Posts tagged: spring

Garden Update! Spring Equinox thru Mid-Summer

By , August 1, 2016

Sunflower, (c) The Herbangardener

Hi folks!!

I hope this update finds you all well. Happy Summer! A lot has happened in our garden so I’ll show you that in pictures.

Overall, gardening in the countryside vs. the city is harder. City gardening was a heavenly bubble of moderated influences — not as hot, not as cold, not as windy, not as many bugs, not as many weeds.

Out where we are now, we are really in the thick of the elements. Weather, wind, bugs, weeds — it’s all here in very full force. It began with the bindweed. Uttering the word Bindweed in the presence of a gardener is enough to elicit shudders and perhaps convulsions. This land is covered in bindweed, whose roots plunge to the center of the earth, and when we rototilled the land for the garden plot, we chopped up bindweed roots into a zillion little pieces. Each minuscule piece of root, since bindweed is a perennial weed, sprouts into a whole new bindweed plant. And once the garden was sufficiently covered in bindweed, the grasshoppers hatched. Once the garden was being skeletonized by grasshoppers, the bindweed problem looked like child’s play. Bindweed doesn’t munch voraciously at least. Whenever we would walk out there, thousands of grasshoppers would scatter in front of us like a hail storm, or like popcorn. Biblical scale stuff here. Locals say they’ve never seen anything like it. The ‘hoppers ate everything and it was a real downer to go out into the garden at all. The front flower garden was also getting decimated. This year’s gardens are one big experiment anyway, since gardening even a couple hours away is very different, and the local climate must be learned. Still, it was hard to see all that hard, hard labor being ruined.

I planted 20 tomatoes into Walls-O-Water and thank goodness I did, since the Walls were able to shield the tomatoes from the grasshoppers. Because later, I planted out 35 small tomato seedlings that I’d nurtured over the course of a couple months. By the end of the day, they were all gone. Eaten to the ground, along with the bell pepper seedlings I’d planted. They even ate the onions. And the rhubarb. Potatoes. Broad beans. Spinach. Chard. Cabbage (which also had flea beetles). Two whole entire 70′ rows of bean seedlings, after I spent hours in 100-degree heat loosening the soil, amending, and planting bean seeds.

The things they didn’t eat were squash, cantaloupe, and honeydew vines. They ate the just-sprouted zucchini cotyledons down to nubs but not the mature squash leaves. But fear not–there was a bug for those. Cucumber beetles descended upon the curcurbits in force, and killed the honeydew vines outright (actually what probably happened is that they transmitted bacterial wilt to the vines which killed them).

Why don’t the little bastards go for the bindweed??

Pulling out bindweed (well you don’t pull it out really; its stems break off just below soil level) is a project for the shoulder hours of morning and evening, but once the sun goes down enough so that I don’t desiccate to death out in the heat, the mosquitoes would come out in full force and I wore long sleeves, long pants, boots, and still got bites and spent half the time swatting around my head with muddy hands. I have yet to drag myself out of bed and get out there pre-dawn, but one day I will do that, as I’m curious if the mozzies will be out before dawn.

One day a couple weeks ago, we had had enough. The vigor of the bindweed was demoralizing but the explosive number of grasshoppers was overwhelming and disturbing and they were doing so much damage that we couldn’t take it any longer. I’ve always been an organic gardener, but let me tell you that “Permethrin!!” was written more than a few times in my daily gratitude journal after we finally broke down and sprayed the grape vines, veggie, and flower gardens.

It was a strange feeling to gear up in my poison suit of long pants, long shirt, rubber gloves, respirator, and spray my garden. I’m sorry to say some beneficial bugs, and bees, were sacrificed and that was hard to see. So Sad. Caught in the crossfire. Permethrin is pretty much an instant-results chemical, which we really appreciated; the grasshoppers began dying immediately. We followed up with Nolo bait around the property and gardens. Nolo bait is an organic grasshopper-specific control that takes longer to act, but can impact future generations too because it’s a microsporidial infection that passes from one ‘hopper to another.

