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Jun. 9th, 2017

State of the Garden, June Edition

So much rain means lots of growth. Unfortunately, it also means things bloom, but no pollinators are around to fertilize them, because of the rain. Here's hoping at least a week of no rain every day will help in that case.

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The Heirloom tomato Indigo Rose has at least a dozen tomatoes in various sizes now. The Omar's Lebanese has a few tiny ones started.


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Tiny Cayenne peppers. I'm thinking it might have been mislabeled and it's more of an ornamental bush size, since it's not really getting much bigger than this and my last Cayenne pepper plant (Long Hots), was huge.


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I cannot remember which tomato this is, and the tag is subsumed by leaves. Need to add bone meal to the soil, to help with the yellowing leaves at the bases. It's not the Chocolate Plum, since that one has a few tomatoes, that naturally, have been sampled by birds. *sigh* The Mr Stripey, which moles tried to kill, has recovered nicely and the Cherokee Purples have doubled in size, so they'll be nice later in the season tomatoes.


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Both Cubanelle Pepper plants have good sized peppers on them. These are the largest. The Ancho Peppers are still tiny.


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Little Spaghetti Squash! Nothing on the cucumbers, the loofah, the cantaloupe, the butternut squash, the watermelon yet, but they all *just* started blooming this week. So hopefully that changes.


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Quite a few Summer Squash, though so far, it appears only 2 have actually been fertilized as only 2 are growing beyond the bloom size. It doesn't help that the male flowers seem to be blooming opposite the female flowers, so one is closed when the other is open- on *both* plant mounds. *sigh* No zucchini yet either, both plant mounds seem to only have male flowers blooming right now, though there are a few females growing still.


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Bonus! Katydid. Heh.


Moved the potted lavender, the potted anise hyssop, the potted strawberries and a bought variegated petunia (pale green and white leaves with deep purple flowers, it was stunning) to the edges of cucurbits bed to help attract more pollinators. Hopefully it helps.



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May. 16th, 2017

In other news...

Picked up 2 more tomato plants ( both heirloom, Omar's Lebanese and Indigo Rose), 3 more kinds of peppers( 2 Cubanelle, 1Bhut Jolokia, 2 Ancho), 2 tomatillos, a Loofa squash, a spaghetti squash, a fennel and 2 salvia for the flowers.

That brings our tomatoes to 6-7 different varieties- Mr Stripey, Golden Pear, Chocolate Cherry, Cherokee Purple and one other I can't remember right now.

Peppers are now at 6 or 7 ( couple different bells, hot banana, Serrano, cayenne, jalapeno, habanero).

Cucumbers, green beans, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, various herbs... Yeah. Oh and sugar snap peas to be planted at the end of summer.

Which means, if everything produces and produces *well*, we won't need salsa, green chile sauce, pasta sauce, cukes (which will become refrigerator pickles), beans, zucchini, or squash this fall for a good long while. Heh.



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May. 10th, 2017

Bring on the rain.

3 bags of organic garden soil was added to the center square of the garden layout. and 4 bags at 25 lbs each, of gravel was spread in the rain caused, larger holes along the drive.

Asparagus in now in the ground (it was in a big pot to get it started), as is the rhubarb(also started in a pot), the new lavender, one of the dill, the new rosemary, the old rosemary, 2 butterfly weed plants.

The green beans are coming up like gangbusters. Still need to get a couple more zucchini and cucumbers in the ground, but they need to get a bit bigger first. Tomatoes, other cucumbers, other squash, peppers, eggplant are all doing very well. We'll build out the rest of the garden layout this summer and next year, expand what we plant.

And so far, the wildlife has left the garden alone. Heh.

Had to move a giant! Wolf spider out of the garden bed too. She was guarding her rather large eggsack and was non too pleased that I'd disturbed her.

After apologizing profusely (*after* exclaiming, holy shit, you're huge! She was easily 2" front to back), I carefully scooped her up with the shovel and, still apologizing, transfered her to a clump of blackberry canes.

I think she'll be much happier and safer there.



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Jun. 22nd, 2016

Creating habitats...

So the Red Oak out front is dead. Dead as a doorknob dead. But it's huge and solid,so we're leaving it alone to essentially rot in place, eventually.

There are a few reasons for this-

One, there are Indigo Buntings nesting in a hollowed out knot hole in the end of one big branch.

Two, the woodpeckers- Pileated and Yellow belly Sapsucker so far, *love* this tree. So do alot of other birds, such as Nuthatches, the Goldfinches, Brown headed Cowbirds, Crows, Grackles, Sparrows, Carolina Wrens, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Purple Finches, Mourning Doves and so many more.

