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Posted by on Apr 9, 2012 | 1 comment

Lessons Learned: Natural Dyed Easter Eggs

Lessons Learned: Natural Dyed Easter Eggs

For the past two years, the boys and I have colored our Easter eggs with natural dyes. It was part science experience, part curiosity, and we received various results. Would it have been easier to just get a kit from local drugstore, sure, but then our house wouldn’t have the smell of dill and cabbage wafting for days. Last year I made dye with turmeric and blueberries and followed the normal course of soaking the eggs for a few minutes. It worked pretty well — we got some nice looking eggs, but stained dish towels. Hoping to get some new colors this year, I found this site’s tutorial and thought it looked interesting. The basic directions are to boil the eggs in the dye mixture and then let them soak for up to 20 hours. Since turmeric was a success last year, again I made a mix of turmeric, water and vinegar. Then I tried a mixture with red cabbage, water, and white vinegar. On the back burner, I started cooking some blueberries until they...

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Posted by on Apr 5, 2012 | 2 comments

A Wildlife Home Tour of Dyke Marsh

A Wildlife Home Tour of Dyke Marsh

Just a few minutes south of Del Ray, off the George Washington Memorial Parkway, you’ll find Dyke Marsh, the last large tidal freshwater wetlands in the Washington, DC area. A calm and peaceful retreat from the busy and bustling city, it is home to beavers, muskrats, red foxes, snapping turtles, Wood Ducks, Marsh Wrens and a diverse array of flora. On higher ground, cottontail rabbits, gray squirrels, shrews and field mice make their homes. With over 300 species of birds, it’s a popular spot for birders of all ages — our little family of birders visited the marsh last weekend. Our journey began at the opening of the park on Haul Road, a wide pathway by the Belle Haven Marina. A little ways from the entrance, we stopped at a clearing so the boys could throw rocks and sweetgum pods into the water and joyously celebrate the splashing. I was more interested in this gnarled tree which had been washed ashore. I wonder how far it has traveled. Along the...

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Posted by on Apr 2, 2012 | 0 comments

Care and Maintenance of a Backyard Certified Wildlife Habitat

Care and Maintenance of a Backyard Certified Wildlife Habitat

A year ago, I applied with the National Wildlife Federation to make my back patio a Certified Wildlife Habitat. The three basic elements we needed to provide were: water, food, and a place for wildlife to raise their young. I learned that the Certified Wildlife Habitat is not a singular accomplishment. It requires continual care and upkeep, even in our small rowhouse patio. Currently we have bird feeders, a bird bath which is very popular with the Robins, Grackles, and Mourning Doves, a mason bee house, and a pile of sticks and wood that many and varied insects call home. The girls and I took part in the annual Christmas Audubon bird count. We stared at the feeder for 10 minutes at a time those weeks and kept a list of the birds we saw: Grey Catbirds, Cardinals, Cowbirds, House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Blue Jays, Doves, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, House Finches, and Dark-Eyed Juncos. I did some sprucing up already this Spring by building the mason bee house. And, wouldn’t...

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Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 | 0 comments

Five Gardening Jobs for Early Spring

Five Gardening Jobs for Early Spring

DIY Del Ray once again welcomes Eileen Powell, professional landscaper and garden consultant and author of The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Flowers from Seed to Bloom. Eileen has the following tips to ready your garden for spring and help make it look beautiful all season long. It can be tricky figuring out the timing for some of the spring gardening jobs, especially in a year like this when spring arrived in February. One of the indicators you can use is the forsythia flowers. As soon as you see the first yellow buds opening, it’s time to get these jobs done. 1. Spruce Up Your Lawn If you are prone to weeds, apply an organic gluten-based weed killer to the lawn. But, contrary to what Scott’s would tell you, spring is not the best time to feed lawns – that’s a job for the fall. Spring-fed lawns grow thick and lush and look terrific for a few weeks…until the first shock of heat and drought turns it sad, limp...

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Posted by on Mar 13, 2012 | 0 comments

A Backyard Farm in the Heart of Del Ray

A Backyard Farm in the Heart of Del Ray

If all this warm weather has got you aching to get outside and work in your garden, you’ll love the outdoor space at Mellenie and Andy’s house. Jack, Calvin, and I stopped by last weekend to get some ideas for our own garden. Mellenie is the owner of Truly-Life Eco Gifts and we featured her homegrown loofah and soaps last November. In addition to loofah (the sponge that is actually a fruit!), Mellenie and Andy grow basil, cilantro, red/thai peppers, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, okra, cucumber, garlic, and radishes. The garden started as just a strip a few years ago, but it has grown to a large plot. To keep everything organized, they made a handy map of the garden area so they can remember where to plant each year. Here’s what’s sprouting up in the 2012 garden. The garlic they planted last year stayed strong throughout the winter. At this point, Mellenie is just getting the soil ready. She loosens the dirt and adds peat moss and rabbit pellets (they have three rabbits). They...

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