Hopefully the pesticide will be a one-timer, but I am SO glad we sprayed. As soon as we relieved the garden of its infestations (cucumber beetles too! flea beetles! even the mosquitoes I think!), it just took off. Exploded with growth. Lesson learned there — I cannot be depressed while going into my garden. It’s spirit-food as well as physical food. I need to have things be flourishing. I need to address the bugs sooner and if a crisis imbalance develops like the grasshoppers in this region this year, I am not above spraying non-organic-approved pesticide in defence of my food. And, um, my flowers. (We have glorious heavenly blue morning glories now that their vines aren’t being chomped off daily!)

Good news in the garden is that despite the bindweed (and before the ‘hoppers!), I harvested a couple giant trashbags full of organic spinach! A bunch of beautiful organic lettuce. Incredible sweet peas. Cilantro and parsley (two things the hoppers don’t touch!) And I’ve finally gotten the irrigation situation down to where I’m quite happy. I was very disoriented with this gated pipe irrigation, where you run water down furrowed rows. I’ve never watered stuff from the bottom and sides before, and it took some frustration, research, experimentation, observation, and tweaking to come to what we’ve got going now. Right now, it’s awesome. Everything gets a very proper drink of water and that is all they seem to ask. The soil is former bottomland, I think, due to its sandiness (I’ve always worked in clay — this is totally new!) and proximity to a nearby river. So, it seems pretty fertile on its own. Add to that the horse manure from past horses pasturing on the land, and the coffee grounds and fresh grass clippings I’ve added, and things seem to be growing themselves. I’ve applied no commercial fertilizer or even compost, although I’ve got compost ready to apply now. In all, I think the garden has good bones and it should only get better as I learn about the local climate. Onto the pictures now!

Sprouted potatoes for planting in garden(c) The Herbangardener

Planting potatoes in Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Early spring Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Grass clippings on Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Walls o water and Early Spring Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Columbine, (c) The Herbangardener

Front Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Planning seeds for Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Walls o water, onions, lettuce in Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Sweet peas in Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Well pump pulled out, (c) The HerbangardenerGetting a new well pump put into our domestic well which waters the lawn and flower garden. This is the old one, pulled out.

(c) The Herbangardener

Irrigating big Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Grasshopper closeup, (c) The HerbangardenerGrasshopper

Grasshopper infestation on grapevine, (c) The HerbangardenerSee all the grasshoppers on the grapevine?

Cucumber beetles on squash flower, (c) The HerbangardenerCucumber beetles on a winter squash flower

Sweetpea harvest, (c) The Herbangardener

Grasshopper damage on rhubarb, (c) The HerbangardenerGrasshopper damage to the rhubarb plant

(c) The Herbangardener

Bee on sunflower, (c) The Herbangardener  Grackles in garden eating grasshoppers, (c) The HerbangardenerWe love grackles! They help a lot with eating grasshoppers. We just kept the water trays stocked with fresh water for them.

Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Homegrown Cantaloupe (c) The HerbangardenerCantaloupe!

Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Garden (c) The Herbangardener

Sunflower, (c) The Herbangardener

Garden (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

*****

Spring progress

By , March 21, 2016

Apricot blossoms, (c) The Herbangardener

Happy Spring! We’ve made great progress with the garden. We rented a rototiller again and did another couple passes to dig further down. F finished mowing the acreage while I tilled, so it’s all set for spring. It looks great.

We staked out the garden with string and I hoed rows. F repaired and replaced lots of stuff on the irrigation system so now it doesn’t leak.

(It’s amazing how few words can be used to narrate such time-consuming and labor-intensive activities!)

Rototilling (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

Marking out furrows, (c) The Herbangardener

We put water down the rows but it travels too fast and pools at the end, so right now we’re fine tuning that. Also, the beds are too tall. More fine tuning.

 Flood irrigating furrows (c) The Herbangardener

Flood irrigating furrows (c) The Herbangardener

Other springtime sights:

Tulip leaves, (c) The Herbangardener

Apricot trees bloom too early in Colorado (it probably got nipped the other night):

