Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring's on the Way!

Though the weather has been as chilly as it looks in the above picture. .there are plenty of things around my yard that say spring is here!!
Hyacinths are pretty much my spring time favorite!! The smell is delicious!! Sometime or other I have planted these babies in places I don't even remember planting!! There is a clump about 15 feet from my back door that just entices me to deep breathe every time I walk in it! And unlike tulips, which are finicky at my house about coming back every year. .these little treasures do!! I've already picked one to scent my kitchen!
My forsythia bush grows ever so slowly. .and the blossoms are scant so far. .but hey. .blooms are blooms at this time of the year!
The lilacs seem to have lots of buds popping.  I was quite surprised a few weeks ago already to be able to see the buds emerging from the twigs. .it seems a little early to me..but no complaints from me either! The only type of vegetation (aside from cedar and elm trees) growing here when we moved was two lilac bushes. .one white and one purple. .and a handful of tulip bulbs.  6-7 years ago when we added on a laundry room, storage space and a second bathroom, we had to transplant the purple lilac bush.  Not sure if it would survive that move or not, I took several pieces of new wood and root and transplanted them into a short row on the north side of my house.  They are slowly enlarging in size and have been blooming for the last few years.  I don't think one can ever harvest enough of these scented flowers for spring time bouquets!
The multi-stemmed redbud bush is starting to bloom. .from the ground up. .And my redbud tree is also very close to showing off it's stuff too!  I do love the colors of these trees.  A couple years ago, we bought 3 flowering crabapple trees. .Those should be popping blooms soon too.  I was sad to see that one of the three may not be coming back this year.  Some deer really did a number on the trunk 2 years ago. .last year it seemed to do well. .and I thought we would get by alright. .this year, not a leaf as of yet. .just some growth coming up from the ground, that I would trim off anyway.
The moon has been wrong for planting seeds. .and if the moon is right. .the weather has been wrong!! The tomatoes are taking off in their individual pots, and the butterfly weed is starting to root out the bottom of their pots.  One of the passion flower vines has 2 big, fat flower buds on it. .I can hardly WAIT to see that bloom!! I've also noticed that some of my cheap Walmart roots are coming out of the ground. .Hee Haw!! The weather will feel like spring again in a few days!! Maybe to stay! What's coming up around your place??

Monday, March 28, 2011

You are NOT gonna believe this!!

Because I could hardly believe my eyes yesterday!!
Do you see it??  Look to the left of the new bluebird homestead. . 
An Eastern Bluebird!!
That's what I said yesterday as I dropped my fork and ran for my camera!! The little doll was drinking at the side of my pond. And was scared off by a car coming up the drive.  I never sited it again by the pond. .but we watched it dive for insects off the fence for quite a while.  I do hope it sticks around. .and brings all it's little friends!! 
It's a good thing Dev and I got a few more of these made!! We had a great time measuring, cutting, and assembling the houses.  He's getting to be quite a hand at the nail gun (which scares the CRAP out of his mother!!).  He and Grant spray painted them yesterday.  I know. .the paint is absolutely hideous. .but it was the best I could find in a small town dime store!! We have two cedar pickets left to turn into houses.  I think that he will stain those two. .and keep one of them indoors until the fair in July.  Hoping Jeremy will help us hang them up this evening in the cold drizzle.  We've had a relapse into winter. Brrr. . 
I did get my grass seed planted this afternoon. .figuring that the drizzle will help it along. While I was collecting laundry out of the boy's room upstairs. .I thought that the  world looked so frigid and still. .I had to capture it!  My Bradford pear tree is blooming. .I can hardly wait until it is big enough to look all white and cottony during its bloom. 
I also shot this different view of the pond.  Much of the muck is clearing out. .and you can see the stones on the bottom. .even from clear up here.  The rocks sticking out of the south end were just unloaded there Friday. I intend to do some bog plantings behind them in the pond. .and hoping to fill much of the soil with plantings soon!!  I'll try to remember to include this view of the pond from now on. .it's easier to get the "big picture" here!  The little cookers will be here soon for another lesson of some sort. .so I'd better get back to planning!! Just wanted to say. . .
If you build it. . .
They will COME!!
Have a great week!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bluebird Trail

Devin and I have been working on making our own bluebird trail.  We had a few pair of bluebirds a few winters ago. .but haven't seen them regularly since.  Lately, I have had my inner conscience nagging me to put up a trail.  So that is what we are doing!! It's so easy because it takes one 5 foot length of a 1X6 board. Pine. .Cedar. .redwood. .Your choice!
We chose pine to start with because we happened to have a couple boards leftover in the shop.
Tristan did one of his first 4-H talks on making these bluebird houses.  And his houses went to grandmas'. I've thought several times since then about making them. .just never got around to it! They are super easy and quick to make. .we got the first three done in about 1 hour cutting and assembling them in an "assembly line" type of fashion.
Here's some facts about bluebird nesting that we found useful to know!
--Bluebirds nest in suburban and rural areas (primarily)
--They don't make their own nests and rely on old woodpecker holes or other empty cavities to nest in
--The houses should be placed at least 100 feet from wooded areas where wrens might likely be living
--Open fields and fence rows are great spots to hang nests. .in addition to large yards, golf courses, or along open highways (we are in a great locale for those guidelines!)
--Because they are territorial, they generally won't nest within 100 yards from another nest. .so your spacing should reflect that
--That being said. .sparrows also like to use bluebird houses for nesting. So we put the houses in sets of two about 15 feet apart 
--They hang great on fence posts. .and ideally should be 4-5 feet off the ground. .ours are about 4 feet high
--The entry hole should be facing either east or north as this keeps it cooler in the hot summer
--No perch needed
--The houses should be placed in February for the south and mid March in the north. .I hope we weren't too late to attract some for this year.
If you want some more information. .you can find it at bluebirds forever

Devin and I are planning on making more of these this weekend. .we sure have a lot of fence posts available for hanging houses on!!
If you are interested in the pattern. .you can find it at this Birds and Blooms website. But be careful though. .you might get hooked!! Even if you don't have a good spot to hang them in a habitat acceptable to bluebirds. .they sure are cute. .and we have had a ball making them!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sidewalk Make-over

Last fall when we put in the pond. .we decided to take out the existing sidewalk.  YEARS ago, we took out the very old, very narrow, very straight sidewalk and put down native limestone (well, native to my mom and dad's place).  I loved it, and it was very functional.  Since we added the sidewalks to the east side of the  house, I have been longing for a wider, windier path to the front. And frankly. .while the old stone path looked cool. .it was a LOT of work..and I had NO desire to do the digging to add to the stones! So we hired our trusty carpenter-jack-of-all-trades friend do the work for us! We/he intended for the sidewalks to be completed last fall. .but as situations arise. .as they sometimes do. .they didn't get worked on until much later, like until a few weeks ago. 
So these pathetic views have been my life since October. .
And I was sure glad to get them traded in for new views over the last few weeks of labor and dirtwork!
The fun part was that we were able to take the sidewalk up to the front deck. .and then turn off and continue to take the sidewalk around the west side of the house. .
ending here. .the steps to the west deck. 
We had laid down a small landing of sand stone and limestone with pea gravel in between. .it has worked. I will appreciate being able to keep my feet dry now while checking on the flowers.
Going backwards. .here is our new walk from the west deck. .
(doesn't that look better already??)
Around the corner to the front deck. .
And down the front steps to the driveway!! Even the cat enjoyed trying out the new path. I was able to get some blue elijah fescue plants along the length of the walk to the left in the picture. .right on the other side of the rocks is the pond. .and I love the contrast already. It is drought tolerant. .and will provide some winter interest too! I plan to add a different variety of grass, maybe 12-18 inches tall. .hopefully with some color.  And have already decided that next fall, some tulips and daffs will need to go in there!!
The contractor put a light texture of stone into the wet concrete. .and will apply a terracotta colored stain to the sidewalk at some point! We have done a ton of dirt work. First to level up the yard. .and then several tractor bucket loads into the existing flower bed on the south side of the pond.  This will create a little nicer spot to plant. .and allowed me to put a stone walkway through the bed. So far I have enjoyed planting along the sidewalk in the beds and conjuring up what will go in next!

It's nice to get my fingernails dirty again. .and I can't wait to keep you all updated about the progress of the gardens! Thanks for stopping by today!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Potato plants

You may recall that after Grant's birthday party a few weeks ago. .we cut up our seed potatos so they could rest a bit before we put them in the ground. Jeremy's grandma said she let hers sit at least a week before planting them in the ground. I have since read that even letting them sit overnight is adequate. The reason for doing so is to allow the cut flesh to dry slightly which helps prevent the potato from molding in the ground.
We sliced regular looking potatos into pieces that contained 2 eyes. .or the divet that starts to grow horns if you let the potatoes sit too long before you eat them (please tell me that I am not the only whose potatoes grow horns!).  We left them open in containers and put them in the basement storage room to rest. 
I wanted to plant them around St Patricks day. .as my grandma always did. .but the 17th was a barren planting time according to the Farmer's almanac (I'm a believer in that!). So Sunday the 20th was the first good planting day. .and the only one that I had available to get into the garden.  The above photo shows the crusty potatoes and their little eyes starting to sprout.
This year we are trying a no-till gardening method. I have seen a number of articles over the last year that stresses the importance of the underground microbes, bacteria, and other life forms (earthworms, etc) that are exposed to sunlight, heat, and air every time you till.  Seems that this underground structure has to start over each time you disturb it.  I decided to see how it works.  The other plus is that, since much of my newspaper/straw mulching will continue to supress weeds. .much of our work is already done. .with the exception of throwing some new straw on top to reinforce. Hee Haw!!
So, after church and lunch. .with Camille resting peacefully in bed. .we trucked out to the garden. The big boys hoed some rows through the mulch where the onion rows of last season had been. .D confiscated my camera and took pictures. .LOTS of pictures. .and several of himself as he made shadows on the ground. .8 year olds!!
We planted 3 15-20 foot rows of the variety Red Pontiac. .
3 15-20 foot rows of the variety Red Norland. .
and a couple rows of Yukon Gold. .
in that order from north to south (for my own memory. .since I don't use row markers. .found out a long time ago that they just get pulled up and used as weapons)
We spaced them in the row about 1 1/2-2 feet apart in rows 2 feet apart with their little eyes pointing skyward. Covered them up with dirt and straw (I also learned in my research that they will grow well just using straw and no soil). Now we wait for them to grow plants within the next 2-3 weeks.  After the plants get about 6 inches tall, we will mound more dirt around the base of the plant. .creating more space for the potatoes to form.  This is our first try with potatoes. .so we are excited about growing something new!! Grant and I also enjoyed trying to map out our other summer crops in our garden space.  Grant seems to be a child of my own heart. .he kept saying that the spot just needed to be a little bigger so we could grow more. .if any of you have seen my veggie garden space. .it is HUGE!! The first thing that boy will learn is space management!! It will be fun to have a gardening partner this year!!
While he cleaned up old tomato and pepper plants, I planted some grasses around the new sidewalk, as well as some cannas and gladiola bulbs. .also both new specimen around these gardens!! And my gardening highlight of the day??? I found my RHUBARB plants!! A gentleman in town had bought 3 rhubarb plants for me last year. It's a bit of a joke. .as many years ago at our church soup supper I fixed a rhubarb pie with some rhubarb that I had in my freezer from Grandma Pat.  Everyone raved over it, since very few people make rhubarb pie. .and many people grew up eating it!! The next year I didn't fix that type of pie and he was SORELY disappointed.  Since I am a first born pleaser-personalitied person. .I have been fixing rhubarb pie every year since then!! I was so tickled that he bought me some plants to make sure that I always had a supply!! It appeared to be dead by August. .and I wasn't sure why.  But as I was checking my Virginia creeper vine that I stuck near one of the rhubarb holes last fall. .I was SUPER EXCITED to find rhubarb leaves next to the creeper. .and lo and behold. .rhubarb leaves coming from the other two "dead" plants!! What a great surprise!!  Welcome spring!! Have a great week!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Drag-sta

Now, any of you that are regular readers. .or those that know our family. .know that Jeremy is just short of obsessed with drag racing (likened to me being JUST short of obsessed with my gardens).  Last summer, his '69 nova drag car developed a "shake", explained to me as a phenomenon that would require major overhauling of the nova. .or getting a new one.  Hmmm. .It took a couple of weeks of fit-pitching about the cost of non-essential novelties (NOT likened to plants and trees and mulch and hardscaping. .those are ESSENTIAL for my good humor :-) from yours truly before he remarked that he would just build something from scratch. .a cheaper way to go. HAHAHA! And with that statement and one from me sounding a little like this. .
"Fine. . .just build one from scratch then."
And he was off. .little did I know. .
just what that entailed!
He started with some old pieces of a vehicle and some boxes of stuff. .
And you may recall the trip to OK that we made last fall. .the one that also included buying my pond parts. .(a bribe!) we picked up a racing motor (literally in BOXES) for 1/4 of the price from a guy who bought the stuff 10-15 years ago and never put it together.
Since then. .
every single weekend has been spent tinkering with this critter!
He has spent countless hours caressing her body. .lovingly sanding off all the blemishes and signs of age. .focused on every single detail of her appearance.
He tried out several different outfits of paint (on a piece of metal) before deciding on something very shiny and shimmery.
And of late, he has been spending every evening working on his NEW girl. .stopping  from work only long enough to eat supper and make sure that we (the family) were still alive and functional.
The children don't even remember his name! And just as soon as I was seriously considering setting up a cot for him in his shop. .he announced that he was finished!!
Unfortunately, it stopped running late Thursday evening. .the plan was to head for the first race of the season Friday!
These two motor head buddies showed up mid afternoon on Friday to work on the truck while Jeremy finished up with some shop work (his REAL job!) They drove an hour out of their way to get here!
Those crazy guys missed their own racing Friday evening to lend a hand. .and got it running again. .
It had alcohol poisoning. . .REALLY! I thought that only happened to people!!
But, by the time the work was done. .it was too late to head for Great Bend. .and the guys called Saturday and reported that the race had been cancelled due to rain. So, while he tinkered with it a little more this weekend. . .He did spend some time with yours truly and our children, helping with some landscaping and bird house hanging! 
Racing season started this weekend. .but then so did gardening season!
It's a good thing he is so cute. .and handy. .
OR ELSE. . .

Friday, March 18, 2011

Here Fishy, Fishy

We are all enjoying the beautiful spring weather here! 
Any of you that have ever been around children for a period of time. .
will be aware that they often do the unexpected.
You may be able to imagine my amazement as I looked out my kitchen window
 yesterday afternoon to see
THIS!!!. . .
Two miniature partners of mischievousness. .
. .committing the crime of ALL crimes!!
They were quick to point out to me that there was no bait OR hooks on the end of their lines. .
. .this little fisher girl stayed busy for at least 30 minutes casting her princess pole with the bobber into the pond. I KNEW that I might have problems keeping the kids out of the water. .
I just think I might have under-estimated it. . .
a TAD!!
Blessings to all for a wonderful weekend!

Monday, March 14, 2011


My life is about to eat me alive!
I've neglected my blog this week. .and the sad thing is. . that I really didn't even care! I enjoy writing on my blog. .and really enjoy hearing from those of you that read my blabbering. .so the mere fact that I was so dis-interested was concerning to me!! Thought I might do a short update. .and then show you some peaks around the garden and greenhouse. 
I have been studying hard for a trauma class that I needed and took last week. It entailed two VERY long houred days in Wichita Thursday and Friday. And a lot of reading before hand. I am pleased to say that I passed. .and am glad to get that behind me.  I much prefer the fun learning classes like the one I will travel to in April. .in Boston!! Then I will be all "classed-out" for a long while! 
the meyer lemon tree has been in full bloomin' glory the last month!!
The weekend was really busy too! Grant had his friends over for a late celebration of his birthday. We met our family Saturday night for pizza to celebrate an anniversary. And last night I got to have my neice and nephew overnight. We went to see Gnomeo and Juliet which ROCKED!! Absolutely hilarious!! Go watch it!!  Today, I spent the day with my sister-in-law unpacking and putting away her kitchen.  They have been living out of boxes for a looooooong time now. .so I know it will be extra nice for her to finally be getting settled in! The kids had a fabulous day playing together. .something that they have NEVER done. .Ever!! It's so great to have them home!!
The weather has been fairly pleasant! The sidewalks were poured last Thursday. .J and I started doing the dirt work yesterday. .with much more shoveling and some rock moving to go. .can't wait to get it done and get to planting in it!
My little lemon tree has been blooming its head off. .they are so pretty and smell so yummy!
Won't be long until it is time to move him outside for the winter!
I enjoyed a quick walk about this evening. I love those this time of year, because every day you can see something new!!  The surprise lilies that I got from my mom are all coming up.  Once you transplant them, it can take several years for them to actually do anything. I believe that most of the foliage came up last year, but no lilies. I think that I have already found a few more spots of foliage than I saw last year. .so that is encouraging!
These may well be my favorite spring bloomers. .hyacinths.  The smell is delicious. .I love to smell them as I walk up to the house, or open my kitchen windows.  Gardening is a multi-sensual event around these parts!!
The sedum tucked into the rock by Grant last summer has done well, and offers a welcoming brightness in our brown monochrome environment.
In the greenhouse, the coleus cuttings are all lined up waiting for planting time. .
and this Bolivian jew succulent that I nearly kicked off last year is making an incredible rally!
The geranium has been blooming all winter. .and finally looks to be growing too. .it started as one little stem cutting off the mother plant.  And just because it makes me feel better to tell you. .I flunked the basil cuttings. .they were a failure.  I also killed the piece of oregano and thyme that I potted!!
The butterfly weed have been transplanted. .and the tomato and peppers still need to go to bigger pots too! They have really grown just in the last few days!! I have simply not had time to get this task done. .but hopefully this week.
Here is the passion flower vine that I was able to root from my friends garden! I took four cuttings. .the second time. .and left 2 in the water and 2 in rooting hormone and dirt.  The water cuttings never rooted. .but they didn't die either. Finally a month ago or so I took them from the water and put them in soil.  They are both rooting well now! I can hardly wait to see how they do here this summer.
These yellow squash plants will soon go to bigger pots and into the greenhouse. I should have a jump start with those in my garden!
I took out my flower seeds Saturday to see what needs to happen over the next few weeks.  I think I will try to get a jump start on some of them under my grow lights.  I have been itchy to put plants in the ground. .and noticed at Lowes last weekend that they are getting shipments in now.  We are enjoying the nice weather to get outside. .and hope you all are experiencing some springtime yourselves!! Have a great week!