2018 garden Archive

Garden and general update

Posted June 4, 2018 By Ruth

The garden is FINALLY all planted!

Now to get some straw down for mulch and water retention.

I’m growing several new varieties of things this year.  The one interesting looking one so far is the Japanese Black Trifele Tomato, which is a “potato leaf” variety.  I’d never seen a “potato leaf” tomato before!

I still need to cage up the Black Plum tomatoes.  At the end of last year I tossed all the cages into one aisle of the garden.  This year, as I started working my way around to planting I noticed that I was getting yelled at by a Song Sparrow.  Turns out there was a reason for him or her being pissy:

While the nest is nicely snugged in the wedge between two tires, it’s also in the row with all the cages.  I pulled out what I had to for the less sturdy varieties, but I’m leaving the Black Plums as long as I can, in hopes that the cages will help protect the nest a bit.  Unfortunately the Song Sparrow may be out of luck.  As of yesterday the number of babies had dwindled to 1.  Not sure whats happening to them, but I’m crossing my fingers the last baby will survive!

Speaking of birds, there are wild turkey’s ALL OVER this year.  These two wandered across my front yard the other day, to Apollo’s disgust:

The same day, while I was hurrying to an appointment, I hit a not small bird that lunged out the road side ditch as I passed.  All I saw was a flash of a not small wing over the front passenger corner of the hood, felt the thump of the bumper smacking the bird, and looked in my rear view mirror to see a cloud of feathers in the air, but no bird.  It was raining, and I was late, so I didn’t stop.  When I got where I was going I took a minute to check the front of my car, no dents, can’t a been a turkey then, if I hit a turkey it would have left one hell of a dent…..except there were feathers caught in the corner of the hood, and they sure look like turkey feathers:

At a guess the impact was glancing enough to push the bird sideways instead of into my bumper.  There was no body on the roadside when I checked on my way home, so maybe he or she even survived it!

The Bluebird babies are still there:

Last spring/summer, between being sick for a month, plus the broken arm, plus life, I never got the strawberry tire weeded.  Hell, we ate like two strawberries out of it.  So this last week I set out to get the weeds out of the tire.  Unfortunately the neglect may have done in the strawberries.  After pulling all the weeds there was barely any strawberry plants at all!  After some back and forth I spent a couple hours today digging up the remaining strawberry plants, as well as the flowers that were also planted in that tire, and planting them elsewhere in the yard.  The tire needs a refill of dirt/compost, and then I’m going to cover it with black plastic and burn out the weeds.  I’ll plant new strawberries next year.

I also did a half-assed weeding of the hosta bed:

They’re filling in nicely, can’t wait till they fill in enough to cut down on my weeding!

Anyone know what these big ferny things are:

They’re trying to take over that corner, not sure if I like that or not……

 

 

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Garden update

Posted May 25, 2018 By Ruth

Getting stuff planted out has been slow.  The weather keeps peeing down cold nasty rain on my days off, resulting in me getting very little planted out so far.  Which is frustrating.

But some pictures anyway:

 

End of last year I put down black plastic on the tire beds, to kill the weeds, water of course collected, and this frog claimed this puddle, and steadfastly refused to leave even after I literally pulled the plastic out from under him.  A night in the dry tire eventually convinced him to move on however.  The other problem I’ve been having was the discovery that wasps were making nests under the plastic in several spots.  I THINK I got all of those taken care off……

 

We did pull out and fill Apollo’s pool, to his delight:

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I forgot

Posted May 7, 2018 By Ruth

I was going to move a trail camera to watch the garden after I set up the motion activated sprinkler, but I forgot.

Got one sprinkler set up yesterday to cover the garden.  I’ll need a second one as soon as I get plants growing, but for now one works.

Just now, as I’m putting together my morning coffee, one of the cats bolted across the back yard, from the garden towards our northern neighbor’s property.  I leaned forward to look towards the garden just in time to see the tail end of the sprinkler cycle.

I’ll take it.

Trail camera video would have been worth it though.

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Sigh

Posted April 22, 2018 By Ruth

Yesterday morning, getting ready for work, making coffee, feeding cats…….reached across the kitchen counter to where Trouble’s food bowl sits on top of Apollo’s crate (yes, his crate is actually taller than the kitchen counters, a side effect of owning a really big dog)…….and slammed the side of my  head into the corner of the upper kitchen cabinet door that had been left open a couple inches.

Now, this was not, by any stretch, the first time I’ve done that.  I’m short enough that the cabinet doors are just above eye level on me, perfectly placed to catch me in the forehead if they get left open.  I’d actually pulled down a different upper cabinet door several months ago after I hit my head on it for the umpteenth time.  But this door was one that I didn’t usually catch, so I’d left it.

I didn’t initially think it was that bad of a hit.  Went into work like normal.  Except that by the time I got to work the side of my head was pretty sore.  By the time I’d been at work for a couple hours the whole left side of my face felt funny, and while my balance wasn’t ACTUALLY being affected it felt like it SHOULD be affected.  So I ended up leaving work early.  Get home, and it occured to me that I hadn’t put ice on the bump, and it was a definite goose egg at that point, so I dug out the ice pack, and after an hour of 15 minutes on, 15 off, the swelling had gone down some, and the side of my face felt much more normal.  In retrospect I suspect the swelling was pulling on the side of my face, and ear, resulting in the weird feelings.

Once I felt more stable I got out the step ladder and screwdriver, and pulled down the upper cabinet door that I’d hit:

These cabinets aren’t right next to the stove, so there shouldn’t be much  grease residue to cause problems, and I can live without cabinet doors.  Especially if it gives me fewer things to slam my head into.

Since I was feeling better at that point I decided I was going to take advantage of the sun making everything feel awesome warm (it was technically barely in the 40’s, with enough breeze to be chilly, but the SUN!  It was awesome, I felt bad for leaving work at that point, cause I’m sure they were slammed all afternoon), and went out to rearrange the greenhouse.  Partially so I could make space for the tomato seedlings and partially to actually check the pepper plants over.  And found that apparently I forgot to tell the peppers that we’re having a delayed spring this year:

That is a Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper, and a Cayenne Pepper, with good sized peppers on each plant!  Oh well, at least I know the greenhouse has been doing its job at keeping the plants warm!

The biggest tomato seedlings are now out in the greenhouse, some of them are over a foot tall already!  Average last frost for me is mid May, here’s hoping I can plant out not TO much later than that, or the greenhouse is going to be crazy.

Also, SPRING!!!!  While making my coffee yesterday not only did I see the Bluebird pair again, but I saw Tree Swallows!  Tree Swallows are straight up flying insect eaters, if they’re in town then it means they think it’s going to stay warm enough to have plenty for them to eat.  So cross your fingers!

Speaking of cats…..

Posted February 28, 2018 By Ruth

So, those if you who’ve been reading here for a while probably remember that I’ve had issues previously with the folks in the house across the street, mostly due to their habit of letting their dog(s) roam (“but she’s a GOOD DOG, she knows to stay in the yard!”).

A couple years ago those folks moved out (I can’t remember if I ever posted that), and a new family moved in.  I was frustrated when I first spotted their dogs, but it didn’t talk long to realize this was a different breed of dog owner.  They don’t just allow their dogs to roam.  Its awesome.

Then, this past fall, they got two cats.  At first I wasn’t sure that they weren’t just feeding a couple strays.  But rather quickly realized that the cats were indoor/outdoor cats, so regardless of how it started, they are now definitely owned by those folks.

The cats, of course, roam.  And while the help at rodent control is nice, both of my dogs would be delighted to remove those two cats from existence.  Apollo because they trespass in his yard.  Arty because PREY!!!  Needless to say this has complicated taking the dogs outside, much to our frustration.  In addition there are absolutely coyotes here.  Quite a few coyotes, of the North Eastern variety, which are bigger, and wolfier, than the western coyotes that many folks are familiar with.  Few outdoor cats last very long here.  Especially ones who are outside after dark.  And these two are, in fact our confirmation that they were coming across the street came when I got ready to take the dogs out at about 10pm, and glanced out my front door window…..to find two cats peering under my front steps.

About a month ago, while clearing the recorded videos from the cheap security camera I have watching the driveway, I noticed a clip (taken only a couple hours earlier) of one of the cats coming across the front of the house, and down the driveway.  A check out the window confirmed a lovely set of kitty tracks  in the snow where he’d passed.  Following them back around the house I confirmed that the cat in question had been hunting in my garden.

Now, like I said above, the additional rodent control is nice.

But cats have a tendency of using garden beds as litter boxes, it’s a fairly common complaint in fact.  And even if these cats don’t do that, I don’t want them digging up plants in my garden, even if they are going after rodents.

While the deer/rabbit repellent is pretty darn effective against prey animals, my dogs think it smells awesome and want to roll in it when I first apply it.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the cats won’t be much deterred by it.

After looking at a few different options I think I’m going to buy a pair of motion activated sprinklers and (once things thaw enough) set one on either long side of the garden.  In theory one would cover the garden, but once the tomatoes get tall enough one won’t be enough, so I’ll just start with two.  Maybe it’ll help deter the deer too……

This and That

Posted February 21, 2018 By Ruth

I’m hoping to return to work next week (Tuesday will be 6 weeks), I likely won’t be able to do my normal lifting, but I should be good otherwise.

We moved the automated cat feeder, again, and this time start feeding Trouble her canned food out of it.  This has significantly reduced Shadow’s interest in it, and has gotten her comfortable eating out of it again.  We’ll go like this for at least a month, and then look at switching back to kibble in it.

We had a huge February thaw this past weekend.  Temps in the 60’s, and it was 72 outside this morning!  Course, as I type this a front is sweeping through and temps are crashing hard.  Most of the snow melted, resulting in flood warnings everywhere.  We took advantage of it to set up my new greenhouse:

Husband did all the heavy lifting for me.  But now that it’s setup I can get my christmas lights strung in it and start monitoring temps.  I’m a little concerned about the bigger/taller space being harder to keep warm enough.  I guess we’ll see.  Average last frost isn’t till mid-May, so no matter how tempting it is  I really don’t dare plant out before then.

