Thursday, July 04, 2013

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Turns out if you put a whole bunch of full yard waste bins around a stump, they'll take the stump as yard waste too. (I was kind of getting fond of that stump... there goes the idle plan to buy a fire pit and have a yule-log style bonfire. Oh well... I don't need a fire pit.)

At least, the hook didn't fall out of the crack between when I hung it up and when I went inside. We'll see if it's still hanging tomorrow. (This is my second or third attempt at reattaching the hook, which is why I'm somewhat pessimistic. Each time I try a different method, though, so perhaps I'll come across one that holds.)

I think the brown stripe of epoxy adds a touch of "this snail has *lived*" attitude. I'm not sure why the epoxy turned brown, but it's kind of fun.

*sigh*... it fell while I was tying it to the basket. After I glue it *again* (bright side: I found more of the tiny pieces this time, since it was lighter out, so I'll be able to fill in one gap that didn't fill with epoxy), I'll move the hanging basket to the lawn before trying to tie the snail on.

I noticed some allium in my neighbour's yard waste bin that hadn't been collected (she's got a bunch, so I don't know if the "weeding" was on purpose or accidental), so I took the bulbs to plant in my garden (I don't have any), and two of the flowers looked nice so I stuck them in a vase.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Monday (Canada Day) was *hot*. Bursts of gardening were interspersed with relaxing under my new patio umbrella, watching the birds:

A sampling of the birds I saw (photos cropped quite a bit):

Lady Goldfinch:
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Mr Goldfinch:
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Yes, they all like the side farthest away from me. It could be because it's closer to the branch perches, more private, and out of the sun... but I still say they're hiding from my camera. Mr Goldfinch is particularly skittish... I suppose he has to be, being that brightly coloured. It would be like having an "eat me" sign.

Goofy sparrow:
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(I missed a funny shot later, where a sparrow was sliding around on Mr Hoot's head... Mr Goldfinch was also, amazingly, on the side of the feeder facing me... but, of course, my camera wasn't within reach that time.)

Lady sparrow?
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(It turns out the sparrows enjoy the finch feeder too.)

Crow passing through:
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There was a nuthatch, but I wasn't able to get a photo of him. Little red squirrel yelled at me occasionally too.

Here's a "before" shot of the garden under the spruce:
And here's a (mostly) "after" (I planted a few more creeping thyme plants after this):
Changes: I sawed off two dead limbs, removed the ugly bit of chain link fence, potted up an impatient cutting a neighbour gave me last fall (I didn't kill it! Yay!), planted more hostas, a blue monkshood, and my impulse-buy marigolds (filler while I wait for the perennials to fill in). I also did a bit of weeding, and thinned out some of the volunteer sunflowers, but I need to thin the main patch as well. The trash can lid is acting as a bird bath until I get something nicer. (I'm thinking of making a concrete rhubarb leaf one!) I tried to get some diatomaceous earth for the mosquito larvae, but no one in Canadian Tire and Home Depot had a clue what I was talking about. I'll have to go to a real garden center.

But the big story... are you ready?!? I dug the vegetable garden!!! It was... uh... kind of dark by the time I finished:
And I only dug it once (except for where I put the watermelon seedling, that got a quick second dig to mix in some peat moss), so I'll have to do another digging of it next weekend... but *finally*! Of course, the part by the fence acting as a perennial holding pen also needs proper digging, given that I just did barely enough to plop the plants in last fall before the snow hit... but I can't do that until I've moved the perennials. Here's the same photo taken today when the sun was up:

Oh... and closing the back gate knocked my snail out of the flower pot again, and this time he flew to pieces:
Since it's kind of hard to glue and assemble at the same time, and he's hollow, I decided to try an experiment: I taped the pieces together, making sure to cover any holes, then drizzled epoxy down the main drainage hole. If it doesn't stick together when I take the tape off, I'll glue it again. Once Humpty Dumpty is together again, I'll *tie* him to the basket with some invisible thread. (He doesn't hook on very securely.)

Monday, July 01, 2013


I started off today with a quick trip to Home Depot and Canadian Tire. I returned the blueberry that had died (probably at least partially my fault, although the other blueberry is doing fine), and bought four tomato cages (since there was a very good chance I'd manage to plant those four tomatoes sitting on my patio), a stake, a trowel (actually, a set that included a trowel, cultivator, weeder and kneeling pad, since it wasn't much more than an individual trowel) because my other trowel seems to have wandered off, a patio umbrella (to put in the stand my uncle gave me), plus this adorable little mushroom toad house:
I doubt it will ever have a toad, but it's cute even if it doesn't. (In moister areas, do toads actually hang out in these?)

Here's my much-neglected front garden:
I've been neglecting it since the weeds aren't terribly noticeable, and I really want to get the vegetable gardens done while there's still time to put things in. (Yes, it's probably too late for this year, but please don't burst my bubble.)

