Saturday, April 30, 2011

White in a Green World

As the outdoor world turns more green every day, the "wild" cherry trees have come into full bloom. They are such a pretty splash of clean white against the intense palate of green.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's Lamb's Tongue Showtime

How's this for one amazing looking Lamb's Tongue? This huge plant is growing up on the bank by the house, nestled just next to a young Doug Fir Tree. I have watched it for at least the last 3 years and covered it with a cage so that the deer couldn't eat it. Each year it has rewarded me with an increasingly larger specimen. Last year I was pleased because it had two blooms on one stem. But his year - WOW! A triple bloom on a stem the size of a pencil. As you can see below, the blooms on this plant are just at peak perfection right now.

The best display of Lamb's tongues in our area is about 1/2 a mile away in a neighbors front yard. There they are colonized and have happily spread in a semi-shaded area.

It is literally plant after plant after plant sprung up from the earth.

We have a much smaller version of this show, down the secret path, next to the creek. Here in the dense shade we have a nice little section with 20-30 plants blooming right now. Lamb's Tongue are truly one of the joys of Spring in this part of Oregon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Crab Apple Buds

Since the weather has been so rainy and cold this Spring, I haven't paid as much close attention to some plants as I have in past years. It just isn't too much fun to walk around in the pouring rain and wind! We did have a fairly nice day today, so I was able to take a quick walk before dinner. I went up to the "Royal Raindrops" Crab Apple on the bank and discovered that it is getting ready to bloom! It has quietly covered itself with these tiny bud clusters over the past few weeks. We are suppose to have our first 70 degree day of the year this Sunday. That might be just what it takes to get these buds to open and start the show.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter !

After a warm and sunny Saturday, the rain and cold has returned. By 9:00 PM last night the rain was coming down hard. It was quite cold this morning, but dry. This afternoon has brought intermittent deluges. I hope the kids were able to get their egg hunts done in between the showers. Wherever you are today, Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gardening Progress

We had a nice, sunny day today - finally! I even got a light sunburn on my face. The high reached 58 degrees which doesn't sound like much, unless you have been living through this cold, rainy Oregon Spring. Then 58 and sunny sounds like heaven! I pulled back the remay fabric to check on my radish patch. They are doing really well. In fact it is hard to tell that a dozen or so of the first radish that sprouted were pulled up by the birds. I am thinking that in a week or so it should be safe for me to pull off the remay cover for good.

I would then like to place it over the bed of lettuce. I am just waiting for the birds to discover these little, baby seedlings that have come up. Below is a picture of two "Australe", a red butterhead. Obviously, one needs to be thinned out but right now they are too small for me to safely grab one and not accidentally pull up the other. They are listed as being ready for harvest at 49 days. It is difficult for me to look at them right now and be certain that they will be ready to harvest in 6 weeks. But that's what the label says and Johnny's wouldn't lie to me!

I spent the good part of Saturday afternoon down at the big garden. Since the previous 4 days were finally rain free, I decided it was time for the first mowing of the season. The grass was still damp and the ground was pretty wet in some areas. As you can see I left a few tire tracks in the mud, but all in all it went pretty well. I decided not to attempt to mow the back section of grass. There is still a lot of standing water back there and it would really cause a muddy mess to try to attack it right now. So, 3/4 of the garden grass was mown and I also picked up all of the downed fir branches and limbs that had fallen over the course of the Winter. There is still a lot of work to be done before any planting can take place, but at least I can now see the beginnings of this year's garden.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We have Germination!

The sun has finally decided to shine the last two days, but we have then had quite cold nights. Both Sunday night and Monday night dipped below freezing, and it is expected to plunge that low for a third night in a row tonight. But the real news for me is I have germinating radish that haven't been pulled up by the birds! These happy little plants are growing safely beneath the protection of the remay tunnel that I installed Sunday afternoon. When I pulled back the remay tonight after work, all 3 varieties have sprouted vigorously. While I know growing radish isn't the hardest thing in the garden, this is a happy turn of events after finding all of my early plants pulled up Sunday morning. In approximately 25-30 days I should be enjoying my first harvest!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

First set-back of the season

You may notice that my vegetable bed is looking a bit different then it did just a week ago. This is why..

This morning I went out to check on my two raised beds that I planted last weekend. I knew, even with the wet, cold weather that we have been experiencing, that something should be germinating by now. And I was right..sort of. Yes, my poor little radish had started sprouting. But..the birds had decided to pluck out every single one that had come up! Grrrr. The top of the raised bed was littered with little green radish heads and their single long tap roots. I knew if I didn't do anything, I wouldn't ever get to harvest a single radish. So, another trip back to Down to Earth where I picked up some remay fabric.

Then I came home and covered the bed with a section of light-weight fence wire. I was lucky because the fencing piece that we had left was just the right length, bent over the bed.

Then I covered the wire with the remay fabric and held down the corners and ends with some earth staples that I had stashed away from an old project. I must say the whole thing doesn't look too bad and my only cost was $2.00 for the remay, half of which I didn't use. So now, in a few days, I will lift up the remay and take a peak. I should still have lots of radish seed left to sprout since I caught the birds early in the act.

After that, I got to the project that I had planned for the day - planting the onions that I purchased yesterday at the Farmer's Market. I was glad at that point that I had already constructed the raised bed row for them. It was quite easy to tuck them into their new home and then just give them a good watering in. I planted two varieties; a yellow storage onion called "Prince" that I planted last year and a red storage onion called "Red Bull" that is new to me. I am hoping that the birds leave the seedlings alone until that are established. They are in the same area where they thrived last year, so I am hopeful. It was amazing, the strong onion smell, that came from the little "Prince" plants as I tugged them away from the 6-pack cell in which they were growing. Even with my eyes closed, there was no doubt what these plants are going to grow up to be!

