Monday, May 30, 2011

That Garden, May 30

Hello! Time for another garden update! I've been focusing on the back yard so much that I thought I'd best take the camera out front for a change. This geranium just makes my heart sing; she's been through a lot but look how she keeps on going, look at those big leaves, those bright blossoms!

This is Raspberry Corner, where the steps meet the porch. There's a persistent redbud tree to the left of the raspberry vines; we keep trying to evict him but he refuses to go. Many weeds seem to like it in Raspberry Corner also.

The raspberry leaves are turning yellowish, and the plants need fertilized--but look at the raspberries! Pretty darned exciting!

These raspberries are fall-bearing (also called ever-bearing) and so this is the first crop this year; another will come on the new growth in the late summer.

These are the plants on the front porch steps, and also--ta daa!!--the wall our mason rebuilt for us. I like it MUCH better than the painted brick. From bottom to top, the plants are pansies with garlic and peas; Nick's lilac with pansies; the blueberry bush (also in need of fertilizer!); and another pot of pansies. I have pink petunias and pink geraniums in the wings, waiting for a chance to share space with the pansies.

This is plantain, the wonder weed. It's growing on the north side of That House, came up right through the woodchip mulch we covered the mud with. When I harvest the plantain (and there's lots more of it), I'll wash it pretty thoroughly and then dry it, so I have a good supply to get me through the year. It is a true wonder on venomous bites and stings, as well as on poison ivy--a true gift of healing from the Earth!

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Mock Orange

This is a volunteer, a young shrub that I guess must have been bird-planted. It sprang up next to a tree on the south side of the yard where, paradoxically, it gets more moisture than the very old mock orange on the north side of the yard. This is only the second season for its blooms. I'm just thrilled that it has so many this year!
Hello there on this hot and sticky May day! Do you see my pea plants, sprouting amongst the leaves?

Here are the bell peppers on either side of the teensy pea patch.

And here is my garden, not completely dug or planted yet, but all blocked off! A very nice job my neighbor did, too!

Here's what's blooming today: Philadelphus, also known as mock orange. The fragrance is overpowering in wet years, but this year it's a tease, very soft unless I water the bush that day. This makes sense to me; when I lived in Phoenix I told someone my irises were blooming and he asked how I liked the scent.

What scent?!

Then he told me that daffodils ALSO have a scent. Coulda knocked me over with a feather! Now here I am in Kansas, discovering for myself that those "scentless" flowers are actually two of my all time favorite fragrances.

The difference is water, both the amount the plants get and the amount that is in the air. In Phoenix it just isn't humid enough to allow irises and daffodils to have a noticeable scent, even if you water them a lot; but here in Wichita there always seems to be enough rain and enough humidity--probably from the rivers--to allow such things. So it makes scent--errr, sense--to me that the mock orange will respond similarly, and the more I water it, the stronger scent it will have.

More blossoms: potato flowers! Who knew they were so pretty?

This was a hard day's work in the sticky heat for the neighbor. After he finished laying the blocks in place for my garden border, he wired up the three pallets to make the dividers in the bins, moved the bags of leaves to keep the dogs away from the tree (where the fence is not as secure), moved the small compost pile and part of the big one to the middle bin, and moved a pile of sticks to the last bin. By that time he was pretty much done for the day!

In the process of moving the compost, he unearthed some of the potatoes. I reburied them afterwards, and found---ta daaaa!!!---
Our first harvest of new potatoes! Not enough to be more than a morself, but hey! here they are!
May you also find small treasures in unexpected places today.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dogfight!! Aaaaccckkk!!!

Well, it was bound to happen; I forgot to look before I let Troop out the back door, and Deagan was out with his people (next door). Troop was off like a shot, flying low, and Deagan was practically shouting, "bring it you bastard!!" They went at it through the fence, which is seriously dented now where Deagan slammed into it, and I confess that since I didn't think they could get to each other, I worried more about my new seedlings than the dogs.

Unfortunately, they DID connect. Deagan's mouth is bloody from the fence wire and Trooper's face has holes in it from Deagan's teeth. He clamped down hard and refused to let go; Troop was screaming. Deagan was holding him there so the Alpha Male could come and finish off the enemy, yanno? Imagine his surprise when the Alpha Male pried his jaws open, yelled at him, picked him up like a puppy and carried him inside where the entire rest of the pack yelled at him! Troop (who was still bounding about demanding a chance to go for it again) was dragged inside and washed up, then crated while the rest of us went back outside. One tooth hole is pretty deep, at least a quarter inch. We're keeping antibiotic ointment in it but I might have to take him to the vet tomorrow for stitches.

