The Veg Garden is In!

Whew, the planting is done!  The last of the veggie seeds were sown this morning, and the last of the seedlings was potted into a container.  Between the seeds, the 300+ seedlings grown inside this winter and the plethora of annuals I purchased, I wasn’t sure I was ever going finish.  The 3 day weekend certainly helped. 

I even managed to weed, edge and mulch the hot border as I planted the dahlias, transplanted some rudbeckia ,and planted a new red rose given to me as a birthday gift.  The hot border, as you may surmise from the name, includes only yellow, red and orange flowers.  It gets both eastern and southern exposure.  The border is ridiculously long from a maintenance standpoint — roughly 75 feet or so — and between 5-6 feet wide.

It’s been a work in progress for the last couple of seasons and I’ve yet to get it where I want it.  I made quite a few additions last fall, including some red peonies, red and orange poppies, and various bright yellow and red lilies. 

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Some no-name red dahlias were added this year, and the David Howard (orange) dahlias were just replanted into the border.  I also just planted some “Orange King” calendula seeds, which reach between 3-4′ tall, and some nasturtium seeds.  I’m hoping the mix of lilies, day lilies, poppies, peonies, rudbeckia, dahlias and annuals will give me color throughout the summer and into the fall.

Once I wrapped gardening for the day, I walked around and tried to capture some of the current blooms, as well as the ever watchful wildlife.

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Don’t you love the wild tufts of hair on the ears?  One of our resident red squirrels.
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Columbine in the shade garden
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A view from the back porch toward the new rose garden and the patio.  The hedge border is still looking mighty bare, but it will take a couple of seasons before the roses and perennials fill out.
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Anchusa Azurea ‘Dropmore’, also known as Italian Bugloss 
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Bleeding Hearts in the new rose garden
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One of several varieties of lilac in the rose garden

Sunday Evening Shots

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Another hot and humid day with little of the promised rain and storms.  We had a very brief downpour early this morning and then nothing but cloudy skies.

Below are some photos from my walk around the property this evening.  The wind has picked up, somewhat alleviating the humidity. 

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Magnolia sits near the rock garden every evening patiently awaiting the chipmunks
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Miss Bateman clematis

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Lupine

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Planting update

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I have most of the vegetable garden planted, other than the pumpkins.  Eggplant and pepper transplants went in on Friday afternoon.  Tomatoes, marigolds, watermelon, zinnias and cosmos went in yesterday.  We’re going on 2 weeks without rain and we’re in a heat wave (high 80s or low 90s the past couple of days), which is depressing and seems to be the new late May/early June norm.  The soil in the vegetable garden is like dust on the surface.  So sad to see.  I spend at least an hour or more watering every morning between the veg garden and the new additions to the mixed borders, since the early days are crucial for seed germination and transplant health.

In stretches of heat and dryness such as this it’s also important to remember to provide fresh water for the birds, chipmunks and squirrels.  Although they are adept at finding water and can draw some moisture from insects and grasses, they seem to appreciate bird baths or shallow dishes of water as well.

Quote of the Day

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“We have a calling: a need to be close to Nature, where she may cleanse our souls and wash away the stresses of yesterday. It is emotional recompense for the cost of living.” — Fennel Hudson

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Not the greatest shot, but note the hummingbird to the left of the Siberian Pea Shrub.  They’ve just started to return to the garden.

 

 

A Visitor Returned

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We first discovered this little cutie in our mudroom late last fall.  It had popped its head out from under the electrical closet door and Nora caught a glimpse.  She wasn’t sure what it was at first and alerted me to our new guest.  I was able to catch a quick glimpse myself at the time – enough to determine that she was a long-tailed weasel.  As former ferret owners, we were thrilled to have such a house guest.  I sat at the open closet door for some time trying to coax her back out, to no avail.  We worried that the little thing wouldn’t make it through the winter under the house or in the foundation, wherever it resided.

But it would seem she did!  The other day Nora snapped this photo and sent it to me while I was at work.  Magnolia and Tilly had alerted her to the weasel’s presence.  She must still be using the space under the mudroom as her base camp, and we’re assuming one of her points of ingress and egress is under the steps leading out into the dog area.  I just love her inquisitive face!

The “Three Sisters”

And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.  –  Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s TravelsIMG_4700.JPG

It was spectacular over the weekend, so I spent a lot of time out in the gardens weeding and planting.  I was able to get ¾ of the beds planted in the vegetable garden.  I’m still hardening off the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, so they won’t go in the ground for another few days.  But I was able to get most of the vegetable seeds planted, other than the pumpkin patch which I will tackle this weekend.

I haven’t planted corn in the veg garden for several years because it was just too depressing to lose most of it to our very persistent crows.  But with some pressure from my other half, I caved this year and bought some seed to try it again.  I decided though, after my permaculture reading of late (and listening to my youngest brother who’s been using this method for the past couple of years), to give the “Three Sisters” method a whirl.

For those unfamiliar with the term, it was/is a planting method used by some of the Native American tribes to grow their 3 staple crops – corn, beans and squash.  It’s a natural fit for the permaculture crowd because the method makes use of the symbiotic relationships of these 3 types of plants. 

In theory (not having tried this yet, it’s all “in theory”), the corn grows first creating a pole for the beans to wrap themselves around.  The pole beans (they can be any variety – I planted Kentucky Blue pole beans) fix nitrogen in the soil, which in turn feeds the corn.  The squash plants (this should be a vine growing squash rather than a tall sprawling mass like a zucchini or yellow squash variety) provide shade to retain moisture in the soil and keep the weeds at bay.  The prickly leaves also act as a deterrent for some pests.   I planted a table acorn squash.

From a permaculture standpoint, the three vegetables also provide nutritional essentials for human survival – starch/sugar/fiber from the corn, protein from the beans, and vitamins from the squash.

For anyone interested in trying this method, you create a small mound about 8-10” wide and 2” high and plant 3-4 kernels of corn in the center; then plant 3 bean seeds at different points around the mound.  Create each mound 3 feet from the next and plant your squash half way between the mounds.  That’s all there is to it.  I’ll take photos throughout the growing season to document how well it works….if the crows don’t pluck the corn seedlings that is!

Mid-Spring Close-ups

Some photos from the past couple of days…the days and evenings have warmed and the trees and flowers are now draped in their spring finery.

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Forget-me-nots
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The Siberian Pea Shrub, which we affectionately call the Weeping Russian 
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Empress Wu hosta beginning to unfurl and sparkling with early morning dew
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A pair of allium afflatunense “Purple Sensation” – they have a magnificent globe shaped head of tiny flowers once opened
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A bee happily sampling the flowering crab apple (look closely at the center blossom)
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A tiny spider resting on the Japanese Anemone

 

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One of our crab apple trees in full bloom
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The lilacs are beginning to open as well