Saturday, November 22, 2008

Potting Folly *anomaly post*

*We now interrupt into our posting hiatus for the following information*

So, I looked out this morning and got excited that the finches had returned to the finch sock. The level had dropped dramatically from the last time I recalled seeing it. So, I grabbed the nyger seed and started out the door. Only to discover that something had ripped a big hole in the sock close to the bottom. Right in reach of the railing... Ah, well, time for a new sock.

Also, I had got this hanging basket for the bathroom. I have a little collection of pothos like plants going and I had just seen one with yellow stripes. Now, it's a bit bigger than I had wanted, but I could definitely thin it out and have a pot for work and a pot for the jungle around the turtle aquarium and I'd even share with my mom. Now this was a good idea, up until I took it out of the pot. I figured, it was a relatively freshly rooted plant, due to how short the stalks were. Some were just a couple leaves. Boy, was I wrong. Some of those roots were wound around several times. Yikes. I had to cut through the roots just to tear a couple plants out. There was lots of ripping, but I formed my four separate pots. Now let's see if they live.

*We now return you to your regularly scheduled posting hiatus*

Honestly, I haven't felt like writing, so I'm taking a long break. I'll see about starting up again in spring. Happy holidays everyone.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sit Bobo, Sit

This August is off to a refreshing start. Low humidity, low temperatures, and even lows in the 50s at night. It's just great weather. Not much to do but enjoy.

I've spotted a few Monarch butterflies in and around my place, but no nibblers on the milkweed. Swallowtails seem to love the hydrangea, too.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Wacking of the Weeds

So, I've been puttering, but I haven't gotten much weeding done. Granted, I don't know that I mind the black-eyed susans popping up in the iris bed, but the grape vine is probably too much.

I broke down and bought an electric weed wacker last week. I'm just tired of all those long grasses that escape the lawn mower. Granted, I didn't realize I needed another extension cord for it. And I've got to figure out a way to secure the cord so it does not keep popping out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hydrangea Massacre

Well, another hot week with bad air quality. Still, in the midst of hazy, hot and humid, I managed to make time for a little pruning. Granted, this is after my juggling class (yes, I'm a dork) and in the twilight. I didn't do that great a job, and there are still branches and blooms invading the neighbor's yard. But it is a lot better than it was. And they aren't staring at the bare interior of the bush either! I brought all the flowers I pruned off inside. It's a big vase full of them. I'll try and get pictures tomorrow when the light is better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Procrastination Special

Woot! I'm in the running for the Tomato Procrastination Award! I put my seedling in its permanent pot on Saturday. At least I'll have tomato weather well into autumn, so I might get some fruit out of it.

Seems the garlic needed all winter to grow. The leaves have died off already. The bulbs are barely an inch. I plucked two out to dry and am going to let the rest be until next year. They should be bigger by then.

Oh, and did I mention how much I hate white root grass? It's running all through my gardens, and I cannot keep ahead of it. Even while mulching with the deadly lawn clippings. :(

On the plus side, the bonus day lily is going to bloom soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wow, Two in Two Days!

I did get out with my camera. I do like the fact that I've got the transitional pH soil going on with this hydrangea. I really need to fertilize it with the rhododendron fertilizer next time to push it back to blue. I definitely do not want it to go all pink. And yes, that's all one bush. Yikes! It likes being pruned.


Also, my finch sock fell down. At first, I thought some squirrel was messing with it. There is a partially husked walnut near it. However, it turns out that the rope holding it up gave up the ghost. I guess it isn't all-weather enough. I restrung it and put it back up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Brushes off the Dust

Yikes, it has been awhile. I blame apathy and finding time after work to blog. Not that much is going on it the garden either. I'm minding the heat and humidity a lot more this year. And if there's one thing the summers in DC are, it is hot and humid.

Hydrangea is blooming its little heart out. Unfortunately, I need to prune the neighbor's side a little bit harder next time. But then, that's probably why it is lush and thick over there.

Some of the butterflyweed came back on its own. Some regular orange some yellow. There are also some black eyed susans trying to move into the iris bed. Surprisingly, the beebalm is not thriving. Two little sprigs this year. I guess I have to let at least some of it go to seed. Hostas are in bloom too.

Sorry, no photos. I really need to get a new camera. The color and lighting values are going. But then it is several years old. These things don't last forever.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Summer

It's odd. The eve of the summer solstice and we've had overnight lows in the 50s. We did not break 80 until today. After all that hot weather, we are back to springtime goodness.

As it so happens, my hydrangea is pink. And blue. And some of the flower heads are even purple. It's adorable looking.

