Saturday, June 20, 2015

Introducing -- SpaRRows

spare :  lean, modest, thifty, concise
rows : an organization of items, usually in a straight line
sparrow : a small, cheerful bird producing many offspring

SpaRRows = enclosed container garden for veg, herbs & flowers 

This year I am seriously downsizing.  The purge project for one.  And now - veg gardening.

In 2012 the deer chased me out of the veg bed back by the shed.  For 2 years I grew veg in front of the privacy fence.  I didn't enjoy the massive amounts of deer netting that kept ME from getting at the plants.  I wanted that fence bed for perennials, shrubs and ornamental trees.  I wanted out!  But what to do?  

It started with my building a Rolling Cart (< click for that post).
Then the initial effort Brainstorm (< click for that post).
After that one thing led to another and SpaRRows (< click to view the several posts describing details) was created.

I'm truly enchanted with this turn of events.  I've spent little $$, mostly recycling things I had or gotten cheaply.  Not one ounce of harvest has been collected at this point, but the deep satisfaction I get every time I sit on the deck with all of SpaRRows greening up before me is priceless.

For further SpaRRow updates, keep checking the sidebar "Vegetable" blog.

Meanwhile, I'm as cheerful as a bird while the deer can go pound salt!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

And this year's OMG award goes to....

The H. F. Young clematis!


Back in early April I saw that the rhody at the corner there wasn't filling in as quickly as I'd like.  I wondered what would happen if I put up a wire trellis from the garage to the driveway in front of the recovering rhody.  Could I coax some of the clematis onto the trellis?

Uh, yeah....!  (For comparison - the 1st pic is all the trellis it ever had before, right at the edge of the garage.)  But talk about turning a corner...

And this is just the first bloom.  It usually blooms again later in summer/early fall.

Yep.  O. M. G.  award for sure.


lots more updates on the sidebar blogs -- check 'em out

Friday, June 12, 2015

Deck cleared - and the big reveal!

Well, it seemed to take to get the plants off the deck this year.  It was going slow - until that brainstorm mentioned in the previous post.  Wow, things went fast after that!  (Click HERE for the big reveal!)

With the deck cleared off, the swing bed weeded and under fresh grass clippings, the lawns mowed (for now), I can switch to maintenace mode outside (mostly watering - WE NEED RAIN!!) for a while.

I can also direct my attention to my Mom's neighborhood garage sale on July 10-11.  What a great incentive to dive back in to my purge project.

Filling out the rest of the month - a root canal for me on Monday (oh boy! :-( ), various medical appointments for me and Mom and getting her signed up for Silver Sneakers PT program down at the center.

Yep - no rest for the weary....

How goes YOUR June? 

=========   Hey.  More Purge Project news.  Click HERE ======

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Disturbance in the Force

Mobile veg bed
Simple trellis
Yesterday I bought another of those expanding bamboo fence/trellises to extend the corral around the new mobile veg bed (<=click for details) up by the deck.

This morning I attached it and expanded it, looked at the result.  W H A M M O !!  (Some of you may have felt a disturbance in the Force.)

It was one of those moments when you catch your breath and freeze.  You stop, time stops, and your brain explodes with paradigm shifting insight.

This was MAJOR!  I went a little nuts after I was able to exhale.  My brain went into overdrive, looked for flaws in the new idea, found none and, after 15 minutes of excitement, made myself sit and drink another mug of tea.  

The sit-down allowed me to test the theory even further.  No flaws, only more good stuff.  Still drinking that mug of tea, but just had to put up a post.

Watch this space.  In the meantime -- "...Everybody dance now..."


Other news :  After being dry since May, we got .9" of rain yesterday.  Huzzah!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The new Queen

After looking high and low locally for a year, I finally found a suitable, healthy looking, reasonably priced Snow Queen oak leaf hydrangea to replace my loss in the front bed last year.

The new plant has been in place for over a week and is acclimating to her new digs.  I'm hoping the local plant populace is happy with their new monarch.

I know I sure am.  Long live the queen!


In other exciting news, pop over to the Vegetable Page (<=click) sidebar blog.  Some really fun stuff going on this year.   