Pepper seedlings are coming along nicely:

I’ve re-seeded the ones that didn’t sprout, and rearranged so that the plants that were along the edges are now in the middle.  The soda cans are part of an online contest for a Facebook group I’m in.  To see who can grow the best pepper plant in a can.  It sounded like fun, and I had the seeds, so might as well!

Update: 4 strings of C9 christmas lights are holding it 30+ degrees over air temps.  I’ll take it.

Lets see……

Posted January 29, 2018 By Ruth

Been another busy and frustrating few weeks.  I will (probably) have a long post about what all has been going on (if I ever get it typed).

In the mean time…..

I got my pepper seeds started.  If all those seeds germinate we’re going to have ALOT of peppers next summer (yes, I know that was the point, but uhoh…..).  Tomatoes will wait till the beginning of April.  Last year I didn’t get anything started till the beginning of April.  The tomatoes were just fine with that.  The peppers not so much.  My two little greenhouses did indeed not survive the weather.  In pricing out buying new ones I discovered that I can buy a larger (with shelf space equal to just over two of the little ones) for cheaper than buying two of the little ones.  So……

 

I forgot to mention, back at the beginning of Dec, I broke another tooth.  That  makes two broken molars.  Not the furthest back tooth, but the 2nd to the furthest back.  I broke the one on my left side back, 2010-ish.  Clean split, front to back, the inside half snapping off at the gumline while I was eating a sandwich.  We did a root canal and a crown.  This time, first weekend of Dec, eating an egg and cheese sandwich from DD, the same tooth on my right side broke the exact same way.

Pretty sure I know the cause.  For one, my teeth kinda suck.  Every tooth has at least one filling, many have two.  Despite twice a day brushing.  Yes, I grew up in a town with fluoride in the water.  Yes, I had dental care as a kid.  The dentist even had  me use prescription (high fluoride) toothpaste for a while to see if that would help.  Didn’t make a difference.

In addition I clench my jaw when I’m stressed.  Not only when I’m awake, but when I’m asleep.  Discovered that after one job in particular tried to screw me over, and I ended up in urgent care with swelling at both hinges of my jaw and numbness radiating up and down the sides of my face.  I have a mouthguard to wear at night when I know I’m having issues.  And now that I KNOW its a problem I can usually stop myself from doing it when I’m awake.  But the tooth that broke in Dec has been giving me fits since all the way back in 2004, when, during a particularly stressful time it suddenly flared up excruciatingly painfully, and then subsided to minor hot/cold sensitivity before I could get in to see a dentist.  4 dentists (two of them specialists) had checked that tooth and not been able to find a problem, but in retrospect we’re wondering if I might not have cracked it way back when by clenching my jaw, and it finally gave up holding on.

I’d originally wanted them to just pull this one, and I’d decide at a later date if I wanted a bridge or what.  But it turns out that the roots of my teeth are abnormally long and deep.  It wasn’t going to be a simple extraction, it would require a surgical extraction, at which point I told them I’d go with the root canal after all.

 

First week of January, while driving into town to get the permanent crown fitted I spotted a small flock of Ring Neck Pheasants on the side of the road.  I’ve been seeing them in the area off and on since mid-summer, but of course never when I have my camera with me.  They were still there on my way back, so I pulled over and snapped a quick photo with my cell phone:

Just to have proof of what I’d seen.  Got home, snatched my good camera, and ran back out the door.  They were still there when I came back through the 3rd time:

For the curious, there were two females in the group when I stopped and got the cell picture (they were off the shot to the left), but I didn’t see them when I came back through with the good camera.

 

Not sure how many folks I have reading here with connections in BC Canada, but if you know someone that way could you please share these images:

This dog belongs to a friend of mine.  A family member was helping care for Inatci back in mid-Nov and was walking him using the flexi leash that was normally used for the smaller family dog.  The inevitable happened (please don’t use flexi type leashes folks, just don’t, especially for larger dogs) and Inatci has not been seen since.  She has followed up on every “large white dog” sighting she’s found with no luck.

 

I’m still having fun finding new things to do with my Instant Pot.  A friend recently posted THIS recipe, and of course I had to try it.  The resulting cream has a very strong caramel scent to it, though of course its far less sweet.  I put some in my coffee this morning and I like it quite a bit, though I think the baking soda tang may be coming through more than I want.  If I understand things correctly the baking soda is more for color than flavor, and I may try it without the next time I do it.  I also intend to try whipping this into whipped cream with some sugar…..

 

Someone (elsewhere) asked me to describe what sub-zero(F) temperatures feel like.  I have no description.  But I can tell you that it’s so cold that when temperatures finally rise to single digits ABOVE 0(F) it feels like a freaking heat wave, and temperatures in the teens with the sun out make you want to ditch the winter gear.  THAT’S what sub-zero feels like!