Hooooo Dog! Did we get the rain! Soft and squishy out there my friends. We got about 2 inches of well deserved rain. SM and I wandered around snapping pictures of the garden.
Nice weed free bed next to 2 "un-weeded" beds. Ha!
My Zinnia bed.
My two store bought tomatoes. They CAN NOT be happy right now. We will hope for the best!
Lots of weeding to do still. That never ends does it? Since it was WAY to boggy out there for outside work, I kept on the window train washing the inside windows then thought about starting outside. I stepped out on the back porch...YUCK! Pollen everywhere. The rain has washed most of the pollen away but the front and back porches were covered in a nice thick paste of yellow pollen. Rather than wash windows, I went ahead and grabbed the hose and washed off both front and back porches. The robins were NOT amused.
So I watched a YouTube video on how to apply this stuff, cleaned the windows really well with a window scraper and spent the better part of 6 hours applying the window film.
Actually 1 hour of that was spent running to Lowes for more film and a killer Xacto Blade so I could trim the film better. (The blade they supplied was a joke.) Anyhow...Over all it went up pretty easy. I completed 6 windows total, so a little less than an hour a window from start to finish. SM told me this morning that it looks like a professional job. Fooled him didn't I? Our house is about 30 years old and the wooden windows in them are original. Many have broken seals. We have been tempted over the years to replace them but we don't want the vinyl replacement windows that are SO popular and wood windows ain't cheap. We maintain them as best we can but know that someday we'll have to suck it up and replace them.
So after applying the window film, it comes as a bit of a surprise that the film actually makes our crappy windows look a WHOLE lot better. As in newer. Fresher. Granted, we still haven't seen what the house looks like in full sun. It's still very cloudy today with a chance of more rain. SM and I decided to only tint the windows that are exposed to full sun for now.
About 7 of our remaining south facing windows are actually protected under the porch roof so technically they are in the shade. These windows allow brighter light in the rooms that they are in. I think if we tinted those too it would be WAY too dark. One of the cool things I already like about these is how sharp they look from the outside. And the privacy they afford.
THIS Monday I am THRILLED! I get to stay home today. And everyday this week! For at least a decade now, I have taken the last week of April as my "Stay-cation" week.
A blissful week away from WORK to do a different kind of work. Housework and yardwork. Me-work. A week filled with projects. Projects that require more than a few hours to complete. Projects that require more motivation than I can summon over a brief weekend. Yesterday, today and tomorrow have all been forecast to be rainy days. As I type this, the trees are dancing in the breeze and a light, but persistent, rain is falling. Mama and Papa Robin are busy buzzing my window with mouthfuls of worms and bugs to feed their rapidly developing progeny. Four big-mouthed babies with long, long necks raised skyward. Their eyes are still closed but not for long I suspect.
I've tried multiple times to capture the perfect picture to show you OUR babies but it always comes out blurry and dim due to their position under the eve of the back porch. The garden is in desperate need of this rain so I'm trilled to get it. I had planted everything over the past 2-3 weeks and once I had, it dried up. Of course it did! No rain. Dry as a bone. And hot. Did I mention that? 80-85 most days. So the garden seeds have had a weak start with my spritzing tap-water on them. Germination was poor. Except weed germination. Figures doesn't it? I turned my back and overnight the weeds were choking out the newbie veggies. One bed was SO filled with Bermuda grass starts that I went in and raked everything out but two little squash plants. I then reseeded that bed. While I was out there working I felt a bite and looked on my arm to see this teenie, tiny flying bug. I could see it was latched on and drawing blood so I squished it and moved on. After I showered, I noticed two welts on my arms from the little bastard. The next day, my welts had gotten even bigger. I've had these before but had never seen the creature that caused them.
I google-ed around and am pretty sure that I've been the victim of no-see-um's all these years. Little red dot for a bite? Check. 1-2 inch swelling that can last up to 2 weeks? Check. Usually bitten in May and June? Check. Check. Freaken bastards. There's always something that has to ruin the party isn't there? Anyway, I'm very pleased to be having a few rainy days. So what kind of work can I get done today? Window tinting is on my agenda today. Say what? The past few years I've noticed that I don't tolerate direct sunlight well at all. This is something new for me as I've always spent as much time outside as I could. It doesn't matter if it's hot or cold outside, the sun has become my Kryptonite. I suspect it's a old age, hormonal thing like my body can't sweat the way it used too or something like that.
