Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring into Small Projects

OK - so they are ugly as sin... but we are now 'mosquito proofing' our rain water supply in a more efficient manner.

Last year was the never-ending-constant-hatching-seriously-icky mosquito paradise environment in my rain barrels & I resolved to end it this year & early in the season.

I just purchased some window screening - which, we all know, keeps mosquitoes out of the house - cut it to cover over the wide open, very full rain barrels & we - for complete lack of proper planning - duct taped it to the barrels... Now, we did at least think to use UV resistant/outdoor duct tape, so it should last at least a year... but man, they are U-gly!

I do have high hopes of (eventually) putting some fencing around these & growing some sort of vine up the fence - sweet peas? beans? clematis? maybe something that is green year-round??

Small project #1 done!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Pollinators - Time to Get Busy!

~ bee resting in daffodil ~
After that crazy chilly weather that Mother Nature announced to be the start of Spring, She has relented this week with much milder weather & sunshine.

You can literally hear things growing!

I wandered around the gardens yesterday late afternoon - wanting to just have a moment with the birds & the bees (which are quite loud when you stop a moment to actually listen to them!)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

~ Spring Equinox ~
Last week Spring tried to sneak up on us in the form of very un-Spring-like weather. Most of Canada (from I've heard) was blasted with snow - lots of snow & we in Bamfield had 2 days of very chilly weather with heavy frost & ice for the early morning hours.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sentenced to 'Life - Solitary Confinement'

~ solitary confinement - skid row ~
Just a couple weeks too late, I have finally offered my rhododendrons a chance at life. Granted, it will be life in solitary confinement, surrounded by a cage, not being able to be touched or admired up close, but at least it will be life & not constant torture & abuse from the deer.

Yes, the deer have munched on my rhodos again. I planted these lovely rhodos last year & they did bloom (see here) before they were munched on by the deer. I had hoped that the deer would find other things to eat (like GRASS!) but that is just not the case.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Forcing Earlier Rhubarb Harvests

~ forcing rhubarb ~
 A few weeks ago in February, I uncovered my rhubarb & saw that it was starting to send up leaf buds. I cleared the compost from around each of the crowns & put a 5 gallon bucket over one (see right) & then a large pot on the other one a week or 2 later (see below).

~ early harvest time close now!~
Now in the middle of March, you can see that they are sending up very tall stalks that are searching for sunlight (not that we are getting much around here with all this rain!)

I'll be harvesting rhubarb by the end of the month!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Uncovering Cutworms

I was clearing around the base of my currant bushes this weekend & uncovered a surprise: cutworm larvae!

I still have some reading to do in regards to these critters, but I do know that they have done some serious damage in my veggie gardens - namely on the kale plants.

Check out Linda Gilkeson's books or website here to see what you are looking for.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Building from Scratch

Last spring I had 2 of these very large, square raised beds put together in the front yard. I spent the summer filling them with grass clippings & other yard 'waste' - non-seeded weeds, pruned bits, finished plants, etc.

At one point both beds were completely full of composting greens! Now, nearing the end of winter, I thought I would add soil so that I can actually grow something in them this year.

My first chore was to empty the compost tumbler & this spring I got only 1 wheelbarrow full - but the heavenly sweet smell!!

Now I can start adding & building a new batch of compost.

This compost is pretty moist & clumpy with bit still needing a bit more decomposition, which is OK as it is all going underneath a fresh layer of soil.

I gathered all my ingredients for my new raised bed: wheelbarrow full of fresh compost, newspaper, bone meal, freezer-burnt shrimp (more on this in a moment) & lots of Black Earth.

This Black Earth is made up of peat loam, peat moss, sand & compost. Looks great & feels pretty good too.

I lugged around the property 68 of these bags today & am starting to feel it!!

Hopefully the worms will enjoy the new soil, as well as whatever I decide to plant in this bed (runner beans??)

 (I love when photos refuse to cooperate...sorry for the visual).

I spread out (as best you can when it is soggy) a layer of newspaper, then the funky shrimps & then the compost. The worms should be attracted to this layer in droves!!

Then I spread on a healthy layer of bone meal... Would have preferred lime, but you go with what you have at the moment.

The bone meal will hopefully aid in masking the wonderful smell of the shrimps - which, I'm sure many of you are wondering why I would tempt dogs & bears & raccoons & rats with this potential messy situation.... Well, the nutrients are unbelievable & I'm hoping for some amazing plants in this bed this year. I use shrimp water on my roses & they just love it!

I then covered everything up with a thick layer of soil. I wish I had another 6 or so bags to add, but we shall see what the spring rains do & how much this will settle over the next few months.

It's a huge bed - 4 feet by 4 feet!! I can't reach the middle very easily, so am thinking I should plant some squash there or something that will grow out & be easier to reach. I had thought of a shrub but I'm sure I'll find something this summer that will work.

PS - I thought I really should protect the new soil & reduce the potential for midnight raiders as much as possible & I did cover up the bed with a thick layer of plastic. Will have to monitor it over the next few weeks & let you know if it survived!