Thursday, May 19, 2016

April Wildflower Hike- Salt Lick

It appears the nights of frost are behind us. We had two the week of April 15th (our last expected frost day) and this week's forecast appears to be days in the 70s and nights in the 50s. I was itching for a hike to see the spring wildflowers. We decided on Salt Lick Point Nature Preserve in Valmeyer, Monroe County, Illinois as it was close and we could spend some time in the yard and Sean could work on the bees.

So- what was in bloom on Saturday April 16th? These are the highlights, in order along the following route: parking lot, Salt Lick Trail to Newman Trail to Johnson Trail and back to parking lot.

Nesting sight of Swallows- Cliff Swallows?
Erigeron pulchellus- Robin's Plantain 
Packera pseudotomentosa
Camassia- Wild Hyacinth
White Blue-eyed grass- Sisyrinchium
Jack in the Pulpit
Yellow Violet
Spring Beauties
Fragile Fern
Wild Larkspur- Delphinium
Goldenseal
Hydrophyllum (canadense?) Waterleaf
Dutchman's Breeches
Waterleaf
Trillium, Geranium
False Anemone
Corydalis
Waterleaf
Buutercup species?
Bluebells
Johnson's Trail
Bloodroot

The bees were all over it.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Break

Spring break began Friday, March 11th with a high of 75F and ends today with snow (promptly melting of course). Expected freeze (30F) tonight. And today is the first day of Spring!

What is in bloom (that faces impending doom): Spicebush, Plum, Peach, Apricot, Honeyberry.
Also in bloom: Hellebores, Daffodils, Hyacinth

Varying Hellebores in the Northeastern Perimeter bed

 
Growing on 
Mache, Chinese Cabbage, Red Kale  and Perpetual Chard overwintered in coldframes (above)

 First Asparagus

Bitter Endive reseeds about the yard

Under lights
Little Lupine doing well (above)
All of the tomato plants are up (but the ground cherries are not) (below)
Began transplanting peppers this weekend.
 
Projects: New Upright Cold frame
I decided to build an upright cold frame inspired by one I saw on the internet. I plan to use it for storing nursery plants, overwintering, cold stratification, late summer starts (for the fall/winter garden), early spring starts and hardening off. It's like an unheated greenhouse, but cheaper and with a small footprint. I plan to build doors at some point (fall probably). It also now has walls on both sides (the one on the right is missing in this pic) Below with temporary plastic covering. 
 Will have 3 shelves. I think I already have them full.
I made need a second one. ; )

Projects: The Orchard Overhaul continues
Beds were topped with compost, conduit frames and bird nettting.
I discovered the chickens won't go near this stuff. Why hasn't anyone
written about this yet?! It's a game changer.
Ready for planting. 
 Pots were topped with compost and protective bird netting.
 Papi in foreground. Angry Mattilda was moved
into his new home just behind the blooming Plums.
 Going to plant a Fig in this double tire.
Hoping the tire will work as insulation for winter-keeping.
 The raspberry beds got new frames (below)
Squiggy supervising.
 Pots circle the south side of the hoophouse. 1 lavendar
was planted. Waiting for warm up!
And inside the hoop (below). Chard, Kale, Collards, 
Arugula, Mustard, leeks, Green onions
Hardy Kiwi leafing out (below)

Other Spring Break Activities:
Spent most of Friday burning at a coworker's place. 

I doubt there is better weather to end spring break than snow. It keeps me inside so my body can heal and I can get some grading done!       View from office window looking down into the orchard (aka beeyard. chickenyard).

It's been a gorgeous and productive week. Thankful for my awesome job.












Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Snowy and 70s

On Wednesday:

On Saturday: Sunny and 70s
Roll with it. What more can you do?

Basement Nursery:                      Little Delight Lupine
 Various perennial flowers, mustard (right)
 Onion & parsley seedlings
 Lots of Peppers this year (fingers crossed)
 First tomato seedlings up (Roma)
Going to compare a hybrid and open pollinated Roma this year.
The OP germinated first (out of all of the tomato seeds)
Might explain why they are also one of the first types to produce?

So yums. Ruby & Emerald Steaks Mustard
Really starting to like these mustards (when young)
 Yarrow & Blanketflower seedlings

I overwintered a tomato plant and it has made a few fruits.
Too bad they aren't very tasty. Ah, well.


Outside progress:
Feb in the Biergarten
 Front yard with burn pile evidence
 Cleaned perennial bed by Biergarten
need to replace the edging. This was suppose to be a temp 
border reused from something else.

 New path between prairie, new native bed (on left)
and a veg bed (in the back)
 The new native bed cleaned and ready 
for mulch and plants
 February in the fresh burned prairie (below)
 And March- daffs coming up
 Garden prepped
potatoes planted (in December)
 The tommi crocuses have been blooming for
about a week. The bees are happy they have these.

Seeds in pots.

Brandywine (a purple) Raspberry in new pot
with poppy seeds.
 Rural King onions ready for planting...


Seeds started in a window in the shed
 Bok Choy (above) and Kale (below)

Food!
                                          My first attempt at Chicago-style pizza. Yum.

One of our new favs: roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms & onions.
A little soy sauce (for saltiness). Add cheddar cheese and put in a wrap.
Toast the wraps for extra crunch. Still have lots of pumpkins and sweet taters
in the larder.

Finally organized my spice cabinet. I can't tell
you how happy this makes me. Also labelled
everything because hubs has started to cook 
and I told him these words will haunt him if I die soon, 
   "You will cook." I had to make it easier for him. 
Plus, I'm writing it here. Hold him to it. No excuses.

Snow is again in the forecast or is it rain? 
We'll know when we know. 
Until blue skies arrive
 we can just dream of gardening.