Monday, November 3, 2014

Suet Time ... Already?!

I’m working from home full time now.  I decided to put my desk in the sunroom so I could enjoy both the gardens and the birds while I work.  (I can see several of the feeders and the birdbaths from my “workspace.”)

On a daily basis, I see chickadees and nuthatches, cardinals and finches, blue jays and a few wild turkeys at the feeders!  I had the occasional oriole and hummingbird this summer, too.

Friday afternoon, I saw four (FOUR) woodpeckers on the bee house in the front garden.  So, Saturday morning when I filled the seed feeders, I took the bee house down and put up a suet feeder.  

I typically don’t put out the suet until Thanksgiving, but seeing all the woodpeckers clamoring around, I decided they knew better than I did about the timing.  The squirrels have been crafty in their efforts to “hack” the suet feeders in the past, but I think I have enough security on the feeder to ensure the feeder stays up and that the suet stays inside it!

When I arrived home after meeting a friend for a glass of wine Saturday afternoon, I saw this!  I was able to get within 4 feet of the bird before he sought temporary safety and shelter in a nearby tree.  By the time I walked from the porch to the sunroom, he was back on the feeder!

And, so far, the squirrels have not absconded with the feeder or the suet!  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Two Goodbyes

Even with the beautiful colors and moderate temperatures (and no mosquitoes), fall has always been difficult for me because of some significant “leavings.”  In 2012, my dad died during the fall.  This year, fall – more particularly September -- was marked by two goodbyes – my Garden Elf and the Riverman. 

Garden Elf got busy with school and his focus shifted from doing yard work to doing school work.  His work was less careful at the end of the summer than it was at the beginning of the summer and I ended up having to weed/re-weed or re-do the work I’d hired him to do.  So, that just wasn’t as helpful as it once had been.  I’m grateful to him for the “good months,” where we built the deck, ripped out the old retaining wall and installed a new one and edged a couple of the boulevard gardens.  I think the gardens are at a place now where I can do what’s left on my own.

The second goodbye was more difficult.  After three years together, the Riverman decided that he needed to be on his own rather than be part of a couple.  He had been on his own most of his life, and I knew when we began that our time together was both precious and limited.  I have happy memories of music, travel, and gardening.  I did need to find a new home for the blueberries, however.  It was too vivid a reminder to keep them.  His niece took a few and a friend took the rest. 

As I was preparing the gardens for winter – and composting the leaves and flower trimmings – I thought the image of composting fit well for these two goodbyes, too.  These two once fruitful relationships are now spent and need to be composted so at some point in the future they can turn into something new and beautiful.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Crop Report – Week Six

I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted!  We’ve been traveling.  I’ve been helping others with their gardens, and I’ve been working on the new patio, which has left me feeling VERY tired at the end of the day. 

My garden helper is still around – he asked if he could weed two boulevard gardens AND the west hill while we were gone – I didn’t say no!  I can't remember a time when all the garden beds have been weed free at the same time!  Neighbors and passers-by have noticed, too! And, he’s been a GREAT help on the patio project.  We took a break yesterday for the July 4th holiday, but I’m sure he will be here shortly – ready to finish off the project.

The crops are doing well.  We pulled an onion last night for our July 4th picnic dinner and it was plump – almost the size of a leek.  We are still harvesting kale on a daily basis and the chard got big enough for smoothies earlier this week.  All of the tomato plants have tomatoes and all of the pepper plants have blossoms!  The vining spinach is coming up now, too, but has not started to vine.
The cukes and squash have begun to “jump the box” and are starting to creep into the front yard, which is fine with me!

I don’t know what’s been going on with the berries, however.  The strawberry crop looked so promising, but we haven’t gotten ONE berry!  Not one!  The creatures must have been very busy.  And, last night when we took our evening walk through the gardens, we noticed that the blueberries looked skimpy and scant.  So, a fence or some cages may be in order.  Luckily, the raspberries are both plentiful and ripening!  We’ve gotten a handful now for the last several days.  Yummy!

