Friday, May 29, 2015

The farming part is in the back yard.

Last year I mainly focused on the landscaping, but this spring I turned some of my energy to producing a little food. Or at least getting a start on that. I put in three heirloom tomato plants this year as soon as the threat of frost had passed in April.
A little over a month later and they've gotten pretty big. The middle one is a Mr. Stripey, a variety I plant in vain every year. It has yet to produce even a viable flower.
But the gold cherry tomatoes are starting to come in. They'll be the first to ripen.
Today I found the first Black Krim, a Russian variety with large blackish-red tomatoes.
I have Swiss chard around the tomato pots and also a several different herbs, chives and green onions. These onions began as the root ends of some my boyfriend had brought over for cooking. I saved them and just stuck them directly in the ground. They've re-grown to full-sized.
I also built my first raised bed. It was easier than I thought - I just bought three six-foot long 1X10 boards and had one cut in half. The young guy at Lowes who cut the board for me asked what I was building and I said "A raised bed" without elaborating that it was for gardening. He handed me the cut board and said, "Well, um.. have fun in your bed." I started giggling when I realized he thought I was building myself a very small bed.  I used wood screws to make them into a rectangle. After scraping up the grass and weeds beneath it, I put a couple of layers of netting on the ground to keep burrowing animals out, then a double layer of cardboard, then filled it with soil. It holds zucchini and squash plants, basil, parsely and dill. I surrounded it with netting on wooden stakes.
A soil-filled shipping pallet on netting and cardboard now holds strawberry plants. It, too, is surrounded by netting.
In pots by the old fire pit are dwarf berry bushes - blueberries in the middle and raspberries on either end. Again, I've rigged up some netting.
On the side of the backyard, four more berry bushes. The two on the outside are more blueberries. The two in the middle are honeyberries - a honeysuckle relative that produces a fruit that looks like an elongated blueberry. I've never heard of them, but I thought I'd give them a try.
In the back are two thornless blackberry bushes. Okay, so I know I won't be getting berries for at least another year but eventually I'll have a supply of all kinds of organic berries.
I also put in three small fig trees. Those I don't expect to see bearing fruit for several years, but fresh figs are a gift from the gods so its worth the wait. These need no netting, but I still need to protect the berry bushes that are in the ground.
Because in addition to all the birds, I also have these guys in my yard.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Update on the front yard.

The daffodils and tulips are gone, of course, but other things are starting to fill in, compared to how these beds looked when I first put them in back in the fall.  It will be a few years before it looks a little less sparse, but I can see the progress in the small shrubs and flowers.
Last year I had a temporary mandevilla planted by the mailbox to give the clematis a change to get established.  The vine has climbed halfway up the mailbox post so far this year.
The small clumps of creeping thyme have also started spreading out on the stone pathway. They smell good when you step on them.
One of the existing plants from the former owner, this white rose, was on a much smaller trellis and had hostas around the base. I transplanted the hostas so they weren't crowding the roses roots and wrestled a new trellis into place. It seems to be thriving this year. I normally avoid any plants with thorns and also wouldn't have chosen white for a rose bush, but I find that I like this one better than I thought I would.
Last fall I ordered a semi-dwarf crabapple. When it arrived it was bare-root, just a single upright stick, and appeared to be dead as a door nail. Let's just say I was skeptical. But in the spring, it started sprouting branches and leaves and looks promising. It'll be a few years before I get actual apples.
There was also a huge old rhododendron at the corner of the house, but it was past blooming when I moved in. I was happy to see it fully laden with blooms this year.
I have some perennials in the post on my porch (a mini azalea, a small evergreen, ajuga and so on) and filled in with some annuals for color. I like walking in past them - it feels like a welcome.
I planted periwinkle and Mexican primrose in this old wheelbarrow I found under the house. I love both those plants bit they will both take over your yard so I want them contained.
I'll keep posting on the progress as I go. In the meantime, the sentry frog with sit among the flowers under the purple-leaf sand cherry.

Monday, May 11, 2015

This has also occupied my time...

A trek to my older son's university for graduation. And yes, I cried when I caught sight of my little boy entering the arena in his cap and gown.
Well, maybe not so little. And okay, not a boy. But I'm a proud mom, so humor me for my misty-eyed view. I find these milestones both joyous and difficult. Degree in hand, he is taking some time to work and travel and consider grad school options. I look at him and see that his path is outward. As it should be. I know that's his future calling.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I want to post about gardening but life keeps intervening.

I wanted to get up to Lexington so my boyfriend could meet my father, even though it isn't clear what meaning that has to Dad at this stage of his Alzheimer's. Before Sunday, I had some miscommunication with his wife (who hates me) over meeting. He's recently moved to a really nice assisted living facility and when we arrived, he was out with his wife (who, I may have mentioned, hates me). I think her preference as that we meet elsewhere. We decided to head out to look around some and get some lunch while we waited.
We ended up in a funky little part of town that had this little free library of novels and paintings on the walls. I can't tell if this horse has fallen or is rolling on the ground. We happened to drive by the studio of a friend of my boyfriend's, so we stopped in to visit. He was working on screen printing from a cool woodblock carving of a fish. He also gave us a great recommendation for a lunch spot.
Someone had bought an old bread factory to open a craft brewery and decided to rent out the rest of it to other progressive, community-minded companies. One of them was a seafood restaurant connected by a door to the brewery. We got fish and shrimp dinners and tried a couple of beers - a regular IPA and a high gravity version. All delicious.
Back at the assisted living place, I called my father's wife and when I identified myself, she said coldly, "Okay." Because she hates me. When they returned, she parked him and retreated at a near run. Once she was gone, though, we had a really nice visit. He still knew who I was and was glad to see me, but was unclear about grandkids. He also told me they were selling "the house on the Bay." Except they haven't lived on the Chesapeake for fifteen or so years. Dad can still mostly carry on a conversation, although he often struggled to find words. It's hard to watch, but it helps to see that he's happy.