Archive for the 'plants' Category

Gardening update. Moby Dick. A tiny update on the children. New bike.

May 19, 2009

Welp. Our tomato crop is blighted or something. Maybe they got too much rain, or the aphids did more damage than I thought. In any event, half of them are now composting. The others look like they’re hanging on for now, but we put together 3 new tomato plants in deck containers as a hedge (ha, ha) against a total in-the-ground loss. Of the two peppers, one looks pretty good. The other looks a little anemic. The yellow squash is already blooming and setting little 2″ baby squashes. The zukes have seriously bushed out, but no blooms as yet.

To our herb plantation, I added lavender and mint. The mint is in a container, that it might not take over the yard, which it will if given half a chance. The kids got used to having a patch of it near the deck of our old house, and I’d been looking for it off-and-on for a few weeks. Lowes finally had some, so I brought it home. We’re drying a few of these in the kitchen to see how that goes: thyme, rosemary and oregano. They smell pretty good at any rate.

The compost heap seems to be slowing down a litte, which is good. I think the brown and green ratio is getting a little more manageable. The whole thing has certainly shrunk down considerably, which is a good sign. It doesn’t reek (as much) either, which is another good sign.

Over last weekend, we stopped by a local nursery and went all moon-eyed over some of their stock. Rather than just plant stuff pell-mell thoughout the yard, we’ve asked one of their guys to come over and give us a little help with some planning. There are things that we’d love to have (gardenias, for one), and I’ve read some mixed reviews on them for our zone. Ditto for azaleas. Pachysandra, my favorite evergreen groundcover needs more shade than I think we can offer it,  E. wants a garden entirely of the color blue, and so on, and so on, in my best Yul Brynner voice: et CETera, et CETera, et CETera.

What I hope to get out of this little visit is: plant this, not that. That will die here. The fee is pretty modest, and it’s easily worth it so that we don’t torment any more hibiscus bushes.

I’ve put Moby Dick aside for a bit to re-read King Lear. Someone on a message board I frequent dropped a reference to Lear the other day and I was reminded of how much I’d forgotten about it.

The constant asides from Melville on the minutiae of the whaling industry were interesting at first, but OK, yeah, I get it, please get back to the action already. I really don’t want another detailed exploration of The Natural History Of  Cetaceans From Pliny To The Present Day.

Am I missing some sort of point? Probably. I’m about halfway through and loathe to shelf it after this long.We wound up our scouting year, our oldest girl swept her gymnastics meet, two of the children are still off on adventure and the the babies abide. Work continues apace.

I’m being fitted for a new road bike – a Specialized Allez –  tomorrow after work and can hardly wait. I took it on a test spin over the weekend and was gobstruck by it’s relative lightness compared to the hybrid. The change in posture will take some getting used to, as will the shifters. But tomorrow can’t come soon enough!


Happy Mother’s Day

May 10, 2009

Assorted gardening related photos (updated with labels, which I couldn’t seem to do with the iPhone WordPress app).

Herb patch – parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (!), oregano and basil:

Our Lady’s butterfly garden:

Vegetables-in-the-making. Back to front: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and yello squash. Way way in the back are what’s left of the sunflowers, which isn’t much.

Compost. Mostly green, so a bit on the stinky side right now.

The heart of Autumn

October 8, 2007

As dyed in blood the streaming vines appear,
While long and low the wind about them grieves:
The heart of Autumn must have broken here,
And poured its treasure out upon the leaves.

“Woodbines in October,” by Charlotte Fiske Bates (via Bartleby)

Busy weekend.

Friday night: vegetarian pizzas with homemade dough. Good stuff. Followed it up with The Protector, which was OK but not great. Nice pacing and some nifty stunt work, though.

I put in 25 miles on Saturday morning, then came back to find a tray of hot sticky buns cooling in the kitchen. Oh well. They were delicious with coffee. Afterwards we drove out to a local festival dedicated to….country ham. It was interesting, and we bought some skin-on country bacon while listening to a yodeler yodel. The sun came out and it started to warm up, so we headed home and lounged around while waiting for dinner to finish. Dinner: Crock-pot ham with a Coke glaze, homemade anadama bread, mashed potatoes, and cucumber salad. The bread recipe came with our machine and included oats in addition to the cornmeal. It was delicious. Followed it with Emma, which wasn’t bad at all.

Sunday Mass was followed by a trek out to the local botanical gardens. Even late in the summer, they were glorious and I hope to have some pictures posted shortly. We came away with a list of items we’d like to see planted in our yard, though we’ll probably have to do without the statuary and reflecting pools. Pity.

Permaculture, easy meals

July 18, 2007

Two things which I came across today: permaculture gardening and 101 Simple Meals.

I don’t think they’re much related, save by their focus on simplicity. I’ve had just enough success growing herbs and simple vegetables like tomatoes and beans to want to try the first. Small spaces are apparently not a barrier, which is good, since most of the arable land in the back yard is dedicated to the exercise of small children and the crapping of the dog. Separated a bit from some of the earth-worship rhetoric, permaculture seems like a fairly nifty approach to gardening.

As to the second item, more meal ideas are always welcome, and especially those which are cheap, fast and easy. Moreover, some of these look child friendly.

Shiny spider-eye update: the children loved it, and even ezmerelda emerged from the safety of our house to have a go. A good time was had by all, though I suspect that the spiders themselves were somewhat taken aback by the whole affair.

The new place

May 17, 2007

The landscape here is a little different from the place we just left – more flatness, though it’s broken up here and there by some nice, rolling hills. The wider spaces mean a bigger sky – something you really don’t take notice of until it’s there, if you get my meaning. The climate is not much different than what we left, though we did barely cross a timezone. This brought with it an interesting challenge – we lost an hour by moving west, but since we’re only just over the line, our sunlight hours haven’t changed a whole lot. Result: young children rising earlier than they ought because of the growing daylight.


For me, I think, the biggest change is in the trees. We left an area dominated by Loblolly pines and other evergreens. They were beautiful and evocative, though a bit messy (especially in the early spring, when they covered everything in thick yellow pollen). Our old lot was semi-wooded and our new one is on former pasture, though the development is old enough for most of the landscape trees to have attained a respectable size. There are great many Eastern Red Cedars around here, and I’m strongly tempted to find a place for a few of them in the yard. They look entirely too cool.

I was a little worried that fewer trees would mean fewer birds, but that was put to rest in the days after we moved in: we counted no less than 4 active nests in the yard (finches, grackles, mourning doves, and robins) and there are probably one or two more. A red-tailed hawk makes a semi-regular circuit through the area, sending all the starlings and grackles into a noisy hysteria. We have more goldfinches than I’ve ever seen, and we had a hummingbird at the feeder in the first of week of May – we wouldn’t have seen them until early-to-mid July at the old place. The surrounding areas, while growing, are still rural enough for me to have spotted deer, turkeys, skunks and groundhogs on the way to work in the mornings.

The dirt here is a different color, and it’s broken here and there by outcroppings of rock. I think they’re terribly nifty and they give our new wide views a nice bit of character.

The new house is in a neighborhood located in a smallish-sized city. Everything is nice and close, which is wonderful change. We have more rooms than we had before, and the area is teeming with other kids. We hear tell that there is a large concentration of homeschoolers in the vicinity, and indeed, the generalissima has already joined a new local CM group.

You may notice that I’ve been a bit circumspect as regards location. This is deliberate. I was an avid blogger some time ago under a nick very close to my real name. In fact, it was my real name. Since I want more of the family to participate, I’m being quite careful to guard our privacy. You will not see our real names here, nor will I reveal our location. Thanks for understanding.