Rain

Although I do not anticipate any improvement in our official drought status this week, the cutoff being Tuesday, we had a very nice rainfall. Rain was heavy at times with flashes of lightning into the night. My rain barrels are overflowing. They need a touch of fine tuning whenever they are light enough for me to move them again. Fluid dynamics – I could not get the same cinder blocks as I had for my first one, and the second barrel would fill while the first being uphill did not fill completely. Now they are on the same level, but they both need to be a tiny bit taller, perhaps if I got a few pavers to put on top I could put barrel one back on its original blocks and add some height to barrel two. If both are at the correct height, the rain diverter spillway will work properly and he barrels will not overfill. We may get another half inch tonight. I will unhook the barrels for now to allow rain to go fully down the downspout, since there is no room for more rain in the barrels.

Weather will warm up again for the long weekend and I hope to get tomato, pepper and eggplant in. The zuke seeds are planted along with some broccoli and chard. I can harvets baby spinach this weekend – first salad of the year!

Cool Sunshine

It is pleasantly fresh out this morning. I love the morning light when the grass has a velvety sheen and plants are translucent. It is quiet, birdsong and the occasional whisper of cars on the highway. It is perfect. The buckwheat is putting in heart shaped leaves now. The purple prairie clover is still quite small, but apparently doing well. The bridal wreath spirea is just starting to bloom.

Time for another cup of coffee. This is my favourite part of the day.

May 21 SOS

Once again, we join The Propagator to share our Six on Saturday. Join us if you like.

I have to keep reminding myself that it is still May. Temps may drop into the upper thirties (near freezing – the third week of May, How depressing! I was hoping to plant my tomatoes. peppers, and eggplant. Perhaps broccoli would make more sense, and chard. The straw bales are still not ready, and they still smell like death. Now with the cool weather, will they heat up enough so they will get ready for planting?

Snow peas coming along – string is up

Snow Peas

Elderberry flowers are beginning to form

Sambucus canadensis

Geum triflorum foliage is a lovely color

Geum triflorum

First rhubarb harvest – going to make rhubarb cake

Rhubarb

Adiantum pedatum first frond

Maidenhair Fern Adiantum pedatum

Finally, some abused pansies that I finally got around to putting into a planter for the front steps.

Pansies and Ostrich Fern

I can’t wait to see what everyone else has posted!

Still “Abnormally Dry”

We’ve been getting rain, but we have a lot of catch up to do. Drought Monitor still show the same pattern since the last time I shared a map:

But in the meantime, I am catching rain and banking it. I have progress on my new plants, which makes me happy. I have to say that a naughty bunny ate one of my Asclepias verticillata plants. Glad I got three. One of the remaining ones was nibbled on and one apparently untouched. They are safely behind bunny fencing now. I truly did not think bunnies would eat that one. Everything else is coming along. Tiny shoots on the Ascelepias incarnata, good growth on the Verbena hastata and Lobelia cardinalis. The Geum triflorum foliage is attractive and the Dalea purpurea seedlings are coming along. The elderberry has the tiny beginnings of blossoms – so excited! Even the maidenhair fern is slowly unfurling its first frond.

Cool weather in the forecast, so glad I did not plant out any warm weather crops yet.

This weekend, I need to get some manure and plant broccoli, romaine lettuce, and some zuke seeds. I also need to place the string for the snow peas and beans. I promise myself I won’t over plant beans this year. Sunniest spot will be for long beans and one side for green beans, the other for scarlet runners, which I love so much! I want the snow peas to have enough of a head start that they will be able to produce before the beans get going. When the bales are finally conditioned, I will plant peppers, beets, chard and maybe carrots. I love spring!

Sunday Afternoon Coffee

Ahhh, after spending nearly all day in the yard and garden, I am enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee. The spousal unit is having a nap, so it is quiet. I took a shower and now I am just relaxing until it is time to go to rehearsal.

What did I get done? Well, glad you asked! I tidied up the front yard a bit, weeded around the pink spirea and large Arbor vitae to make sure that those areas are not a source of weed encroachment on the lawn. I weeded heavily around the Arbor vitae in the back corner – so much Glechoma hederacea that it is my new most hated weed. Turned my compost pile and mixed in all the leaves I raked up this spring. I am usually short on browns, and am always thinking on what to do bout that. My compost seems to consist mostly of spent coffee grounds and eggshells. Interesting to see what items just don’t break down. Avocado skins and pits, for example, though they do occasionally sprout.