I was affected by the big water main break in DC this week. I did not lose water pressure, but I was under a boil water advisory for three days. I brushed my teeth with bottled water, ate frozen microwave meals, and washed my hands with dehumidifier water. (For the record, dehumidifier water is bad for your skin and I used a lot of lotion.) I'm glad my water results tested negative for contamination, eventually. My container plants needed watering. I did not want to risk contaminating the sprinkling cans, because I do use them for my turtles or to refill the bird bath.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


My hydrangea is budding out. I should have open flowers by the weekend. I'm kinda wondering if they are going to be pink or blue this year. Regardless, I need to fertilize it with food for acidic plants this year. As well as the Rhodies.

The chrysanthemum that I thought I lost last year, is coming back strong. The little yellow buds are about to burst forth. Maybe I'll get around to posting photos one of these days.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekly Update

So, I was having a good weekend until I mowed the lawn.

I had gotten notice that the landlord wants to have the deck powerwashed and restained. Which I took as notification that he had managed to come out and look at the fence. So, I dug out an old piece of wood from the stack behind the shed and propped up the fence. I had done it just in time for the last batch of thunderstorms. It held up fine.

One morning on the way to work, I saw a little frog on my front sidewalk. He was about the size of my thumb and brown in the near dawn darkness. I left him to go about his job of eating bugs.

I had taken the day off Friday and was working in the living room on stuff. While I was sitting there, several little birds were looking for birdseed. I didn't get up, because they never come back when I disturb them. Until one of the little brown birds perched on the screen and looked in. I took that as a sign that they were really, really hungry.

I went canoeing yesterday before more storms. I get a little further each time and feel less worn out afterwards.

Right, mowing the lawn. Unfortunately, I discovered that I had a garter snake in the backyard the hard way. :( Poor little snake. It was about a foot long. Just the right size to be eating slugs and other pests. Drats.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Huh, 400.

So, some changes at work have made blogging weird for awhile. I'll find a new grove.

Anyway, Wednesday we had truly terrible storms buffet the region. There was rotation spotted on Doppler near work. And since there was a confirmed tornado near there that killed two girls several years ago, they take that kind of thing seriously. Fortunately, the first batch of storms moved along at 60 mph. Unprecidented in our region. So, it was here and gone. A few hours later, another batch moved through, also with tornados and strong winds. Not as fast, but still fast. A third moved through in the late night hours. I didn't have electricity for a couple hours, which wasn't too bad, seeing as how it was late. But, trying to sleep without even a fan going in the mugginess was terrible.

Right now, we're heading into a weekend of extreme heat advisories. Tomorrow the feels like temperatures will be between 105 and 109. Sunday and Monday, it will feel like it is 110 or higher. Ouch. Air quality is going to be horrid. And some folks are still without power from the storms.

Something is wrong with my peonies. The buds I was so proud of died. Just dried up. Since I've already verified the depths and the late cold snaps weren't serious frosts, I'm looking at some kind of disease. Drats. Probably a non-organic remedy too. Bugger.

But the evening primrose are blooming, so there's something in the yard.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Well, there has been a return to summerlike temperatures this week. Unfortunately, that has been balanced out with night time temperatures in the 40s. Brrr. Got to work cold, and come home baking. Ah, spring.

I have two flowers on the rhodie, both buried deep in the bush itself. You can see them if you look hard enough. Same color as the lamium flowers underneath.

The amaryllis is blooming. I really need to take pictures when the sun is at a better angle.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Millions of Millions of Bells

Well, I got the canoe out on the lake today. Saw a blue bird and a tiger swallowtail and two blue herons. It was a beautiful day. Wasn't out for long. There had been a lot of lugging that tired me out, but I wanted to get out on the lake.

I bought a purple million bells, and a peachy cross between million bells and petunia, and two six packs of petunias. I need to get out and plant them at some point. And take pictures. But not now. It's a spectacularly wonderful Memorial Day weekend. Sunny and warm all weekend. :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cold Shower Season

Yesterday, I stopped out to pick up sundries and was swayed to bring home some plants. A Roma tomato plant, to replace the previous seedling. Seedling was forgotten while hardening up, and did not exactly approve of cold temperatures, strong winds and deluges. *sigh* And true to form, I picked up a hanging basket of millionbells. Mixed basket of pale yellow, golden yellow and a pinkish red variety. :)

This morning, I mowed my back yard. The grass loves the rain. It even loves living in soupy soil. Unfortunately, that means that I created some muddy spots as water filled in my footsteps in places. *sigh* Hot out there too.

Yellow iris are open now, as are the white Tennessee variety. :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

National Ride Your Bike to Work Day

And what a day it is. Steady rain, flood watch, and lots of ponding due to saturated ground. Ah, yes. It was actually the kind of weather that encouraged traffic to slow down.

