Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Mayhaw just may indeed.

My little Mayhaw struggled its first few year.  Indeed, I had decided that if it didn't show signs of establishment and growth this year, I would remove it.   Well, not sure it is was just enough years in the ground, maybe our cold winter, or what.  But it did indeed show signs of finally establishing itself.  Not only with new vigorous growth, but also with fruit. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Almost Forgot About the Potatoes

We hosted not one, but two different Crawfish Boils on Saturday.   As we started the first, Cel said, oops, we forgot the potatoes.  No, problem I replied, I'll go dig some in the garden.   I did, and that was soooo cool.  Looks like I am gonna get a 10 for 1 return on my seed potato investment, at least.  

Any my crazy little Blue Potatoes are growing like crazy too.  That was a wild experiment, so I far so good, so I can't wait to see how that works out. 

Year of the Tomato

I had 17 Tomatoes in the ground.   Insane winds of the last few days worked them over pretty good, but they were strong.   My father-in-law told me today, that he had checked out the Tomatoes all over the area and mine looked the best.  Yes, my chest stuck out a bit, I admit it.  The best thing is I have done this year all organic.
I put Paw Joes old ladder leaning up against St. Joe's Tower with the Snail vine on one side, and a Cucumber on the other side.

Chickens Get a Respose #2

I lost one of my Roosters, so the chickens spent the last 3 days running free.  I felt so sorry for them, but they found some relief here and there and are looking a little better.  But, Monday is here, so time for the pen again.   I don't take lightly moving away from organic, and only in a small area, but I had to find them some relief.  I got out a hose end sprayer with liquid Seven and pounded the whole area and beyond.   Seems to have worked, as I brought the chickens into the pen one by one, not even a single gnat landed on me.  So, I'll keep this up, till the gnat investation is overcome.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chickens Get a Repose

It was nearly death by gnats for my poor birds.  They are ragged and haggered for sure.  Despite all of my effort, and some were extreme, I was unable to reduce the gnat population in their area.  Now, my chicken cage is fairly large, 10' x 10' for 4 chickens, and it is moveable.  This is known as a chicken tractor.   But moveable does not equal easily movable.  The "easily" part is a future project I have yet to get to.  But they were so miserable, that I let them out and pushed, pulled, dragged the kennel 40 feet to an entirely new environment.   In the past, at dark, they have always gone into their pen knowing they were safe there, but not tonight.   They stayed on the back porch readily trading safety for relief from the the gnats, and I gladly let them.   Now I have no idea how I will handle this come morning.   One of my neighbors may be forgiving of my chickens wandering over, but the other likely not.   Prayers be with me please, a chicken herder I am not.  Actually, I guess you need to pray for the chickens, lol.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Life Returns to The Bayou Teche

When we moved here in mid 2002, I saw little life in The Bayou Teche, not even minnows in the shadows.   I didn't know much about it at that time, and shortly thereafter came Hurricane Lili.   Hurricanes here tend to flush local waterways with oxygen poor water due to the leaf fall and turnover, resulting in fish kills.   I saw many dead fish floating down The Bayou Teche that fall.  There was no evident life the next year, but slowly year after year, the Bayou Teche came back to life.   It does seem this bayou has everything going against it, everything from urban runoff, to cane field runoff turbidity and the chemicals that go with it. 

Life was starting to return, and the The Bayou Teche was looking to look like a natural waterway again.   Then came the hurricanes Katrina and Rita of 2005.   Another setback.  Still by 2008 things were looking up.  I even caught a few Catfish while fishing.  Mullet were jumping, and there a few minnows here and there.  But again, came the hurricanes later that year, Gustav and Ike, both of which impacted the water shed within a few weeks of each other.   More dead fish floated down the bayou.   Signs of aquatic life were slim.

This year, the spring of 2010, I again have hopes.  It was an extremely wet winter.  This is the first time I have even seen the bayou rise significantly from rain fall.   But I am sure the flushing effect helped.  Aquatic grasses are gowing along the edge of the channel this spring.   Mullet are jumping.  I saw what was likely a small Bass striking in the grass, and Mullet jumping in the channel.  No minnows yet, but I have hopes.  The Bayou Teche needs a break, and with a little luck, nature may just give it one this year. 

