5/9: So, looks like everyone survived the freezes. Yes, freezes- last night hit it like the night before. But today I took off the frost cloths and the stuff down by the greenhouse looked perfect. Since overnight lows are going to be in the 40's now, we are good to go there. The poor Purple Hyacinth Bean- I covered it over days ago, and I fear it may have cooked a wee bit much when it was still sunny out. But it's still almost hanging in there when I took it's cloth out, so we shall see. The dill has loved the extra cover and sprouted great.
Today was another shuffle day- a lot of stuff moved back out of the greenhouse, so a lot of stuff could be moved from the solarium to the greenhouse. The lavender seedlings- there's a total of 84 of those at the moment, lol. Over this year they will be slowly transplanted up as needed to 3x3 then 5" pots to grow in for a year or two. Got 56 chamomiles, 36 zinnias, 18 each of fennel and dill plugs, some cauliflower, a couple more baskets of fuchsias, and all the 3x3 scented geraniums in the greenhouse too. A few days ago I transplanted 13 variegated sages from their 3x3 pots into gallon pots for growing out this year, and those got moved out to the porch. Those will be planted in next year along the front fenceline where I've tried and failed to get other stuff to start.
This year I'm going to pull out the few tulips from that area and lay in a deep smother bed and let it just die for a year before trying again. Next year I will set in the sages up that line. And I now have 16 Candy Lilly seedlings that are going to be grown in pots this year too- those will be nurtured along to plant in with the sage. Candy Lillies have spectacular blooms on 3' stalks that will look spectacular over the sage growth. So some 2018/19 plans there.
I did another good spraying with Neem & oils over the lasagna beds today- almost finished off this batch of mix doing it. Since I had a wee bit left, I started to spray on the corner of the kennel garden where there was the most recent squash bug activity... and noticed some delightful seedlings!! Last year sis and I had capped over the Beer Garden Radish as late in the season as I dared to help along what little blossoms and seed pods I saw at the time.. and when I moved the giant radish corpse today there was a nice handful of tiny radish plants!! I carefully dug them all up, and transplanted the best 21 in the batch- 7 per row, 3 rows. There were littler seedlings I scrapped too, but dang, those are big radishes and I only need so many, even with letting a few go to flower and make seed. And I do hope a few do that so I can collect some seed stock. I put them into half of last years brussels sprouts, on the garlic side. The brussels didn't respring for seed, and those radishes had to move anyway since that's the area the toothache plant is going in.. so hey, good deal. I got one strip left in that garden area, and I think I'm going to plant it in with "weird spinach and greens". Some of the other other plant species that aren't part of the classic plant rotation groups.
Tippy and friends..
The feeder action has become popular! A few weeks ago I started refilling the nyjer sock feeder, and picked up an new tube feeder since all of the old ones were broken. Menards has the sale on nyjer seed, Meijer better on wild seed. Started filling the tube feeder with cheap Meijer feed that had more small seed and less sunflower and corn. The finches, sparrows, tickmouses, chickadees came out. Dumped all the moth ridden bad seed down on the platform feeder- and that seemed to draw off to the greater extent some of the pest birds like grackles, starlings, and some of the red winged blackbirds- the grackles and starlings can't perch at the tube feeder, but the red wing blackbirds can if they are smaller and hunch up well. Then there was a red belly woodpecker that was showing up at the tube feeder and being rather entertaining because he was so huge and could hang in so well to snack at those holes and pegs meant to feed a bit smaller and upright perching feeders.
So I made up a lil batch of suet to try to feed Mr. Woodpecker. I had a lot of suet goodies stacked up that didn't get used so much this winter since it was so mild and birds had a lot of natural goodies. I made two suet cakes, poured into mushroom tubs....
For the fat..
1/2 cup of lard- I use a pound tub, and half of it was used up. I used half of what was left.
Equal amount of generic chunky peanut butter.
Nuked them up enough to make them soft and mixable, but not liquid.
In a 16 oz Daisy sour cream tub... about half fullof freeze dried mealworms, and topped off to about 2/3 full with some moth spoiled quinoa. Topped the tub off to the top with dehydrated apple bits.
Mixed in about 1 1/2 or so of Daisy tub of wild seed to that.. and poured it off to two mushroom tubs...
The woodpecker was last to show over the curiosity of the red wing blackbirds and sparrows.. and then I put out the Baltimore Oriole feed.. just in time too..
Because now every good bird is exploding like a colorful and musical muse into the spring backdrop of the tree blooming..
We have at least 2 females and 4 male Baltimore Orioles. And a nice treat- Rose Breasted Grosbeaks- we usually see a few of them here and there, but this time we have a full Gross! I'm not sure if it's the suet, or other goodies, but it's rare we see so many.
There's flocks of birds.. but then there's names for those flocks.. And how much fun is that?
