult.  They enjoy the same things here as they did when I lived in the North.  If you’d like them to visit regularly, give them a proper welcome. They need food, water, trees and places to land and hide.

Birds Love Water

Like us, birds need water to drink. Birds also love to play in the water.  It looks like playing, but they are cleaning their feathers. They dip their heads and swiftly shake from head to toe while fluffing out their plumage.

In the north cardinals are more rarely observed than they are in Florida. It was a wonderful sight when they landed in my snowy winter yard. Here they are everywhere. But they are still just as afraid and skittish. Any movement will scare them off.

I captured (not so great) video of this red cardinal splashing around in my makeshift birdbath. I have a good view from my home office area and with the windows open, I can hear the birds land in the birdbath. He stayed there preening for a good five minutes, but the video is short.

This cheap “bird bath” was thrown together one day using a large plastic plant saucer with a brick in the center (or a rock would work). The brick helps hold the saucer in place and gives the birds a place to stand. Birds don’t like deep water and I don’t like the price of real birdbaths, so we are both happy! Sometimes birds will line up waiting for one bird to finish for the next to have his turn – like these gray catbirds waiting for the cardinal to finish up.

bird bath
The Gray Catbird waits for the cardinal to be finished.

I’ve also seen robins, mockingbirds, goldfinches, a thrush, brown wren, and bluejays at the water.  Change the water daily, and put it in the sun to remove mold in summer.  The water can get pretty hot in summer, so it needs to be changed more often.

Feed the Birds

A winter ritual for me when I lived in New Hampshire was to stock my big metal barrel with sunflower seeds. I had to keep a heavy rock on top so the black bears wouldn’t get into it.  Feeding the birds in winter was a nice thing to do.  Here in Florida I will not feed them, except to provide plants that may have berries or fruit they eat.

In the North I would make my own suet, which the birds LOVED. Suet is not used in summer (unless you buy the non-melting kind), nor is it used in Florida where it will go bad quickly.  If you decide to make your own, you’d better make a lot – it goes fast.

hanging tray feeder
Going Green, recycled tray feeder for birds

The tray feeder is something I will try in my Florida backyard.   I don’t plan to buy seeds for it.  Seeds will draw squirrels and the birds don’t need feeding here.

The tray feeder will be used for old bread and fruit bits that some birds may like. When pulling worms from garden vegetables (think big juicy tomato hornworms) or grubs from the grass they can be plopped into this feeder and birds will swoop down and scoff them up!  I already have the shepherds hooks .

Trees and Bushes

Birds like to have a place to hide, or land, which is up off the ground. I have two cats, but they have never caught a bird in this yard. I had a cat once that was an absolute killer, but these cats are not. The birds seem to know this because they come to my yard even when the cats are sleeping near the garden.

Trees, like the Dahoon Holly which grows next to my property, are perfect places for birds to gather. My yard has scrawny oak trees and a few palm trees, but the birds love the tangled mass of branches right next door.

The Dahoon Holly tree is not something I was familiar with. This wild specimen grows hanging berry clumps and draws the birds to feed.  It’s maze of branches give the birds a great place to rest and feel safe.

Dahoon holly tree with red berries
Dahoon Holly

Bird Houses and Shelter

The previous section pretty much covers shelter in my opinion, but some people like to add a birdhouse to the yard.

I used to have one and watched the chickadees build a nest inside. If I see a chickadee in Florida it won’t be the northern Black-capped chickadee (in my photo), it will be the Carolina Chickadee.

chickadee in birdhouse
New Hampshire – Black-capped chickadee at birdhouse

Then there are the curious big birds that stroll through.
Don’t you love the Sandhill Cranes? They are the coolest birds. These three come strolling through the yard regularly, and they are not afraid!

(For great photos of backyard Florida birds visit the CatandTurtle blog. It’s how I discovered that the gray birds in my photo were catbirds.)