Invasion of the Blood Suckers

Gnats and deer flies are attempting to carry me, and the Chickens, away.  I stay inside, but the poor chickens just huddle up in the corner of the coop.   The Rooster sat one day with his head stuck in the laying box trying to get some relief.   After looking for some relief for them, all I could find was to dust their feathers with Sevin dust and coat their combs with vaseline.   I did both, but substituted DE for the Sevin dust in an attempt to stay organic, for both their sake and mine. 
I hope it help.  Tomorrow I am going to let them out of the pen to hopefully find some relief.  Since I also have their pen set up as a chicken tractor, aka, moveable, I will move it to new virgin ground as well. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Man, Its Dry Out There

No break on the rain front, nothing but sun and low 80s.   I picked up another truck full of Oak Leaf Bags.  Well, kind of, Oak leaves and Oak Pollen, with pollen taking the majority in some bags.  Either way, it'll work for my purposes.   Today, I spead mulch around the new Camellias, the new Rain Trees, the old PawPaw and the Old Mayhaw.  Also, around the Moso Bamboo, and the Tomatoes, and the new Roses, as well.  Looks like this is the way its gonna be for a while

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea in the Rain? Well, not quite

We finally got a tad of rain again, and again not enough.  I am guessing we got a quarter inch, a half at best, but it was enough to wet things down a tad, but not close the cracks in the soil, some of which I have observed at nearly 1/2 inch wide.  I finished nature's job in the vegetable garden by putting out 25 gallons of aerated compost tea.  That and the rain, should give them a little jolt.  A few of the Tomatoes are starting to take off, so I guess I can no longer put off the tomato cage decision.  I have 18 tomatoes and 5 rickety cages, so somthing has to be done, that's for sure.  And on top of that I have 2 flats of seedlings.  I am just going to plant them here and there, and let them ramble.  There is certainly nothing to lose at this point.  The story of how I have all of those seedlings is an interesting learning point, but also a story to be told another day.

There is a bit of good news on freeze recovery.  The little Erythrina herbacea (Mamou Plant) although frozen to the ground, is returning from the roots.  The Erythrina crista-galli which was much large is yet to show any signs of life.   Two of the small Washingtonia filibusta that I assumed were dead are also pushing new spears.  Well, its not much I know, but after a winter like this every little bit helps.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mayhaws, Maybe Some Paw Paws, and I'm Itchy

It looks like my poor little Mayhaw may finally have hit its stride.   It is still small, but looks great.  Best of all, I have a handfull of little 1/2" Mayhaws growing on it.

My PawPaw on the other hand, has not hit is stride.   It made a little handfull of flowers again, as it did last year, but I have the feeling it will drop them all, as it also did last year.

Last but not least, my Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro Persimmon is also looking much better.  I doubt it will fruit, but at least this year, it looks like it will live, lol. 

More to come, lots more, it's spring, yahoooooo!

Spring Can Be Tough Here for a New or Young Plant

Springs here consist of windy, continually heating, drought.   Not a friendly beginning for a new spring planting.   This is not a problem for established plantings.  With our wet winters and water hodling clay soils, they rarely required supplmental watering.  Only when the summer rains run late, do they suffer.  New plantings however lose moisture at alarming rates and have no roots spread into the surrounding clay soils to grab moisture.  Even worse, the silty clay loam tends to crack, so you can water all you want, it just runs off into endless cracks.  End result is the first year, in the spring and fall in particular you must water constantly. 

The 1-Step formula really has helped with this.  It has both water absorbing crystal to less the loss of water, and mycorriza fungus to improve root efficiency and root growth.  I have not lost a new planting since I began using it, where before it was no uncommon.

So far, new plantings this year include 2 Figs, 2 Raintrees, 3 Camellias, and 3 Blueberries.  I still have a few seedlings/young plants still to be planted as well.   I am always planting some kind of seed.  I remember as a small boy, one of the trees in our neighborhood made these giant Acorns, more than an inch across.   I parked in a parking lot a month or so ago, and sure enough under one of the trees were those large Acorns, which I had not seen in over 40 years.   I grabbed five of them.   Already, 2 trees have sprouted.  

And we are looking for a couple more Camellias to finish the Camellia Garden Room.   Cel has also just identified an area where she would like more Azaleas.  I'd like just 2 more hardy palms, but they need to be kind of large, so that won't happen anytime soon.  I am looking for a sale, haha.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

No Longer Bamboozled by Bamboo, I Think

Low and behold, the east facing Moso has sent up 4 new shoots.  Yahoo.  Nothing yet form the west facing one, but I'll hit it with high nitro fertilizer one more time at the next rain, just for the heck of it.  Worst case is I'll give the St. Augustine in that area a shot in the arm.   At least for now, I still have Moso.

