I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Summer is here....

 June 22, 2022

.....with a vengeance! We are hiding out inside this afternoon. Huge cumulus clouds are tumbling up into blindingly white thunderheads in the sky, and thunder is grumbling and growling around us. The sun is shining, it is hot and humid. 28C (82F), feeling like 40C (104F). We were out early, came in at 11 and back out at 1. Shortly after 2, I'd had enough! The deer flies are brutal, and no matter how well you are covered up, they still get you.

We had a “gulley washer” of a rain event yesterday morning, and puddles formed in the pathways of the field garden. I made elevated beds to plant in, so it did not cause any problems. We were in town and missed the downpour. On the way home along the highway, we went from dry pavement to wet pavement, and as we came up the hill, it was riddled with washouts and a big wall to wall puddle had formed in one of the dips.

I have something chewing off seedlings as they emerge, leaving little stubby stems. The critters, ...earwigs I think, ... have selective appetites, going for cucumbers and nasturtiums, but not the marigolds right beside them. They have had a field day in my carrot patch, and I've had to replant. They like pak choy, but not lettuce right beside it. They have nibbled on my baby turnip and broccoli plants as well. Any white stuff visible in the pictures is a dusting of Diatomaceous earth. 

 We have certainly not been lacking in moisture this spring, as at this point in June, we have had a total of 4 ¾ inches of rain. The temperature has been riding a pendulum, some nights as low as 7C (45F), some days not even getting into the 20's C (68F), then some days like today...brutal. Our favourite weather forecaster says this weather pattern is going to continue for a while. Can't believe we had a small fire on Monday morning to take the chill and dampness off!

I was playing with the settings on my little Canon Elph, and this was called “vivid”. Appropriate for the pansy faces!


The potato plants in the barrels sure look different, the ones on the left are the French Fingerlings, and the ones on the right are the Yukon Gems.


I planted my squash seeds along the side of Bed #1, and will guide the vines to grow out across the patio. Once they get going, we'll move the table.


Cucumbers are across the north end of the field garden, where they will hopefully climb the new fence trellis. There is a double row of glads up the west side, the original 18 or so corms I purchased 5 years ago have procreated into over 70 corms.


Love my glads!

Half of the middle part has been planted in double rows of bush beans, the other half waiting until July, when I'll plant another crop. I don't want to have to process so many all at once. There are 6 brandy wine tomato plants across the width and beyond that, the bean tepee and a zucchini. The Scarlet runner beans have not come up. I am disappointed. I got them at the seed exchange, along with some arugula seeds which also did not germinate.


The lettuce and greens patch, as always, has jumped suddenly into high gear. There always is not enough, or way too much!


The two plum and one crab apple tree in this row were dug up as tiny sprigs at a friend's home, and have grown by leaps and bounds. 


Beyond them, the Flagpole garden is abloom with my perennial red poppies. We recently had a day or so of intense wind, and they are bowled over a bit, but still beautiful.

There will be a handful or two of these beauties. I can see which plants are which now, and plan to root runners from the spring bearers and dig out the ever bearers.


 My beautiful peony is bowed over with blooms. It is tied up, but the downpour yesterday really weighed down the blooms.

The trail cameras have captured a new fawn,


and a cow moose with this year's calf.

The next picture taken was blurry, but showed the cow having a good rub on the tree she is beside....the tree that the camera used to be on! It would not have survived!

 .

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

"What is so rare as a day in June?"

 June 8, 2022

After the beautiful one and a quarter inches of rain that fell yesterday, there is the perfume of "green" in the air today. A zephyr is blowing, the sunshine is warm, and big, fluffy white clouds are drifting over, a perfect June day. Yes, the grass needs to be cut, and so many other chores need doing....but...today is a day to just enjoy.

 I wandered around the yard, checking on all my sprigs and sprouts, seeing new things poking up and other things getting bigger. The gardens are pretty much planted as far as I want to go at this point.

A painted turtle came wandering in the driveway last week


and now seems to be happily ensconced in the pond, basking on the 'turtle log' every day.

The robin chicks are bigger.
June 2

There were four, but I can't see the fourth one in this picture.
June 8

The bluebirds are busy foraging and feeding their young, going in and out of the nest box all day long. The phoebe and chipping sparrow nests are both doing well, their respective parents very busy. 

