I dug a few new potatoes to go with our Memorial Day lunch. I was very disappointed to find that some rodent had eaten one of the larger potatoes and who knows how many others that are underground that it has eaten. (I only wanted to dig a few hills because I want to leave the rest of the potatoes to get bigger. That will be a gamble since the varmint will undoubtedly be back for seconds and thirds.) The few potatoes I found were delicious, though, roasted with some butter.
There is a cat that shows up in my backyard occasionally. I usually chase it out because I don't want it hunting my songbirds, but I think I'm going to leave it in peace and hope it catches some vermin.
The weather has been favorable this year for early and lush blooms on the butterfly weed (a native that was transplanted to my border from the wild). Also blooming with it is the wildflower Venus' looking glass which I purposely leave when it self-seeds and the little native "green and gold" which I also transplanted from the wild.
(credit to Caleb for the pics)
I updated my post on the tree with 2 stories when someone reminded me of a bald cypress planting at an historic site not too far from where the storied tree grows. (Maybe the landscape designer got inspiration from that tree.)
A friend of mine was recently showing off some newly planted veronica. I caught a picture of the gray hairstreak butterfly giving the planting its endorsement.
At the Zach Goforth Memorial River Run, I noticed the palisade walls of Indian Mound were needing some mud plaster maintenance. The bluebirds didn't seem to mind the conditions--any post is a perch.
In my mixed border, the clematis that I rescued from next door is blooming. I am letting it climb through Grandpa's white rose (and into the osmanthus, if it wants).
On a negative note, I found several leaf-footed bugs sucking the sap out of the top of one of my potato plants. I knocked some of them into a bucket of sudsy water. I'll be after the few that flew away because I know they'll be back.
(There was also one larva of a Colorado potato beetle that I dropped into the suds as well. I had killed one beetle the other day. Rarely do you see just one larva, so I will be inspecting the vines to see if there are more.)
The blue flora and fauna made me happy, and the brown one gave me the blues.
Today, I had the chance to visit with my parents. Daddy was telling me about a tree that was quite unique in his area (said he only knew of one other like it, and the other had been cut by a lumber company that wasn't supposed to cut it).
"Can you show it to me? And I'll take a picture."
"Sure I can show it to you, but it's in a man's yard, and he might not take too kindly to you taking a picture of it."
Well, I was absolutely taken with the beauty and stateliness of the tree. It looked to me like a bald cypress, and the new growth gave a fresh, soft appearance that contrasted gorgeously with the strong trunk.
This tree is inland from the natural range of the bald cypress. The story (one of the stories) is that back in the days of mule and wagons, farmers in the area would go to Wilmington, NC, to get their fertilizer for the year. Now, that in itself was a fascinating thing to me because that would have been a long trip (roughly 300 miles, round trip). Also, that doesn't narrow down the dates as much as you might expect because it's possible that the farmers in the area were still relying on their mules and wagons even after the advent of cars and trucks. It also brings up the topic of the history of fertilizer, which is a whole 'nother can of worms. Anyway, the story (one of the stories) goes that one of the farmers brought back a couple of cones from a tree in the Wilmington area and planted them.
The other version of the story is that a traveler came through the area, spent the night at one place, gave his hosts one of the cones to plant, spent the night in the other location, and also gave them one of the cones to plant.
Which story (if either) is the way it happened, we don't really know. Judging by the size of the tree, it happened long ago, and we may never know.
When I look at the first shot I snapped, it's amusing to see pampas grass, which is native to a grassland growing next to a tree which is native to swampy areas (growing next to trees which are probably typical hardwoods of the piedmont of NC).
There is a possibility I have the wrong identification on the tree, but suffice it to say, it is a unique specimen in its area.
Update: I was just reminded that there is a planting of bald cypresses at an historic site near where this tree is. I would still say this tree is fairly unique in its area, just not totally unique.
I have picked up quite a few ticks just being out in the yard and garden. The rabbits and other rodents are probably providing the ticks a way to carry on. I've had 5 tick bites so far, and I've killed about 28 ticks altogether this year. That includes 10 that were on the screen door. Why on the screen? I have no idea. Last week, I saw 4 ticks on the screen door. Yesterday, there were 4 more, and today, there were 2. I don't want to constantly wear insect repellant, but I will keep my eyes open.
The CDC has information on another tick-borne disease besides Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme. It is called the Powassan virus. Most of the occurrences have been in the Northeast and in the Great Lakes region. Here is a little more info from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The ticks on my screen were what we call dog ticks, but a couple of the ones that have bitten me this year are what we call deer ticks.
Here is a close-up of one on my screen door.
If you are outdoors a lot, keep yourself checked for ticks.
Yesterday at church, I won one of the Mother's Day door prizes. (I think God was laughing at me because they called my name first, a mere moment after I had murmured a snide remark about Pentecostals and lotteries.) Then when I saw my door prize was a lovely lighthouse birdfeeder that is identical to the one my next-door neighbor has, I think God must have chuckled again. They also gave me a bag of birdseed to go with it. I will certainly enjoy using this door prize.
Darling son gave me a hanging basket that I will thoroughly enjoy as well.
The best gift of all, though, is time spent with those you love.
Yesterday, darling husband and I participated in the annual River Run in memory of Zachary Goforth. I did not go down the river myself this year since my canoeing partner, darling son, didn't want to canoe. Then it turned out that he wasn't going to be there at all. I missed that, but we still had a nice time meeting with family, eating barbecue, and remembering the special person Zach was.
A few days ago, I noticed what looked to me like early blight on one of my potato plants. I removed the leaves and sprayed the plant with some organic neem oil spray. If I have a crop failure, it won't affect my livelihood, nor will I go hungry, but I did pause to think about commercial growers or people who are feeding their families on what they can grow themselves. Yesterday, I saw one other leaf on that plant that was affected. I removed it this morning.
One article I read about early blight said, "Despite the name "early," foliar symptoms usually occur on older leaves." I got a chuckle out of that. That sounds like something a plant pathologist would say. A farmer or gardener, on the other hand, might call it early blight if it generally appeared early in the growing season.
I did notice on another plant (in the second potato bed), some black curled edges on a new leaf. I'm not sure what that was, but I removed the leaf and sprayed with neem oil.
Overall the potato plants look pretty good, I think. I mounded the soil around each plant, added more compost (and a little 10-10-10 since I'm only "mostly organic"), and then added some mulch in the form of some of last year's stilt grass that was growing in an untended area.
The problem I have coming up, though, is that I have no suitable place to store the potatoes. My folks always store theirs in the cinderblock building that houses the well. It's in a shady area with a concrete floor, so it's not too hot in the summer and doesn't freeze in the winter, and it's dark.
One might think a crawl space would be good, but ours is susceptible to flooding.