Monday, May 16, 2016

Garden Angel

It's been a busy weekend around here.
It's been raining for weeks, 
and we finally had some sun so I had to kick outside gardening chores into high gear.
We have our first cook out at the house this Sunday, 
and I still have a pretty long To-Do list I'm trying to complete.
Most important on the list is to finish digging out the new garden beds.
Once that it done, everything will look neater.
So I got up early (before 7am) on Saturday
and worked until noon when the rains came in.
Yesterday, I got up and started working at 8am.
At noon Big E came home and started helping.
I'm happy to say that most of the garden beds are defined except for one small area
that I will complete once I get home today.
I went to my parents' house to pick up some of my outdoor stuff
like the patio table, kids playhouse and lawn ornaments.
My favorite is the one pictured above, 
a garden angel.
It was once my grandmother's-
a gift for Mother's Day.
There's a story too.
My mom asked my thoughts on a possible gift for my grandmother for Mother's Day on year.
I suggested going to Frank's Nursery & Crafts and getting her a lawn ornament.
My grandmother and I went to Frank's all the time, it was our thing,
and she liked several of the lawn decorations they had.
So we all went to Frank's and my mom told my grandmother to pick out what she wanted.
She loved this angel, it was one she pointed out to me on several of our trips.
Of course, we never looked at the price and when my mom went to pay, 
it ended up being somewhere around $100.
It was always something we joked about afterwards.
So I picked up the angel
and planned on setting it in the area by the house where the hydrangeas will be going.
But a voice told me to put it amongst the peonies
(It wasn't a voice from the heavens I heard, just a small one in my head, I'm not that crazy).
So when I got home, I set her with the peonies
and it looked like that was where she was meant to be. 
Right now, it's my favorite area of the garden.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Garden for Wildlife

May happens to be "Garden for Wildlife" month.
And so, I share with you the beginnings of a wildlife garden. 
I've mentioned before my intent to make my gardens a certified Monarch Waystation
In between rain showers, 
I managed to get things started.
The back 3 plants are Swamp Milkweed, the 2 in the middle are Tropical Milkweed
and the one in front is sedum which serves as a nectar plant.
More importantly, the sedum was my grandmother's and 
I've managed to have it with me at every place I've lived.
Anyway, it doesn't look like much yet, but I'm almost there.
To be able to have a certified Monarch Waystation, there are some specific things you need to have.
  1. Space:  There is no minimum space requirement, but having at least 100 square feet of habitat has been deemed the least amount you need to be effective. 
  2. Sun: Your Monarch Waystation needs at least 6 hours of sun per day
  3. Host Plants: Milkweed plants are the host plants of Monarchs.  You need to have at least 10 plants comprised of at least 2 types of milkweed or 10+ plants of one variety.
  4. Nectar Plants: You need at least 4 annual, biennial or perennial nectar plants that the Monarchs can use as a food source.  You probably already have them in your existing garden.
  5. Shelter: Milkweed plants should be planted close together to offer some cover for the Monarchs, their eggs and caterpillars.  
  6. Management Plan: This means you have plans to thin out your plants to prevent overcrowding, mulching to conserve water, etc.  Basically the things needed to keep the Waystation in good shape year after year.
I technically have the nectar plants I need, so I'm just 5 milkweed plants short of the 10 required.  
But, I did plant some seed in a planter, 
and I'm awaiting the local nursery's plant shipment this week to get some more Swamp Milkweed. 
 I am also considering ordering either seed or plants of another milkweed variety off the internet. 
To certify your garden as a Wildlife Habitat, there are also a list of requirements
  1. Food: You need 3 from their list of Pollen/nectar plants, berries, birdfeeder, squirrel feeder, hummingbird feeder, butterfly feeder, nuts, etc. (I have 2 out of 3)
  2. Water: You need 1 from the list of bird bath, water garden/pond, stream or butterfly puddling area. (I have this category covered)
  3. Cover: You need 2 from the list of wooded area, ground cover, rock wall or pile, dense shrubs or thicket, evergreens or water garden/pond. (I have 1 out of 2 so far)
  4. Places to Raise Young: You need 2 from the list of mature trees, nesting box, host plants for caterpillars, dense shrubs or water garden/pond. (I have 2 out of 2)
  5. Sustainability: You need 2 from the list of soil/water conservation, controlling exotic/invasive species or organic practices. (I have 2 out of 2).
While I will be able to get my Monarch Waystation certification this year, 
the Certified Wildlife Habitat might have to wait until next year.
One of the items listed for 3 of the requirements is a water garden/pond.
I plan to install one, but it won't be until next year.
Of course it's possible I fulfill the rest of the requirements without it,
and then I'd probably go ahead and get it certified.
So, if you have some space, 
consider gardening for wildlife.
A Monarch Waystation is simple to do-
if you already have a garden, all you need are the milkweed plants
and they are easily found online or even at your local nursery.
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Yard Updates

Things have been hectic around here,
or at least that's how it seems to me.
We have baseball games
and scout meetings
and backpacking adventures
and all that leaves little time for the house.
It's been raining for weeks,
or at least that's how it feels.
We managed to get half the yard mowed and raked the other day
and Monday I just managed to get the other half mowed.
Afterwards I sat my butt down under the "Whomping Willow"
AKA the Kwanzan Cherry tree that is currently in full bloom.
We have so much on the list of things to do right now it's almost overwhelming.
We will be hosting the first backyard birthday cookout this house has seen 
in a long time-
possibly ever 
I'm not sure.
So I need to get the back yard party ready
by finishing digging out the new garden beds, 
getting some areas tilled, raked and seeded
and removing the brush from the removed shrubs.
And possibly remove the other shrubs on the list.
That's all hard to do in cold pouring rain
and it seems like the weather is only nice when I have a baseball game to be at.
Here's hoping I get a big enough break in the weather to get stuff done!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Pygmy Indian Chickens

I bet you thought I was talking about a new breed of chicken.
I'm not.  
While I was away, 
3 of my new pullets came under attack.  
The 2 Wyandottes were kidnapped
and the Cuckoo Maran was scalped
by savages.
Ok, so really the Wyandottes were taken by a hawk or fox
and the Cuckoo Maran was pecked by her coop mates.
She's currently rehabbing in the chicken hospital in my laundry room.
I didn't expect her to make it through the first night since she was pecked down to her skull,
but there she is, chillin' and eating and drinking and enjoying life.