When the Derm Dr gave me the smackdown on my skin a few months ago SM kind of freaked out about the possibility of my developing skin cancer. Coupled with the fact that I melt whenever I was in the car, SM suggested that I get the windows of my car tinted. Well, DUH. I've lived in NC 20 years now. Why didn't I think of that? So I took my car in and had window film applied to them. The sides and back have a 50% gray shade with 99% UV protection. The windshield is clear (NC law) but has the 99% UV also. I can tell the difference already. Heaven. Now that I've been "enlightened" to the benefits of this sort of window treatment, I decided to apply the film to the windows on the backside of our home. They are all south-facing and the white mini-blinds do little to keep the house cool in summer. I thought about hiring folks to come in and do this but that costs more than I'm willing to spend. So I poked around Lowes and found this DIY product. Gila Privacy Control Window Film. They offer different types of color/mirror/frosted treatments. I saw that the reviews for this product was pretty high and felt it suited my needs best. I'll be spending these rainy days working this rather BIG project. I'm very curious to see how it goes. If it makes a difference keeping the house cooler. I expect it will. Maybe we will see some cost savings with the electric bill this summer. Wouldn't that be nice?
Yesterday I spent an enjoyable morning cleaning up another raised bed, planting glads and dumping pots. You know...The usual. I stopped before I got too tired. I didn't want to risk tweaking my back. It's funny how garden bending and twisting is completely different than housework bending and twisting. I'm hoping to get through today without throwing anything out of wack. The big area of disaster is the in-ground beds as usual. Weeding the raised beds is a breeze with the light fluffy soil. The in-ground beds hold on to everything that gets a chance to root in them.
I'm tempted to throw grass seed and let it go back to lawn. Maybe one day I will. But for now the best solution is cut, cover and till. I woke any sleepy headed neighbors up early this morning with the mower to trim out the mess.
I'm covering everything for now. Next week I'll hand till (shovel, hoe, rake) the areas that I want to use. Everything else will stay covered to suppress the weeds.
Next week I hope to finish planting. Green beans, tomatoes and winter squashes for the in-ground beds. I'll also be swinging by a big box store for geraniums and petunias for the front and backyard pots.
SM called me at work last week and said that a robin was building a nest on our back porch rafter. By the time I got home it was complete but empty. I noticed this weekend that we have a young lady residing in the nest. It's right over the porch stairs so every time I open the door, she flies off. It would be cool if they are successful hatching and raising the babies so close to where we can see them. I'm a bit doubtful that she will succeed what with all our coming and going. Time will tell. As usual.
Sams Club is the best. You can go in with a simple shopping list and come out with a cart full of goodies that you never intended to purchase. I was doing the shopping cart dance early Saturday. You know the one. Step. Step. Squeak. Step. Step. Squeak.
I got me some rotisserie chicken, some diet mountain, a pile of berries (tasteless of course), a big bottle of wine and a frozen bag of mixed veggies. Like I said. Simple. I was heading to the self check out when an end display stopped me cold. Spring bulbs! Multipacks of spring bulbs! Crikey! "Like you don't have enough going on in the garden." The cranky old broad in me exclaimed.
But I don't have Canna Lilies or Gladiolus anywhere in my yard!" The Southern Belle in me reasoned.
I eyeballed the assortment and snapped up 2 boxes of Canna's and 1 box of Glads. As I went through the self check out the computer squealed when I rang up the wine. "How old do you think I am?" I teased the older gentleman who game over to type in his code. "Ha. I've been caught in that trap before! Looks like you'll be needing that wine after planting all of those." He remarked. It wasn't until I was packing the truck with my goodies that I realized just how many bulbs I'd bought. 24 Cannas. That seems reasonable for my 1/2 acre square of heaven. 90 Gladiolus. Say WHAT? Ninety? As in Nine-Zero? Holy crap. Guess what I'll be doing the rest of the month....
As I was walking the dogs this morning (in the pre-dawn dark as usual) with my left foot twanging (arthritis anyone?), I reflected on how Mother Nature will not be denied. For me OR my garden.
