• Category Archives Gardening
  • Why nothing’s in the garden yet


    My yard didn’t look quite that bad this morning, but there’s a good covering of white out there.  Temps dropped to the low 20′s.

    I made the decision to pull in everything that was out in the greenhouse.  It got NO sun yesterday to help keep it warm, I’m not sure that even the Christmas lights would have been enough at those temps.  Just as glad I did, cause when I went to zip it back up the zipper broke.  So one of my tasks today is to swap out the little greenhouse cover with one of the covers from the other ones I bought.  Guess its what I get for buying cheap, but thats ok, now that I know this concept will work I’m willing to spend more money for next year!

    The garlic is sprouting nicely, I replaced its straw covering after checking on it over the weekend and I’m glad I did.

    Anyone have any tips on getting rid of ants in a raised bed/gardening container without having to dump and sanitize the whole thing?  Last summer I had a horrid problem with tiny ants farming aphids in one of the containers.  Repeated, HEAVY, dustings with diatomatious earth and powdered hot peppers SEEMED to finally convince them to go elsewhere.  But over the weekend when I went through and loosened and turned over the dirt in the containers that one container still had ants in it.  I gave all of them a heavy coat of DE and mixed it in, but the ants are still there.  I’ve been given the advice of pouring boiling water  on them, which I’m going to try today since it won’t harm anything except possibly the ants, but if that doesn’t work does anyone else have any ideas?

  • I have to remember to grab the camera

    ….when I step out my door.  That way when I say things like “the Great Blue Heron barely cleared the house!!!” and “The Osprey was low enough I could see his markings with my bare eyes!!!” everyone will believe me instead of rolling their eyes….

    Anyway I managed to catch a few pictures yesterday dispite my forgetting to bring my camera out with me at one point.

    This Osprey was collecting nesting materials near me:

    IMGA3021a IMGA3022a IMGA3023a IMGA3024a IMGA3027a



    And then this Red-Tailed Hawk, with a notched wing, which makes it really easy to ID this bird, decided to claim a spot on my neighbor’s property as his, and proceeded to defend the surrounding airspace with great vigor.  I managed to catch some of it on camera.

    7 IMGA3080 IMGA3081 IMGA3082 IMGA3083



    At any rate, the garden expansion is in progress, which is a good thing since I’ve been told I need to get the sugar snap peas in the ground NOW.  Hopefully I’ll get them planted this weekend…..

  • Spring!

    IMGA2970a IMGA2971a IMGA2974a



    The Osprey are back:




    And the ice melting on the pool (just cause it was a cool picture):




    I spotted these deer in a field a few roads over a couple weeks ago, they weren’t pleased to see me though!




    My little greenhouse got blown over in the gusting winds a few nights ago.  Looks like most of the plants will survive the experience, but several of the peppers lost their tags…..I’ll be planting those peppers in a mixed group together rather than try to guess I think.  Oh well.

  • The things you notice….

    ….when you have a temperature of 101….

    Why is “patent filled technology” a selling point?  Any specific technology isn’t patent “filled”, it might HAVE a patent, but you don’t fill technology with patents….

    Reading John Ringo’s Under A Graveyard Sky, when your temperature is that high, right before bed, results in really really screwy dreams…..

    (I’m actually feeling pretty good this morning, no fever!  But I thought that yesterday morning too, only to have the fever back by mid-afternoon, so I’m not holding my breath yet.  Yes, I’m on an antibiotic)

    In other news: in the tiny bouts of energy I’ve had in between this cold and the dog show this past weekend (yes, I took Apollo to the show when I had a fever, yes I’m an idiot.  I did try to avoid breathing on anyone though), I managed to get my sprouted peppers and tomatoes out into the greenhouse.  It has been maintaining well above freezing with no problem since mid-day Thursday.  If temps take another dip (which so wouldn’t surprise me) I might have to bring them all in again, but so far its doing well, I even had to open it up yesterday to keep it from spiking to over 100 in there!

    The snow is finally melting.  The space I want to put the garden expansion is is clear.  If I can get over this cold I will absolutely be working on that this week.  Cross fingers for me!

  • Quick update

    Not a whole lot going on right now.  Or rather, what is going on I’m better off not talking about in public till its settled…..lets just say that attempting to screw with my career cause you have issues with women in power is a really bad idea.

    Anyway, to top off my lovely New Year I’ve just found out that the one and only antiperspirant that I’ve found that I can wear reliably without breaking out into a rash has been discontinued.  Their clear gel version is still availible, so I may have to give it a try.  I’m not a fan of the gel antiperspirants, but its better than breaking out in a massive rash on a regular basis….

    I have some very happy pepper seedlings:



    And Shadow is definitely becoming more comfortable in our house:



    though we’re still trying to convince him that Arty isn’t really devil spawn.


    The birds have been clearing the feeders almost as fast as I fill them, hard to blame them, its been a hard winter:

    IMGA2720 IMGA2728 IMGA2745 IMGA2755 IMGA2782 IMGA2799a


    Turns out they’ve had help with the feeders though:



    we’ve not had much of a squirrel problem the last few years, but I’m pretty sure I recognize that particular one from last year…..Apollo was also very happy to “scare off” an opossum the other night.  I think it was  me flipping on the lights that really made it decide to leave the feeders, but Apollo’s sure that it was responding to him barking at it.

    The deer have been back, though I don’t have time right now to upload those photos, I’ll do it later.  They’re looking skinnier, not sure if they’re just shedding their winter coats, or if this winter is finally taking its toll.

  • Gardening start updates

    The little greenhouse I set up back in January now has 3 sets of Christmas lights in it, and its maintaining about 10 degrees above air temp, despite having little to no sun to warm it.

    The lack of sun on the greenhouse worries me a bit.  Shoulda remembered that this is upstate NY and we get, like, no sun here.  *sigh* I’m now researching grow lights to go inside them.

    One tray’s worth of seeds have sprouted and are going strong.

    The other tray sprouted one seed.

    I’m not sure what the difference is, BUT, the “good” tray IS 2ft higher than the other, and apon wielding a thermometer I discovered that the water in the bottom of the higher tray is 5degrees warmer than the bottom tray.  So, I re-did the insulation under that heat mat (the bottom one was looking sketchy), and swapped the trays, to see if that makes a difference.  Oh, and replanted those pots…..I also picked up two more heat mats, we’ll see, but this way I have backups, just in case.

  • Heirloom apples?

    I’ve mentioned before that we have a few apple trees in the back.  I’m not sure if some of them are still going to be alive come spring, they were looking kinda poorly last year.  Regardless Husband and I had been seriously considering expanding our little orchard.  We both REALLY enjoy home-made applesauce made with Granny Smith apples, however after doing some research it looks like Granny Smiths aren’t likely to do well here.  We’re technically USDA zone 5b, but I’ve learned the hard way that I really need plants that are hardy to zone 4 if I want them to thrive here…..

    I recently ran across the site for Fedco Trees, based in Maine.  Their list of heirloom apple varieties is HUGE!  I’ve never heard of most of these apples.  And best of all, all of them are hardy to zone 4 if not colder!  And so now I have this list of heirloom varieties I’d REALLY like to get ahold of to try….

    Anyone know where I can find someone growing a Spice Sweet Apple tree?

  • Gardening

    The January thaw (ok, the THAW then FREEEZE then THAW then FREEEZE then THAW cycle that we had over the span of a week and a half) has totally pushed my gardening buttons.  

