Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where or Where did Spring go??

Woke up to another snow fall this morning. The sun is shining, but the temps have dipped down to -5 or so, which really isn't all that cold, but for February - this is definitely a set-back!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lucky Ladybug

It's that time of year when my house starts hatching ladybugs. Not quite sure where they come from or what they eat & I've not yet seen the larvae, but they start popping out of the wood work when the spring sun hits the house & warms it up. I consider it 'good luck' that this one was on one of my tomato packets. I just planted them yesterday & hope for a good harvest...but it's a little early to be thinking like that. First, I have to get them to germinate & since we've purchased a new fridge, the top of it is no longer warm enough for germination... Need to rethink this one!

On another note - slightly sad - is that there is a yearling bear cub wandering around our side of the peninsula. That black blob in the photo is a relatively healthy looking bear up way too early in the season & without its mother. Its a very hungry bear - has been wandering around onto people's decks & porches & I just heard it somehow made it into some one's house, possibly through the cat door!! The poor thing is small - about the size of a medium dog. We all wish the Conservation Officer would relocate the thing before something awful happens... I won't mention what that could be...

Addendum: the Conservation Officer was called into town the following day & they did manage to remove the poor thing - via tranquilizer & a rubbermaid tote. Assessment will be done as to bear health & chances of possible relocation & rehabilitation. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Snow & Spring at the Same Time?

Looks like the Farmer's Almanac forecast is correct! Woke up to thick wet snow this morning - quite a shock for this time of year along our little section of coast... Usually, I'm bragging about the crazy amounts of sunshine & warm weather we are getting at this time of year & I'm out in the gardens cleaning things up & seeing what's coming up.

Just to make myself feel better, I searched out a few spring blooms to make myself remember what spring looks like.

Lovely forsythia
Frozen purple - not sure what this lovely flower is, but was nice to see!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Spring is Fast Approaching

 Outside the crocus are putting on a wonderful show.

Inside, the Christmas cactus has finally become accustomed to its new home & is rewarding me with a dazzling show.

The 'Firecracker' Begonia has been brought up from its winter home & is starting to put on fresh growth. Can't wait to have these long-lasting bloomers outside my doors, enticing the hummingbirds to return.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Operation Rose Rescue

I've been threatening to do this for almost 6 months & finally took the plunge yesterday - in broad daylight. There was this magnificent rose growing in a front flower bed of a once-upon-a-time occupied house along the boardwalk at the harbour's edge. It has not been cared for in many years & is quite a stunning flower. I have no idea what kind of rose it is & after doing a whole lotta research, still don't have too much of a clue as to how to bring it back to health, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

I didn't take a photo of its original home because it was just too pathetic. I had a heck of a time digging it out & am quite concerned I've already killed it because of the lack of root ball.

Yeah - that's what I got when I dug it up. There are lots of little roots up along the top & some fresh growth showing, so I hope that this spot will be where roots develop & make a come back.

I decided to grow it in a pot on my deck to keep it away from the deer & to also have the sweet smell close to where I'll notice it. I sacrificed a piece of freezer burnt salmon in the bottom of the pot as fertilizer & I'm hoping not to regret doing that for smell purposes.

Apparently, it is a very fragrant rose - this from people who know the history of the plant. The original owner is well known for being a garden guru & when someone asked to take a cutting of this rose, she agreed, only to find out later that the whole plant was taken! Many people have tried to take cuttings off the original plant & have no success. What I would like to see is this rose make a full recovery & then we can start experimenting with cuttings once we are able to figure out what species it is!

The large branch in the centre does have fresh growth on it, but I'd really like to cut it back as it sticks way out & is a bit unsightly. We shall see what this year will bring.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yet Another Landscaping Project

The sun was shining bright yesterday & I just had to take advantage of this opportunity to get dirty. My large landscaping project for this year (along with trying to finish off last year's...) is to work on claiming the east side of the house.
The brambles - mostly salmonberry, thankfully - fewer thorns than blackberry - are growing closer to the house (on the left out of the picture). The ground was never really fully cleaned after the building phase of the house, so it's not level, there are still nails & screws & bits of wood being unearthed & ~sigh~ we dumped a bunch of drywall bits out here one winter, foolishly believing that the rain would make it magically 'disappear'.

We've attempted to keep the alder & scotch broom under control, but we just end up making another pile to the mess. This building level was already in place when we bought the property - so it's very compact & I have no idea what's in it for topsoil. The goldenrod thrives here, as well as pearly everlasting (a nice fall perennial). But this is a disaster by our own hands...

I spent a few hours in the sunshine with my new pruners & a rake to clean it up & see what I've got to work with.
It looks much better, but I've got to remove the pile of crumbly drywall & find a chainsaw to remove the hemlock trees - there are 3 very wimpy ones on the left of the cedar tree. I think I'll try to get some deer fern & sword fern growing along the edges & I just might be able to have some sort of 'shade' garden. We'll have to see what happens when the hemlocks come down.

It's a cold & frosty morning today but I think I'll head back out in a few hours with the rake & start moving rocks - the grass will quickly take over & require the lawnmower instead of the weed wacker this year. Feels good to claim a small piece of the wild back.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Winter Reading - Part 5

...A New Approach in Gardening...

