Tag Archives: yard

Autumn, outdoors

The going has been slow…

What the dog (and man) brought in… #wildflowers #aster #autumnflowers #fiestawarelove #fiestaware

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The yard has improved significantly this year – we’ll see what overwinters and fills out next – hopefully the new “herb hill” will never need to be mowed/wacked again. We keep picking up coreopsis plants on sale too, so I’m gaining an unintended dye garden as well.

And the redistributed cement crumbles from the former sidewalks to nowhere have oddly fruited!

Stinkhorn! #stinkhorn #fungusamongus

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And N built an enclosure for leaf compost out of the biggest pieces. The dog likes to sit in it too.

The garden is a bit of a mess – I’m out of steam for it this time of year, and yet again, I didn’t get the timing right to keep up with some decent lettuces. The tomatoes never got a second wind from their blight (a couple are okay, but they aren’t the tasty ones). And it’s possible we’ll get a few zucchini and patty pans from the second planting of squash that I was hoping was post-squash vine borer, but wasn’t, but I’m not holding my breath.

But this squash, a Zucchino Rampicante is amazing.

It’s currently hardening off like a butternut, and there’s another almost done. It seems that only one fruit can mature per vine, but the babies are good eating like a summer zucchini. And it’s a good thing because we’ve only got four little butternuts. So these two Rampicantes will make up the difference – I’ll wait for the taste test this winter before giving them the green thumbs up – hopefully they’re good, because they beat the pests and diseases the best, and are a constant source of bawdy amusement.

We do have a decent amount of spinach, and we might get some carrots, but the beets are becoming hairy carrots instead of beets – at least the greens are still good – the fall beets never do as well as the spring, so I have to read up on that.

Most of the cayennes are drying out.

Most sewing I've done recently. Note to self: don't rub eyes. #chilipeppers #cayenne #organicgardening #picapica

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And the freezer is overflowing with beans – both the bush and pole had bumper crops this year.

I neglected to pick the fennel – it was a new to me variety that made smaller bulbs, so once I noticed them, they were on their way to becoming too tough.

But maybe we’ll get some seeds. And it’s pretty and the caterpillars like it so it will stay until the bitter end.

N trash-picked the perfect glass/plexi door to make a cold frame, but I’m dubious we’ll get to it this year – the priority right now is to clear and prep a garlic bed.

(And fiber things)

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Latest Lacy Baktus

Spring came on early- warm and dry.

I wasn’t ready – a few nights were outside of my comfort zone – and working outside for more than quarter hour required rehydration at the ready.

But then it went back to its proper cold and damp state and required woolens.

I realized if I hurried along my latest baktus, I’d actually be able to wear it immediately instead of packing it away for the autumn.

latest baktus with sweater

And so I did and have been – it still needs to be blocked, but the weather might turn warm again before it dries…

In the meantime, I’m cozy with it-

or all three…

latest baktus triple

They’re becoming invasive in my woolen collection…

And in outdoor news, the march of the invasives in our yard continues…

latest purple yard

This front yard patch of bugleweed is doubled from last year, soldiering through the lesser celandine.

I gave up fighting the ground invasives unless I hear about something magical and effective, but natural and easy – and perhaps the bugleweed will take over my ultimate nemesis the Japanese stiltgrass – I do like the intense blue too, and I don’t think it’s technically invasive, just non-native and aggressive, so I wouldn’t mind if it took over that part of the yard completely…

latest lilac

And the lilac is doing so much better after its year free of Chinese wisteria. I’ve left a tiny patch of that stuff to attempt to train, but perhaps that isn’t responsible – it would just take one untended season and the stuff would take over the hillside again.

Pray for me as I go in for the first of several annual poison ivy tear-outs soon too – too bad that is the only native stuff.

And now I should return to the knitting I’ve ignored for the baktus – none of that will be ready to wear in these last cool days…

(perhaps not even by the time the cool weather returns in a few months…)

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Plotting my dinner…

We’re a little late with the garden this year, but that’s because we have a brand new big one!