And household fun in the basement.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tom (the tomato toad)

While working on a new project (to be posted on the garden projects page soon) I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye.

There was a toad using a nest of tomato cages stored against the front deck planter to climb up onto the planter.  

From there he/she (very deliberately, as if this was something established) walked over to the base of the plant in the first pot, turned around, backed up against the stem and proceeded to use hind legs to dig into the soft soil beneath the leaf mulch.

In a minute all you could see were its eyes.

Wonder why the high-rise real estate?  After all, the bird bath bed is a vast space (to a toad) of soft soil and leaf mulch.  Maybe this cold May/June hasn't warmed up the ground yet and the big pots are warmer/drier/ better view? 

Toads.  Gotta love 'em.

Wonder what's going to happen when I use the nested cages on veg plants?  Hmmmm.

====== Update =====  
Toad still in the pot this morning.  Blinked at me. 

Meanwhile, I've put up a post on the flower page with updates on recent activity.  Check it out.  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Privacy/screening progress

This post is for my records so you may find it boring.  Lots of pics, though.

I'm documenting my efforts to create privacy and screening around here.  Since I've been here many trees/shrubs in the neighborhood/golf course have been removed and nothing has been replanted.

So I've been doing my best to recreate the 'private, park-like setting' that was advertised when I bought the house in 2002.  (Click all pics to enlarge.)

First off - golf course screening is doing well.  The pines (4/2010) are coming into their own for sure.  Also, this year's extension of the wooden snowfence along the pine tree arc, resultant deep growth from my not mowing back there, and 100% return of sweet Joe Pye plants (6/2012) along the back is filling in well. I've not caught any golfers in the yard this year - so far. (The back border yews (4/2010) are still there, basically stumps due to fracking deer.)

The 4-year-old (8/2011) line of hemlocks between me and my nabe to the south suffered major deer damage last fall.  The bucks used them to clean their antlers, breaking lots of branches and leaders.  Last spring I'd cut a dead leader out of a smaller plant and was pleasantly surprised this spring to see that it responded by turning up 2 lateral branches to become more leaders.  Taking heart from that, I trimmed out all dead from the others, hoping that they, too, will figure it out.

On the north side, the line of burning bush planted last June (6/2014) came through the winter relatively unscathed, in spite of the deep, persistent snow.

The canopy of fencing I installed when planting kept them from suffering the fate of the previous plants there - more ill-fated yews.

The burning bush were about 12-14" tall when planted.  Now they are about 24".  The extra protection (and Milorganite fertilizer) keeps me optimistic on this border.

The driveway border shrubs (Miss Kim lilac, golden vicary privet, double-file viburnum, rose of Sharon, grey-twigged dogwood, and hemlock) along the driveway are thickening up and filling in.  The hemlock here were (*knock wood*) ignored by the deer last fall so are much taller.  But I gave them each a cut too.  I want them to get thick and full, not great height. 

3rd & 4th pic from the deck. 
A glance to the south and you see that the neighbor's pool is getting harder to see.  And look how much of the golfcourse green is obscured now as the pines get thick, the crabapples get wide and the Joe Pye get tall.

About the only non-improvements are in the corner of the front yard (5th pic).  That arc of burning bush (2011-2013) take the brunt of the deer devastation every year. And this spring the cherry tree (2013) that was to fill that semi-circle gave up the ghost and died.  I've installed a Snowdrift crabapple (5/2015) there, hoping it will be made of sterner stuff.

And finally, a good shot of the pines in back, candling out well right now.  About 10-12' tall. Good news - they are doing great.  Bad news, all the Georgia Pines in the golf course dying or dead from some beetle or disease (left in pic).  Their white pines are okay, so mine should be safe.  I'm really going to miss those 6 huge trees (60+ feet) when they take them down.  It's going to make a HUGE hole in the sky back there.  

So there.  With my borders, time helps.  Bounce dryer sheets help.  Milorganite fertilizer (deer deterent) helps.  If there were no deer, I'd need none of the former.  Oh well.  It's better than it was, and not as good as it will (hopefully) get.