I can’t believe it took me eight years to figure out what to do with the extra cultured stone that had been taking up space in my garage. The stone is leftover from the fireplace project when we built the house. At the time I had planned to do a couple extra corners in the fireplace design, and when we simplified the design we already had stone. So the result was a bunch of extra corner pieces.
Over time I tried to give the stone away to other people building houses and fireplaces but never got any takers. Then last weekend we had people over for a social distance cookout that included a campfire and s’mores. I mowed the pond dike and scraped away the grass where the fire pit was. I was worried about catching the grass on fire, so I had a bucket of water handy. The campfire worked fine and no fire spread beyond where it should have.
That night someone, maybe me, had the idea…boy, I could use those two boxes of stone to create a fire ring. So, the next day I loaded up the wheelbarrow, twice, and hauled all the stone back to the fire pit area. I simply stacked it around in a circle as my eye saw fit. Nothing fancy and not much labor other than digging the pit a little and arranging stones in the 85 degree heat and humidity.
I like how it turned out and look forward to our next campfire there.
Late this spring I decided I’d try to prune the apple trees in hopes they would actually, you know, grow apples. I have a dozen books on growing trees, and that included instructions on how to prune them. But for the life of me I can’t understand what I’m reading when it comes to this topic. And there is like no one who will just swing by the house and show me. Luckily we have the internet and more specifically luckily we have YouTube. This dude, James Prigioni, on YouTube has a great video that I watched. It gave me the confidence to go out and massacre my little apple tree friends. (You can watch the rest of his videos here).
I went to the store and bought a hand saw and sharpened up my clippers. I did the best I could to remove the branches crowding the center of my trees. And I trimmed off dead branches. Generally working to shape up the trees. I removed up to 30% of branches on some of the trees. I pruned a little late in spring but I did the best I could when inspiration struck me.
The fruits of my labor were three apples on two trees this year. Not much progress but one of the apples was red, which is the first time we had a red apple tree produce an apple.
A red apple on a tree.
A green apple on a tree.
I plan on pruning my trees again this fall, or in the spring. They got very large this year after I pruned them. Watching the video helped out a ton because the books just weren’t explaining it to me in a way that I could understand. I really need someone to show me.
I’m sure I’m not taking very good care of my trees in terms of fertilizer or whatnot, but it is nice seeing them grow up, and maybe I’ll get lucky next year and they’ll start magically growing fruit.
I don’t know what happened to the apples. It’s late summer and they must’ve fallen or rotted off the trees. I don’t spray the trees so maybe that’s part of the problem too. Regardless, three apples is hardly anything to get excited about yet. So I just let nature take its course.
Pruning was fun and therapeutic. I look forward to playing with my apple trees some more next year.
It wouldn’t be autumn if I didn’t find some sad plants on sale at the local DIY store to take home with me. This year’s winners are four small lilac bushes. The spouse loves smelling lilacs in the summertime and the price was right at $2.50 per bush. The variety is ‘Miss Kim’. I planted them near the septic tank and front yard. Hopefully they will establish them selves and be with us for many years to come.
A few photos from a sunny summer day in the yard. Not as many cone flowers came up this year. I think they’re are being over grown by weeds. Daisies, sun flowers and black-eyed-susans are here and there.
Our day lilies finally started blooming after two years since planting them. Only three of them so far but they are beautiful.
I’ve been watching a tree grow up in our from bed for a year or two now. It started as a wild seed and is now 12′ tall. I figured I’d better move it now since there is no sense in it growing up where it started growing.
The “window tree” growing up in front of the foyer windows. We didn’t plant it, rather it just started growing there.
I didn’t want to just chop it down, so I tried transplanting it yesterday to a spot along the nature trail, near where another old tree had died. I dug around the base of the tree and tried to preserve as much of the roots as I could. That being said, I didn’t go overboard in my care either.
The tree transplanted along the nature trail.
After planting it I checked on it later in the day and it was not doing well so I gave it some water. I’ll check on it this morning, give it more water. Hopefully it can figure out it has a happy new home and not die.
