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spring doesn’t officially land on the astronomical calendar until march 20th, but the garden, in response to the seemingly warmer than typical temperatures of late, is telling me otherwise this year.
isn’t it all so pretty? you should see it from the other direction, when the late afternoon sun and early evening sunset light up the newly emerging foliage like rubies.
and i’ve got a little extra glow because i was awarded this the other night:
gardening is a labor of love, no matter where you’re able to do it… happy march everyone.
a dear friend of mine notified me that my last post was well, shall we say, less than uplifting? yes. i know, but i can’t really apologize for it. but i can offer up some spring beauties that are catching my attention these days a little closer to home.
and finally, here are three views of our spring time garden:
a gardener’s work is never done, but i think i’ll rest for now. enjoy your weekend everyone!
i love my garden for the simple fact that it brings me joy and happiness…
the other night i was out weeding the front garden when i overheard a young boy, pulled in a wagon by his mom and dad, say, “mommy, what is she doing?” she responded, “weeding, honey.” to which he asked, “why is her yard so big, mommy?” i didn’t hear her response, but it made me smile…
the surprises of spring are still sweet…
i discovered this sweet narcissi the other evening while watering the last of the weekend’s plant fare purchases… the tiring effects of the day’s incessant wind finally calmed down enough to peacefully enjoy the sunset, the rays of which happened to catch these lemony yellow petals previously shaded by umbelliferae.
spring still has surprises for me, and i am grateful.
what does 1,120 pounds of fresh mulch look like?
this past saturday was sunny and beautiful, and since i’ve spent the last three weeks in houston for federal jury duty (that’s a 2.5 hour drive one way, thank god for friends with apartments downtown), mr. grwhryrpltd and i had a date with our garden. first stop was to buy mushroom compost for our front yard turf elimination/garden expansion project. second stop was to pick up free mulch at our neighboring city’s composting facility. that’s right, i said free. their mulch is basically chopped and shredded branch refuse from residents’ brush piles. it’s a little rough around the edges, but then so are we is our landscape. it all breaks down in time.
obviously, a half ton of mulch wasn’t enough, but we’re making progress. conveniently, the facility’s actual compost (mulch + municipal bio-solids that are windrowed, heated to 131F and turned at least 5 times by bulldozers) is also free this week (usually $28/ton), so i’ll be making another trip soon. in the meantime, i used what stones we had lining the existing garden to delineate its future stone wall edge (don’t worry, it’s not going to be a polka-dot-stone wall forever), moved the frost-damaged kumquat into the new bed (i’m hoping a little tough love will inspire it to grow where it’s planted…), pruned back the ornamental grasses and roses, and half-way dug out the crappy crape myrtle that was planted too close to the house. i’m hoping mr. grwhrypltd will dig the rest of it out for me, after he finishes his drainage project on the other side of the yard… i told you our landscape is a little rough around the edges. but it will be the envy of any plantsperson all in good time…
the morning after i wrote my last blog post i put on my mudders and headed out to check on the citrus. i was a bit leery of what the frost and cold temperatures might have done to the young trees, but curiosity got the best of me and i had to take a closer look… as i unwound the twine around the top of the sheeted frost protection silo (i know that sounds odd, but that’s what i’m calling them), i peered on tippy-toes to see inside:
the kumquat that we covered with a plastic tub came through just fine, but i somehow managed to miss photographing it. the fifth silo was covering a box, which was covering the remaining avocado. it was also nice and green, but since it really hasn’t grown much all year i’ve pretty much lost interest in it, even though mr. grwhryrpltd doesn’t want to give up on it yet.
i know the citrus trees don’t look their best, but i wasn’t too disappointed in what i saw. to be honest, the leaves on most of the trees had started to turn yellowish before the cold snap, probably due to a lack of nitrogen, and the to-be-expected color change of normal senescence. the past few days have been overcast, contributing to decreased light levels – and the sheets certainly haven’t assisted in the leaves’ chlorophyll department. but why, you ask, haven’t we picked the blood orange, tangelo and grapefruit yet? because someone wants to let them ripen a bit more, and as i read somewhere, the best storage place for citrus is on the tree.
elsewhere in the garden, the frost effects are more pronounced:
the temp is again expected to drop to upper twenties by morning… i wonder what will advance to the next round…
as forecasted, we received freezing temperatures this weekend. while friday’s “snow” melted on contact, the overnight frost left more than a lingering impact.
fearing what such low temps could do to our still young citrus trees, mr. grwhryrpltd and i managed to construct five frost protection “silos” out of welded wire mesh and queen-sized sheets with coastal hay around the graft union of each tree.
