Salute to the Spring Ephemeral

Spring                                                  Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

We have hundreds of daffodils just about ready to bloom.  A few scylla have popped up in the front and crocus, too.  Tulips have also broken through.  It’s an exciting time for a perennial lover, especially if you are, like me, a lover of the spring ephemerals, those hardy flowers that have their timing down to avoid the shade of leafy trees and shrubs, opening up and going to seed long before the darkness covers their little patch of land.  These little guys can’t wait to get out of the ground, sort of like greyhounds or whippets.

My next favorite flowers are the lilies and they don’t show up until July.  After that, I’m ok with whoever wants to bloom.

Lunch at Stacy Pydych’s, an Italian, Venetian theme.  Lots of good table conversation, good food and sunshine.  A perfect day with friends.  Thanks to everybody who got there.

On Defining Maturity

Fall                                            Full Harvest Moon

Three lily beds planted, topped with a serving of tiny yellow daffodil bulbs.  I realized today that planting bulbs in the metaphoric equivalent of maturity.  Putting lily corms in the ground in autumn to produce flowers in June, July and August of 2011 defines delayed gratification.  So.  There.  In spite of my personal measure of maturity–did I get a napkin the first time I went through the line–I seem have passed a different test.  Gotta make it before I hit 65.

Kona helped.  She chased down marauding chipmunks and rodney danger squirrel.

Kate’s off at work, each evening a chip closer to retirement.  I’m about to head on the treadmill for a late work out.  Watching Ghost Writer now.  Pretty good.

Making Jam, Eating Greens

Summer                                     Full Strawberry Moon

Global warming, how fast can it happen?  I don’t know, but my lilies have begun to open 2-3 weeks ahead of time.  That’s a remarkable fact.  The garden overall seems about 206-28-10_earlylilies weeks ahead, at least that stuff that I got in the ground at temperature, but not date, appropriate times.  I know, this is weather and that’s climate, still, one measure of the advance of global warming is earlier springs, which bring earlier plant blooming cycles.  Of course, one year is not a trend.

Kate and I  made 10 jars of scarlet currant jam, putting them in a hot water bath for 5 minutes to decrease the air pressure inside and get that satisfying ping when the atmosphere, barometric pressure 29.57 right now, presses the lid tight and seals.

We had a mixed green salad with onions, all from the garden, plus a wonderful spicy peanut jasmine brown rice dish right off the brown rice package.  With the bees, the planting, the harvesting, the jelly making and the dinner this was a very local food type day.

Fitter

Spring                                                       Waxing Flower Moon

Kate called from the Northstar.  She arrives in Anoka at 5:52.  She took the light rail to Target Field and caught the train home from there.  Feels like living in Connecticut.  I’m glad to have her home.  This is a two-person house and needs both of us to make it run smoothly.

Got the results of the fitness assessment I did last week.   The heart rate thresholds were not very dissimilar from the ones I had been using, though the max is about 10 beats higher and the mid-range of low is about 3 beats higher.  I got some good recommendations on how to modify my aerobic work and, as I hoped, the whole experience gave me a jump start back to the more comprehensive workout I had been doing before Christmas.  It involves flexibility, muscle warmup and stretching and resistance.  I kept faith with the cardio, but I’d let the other stuff slide.

Spread more compost and worked it in.  I’m almost ready to plant.  In fact I may plant tomorrow morning before I amend the soil in the next bed, the one with the garlic and the lilies.  The garlic and onions and parsnips look healthy, as does the asparagus and the strawberries.  The bed for the leeks and the sugar snap peas and the bok choy needs some weeding and some soil amending, too.  In the next day or two I should have all the transplants and seeds in that go in now.  Just got word that the potatoes are on their way, so I have to get some more composted manure for the potato/bush bean bed.

Last night I did research on four of the ArtRemix objects and I’ll finish all 8 of them before Friday.  The tour itself is not until May 7th.  Thrashing around the enlightenment, romanticism, modernism, Liberalism, post-modernism, Vico and Rousseau.  I want to arrive at a synthesis between enlightenment thought and the thought of its primary critics, those in the romantic family of thinkers:  Rousseau, Hegel, Kant, Vico, Burke, Hume.  Maybe somebody else has done it, but I want to do it my way.

Pictures

westorchard709Summer                       Waxing Summer Moon

From top to bottom:

Western half of orchard + three oaks

Cathedral at Seed Savers Exchange

Southern half of our vegetable garden

Lilies, Bees and Beans

Carrots

Vega the Wonder Dog

Vega (right) and Rigel (left)

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Photographs. Records of Moments.

Summer                        Waning Summer Moon

A few pictures from the near past:

Ruth at the Zoo

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The Playhouse in the Woods

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The Orchard:  July, 2009

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Our Fruit:  July, 2009

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Suntrap with Tomatoes:  July, 2009

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Leftover Lilies:  July, 2009

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The Moon of Full Flower

Beltane                     Full Flower Moon

The full flower moon rises tonight on beds full of daffodils, tulips, snowdrops and small blue flowers whose name I don’tdaffodils675 recall.  The furled hosta leaves that come up in a tightly packed spiral have begun to uncurl.  Dicentra have full leaves now, though no flowers yet.   A few iris have pushed blossoms up, a purple variety I particularly like opens early.  Even though they will not bear flowers until July the true lilies have already grown well past six inches, some with gentle leaves and others with leaves that look like a packed icanthus, an Egyptian temple column rising out of this northern soil.

