Just in case anybody was wondering, I'm still alive and kicking! *HA* Just utterly and entirely swamped with editing work. I know this sounds like nothing at all to most people, but I got great news today: I don't have to change punctuation from British style to US style in the 2nd of the big projects. Praise Jea-Sus, Hear Lord! Hallelujah! That cuts HOURS of work off this book, so I might be able to finish it up today and send it out. Then it's just finishing up the last few chapters of the "dying kids" book and that monster will be outta here.
I did manage to get out in the garden for a few hours yesterday early morning. I finally FINALLY got the Pot Corral planted and tidied and in good order. I even put up fairy lights and put a little solar fountain in the big plastic tub that holds my water plants. Once everything gets really growing and blooming, I think it will look nice. Right now it's a little sparse, but the "bones" are there.
This morning, I gave myself one hour 7 to 8 a.m. to get the Rose Border deadheaded and tidied up. Pulled out the finished fleabane, deadheaded the roses, did a very little weeding (that border is so dense now there aren't many weeds; that will probly change later in the summer as things open up. Looks nice, not as spectacular as a few weeks ago when the peonies and iris were in full bloom, but still good. My roses look better than they ever have before. I don't like using chemicals but I have to say, whatever that Bayer Rose stuff is, it works. I gave each rose bush a dose back in early April and it's amazing. HUGE growth, loads of flowers, and BIG flowers too. No sign of blackspot. I think I need to repeat the dose once more in the summer; will have to check.
This evening if I can manage it, I need to get out the stinky deer repellant and give everything a once over. That really does seem to work pretty well. I doubt it would deter really starving deer, but the well-fed buggers around here take one sniff and pass on.
The garden needs its gardener, there's no doubt of that, and hopefully by this time next week I'll be able to devote more time to gardening and other pursuits. For the first time that I can remember, though, I look around and think "it's good, there's nothing I need to change" in most parts of the garden. This means I'll have time to concentrate on the newer areas that I'm developing and I really look forward to (hopefully) making a little progress there.
We had good soaking rain all day on Monday, misty damp weather Tuesday, and yesterday (Wednesday) a couple of thundershowers rolled through and we got more rain. It's still pretty warm, yesterday was like a sauna (more like "normal" July than May, but then, what's normal anymore). I have been stuck in the house because I'm swamped with editing projects. The veg looks good except now all the weeds are really taking off and frankly, after hours sitting at the computer, I just don't seem able to work up the enthusiasm to go out in the steamy heat and pull weeds. I think I'll try to take a couple of hours very early in the morning tomorrow and get to work in there.
Tragedy. I opened the hen house yesterday morning to find two of my young Wyandottes murdered. I have no idea what got in there and killed them. R went up to close the doors to the henhouse around 9 p.m. the night before and he said he did not look into the house and did not notice anything odd except that he had trouble getting the trapdoor to slide down. We had a very bright moon that night. I think whatever got in must have just walked in through the open door somewhere between when the hens went in to roost (probly around 8 or 8:30) and when R walked up the hill. He may have scared it off as he approached. The most likely culprit is a weasel, but it did not look like a weasel kill to me. Both birds were partly eaten, but they were both in the henhouse, not dragged off. If it were a fox, they would have been taken away; most weasel kills are like a bloodbath with dead birds everywhere. I suspect maybe a raccoon...I know this is CSI gross but it looked like whatever it was might have been a fairly heavy animal, from the way the bodies were laying. I need to talk to my neighbors and see if they had any attacks.
At any rate, I closed the girls up early yesterday and everybody is safe and sound this morning. There were a series of devastating weasel attacks in our neighborhood several years ago (several neighbors lost their entire flocks in one or two nights!) and at that time I put tight wire mesh over all the openings in the henhouse (under the eaves). It's a new(ish) building so no gaps between boards, around doors, etc. Whatever got in, I think it walked in through the open trap door.
So, of 6 baby chicks purchased, now only 2 survive. I am upset. It's very hard to see this. I guess I'll try to get more chicks next spring; it's a little late in the year to get them now and I've got my hands full with the two "foster" kittens.
Oh, and we all three of us, me and the 2 kittens, got our booster shots on Tuesday!
