eor: (Bleeding Heart)
I believe I just saw a Great Black Wasp feeding on the pollen provided by our thyme patch. Wiki says it's only been seen as far north as Lyman,ME, but global warming and all, we're not that far north of Lyman.

It's certainly an impressive beast, almost double the length of our large bumble bees, with the lean look of a wasp and a total goth black look, just a little bit of purple shine on the wings. I wouldn't want to be stung by one as the business end looks like business.

The bumbles and the honeybees are in a frenzy in the flower patch. After a few days of rain they seem anxious to get all they can and are pushing each other out of the way to into the flowers. Honeybees, though smaller, can shoulder the bumbles out of the way.
eor: (lilac)
Long time no post. It has truly been "the winter of our discontent". Let us hope it will be "made glorious summer."

The sun has finally gotten strong enough to think about going outside after work. So we've been spending some time wading through snow, getting our pantlegs soaked, and pretending to make progress in the yard.

I'm pretty sure we have 3 of the top invasive species in our yard, two of which are doing their best to kill the trees.

The Rambler Rose is the rose bush we have battled for years in Freeport. There are huge vines of it here. The biggest I've seen so far was the size of my forearm at the base. Nasty stuff which can puncture regular leather work gloves and the skin underneath them with impunity.

The second vine is our old friend Asiatic Bittersweet. It is not nearly as nasty to the remove as the rose, but is perhaps more deadly to the trees.

The third, as yet unconfirmed, invasive is Shrubby Honeysuckle. It tends to block out native groundcovers. The reason that we think we have it is that the neighbors down the hill have a lot of a bush they described as "some kind of honeysuckle". Once things start leafing out we'll try to figure out if it is our one native honeysuckle or one of the three non-native invasive species that are on Maine's most wanted list.

The good news is that so far I have seen no evidence whatsoever of Japanese Knotweed. It will be easier to kill off all the rose and the bittersweet than it would be to deal with one stand of knotweed.

I have the bird feeder up and a hunk of suet as well, but I don't know if the chickadees have found it yet. They have been singing, which is a lovely thing to hear this time of year.

ded tired

May. 29th, 2011 08:54 pm
eor: (lilac)
So, apparently the way to avoid pain when you sit down in a chair is not to sit down all bloody day.

Today was a gorgeous sunny day with a few fluffy white clouds and a bit of breeze in the afternoon just to make it more pleasant.

Had a lovely breakfast at home and finally got moving at about 10am. Proceeded to the garden store and bought seedling lettuce, peppers, thyme, rosemary, and some soil to cover a rocky messy bit in the garden.

Came home and worked in the garden forever. Well, only until 6pm or so. Planted 100+ pepper seedlings. The vast majority of these are my late start seedlings, I don't expect them to survive, let alone yield any peppers. I did get 24 pepper seedlings from the nursery and one mostly grown ancho pepper plant. I also got the herbs planted in one of the railing boxes and the lettuce spread between a railing box and a small patch in the garden. Derien planted another row of bush beans where I had placed the acquired soil, planted a bleeding heart, and dug a lot of dandelions, burdocks, and other undesirables out of the planting areas and the lawn. At the end of it all I mowed the lawn, primarily to keep the dandelions down to a dull roar.

Our upstairs neighbor gave us some quahogs from a haul he had dug with a friend. For supper we warmed up our radish top soup and made steamed clams. The clams were astoundingly good and the soup was far superior to our last batch (I now consider the recipe ready for prime time).

A very productive day and a very productive weekend. I am extremely tired and my back is still pretty sore, but it certainly didn't keep me from moving.

Oh, are lilacs are blooming too.
eor: (Bleeding Heart)
(Posted late, this was actually written this morning.)

Yesterday while taking a break in the garden I was watching a bumblebee bumble along, doing his job for the flowers. Let me tell you friends, this wasn't any ordinary bumblebee, this was God's own bumblebee, and I ain't kiddin'. If you look at your thumb, tip to first knuckle, the bee was probably larger than what you're looking at.