My hydroponically started plants will stay outside today for four hours, working up to seven until they graduate to full time outdoor spots.  All of the three hundred plants began as heirloom seeds and have had no chemicals other than nutrient solution.   Unless we paid Seed Savers to ship us transplants, there is no other way to get heirloom plants that need growing time before the date of the last frost.  Too, the selection of vegetables and their varieties is of our choosing, not the nurseries.  I don’t have anything against nurseries; I just like to grow what I want, not what’s available.

The big daylilly move underway will make way for a full sun bed of sprawlers like squash, watermelon and cucumbers.  The perennial plants like the lilies, iris, daffodils, hosta, ferns, and hemerocallis have their complexity but I’ve majored in them for the last 14 years.  Now I understand their needs, their quirks, the rhythm of their lives and their care.  Vegetables, on the other hand, only this last two growing seasons have received any concentrated attention.  Their complexities are multiple because there are so many varieties and species with so many varying needs related to soil temperature, ph, nutrients, length and temperature of the growing season.

The learning curve has been steep for me so far, though the experience gained from the perennial plants has kept me from being overwhelmed.  In another couple of years I should have a good feel for what does well here and what does not.  After that, the vegetable garden will become more productive while at the same becoming easier to manage.

By that time, too, I hope to have had two successful bee-keeping years under my belt and have grown my colony to three hives or more, enough to justify purchasing an extractor.  At that point this should be an integrated and functioning micro-farm.  If it works well, I hope it will serve as a model for what can be done on 2.5 acres.  We’ll see.

Senescence

60  bar rises 30.07  2mph N  dew-point 59  sunrise 7:06  set 7:00  Autumn

Waning Crescent of the Harvest Moon  rise 5:12  set 6:05

Today and tomorrow will be full gardening days.  There are bulbs to plant: daffodils, hyacinths, snow drops, many tulips and garlic.  Sprinkler heads need coaxing.  Mulch sits over at the Anoka County Landfill.  Some of it has to come here in the trailer.

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While documenting the orchard installation, I also took some shots of the vegetable garden in late September.  This photograph has our heirloom Cherokee Purple tomatoes in their senescence.  The asiatic lilies with the tall tan stems of wilted leaves look much the same in terms of their life cycle, but in fact are different.

As annuals, the Cherokee Purples put all their effort into fruit, then the plant dies.  As a result, we have had a bumper crop of tomatoes, all raised from four seeds planted in April of this year under the lights of the hydroponic system.  Read More

The Bulb Came On

84  bar falls 29.97  0mph  NEE  dew-point 50  sunrise 6:33 sunset 7:53  Lughnasa

New (Harvest) Moon

When I began to plan the beds for the transplanted lilies and iris, I realized it would be good to dig in daffodils, too.  Daffodils, then Iris, then Lilies. But nobody sells daffodil bulbs in August.  They come out in late September, October.  The lily and iris placement will make digging in daffodils harder, more of a gymnastic act, since the daffodils go below the lilies which go below the iris.

Then, before I went to sleep last night, I had an aha.  I already have plenty of daffodil bulbs.  Planted.  I have around 600 daffodil bulbs in various places, so I got out the garden spade and went at an area.  Result?  Plenty of daffodil bulbs.  Now all I need is a cool, rainy day to plant all three.

Another matter.  About noon I got hungry and decided to go out for lunch.  I don’t do this often, usually only if I’m in the Cities, but for some reason I wanted to today.  Originally, I wanted to find a new Asian place that specializes in regional cuisines.  Couldn’t locate it.  Then I remembered the Jackson Street Bar and Grille.  I had not been there.  It  is in downtown Anoka.   So, I went there.

The bar stretches the entire length of the building, a good half-block.  New furnishings, including several wide-screen TV’s which, when I walked in, featured a blond country western singer.  Her song was “Come On Over.  I can’t get enough.”  There was also a Big Buck hunting video game.  You get the drift.

When the waitress came for my order, I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and tater tots.  This is not health food.  Over the last couple of weeks I have eaten more and more like a snowmobile racer or retro-guy.  When I put it this way, I reveal the conundrum.  It almost seems like somebody else has ordered the burgers, the Arby’s, the milkshakes, the Steak bites.  As a committed existentialist, I’m sure it was me and I know I’m responsible, yet I keep doing it.

Relentless in my self-analysis I tried to figure out why.  The usual hunch is stress, but I don’t feel stressed at all.  If I’m denial about that, it’s a pretty effective form.  An idea crossed my mind.  It may be that I’m so used to having a problem with myself to work on:  cigarettes, alcohol, relationships, exercise, writing that when I feel life is pretty good I ramp one up for consideration.  As I thought about it, this made some sense to me.  I’ll take a nap on it.

Garden Chess

81  bar falls 29.88 1mph NNE dew-point 65  sunrise 6:22  sunset 8:09  Lughnasa

Waning Gibbous Corn Moon

Moving daylilies today.  At last.  Moved several large clumps of daylilies to new beds where they will provide a barrier between wild vegetation on the hill below seven oaks and the more domesticated garden to the southwest.  This frees up space for the true lily and iris move that will make another raised bed available for vegetables next year.

Each fall the chess game of where to move plants, how to make the best use of the beds comes into play.  This year, unlike last year, will have several moves.  In addition to the ones I mentioned here we will create at least one, perhaps more, new raised beds and put in some fruit trees for a modest orchard.

After reading the article in the startribune this week about permaculture, I decided to call on their garden consultant before we do much more in the way of changes.  It will be good to have another set of eyes.