It went from this pathetic thing:

garden-before

To this glorious piece of productive real estate:

garden after-leftgarden after-right

(Too big for my lens)

Still lots more digging  and other random fence finishing tasks to do, and only a few herbs planted at the moment, but hopefully we won’t have to contend as much with the local feral cats and this lovely lady and her buddies:

deer2 003 - Copy

And just playing and planning with seeds makes me hungry…

garden-planning

And when I get hungry, I can get just a teeny bit bitchy…

The whole Whole30 craze is making me really sad, and social media has made fad diets so exceptionally annoying. Back in the ’90s you could just walk away from the Atkins conversations and stink of your co-worker’s daily half chicken from Boston Fartet, but now you can’t putter about the internet without seeing images of plates and shopping baskets and bizarre exclamations of “gee, ghee in my coffee is really awesome!” And many of those shopping basket pics are full of things that aren’t really that healthy or good for the environment – factory farm meats and heavily packaged veg aren’t really food in my book. I get that people struggle to loose weight, have frustrating undiscovered food sensitivities or massive allergies, and have a hard time adopting a healthier lifestyle when they weren’t raised with one. But I don’t get the fad part. I don’t get that the message of eat whatever moderately as long as it is organic or nearly organic as possible, and as local/fresh as possible, and cut out processed shit isn’t good enough? Or experiment with an elimination diet to see what truly does mess you up rather than flatly demonizing certain foods (foods, by the way that populations of entire continents eat daily, so it’s downright offensive to deem something poisonous just because you are privileged enough to not have to eat it or it isn’t a part of your culture).

So I’ll be here sipping my delicious butterless coffee and licking my plate after an occasional small almond pastry while I watch the plants grow (and dig-weary fingers and arms heal enough to start knitting again…)

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Late winter burn out…

I’m just a little bit tired of winter.

Rather, I’m really just tired of the lingering dirty snow and ice and its hazards, and now, a cold snap.

Normally this time of year would have me tearing at my breast and howling with rage at the season, but I’m semi-coping – I think I hate December much more anyway…

The tired snow is showing the well-trod path of our neighborhood deer through the side yard.

deer stomp

And their antics at night in the backyard.

deer frolic

And they’re getting hungry and bold and starting to lurk about during the day as well.

deer brush pile

(We just got more snow, and then some more snow, so it’s back to looking fresh and solidly winter again.)

I’m getting antsy to be finished with organizing my crap, but it is slow going… our basement looks like a well-stocked thrift store with 95% cool stuff.

I finally found the missing box of stash yarn.

stash box found

And it had all possible variations of yarn and notions, so I had to partially undo and redo my massive organizing job of last month.  (And I may have done a little cramming, which is how the messes start in the first place).  But I found some slipper bottoms I forgot I had too, so those will be put to good use… soon?

I finally finished a pair of gift socks I’d had on the needles for months but only worked on sporadically – I can usually crank socks out at a decent pace, but these took a little longer than I expected – especially at the dash to the finish which usually goes quite speedily, but this time was more slow and steady…

giftsocks

(The color isn’t right, they should be less pink – it’s an older ball of my favorite ONline Supersocke 6-fach yarn, and a reminder that I prefer fraternal twins for socks).

And I made five Botanics (some with fold-over brims, some without) in the last couple of months – really burned out on the pattern, but it’s still an easy and good one.

botanic-the last

I sewed a few more curtains, yet five more still need to be hemmed, and four need to be replaced with something more interesting… burned out on those as well.

 And our water line froze (but we didn’t know that was the problem at the time) just before the weekend started, so we just had several days without water and went ahead with some sloppy smelly house projects – think I might need to actually burn the clothes we’ve been wearing…

 (Don’t worry carolsinspring, I mailed those socks to you when I could still bathe and after I gave them a good soak!)

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Deer john and the changing seasons…

toms&flowers

Random things of late…

Our garden is done, but the CSA is finally paying off – we completed a massive tomato and tomatillo salsa canning session last weekend.

canning-after

The deer called Doe [rhymes with  Zoe] might have had some babies, joined up with a larger family group, and has been bringing along another five or six to nibble at our backyard smorgasbord and leave an astounding number of shits – making me re-consider putting in a perimeter fence.

I found another alarming pile of poop of another kind when N moved one of our new window-unit air conditioners.  I identified it possibly as:

1. bat guano

2. squirrel turds

3. roof rat droppings…

Amazingly, all of these beasts leave remarkably similar scat.  I’m leaning toward bat though, because of the height of the window and I don’t want rats in our roof.  Perhaps a bat took up residence in or under the air-conditioner while we were on vacation?  But it didn’t stick around (at least I don’t think it’s in there still).

And I forgot to shoot the shit.

And speaking of bats, I do love them, and we’ve got plenty around here – I love watching them swoop in in the evenings and take out a sizable chunk of the even more sizable population of ‘skeeters.  Eventually we’ll get around to building some bat houses.

I found out by accident that the giant spotty crickets that I found living near our well (that I was so startled by and didn’t bother to photograph in case I was the only one who saw them and they didn’t really exist) turned out to be another Asian invasion and quite common in the area.  And now I’m wondering if they’re edible…

And we’ve finally experienced the yard in every season, and have identified all of the flora.  The last hold-out was a large Burning Bush – I suspected that it could be one, and hoped it was so because otherwise it was a somewhat boring green thing.

sunchoke-maybe

Some of the weeds I never got around to pulling ended up being lovely flowers.  I see the stuff around the roadsides here, so perhaps it’s native, or perhaps it’s an invasive beast?  I wished I’d paid more attention to what it looked like when it was coming up, so I don’t pull it out next year, unless of course it is something to be rid of… I think it’s a Sunchoke.  Anyone know if this variety is native to the Eastern states, or a nasty invader?  I haven’t gone digging for the tubers yet.

And I have another pair of socks on the needles – these might end up being a gift.

socksonatrain-window

I’ve been traveling for work a bit, and have enjoyed going by train, even though it adds another three hours to the trip.  But the leg room is astounding, the cars are nearly empty (come on Americans, use it or loose it!) and the scenery on this particular route is nice.

socksonatrain-withball

I never wrote down (or can’t find my notes) my formula for going down a needle size or two for my standard socks, so I have to go through the misery again of figuring it out.  In the meantime, I’m just using a heavier yarn and my old numbers…

Abruzzo October 2013-trail

And because of the new-to-us house and its ongoing expenses and labor (and my continued hobbled state) we decided not to go to Italy this year.  The weather turning to autumn reminds me of my boots crunching along the trail in the warm central Apennine sun, so I’m a bit bummed out about it, but hopefully we’ll be back next year.

I also decided not to go to Rhinebeck to save money too – and since we’re often in Italy when it happens, this year was good timing for it – but I got enough of a fix at the New Jersey festival a few weeks ago.

I’ll have my own personal wool festival when I can finally unpack my boxes of the stuff soon…

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Oh deer…

We’ve had a new neighbor hanging about recently.

Image

And she kindly ate some of the poison ivy still left after I pulled out an entire garbage bag full of the evil vines.

She’s under my “office” window now, looking up when the phone rings; and earlier, rather creepily stared at me as she took a piss. Perhaps she thinks that part of the yard is hers now, which is fine.

I’m glad I never ended up using any of the nasty chemicals I got to kill the ivy – I worried about the stuff getting into our well, but she would have been affected by it too, if not more so?

deer2 014 - Copy

But she’s also a kick in my tired ass that the garden needs a much taller fence…

deer2 003 - Copy

Not to mention I also need to revive said garden… but I knew we wouldn’t have enough time this year, so we renewed our CSA subscription with the liked/hated organic farm… more mutants to toss down the pie hole!

kitchen curtain

…as well as fresh herbs once more, thankfully.

The kitchen also got some freshly sewn curtains – the doe can’t spy on me now…

(at least in that room).

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