Sunday, April 23, 2017

Flower seeds

Not too long ago, my son bought a used book.  The book was one on which a recent movie was based.  In the book were a couple of bookmarks advertising the movie.  The bookmarks had paper butterflies that were embedded with wildflower seeds.
I'm not likely to read the book nor see the movie, but I did plant the seeds yesterday.

I covered them lightly.  I marked them with stones because I might sow some more wildflowers in this area, too, and I will want to know which flowers are which.  This is an area near the septic drain field where I have spent quite a bit of time removing briars and honeysuckle.
I also planted some marigold seeds yesterday that I had gotten from Mom's marigolds.  We are supposed to get quite a bit of rain, so I thought if I planted them between 2 sheets of bath tissue, that might keep them from being washed away.  I guess we'll see later on.  (One of the biggest problems might be distinguishing the marigold seedlings from the ragweed seedlings that volunteer everywhere.)

I like planting flower seeds.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Garden update

I've been doing a considerable amount of digging lately.  Here are some updates.

the peas...
the potatoes...


peppers, elephant garlic, and 4 squash hills...

three tomatoes...
(Thanks to Caleb for stopping by the hardware store and buying the tomato and pepper plants.  It's pretty cool to have a son who will call on the phone and read off the available varieties.)
...and some asparagus

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sprouts of potatoes and peas emerging

I have some potato and pea sprouts emerging.  I'm always thrilled to see the new growth.  The 'Adirondack Blue' potato sprouts emerged as a blackish purple color.  I noticed today they have greened up considerably, but this is what they looked like a couple of days ago.

The 'Kennebec' potatoes are coming through also.
My pea seeds had been sitting on a counter for two years, so I wondered how the germination would be, but it looks like I've got a pretty good stand coming on.
It's always a pleasure to see new leaves.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Rocky Cross Band covers "Folsum Prison Blues"

The band Caleb plays with did "Folsum Prison Blues" which features Caleb on the guitar.
I remember listening to this song on Daddy's eight-track tape.  I'm sure it brought back memories for the senior members of the audience at the Red Barn.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A gravel or a frog?

Sometimes when I see an out-of-place gravel in the yard, I wonder if the kids next door threw it over (or if a gravel caught the edge of a car tire and was tossed into the yard).  Today, I saw what at first looked like a gray gravel atop the stub of a dead limb I had sawed off.  How in the world could they have thrown a gravel over the fence and had it land just so?  Aha, it was not a gravel at all; it was a gray tree frog.

Doesn't this look a bit like a gray granite gravel?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Asparagus with lunch

Yesterday, I noticed a stalk of asparagus coming up in my weedy asparagus bed.  I also saw a wild stalk that had self seeded near the camellia bush.  It was tall and rank.  I made a mental note to cut the stalk in the bed first thing this morning.  For lunch, with a serving of leftover lasagna, I had the asparagus stalk which I chopped up and cooked in the microwave with a little butter and sea salt.
In other garden news, I had some leftover seed potatoes, and decided to plant them where the compost pile had been a year or so ago.  The area was about 3' x 5' which was perfect for the 18 seed pieces I had left.  You can see the organic matter from the compost has given this bed a little darker color than the first bed I planted.  I hope the potatoes thrive here.
3' x 5' bed where compost pile had been 

where butterbeans were last year

Friday, March 31, 2017

Rite of spring--planting garden peas

Yesterday, I conducted my annual spring ritual of planting garden peas, English peas as some folks call them.  I probably expended more energy prepping the bed than I will get from eating the peas, but I didn't want to discontinue my spring ritual.  Besides, I should be able to plant a fall crop of some sort in the same bed without a lot of additional work.  We've gotten a nice rain today to water them in.
Planting peas is a nice experience...  ...the fresh earthy smell of the soil, the air that is still cool with spring, a lady bug on my shoulder... 
If all goes well, in about 2 months, I should be getting a wonderfully fresh taste from the garden. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bees in the blueberry blossoms

You may have heard that a popular breakfast cereal has removed their honeybee mascot from their cereal boxes to bring awareness to the declining population of honeybees.  One of the reasons cited for decline is loss of habitat.  I am thrilled to be providing a food source for the honeybees with some blueberry blossoms.  This afternoon when I inspected my bushes, they were ahum with bees.  I had seen some large carpenter bees for a few days, but today I saw honeybees, too.  The honeybees are probably traveling a half mile to visit these bushes.  They will help pollinate the blooms, so the bees and I have a mutually beneficial relationship.
If you'll notice the brown scarring on the left side of the left blossom, you will see where the bees have pierced the blossom to get at the nectar.  Sometimes, I see the bees at the open end of the blossom, but sometimes they just pierce the bloom.
I enjoyed watching and listening to the bees.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A potato bed

