Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Flingin'.

And now it's time for rambling...

#1 Spring has definitely sprung around these parts and I am happy to report all is well.  The blossoming pears have made an absolute mess of our yard, although they are beautiful and fun to photograph.  I often sit by the window on purpose just to watch the petals fall, creating flurries of sweet smelling blossom snow all over the ground.  Our car hates this time of year because it will, undoubtedly, be smothered for a few weeks while the trees shed their various levels of skin to expose shiny, bright green leaves.

#2 I've managed to clear out about 80 percent of the weeds in our yard (hey, that's a LOT!) and have started turning topsoil into our vegetable rows.  One mistake I made last year was to use corks as warmth protection for delicate plants- oops.  The cork carnage has been amusing to say the least, but I have discovered that corks are pretty biodegradable if you leave them out in the elements long enough.  The fellow that maintains the chaos of our yard curses me to this day for my inventive gardening skills--sometimes he'll blow the corks all over the place to prove his point, then politely return and put them back in their place.  Mind you, I have a very friendly relationship with my landscaper and we're constantly teasing each other about our garden skills.  He refuses to have anything to do with flowers, fruits or vegetables, but the man can carve a mean 3D turtle out of my wild mock orange shrubs.  We keep him around for his leaf blower and his ability to unearth plants we never knew we had, like rainbow tulips or giant agave.  For those of you in-the-know, it's pretty awesome having shuffleboard and pool privileges at his house too.

#3 The previous tenant of our little piece of heaven was an organic landscape horticulturalist, a man who painstakingly picked out every drought resistant plant in the yard.  It's perfect for us, seeing that water conservation laws around these parts keep us parched in the summer, but sometimes I find myself sighing at the sheer maintenance involved in having such a large yard.  The absolute beauty of this backyard history of ours is that the former (and only second to the original) owner of our 1920's gem composted-- the entire yard.  For 15 years.  And before that, it was a chicken farm.  A very fertile chicken farm.  Thus, we are blessed with amazing soil.  I feel obligated to continue keeping the garden this way, especially when it comes to food plants.  No unnatural pesticides, weed killers or fertilizers have ever been used in our yard, nor will they ever be.  It creates a lot of extra work for us (just ask my landscaper, Mr. Roundup) but in the end, the payback is huge.  I'll have tomatoes coming out of my ears by the end of summer.  Speaking of ears, I think I'll include corn in this year's crop...

#4 The fact that we don't have snails in our yard creeps me out, but is greatly beneficial when planning a garden.  It used to really bother me that I couldn't find the little suckers in my yard to save my life, but now I know better.  Snails, oh how I love thee, please stay out of my vegetables.  The big problem we do have are the birds.  If you want to call them a problem, which I rarely do.  Not only are we home to handfuls of doves, hundreds of finches, a couple of crows, a really annoying mockingbird, a lone peregrine falcon, several owls and woodpecker- we have now secured our place as the semi-permanent home of two very large chicken hawks.  I suppose they keep the populations manageable, but their presence looms over my garden and fellow feathered friends like two little freaky stalkers, able to behead in a single swoop.  The nice thing about having chicken hawks around is that they keep the evil scrub jays away-- those little blue buggers can be caught stealing fruits, veggies, small babies, worms, ladybugs, spiders and all the other good stuff out of the yard during planting season.  It's especially crucial during seeding because, you guessed it, the jays love stealing seeds.  I couldn't figure out why the heck none of my seedlings were sprouting last year until I happen to glance out the window and catch a sneaky jay literally walking down the row pulling each one up and swallowing it whole.  It's like I could hear him saying, "Hey lady, thanks for the salad bar!"  Scrub jay, meet your new worst enemy, chicken hawk.

#5 Here's what I'm planning on shoving in the dirt:
Tomatoes (we eat them almost every day)
Corn (why not?)
Zucchini (because it's easy & tasty)
Strawberries (cause I think they're pretty)
Peppers (jalapeno, scotch bonnet, poblano, serrano, pasilla)
Potato (russet- they grow like weeds in our dirt)
Pumpkin (who doesn't have pumpkin in their garden??)
Garlic (simple, plentiful)
Onions (red, white and yellow)

#6 A:) Just looking at that list makes me anxious to get started.  B:) Just looking out my window and seeing all the weeds I still need to pull makes me angry.

The noble beheader.

#7 Little by little, day by day, the garden will come together.  I'm always nervous this time of year that I didn't start soon enough, but I know I'm still ok.  My goal is to have it planted by the end of March, and hopefully well into growing through April and May.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed over my toes for a little bit- make that A LOT more rain.  We need it so bad.  Plus, when the ground is wet it makes it super easy to pull weeds (yay!) and plant seeds.  I'll keep everyone posted as I progress.  Hey, I might even get a few action shots of the hubbs doing yard work *wink*

Happy Springtime!

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