• Tag Archives weeds
  • The Outdoor Season, Well and Truly Begun

    Spring                                                    Bee Hiving Moon

    Kate got a nasty cellulitis on her left arm.  Probably from scratches incurred while vigorously pruning and weeding.  Spring clean up.  It swelled up, got hot and sent her to the urgent care last night, the doctor visiting her own clinic for treatment.  They gave her a couple of jabs of rocephin, prescribed some sulfa and sent her home.

    After a restless night, she got up and drove out to the arboretum (today) for a class on fruit tree pruning.  She’s a Viking, moving past the pain, just as she has from the first days of our life together.  I’m no where near as stoic.

    Later on today I’ll check on our new colleagues, making sure they’re clustered under the feeder pail, then I’ll leave them alone until next Friday.  Next Friday I’ll go in and check for larvae.  Finding larvae means the queen has gone to work laying eggs and the colonies will be queen right.  After that, it’s the normal hive checks, hive box rotations and following their life as the colony builds up to full strength.

    The outdoor season is well and truly underway.  Got 2.5 pounds of potatoes from Seed Savers yesterday.  I’ll supplement them with sprouts from leftover potatoes of last year’s crop and, possibly, a few from Green Barn, up the road a piece near Isanti.  That bed has to be dug and amended.

    Also on today’s docket.  Move the large limbs I pruned a month ago onto brush piles, clear out the work Kate did yesterday, clean off the AC and do some weed prevention.  That’s enough for today.

  • Camp Fire Girls

    Lughnasa                                     Waning Grandchildren Moon

    Last night over edamame and potstickers I discussed gardening with a fellow docent who had just seen Ran.  We agreed it had been a peculiar gardening season with plants blooming two weeks to a month early.  We also agreed no one could care for our gardens like we do and produced examples to prove it.  Hers:  a $10 an hour weeder who took up Astilbe instead of the stinging nettles.  Mine:  ok, I didn’t have one since only Kate and I weed here.  August finds our gardening spirit on the wane, too, and we both look forward to the blessed onset of snow.  She plants no white in her garden because winter provides it.  Don’t have many occasions to discuss gardening with somebody else obsessed by it.  Fun.

    Kate has really done a knockout job on the orchard.  We’ll have it in tip-top third growing season form before the end of August with mulched paths, new plants for the guilds and mulch on the mounds around the trees.

    Finally back to resistance work and it feels good.  I need to get stronger, both for personal stability reasons and for ability to do the gardening tasks I want to do.  Bee keeping requires strength with full honey supers at 50 pounds and honey laden hive boxes heavier than that.

    Got a tour together for the Camp Fire girls tomorrow.  We’re going to look at how artists have represented women and women artists:  Woman of La Mouth (20,000 years old), Lady Teshat (the mummy), a japanese dancers garment from the Noh theatre called a choken, a Japanese woodblock print showing beautiful women, the Lakota fancy dress, the MAEP’s gallery with women artists and finally, if we have time, the clay and wood gallery, all by women artists.  Should be fun, too.

  • 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.

  • The Day Before

    Summer                                              Waning Strawberry Moon

    A beautiful day.  64 degrees with a dew point of 41.  Got more weeding done.  Finished the second tier, went after some returnees on the first tier and got through much of  the third tier.

    While doing this it occurred to me that gardening is the process of removing plants willing to grow where you are and replacing them with plants that don’t want to grow where you are. An odd task. Permaculture is an attempt to turn this process on its head and utilize plants that want to be where you are, grouped in companion plantings of plants that compliment and co-operate.  Makes sense if you think of it.

    Kate’s out doing a bit of last minute gardening, too.  She straightened up her large table downstairs and I’ve printed a copy of her health care directive.  Throwing a bag together and taking two special showers to disinfect are the next big tasks.  Then, around 5:30 am or so tomorrow, we’ll take off for Fairview Hospital, the East Building.  We’ve discovered that Kate’s procedure is not until 8:00 a.m, so I’m going to get her settled, then go home.

  • Catching Up

    Summer’s Eve                                  Waxing Strawberry Moon

    More weeding along the fenceline.  It feels like I’ve beaten back both the weeds and revealed the now minimal amount of repair still required to bring the vegetable garden area back to where it began last fall.  I planted another round of beans, doing so at weekly intervals.  Took some photographs.  A full morning.

    Having put on sunscreen first today I don’t have that slightly queasy feel I got yesterday.  Us Celts have a delicate situation when it comes to sun.  We have fair skin and burn easily.  Might be why I’ve never liked the beach.

    Kate planted coleus and marigolds, did some weeding and put in some annual grasses.  All of this work is a little behind for us, but we’ve begun to catch up in the last few days.  I believe we’ll be on top of it by the end of the week.

    Greg, my Latin tutor, is in Portugal the next two weeks with his sweetheart, so the Latin will slow down.  We decided I needed to go back over the last two chapter’s sententia antiquae, ancient sentences, and work them carefully.  If I have time, I’ll go on to Chapter 20 which is, in fact, halfway through Wheelock’s 40 chapters.

