On Sunday I was able to get my potatoes planted, and this year I'm experimenting with growing my potatoes in garbage cans.
On Sunday, 5/18 I planted two varieties - Rose Finn Apple, a fingerling I've grown for the past few years, and Carola, a white "keeper" that I'm trying for the first time this year. Both are from Seed Savers Exchange.
Here's what I did. I bought two 32-gallon garbage cans and drilled several 1/2" drainage holes in the bottom and up about 12" on the side. I lined the bottom and sides with leftover window screening left over from the past two years' ineffective attempt at rabbit fencing. I then layered about 8" of compost on the bottom, placed four evenly-spaced, sprouted potatoes in a circle, then topped off the whole thing with another 6" of compost. As the plants start to grow, I'll mound them up, either with compost or straw. I think I'll probably use straw for at least half of the container, as there is already about 50 pounds of compost in each can - filling them up with compost alone will make them immovable!
It's a fun experiment, and it gives me more room in the garden beds - and that's always in short supply!
Otherwise, the weather has been very cool all month. The spring flowers are blooming about 2 weeks late this year. I have tomatoes, peppers, ground cherries and basil growing under lights, but I don't think I'll even bother planting any of them out until May 31st or June 1st. This should be perfect weather for the cool season crops, though. The snap peas and greens are growing well - I can't wait for my first harvest.
There are three main types of violets growing in my yard. If I was a better blogger (or at least one with more time on her hands), I would look up their Latin names.
Instead, though, I think I'll just post their portraits.
Here's the yellow Canada violet. It's native to woodlands. This is, I think, my best violet photograph.
Here's the regular purple violet that everyone knows and loves.
The most populous violet in our yard is the white violet shown below. I tried to capture it's essence in the photograph, but it didn't turn out right - the focus is poor on the top two petals. Oh well. You can still sort of see the beautiful purple lines and yellow center, which a casual observer can only see when getting right up close and personal with the plant. (The little purple flower in the background is a creeping charlie flower.)
On Sunday I finished reading the book, Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog. It was one of those heart-warming "life of a dog" books which ended just as I expected it would: Merle dies. And of course it made me want to do something special for my own dog.
I looked over at Brix and decided to bring him to the dog park - for the first time ever. Our old dog, Dexter, wasn't all that great at the dog park. He didn't really like other dogs and tended to pay no attention to the humans in his life. But Brix is a bit more focused on us, and according to the doggy day care people, he loves to play with other dogs.
So, off we went. When we got there, I parked a little bit away. I was nervous - I had no idea how Brix would be. I finally got up the courage, brought him in and let him off his leash. Brix was in doggie heaven. He had a wonderful time, played appropriately with other dogs, greeted humans appropriately, and even made good friends with a little blond-haired boy.
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
It's been three weeks since I first got out in the vegetable garden. Since then, it's been very cool and damp, so the greens and peas are not very big, yet. One thing I've done, though, is to put up rabbit fencing, as seen below.
I am not thrilled about how this looks or how it works, but after having rabbits decimate the garden over the past two years, I knew I needed to take some serious action. If I could only convince Spouse to do the fencing the way I want* I would be much happier, but Spouse is convinced it would be "too hard" and that "it won't work." Harumph.
I'm not sure when I'll be able to do the majority of the planting. We've had such a cool spring so far that it is hard to imagine it being warm enough to plant tomatoes, beans, basil, squash, etc. Even though our average last frost is May 15, I think I'll wait until at least until the weekend of the 24th to plant. I'm not so much worried about another frost as I am about the growth-stunting mid-50s to lower 60s weather we've been having. It's perfect for the peas and greens, but not for the warm-weather crops.
We'll see. I hope to have my garbage can potatoes planted sometime this week, and I'll have pictures.
*What I want is to attach hardware cloth or rabbit fencing to the bottom of the wood fencing around the edge of the garden rather than fencing in each individual bed. We would dig a trench around the perimeter and bury it about 6-12". However, a major portion of the wood fence (and deer fence beyond that) is in the woods, under our huge arborvitae trees that have lots of shallow roots. We also have a very irregularly shaped area that would be somewhat resistant to fencing, but I think it could be done. Yes, it would be difficult to do it, but it would not be too hard, as Spouse seems to think. And then I wouldn't have to have ugly fences around each individual bed.
I think the Snowy Egrets are my favorite pond bird. The first one showed up in the last week of April, and another came a few days later. I love to watch them fish - slowly stalking around the pond's perimeter, suddenly freezing with neck outstretched, then the lightning-quick SPLASH, and another minnow or tadpole is added to the dinner tally.
I feel a little bad choosing a favorite pond bird, though. The ducks are fun to watch. The males chase each other or one of the females, quacking and complaining the whole time. The green herons are still exciting to see, but they're so elusive that it takes some work to spot one. The kingfishers are neat, chattering and diving for their meal. Blue herons drop by a few times a week but they're just visitors, not permanent residents. Canada geese - no, I could do without them. They're loud, mean and aggressive, and they mess up the early-spring yard with their droppings. Thankfully, they leave when the brush and grass around the pond grows tall.
Yes, I think I like the egrets best, but don't tell our other fair-weather residents - they're all fascinating in their own way.
The first flowers have bloomed in my yard* - some daffodils planted in the ditch by the road. I wish I had a better picture, but I took it yesterday before leaving for work and I was trying not to get my nice clothes dirty.
My daffs bloom a little later than the neighbors' do. Our front yard is across a narrow road that's at the bottom of a north-facing hill, and these daffodils are planted in the ditch next to the road. The cool air sinks and anything planted here blooms a little later than other full-sun areas.
I also see an elm tree seedling in the picture (it has serrated leaves and is below the flower). Contrary to popular belief, the American Elm was not completely wiped out by Dutch Elm disease. We have lots of elms in our woods, and I'm constantly weeding them out of my vegetable garden. In doing research about the pre-colonial ecosystem in my neighborhood, it seems as if elms probably made up a large portion of the woods. So our elms are not street trees, but probably descendants of the elms that were here before the first white farmer. But as much as I like them, their seeds never seem to plant themselves where I'd actually want them to grow, so out they come.
*Okay, they're actually not the first. The first were the flowers of the creeping charlie, but since that's technically a weed, I'm not going to count those.