Three, there are Common Five Lined Skinks living on and in this tree. Along with all sorts of other insects that provide food for the Skinks and said birds.

The area beneath it had apparently at one point, already been a garden. The shape was there, but the shed bark and Pokeberry Weed (which is staying because it makes a nifty natural dye), along with Thistle and a Yucca were all that was left.

We added good dirt and planted swamp milkweed seeds, Mammoth sunflower seeds, various poppy seeds and transplanted some irises we found when we removed all of the Nandina from around the Peach tree (and found 6 other peach trees!) around the back of the house, as well as my Yarrow 'Paprika'. Also planted and scattered some black oil sunflower seeds as well.

Yesterday, while walking down to get mail, I spotted some milkweed growing along the edge of the hayfield, between where it starts and the mowed edge of the side of the driveway starts.



Little, thin, straggly milkweed. So not what it should be this late in the season. So, this morning, Caena and I went back down the driveway, trowel in hand, and dug up as much as I could find. Ok, so I only dug up about 6 plants out of the dozen or so that I spotted this time down. Heh.

They are now transplanted into the Habitat Tree's bed. They're a little wilty right now, but they're small enough that it won't take long for them to settle in and perk back up, especially with the rain we got yesterday, are supposed to get today and tomorrow.

The butterflies are so going to love our yard next year. Heh.


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May. 31st, 2016

Five Oaks



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We've been here just over a month now, and it still feels like a vacation.

Fezzik! Our 400+yr old White Oak. What a glorious Tree.  #nofilter  #oak #oaktree #whiteoak #fiveoaks #home #garden #dantesspirit


Well, with the exception of yard maintenance.}:P Even then, there's a huge sense of accomplishment when we stand back and look at the fruit trees, the roses, the black leaved crepe myrtle, the day lilies, the irises, the asiatic lilies and more that we've already planted and see how well they're settling in and flourishing just within days, as well as how nice the grass looks when it's freshly cut .

This place hasn't had anyone living in it properly, full time, taking care of the land and the plants and the trees as they need and should be, for a very, very long time. As I've said before, we are apparently only the 4th owners of the property and as far as we can tell, outside of the first owners, it was really only used as a vacation home for much of it's 76+ year life.

But slowly, slowly, we are bringing the heart back into this land. The previous owners did an excellent job at updated the interior while keeping the original features and character as well as put in some great bones and framework for spectacular garden spaces, and now, it's our turn to help the land reach it's full potential.

Already have a good start on the road towards getting a bird sanctuary designation, common five lined skinks, red headed woodpecker feeding ground and home to various insects. So, until it becomes unstable, we're leaving it alone.

Meet some 'neighbors'- not really neighbors in the sense that they live right next door, more like across the road and up the next one aways. They've been here 50 years and love this area too. Watched the front hay field be cut yesterday. The guy spotted a fawn, stopped, picked it up and moved it out of the way. Then waited while it ran for the brush line, bleating for its mom, before starting the tractor up and finishing. When he was done, he waved and told us to have a good weekend. People are so *nice* around here. It's quite the change and we're still getting used to it.

Tomorrow, we actually make out first mortgage payment. Maybe then, it'll become real, that yes, this *is* in fact our home now. Heh. But first, a final blood count check for Miss Sassy.

Meanwhile, today, I'm in my office, admiring the view, smelling the fresh cut hay and getting ready to list new items in the Big Cartel and Square shops, while watching thunderheads build over the Peaks of Otter.

May. 10th, 2016

Moving... And coming Home.

So a little over a week and a half ago, we closed on our new house. It's a wonderful 1940 bungalow on 1.73 acres with absolutely no neighbors nearby. The nearest neighbor is easily a quarter mile or more away.

After we closed, we brought Dante, Max and Aries' urns over and they were the very first things to be unpacked in our new home. They look right at home on the mantle, surrounded by their photos.

We then spent the next 3.5 days actually moving the rest of our stuff. We are still trying to figure out how two 15 ft UHaul truck loads and then some fit into a 700 sqft townhouse. After we got the big things, like the bookcases, the buffet, etc, I spent the next week, going back and forth, hauling odds and ends from the townhouse to the house and cleaning it. Last Friday, we made the final trip, grabbing the bikes and closed the door on the townhouse for good.

Now I'm trying to figure out where everything fits in this 1266 sqft home of ours. The living room is really the only room that's 90% setup as it'll be. I'm in the process of arranging the studio/office, it's about 50% of the way there. Heh. Then there's all the books to unpack and put back up on the bookshelves, all the photos and prints to figure out where they will hang, some painting to do...

Oh and mowing the nearly 1 acre of open grass. Yeah. I accidentally broke our new lawnmower the day after we just put it together, 3 days after we bought it. So we had to take that back and exchange it. So 75% of the yard is mowed so far.}:P

So far, it's been like Christmas. Everyday, we discover something new here at Five Oaks (I did mention that the property was named }:P ). Sunday, it was that we have grapes! Today, it was that we may actually have Mulberry trees! And the stars on a clear night! Wow. And the frogs and bullfrogs in the ponds below us... It honestly still feels like a vacation.

It's an itty bitty Peach! Woo!  #nofilter  #fruittree #fruittrees #peach #garden #fiveoaks #dantesspirit
Itty Bitty Peach!


There's a Catbird nest with 4 eggs in the cedar bush directly outside the back door, so we moved the walkway out further, to give the birds a touch of privacy. Morrigan has discovered them and now camps out in the windows on the back porch. Free cat TV. Heh.


Two owners ago, they buried a beloved cat in the back corner, complete with stone marker. The previous owners scattered the ashes of their beloved German Sheps there as well. So the plan is to turn that corner into a memorial garden. We brought Puck, Rue and Nyx's stones with us and will be placing them there, as well as selecting nice memorial stones from my collection for Dante, Max and Aries.


Still need to plant my Irises along the front of the front porch, got the compost bin set up, now need to lay out the garden area, plant the rest of our plants we brought with us and figure out where we want to put our new apple and pear trees and the future pecan trees we want to add, as well as clear the right back 'field/wild brush' area as well, thin out some of the sumac/paradise trees and bittersweet vines trying to take over in that area. Oh, and get the ivy off of Fezzik, our beloved 400+ year old White Oak next to the house. Speaking of irises, someone who lived here absolutely *loved* irises. They are everywhere! And in colors I didn't have.


So, as of right now...

Bird tally so far- Cardinals, Titmouse, Nuthatch, Catbird, Redwinged Blackbird, Goldfinches, Purple/House Finches, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, Robins, Carolina Wrens, Sparrows, Chickadees, Pileated Woodpecker, Indigo Buntings...

All the birds at the townhouse and then some.}:P Seen Crows around but not in the yard yet. Canadian Geese and goslings in the field in front of us and a Redshouldered Hawk soaring overhead.

AND a Crane/Heron (couldn't *quite* tell which) flew over from the ponds as well.

Fruit/Nut tally so far- Plums, Peaches, Apples, Pear, Black Walnuts, Blackberries, Strawberries- the 5 plants I brought with me are producing- GRAPES, Quince, potentially Cherries and maybe Mulberries too.

In the near future, we want to get chickens as well. And look into solar power.


I'd say we are well on our way to being as self-sufficient as we possibly can be.}:P


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Apr. 24th, 2015

Bone tired but happy

It's a good thing I love gardening and getting dirty, because right now, I'm thoroughly sick and tired of it.

But the raised bed out back has been extended- took 2 days and 2 trips to Lowes and it still need more dirt, but it's pretty much done except for that. Today, I put up the extra section of 6ft privacy fence, trimmed back- ok, chopped- the honeysuckle to get the fence section in, cleared out all the old wood- most of which went INTO the bed- and leaves so we can get almost all the way around it easily.

Two more beds to build and plant, then the patio and other than the veggie garden, it'll be upkeep only from there on out.

Need to get some potting soil and repot the spiderplant, it's vastly outgrown the pot it's in. Need to find a new hanging pot for the wandering jew so it can be split into two and repotted. It'll be happier then. Have to remove the dead butterfly bush- it'd been declining for a cuple years now and gave up this winter. I can pull entire sections off or split 5" thick branches just by pulling on them, so out it comes. Then that area gets amended and a new one will be planted in its place. It lasted nearly 15 years, so I guess that's a good thing. After that, it's newspaper mulch and river rocks to cover it and the front bed is completed.

Thankfully all the new crepe myrtles- including the black diamond one in the pot- survived. The black diamond one will be put in the ground, it barely survived in a pot. That's part of one of the two beds that need built though. That'll happen in mid to late May and June.

So. Hopefully by August-Sept, we'll have a nice patio and completed hardscaping that just needs trimming and cleaning up come fall and spring.}:P

This weekend, I'm hoping to get a table easel and play with my new toy.}:P



A handmade from salvaged 100yr old barnwood 3ft triangle loom, from Clarksville Weaver. Isn't it lovely? Hee.



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