Workin’

Beltane                                                                       Beltane Moon

Flagged off my Latin tutor for this Friday.  Bees, garden, retreat, finishing Missing combined to soak up my good work time.  To do well at the Latin I have to have a full day; it takes me awhile to turn on the neural network that recognizes cases, remembers Ovid’s peculiarities and enjoys the play of connotation and denotation.  Once I get in that place, which may take as much as a morning, then I can translate faster, with more facility.  But.  I need that unbroken time.  Just the way I work.

Rain kept me out of the garden last Thursday so I’ve got to out there right now and plant potatoes and chard.  The garden’s looking good, daffodils and tulips, bleeding heart and hosta, pachysandra and maiden-hair ferns greeting the strawberry blossoms, the asparagus spears, the green shafts of the allium family:  onion, shallot, garlic and the small leaves of the emerging beets.

Today, too, is another round in the Can I keep Gertie in the yard game?  I added another wire and plan yet more moves.  I’m smarter; she’s more persistent.  An equal match so far.

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.

Planting and Reaping

Fall                                            Waning Harvest Moon

The last forty bulbs, a monet tulip collection, have gone in the ground.   I planted a couple of hundred daffodil and tulips at various spots in the orchard, which we see from the table while eating breakfast.  The others, more daffodils and tulips along with a bunch of new lilies, went into the tiered beds off our patio.  Spring color has such an invigorating effect after winter.

It was more hassle, but I went ahead and amended the sandy orchard soil where I planted the monet tulips.  Without the composted manure/top soil mixture, the sandy soil would not support these tulips for long, especially since most tulips are biennials at best in our garden.

With all the bulbs and corms put to bed, I went to work taking out all the remaining root crops:  onions, beets and carrots.  We had a large number of each, enough to add to our stores for the coming winter.  I also picked four big leeks since I plan to reprise my leek based chicken pot pies.  Over the next week I’ll have to pull the remainder of the leeks and make something with them.  The last butternut squash came in as well.

With the exception of putting the bees up for the winter the only remaining necessary garden chore will be mulching once the ground freezes.  I have oak leaves and still hold out hope that I can find actual bales of straw somewhere.

Rusty Latin

Fall                                                         Waning Harvest Moon

Back into the Latin this morning with my tutor, Greg.  Boy, I got rusty in just two months off.  This language stuff requires constant attention.  When I went through college and sem, I took courses that I could set aside for weeks at a time, do a reading and note review in one big gulp, then be fine for a mid-term or a final.  I can’t do that with Latin.  It’s probably why I never learned a language.  The repeated application just didn’t suit the style I brought to learning.  Now, older, I’m more methodical, more patient with myself and feel no pressure for a grade.  Makes the process better, though not simpler.

So.  This ends the intellectually demanding week I’ve had since Tuesday morning.  Whew.  A bit of let down now, a kick back and read.  Then, I’m going to pick up the Latin again this afternoon after the nap.  Strike while the mental iron is still hot.

The weekend will see me finishing the bulb planting-24 tulips, harvesting carrots and beets and leeks and squash, maybe even some more greens.  I’ll also get the bees ready for their cardboard wraps, though I won’t put them on until sometime in November.

Life is a Conspiracy Against Nature

Spring                                         Full Flower Moon

Dicentra in deep pink, iris in deep purple, tulips in yellow, red, orange and purple, daffodils in many combinations of yellow and white, plus, amazing for this time of year, lilacs, fill out the full flower moon here.   The moon’s light, silvered and slight, gives no presence for the flowers so they close up, invite no visitors.  When I walk in the garden at night, under the flower moon, its namesakes here on earth sleep, perhaps dreaming of bright days, bees and warm breezes.

Emma has recovered almost to her old self, and I do mean her old self, not even her mature self.  Her old self is wobbly, a bit eccentric in motion and attention, but she enjoys the sun, a small dinner and a warm spot on the couch.  So do I.  Life is a conspiracy against nature, wonderful and delightful while it dances and spins, mocking the tendency of all things toward chaos.  That it exists at all is a miracle.

A good day, productive and educational.  All except for that sting on the posterior.  A bit of humility administered by an aging worker bee.

Important Document? Read While Driving.

Spring                                                 Awakening Moon

Warning:  Rant ahead.  Not texting, not brushing teeth, not combing hair, not eating cereal or drinking coffee, no, this young woman I passed on my way to the MIA yesterday read while driving.  By reading I do not mean look down, then follow the road, but eyes glued to page, peripheral vision guiding her used buick down Highway 252.  I encountered her three times on 252, each time her head and eyes had the same position, eyes on the page, head tilted down.  Each time.  Then, after I had put her out of my mind, as I drove on 94, the last stretch of the drive in until city streets, she passed me on the left.  Yep.  You guessed it.  Still reading.  At this point I honked several times and pointed.  Exasperated, she looked at me, then put the several page document on the seat beside her and drove on.

I have a clump of daffodils in bloom, tulips with broad leaves and iris beginning to peak back above the ground.  I put cygon on the iris yesterday.  This is my one remaining chemical. It kills the iris borer which lives in the soil and wrecks havoc on iris rhizomes.  If you’ve ever lifted iris rhizomes after an attack of iris borer’s, you will know why I continue to use this one pesticide.

The parsnip and the garlic look good.  I poked into the carrot patch where I left the carrots in past ground freeze last fall.  Sure enough I have carrots composting in the soil already.  Very mushy and yucky.   The garden and my spirit for it are gradually coming to life.  I hope we get some rain.  The plants need it.

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.