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Its been pretty hot. Mid to upper 90s everyday. Not alot of rain either, though we did get a few minutes yesterday. I missed it though, I was taking a much needed nap :) Now that the kids B-day parties are over I am shifting my focus to other things. Like weeding and sprucing up the garden and flower beds. Night before last I weeded the front flower bed part of the way. I also dug up the glads that I wanted to keep from by the dogwood tree. I trimmed them down a bit and replanted them in another spot. The bulbs are 2 or 3 times the size they were when I bought them. A few of the Sunflower seedlings got planted towards the back and a daylily came out of a pot and into the ground. I wouldn't normally be transplanting in this heat but the daylily was getting too dry in its pot, hard to keep up with it. Some things were trimmed up a bit, the Rose Bush and the Dahlias. Maybe I will get to finish that be off tonight.
Yesterday morning it was the Hot Peppers turn for weeding. My little one wanted to help. So I got her up early and we went out to the garden. I was concerned about snakes, so she worked on some safer projects. Halfway through the weeding I saw a snake tail!!! I put on my leather glove and caught the 3 inch monster. LOL Really he was only about 3 inches. He went over the back fence. Then we saw a skink and a toad. Neither of which was happy about what I was doing. Once the bed was cleaned I put in organic fertilizer stakes and started the sprinkler. The toad was not happy at all about the sprinkler, so I moved him away a bit.
Later when I went to look at the tadpole pool I found a bigger snake!!!!
Hubby mowed last night while I did a little bit more weeding. Here is a pic of the toad.
P.S. I also added some more Pictures to the Mushroom album and the Critters album.
Its been waaaaayyyy too long since I have had time to write a blog. We have just been CRAZY busy. As far as the outdoors go, things are going good. I have been taking pics every few days or when I get a chance. We have been trying to get caught up and a little bit ahead on things outdoors. I have the patio cleaned up now. Very nice to have that done. We have been using the new electric trimmer to get all of our edges really trimmed up good. The weeding is going pretty good in the flower beds. Still some to be done, but not too bad. The veggie garden (what there is of it) is doing pretty good. With my work schedule early in the I din not get as much in as I would have liked. The tomatoes are producing really good, with the exception of the Black Prince. I think its just too hot for that one. Maybe later in the summer when it cools a bit I will get a few more. We have plenty of cucumbers from the volunteer cucumber patch. We even made 6 pints of pickles! It hasn't been raining at all until a couple of days ago. I would check the radar everyday to see if we would get a bit. But no. There were more than a couple of times when the storms would even literally just wrap around us, then disepate. Its a real bummer to go that long without rain. I am just glad that I spent the $ on a sprinkler that covers a 35ft square area. It is one that oscillates back and forth so the water gets a chance to soak in and not just run off. My water bill last month was up $20, just the pickles are worth it, LOL. Every year I learn more and more about how things work in the garden and with plants. Gardening is a wonderful journey :) I am very glad to have you all to share it with.
P.S. I posted an album of some of my fav pics from the last month or so. Its labeled Summer 2008, hope you all enjoy.
I love lady bugs. We have had a few hanging around since early spring. They have been feasting on the aphids that the ants were farming. When I walk around the yard I like to watch any insects that I see. One day I happened to notice a ladybug larvae! Boy are they weird looking! I watched it over time. We saw it go through its change into a ladybug. It was very interesting for me since I don't think that I had ever seen a larvae or a chrysalis thingy. Anyway, here are some pics of the different stages. Most of the pics are a little out of focus, its been pretty breezy lately, but you will get the idea. :)
Larvae curled around flower bud, there were aphids down in there.
Pupae, right after it started this phase.
Pupae, I think this pic is about 5 days after the one above. The butt end is a little darker now.
Empty Pupae case.
Newly emerged ladybug. She didn't stick around long after this.
Well, we now have green tomatoes! Here are pics of what is growing right now.
Sweet 100 Cherry
Today turned out to be a lovely day. My husband and two daughters gave me a beautiful windchime and a dwarf banana tree for a gift. I have wanted a windchime like this for quite awhile. After morning church we grabbed some food at Quiznos and headed out to the lake. We ate with family and chilled out for awhile. Some of the guys played a little baseball. Then we took a walk on a trail through the woods. We ended up walking about 4 miles. I took pictures along the way of things that we saw. Baby armadillos!!!!!! They were soooooooo cute. I have made a photo album with pictures from the walk. In the pic of the baby armadillo there is a flattened soda can on the right side of the screen, gives perspective on size. They were searching around for munchies I guess. We spotted a few holes in the side of the banks, maybe armadillo homes. Also, alot of paths that were from animals. We had a great time and the tall pines were swaying with the breeze. Just lovely. Happy Mothers Day to all mothers out there in GG land. I put lots of pics in the photo album, Mothers Day '08, so check them out.