So I've pulled the rigid fence wire panels over to the garden fence to reinforce it from our side, and the neighbors are going to get hardware cloth to reinforce it from their side. That way there won't be any more mouths coming through the mesh to bite each other.

Trooper is VERRRRRY lucky that he only mangled one eggplant leaf, and the rest of the garden is unhurt. Mama does not take kindly to misbehaving dogs, even if the dogs don't know they're misbehaving. Mind you, they know we don't like what they're doing! They just think we aren't very smart dogs, is all. *eyeroll*

Lady was not stupid enough to get involved in the dogfight. She actually for once managed to keep out from underfoot. Do not think she wouldn't have fought if she could, though; she routinely puts both Trooper AND Deagan in their places. She may be small and blind, but she is MIGHTY.

I was going to make a garden post but I think I'll wait until tomorrow when I have new pics for you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gardenage! We have achieved Gardenage!

Well am I ever happy this evening!! At long last we have started our garden!

It happened like this, you see. I went to the pots on the front porch to get sage and French tarragon on Sunday afternoon, and could not for the life of me FIND my French tarragon! This, my dears, is a disaster of EPIC proportions; I waited almost a year to get that plant, and I clearly remembered bringing it home and I was preeetttttty certain I planted it *doubtful look* well I must have planted it, right? Because it wasn't still in its pot, so it must have been planted....

.........but I. Couldn't. Find. It.

EPIC proportions. It kept me awake, fretting, for part of Sunday night. I mean, it's not like one can just zip out and get a new plant whenever. The season will end soon, the hardware store will sell out, and THEN where will I be? And you can't grow French tarragon from seed, because it's sterile; you have to buy the plants from a nursery. And it's already mid-May.

Did I mention the season will end soon, and the hardware store will be out of plants?

You might remember that we don't have a car. There aren't any nurseries on the bus route.

It was my only chance.

So Monday afternoon there I was, groceries bagged and in my Old Lady Shopping Cart (I love that thing!!), and I mosied on from the grocery store to the hardware store and riiight into the plant section. Now ya gotta know the plants are outside, and so here I am pushing my Old Lady Shopping Cart half-full of groceries (including perishable cheese, ooops, lol) in and out of every aisle of plants even though I KNEW where the herbs would be, just dreaming my way through the garden.

It was doggoned hard to walk away from a plant called Two-Row Stonecrop, a kind of Sedum. You see, I was wearing a green shirt and pink sweat jacket (with sequins, no less!)... and the Stonecrop was green with pink edges! The pink almost matched my sweat jacket!

Oh well, I was good, I walked away. Eventually, after much dreaming through aisles, I came to the herbs. Aaaaack!! They didn't have it!! But then I found the last two plants tucked away on the back side of the rack (see I told you they were gonna run out!!)...... and son of a gun, French tarragon doesn't look like I thought it did! It IS on my porch, snugged up against the lavender plant!

So I had been to the grocery store, right? And Gryph LOVES bell peppers, had asked specifically for yellow and red bell peppers, and I went to the produce section to buy some-------------and they were $3! *faints dead away* Can you imagine, $3 for ONE bell pepper??!!!!

And there, right across from the herb rack, are--ta daa!--bell pepper plants.

Well, you know what happened next. I pushed that Old Lady Shopping Cart home with four bell pepper plants, one each of yellow, orange, red, and (of all lovely things!) lilac. And two eggplant plants. AND four strawberry plants, because they were half-price.... all of them perched on top of my groceries. *cheesy grin*

The flower pots on the front porch are already full, yanno, and there are still three tomato plants left to pot up. What was I going to DO with four bell peppers, two eggplants, and four strawberries?!

So the back yard is newly fenced this weekend, and it's a giant thrill to the dogs to be allowed to run free. After I got the groceries put up I took them out and hooked up our new hose so I could water the rose bush and the mock orange... the BARE ground under the rose bush....

Here's the thing. No matter how disabled a gardener might be, if you hand her too many plants she is GOING to find a place to dig.

