Queen of Relaxation

Mid-Summer                                                            Waxing Honey Flow Moon

Our new pack Kona, Vega, Rigel + Gertie has begun to calm down.  There are fewer tense circling moments, fewer snaps and growls.  Life with dogs has its rhythms, just like life with vegainwaterhumans.  Vega, our biggest girl, lays on the window seat, tail thumping, watchful, inviting me to come down and sit beside her, enjoy a moment of relaxation with her.  She is a great role model for relaxation.  The 4th of July fireworks season has moved into the  past, or the future, and Rigel no longer barks at the night sky.

Our tiered perennial garden and its brick patio have gotten neglected in our push toward the orchard, vegetables and bees.  It was my focus for so long and now it grows on its own, almost, with little help from either of us.  It looks that way, too.  I began this morning a three or four day project to clean it up, weed it, mulch it, arrange and clean up the furniture and potting bench.  This involved, today, pulling the lovely green chive like grass that volunteers everywhere, then putting down a heavy blanket of birch leaves, sweeping the bricks and clearing litter off tables and benches, killing weeds growing in the brick crevices and emptying old pots into the compost.

There’s still plenty to do and I’ll get on with that tomorrow.

The Early Growing Season

Spring ( it even looks like spring today!)                             Waning Bee Hiving Moon

This morning or early this afternoon I pull the grass out of the entrance reducers and the bees will be free to navigate from their new home.  Tomorrow I’ll check on the hive to see if the bees have remained focused in the middle of the hive box.  Otherwise the newbees have the run of the grounds and the air around here.  From now through fall we’ll be engaged in a delicate dance, first to prevent swarming, then to encourage adequate honey supplies for winter, then, if possible, production of surplus honey for sale.

One colony will receive the traditional treatment with three hive boxes, reversed and prepared for winter.   The other two get another hive box and after that, supers.  I’m trying to gauge how much sense it makes to struggle with overwintering since the odds seem stacked against it.

Veggies go in the ground, today, too, seeds and a few transplants–leeks, in particular.  Yesterday I moved the tomato seedlings to larger pots.  The seed potatoes are in a kitchen window, eyes beginning to bulge.  On Tuesday or Wednesday, I’ll cut the potatoes into chunks, each with an eye, then wait a day or two for a callous to form.  After that, in they go.

At that point the bees will be in their first week, all the vegetables with the exception of the post-frost plantings will be in the ground and the garden will have assumed its early growing season form.  At some point, too, I have to get out and work in the flower beds, the gardening that used to occupy all my efforts.  Now the perennial beds are established and I understand the patterns and problems they have.  Flowers are not as labor intensive as vegetables.

A Two-Person Garden

Lughnasa                                    Waning Grandchildren Moon

Kate and I have shifted our bedtimes and risings to 6:30.  This allows us to get out to work in the garden when it’s still the cool of the day.  This morning Kate continued to restore the original look and feel to the orchard while I finished up the mulch in the front, moved her growing mound of pulled weeds and gathering lettuces and kale for today’s meals.

There was, too, the matter of the original guild plantings in the orchard.  Guilds complement each other and, in this case, the fruit tree under which they grow.  Over the last two years we’d let the clover go, after a two year effort prior to that eliminating what Paula, owner of Ecological Gardens, called, “…that damn quack.”  The good news:  no quack back.  The bad:  clover all over.  In the process we lost some of the plants in the guilds.  I know what they are now and will replace them over the next couple of weeks.

It was also weed identification day, so I spent time in the orchard, my “Weeds of the Northeast” in hand, shuffling through the pages trying to find a match.  The ones I could not identify I have concluded for now are plants that have a place.

We’re now going to work an hour to two in the mornings together.  That should be enough to manage.  I used to be able to care for our perennials in an hour a morning, but our various plots have grown beyond that.  It’s a two person yard now and Kate’s wonderful recovery has added her back to the team.  Yeah!