It rained almost two inches last weekend while we were gone and then “spritzed” a little bit on Tuesday afternoon.  But, it’s been dry since then.  So, for the first time since the week we planted, we’re going to water.

My neighbor has hatched three Monarchs, but I haven’t seen the caterpillars that were in my boulevard gardens for a few weeks.  Two nights ago, I saw a wasp eating a Monarch – possibly newly emerged.  Nature isn’t always beautiful or serene.
The neighbor I “stay-cation” with commented this week on the lack of bumblebees.  She hasn’t seen any in her garden this year.  I’ve seen several, and now that she’s brought it to my attention, I’m keeping an eye out for them.

There’s so much more to write about – a couple of field trips, the patio project, the continued work of the garden helper.  I will do that later – possibly from the new patio!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Crop Report – Week Four

Rain, rain, go away….  It’s been a wet, soggy, sodden, waterlogged week here at Auntie K’s Garden and the Urban Farm.  I know that’s a lot of modifiers, but when you get as much rain as we’ve had this week, I think it’s warranted.  Monday half an inch of precipitation fell.  Tuesday, we got another inch.  Wednesday, we were deluged with 4 inches of rain. 
Thursday, Mother Nature added insult to injury by dumping another half inch.  That’s 6 inches of rain in less than a week. 

The contractor finished the new gutters on the west side of the house before the deluge began, but wasn’t able to finish on the east side.  And, with all that rain, we had water not only outside, but inside, too.  Riverman squeegeed water in the basement for several days.  And, the sump pump has been filling every 15 minutes.  We’re supposed to have warm, sunny weather this weekend, which we and the crops will appreciate after a week of steady and heavy rain.

The Riverman was excited to see blossoms on the Celebrity tomatoes this week – finally!  And, there’s a weensy cherry tomato forming.  We’ve been harvesting the kale on a daily basis for the smoothies, and it just keeps coming!  This really is the way to go rather than purchasing greens during the summer months.  The vining spinach is finally making a go of it – even without a fence.

The cukes and the squash are going crazy!  Last year, the cukes struggled.  This year, they’re thriving.  We can’t believe how HUGE the leaves are! 

The berries are all doing well, too.  Unfortunately, a creature got one of the strawberries that was starting to ripen.  We’re hoping they leave us a few.  (I may need to put a fence around the strawberry box to ensure we do get to enjoy at least a handful of berries.)

My monarch caterpillar buddies have all disappeared.  I hope this means they have found places to make their chrysalises and not that they’ve been snatched up by a predator.

That’s the crop report for this week.  What’s happening in your garden?!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Garden Helper

Earlier this week, one of the neighborhood boys left some flyers and a handwritten note on my door.  This is a boy who asked for a lawnmower for his 8th grade graduation so he could have a proper summer job.  He’s a sophomore in High School now, and school is out for the summer, so he’s looking for some projects to keep him busy.  Since he lives in the neighborhood, he knows I’ve done away with my grass.  But, I do have him help with leaf raking in the fallj, so he dropped off a flyer anyhow. 

His flyer didn’t mention prices or what kinds of projects he wouldn’t be willing to do, so I gave him a call and asked him to meet me after work to talk about a couple of possibilities – one being the dandelion field in the front, and the other being the stepping path on the west side of the house.  I figured these would be good projects for him to do on his own – with just a bit of instruction up front.

We talked about whether the project(s) should be paid for on a per-project basis or whether hourly was more fair.  We negotiated a “per project” fee for the dandelions and agreed to see how that worked out before committing to the stepping path project. 

He came prepared the next morning with his garden gloves – but without a watch (or phone) and without a water jug.  I told him I’d set a timer for him so he could get home in time for lunch and set out a pitcher of water with a glass.  And, then reminded him that it’s hot out so he should bring water and he’s a business man, so he should track his own time.  Today, he showed up with both water and a way to tell the time!  Quick learner!

