Monday, May 28, 2012

More catchup

This no rain thing is really starting to get on my nerves. The lawn is already brown, including the clover. I have started a watering schedule - north, east, south sides of the house on Mondays, the backyard on Tuesdays, new plants everyday, vegetable garden every other day. I don't water the lawn, but I may have to start watering the trees. Very discouraging.

Everything that I am going to plant this year is in the ground, except for two new 'Wichita Blue' junipers and a Wentworth highbush cranberry viburnum I purchased last week. I need to have the underground utilities marked before digging holes for them. Oh, and then there are three more coreopsis. And maybe more sunflowers, if I can find a spot for them. Then I am done. Really.

I have started picking snap peas, the tomatoes finally perked up, the green beans are above ground. Today I planted nine sweet potato slips into containers.

After several trips to our neighborhood pond, I finally spotted some ducklings that I am going to assume are the ones hatched in my yard. Huzzah!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Catch up

The week before last, the weather forecast was for night temps to stay above 50, the magic number for tomato plants. So last Sunday I set mine out. Of course, the temps dipped below 50 after that. The plants look unhappy, but should perk up this week.

Other vegetable updates: the peas are starting to blossom, the green beans are in the ground, along with some marigolds and sunflowers. And I have been stimulating the local economy through nursery purchases.

And this is not even all of it. A lot of these are blue-ish perennials for the area west of the West Wing, but then I decided I didn't have enough. Then there were the herbs and annuals, plus coreopsis for the front walk. Yesterday more plants followed me home, some for the meadow and some for the raised beds by the patio and more coreopsis. I'm not quite done yet, but almost.

Even though I planted a raised bed with strawberry plants, I wanted to give the patio planter another try. The problem last year was sufficiently watering the whole thing. If I watered from the top, a lot of water ran out the holes near the top. I tried setting it in water but osmosis did not quite do the trick. So this year I took a length of PVC pipe and drilled some holes in it.

This pipe I inserted while filling the planter with potting soil and strawberry plants. Not the most attractive solution (especially with the funnel on top), but an experiment that may resurrect the Topsy Turvy planters. One defect in my design are the holes above the soil line. Water shoots out them beyond the perimeter of the planter, so I am going to plug them up.

Wildlife update: There are a pair of adult mallards at the neighborhood pond with three babies. I am going to pretend that those are MY ducklings. And recently there have been a lot of Canada geese hanging around the nabe.

The busy two-lane road that fronts our addition is destined to become five lanes a few years from now. I can't help but wonder how that will affect the wildlife. Ugh.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Blogs are good for something

I thought the bulbs I planted last fall had rotted in the ground over the winter, but no. I either planted them too deep or they simply appear later than tulips and daffodils. And as they popped up, I realized I did not know what they were or where they were. Thankfully, I remembered to blog about planting them. Now I wish I had also blogged about which hostas I moved where, as they have been popping up all over the place.

While downloading the praying mantis hatchlings photos, I found more pix I had forgotten about (do we see a pattern here?)

Potato grow sacks, on cardboard. I have had good luck growing both Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes in these grow sacks. I purchased mine from Gardeners Supply, but you can make your own using doubled up landscape cloth. When these wear out, and if I decide to continue to use grow sacks, I may try making them, as they have become rather expensive as their popularity grows. (The cardboard does a wonderful, if ugly, job suppressing weeds.)

Rabbit nest under the Japanese maple. I occasionally let my dog into the front yard, but once I discovered the mama mallard nesting under the peonies, I put a moratorium on that. It did not take long for a rabbit to feel safe enough to build a nest of her own.

Tomato cages for pea fence. I had been dreading the prospect of wrestling with poultry fencing to provide the peas with support. Then it occurred to me, since the only tomatoes I am growing this year are Romas, which I am not going to stake, I could repurpose the tomato cages. Very simple and very effective.

Golden Bells Carpet Daffodil. This is one of the bulbs I planted last fall. I missed getting a photo of the Winter Aconite - I barely noticed them, they are so short - but hopefully will remember to snap a pic of the Sunny Twinkles Allium.

So much for catching up. Onto the newer photos.

Frost damage on Japanese maple. Before we left for vacation, the temps dropped into the 20's. Two of the three redbuds in the backyard took a heavy hit from this, as did the Japanese maple.

Newly planted coleus. As I mentioned before, I usually plant impatiens in this flower box on the front porch, but decided to try something different this year. I have tried coleus in the past without much success, but now I know the secret: water. For some reason, I am resistant to watering anything outdoors, but obviously plants in pots and plants under roofs need help. Duh.

Abandoned duck nest. One of these days, I am going to walk down to our neighborhood pond, to see if mama mallard is there with her babies. She could take them there, or across the busy road fronting our addition, to another pond. There is also a larger pond a half mile away, but that seems like a horribly long walk for newborn ducklings. If I see any baby ducks in any of these locations, I am going to assume they are mine.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm so excited! Part two

Indigo buntings in my backyard!!!

I have not seen indigo buntings since I left country life behind, almost twenty years ago. Because they are a little shy, I assumed my neighborhood was too citified for them. Perhaps the fault was mine, however - they are summer visitors and I usually take down the feeders by May. Also, I have had issues with stale niger thistle seed in the past. Or maybe I just have not been paying enough attention. Anyway, I am so happy to see them - squee!!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

I'm so excited!

Praying mantis hatchlings!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I could get used to this

Last week my SO and I took a road trip - six states in seven days. I'm not much of a camera-toting tourist, but I do find things to photograph along the way. Like this plant I want, as it would look great with the sedums.

And two interpretations of the Tin Man.

And this garden whimsy (see Elmo and rubber duckies?)

One stop was at Seed Savers Exchange, near Decorah, Iowa.

While our vacation was great, this week is proving to be wonderful, too, as I am taking it off work as well. Task one was mowing the lawn, which had gone to seed in my absence, giving the property that abandoned look. I had to pick up grass clippings to keep the mower from clogging, so they became mulch. Task two was hitting a local nursery, the first of many I plan to visit in the coming weeks. Otherwise, I have been piddling around the yard, weeding and pruning and admiring. Is this what it is like to be retired?

Updates: Mama duck is gone, so I hope she and her babies made it to water okay. The praying mantis egg case is still intact. The asparagus is up and the strawberries are taking hold as well. The Roma tomatoes are taller than ever. I repotted the basil seedlings, transplanted some coleus into the bed on the front porch (this is an experiment - usually I plant impatiens there), twisted off some sweet potato slips to root, and re-introduced the geranium wintered over from last year to the great outdoors.