Saturday, April 30, 2011

Changing up the garden

Today I added a new section of vegetable garden for Meg to plant potatoes, hope it is not too late to plant them. She planted them a labyrinth design, it is pretty cool. Then we pulled the kale, rape, mustard greens, half the arugula, radishes and mizuna. These were all bolting and it is time for tomatoes and peppers ect. The wheelbarrow was full and over flowing with bolted greens, I'd say 150 to 200 pounds of them. I feel like a murderer. We did get to eat most of that stuff daily if we wished for 3 1/2 months. The cold frames have been put away.

So on the harvest list we still have red mustard, lots of mixed lettuce and arugula. The sugar snap peas should be producing in a week or so. Also have carrots, green onions, red onions and garlic that could be harvested too. Kohlrabi is pretty big but not bulbing out yet.

The remainder of the French Breakfast Radishes. I'm sure we ate a lot more than this 2-3 pound harvest that is going in the icebox.
Grumpy was pretty thirsty drinking out of one of the birdbaths.
False Solomon's Seal, Smilacina racemosa growing wild in the hellebore garden. Also there is lots of Bellworts too, past flowering.

Speaking of hellebores I harvested some seeds today of Meg's Mother's dark red hellebores and several I for from our friend Breezy. The seeds should be opening in the next few days. Anyone wanting to trade seeds let me know? You can see the hellebores that bloomed this year here.

Last note, the bee hive was installed overlooking to pond today. Hope it is not too close to the Bluebird Box that is now in use. Both bluebird boxes now have residents.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bees and Peas

The time is finally almost here, my bees are due very soon. Not sure I'm ready, we'll see. The hive is in the screened porch. I need to level in 2 concrete blocks over looking to pond for the bees and place the hive on it.
 Not sure  many of you know that Tulip Poplar flowers are the main bee pollen source right now in our area. Followed by blackberry flowers. This Tulip Poplar flower was one of many that were on the ground after high winds the other night. If not for the fallen flowers many of us would not even know the poplar was flowering high up in the trees.

 Here is 'Carolina Moonlight' baptisia, doing very well for a three year old plant. To the right of it is Meg's Sugar Snap Peas, just started flowering two days ago. Oh and that is the garden watch kitty Grumpy on the railing.
Here is another trellis of Sugar Snap Peas nearly 4 foot tall. I see peas on lots of blogs nobody seems to know the best way to plant them. I don't mean to insult anyone by that. This is how Meg plants them. Two rows about 1 foot apart plant the peas thick almost next to each other. Yes I said almost next to each other. You got to plant lots of peas as birds and other varmints will get them, other wise after they get what they can your left with very little pea plants. The yellow flowers at the top of the peas is our kale flowering in the cold frame.

This iris I have had for years, I used to know the name, great showing with three flowers at a time.
Clematis henrii in full bloom. I have had this plant for nearly 15 years. I counted 32 blooms this morning, once fully open maybe 60 flowers will open. Wish I knew how to control it better?
Spiderworts in bloom. I know many of you further south hate these as they are so invasive. Our hard clay and dry summers makes them stay put, so far.

Here is part of the garden. Fava beans in flower in the lower front center, peas at the back left side, the cold frame has bolting kale, to the right of the cold frame bolting mustard greens and rape. The dark green mass in the enter is Swamp Sunflower, massive isn't it. I trimmed it back a lot too!
 This peony I just happened to have a tape measure with me when I took this photo. The tape measure read 6 - 7/8 inches across! I believe the clematis henrii would match this in size too. Hard to believe we get 7 inch blooms in our garden!

Back in the fall when I planted these pansies I never imagined they would look this good in the garden. The pansies will falter once it gets in the 90s here and they will be pulled out. These were grown locally from seed less than a mile from here. The primrose next to it is my oldest primrose over 12 years old, it barely flowered this year and the flowers were stunted.

Sometime this weekend we have to pull up the kale, rape, mustard greens, arugula, muzuna all of which are bolting. And we need to plant potatoes (very late) tomatoes, peppers, basil and other plants we grew from seed.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bottle Wall, Day Six

Seems there is never enough time. The heat is already upon us. Today the fava beans and other plants in the garden were wilting in the heat. I Worked on the bottle wall and wilted also, so much to do. I feel as if I'm ever going to get this done I'm going to need help. Laying the bottles in one job in its self. Fetching and readying the bottles is another job. Then after you set the bottles the mortar needs dressed as it hardens up and then cleaned.
As you can see the darker mortar near the top is the progress I made today. The wall will be rolling up and down, the flower will have a mortar cap at the very top. The right side is close to being done, then the middle needs another flower.
Mid day the blue bottles were glowing in the sun, awesome. Even the concrete was blue for a while under the blue bottles. I was thinking of changing my name to Cobalt for a few minutes. I can't wait to see it without the 2 x 6 supports on the back. It'll be weeks before I have time to get back to it.

I did get a little nature in while working on it. I saw a 7-8 inch snapping turtle in the pond swimming, also lots of Eastern Painted Turtles. We see snappers only once or twice a year here, at breeding time. Also had two good butterfly sighting on the bolted kale flowers first a Hayhurst's Scallopwing and next a Henry's Elfin.

This is it, the last daffodil to open in our garden this year. It is ' Lieke ' and several are still opening. This is from Brent and Becky's own seedlings.  Pretty nice IMO.

This anemone is for Janet, We planted these very late in December or January. A lot of foliage came on and now we have 5-6 blooms like this right now. 
This is two hydrangea plants from the planter we purchased at Costco. The square planter contained 4 plants, this is have to $20 planter. Supposed to be hardy here. I looked online and the mail order nurseries get $24 a gallon pot and up for plants like this!
Here is a portion of our front garden by the driveway. Notice under spider guy the phlox is almost gone. The pansies are looking great, in a few weeks it will be pulled out, they just do not manage 90 degree days very well.  The blue iris was a house warming gift from Meg's sister. Sorry the water feature needs work, it is a mess.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Blue Bottle Flower

Today I worked a bit on the blue bottle flower for the bottle wall. Here is a photo of after I started wiring it up. Seventeen bottles in all! The center will have a light green salad dressing bottle in it.
The plan is to hang this on a support over the bottle wall and start mortaring around it.  It weighs about 40-50 pounds right now. I will be adding welded wire around the outside to hold together the concrete band. Once I get the concrete done and set up I'll cut away the plywood band and the support structure.
Here is the bottle flower on Easter morning! I used some salvaged lumber to brace it in place, it took an hour to do this and the first try was exactly where I wanted it. On to making mortar and adding bottles so the support can be removed. Those are our Sugar Snap Peas in the background, should be flowering in days.
 Meg planted this mixed package of daffodils we bought on clearance at Home Depot last fall. Several of these came up, I really like it any one have a clue to what it might be?
When I moved in here 14 years ago I planted this honeysuckle. At one point it had hundreds of bloom clusters like this one. During the building of the addition  in 2008 it was left growing under the new deck and had been abused by all the building processes. In 2009 I moved it to a new location, the droughts have left it barely alive. This year it has 20 or so bloom clusters so it is making a comeback!! You know when I bought this I did not know the native coral(red) honeysuckle grew at the edge of our woods.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Sea of Blue

Last year we thought the Dwarf Crested Iris did very well in the shade garden. This patch was 10 ft x 10 ft and native when I moved in years ago. In 2008 the new septic field was put in and the irises were left to fend for themselves. Here is last years blooming photo of about half of them.

Now today's photo, many many more blooms. My guess would be 600-700 blooms! Certainly the largest patch of them I have ever seen. What do we do to them? Nothing they are wild, never watered or fertilized.

You can see why my estimate is 600-700 blooms, this is a square foot of them.
 Dr Ruppel clematis is doing better than ever, we have 5 blooms right now.
 Our first Fava Bean blooms, these plants are new to me. The Sugar Snap Peas are a good 2 foot tall, no blooms yet. Meg planted some at school a week or two before ours and she has tons of flowers right now.
Never showed you the bamboo border I did this winter. Here are 20 new daffodil bulbs. The ones on the left are Sir Winston Churchill. The woods behind the daffodils is the main hellebore garden. On Sunday I dug out a new bed and planted 5 of the new double hellebores and several of our own babies.

