Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I got the garden boxes covered with a tarp just in time. I'm glad I took the time to do this because some of the garden boxes had blocks of ice in their water reservoirs. Even though I haven't put water in the boxes for quite some time, apparently we've had enough rain to fill some of them. I drained them the best I could and they should be OK if I can keep any more water from getting in. I also wrapped the three new blueberry bushes with burlap to protect them from deer and rabbits. The weather earlier in this Thanksgiving holiday was so nice (in the 40s) that I was able to get these chores done as well as trim the hedges in front of the porch. What a difference a day makes.
The first seed catalog arrived before Thanksgiving this year. I think this has to be a new record! The honor goes to Pinetree Garden seeds, one of my favorite suppliers. I have to admit that I've already started browsing the catalog and making a wish list. They have seeds for yellow radishes that I would like to try, and Midget sweet corn that grows only about 4' tall. I think this variety of sweet corn might actually grow well in the garden boxes and I think I'll give it a try next summer. I love browsing seed catalogs and look forward to more arriving soon. Browsing catalogs is step 1 in the gardening process, and probably the easiest step as well. Soon enough the real work will begin again, so enjoy armchair gardening while you can.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
My garden chores are finished for the year with two exceptions. The garden boxes have all been cleaned out, but I still need to move the boxes closer together and cover them with a tarp. The company says the boxes can be left out in the winter weather, but I don't think it can be good for them to become saturated and then freeze. I am hoping the tarp will at least keep the boxes from filling with rain or snow and protect them from expanding and cracking.
My final task will be to dig up the English ivy plant that grew in an outside planter box all summer. The annuals in the pot have all succumbed to the cold weather, but the ivy is still pretty and green. My plan is to pot it up and have it as a houseplant for the winter. The whole pot is sitting in the garage for now. Hopefully I won't forget to pot up the ivy this weekend. Once this is taken care of, my physical gardening work is done and I will officially become an armchair gardener for the winter. I'll be content to read from my library of gardening books and magazines, sketch out a few plans, and think about what I'd like to try new next year. To everything there is a season, and I must admit I'm ready to take a break from gardening. I know that once the seed catalogs arrive, and then spring, I'll be ready to get my hands dirty and start the cycle all over again. Not today, however. It's November.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
After Rockville, we take a short, scenic drive to Bridgeton. Bridgeton is the home of my favorite covered bridge. Actually, the original bridge was tragically destroyed by an arsonist a few short years ago. However, the bridge was rebuilt using the original plans and is just as lovely as the original, minus the feel of history that you just can't replace. The bridge sits near a stately grist mill which has been continually operating longer than any other mill east of the Mississippi River. In Bridgeton there are miles and miles of booths that are so much fun to explore. There are tents of antiques, yard art, jewelry, purses, artwork, fragrances, kitchen gadgets, and food galore. This year, we discovered another feature of the festival we hadn't really noticed before. Dogs! We saw dogs on leashes, dogs in strollers, dogs in front packs, dogs in specially made backpacks, and dogs with backpacks. We saw dogs of every size, shape, and color. Not only were people out enjoying the beautiful fall weather, hundreds of their best friends were along for the ride. I don't know if my dog Toby would enjoy the crowds and the noise, but the dogs we saw this day seemed to be having a doggone good time, so who knows?
It is nice to have a bit less work to do in the yard and more time to get out and enjoy the cooler weather and beautiful fall foliage. I hope we will be able to take in a few more festivals before it is too cold and all thoughts turn to Christmas shopping. If you would like to know more about the Covered Bridge Festival and the area's many covered bridges, here is a good website with a lot of pictures you will want to visit: http://www.parkecounty.com/gallery/
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This was also the first time I saw someone rock climbing in person. This was at Garden of the Gods. To me, it just didn't seem possible that someone could actually make it to the top. Then again, I didn't stick around long enough to see if he actually made it, but I hope for his sake this climber was successful. I am also posting a picture of a balancing rock at Garden of the Gods. This park is simply a must-see for anyone visiting the Colorado Springs area. Unless you live in Colorado Springs, you just don't see stuff like this every day!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here are a few more pictures from my trip. The first two are from Garden of the Gods, a beautiful and fascinating place. The third photo is from the Cave of the Winds park. I wish there was a way to also capture the wonderful evergreen aroma that permeated the cool, crisp air that day. The last photo is not very clear, but is the view from my hotel window one evening as the fog dramatically rolled in and hovered about the mountains. With nearly every picture I took I would remark that I knew the photos would not do the view justice, but I had to take it anyway. I spent a lot of time just trying to soak up the view and memorize the grandeur of the mountains. The photographs help you to remember what you saw, but cannot begin to capture the actual sights. The Colorado Springs area is very beautiful, and I am so happy I got to spend a few days there.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I ordered 3 good-sized blueberry shrubs several weeks ago, and they have arrived--a full week earlier than I expected them. Now I really have to buckle down and decide where they'll go. Years ago in Master Gardener training we received a handout titled "First Plan, Then Plant." I'm sorry to say I have never learned to follow that advice. I've always been more of a "there's always room for a good plant" kind of gal. This logic has served me well when it comes to expanding my collection of plants, but that's about it. For now, the blueberries are planted in the vegetable garden area, but I need to get them in their permanent home very soon. I am thinking of transforming the large herb garden which has been difficult to maintain the past couple of years. The blueberry shrubs would look nice planted amongst the herbs, and near the stock tank that holds the strawberries. I may also move the rhubarb to this area because it currently resides at the edge of my flower garden which needs room to expand. I really wouldn't have to give up much space for my herbs, as much of that garden is filled with plants that have spread a bit out of control anyway. Hmmmm, I am liking this idea.
