Monday, July 30, 2012

More losses for the robins

The robins can NOT catch a break this year.  We got almost a half an inch of rain both last Friday and Saturday.  When I wandered out Friday afternoon to enjoy the wet, I found this robin nest under one of the sweet gum trees.  The nest was trashed and all 3 eggs were smashed.  I can't imagine the fall did that kind of damage to the eggs.  Whole eggs tend to bounce.  These looked like they'd been stepped on.  The shells were empty with no sign of any contents.

I've only seen one fully fledged robin in the yard this year with its speckled breast and muted colors.  Contrary, the sparrows, blue jays, flickers and the like have done well.  But the robins are not having much luck.  Hopefully they are doing better in other yards and gardens.

Meanwhile, the lawn (as you can see in the pic) is still brown and crisp in spite of the recent (.9") of water.  It's going to take a lot more water and cooler temps to bring THAT back.  At least the rain barrels have been topped off again.

In other news, I've updated the Flower, Vegetable and Garden projects pages (links on top of sidebar).  Click on the links to check them out.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Perked up

Between the 1.65" of rain we got last week (followed by 3 days that did not even get to 75F), everyone I know is breathing a sigh of relief and are enjoying this much-needed weather break.  Temps are due to get back into the high 80s, maybe 90s this week (it's already over 80F and humidity climbing).  But the past couple of days were -- BLISS!

It was the ultimate (and much needed) attitude adjustment that this gardener sorely needed.  I had fallen into a whining despondency I just couldn't shake (apologies all around for the recent rash of 'downer' posts) .  But now -- there was enough energy to catch up on some housecleaning (windows open! a/c off!), to finish some pressing family business I'd been putting off as being too stressful, and I mentally slapped myself out of a month-long funk.  As for the deer eating everything in sight - there's just nothing I can do about it so  I've stopped worrying that I won't be able to make lots of pickles as previously promised for everyone.

I've got 400 gallons of cached rainwater and there is a promise of some squalls early this week.  I'll just water what I can, try not to dwell on the drought, dead grass and not-dead deer, and hope to hold this more positive outlook.

After all, there's always next year....right?  :-D


I've updated the VEG page and *gasp* the FLOWER page.  Click them for news.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cloud burst !!

Monday we'd gotten 1/2" of rain and I saved what I could in the water barrels.

Wednesday we got another 1/4".

Today...  Oh today!    Around 11:15 we got a really nice downpour for 20 minutes.  The temps dropped into the high 60s and we got 1/2" of rain.   YAY YAY!  Then I checked the radar and saw that we juuust might get another shower in a while.  Hmmm.

There was only space for another 20-25 gallons or so in the 3 barrels by the garage.  If we get more than a brief shower, I'd miss the opportunity to catch it.  So between sprinkles I hustled back to the shed and brought up the 6th (and last) rain barrel.  It was all cut and cleaned - ready to go.  I set it up to catch the garage runoff.

Then I went  back to the shed where I quickly baled out half of each of the 2 barrels into 2 empty 32-gallon compost bins.  That way, should we get more than a shower, the barrels would have room to catch it all.  There.   Now we wait. 

And there it came.  Slowly at first, then a little harder, and then lots of rolling THUNDER and another little cloud burst.  It didn't last long, but it gave us .3"  Total - .8"  Jeeze.  That's more rain than we've gotten in the past 19 days!   And I caught it ALL.

So right now I'm sitting on 395 gallons of rainwater!   I feel like I've won a lottery.  Add in the cool temps (which won't last - the sun is coming out now) and it's like money in the bank!  I'm actually a little giddy.  Temporary?  Sure.  But for now -- what a wonderful respite from the broiling temps and parched weather.

Hope you fellow Ohio gardeners caught some of this today.  :-D

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Please sir, I'd like some more

I had just unloaded groceries and was fixing some bacon sandwiches for Mom and I when I glanced out the window and saw it was getting dark.

Suddenly, it started to POUR.  I pretty much dropped everything and Mom and I ran out to the sunroom to watch the rain.   It came down in buckets!  There must have been an inch of rain on the driveway that couldn't get out of its own way.

What a WONDERFUL sound on the sunroom roof.  The rain came down in thick silver sheets and between the drumming on the roof and the gurgling in the gutters it was almost too loud to converse.

Then, within 10 minutes, it was over and done with**.   I ran out to check the rain barrels (this shouldn't surprise ANY one - I have my priorities, y'know!) and found that the garage drums gained total about 45 gallons as did the shed barrels. YAY.  90 gallons in 10 minutes!

Well, that was fun.  Back to the kitchen where the sandwiches were cold - but who cared.  We got 1/2" of rain.  Sure it came down really hard and most of it just rolled off the bone dry ground, but the temps fell and the air didn't smell like DUST anymore.  Ahhhhh.

Thanks, Ma Nature.  Now --- do it again!  Pleeeeeeeze.

**Within less than 45 minutes, it was as if it had never happened.  No puddles, everything was dry again and dust began to settle back on the leaves. *pant*

(PS - ridiculously encouraged by the brief shower, I've planted anew in the veg bed - CLICK HERE)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Topped out..