Still, despite being sick of rain and desiring several days of sun in a row, it is better than the alternative that seems to pop up most days occasions like this. Weather so sunny and hot that we slip into a bad air quality rating.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mid-week Break

Well, we've got a break between the rain drops. Not too sunny, but not raining. It allowed me to get some more photos. Ignore the grass, it loves the rain.

First, some better photos of my iris.

Next up my Julia peony. The hybrid has a lot fancier leaves.

A close up of the bud on the Big Ben peony. This is as much for proof that it was willing to bloom the first year. The stalk with the other bud has died back. Not sure the cause. Doesn't appear to be affecting this one.

And then something dug out a huge hole in my garlic pot. I blame squirrels. I did fill it in after the picture.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Soggy Mother's Day

Well, the good news is the drought is ended. Of course, it ended with 5-8 inches of rain over five days, which isn't good for plants either. Lots of trees lost limbs or were uprooted. It also dipped into the 40s for the past two nights. Barely got into the 50s yesterday.

But, I do have plants blooming. In the house even! Snake plant is sending up more flowers. The amaryllis, despite having leaves up the entire time, has sent up a new flower stalk. And the red hibiscus has a bud.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Iris Among the Rain Drops

Not the best picture, but then this steady drip drip really defuses the light. Everything else washed out. *wink* The white Tennessee iris aren't all blooming yet for a count, and the yellow ones are a later blooming variety.

Iris count: 12 blue ones, 8 with the maroon edging.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Five Good Things

While I've been ignoring the back yard for a spell, a glance outside registered a bit of blue. My iris! I have five different stalks of blue iris blooming! Too bad the lighting wasn't right for my camera. I should get a new one. But five in bloom, with several more on the way.

Part of one of my peonies seems to have died. Might have been frost damage. Not sure. But there's still plenty of plant left.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I've been sulking for the last few days. And in a gardening quandry. Saturday, I was out cutting my front lawn, or rather the half that grew tall enough for a cut, when the neighbor came out to talk to me. The privacy fence in the back yard is leaning, worse, pulling out of the ground. I figured it was my landlord's, since the neighbor doesn't have privacy fencing. And I figured I could always insert a new post if things got from bad to worse.

But no, it's technically on the neighbor's land, and her responsibility. She wanted to see if I had a more direct route to the landlord than through the agency. I don't, but agreed to forward her complaint.

Eek. My garden. My prize peonies are against that fence. My sunflowers were supposed to be against that fence. Do I plant, or don't I? And will they crush my peonies before they bloom? *sulk* Maybe the landlord will prove unreachable.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When the Ants Come Marching In

So, I didn't see any frost this morning. It was above 40 degrees here. But still, I wore a heavy coat. *sigh* Stupid wind chill.

Last night when I was trimming the hostas so my tulips could get some sun, I noticed holes in the leaves. Slugs! This early! Eek! So, I sprinkled my organic slug treatment. I didn't see too many holes in the iris, so they might be safe this year.

And while I was out, I noticed two of my peonies have buds! Buds! I might finally have peonies that bloom this year! And one of them is the new one! Yippee!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

True to Form

So, after a beautiful end of the work week, we had a weekend steeped in rain, with harsh weather on Monday. The cold front that worked its way though is leaving us with lows in the 30s and there's talk of spotty frost in suburbs further out than I am. The tomato seedling does not like the drafts at the window. :/

Crabapples and magnolias and wisteria are blooming in the neighborhood. Tulips are soggily coming to an end, except for the ones I tucked in the hosta bed late. Silly me, I thought they wouldn't put up flowers this year. I mean it was February when I saw the stalks and figured they needed to be in the dirt. I'll have to wack those hosta leaves back so I can see the blooms.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

WFF When?

I got my tomato plant in the mail from White Flower Farm. I am not happy. Why am I not happy? It's not the packaging. It was well packaged, sturdy cardboard, no shaking around. It's not the plant quality. It's moist and happy with plenty of leaves. It's the fact that it showed up this week! I can't plant tomatoes out until the middle of May! I have to nurture this poor little seedling indoors for at least three more weeks! Eeep! I was trying to avoid seedling care! Ugh. But its a nice tomato and I'll do my best not to curse it.

The rest of my red tulips opened up. Very lovely, but not at all centerfold quality. ;) Squirrels got two more, but left enough stem to be put in water. The pink ones, 'Angelique', opened up. Again, lovely, but very rough looking. Iris are putting up buds. new daffodils are all different kinds. Some white with orange centers, some white with pale yellow centers and a few tiny white ones with white centers.

Oh, and I mowed my back yard today. It went wild after all that rain.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Soggy Sunday

Well, we've gotten quite a bit of rain in the last 48 hours, and it keeps falling from the sky. A couple tornadoes passed through the area, and the Potomac will crest above flood stage in one particular little town. The storms yesterday were particularly dark and wet. Quite a bit darker than twilight and during the middle of the day.

