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Garden Planted

May 31, 2012

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We spent the hottest day of the year (thus far!) working outside on the garden. We didn’t plan it that way. I’m very late getting the seeds in, and couldn’t wait another day. Besides, it’s May. Who’da thought we’d break a 100-year record at 91 degrees with 75% humidity? Yick.

The husband tilled one bed and the boys did the other. The girls hacked at weeds on the garden paths.

VegGarden2012

I’d read somwehere that laying a cover of mulch helps keeps weeds down. The weeds have been mighty ferocious this year already, so I tried newspapers.

GardenBed2012

Hm. Looks awful and I am not even sure it will be effective. The papers were actually too wide to fit between the rows. So we only laid a few, then quit. We’ll see how this develops. I will eventually spread a layer of peat moss over the beds, as mulch. I have done it for a few years and it’s worked very well. I just gotta go get the stuff.

Both beds planted! I’m very pleased with it so far, despite the rather shabby appearance. It’s so GREEN and lush.

Garden1.2012

Oh the work has only just begun. I have to mend the fences and replace the mangled chicken wire. The ground hogs, rabbits, and deer love my garden too much, and they don’t like to share. We also have a grapevine on one side of the fence and raspberries on the other side. It’s quite the work to keep these guys from entangling their octopus-arms into everything.

This year, I’m trying red peppers again. This will be my third attempt. In all the years of gardening, I have only got ONE pepper. Ever. If nothing grows this year, no more peppers. I can’t grow corn here, either, because the crows are profuse and because it’s so wet here.

I also am trying broccoli again. My previous crop was a dismal failure. Here’s hoping this does better. We planted LOTS of lettuce, yellow beans, yellow and zucchini squash, rutabagas, onions and basil. I have yet to plant potatoes.

Now we wait. šŸ™‚

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What Kind of Tree Is This?

May 11, 2012

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I planted this tree years ago. It was from the Arbor Day Society, in a bundle of bare root trees. Unfortunately, the label had fallen off some of the trees. So I have NO IDEA what I have here, lol! Anyone have a guess?

Flowering Tree

I love the little saucer-shaped flowers. The tree had more of them a few weeks ago. It was quite pretty.

I’d sure like to know what kind of tree it is. If I recall correctly, it’s an ornamental that will grow about 15 to 25 feet tall. That’s all i know! Oh, and the flowers bloomed in mid-April.

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April Showers Bring May… Weeds

May 11, 2012

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Good heavens. Rain, rain, rain. It’s over now, and the sun is out. It feels so good, but it also brings to light the absolute disaster that is my yard.

The yard has gone bonkers with the incessant rain. The husband tried mowing in the rain, to keep the grass down, but it was futile. Ten days later, here we are.

Weedy Yard2

Unfortunately, the lawn tractor is broken, so the boys are doing to have to hack into the meadow with the push mower.

The kids have been keeping up with the vegetable garden pathways. You should have seen the mountains of weeds here! The beds need a thorough cleaning out (this week, if the sun stays consistent) and we have to till yet. Food prices have gone up so much that this year we MUST have a garden.

Weedy Garden 2

This is my poor baby willow tree that was stripped by deer over the winter. I don’t know if it will live, honestly. I’d wrapped it with tree wrap, but had to take it off for the good weather. The bark fell off in long strips . This is my 10th attempt at growing trees in the back yard. So far, only 1 other has survived (a blue spruce).

Stripped Willow 2

I am very proud of my apple trees. I have blossoms this year! I was nearly dancing with delight.

Apple blossoms2

So I’ve got a lot of gardening to do this year. I didn’t even mention the flower beds riddled with weeds from the flooding, nor the raspberry and grape vines that need attention. Whew!

How is your spring gardening coming along?

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Apple Blossoms

April 30, 2012

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Hurray! I ventured out to the apple trees and discovered this!