our efforts were timely because the temps dropped to 36 degrees overnight. friday warmed up to 42 but then dropped to 24 in the wee hours of saturday morning. when we awoke, the view of the garden was crisply beautiful, but i knew that the sun would soon render the frozen foliage into a blackened, turgorless body.
as the day warmed the frost’s beauty away, i was saddened to see what we forgot to cover… oddly enough, neither of us were brave enough to peak into the frost protection silos to see how the citrus fared, but today’s warmer temperatures and soaking rain has me curious…
it was a bit chilly on my walk this morning, a whopping 40 degrees, so i decided to wade through the neglected hat and mitten bin to see what friends i could find to accompany me. after donning my favorite fair isle tam (hand knit by an everyday anthropologist) and the first mittens i ever knitted (that have seen better days…), i headed out the door. twenty minutes later, i was sufficiently warm but kept them on, because really – it’s a rare event when i can wear them.
inspired by the russet fall colors that are finally starting to show ’round these parts, i headed toward the garden to enjoy its spare colors.
then i remembered that a box containing thirty Narcissus tazetta ‘Italicus’ was recently delivered from the the bulb hunter. this weekend’s rains prevented me from planting them right away, but this was their morning to snuggle down into the soil.
frost is in the forecast for this evening and tomorrow morning, and the radio professor just mentioned a chance of snow (yeah right)… so snuggle in little bulbs, i can’t wait to see your pretty little faces.
uh-oh… we have a problem. i’m not sure if it’s something i really want to admit to, but it exists and appears as though it isn’t going to go away anytime soon. you see, a certain kind of critter has taken refuge in our garden. and not just any kind critter. the kind where you skew up your nose, curl your lips and look for the nearest chair to stand on… we have rats.
the first visual indication of our new garden squatters was near the compost bin, as an attractive nest of shredded paper started to grow along one of its edges. “huh… i think something is nibbling on our tasty compost.” firmly in denial at this point, i asked a friend of mine who had recently gone through the city’s three day composting program if they addressed how to deal with say, i don’t know, rodents in residential compost…?
“oh, no, we didn’t cover that,” she said and quickly asked, “why…”
“well, i think we may have rodents in our compost.”
“oh dear, you aren’t putting your kitchen scraps in your compost are you?”
“why, of course we are,” while i thought to myself, isn’t that what compost bins are for…?
“oh, you shouldn’t do that…”
um, okay. it’s not like we put meat, dairy or oily products out with the spinach, egg shells and veggie debris… but hey, if i were a rodent in a new residential development, i’d belly up to the free bar too!
and then the neighbors started talking…
“have you seen any rats around?”
“no, but i think i may have heard some scampering feet last night – we had our windows open and the kitties were captivated by something going on out there.”
“you open your windows at night?”
“yea… it’s good to let a little fresh air in the house… i think the scampering feet were running along the fence lines.”
“well, we’ve seen ‘em in our yard, and have trapped a few. i hear the neighbor’s dog, behind your lot, caught one that was as big around as a rudy’s cup (our local bbq joint, and yes, they have HUGE plastic cups for sweet tea)…”
“really? that big?!”
“yea, and it wasn’t the only one…”
“huh. well, we’ll let you know if we see any.”
“we’ve put out some bait traps. the kind that your cats shouldn’t be able get into, so they should be okay.”
“alright, thanks, we’ll keep an eye out…”
i think the neighbor’s bait stations are working. about two weeks ago i found a small (4″, not including its tail), decapitated rat in our front yard. how it lost its head is a mystery to me. last week dude, our black cat, alerted me to the second dead rat in our back yard. euwww… it was lying near a generously-sized opening under the fence, with its mouth clenched around a tuft of sedge that was surprisingly difficult to pry it away from… i take it the poison must’ve worked poor thing…
side note: aren’t you glad i’m still camera shopping? no macro closeups for this story…
late last week i was awarded another good find… i decided to hookup the pump to drain the ever-collecting water in our backyard, as it’s been raining here and the pathways are a soggy, muddy mess. we’ve installed a french drain system that’s connected to a submersible pump to convey the water from back yard to front yard. the not-yet-automated pump is in an open hole (we’re working on it…) that frequently fills up with water. i was pumping the water from this hole, occasionally cleaning out the grass clipping debris with my gloved hand. when the water got to the half-way mark the thought occurred to me, i wonder if something’s been living in the drain this whole time, like a snake or something… and a few moments later, a furry mass with a long ratty tail came out of the pipe and floated next to the pump intake…
EUUWWW…!!! good thing it wasn’t alive, and was smaller than a rudy’s cup…
three times must be the charm for this rodent family, because i haven’t seen one since…
have any of you had similar experience with critters in your compost? any suggestions are welcome…