For about the last 10 days there has been logging going on in the field behind our house. When they first started the machines were working almost directly behind our yard, about a 1/3 of a mile away. I was surprised at my own reaction. It almost made me cry, to hear the tree branches breaking. I did manage to watch for a few minutes one time. There was some kind of machine that was just mowing down any sections that didn't have decent sized trees for them to take. The larger ones were grabbed by another machine with some large clamps, then cut off just above the ground level. Then the cut tree was turned on its side and somehow all of the branches stripped from the main trunk. The tree was stacked, awaiting a truck to carry it away. I don't know why the property owner is cutting them, so I can't judge. All I can think of though is the wildlife. Owls, Hawks, Woodpeckers, etc. and etc. If any of those trees had baby birds in them, they are surely dead now. I don't think I have a real good daytime pic of the before. It seems that I was always taking pics at sunset and not in the day. Here is what I do have to give you a little idea.
You can at least see the large pine on the left and the tops of the others .
Here is a pic as of a couple of days ago, all of the pines are gone.
Since I got home there have been two truckloads this size that have pulled out. Notice the size of the driver that is tying down the load, compared to the size of the trees.
Lots of things growing here. When I go to work, so much happens while I am gone. The bird feeder is knocked 'caty-wompus' by the squirrels, the bumblebees are about done with their days work, the asparagus spears really do grow about 3 to 6 inches per day and the chickens have about 8 or 9 eggs in their nest. I miss seeing all of the action while away, I really would rather be home where the fun is.
I am happy to say that the pink dogwood tree is not dead. I do have some serious concern about the trees health though. Last year, end of summer, the leaves had some spots on them and some of them dropped. Now this spring the flower buds didn't open, they were dried out to a crisp. I am wondering, since the flower buds formed last year, maybe whatever was on the leaves affected the flower buds as well. I think that I may spray the tree on a regular basis this year with an organic spray. So we will just wait and see what happens. For now I am just happy to see the beautiful new leaves.
The asparagus beds are doing pretty well this year. We have been harvesting some here and there. We don't want to take too much and stress the plants. We still need to add some more soil to the beds but it is expensive and other things have taken priority. One way that we prepared the spears that we harvested was to sautee it with some onion and garlic from the garden. We added seasonings and it was sooooo good. My youngest, who is not a veggie eater, ate it all before she even touched her other food. She loved it and then asked for more. I was very surprised! Here is a pic of some that we harvested.
I have noticed that the brush at the back of the yard was getting over grown again. It is all on the other side of the fence. The owner of that land has told us (a couple of years ago) that we are more than welcome to trim away. He had cleared some of the fence line before and ended up starting a fire along the fence of four or five yards, including mine. Because of that we are removing everything that we cut down and we are going to burn it in our yard. We don't want the extra brush for a few reasons. It shelters the mice and rats from the field for one. It also would be fuel for another fire. Alot of the small trees that were burned in the last fire have now died. Some of them had started lean alot and were pushing hard on the fence. When my husband was clearing it out all he had to do was just shove on alot of them and they just snapped off. So he was using the loppers to clear the live brush and then breaking off the dead stuff. We found a good sized Honeysuckle vine and some wild blackberries that were growing behind the chicken yard. The chickens have actually been eating the blackberry vines where they can reach them, stickers and all!!! The job isn't finished, but hubby made a great start. We might get it finished tonight.
In the veggie garden the peas, salad, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots and asparagus are all going good. Hope to have more updates soon. Enjoy that garden everyone!!! AG
I hope you will indulge me. My daughters and I have been enjoying time 'off'. No work and no school since last fri. Except for one day of work for me. We were looking out the back window yesterday and spotted these cute little guys. The male put on an especially amusing show for his girl. I took way too many pictures for someone that would be considered 'normal' LOL. Oh, well. In the first picture he is kind of brown, I think because he noticed us all clustered around the window. He relaxed though after we stood really still for a bit. Hope you enjoy his pics as much as we did.
He is sitting up here on top of the handle of my cart, watching the girl down below. He was continuosly looking down to see what she thought of his show.
It took him about 15 minutes to get this beetle down!!!
He was very brave and let me get really close with the camera.
So far the blueberries are doing good this year. I love their little bubble blooms. They look like little pantaloons hanging in clusters. The color of the spring foliage is a beautiful seafoam green. The fat bumblebees are really loving all of the blooms. The first of the pollinated blooms are dropping their petals.
