Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Arbor Day!

In honor of the day, I planted two pretty little Japanese Maples in the backyard.
They'll add a nice burst of color all year long against the greenery.

Fauna Friday

A couple days ago, I opened the front door to go outside and sweep the front porch.  On the doormat, I discovered an array of straw and dead branches from my clematis vine.  I was perplexed and wondered how they could have traveled so far down the porch without a very strong wind.  Then I noticed a couple sticks out of place in my door wreath......

...... then I looked inside the wreath........

Yes!  Some little bird is (or was) attempting to build a nest in my wreath!
Too bad there's no peephole in the door, it'd be so fun to spy on the culprit.

 I doubt construction will continue, but if it does I'll post more details.

And, just because he's a pretty bird who keeps hanging around our backyard with his wife, here's Mr. Cardinal:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

So I was out in the yard.....

....taking more photos of flowers because, you know, I don't have a whole bag full of flash drives completely filled yet or anything at all.  No, I don't. Really.....

*hides bag*

...and I was admiring my beautiful tulips once again....

......when I took a closer look.



Blade of grass..... with..... uh-huh yeah.... that.



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Beauty in the yard

I made a round of the yard this morning with the camera, so many beautiful things to observe.  Here are just a few:

Daffodils, tulips, hyacinth are blooming.  Sprouting are daylilies, asiatic lilies and banana trees.

Hosta and hen and chicks.

Stonecrop peeking through the creeping jenny, which has creeped the hell all over the place and needs to be trimmed back mightily.

Blue muscari and phlox, which smells wonderful.

A mix of parrot tulips by the mailbox.  This is their first year in the garden and I am very pleased to see they do indeed resemble parrot feathers in both color and texture.  Gorgeous!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fauna Friday

Along the Clinch River by Norris Dam, you can often see Great Blue Herons.  These big birds really are a sight when soaring through the air and wading in the waters on their long spindly legs.  The other day, one flew right over our heads honking like a loud old goose - wish I could have captured that on video!
Here is one patiently fishing at the weir dam:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Growing Strong

My indoor seed sprouts are in full swing upstairs, many are very close to requiring transplanting.
A few times throughout out the day, I have to go make wind in the seed room.  hehehehehhehe yeah, I'm still 12.  Seriously, though, I do wave a sheet of cardboard gently over the sprouts a few times a day to simulate wind so the stems will toughen to it and they won't be shocked so by real wind when they move outdoors.

I should organize another round of seed starting, also, but I'm short on time and space.  Yesterday I expanded the boundaries of the veggie garden, so I'm almost ready to get these babies in the ground.  Just need to add the soil amendments and still finalizing exactly where I'm going to plant what....... so exciting!  And so much work, but so worth it.  Nothing like fresh food grown by your own efforts!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fauna Friday

On Sunday while we were walking along the Clinch River  I was busy gawking at everything around me except where I was stepping, and I nearly trod upon this garter snake!

Quite a beautiful creature.

Ssssstep ssssssoftly, Ssssssstupid! 

After checking each other out, we both slithered off on our merry way.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Diggin' in the Dirt

This afternoon, I added a bag of claybreaker and 3 bags of organic topsoil to half the vegetable patch.

What a job it is busting up that packed clay with shovel, pitchfork or hoe!  But I am very pleased with the results and am looking forward to digging out grass and expanding the other half a few feet before I add the soil amendments to that section.  I'm expanding only the left side outwards due to drainage issues - to the right, water piles up a bit when we get a hard storm; and also to take advantage of longer afternoon sunlight exposure occurring in that direction.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Beginning of Gardening Season

Here in Tennessee, the weather is sporadically attempting to warm up and everyone is starting to work in their yards again - mowing grass, clearing out dead brush from the winter, getting new bulbs and trees in the ground.  The garden centers are filling up with flowers and fruit trees and young veggie plants.

I have begun to work myself.  Today I mowed and edged 1/4 of the front yard that grows faster and also trimmed some bushes.  Then I temporarily placed a line of stepping stones right down the middle of rectangular veggie garden, I'm dividing it into 2 sections and this will make it much easier to tend things without getting muddy.  Hopefully.

Over the past couple weeks I've been working on starting my seeds indoors.  These pics were taken on March 25, mostly everything has grown since then, I'll update again soon.

  This is my high-tech indoor seeding zone - a spare bedroom with little furniture (good floor space) and decent light from a south-west facing window.
Sadly, this is the most action the toboggan has seen in a couple years.  Oh well.

Here we have cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, sunflowers, marigolds, zinnias, morning glories and surely other things I'm forgetting.


Yellow squash.
You can see the first tiny "true leaf" in the center of the  cotyledons.  When two of them have emerged and grown to a healthy size, it'll be ready for transplanting.


Pumpkins and sunflowers.

As the sprouts grow bigger, I'll transplant them from these cells to larger containers, which will then move to the garage which has windows and gets pretty decent light.  Then I'll shift the young plants to the front porch during the days, back to the garage at night and then finally let them stay out overnight night to complete the hardening off process. 

In 2011 I had great luck with corn in 5 gallon buckets.
In 2012..... not so much.  It was incredibly hot and dry last year and neither my 5-gallon-bucket corn nor my ground-planted corn had any edible success.  There were a couple puny little ears but that was it.

This year I'm planning to add more soil amendments to the vegetable patch (claybreaker and organic garden soil) because our yard is really heavy red clay and I think it will help with rooting and drainage.

Tune in later for more!