Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dirt is good.

We have officially kicked our little chickadees out of the house. Jeff and I were sick and tired of our upstairs smelling like chickens and the chicks were starting to jump out of the bath tub. They've got some nice nesting spots in their chicken tractor and a light in there to keep them warm. Temperatures are getting down into the upper 30's to 40's at night so we're hoping they stay warm enough. The chicks are about 4 weeks old now and seem to have nearly all of their true feathers in.

The chicks have all learned the delight of dust baths. It is so cute to see them learning to act like chickens. We saw an interesting behavior this weekend for the first time and were concerned. The chicks were sunning themselves by laying on one side with a wing out-stretched. It looked like they were dying, but we've since learned that this is normal chicken behavior!

My shade bed is barely coming to life. The ferns, hostas, hellebores, columbine and bleeding hearts are just starting to wake up. No sign yet of the astilbe. This bed got so water logged with snow from the greenhouse roof draining into it, I would not be surprised if some things died.

The strawberries are filling in nicely and sending out flowers. We've got an ever-bearing variety - fragaria. Jeff is very excited about the strawberries.

The honeyberries are in full bloom with several small berries that have set. I've never tasted a honeyberry so I am looking forward to trying some! Looks like we might get enough for a pie out of our two bushes.

My perennial flower bed is looking colorful! I just moved a bunch of lupine in here to fill some gaps. The bulbs have done nicely and are about to be joined by the dianthus in flowering. Everything else seems to be doing great in here.

The broccoli, celery, onions and other brassicas are doing very well. You can see to the right of the compost pile some flat ground. I turned the soil in this corner with some compost this weekend and planted out some fingerling potatoes. Eventually we'll build two more compost bins to the left of the current bin. Then from the right side of the compost bin to the fence we'll have another garden spot.

The flowers on our cherry trees are opening! These are doing wonderful and seem to enjoy the climate. Our two pear trees and one Italian plum made it through the winter. Unfortunately, we lost both of our apple trees for unknown reasons.

Overall we are feeling very satisfied with the way our outdoor gardening is going. We are so far ahead of last year and think for two beginners we're doing good. I'm about to start master gardener classes, so pretty soon the label beginner might not apply anymore - maybe "intermediate".

The front garden bed isn't turning out quite how I pictured it. The new plan in my head is to add a few crimson barberries as anchor plants and then cluster groups of plantings around that. The bare spots contain mums, coneflowers and black-eyed susans that are growing slowly. No real hurry on this bed, it's just cosmetic and we've got enough other projects that we're dealing with right now to worry about this.

The solarium is filled with plants ready to go outside! All of the squash are getting big and setting flowers. If the forecast looks good this upcoming weekend I might plant some things out a week early (last frost date = June 1) just to get the house back to normal!

Can't forget about the citrus, they've been flowering and flowering some more. This lime tree has set quite a bit of fruit! I'm imagining making some lemon-lime-kumquat marmalade...

Whew! We've been busy this last month. I'm looking forward to getting the garden planted out so that I can quit watering seedlings every morning and start enjoying the fruit (literally) of our labor.

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