I did tie up the weigela since I now had a stake. Before:
It probably needs to be pruned or something too... but not until after it finishes blooming. A least now it's less likely to be abused by my lawn-mowing neighbour.

Yay, dirt and plants in the raised bed:
It's probably *way* over-crowded, but... well... better there than on the patio! I put in four cherry tomatoes, a strawberry that was in the "holding area" (I think this is where I want it), my birdhouse gourd (I doubt I'll actually get gourds, it's pretty late), plus four things that are either onions or leeks... I think three of one type and one of the other, but I can't remember which is which. (Note to self: label things better.) I figure the tomatoes will grow up while the gourd grows horizontally, and I'll just make sure the gourd doesn't smother the strawberry. The onions/leeks, well, I have a bunch started, they're also vertical, and maybe they'll keep some bugs off the other plants.

Argh, the elm has some sort of leaf miner:
I found this bizarre larva dude when I pulled off the infected elm leaves:
Hmmm... googling... this might actually be a ladybug pupae! Cool! (I'll have to rescue it from the yard waste bin tomorrow... I think it's on top, so it should be easy.)

I discovered that one of the plants my neighbor had been mowing was indeed a flower (I stopped him by putting some log stepping stones in front to protect it)... it appears to be some kind of white harebell:
(It's kind of hard to spot amongst the anemone here, which is also white.)

And, why not, here's an "after" shot of the rhubarb I hacked away at yesterday:

I was in the garden for less than two hours today, between sleeping late, shopping, and family dinner.

Oh well... good thing I still have Monday! :D

How my garden grows...?

...Like a jungle, if you're talking about weeds.

In an effort to not get dehydrated, instead of just taking a large water bottle outside for my Saturday gardening efforts, I also took an entire pitcher of water, plus some iced tea mix:
(There's something about Good Host Iced Tea that goes together with working outside on a hot day. Plus I accidentally bought a second tin last summer without realizing I had a nearly-untouched tin at home, so I have a lot of the stuff. And I figured it would help stave off the shaky feeling I sometimes get after working outside in the heat for a while.) How did it go? I finished off both the water bottle *and* the pitcher, and had a dry mouth and very little urge to use the loo when I came inside six hours later. Perhaps I should have had two pitchers...

Anyway, here's some random photos of my garden:

Plums are growing:
(And tiny ones are falling off... I should probably look into what cross-pollinates with a Pembina plum.) Some of the plums are marked:
Maybe dad's right, and it is the squirrels eating them, rather than racoons.

Some branches on the plum weren't looking very happy, so I pruned them off. I'm rather disturbed by this:
That does *not* look like a happy branch! What is the culprit? Two possible suspects are these things that look like scale insects:
And something that caused the wounds on the branch:
I'll have to do some research...

I just like this photo of the flowers on my green onions:
They're both similar to and different from the flowers on my chives.

I can't wait until my garlic is ready:
I'm so excited!!! Mmmm... garlic I grew myself! I'm going to need to plant much more, though... I'd really love to be able to harvest enough to last me a year (assuming I can get it to keep that long) plus have cloves to plant for the next year. I'm working towards that!

I actually did make real progress on the vegetable gardens:
This is the second raised bed to be set into dirt, and by the time I went in on Saturday evening, it was half full of dirt, as you can see here. From another angle:
I left space between it and the walks on two sides because I figured it would be nice to have a bit of room to play with when I lay the bricks properly, and I'd like to get the driveway done properly sometime, and don't want the raised bed to get in the way. I may have cut it a bit close as it is... I suppose I'll find out later.

I decided on Saturday that I have gardening ADD. When I suggested this to a neighbour, he said it was called "having too much to do". Perhaps. I went out on Saturday with the express plan of digging the vegetable gardens and filling raised beds. What I actually did:
- pulled random weeds in various places
- watered plants waiting to be planted plus the hanging basket in the back
- turned the compost in the composter that I have going
- decided the compost was looking pretty good, and so mucked with the dirt beneath the second composter so that it sat a bit more level so I could start using it
- put the remainder of last fall's leaves in the second composter
- moved the extra irises that were still alive to where the leaves had been (and put the dead & rotting bits in the composter)
- threw out the remaining scraps of carpet being used as weed barrier
- pruned a few branches on the plum
- pruned a few plum suckers and volunteer Manitoba maples (I'll worry about the roots later... this will at least stunt them)
- moved the second suet bird feeder from the plum tree to the much more popular location in the spruce (the one there is empty again, and I think I'll wait until fall before buying refills again... although the sparrows were enjoying the suet on Sunday)
- pulled the rhubarb leaves (plus stalks) that were covering the walkway or had been beaten up by the rain
- sat and watched the goldfinch
- set and half filled a raised bed

Notice how low on the list the raised bed is? >_< I did double-dig (well, at least quickly) under the raised bed to remove as many weed roots as I could. There was a bit of a hump where I put this raised bed, plus turning the soil and digging the post holes produced a significant amount of dirt already inside the bed, so I added the coco earth to it to loosen it, and will keep my fingers crossed that all the rocks still there (I tossed the larger ones into the driveway) won't prove too much of a pain.