Here is the beginning of our garden. The rose bush is on the right. Monday evening I watered the ground (thoroughly, I thought), started weeding, and then dug four holes and planted the strawberries. That's when I discovered that all that water I poured onto the ground only penetrated half an inch, and also when I discovered that my soil--that I thought was the nicest in the yard!-- is hard clay! How the plants are rooting through it is beyond me, but root they do, ailanthus (I call it stink tree, lol), dandelion, grass and even a few violets.

Today I made a HUGE discovery. Gryph likes to dig!! Wooohooo! This very sore gardener was thrilled to turn the chore over! That's what you see in the above photo, the area that Gryph worked on, pulling weeds and tree roots, digging out grass, and then using the Garden Claw to loosen up that hard clay soil. I had watered again last night and then this morning too, and Gryph kept the hose available.

You can't see it, but there's much more than strawberries, eggplants, and peppers planted in that garden. I also planted seeds: Grandpa Ott morning glory, Tendergreen Burpless cucumber, Bloomsdale long-standing spinach, early white Vienna kohlrabi, melting sugar snow peas, and Oregon sugar pod snap peas. Then I watered everything in, really thoroughly. If any of them come up, I'll be thrilled, and if they all come up, well, they'll look like a little jungle and maybe the squirrels will leave them alone.

Or not. I swear, one of these days I'm gonna get a t-shirt that says "Official Squirrel Hater." But in the meantome, I have plans!!

See the bamboo lined out to mark the shape of the eventual garden? That's native bamboo, by the way, from a friend down the street. It's also called rivercane. When you read about a canebreak, that's this stuff.

Here's another pic. You can see that this side of the back yard is really a work in progress, and what a lot of work it is!

And here is my hero, the Digger of Gardens and Vanquisher of Weeds, Gryph. She was actually sorry to stop digging for the day! Am I lucky, or what?!

So now, from That Garden in That Yard of That House, good night. May you sleep well and may your dreams bring you happiness and peace!


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Is this blog on?

Ohhh how life has taken me away from Blogland! And now I see that I left y'all hanging. Yes, the wall got fixed, and my mason Kevin is one of my favorite people. He also repaired my porch pillars and rebuilt one wall by my porch steps, plus rebuilt the leaning chimney. Eventually, we plan to have him rebuild the entire outer wall of That House. He flipped the bricks for me on the porch step wall, so that the unpainted sides are out, and ohhh it looks so nice! So when he rebuilds the walls, he'll flip them all and we'll be back to a red brick house like it was always supposed to be.

In the meantime, I'm gardening in yet more containers. In the yard, my mock orange and my dunno-what-it-is rose are blooming, along with the funniest little ornamental allium. It has purple starburst flowers that look like firecracker bursts. The surprise lilies have sent scads of foliage up, long and lush, and are now dying back. The redbuds are long since gone past, but the raspberries are just starting to bloom.

The rose is going by quickly. I don't think I'll let the hips set this year; the birds don't eat them and neither do I, and I think the plant could use more energy for root and top growth.

This is a volunteer mock orange with the most wonderful scent, but you can hardly see it for the tree sprouts! I have to clip them back so I can take care of the shrub.

This is the mock orange which lives along the north side fence in the back. This and the rose and possibly the allium (if that wasn't bird-planted) are all that's left of the original border. It was a BRUTAL summer and a dry fall; there isn't much to the mock orange this year, and again, I'm not going to let it set seed.

My herbs and roses are in pots helter-skelter on the front porch right now, awaiting water, fertilizer, and arrangement. I have seven tomato plants, all different varieties, and lots of peas tucked into various pots here and there.... I confess, I cannot remember whether they're snow peas or sugar snap peas. Both packages are open! But it's okay because eventually both packages will be completely planted out anyway; we love snow and snap peas!!

This is a pic of my Potato Experiment. It's a metal utility shelf, sans shelves, with old cedar fence boards closing the sides. I filled it with oak leaves and a couple weeks later planted potatoes--not seed taters, but old kitchen taters left over from Thanksgiving, lol! Approximately ten sprouted and now they're blooming so I have NO idea what I'll get, if anything--but hey, I can't lose--even if they all die I'll still get compost.

My art and craftwork are on hiatus because my carpal tunnel syndrome is badly flared up.