Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seeds in the ground; Beginning big modifications

Yes, we had an amazing weekend, and I was finally able to do some planting. But first: you may recall that my strawberry bed was flooded with salt water during an unprecedented high tide this fall. So, with a GREAT deal of help from my husband, the bed is under renovation.

He removed all the old strawberry plants for me. They have been set aside on a tarp, and this coming weekend I will sort though and separate out any that may survive. I hope to move them to the front yard, maybe as a border on one of my ornamental beds. I then got on my knees in the wet soil and dug out every last bit of pennywort (nasty weed) that I could find around and under the bed timbers. The bed was then raised by two more stories of 6 x 6 lumber, and filled with new compost and sand. This now will be vegetable bed number 3, and I am thrilled to have the new space. The renovations also will include bringing in at least a couple dump loads of sand to use as a raised foundation all around the 4 beds. The dream is to make a supporting wall and a permeable patio surrounding the garden. I want a place where I can walk even if it has rained, and a barrier to the common bermuda grass and pennywort. Stay tuned!

In the garden this weekend I harvested baby leeks (see them sliced and sauteed in the pan), broccoli side shoots (that is the end of those), and spinach. These went into a wonderful, vegetable filled rice dish for lunch. Here you see the spinach, planted last fall, that is now taking off, as well as four flat leaf parsley plants that are beginning their second (and final) year.

But most exciting: I planted seeds! Now in the ground: sugar snap peas, beets, turnips, carrots, and lettuces. Just in time for yesterday's rain. With luck there will be some tiny green shoots in my world in about 2 weeks (or less if we get some warm days). Yes, spring has begun.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wow, snow!

We had over 8 inches of snow here on Harkers Island over the weekend. It was beautiful, but a wet and heavy snow. I lost a branch of my young southern magnolia, and it split a number of wax myrtles. When pruning off broken branches, remember to leave the collar region of the branch, near the main trunk, intact. If you cut it flush, damaging the collar region, you will not get proper healing. Do not paint the cut area of any branch.

The first photo is of a side shoot of broccoli peeking through the snow. I will harvest the last of these this coming weekend, and pull out the plants for good to make room for soon to come spring plants.

Although all the hives had nice caps of snow, Grace's hive had a big, snow covered branch laying on top of the hive. We left it alone, and it lifted off on its own as the snow melted. We improvised a feeder for Grace's hive, as there were a number of dead bees on the bottom board and front porch. We had not fed this hive to date, as we did not have another feeder, and it was the strongest, with the most reserves. I hope Grace and her girls make it through. I checked tree branches in the park's woods over the weekend, and the maples are just barely starting to swell. I had really hoped they would bloom by this weekend, but it does not look like that will happen. The bees need to hold on a bit longer.

Look at how the heavy snow weighted down the fronds of my Sable Palmetto palm! It did show off the young, fresh growth standing up straight in the center. Just for fun, you also see a snow covered apple tree and red maple tree.

The snow is gone now and we are back to just soggy mud. It was great while it lasted though.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mustard's last stand

The mustard (that was supposed to be kale to begin with) just won't quit, and I want that garden space for lettuce or peas. So I have snapped off the top greens and fed them to the ladies for a spring tonic, and have pulled the plants up by the roots. What healthy root systems they had! If things will dry up just a bit, and if the wind will get below 40 knots, I may try to plant some seeds this weekend.

Here are the fab four attacking their snack. Starting with the black hen on the right, beside the bucket, and going clockwise, you are seeing Pauline, Hilda, Lena, and Louise. To combat the ever wet ground in the coop (from what seems like constant rain for the last 6 months), we put down a wheelbarrow load of sand and covered that with a full bale of fresh straw. The fresh, clean background really shows off how healthy and happy the hens are these days. Thank heavens, as they certainly looked ratty during molting this winter! We even have gotten three eggs per day a few days this week!

I checked at local garden and big box stores, and seeds, berry plants, and plant starting kits are out in full force. I especially got a kick out of some new planting kits that contained various combinations of potatoes, onions, garlic, asparagus, and strawberries for spring gardens. I included a picture of one.