Observation: if you over-hydrate coco soil and leave it to sit for a few weeks while more rain falls on it... it has a rather sulphury smell when you finally dig it in to the garden. (Whoops.) Well, at least it's doing its job now. I used it all in the dirt you see here, and so had to use peat moss in the dirt I added Sunday.

Sunday's gardening in the next post.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cross Stitch

I want to make these chickens:
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Aren't they awesome? (Turns out the lady hosting one of Saturday night's parties is also a crafter.)

Garden Update: Jungle Edition

Uh... I still have a bunch of stuff waiting to be planted, and one of the blueberries (blown over in this photo) doesn't look so good:
(I need to check if the Home Depot warranty on plants covers neglect by idiot homeowners.)

"Before" shots:

Here you can see five more plants waiting to be planted (one of which got planted Saturday, so that I could use the pot to give a volunteer raspberry seedling beside it to the neighbour), volunteer sunflower seedlings that need thinning, and weeds are popping up. I pulled the tops off a few of the weeds, but I need to go back and dig out the roots.

Egad, it's a jungle back there! Black raspberries are going crazy (as you can see, they still haven't been transplanted from beside the house to beside the fence), plus thistles, grass, and Manitoba maple saplings I need to dig out.

My one planted raised bed has things growing:
Of course, I have no idea what anything is with this "toss seeds in randomly" method. I may need to plant a few labelled rows just for identification purposes. I'm hoping things will get a bit more evident later.

More jungle:
Onions (walking and green) doing well, some garlic looking very promising, and others look like I'll be able to spot them when I dig them up later this summer. (Some of the garlic was started from seed, and so takes a bit longer.) Unfortunately, the weeds are also looking very lush.

My field of dandelions is looking less fluffy:
(My apologies to those downwind. I *will* get to these, I promise.)

This weekend's goal:
Dispose of this section of carpet, dig the soil underneath plus adjacent weedy bits to remove weed roots, dig again to turn in coco earth, then plant.

Progress accomplished:

Found a mouse while turning the compost (did I mention I have gardening ADD?):
Since "killing it in my gloved hands" seemed a bit cruel, I decided to take it to the cemetery to see if it might find somewhere over there it liked living enough that it didn't come back. However, since I didn't want to squish it on the way there, it managed to wriggle free when I was only halfway there, about two houses over. Oh well... maybe it'll like my neighbour's yard better than mine? (Sorry, neighbour.)

Removing the biggest piece of carpet and the railroad tie, I found a rather large ant colony:
Hopefully turning the earth will be sufficient to convince them to move elsewhere. Otherwise I'll try that thing where you boil up some rhubarb leaves... I've got lots of those. (Speaking of which, a number of them got *pounded* in today's rain... several were nothing but the ribs. My neighbour said that water was gushing from that corner of the downspout... checking the state of that section of eaves is on my list.)

And, speaking of eaves...
When I went out to dig the dirt on Saturday, it was cloudy, so I didn't bother with sunscreen. However, by the time I was ready to dig, the sun was out in full force, and a cream I'm using right now has me a bit sensitive, so I decided to tackle the eaves on this stretch of the garage, since it was shady there.
There was some good looking humus up there... and I got impressively filthy!

I also took a quick trip to the front yard to lop off the very large sour cherry sucker I found growing up through the weigela.
I'm sure glad that I didn't prune out the parts that looked winter-killed (actually the weigela, just slower to leaf out) and leave the parts that looked good (the sour cherry sucker) early this spring! I need to get a sturdy stake and tie up the weigela... it has a definite lean to the south that I'd like to correct.

Then I had to go in and clean up for two parties I was attending Saturday night.

Sunday it was cloudy but not raining when I got up. By the time I ate breakfast there was a light drizzle. I decided it wasn't raining hard enough to stop me from *finally* digging the garden, so I put on my grub clothes and went outside. It was a bit heavier than a drizzle when I got out, and rapidly progressed to a downpour. >_< I didn't get very much dug before I gave up:
*sigh*... next weekend is a long weekend. I'll get it done then. Really.

Before I retreated from the rain, I did pull the tops off enough creeping bellflower (invasive weed) to fill the two yard waste bins that I currently had partially filled... of course, *afterwards* I remembered that yard waste pick-up isn't for another week and a half. *sigh*

Since the mosquitoes have been coming out, I can't find my supply of repellant, and I might as well do my grocery shopping if I can be in the garden, I decided to check out the various products at the grocery store.
Uh... what the eff is a citronella candle *for*, if not to repel mosquitoes?!? Way to show confidence in your product!