Friday, May 29, 2009

The downside to feeding the worms

Today, I was out planting the second round of beans and I saw something that gave me a bit of a scare (not as much as something else I heard today, but I'll get to that in a minute). Right behind the peppers' covered area and actually under a piece of chicken wire that was laying on top of the straw, I saw a clump of what I am quite sure is bunny fur. Then, I looked across the bed and saw this raised area. It's a little hard to see in the photo because of the straw, but there was a hump 6-8" or so high where the yellow beans are supposed to go. I had a moment of panic, thinking there was a bunny nest in my garden bed and I have seen spots in the mulch out back that looked like bunnies were starting to nest. I resisted the urge to immediately dig into the mound (though I'll admit, I did peek) and went inside to get my camera.

Thankfully, I don't have a bunny nest.

Remember my happy worm pictures??

What I do have is lots and lots of squash or pumpkin sprouts (still, much easier to handle than cute little baby bunnies though I'm not quite sure what to think of the fur).

I guess we shouldn't be too concerned about planting Curcubit seeds too deep...

Don't get me wrong, it DID occur to me last fall that this could happen - I didn't put any squash in the bed I where I planned to plant similar plants come spring, but I didn't really think they would push up such a big area on their way up. I found another mound toward the north end of the bed, where I have corn starting to sprout. I reached into that one and tried to pull those loose without disturbing the corn too much then smushed it back into place. We'll see how effective that was before too long.

This photo shows the Sugar Snap Peas two weeks ago (Friday, 5-15)

and here they are today!

I can't believe the height change in two weeks. The hoop and the brown wire fence visible above are still in the same spot, just much harder to see. For a good reference, check out the hoop behind the peas (over the lettuce). No peas yet, but there are more blooms. The weather has been cooler this past week though today was the first of several (forecast) warm days, so the plants should be kicking back into gear again.

The beans are starting to sprout. These are the Rattlesnake Beans but some of the Landreth are popping up as well. I'm really really hoping I didn't make a mistake with the sticks I used here. These are prunings from the neighbor's Austrees, a vigorous tree of the willow family. They had been removed from the tree for several weeks and to (hopefully) be on the safe side, I peeled all the bark from the bottoms of the branches. I'm worried though because the branches are starting to bud out again. I don't know if it's stored energy in the wood or if somehow they are sprouting roots?? Is it possible for them to grow even though I peeled them??

The direct-sown zucchini I planted under plastic in Ring #2 sprouted early this week. I had 3 sprouts under there Tuesday (when I was telling the neighbor what was planted where) but when I looked yesterday, I only had two!! One was completely missing and another has a couple holes in it's little leaves. I forgot to check on them today, I hope the others are still there.

My Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce I sowed in the milk jug this spring was split up. Some went into the garden and some are living in yogurt cups on the front porch waiting for my friend to build her garden where they are supposed to be living. Maybe the ones in the garden have been busy growing massive roots or something, but I may have to steal one of Andrea's plants for a comparison. So far, hers are bigger than mine, and she doesn't even have them yet!

Lettuce in the garden...

Lettuce on the porch...
It didn't make it into the photo, but her spinach is bigger too. I may just squeeze one of these into the garden to see if I should leave mine on the covered porch longer next year. The porch plants don't get as much sunshine but they probably warm faster because of the containers and stay warmer because they're up next to the house.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you my scarier story! I could see from my house that one of the neighbors on the street behind us was having a garage sale today (the house in the distance in today's pea pic). I stopped by on my way out to run errands today, in part to see if there were any goodies I needed and partially as an excuse to meet them. I get a chuckle sometimes as I hear her yelling at her dogs when they take off - hers listen about as well as mine do! Anyway, we chatted about the dogs a little (she notices Veronica's impatient yelping at the door - it is a bit different for a big dog. I mentioned to the husband that Wilson was obsessively barking at something last night (every time he went out the door, he ran out barking- several times in a couple hours) when he tells me he heard something going up the street past his house one night that he really thought sounded like a MOUNTAIN LION. I'm not actually sure what he meant - what the sound was - but he said it was distinctive.

So I went about my merry way and later on, I spotted the neighbor behind us out in her backyard (the other house you can see in the pea pic). I wandered out to say hello as I haven't seen her for a while and told her what the guy across the street told me. She told me that about a month ago when her brother was in town, they were headed in to register their ATVs (they recently moved here) one morning about 8:00 and as they passed the open field at the edge of the neighborhood (about 1/3 mile from my house by road, shorter as the crow flies) they both saw a large animal, reddish/brown color with a long tail, out in the field. They thought it looked like a cat but didn't think they lived out here. When they were at the office (wherever you have to register ATVs- I don't actually know here) they were looking at the mounts there and became quite convinced that they had in fact seen a mountain lion.

Having TWO people tell me this kind of information in the same day is incredibly disturbing to me. I thought the most dangerous wildlife we have here is the fox. Mountain lions are one of the scariest animals around. I think I'd rather have bears.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Now We're Growing!

After a few days of beautiful weather this past week, we've had some noticeable growth around the yard and garden. This is one of the lilacs (all the photos were taken yesterday-Thursday). This one is out front, and hasn't been moved (yet) like the others. The ones in back are doing well and are just a smidge behind this one with their blooms. I did have to water the transplants with the hot weather (mid-80's) we had. When I felt under the mulch, it felt wet, so I wasn't sure at first if they were wilted because of a lack of water or too much. I watered just a little and they perked back up, so they must have been dry in their reduced root area.

Look at the peas!! I can't believe how they've grown in just a week! This photo was taken 5-21. The photo in my last post was taken 5-15. They are starting to bloom so I should be eating Sugar Snaps soon!

I was able to harvest a little from the salad greens this week. The baby lettuces I set out are being a little slow but I expect they'll take off soon.
These are the potatoes in my bin. I added a little straw around them today. I think I'll be adding the first board later next week.

These are the tomatoes in ring#4. When I planted the tomatoes, I messed up my planting plan a little. There were supposed to be two Galinas Gold Cherries. One of the cherries didn't make it so I just had the one toward the back/left to plant here. When I planted the rest, I separated the plants by type - cherry, slicer or paste. After I planted all the slicers (using all the available space for them) I realized I had mis-categorized one plant. I had confused the Imur Prior Beta as a paste instead of a slicer. I had started Roma and Paquebot Roma for paste, so I knew there were 2 kinds but I forgot the Paquebot start didn't make it. I plunked the Imur Prior Beta in with the Galinas Gold Cherry. So much for being organized...

The plastic is to help create a little bit of a microclimate for the plants. The day I planted them was really windy and our nights are still pretty cool (40's mostly) so I figured a little extra protection might do them well. All of my more tender plants have some sort of protection, it varies from bed to bed right now. I uncover some plants more often than others but none require daily attention . So far, so good. The Galinas was starting to flower but I pinched the blossoms. I'll leave the next ones, I just felt like they should be in the ground just a little longer before trying to set fruit.

These are the slicers, well, they're at least not cherries or pastes... I couldn't say for sure that slicer is the correct term for all of them, but it works for me. The 2 on the left are Kellogg's Breakfast, a yellow variety. The center 2 (one must be hiding behind the jug) are Thessaloniki (Red) and the right front is Rutgers (red) and back right is Neves Azorian (red).

The poor little Black Cherry was really looking bad last week. I didn't think it was going to make it but it is looking much better this week. It might survive after all!

This is the same potato I posted the picture of last week. I added some straw around this guy today too. This is one of the "overflow" patches. If you look closely toward the center, you can see the stick that is the grape- the intended resident for this space. It is also showing signs of life. You can see one of the posts I put in this week for the trellis. I set posts for the grape and the blackberries. I used wood from a split rail fence my neighbor removed. I used the posts for the grape and the rails for the blackberry. I still have to install the raspberry poles but I 'm using T-posts, so while I'll have to install more of them, the installation will be less involved. It was a little tricky for me to cut off the excess height on the tall ones (alone). I got it done though.