I hope to spend several blissful hours this weekend trying to bring the garden to some sort of order. It's that time of the year after all when weekend warriors try to set their best foot forward with sharp, green lawns and snappy, perfect pots hugging the front door. I'm sure the big box stores will be overwhelmed with folks buying lawn seed and fertilizer, purchasing pansies and potting soil. Don't think I'm not tempted! I almost veered off to one of them on my way home from work Friday. Only the promise of an open bottle of wine cooling in the fridge at home kept my priorities straight.
I'm a tidy, organized person by nature and like anyone I appreciate the effort put forth by folks to spruce up their place after the long drudge of Winter. But my foot was twanging and I'm under orders from the Derm Dr to limit my time out in the sun between 10 and 4 and to be truthful, maybe having that perfect garden that I fantasize about every year is just that. A fantasy. I had some Solar Keratosis (or AK's) frozen off my face this week. Common enough occurrence for those of us with fair skin. "So what do you do that you are out in the sun so much?" My lady Derm Dr inquired as she blasted the liquid nitrogen on my temples. "I like to garden" I offered up, thinking to myself "I don't like to garden THAT much." I hated to admit the fact that those of us over a certain age just disregarded all those "Stay out of the sun" and "Wear your UV!" admonishments that are so part of modern life these days. Back when I was a kid, it was baby oil during the Summer and tanning beds in the Winter. Tans were in. Can't tell you how many times I went to the beach and got sunburned.
So now, I have to pay the price. Or pay the Derm Doctor so to speak. It occurs to me that the spots on my face are not unlike the weeds in my garden. Left to their own devices, they would take over. So every now and then I make an effort to control the uncontrollable. I've bought some killer face UV by Elta (tinted so it's like foundation) I also bought some very expensive hats designed for BAD girls like me. Coolibar on Amazon.
This canvas floppy is my go-to hat that I toss on whenever I need to jump outside quick.
This wide rim is new for me. I think I'm going to use this one when it's SUPER hot. It's lighter weight and has an elastic rim and cord that the canvas floppy doesn't have. It will stay on my head better when it's windy. Notice the fabric to protect the neck when your hair is up. Anyhoo...I've been gardening here for about 7 years now and I've noticed that things are generally blooming 2-3 weeks earlier these past 3 years. Climate change? Maybe. Regardless, the window for getting any vegetables to harvest is pretty tight around here anymore. By the time June hits it's a crapshoot. We will likely be in the 90's if not in the 100's thorough August. And my tender vittles do NOT like HOT weather. So I decided to take my cues from Mama Nature this year and do my spring planting earlier than usual. As in now. Today. March 26, 2017. Holy Cow!!!! I cleaned up 4 of the raised beds and planted carrots, lettuce, golden snap beans, and yellow and green summer squash.
ARE YOU MAD? I can hear you all thinking. Maybe. But I can always replant if we get a late freeze. The rest of the garden is a nightmare of weeds. But just like my face, I'll zap a few spots at a time and see if we can't control the uncontrollable. *BTW...Look carefully over my shoulder. Do you see that red spot? It's a chicken house. Yep. Da neighba's got sum chickans.
Well, Hello SPRING! All is well with SM and I here in the lovely Piedmont of North Carolina. Just another boring Winter to get through. I've been busy with work. SM has regained full use of his shoulders and all is right with the world. Yeah us! We've had another warm Winter all things considered. A week or two of freaken FREEZING weather but now (just like last year) we are having an early Spring.
Our Maple is blooming before the Peach. THAT has never happened. I told SM not to prune the Peach this year. We always get a frost that kills the blooms or the fruit. I'm sure that will happen again this year so we might as well enjoy a pretty tree. This morning was a wonderful 61 degrees so I busted out the rake and got in the beds to clean things up a bit.
Gosh it feels good to play in the dirt! I even planted lettuce and carrots! CRIKEY!
Expectations are that our early Spring will lead to another "hotter than hell" Summer so I thought let's just go ahead and put things in earlier than I would normally. Heck, I might be planting summer squash and tomatoes in April! Stay tuned...I'm going to try and be a good girl and blog a bit more now that gardening season is here.