Here’s the progress so far!  All that’s left is to mulch!  He’ll be back in the morning – unless we’re having another deluge – to finish up!  I won’t post his picture since he’s a kid, but here’s an image of a garden helper with wings, because he’s such a fast worker!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pappa Cardinal

I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot recently.  He’s been gone for over a year and a half now, so all the “first” anniversaries are behind me.  Maybe some things will always make me thing about him.  I saw Father’s Day cards while running errands a few weeks ago and thought… oh, I should get one so I can pop it in the mail so he gets it on time.  Then, realized, I don’t need to do that.  Power tools and house projects will probably always make me think about him.  (He taught me and my sisters how to use power tools and how to fix and make lots of things.  The Riverman was grateful for these skills last week when we replaced baseboards  at his condo.)  I think tomatoes and chives will always make me think about him.  We had a friendly yet fierce tomato growing competition for decades.  And, we both liked chives in our scrambled eggs – especially eating them outside on a summer morning.  (I texted my step-mom the other morning when I made scrambled eggs with chives from my dad’s garden.) 

A lot of people say their loved ones appear to them as birds.  Some are Snowy Owls, some are love birds, some are eagles.  For me, it is the cardinal, and more specifically, the pappa cardinal.

In August of 2012, my dad and I had a few email and text exchanges about cardinals.

Aug 22, To me.  A text:  Cardinals!  After all these years we have a cardinal family in the burning bush by the blue bedroom! we Think its cool.  Sent from my iPhone

Aug 25, 2012, To the family.  An email:  The Miracle of Life:  For years, Mr. and Mrs Cardinal have been flying around our deck. Kathy finally discovered their nest in the burning bush by our guest bedroom! We have witnessed a new generation being born with four hungry beaks fighting for nourishment! Today they were taught to "fly the coop", and alas a new life chapter begins! Better than watching Leno!
love P

Early September, To Pappa.  An email:  Hei, I love that you have cardinals nesting in your yard by the bedroom.  There's a pair here, too.  I love that they perch on the rose bushes and peek in the windows.

Shortly after this email, we had a phone conversation, during which it became clear to me that he knew he didn’t have much longer to live.  I dropped everything, jumped in the car, and made the 7 hour drive to be with him.  The last conversation I had with him was, in part, about cardinals.  He said birds were one of our bonds.  I agreed.  I told him that when I saw cardinals, I’d think about him.

The cardinal pair are still visiting the rose bushes and peeking in the windows.  The snapshots are  from the sunroom window of the pappa cardinal at the feeder.  Happy Father’s Day, Pappa!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Crop Report – Week Three

The crops are really taking off!  The Riverman is disappointed that there are no blossoms on the Celebrity tomatoes, but he’s pleased with how much they’ve grown since last week.  He “ruthlessly” thinned out the carrots last night.  And, we’ve been using the kale in our smoothies all week!  The onions and peppers are all very healthy.

The cukes and the squash haven’t yet set blossoms, but I can see the tiny little cucumbers where the blossoms will form!  They are much more robust than the plants we had last year.

I haven’t yet gotten the fence around the vining spinach, so the creatures are still having a field day chomping off the newly sprouted plants.

All the berries are doing well.  They seem to be in a race to see which one will bear fruit first.  I don’t remember them all starting to show fruit at the same time last year.  Last week I predicted we’d have raspberries by now.  Sadly, that prediction did not come to fruition.  Maybe next week!

Two of the Monarch caterpillars are still around.  I saw four earlier in the week, but when I checked this morning I could find only two.  My neighbor says she’s seen some on the coneflower plants instead of on the milkweed and says I shouldn’t worry too much.

Mother Nature is doing the watering again this week.  We’re expecting 2 – 3 inches over the weekend.  We’re having additional gutters put on the house and the guy finished the east side of the house yesterday.  So, we’ll see if the additional gutters help to keep the water away from the foundation!

That’s the crop report for this week.  What’s happening in your garden?!
Related Posts with Thumbnails