Potatoes are fairly cheap to buy at the grocery store, so I have to think twice about planting them.  One of my favorite bloggers saves her own seed potatoes.  My mother saves hers as well.  I don't really have a good place to store potatoes for seed, so whenever I plant them (which hasn't been every year) I buy some seed potatoes at a local hardware or feed and seed store.  I doubt they make any money on them. 
This year, after I had bought some seed potatoes at the hardware store, I went to my favorite big box discount store.  I was due a refund because a reduced bakery item had been rung up as a reduced meat item.  I was owed about the amount it had cost to buy the seed potatoes at the hardware store.  It was a strange and long process to get the refund, but I felt so good when it was done I splurged and bought some 'Adirondack Blue' seed potatoes as well from the big box store.  They were probably at least twice the cost per pound as the seed potatoes from the hardware store, but I really did want a more novel variety than I could find at the hardware store.
I thought I would plant the potatoes where I planted the butterbeans last year.  I got a total of about 3 quarts all totaled of butterbeans.  Potatoes need a lower pH than most other garden veggies, so they should do well there.
Relatively speaking there wasn't a lot of bed prep required.  (I still worked up a sweat.)  The weeds growing there were mostly cool-season annuals like speedwell, cudweed, and chickweed.
I mowed a few days ago, and yesterday I hoed and forked and planted.
After mowing and before hoeing--
After removing the weeds with a hoe and cultivating with a spading fork--
The cardboard mulch from last year is still in place.  I will not add anything else to the paths this year.
I was tired after prepping the bed and would have waited till today to plant, but the possibility of rain was in the forecast last night and today, so I went ahead and planted last evening.
I'm looking forward to homegrown potatoes.

Monday, March 27, 2017

"Well-Rotted Manure, Steaming"

There is a 1978 watercolor postcard by Alan Gussow entitled "Well-Rotted Manure, Steaming."  His wife explains in her book This Organic Life how the blue-green steam on the artwork was not intended to represent the metabolic steam produced by the compost as it is being broken down by organisms, but the water vapor that sometimes rises as the sun burns off the morning dew.  (People were pointing out that well rotted manure doesn't steam.)

Well-Rotted Manure, Steaming by Alan Gussow

Last week I witnessed the phenomenon myself on my garden compost pile.  We had a cold morning with frost, and the sun was quickly warming surfaces.  Dark surfaces, especially, were billowing with steam.  I couldn't resist taking a picture.

It's nice, I think, to see the artistry in ordinary things.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Spring and her bag of tricks

March, like a typical spring around here, has been a mix of mild weather and cold weather, flowers and frozen buds.  Here are some pics.
This is the star flower that is blooming by the sidewalk.  I had a little clump in the mixed border, but it was too far from normal foot traffic to be noticed, so I transferred a little plug of it to the bed by the porch.  That was a good choice because it blooms when not too much else is blooming in that bed.
Here are the jonquils.

Here is the grape hyacinth (which is more purplish than it shows up on my camera) that I got from a neighbor,

and the jessamine (which always reminds me roaming the woods in childhood).
We got a light and brief snow.
March brought a frigid cold snap, with temperatures down to about 23°.  After having a warmer than normal February, the cold snap hurt quite a few buds.  Here you can see the tan color on the larger blueberry buds, indicating that they were frozen.  The ones that had not opened up as much show a pink color and appear to have survived.  I guess we'll know for sure later on.
The pot of pansies by the steps withstood all the tricks thrown at it, and came through with flying colors.  I did move it to the south end of the house on the very coldest nights.
Last, but not least, here is the eggshell of a bluebird.  The adult bluebirds will sometimes eat the remaining shells or remove them to a distance away from the nest.  This one was on the ground away from the nest.  I don't know enough about how a hatched egg would look to know if this was a successful hatch or if it was an egg stolen by a predator, but there has been enough time since nest building for eggs to have hatched.  My bird box opens from the front, and I'm a little leery about trying to look in.  (A bluebird egg is less than an inch in length.  There are a few flecks of debris on the shell, but the color is a solid blue.)

March--in like a lion, out like a lamb.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


There is a good-sized pond about a quarter of a mile from here as the crow flies, or perhaps I should say as the osprey flies.  I was strolling around the yard as I'm wont to do on a Sunday afternoon, and I saw what I thought might have been a bald eagle.  After a minute I realized it had circled back.  (It seemed to be flying over the area of the power line that runs alongside the far side of my neighbor's property.)  I fetched my camera in hopes that I would get a third glimpse.
(This was the best shot.)
When I came back out with my camera, the first shot was quite distant even zoomed in, 
but then the bird obliged me by flying overhead.  I'm pretty sure it's an osprey.

Off into the wild blue yonder...


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Courting vultures

About a week and a half ago, I was outside snapping pictures when I saw a pair of black buzzards in a synchronized flight.  One vulture chased the other, and at one point they actually made contact in the air, though I didn't catch that part with the camera. 
We have turkey vultures and black vultures in these parts.  I see the turkey vultures more often.  Sometimes, in reference to Sheriff Andy Taylor prompting someone to call another person a "black-hearted buzzard," we will call the black vultures "black-hearted buzzards." 
Here are the pics in the sequence I took them.