Saturday, November 29, 2008

Exhaled

Well, finally! The mower came back last week with a big bag-o-parts they replaced. Apparently I was riding around on a rolling accident. *whew* Dodged that bullet. There was almost 4" of snow on the ground when it was delivered a week ago Friday and so it became a waiting game.

But the icy weather persisted, some days not even getting out of the 20s. Finally, the day after Thanksgiving, most of the snow was gone so I bundled up (still really cold) and went after those last leaves. Ah. Closure!

Afterward I took a quick walk-a-bout to check out the flower beds and found a lovely surprise. Daffodil shoots. No, really. Daffodils! I know, I know. I've seen established daffs send up shoots in November before. But this was a shock as I had only put these bulbs in the ground less than 3 weeks ago. They really surprised me, being so newly dug in. A real spirit-lifter and and a nice promise of Spring. Made the day seem warmer and brighter than it really was.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Weather whiplash



Y'know, one of the best things about Ohio is it's variable weather. No boredom here. But I gotta tell ya, this is a little over the top. 60s last week and then.... WHAMMO.

Brrrrrrr.
(P.S. We b-b-broke a 15-degree 105-year-old r-r-record for cold early this m-m-m-morning (11/19). It got d-d-down to 14 degrees. *chatter*)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Got Milkweed?

Now that the season has ground to a rest for winter, it's time for more research into what will go into the ring garden. There is lots of information on the 'net as to which plants attract/ benefit which pollinators. The Melissa Garden in California has a good list.

When you can score a plant that attracts multiple pollinators, (and, be still my heart, a perennial to boot!) then those are the ones to cultivate.

Take, for instance, the humble milkweed.

It grows wild in open fields and the pods/seeds are ripe in mid-November around here. Easy to collect (if you can find an open field these days *grumble* otherwise here is a good site to get free milkweed seeds and plants). According to honeybee experts, milkweed flowers apparently produce copious nectar. One description I found says that you can tap a plant in bloom and actually see tiny spits of nectar shake out. And the nectar is a honeybee favorite. This was good news because I had already tagged milkweed for the ring garden for another, slightly more spectacular pollinator. Monarch butterflies.

As you can see by the top photo, the 2 pods I collected contain lots of seeds. I'll keep them in a cool, dry place until Spring when I plan to start them in trays (at about the same time I start my zinnias). My goal is to get nearly 100 milkweed plants. Not only will the blooms encourage honeybees and the leaves feed monarch caterpillars here in my yard, but the seeds can fly from the ring, spreading this beneficial plant in the area. After all, I hunted for pods for almost a month before I found a couple of plants in an area slated for new housing development. No wonder pollinators are in trouble. Too much sterile lawn, not enough forage plants. So, every little bit helps.

Milkweed. It does a garden good!

More garden buzz soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Tale of Whoa


The nice weather persisted through Thursday and a lot got done since the last post. I shouldn't bore you gentle readers with a litany of accomplishments, but hey. I run the show -- so I'm listing. ;-)

Shredded leaves were dug into the last section of the garden ring. All the rest of the leaves (those that were down - still more to come) were collected/shredded and used to mulch all the gardens around the house as well as overflow piled up for Spring use on the ring. All of the compost bins were emptied and shoveled into trash bins so it's ready for use in Spring. The asparagus bed is mulched and a winter compost bed started, ready to chow down on all those kitchen scraps. I took a whole day to plant about 225 bulbs and rhizomes, lots along the ring and the rest in the general area of the back yard to let the eye flow into the new bed. Finally, all the garden/deck furniture has been piled away into the shed, the fountains taken down, cleaned and stored. Actually, the place is looking pretty bleak right now.

A really big bleak came 2 days ago. Most of the seasonal stuff was done, but leaves keep falling and grass keeps growing. Even though the temps have plunged from daytime highs of 60s to 30s, the grass and leaves still need attention. So I bundled myself up and went after the trees that insist on waiting until nasty weather to drop their leaves. I revved up my trusty mowed and took off. I got the leaves up from under 2 trees and headed for a 3rd, confident that I could keep things under control until snow shuts down the gardens. I was moving right along, and then, wasn't.

Wha...? The engine was running. The blades were spinning. But the wheels weren't turning. Whoa? Woe! Not to mention wail and gnashing of teeth. I let loose a few choice Klingon expletives as I pushed the darn thing all the way back to the garage. Where it sat. Where it still sits. Where it will sit until the repair people can work me into their busy schedule. ARRRRRGH!

