Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chionodoxa in Bloom

These are some new bulbs I planted last fall - Chionodoxa luciliae gigantea, or "Glory of the Snow". They're a wonderful blue color. I've got some in the front bed, and some in a half barrel outside my back window, so I can see them while I work.

Winter is hanging on by its fingernails here. Today was in the high 50's, but we're supposed to get a winter storm tonight that could leave some snow. It could drop the temperature down 15 degrees by morning. I never know if I can rely on the weather forecasters here, so we'll see if it happens. We can always use the water, so I don't mind if it rains or snows.

I've been putting off planting seeds. I meant to do it this week, but haven't yet. So tomorrow I'll get myself organized and do the indoor ones at least. I'll wait on the outdoor stuff until next weekend. I've got sugar snap peas, mesclun lettuce mix, and corn salad. All of those would probably be fine with the cold weather tomorrow - but I don't want to plant them in the rain!

There is arugula self-seeded all over our veg plot. I've been putting off digging it out, but I'm going to have to do it soon if I want to plant other things. It hung on all winter. On warmer days I could go out there and pick some for salads. I think I'll leave some near the rhubarb and dig out the rest. I can already see little tiny seedlings coming up everywhere, so it's not like I'll be running short! Be nice to try something else, like the corn salad, this year. I also hope the sugar snap peas do well.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rain and Daffodils

Rain. Isolated downpours blowing through every hour or so, with the sun still peeking through. We went out to take photos, trying to get reflections of the rain drops. This one shows the drops well, though the framing isn't great. It's nice to get some moisture on the garden. Things were starting to look a bit dry.

The next picture is the first daffodils. They just started to open in the last three days. There are lots of tulip leaves coming up but no flower buds yet. I like bulbs. They're so easy, and they surprise you every year by coming up again and looking pretty when so few other things are in flower.

We have at least one or two of our three remaining hens laying eggs. One of the two red ones is eating them almost as soon as the others lay. Once they learn how to do that you can't stop them, so these hens probably aren't going to be around a lot longer. Hubby has been saying that for over a year now, since they are getting older and laying fewer eggs, but we still have them. They're canny old girls, having taught themselves to roost in the oak tree at night.

There's an article in this month's Sunset magazine about keeping chickens. Hubby thought a few of the things they said were silly, but it's good to see more encouragement for growing your own food in mainstream media.

I clipped and washed the dog today. He doesn't enjoy it, but he puts up with it - having been a poodle all his life. And he's always really happy to be clean and dry. I took pictures, but I have trouble getting good posed pictures of him because he keeps getting up to come see the camera or ask to be petted. He's been trained to sit and stay, but once I start talking to him to get him to look at me, he looses focus. He's a toy poodle after all. Not a lot of space in that skull.

I'm not an expert at clipping, but I've got better over the past few years. I can get his face mostly the way I want it and clip the body hair evenly without divots. Every once in a while I take him to the groomer because she can get the hair out of his ears and all the other details I can't bring myself to do.

Not much going on here lately, as you can probably tell from this post. Just wanted to bring any of you still reading up-to-date. I have the coming week off, so I plan to get the veggie seeds planted, inside and out. The rhubarb crown has lots of new leaves just starting to unfurl, so I'm excited about that. There's weeding and leaf raking to do, and I'll go have a look at the local nursery for blueberries. They might have them in by now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Growing Stuff

Yesterday a work colleague who also gardens gave me a huge piece of his rhubarb crown. The picture only shows part of it, as it broke getting it out of the bag. There are three other pieces planted elsewhere, in hopes a few of my friends might want them.

This rhubarb has been in his garden at least 15 years, he thinks. It came with the house when he moved in a couple years ago. Last year he offered me some of the stems, so I went over one afternoon. The leaves on this plants are HUGE - like prehistoric jungle undergrowth. Literally three feet long and nearly as wide. The stems were as big as two of my thumbs. And it was great rhubarb. I made three jars of stewed rhubarb and a pie.

So I am *thrilled* to get a piece of this particular rhubarb crown. We dug a big hole, mixed in some manure compost, watered the bottom of the hole, and tried to get the buds level with the surface. It's just started to bud out, so I hope to harvest a little this season. It'll take up more space in the veg plot than I'd like, but right now I don't care. I just want it to do well. Perhaps eventually I'll move it somewhere else when we get some of the other garden areas under control.

I have nearly all my seeds now. I'm really excited about the tomato varieties. I have Brandywine Red Landis Valley Strain, Virginia Sweets (yellow-orange), Paul Robeson (purple), Legend (early type), Costoluto Genovese (ribbed Italian), and two grape types, Sprite and Ceylon. I also have Holy Mole Hybrid and Rocotillo peppers, Fairytale and Pump-ke-mon pumpkins, Misono soybeans, and Cobham Improved parsnips.

I want to get some of the seeds started in a few weeks. I had pretty good luck with the tomatoes last year, so I'm hoping it goes well this year too. Once the rhubarb has some leaves I'll put a pic up of those as well.

Monday, March 2, 2009

In Like a Lion

Happy March! I still want some snow to fall, but it's looking less and less likely - unless it's a light dusting one night. Spring is on the way. I've got crocus and one snowdrop in bloom, and daffodils are coming up. I planted a lot more snowdrops a few years ago, but this is the only one that's come up so far. I guess I'll just keep encouraging it and see if it spreads. They really don't like being planted as dry bulbs. But you sure can't get them "in the green" out here in Idaho. So I might try to get some bulbs again this fall.

Lots of digging and weeding to do in the next few months if I want to get a head start on all the weeds. Last weekend and yesterday I made a start on the vegetable garden. Pulled out all the old dead plants, weeded and dug in some manure. I still have about 1/4 of the plot to go. It's hard to make myself dig up all the arugula that made it through the winter. I can go out there now and pull enough to make a salad. So I'll have to decide where I want the survivors to be and dig up the rest.

I weeded the perennial fruit and veg area and sprinkled some Dr. Earth there too. I'm hoping to have 4 crowns of asparagus producing this year. We'll see if they do anything. I'm not so sure about the strawberries. Maybe I need to feed them more. They don't really produce as much as I'd like.

Anyway, I'm planning lots of tomatoes, peppers, soy beans and parsnips this year. And perhaps lettuce. I've got a lot of the seed already, just haven't quite got organized to start any of it. Need a few more things.

The chickens have started laying. Not sure when exactly, but hubby found three eggs yesterday. So the days are definitely getting longer. We've had a lot of storm clouds blowing through, but not a lot of rain. I'm hoping we'll get some this week.