It was fun to watch this epicly proportioned bee servicing the little tiny purple flowers that are now in bloom. He would fly to each flower and as soon as he grabbed ahold, he'd stop flying, the flower and entire little plant would lean over until the bee was upside down, nearly on the ground. As soon as the bee let go, the plant would pop back up. This routine was then repeated for each flower. It was funny to see.

It was a busy day in the garden yesterday.

There is evidence the woodchuck is back. He nibbled on a few of the radish tops and cleaned off the ends of most of the pea plants. He seems to favor pea plants. This is not good news for the garden. If he starts to see our garden as a deli we won't have much left in a week.

However, the herbs are coming along fine. Thyme, orgeano, spearmint all seemed to overwintered well and are lush and big. The berry patches look like they are headed for a heavy harvest. The garlic is going along well. I got the polebeans and one row of bush beans planted yesterday and hope to get more planted today, if I'm capable.

I took a completely graceless fall yesterday. I ended up on my back in the firepit with the full wheelbarrow on top of me. It probably looked worse than it really was. I was able to get up and finish the day without a problem. Considering I wasn't seriously injured, I wish it had been videod because the look of surprise on my face as I went over must have been hilarious.

Today is another story. I have one set of bruises just below my shoulderblades that make sitting back in a chair undesirable. All the musculature from there down to my lower back doesn't want to do much. I started out the morning genuflecting to reach things below waist level, but it's starting to loosen up now.

In more exciting news, we had our first harvest last night. I thinned one row of radishes, so we had radishes with supper and later made radish top soup. Still haven't tried the soup yet, but it smelled good.

pic spam )
eor: (Default)
We went to the farmer's market in Portland this weekend. It was packed with vegetable goodness. We mostly restrained ourselves, but I insisted on buying [livejournal.com profile] derien a pint of wild blueberries. They were tiny little things, which if you know anything about blueberries, bigger is certainly not better. Upon sampling they were declared the perfect berry. We also got some spuds, which are quite good in their own right. We also bought some wax beans because they were so pretty. Then for the big leap I bought twelve pounds of green beans for canning. And this my friends is what we call a segue.

Today, while [livejournal.com profile] derien drove north to visit relatives, I started making Dilly Beans. It's a fairly simple recipe, but the cleaning and cutting that many beans takes forever. I ended up canning five batches of beans, 6 pints per batch with one pint missing from the last batch because I didn't have another jar. Actually, I ran out to the store after two batches to get another dozen jars and more vinegar. Each batch is a slight variation on the recipe, increasing one item from the base to see what will taste best. I used dill and garlic from our garden. I started at 1pm and finished cleaning up about 7pm.

I really hope these turn out well. I won't know for a while. I have to wait at least two weeks before tasting them and really should wait 4-6 weeks. But if they do turn out well, I'll have a lot of tasty treats for fall and winter. I will probably try to crack at least one of them before the bean harvesting season is over, so if they don't work I can make another go of it with fresh beans.
eor: (Default)
Today I went out and gathered goodies from the garden. The biggest endeavor was harvesting 2/3 of the garlic that had been planted last fall. The leaves had gone brown and that's a sign they need to be pulled. I think I timed it pretty well because only one bulb was obviously overripe and splitting. The yield was mixed with some big beautiful bulbs, some tiny, a the majority somewhere in between. Perhaps better soil would have helped. They are sitting to dry now. I didn't count them, but it's a fair haul for something that is mostly set it and forget it.

I also brought in a half dozen leaves of lettuce, a colander full of bush beans, and a bowl full of small carrots. That's all the carrots from one of my short rows that I planted. I'm not entirely happy with the yield, but they are so unbelievably sweet and tasty! Makes me dream of fields of waving carrots like Bugs Bunny dying of starvation. Our bush beans are also tasty, we had some on Sunday night (I think). The yellow ones are particularly sweet and sunny tasting.

The snow peas still aren't showing any enthusiasm. Sad, I was looking forward to fresh steamed snow peas this year.

the garden

Jul. 6th, 2010 08:39 pm
eor: (Default)
It appears a fox has taken up residence in the area. I think I saw him running down the railroad tracks the other morning. That's excellent news because the woodchuck seems to have lost his appetite for the garden. There wasn't much left that he hadn't destroyed, but at least now the damage isn't getting worse every day. Nature succeeds where man fails.

