Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Spending my children's inheritance

Oh, my goodness, where do I begin? I've started ordering plants and seeds for the coming season. In at least one case, the shipping charges exceed the amount of the order. After a lifetime of scrimping and saving for retirement, I want what I want and I'm going to get what I want.

The vegetable garden is basically all planned out, and it's not going to have many vegetables. Instead, I am going to cross over to growing plants for dyeing fiber. There will still be asparagus, strawberries, and raspberries, plus pole beans, zukes and cukes, and broccoli (which I've discovered is rather long-seasoned as one can enjoy side shoots for many weeks after the main head is harvested). I expect to have some tomatoes and peppers and herbs in pots. But otherwise, it will be dye plants.

Most dye plants that will grow around here yield primarily greens and yellows, not my favorite colors for fiber. But with certain mordants and after dye baths, one can obtain a variety of other colors from the following plants: dahlia ('Black Satin'), hibiscus (Hibiscus Moscheutos 'Luna Red'), hollyhock (Alcea rosea), madder (Rubia tinctorum), yellow cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus), dyer's coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria), dyer's knotweed (Polygonum tinctorium). Of all of these, I have grown only hollyhocks and hibiscus; the rest will be new to me.

Other dyes may be obtained from plants and trees I already grow: marigolds, apple trees (bark), cherry trees (bark), elm (bark), goldenrod, rhubarb (also a mordant), daffodils, Queen Anne's lace (I don't grow this on purpose), yarrow, even dead tomato plants. Once I exhaust myself sampling all these, I may just go back to vegetables!

In the non-vegetable, non-fruit, non-dyeing realm, I'm going to concentrate on adding more trees and shrubs to the rest of the landscape, Specific shrubs are black chokeberry (to replace the one that died from rabbit girdling), smooth hydrangea, coralberry, and spicebush. I can purchase all these from a local grower, Riverview Native Plant Nursery. For trees, I want a Prairie Fire crabapple for the backyard and a 'Perfect Purple' crabapple for the front.

And to make everything look pretty, I'm considering a power edger of some sort.

What are your plans for the coming season?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

It's just WRONG!

I spotted the first of the daffodil sprouts BEFORE Valentine's Day. This is unheard of, as are tee shirts in February unless one lives much further south. It's discombobulating.

Not only has it been warm, it has been dry. Yesterday my SO helped dismantle the fencing around the vegetable garden. I anticipate fewer varmint problems this summer because 1) I am growing fewer vegetables, and 2) the helpful gardening dog loves to chase rabbits and squirrels and chipmunks and cats and presumably woodchucks as well.

Today I whacked at the 'Limelight' hydrangea. Depending on the source, one is supposed to A) just remove the dead blossoms and/or B) do some light shaping and/or C) cut it back by two-thirds. I have done A and B in the past, thought I would try C this year.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Helpful gardening dog

It's been almost two years since Betsy Beagle went to doggie heaven. After a hiatus from dog ownership, I decided it was time for a new pooch. Since moving to Fort Wayne 24 (!!!) years ago, I've relied on Animal Care and Control as my source for canines. First came Charlie, a basset mix, then Betsy, and now Watson, my constant companion.

They classified him as an English pointer mix, with the "mix" being beagle. He's 2 years old and tips the scales at 28 pounds. And he is one bundle of energy, which is a good thing. It is very easy for me to talk myself out of taking a walk. Now I feel compelled to make two circuits a day around the nabe with Watson.

He hates being left behind, likes riding in the car, and loves racing around the backyard. He barks but isn't yappy. Someone gave him some training - when the treats come out, he sits and comes, and in the backyard responds to a whistle - but he needs to learn better to walk on a leash and to leave the squirrels alone.

Watson has a great personality, is friendly and not aggressive at all, but the cats are not amused. Finn is smart enough not to run, but Beau either flees at rocket speed or puffs up every hair on his body, including the ones between his ears, giving him an electrified look. Watson whines and yips and wants to give chase. Someday they will all learn to get along. Right?