Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baby cardinals

No idea how long the nest has actually been in the holly bush outside the living room window...I only thought something was odd when I got an earful from a cardinal while I was pruning the dappled willow next to the holly. A day or two later I'm looking out the window and see the holly from a different angle - including the nest. The mom has been sitting in the nest quite a bit this week, getting a lot of undesired attention from the cats through the window. And today? Babies!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Front porch robins

Fee fi fo fum

First tick siting of the season - crawling up the screen door, hoping we'll invite it in. I introduced it to the whirlpool jacuzzi, er, toilet.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thank you Kelli!

Look what I'm working my way through!

We went up to NY to visit my parents for a combined belated-birthday for my dad, plus early Mother's Day for mom.  Also scheduled for the visit was hanging out with friends, seeing the new Avengers movie, going to a Da Vinci exhibit at the local museum, and more.

What I didn't realize was that Kelli from Chicken Thistle Farm had brought eggs over for us to bring back...  It could be she mentioned it, but there was so many different conversations going on at the same time in my parents' kitchen that I missed it.  We were packing up to come back home at the end of the trip and my parents wanted to make sure we didn't forget the eggs.  Sometimes I plan ahead and put in an order for eggs, but whether or not I remember, Kelli is usually watching out for me and makes sure I have a dozen to bring back.  These things are amazing - beautiful color inside and out!  I love getting the mix of different colors (even the occasional blue egg!), and the color of the yolks is SO intense!

I had a day off after we got back from NY, so I whipped up an omelette for my breakfast before getting out to the yard work.  Look at this - you'd think I'd added turmeric!

Yes, I admit it's a little brown on the outside, but I kinda like my eggs that way.  And on the inside?

Asparagus (from the garden!), mushrooms and cheese.  MMM - the omelette tasted great.  Thanks for the great eggs Kelli!

Apple blossoms

Check out the size of these apple blossoms!

My hand might provide better reference...

These flowers are all on the same tree - one of the trees from my original attempt at espalier, but when the trees didn't do well at the back of the garden, I moved them into the former in-ground blueberry bed.  They definitely seem much happier in their new home.  Here's hoping I get some fruit from them this year!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Before the frost

Some strawberries got floating row cover, some got leaves still bagged from last fall...depending on what I had to work with.

The blueberries got pots and buckets on them...

I'm really hoping to protect the baby Japanese plums!

In the greenhouse it's nice and humid and warm - and there's water in the tub just to act as a heatsink...really seems to work, as the water was warm even though it was very cold out!

The skinny European plum got wrapped, but was seriously swaying in the wind, so I pinned it in place with three tomato cages, which really locked it in!  This tree also has small fruit on it...a first!

The asparagus got heavily picked, and hopefully any remaining new shoots are down in the raspberries enough that they'll be protected.

Peek-a-boo - I see you!  I'll have to come back after the frost and knock all the leaves down between the strawberries, rather than being piled on top of them.  Same goes for the potatoes, which have been getting some good green growth lately.

You can see a lot in this last pic...
  • In the distance is the smallest Japanese plum wrapped in row cover.  The two larger Japanese plums didn't get wrapped - I'll hose them with water in the morning to see if it makes a difference.
  • Beneath each of the Japenese plums are strawberries, with either floating row cover or leaves.
  • Back behind the plums and to the right, not really visible, are the potatoes covered in leaves.
  • Far right are the blueberries covered in buckets and a pot.
  • In front of those is burlap draped and pinned in place over the fence rail - that's protecting currants (and, by chance, a hydrangea).
  • To the left of that is a bucket over a currant.

Up on deck, I covered the potted geraniums...and off to the far right, out of the pic, is a pot with various flowering annuals, covered in a tubtrug.

Robin's egg blue

So what's going on up in the nest above the garden bend/trellis?  Let's take a look...

Ok, so maybe it's not the easiest nest to sneak a peek - trying to stand on the bench, push away the honeysuckle, and angle the phone for a picture...

Ah ha!  And now you know where the name "robin's egg blue" comes from!  What a pretty color!

Meanwhile, I'm getting a bit of gruff from the robin, who was sitting up in the river birch just off to the side.  She was NOT happy...but then again, she often gets riled up if I'm anywhere near the bench, and it's not like I'm going to avoid the back corner of the yard for the next month or two.

Currant blossoms!

Well this is interesting...

