Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Garlic Update

As January comes to an end, I thought that it was time to check in with the garlic plants. In the main vegetable garden, I have one long raised bed. In that bed I planted two garlic varieties last Fall and then covered the row with a tunnel of remay fabric. When I pulled back the remay cover I was both surprised and pleased at how large my "Russian Red" garlic plants were.

It's only the last week of January and these plants are already pushing 5" in height. I haven't ever grown this variety before, so I don't know what is considered "normal". But I do know that the "Red Russian" cloves that I planted were really big, so I am expecting that the plants will follow suit.

To the left of the "Russian Red' are my "Chesnook Red" garlic plants. As you can see, these plants look completely different. But, I did grow this variety last year. So I now have the experience to know that this a  normal growth pattern for "Chesnook Red".

Last year it kept putting out long, horizontal-leaning leaves, never gaining much in height until maybe May. Then suddenly the plants shot up. Within weeks they looked just like all my other garlic varieties. But until then, I know to expect this unique low growth pattern. 

My final variety, "Tzan", is planted in its own raised bed along the west end of the house. These cloves were planted later than the other two varieties, and this bed receives much less sunlight. So I am pleased to report that all of the cloves are now up and most of the plants seem to be thriving. I am still thinking about covering this bed with a remay tunnel too. While I am not concerned about bird damage so much anymore, I do think that the added warmth that a tunnel provides would be beneficial.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January Color

The fog of the last 10 days has finally lifted, to be replaced by grey skies and drizzling rain. The landscape seems to be an endless palate of greens, browns and grays. The lone exception to this muted palate is the Witch Hazel in the front flowerbed. Each January, its buds bursts open to reveal shocking red, spider-like blooms. It is always the first color of the new gardening year, reminding us of all that is yet to come.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Grosbeaks are Back.....?

Evening Grosbeaks are one of my favorite birds. I especially love the colorful markings on the males. After spending the winters at higher elevations, they return down to the valley sometime each April. I then get to wake-up to a chorus of "churr" each morning until they leave our area sometime in July. However, the last week we have heard grosbeak calls and then yesterday we saw one male Evening Grosbeak - In January no less! Then today he was joined by this chubby little guy. Could this be a father and son? And what are they doing in our area in the Winter? I don't have any answers to these questions but it appears that we have two Evening Grosbeaks back for the year and that's worth celebrating. Now that they have found the feeders once again I am hoping that they won't leave our area. Welcome back guys!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

What a cold weekend we have had! Yesterday we enjoyed a sunny, cold day. We hit a high of 35 degrees. Then last night it dipped to 19 degrees. Today was overcast and really cold. The official high in town was 30 degrees but we never broke out of the high 20's at the house. As you can see, the bird bath on the back porch froze and never got the chance to thaw out as it does most days. 

We aren't use to such cold temperatures in this part of the world. Sunday especially was a day to stay inside and keep warm. All of the cats lead by example!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Second Snow of the Year

While the forecast called for a chance of snow, there wasn't much of anything happening when I got up for work. However, it started snowing as I ate breakfast and then really started coming down as I drove to work. Wouldn't you know it, it snowed from 7:30 AM to about 10:00 AM while I was away.

We received an inch or two of snow, just enough to make the world magical once again. While my garlic tunnel sagged under the weight of the snow, the garlic plants remained protected underneath. After it quit snowing the temperature quickly rose. By the time I got home from work, there wasn't a trace of snow left. Thankfully my sister captured these pictures of our brief winter wonderland.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Planting Bulbs

When I was at the Common Ground Fair in Maine this past September, I stopped by the Fedco booth. They had a large display of bulbs for sale and I couldn't resist buying two varieties to bring home to Oregon. Once I got back from vacation I put the bulbs in the refrigerator for safekeeping. Just like last year time slipped away and they were still in the refrigerator as 2013 arrived. Today I finally got them in the ground! The first variety that I chose to plant was "Topolino". The catalog describes "Topolino" as a narcissus daffodil with white petals surrounding a long, creamy yellow trumpet. They are 8-10" tall and are an early Spring variety.

I purchased 17 bulbs of "Topolino". As I spaced them on the ground I noticed that many of them had started to sprout. That's a good sign. I was more concerned that 6 or 7 of them showed no sign of a sprout and felt very light. I am concerned that some of the bulbs perished in their 3 month stay in the refrigerator. Fingers crossed!

The second variety that I purchased in Maine was "Jamestown".  I had 12 bulbs to plant of this Narcissus daffodil. It is described as  having rounded white petals that surround a short, yellow cup. A blue ribbon winner. They will get to be 14-17" tall and will be a late mid Spring bloomer. All of these bulbs felt solid to the touch but not all of them had sprouted yet.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Early Sensation

Every year, right after the Christmas Holidays, I remember it's time walk over and take a look at the "Early Sensation" daffodils. This early variety is always poking through the ground right around New Years, just like clockwork. While we have had some Narcissus daffodils up in the flowerbeds for weeks, "Early Sensation" is always our first Daffodil to appear. Spring is still a long 10 weeks away but another promise of Spring has arrived once again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

A lovely New Years Day. We had mostly blue skies and it was time for a walk. I headed down to the big garden to fill up the bird feeder. Down at the bottom of our driveway a bit of white caught my eye. Surrounded by fallen oaks leaves, this pretty little white mushroom had sprouted. A new discovery for a new year.