Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Finally, Rain

Last night, I finally heard the patter of rain drops.  My veggies must have been in shock, as it was the first real nature provided rain many of them have ever experienced.  Cool temps followed, along with clouds.   It will give them time to soak the rain, and the fertlizer I put out, really well.  When the sun returns on Friday along with a bit of eat, I am expecting some explosive growth to follow.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Running Around Like a Fertilizer With My Head Cut Off

Rains are finally on the way.  Got tied up earlier so was covering ground fast trying to spread fertilizer.  Still using up the last of my old chemical ferts on the non-food items.  In the food producing areas, it was a compost tea, organic Tone products, and some good old Alfalfa pellets.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Planting Odds and Ends

Today, I planted the Althea cuttings that I made last year along the East Side (New) side of the driveway.  I also planted the little volunteer Oak from the broken pot under the Oaks.  Last to go in the ground was the old Antique Rose that originally came from the side of St. Joe's Tower.  And ironically, I planted it back on the tower, in the center this time, after 2 years in a pot.  And when I pulled it out of the pot I was amazed it have even survived with so little soil for the last two year.  It is one amazingly tough rose for sure.   I only one Oak left to plant, nicknamed Big Nuts, after its large acorns.   I'll stick that in the ground this coming weekend for sure.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Leaves, Leaves and More Leaves.

I gathered, loaded, unloaded and spread around 80 bags of Live Oak leaves over the weekend. Best year yet, and more to go before spring cleaning ends. Some of those were mega bags from the Gorilla yard men. This was down the road from the first, and with the same industrial strength bags, so no doubt is was the same gorillas. At any rate, the four mega beds are covered with 6 inches of leaves, and should do it for both weed control, and soil building.

Back at the ranch, it was still cleanup, cleanup, and cleanup. We burned the last of the burn pile. That will be the last of burning of winter debris. Composting will be able to keep up with it from here.

I replaced the northwest Azalea in the statue beds once again. This is my fourth attempt there. It is a tough spot for sure, but every year the Crepe Myrtles get larger. And it is definitely a water issues, which I took some technical steps to resolve as well, aka water absorbing crystals.

Pa Joe’s Bougainvillea rises again like a Phoenix from the ashes. This is an amazing Bougainvillea. It has endured incredible cold, yet year after year it returns from the roots. I weeded it, but on a half inch of compost, and gave it a good watering. This should be its best year in quite a while.

I moved the compost pot over to the head of the gardens, where it will be at its best. Best of all it is most convenient there. And excessive rains, if it leaches the nutrients will leach them right in the vegetable garden. The question becomes how to hide it from plain view. I thought of bananas, which would do great, but I need to be able to work my little Mantis tiller in there from several directions, so something shorter is needed. Then it hit me. I need to move those Cannas, the ones whose seeds I brought back from Miami, for the dog yard. Perfect height to surround the Compost Pot. Tall enough to hide it, but not too tall that I can’t throw the tiller up in there and work it. Yeehaa.

Hmm, what else. Still haven’t found the courage to dump the rest of the seedlings in the compost bin. And a good thing as my brother in law came by and wanted some more. Sure wish I could give them all away. I have a plan, lol.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maters, We's Gonna Have Maters

Today, I tied up all of the tomatoes their stakes.  As I was doing so, I noticed my first tomato flowers.   It won't be long now, before I see those little round green fruit starting to form.  Yeehaa.   I went ahead and gave them their first fertilizer today as well, and watered it in.  Actually I fertlized everything but the corn.  I read somewhere not to fertilize corn too early.   Got to go look that up and find out when is not too early, lol.

Saw some catepillar damage down on the EggPlant seedlings.  I may have to address that, but will continue to monitor for now as I also say some beneficial insects out there as well.  BT might be a safe organic bet, if I have to resolve it through controls.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gorillas in the Yard

Well, not my yard.  I hauled a dozen bags of Oak Leaves home to mulch the outlying beds. And these were mega-bags. Their yard men must have been gorillas.  And there are still six more at the road there, and another 8 or 10 normal sized a little bit down.   Still got a ton of beds left to mulch, so I guess I'll get out early tomorrow and grab them, before trying to make a living.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sweat and Hard Work Today

We continue to make headway in the spring cleaning.  More mowing, weedwhaching to start.   Today, we also pruned the Crepe Mytles.  No Crepe murder here, just removed the suckers.  We also shaped up the Parkinsonia.  I found more disturbing damage and fear this year may be its last, but then again, I have said that every year for the last 3 years.   Who know, but its replacement was planted last year, so when it goes it goes.