I pulled dandelions and other assorted weeds in the garden proper, but didn’t get to the lilacs which desperately need weeding. I also dug up a French tarragon, some chives, and some kale for a friend who wants to do some container gardening. I need to dig out the spent part of the oregano and pull up the extra violets that want to grow where the vegetables go instead of along the edges and under the bridal wreath spirea. I love the violets, but I had no idea that they reseed so profusely – I never even notice the seeds. well, the seedlings are easy to recognize and grub out if they are in an inconvenient place. The garden looks pretty good if you ignore the fact that I have not yet mulched over the cardboard where I want the lawn to die as it is now part of my vegetable garden.

My garden 5-15-22

Finally, I admired my baby native plants. One of the new bare root Ascelpias incarnata is showing signs of life, and the three A. verticillata which were a little bent from shipping have straightened out and look healthy. No sign of buds on the elderberry yet, but it is still early.

Here is some buckwheat – I love the green butterfly look of the seed leaves!

Buckwheat

Garden Weed Nemesis

Which weed is the worst? Hard to decide, is it dandelions? Maybe not, one can actually eat the greens if you didn’t buckle to pressure and allow a lawn treatment, and they are good for pollinators. I have heard of people deep frying the flowers in batter, or even making dandelion simple syrup or jelly. I let the ones in my veg garden flower for the pollinators and removed any flowers that managed to come up in the treated area.

Dandelions – looks like my yard last year…

No, I think my nemesis is Glechoma hederacea, AKA ground ivy, creeping charlie, creeping jenny, and many other names. It sends out runners and will regenerate if any piece is left behind. It has cute little purple flowers that lull you into a sense of complacency. It creeps under things, over things, and comes up everywhere, once you let it get out of control.

Glechoma hederacea

I dislike purslane for the same reason, but purslane is delicious – I won’t grow it in my garden, because my first Wisconsin community garden was overrun with the stuff, and you basically have to prevent it from setting seed in the garden and keep it in its place, probably best grow it in a pot.

Purlsane

There is another horrid weed that really tricks you into liking it. It was a huge problem at my community plot in Seattle. S.O.B., we called it because it was a horrid son of a bitch if ever a weed was one. Star of Bethlehem. Sounds like a nice plant, no? Almost holy… It has a pretty flower too.

Ornithogalum umbellatum

Do not ever plant this flower anywhere! It spreads by seed, it spreads by tiny little bulblets. It spreads and spreads. The bulblets can be small as small gravel, like 2-3 mm diameter. It destabilizes slopes and river banks. If it is on a riverbank, the bulblets float downstream to cause trouble elsewhere. I do no know that there is a way to eradicate it. It is toxic to grazing animals. Beacon Bluff, my former community garden in Seattle was on a steep slope. The upper part was stabilized with native plants, then five levels of terraced garden were installed and a sixth terrace for the tool chest and a nice bench to sit on. Below that, a strawberry patch and finally at the level of the lower street, a lovely flower garden. We had so many bearded iris, roses, many other perennials, but the SOB was everywhere. The garden allotments were clean, but for how long?

Can you tell that I spent much of the day weeding around my garden. The garden itself is not bad, but grass and G. hederacea are always trying to encroach.

I did manage to find time to practice flute a bit, but some of the pieces are challenging. I am not sure I can play them well enough for our summer concert (June 7). It is OK. I can fake it. A few pieces are easy enough, and the Benny Goodman medley is slowly coming. I have not done much with the Ray Charles piece yet. My issue is that so much is played in the third octave, and I am less familiar with those notes, both reading and playing them. I will devote some quality time to practising tomorrow before rehearsal. It is fun to play in a group again, though I am more accustomed to classical music. I was chatting with my neighbour who told me that he went to high school with two people in the community band and thinks he might join, as he has recently retired and has more time for such things.

