Monday, March 28, 2011

Too pooped to pop

I decided to take a vacation day today, making this a three-day weekend, and I had way too much fun.  Well, my kind of fun, which involved a lot of soup making and bread baking.  I took photos of the soups, but I'm too tired to download them.  Take my word for it:  they were beautiful (especially the beet ginger) and they were delicious.

The day was mostly sunny, but looks can be deceiving because it was cold outside.  Not as windy, though, and still above freezing, so I spent some quality time with my compost pile.  My composting method is known (at least, by me) as slow composting.  I pile stuff into one side of the double compost bin while digging compost out of the other.  When the compost is all dug, I shift what is in the first bin into the second.  This happens about once or twice a year, so the piles don't reach optimal cooking temperature to kill weed seeds.  Today I decided to experiment with another method of cooking compost, and I place the finished compost into plastic garbage bags and laid them in the sun.  Theoretically, this should kill weed seeds.  I will be combining this compost with peat to fill containers, so if it is still full of weed seeds, it should become apparent.

I filled four bags, but still had some compost left over, so I spread a little on the rhubarb patch, covering the barely emerged plants, then threw the rest on the garlic bed.  Then I had a walkabout, checking the flowers, shrubs, and trees for signs of life.  Buds are swelling, and in a few cases, leaves are starting to emerge.  It won't be long now!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Still too cold to garden...

... so I made a few more purchases online:  a row cover for brassicas and an oriole feeder from Lee Valley (free shipping ends Mar. 28!), and from Stark Bros., three redbuds (on sale!), a Meyer lemon, some June-bearing strawberry plants, plus a strawberry planter kit that comes with some everbearing strawberry plants.

Last night I watched "Food Inc."  Yikes!  I avoid processed foods, so am not consuming corn this and corn that to a large degree, and I try to buy organic and/or local whenever I can.  But most people believe the "food-like products" in the grocery store are at least safe and healthy enough, or they are constrained by circumstances to buying what is cheap and convenient, or they just don't think about it.  I did not realize that corn subsidies (which keep our food cheap) put farmers in other countries out of business.  So Mexican farmers cross the border illegally, looking for work, and third world nations can't feed themselves which results in food riots and starvation.  Most of what we eat comes through the hands of a few mega-corporations, and they wield a lot of power in DC.  But we the people can do something about it, as evidenced by WalMart promoting organics and Coke offering a version without HFCS - because that is what their customers want.  Sometimes I get a little miffed about spending more for organic/local food, but now I see that cheap food is expensive in the long run.  If nothing else, buying organic/local is an investment in my health.  End of sermon.

Now I am going to go make some soup and watch my marigold sprouts grow.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The last and the first

I was down to the last two onions from last years garden.

I harvested the first thing of 2011:  mint.

Both went into a batch of light vegetable broth, recipe from Love Soup.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's raining, it's pouring - no, wait, it's hailing - no, wait

Many places lay claim to the motto, "If you don't like the weather here, just wait a while."  Today, it's here.  The day started gray but dry, then sprinkles, then rain, then thunder and lightening (poor dog), then hail.  The sun made a brief appearance, and now it is just gray again.  This weekend, it may snow.  Fun times.

Last night I needed to dig in some dirt, so I planted the marigold seeds inside.  I originally started planting marigolds in the vegetable garden because they are reputed to repel pests of one sort or another.  I don't know if that is true, but including them has become habit.  The garden just would not look right without them.

The grass is just barely starting to turn green.  I, for one, cannot wait for the other colors of spring.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The guilts

Yesterday I was in the West Wing checking my email when I noticed a sparrow that was having difficulty drinking at the bird bath because the water was so low.  Okay, okay, I'll get you some more water.  Once outside, I discovered it was indeed a lovely day.  Okay, okay, I'll spend some time outside in the yard.  I was feeling lazy, though, so all I did was move the last of the woodpile closer to the house and cut down errant mulberries and other unwanteds.

Inside, when I tried to turn on the lights over the now-sprouted zinnias and calendulas, the GFC kept tripping.  I am not electricity-savvy, so I have no idea why it the circuit worked fine for several days, but now would not.  Originally, I had placed my freezer in this spot in the mudroom, but the recalcitrant GFC convinced me to move it elsewhere.  Placing the wire shelving with the grow lights seemed like a good idea, but not if the lights won't stay lit.  So that too was relocated.  What I really want to put there is a cupboard for coats and cleaning stuff, but I haven't found one I like yet.

I am also contemplating how best to fence in the vegetable garden.  Last year it looked like a graveyard for chicken wire, but said chicken wire did not keep the voles out of the potatoes.  My SO and I cruised Home Depot and Lowes last night, looking for ideas.  I also purchased some basil and marigold seeds, a new hose to replace one that has become brittle and leaky, a bale of peat so I can mix my own potting soil, some primer for painting my Adirondack chairs and new exterior doors, a downspout extender, etc.  Somehow I managed to blow $80 without even trying.  Still, gardening and yard work are cheaper than therapy!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Yesterday was one of the nicest days we have had in a long time.  I spent an hour outside after work, mostly cutting down the ornamental grasses and picking up the last of the winter dog poop.  Green things are popping up all over the place:  daffodils, hyacinth, daylilies, iris.  Today is supposed to be warmer but windier.  Hopefully, more yard cleanup will ensue.

Last fall I dug up a pepper plant and brought it inside.  The peppers that were still on it hung there all winter until I ate the last of them.  Now the plant is blooming.  Not sure if I need to hand pollinate it to get fruit.  The rosemary is blooming as well.

Regarding ErinFromIowa's comments about calendula, judging from the number of cabbage butterflies I saw last summer in my yard, I must already be providing them a healthy breeding and feeding environment.  My "meadow" is not that far from the vegetable garden, and the butterflies just float across.  If I decide to grow any brassicas, I will have to enclose them somehow.

It just occurred to me that last year I did not see any tomato worms or hornworms, so maybe their parents prefer the meadow to my vegetable plants?  Or the birds eat them?  If I were retired, I would sit in the garden all day long and observe what goes on.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Even though I know that I can take a walk in the woods on a winter day and see robins, spotting them in my backyard is much more satisfying.  They have not been amenable to being photographed, nor have the redwing blackbirds and blue jays.  But the sparrows are.

Yesterday I started some seeds for cilantro, basil, parsley, zinnia, and calendula.  The last in that list is defined as a "hardy seeding annual" which I assume means once it is planted, it will keep coming up year after year.  Sounds like a good candidate for the meadow.

And that is as close to gardening as I have come so far in 2011.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

They're BA-A-ACK!

Starlings and grackles but no redwing blackbirds.  Yet.


The snow is back as well.

A little freezing rain on the bird feeder poles allowed the squirrel to feast at the source instead of beneath.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Must be March

If I were more diligent about posting in this blog, you would have seen this last week:

Today, most of the snow is gone, revealing this:

Daffs!  Can spring be far behind?