But, all that rain knocked down the pollen, and more importantly, knocked down the maple blossoms. Granted, the oak blossoms seem to have weathered the storm quite well. But on the plus side, the dogwood flowers held on and are quite lovely. And the holly bush is starting to open its flowers.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Open Pollination

Well, I haven't seen frost on the ground the past couple of days, but there have been ice crystals on my car. Not fair when the days are in the 60s and 70s.

I haven't gotten a picture of the yellow tulip yet, as I've been under the weather. I know maples and the like have a good pollination scheme, especially with the plight of the pollinators, but sometimes I just wish they didn't throw their pollen into the air and hope for the best.

Speaking of pollinators, I've seen a good handful of bees around my gardens. Granted, I'm not too thrilled about the carpenter bee that seems to be obsessed with my front door frame, but a bee is a bee.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Everybody Tip Toe!

Okay, I can handle the 50s. Granted, I'm not pleased about frost warnings for tonight. Thank goodness everything outside is hearty. And that I did not give into my impulses to plant seeds last week.

But, I have tulips! The one under the hydrangea appears to be yellow. Hopefully, it will survive to open, so I can get a good picture.

The peony-type tulips are starting to bloom. The variety is 'Miranda'. Very lovely red. Although, a squirrel chewed off one bud. I have that sitting in a glass of water at the moment. I wish the squirrels would leave a little more stem if they're going to poach. Anyway, picture!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The weekend has come, and despite all the drippy weather knocking down the pollen, it is pretty much a continuation of yesterday's beautiful weather. Even if it doesn't get up to the 80s. I did some weeding yesterday. Basically freeing the iris from dandelions and grass. Every year I say I'm going to get ahead of this and weed before everything starts bolting. Ah, well. Periwinkle looks nice among the leaves, doesn't it?

This morning, I trimmed the hydrangea. Basically deadheaded all the winter interest flowers, and took off some branches that were not showing signs of life. I also snipped a few crossing branches on the holly. And proceeded with some tough love on the rhodies. Granted, the bits of it buried under the holly probably weren't going to thrive anyway.

Then more weeding out back with a little Zeppe help. And pictures. Ignore the weeds I didn't get to yet. ;) First up, some blue/purple pansies that survived the winter and are watched over by one of my new daffodils.

Then, some of the buds on my peony-type tulips. Those are supposed to be the same variety of tulips, too. And that's the Big Ben peony in the background.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Up Up and Away

So, I found out that the trilling critters outside my window were not frogs. They're toads. Not sure what type though. I discovered this fact as I stopped by my park yesterday afternoon. All the silly toads were trying to romance each other in the koi pond outside of the nature center.

I was there to pick up boating stickers and obtain a mooring site. Only 7 left, glad I didn't put it off any longer.

While, I had intended to fly my kite in Herndon while waiting for my brother to get off of work, he had been sent home to New Jersey. So, it goes. I'm glad he got home early. But, I had my kite in the car, so I flew my kite at the park. I thought I would have gotten better breezes off of the lake, but it just wasn't windy. It was gorgeous blue skies and 70 degrees, but not windy. I got a couple of good sustained alofts, but nothing very high up. Still, that's probably for the best. My shoulders and some other muscles are feeling it today. Ouch.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Silly String

Last night the temperatures were in the mild 50s, not the chilly 50s as it has been for so long. There is also another frog out there trilling its heart out for love, than the spring peepers. I know this because I slept with the window open last night.

I opened the window because I was hot. After my laughter as exercise class, I simply had to find my kite. Don't know what was driving me, but I needed to find it. It wasn't in any of the obvious storage areas. I was up and down several flights of steps several times.

I finally found my kite in the pantry, of all places. I don't know what I was thinking. Although, while I was checking the pantry, I found something else. I'll say they were potatoes, because the plastic bag I found them in said "potatoes". I must admit I'm kinda disturbed. They looked more like I had burned them in the oven, than they had been sitting in the pantry for about 3 years. Ick.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Buffet is Up

I noticed through a report on the Blogosphere, that the hummingbirds have returned. Granted, I still think it's a bit chilly for them, but they know what they can stand.

However, my current hook is currently serving the goldfinches. And those little balls of yellow fluff are getting serious about territory. I don't think they'd appreciate the hummingbirds being assigned their area.

So, I put up a new hook a couple feet from the finch sock. So, win win. Hummingbirds get a feeder and the goldfinches get to keep theirs.

And the juncos keep lurking beneath both of them.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Spring Continues Apace

My tulips have buds. I think at this point, we just see if the squirrels behave themselves. The rhodedendrons seem to have failed another year. Although, the buds that I thought I had spotted disappeared. Drats. I even pruned them last year.