I gave a lot of seedlings away today, too, so that was awesome.   I hated to see them go in the compost bin, but my garden is full, and so are my friend's gardens too, with a little help from me, lol. 

It's back out tomorrow.   And we won't finish the job, but maybe just one more weekend after this, and we can cruise into summer with just upkeep.

One last positive, too.  A friend with an incubator took the last 3 of my hen's eggs.  With a little luck we might get some progeny from my sadly missed hens.

Surprise Surprise

Guineas woke us early morning.   As I neared the pen, the sickening realization that my big Rooster was gone, set in.  Despite my fortifications, the predator had made his way in yet again.  I was beside myself.   Since it was 5:30ish, I decided to just make a pot of coffee and stay up, rather than going back to bed.   It wasn't long after, that the Guineas started making a rukkus again.   As I snuck around the side of the house, I spotted what I thought, was a dog out in the fog.  As I continued to sneak forward and squint, it turned, the head and tail came up to reveal a Fox.   Our predator is a Fox.  I was quite shocked, never expecting to see a Fox on our property.  With dogs, cats, lights, etc. I would have throught it way too busy for the shy Fox to be around.

So, I am out one Rooster and my two best Laying Hens.  I added even more fortifications to the pen.   And looking at trapping options for the Fox.  Once I am sure the Fox issue is resolved, it will be time to go Hen shopping.  I am thinking some Cochins would be really cool, but those steady laying Buff Orpingtons have me spoiled.   Two of each?

Never Take Beauty for Granted

Each year we are blessed with the Azalea bloom.  Last spring, after the big freeze it was pretty much a non-event, but maybe this year nature will make up for it.   This is my first year to get a really pretty bloom from this one.  I raised it from a baby.  I am happy to show it to you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Sad Day Today. The World Hates a Predator

Something burrowed into the chicken pen last night.  My two hens are no more.  When I walked out in the afternoon to feed the chickens I began to see Guinea feathers all over the place.  As I got closer, I could see the Guineas were OK, a bit beat up, but OK.  The big Rooster was there, but my two hens were nowhere to be seen.  Then I saw the hole on the backside of the pen where a predator had dug its way in.   As I began to expand my circle of search, I found the one of the hen's body, deheaded and disembowels.   I only found feathers of the second about 50 yards away.   I am gonna miss my two girls.  They rewarded my feedings with many eggs over the last 2 years.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Edamame Rising

Amazingly, too, because I didn't even water them in when I planted, and there has been no rain.

Elsewhere in the garden, cooler temps and lack of rainfall have slowed the growth down a bit on the tomatoes and corn.  The potatoes have still not broken ground, but should any day.  Bell Pepper are perking up, but the Eggplant are pouting from the cold.  All of the squash have broken ground, finally.  And the cucumbers and melons got a bit sunburned when the sun returned after several cloudy days, but are recovering just fine.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Long Day Out Today

More spring cleaning.  I weedeated the large front beds in preparation for mulching.   I'll be crusing for bags of Live Oak leaves thrown to curb, again this year.  If others won't conserve by mulching and composting what they already have, I'll help.  I did this in only a few beds, and in the vegetable garden last year and was quite pleased with the results.    This year, I plan to do all beds like that, including the vegetable garden.  I am certain the results will be even better than last year.  

I removed the the litte weeping Mulberry, and the Ichy Persimmon, and the Corkscrew Willow this spring.  I may removed a Loquat as well.  All were diseased or damaged beyond recovery from the 09/10 freeze.    I still have a few minor things to remove, but for the most part that is it in the discard phase of spring cleanup. 

All in all, I spent 10 hours of hard labor out there today.  I am beat, but it is a good beat.

Here is a picture of this year's garden seedlings from a couple of weeks ago just before I did the planting.

An Odd Day

Lots of spring cleanup today.  Burned back some bananas and other brush.  Cut down some cold damaged things from year before last that obviously was not going to recover.   Actually had to water the garden today.  The recent cool snaps have slowed growth down to a crawl, but also reduced humidity.