Apple Blossoms

That’s the first time EVER my Jonathan Apple Tree has blossom, ever. I’ve only had it in the ground for about 8 years! It’s suffered badly from the deer. I’ve tried everything to repel those nasty creatures but they are mighty hardy critters, I tell you what. They shredded my poor little weeping willow tree over the winter. They ripped off almost all the bark on the stripling– OOO I was blazing upset. I wrapped it in tree wrap and I see leaves on it this spring but I’m too scared to take off the wrap and see the horrible condition of the trunk. We’ll see if the willow survives. I really need willows, to slurp up all the water around here. I’ve tried growing several, but they are either destroyed by my neighbors or the deer. Gardening here is more of a battle than a pleasant pastime.

Anyway, my little apple tree is only about 12 feet tall now, and scrawny as anything. But it looks like, Lord willing, I just might get some fruit this year. We’ve already had 2 hard frosts that threatened the blossoms, but they’ve held their own. Here in Upstate New York, we really can’t be guaranteed against frost at any time of the year. We are so close to Canada that a slightly gusty wind blowing south can ruin our plants. So the blossoms here are extra special.

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Bambi Meets Godzilla

April 21, 2012

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Now that’s it’s spring and I’m surveying the massive damage to my vegetation and gardens, it’s time for my annual “I Hate Deer” post! Yay!

To start off this year’s festivities, I present to you a marvelous short film, Bambi Meets Godzilla.

I first saw this video more than 30 years ago! I was flabbergasted to see it on YouTube. We kids were around the television set when this little film came on sometime in the late 70s? I think it was done by a university student, as a school project? Can’t remember. It was on TV one fine Saturday afternoon. My brothers and I and my very little sister were watching it. Oh the sweet, lilting music! The adorable and soft sylvan setting! The innocent little fawn munching on my future hostas forest foliage!

All of sudden, HERE COMES GODZILLA! Impending doom.

The boys and I (quite the tomboy) rolled on the floor, laughing. My young sister, however, was aghast and shouted out in distress. For some reason, we all thought her angst was hilarious, too, and laughed even harder. It was tough being a girl in our family.

I never forgot that video. I even told my kids about it. Imagine my surprise to find it on YouTube!! I gathered them around the computer like a mother hen with her chicks, pressed the “Full Screen” key and turned up the volume. With swelling anticipation, I awaited their hilarious laughter.

The video ended.

Silence.

“Oh Mom’s so sadistic,” a daughter rolled her eyes. The other kids were quiet.

WHAT?!?! I think it’s cool.

Deer eat my gardens, they eat my trees, they poop in my lawn, they wreck all my hard work!!! Cheers to Godzilla. šŸ™‚ Muahahahhaaha.

So who are you rooting for?

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Brrrrr

March 26, 2012

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Has everyone been experiencing an unusually warm and early spring, or is it just us here in the Northeast? Spring is about 5 to 6 weeks early here, “unprecedented,” say the weather gurus.

My daffodils are blooming and the lilacs are budding, but it’s the weeds that are really thriving. After all the years of flooding we’ve had, my yard is filled with weeds. I used to have such a nice lawn, nice gardens. There’s no way I can manage all these weeds. So if you can’t beat them, join them, right? Weeds can be very decorative…. well, kinda. I think there’s no redeeming burdock, except that the roots are edible.

Anyway, the heat was climbing into the 80s so I unpacked my summer clothes and wore shorts for a time. I even unpacked the box fan to run in the window! But then, all of a sudden– WHAM. Winter is making a comeback! It’s freezing today, with the thermometer barely getting above freezing. And looks like a bit of snow is on the way, too. No worries, though. Even though I unpacked my shorts, I didn’t pack up my warm winter clothes. This IS the Northeast, after all.

So the weather gurus are in their glory. They don’t usually get this excited about weather except when there’s a huge lake effect snowstorm on the way. And as if we just CAN’T get enough of the weather, they bring up the “drought” index.