Chicadees are banditry
Finches are Charm or trembling
Grosbeaks are gross
Sparrows are Host, quarrel, knot, flutter, crew
5/10: lots of indoor outdoor shuffling between the house and the porch... hardening off time has come since today is the last frost date. Transplanted up all the double furled blue columbines- ended up with 63 big, 12 little seedlings. Will be growing those out in the pots this year, or perhaps two depending on how slow they are to show first bloom. I'm hoping the mother plant was isolated enough not to have been cross pollinated with other colors, but only growing out will tell if that happened or not. If they are true, I will plant them in with the original mother. If not, elsewhere as I'm sure they would still be pretty.
Meijer had their mushrooms on sale, so over the last couple days I've dehydrated and picked up a heap of them! Which is nice, because we are always chowing those down, lol.
5/11: The birds are happy- we also have catbirds and cowbirds showing up- just a couple of each. They are new additions we had to take time to look up and identify. Orchard Orioles started showing up today too. Knock on wood, the larger ickier birds are staying away- the grackles, starlings, and bigger blackbirds. The new tube feeder has perches just short enough they can't really get on it, and the birds that are feeding aren't dropping much to make the ground enticing. Filling the platform feeder has helped with it as well.
Another round of shuffle indoors/outdoors for hardening off. Moved the asparagus seedlings and the blown small spring bulbs out to the garden porch. Moved all those transplanted columbines into the greenhouse.
Took the time today to start moving the raised beds. The biggest bed sort of fell apart while I was digging around inside and popping it up- a bit too much rot on one of the bottom side boards and collapse of a corner left me with one solid side and end panel, and some wood, lol. So it isn't being moved up this year obviously. I'm glad I did the dig out on it first, because I cleared that mound off first to start filling the two other beds. The smaller bed I made when I made the big one almost survived intact- it had a bottom end board that rotted out. No problem since I was planning on flipping the frames over so the good side was down anyway. I just put the short end in front and won't deep fill there just yet. The first frame I made held up best- a bit of chunk off on some bottom edges, but not too much- that one made the flip perfect.
Keep in mind I tend to build my beds straight on top of the lawn, I don't dig out the area first.
So to start off with, I started cutting up that old rug we used to smother the stairs garden and has been sitting folded up for a while. 2 foot wide strips. Made 2 at first, one for the front and one for the fence edge. The front edge lines up perfect between the lasagna beds and the kennel beds, and the fence side tucked in perfect too. One box fit neatly front to back just barely covering the carpet strips. Another couple of 2 foot strips cut in half fit perfectly for the aisles between the boxes. Carpet makes for a darn fine kill blanket.
On the pole side of the beds, I laid in a new cardboard and straw smother layer to even out that curved mowing edge to butt up against the first box. I've let the back and front edges and the aisles sit as just carpet for the moment. I still got carpet to use and still need to smooth that edge for now.
In the beds themselves... laid down a thick layer of saved up MailMax newspapers.. and covered that with the dirt dug out from where the large raised bed was. It sure did make it easier that I had dug it up a lot this morning before I tried moving the box... after that all I had to do was shave that mound down to about ground level to put in my first dirt layer. I sprinkled in dirt as I was laying down paper to help hold it down in the wind.. then went back and filled and tamped down the edges and corners well with dirt, and made sure all newspaper was completely covered.. and that took up pretty much all the "extra" dirt. Raked up the mowed grass from the garden path to put a bit of green over the top- not much, but a nice fine layer of seed free green mulch. And that's as far as I got today, lol. It pooped me out, but felt good to get it done.
Tomorrow I will continue on it... I have three bags of "veggie soil", two bags of manure (both got to sweeten been planting, but I'll get more after this, I need the beds to mature before planting tomatoes), a big bag of used cocoa saved up- it isn't the most satisfying medium I've experimented with, but it will be good to add a big boost of organic fiber to the box. Since I'm breaking up the last of the bagged straw bales, I'll take a good bit of that and break it up for more fiber.. mix that stuff with the bags of stuff, plus the top clearing off of another of the old beds- the oldest one is pretty much crap now for soil removal.. I got a handful of small fertilizers that need using up and will go into the mix... and hopefully at the end of the fill I will be filled enough to plant in tomato goodness.
I should have enough straw to give the rest of the walkways around the beds a fill too. The front of the lasagne beds and it's far corner are sorry as hell, but the aisles there are looking good. This weekend sees the last of our low 40 overnights, so the big patch in the lasagne bed will be getting planted in soon with this years brassicas.
Where the raised bed were I'm going to clean up a bit then just lay it over with clear plastic to solarize for a while. I don't really need to do anything yet to that area other than the bed removal, and I don't want weeds to get in there yet, lol. I already need to work a lot down there, don't need to add to it while other stuff is going on if I have to.
In the kennel bed- the Helios radish is for sure popping up- the questionable on if it was viable or not Little Finger carrot has not popped. I think I'm starting to see the beets starting to sprout, but I'm not sure yet, lol- they are still tiny.
I still need to weed out and clean up the side of the greenhouse where the toothache plant will be planted in. And the Tree bed needs to be addressed and cleaned up before I can start thinking about putting in the beans, winter squash, and cuke seeds.......
But now it's time to get cleaned up for dinner.. pulled pork sandwiches tonight!