"Standard" echinacea are attracting lots of bees,
but these 'poofy' ones don't get any traffic at all. 101F (index @ 110) on Saturday (Akron/Canton broke a record). (My deck thermometer in the shade hit 102.)

The day was brutal - like an oven.  Walking from inside to out was like walking into something hot and solid.  There was not even a breath of breeze.  Sane folks stayed inside (if they had a/c).  The insane?  Well, they golfed!  No.  Really.  There were people golfing all day - no hats, no sunglasses.  What is that all about?

I was only slightly insane as buddy Dave and I got an early (7 am -ish) start and went to Hartville to shop for some vegs, etc.  But it was doubly hot up there due to all the blacktop and concrete.  We scurried back quickly and retreated into the cool of the house.

The veg at the stand were certainly not primo - tired, and less selection.  I'm afraid it's going to be a bad season for fresh produce.  We did score some cukes (store bought?  eeeek) and lots of Vidalia onions so I'll be making up some refrigerator pickles this week. (More like refrigerator onions with cuke garnish. heh)

Sunday dawned with a northerly breeze (thanks again, Canada) and only got up into the 80s.  What a relief.  And this morning it's only mid-60s outside right now -- all the windows are open, fans on upstairs, and the house is sucking in all the fresh cool, dry air it can handle!

Forecast daytime 80s this week with 60s nighttime.  But no chance of rain.  The drought continues.

But at least temps have come down enough that one does not fear for their health if they should foray out into the gardens....

(like I did this morning --  CLICK HERE and then CLICK HERE) (Oh, and then HERE.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Survival mode

Temps are climbing higher into the 90s and you can see 100F from here with no relief in sight.

A couple of days ago a storm (they are our only source of rain this time of year - no fronts) gave us almost .4" of water.  Most of it evaporated right off the grass and leaves and the ground shows no effect.

There is no really good news.  Nothing encouraging to report.  Outside projects (like building, staining, moving heavy objects) are unfeasible in this heat and even the little bit of watering I do in the early A.M. soon leaves me overheated and enervated.
German chamomile grown in a pot

I have picked 4 cucumbers, but am not expecting much more out of the 6 plants.  Where the deer didn't eat the leaves, the heat is making the plant drop blossoms so even though I'm watering the vines daily, there seems to be little payback for the effort.  I'll keep watering, though -- for a while -- and see if the vines make new blooms.

Otherwise, I'm inside.  It's depressing.  I don't have any  'inside' fall back direction for this time of year and  I'm at odds.  And even with the novelty of reading on the iPad, an antsy gal like me can only sit still for so long.  (Yet even though I'm getting bored, rest assured I've NOT turned into a housecleaning machine. Ha!)

I thought these kind of days would make for some extracurricular excursions to street fairs, farmers markets, and other outdoor events.  But the weather is killer and the very thought of walking around in it ON PURPOSE strikes me as a little insane.

There is one item to report.  I've not mowed the lawn for 4 weeks now.  The grass is burnt, but the clover is still green (most blooms are now blown, brown and making seed - although the honeybees are still pervasive, even in this heat).  Still, I think my less-than-manicured lawn looks better than the closely shaved dead grass that others have.  AND (here's the pony in the poo), I've saved between $6-7/week for lawnmower gasoline.  By the end of the month there will be plenty left in the wallet to pay for all the A/C I've used lately.

I should go water the veg bed now.  But, like the cukes, the peppers and tomatoes are not making flowers.  Haven't for the past couple weeks.  I'm trying to decide if I should just let them fend for themselves as I'm pretty sure that there will be no harvest, per se, this season.  As for the produce I see at outdoor stands, I sure wonder where the heck it comes from.  Not from around here, I'm betting.

P.S.  On a more positive note,  I've put up 2 new posts on the VEG PAGE.
One for CARROTS.  < = click
One for CUKES.  <= click

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cracking the camel's back

Actually, that's MY back that is cracking.  As in breaking.  As in LAST DAMN STRAW.

This year I've battled heat and drought, chipmunks and cabbage moths, high winds and low humidity, thoughtless golfers and a wacko neighbor.  I've stood up to Japanese beetles, carpenter bees and hornets on the deck.   It's been hard.  It's been draining.  But I've stayed on the front lines throughout.

But now.... I'm ready to walk away.

I'd found a cropped plant occasionally over the past week or so.  Looked like deer, but no other evidence (droppings, sightings, etc.).

But last night they came.  And they ate. Lilies, sunflowers, zinnias, butterfly bushes, asters.....  All flowers that I've babied along in this drought.

The veg too.  (CLICK HERE)

I'm hot.  I'm angry.  I'm tired.   I can't afford the 8' fences it takes to keep out deer.  I'm not allowed to shoot them.  And I don't want to invest in miles of electric fence.  (How charming would THAT look?)

So I'm throwing in the trowel.  There's just so much of me and I can no longer do it myself.  I no longer have the stamina, the motivation, or the encouragement necessary to keep up the battle.

Why bother?  In this heat/wind/drought nothing thrives anyway.  I had scaled back expectations to just surviving this year, but the deer have made it quite clear that nothing I do will make any difference.

I'm tired of being the general AND the army.  I'm not surrendering, exactly.  But I think I'll have to just walk away.  I may or may not be able to regroup.  I'm just so discouraged.

Good luck to the rest of you.