Cherry trees throughout the neighborhoods are blossoming prettily. So, is the great white boulevard of pear trees outside of my development. Daffodils are lining the sides of the highway and exit ramps.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Other Side

Well, I've crawled out from under my taxes. I need to stop putting them off. Unfortunately, I've discovered that instead of using my rebate check to buy a nice electric chipper shredder, it's been sucked up by what I owe. Somehow, old company didn't quite take the standard withholding levels out of my check leaving me short. *grrr*

On to spring. Or at least the period that involved sleet yesterday. It's been rainy. April showers and all that. Hydrangea is starting to leaf out. Tulip leaves are going gang busters. I'm seeing yellow buds on the new daffodils. Not sure I like them being that much later than the old daffodils, but they're in the ground so it's a little hard to change.

Cherry blossoms are all over the place. Early ones, late ones, ones that are washed off the tree.... Still, I love cherry blossoms. When I can actually plant a tree, I'm going to get a pink one. Maybe a double, even. DC Cherry blossom festival was chilled with winds last week and washed out this week. Even the sun predicted on Sunday won't really help since the blossoms have been hit with several days of rain after several days of rough winds. Ah well. There's always next year.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Flattened Crocus

Well, we've had a swing from lows in the 20s on Tuesday to highs in the 70s yesterday. Ah, March. So, as far as I can tell, the inspection went well. No demerits listed on the sheet that was on my table. In fact, nothing was on the sheet on the table, except for his card. We shall see, I guess.

The purple crocus were flattened by the low temperatures. I can tell this because they were extremely wilted. Like almost disintegrating, wilting. Squirrel butts just don't cause that kind of damage.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Robin Has Landed

The robins are a bit late coming down out of the berry bushes this year. I only just started to see them on the lawns. And it's just a sprinkling of them.

Just days before my annual rental inspection, I caught the mouse. *grumble* The traps will have to be reset after the walk through. I've made progress on the list of things to do. I just need to clear a path to the window in my storage/spare bedroom, clean the spare bathtub of the aquarium grime, fix the leaky toilet, and finish unclogging the garbage disposal. Then in the time remaining, finish straightening up the place.

I did spare some time this weekend during all the little chores to get some weeding in. All sorts of little wild flowers are blooming in places where they're not supposed to be. And I spotted some chives in the yard that need to be moved into the garden.

Another plus, the outdoor chrysanthemum didn't die over the winter. It has some new growth. Yippee!

Full Force Chorus

Meant to be posted on Friday

The little peepers are singing their little hearts out. Granted, the winds sometimes quiet them down.

I saw the surest sign of spring the other day, the grocery store had annuals out for sale. So far, I've resisted. But then, my pansies survived the winter. :)

The purple crocus popped up and are blooming. The daffodils are just starting to open. And some squirrel has wierd ideas about where crocus and daffodil bulbs need to be planted -- the crown of the hydrangea bush!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Warm Weather Fix

Before the weekend turns frigid, we get a few days of temperatures in the 60s. Even with March winds, it's nice to go outside. I spent yesterday afternoon, touching up the paint around the sliding glass door. The wood is taking a beating and the paint just didn't hold up.

Also checked out my backyard garden growth. All seven garlics are doing fine. The ones that had been snipped by the squirrels have over an inch of growth. The tulip bulbs I planted last year and starting to poke up, as are the new daffodils. The new ones are definitely a bit later than the old daffodils, which are budding out. I'll need to clean up the black-eyed susan seed heads so this area is ready for spring.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Slowly Developing

Not much going on. Another cold snap. And I've got some bug that suspiciously is mimicing the beginning stages of the flu. It's taunting me.

About all that is getting done is work on my hobby quilt. I say hobby, because the hand stitching is relaxing and it is meant to be portable. But the one inch squares take forever. Then again, it's not like I have more than one bed in my house. But it's getting to the point where I want it done, so I work on it steadily. Down to the last eight.

That's an old picture, but still gives you the idea.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Flood Stage

Let's see if Blogger lets me post this today.

Thursday and Friday were days of torrential downpours. Good for removing the rain deficit, but also good for flooding and knocking over trees in saturated ground. Also, Friday, during one batch of heavy rain, I looked out and saw the most pathetic and bedraggled goldfinch on the feeder sock. Poor wet thing.

The local forsythia are getting ready to bloom. Most are budded out, but a few are actually blooming. The holly bush right outside my door still has a few berries on it, but the buds for the next batch is already there.

