Sunday, March 21, 2010

Second Day of Spring 2010

So the shed are some of Sundays photos --post storm. We were able to put up some trim and the roof decking. It is looking rather official as far as sheds go. We have more trim, doors, roof paper and shingles left to put up...yup, we are nowhere near done.

(went to Alameda: pansies, onion sets, got two (Candy and Walla Walla, one bunch each), some sedum 4" pot and one pd of yukon gold seed potatoes. Usually we get there late in the season when the pickings are slim. This time there were bench after bench of seedlings...little babies. We were actually too early. We spent about 20.00 .

Last nights temps were down to about 22degrees. Today, not seeing damage, but we'll see. Luckily we have no apple blossoms. The folks down the street had an apricot in full bloom. Ick.

Today Dottie cleaned out a dead asparagus fern and put in two pots of the pansies. G put in seed for sweet pea flowers in the old lettuce barrel.

There's still a lot of hope out there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sudden Cold Front

Is there a spring equivalent of "Indian Summer"? Something that means "Everything Green is in Danger"? Why are flowers draped in snow so achingly beautiful?

A bitter reckoning looms. Tonight is the dangerous, deadly one: clear skies, lows in the mid-20s.

Our Over-sized Dog House -- Work in Progress

6x8 Shed Kit: An answer to prayer right? A finite project. Physical. Concrete. No one's feelings to consider. No bosses! No one else's timetable or expectations. Just me and nails, a pile of lumber and 7 pages of directions probably written by a non-native speaker.

And of course, it's practical--economical even! At least eventually, it will help me consolidate all my piles of things. (What IS in the storage shed exactly? >My stained glass shop & booth with tarp. A bed that is waiting for G's daughter. The return for a small desk. Some scrap lumber & my paper mache lily.)

Unfortunately, on day 4, 75% complete, the weather turned against us. Mid-afternoon the clouds rolled in and the wind kicked up. Gloria and I had a terrible time trying to lash a tarp over our fledgling structure. 25 mile-an-hour gusts kept throwing sand and grit in our eyes, ears, clogging our noses. Every time we got one corner in hand, another one ripped loose. It felt like that nightmare twister scene at the start of the Wizard of Oz. Argh! [Photo below shows how lopsided our herculean efforts were. It sure is ugly, but it HELD!]

When we finally got everything more or less covered and ran for the house, our sense of humor returned. The inside of our little house hasn't felt that welcoming in a long time! We made hot tea and gloried in our snug walls and tight roof. The heater whooshed on, the bulbs in the pole lamps at either end of the couch glowed brightly. Paradise! We took long hot showers, then watched back to back episodes of a vapid but nail-biting sci fi tv show while the cold front stomped around venting its spleen on our poor yard and garden.

Note to self: find the pamphlet on knot-tying and
practice. Nothing like fumbling with rope when your eyes are burning and it's about to pour.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Second Week of March

Monday or Tuesday most of the daffies burst open! We finished unloading the compost to free up the garden truck. I started moving and consolidating the piles of paving brick we may end up not using for the walkway. Got rid of the tarp that had 6 buckets of builder's sand too. (Am on a mission to clean up the front of the house... which probably just means more piles around back. sigh.)

Thursday the little grape hyacinth bloomed. And Avery the tree expert came over to gave the trees some deft clipping.

New Bed
Gloria took down the ratty remains of the green bean teepees. Dug in furrows for a new bed. Looks very official.

Gloria did some serious digging around the hat rack tree (Chinese Pistach). Avery the tree guy thinks it doesn't have enough room to get its roots up towards the street. She pulled a veritable boulder out of that area. We laughed that she had found the car that belonged to last year's buried hubcap. In the process, she also yanked out a bunch of Mexican Hat, which we replanted in several places, including a new xeric bed up front by the mailbox.

Gloria and I both took spring break (school and college holiday) off this year. My goal was to finally get the shed kit put up.
Monday the weather was cruddy, so I shuffled my mounds of papers inside.

unwrapped the pile to get my first look at the pieces. Had had a vision of going straight to the fun part--nailing things together. But as Gloria and I took a careful look at the foundating, we realized it still needed some serious (heavy, painstaking) attention. After stomping around and throwing an internal temper tantrum, I resigned myself to what I figured would be most of the day, getting the foundation blocks ready. As it turned out, I did have enough time and energy to get the floor nailed together. Stopped at 5 to get ready for documentary video class; got there and was alone! Message on my work VM that they had canceled at noon. :(

Wednesday - Made a trip to Lowes for 2x3s to replace some warped ones. Then put together all the walls.