The Earth Box Rig, Not Sure Who Would be Prouder, Dad or Norbert

Due the abundance of Tomato seedlings, I am struggling to find places to plant them, so I pulled out the old Earthbox out of mothballs.    The cover and clips have long ago been lost, along with the vertical supports.   So, I loaded it up with a combo of MiracleGrow Organic Soil and Black Kow.   Rather than use the fertilizer strip called for in the instructions, I substituted Compost Teas.

I cut the MiracleGrow plastic bag for a cover.  For the vertical supports I found on old piece of PVC pipe for one side and an old bird feeder post for the other side.

On one side I planted a Razzleberry Tomato and on the other a Red Currant Tomato.   And just for grins, I put a Perique Tobacco plants in the center.

Some Plants Grow so Fast, the Angel's Trumpet

When is a Weed not a Weed

This clover popped up at the base of one of the Kumquat trees.  It's a pretty little thing, not the normal white or yellow flowered clovers that are common here, but a little pink flower.  I didn't catch it at its best here, but you can see the charm.

Weeds, Birds, Compost, and Gravy

In spite of 4 hours of weed eating yesterday, today there was still more.  But now I have it done.  All good for another month

I was taking a break marveling at the diversity of bird life here.   In a few minutes, I observed ducks, geese, mockingbirds, blue jays, wrens, doves, swifts, sparrows, crows, hummingbird, kill deer, black capped chickadees, cardinals, and hawks.   I guess we are suceeding at making a wildlife friendly habitat.  Almost forgot, chickens, too.  

I was tossing plants into the compost when I got a pleasant surprise.  The Cattaleya Orchids which I were sure were done in by winters, and some Champanellte grape cuttings from last year were alive, just not showing it yet.  I quickly repotted them in some great soil.   Hopefully they'll come back strong now.
So its 4 o'clock and I am toast.   Decided to make a little custom gravy with everything in the kitchen sink boiling down, chicken, beef, and pork along with all kinds of ingredients.  Might be great, might be horrible, but it won't kill ya.

So much more to write, but so tired.   Maybe later.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Have Eaten Many Weeds

Today, I spent approx. 4 hours manning the weedeater.   And I still have another hour or so to go.   Now, its not that bad every weekend.   This is a about a once a month or so job, and with some carefull application of Roundup here and there, along with some heavy mulching it will shorten by a half of so.   Much of what I am knocking out are the spring weeds.   Next will be the summer batch headlined by our old favorite, Johnson Grass.   But it won't show up till the summer rains start, and they certainly have not started.  It is quite dry out, and we could really use a good rain.

The vegetable gardens are looking really good this spring.  My best effort so far, on this property, for sure.   We'll have a nice Potato and Tomato crop.   Onions will be OK, with a little Spinach, Lettuce, and Onions too.  If the winter weather had cooperated, we would have easily quadrupled our output, be regardless, I am pleased for this year.

I may not be bamboozled by bamboo after all.   Although the west Moso appeared to be a loss, the East Moso had 4 new shoots.  

Palms - I started pruning the death from the palms.  The bizzies are goners.   All of the Mules look great, except for the smallest which had a spear pull along with the Jubutea.  That is a big disappointment for sure.   But we'll see.  I haven't given up on them yet.

Friday, April 9, 2010

All Hail the Grapes, for They Have Joined Us for Spring

Almost forgot to note that the Grapes have sprung forth.  My grapes are 'Champanelle' given to me as cutting from my late neighbor Mr. Picard.   I would stop short of calling them robust, but each year they continue to grow larger with better crops.   I propagated some cuttings last year as an experiment, but they did not make the wnter, which was my fault.  Next year, I hope to expand the vinyard a bit.  

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Rain, A Small Rain, But Rain Non-the-Less

Seems like yesterday I was whining from the rainiest winter on record, and seems like forever since we had a good rain.  A few weeks for sure.  The clay was cracking already.  We got a little rain tonight, not enough to do any good, but it made me feel better.   Maybe they'll be more later.

Fire Reared Its Ugly Head at New Dawn, Fire Blight That Is

No doubt due to the hard winter, fire blight has reared its head here and there.  I fought this battle once in a previous garden, but it is a tough one to win short of a chainsaw.   Triple Action 20 did the trick last time, and that is what I will use again, but I have to move quick.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dentist and Camellias Don't Go Together, But 2 Out of 3 Ain't Bad

After a tortuous trip to the dentist.  Nothing wrong with the dentist, it is just I consider all trips to the dentist torture.  I had hoped to get the 3 new Camellias planted after work today, but after the dentist trip I thought I was done for the day.   Then it happened, right around 6pm I got this little burst of energy, so out I went.  I planted the 2 white Camellias, leaving the 3rd for tomorrow.   You know everytime I write Camellias, I feel like it should be Camellia, as in the same word for both plural and singular.