Seriously?! Drought in New York State?! It appears that the word “drought” has different meanings across the country. I always through a drought was a long time (years) with very little or no rainfall– you know, The Dust Bowl and Grapes of Wrath and all. But here in NYS, “drought” means more like “a few weeks without our usual deluges of rain.” So we haven’t had our usual 5 inches of rain this month— who’s worried about a drought?

Yes, yes, I know local farmers rely on rain. But if there’s one thing New York State does not lack, it’s rainfall. How I wish we could import it, we’d be rich! I remember a few years ago we had a very dry summer with very little rainfall (for about 2 whopping months). Our garden and lawn thrived, though. We’d redirected our sump pump pipes to the gardens, and poked holes in the pipes. Drought or not, that sump pump runs ALL THE TIME. So we had plenty of water and the plants grew enormously. I’m never worried about drought. I welcome it, actually. But that’s just my own little world so I still hope for rain for the farmers’ sakes.

How is your weather in your area? Is it another crazy year of unpredictable events and weird patterns?

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When Stuff Breaks

April 22, 2011

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Ugh, what do you do when the house falls apart faster than you can patch it up???

Yeah, it’s spring. Now that the snow has ebbed away, the busted up dregs of winter’s wrath has appeared. And blast it, I just can’t keep up.

First, there’s the front porch. Years ago now, I had to patch up the decking to put on a new roof. The decking was never properly supported (ever) and I didn’t have the know-how nor tools to dig below the frost line and support it. Now, the porch floor is tilting. A LOT. Ugh. I’m going to have to shore up the roof, remove the decking, and rebuild. NOT FUN.

To Secret Garden 1

Thank God the hydrangeas mask the slope and decrepit porch skirt trim!

 

Our garage door broke last year. The old cable and spring just gave way. We were in the house (thank GOD no one was in the garage) when we heard a huge slam. One of the cables that holds the door up on the track had split in half, like a weary rubber band. We tried to fix it then, but to no avail. This kind of work is a little beyond my capabilities, and the husband is concerned that the door may spring out or the other cable break while we’re trying to fix it. It’s just too dangerous.

Sad thing is, we don’t even use the room as a garage. Right now, it’s just a place where we keep our tools and junk (we have no storage space in the house, as the basement floods and there is no real attic). When we want to get the lawn mower or rakes out, we need a team of people to hoist the garage door and place a wooden post in the track to keep it up. :-p I have plans to eventually renovate the room into a media room or family room, but that’s not for a while yet. Nuts. I’m stuck.

So how’s your spring turning out as you survey your property? Is the to do list adding up? Still, even though there’s a lot to do with a home every spring, it’s SO worth it, owning your own home than renting. šŸ™‚

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Find the Kitty Friday 4/22

April 22, 2011

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Subtle, she is not.

TidyCat

Sorry I haven’t been around very much. Winter is long in tooth this year. We had a little reprise yesterday (and last week). With thunder! But as I suspected, nothing accumulated and the birds didn’t fly back south. The flowers took a bold stance and are still persistently blooming. But shame on me– I still have not ordered garden seeds! Growing season doesn’t “officially” begin in Upstate NY until Mother’s Day, when *they say* threat of frost has passed. I don’t know, though… last year we had a frost in June. We’ll see. I can confidentially report that the monster snowbanks are now all melted (although north of us, I’m sure they still have dregs).

My thoughts are turning more toward the land, now that I can see it again, haha! We’re starting to think about home projects, garden projects– maybe even a farm stay or a camping trip– and of course the regular work to do around here. Because the kitchen renovation consumed my time and energy last year, I totally ignored the gardens. They are in terrible disarray. And the deer literally devoured my hedge or young arborvitae this winter. šŸ™ I am still very angry at them about that. More about them, later. Today’s a good day and I don’t want to spoil it.

So spring really, really is here. It may take some time before it’s a consistent visitor, but winter IS over. It is! Honest! Hang in there!

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Snow?! Huh?!

April 18, 2011

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The kids reported to me this afternoon that it’s snowing outside. I checked the weather forecast, and they say we *may* even get some accumulation, although it will mainly affect grassy areas.