We bought a new weedeater / edger yesterday. It is the electric / rechargable type. It came with 2, 18volt batteries, they take 9 hrs to charge the first time!! Other than the fact that you have to wait on the batteries to charge, the weedeater works great. And I really appreciate not having to smell fumes when my husband is using it.
So, this morning my hubby used the weedeater while I did laundry. Then we went out to a Easter Egg hunt for the kids. They had fun, but we didn't linger too long. Since we have been wanting to do the privacy fence so badly we needed to get some prices. We made a trip into town for that. A wooden fence will run about $2,500 and a vinyl fence about $5,500. Pretty steep price for sure. We bought some tree fertilizer stakes and a couple of different kinds of tomato plants. One is a Black Prince and the other is a Yellow Pear. Looking forward to tasting some of those.
When we got home hubby did some more edging and mowed in the front. I potted up some odds and ends that needed homes. They will live on the porch now. A few small Split leaf plants, 3 caladium bulbs and 4 wax begonia plants that actually survived the winter and were sprouting new leaves. Hopefully they will make a pretty combination together.
The big job of the day was this evening. We revamped the front perennial bed. It was a little on the brutal side. I felt so bad ripping out so many plants. All of the ornamental kale is out, and all of the pansies were either moved or out. The next thing to receive some brutality were the irises. Once I started on them though I was glad that I did. The rhizomes that I started with originally were ready to be thrown out for sure. All of the new, good sized rhizomes were kept, though we didn't even replant half of them. I was surprised that the ones that had bloomed weren't even that big, they were all crowded already though.
So, in went the Daylilies, Crinum, Calla Lilies, Spring bulbs that we moved around in the bed, Iris that we moved around in the bed, 1 Carnation, and 20 Verbena.
We left in place the Rose, Lavenders, Narcissus and all of the plants that are back against the house.
I had also transplanted some volunteer Cosmos from the front section of the bed. I think I saved about 8, they were planted up against the house since they were soooooo tall last year.
I can't wait to see how it looks in a month or so. I will take some pics so we can see the progress from now on.
Here are some pictures I snapped before I started on this redo.
The peas have their first blooms!!! I am very excited! I love fresh peas and I never seem to have enough from the garden.
While I was out looking at the peas Bobby, my Siamese cat jumped the back fence and headed towards me, WITH A VERY FULL MOUTH......FULL OF MOUSE!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! He tried to meow, around his very full mouth, how proud he was of his catch! Then he let the varmit go, and IT WASN'T DEAD YET!!!! AHHHHHHHH again!!!!! Then I had to stay outside to be sure that the cat would actually finish his 'job' and do away with the thing. 'Sigh'......I hate rodents!!! Once the job was done I had to come inside, as my stomach was turning at the though of what might be to come. Gross.
VARMIT!!!!!!! It actually looked 3 times this size in real life, seriously! LOL
It has been really windy since Monday. So I really haven't done alot outside. But I still have been gardening.
Sunday evening I started transplanting my hot peppers, sweet peppers and eggplant. The cell packs that I started them in were too small. Some of them had started getting a little topsy turvy. The roots had pretty much filled the small soil space that they had. I put most of them into 3 inch pots. I think this is silly for me to be doing all of this transplanting. Next year I will do things a tiny bit different. I think that I will start out with 3 or 4inch pots, plastic or peat, then when I seed I will only fill it about 2/3 full of soil. Then if the stem needs a tiny bit of extra support when they get a little bigger, I can add a small amount of soil if needed. If that works then I won't have to transplant them and disturb the roots unneccesarily. I am almost done with the transplanting, (I have been doing a few at a time), I only have a few eggplant seedlings left to transplant.
Hot Pepper Babies
Sweet Pepper Babies
I did get outside yesterday afternoon to put in the flower seeds before the rain. I mixed up a bunch of different kinds of seeds that should be about the same height. I put sunflowers in the back of the area along with some Castor Bean. In the front I spread the mix. I am hoping that I will have an area FULL OF BLOOMS.
I also have gotten the last plants that I need to finish the front perennial bed. I will take before and after photos to compare. I have made out a list of all the plants that are going to be in the area. Some are already in place from last year. For the annual that will be around the edge I chose a pretty verbena. I am hoping that it does good through the heat of the summer.
20 Pink Verbena Plants in 3 inch pots
My husband has said that he really likes Calla Lilies...they should be a perfect addition to that bed as well. I love the white spots on the leaves of this variety.
Where to start? We have been very busy over the last couple of weeks. Working and then working more here at home on my days off.
The front and side yard have been given a face lift. Edges have been trimmed. Plants added....Caladiums, Ferns, Coleus, Primroses....can't wait for it all to come up and fill in....give it a couple of weeks. I am afraid that the dogwood tree in the front yard is dead, hubby says to just give it some more time. I really want it to make it, but if it doesn't we have a free tree coming from our life insurance company. (Crabapple) Put out some of the shade loving houseplants that like to be outdoors in the summer, they went onto the porch, hope it isn't too much morning sun for them. Still need to do some revamping in the main bed, add some annuals and then the front will be set for the summer.
The creeping phlox is blooming like crazy!
In the veggie garden lots has been going on. 5 more beds have been tilled. Tomatoes have been planted in 2 of them. 2 Brandywine, 3 Roma and 3 Sweet 100s.
The potatoes are coming up!!!!!
The onions, shallots and garlic are looking good. I weeded that bed the other day and added some aged cow manure, it was fine enough that I could just sprinkle it over top of everything and it just fell into place.
Hubby tilled some today with our sm tiller that we bought last year. Its so small that I didn't think it would really do a good job. I was really wrong.....it actually does great!!!
Asparagus is popping up!!! Hubby had some in an omelett yesterday morning, he said it was good.
Blueberries are loaded with blooms that are just starting to open. I moved the pots onto the patio for a closer watch and I can water easily.
Bought a new vine for planting by the chickens yard. It is called Pink Jasmine. The smell of the blooms is just divinely intoxicating!!! My hubby loves it too.
Spotted this little guy while we were taking a rest this afternoon.
I also notice while we were resting that the moon was already high in the sky.
Lots more to be done. Hope to have more pics soon.
Yesterday a friend of ours brought us 3 more chickens. Very sweet of him. He has too many chickens. All of the ones he brought to us are white, but they all look different. They are all pretty young too, maybe 16 to 18 weeks old.
Let me tell you what happened, he brought them to us in a very large dog type kennel. We discussed that it would be better to put them in with the older chickens late in the evening when it was dark. So, I proceed with getting them some comforts, first food and water, then some hay to stand or lay on. Well, putting the food and water in that big door worked out fine. But when it came to the hay, well....lets just put it this way, one of the chickens freaked out. She shot out of the kennel like a bullet! I didn't even have time to TRY and grab her! I am just glad that the door was aimed in the general direction of the main chicken yard. So I went back there and opened the door to the chicken yard, then my husband came and shoooed the escapee out from under the hen house while I stood guard in case she decided to go the wrong way. Crazy!!!! While there was a little bit of jostling and fighting when she went in, it wasn't too bad and sometime in the afternoon she managed to get up in the nesting area and lay an egg. I'm surprised the older girls didn't kick her out of the nest. We put the other two in the hen house later at night. So far all of the white ones are hanging out together and trying to leave the old biddys alone. I can't wait to see how they fill out as they get older. The escapee one is still pretty rough looking. Must be from the trip, her feathers are a little dirty. Now my husband is talking about expanding their yard area so they have even more area to roam. Here are pics of all three.
The one with the brown looks like she will have a small comb.
This is Bullet, the former escapee.
This year my strategy for strong veggie seedlings is a bit different than the last couple of years.
Last year I had trouble with the Eggplant and others taking forever to germinate. Those tiny soil gnats were also a problem.
This year I decided to try Rashells idea of using the bedding plastic zippered bags to put my trays in. It has worked beautifully with all of the trays so far. I haven't had the problem with the gnats like last year. They are still around though. They are in some of my other pots that are bigger. Even the eggplant germinated in a VERY timely manner. The bags seem to work even better than the plastic cover trays that came with the trays, I used those alot last year.
I read an article last summer about how airflow and water control will produce stronger seedlings. So I am trying not to 'baby' my babies. I don't want them to get too leggy. After almost all of the tomato seeds had sprouted I quit watering them. I don't want any damping off, I did have some of that last year. The soil is still moist but I am not going to water the whole tray again until the soil starts to dry a bit. There are a few of the cells that have seeds that haven't sprouted yet, I will just mist the top of each of those until they sprout.
The article also recommended exposing your seedlings to a mild breeze. This prompts the roots to go deep and has a mild drying effect on the outer cells of the stem and leaves. The plant in turn responds by stengthening its stem and conserving water. They don't get as leggy and consequently are a sturdier seedling.
So today the tomato babies went outside without protection, in the shade, for a few hrs. There was a nice breeze this morning. I kept an eye on them though. I don't want too strong of a wind yet, if the stems were to bend too far that could cause a problem too. Since I am starting this soon after sprouting they aren't so tall that they might snap though. I hope to continue this until they are strong enough to keep outside for good, maybe in a week or two. Some of them are already working on their second set of leaves!
I am already leaving out the baby dill seedlings. I will start acclimating the eggplant and peppers a little later, they aren't ready yet.
EGGPLANT AND PEPPER BABIES
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