It's getting close to time to put out sunflower seeds in the garden. I don't start inside, because I don't have too much luck with transplants. I order from Parks, because they carry my favorite variety, Velvet Queen Sunflowers. And since I was already paying for shipping, I grabbed a couple other packs to scatter about; Petunia Celebrity Red Morning, Petunia Prism Sunshine, and Zinnia Profusion Apricot. I should have picked up a pack of black-eyed susans, just to add variety to what is already in my garden.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Daylight Saving Grumbles

I arrive at work at six in the morning. All winter, this means I look at the night sky. This week, the sky has become a blue on blue tapestry, instead of all black. And the lone day when it was not desperately overcast (or raining), there were hints of purples and pinks in the distant sky.

Unfortunately, my subtle enjoyment of the coming dawn is going to be brutally ended next week. More like next Sunday. When the clocks in the US are turned forward an hour. *sigh* The gently lightening sky will fast forward into the rising sun. Not that dawn itself isn't interesting, but the jolt will be annoying.

And admist the rain this morning, I thought I heard the beginning of the peeper chorus. Spring is on its way.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Silly Birds

Since it was so nice outside last evening, I hung up my hammock chair and read outside. The squirrels tried to frighten me off by giving me heck, but I still wouldn't let them bury their husked walnuts in my peony bed.

The birds were even sillier. There was this one sparrow that siddled through the fence and gave itself a heart attack when it spotted me there. Then it fluttered further down the yard till it came to the shed and sat there, trying to be invisible.

A few birds settled down to clean up the bird seed that fell under the porch and then freaked out when I moved on occasion. Then there were the birds that tried to keep objects between themselves and me while they hunted for loose seed.

The prize was won by a squeaky nuthatch, though. There are at least two out behind my house. One that was chased off of the suet feeder landed on the stair steps to my deck. It fussed about, waiting. Then it spotted me and didn't know what to do. After hopping around on a few of the steps and getting a good look at me, it flew back to one of the trees.

Monday, March 03, 2008

March Roars

March hasn't come in as a lion nor as a lamb. Blustery with roaring winds on Saturday, and temperatures in the 50s yesterday and 60s today. Unfortunately, the nice spring preview is going to be short lived this week.

My crocus are opening up, although it seems a squirrel sat on a few of them and knocked them over. The pink heather is blooming, and the white one isn't that far behind.

Garlic appears to be doing well, but since this is the first year growing it, I don't exactly have a reverence to go by.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bulb Watch 2008

The daffodils in my front garden are doing great. A few have the beginnings of buds forming. There are at least two crocus that appear to be ready to bloom this weekend. And the tulips out front that have never bloomed for me are starting to poke through.

The back yard is a different story. The established daffodils are right on schedule, a little behind the ones in the front. No tulips are to be seen, although one of the new peonies is starting to poke through. The new daffodils are barely poking through. But somewhere along the line, the mulch covering the bird bath garden disappeared. And that garden has a lot of frost heaves. I took a few minutes to dig some leaves out of the compost pile and spread them around. Hopefully that will help.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Great Garlic Caper, part 3

I did put the happy little cloves outside on Monday. It had dropped into the 50s, from the 70s. Which was fine. Then the poor little garlics got exposed to a dusting of snow that the Clipper System dropped on Tuesday. Still all well and good. The the overnight lows in the city dropped into the teens. I got a little afraid for my garlics.

I finally took action to protect them, because today's forecast is pretty much 24 hours of yuck. Yuck starting out as snow and then mostly being sleet/freezing rain/rain. Granted, action was just to move them under shelter.

Although, it seems the only thing to negatively affect the cloves were squirrels. One clove was practically dug up, and another is missing its stalk. Boo.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Great Garlic Caper, part 2

When next we join our intrepid cloves, we find six of the seven have sent up little pale green shoots that are visible above the dirt line. Wow, they move fast. I might have to move them outside on Monday. I'm certain the roots could use more time to get established, but I fear the amount of growth they're putting on in the chilly, but better than outside basement.

Speaking of warmth, it got into the 50s this afternoon. I cheated and opened the windows and turned down the thermostat. I really like the fresh air.

On the cooking front. Definitely need to add garlic cloves to the bread. Yesterday's wasn't as good without it. And definitely not more than a tablespoon of Italian herbs. I actually tried to measure the herbs so I could standardize this process a little better. I've also got a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove. I'm almost out with all my little bread pizzas. Yum!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Little Things

Some times, just a little is too much. That's especially true of ice. It coated all the roadways around here last night. Not much, not even an 1/8th of an inch. But just enough to make everything slick and everyone slide. I left work at 3:45; spared a couple minutes to scrape my windshield, which immediately was coated again with the freezing rain; endured stop and go traffic until 5:30ish, when I decided to actually do my afterwork stop at Bed, Bath and Beyond; then sat in more stop and go traffic on a supposedly back way; arrived home past the starving point at 6:15.