Thursday - We stood it all up! It wasn't perfect, but not bad either. Not for our first solo attempt at such things.

Friday - Made another Lowe's trip. This time for all the roof materials. Then put up the back gable, purlins and trim-slash roof supports. The weather cut us short. We were busy trying to lash down the tarp by 2pm. Continued on the next post.

First Week of March

[Outside we trooped. Weather still very nice!] But the last three weeks are a bit of a blur. Not sure which miracle we noticed when... Gloria unloading the compost by making piles here and there. Planting spinach and butter lettuce in the raised bed. Dottie weeds like crazy. Both ladies start hacking the ill-fated black netting off the blackberry canes.

DAFFODILS: This time of year is all about spring bulbs, no?! So left, are photos from last year, dated 2/28. We were in the middle of moving me out of Mary's--hence Gloria's expression. grin. If any of my dates are correct anywhere (always suspect), then our yellow friends were roughly two weeks later this year than last, i.e. ~14 March 2010. I did see a news post from Britain about a flower show that was going to go ahead anyway, even though theirs were roughly two weeks late. Made me wonder about weather patterns across the hemisphere. Was it chance or real similarities?!

How long does it take for the average daffodil to break ground and bloom?
I looked around the internet for an answer to this question. Didn't find one. Did find that there is an American Daffodil Society, more or less based in northern California (apparently they like and can afford fine wines, judging from the information about the most recent annual show, held mid-March). Found that daffodils are an old flower, under cultivation that we know of dating back to 300BC. They are a member of the amaryllis family. Hail from the Mediterranean regions, including Spain and Portugal. Are related to narcissus and jonquils. Like to be watered during their growth period--including the post bloom period because that is when they are developing their blooms for next season. (!!)

Maybe next year I will pay closer attention--do my own informal study to see how long they take from the time they break ground to the time they blossom. My sense is that it is roughly ~2.5 weeks.

Last Week of February

Lovely weather at last! Sunny, calm, 60s. We buzz out of the house and into the yard. Our Dog-O-Meter reports that the weather is indeed spring-like. Ruby rolls in the grass.

If you just glance around, the plant world seems as brown and quiescent as it has been these last several months--the slumber of December and January. As usual, what happens when I pull out the camera, I began to look around more carefully. Suddenly I saw bits of green everywhere.

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First glance? Brown, brown, brown.
Closer look: Catmint by the front door.

Closer look: Columbine in the leaves
Garden truck after compost runOne of the first rituals of spring always involves compost. We hopped into the truck--lo and behold--after a month of neglect, it started right up! Off we went to Soilutions. Got a load for $35. [Left] Then went to the recycled home materials place for a couple of window sashes--to see if we could create a makeshift cold frame. After LOTS of digging found 2 @ $5 (See Flickr). Then finally, went by Lowes for construction plastic 6mil. - $25 to cover the raised bed. And several pair of gloves.
Gloria putting the plastic on the raised bed.  Look at Ruby in the background...
The winter garden, which we have largely been ignoring, except to tuck in the frost cloth, actually looks pretty promising. G gives it a good soaking with the hose. Then she puts in 4 rows of peas. The garlic is up. [Dot does some research and general head-scratching. Believe we put in 3 heads each of Music Pink (hard-neck) and Chilean Silver (soft-neck) from Seeds of Change. ]

Daffodil spears from all the new bulbs we planted last fall are up, 4-5", with some blossom heads visible. The catmint just to the side of the front stoop is peeking from under the leaf mulch.

If the dates on my photos are correct, last year the daffodils were up the last of February (28th?). That means this year's waxy bright blossoms arrived nearly two weeks later. It has been a cold spring, says Gloria. [How would I substantiate that?] After all, the last average date of frost for the north valley doesn't come until the first week of May.

For more photos (the cold frame, snow in summer, yarrow and walking onion sprouts, signs of life on the elms above...) : Last Week of February 2010 (Flickr).