To the good, the garlic seems to be going well still. It's a bit of a mystery how much garlic will result because we shouldn't harvest it until August. The thyme we've planted in various places as edible ground cover is doing well. The blackberries produced lots despite being attacked by the railroad and suffering from insufficient rain. In the last four days I've picked about 3 quarts I think. There's still probably another quart or two on the vines not yet ripe. The red sails lettuce is doing well, which is good because I actually like the flavor of that one. The other two lettuces are lagging behind though they have better soil and a less shady spot. The dill is starting to take off and the pepper plants are tiny but flowering. The other herbs are generally small. The basil is tiny, but already flowering so it won't be good for eating. The bok choy that didn't get eaten by the woodchuck has gone to seed, but it's got pretty flowers so I let it keep going. I don't have much hope for the snow peas or the pole beans because the woodchuck loved them too dearly. The bush beans look anemic but are starting to flower so we might see something from them.

We've got wildflowers galore and yes, we still have plenty of knotweed/bamboo sprouts to pull every day.

ouch

May. 2nd, 2010 09:06 pm
eor: (Default)
When it comes to what go accomplished today, the list doesn't sound very impressive. But I was at it from about 10am until 7:40pm basically without a break. [livejournal.com profile] derien was also out digging and cursing bamboo most of the day as well. Among the things accomplished was burning a bunch of the bamboo and a good portion of the big pile of sticks. I started the fire at 5pm and kept feeding it constantly until [livejournal.com profile] derien took over at 7:40pm. She's now out watching the coals burn down and will probably put the water to the last of it shortly. It's not good for the environment, but then again having all those organics go needlessly into a concrete lined landfill wouldn't be good either. In one evening we got rid of what would have taken a month in dumpster loads most likely.

Things that did make the finished list: Applied patch of seed mix stuff to a large chunk of the lawn that was bare, packed dirt. Planted two short rows of snow peas. Mowed a bit of ground. Raked the bit that was mowed and a bit more. Ran the weed eater around the outbuilding and as many of the granite chunks as the cord would reach. Ripped out bamboo. Moved piles of ripped out bamboo to make room for planting. Got a pretty good sunburn on the arms. It seems like there should be more, but I can't remember.

Now the drier is running with a last load of cloths, the dishwasher is doing its thing, and I'm waiting for the Advil to kick in. It's a good thing weekends are only two days long, I don't think I could make it through another day without a rest.

No pics today, but maybe tomorrow or Tuesday.
eor: (Default)
Yesterday was a planned busy day and it met all expectations.

We drove up to the Fedco Tree sale to pick up our order. Of course, we couldn't just pick up our order and leave, there were too many things to look at. We ended up picking up a few extras. Then we came home and began planting (11:30am). It was a very warm and sunny day, perfect weather for working in the yard. Took a break for food, drink, and exhaustion at 3:00. At 3:30 went back out and started in again. Came back in, completely bushed at 7:30pm. Showered, changed, and went out to have someone feed us, home at about 9:30.

We planted 3 lowbush blueberries bushes, 20 raspberry canes, 3 blackberry canes,3 plum trees, 2 American chestnuts, 4 lilac bushes (3 varieties), 3 ferns, and 1 Canadian ginger. The bulk of the berry canes were planted in soil that had to be cleaned of rose vine roots and pieces of glass (time consuming). The lilacs and one of the chestnuts were planted in areas that required digging through 4 inches of packed gravel (exhausting). Only the plum trees went easily. We also hand mowed and raked a bit of lawn that will be used by our neighbors as the grilling area.

It looks like we have volunteers sprouting from something of the squash/cuke family. Knowing the neighbors, it's probably pumpkins. They are literally all over the place. I'll let them grow whenever they aren't in a place I'm specifically planting.

Still to do, hopefully today: planting seeds for snow peas, radishes, carrots, bok choy, planting seedlings we have of pac choy, lettuce, re-pot seedlings we got of peppers, basil, cumin, start a bunch of other things indoors for transplant in late May. Get the first hand mowing and raking done on the area by the railroad tracks that hasn't already been done. Make a post hole and stick a post in it. Repair a fence. Right now it's raining, so maybe I'll start on the laundry.

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