Sunday, September 27, 2020

To Blog Again--Or Not?

It has been a busy summer.
Even as I type the words I'm thinking that summer has always been busy time! 
Planting, harvesting, preserving the harvest--as well as doing the usual tasks indoors and out.

[To say nothing of the building/renovating projects that have been an on-going lifestyle for many years!]

Dawn and I have picked green beans under searing sun, brought them in to snip, steam and seal in the vacuum Food Saver. 
We have unhappily thrown out tomatoes ruined by blight or bugs; those worth salvaging have been canned or turned into salsa and spaghetti sauce. 

I drove to my favorite garden nursery in mid-August, returning with broccoli, Napa cabbage and regular green cabbage to set out where earlier beets and cucumbers had grown.
I watered the plants for several days before a spell of rain took over.  All are growing on nicely.

In the foreground of the above photo is the late crop of green beans.  I planted bush type, but a few of the climbers germinated from the earlier planting--overgrown pods discarded on the ground as we picked.

Late August rains have blessed us with a green autumn. Leaves on a few trees are starting now to 'turn'--hickories going a golden russet; one branch on a large sycamore across the lane has a warm tint of yellow.
Hummingbirds are still a presence at the feeders.

Clematis have flowered again--other than the always struggling one that I inadvertently dislodged while tugging on a clump of grass. 
Clematis stems are so vulnerable!

Clematis 'Samaritan Jo'

In truth, it isn't busyness alone which halted my blog posts. Online resources indicate that the new blogger format has been prone to spam 'hits.'
I can deal with the odd irrelevant comment or those who comment only hoping to make a sales pitch. 
I cringe at pornographic filth--posts of explicit content from those nameless trolls who have the expertise to get around comment moderation and spew their filth.

Although I try to recognize and quickly delete, my reading skills have always been of the kind which register whole paragraphs in a quick glimpse.
When dealing with comments on my only August post, I was using my laptop, working at Howard and Dawn's house during the 8 days that our internet was down.
I'm awkward with the laptop touch pad, and I suspect that I deleted some legitimate comments along with the spam.
 I miss blogging--sharing photos and words that journal our days and seasons.
I can hope that 'blogger' deals with the issue--building a system that filters out the professional trolls!


Sunday, August 9, 2020

July into August

The month of July can be summed up in three words: Heat; Humidity; Harvest.

Dawn and I have been kept busy tending the gardens at both locations.  Green beans outdid themselves before beetles and a spell of dry weather wore them out.

We purchased a vacuum sealer to prepare the beans for the freezer--a bit of a learning curve before we became proficient.

A typical morning's harvest! We soon reached the point of cringing when anyone came in from the garden carrying more cucumbers. We've been giving away some of the excess--some have gone to the Beachy's Fresh Air Produce when their crop slowed down.

Some of the prettiest green beans went into 16 pints of 'Dilly Beans'--recipe supplied by son-in-law, Matt.

The row of green beans in their glory.   A late planting of beans has since replaced these--bush beans for a fall crop. The beets [at the right behind the bean trellis] have all been consumed. Jim seeded a long row of beets at the Dry Creek property [now owned by Howard and Dawn] as well as a large packet of Sugar Snap Peas which Dawn purchased. He also put in corn, but the germination has been disappointing.  

We have harvested tomatoes for the table, but predictably, we are seeing blight damage on many of the plants. We made several plantings of tomatoes of different varieties and hope there will be a late harvest.

Coneflowers at the corner of the house. These are now past their glory but left standing to drop seeds. 
A late July sunset after an evening rain.  A week of intermittent showers brought welcome revival and ushered in a surprisingly cool first week of August.
The three dogs go to work at the Dry Creek property each day with Howard and Jim. They look forward to a cooling 'break' in the water.
When the dogs are done splashing any humans within range get a shower bath.
My son-in-law, Matt arranged for this splendid trellis to be constructed for me. The delivery came as a complete surprise. 
Jim and Howard painted and set the trellis in the newly established garden along the west retaining wall.

I am enjoying the prospect of choosing plants--maybe a small climbing rose--a clematis--or two? 

My favorite local garden center reopens next week--and a new catalog from a reliable source landed in the mailbox a few days ago, giving me options to ponder.