Apricot blossoms, (c) The Herbangardener

Columbine leaves, (c) The Herbangardener

Apricot blossoms, (c) The Herbangardener

Catalpa seedlings, (c) The Herbangardener

*****

Something from nothing: Breaking ground for a garden

By , March 4, 2016
(c) The Herbangardener

Mowing out the garden perimeter

Because we are now stewards of three whole acres of land, we’ve been spending hours and hours — so many hours — researching tractors and thinking of what we want to do with the space. One thing we want of course is a garden. I am not thrilled to be starting from scratch for another garden. If you garden, you know it’s a ton of work. I don’t have the energy level to match, so it’s overwhelming. But if you garden, you also know that not having a garden is not an option! It’s a given. A necessity. After months of tractor research, stalking craigslist, exploring creative solutions, lots of sticker shock, and springtime — planting time — right at our backs, we decided that we can’t make a decision right now. We’re unclear exactly how much we want to undertake in general, we don’t have a solid plan other than Do A Big Garden, and we haven’t been on the land long enough to have clear answers about either of those things. We had nearly settled on a BCS 853 walk-behind tractor from earthtools.com, but the price is dear and we aren’t settled yet on which attachments we need. We’ve been paralyzed and overwhelmed. Finally on Monday night, the overwhelm reached its zenith as F sat wide-eyed in front of his computer screen staring at yet another page filled with tractors and tractor attachments and other hunks of metal with names we have yet to learn and prohibitive price tags or the right price tag but in a faraway state. Right then is when we decided to work with what we have access to right now that’s within our price range — and without a huge decision or financial commitment needing to be made in haste. This turned out to be a rented rototiller from the local hardware store, and the really nice self-propelled Honda mower F bought for the lawn.

The next day we rented the tiller, quickly eyeballed the area we wanted to make into garden — ‘Yep, there’s about good’ — mowed the weeds and dry grasses, and “started tilling.” But the tiller tines only just picked at the surface weeds and kicked up a little dust. It wouldn’t dig in. The ground was dry, too dry evidently, and nothing was happening. Frustrated moments ensued, we tried forcing it, then we thought of scrapping the whole thing and returning the tiller. Then we both went online, each finding some key pointers. “Ahh – you can raise the wheels so the tines dig in more” and “Ahh – for hard ground try going lightly over your whole area with the tiller east-west, then lightly again north-south. Once you’ve cross hatched it, then try going deeper the next round.” We almost didn’t, but I’m glad we stuck with it. We made progress, though not a whole lot for a laborious !6! passes, but enough to tear into the ground. While I tilled, F mowed the acreage. The lawn mower was awesome and we had no idea it would do so well on rough land; it devoured everything in its path without a single sputter. Probably the mowing of the land wasn’t completely necessary; but mentally oh very much yes. Somehow having the grass mowed on the rest of the land makes the whole thing seem tamer and more under our control and not so wild and untouchable and unmanageable and impossible. And we learned that yes you can mow two acres with your self-propelled yard mower and yes wear those comfortable shoes because you’ll be walking for miles and miles, back and forth back and forth!

The next day I turned on our irrigation well and opened the floodgates as they say. The garden can be flooded in a matter of minutes which will be a huge time saver this summer. I soaked it several times and we’ve booked the tiller again for this Saturday so that we can do the whole thing again and till much deeper this time we hope.

When I look out at the area we tilled, it’s huge. It’s nearly 3,000 square feet of garden. That in itself is overwhelming, but not as overwhelming as it was last week, before we had started at all. We made huge progress in one day and our bodies made darn sure we knew it (like ‘Ohhh…shit.”). Seeing the land mowed and the garden tilled up makes it easier to believe we can actually make something out of all this nothing.

 

Mowing 2 acres with self-propelled lawnmower

Mowing 2 acres with self-propelled lawnmower

Mowing done

Mowing done

Rototilling

Rototilling

Before mowing & tilling

Before mowing & tilling

After mowing & tilling

After mowing & tilling

Essential!!! I love these boots.

Essential!!! I love these boots.

(c) The Herbangardener

*****

Lingering Spring and a Touch of Summer

By , June 3, 2015

Oriental poppy orange, (c) The Herbangardener

***

~I hope this finds you all well~

Just some photos for today.

We are busy here; isn’t that the way of the world though! The to-do list never seems to shorten does it…

I’ll post more of an update in the coming weeks but for now, enjoy this most glorious time of year with a tour through the garden… pausing to pet the Kitty of course… and maybe you’d like a few strawberries too, still warm from the morning sun, and a cold fizzy glass of homebrew kombucha? (I’ve finally upped production, brewing it by the 3-gallon-full these days and I’m thinking of going to 4!)