Here is my current job that I'd doing, another screened in porch. Today I spent all day on a ladder tearing off the little roof over the stairs and building a new roof. The new porch roof will link into the little roof. If I'm lucky I'll have it ready for my roofing guy by Monday. This photo was taken on Monday.

Oh notice the underside of the deck on the left swing mounts(the swings I brought home already), where should they go in our garden?

This is the deck three weeks ago before I started on it. The stairs were scary, very steep (8 1/4 inch rise and 10 inch treads). I have salvaged most of the decking boards and most of the lower deck which was made for kids.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Local Portable Chicken Coops

Meg called me while in Hillsborough at the Eno River Farmers Market about these chicken coops. The people that makes these coops is BassZac Poultry. I was pretty busy but managed to stop by to take a few photos. These chicken coops were very light and portable and not too expensive.

 This one was my favorite. It does have wheels in the back, weight was around 45 lbs.
 Pretty nice. Not so sure about being made out of 2 x 2s.  I'd make them with 2 x3s, just like sturdy and long lasting.

This coop has wheels too. Maybe one day I'll build one of these for our yard. Dot the Jack Russel Terrier does not like chickens, she would kill them for sure.

It is close to time to pull up the mustard and kale, most is going to seed. We got nearly 3 months worth of meals out of those greens. Our baby tomatoes and potatoes need homes in the garden. Potatoes are past time for planting almost.

For those of you wondering about the tornadoes in NC. We were passed by in Durham,Chapel Hill from what I'd heard and have not seen any damage. The tornadoes were the worst here since 1984. We are used to hurricanes every year or two, these storms were real bad. I lost my home to Hurricane Fran back in 1996, so I know the deal entirely.  Hoping all of those who have lost their loved ones and homes can get back to normal as quickly as they can. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Garden Goodies & More Daffodils

Meg pulled our first Carrot last week, here it is with one of the French Breakfast Radishes from the garden.

More of the French Breakfast Radishes. I think these are the best radishes we have grown, very tasty and not as hot as some radishes. I like eating 2-3 as a snack. Our garden is over run with them. The rain so far has made them extra big.
 As many of you might have recalled, I waited for Brent and Becky's end of season sale to get 50% off on daffodils and crocuses last year. For most of March I was thinking this was a mistake, as everything was so slow to come up having been planted so late. Now I have changed my mind.
Above is 'Falconet', I planted it on both sides of the back steps. It is very fragrant and has lots of flowers per stem, this is two stems. I'd rate this one very high on my list of favorites.
Above is 'Sound', it looks a bit like a slightly smaller Ice Follies to me, but is fragrant. The cup is supposed to be a sunset orange cup, to me it seems slightly orange. Wondering if the cone will turn orange as it ages?
 Not 100% sure but I think this is 'Ice Follies' it came in one of those mixed packages of daffodils. The cone should turn white with age.
Here is 'Misty Glen" I bought it locally and planted it in the fall on the dam to the pond. It is supposed to have a greenish cup, looks white to me.
Thought I'd revisit 'Pink Charms' I posted this 7 days ago and said I did not see any pink.  The flower in the front is about 7 days old and has turned slightly pink. The flower on the right is a fresh one and very yellow. These are planted along the driveway.
Above is 'Silver Chimes' it is fragrant and planted next to the gardenia bush in the back yard. I was able to take in the daffodil aromas standing in the backyard 15 foot from the daffodil plantings, misson accomplished! Another new favorite, just love the tazettas like 'Silver Charms' and 'Falconet'.

Here is 'Sir Winston Churchill' planted by the bamboo garden edging.
odorus flore pleno (plenus) Not looking very good, most bulbs did not bloom. Supposed to be a good naturalizer and is very fragrant. Still very unusual.

 Camellia Japonica 'April Dawn' we purchased at Camellia Forest two years ago in a gallon pot. This is the first and only bloom. We both really like this bloom!

 Japanese Roof Irises that I have had for a very long time. Meg brought over some blue ones they are almost ready to bloom.
Crested iris opened yesterday. We have maybe 25 blooms right now and expect 200-300. They are wild in the woods by our septic field.

Dr Ruppel our first clematis of the season. Clematis Armandii  'Snowdrift' did not survive the winter.

Last item. The new hydrangea I bought Meg at Costco. Looks like 4 plants in that pot and only $20.