Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Visit to the Tree House

Last week, the Riverman and I went to Wabasha, MN, where a friend has a cabin on the backwaters of the Mississippi River. We arrived Wednesday evening and had planned to canoe on Thursday and Friday. The weather, however, had other plans. We did get to spend some time on the deck of the cabin – enjoying evening cocktails and morning coffee and birds, birds, birds!

Because of the slope from the cabin to the river, the deck feels like it’s actually IN the tree tops. I had the distinct feeling of being in a tree house! It was so restful. And, the bird watching (and bird listening) was fantastic. We counted several birds from the deck and several more from the canoe when we were able to get out on Friday morning.

The most amazing bird encounter was when a mature Bald Eagle swooped directly over our canoe. It was so close I actually ducked! From the tree house, we saw a Wren, who was busy building a nest near the deck; a Blue Jay, who chased a squirrel in a nearby tree; several Woodpeckers; several Orioles; some Red Winged Blackbirds; and a yellow Finch. And, on a hike we did Thursday afternoon, we saw several Bluebirds!

I did have my camera, but wasn’t quick enough to capture digital images of these winged creatures so I will need to be content with the vivid images in my memory.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Radish Redistribution

The radishes in the Urban Farm project came up really quickly. And, they needed to be thinned. The Riverman asked me what that meant. I told him that we needed to pull out some of the radishes so the remaining ones would have room to get round. His eyes widened in disbelief—or horror—or maybe some of each. He was uncomfortable committing planticide – even for the good of the remaining plants. But, he did it. He got through part of the row and then stopped.

I continued thinning later in the week – but, knowing how sad it made him to discard the little seedlings, I tucked the thinned plants in among the Brussels sprouts and beets and watered them in. The next morning, they looked great. "Hooray," I thought. "More radishes for salads and veggie juice."

Peppers with redistributed radishes
Riverman finished thinning the row on Sunday, but didn’t water immediately because we were expecting another deluge that evening. Monday morning, they were looking pretty sad – flat, actually -- even after the heavy rain. They looked somewhat perkier yesterday, but I’m not sure they’re all going to make it.

When we looked at the beans last night, he asked if they needed to be thinned, too. I told him they did. Hmmmm. I wonder if he’s scoping out places to tuck in the thinned out beans.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Farmer and the Flower Girl -- Birth of the Urban Farm

Earlier this year, the Riverman started talking about having a garden -- "not flowers, mind you. I'm talking food," he said with a hint of a smile that told me he wasn't really saying flower gardening wasn't real gardening. I told him it sounded like an awesome idea and I'd help in whatever way I could. He squinted at me like I had just set him adrift on an ice floe. "Hey," I teased him back, "It's your project. You're the farmer! I'm just the flower girl. " Being a little more helpful, I told him I thought a raised bed would work well and that we could put it in the front -- where I'd placed the veggie boxes in the fall of 2010. See the post Sunny Sunday in the Garden for info about the veggie boxes (and a super cute snapshot of Monty the wonder dog).
Riverman Plants the Raised Bed
We talked for weeks about building the raised bed -- how big should it be and where would it get the most sun? Where would we move the existing veggie boxes? We discussed "the crops" we'd grow. I put in my bid for a couple of tomatoes and some squash. He had a hankering for radishes, carrots, peas, and beans. We also got cukes, brussels sprouts, beets, peppers, onions, and strawberries.

In Early May, we went to the local garden center and picked out some seeds and seedlings. The following week, I cleared some space for the new raised bed (8 x 4) and on Mother's Day weekend, we built and filled and planted the bed.

Squash and Cukes
On Wednesday, we planted 5 blueberries -- 2 North Country, 2 Patriot, and a Chippewa. By Thursday (Syttende Mai), we had radishes sprouting out of the ground! The Urban Farm project is underway!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lying Fallow

2011 was a big year and Auntie K's Garden needed to lie fallow. In addition to the poor weather (we had just finished a winter with the most snowfall I can remember -- followed by a cool rainy spring) there were lots of losses. My neighbor and good friend (also a gardener) died last March of Leiomyosarcoma. I was with her for her last 8 weeks, which was a huge privilege and an emotional journey. (She shared many plants with me before she died, so she does live on.) And, in June, my adorable canine companion of 14 years, Monty the wonderdog, went to dog heaven--another painful loss. I miss him terribly.

But, it wasn't all losses. 2011 brought new love, which is exciting and life giving and wonderful. We share a love of the outdoors and we spent much of the summer hiking, biking, or canoeing. (He's known as "the Riverman," but I think this year, he might be better known as "the Farmer.")

With so much change, I was pretty emotionally spent and didn't feel I had it in me to blog daily -- or even less frequently. And, so, Auntie K's Garden lay fallow.

I'm back at Auntie K's Garden, and perhaps you will be, too. Or, maybe you've just found us! Earlier this year, the Riverman and I decided to do some urban farming at Auntie K's garden. So, in addition to the posts about the flowers and bugs and weather, I'll keep you up to date on the Urban Farm.

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