  • A Garden Morning

    Beltane                                   New Moon (Hungry Ghost)

    The potatoes have mounds around the growing plants and the hilled up earth from their trenches has leveled out.  The bush beans I planted there last week 06-05-10_garden_herb-spiral-670have begun to germinate and I plan to plant more bush beans tomorrow if the weather is ok.

    While checking fruit on our trees, I ended up weeding the blueberries, too.  The clover is exuberant, mostly a happy addition to our orchard, but overwhelming in the blueberry patch.  We do have apples and cherries and currants, but I could find no pears.  Our production will at least double this year, maybe more.  I counted six apples and several, say 8, cherries.  The currants have experienced substantial predation, by birds, I think.

    I mounded earth around the growing leeks, too, to blanch the stems.   The garlic, which grows near the leeks, looked ready to harvest, but when I pulled a few out of the ground, they looked like they had a ways to go.  I hung the five I dug from a bamboo pole in the honey house.

    Kate’s begun weeding and that helps a lot.  Keeping the bees, the vegetables, the orchard and the flowers in good shape requires attending to the plants we have, doing things like mounding the potatoes and the leeks, checking the garlic, watching for disease and insects, taking action if a plant seems to be in distress, replanting if, as in the instance of the carrots, germination is low.  Though weeding is an important, very important maintenance action, it doesn’t involve direct plant care which is what I enjoy.  I’m glad to have Kate back at the weeding.  She’s also our pruner and she has begun to recover our front sidewalk.

    Then it rained.

  • Falling Behind

    Beltane                                    Waning Planting Moon

    Life seems lighter now with Kate at home.  Shared life is so much easier than solo, at least I find it so.

    Kate made oatmeal this morning and I went out to the garden and picked fresh strawberries.  A delight to have with our cereal.  Also a delight to have a partner at the table, a fellow reader of the paper.  Good.

    Spent some time weeding this morning.  The whole package of the vegetable garden, the bees and our large perennial beds has gotten ahead of me, especially the perennial beds.  I had to repair all the damage Rigel and Vega did to the vegetable garden last fall, then plant the garden, then plant much of it again after the frost.  There was also some residual damage to the netaphim in the orchard and the vegetable garden that had to get fixed.

    (on the other hand, it could be worse. we could have kudzu.)

    The warm spring has put the bees and many of the plants 2 to 3 weeks ahead of time which has meant extra work with the bees (with potentially productive long term results) and good weed growing weather for the perennial beds.

    In many ways it’s all good news except the aesthetic side of our property has definitely suffered.  Still, I’ll get ahead of it sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Then, I have to prune those shrubs that have reduced our front sidewalk to half its normal size.

  • Weeds. Less.

    Summer                             Waxing Green Corn Moon

    The majority of the weeds that were in the clover now lie baking in the afternoon sun.  This hand pulling of weeds is a chore, but it has its satisfactions.   Not having to do it again for a while is the chief one.  When it comes to the garden, I try to think of ways that I will only have to do certain tasks once or not at all.  Weeding is among those and the close planting in the vegetable and perennial gardens, plus mulch have been my best tools in that regard so far.

  • Being Native To This Place

    Summer                                Waning Summer Moon

    Weeds.  Weeds, by definition, are a plant out of place.  This is, if you think about it, a curious definition.  Why?  Because the hardiness and persistence of most weeds indicate that it may be everything else in the garden that is out of place.   So, we may have to admit that the true definition is anthropocentric one.   Weeds are plants out of place in the horticultural preserves we call  gardens and landscaping.

    An article in the Scientific American got me thinking about this, as did this mornings work removing quack grass and other hardy locals from the clover in our orchard.  The Scientific American article has the provocative subtitle:  The Real Price of Flowers.  The underlying message is this:  plant what grows where you live.  This means you will have much fewer energy inputs than if you maintain out of zone plants.  Most experienced gardeners know this, though some pride themselves on their ability to grow out of zone plants.  Here the trick is to get them to survive our tough winters.

    The Minnesota Zoo, when it began, had a similar zoological mission:  contain animals that live in the climate of the 45th latitude.  They had (and have) a smaller tropical indoor exhibit that includes Komodo dragons, Gibbons, Tapirs and Toucans, for example, plus a coral reef, but in the main they have native Minnesota animals:  moose, wolves, beavers, wall-eye, muskie, pileated woodpeckers.  There are also many that thrive in our climate:  pumas, wolverines, lynx, otters, fishers, musk ox,  Amur tigers, grizzly bears, snow leopards, sea otters.    I say had because it now has a summer African exhibit and I wish it didn’t because I like the original mission.

    Permaculture attempts to take this general notion and apply it to our horticultural and agricultural practices.  That is, permaculture emphasizes plants that work together, that live in the climate, soil type, eco-system native to the location of the garden or farm.  This allows the least outside inputs like fertilizer, pesticides, even tilling and other mechanical techniques.

    We need to know more about the plants we call weeds.  After all, they live here, too.