The zucchini I transplanted isn't looking so great. I removed two very yellow leaves before I brought the camera outside. I think it is too wet. I spread the straw mulch away a bit more and I think it looks like it might recover . I have started some more seed just in case. While most things really needed the rain we got today (almost an inch), the zucchini probably wasn't one of them... The grass should be much happier though.

I'm also seeing signs of life in the raspberry patch. This is one of the Canby Raspberries. I have growth on 2/3 of the Canby and 2/3 of the Caroline. The Anne that looked so impressive when they came in, aren't doing anything yet. One of the Triple Crown Blackberries has sprouted as well and leaves are starting on the apples and peaches. The asparagus is finally starting to appear and the Honeoye Strawberries are still looking good. They are starting to bloom. I have read mixed advice about letting June-bearing strawberries produce the first year (some even said they won't). I plucked the blooms from half. I'm going to let the other half do what they want.

So, that's the update for this week. I started moving the phlox and tulips today but was interrupted by a rather nasty thunderstorm. I have a graduation to attend tomorrow north of Denver, so the rest will have to wait until Sunday.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I think Spring is FINALLY here!!

I'm still here! I haven't posted recently as I was sidetracked by life for a little while. We had a house guest for a few days and DH has headed overseas for a time. I've been busy helping him get ready to go and then getting the house ready for company.

MAYBE we're finally done with winter! No snow recently and we have BLOOMS! The tulips survived this year and have been blooming nicely. The phlox does well here too. It bloomed like this last year. I hope these plants survive their upcoming relocation as they are in the future home of a few Jostaberries. This is in front of the porch and while the phlox and tulips are pretty, I think I need something a little larger for this area.

I planted the orange tulips in the fall. These are holding up really well. They have been in bloom for a week now, been blown by the wind and still look great! I found these on clearance at Walmart of all places.

We did have a little garden attack about 10 days ago. I went out to the garden and found this hole.

It's about one square foot and about 5-6 inches deep. The culprit is unknown. What is surprising is that the hole was dug in a nearly empty square. There were a few very very small onions there but that's it. It looks like something was tunneling in, but the hole didn't go anywhere. I had planted several tiny lettuce and spinach starts at the other end of the bed that were untouched. My main suspects are rabbit, small dog, or fox?? I think rabbits have dug a few spots in the backyard this month in some mulch areas, but this didn't look the same. This had a much bigger area dug up than the spots in the back. We may never know what it was. Very minimal damage though.

I hadn't realized how much the peas have grown until I saw the pictures in my last post. I think we'll have blooms soon.

Last weekend, I went to the plant swap for the Rocky Mountain Gardening Forum on GardenWeb. It was nice to meet some of the gardeners I chat with online. They have really helped me a lot learning to plant in my new location. I also brought home some great plants. I was especially happy somebody brought some peppers as mine did not do well at all. The few that germinated, didn't really thrive. I think it was just not warm enough for them in the basement. I got a California Wonder (green) and a Banana Pepper.

I planted out the peppers along with the tomatoes, squash & cukes I had started. It still may be a little chilly for these heat lovers, so they are tucked down into the straw mulch next to a gallon of colored water and are all under cover. I'm hoping I created a suitable microclimate for the little guys. Some of the tomatoes suffered from our winds this week. The black cherry doesn't look too good and I lost a couple smaller ones. Most of them seem in good shape though. The toms are all buried pretty deep to help them have good, deep roots.

The strawberries don't need their cover anymore. They're doing well still.

My potatoes are FINALLY starting to poke up through the straw. I've been peeking under the straw once in a while just to see if any of them were even alive! We're supposed to reach 82 on Monday. I think the plants will enjoy it.

Finally, here is one of the Freecycle rhubarb I got. This is the biggest of the 3 that I planted this spring but at least they are all growing!

I also planted some of the green beans. The beds seem to be pretty warm now and I also used covers to help keep it that way. We have finally hit our average last frost time, so I think it's fairly safe to try now. Next week I'll plant the corn then I'll try to stagger the rest of the bean plantings.

That's it for today's update. Soon, I think there will be much much more to report!