Friday, May 28, 2010


It must be the odd weather this Spring. I've been enjoying the iris in bloom more than ever - probably because so little else has flowered until this past week. I think the days finally got long enough that there's enough sunlight, watery though it is, for things to bloom. We'll be happy about the water later in summer, but it has played havoc with the garden so far.

I've been looking at the Schreiner's Iris website. They have some wonderful things - some of them quite expensive! There's a white edged with blue that was $50 for a rhizome. Yikes! Good thing I already have one. I've done pretty well buying from the local Iris Society at the Farmer's Market. I'm hoping to see them there again this year and get something new. The top picture is of the yellow, blue and bronze iris we found behind the house. I should take some photos along to see if someone knows what they're called. The orange ones are scented - kind of sweet and lemony. Very nice. From what I've seen poking around online, they're probably older varieties. Not really 'heirloom', but possibly mid-20th C.

I've also been really happy with the iris I ordered from Iris Sisters Farm, especially the dwarf yellow with blue beard, "Prank", and the bi-color, "What Again". They've spread into large beds. I'll need to thin them soon.

Anyway, it's the time of year to have iris fever. They do well in our climate and soil, so you see them everywhere. I saw one on Hwy 20 on my way to Vale, OR, last week that I've been trying to find online. It have violet blue falls and a yellow top. A very nice combination. Sort of like this. This one's called 'Jurassic Park' of all things. Who thinks of these names?
I also like this one, 'Dynamite' I'll have to see if the Iris Society has anything similar.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

One Month Old Chicks

Here they are, my new chickens. One month old today. You can see feather patterns and combs. I just hope the hens turn out to be hens! We plan to move them into the intermediate run this week. Maybe even tonight.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Late (Wet) Spring

It’s been a cooler and wetter than normal Spring. Usually by this time in May we have mostly sunny days with the occasional thunderstorm passing through. June can be that way too. But the past weeks have seen a lot of rain. On Saturday we had a record 1.5" fall. Great for our water stores, but pretty unusual for it to rain nearly all day. And then snow! Evidently Utah broke a record for the latest day of snowfall. Not just a sprinkle, but 6" of it. Bogus Basin, our local ski area, got 18"! Crazy! Today it rained for a lot of the morning, and we may have more rain overnight.

I'm perfectly fine with that. The less super-hot weather we have, the better it is, from my point of view. I always dread the weeks in August when we have 100F+ temps for days on end. But at least it's dry heat. I'm not used to the humidity of Indy or Korea any more. But lucky me, I'm going to muggy Ontario, Canada, this August. I'll get the high temps and high humidity. Whoohoo.

V’s wedding went very well, considering all the rain. Lots of people showed up, the food was great, and the 100 umbrellas V bought came in very handy! It’s strange to think of her as married, although it won’t really be that different than before, as she’s been living with B for a few years now. They’re off on honeymoon to Europe now. Sounds like they’re having fun so far.

The plants are all reacting differently to the cooler weather. The iris have been beautiful this year. It will be interesting to see what happens next year if I don't find time to thin out the beds this fall. I may be giving iris away. The salvia and penstemon are in bloom, but the dianthus, wild roses and thyme have just barely started. Usually they're all in flower at the same time. My purple-leaved sage seems to have been struck by the very cold temps we had this winter. I’m thinking I’ll have to dig it up and cut out the center. The two ends have come into leaf, but the middle section is still dead wood.

My tomatoes, raspberries and rhubarb are doing well. I really must get the seedlings re-potted or planted out this weekend if I can. They’re wayyyyy too tall. The pepper plants I bought as back-ups are still ok, but something is eating chunks out of the leaves. Not sure if it’s just leaf-cutter bees or earwigs. I may have to spray them.

The chicks are doing well. They’ll be a month old tomorrow. They have most of their feathers and are starting to show combs. I just hope I really have eight hens. It’s getting harder to tell some of them apart. I keep forgetting to take pictures. I should do it tomorrow for their one month “birthday”.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Ending...maybe

The Aikido dojo I train at closed this week. Sensei has to sell the building. It's been tough lately. Attendance is down, and a lot of the kids in his previously very active and cohesive teen class have graduated and gone off to college. And a lot of the adults have had some life changes that mean they don't come as often. I think the money problem was a large part of the decision, though not all of it.

Sensei sent out some emails earlier in the week, letting us know. Thursday and Saturday were the last adult classes and I made sure to go to both of them. There were more people in class than had been for a while. I saw people I hadn't seen for months. Of course, many had not seen me for months either, even though we all were going to class - just not as often, and obviously not on the same days.

Although no one mentioned it, I think most of us saw the irony of this. It took the dojo closing down to get that many of us to class. Rather a shame we all couldn't have been there more often. It wouldn't have brought in more money, as we all pay a monthly fee whether we go to class or not. But attendance does make a difference in keeping the new students. It's hard for them to see a vibrant active dojo when so many of the more experienced students only show up twice a month. I bear my share of the blame in that. I was often lucky if I could get there twice a month. Mostly that's due to a recent increase in work load and more pressure to do overtime to keep up. Sometimes I could've worked around it and still gone to class. But sometimes I was simply too tired to contemplate driving the 40 minutes one-way to get there.

