Thursday, August 13, 2015

A blank slate

I have a newly cleared sloped garden bed, just over 39 feet wide, with 7 foot from the short retaining wall at the top to the stones at the bottom.

Zone 6, clay soil, neighbor's sprinkler system takes care of most of the watering.

Oh, the possibilities.  I don't want anything taller than 4 feet in the rear of the bed.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Sunrise, sunset

Sunset tonight is 8:27 PM.  This means that I have 2 hours from the time I get home until sunset to do whatever outdoor chores I need to do, instead of waiting for the next weekend.  There is just SO MUCH to do in June - I cannot keep up on weeding if I'm only doing it on the weekends.

I made some extra food over the weekend so that I don't have to make anything from scratch.

I did take some pictures on Saturday, I'll post them after the sun sets :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Weekend Weather

Oh, it looks like it's going to be a LOVELY weekend contrary to the weather reports I was looking at just yesterday.  We've gotten plenty of rain this weekend, so digging holes and weeding should be a far sight easier than it was last Saturday.  Of course, I still need to be up very early so that I can get out in the morning and finish most of the hard work by 11 so that I don't sweat to death.  I promise some pictures are forthcoming as I finish weeding and mulching the beds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Moving on...

Even the late season daffodils' (poeticus and decoy) blooms have faded, before I could even get out there to take a picture.  Same with the cherry tree, who looked beautiful one Saturday, and the next was making a pink mess of the sidewalk.

Next up are the irises, now waving their buds proudly above their heads.  Some of the blue ones are already bloooming.  These are the same ones that my neighbor gave me, and when I divided I gave some to the neighbor across the street.  Quite strong smelling, their scent has now replaced the hyacinths' (my favorite!).  Making a note now, though I'll probably not remember to do it, to mark the colors on the ones that I was given from other gardens so that I can divide the ones I really like in the fall.

Lamium, epimedium, hardy geraniums, foamflower, pigsqueak, ragwort, and lungwort are all blooming like crazy - they soon will be followed by tickseed, alliums, and coral bells whose buds are nearly ready to open.  Not sure why my hellebores and trilliums haven't been blooming year after year - got foliage, but no flowers.  Maybe they need fertilizer.

The steeper slope on the west side of the house has now been completely covered in cardboard and mulch, instead of weedy wildflowers.  In the fall (or next spring, depending on how I feel about it), I will start planting perennial shrubs.  Right now I have to come up with some sort of a plan so I know what I'm looking for.  I don't really want anything that grows taller than 5' up in the back along the neighbor's retaining wall .  I do like the beautyberries I have in the other end of the bed, but I think I may go with some red twig dogwoods which I won't have to prune for the first 3 years anyhow.  Cornus 'Arctic Fire' only gets about 4' high with a 4' spread.  I was thinking of interspersing those with Ilex 'Sky Pencil' which grows taller, but with only a 1' spread.  I don't want a full hedge of that, though.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Seasonal Allergies

Not much keeps me from getting outside to work in the garden, but this year seasonal allergies have me cowering indoors trying to escape from tree pollen for the past few days.  It's a relatively short season, thank goodness, but I am more miserable this year than I have been in years past.  From the sound of it, a lot of other people here at work are suffering too.  We're sniffling, sneezing, and coughing in a symphony conducted by the waving tree limbs. 

As airborne delivery is not the most efficient delivery method for propagating your species, male trees must launch extra pollen into the air to increase the chances of pollinating a flower on a female tree.  The size and weight of the pollen is what allows it to remain airborne, rather than the heavier pollen that requires pollinators (insects, birds, bats) to move it from one plant to another.  These small light capsules of genetic information unfortunately find their way into our mucous membranes, triggering a immune system response in some people - the severity of which varies by person and day.

Landscape planners often choose male trees because they do not create messy seed pods and fruits, or stinky flowers; however, this predisposition towards planting male trees also increases the amount of pollen in the air.  The oak and maple trees in my neighbors' yards can quickly cover my silver car in pollen, turning it a funky shade of yellow.  Temperature also has an effect, stressed plants tend to go into reproduction mode, and produce more flowers and pollen.

In any case, I'll be over here cursing the trees instead of hugging them, for at least another week.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Black Garlic

A friend of mine generously gave me a package of black garlic from Trader Joes.  The entire garlic bulb is slow-cooked (for at least a month) and produces cloves that are soft like roasted garlic.  The color is a deep dark brown: the color you'd expect from the inside of a vanilla bean or very good dark chocolate.

I finally tried a bit of it yesterday, and the flavor has notes that struck me as similar to balsamic vinegar - particularly the thicker and not quite so acidic Aceto Balsasmico de Modena, not exactly the stuff that was ubiquitous in the '90s.

I ended up putting a clove in with spinach and a bunch of fresh garlic that I'd sliced and browned in olive oil.  Rather tasty.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Missing things from my youth

I'm missing a few foods from my youth that are no longer made, or at least that I can no longer find.

Weaver Chicken Roll.  One of the things Grandma always had in the fridge when I was there for lunch.  Discontinued long ago, I know, I went hunting a while back.  The Thumann's chicken roll is no substitute for this, the flavor and texture is all wrong.  We'd have a few slices of WCR on 2 slices of Wonder bread (which is back in prodction), with Hellman's mayonnaise and a slice of yellow American cheese.  I think that Grandma usually got deli sliced cheese when she got the cold cuts, though I could have a flawed memory and it could have been a Kraft "cheese" single which is what we always had in the fridge at home (though Mom always got the white singles).

Weaver Chicken Croquettes.  I was hoping to stop at the store and pick this up for dinner tonight, but discovered this is also discontinued after Tyson bought the company.  I might try the Goya chicken croquettes, but the shape is all different, and they don't come with the small tubs of light yellow gravy.  I love croquettes SO much, but honestly, I don't feel like going through the hassle of making homemade ones tonight, so I may end up heating up some of the Tyson chicken patties I already have in the freezer, and drown them with some poultry gravy.

Iced Spice Cookies.  Grandma always had these on hand too.  They were brown, about 3" across and about 1/8" thick -  roughly flower-shaped, with a small hole in the middle, and a sheen of white glaze.  Not soft, but not super crispy either.  Very spicy with clove, cinnamon, and ginger flavors.

I guess it's because the holidays are coming up and I miss Grandma that the chicken roll and cookies popped into my brain after I looked up the croquettes...