As best I can tell it is an ash tree, which means it’s probably doomed even if it survives since we have emerald ash borers, an invasive species of insect from overseas that destroys ash trees.
I’ve not had much much with transplanting trees this year. A nice little maple that was growing wild outside my studio got transplanted a couple weeks ago, but I forgot to water it. So it’s dead now.
Happy Earth Day everyone! Today marks our sixth anniversary since we moved in.
Normally we buy a tree and plant it for Earth Day and to celebrate our house anniversary but to be honest we’ve been very busy. After running back from an appointment I just felt like sitting on the porch and writing. We’ll get a new tree here soon enough but for now I’m taking the rest of the day off.
I walked around the yard and took some photos to share. I had noticed a patch of green in the north meadow, as I pulled the car out of the driveway. So I went back there and noticed that along the path to the bees, there was a 2-3′ pine tree. This is one of the trees I planted years ago when we first moved in.
It’s a beautiful day, the sun is out and the birds are chirping. A great day to enjoy the house and all the hard work we put in to live here.
Our master plan for the landscape. We’ve been slowly planting things for six years now.
The septic field is cut. Just need to clean some branches up and mow a bit more
This is the pine tree in the north meadow that is now about 2-3′ tall. I planted it as a sapling.
You can see three of our Christas trees, two in the foreground right and one way in the distance center.
Daisy is enjoying some time on the screen porch.
Every spring we like to go around and see what’s getting ready to sprout, or leaf
Our wild ramps we planted last year survived summer and winter. They’re looking good.
These woods are next to our house on land that may go up for sale. I’m hoping they don’t cut down all of these trees.
This leaning tree and the one laying down in the foreground fell down last year out by the septic field
Round three of me working to preserve my gravel driveway. Last year and this winter have been rough on the driveway. A couple years ago I spread out a few tons of 411 limestone. Then last year I had Driveway Dave bring in a few tons and tamp them down where the pot holes are at. At the time Dave said I need to ditch around the perimeter, to route water under the drive. Possibly add a second pipe under the driveway. The surface water is creating and preserving the pot holes. Adding more gravel isn’t doing much.
In a perfect world I’d hire an excavating company to come out and fix the drive. Or in a slightly less perfect world I’d rent one of those kickass little baby excavators and dig my ditches using that. But here in the real world where I live month to month, I’m digging my ditches by hand. And I’ll have five tons of 411 delivered in two weeks (cost about $150-$300 delivered).
It’s really tough to gauge the fall of the land but from far away it looks like if I dig one continuous ditch along the south side it’ll route all the surface water to my one pipe, and under the driveway.
The ground is super wet due to a huge rain storm we had yesterday, so I decided to start digging and see how it would go. It went pretty good. I figured out to dig with the ditch, at one end of it, as opposed to against it or standing to the side. There’s a lot of thick grass and the ground is oversaturated so it was slow going, back breaking work. But the water is flowing along the ditch so that’s encouraging.
Ultimately my goal is to have a nice two track driveway devoid of potholes. We’ll see how well my ditches work once I finish them and it rains again. Maybe I finally found my calling in life.
Another view of my ditch.
A picture of my ditch.
They look like game trails, and probably are to a certain extent, but they’re also the route for surface water. I’m digging a ditch to move water left to right towards the pipe instead of over my driveway.
Land flows right to left. My new ditch should route it towards the foreground.
Progress on my ditch along the driveway. Dig along with the ditch, not cross wise. Much easier.
Water is already traveling along my ditch in the right direction.
My first spring walk around the estate today to see how well spring has sprung so far. Not much is happening. Things are budding and turning green but no real flowers are blossoming yet, save for a few dandelions and other yellow ground flowers. If we have daffodils anywhere, I cannot tell for I didn’t see a one.
There is one peach tree with a blossom. Another has green leaves, and the third looks to have died. The apple trees all have leaves budding, but no flowers yet. The cherries have small leaf buds as well.
As we’ve know for some time, the last of our bee hives died out over the winter. We are not getting a replacement hive this year. We’re taking a year off. I really want to get a hive, but the wife is right in talking me back from the edge. I have too much going on and I don’t need the stress and responsibility of raising bees this summer. I will really miss all the work they do around the yard pollinating though, especially if we revive the vegetable garden as planned.
