Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall hiking at Mount Gilead State Park

Wow, this great place is only 5 miles from our house!:

Blazing fall colors...

...babbling streams...

Towering forest of Oak-Hickory and Beech-Maple.

Infinite beauty...


...all of these things make nature nuts very happy:

But, wait, there's more...on this fallen tree we found...

...this little guy: a gray tree frog:

This network of roots stabilizes, supports and feeds a huge tree...and our souls!

Some incredible fungi...

Jennifer performs the "Big Tree" cheer!

Tulip Tree - one of our favorites. They grow straight and tall, get really big and have the coolest of flowers (being in the Magnolia family):

Something about being under the canopy of a Midwestern hardwood forest...words can't quite explain...you just gotta experience it:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gardening for wildlife

Amidst our vegetable gardening we continually garden for wildlife.  It's so much fun to plant and watch the critters come!  Doug Tallamy talks much about using your home space for wildlife.  It could really change the world if we all were to embrace this philosophy.  We've mentioned his book before, but if you've not read it - check it out

We put in a new well this summer and found ourselves with a nice dug up patch to fill with either more grass or natives.  Of course we chose the latter.  We also planted many plants in the surrounding grass and mulched heavily with hay.  Check out this 1000 lb bale!

The area we are converting to a pollinator/bird garden is between the house and the garage.  The house faces south below so in the summertime this area is flooded with natural light.  The sun is starting to dip low behind the garage now but that is ok since most plants are going dormant.

In a few areas we laid boxes and paper to deter some of the more persistant grasses, but mostly we mulched heavily 12-20 inches in some places. 

There's a lot of hay in this bale and yes, there are some field seeds.  Nothing worse than the grass already there and with the heavy mulching we should be just fine.  There's documention! 

The new planted area is quite large.  The area ringed with rocks is a bumblebee garden we planted this spring.  The coldframe is at the lower left of the photo and you can see the lettuce, spinach, cilantro and radishes. 

We look forward to many native plants flowering next year!  Just today we harvested  more seed to sow in this area.  A quick list of some species present: cardinal flower, joe-pye weed, blue lobelia, New York ironweed, yellow coneflower, New England aster, common milkweed, bergamot, Riddell's goldenrod, bush clover, blue vervain, compass plant, prairie dock, black-eyed susan, blazing star, purple coneflower, rosinweed, and many many more. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Winding down the garden

Autumn is here in Ohio...

and we are getting festive for the season!

Check out all our homegrown pumpkins and gourds!

Our garden is winding down though we are still harvesting chiles, tomatoes, beets, carrots and many herbs.  The carrots and beets will be fine for a few more months outdoors. The parnsips will soon we ready and we are so excited!  We planted new patches of cilantro, spinach and lettuce in our cold frame so that should keep us going for a few more months and for the first time ever we planted garlic.  We planted the cloves about two weeks ago in one of our raised beds.  See the straw covered bed below.  They should be ready next summer!

We are preparing our finished beds for winter by weeding and edging and throwing those organic materials directly into the bed.  

Once we've piled up some nice organic matter we top the whole bed with compost, straw, mulched grass or mulched leaves depending on what we have on hand at the time.  The beds pictured below grew our squash this year and will grow our tomatoes next year.  We will pull the mulching back to plant, but otherwise leave it in place to compost and feed the soil. 

These beds were our main tomato growing area.  The goldfinches are loving the sunflower seeds!

We will tackle more of the garden once we receive our first frost.  Overall, our first garden here in Ohio proved INCREDIBLE! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Knobstone Trail, IN

Long in the planning, our Knobstone Trail hike finally materializes! Here we are at the trail head, ready to depart. From L to R: Steve, Jennifer, Paul McAfee, Savannah (four legs) and Tim Geradot. Pic by Paul McAfee.

Getting the hydration system tweaked (two engineers, no troubles).

Paul, Tim and Jennifer: ridge runners all of them.

A bit of rain? No problem. Just put on your pink 100 gallon garbage bag moo-moo pack cover!

Leaky tent? Just set it under a tarp. Seem redundant? Not when you end up dry!

How many people does it take to start a simple campfire? At least 3: one to light matches, one to blow on embers, one to pray (the rain was a drizzle now and we really had to work at this fire).

But all was well. Night #1's fire was exquisite:

And, ohhh the nature! A few sightings:

Female Giant Walkingstick (Megaphasma dentricus)

Yellow-haired Dagger Moth (Acronicta impleta) caterpillar

Arrowhead Orb Weaver (Verrucosa arenata)

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina)


Eastern hardwoods and mist...a better combo we could not think of....

Bleeding fairy helmets (Mycena haematopus) - reddish mushrooms below

Beech-Maple forest on the moist landforms....

Oak-Hickory on the dry. Nature's mosaic draped over the land, how cool is that!?

Bedrock exposed in the creek bottoms.

Creekside and on lower slopes with moist, thick soil is where we saw the finest of Paw-Paw patches. Seemed tropical...

No matter where we are in nature, we find nature's grandeur w/o too much trouble...

Gray Treefrog (Hyla sp.)

Other than all the nature sighting we also hammered out solutions to the world's problems so watch for the publication!.