Sunday, May 29, 2022

A Frustrating Start To The Season

Working with weather conditions is something we have to do, but it sure can put a great big ol' klinker in your plans.
Here we are in the midst of Memorial Day Weekend with fog, heavy rains and possible severe storms dictating activities.  Plans for outdoor get-togethers and recreating have had to be changed.  My plans for projects outside here at home on our little homestead are thwarted, too.
There's another landscaping berm box built and set in place that wants to be filled with dirt.  If the rain stops long enough it's possible I can work on that today.  It will be dictated by whether the black dirt pile isn't a packed mound of mud.
My season's painting project is definitely on hold as the wood trim on the house actually feels wet.
Two days ago, working together, Papa Pea and I got the grassy areas within our growing area mowed.  But what a job it was.  Cool, wet growing conditions are definitely to a lawn's liking and the grass was high and wet in about half the area.  I did manage to get much weed whipping done around the perimeter of all the growing areas and the raised beds.
Our wonderful small engine repair man/friend got my Mantis tiller back in working order (boy, did I miss it when it was out of commission) and returned to us.  Happily, the fix was minor and his charge was two dozen eggs.  I put the tiller to work edging around our flat growing areas after I finished my part of the mowing.  That night, the rains began again.  So now if the rain would stop and give the soil a change to dry out, I could get some tilling and planting done.
Last year at this time we were bemoaning the extreme spring dryness and heading into a season of drought and fire danger.  This year we're experiencing way too much moisture causing areas of flooding, road closures and structures on lake shores sustaining damage.
As the old nursery rhyme goes, "Rain, rain, go away, come again another day."  I don't want to complain too much, though, just in case Mother Nature might throw in a twist and abruptly bring last year's much-too-dry conditions back.  One can never be sure with the weather. 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Another Gloomy Day

Nope, I'm not depressed by the dawning of another soggy, sunless day.  I've my choice of more than enough interesting things to do.

Yesterday my daughter, who's on a cleaning, sorting, organizing binge, gave me this attractive (and substantial as I think it may weigh 'bout the same as I do) basket.  She used to keep folded quilts in it when she had a larger living space.

It will go into my quilt room and perhaps hold some of the overflow of quilts I'm currently trying to store in my coffee table.  Or maybe I'll put all my unfinished projects in it along with a trip alarm that will guilt me every time I walk past it.
She also gave her dad and me a box of her DVDs to look through and borrow any that we might like to watch.  I now have a stack of those that appeal to me and Papa Pea has a similar stack of his own.  (Ne'er the choice of movies will meet?)  I made the comment that I wished it was winter time so I could snuggle on the couch with a quilt to watch all the ones that I chose.  Then I brought myself up short realizing that if I'm going to continue to work toward more of a balanced life, there's no reason to not take/make and enjoy the time to do so even during this busy spring/summer/fall season.  Right?  Right!

All of you who have read my blog over the years know that I'm a big fan of rhubarb.  I check those gorgeous red stalks nearly every day now eagerly waiting for them to be ready to harvest.  What will I make with them first off?  Most likely my very favorite cake.  If you love rhubarb the way I do, you can find the recipe here.
Well, this damp, cool weather is wonderful for growing grass and even the hardy dandelions are starting to pop out within our mowed areas.  And mowing is what we may have to do soon (if it ever dries up enough) as the length and lushness of the grass continues to thrive.
In the meantime, I'm patiently (ha!) waiting for sunshine, warmth and my trusty Mantis tiller's return.  It's currently ailing and in the shop of a talented small engine repair guy/friend who has promised to get it back up and running as soon as possible.  As often happens, I didn't truly realize how much I use it until I didn't have it to use.  Goes to show I need to be consciously more appreciative of all I have to appreciate in my life! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Where's My Crew of Six?

Actually, I might be able to keep a crew of ten going.  For at least a couple of weeks.
Anyone who has a small homestead and a large garden knows how very much there is to be done outside at this time of year.
I've already mentioned we're working on building, filling and planting out landscaping berm boxes up against the south side of the house.

Praise be, our daughter is helping us with that project two days a week.  (The girl can't seem to stand having any time off.  That's a total fib, but it's to our great advantage and appreciation that she has consented to give us this time.)

Although I wanted to get all the trim on our house painted last year, it simply didn't happen.  Yesterday I finally started on the first window which is directly above where the plantings will go in the first berm box.  (Seemed like a good place to start.)  Got the first coat on but, drat and darn, it's gonna take a second coat to get good coverage.  I knew that but chose to pretend one coat would do it.  Silly me.

It would be lovely if I had my shell peas and potatoes planted by now, but due to one (or three) repair problems with the Gravely garden tractor Papa Pea uses to prep the soil for me, the only sign of this happening soon is the row marking stakes I got up yesterday.

We've been calling this the "new" gardening area for a couple/few years now, but haven't rushed into doing any of the perennial planting there yet.  Plans are for a new raspberry patch, new blueberry patch, new strawberry patch and it seems Papa Pea would like to see about six or seven other things go in there, too.  So far, we've concentrated on improving the soil, keeping it free of weeds and endlessly picking up rocks.  We've now ascertained the 20' x 53' area is adaptable to growing rocks very successfully.
Rain is predicted for this afternoon and the next couple of days so I'd better get out and get that second coat of paint on those windows right quick this morning.  Or maybe I should plant the potatoes.  Or the peas.  Or the other 20+ raised beds that are still empty.
So where is that crew of my workers to help?  I'd even have the cook serve them a delicious lunch.  Oh, wait.  That's right.  The cook hasn't shown up yet either. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Wet But Warmer

A catch-up posting here.  As often happens, our weather has turned from will-winter-never-end to summer's-here.  The rains have also been wild with lots of lightning and thunder.
In the past 24 hours we've gotten over 2-1/2" of rain which, added to the snow melt and recent previous rainfalls, have caused wash-outs on several county roads in our area.  All streams and waterways are rushing and gushing like we've not seen in years.
Two days ago, with a slight drying of soil, Papa Pea got my flat gardening areas tilled for the season.  Now that the areas are ready, it will be several days before it's dry enough that I can think of planting peas and potatoes, the two crops I would have liked to have had in by now.

Do you think we went a bit overboard with the pruning of these two apple trees?  Sadly, they're in the process of being taken down as they've lived out their productive years and are no longer able to give us more than a few apples.  New trees have been planted to take their place.
I've got a few of my raised garden beds planted.  Onions are all in the ground as are turnips and carrots.  Trellises for other veggies are in place.  As soon as the soil is dry enough, lots of other cool weather crops will go in.
The strawberries are weeded and there's all but a few feet of mulch between the rows left to be put in place.  The bed is getting old and I wish I had the time to start new plants in a different area but this spring is chock full of too many projects already so that will have to go on the list for a year from now.

Speaking of strawberries, last weekend I finished this small piece.  I had the x-stitching done last year but couldn't decide how to go from there.  I finally went with simple, added the red border and it's now a small 8-1/2" square pillow that will sit as decoration on a shelf.  Strawberry harvest will start for us right around the end of June/first of July so it will be ready for that this year. 
The busy time out-of-doors has begun and my first-of-the-season achy gardening muscles have almost disappeared.  Onward with the planting and then obsessively watching it all grow.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Okay, I Lied

Remember how I said, several times, I wasn't putting a seed or transplant into my garden until June 1st this year?  Broken promise, shattered promise.  Already.
Spring has finally sprung and winter is (almost) forgotten.  There's still that stubborn line of snow down past the blueberry patch, but a couple of days ago while getting some of the raised beds in shape for the season, I found the soil to be actually warm a couple of inches down.  So here's my admission.  I couldn't stop myself from planting my onions.  Yes, I did it and I'm glad. 
Plus, even though I've vowed to give up trying to grow the lovely Sweet Pea flowers because of their extremely poor showing for me the last few years, I planted them late yesterday (after soaking the seeds for 24 hours) at the base of the hoop trellis over one of the raised beds.  One more chance, little Sweet Peas, and if you fail me again this year, our friendship is over.
Our fall-planted garlic was uncovered a few days ago and the little green shoots have shot up to 3" tall.  Mulch also has been removed from the mint bed and, as usual, it looks deader than a door nail.  I think I've finally learned that it's not (some people, and perhaps plants wake up slowly) and will begin to show life if I'm just patient.
The asparagus bed has had all the old fern debris removed (ugh, what a job) and made pretty in anticipation of the first spears to appear.  I spent a good part of the day yesterday removing all the winter mulch from the strawberries.  Now to watch for a couple of days to see how many weeds pop up among the plants, then remove them and mulch between the rows and around each plant to make for clean picking around the end of June.
Our temperatures look good for the coming week although there's a bit of moisture in the forecast including that for today and tomorrow.  But I feel confident the gardening season has begun.  Lots of cool weather crops that can go in right now including peas, potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots, radishes, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard.
You know where I can be found for the next couples weeks.  Eating crow and burying lots of little vegetable seeds in the soil in the hope and anticipation of a bountiful harvest in a couple/few months.  Let the gardening begin! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Good Morning, Sunshine!

After a weekend of rain, about 2" total, and a very gray day yesterday, it's invigorating to see the sun this morning.  We've had lots of drippy, foggy weather lately which hasn't done much for drying out garden soil or perhaps even driving the frost out of the ground.  What we need now is a noticeable rise in temperature with some warmth to convince us spring will actually arrive.

Yesterday I finally could see little buds of daffodils pushing up through the soil.  Well, it's about time!  No great showing yet, but at least they're still alive.  My chives are about 2" high, but looking as though they could use an infusion of warm weather.  The horseradish root planted last year has green shoots about the same height as the chives.

The snow down at the far south end of the garden next to the woods line is always the last to melt.  But considering only the very tip-tops of these haskap berry bushes were visible for most of the past winter, you can see that about three to four feet of snow has melted.

These are the last of my yellow onions from last season.  I still have about 1/3 of a milk crate of red ones in the basement, but a few of them are starting to show healthy sprouts.  Darn.  Not much to do because they have a way of knowing when it's (technically) spring and they have the urge to start growing.

This year for the first time we've had a small "pond" form in the middle of our backyard/driving area.  This morning we can tell it's decreased in size considerably (maybe the frost is coming out of the ground) from what it has been.  But why did it appear this year?  I suppose the frost in the ground formed in a different configuration?  At any rate, it does seem to be going away, but we may end up having to fill in a low spot when all is said and done.  It was a sight to see this weekend when a gorgeous Wood Duck landed in the puddle and tried to paddle around.  We also have seen a pair of Mallards and what we think are Bufflehead ducks (not sure of that identification) on our real pond.  All the ice has left the pond and the run-off from the hills behind us has filled it to about a quarter inch of flowing over the overflow!  A darn sight different than the pitiful puddle it shrank down to last summer.
We have one of the new landscaping berm boxes finished.  (Thanks to our daughter's carpentry skills and effort.)  Pictures will be coming soon!