Friday, May 21, 2010

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Water on a Collard Leaf

As I was washing the collard greens my neighbor gave me, the beads of water on the leaf caught my eye.  As you already know, I will take a photo of almost anything, and this was no exception.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hay Bale Gardening

I promised last week, and again day before yesterday, that I would post about my venture into Hay Bale Gardening. The method is simplicity itself.
1 - Purchase/acquire the number of hay bales you think you will use; Gardening Daughter brought me four.
2 - Align or space bales as desired; mine are in a "U" configuration (photo above.)

3- Bore holes into the bales to the depth of about half way into the bale and remove hay.
4 - Scoop out a bit more hay around the sides of the bottom of the hole.
5 - Add potting soil,  packing a bit into the extra space created at the bottom.  (photo above)

6 - Plant desired plants. 

Already in place in my bales are several cucumber plants (photo above), three varieties of peppers (Tam Jalapeno, Sweet Banana, and Italian Roasting - the taller plants in the first photo), and two tomato plants.  There are several holes ready for planting. At least one, perhaps two, of them will receive Italian Flat Bean seeds. These are the "bush" variety, and should need no support.  "Kentucky Wonder" pole beans will be planted along the fence. I've told my neighbor, the one who has been bringing me all the delicious meals (see previous post,) that she could pick whatever showed up on her side of the fence.  Last year, we had the same arrangement when the tomatoes she planted on her side of the fence sent out shoots to my side -- which eventually bore at least a half dozen fine tomatoes.   Yum!

In addition to the plants in the bales, Gardening Daughter planted some potatoes inside the "U."  The seed potatoes were laid on bare dirt, then covered with about 6" of hay. The idea, as I understand it, is that as the potatoes sprout and leaves begin to emerge from the hay, one just keeps adding hay to the top (not covering the leaves, of course) and the new potatoes grow into the hay. No dirt on the potatoes when you harvest them.  We'll see how this works out! I have to laugh a bit; Gardening Daughter is doing her best to turn me into a farmer!

I'll keep you posted as the crops "come in."

More, later.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Playing Catch Up: The "other" Iris; Other Flowers; Stuff and Junk


This is the other Bearded Iris I mentioned in my last post.  A pretty thing, isn't it? I'm glad I got the photo when I did; Sunday's 5.5" downpour, which fell in about 45 minutes, beat the remaining bloom to pieces. 


Other flowers in my yard are starting to bloom.   Yay, Spring!    The hybrid day lilies are in full bud; the first one, shown above, opened this morning. I no longer remember its name; it's one of three varieties that my Virginia sister sent me several years ago.
"H-14," the otherwise unnamed day lily that I mentioned last week and in June, 2009, is full of buds and about ready to pop. I expect to see multiple blooms any day now. 

Last year, Gardening Daughter and I created a window box that I can easily see from my kitchen, and it's generally the first thing I look at each morning.  I planted in it two pots of multi-colored Calabrachoa (Million Bells) and four small pots of Sweet Alyssum.  I had no idea at the time how much pleasure it would bring me.


The spent flowers do not have to be picked off for it to continue to bloom, and it has made a lovely cascade. All in all, a most satisfactory plant. It receives the morning sun, but is shaded from the strongest heat of the day.


I've been under the weather for the past week, having developed a particularly nasty sore throat on Tuesday last, which turned itself into general upper respiratory symptoms with lots of coughing; I seem to be prone to this sort of illness.  It's going around town, and must be transmittable by telephone, as my Nebraska daughter reported yesterday that she had almost exactly the same symptoms. No fever, just extreme discomfort.  Biological warfare, that's what it is!

Next door neighbor, about whom you will hear a bit more on Thursday, has been keeping me supplied with edibles. Earlier last week, she delivered meatballs and spaghetti sauce, collard and turnip greens cooked with ham, cooked pinto beans, pot roast with rice and sides of green beans and toasted garlic bread. I asked her if she had "taken me to raise," but she assured me that these were leftovers from her cooking for her two adult sons.  All were gratefully received; I didn't have a lot of energy to devote to preparing meals.

This afternoon, she called to ask me if I felt up to "messing with" some collard and turnip greens. Her nephew, who lives in a neighboring town, has a large garden and keeps her supplied with all sorts of fresh veggies.  I accepted from her a large bag of collard greens, a large bag of turnip greens, a bag of beautiful leaf lettuce, and four lovely spring onions. It took me a while (ah... several hours, between sit-downs) to get them all picked over, thoroughly washed and bagged for the refrigerator.  There are some good eats coming.  The lettuce is already earmarked for Wilted Lettuce, like my mama used to make.  If you've not ever had that particular Spring delicacy, you've been missing something tasty!!

After picking and washing and bagging, I know why these particular veggies are known as a "mess" of greens!  I surely did make a mess!

I promised I would post about Hay Bale Gardening, but enough is enough, and that post is already written and scheduled for Thursday.

More, later.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Today I Mow,

Tomorrow, I rake.
The next day ... (fill in the blank)
For "Patty-stiltskins" is my name.

I worked in the yard this morning, mostly using the Weed Eater around the edges. I  did pull a few creeping weeds, and trimmed a couple of unruly vines. By 11:30, I was more like soggy toast than a human, so I came into the house to put a cold cloth on my head. My northern European genes have failed me, again.

As those of you who have read my blog for a while have learned, I am a daylily fancier. However, I may have to expand my repertoire of "plants I love" to include Bearded Iris.  Gardening Daughter brought me a few Iris rhizomes from last fall's Iris Society sale. We planted them in the front garden which she created for me.  The first to bloom was the beauty below; its name is known only to God and the grower. 

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There is another one in bloom, but as luck would have it, as I was searching for a name on the one pictured above, I broke off the bloom.  There are a couple more buds on that plant, so I am hopeful that I can get a photo of it. It's a very, very pale rosy pink and the bloom is much smaller than the one that bloomed last week.

I have intentions of attending the Bearded Iris sale coming up this fall!

While I was toodling around in the day lily beds, I noticed that "H-14" (see last June's post, if you're interested, by clicking on the link) has two large flower spikes, and generally looks very healthy.  Hooray! I can hardly wait for that one to get large enough to divide; I can see a home for one of its offspring in the front garden.

In the next few days, I hope to post about my new venture: Hay Bale Gardening.

More later -- when I've cooled off!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Still Here, Still OK

There were actually a greater number of tornadoes in Arkansas yesterday, Saturday, than occurred on Friday. Fortunately, there was not as much damage, and no reported fatalities as of this writing.   Although my locality was under a tornado warning, none materialized in the vicinity. The severe thunderstorms that did accompany the front didn't hit my area until around sunset and, again, there was torrential rain. This morning my rain gauge contained 5.5 inches, making a total of almost 15" of rain in approximately 36 hours.  I should not have to water for a while.

I checked the bird feeders about an hour ago. The finch-feeders remained dry, hanging as they do under the fig tree with its large leaves, but my other two feeders contained a sodden mess of uneaten seeds.  I had to empty both, and pressure-wash one of them, the large safflower seed feeder, to remove the yuck. It's now turned upside down on my patio to dry out.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak, image Wikipedia

A Rose-breasted Grosbeak, who has been visiting for the past few days, favors the safflower feeder.   I just peeked out the office window and discovered that he (for it is a male) has discovered the fresh supply of safflower seeds, and has made himself at home on the substitute feeder, which has a much more narrow perch.  Gladdens my heart, it does. Unfortunately, Grosbeaks are transient birds, so it won't be long until he is on his way.  I've not spied a single Indigo Bunting today; they may have left before the storms.

The sun is shining and there is no foul weather in the forecast, so I'm looking forward to a good week.

More, later.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

All Is Well Here, For the Present, Anyway

We had a very bumpy, tornado/lightening/thunder/torrential rain-filled night.  The lightening display was incredible, and lasted for hours.  There was no reported damage in my town other than tree limbs down, that I've heard of, but terrible damage and several fatalities in other Arkansas communities, two of them relatively nearby.  I ask your thoughts and prayers for the families affected, especially those in Scotland, Arkansas, a small community in north central Arkansas where the fatalities occurred.

I emptied my rain gauge this morning. I don't know what the exact amount of rainfall was on my property since the gauge was full and running over. It measures approximately nine (9) inches, and was completely empty yesterday afternoon.  It's raining hard, again, but only sporadically.  The weather bureau forecasts another band of storms moving through the state during the day. I hope it's just rain, this time.

More, later.