Today perennial bulb orders to go in, too.  Over the vegetable and bee years, the ramping up years, I’ve pretty much left the old perennial beds to themselves, only occasionally working them and then  usually when the situation demanded, rather than requested, me.  Now we’re a bit further along with the orchard, the vegetables and the bees and I want to return some attention to the bulbs and perennial flowers that I love.  Bulb planting happens in October when the rest of the garden has died away, so there’s little conflict in time for that chore.

Here Comes The Sun

Summer                                       Waning Strawberry Moon

After weeding Kate and I took off for lunch–at Benihanas, not nearly as good as our own, much closer, Osaka–and a visit to Lights on Broadway.  A bit of dithering about where the order was, where the paperwork was, who was on third and who was on second I picked up the track lighting fixtures that had fritzed out on us.  Nice to have light the full length of the kitchen table now.

Then, a nap.  A long nap.  Two hours.  I got up earlier than I wanted to this morning thanks to dogs barking.  Even earlier tomorrow.

After so many days of rain, a very soggy June, we have a run of yellow suns on all the weather forecast sites through Sunday.  Tonight the temperature should hit 46.  Good.

Kate has no anxiety about the procedure tomorrow.  She does, she says, “surgery well.”  I’d have to agree.  The back surgery was in January and that’s been behind us for several months.  I still want her out of the hospital as fast as possible since hospitals have a lot of iatrogenic disease and a lot of it is very intractable, super bugs, all studied up on the antibiotic armamentarium.

The perennial beds now look like a gardener lives here.  That feels better.

Spoke with a woman about a spirituality in art tour for July 8th.  It’ll be my first tour in a while.  Looking forward to it.

Planting Done As Planting Moon Wanes

Beltane                                              Waning Planting Moon

Almost all of the seeds and transplants have gone in the ground with the exception of succession plantings of beets, lettuce and carrots.  I have butternut squash to plant and that will go in today.  After this point, the key lies in mulch, weed control, water, plant management (pinching, pruning), continuation of integrated pest management and regular attention.

This means I have time now for the flowers, the poor flowers which have suffered from my inattention, crowded out by grass, not dead-headed and generally neglected.  Starting yesterday I’m working on that.

A little time this morning in the tiered perennial garden just to my right outside the patio doors, then into Wheelock for chapter 17.  I realized yesterday that I’m four months or so into re-learning Latin and have already begun the task for which I took this up in the first place, the translation of Metamorphosis.  It’s nice to be able to learn and work on the translation at the same time.  It’s motivating.

I’ve said here that my goal is translation of the Metamorphosis, but that’s only the vehicle for my true purpose.  Ovid’s many recountings of transformations occasioned by the Gods and by exigent circumstances in human lives has served for centuries as the chief repository of Greek myth.  What I want most of all is to integrate Ovid’s sensibility about transformation, mutation, metamorphosis into my own thought and apply the lesson in my own writing.

Before that I have to work on transforming my weedy flower beds back into their former beauty.  Bye for now.

Garden Theme for 2010: Consolidation

Imbolc                                       Waxing Wild Moon

At this time of year gardeners begin to develop x-ray vision, seeing through the snow, ice and frozen  soil and imaging the greening.  Those of us who rely on memory more than paper try to envision what we’ve got in the ground, sort of the botanical base line.  Perennial flowers and plants, which make up the bulk of our terraced gardens, have an established presence.  We add in some annuals as the spirit moves, sometimes we divide existing plants like hosta, hemerocallis, iris, Siberian iris, liguria, bug bane, dicentra, aster.  Once in a while we plant new bulbs.  None last fall, for example, but that gardensenscence09probably means some this fall.

(pic:  where we left off last fall)

This part of the garden requires work, but not as much as the vegetables and the orchard.  I count it is a known quantity.

The permaculture additions, of which we have made several over the last three years, are still new to us, requiring attention and learning.  This year, I’ve decided, will be a consolidation year.  Nothing new, making what we have work as well as we can.  That means planting vegetables in two categories:  kitchen garden for eating throughout the summer and early fall and vegetables for storage over the winter:  potatoes, garlic, parsnip, carrots, greens, squash  those kind of things.