STILL.

IT’S SNOW!

:-p

Here I was, thinking I’d be able to shut off the heaters by now. Eek, we’re cranking ’em up again. And here I was dreaming that I could finally ditch the mudroom clutter of boots and coats and break out the slick brands. No go.

Haha! Oh well, at least it gives me another opportunity to make roast chicken. Mmmm nothing beats that on a cold, damp day.

funny pictures - From the depths of a snowy prison, Basement Cat plots revenge.

P.S. Is it just me, or does the LOLCat site now add two billion links to the photo you link to? I had to remove some lest my post be filled with links. Sheesh!

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Improving the Lawn, Naturally

April 5, 2011

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I recently wrote an article about pet-friendly lawn fertilizers, and the topic got me thinking more about my own lawn and my methods. Chemical lawn fertilizers, despite their claims of non-toxicity, are still chemical agents. These chemicals may remain in the lawn for quite some time. Dogs romp in the grass, and may absorb the chemicals into their skin. Cats nibble the grass and lick their paws. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like chemicals, period, and I don’t want my pets rolling around in it.

A Boy and His Cat

We want Fuzzy to be safe in the lawn.

There are ways to fertilizer and improve your lawn naturally, without any chemicals at all. And even better, the natural methods are less expensive and better for the environment, too. Here are some tips I have gathered throughout the course of my research.

1. Aerate your lawn.

Over time, grass lawns become packed down from foot traffic, lawn mowers, and thick growth. Grass needs air just like any organism. Use a lawn scarifier to aerate the grass. The scarifier, available as manual or powered devices, roll across your lawn. A roller with peg-like appendages puncture your lawn. Some fancier models remove dead grass, moss, and weeds, too. The small holes will be barely noticeable to you, but they provide little channels where air, water, and minerals can soak directly into grass roots.

2. Mulch the lawn.

Leaves are nutrient-packed mulch, like liquid gold for your lawn. It’s best to compost them the year before– pile up leaves in a bin in the fall, and allow them to decompose. By the time spring arrives, the leaves should have decayed into a dark loam. Sprinkle the mulch onto the lawn with a shovel, in broad strokes, and rake the mulch into the grass. This is THE best fertilizer for your grass.

Round Bed2

Look for natural mulch without added colorants and chemicals.

3. Shred the grass clippings.

Some folks mow their lawns, then rake up the grass clippings and pile them on the street curb for the town to pick up. Know that if you do this, you are giving away some very valuable (and free!) fertilizer. Instead, invest in a lawn mower that shreds or mulches the grass as you mow it, and leave the clippings on the lawn. The clippings will decompose and provide the lawn with nitrogen and other yummy nutrients. Never leave clods of grass in your lawn, however. The clods block the sunlight and can cause fungus or mold to grow. Rake up large clods of grass clippings.

Dregs of Snow Jan102008

A badly damaged lawn full of weeds may need to be replaced.

 

4. Don’t over-mow the lawn.

If grass is cut too short, it cannot photosynthesize properly to produce enough food for growth. The weeds will eventually overpower the weakened grass. For most grasses, the lawn mower should be set to 2 to 3 inches. A good rule to follow is called the 2/3 rule: mow only the top third of grass, and leave the other 2/3 intact.

5. Keep weeds at bay.

Weeds are fellow competitors, contending with grass for water, sunlight, and soil nutrients. Large weeds such as burdocks and plantain should be removed quickly before they establish a party in your lawn.

Weeding the lawn is a tough one for me. My front lawn used to be a lush, beautiful lawn. Then came several years of destructive flooding, where muddy waters and silt covered my lawn. The flooding introduced a profligate number of weeds seeds. My lawn has never really recovered, and it is not possible to root out all the weeds that wiped out my lawn. So sometimes, in serious cases, you can only do so much before you have to completely re-sod the lawn.

I hope these tips help you! There ARE ways to make your home environment an enjoyable place– and a safe place– for your pets.

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