Discovered a large hive of bees in the big Live Oaks.  The current debate is whether to have a bee keeper remove them, of just let them be.   No decision.  They are only 100 feet or so from the veggie garden, so the pollination help would be appreciated and probably quite productive as well.

What else?  The Bay Tree is blooming.  As far as I know this the first time ever for that to happen.  I'll try to grab a few interesting pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Good Health is Built on Brix, Not Bricks, Brix

I got this in an email today from Jon at   Good info.

Last of the Edamame.And,,,,Cutworms, I Must Kill All Cutworms.

Lost a melon, a Bell Pepper, and an Eggplant to cutworms.  Pretty sure one of my tomatoes was hit as well.  Tough year for those little buggers.  And I have millions of little tomato, cucumber, and squaash volunteers out there.  Why can't they mess with them instead of my prize babies.

Anyway, I planted the last Edamame bed, the Midori Giants are in the ground, in the raised bed to the right.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Broken Angel Watches Over My Garden and Me

She was in many pieces when I found her, today, reinstated she stands watch over the garden and me.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

When You Use Compost, You Never Know What Will Pop Up

I suspect these are Butternut Squash Seedling.  Gonna hate to weed them out, but they came up in the wrong row, lo.  Actaully, I'll leave two just for the fun of it.

Heavy rains and nasty weather yesterday.  Today was sunny, but a little chilly.  I drove in the Tomato stakes, and put up the first section of netting for the peas.  I even got most of the Edamame planted.  And that danged Cutworm struck again, cutting down my Black Krim for the second time.

In the left raised bed, I planted Black Pearl from Territorial, and finished up a small space with Disoy from Ferry Morse.  In the center bed, I planted more the remaining Disoy, Misono from Territorial, and just labeled Edamame from Naylor Bros.   The right bed is still unplanted.but I have a bag of Midori Giant to go there, but back was tired before I got to that one.

And they pop up in the Compost Bin as well.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Heavy Rains Today

We needed rains, but this was some pretty heavy stuff.  I was out, so I won't get to see if there was any damage till the morning's daylight arrives.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day Started and End With Limestone, But In Between,,,,,,,,,,,,

Got home last night with a load of Limstone in the back of the pickup, well not that late, but too late to shovel it out.   What a way to start the day, but shoveling 2 tons of Limestone out of the back of a truck.  But I got it done, and then work.  Over lunch I ran out and planted the Bell Pepper and Eggplant seedlings.  The Bell Pepper looked great, the Eggplant not so great, but the all went in the ground regardless.  We'll see.  So, then at the end of the day, with all of the big holes filled the big truck showed up with the Limestone to reconstitute the driveway, or at least the first hundred feet, or so, of it.  Then I had to go drive over it a few times and rack the limestone from the center back to the tracks of my truck.  Boy am I whipped.  Now, if we can just get the rain tonight they are predicting,,,,

Almost forgot, I planted the two Goji Berries as well.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Louisiana Harvest Calendar

I ran across this the other day on the Internet.  It was meant mostly as a guide for those seeking local produce, but is also a great guide for what is commonly grown here.  Click to see a legible copy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Up, Up, and Away

Six of the seven rows of the garden are now planted. Only the row of Bell Peppers and Eggplant remain. That will be planted in the next couple of days. The Edamame Soy Beans will be planted into the raised beds at that time as well.

The chicken are in their summer home now via the chicken tractor, well OK, not really a tractor as I have to drag the pen by hand over a hundred feet. Not much fun, but it got done. And now the pen sits over the old gravel road bed, that will not only help with drainage and mud, but will also give them access the grit they need as well. A third benefit it that it significantly reduced the likelihood of a predator digging its way in.

On the ornamental side of things, I moved and divided the daylily by the driveway back within the bounds of the flower bed. I planted the little Iris Denny gave us over by the front brick steps on the right side. I grab some out of the front later to do the same of the left side of the steps. I am slowly picking through the remains of the house plants, repotting what is still alive and tossing the rest into the compost.

I hauled my first thousand pounds of Limstone yesterday to fix holes in the driveway. My little Loadhandler made the job far easier than a shovel alone. As near as I can tell, I will need to do that at least 2 more times or 3 more times before bringing in the big truck for a gate pour.