There is always some sort of gardening to do, no matter the time of year, and I like it that way. But with cold weather fast approaching, it is time to finish up my outside projects. It is a good thing Mother Nature gives me a deadline, or I may never get finished.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I am sorry to say that Starlight made it through the night, but not through today. When I returned home from work she was already gone. I am glad that she was at least able to spend her last hours in a comfortable place and without being picked on. Now it is time to remember that Starlight lived a rare, good life. She lived as a pet rather than as a future entree. She got to leave this life as nature intended.
Now I will tell you the story I promised yesterday. From the day we got her, Starlight humored us with her spunky attitude. She had no fear of our dogs and would simply give them a sharp peck on the nose if they came too close. The dogs quickly learned to give Starlight her space and they got along just fine. She perhaps didn't rule the roost in the chicken pen, but for many years held her own with the other chickens who were about three times her size.
One evening a couple of years ago, Starlight showed her spunk and most likely saved her fellow coop-mates in the process. We were inside when we heard a lot -- a LOT -- of noise from the chicken pen. The flock was squawking and carrying on and emitting the chicken equivalent of terrified screams. We rushed outside with a flashlight to find that somehow a possum had gotten in to their pen, probably drawn by the vegetable scraps we had fed the chickens. All the flock seemed fine except for Starlight who lay on the ground, seemingly dead, with her body on one side of the coop and her tail feathers on the other. It was a sad, sad sight. When we turned around the possum was gone, and all that was left to do was to take Starlight's body into the garage for the night. Just as Nick picked her up, much to our amazement she literally sprang back to life. You could almost hear the cartoon "BOING" noise, she sprang up so fast. Apparently, Starlight was either playing possum herself, or more likely passed out from the shock of having her tail feathers pulled out by the intruder. We'll never know for sure, but we felt certain that Starlight confronted the possum in her fearless manner, much as we've seen her confront the dogs, in an attempt to chase him away. Unfortunately, the possum was not a tame pet but a wild animal, not used to being told what to do by a little hen. What ever happened, we were so relieved to have Starlight spring back to life and go on to regrow a beautiful new set of tail feathers.
Starlight had a pretty good life for a chicken. She must have been at least 12 or 13 years old, possibly more. The two little kids who showed her at numerous 4-H fairs are 1) in college, and 2) teaching first grade. We'll all miss that spunky little bird. Good night, sweet Starlight.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Because it seems summer is really winding down, we were surprised to discover recently that a sparrow had built a nest within a morning glory vine that climbs an obelisk in a planter near the front door. Inside the nest were 3 little speckled brown eggs. Every time we went out the front door, the poor little mother sparrow jumped from her nest and ran across the driveway to safety. We're not sure why she chose to make her escape on foot, but we felt bad to see her panic and did our best not to disturb her. I didn't realize baby birds were hatched this late in the season. Aren't baby birds a sign of spring? However, the little brown eggs went from tiny, naked birds to youngsters who left the nest in an unbelievably short amount of time. It appears Mother Nature knew there was still plenty of time for our little sparrow to raise a family before the end of warm weather.