The potato barrels are topped up with soil as far as they can be now, so I will be just watching them grow!


My rescued peony is going to be beautiful this year. It's loaded with buds.

What do you do with these rhubarb stalks??

There is a meter stick in there to show their size, some of the stalks are half the size of my wrist, and look at that umbrella sized leaf.

Garlic is doing well.

The creeping thyme is spreading nicely among the stones on the walkway I made last spring.

Here is a recent picture off of the trail camera along the trail behind the barn. He/she is just a little critter.
Going back out to enjoy the day now!

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Dandelion conundrum, and planting .....

 May 30. We've had a good inch and a half of rain over the past week, and now the sun is shining. Let the planting begin! Yes, I know I was going to wait until June for the transplants....but....the long range forecast shows double digit lows, so....    (10C = 50F)

Most of the tomatoes just went in,


and all of the peppers.
Their feet are buried deep in compost, with a layer of cardboard directly on the soil surface, then a thick layer of partially composted leaves on top. This has worked very well for me. At the end of the season there is no trace of the cardboard, everything can be turned under and it keeps the bed almost totally weed-free. It conserves moisture in our sandy soil, and in the event of a rainy season, like last summer was, it slows the moisture load, as it has to slowly soak through all those layers. If I need to water the plants, the hose from the water barrels can be put right at the base of each plant. The rocks between the pepper plants absorb heat during the day, then radiate it back overnight. Rocks we have in abundance, and they have many uses!

Garlic and onions are looking good, broccoli and turnips are just showing. New this year is a bean teepee.


We cut a bunch of young poplars and lashed them together, poked them into the soil and I've planted Scarlet runner and Mosteller
climbing beans around the base. It will be fun to watch them reach for the top, then watch the hummingbirds in the blooms. At the other end of the field garden, where I turned over a new section last year, we drove in sturdy posts, then lashed some page wire fencing to lean over to them on a 45 degree angle.

This is a trellis for the cucumbers, not planted yet. It is a new take on the pallet ramp I used last year. Bush beans are going in part of the field garden, and they will be planted soon. There are 6 more tomato plants to go in there as well, and the requisite zucchini. Down one side, I planted my double row of glad corms on the 18th, and today there are 26 poking up!

Between and around all my garden beds, well, just everywhere!, the dandelions put on a good show this spring, and we left them for the early pollinators. Now they've all turned into white fluff balls, and mowing will cause them to waft all over my garden soil. 


Do you suppose taking the vacuum out and sucking them all up would be a good idea?!!

Earlier, I made my own carrot seed tapes, as it is so much more pleasant to sit at the table and space the seeds out with some white glue and a strip of toilet paper, than try to sow them on a windy day, or while being harassed by biting insects. Once the tapes are planted, they are watered, then covered with some rubber matting or boards or black plastic; what ever will cover the patch. I lift up the edge to check daily, and once the seeds germinate, the cover comes off. I've found that germination is relatively quick (for carrots), and the rate is close to 100% using this method.


The French fingerling potatoes and Yukon Gems are growing in the barrels. As they get bigger, I add soil from the white pails to "hill" them.



After the burst of heat mentioned in my last post, the weather stayed somewhat cool, and the explosion of greenery in the bush slowed to a normal rate. Now the usual plants for this time of year are blooming, my lady slipper orchids are in full "pinkness",


fragrant, wild lily-of-the-valley is blooming,

as is the yellow clintonia (blue bead lily).

Star flowers are everywhere,

as well as fringed polygala, (gaywings),

and bunch berry blooms are starting to open.

On the bird front, the bluebirds are now feeding young, the activity at the nest box noticeably increased just a couple of days ago. The male bluebird is finally getting in on the action, taking his turn bringing food to the box.


The phoebes are incubating eggs in their nest up under the verandah eaves. Chipping Sparrows have built a nest in one of the pyramidal cedars in front of the verandah, at the opposite end from the phoebes, and a robin has decided that near the back axle of the old tractor, sort of under the slope of the fender, is a great place to build a nest.

At last count, there were 4 eggs in the nest, and she has started spending a lot of time there. We were waiting until spring moisture dried up to have a trucker come and take the old tractor to the wreckers...now that won't happen for a while!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The games have begun....