Mexican Torch Flower in bud--grown from seeds included as a 'bonus' with a spring order.
 A strange insect encountered while weeding.
Torch Flower in full bloom.
Faithful Willis continues to oversee all gardening efforts.

I spent many hours last week digging and weeding in my various flower borders--tiring work, much of it done on my protesting knees.
The veg harvest and processing has slacked off for now--still a variety of food for the table with the hope of plentiful fall crops. 
Summer in Kentucky is not over--surely heat and humidity will return and stretch into September.

The renovation of Howard and Dawn's house continues with Jim assisting.  Howard decided to gut the interior and create an entirely new layout in the upper story. New bracing rafters have been installed upstairs, new windows set in place. A crew arrived last week to insulate with sprayed in 'foam.'  
We have all worked to clear and tidy the neglected acreage. 
There is little energy left over by the end of long work days.
Life is demanding--and rewarding!

Monday, July 6, 2020

Raccoons on the Rampage

14th June, a Sunday, was perfect weather to putter outdoors. I had previously planted a clematis in the new garden, placing the trellis against the west wall.  In a few days it became obvious that the heat absorbed in the exposed concrete was too intense for the clematis.  Jim moved the trellis around to the wonky wooden fence below the east wall.  I replanted the unhappy clematis and put another beside it.  Both were sturdy little plants from a reputable mail order nursery; they had been grown on in the shelter of the greenhouse after arriving in early May. I tied the vines to the trellis and placed several flat rocks at the base.

This was the devastation that met my gaze when I went outside early Monday morning.
We decided that the rootling had been done by a raccoon. 
A raccoon visited the cat kibble feeder on the lower porch several times during late winter and we hadn't begrudged it the food.
Somewhat reluctantly we decided to bait the Hav-a-Hart trap.

The next morning we had the supposed culprit. Jim was loading the trap into the back of the pickup when I noticed that the raccoon was a female. Immediately we thought of nursing kits left to starve if we trucked their mom away. 'Its your plants, your choice what to do with the coon', said Jim, leaving me to decide.  My soft heart caved, hoping the attack on the clematis was a one-time mistake. We released the coon. Pondering the situation later, I recalled that the mother coon's nipples had been shriveled and dry as though her kits were already weaned.

Tuesday morning. Note that these pots were on the front doorstep.

Wednesday morning.

Thursday morning.

Friday morning, on the lower porch.

On Saturday morning this large and belligerent male was in the trap.
Howard hoisted the trap into his truck and we drove down narrow winding back roads to release the coon in an overgrown field. 
Subsequently we caught and transported two smaller raccoons.
There has been a heated discussion on the local online 'magazine' re dealing with unwelcome visitations from raccoons.
One writer stated that a friend loaned her a collection of 'rubber snakes' which discouraged nocturnal visits to planters and bird feeders.
Another contributor ranted against the practice of transporting coons to remote areas and rather self-righteously confessed that coons trapped on their property were taken to the farm of a friend who 'uses them to train his dogs.'  
Jim doesn't shoot animals, but I contend that a quick bullet would be a more merciful end than being turned loose to be torn apart by hounds in training!

I replanted the clematis vines twice before they were left to grow in peace.
I was able to salvage and re-pot most of the plants thrown about during Mr. Raccoon's nightly rampages. We have since seen a youngish coon mooching about on the front steps but it has caused no upsets. 
We've had visiting raccoons in other locations, never any who created havoc.
I've always considered them rather appealing with their pointy masked faces and bushy tails.
Since the destruction ended with the removal of the large male, I hope he was one of a kind.

I started this post using the new blogger format. I loaded 3 photos, couldn't load the remainder so reverted to the older format.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

June Gardening

More photos than words, trying to catch up with the intense round of gardening that has been our focus since late in May.
We have put in vegetables at the Dry Creek property as a sort of communal 'family garden', having planted the available space in the home garden.

This is the coolest June we have experienced in Kentucky, wonderful weather for working outdoors.
Rain, sometimes in torrential bursts, has broken the spell of dry weather.

A refined variety of milkweed for the benefit of butterflies.

Lauren's Grape poppies sprang up in several spots amongst the Knock-out roses.