So, back to the planting.  The White Camellia in the center was planted in a normal fashion with minimal soil amendments consisting mostly of Black Kow.  I watered it in with Compost Tea brewed with Thrive cultures.   The second white Camellia planted to the right had the same soil amendments but 1-Step was added and it was watered in with plain water.  The soils in both holes was the same, black with little organic matter or visible soil life.  In each 24 inch diameter hole I count only 1 Earthworm.  Not good, but I know how to build soil.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday Puttering

So, I am not supposed to work on Easter Sunday, thus I did lots and lots of puttering.

First I trimmed the winter damage on the Phoenix sylvestris palms.  They are fine.   The I trimmed the Bizmarckia palms.  They are dead.  Since I have tons of Tomato seedlings, I got the old Earthbox out of mothballs just to have a place to grow a couple more.  Of course I have no idea what I'll do with the other 60 seedlings.  I think I'll just put them here and there in the ornamental beds and leave them to there own devices. 

I decided to convert an old burn area in front of the barn to flower area.  I put in the yellow Dahlia's there.  They are going in a bit late, but I got them on sale, and I know my boogs loves yellow and Dahlias.

My frst potatoes are looking good., but the onions are pathetic.  My fault on the Onions as they were planted far too late with all of the winter rains.

Even later than that are the Purple Potatoes I planted today.   I got them last week at the grocery store and they were just too cute.  I ate a few, but saved most to plant.   Probably won't grow here, and planted much to late, but ce la vie'.   This is what gardeners do.

Holy Saturday's Crawfish Boil

This used to be Good Friday's Crawfish Boil until it became popular to add Sausage to the Crawfish Boil.   Well, you know there is that meat thing on Good Friday, so it became a drop the sausage or move the boil thing.  Well, the boil got moved.  But the most magical part did not get moved, which is the location Ca' Pete.   It is hard to describe the place, but it is not of this time.   It is as close to a time machine as exist.   One step on the property is a step back in time.  And each step takes you further back.

I was feeling a bit artistic, so here goes.  First shot is a view through the weeping willow.

And my father-in-law holding court while making some Hog Cracklings.  

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Today was mostly a day of recuperation from a long work week. 

It was a nice day out, but with strong winds that wear on you. I got no major jobs done, but lots of little ones. I spread out about 20 bags of Oak Leaves I had collected. Watered this and that. Things are really dry out. We could use a good rain.

I put the Thrive enzymes in the fountain pond and started the pump running with an extension cord.  Before pictures were taken so progress compared week by week.   I fixed another wheelbarrow of Organic Potting Soil and Black Kow.  I have found this to be a very useful mixture for everything from soil amendments to potting soil for houseplants.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

3-Day Weekend, Yahoo!

It was a long short week at work, so I didn't get much done in the evenings.   So, I am really looking forward to this 3 day weekend.   I did get my Soil Soup Compost Tea Brewer repaired and back online.  All I can say on that repair is God Bless Silicone Rubber in a tube.  I'll be happy if it'll finish the season.  Then I can replace it over the winter.

Being a technologist at heart, I have to bring some new tech into the garden, that being modern enzymes.   I got my first "Thrive" products today.  So, here's the propaganda:

Thrive Concentrate

An Earth-friendly living microbial treatment with Mycorrhizal fungi for the health of your soil. Safe for use around pets. Available for flowers, vegetables, tomatoes, tree & shrub, and new plants.
Detailed Description

THRIVE works from the roots up. The microbial activity introduced into the soil stimulates root growth, mass and length. THRIVE can be used with all types of fertilizers. In addition to enhancing the bioavailability of fertilizer and decaying organic matter, the bacteria in THRIVE colonize on the hair like structures of the plant root to increase nutrient absorption and stimulate growth. The result is more resilient and robust plants that are better able to withstand transplant stress, excessive heat and disease.

You will find outstanding results with increased flowering and fruit bearing. THRIVE can be mixed with water or applied directly to the soil. THRIVE contains no fertilizer, herbicide or pesticide. It is environmentally friendly, safe to use around children and pets and will not interfere with other treatments. The bacteria in THRIVE will remain viable between 35 and 120 degrees with as little as 18% soil moisture.