Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our Wetland Rocks (according to Gray Treefrogs)!

Remember this little gem of a wetland that we created?

Tonight we were tooling around the yard and noticed the calling of gray treefrogs near the wetland. On closer investigation we notice the calling was coming from the barn and then...

...found this little cutie on one of the downspouts!:

But the other call was louder, as if amplified...and it was! Check this out:

Yes, this dude must be studying sound engineering! He was about 8 inches back inside the downspout and, as you can see by his expanded throat, calling away:

What more can we say than "nature's wonders never cease to amaze!"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Double Cropping

The weather here is superb! Thanks to the sunshine, warmth and long weekend we got the entire garden in. YAY! We also tried something new this year - double cropping. We love winter squash and really don't have room in the main garden for these plants anymore. We also have a young orchard with tiny trees so we decided to put our squash patch in this zone this year.

Steve gets very excited about shoveling heavy soil from one area of our property and moving it to another. He couldn't get enough of it this weekend! Seriously, he deserves a gold star for the many loads he sifted, hauled and dumped.

To start our double cropping system, Steve removed a chunk of sod, knocked off the topsoil...

filled the hole with freshly sifted, loose soil...

and shaped the soil into a nice little mound for our seeds.

I then added a scoop full of worm castings to the hole and sowed squash, colorful flour corn and flowers. It's quite clear who got the easy job!

I used old stakes to make note of the various heirloom varieties we planted...14 or so total. Finally, we added some grass clippings to the mounds to break up the force of forecast rain.

The next project will be smothering all the grass before it over takes our new plants. We anxiously await this season's straw!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Spring Nature outing at Mohican State Park

Hiking at this gem of a park is one of our favorite things to do. The water is irresistible. Shorts, sandals, birds, wildflowers and doesn't get much better.

We found one Fire Pink (Silene virginica) flowering along the river trail. It's a show stopper for sure.

Water snakes were out and about and enjoying the newly arrived warmth, which is obviously fleeting around here since it is currently 40 degrees today. Look in the middle of the photo...

A veery seemed to want to make friends. S/he hopped all along this log right up to us, then carried on searching for food. We spent hours at this park, not covering much ground - the birds called to us from every tree, shrub and patch of ground. Migration is really such a magical time!

These nature outings are so integral to our happiness. We are working on balance in our lives so we can move forward with our goals and plans for life, but also take plenty of time to just be and enjoy!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Scrap Wood Becomes More Raised Beds

There's so much happening here it's hard to find time to post. Not only is it gardening season, it's also migration and wildflower season! We are getting out about everyday looking for new avian arrivals and new blooms. It's such fun! We visited Mohican State Park this weekend where Steve saw a Canada Warbler....Jennifer missed it but hopefully next time.

We continue to improve our garden beds to make them better able to handle excessive moisture, which we tend to have in the spring. More scavenged boards and logs line our newly worked beds.

Some beds are getting a new batch of soil due to a persistent aster we let go too far in the garden. We will fill this bed with soil from our compost pile and the cardboard will help to compost the asters in place.

Sugarsnap peas are coming up as well as the beets and kohlrabi.

All the greens under our low tunnels are doing super. We took off the plastic for spring and left the ramie fabric in place to prevent our brassicas from getting completely covered in cabbage white caterpillars.

The strawberries are flowering so soon we will have fruits! We still have strawberry puree from last year, which Steve used in an excellent vinaigrette for our lunch salad. We will post that recipe soon.

This year we put in some new strawberries, a variety called Sparkle that comes highly recommended from a friend. Oh my, we can't wait for berries!!

The chickens are having fun playing in the mud after the almost 4 inches of rain last night. WOW. We needed rain and we are getting used to the fact that when it rains, it really rains. There doesn't seem to be a such thing as gentle spring showers anymore.

Our potatoes are finally sending up some leaves. See the plant in the middle of the photo? That's the potato. The rest are weeds on our garden weeding to do list. It's pretty weedy in a few of our beds....all soil from our compost pile, which obviously is not getting hot enough!

We are harvesting lots of asparagus and rhubarb now. We made yummy quesadillas for dinner with sauteed asparagus, onions, kale, parmesan, sea salt and oregano. We planted new asparagus last year to supplement our first planting and it's been hard to let all those shoots go to flower and not eat them! We have to remind ourselves the wait will be worth it.

There's still lots to finish in the garden before planting time. Has anyone yet figured out how to make more time in the day??

Monday, May 5, 2014

Common Milkweed Propagation Update

Our common milkweed propagation worked so well this year! Check out all these healthy plants ready to find their way into the soil: