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Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Sleeping Promise from Spring

I've inventoried my seed collection, faced once again with the thought that I may have a problem with hoarding.  Over 400 varieties.  Some seeds so old that germination may be iffy.  Some seeds arriving just in time for the Winter Solstice.  A resolution to plant at least 70% of the varieties out.  A resolution always broken.  But, at least some go into the ground to get their chance at being. Perhaps what I have is not too much hoarding, but an abundance of optimism? Each sleeping seed a promise that Spring will come.

Southern Pea (cowpea): Colossus. 
Nikon D5100
1/20 sec
ISO 800
36mm/35 mm eq 54mm
Max aperture 4.7
Metering Mode Center-weighted Average

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Backyard Bird Photographs

I should probably name these, but in the interest of actually getting the photos edited and posted, I'm just going to toss them on here.  I'll name the ones I know... (Click the picture for larger image.)

Male Cardinal

Baby it's cold out here!

But yes, cracked corn!
Lady Cardinal

Why hello!


Same one?

A different woodpecker.

In a more natural setting


Look who got the prize!

High in a tree with poor lighting

Unknown, but maybe male & female of the same?
Lots of action going on

Who am I?
Cuckoo Marans Rooster Crowing about the day
(short tail feathers due to recent molt)

Spring Bulb Raised Beds

The bounty of next Summer starts with preparations in Winter.  Got most of my Spring Bulbs planted out - Beds #1 and #2 for 2018.  Plant once, never plant again.  These varieties should come back year after year.  In fact, they should multiply and I should have many more to plant out within a few to several more years.  For the last two seasons I have been gardening in raised beds that were essentially mounds of dirt.  Well, the crab grass pretty much took over last summer as I gallivanted around the country for work. I have always wanted "real" raised beds with wooden sides so I could turn them into cold frames if desired.  So, this is the year that I start.  I made my beds almost 3 foot by almost 6 foot due to material size and the fact that I am short.  Many people make their beds 4 foot wide; however, 3 feet works better for me - and saves on materials.

  • 6 Cedar or Pressure Treated fence boards
  • 1 4" x 4" x 6' Pressure Treated fence post
  • Nails
  • 10 cu ft dirt (12 cu ft would have been better)
  • Lots of mulch
I am fortunate that my husband is a man who can build anything and who collects tools like I collect seeds and plants.  His nail gun and chop saw made quick work. Sorry no instructions, but hopefully the photos will give you a good enough idea.

I set the raised beds over two layers of cardboard (I love Amazon; I hoard cardboard.) right over the dried weeds from last year.  Eventually the cardboard will decompose; however, the theory is that those weed seeds will be covered by 6-10 inches of soil at that point that they will not have a chance to germinate until I am long dead and decomposing myself.  The white plastic looking stuff are dog and chicken food bags cut open and inside up.  They will get covered by cardboard, too.  And then mulch. They will become the isles between the beds. 

I threw a thin layer of mulch all over the top of the cardboard inside of the bed.  The theory being that it would help hold water and also inoculate the bed with fungi at some point. The mixed wood mulch is free for the hauling from the city. Yay!

Here is some detail to show what the sides and corner of the bed looks like.  The posts are flush on the top, but because a 6 foot post is not exactly 6 foot, the bottoms are not. Don't forget to click on any of the photos to see full-sized.

10 Cubic Feet of purchased garden soil. Compost not done, and don't want to add more weed seeds than will just blow in from around the dead weed filled garden and surroundings.  I probably should have used more dirt so that the roots could go down further, but I didn't.  I did top off with more mulch after planting.

Daffodils from Brent and Becky's bulbs were large and many were "double-nosed."  Means more blooms, healthy plants, and a high probability that they will come back year after year and "go forth and multiply."  8 Dutch Irises (Blue Magic) surrounded by Daffodils.  Early, Mid-, and Late seasoned Daffodils - there should be spring color for more than a month from these beds.  Thinking of over-seeding with creeping herbs, such as Oregano and Thyme for summer production.  

Here is a view of the bed and what will become the path - all covered in mulch for a good Winter's nap. A thin layer over the dirt in the bed, and a thicker layer in the pathways.  I'd like to get 6 inches in the pathways, but have to get the brakes fixed on my truck before I can get another load of mulch from the city.

This is the planting schemes for the two beds.  At some point I plan on painting the beds white and then stenciling inspirational sayings and such.  Ok, yeah, right.  In reality, I'll be doing good to stencil the bed numbers on them. But, gardens are for dreaming, so I'll say that it could happen.