Walking through the woods, everything is very wet. I doubt the ground will dry out any time soon.
In the front yard I noticed something peculiar. One of the black gum trees was cut down or gnawed down or magically fell. The two step break was really weird but I suppose an animal could have done it. This particular tupelo tree was dead on its main trunk so no great loss, just weird. there were shoots growing up from its base so I don’t know…do they grow up to be a tree someday?
Out of the five black gums we planted I think only two survived, so that was a pretty good waste of money.
Right now a walk around the yard is pretty uninspiring. Hopefully by May 1st things will be in bloom and drying out.
After four years of living here, our roof washer filters really needed changing. The roof washers wash all of the water that comes off of the roof when it rains. There are two fiberglass chambers in our front yard that the water flows into. As the chambers fill up with water, debris like leaf parts, bugs, and dirt stay on one side of the filters and the water flows through to the center of the filter, into a pipe and down into the cistern for storage.
I had previously taken the filters out twice, they’re like a cotton material, and washed them. I tried getting new ones last year, and through circumstances didn’t successfully get new ones until this year.
I’m very glad the new filters came with new mesh screens inside and out. The screens give the filters their circular shape. The old screens were rusting out. To install, I simply took off the top caps and threw out the old filters, and inserted the new fluffy white ones.
I’m still waiting to get an invoice for the filters, but I don’t imagine they cost too much.
Elsewhere not much is going on. In the 90 degree heat this past weekend I cut the grass and finally spread a few bags of mulch I had purchased in June; spreading them around some of our smaller younger plants we planted in the meadows. The mulch will help them get some breathing room from encroaching meadow grasses and golden rod.
We ordered three new filters for the roof washers. Fortunately they came with new metal wire forms inside and out. The old forms had rusted away quite a bit.
Working on installing the new roof washer filters.
The old filters, over four years old and cleaned twice, desperately needed replacing.
Fluffy new filters installed in the roof washer.
The one smaller roof washer contains only one filter. Here is the filter with it’s fiberglass top cap in place.
Hive No. 1 on a warm August day.
I don’t know what kind of hydrangea this is but it flowered this year. I placed a circle of mulch around its base and stomped down the tall meadow grass around it.
The hazelnut bushes are doing well. I cleared out the weeds around them and laid down some mulch.
For a link to one time when I cleaned the roof washers click here.
Our peach trees are blossoming, but they don’t look that encouraging. There aren’t many blossoms across our three young trees. One of the trees looks dead basically, with just two random shoots growing from the bottom of the trunk. A few blossoms decorate each shoot, and a couple branches that look to still be alive. If the bees pollenate the peach trees, we might get one or two peaches before summer’s over.
It’s hopefully too early to tell but honestly not many of the plants and trees that we’ve planted look very good, across the entire yard. I’m hoping things shape up soon.
The apple trees have all leafed and look pretty good. In fact this year I think I’ll actually have to figure out (guess) how to prune them. I do this in the fall I believe. It’s too early to tell if we’ll have any apple blossoms.
Here are today’s pics. Fingers crossed we get lucky with spring – weather wise and bounty wise. Or just luck wise in general.
P.S. I forgot, the one redbud tree has a giant ant hill at its base, just like the other redbud tree had in years past. None of the redbud’s look that great. I’m going to go around and spread fertilizer at the base of all my plants and trees this weekend. Don’t know if it’ll help but it’ll make me feel useful, which is all that matters really. Anyway, the ants..I sprayed them with two mixtures: one was vinegar and essential oils, and the other was warm water with Dawn dish soap. In theory one or the other or both will either kill or deter the ants from living at the base of my redbud tree. I’ll keep spraying, dousing for several days and see if it helps any.
The apple trees are leafing out this week. All nine look pretty much okay.
Not sure what to do with this peach tree. Two shoots have blossoms and only a couple branches look to still be alive.
This peach tree is basically dead except for a few upper branches and two shoots with blossoms on them coming up from the ground.
Wonder what I do for a day job? I designed this paint display in your local mass DIY store.