Fortunately, the trip in was a lot smoother, since it was just shy of the freezing mark. Who knows what the trip home in the supposed rain will bring. They're talking refreeze tonight and the rain will change over to something more white in nature after the evening rush hour. Supposedly.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Blustery Bread

It is one of those cold, blustery days outside. Excellent timing for another loaf of bread. Never fear garden blog reader, this isn't about to become Flour Under My Nails. Just every garden blogger needs a winter hobby. And this year, mine happens to be baking bread.

This time, it was Samuel Adams Double Bock. I've had Double Bocks before and liked them. This beer didn't match them. Which just means it goes into the oven on the way to my tummy. This variation included a half a cup of Beatty Crocker Four Cheese Instant Potatoes, and a healthy mix of oregano, parsley, basil, italian seasonings, chili powder and two Scililiano garlic cloves. A sprinkling of four Italian cheeses was placed on top before going into the oven.

Mixed up well, but despite extra flower, it still did not use up all the beer. And it was very thick and heavy. Must be from the potatoes. Cooked well, was done in 40 minutes. Good right off the bat with herb flavoring, and begs to be dipped in olive oil.

Next time, some Italian cheeses inside and more herbs. Like this variety.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Great Garlic Caper

My parents have assured that it will snow next weekend. They've tentatively made plans to drive down and visit me. That should make it a wicked nor'easter.

The great garlic experiment, brought on by the great garlic procrastination, has begun. I brought in one of my large container pots and put seven cloves of Siciliano garlic in it. I'll give it till the end of February to allow those little cloves to send out roots and establish themselves. Then, I'll plop the whole thing back outside so it gets exposed to freezing temperatures.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Warm Interlude

Well, we've had our February thaw now. Beautiful days soaring into the 70s. Warm nights not dipping below 50. I had the window open all night, and for the most part, just one flannel blanket on. I am so ready for spring. But then again, I don't like all that water laying on my gardens. I'm wondering if I need to admit defeat and make them raised. It's too dry in summer to turn them into a moisture enriched garden.

I still can't believe it's going to turn frigid this weekend. Boo.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Banana Bread Oatmeal Beer Bread

Another beautiful day, but the air has a damp cold undertone to it that does not promote being outside.

I tried another beer bread today. I had picked up some more oatmeal from the supermarket, because I do try and eat healthy from time to time. And once again, I was reminded of why there were still many packets of flavored oatmeal in my pantry. I don't really like the concept of oatmeal mush. I like to chew my food.

However, there are oatmeal breads. Which would be a great way to use up all those flavored packets. Especially if Quaker Oatmeal's web page recipes can be believed that instant oatmeal can replace an equal measure of old fashioned oatmeal. Since I just couldn't bring myself to buy blueberries from Chile, that meant using the banana bread flavored oatmeal.

The bananas weren't really ripe enough for bread, but the one I used mashed well. The packets looked to be about a third of a cup, so I replaced a third of a cup of flour for Quaker's Weight Loss Banana Bread Instant Oatmeal. The beer was Samuel Adams Octoberfest. (At least now I know what to do with all the beer my brother doesn't finish after his visits.) About 2/3 inch of beer left in the bottle. A shake more granulated sugar, and some powered sugar on top. A shake or two more flour to make up for the moisture in the banana.

End result: edible. Should have used two or more bananas, since I was going for banana. Maybe more sugar to keep the sweet going. Also leave it wet instead of adding more flour. I think the oats (or instant part of the oats) dried it out some. Although, without the overwhelming banana flavor I was looking for, I can probably eat this with cheese.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Who to Believe?

Well, the groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter. However, my daffodils underneath the holly bush are already popping up. In the backyard gardens, the ground is thawed. And completely soaked. Cold water, at that. Yesterday's deluge certainly brought plenty of water.

How do I know how cold the water in the ground is? I had to push back a few pansies and the new day lily that had been heaved up out of of the ground. Brrr. At least there were a few roots holding them into the ground.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Great Tomato Experiment, preliminaries

Well, I've never grown tomatoes before. I never really had a reason. I don't especially like tomatoes, especially raw. But, the thought of fresh tomatoes in my spaghetti sauce, to go along with the fresh oregano and fresh garlic, was a bit much in the tempation department. So, I ordered a plant.

Yep, that's right one plant. No seeds, no monsterous garden, just one plant. And if it dies, it dies. I still figure there's a fifty-fifty chance that one plant will not make it outside into its pot around May 1st, even after cutting out my seedling apathy.

