Thursday, June 24, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
This spring I had more annual seedlings come up than in previous years, probably because of the unusually warm weather we’ve been having in the area. In the back yard there are a few clumps of cosmos seedlings, probably a few hundred plants. I took out a small clump the other day and potted them up for my sister, there were 50 plants. I think I’ll plant some between the garage and the fence, they are tall and self-seed so they may keep the weeds there under control. In the front gardens there are alyssum and snapdragon seedlings galore but most are too small to move yet.
As for the perennial flowers, the clematis liked the winter weather, they are blooming like crazy. I thinned out the gooseneck loosestrife in front of the clematis the other day, it was growing around the flagstones. They multiply pretty quickly, I think I will have to confine them in the future. Here are some before and after photos:
I don’t see any butterfly bush seedlings coming up yet but the winter was so mild that the bushes didn’t quite go dormant so they didn’t get pruned back this spring, there were still leaves growing on the bushes in February.
I have to thin out the ribbon grass around the pond soon, Maybe I’ll plant it in the back border garden after the fence is replaced, it will keep the grass in the alley from creeping under the fence, I hope.
Speaking of thinning out, the birch tree looks like it could use a trim too. It has been growing for six years now and is at least 25 feet tall, in 2004 it was less than 3 feet tall. We brought it back from my sister’s cottage in 2003 and it died back over the first winter and had to start growing from the ground up again. We were surprised that it grew at all but it is doing great.
After we get the deck finished we will be re-setting the patio stones and fitting some interlocking natural-looking pavers around the pond. When we are getting ready to work on the pavers, I’ll have to move the purple coneflowers and columbines that are growing in front of it, we had sandstone bricks in front that fell into the pond over the winter and they flowers are growing between the liner and the patio stones. The interlocking pavers will hopefully stay put when we put them in.
My hummingbird flowers need to be thinned out also. I planted two that I bought at our town horticultural plant sale two years ago and there must be two dozen now. They don’t have much more space to expand.
Since building the new deck, I had to remove a flower garden and now have several clumps of spiderwort, astilbe and spotted dead nettle to find a home for. Maybe I’ll plant them in the back after the fence is done. I have to move a butterfly bush from the back to the side yard beside the other two also. It is getting too big and crowding out the peony.
In the front gardens, the swamp mallow has to be dug up before the front porch can be extended next month. It is still small enough to put into a pot, but it has to be done soon. I have some pink creeping phlox, a couple of hostas, lily-of-the-valley, coneflowers, a couple of small butterfly bushes and loosestrife to move before the porch gets started too, but I can replant them in the raised bed we’re making in front of the porch. I’ll be planting my new climbing rose bush in the raised bed as well, I have to get a trellis for it to climb on though. After the raised bed is finished I’ll split up the spring bulbs and replant them, they need to be thinned out anyway.
I think I have a whole summer’s work to get done in the next month, I’m sure glad that we are going on vacation afterward, we’ll need it.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I'm tilling my soil with the pitch fork again this year, by doing this, I am not burning fossil fuel using a tiller to work up the garden. It takes longer, but, I get some much-needed exercise and I find it more thorough and consistent than with the tiller.The worms are happier too, they aren't getting chopped up by a blade and are able to continue to aerate and replenish the soil with their castings.
I am ridding the garden of winter weeds at the same time, as I loosen the soil the weeds are easier to pull. I don't use weed killer in my garden, but with my soil being sandy, I have found the need to use some additional fertilizer.
I am using mushroom compost for soil improvement, it is full of nutrients and retains moisture, which is great, and is also weed seed free. I am going to mulch with my grass clippings, the clippings will be used to keep weeds down and retain moisture in the vegetable garden.At the same time it will be adding fertilizer to the soil by feeding the worms and will improve the soil as it decomposes too. This way I am reducing the watering needs of the garden.
We have added a second rain barrel to act as a holding tank, tripling the water storage that we use for topping off the pond, so we will not have to use any tap water at all in it. We have lots of toads that use the pond for reproduction, kind of loud at night, but the toads are beneficial in the garden and around the yard to keep harmful insects such as crickets, mosquitoes and flies down, and there are thousands of them that hop out of the pond every spring so we don't have much of a mosquito problem here.
I haven't bought any seedling trays etc. for years, I always reuse them, if they are broken, I use them as filler in the bottom of my big pots, to keep the weight down, for better drainage and to reduce the amount of soil needed.
I have decided to plant some herbs, salad vegetables and edible flowers in my containers this year instead of just decorative flowers. I am thinking of planting my pole beans in my two largest pots, having them climb on string, and some parsnips and baby carrots in a couple of them too.
I am hoping to get enough variety of vegetables so that we don't have to buy too many over the winter. What I can't grow myself, I'll buy locally when in season to preserve for use throughout the year. That way, I am reducing the number of canned goods that I buy, as well as re-using my canning jars.I am growing some herbs to use and dry instead of buying them at the grocery store. I also buy my spices at the bulk food store and put them in my own containers when I get home.
In the house, we have recently switched from making our own aquarium water with our Reverse Osmosis filter to taking the bottles to be refilled to the store. Since the bottles don't need to be sterilized before refilling, we pay a little less than if it was for human consumption. We found that we were wasting about 36 gal. of water filling one five gallon bottle with our filter. Getting refills from the store is faster and more efficient.
In the kitchen, I don't use very much processed food, I cook from scratch, saving on the waste from packaging of prepared mixes and eliminating a majority of the artificial flavours, colouring and preservatives from our diet. This way I know what is in it and how fresh it is without looking for a best before date. I can also control the salt, fat and sugar content as well as the quality of the food we eat.
We are using mostly energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs in our house, with the exception of an antique chandelier in the dining room on a dimmer switch, a chandelier in the guest bedroom which doesn't get much use and a light over the pool table which is used occasionally.
We are fortunate to have bought a house that had blown-in insulation so our cost for heating and cooling is about half as much as a similar house with another insulation material. All of our appliances are Energy Star rated so our power consumption is low too. Our house is about 90 years old and the windows are original so we could improve our energy consumption with new windows but we have to put up a new roof first, it isn't leaking yet, but the shingles are in rough shape after the winter winds, maybe next year.
Here's the boat that he bought last night:
It is 19' and needs engine work and reupholstering but other than that it is sound. It was in the water last summer. There is a bunk inside which needs redoing:
and the bench seats on top need to be replaced along with the seat over the engine. The pilot seats look like they're in pretty good shape, at least what I could see of them, I held the camera up and took the pictures of the inside of the boat instead of trying to climb up into it.
So, I'll be shopping for vinyl for the boat seats in the near future. With any luck, we'll be out on the lake fishing before fall.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
First thing I have to do to get my garden ready for planting my vegetables is to make a plan of my garden, where I want my tomatoes, beans, corn etc. this year. I change the plantings every year so that the crops will be healthier and more productive. I want all of the garden to get the best light possible so I plant taller plants towards the back of the garden so as not to shade the rest of the garden.
I usually start out with a drawing of where I want the crops but I decided to try an online garden design this year. The one I chose is a 30 day free trial from GrowVeg.com. The program has the frost-free dates for your area by just adding your postal or zip code. It shows the growing conditions for every vegetable, spaces the plants and rows automatically and even keeps track of your garden plan for crop rotation the following season.
Here is my plan for 2009, I created this for crop rotation purposes. I like the fact that you don't have to guess at how many plants to buy, which makes going to the nursery a lot easier. You can even print out the plan and take it with you.
Here is my garden plan for 2010, and the next one is the same but with the background filled.
There is a Plant list page of all of the crops I'm planting this year with the growing instructions and planting schedule. I think this is a very useful tool in planting a successful garden, even for beginners.
GroVeg Vegetable Garden Planner
BHG Plan a Garden Online - flower gardens
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I decide to update my website, the template I used was kind of boring after changing it back from the Christmas theme but now it's bright and cheery. I hope that it's not too dificult to read with the contrasting colours in the background. I like the quilt, it isn't complicated but it is bright and colourful.
My son has been getting into woodworking in the past few months. He is using his grandfather's woodworking shop and getting to know how to operate all of the tools. He built a shelf for his grandparents' bathroom and he just finished a toy box for the great-grandchildrens' toys. There is even a shelf for the Hot Wheels cars, so they are easy to reach. He added a few embellishments, a hunter on horeseback and hunting dogs made of metal. His grandfather really likes it, he said it was the nicest toy box he's ever seen.
Now he is refinishing an old school desk and chair for the kids. He got the old oak desk, which needed a new top, and I gave him a small oak school chair I had that matched the desk. I'm glad he's enjoying his new hobby.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I will be creating a page for my other collectibles as well.These pages will be updated regularly.