Really really hot. Way too hot for mid-May. We topped 90F this afternoon. Supposed to get some thunderstorms thru tonight and tomorrow, I hope so because it is really drying out. I'm not too concerned (yet) for the borders because they are all pretty well established and mulched, but the veg really suffers and I absolutely positively hate watering. I have been watering the veg every evening, a few beds each day. I've got almost everything in teh ground except sweet potatoes, cucumbers, squash, and cantaloupe. I may try to get all that in the ground this week if we get rain (or I guess even if we don't).
I know this is probably not a good idea, but the very last veg bed was a solid mat of chickweed. I decided that instead of pulling it out, I'd simply stomp it flat and plant peppers and tomatoes right through it, and later the sweet potatoes. Sort of a "weed mulch"...it's probably going to be a huge pain next year because all that chickweed will have reseeded, but my thinking is that if it smothers out the dreaded galinsoga weed, then it will be worth it. At least chickweed comes up early, spreads flat, and dies before June, unlike galinsoga that gets huge and tosses seeds everywhere. I think once I get the sweet potatoes planted into this, I'll top the whole thing with a mulch of grass clippings which should totally kill off the chickweed. Next spring, when it starts to sprout, it might not be TOO bad to hoe out.
Veg 1, Groundhog 0. Caught my first groundhog. I set up my Hav-a-Hart trap baited with a slice of watermelon and caught the groundhog who has excavated an enormous den hole at the southwest corner of the veg (outside the fence, thank the gods, and the tunnel is sloping AWAY from the garden....for which I give thanks and praise every day). A fairly big one. I relocated it to the field/wood/stone fence area about 2 miles from my house. And you know, it never fails. I have relocated probably 10 groundhogs over the year, and I always do it by myself and never have any problems. This time for some reason R insisted on going along and he got me so rattled with his pointing "pull over there, Stop here, go there" that I ended up getting the truck stuck. My S-10 pickup has the WORST traction of any vehicle I have ever known. I pulled into a field, sloping nose downward. One rear wheel was on paving, the other was on grass and that was enough...I spun and spun and went nowhere trying to back up. R then insisted on driving and ended up driving down the hill and around through a newly planted corn field. Well, heck, I couldve done that... Next time, I go by myself. I don't like trapping groundhogs and relocating them, but after the debacle in the veg last year, it's either gird up my loins and do battle or give up having a veg garden. I'm going to reset the trap next week in the same area and see if there might not be another whistlepig in that den. I miss the old days, 30 years ago, when we had a big groundhog named Casey who was so tame he sometimes slept on the deck steps with the cats. Never bothered the veg and a few times he would serenade me while I worked by standing up and whistling to other groundhogs a field or two away. *sigh* I miss the old guy.
Drove into Hagerstown yesterday and went a slight bit mad at three different nursery stops. I got an amazing fuschia, an angel wing begonia, some chocolate Lysimachia and two flats of petunias for the Pot Corral. And that's it. I am not spending another dime on annuals this year. I have GOT to try growing petunias from seed next winter. The price keeps going up and up and I'm too cheap.
Fortunately, despite the high peak temps, we have so far at least been cooling off pretty nicely overnight. Last night dipped into the mid-60s so the early morning hours are very comfortable for gardening. I got an enormous amount of weeding/tidying done in the Below the Deck Garden, mostly snipping down Canada Thistle and then spraying the stumps with Round Up. This is the only way I've found that is effective at knocking that weed back. It won't permanently kill it (it seems like nothing does), but at least it sets it back on its heels. I was able to put in two nice clumps of red India Shot canna as well. I got sidetracked with other things earlier this spring and did not get other plants transplanted into the lower part of the Deck Garden area and now it looks like it's too hot and dry to do that. If we get a break with some rainy cooler weather I might try to get at least the white flowered Lysimachia moved in to that section. I did get the tall purple New England asters moved in there earlier this spring, and they are doing well. My plan is to get some late summer/fall color on the lower slope of the Below the Deck Garden because as it stands now, everything is pretty much over by the end of June with the daylilies finishing up. Last year I spotted in zinnias and that looked pretty good, so I've got some plants that should be put in this week too.
I'm very pleased with some plant combinations that are in bloom now.
The first is one of my favorite color combinations, pastel pinks and blues. These are early single flowered pink peonies (no name) and Walker's Low catmint. In the foreground are a few tall spikes of yellow foxtail lilies that are yet to bloom.
On the other side of the split rail fence, a new idea that worked! This is an apricot/orange iris (no name, if anyone know this variety please let me know! This was a pass along/rescue plant), brilliant orange poppies, and yellow iris (again no name. I got these from the dump and call them Little Orphan Iris!) The yellow "buttercup" type flowers are self-seeded celadine, which most people consider a weed, but I try to use to advantage. The pale pink/white daisy like flowers are self-seeded common daisy fleabane, another "weed" that I use as a filler in my borders...sort of like baby's breath in a bouquet.
And this was a lucky chance. Walker's Low catmint behind deep purple siberian iris.
First of all, to SLOWCALA, I'm so sorry to hear about your garden being smothered by the roofing crew! It was a shock to come back online after a week and get that news! Just hang in there, dear, and wait. Nature has an amazing way of bouncing back.
It has been a very stressful week. To begin with, and not to complain, I've got more editing projects coming in than I can shake the proverbial stick at. Most of my work comes through an Indian company and with the covid pandemic wreaking havoc there, they are short handed and just not taking no for an answer. I have a soft heart (and a soft head!) and I've agreed to take on more work than I really wanted to. I'm editing almost nonstop; fortunately, I've been able to negotiate some longer deadlines. Then, and again, not to complain...these two foster kittens are a handful! They are finally FINALLY toileting on their own and eating more or less on their own, but the little girl refuses to eat cat food...she wants boiled chicken and kitten milk and maybe some baby food if it's warmed up to her exacting specifications. She's smart as a whip and into everything...today she figured out the cat door and I found her outside on the deck. Her brother is just a big fat slow lovable little guy who eats anything and sleeps like an angel. I have to confess, I sorta have a special fondness for that bad little girl!
But then, and this is a complaint, my internet service went out. I've had the same DSL provider for 30 years (where I live, DSL is all I can get...don't ask me why, I don't know.). Then the company was bought out by another bigger one and they said my regular DSL would be "upgraded" to high speed DSL, but it would mean getting a second line run to the house. Sent a guy out, he said it can't be done without digging up the back yard for underground cable... long story short we decided to go with our telephone company's DSL. Had to cancel the old service, then get the new one set set up, .... and the modem failed. Took FOUR MORE DAYS to get a new one. So much for overnight delivery. Then most of that day to get things up and running. Ugh. I hate technology. I long for the days of quill pens and parchment. Pony Express. Pigeons. Handsome young men in thongs running relays with scrolls. Anything but the internet.
So, here we are. The weather has been very nice, sunny and clear, but now it's getting hot and we're not supposed to get rain for a few more days. This always worries me. I've got the graywater buckets in the tub and kitchen sink and I'm bucketing water around. The new watering system in the veg is great! With several smaller hoses instead of one huge one, I'm really finding it easy to water beds. The only thing is I need a second watering wand. It would be best to have one just in the greenhouse, and another one to swap between hoses in the veg. So that's on the shopping list.
Everything is just so beautiful right now it's hard to pick out any one thing to mention., The iris are reaching their peak. It's a pretty good display despite having so much trouble with borers last year. The iris that I was able to salvage and replant in the Top Border are doing well. I sprinkled some Spectracide lawn insect killer around them in hopes of killing off any more borers (I was given the tail end of a bag of this stuff, so figured I'd use it up).
My peonies are just barely starting to open. The Coral Sunset are fully open though and they are spectacular. It took that poor little dried up root 3 years just to get sprouted and growing, but now after an additional years, the plant is huge and healthy.
Really surprised by the species Rugosa rose. It is in full and magnificent bloom, for the first time. I've had it for years and only saw a few flowers last year. Foxtail Lilies! I honestly forgot I even had them, and suddenly there's a big clump in the Long Border and a small one in the Deck Garden. This is the upside of age-related memory failure.
Veg is coming along, stewed up some rhubarb a couple days ago. I'd like to put up some for winter, but I can't find canning jar lids anywhere and I'd hate to use up what I have on rhubarb... Probably should try to order some online. I mentioned about my bottled rhubarb coming out sort of "icky" colored and a friend said to toss in a couple of those red-hots candies in while it cooks. Adds a little color and flavor! Might try that.
Back to the editing.