There is a good bit of work to be done repairing Rigel and Vega’s late fall destruction.  That won’t be repeated because we have a small fortune in fencing around the vegetables and the orchard, but I lost heart last fall and didn’t get the netaphim repaired and earth moved back into place.  That awaits in the spring.

In mid-March I have the bee-keeping class and this year I have the same consolidation idea for the bees.  Establishing the hives as permanent parts of our property.

We do have a couple of smaller non-garden projects that need to get done.  I dug the fire-pit two years ago, but with all the fun of the puppy’s last summer never got back around to it.  It needs finishing.  I also want to turn the former machine shed into a honey house, a place to store bee stuff and to process the honey.  Of course, we actually have to produce some first.

A Healthy Garden

79  bar steady 29.84  2mph E dew-point 57  Summer, sunny and warm

Waxing Gibbous Thunder Moon

The garden.  When I refer to the garden in these posts, it is a term of compression.  It would be more accurate to refer to the landscaping, the woods, the perennial gardens in back and those in front and, finally, the vegetable garden in raised beds.  I give a lot of thought and care each year to the plants in all of these places.

While I try to do things in an aesthetically pleasing manner, my various efforts never achieve the shine of the  gardens in the newspapers.  I’m not a perfectionist, so the weeds here and there, the plants that have overgrown their neighbors do not bother me.  There is time to get to them and I if I don’t get it this year, then next year.

I do care, a lot, about the health of the individual plants.  In my gardening world a diseased or dwindling plant gets a lot more concern than the niceties of the border.  As a result, our garden tends toward the lush, the verdant, but not always the well-conceived, artful display of blooming varieties carefully placed for height, leaf texture and color.  I’m impressed with folks who can achieve that and on some days I wish I were one of them.  But I’m not.

Gardens and landscapes and woods work on many different levels.  In my case the chance to think about the plants, to place them and nourish them, to reconfigure the whole when shade has outstripped light or the soil needs amendment satisfies me.

When Kate’s 60th birthday was on the horizon and she warmed to the idea of a purple garden, I had a great time assembling various purple flowering plants, amending the soil in each one of our beds and replanting everything, established plants and the new ones.  It tickles me now that the purple garden is in its fourth year and that it comes into its own in August, the month of her birthday.

Not sure what I’m trying to say here.  I’ve just been outside pruning, spreading some mulch on areas I missed the last time around and I feel a little sheepish about the unplanned, somewhat haphazard look of things.  On the other hand, by my own standards, the garden looks fine.  One of those endless loop deals where the stuff you do is fine with you as long as you don’t compare it to anybody else’s.  Yes, I know.  Comparing is foolish and mentally harmful.  Yet it creeps in from time to time anyhow.

Vegetables Amidst the Flowers

70  bar steady 29.82  6mph SE dew-point 54  Summer, cool and sunny

Waxing Gibbous Thunder Moon

The storm has passed and the air shines, cleared of dust.  Clarity is a July morning after a rain.

The lilies open more and more with each passing day.  The squash and cucumbers we planted in the perennial beds beside the patio have begun their long and winding way.  Yellow squash blossoms promised fruit to come.

In several places now we have combined perennial flowers with vegetables.  In one raised bed Asiatic lilies have risen and now bloom amongst heirloom tomato plants with sturdy branches, heirloom beans and a few leaves of lettuce not yet picked.  The beets and the carrots have a Stargazer lily and a daisy in bed with them while the green peppers grow amidst bearded iris, Asiatic lilies and Russian sage.  The garlic grow only with their own kind, likewise the onions though the corn has bush beans in between the rows.

This mixture appeals to me because it defies expectation.  It is wonderful to see plants with such different missions growing alongside each other.  Is it optimal for either?  Maybe not, but who cares.

Kate sewed yesterday.  She has made Gabe two small suits, same pattern with different cloth.   He will be quite the little gentleman in them.  She’s happy to be back at the sewing, creating.  It’s important to her sense of self.

Groceries this AM, then more UU history.  Later on a party at the Stricklands for Kate and Clair.