Friday, December 18, 2009

Gardening at our Hummingbird Place

This has been a neglected blog lately, but now that we have gotten settled in our new home and our thoughts are going more and more towards the outdoors lets hope this blog can be revived.

IMG_1517November had us going out and spending 3-5 hours some days raking, pruning, cleaning gutters and even a little digging.  Michael is very much afraid of heights actually got up on the roof and fixed and cleaned all the gutters, which was a really good thing because I think rained the next day.

IMG_1288There is a little green house on the property which I really didn’t even want  to use because it was ugly.  To think that I would judge a book by its cover…turns out that the ugly fiberglass, igloo looking thing is actually quite functional and roomy inside.  We looked at green houses that were more appealing to replace it, but for the cost none were quite as large.  We have the original receipt from the previous owners and see that they paid over $2000 for this about 20 years ago so it was not cheap by any means.  Now most green houses are made with double walled poly urethane and some form of metal or wood.   I am not sure if they would hold up as well as this house over time, but they do look a lot better.  We have had some freezing weather here over the past month and it does still freeze in the green house, but there is quite a bit of protection.  So we have set up the green house and pretty much decided that it will not be replaced this year.  It has nice benches, electricity and running water.  We fit a handy shelf inside that we used in our storage shed at the apartment and it is functioning very well at holding all our garden supplies.  I even started sorting out seeds and sending out requests for all my favorite seed catalogs.  Now that they all know our address we should be getting lots of mail soon!  Can’t wait to pour over some seed catalogs as we look out the window at the cold hard ground knowing that the heat mats and grow lights are set up and ready to start our new crops.  Here is a list of some of our favorites with the links should you want to request catalogs of your own:

Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds (our favorite)

Burpee (of course)

Parks Seeds

Cooks Garden (Ferne’s favorite)

E-Gardeners Place (a great place to request some unique catalogs)

In preparation for our new growing ground we have a mountain of leaves, grass clippings and kitchen waste composting.  It is very interesting how you spend a day adding to the pile and it is about 3 feet high and a week later it is down about a foot.  I love being able to take my kitchen waste out and putting it to good use for my garden.  Now to find a better compost bucket for under the sink.  We are currently using a plastic container that is about a gallon size.   You can put most any food in the compost as long as it is not meat or grease.  We fill the compost bucket and have to empty it pretty much on a daily basis.  We dig into the compost heap about a foot or more and then bury the food to keep animals from digging in the compost, and this seems to be working pretty well.  Composting has always seemed like a magical thing to me.  Nature at work making something that will be reused.  You pile up all these scraps in one big heap and lots of insects and earthworms come and eat and excrete it and it turns to brown gold ready to mix into your soil and feed your next crop.  What could be better and free to boot!

IMG_1494 We have also loved being able to burn some of our bigger clippings.  Where we live there are burn days.  A lot of the year if you smell smoke it would bring a sort of terror with it, but in the fall after the first rains you will smell smoke and know that the controlled burn is helping to prevent future destructive fires.  There are guide lines to follow when you burn.   We dug and cleared an area about 8 feet around then stacked our clippings to be burned no more than 3 feet high.  We have our hose near by incase anything should get out of control.  It was a bit frightening to see how fast some of the shrubs that we dug out from the front of the house actually caught on fire and made some pretty good sized flames.  The 2 plants that surprised me were Juniper and Grevelia.  I wouldn’t plant these so close to the house ever after watching them go from the ground to the burn pile and catch on fire so readily.

IMG_1500 We are finding some real surprises as we uncover and trim back vegetation that has been neglected for a few years.  The original owners must have been very knowledgeable on gardening and they planted some really wonderful plants that both survived the cold winters and hot summers and even deer and gophers.  There are some really nice looking lilac bushes that I can’t wait to see bloom.  One day while walking around I discovered some wild IMG_1497 cyclamen growing in big clumps under a tree.  I say wild because they didn’t look like anyone intentionally planted them, but then that is the look that only a good gardener could achieve.

We should have lots to write about here in the future and maybe start planting some seeds of inspiration for anyone who might still read this blog from time to time.  For us though this blog will serve as a record of our accomplishments and some failures to educate us more on our gardening adventures.

Happy Holidays!

We’ll be keepin’ things growin’

~ ferne & michael

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