Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Contact And Relief Information

Eureka's January 9 6.5 earthquake made us feel lucky here that there were so few injuries and that damage was kept lower than it could have been in such a large earthquake. Our Victorian home stood with little damage other than falling paint chips and we feel fortunate for that. Haiti was not so lucky as they suffered through a 7.0 earthquake. With minimal infrastructure, poorly constructed homes and one of the highest poverty levels in the world, Haitians are in dire need of our help. We often forget how lucky we are in America that we have so much available to us in our everyday lives and help when disaster strikes. Our country and many other countries have stepped up to the plate as searchers and food supplies arrive in Haiti.

If you want to do your part, check out the donation list below to help Haiti. We donated to the Red Cross online. Text message donations are available to make it even easier to donate to this worthy cause.

Google is offering free phone calls to Haiti through their Google Voice service for two weeks. If you have friends or family you need to check on be sure to take advantage of this free service:

Red Cross 1-800 RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
or text Haiti to 90999 to donate $10

CARE 1-800-521-CARE (1-800-521-2273)

UNICEF 1-800-4UNICEF (1-800-486-4233)

Save the Children 1-800-728-3843

The Salvation Army 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
or text HAITI to 52000 to donate $10

Any donation you make should be tax deductible (check with tax professionals for more information). If you are making a text donation standard text messaging rates apply (for more information check with your carrier).

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kiwi Vines In Coastal Winter

The two kiwi vines we have on our metal structure look very bare in January. The leaves decided to fall all at once during the cold weather in December. All that is left are long bare branches and vines twining with brown kiwi fruit hanging from the vines. It is stark to look at, the fruit hanging on one side of the structure and the bare branches sticking up four or five feet up in the air. All the big green leaves are gone, leaving the shape of the vines surrounding the long pipes of the metal structure. We tried one of the fruits to see how ripe they were. Still very tart but close to ripening so unlike last year when the fruit never ripened we are hoping for some sort of successful harvest of the kiwi fruit.

The vines cover a very large area of the back yard, edged up against the line of butterfly bushes on the back fence. Trimming up the vines is something I leave until winter when the vines are bare. Currently we have many branches sticking up in the air that could be trimmed back closer to the structure. Sometimes the vines are headed the right way, curving and following the metal structure while other times the branches head straight up going nowhere. It can be impressive to see the towering branches sailing above the structure as you drive up to the back of our house. In the coming weeks when the rain subsides I will find time to cut the branches back with my long clippers. Even with the five foot clippers it is still a stretch to reach some of the branches.

I have found when trimming back the branches on the kiwi vines there is not much you can do to hurt the vines. I have not studied up on how to trim the kiwi vines and have had no problems with pruning the vines back over the last three years. Fortunately the kiwi is a very hardy vine and a trim doesn't seem to change anything with the vines other than shaping them as I'd planned. Flowers and fruit still appear every year and the vines are covered with leaves in the spring and summer. If you are trimming your kiwi vines by all means read up on pruning but a trim cutting branches back to the main vine does not seem to cause problems with the vines. The view of the new kiwi leaves leafing out in spring, and the huge green leaves and blossoms appearing by summer is one of the highlights of my coastal garden.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eureka Earthquake

Eureka went through a 6.5 earthquake on Saturday, January 9, 2010. It was the biggest earthquake I or my husband had ever been in. He had gone through Loma Prieta, I've been through earthquakes in San Francisco and we've both been through earthquakes in Sonoma County, but nothing like this. Being 25 miles away from the epicenter may have something to do with it. Thank goodness the epicenter was offshore where quakes usually happen here and not on land.

I can only describe the quake as if a freight train was running through our Victorian home. A photo from the local paper above shows a one story Victorian that was pushed off its post and piers, rendering the home uninhabitable. The shaking of the earthquake was sideways in large jolts throughout the house. We are very fortunate that our Victorian has a real foundation and is not on posts and piers like many of the Victorians in town. There was quite a bit of broken glass in our home as well as others in town but no major problems with our house. A few injuries at the local mall, some gas leaks and power outages were the main result of the earthquake. We were without electricity for six hours until it came back on that day. We were grateful for so little damage to our home and to us.

The garden withstood the earthquake and sits serenely as usual, as if it never happened. Like many of the century old Victorians in town our garden survived the quake with no major damage. I am grateful we didn't lose any of our trees in the garden in the process. Here's hoping our garden survives through earthquakes now and in the future.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Preparing Plants For Cold Winter Weather

The U.S. had quite a bit of frigid weather a few weeks ago. Here in Eureka it hit a low of 25 degrees at night, very cold for the coast during fall, heading into winter. In Oregon my mother-in-law had 10 degree weather. Although she receives snow at her inland Oregon location in winter, this spell was even colder than usual. This particular weather hit all over the U.S. causing early snowfall and dangerous conditions on the road.

The passionflower vines did not die back surprisingly. The first year we were here there were some extra frosty mornings and the passionflower vines on the front fence died back quite a bit. They came back fine by spring but took a while to recover. We have frost on and off during late fall into winter but this was exceptionally cold for the coastal area.

With extremely cold weather it is always a good idea to plan ahead if you know the weather forcast. I believe in mulching all year long. Redwood bark works very well, a two or three inch layer lasts for quite a while and provides good coverage during the winter months. The mulch keeps soil moist after watering, eliminating some of the natural evaporation that occurs after watering. In my experience the mulch helps plants weather the worst frosts by keeping the base of the plant covered and protected. Mulch doesn't always save the plant in bad weather but its a good choice to use year round. Rocks can also be used to surround the base of plants such as Clematis. I use rocks at the base to cool the plant during the summer months and the rocks provide coverage in cold months as well.

An old trick in very cold weather is to let your hose drip a small stream of water so your water source is not frozen and available for your plants or birdbath if needed. Watch over plants that are new in the garden since they can be more sensitive to this kind of weather. Newly planted trees can be wrapped at the base or wrapped over the entire tree to keep the tree warmer. Ask your local nursery for the best products to use when wrapping trees or plants for cold weather. In freezing weather I have moved some sensitive plants in pots to areas near the house, against a back wall or in my case the more protected area of the hot tub deck that is surrounded by tall deck walls. If you have a green house move sensitive plants indoors to warm up a bit during frost warnings. Terracotta pots can crack in very cold weather and can be moved into the green house for protection as well.

Track your weather and take care of your plants during cold spells. If your plants are well prepared your garden should fare well during even the worst of weather.

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