Then, this past weekend, I discovered Toby making a game of tormenting a baby rabbit in our back yard. Once again, I was surprised to see such a youngster this time of year. Aren't baby animals supposed to be born in the spring? You may recall that earlier this year, when I was upset that some of my young plants and a rose bush were destroyed by rabbits, I resolved to let Toby do some natural pest control and help keep rabbits out of the yard. My resolve dissolved, you might say, when I heard the little rabbit squeal in terror at being stalked by my dog. I just couldn't stand to think of Toby hurting the baby bunny just for the sport of it, so I sent my buddy to the garage and chased the bunny away. I'm sure I'll be "rewarded" for my kindness by having some more of my favorite plants chomped to the ground next spring. What a choice to have to make.
There also seems to be a sudden increase in the grasshopper population this time of year. All at once, they are everywhere. I hate grasshoppers nearly as much as I hate Japanese Beetles. Every year I consider getting a few guineas to do bug control on our property. I have heard guineas eat enormous amounts of harmful insects, including ticks. I have also heard they are noisy and obnoxious to have around, but would really like to see for myself. Apparently they are pretty wild, sleep in trees, and require little interference from people to survive. If they would really help reduce the grasshopper and tick population, it might be worth the extra bird noise.
So while fall is just around the corner, I am seeing signs that it's not here just yet, which is fine with me. There is still a lot of gardening I want to get done before it is time for the snow shovel!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
One thing I have discovered about vacations, even short ones as this will be, is that much of the enjoyment of the event comes from the planning and anticipation. I am by nature a planner, organizer, and problem solver. Therefore, it has been fun to apply the skills I normally use at work every day to something just for fun. It has been so much fun researching all the details from flight schedules, to tourist attractions, to hotel reviews. I've looked at dozens of pieces of luggage and finally purchased a new carry-on bag. Of course I have already started to think about the clothes I should pack, and which creature comforts I'll have room for in that carry-on bag and which ones will stay at home. Robin graciously offered to let me stay at her home, but I have never been a good house guest and asked her to help me find a nearby hotel, instead. I have to confess I am looking forward to some selfish ME time to simply soak in a bubble bath, read, and watch what I want on TV or simply flip through the channels. After busy days of sightseeing, shopping, talking, laughing, and girl stuff, it will be nice to slip on some cozy pajamas, lounge around, and just listen to my own thoughts. I think they are still in there!
So what does this story have to do with a blog about "gardening and the rural lifestyle"? Maybe nothing, but then again, maybe everything. Because you know what will be the best part of all about my much anticipated get-away? Coming back home, of course. There is nothing like time away from home and those you love the most to make you appreciate everything you have. Be it ever so humble, there is no place like our little home in the country.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The eggplant I am growing this year is another one of my garden surprises. It is a newer variety called 'fairy tales' and it is a delight. The eggplants are baby-sized and very cheerful with colorful purple and white stripes. The eggplants grow in clusters and it appears one plant will easily produce enough for two or three people. To save time, I marinated some of the sliced eggplant in Italian dressing and grilled them on my George Foreman grill. They were pretty good prepared this way, but I think they would be even better cooked over charcoal. Next time I will marinate them in olive oil with fresh herbs and grill them with some other fresh vegetables. Delicious!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
There are some pretty good looking apples on the old apple tree.
The resurrection lilies are putting on a show!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Some things to add to my do's and don'ts list for next summer:
- Don't be afraid to use some Sevin dust (after the plants have finished blooming) on the squash vines;
- Do space the garden boxes further apart. Consider some kind of climbing supports for the cantaloupe and cucumbers;
- Don't mix different types of plants in the boxes;
- Do be more diligent about tying the tomato plants to the stakes.
For all the rewards of gardening, it is also a lot of work. I think that sometimes, people who do not have gardens feel like homegrown vegetables have no cost. The extra tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash your gardening friends share with you aren't really free, however. It takes a lot of planning, sweat, and hard work to have a successful garden. Seeds, plants, soil, chemicals, mulch, fertilizer, and sometimes even water, must be paid for. We gardeners feel these cost are justified and that it is worth the expense to know where our food comes from. We like the ability to be able to enjoy our vegetables fresh from the garden. We have the freedom to choose the varieties of food we grow and eat, and the peace of mind that our harvest is safe. We like to share with our friends and neighbors because we are rightfully proud of our harvest. So, if you know a gardener who offers to share some gifts from their garden with you, be sure to remember the hard work behind the harvest, and smile because they are happy to share their harvest with you.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Below is a picture I snapped on impulse this evening. The end of the large flower garden is a bit weedy around the crabapple tree, but I couldn't help but be impressed by nature's colorful display. Technically, the Queen Anne's lace is a weed I suppose, but it sure compliments the purple coneflower and black-eyed Susans. I am going to be sure and pull the wild morning glory vine, however. I hate those things!