Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wild Spring

Another sunny weekend. We got a lot done outside, but the bathroom is still unpainted. I guess I'm waiting for a rainy weekend or something (ha ha). It's supposed to be 74F and sunny tomorrow, but then 50's-60's and rainy the rest of the week. We have Victoria's wedding on May 22nd, so there won't be a lot of time until after that. Hopefully we can take care of the bathroom before the summer is over.

Meanwhile, I did some weeding out in the veg garden - though not enough to clear it all. And I still haven't started my seeds. Maybe I'll get to those one weeknight. I'm not very ambitious right now. Just six tomatoes, some beans, and maybe a few other things. Seems like I have less time this year, not sure why.

Anyhow, I did get all the oak leaves cleared out of the backyard border and put down some poultry manure compost. I didn't do much beyond stirring it into the surface of the soil, since the dirt back there is pretty full of roots. I think it's the oak tree. So I'm just going to keep putting good stuff on top and hope that helps the plants survive. It was a good chance to see what survived the winter this time. The anemone robusta and alchemilla are missing. The two heuchera survived, but they're looking pretty ratty. The aster, campanula, hellebore and geraniums are all ok. I think I'm going to hold off on putting anything new back there until we can get the sprinklers fixed. As it is now, I have to water some areas back there with the hose once the summer really warns up.

Otherwise, hubby mowed a lot of grass today - front and side yards, the "orchard" area, and around the veg garden. Nearly an acre. He's pretty exhausted, since the weeds were thigh-high! It's amazing what a difference it makes to mow. It looks much tidier, and spacious. And right now, with everything still green, it almost looks like a lawn. That won't last.

The orchard is pretty much not an orchard anymore. The soil is too shallow, and the trees have to be watered with a hose since there's no sprinkler system in that field. They were mostly dead when I moved here. Today hubby took out two of them - just pushed them over and tore them out, they were so small and dried up. The other two will go soon. I want to make sure our new almond tree does better! At least the lawn has working sprinklers, so it should get watered.

With the field mowed, I can see my little triangular bed out in the future cottage garden. The dwarf iris I planted there three years ago are taking over! And they've already come into bloom. I'll have to thin them out soon or they'll push everything else out. The taller purple ones are just getting started. I was pleased to see the catmint - Nepeta 'Souvenir d'Andre Chaudron' has survived, as well as the monarda and the evening primrose. I haven't had much luck with those in the past. You can see in the picture that the achillea and sedum are happy as can be, as is the euphorbia polychroma, phlomis tuberosa and delphinium.

I have two pots planted up so far. Violas in one, while it's still cool, and geraniums and dianthus in the other. The dianthus are pretty small, but I'm hoping they're bulk up and fill in around the geraniums before they get shaded out.

The other thing we did today was get the chicken tractor ready for the new chicks we're picking up on Tuesday from Dunlap's Hatchery. I called last week and ordered six or eight (can't remember) silver-laced Wyandotte hens for eggs, and four assorted roosters for meat. I told them I didn't care what the roosters were, as we were going to eat them. So it'll be interesting to see what we end up with. I hope the Wyandottes do well. I'm excited to see them. I've read they're pretty cold-hardy and can continue laying through the winter. I'm not sure that'll happen, since we don't have a very sophisticated chicken run set-up, so there's nowhere to put an indoor light. I've read it's the length of the daylight that affects laying, and we get pretty short days here. We're thinking of building a better chicken tractor sometime this year though, so we can get the hens out on the grass. Fertilizer and weed control all in one!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April Flowers

It has finally started to feel like Spring this week. The daffodils, hyacinth and tulips are flowering, and just this morning our huge crab apple tree *burst* into a cloud of pink blossoms. It will only last a few days, but it's gorgeous to look at. We've even had three days in a row of temps in the 70's! The irrigation canals were suddenly full of water last Saturday morning. Around here that's when you really know the weather is warming up.

I'm out of gardening-shape. I'm trying to get my veg garden started, but weeds and arugula are trying to take over. So I've mostly been digging out weeds, and I'm really slow at it after having the winter off. At least the raspberries are leafing out, three of my asparagus crowns are still alive, and the rhubarb is doing well. I've already had to water it a couple times in between rain storms. I'm hoping to get some seeds started tomorrow. I'm going to try some new bush beans and swiss chard.

Last weekend I cleared out a space in the front garden bed for strawberries. I had some out in the veg area but they didn't do well there. Ants and birds kept getting to them before I did. So now there are six new strawb plants just across the driveway where I can keep an eye on them. They'll get watered more regularly there as well.

I've been able to harvest rhubarb three times already. So we've been having stewed rhubarb on our pancakes and waffles. It's nice on yogurt or vanilla ice cream too. I have three extra rhubarb crowns I could give away, but I haven't found any takers yet. I need the garden space but I don't want to throw them out.

We bought an almond tree today at the local nursery. We're planning to cut down a small tree in the front yard that isn't doing well, dig out a lot of the surrounding dirt and plant the almond. Not in the same spot, but nearby. I hope it does well. I like almonds, and the flowers are pretty and fragrant.

The son of our organic farmer friend is experimenting with making kombucha tea. Hubby and I were at their house this week and tried some. He's got a whole bunch of different flavors going. He's been bottling it and selling it. I bought two bottles, one mint tea and one stinging nettle tea. It's not something you drink a lot of at one time, as it has a...helpful...effect on your digestion, but I like it.

Well, lots to do tomorrow...