And now it's gone. August would have finished my sixth year there. It's a hole in my life that'll take a while to heal. Odd to think I've been training since 1998. I haven't progressed very far in grade during that time, mostly due to moving a lot and various life changes, but Aikido has become part of my identity. It's changed a lot of things about me, some ways I only dimly understand.

We're hoping to get some kind of "garage dojo" started up soon, if we can find a place. I think a lot of us are interested in looking around, and perhaps something will come up. I have a few ideas myself. So we'll see what happens.

Plants in the Ground

It's iris season right now, at least at our house. I seem to have early, middle and late season iris planted all over the place. The dwarfs are earliest, then the odd mixture I got at the farmer's market, and now some tall ones we moved from behind the house out to the cottage garden area have come into bloom. They're butter yellow and light blue, a nice combination. The variegated iris came into bloom this weekend as well. They don't last long so I try to appreciate them while I can.

The weather may still not be reliably warm, but at least it's started to feel more like Spring. The days have gotten a lot longer, but cool temperatures lasting longer into May than usual have slowed down growth. Even local farmers are noticing it. The main weather change we've noticed here is pattern change. Winters aren't as cold, there's less snow, Spring and Fall are more erratic, and overall Idaho is getting less water than historical normal.

My raspberries are just starting to have flower buds and they're about 4' tall. So today I put up the half-hoop net supports and put the net over them. The net works much better with the supports - keeps the tops of the raspberry canes from getting totally entangled in the net. I should cut back the canes once they reach a certain height, but I never seem to remember.

Otherwise, I have not had good luck with seeds this year, at least with tomato seeds. Of my six tomato peat-pods, only two have come up. And it's coming up on the third week of May, for pete's sake! So I bought three tomato plants - two Legend and one other kind, all of them early. I won't be finding Virginia Sweets and Paul Robeson as plants anywhere soon, since they're heritage varieties. So I'll just have to keep hoping for those seeds to come up, or try again. They're both 80 day varieties. Many years I'm picking tomatoes well into September, so I'll have to hope they take off in hot summer.

Anyway, I planted out all three of the tomato plants today, as well as the sweet Italian pepper plants. None of those seeds have come up yet either. So if they do, that's fine, they'll just ripen later. And meanwhile I'll have other peppers that hopefully ripen sooner.

The bean seeds have come up fairly well. I need to get them potted on into bigger pots before I put them out. Those little peat pods don't leave much room for growth. I'm a bit disappointed with the three-color bean seeds. Only two of the six came up, both purple-podded ones. Would have been nice if some green and yellow had come up too! I may try again, as beans are a pretty short-season thing.

The chicks are much taller and getting more and more of their grown-up feathers. This picture is 20 days old. We'll be moving them out into a bigger run soon, sometime this week. I'll want to make sure we put things around it to prevent animals from digging under. Don't want to lose these like we did the ducks!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Seeds Planted At Last!

This is the cottage garden bed with the dwarf iris going crazy. I don't know how I'm going to keep up with them. They should probably be thinned out this year - but what a chore!

I finally got around to planting seeds today! I'm trying the little peat capsules for the first time on some of them. It took a bit of soaking to get them swollen up to size, but they did. I also used peat pots w/ seed starter compost, so we'll see how the two compare. Just for my own reference, today I planted:
4 Marconi Italian peppers
2 Legend tomatoes
2 Paul Robeson tomatoes
2 Virginia Sweets tomatoes
4 Sugar Snap peas
6 bush beans, 2 each of purple, green and yellow
2 pots of Cilantro
4 pots of Rainbow Chard
2 Scarlet Runner beans
2 pots of Sweet Peas

I also bought two Sweet Italian pepper plants, just in case. I didn't grow the Marconi peppers last summer and I missed having them. So I hope we'll get a few this time. They're really good for roasting. The crop I had two summers ago lasted nearly all winter.

The 14 new chicks came home on Tuesday, April 27th. They're already growing. They have the beginnings of wing feathers coming through. We've lost one of the Rhode Island Reds, but so far all the others are doing well.

The new strawberries are happy enough, but I've already found evidence of birds getting at them, even though the berries were only green. I'll have to get some netting to cover them during the day.

Our almond tree still hasn't leafed out. We're worried something is wrong with it, so we went back to the nursery today to look at their trees. None of those had started either. When we asked the staff, the owner said they needed a longer period of warmth to start leafing. So we'll see how the next few weeks go. I hope it's not dead. That was a lot of work for nothing if so.

We had my birthday cake today, since we won't have time tomorrow. I got a box of See's chocolate, three beautiful ceramic bowls and one of those tube garlic peelers. We saw the peeler at a friend's house a few weeks ago and it worked so well that hubby went looking for one. The bowls are Asian style, dark blue glaze with simple white cherry blossoms. I've been admiring them for a while, so it was nice that Ken thought of it. It's been a nice weekend.