And on another discouraging note, below is a picture of my big garden that I took this afternoon. After yesterday's 2" of rain, there is standing water everywhere. It's six weeks until Memorial Day Weekend, when I normally try to have this garden all tilled and ready to plant. Unless we really see an increase in the average temperature and have a lot more sunny days, that yearly goal of mine is going to be impossible to reach this year.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rain, rain ..go away!

Today was a good day for indoor projects! It started raining yesterday and the rain has only increased in intensity today. As of 4:00 PM we have 1.5" in the rain gauge. I put on my rain jacket and took a walk down to the two creeks. The main creek is swollen, and running fast and brown.

Even "Dorothy's Creek", much smaller in size, was roaring. Everywhere on my walk the ground was saturated and I had to dodge standing water on all of the paths. So far, the first 15+ days of this month have been wet and cold. All of the wildflowers are behind on their "normal" growth and even getting a cool-weather crops garden planted has been a challenge for all.

Earlier in the day I made a quick trip to the Farmer's Market. It was just pouring outside, but I was impressed by the number of shoppers. We Oregonians are a tough lot ! I stopped at the Hayhurst booth and picked up a 6-pack of Yellow Storage Onions and a 6-pack of Red Storage Onions. Now, if we can just get a small break in this miserable weather maybe I can get them planted tomorrow.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The First Planting of the Year

Today's forecasted rain held off until after dark so I was able to get out and do some planting! This year one of my goals was to try some "cool weather crops" in the vegetable bed, before it was time to plant the heat lovers in late May.The first thing that I needed to do was to make some raised beds. I hauled in 5 loads of Natures Best planting mix and created 2 rectangular beds, each about 4" high. I also measured and formed my long thin bed for the onions.

Then it was time to get planting.I decided that one bed would be for radish and one bed would be for lettuce. I planted the follow seed:
  • Radish "Pink Punch" - Renee's Garden
  • Radish "Plum Purple" - Seed Savers Exchange
  • Radish "Rudolf" - Johnny's Selected Seeds
  • Lettuce "Australe" Red Butterhead - Johnny's Selected Seed
  • Lettuce "Winter Density" Green Romaine/Cos - Johnny's Selected Seed
Then everyone got watered in well. I ran into town to buy the onion plants that I wanted, but Down-to-Earth didn't have the varieties that I had hoped to purchase. So, I will have to wait until Saturday, when I can go to the Farmer's Market, and get my onion plants direct from Hayhurst there.

I also took part of the day to take a walk around the property. The late season daffodils are now blooming. One of our most prolific bloomer of all the varieties that we have planted is "Passional". This reliable daff has pure white petals that frame its soft peach trumpet.

One variety that hasn't done so well for us is "Holland Sensation". I don't know if it is the case that we have it planted in the wrong location or what the issue might be. I do love the combination of white and lemon yellow. Maybe we need to try it somewhere else.

There's no mistaking when the "Golden Ducats" bloom. The shocking yellow blooms open to reveal layers and layers of "torn" trumpets. The only downside is the weight of that many petals causes the plants to fall after a heavy rain. Still, they are worth it!

This little guy is a bit hidden behind the bird-feeder tree. The unique pale yellow, round petals and ruffled orange trumpets on  "Modern Art" make it a really fun variety to grow.

"Flower Record" is another variety that has done super well here. As promised in the catalog, it has reliably come back year after year.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mid-Season Daffodils

Yesterday, I had a chance to enjoy the sunshine and take a walk. Many of the mid-season daffodils have opened in the past few days. I always enjoy the "Einstein". Their petals are such a pure white that contrasts so well with the orange/red centers. They are also unique because the center trumpet really has no length at all to it and opens up right against the petals.

The "Ceylon" are another daffodil that you won't miss walking by. I don't know which part is brighter - the yellow petals or those orange trumpets.

Up on the bank, we have one group of "Delibes".  I really like how the pale orange trumpet is tipped in bright orange.

An down by the gate the ""Roulette" have finally opened.

We are nearing peak trillium time. Everywhere you look in the woods right now you can find flashes of white on the forest floor. We have both the solid green leaf variety and the mottled leaf variety.

 And the lamb's tongues continue to grow and get closer to blooming.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Finally, A Sunny Sunday

After too many wet weekend days to count, we finally had a reprieve. Today was mild and the skies were mostly blue. It was so nice to be able to work outside again. And goodness knows, my "to-do" list is a mile long at this point. I started the day by weeding the flowerbed directly to the right of the front steps. I was pleased to find that everything new that we planted last year had survived the Winter and was starting to put forth a lot of healthy new growth.

I particularly like how these "Jet Fire" daffodils look as they mature, with the petals pulling back, away from the trumpet. They almost look like they have been caught in a windstorm.

After finishing that project it was time to move to the back of the house and tackle cleaning up the vegetable bed. Each Fall, I make a concerted effort to get all of my gardening areas cleaned-up for the year. This last Fall however, it started raining in September and never really stopped. I was lucky to get one nice weekend where I harvested all of my Winter Squash and pulled out many of the tomato plants. But that was as far as I got. Soon it was time for the Holidays, and then Winter really set in. So today I set out and finished what I had started back in October. I thought it might take me an hour or so. Well, three and a half hours later I was done! I got all of the old plant debris put on the compost pile. I then weeded the whole area and picked up all of the plant cages that were still there. Then Dad helped me and brought in a load or two of fresh Natures Best blend on his tractor to fill in some low areas. He also helped me do some fence repair where the zip ties had broken over the Winter. Finally I raked the whole area smooth and I am now ready to begin planting! Right now the 10-day forecast show next weekend as mostly sunny and dry - fingers crossed!