More than one of my new currants that I only planted a few weeks ago are already blossoming!  These plants arrived bareroot from Raintree Nursery in excellent condition, along with a 4-in-1 Asian Pear tree, a gooseberry (will I like it?), an Aronia (will I like it!??!), some 'Jewel' black raspberries, and more strawberry plants.

I am really impressed with how these currants are not only taking off, but at least two of the plants are already blooming!  They're not the prettiest of blooms, but they appear to be normal for fruiting currants.

The pic above is of the 'Cascade' red currant, and at first I assumed it was just a freak occurrence, but as I was zipping around in a hurry mowing the lawn yesterday, I noticed at least one of the blackcurrants also has blossoms.

I was wondering if I shouldn't show some tough love and pinch off all the blossoms, encouraging more energy into roots and not into fruiting, but I'm being a wuss and have decided to let them do their thing.  I'm just too curious, and really want to get fruit.  I know I won't get jelly-making quantities, but I'm excited to see what fruit I get from the currants.  I don't expect to love them for their fresh, raw fruit (although I might!) - I'm growing these for jelly making!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fruit in the garden!

Let's go take a look to see what's fruiting outside!  First off, the fig that my coworker gifted me last year - which I thought I killed off last fall, but it survived overwintering in the basement, started leafing out, started leafing out BIG, and needed to get moved out ASAP this spring.  Unfortunately, it's not easy to get pics of all these fruit on it...

Hm, not so great.  Anyhow, I believe these figs are considered the breba crop because they're producing on last years stalks, and are developing so early this spring.  So THERE'S a perk to successfully overwintering a fig indoors - yay!

Now, let's try to get a better picture...

I give up.  Moving on to the Japanese plum trees...look!  Lots of little burned out blossoms that, so far, don't appear to be forming any fruit, but roughly-evenly spaced are little plums forming.  Yay!!

And over on the Asian pear?  more little fruit!

And finally, on one of the cherry trees...  I had no idea these had developed already, and only checked because a neighbor said he had fruit on this that he was spraying with Sevin because the cherries had holes in them.  Shortly after spraying, little worms were dropping out of the fruit.  Guess I better start watching these guys and consider some sort of treatment.  Pesticide?  Surround?

So far - all is looking really good for fruit in the garden this year.  I'm pretty sure both peach trees are going to be failures, but they've had a couple really rough winters.  Maybe I'll get some plums and cherries this year...that would be nice!

I do need to watch the weather.  We're supposed to have a low of 38 tomorrow (Wednesday) night.  I seriously doubt I'll do anything to protect the trees - it's no where close to a frost, and I've never successfully protected the fruiting trees anyhow.

Front yard

Here's a shot of the front yard one morning last week...I think I had a goofy filter set on the phone on accident, so the colors look a bit interesting.  The crabapple, redbud and vibernum are looking beautiful right now!

Monday, May 11, 2015

About to be overwhelmed...

Well well well....aren't I suddenly popular...

It's that time of the year where I suddenly shift from "can't wait for all the veggies" to "oh crud...what on earth am I going to do with all this asparagus??"  I know for certain I won't be freezing it - I've tried that more than once in previous years and have NOT liked the results after thawing it.  Gross!

I suspect I'll be picking about this much every 2-3 days for a little while...

Oh well now you're just showing off...

The cat who could fold himself in half...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

All the little pollinators

The Japanese plums are in full bloom, and are really drawing all the little winged workers... You can literally put your face right in the flowers and the insects hardly care - they're just there for the nectar and probably assume in doing the same. All sorts of little bees and flies. I'm impressed they're doing such a good job holding on and flying around, considering it's sooooo windy.

I've been really worried the night time freezing temps were going to kill the blooms, as they've done pretty much every year. I brought in a mix of plum, cherry, pear and Asian pear blossoms yesterday and, with super slender, super sharp scissors, snipped each in half lengthwise. So far it looks like all parts inside are still alive - nothings turned black from being frozen!  All the parts I saw were green, yellow-green or white. So far, so good.

The way the trees are loaded with blossoms right now, I'll be lucky to have my only problem be that I need to thin fruit off the tree as they start to develop...

Now about that sticking my face in the blossoms - yes, I did it this morning and all was fine. Since then I've been working in the yard and mowing, and as the day has gone on the tree blossoms are really cranking out the perfume. Now I've got a serious case of the sniffles, and have been feeling a little overwhelmed by the strong floral scent that wasn't there this morning... Sniffle...