Greetings from a wet, chilly Colorado night,

~Lindsey

***

(c) The Herbangardener

Purple lily of the valley, (c) The Herbangardener

Mousing, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

Spring vegetable garden, (c) The Herbangardener

Homegrown strawberry,, (c) The Herbangardener

Spring vegetable garden (c) The Herbangardener

Oakleaf heirloom lettuce, (c) The Herbangardener

Cat feet (c) The Herbangardener

Star of Persia, (c) The Herbangardener

Maple leaf, (c) The Herbangardener

Fern, (c) The Herbangardener

Celebration Song iris, (c) The Herbangardener

Homebrew kombucha, (c) The Herbangardener

Kombucha day, (c) The Herbangardener

Green lawn, (c) The Herbangardener

Johnny Jump Ups, (c) The Herbangardener

Garden strawberries, (c) The Herbangardener

Seedlings, (c) The Herbangardener

Walls o water, (c) The Herbangardener

Tomato plant (c) The Herbangardener

Oakleaf heirloom lettuce, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

Yarrow (c) The Herbangardener

Yarrow (c) The Herbangardener

Orange oriental poppy, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

*****

The last of Winter and the beginning of Spring

By , April 28, 2015

Pinecones in snow (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

The trail is the thing... (c) The Herbangardener

Evergreen in snow, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

Finch in feeder, snow, (c) The Herbangardener

Cat silhouette, (c) The Herbangardener

Storm clouds, (c) The Herbangardener

Whiteout, (c) The Herbangardener

 

Bottling, (c) The Herbangardener

Bottle conditioning, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

Early spring garden, (c) The Herbangardener

Lilac buds, (c) The Herbangardener

Lilac leaf buds, (c) The Herbangardener

Spring planting, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

Daffodil, (c) The Herbangardener

Peach blossom, (c) The Herbangardener

Early spring vegetable garden, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

Pink tulip, (c) The Herbangardener

Tulip and grape hyacinth (c) The Herbangardener

Purple tulips, (c) The Herbangardener

Yellow tulips, (c) The Herbangardener

Spring garden, (c) The Herbangardener

Spring garden, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

Lilacs, (c) The Herbangardener

(c) The Herbangardener

*****

Images of Springtime!

By , April 22, 2014

***

Happy Spring to you!

Ohh this time of the year is glorious, with apple blossoms and tulips and the grass greening up by the hour. Lilacs coming soon, and some peach blossoms on the homegrown peach tree (above)!

It’s been a while since I posted, with the usual ups and downs of life intervening… a terrible cold germ that gripped our household and overstayed its welcome by weeks, more medical testing and appointments which drain my energy but are part of the deal right now, a long overdue visit to the dentist with shocking news of 7 cavities — then a couple appointments to get them filled, along with a definite improvement in my condition thanks to the fabulous antibiotic, and then a bit of a relapse with my lungs certainly improved (ohhhh what sweet relief!!!), but still with a ways to go, with the underlying issue persisting. A recent sinus CT scan showed sinusitis in several areas which has likely been there for the past 3 years, improved by — but persisting through — multiple rounds of antibiotics, and largely ignored by me (as were the cavities) because of so much other crap going on in my body. It’s possible that my sinuses have been seeding my lungs continuously with infection, but it’s not clear yet.

And so it goes. But of course amidst the churning and distress and medical decision making that goes with being sick, there is beauty and sweetness all around, and having My People around me (or thru phone/email/video skype) is highly sustaining. Good things have happened too — I won tickets to the theater to see our children’s chorale sing, which turned into the most wonderful, stress-free afternoon out with F., where we could each forget our respective life-stressors, be lifted out of Survival Mode for a few hours, and be doing something fun and not too energy intensive, simply for the Joy of it! What a concept!!!!!! It was something that we both sorely needed as life has been awfully Real lately for both of us. We got sushi after the show and came home and had a picnic outside in the pretty evening.

And this year our bird baths are overflowing with the comings and goings of robins, finches, chickadees, nuthatch type things, grackles, a mystery bird, and even a couple of blue jays one special afternoon. Birds and birdsong add such a wonderful element to life, and I’m very thankful for them personally. And I love that when I’m resting out on the grass, they feel safe enough now to come within a few feet to bathe and drink.

***

So here are a number of pictures from the past couple months, as winter has wound down and spring has begun in earnest. And now, with spring is in its peak week, I am loving every second of it!