Sure, sure, I should feel good about having gotten as much done as I did before the tractor quit. But try telling a firefighter that he did a good job and almost got the fire out! *sniffle* *sob* I just hate it when something doesn't get done, when projects are left hanging, when I've somehow been thwarted in my attempts to manage the forces of nature, control space and time, and plan for world domination! Whoohaha. *pant* *pant* Hmmm. Someone needs a time out!

Oh well, until the mower is repaired, when I look outside I'll force myself not to see the shaggy lawn and mounting leaves but instead envision a Spring filled with drifts of yellow daffs, creamy jonquils and purple iris. Early blooms for early pollinators with promise of more to come. I'll remain calm, and think positive thoughts about a 'quick, easy & cheap' fix for the tractor. As a backup plan, I'm gonna beef up my command of some really expressive Klingon phraseology. K'plah!

More garden buzz soon!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Ring cycle - Act III

This unseasonably mild weather is a blessing. Usually November starts cold, wet, dreary, windy, spitting rain or snow. But for the past week it's been like September. Weather forecasts warn at the end of the week we return to the aforesaid cold and rain/snow mix, so I'm making hay while the sun shines.

The timing of this extra nice weather has allowed me to finish 'tucking in' the newly dug ring (pollinator garden) bed with all the trimmings. "Normal" November weather would have had Craig and me just trying to get the ring tilled. Period. But not only has it been totally tilled (Yay! Thanks, Craig), the gizillion bushels of leaves on my lawn have been dry and crispy and easy (well, not a royal pain anyway) to harvest, shred, and then dig them into the bed. On top of that there are a couple of buckets of daff bulbs and iris rhizomes to put in here and there along the ring for some Spring color.

The nice weather has also encouraged me to start a new compost pile of the extra leaves so I'll be able to keep feeding the ring come Spring. That soil needs some serious organic matter. We didn't see a single worm when we tilled. *tsk tsk*

Gotta run. That 'hay and sunshine' thing beckons!

More Garden Buzz soon.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Karma Kredits


First and foremost, I want to give credit to those that are supporting me in this rather large project.

Y'see, for the first time (and publicly, no less) I'm finally admitting that (work-wise folks) I'm not the strapping young lad I've always thought myself to be (especially being a modestly- built woman of mature years). Also a progressive ankle injury prevents me from doing the heavier work I used to do. (*flip flip* OK, crossing off learning Flamenco dancing from my to-do list. *sigh*) At least I now have a riding mower to help with hauling.

Anyway, I want to thank those that are helping me in any way whether it be physically, plant donations, website development, blog assists, and the occasional monetary gifts for plants, seeds, etc. And, while I will be thanking them here on the blog, I'm also making plans to remember their generosity in a more tangible way. Research shows that one of the best bee forage berry plants are elderberry. Next Spring I am planting the center of the ring with 8 elderberry plants (4 varieties). As they mature I will make jelly from the berries (after the bees have feasted on the nectar) and give the jelly to those that are supporting my efforts. Rosa rugusa roses are also bee forage favorites and (hopefully) I'll be able to include them in the ring next year. When mature I will collect their hips and make up packets of tea to accompany the jelly. The hips and the berries would not be possible without the bees and developing the sanctuary would be much harder without help from friends and fellow bee advocates.

Here are worker/helper bee-buddies to thank:

Extra special thanks to Craig P._______tilling

Pat J._________plants
Gennie K.______plants
Mary W.________plants
Anonymous______cash

This particular post will be kept updated and these good people not only have my thanks, but the bees and other pollinators (I'm sure) would voice thanks if they could. After all, helping the bees is, ultimately, helping everyone and everything else on our little closed eco-system called planet Earth. :-)

More garden buzz soon!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Leaf it to beaver



Gosh, I can't believe it's November. I don't mean the calendar, but the weather! It is beautiful! Blue skies. Temps near 60. Great incentive to harvest some leaves to feed the new garden ring. I wanted to title this post to indicate that I was feeding the chopped up leaves to helpful earthworms so the they can in turn enrich the soil with their castings. But the brief title of Feeding ring worms just didn't strike the right tone I was looking for. ;-) *urg*

Using the free Photobucket site , I was able to create a nifty slideshow banner for this post. Why talk when you can say it with pictures? I've dug leaves into two-thirds of the ring, but my neighbor still has to finish tilling the other third so it is as deep(?) as the rest of the garden.

A lot of leaves are down, but there is still a lot more to come. Good thing I've got the mower this year. Not only will I be 'harvesting' my leaves to work into the raw ring bed, but I'm going to build a monster compost pile in addition to my 'regular' compost piles. I'm thinking it will take a years of adding organic matter to the ring garden to bring the soil up to snuff. (As for the Roman road - those rocks are there to stay. I'm getting too old for that kind of digging! Hail Caesar!)

More garden buzz soon!