Monday, July 27, 2009

Swallowtail mudding

Swallowtail mudding
Originally uploaded by honestabby
Experimenting with providing photos from Flickr....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Under the weather

The dog woke me around 4:30am when the lightning and thunder started. She does NOT like storms. I managed to get back to sleep, but when I did wake a few hours later, I felt hung over. I expected to improve once I was up and about, fueled with coffee, but no. Not until a long afternoon nap did I perk up at all, and then only some. The sun is shining now, but I would be happy to crawl under the covers and call it a day.

Supper was perfect, though: a garden pita made with homegrown zucchini, tomato, onion, and basil. There is something very satisfying about wandering outside and returning with a meal in hand.

I mowed last night. Once again, the grass did not need it, but the weeds did. My neighbor across the street hinted earlier this year that maybe I would want to hire his lawn service, and I admit I have considered that, at least for the front yard. But at that time I was contemplating replacing the driveway and installing a rain garden and thought lawn care should wait. Now it is almost August, and there will be no new driveway, let alone a rain garden, but I still have an unsightly front yard.

So, when I saw this book at the library, I could not resist:

A Weed By Any Other Name is subtitled "The Virtues of a Messy Lawn, or Learning to Love the Plants We Don't Plant" and is written by Nancy Gift. Naturally, I turned first to the chapter on thistle and learned a thing or two. First off, the author is just as anti-Canada thistle as I am. But I learned that other thistles are biennials and not necessarily to be discouraged. In a previous lifetime, I let one such thistle grow and grow it did, until it resembled a small xmas tree. If I had known it would produce a lovely bloom the following year, one that butterflies love, I would have let it be. Now I will have to keep watch for just such a beauty. But I'm stil gonna kill the Canada thistle anyway I can.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Devil's Plague

That is another name for Queen Anne's lace, and I heartily agree. Woe to the gardener who lets it get a foothold. I spent a good part of Sunday trying to dig it out of the birds-bees-butterfly garden, but changed tactics after a little research. QAL is a biennial, so some recommend simply snipping off the flowers to prevent it from going to seed and spreading its evil everywhere. So that's what I did. I am sure I will have to repeat this task regularly until frost; all living creatures want to multiply.

While QAL reseeds itself, further research revealed that Canada thistle, while producing seed, actually spreads best via its pernicious root system. One newly discovered method of controlling it is by spreading Pseudomonas syringae pv. Tagetis, aka PST, a naturally occurring bacterium that appears to attack the thistle. Periodically, I have noticed sickly looking thistle plants. These are likely suffering from PST. We are encouraged to harvest these sicklies, throw them in the blender with water, add a surfactant, then spray thistles with it. Best done in June, it takes around a month to work. I don't mind resorting to Roundup when it comes to thistle, but often the thistle is growing cheek to jowl with my garden plants. Roundup does not know the difference, so PST is an alternative I may try.

A solution for controlling thistle was suggested by a co-worker: if the stalks are hollow, cut them off, then pour Roundup into the hollow stem. That way the poison goes to the roots of the bad weeds without risk of spraying the good plants. I have tried this before, but I'm not sure it was specifically Canada thistle. Must investigate.

Meanwhile, here is something I have been waiting for all summer:

Yes, zucchini. By August I should be thoroughly sick of it, but store-bought is just not the same.

Some people fry up the blossoms.

But then you would get less zucchini. Hmmm. Maybe I'll try that in August.

I just can't get enough of these daylilies.

Each one is just so luscious!

The coneflowers are coming on.

These are a favorite of gold finches. They impatiently visit the blooms daily, checking for ripe seeds.

Rudbeckia and bee balm.

The bees like bee balm, but not as much as they like mint. Oddly enough, mint does not produce viable seed. Like Canada thistle, it spreads by its roots. It too is running wild in my garden.

One of my experiments this year is growing lettuce in containers.

It's doing quite well, as it gets only afternoon sun. I placed it on the chair to keep it out of the reach of curious rabbits.

The first hibiscus:

Hummingbirds like these, along with mint, honeysuckle vine, crocosmia, and Rose of Sharon.

Sunday I watched one such hummer as he worked the 3B garden like a politician working a crowd, visiting each interest group in turn. Said hummer was NOT happy to see me, however.

