Friday, May 25, 2012

The Rented Garden

by Kelly

As promised, some pictures of the garden at the house we are renting.

Sweet William

enormous oak tree

dragonfly - there were an awful lot of these, all identical

Dame's Rocket

Yes, that's our cat on a leash. He was an indoor/outdoor cat at our old house, and doesn't understand why he can't go outside now. I've tried to explain that he might get lost so far from his old digs, and there's this dangerous highway practically in the front yard, but he just looked more sad and pitiful. It's almost like he doesn't understand English or something.

So we taught him how to walk on a lead. Luckily there aren't any other cats around here to laugh at him for acting like a dog. I, on the other hand, have been on the receiving end of a lot of curious looks from the neighbors, who are no doubt wondering what kind of weirdos have moved in next door to them.

And even though he's an older cat, he took to learning a new trick surprisingly well, (except for the first few attempts, where he flattened himself on the ground and was as hard to move as an Occupy Wall Street protester) and he seems reasonably happy about the whole thing.

That's his happy face. Honestly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Square Foot Gardening in Action

                                               Peas, Shallots, Spinach and Sprouting Basil
                                                                        The Tomatoes
                                                                   Up Close Spinach
                                                                     The Long View

The Square Foot Garden is up and producing. We've already harvested radishes, lettuce and spinach and just planted the hot weather crops last week - tomatoes, basil and peppers. I have to admit I am a farm girl at heart, despite my big city roots. I keep trying to convince my husband that we need to buy a small hobby farm - just enough to sustain the two of us and a house full of assorted animals. I figure having a farm is one way to wrangle that cat I've always wanted out of him. I suspect Dan is a farmer deep down as well - if anything it's in the genes as his Mom (Donna) and Dad are expert gardeners and he does seem to enjoy it once we commit to it. This year we also have two 6x15 foot plots where I work to garden as we like. Saturday we planted 12 tomato plants and Monday we got in the second bed of assorted other stuff - more basil (I truly believe you can never have enough basil or tomatoes), the world's hottest pepper, zucchini, cukes and butternut squash. And I also hope to plant about 30 gladiola bulbs. It's been a blazing week here in the northern midwest - my tomatoes are smiling :) Happy gardening!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Project BudBurst Needs YOU

by Kelly

We're renting, and while I miss the garden I actually made with my own two hands, there are any number of flowering plants here for me to look at. And, since I'm not completely sure what some of them are, I spend a lot of time on the computer, using this plant identifier site.

That's why, when I saw an article about Project BudBurst in my local paper, I signed up right away. After all, it combines science and gardening - how could I refuse?

Project BudBurst is an online project which is tracking climate change and how that is affecting plants across the U.S. Basically, they want to know when certain plants leaf out, flower, seed, and drop their leaves in the fall. The official  word for this is Phenology (not to be confused with Phrenology, which is reading the bumps on someone's head - but if you want to find out if you have the bumps which denote spirituality or marvelousness, click here).

The list of plants they're tracking ranges from common ones like dandelion and lilac to things like Black Locust and Henbit deadnettle (which sounds like a goth band, but is actually quite a girly pink flower). I've signed up to track a few plants, which I would actually be doing anyway every time I walk outside.

Henbit via Wikipedia
Signing up is kind of a chore, since this is science, after all, and they need all sorts of specific information like latitude and longitude and your elevation. The site helps you figure out all this information though, and that can be interesting too, especially when you discover that your particular town is basically located in a great big mud puddle (something you might have suspected for years, but now you will be able to prove that scientifically). And they have an app (yes, there's an app for that) for Android, so it's easy to enter the information.

But if signing up isn't your thing, you can make a 'one time observation'. For example, if the lilacs just bloomed in your front yard, you can visit the BudBurst website and let them know.

Cherry blossoms via The Quilting Sword
This whole idea isn't new, though - the Japanese have been tracking cherry blossom bloom times for years, and they even have a special forecast for this event. For some absolutely stunning cherry blossom pictures, like the one above, pay The Quilting Sword a visit. And by the way, that is the coolest blog name ever. I wish I had thought of it.

So if you've got a bit of a garden, and you've noticed that your flowers are coming up early, why not visit Project BudBurst and let them know? Maybe the planting zones are changing for good, and those of us up here in chilly zone 5 will one day be able to plant all those pretty warm climate flowers. If that's true, it would be nice to know.

 Meanwhile, I'm going out to take pictures of what's blooming today. Flower pictures will be coming soon.

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