Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bat Houses and the Wishful Thinking of a Woman Facing Months of Mosquitos

Dean found a bat house at the local Bethesda. We have a book about building bat houses, and the intention to (someday) build one but this was too good to pass up. 

The slots underneath allow the bats to enter and exit the house

I like bats, a natural mosquito predator. If they will eat mosquitoes I will pay their rent. Is it so wrong to think this might mean more than 1 minute in the garden without the slide/whack/slide/whack? 

Now if only the ticks would go away. Five found so far (two attached), including more deer ticks than usual. I hear they're going to be bad this year

Another Pea Support

I'm so far behind that I really haven't planted peas yet. I'm about 2 months late on this one but we were still having snow a month ago so I'm not too worried (maybe). 

Instead of my normal structure of dishwasher racks, an old umbrella skeleton, metal shelving, or tripod of random sticks and string I decided to try a different system this year. 

First I bought some stakes at the hardware store this week.

Then I bore some holes, 2" apart on both sides of the imaginary fencing. I'm not sure I'll want to use both sides but I did put the holes in. I might use the second set for fall peas.

Sugar Snap Peas. I decided to leave the standard peas off until Fall. I don't know how hot its going to get in June. I'll put in a fall batch in late August/early September. 

Pea in each of the holes along the top. Then covered. I'll wait to see how the weather goes before using the bottom holes. 

Oh, and my special boring tool, a sturdy stick. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Divide and Plant

 Now that school is over and plants are sprouting its time to check out the new growth outside.

First, my neighbor, who is a Master Gardener, has a plant sale. Between his own yard and the garden he plants along the bike path he has a lot of dividing to do. He uses this opportunity to sell extra plants that are getting too large.

It used to be $1 a plant. This year its $2. Ah, inflation. The money is put back into the garden, new plants, holders, etc. I bought 12 plants this year.


I also bought some bulbs for plants that grow in shade or partial shade. I'm going to turn the garden bed under the trees into a shade flower garden. Along with the flowers pictured I planted pulmonaria, lamium, and dwarf goatsbeard. 

I also noticed that the parsley is coming back!

I was really excited because parsley is a biennial and this is the 3rd year I've had it. That means the seeds from the plant last year propagated. I wasn't sure that it would.

Dean and I also divided some of our own plants last night and planted them back into the pots I got from the sale. A friend has moved to a new house recently and could use some perennials. Oregano, strawberry (June-bearing and ever-bearing), bee balm, bachelors buttons, grape hyacinth, black-eyed susan, and lily of the valley. Now if she would only like some Obedient plants. They're taking over the back garden.

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Week Ago (Just Beautiful!)

Obediant Plants getting a little out of hand. Weeding needed. 

Tulips just opened and the whites are already loosing petals!

Blood root with pretty white blossoms hiding underneath. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Two Weeks Ago (Fruit Bushes)

I've been wanting to plant some fruit bushes for some time. Last Fall, we took out the funky bushes by the front door and I dreamed of blueberry and hazelnut, but because its right under some enormous mature oaks I decided that dwarf lilac, currant, and gooseberry might be better (they do better in the shade). 

I bought the bushes at Jungs 3 weeks ago. I choose them in the bare root room. I was looking for buds/small leaves, good thick root structure, and wood stem thickness. This lilac already had leaves. I put the bushes in a bucket of water and left them there (uh-oh!) all week. 

As you've noticed with this blog, its been crazy. So this poor little currant sat in the garage all week. He looks pretty good though. 

And this tiny gooseberry was at the corner of the house (it has thorns) next to the small pine there. 

In the backyard I planted the blueberries (2-Blueray) in a sunny (at least sunny for the backyard) spot next to each other. I checked it this week and its budding. For the blueberries I looked for a good thick root structure since their roots are so near the surface. I have to remember to put a drip hose on these guys. 

To prepare for blueberries I dug a very large hole. Then I put in elemental sulfur. Then I filled with oak leaves, added bone meal, added soil, and then I planted the bush on top of that. We'll see how it turns out. I was not able to change the dirt last fall. 

The blackberry is budding too. For him, and all the other bushes other than the blueberries (which need acidic soil), I dug a large hole, put in bonemeal, added soil to the desired level, and planted. 

The raspberries are the only thing not sprouting or growing. I choose thick canes though. Hopefully they'll catch on soon. 

No hazelnuts. Maybe if this works out and I can find another sunny corner. 

Three Weeks Ago (Easter and Peep Experiments)

Easter. Peeps. Peep rainbow. Peep mutilation. Strangely I'm in favor of this. The little liquid pools of sugar with eyes. 

A few years ago Dean and I started the peep experiments. Mostly using a microwave to blow the peeps up like balloons before they suddenly deflate into pools of melted goo. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Four Weeks Ago (Almost Maple Candy and My Favorite Lunch)

Just so you remember what it was like almost a month ago. Remember? Good. 

My favorite lunch right now. Homemade yogurt, a little maple syrup (if its a bit tangy), and almonds. Add some vegetables or an apple in with this and its perfect. Lots of protein to get you through the afternoon. 

I started putting the maple syrup we were making in those .99 cent squeeze bottles. They don't hold liquid very well (you will get a little circle around the bottle edge but its fun to wipe up with a finger) but you can't beat them for lunch-time speed and accuracy. 

Which reminds me of the last time I boiled down syrup. It was low, really low, so I switched it off but I went off to change laundry over or something and I came back to this. The syrup had caramelized. I switched burners but it was too late. Residual heat people! Don't forget the residual heat!

The deep beautiful brown caramel sugar burned before I could pour it out in a cool container. I did get a few finger swipes in. Delicious! And I had fun imagining if I had time to go get a patty pan full of snow like Laura and Mary did at the Sugaring Dance.  

No worries, I had plenty from previous batches and a soak in warm water broke down the burned mess. It was a good lesson for me. I'm curious now. It would be fun to break it down to granules next year...if I have enough. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

...Not Out to Sea Right Now

Finishing the semester. Long papers, short papers, collaborative presentations. 

It will all be done soon. 

Then it will be seedlings, fruit bushes, and the new Samuel Thayer foraging book. Fun stuff.