I hope this post finds you all well and enjoying your springtime (or hopefully that you will be soon, if winter is still hanging on in your neck of the woods)!

*****

The Everyday

By , April 15, 2013

How are you all? I feel like I’ve been in a cave — not much for correspondence lately, and just kind of lost in my own little world.

The weather around here has been cold and snowy, with a ridiculous 8° low one night — maddeningly unnecessary at this time of year. It killed our peach blossoms, and I really wish I’d picked the hyacinth flowers before that cold snap; what was I thinking?! I wait all year long for one of my favorite scents in the entire world, and then allow it to slip through my fingers. Argh! It made me really sad actually, and mad. We work so hard at not letting the big stuff get to us, that sometimes it’s the little stuff that does!

The cold snap did throw in a little precipitation as a consolation prize, so it wasn’t all bad. We really need the moisture.

It’s been quiet around here. Lots of reading and learning, working on projects, plus some good ol’ resting. Lots of resting. (Not always what this do-er wants to do, I’ll tell you!)

I finally sat down and did taxes and 3 hours into it, thought, Well no wonder I was putting this off. Sustained by Rescue Remedy, so many cups of tea that I think I set a personal record if not an Olympic one, and a few moments of “tearful release” shall we say, I did finally get them figured out and mailed off.

And you can bet there was a ceremonious tearing-up of the tax booklet into the compost. Afterwards I felt very satisfied, but awoke a few mornings later wondering if I really wanted Tax Booklet Energy in my compost pile. Coincidentally, later the same day F mentioned the torn-up booklet too, wondering if it was wise to have all that Federal Government Ink decomposing in our garden soil.

I’m gonna go fish those booklet scraps back out…

***

***

And I wish I had taken a picture for you of the royal mess I made in the kitchen. I was making soaked almond milk in the blender when the screw-on blade base inexplicably unscrewed itself while the motor was running. I know — what the?? Before I could comprehend what was happening, five cups of watery almond goop ran all over the counter, down the cabinets, splattered onto the side of the fridge, and pooled on the floor. I’m sure that you, too, have looked a mess in the eye and thought, “I don’t want to do this.”

I threw the blender into the garbage. I had never liked it anyway.

***

I also have a cactus fiber in my heel. For a weeks’ worth of days and nights it has throbbed at me and yet I run my finger obsessively over the area and find nothing — the rest of it long gone, of course.

Which just now reminds me of a quote I saw recently, “If you want to forget all your other troubles, wear too-tight shoes.”

I’m not even sure where I planning to go with this… probably nowhere good, so let me go ahead and stop here.

***

What else is happening? Well everything in the garden has sprouted! Maybe it’s the skeptic in me, but every single year I plant seeds, I’m always surprised when they actually sprout. It is such a miracle.

Also…twin daffodils, squirrels, making a flower essence, before-and-sadly-after hyacinth, my happy flat of tomato and pepper seedlings, redbud branches and glory-of-the-snow flowers in the house, and cats waiting patiently for dinner.

*****

Kitty cabin fever

By , April 3, 2013

Cabin fever strikes easily at this time of the year, even for my cat — and trying to keep her from inventing trouble on indoor days can take some creativity.

Yesterday as Liz sat in my lap in front of the computer, I had an idea to search youtube for bird videos. As it turns out, there are many kind folks who have taken the time to record and post videos for cats to watch!

Liz was entranced. We watched a couple of bird videos and a fish video together. Her favorite was “Winter Birds.” And after the video session was over, she searched behind the computer screen to see where they all were.

Today was good outdoor weather, so we went out back. I rested, read in the sun, and soaked up vitamin D while Liz relaxed, hunted mice, rolled in the dirt, checked the solar oven, and helped dig soil in what will soon be the potato bed. It was a good day; no cabin fever today!

***

Do your cats get cabin fever? Have they ever watched a youtube video of birds?!

*****

Happy Easter!

By , March 31, 2013

Happy Easter to you today! It’s a quiet, sunny Sunday morning here in Colorado, and this morning it really seems like spring has come. The lawns are getting green, the finches and robins are chirping, the daffodils and grape hyacinth are blooming, and the trees and bushes — though still bare silhouettes — are coming to life again.

May you have a wonderful Easter, however you choose to celebrate the re-awakening of nature in this most welcome and hopeful season!

*****

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