Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks. I spent a week up at the property cleaning and fixing and planting a little flower plot. I took a before picture, an in-process picture, but wouldn't you know I forgot to take an after photo. So, If my plants are still alive when I go back there next week, I will try to remember to take the after photo.
I am at home this week to take care of a few things here. I think my garden got watered while I was gone, but it sure didn't get weeded! I spent some time today weeding and mulching. Here's a run-down of how the veggies seem to be faring...
I have to sow some more peas and green beans because the germination seems to be pretty spotty.
I am still waiting for the sweet potatoes to arrive, and I sure hope they come before I am supposed to leave again! The white potatoes seem to be taking off and doing well.
We have been enjoying our asparagus, and I plan to get some rhubarb tomorrow. It will be a little while yet before anything else is ready.
I planted an assortment of squashes, pumpkins and melons, and most of them seem to be pretty happy where I put them, and most of them seem to have grown a bit while I was gone.
The tomatoes, peppers and eggplants seem to be languishing, though. It hasn't been all that hot, and we've had several overcast and drizzly days. Those all seem to do best when the sun shines and the weather heats up.
The broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages all seem to be growing well. Broccoli and cabbages usually seem to do well for me, it's cauliflower that seems a bit difficult to me. We've grown it a couple of times before, but with limited success. I'm hopeful it will be different this year.
The spinach, beets and lettuce are sprouted, and big enough to tell them apart from the weeds, so weeding that area is on my to-do list for tomorrow.
As far as flowers go, the lilacs are done here (they were just starting up north at the property when I was there) and the lily-of-the-valley are just now blooming. I love their scent, and plan to get some for a vase tomorrow.
It seems we will have plenty of peonies this year. I started out with 2 bushes, I don't know the cultivar's names, I just refer to them as the bright pink ones or the faint pink ones. The blooms are the double pompom style. Last fall I split the bright pink ones (I think, if memory serves) and put the splits in the rain garden. All 3 new spots look like they are going to have blooms, although the stalks aren't as tall as they usually get. The original spot has shorter stalks as well.
The rhododendron is blooming right now. It is situated right in front of the bay window. Earlier this week, we had the bay window replaced, and I was afraid the workers were going to drop the new window assembly on top of it. They crushed a few of the topmost blooms, but all in all, it survived. That's one tough rhody, it survived some pretty harsh ice damage this last winter.
While the rhody seemed to fare o.k., the same can't be said about some of my other flowers. The workers were trying to be so careful not to damage my flowers, They were tiptoeing through my tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and lavender, all while trying to balance and place a 8 x 4 ft. + window, but the window is heavy and expensive, so I told them not to worry too much about the flowers, they were all perrenials that should come back anyway. (and probably a whole lot less expensive to replace...) So, they REALLY stopped worrying and pretty much trampled the entire bed after that. Oh, well, there is still mums and a few lilies that didn't seem to be trampled there. Otherwise, they did a great job. I love the new window.
Oh! I finally got a couple iris blooms! Last year they were weedwhacked by my "thoughtful" neighbor before they could bloom. I gotta get out there with the camera tomorrow and take a few images for posterity...
I need to remember to take more pictures up at the property. When I was there, walking in the woods, we spotted some trilliums, wild columbine (?) and a really pretty wild flower I tried to look up in my sisters field guide. I THINK it is a yellow ladyslipper. There were a few others I couldn't identify, too. Hopefully, some of them will still be in bloom when we go up there next week. Hubby has plant shut-down vacation time, and we plan to have a party for my mom's birthday. She is turning 70. It's a surprise party, and we will be busy doing all the last-minute things that need to be taken care of for that, so I probably won't blog again until afterwards once we are back home.
Geeze, where to start? A lot has gone on since I last updated my blog, and I've been so busy. My goal is to update my blog about once a week, but it seems I usually don't get to it that frequently. But I do try to pop in and read all the other blogs and forum threads.
Well, before I get to the garden happenings, a few other notable events merit mentioning...
