paws, paws, paws

The weather is quintessential February in the North Country (poor Michele is in the South missing all of this, ha ha). Drippy, damp, slushy. Yesterday I stepped out onto the front porch to feed the cats (and to chase away yet another stray cat trying to sidle up to the banquet). In the still cool morning air (it was 6 am) I clearly heard an owl call repeatedly from across the big open field to the west. Magic! This is the edge of the porch roof:

February melting

February melting

On my trip down to feed and water the horses I saw lots of footprints criss-crossing. Tiny ones and heavier ones. Here’s my favorite, made by the cute little bare hands of the opossums.

oppossum tracks

opossum tracks

Here’s a close up–adorable!

opossum hand print

opossum hand print

Some other prints and the strong aroma of skunk tell me that the critters of the woods are waking up and roaming. Here’s the raccoon highway between the barn and the garage, crossed by rabbit tracks–or maybe squirrel?:

raccoon highway

raccoon highway

Some very tiny ones also showed up:

tiny tracks with a tail dragging!

tiny tracks with a tail dragging!

A pretty big rabbit hopped into the back yard:

rabbit tracks

rabbit tracks

And I made plenty of tracks taking hay, feed, and water to the horses.

Casey enjoying his breakfast

Casey enjoying his breakfast

The red charm peony I love so well is looking bedraggled, of course, but the live part down below is just fine:

red charm peony sprawling in the snow

red charm peony sprawling in the snow

Meanwhile, David has been busy indoors planting seeds. These are arugula or spinach or radicchio, I’m not sure which.

seedlings!

seedlings!

The onions are well along:

onions

onions

And my favorite photo: a close-up of something just pushing out of the dirt:

germination!

germination!

I am being patient, waiting to start my flower seeds until April 1st.

ordering bushes and trees–going permaculture!

Inspired by my sister as usual! She always did like vegetable gardening more than flower gardening. We’ve been reading a lot about permaculture and perennial vegetables, perennial foods. We’ve just ordered, after a whole month of sustained discussion and study of books and nursery catalogs, our first fruit trees: pears, apricots, elderberry, hardy kiwi, honeyberry, and some others. We are also planting strawberries this year. We ordered some highbush cranberry to plant at the bottom of the front yard where two old half-alive maple trees still are–planning ahead. We also bought two dozen red raspberry plants.  Most of these are ordered from our local nursery, St Lawrence Nurseries.

We are planning to plant more edibles in the flower beds, and to keep the deer away we’ll put up a fence around the whole back yard and south-facing slope where the big herb wheel once was. This is a pretty big change in our whole garden concept–we used to say “the flower gardens” (Anne’s domain) and “the vegetable garden” (David’s domain), and I also had a few herb spots here and there. But now I plan to have a cutting garden for flowers in the vegetable garden, and we will plant edible plants in the flower beds. That means no more wood-chip mulch from the St Lawrence University stables, since they use fly spray on the horses.

So, for no good reason I’m ending this post with some photos of the hot days of high summer. Just because I can!

July 6

July 6

August 21 black walnut leaves

August 21 black walnut leaves

July 29 poppies

July 29 poppies

 

May 28

May 28

Armchair gardening: dreaming, scheming, and buying

Never mind the rather unfortunate green shade on our newly painted house–nothing to do about it, so I’ll just make the garden so beautiful that no one notices the house siding. Below is the kitchen garden, after Sam and I took everything out, except the one hosta whose roots appear to be sunk to China.

kitchen garden July 21, 2012

kitchen garden July 21, 2012

Here is the same garden before we tackled it:

Kitchen garden before dismantling

Kitchen garden before dismantling

Besides taking everything out, we also completely removed the lower tier and the lower short rock wall. Let me show a photo from a few years ago of this garden newly made (you can see why we had to paint the house!):

2007 newly built and planted and mulched

2007 newly built and planted and mulched

The same garden in 2009

The same garden in 2009

Here it is in early May, 2010, after I added the second tier of rocks:

May 1, 2010

May 1, 2010

But it doesn’t stay this neat. It almost always looked like this picture taken in 2012:

June 2012 kitchen garden jumble

June 2012 kitchen garden jumble

So, now that it’s emptied out, Here’s my plan.

  • stop trying to get rid of the bishop’s weed (Aegopodium podagraria “variegatum”) that’s all through there and can’t be eradicated anyway.
  • stop trying to get rid of the stinging nettles that came along with the barnyard dirt we used to fill the new bed at the start.
  • buy some nice GREEN and WHITE plants, including patriot hosta; a small white hydrangea; variegated Solomon’s Seal (I already bought these from White Flower Farm).
  • Add in from plants I already have: sweet woodruff, sweet cicely, snowdrops, white bleeding heart, other hostas, tiarellia, and others I’m not remembering right now.

The idea: an all green and white garden. Should be spectacular! I plan to keep cutting the stinging nettles for the soup pot as they grow.