Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sunny Saturday

Just a few happy snaps for a stroll through the grounds here at H of C and E.

Scotch Broom:

Oak Leaf Hydrangea, preparing to bloom:

My False Indigo, which pretty much stayed looking exactly as it did when I bought it for all of last summer...

...apparently needed a year to get going:

The Edelweiss, which survived the move from our old apartment, is thriving, with 13 buds. The most it ever had before was one.

Our tree. all be-leafed:

And a vegetable garden update. The trench holds our potato plants. Apparently, one is supposed to plant potato eyes and then, when the sprouts start coming up, mound dirt over the plant for a bit until you have a mound around each plant that's been put in place. I found a blog where the writer recorded using her mother's method, which reversed the process – dig a trench, plant the potatoes at the bottom, then as they sprout, throw more dirt on them – built in mounds!

To the right of the trench is a line of onions that, to my relief, sprouted. I thought they might have lost their "goody" as my grandmother would have said, because some of them felt a little hollow. But so far, hardly any duds. We won't have lots of them, but it will be fun anyway.

Potato plant close-up:

Onion line-up: 

This raspberry bush... now this raspberry bush:

And let me tell you, it is going like GANGBUSTERS.

What does that mean, anyway?

I don't know, but what I mean is that it refuses to stop growing. We may wake to find it snaking in a window someday. It has so many buds. The silver streamers are intended to keep birds away but I'm skeptical of their effectiveness. Plus, they are not terribly sturdy and they keep shredding themselves on the bush's thorns, so we picked up a net to put over the bush when the berries start coming in to keep the birds from plucking our precious, precious berries.

To my cilantro-hating cousin, check out what came up on its own from last year:

And finally, they are difficult to see but here are our spindly scallions, overshadowed by their chive cousins. I'm hoping they are inspired to grow, but having received unfortunate placement before the raspberry bush began to go crazy and the chives exploded, I'm not sure they'll get quite enough sun. We shall see.

The Last of Sharon

Rose of Sharon, that is.

We had one that had grown to ornamental tree size growing perilously close to one of our fireplaces. Being, essentially, a glorified bush, we're not sure that it could have truly damaged the foundation, but we didn't want to find out. Plus, it looked a bit out of place anyway. So E set to work during our freak warm spell in March, hacking down all the branches and as much of the stump as he could with a tree saw. I cut the branches up for disposal. But we were still left with three-plus feet of trunk that needed removal.

Having no chainsaw of our own, E requested the help of friend and coworker D yesterday and she went to town.


Thank you, D!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Non-Visual Outdoors Update

Mulching – essentially finished, except for the vegetable garden, for which the mulching status is still under deliberation; 66 bags, friends, and at least three different colors even though it's all "hardwood" mulch, but at least now we know to go bulk next time and how much to get.

Vegetable Garden – potatoes have been planted and were just discovered to be sprouting TODAY! Onions have been planted and sprouted as well, as have the scallions, which are dwarfed by the dense patch of chives we inherited and for which we are finding more and more uses.

Coming Soon – gardencenterpalooza with garden sensei Mom. Can't wait!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

From Pretty to Gross in Just One Post

I debated about posting this but I'm doing it in the interest of public service. So bear with me.

Last year, I wanted hosta plants for the border around the back patio. Then I found out how much they cost, multiplied that by how many I'd need, and went for coleuses instead, a kind of cheap woman's hosta.

They grew a lot bigger than this as the summer went on and looked great, such pretty colors, but there was a problem. The older leaves all developed large holes in them which I eventually realized were mini slug banquet sites. Those gross little slime trailers are pretty prevalent here. Luckily, they don't seem to care for most of what I plant, but those coleuses must have been the slug equivalent of Rachael Ray's "yummo" (which, come to think of it, is probably "yummo." But I digress.)

This year, Mom decided to dig out some hostas she no longer needed/wanted and donate them to the cause. Combined with a few strays I found around the property, I have the beginnings of my hosta moat.

I hope to fill in between with more hostas. We'll see what happens during my upcoming annual garden center tour (binge) with Mom.

But in the meantime, wouldn't you know it, the shameless buggers were back again? Three inches of mulch were not enough to stop these soulless primordials. I started noticing holes last weekend and realized time had come for action. Attacking annuals is one thing, but back off of my perennials already.

So E implemented my plan:

"What is it?" and "Ew" or a combination are acceptable questions/statements.

It is beer in an improvised dish cut from the bottom of a plastic gallon jug. It took E's last two bottles to fill the dishes we had set around for each plant, but he enjoys an epic struggle and was willing to sacrifice for the cause.

So why beer? Slugs apparently love the stuff (one of the many differences between myself and a slug) to the point that they will happily slide into a dish of the stuff and drown themselves. Like so:

Nine of his/her/its barely brained kinfolk were found in this dish alongside this specimen. That was the highest count, but slime sacks were found in the other dishes too.

I hope to be able to get rid of these dishes in a little while because, frankly, beer saucers in my yard gross me out. But I do like the simplicity of this solution, the lack spread-around chemicals, and not having to buy yet another specialty slug-be-gone type garden product.

On to less nauseating subjects:

ACTION SHOT! It's like you're there, no?
E has a new toy.

Actually, we both do, but he was the first to use it.

As often happens in the spring, the distance between "Oh look, the leaves are coming out!" and "Head for the hills, Mother Nature is taking back what's hers!" can be measured by one good rainstorm. We recently realized our burning bushes in front of the house were considering forming towers, and, in general, spring was busting out a bit too much. All over. So after some consideration and debate as to whether we were buying tools unnecessarily (we have an old school pair of hedge trimmers donated by Mom last year), we picked up an electric hedge trimmer, encouraged by a $20 rebate.

E's first words upon using it? "It's like cutting through butter!" No regrets there. We'll still have lots of uses for the shears, but there's no comparison for larger scale jobs, and no way we could do such a neat and tidy job by hand. Well, at least not with our hands.

E did a great job taming our burning bushes into charmingly flickering flames, and seems to be looking for the next shrub to crew cut. As long as he doesn't take it to any of the neighborhood pets, we should be good.

Spring Has Sprung. I Think.

After a few false starts, it seems like spring may. Actually. Be. Here. From 80 degrees on St. Patty's Day to a late freeze just last weekend. it's been confusing to say the least. But I am taking a gamble and forging ahead.

Last weekend, I stopped at one of my local garden centers/temptation spots just to keep apprised of the current situation. What I found was a price on what I wanted for this year's window boxes I couldn't refuse. So I called Mom, my gardening sensei, for approval.

"It's too early. And there's going to be a freeze tonight."

Then I told her the price.

"You should be able to keep them inside until it gets warmer this week."

So I kept them inside until things warmed up, then on the porch near the house so they could stay warm while getting light until I had time to plant them. Which came today.

And E put them in place:

Love them. Now cross your fingers for me that we don't have late freeze number two.