Six on Saturday May 14, 2022

It was an amazingly hot week. Yesterday we hit 92 degrees, and the only difference was that it was a bit less humid during the day, a mere 32%, compared to the oppressive humidity we had during the rest of the week. It has been dry, and my rain barrels were getting low, with all the watering of seedlings and baby trees, so I was hopeful as thunder rumbled overhead – we were blessed with a nice soaking rain, nearly 2.5 inches, complete with thunder and lightning.

Join the Propagator and friends to see what is happening in gardens around the world by taking part in Six on Saturday. Here is the participant guide if you want to share your gardens with us!

I am drinking my coffee and waiting for better light to snap my pictures, and reading other SOS posts. Exciting news: as I made a cup of coffee for my husband, I looked out the window and saw my first hummingbird of the season. I have been experiencing hummingbird envy, as there have been sightings up into Canada, and I had yet to see a single one.

So here they are:

  • What’s blooming (violets, chives, crab apple tree),
  • Asclepias verticillata planted in yesterday (you can also see A. foeniculum and E. purpurea in the background)
  • Progress on the new native plants (Geum triflorum, Lobelia cardinalis showing new growth, Sisyrinchium angustifolium, Sporobolis heterolepsis, and Verbena hastata showing growth from its bare root dead stick phase
  • Elderberry planted spring of 2021
  • Weeping cherry, all bloomed out
  • Rhubarb ready to eat, baby kale and snow pea seedlings
Sambucus canadensis – no sign of buds yet. Lilacs in the background, not putting on much of a show.
The heat really took its toll on the blossoms, but the little guy is looking healthy.

Whorled Milkweed has arrived!

I am very excited about this one, and a little nervous since my A. tuberosa did not survive the winter. I plan to replace it, I was looking forward to the orange flowers with the blue salvia. I will put the A. verticillata in the new bed, near the prairie smoke. The plants are little babies and they are waiting for evening to be planted as it is pretty darn hot out there.

I am having a hard time getting the blood meal to go into the bales I am “conditioning”. I decided to take a pitchfork to them to make holes to help the meal go in so the microbes can get to work. Need more blood meal. It smells like death, as you can imagine. I wonder if it will truly work for me. I have visions of beets and chard out of reach of the bunnies.

Fast forward, as the sun began to set, I went out and planted my newest plant babies. Thunder was rumbling overhead. I dug a hole for each and got them settled in. They look so delicate! They will tend to spread a bit, but I think they will be lovely. I hope the row of seedlings I can see in my new native bed is Dalea purpurea. I am excited about that one – supposedly a superfood for bees, and a favorite of the endangered rusty patched bumblebee (which I have never seen).

As soon as I went back inside the much welcome rain came. We have had temps in the 90s, and not much rain, so this is welcome. Some areas were reporting quarter sized hail, but we are getting a nice soaking rain. I hope my barrels are full by tomorrow! I am going to try eating violet leaves tomorrow. I have read one can, and I have them coming up in places where they are not needed. I had a community garden patch that was overrun by purslane – turns out it is pretty tasty! Hopefully the violets are good to eat too! If you can’t beat it, eat it!

Things are happening!

Peas are up, the purple coneflower is emerging. The salvia is coming up, daisies are showing leaf. I can see definite new growth on the bare root cardinal flower, and possibly the blue vervain as well. There is a little shoot right next the the “dead stick” part. I also see what I hope are purple prairie clover seedlings. I hope, I hope! Too early to tell! New growth also on the prairie smoke. I am so excited and I have to keep reminding myself that the bare root perennials may not bloom this year. My violets are also starting to bloom. Pictures soon – it is so bloody hot out there that all I could do was water the things that really needed it. The elderberry too is coming into its own. I do not see evidence of buds yet, but am hopeful that it will bloom soon.

I suspect all those little seedlings are baby violet plants. I plan to try eating violet leaves this weekend. I spy a few kale seedlings too.

Kale yeah!

I see I needn’t have planted any kale, lots of reseeds coming up now, the first baby kale laves appearing, radishes too! It was quite hot today and really humid. Chance of thunderstorms. I took several pictures of tulips that by end of day were knackered.

Saw some lovely birds in the garden, Mr. ans Mrs. Goldfinch, as well as the Cardinals. Lovely!