Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Berries comin' on

My daughter actually harvested the first blueberry on Memorial Day. I picked about 20 yesterday. All in all, a small harvest, but I have been acidifying and "babying" these plants for three years. There are still several bushes that did not bloom this year, so zero berries from them. Gardening is a learning process, and I knew significant soil amending of our Missouri clay would be necessary to create the right environment for blueberries. I am getting closer to getting this process right since this is my best yield so far!

My son's blackberries are doing well again, and this is only their second season in the yard. These are thornless and we have supported them with a combination of bamboo stakes and wattle fencing made from pruned weedy yard shrubs. These need no additional soil amending, just fencing protection from the nibbling bunnies.

I love raspberries and have spent a few years coddling the one bare root raspberry twig I purchased from our local farm store. Last year, it  produced several handfuls of berries, then last fall I noticed the main bush had some sucker spread. This spring I added two more plants in hopes I will ultimately get a row of raspberry bushes. I had considered moving the first bush, but it seems happy enough to spread and produce, so I consider that success. I will need to get some bird netting coverage to protect the berries though, because as soon as they get pink the crows arrive to eat my harvest. They don't bother the blackberries at all, but these red raspberries are apparently food beacons to the birds.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Garden Update

It was a bit misty this morning after thunderstorms yesterday. With all the rain, the fireflies have hatched out early; there seem to be more every night. I spotted these two climbing the spaghetti squash enclosure.

  The lettuce table is really sprouting! Oakleaf (L), Spinach (Center), and a Mesclun mix (R). The other two rows of Prizehead and some anonymous "Salad Mix" are spotty and I may re-seed. I may be clipping some baby greens for my Memorial Day salad! See original salad table post here

Planted three tomatoes this year: a Roma, a red Cherry-100 and in the foreground, a mini Yellow Pear. The basil and cilantro are looking good as well. The wood siding on this raised bed rotted and fell apart, so we are trying these narrow, 8" tall cement blocks anchored with rebar. I did a "lasagna garden" technique using a base layer of wet newspaper, and there do seem to be fewer weeds in this bed, especially the runners of bermuda grass that plague my yard. I also added compost, green sand, and powdered eggshell to the soil mix.

One of my favorite flowering plant this year, is the Missouri Primrose (Oenothera missouriensis), a local native. I have three that are blooming well. The yellow flowers are about 4" across and bloom from the end of the day through early morning before wilting. A cheerful floral greeting while wandering the yard with my morning cuppa tea. My pansies are being overwhelmed!

Another of my favorites has bloomed well this year, a Bellflower (Campanula latifolia). I think this blooms biennially, because it didn't bloom last year. This beauty is almost 4' tall with almost 2" flower bells. I had to stake it because another flower spike had fallen over and was being overgrown by the surrounding aggressive lemon balm. I am pleased to see this plant again and may try to do a stem cutting to root another plant in a less crowded garden.

Saturday, May 27, 2017


First day of the long Memorial weekend and we are having a very windy evening thunderstorm. The family has been busy out & about; I at an estate sale in Webster Groves, Jim fishing, Val working and Jul interning at Circus Flora. The dogs were the homebodies today!

I found an old folding sewing table made in So. Paris, Maine with an inlaid yardstick. I spent several years as a Maine resident, so enjoying my time in a rural northern community I get a bit homesick when I find Maine products. I also purchased the heavy German pottery mug on the table at the same estate sale. I am thinking about using the table as a portable worktable for my crafting adventures. Apparently, my financial future will be one of my own making... literally. I have still had no luck landing any career-type jobs. I am thinking the economic stats are all lies, at least here, when it takes at least a month to receive any sort of reply from an online application.

With a rainy evening ahead, we fired up the hibachi for some grilled hotdogs and mushroom caps. It was pleasant watching the rain from our garage while still enjoying a grill-out and a beer. The garden definitely needed a good drenching. All three rain barrels are now full, and outfitted with new PVC overflow piping. The lettuce table is sprouting and I have been adding a few new stepping stones to the gardens. I noticed fireflies two days ago, there's a giant toad in the front garden and the hummingbirds have returned, bickering over one feeder when I have provided them two! 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

2 weeks Abroad

Edinburgh Castle
Where have I been? Yep, again getting out of town was a good idea. A birthday gift to myself, a little touring, a lot of sightseeing, but mostly an immersion into a different culture. While traveling can be stressful to some folks, I thrive pushing my limits and experiencing new environments. Of course, I do miss my dogs and gardens, not forgetting my family while I am vacating, but I love the challenge of figuring out what to eat, finding sites on a map, blending in and talking with locals. Returning home is a smidge of a letdown, since those challenges are not part of my life here.

Scotland was wonderful, with only one sleety day, the rest were all sunny and 15C /60F; perfect weather for hiking through city, town and countryside. I had a second Spring season since the daffodils and wildflowers were all in bloom. Further north, there was still snow on the mountains of the Highlands. The west coast & the islands were truly pleasant, ice cream cones and shorts were the norm.
Isle of Iona
The Hermitage, Black Linn Falls

Culross Palace & herb gardens

Highland cow or Gaelic Heilan coo
Little did I know that after two weeks of perfect weather I would return to the States post-extreme rain. Landing a JFK, my next 3 rescheduled flights were canceled, then I was shuttled to LaGuardia Airport where my flight there was also canceled. By late evening, the airline was planning to send me to Philadelphia, until I begged to be routed through Chicago O'Hare. Yes, I spent the night on a cot at O'Hare, but everyone was very pleasant and the next morning I was back in St. Louis.

Once settled in at home, two days later... I'm outside working in the gardens, which are looking good from the two weeks of intensive prep I did before leaving town. I discovered a nest of baby cottontails underneath a large coral bells (heurchera) plant. Cute blaze on this little rabbit, but of course they will soon be munching on my plants. I will be making a few more wire plant cages to protect my favorite perennials from their expanding bunny appetites. Ah, nature...