 May 14. So...we've had overnight frosts right up to Monday morning of May 9. Since then, the weather has gone crazy, the overnight temperatures rising steadily, 7C, 12C, 15C...,  (45 to 59 F) and over the last couple of afternoons, the thermometer has hit 31C+ (88F). Today, there is an humidex reading. 

The first dandelion showed up just a few days ago, now they are everywhere, as are blooming wild strawberries.


Leaves are open on all the trees, even the oaks have mouse ear sized leaves. The old timers say that is the time to plant corn and beans...May 14???? Not! The last frost date in this area, is usually around May 24, but we've had frost early in June before.

The Spongy moth (aka. Gypsy, then LDD) egg masses  are hatching into zillions of tiny worms. The egg masses closest to the ground that were protected by snow seem to be hatching quicker than ones higher up in the trees.


We are hoping against hope, that at least some of the more exposed ones were winter-killed.

The crab apple tree outside the west window is absolutely loaded with buds, buds that were barely discernible a few days ago.


This morning, I watched a big bumbler forcing his way into one bloom that was  starting to open. The tree is riddled with woodpecker holes, and one wonders how it keeps going...but every second year, it floods us with blooms and crab apples. There are lots of buds showing on two of our favourite apple trees, now if we can just protect them from the Spongy moths......

A 3' X 4' bed of assorted greens has been planted, as well as onion sets and beets. It is very dry, as we've had no measurable rain for a couple of weeks, and the pond is starting to go down. There are thunderstorms in the forecast for later today, and we sure hope they don't come with lightning strikes, as the bush is very dry. 

I've marked out this year's planting arrangement in the field garden, and Hubby has planted a small, newly turned, bed of potatoes. I have two large potato barrels planted, one with 'french fingerling' potatoes, and one with the last of my Yukon gold spuds that were sprouting in their bin.

My daffodils have leapt into life, beating the tulips to blooming, although the tulips were up long before the daffs poked through.


Haskaps are blooming, even the "twigs" I purchased and planted last spring are covered in bloom, spent blossoms starting to drop already.

Phoebes have completed building a neat little nest up on the board Hubby screwed up under the front porch eaves, and I think she is incubating eggs now.


The Bluebirds are still here. Each morning as sunlight from the rising sun slides down the trees and hits a tall trumpet vine trellis near the nest box, they each take a side, perching right up at the top, catching the first rays. The frenetic activity of nest building has stopped, and we think they are also incubating. We'll know things are going good when we see the birds coming and going from the nest box with food for the chicks.

A Baltimore oriole has shown up, announcing his presence with his unmistakable whistle. He is enjoying the new oriole nectar feeder we put out this spring, with a small cup holding grape jelly on the side. We've found that the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks also like grape jelly! 

Humming birds arrived on May 8, two males first, then a female and another male. Within a day, the males were trying to impress the female with their zipping, arcing "look at me and listen to how loudly I can hum!!" pendulum flying. There is a lot of jousting going on around the Hummingbird feeder.

Most of the warblers and thrushes have arrived over the last few days, but we have yet to hear a Wood Thrush. A Whip-poor-will has taken to doing a nightly session of calling fairly close, on the west side of the house. It is sleep-disturbing, but perhaps we'll get used to it??


 


 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The bluebird of happiness....

May 4.    And the misery of covid....  Its been a rough latter half of April. Easter came, and with it, covid. One struggles to figure out where it was picked up, whether whilst shopping the week before Easter, although all the usual precautions were taken; or was it brought from Toronto by our Easter guest? Today, finally, I think I really have it on the run. Don't mess with that beast...I can well see how it would knock out an older, frailer person.

Spring has definitely sprung, and I refused to be trapped indoors. It took a lot of gumption, but every day I bundled up, and was out for at least a bit, checking out the sprigs and sprouts, and breathing deeply. 

The duck couple on the pond, have not been seen for the last few days, but for a while there was a regular bathing session by the female, early morning and at dusk, the male keeping close by her. We think they have a nest secreted back in the bush on the rough east side of the pond.

A phoebe pair is determined to build a nest up over the back door, and we have given up trying to discourage them. They'll just have to learn to live with us! 