I picked up a paste tomato not known for being sweet. Sweet tomatoes just mean I have to add vinegar to the sauce recipe. This is meant to be a deep meaty sauce. I got a 'Martino's Roma' from White Flower Farm. I'll probably find someplace cheaper for next year, but I'm spoiled with automated check out carts.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bread Results

After a frustrating weekend of disagreements with my computer, I can report back on the beer bread. It was good, but needed some work. I think I messed up the beer/flour ratio. I had gotten a good consitancy, but hadn't added all of the beer. I should have left well enough alone and drank the excess beer. But, instead I decided to add it and more flour after adding the cheese and chives. Ah, well, next week.

It is good when I add the family recipe spaghetti sause and italian cheese mix on top. Speaking of the spaghetti sauce, I'm starting to think maybe I should grow a tomato plant for some fresh tomatoes. Some sort of paste tomato in a container.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bread Baking

I don't remember who precisely on my blogroll is to blame, but I am baking bread at the moment. Someone put up a picture of freshly baked bread and it started the wheels turning in my brain. Then I found Farmgirl Susan over at Farmgirl Fare with all of her wonderful breads and cooking and adventures and other things. I got hooked. So, I took her Beer Bread Recipe and added some cheddar and some volunteer chives fresh from my garden. Now for the waiting.

Oh, and that snake plant in bloom picture, it didn't turn out and by the time I went back, the blooms were spent. But the kalanchoe is lovely.

Supermarket double yellow kalanchoe

And here's my holiday chrysanthemum that had decided to rebloom.

Supermarket deep red chrysanthemum

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Snow, Three Days After

Well, miracle of miracles, the snow from Thursday is still on the ground on Sunday afternoon. Granted, this was aided by sub arctic temperatures that arrived yesterday. A second snow event whimped out due to the cold. And tonight, when it dips below 0 degrees F, I will indulge in serious contemplation of racial inequality and how we have finally made it to the point where a man of color can make a serious bid for the White House. Long live government holidays that keep me from having to drive to work in that.

Anyway, the snow was about three inches thick in my backyard, but that is approximate. See, the sleet and a little bit of rain kicked in after the snow, so the measurement was not accurate. But still, a nice snow storm.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blooms! & Flurries

So, there were snow flurries yesterday at lunch. Not fun, especially since these were organized, militant flurries that bore a surprising resemblance to actual snow. But the weathermen reassure us that they were just flurries.

I actually have flowers blooming. Of course, there are the much abused pansies. I think the squirrels are finally leaving them in the dirt. My kalanchoe has bounced back from overwatering and has blooms up. And my snake plant is blooming for the second time in six months. I guess trimming it back hard was a good thing.

Now, unfortunately, there are no pictures. This was occasioned by the fact that I packed up all my files on the computer to back them up. Why was I backing them up? Because it was time to install a new OS, and you don't take chances with that. Not that it was that horrid Vista, but rather Leopard. Mac OS installations usually go smoothly, but no need to take risks. Thankfully nothing went wrong, but still, it took a lot of time.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mud-slicked Leaves

Well, Monday I played instead of working. Tuesday I did manage to work before I played. And my lawn suffered for it. I got the leaves up, but unfortunately, after I started my efforts, I discovered that the ground was still wet under those leaves. And since it's slick, yellow clay mud, it slid under my bagging mower. Not that my lawn and moss can't recover, but it's a mess. Oh, well. Makes me glad I didn't resolve to get more exercise. I think I would have fullfilled it already.

The other neighbor teased me as I was doing it. He just never rakes. Although, his Christmas tree was a good prop about his self-directed joke about mowing.

On the list of things still to be accomplished, I need to sweep the leaves off of the deck. They can blanket the gardens underneath. I know the back yard is even wetter then the front. It squelches.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Well, the bitter cold of last week has been replaced with the January thaw. The only reason we set new record highs yesterday is because those airports didn't exsist during the last extreme heat wave in 1907. But today's high temperature records were set in 1998, so we'll flirt with breaking those.

January really is a weird month. Artic air reaches down to Florida, then the tropical air surges back to New England. Still, I get nervous since my leave year rolls over on the 19th and I start from zero for the last part of the year. The sad fact is the year I started with this company, that last week was filled with a terrible ice and snow storm. Eek! Definitely don't change companies in January if you can help it. Unless of course, they give you leave up front instead of making you earn it.

Still, it is nice to be able to open up the windows and air out the place in January. It gets so stagnant in winter. And I'm stuck doing clean up chores outside in this nice weather. There isn't enough daylight (and warm temperatures) to relax. *sigh*

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Freezy Cold

Well, the temperature has turned for the worse. It's only getting up to around the freezing mark during the day and there's significant windchill on top of that. I've broken out the heavy gloves and pined over my missing hat. The replacement is nowhere near warm enough. But the hood of my new coat is awesome.

Yesterday, for the first work day of the new year, there were a few dry, powdery snow flakes flying around. A couple even piled up on my car before I braved the weather. Brrr. Even seed catalogs don't help when I have to go out in that.