    While I had clear, not snow covered, ground, I set up one of the little greenhouses I’d bought and put it in the sheltered corner between the garage and the breeze way to the house.  It’ll get 8+ hours of sun a day there in short order as the days lengthen.  Course, its still to cold to put anything into it……Right now its got three of the smallest strings of incandescent christmas lights in it along with a thermostat plug (to turn them off if outside temps get over 45) and a thermometer in the greenhouse to record high and low temps.  One such string is capable of jacking the temperature up 30degrees in a 2cubic foot insulated cooler in the space of 10 minutes.  Of course, the greenhouse is more like 15cubic feet, and not as well insulated.  So its still not going to keep it warm enough to put plants into it in the near future, but it might allow me to put plants into it a bit earlier than otherwise.  We’ll see.  The lights were on clearance, and I have another 10 strings to use if need be.

    In the mean time I’ve started my pepper seeds.  I know, its early.   But I have more seeds if these fail, and I have need of something green and growing in the house….

  • Deer Fence

    So, I’m starting to look at what I’ll need for this years garden.  Its way early, though I’ll be starting some of the pepper plants before long, but I’m trying to plan ahead.

    Deer fence.  Last year I used the Plantskydd deer repellent spray.  And it worked far better than any other product I tried, but I still lost most of the pepper plants to the deer.  So now I’m looking at deer fence.  Anyone got any ideas or suggestions or experience?

    After a great deal of research I determined that as long as I’m not actually building beds on top of the leach field, and as long as I’m not growing carrots and potato type plants in the closest beds, I can do raised beds fairly close without worrying about icky bacteria etc.  So that means I can expand the garden where its easier to work with, instead of out in the back of the yard.  Though I’ll likely continue to do the tall plants (such as corn and sunflowers) out there.

    And the garden will be expanded quite a bit, along with plans for a winter gardening bed.  Seeds have been ordered, and I’m determined to get a decent crop this year!

  • A White Christmas and gardening!

    I know, what a pairing right?

    I wasn’t sure we were going to have a white Christmas here, we often don’t, somehow always managing to have a thaw right before Christmas that melts the white stuff already on the ground.  Heck, some years we don’t get any snow till after January 1st, at which point Mother Nature makes up for her kindness by dumping feet of the stuff on us.  And sure enough, this past weekend we had temps in the 50′s with rain, resulting in all but the largest of snow piles melting into nothing.

    But this year the few flakes that were drifting out of the sky when we left to go to Christmas Eve dinner at my Inlaws had turned into full on white out conditions by the time we left to come home.  Its only a couple inches of snow, but it made driving home interesting.  Apollo’s thrilled though.

    Their family tradition is to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and this year my SIL planned to be spending Christmas dinner with HER Inlaws so the gifts chosen to open were the ones from her family to everyone else.  Her gift to us this year was a new “welcome” mat for our front steps.  Our current one is decidedly faded and worn.  Please note the “‘ around the word “welcome”.  Our current mat states “You read my door mat, thats enough social interaction for one day”.  THIS is the new one.  Which sent the entire family into gales of laughter when they read it.  I love it, but when I flipped it over, and stopped to read the attached “warning label” I laughed even harder:



    The other present I was handed last night was my belated Birthday gift from my MIL.  My birthday was last month and she completely forgot to get me anything, I told her not to worry about it, birthday dinner and cake was plenty, but she insisted.  She ordered several books off my Amazon Wish List, one of them Backyard Winter Gardening by Caleb Warnock.

    I’ve been fascinated by the concept of winter gardening for a while, but the large majority of instruction and discussion on it that I’ve found has been done by folks in climates different from mine.  Someone on the west coast, or a zone and a half warmer than I, is going to have different success with different techniques that I would.  Technically we’re zone 5b, however I’ve repeatedly seen plants that are supposedly hardy to zone 5 not survive our winters.  So I was skeptical that any of the winter gardening techniques that I was seeing would work here.   The author of this book lives in the Rocky Mountains, and has recorded winter temps in his garden as low as -17.  So I figure if HE can do a winter garden with these techniques than I ought to be able to pull off something here.

    Husband practically lit up when he spotted me reading about winter grown broccoli last night.  After my one disastrous attempt to grow broccoli two summers ago I’ve not tried anything close since.  We may be trying again this next winter.  I will attempt to remember to blog about how what when and what the results are!