I suddenly have found myself the receiptient of yet another wonderful gardening magazine. I honestly do not remember signing up for Organic Gardening but have enjoyed it thoroughly, cover to cover, each time it appears in my mailbox.

This winter edition arrived in a very timely fashion while I was pondering how to get my gardens working for me during the winter & planning on becoming a water miser next summer.

But the article I absolutely fell in love with deals with a no-dig gardening approach by layer the growing mediums. Look at this lovely, messy, wonderfully abundant garden!

This is what I could get used to - not the immaculate, manicured, straight edges of my current gardens that drive me a bit batty. I really need to learn how to let the gardens get wild!

Here's a bit more of a close-up of what this gardener does.

This diagram shows that you don't want to skimp on the bonemeal & the bloodmeal. The nitrogen & phosphorus added in these layers aids decomposition of the hay & straw layers.

Also, don't skimp on the compost - this is what the initial seedlings (recommended as a first crop vs seeds) will be growing in & sending their roots down through.

Moisture is key also as the ingredients in this layering technique will be 'dry' for the first while.

I'm going to try a bit of no-dig gardening this year in my beds - they won't be layered as nicely as this as I've already got quite a few raised beds with soil in them. But I am not using my pitch fork to turn the whole mess into a fluffy bed. I am going to start treating my soil with a little more tenderness & am going to just add layers on in the fall & see what happens. I might save my back a bit of pain & also confuse the critters as to what I'm doing. I notice the birds come along very quick after I've dug up the whole mess & then planted right away. The cats also like a nice fluffy area for burying their little contributions (which are most unwelcome!).

With luck, I will find a supplier of straw this year & have a layer or 2 on by the summer for moisture retention & mulch for the winter.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pretty Primula

Today is a chilly dismal day, but with a few of these wonderfully scented primulas sitting in my windows, on my kitchen table & on my coffee table, the lack of sunshine doesn't seem so bad.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Planning the Gardens - 2011

Well, today is rain-rain-rain! Had hoped to get out for some garden 'spring-cleaning', but that will just have to wait a bit longer. Sometimes it's hard not to get too eager & excited for spring.

What I am doing instead is planning my planting calendar. I tend to be obsessively organized & regimented when it comes to certain aspects of gardening. I print off one page for each month & mark in my moon phases (as it was pointed out to me a while ago to be in-tune with how many aspects of how Mother Nature works, it's important to know where the moon is... it also gives you an excuse to get outside on clear nights & do some star-gazing). I have a column for starting seeds INDOORs and another for seeding directly OUTDOORs.

Then I mark down in each month when & how to plant my seeds. I've had some interesting 'weeds' come in with transplants that I pick up from nurseries, so I'm very hesitant to purchase plants & like the hands-on feeling of planting seeds each year.

Last year, I used the Farmer's Almanac planting dates (these are for 2011) which uses an estimate for last frost date & a weather prediction & the phases of the moon. It was fun & a great learning tool. But, I had a dismal crop of everything except peas, lettuce & tomatoes.

This year I will use the West Coast Seeds planting calendar which is much more broad & interestingly enough has later planting dates than the Farmer's Almanac on a lot of veggie seeds.

I read a few days ago (Why Vegetables Bolt Early in the Spring) from Garden Wise magazine that gave me a few moments of pause, followed by an 'Ah-ha' moment. I planted too early last year & when things got hit by the frost on May 1st, they were unable to recover.

So, this year, I will take things a bit slower (which may allow me to work on the larger projects first) & hopefully I will realize a better, if not larger, harvest during the summer & into the fall.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Green Thngs in the Greenhouse - Continuation

My plastic greenhouse has withstood another winter season & it's almost time for me to clean it up in preparation for another year of tomatoes. Right now, I've got fava beans & peas growing in the raised bed & they actually survived the freeze we had in December. I thought they wouldn't recover (they were all frozen & fell over) but they've popped back up & have grown some in the last few weeks.

The peas are kinda lanky & sprawling down along the soil, but the beans are nice & fat & healthy. I don't have a thermometre in the greenhouse but I can feel that it's warmer than the outside air. I love going inside for a peek at my pots of overwintering rosemary or random plants. It smells like dirt & green things... a definite pick-me-up when it's been raining for weeks on end.

I'm not sure if they will flower or not but their days are numbered. I will cut them up & turn them under by the end of the month so that they can decompose & get the bed ready for the tomatoes that will go in towards the end of April. (I'll have to double check my calendar on that date, but I plan on starting my tomatoes in the house in a couple of weeks - the full moon is on the 18th...).

Well, I should get out there & check on the other pots & random garden items to do a mold check. The roof peak leaks & I had to throw out some standing water that went green. I don't want mold to start growing on the walls or else I might end up with a serious problem later on this year!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Right on Time!

Just like clock-work, my yellow crocus have started to bloom!! This is the 3rd year in a row they have given me sunshine on the 1st of February when the weather is still gray.

It's still a bit early for them to open fully, but this week is supposed to be nice & I'm sure they will enjoy opening up for the bees (of which I haven't heard any just yet).

The salmon berry blossoms are also starting to make an appearance & this means that the hummingbirds will be quick to reappear along the coast. Can't wait to hear them zipping around in the brush!!

PS: Happy Early Spring from us on the West Coast!!