My 1-year old grandnephew is recovering from the flu. The tests haven't come back to confirm if it was the swine flu, but his doctor is pretty sure that it was. So far, none of the rest of the family (his parents or siblings) have had it. At any rate, it was a mild case. He had gotten a flu shot in the fall, and even though he didn't get the same strain that the vacination was for, the doctor thinks it might have helped to keep the virus in check. He was also treated with Tamiflu (spelling?). Boy, that was one expensive shot, too.
2 of my neices, who are sisters, work for a Waffle House in Indiana. They were both working the overnight shift one day last week, the only two employees on duty, and they got robbed. No one was hurt, thankfully. And the robber was apprehended shortly afterwards.
This was the first year in about a decade that I actually got to see my mom on Mother's day. She lives over 3 hours away, and I usually call her, of course, but spend the day with my mother-in-law, who lives much closer. This year, we needed to bring some things up to the property, so we spent the night at my sister's place, and both my sister and I made Mom a nice Mother's Day brunch. (it was brunch vs. breakfast, because a few family members who shall remain nameless have trouble getting their behinds out of bed early enough...LOL!) My mother-in-law wasn't forgotten, though. We visited with her later in the week.
Another member here mentioned in a blog or thread that they were wondering about using a trashcan for a composter. When I read it, I thought I would respond later when I got a couple of pictures I could show them, but I didn't get around to it promptly, and now I can't remember who it was and where I read it. Hopefully, if they are still curious, they will see this blog. Here is a picture of our trashcan composter:
We cut the bottom from the can (for easy removal of finished compost) and drilled holes in the sides for ventilation. We keep the lid on it, and stand it on the piece of platic sheeting you see in the picture. We add the material in from the top, and sometimes we stir it up. When we need to get finished compost, we tip the can and see what we have in the bottom.
I use a piece of hardware cloth as a screen to separate the finished compost from material that needs to "cook" a while longer. In the picture above, I have it setting in my cruddy rusty old wheelbarrow. This can was filled to the top in the fall, and wasn't stirred up all winter, and I got about a 4 or 5 gallon bucketful of compost once I screened it. During the summer, it makes compost faster, because we check it more frequently (and I'm sure the weather helps, too). Just thought I'd share our composting experience. BTW, because we keep the lid on it, there really isn't much odor unless / untill you lift the lid. And then it's not too bad.
In this picture you can see some of the stuff we got started. In the smooth-raked area (I call it a block) I have spinach, lettuce and beets planted. The wire is to discourage the dogs from digging. As you can see from the corner of the mulch box, the puppy likes to chew ANYTHING she can reach. She is still teething, hope to correct that once her teeth are through. And no, that's NOT lead paint... Also, the plastic covered area are the green beans. They were planted before the frost date, the plastic protects against the frost, and keeps the soil a bit warmer so they germinate sooner. It's about ready to be removed now.
Geeze, the garden looks so cruddy at this stage, but believe it or not, it looks pretty nice come June. Anyway, on the far right is the pea fence. This picture was taken not too long after I planted them, and they haven't germinated yet. I use the boards to put down where the pathways are going to be, and I walk on those while I sow or transplant. That way I'm not compacting the soil I need to dig in. The boards also help me to keep the rows straighter. In the middle of the picture are my cabbage and cauliflower plants. You can probably see my plastic cutworm collars if you look close. We use newspaper and grass clippings to mulch between the plants and rows. On the left, you can see my homemade version of "hot caps". I use these for plants that I try to sneak out there before they are supposed to be planted. These ones are covering peppers and eggplant. Besides these, I have my tomatoes planted. The night after I planted them, we had a frost advisory, and they all had to be covered for the night. I also planted 2 rows of potatoes flanking a row area set aside for sweet potatoes, which are on order. This year I planted red skinned and white potatoes, and a few russets. We are trying the trenches again this year for the potatoes, but we plan to fill them in with more mulch and less soil to make the digging easier. Our soil is heavy clayish, and compacts fast. It was so wet earlier in the spring that it compacted to the point that I was wondering if we needed a jackhammer instead of a rototiller....
So for the most part, the garden is planted up. I still have to plant the sweetcorn and squashes, and the sweetpotatoes once they arrive. I also have a few broccoli plants to add to the kole crop section, and a few celery plants to squeeze in somewhere. I plan to get in what I can tomorrow. Then it's off up to the property for a week. I have a few things to plant up there, and I plan to take before/after pix since it's a new flower bed for me!
