Yard Work

Spring is quickly growing on me. Being holed up inside during a long, cold winter eroded my will to live. Now temperatures are warming up, and the yard is turning green. It feels good to get outside, even if it is to do chores. Late Sunday morning we, as a family, drove up to Lowe’s to get a couple of shelves for the upstairs studio. While there, I wanted to pick up 12×12 inch pavers in an impromptu attempt at domestic vanity. I saw this picture, in my ‘Free-Range Chicken Gardens’ by Jessi Bloom book:

Check out the pavers in the grass at the bottom of this groovy backyard. I thought this would look good in the transition area by the front door. (Photo from Jessi Bloom's awesome

Check out the pavers in the grass at the bottom of this groovy backyard. I thought this would look good in the transition area by the front door.
(Photo from Jessi Bloom’s awesome “Free-Range Chicken Gardens” book.

We have a grassy section between the driveway and the breezeway that gets so much traffic that the grass doesn’t really grow there. Well what if I inset pavers in that section, leaving grass between the pavers?  So we bought eighteen pavers, nine for each end of the walkway. I laid them out like this next photo. Looks like instead of my OCD pattern of 3 across, 3 down, it’ll be more like 3 across, 4 down.

The grassy section closest to the house.

The grassy section closest to the house.

The grassy section  over by the garage.

The grassy section over by the garage.

Maybe by the garage I’ll go 2 across, 4 down (second picture above shows 3 by 3). What do you think? My thought was the formal geometric look of the cement pavers would be a nice contrast to the pea gravel in the driveway and the flagstone walkway under the breezeway. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Also at Lowe’s we picked up our Earth Day tree, or was it Arbor Day tree? Well whatever, we bought a little $26 red oak tree.

We were going to get cherry trees too, on a whim, but then I weirded out about neonicotinoid insecticide so we nixed it until I can learn more. As an aside, today I actually did a little more research. My thought was that plants at mass retailers, and our local mass nursery would have “neonics” in them. As I’ve said before, neonics are a form of insecticide that is either sprayed onto plants, or more commonly introduced through the roots of the plants via specially treated water that is provided to the plants. I believe there are also seeds that are genetically modified to have neonics inside them already. However they get in or on the plant, the problem occurs when neonics get into the plant’s pollen, then honey bees take it back to the hive, the chemicals accumulate in the hive and it’s theorized that this can cause colony collapse disorder. Lowe’s doesn’t label their plants so I didn’t know what I was buying. I could only assume the worst, thus no cherry trees.

Today I called a local one location family nursery, figuring they had chemical free plants. Well they didn’t even know what I was talking about. The greenhouse they referred me to kind of knew what I was talking about, but they sounded really defensive, and kinda made me out to be a bleeding heart tree hugger.

Shocking.

I did read online and found a few good sites, canted towards the Pacific northwest, that had some good information. One site listed nurseries up there that don’t treat their plants with neonics. And another said neonics remain in the plant for up to two years.

An interesting link on the topic: North Coast Gardening

My decision is this: I’m going to visit Home Depot, because supposedly they now label all genetically modified plants. If I can’t find what I want there, I will buy from Lowe’s or the local big box nursery chain, assuming their plants are toxic; and hope that in the two years that the chemicals linger, our bees won’t die off. After the two years we should be in the clear.

Our tiny oak tree ready for planting on Tuesday.

Our tiny oak tree ready for planting on Tuesday.

Speaking of bees, last week I started harvesting bees wax. With hive No.1 dying over the winter, we have several boxes worth of lifeless frames, containing bees wax. I watched a couple of videos on YouTube to figure out what I was doing. I scraped all the frames. A few had pollen and honey. Not enough honey to harvest though. So I left the honey and pollen on the frames. I’m going to deposit the frames back into hive No. 1 when our new bees arrive. I’ll leave it up to them to decide what to do with it all. They’ll also finish cleaning up the frames I pulled the wax off of.

Back to yard work. I cut the grass for the first time this year, and we spent a warm sunny Sunday afternoon weeding the front path and bed. It felt great to be outside cleaning up the path and bed. Down on hands and knees pulling “weeds”, reconnected with the earth. A fun ritual of ours took place during a break. The wife and I walked the yard talking about plans for the new year, and we inspected all the plants and trees we’ve planted in the past to see if they’re budding yet. Generally looking to see how everyone is doing. And they all look good, except one redbud tree looks like it may have died. It and another redbud both have anthills at their base. So maybe that caused its death. Ants are our antagonists it seems.

Tomorrow we will go pick up our replacement package of bees. I’ll share pictures and a review tomorrow night hopefully.

Look at this awesome edge I made!

Look at this awesome edge I made!

The front path is looking good again.

The front path is looking good again.

The front path with another awesome grass edge I made.

The front path with another awesome grass edge I made.

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Earth Day 2015

April 22nd, Earth Day, appropriately the anniversary of our moving into our new home. This year marks three complete years that we’ve lived here. We like to mark Earth Day, and Arbor Day which is this Friday, by planting a tree for each of these two holidays. Mother’s Day (or our wedding anniversary) is the other day(s) we like to plant something; usually a rose-bush that rarely lasts a year.

Because it is so cold this week, highs in the 30’s and 40’s, we’re postponing our tree purchase and planting until Saturday at the earliest. This year’s tree / plant selections:

photo from Ohio Dept. of Forestry website. http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/hemlock

photo from Ohio Dept. of Forestry website. http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/hemlock

Earth Day: Canadian Hemlock

Our plan calls for several of these on the property. We will plant one or two in celebration of Earth Day. We specifically chose these to plant near the bee hives. This fluffy evergreen makes a great screen to help knock down frigid winter winds. It can grow in the relatively full sun of the north meadow. They’re about $29 in a No. 3 pot unto $280 for 9′ B&B. We’ll get two No. 3’s or maybe one 4′ for $97. The Canadian Hemlock is native to eastern Ohio.

Red oak photo borrowed from the Ohio Forestry website http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/redoak

Red oak photo borrowed from the Ohio Forestry website http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov/redoak

Arbor Day: Red Oak

We bought one red oak from Lowe’s last year, I think for Christine’s birthday or Mother’s Day. Our plan calls for another red oak (across from the one we planted last year) to form the gateway into the east preservation area.   I figure about $75-$95 for a 6′ tree. You can find more information on this wonderful, native, hard wood tree by visiting the Ohio Forestry website.

Spring Happenings

Spring has sprung. Everything is greening up and the temperatures are warmer.

I haven’t been very inspired to write lately. The drudgery of life is all consuming. When I do eek out a moment of free time I’ve been glancing at a few new books. See the pictures for what I got. All three of them are pretty good.

Not much else is going on. Here are a variety of pics for today.

Sprouts

A week or two since I started planting seeds in our little mobile greenhouse, we’ve got sprouts! The sunflowers are the overachievers. They are already several inches tall.

All of the tomato seeds appear to have sprouted. And most of the corn is standing proud. The flowers sprouts are more hit and miss. The milkweed, which we planted more recently has yet to sprout.

Today we moved the greenhouse from the shaded, diluted light of my studio, to the sun soaked front window area in the dining room. I’m hoping the added heat of the sun will amp up the greenhouse environment. Mold is starting to sprout on some of the seed starting cells. I’m not sure I like the “cardboard” style cells which are always moist once you water them. To me, they seem like they get moldy fast. Regardless, I’m not too worried. The cells that didn’t sprout worry me more, if only because that’s space that could have been used to plant something else.

Our little greenhouse is maxed out space wise, but we still want to grow a flat or two more of kale seeds, and maybe something else…not sure what else. Will have to see. Maybe put a couple of flats on the drafting board in my studio and hope nosey cats mind their own business.

Here are today’s pics: