Friday, March 30, 2012

Picture of the Day

Done of the lilacs blooming in the yard. I've been burying my face in them everytime I walk past... And they scent the whole yard. Glorious!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Picture of the Day

Am I ever glad I didn't plant yesterday! Late in the afternoon, as I was bringing in the laundry from the line and gathering lemon balm leaves for a little cocktail hour with friends (lemon balm gin martinis... Delicious!), my neighbor pulled into the garden to do some more tilling. He doubled the size of the garden now ready for planting to about 84' by 42'. Next project: getting peas in the ground!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring really seems to be here.

The garden as of today.

The plants of the garden as of today.
 It is Tuesday afternoon, March 27. The wind is howling past my office windows as I type. The sun is drifting lazily across my desk. It is warm: 76 right now. But I've decided it was too windy to plant today. Especially since I wanted to plant lettuce seeds -- so tiny, and so prone to flying out of my hand. One morning this week, I plan on getting lettuce, peas and radishes into the ground. It's just about time. It's felt more like summer than spring for the past few weeks. Here, and just about every place in the U.S. east of the Rockies. But I know that last year just about everything I planted in late March and early April drowned in all the rain last April. So I don't mind waiting a little bit. In the seed room in the garage, there is spinach, celery, onions, two kinds of basil, and cabbage coming up. Two varieties of eggplants, eight varieties of tomato, along with thyme, oregano and cumin have also been started. Rich has been building me shelves on which to grow my seedlings. They're perfect. I've got a portable heater on low in the room, which, when combined with the moisture and the smell of the dirt and things growing makes the room nearly heavenly to walk into...

On St. Patrick's Day, our neighbor, Frank, mowed the garden. Rich saw him driving down the driveway in his mower, then veer toward the garden. I chatted with him for a bit, and thanked him for helping out. About an hour later, I look outside to see the same neighbor plowing the field. He tilled up a fairly large portion of the garden, almost exactly 25' by 40'. And although it looks very small compared to the rest of the garden, it's honestly about how much space I actually used last year. I don't know if he's coming back to plow any more... but don't think so. My plan is to plant that space, and then till more with the help of my friends Sherry & Andrea, who have a much grander farm than mine just a mile west of here. But it's been exciting to march the dogs out near the tilled soil and imagine working it... I'm ready! If only the weather will truly cooperate. I must say that this late winter summer snap had me ready to plant... but I keep waiting for winter's last hurrah...
Dandelions... I think they're beautiful.
It's been feeling more like spring lately. The crocuses are done. Our daffodils are done. There are huge swaths of beautiful, tiny violas in the grass. And dandelions everywhere. I keep meaning to gather all these dandelion flowers and learn how to make dandelion wine... (If there is anyone in the vicinity who knows how to make dandelion wine, and wants to work with me... let me know. These are organic dandelions!) The pear tree and both apple trees are blooming. There are bees everywhere (and so many wasps near the house). The lilacs just started blooming this morning, and I noticed the first buds on the mulberry tree. The tulips from last year are blooming like little tear-shaped snowdrops. And the tulips I planted in January are up... in beautiful shades of purple and red. Frankly, it's beautiful.

The lilacs are blooming!

The pear tree is blooming!
The early peepers have stopped. All grown up already, I guess, because at night we are already hearing the deeper sounds of larger frogs. The owls seem closer, and at times so do the coyotes. A few times over the past week, we've seen the most gorgeous pheasant down the road. And also a beautiful fox walking alongside Westfield road on the way home from work around ten at night... I was talking with a neighbor of ours the other week, and he told me he'd seen a coyote casually walking down his driveway while he walked to fetch his newspaper one foggy morning. He said he was a little disturbed by how large and unafraid the coyote seemed. I told him I'd seen a strange animal the other night, as I pulled into the driveway. It was low to the ground, mostly black or dark, with a long slightly bushy tail. Almost skunk-like, but definitely not a skunk. I told him it ran into the barn. He said it sounded like a mink. I like thinking we've got a mink living in the barn. Along with the rabbits under the porch, and the neighborhood owls (apparently both barn and Great Horned), having a mink in the barn makes me feel happy. There was an article in the paper the other day about bobcats, and how wildlife officials no longer think they're extinct in Illinois. There have even been some unconfirmed sightings here in Coles County... both my neighbor and I would like to think there could be bobcats living in the woods surrounding our branch of Hurricane Creek.

This warm weather, these blooming plants, the returning creatures have me most generally happy. I've been wanting to hang out with friends, cook together, throw some bags and drink some summery cocktails. Of course, since it's not summer, and I now work nights, this has not come to pass in the way I hope... but soon.

The garden is coming together... growing steadily in the garage, while the soil readies itself to welcome the plants... There are returning plants from last year: mint, lemon balm, parsley, cilantro, tansy, borage and hollyhocks. Leeks and garlic I planted late last summer are rising steadily in the raised beds. I've already picked some mint and dried some chives I picked this week... spring is definitely here! And now the work begins.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Picture of the Day

A vulture flying over the yard. At the time I snapped the picture, it looked much closer!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Parsley !

Today I realized that I live someplace that parsley is a perennial... Here is one of the parsley plants, coming back alive after our not-very-impressive winter...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This year's first edibles!

The wild garlic patch in the garden is up. I noticed it yesterday while walking the edge of the garden. This is a plant I didn't know about until I moved here. I've been treating it like scallions; picking some now and again. They taste just like garlic, and are excellent in scrambled eggs, salads, or sauces. I've noticed a lot more this year than I did last. I'm not sure if that's due to the mild winter or my now knowing how delicious they are, and now seeing them more readily... Whatever the reason, for me they are harbingers of the arrival of spring!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Picture of the Day

Some more crocus crocus blooming in front of the barn on a day in between storms.