A David Austin rose, one of the last to bloom before the plague of Japanese beetles began their destructive work.

The raspberry pink foxgloves started last season from seed.

Prairie Coneflower, the petals more delicate than the common variety.
I can see that it should be staked to be at its best.

First stage of the garden behind the west retaining wall.  Jim suddenly took an interest in this project I had contemplated without any real idea how to proceed. 
We brought the stones from the creek bed at the other property, along with topsoil for a raised planting area.
I had pointed out that the treated timbers were already here, salvaged from the fences we took down.

One of the Dry Creek gardens.

Preparing the garden at Dry Creek.

Beans began the climb up the fence.

We've been eating cucumbers for three weeks

A stand of purple coneflower, most of them started three years ago from seed, a few plants moved here have colonized.

Purple basil.

The earliest planted nasturtiums are tired now, but the seeds dropped will soon be reviving the planter.
I began sorting photos for this post during the last week of June, so both flower and vegetable gardens have changed since. 
I sheared back the rose hedge, clipped the fading blooms from the nepeta, cut down the foxgloves.
July is the season of long hot and humid days, a time to work in the gardens early in the morning.
The great rush of planting is over; now we harvest, combat the 'bugs' and weeds, try to ward off tomato blight.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Scent of Rain

Sabbath quiet on the east porch. Mottled sunshine over the garden, a drift of clouds, pale grey at the edges.
Whirring of wings as hummingbirds land on the hanging feeder.  Bluebirds fly into the fringe of trees that line the south ravine, dart back out of sight behind the house.
I move the heavy gardening book from my lap to rest against the arm of the rocking chair.  Clancy, the half grown kitten, has landed in my lap.
A light breeze lifts the perfume of the Old Vermont Pinks in the new garden below. The tallest spires of foxglove move.
I am lost in my book--English gardens, herbs, flowers, stately formal gardens, cottage gardens, rustic country plots.

The wind quickens, bringing the smell of distant rain.  Putting the book aside, I watch the tops of the trees swaying as dark clouds move in from the west. 
A muffled rumble of thunder and the cats who have kept me company exit the porch, scudding through the sun room and into the house.

Rain moves in fast, great sheets of it borne on the wind.
Through the porch screens I watch as water pummels the flower strips, splashes from the barn roof.

Picking up my book and a cushion from the rocking chair I follow the cats inside.
The shower is brief, but rather fierce, over in a scant 15 minutes.

Outside again trees drip, closer by, the eaves drip. 
The tiny tree frogs we call 'rain crows' make their distinctive creaking sound, call and answer from several across the lane.
A quarter of an hour's respite and again the thunder rolls, heralding another deluge.
Teasel-Cat and I settle for a chair by the east living room windows, the book again positioned to accommodate a cat

When the rain stops I shove my feet into boots and venture outside.
In the greenhouse a swallowtail butterfly beats against the wall, pauses to cling to a spray of tall grass above  the bench. I grasp it gently by one wing, release it at the door and watch as it flutters away.

The storms have moved off, leaving a steamy warmth. The peonies raise their heads.

The sky is brilliantly blue, clouds pillowy, pristine.

Walking up the lane to the mailbox I note that this shapely tree in the fence row has triumphed over the harsh freeze that stripped its first crop of leaves.

Our neighbor's barn lot, unused since the death last fall of his giant jack, has grown a cover of buttercup.

The dooryard shimmers, the air has a rain-washed freshness.

The grass of the meadow is nearly ready for David Beachy to hay again.

Willis waits for me in the shade where the lane bends past the garden area.

Willis takes his escort duties very seriously.

At twilight we walk out and notice that the rain and several hours of steamy heat have caused a veritable explosion of green beans poking through the wet garden soil.

It is nearly dark when I cross the yard to close up the greenhouse. 
A few seedlings need watering. 
Jim has set buckets to collect rain water, better for the young plants than the heavily chlorinated county water.
A frog balanced on the edge of a bucket startles me, plopping over the edge.

The night air is heavy with the scent of wet grass, pinks, pansies, wild blackberries.
The rain crows rasp, the birds have gone to their night time roosts.
We are--finally--at the edge of summer.