Speaking of birds, there is quite the breakfast buffet every morning in the mulberry tree STILL, mostly robins and bluebirds. Also, I saw a monarch butterfly Sunday. Now that I have some milkweed started in the 3B garden, maybe they will actually lay some eggs.

This is a brass manifold I purchased from Lee Valley this year, as part of an irrigation system I never set up.

The rain has been sporadic, a half inch here and there, so I water a fair amount. With this manifold, I can dribble the tulip tree AND water the Topsy Turvys at the same time. Saves me a little time. Next year, when the garden beds are better defined, I definitely will have to set up the irrigation system and save myself a LOT of time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Garden producing produce

The goodies are starting to trickle in from the garden - tomatoes, peppers, zucchini - but no pics because I keep forgetting to take any. There are six varieties of peppers and ten of tomatoes, so taste tests will be forthcoming.

Last Saturday we did receive a whole inch of rain, for which I am grateful, but it's not enough! While I don't need to mow, I do need to water. I'd rather be mowing because I could use the exercise and the grass clippings.

Sunday my SO and I made two round trips to the biosolids site, to deliver privet branches and pick up mulch. One load of mulch went around the new room; I decided to at least define the beds even if I can't decide what to plant there. The other load is in a pile, awaiting utilization in the weed patch birds-bees-butterflies garden. There is still a lot of privet debris that needs to be eliminated. Either I will hack it up into little pieces and put it in the trash, or I will borrow the neighbor's pickup truck once again.

Speaking of. I decided to try to drive the pickup truck into the backyard so we would not have to cart branches and mulch around. The gate is 7.5 feet wide, but there is shrubbery in the way. Getting in worked okay, but on the way out, I was so busy watching out for the mirrors that I put a scratch on the flare on the rear wheel well. Gah! When we were done for the day, I was washing the truck in my driveway when the neighbor came home. "I should have you borrow the truck more often!" he called. I fessed up to the scratch, but he shrugged and said, "It's just a truck." Whew!

Why do they call spotted lilies "tiger lilies"? Shouldn't they be "leopard lilies"?

Mmmmm, lemony!

These mums are on the south side of the house and want to bloom too early.

Patience, my sweet. Fall will be here soon enough!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Plan B

The original plan was to spend the day hauling the privet clippings to the biosolids site, exchanging them for mulch. But after weeks of virtually no rain, the skies opened this morning, with the promise of more scattered showers, gusty winds, and possible hail this afternoon. Tomorrow, however, is supposed to be perfect.

I planned to plant sunflowers this year, but did not, so will have to make do with this volunteer that sprouted by the patio.

This is not the usual variety of impatiens I plant in the flower box on the front porch, but I was impatient (HA!) and purchased the first ones I saw this spring. My only complaint is they are a bit short. I like something that is more visible from the street.

The butterfly bush is not very big yet, but it has started to bloom. I love the rich color.

When clearing out the future raspberry bed, we left some oregano standing. The bees are pleased.

Finally, FINALLY, the trumpet vine blooms. I think it never got enough sun in previous years, but with the demise of a nearby silver maple and the pruning of the privet, we should see some flowers this year. The ants are happy about that.

Love, love, LOVE this apricot daylily.

And the "ditch" daylilies are starting to bloom, later than others around here, I'm guessing because they are not in full sun.

The neighbor to the south is talking about having the clump of trees (one dead apple, several mulberries, and a mystery tree) removed this year. We shall see. He tends to talk more than he walks.

Woodchuck Acres is down one head of livestock.

HipHop suddenly took ill this past week and died before I could get him to the vet. I'm a little broken hearted about it, wondering what happened. Much as I like the bunny guy, I don't plan to get another rabbit. It will be just me, the dog, the cat, and a few thousand red wigglers.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Another task off the to do list

The privet has been tamed, thanks to the SO and my new loppers.

See the power lines? Those were in jeopardy last winter during an ice storm. And see the grassless wasteland below? The privet had formed an arch across to the chain link fence which just about killed the grass.

Now we just need to figure out what to do with the brush pile.

The neighbor I catsit for mentioned something about buying a chipper. If he doesn't, I may rent one. That will be a new experience.

Oh, my. What do we have here?

Why, it's the first tomato of the season, ready to eat on the fourth of July.

It will go well with my Advil tonight.