The bluebird pair that showed up earlier, have, after a lot of discussion, decided on my nest box!! I am thrilled, and we have set up a telescope at the window so we can watch the proceedings. For days the female was diligently collecting nesting material, the male seeming to watch in puzzlement, and he would often go in the nest box after she'd made a delivery, like he was checking up. Apparently nest building is the female's job, and his is to 'supervise'! At times the female would come to the box, her face full of stuff, and try to get in the hole, but the bits and sticks she had in her beak were too wide. She'd hang on the front of the box by the hole for a moment, after trying unsuccessfully to get in, then fly out in a small circle, and charge the hole! Somehow, she managed to get those beak-fulls in, then out she'd come and go for another load. He would sit on top and peer over the edge, watching the proceedings.  

We tied out a mesh bag of wool roving on the branch of an oak tree, then placed a trail camera there to see who was getting nesting material. The chickadees and nuthatches found it, but the bluebirds have not, so far. 


A few days ago, I got the winter accumulation in my compost bin dug out, watered, and layered back in. There was an icy chunk in the middle that I was able to break up with the garden fork, and now my compost thermometer is showing a rise in temperature, from 58F the first day, to 62F today, and the outside temperature is just 44F.  

Last fall Hubby put the bagger attachment on the mower, and did a final grass cut and collected leaves. He filled the third compost bin, layering it in with water. Today I dug it out, and found that it is somewhat dry, and probably needed more green stuff to get it cooking. It hasn't done much composting, but can be used to mulch around my transplants when they go out in June.

My onion sets arrived in the mail yesterday, and I've had notification that my blueberry bushes are on the way, so got busy and prepped their planting holes. There happened to be one big rock right where I'd spaced the holes out beside my haskaps, so with the help of a pry bar, we got it out. I added lots of compost to the native soil in the planting holes, and will mulch with pine needles.


The haskaps are loaded with buds, and with the forecast calling for sun and warmth over the next week....Things will be popping.  The garlic is going strong now, the hardware cloth is off, and rocks placed to hold the leaf mulch down.


Today, the sun is finally starting to break through after a few days of cool temperatures and overcast, rainy conditions. Once the temperature reaches 50F, I will be taking my seedlings out onto the verandah to start their hardening off. There will be a few days of lugging them in and out morning and evening but after a week or so, they'll be moved over to the cold frame where the lid can be lowered and insulating blankets put over them if needed. 


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Kerfuffle on the pond...

 April 16. Spring is inching along. There have been a few beautiful, sunny, warmish days, interspersed with days of wind, rain, and even a few snow flurries. The frost is mostly out of the ground now, and the pond ice finally disintegrated on the 11th. 


A pair of mallard ducks have taken up residence. There was a kerfuffle on the pond early this morning, when another pair showed up. There was a lot of splashing and chasing, until the usurpers were sent winging on their way by the male, the female calmly watching from up on the grass along the edge.

Finally, I am seeing shoots from the snowdrops and crocus.


 The garlic is poking up about an inch, under the thick mulch of leaves over their bed.
Lilac buds are swelling, twigs of the red maples etched against the sky, are showing a definite thickening and reddening, and there is a very faint haze of green throughout the tops of the aspens, as their buds grow. 

The early spring bird migrants have been arriving. Monday last, the phoebes arrived, along with a blue bird. That was a surprise, as the bluebirds don't usually get here until on into May. He didn't stay long, just checked the place out, flying from clothesline post to solar panel, and was gone. Bluebirds are usually paired up, but this one was alone, so perhaps he is off to seek a mate. 

Yesterday I spotted a white-throated sparrow, and the squabbling red wing blackbirds are still hanging out. I keep telling them to be off and find a cat-tail swamp to set up their territories. As time goes on, they are showing more and more of their red epaulettes, as they jockey for space on the feeder. 

The timberdoodles (woodcocks) are here. On the recent night of the full moon and clear skies, we could hear them 'pweenting' and twittering, pretty much all night.

My shamrock is blooming, a small cheerful pot of blooms.


I didn't bring in any amaryllis bulbs from the cold room this year, as I plan to put them all out in the garden to spend the summer, once we get into consistent above freezing temperatures.

The seedlings under lights are all doing well, and some will soon need to be transplanted into bigger pots.

Slowly, spring is advancing. Soon it will be serious gardening time!