A good excuse to have Mexican food for dinner.....
BTW, did anyone know that Saturday, May 2nd was World Naked Gardening Day? I didn't know there was such a thing (who thinks this stuff up, anyway?). Just imagine, no tan lines and think of the laundry that would save....
The weather here has been beautiful sunshine for the past couple of days. I have been reading all the blogs, and it seems some areas of the country are being pounded with rain. For some reason, all the rain has been going around us lately. Not that we didn't get our share previously, some sleet and hail too not that long ago. I have been taking advantage of the good weather, bringing out the seedlings to harden, planting what I can. The garden is just barely dry enough to dig in. So far I have peas, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, spinach, and lettuce planted, most of which could have been put in the ground a couple weeks ago, if the garden was drier. I also planted some of my pepper plants. I know I'm pushing my luck there. I got a row of eggplant planted, but covered with hot caps for protection. I am hoping to get the better part of the garden planted before next weekend. I want to get the tomatoes and potatoes in tomorrow, and maybe some of the squash. I may wait a bit for the sweetcorn, though.
We just started getting a few asparagus spears. A few more, and we'll have enough for a meal. The rhubarb will be ready soon, I'm really looking forward to that. I plan to visit my mom for mother's day, maybe I will bring some. She makes delicious rhubarb pies!
Well, the mushrooms from the kit are coming along in fits and starts. It's either feast or famine there. There will be a flush of mushrooms, and then it will be several days before there are any more. But are they ever delicious! Such a good, fresh flavor. The "fresh" ones in the store don't seem to have nearly as much flavor. Here's a picture of what I have growing right now:
I let them get pretty big before I cut them. Don't the little ones look funny? The stems are bigger than the caps.
I have Lily-of-the-valley lining the drive way. They should be in bloom in a couple of weeks. I just LOVE their fragrance, and will fill a vase or two when they bloom.
I have tried before to careflully remove the ones that come up in the pavement cracks, but they don't come out easy. They seem to fill in pretty thick, and I don't need to weed the area very much.
I have wild violets lining the walkway. I know they are considered a weed by some, and they do spread into the lawn. But I think they look pretty enmasse, and they go pretty well with the grape hyacinths, they are almost the exact same shade...
I don't know what that grassy stuff is, it gets these small white flowers, but I never planted it and it seems to be coming up everywhere. There are fewer white tulips this year. But it seems these are the only tulips I will see this year. Look at these:
These are on the side of my house. I don't remember what color they are supposed to be. And look at these:
Those ones would be just now opening, and they would be black. Those are in my rain garden, in the back yard, on the same side of the yard. It's not that easy to see in the photo, but they look as if they were neatly clipped, rather than chewed or torn off. Odd, huh? "Coincidentally" this is the side of the yard that abuts the crazy lady's property.
Also in the rain garden:
These are Irises. Last year they were weed-whacked just before they bloomed. I have yet to see blooms from these... My husband didn't use the weed-whacker all season last year, and I didn't whack them. Of course, I didn't SEE anyone doing it, but it was obvious they were whacked down. They were all the same length and the leaves were left laying around.
Just the other side of the fence, there is a cedar tree cluster. Both my husband and I have seen the crazy lady hiding in the cedars, watching us do yard work. Here is her hide-out:
She hasn't said anything to either of us in a long time, but she sometimes gets agitated and rattles her trash cans, which she keeps between the cedars and a shed. Oh, we often find the lids to her trash cans flung in our yard. I just fling them back like a frisbee.
I forgot to mention my rose bush. Last year, at one point, all the rose buds were trimmed off, and my rose bush looked like it belonged to the Addams Family. Good thing it's a rebloomer.
I really don't know what, if anything, I can do about any of this, because all these things happen when we are gone. But at any rate, I bring the dogs with me when I go outside to work.
Speaking of the dogs....
Here's a photo of our puppy Bella, 4 1/2 months old.
Isn't she a beauty? And here's my always handsome Beagle Bailey: