Fabulous Compost

October 21, 2012

I learned that we are supposed to strive to have 5% of our soil be compost.  In order to do that we can spread about a half-inch of compost over 10 inches deep of soil and that comes pretty close.  My compost has been ready to spread for a while, but I was finally motivated to do it now before starting to make new compost with all the fall leaves.  I needed Dan’s help, too!

First Dan removed the recently collected mulched leaves and organic material from the pile and put it on the sidewalk.  Then he dug out about a foot of rich dark compost and spread it around the garden, after we had cleared it of most of this year’s vegetable plants.  Then we sowed winter rye into the soil to see if we could get a cover crop to germinate this late in the season.  This is the first time I am trying a cover crop.

We wanted to expand our vegetable garden a few feet, so I put down wet newspapers and then we spread mulched leaves over the top to make lasagna mulch.  We took the hose and sprayed water on the leaves and on the winter rye seeds.  I also planted some lettuce and spinach seeds a while ago, but only a few of those have sprouted.

The grasshopper was still alive and watching the action from the kale.  We still have a lot of kale in the garden.  We have an artichoke plant that is still alive along with the rhubarb, herbs, onions and shallots.

pink chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemum ‘fantasy’ is the last mum to bloom in my garden.  The wood is weak and last week I saw branches had broken off the plant, so I brought them inside and they opened up in the warmth.  These mums are starting to bloom outside, too.

I put pineapple sage in a planter this year.  The hummingbirds like these flowers, though they bloomed quite late, so I have not seen hummingbirds on them this year.

Asters with russian sage in the background.  The russian sage and the goldenrod are pretty tired colorwise, but they still have structure and height.

On my birthday I harvested these strawberries, tomato and beans.  I have had a few more strawberries since then.  I brought green tomatoes in a few weeks ago and I had given up on them ripening, but today I see that they are turning yellow.


October Blooms

October 14, 2012

Just when you think there is not much left to take pictures of something else blooms.

Pink Chrysanthemum.  First the red mums bloomed, then these, and finally the purple ones should start opening any day.  These mums will be great for all the pollinators that are still active.  I hope they will attract butterflies, as they did last year.

Purple dome asters and goldenrod ‘fireworks.’

I thought I planted purple dome asters here, as well, but these asters look very pink.  I might move them or replace them with something else next year.

Geranium ‘rozanne’ and columbine foliage.

A few cornflowers are still blooming.

Pink turtlehead flowers.  We had an inch of rain in the last 24 hours, but that is just a start to repair the damage of the drought this past summer.  Still, I am glad these flowers are blooming a little, though not looking their best.  I was afraid they would completely die this summer.

It is always hard to capture a picture of our Chinquapin Oak, but wanted to post one for the record.  We planted this and it was about 6 or 7 feet in April 2009.  Three and a half years later it is looking healthy and growing well.  In the background you can see our silver maple on the south side of our house.

Can’t help throwing in a picture of the first and only praying mantis egg sac I have seen this year.  It is hidden inside a clump of ‘morning light’ miscanthus.

The curly kale is still beautiful and productive and we consume it every day in our chocolate smoothies.  I picked a few green pole beans today and might go out and pull up the two beet plants to see if they are edible.  I also planted lettuce and spinach and am watching to see if they sprout at all.  If so, I might set up a cold frame and see if I can grow salad for another month of two.

All Nature Sings

March 25, 2012

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres

This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought….

It is a beautful time of year and the birds are enjoying the garden with me.  Here is what is happening after our recent heat wave…

The fothergilla shrub starts to bloom.  The leaves should follow soon.  Below are spreading chrysanthemums.  They certaining supress the weeds, but are not my favorite color in the fall, so I might replace them.

Last Sunday these serviceberry flower buds started to form.

 Two days later I took this picture when the plant was in full bloom.  I chose this over the close up, since I wanted to include this busy squirrel.  We have had a lot of squirrels enjoying the yard, though none of them live on site.

The lilac leaves have filled out on both lilacs.  This one has flower buds, too.   On the right side, in the background, you can see two American plum shrubs we planted yesterday.

Here they are close up.  We went to Possibility Place in Monee yesterday to get an American plum tree and came home with two smaller plums.  They tend to form a bit of a thicket and will probably not bloom until next year.  They are a native shrub and are supposed to have plums with a sweet flesh and sour skin.  They will probably be 15 feet high eventually and provide a good screen as well as a welcome place for birds.  The white blossoms will be a nice contrast to the pink blossoms on the crab apple.  Thanks for your help Dan!

 Malus Profusion – crabapple.  The crabapple has leafed out about a month early this year.  You can see the pink buds getting ready to bloom.

There is work to do today once the ground dries a bit from the past days of rain.  Both the purple lysimachia and the goldenrod above are quite agressive and have gone under the railroad tie and are moving toward the neighbor’s yard.  I need to pull up unwanted plants, as well as other weeds around the yard.

I planted more daffodils last fall and now am enjoying all the different colors coming up at different times throughout spring.  This coral colored daffodil is something new, though my favorites are the bright yellow ones.

There is a lot of color in the garden now.  I try to capture the color at its peak, but I am not exactly sure when that is.  That means taking pictures of the same plant until I get one I like.

Foxglove Penstemon Husker’s Red.  I enjoyed the pink flowers on this plant in early summer and now enjoy the fall foliage.

Solidago Rugoso – ‘Fireworks’ Goldenrod

I have goldenrod in three areas of the garden.  You can’t see the falling branches as well here, but I like the blend of colors with the zinnias.

I got a few boltonia plants from Donna last summer.  This year they grew huge and gave shade to the serviceberry bush.  The serviceberry is an understory plant and seemed to like the shade, growing a foot or so this year.  This boltonia really stands out when we look out the kitchen window.

Looking at the same boltonia plants from the north.  In front are the grass heads from the Korean feather grass as well as the pink turtlehead flowers.  On the far left are catmint, purple basil and coreopsis ‘moonbeam.’

The zebra grass seed heads opened this week.  I like the red color and that they are so tall.

Cooking this week:  Vegetable soup with kale, zucchini, swiss chard, tomatoes and green beans from the garden.  Also in the recipe, but not from the garden:  onions, garlic, beef broth, chick peas and a few noodles.  We found a new bakery near our house and had fresh baked bread with the soup.


September 26, 2010

September flowers and wildlife:

I can count on Nasturtiums from spring through fall.  They look a little like water lilies on land.

My neighbor passed away this summer and her son continues to be our neighbor.  When I see these beautiful roses in her yard I think of her.

Pineapple Sage.  The hummingbird was checking these flowers out this morning before it flew off to its favorite zinnias.

Feels like fall – grasses, goldenrod and sedum.

All the flowers fell off the caryopteris, so the bumblebees have moved over to the goldenrod.  They seem to sleep hanging under the branches.

Morning Glory

Coming home from work I found this leaf shaped insect by the back gate.  With research I found it was a katydid, and realized these were the cause of all the noise in the trees this past summer.

From the kitchen window I watched this squirrel with a nut in his mouth climb the laundry pole.  Maybe he is looking for a good place to store his food for the winter.

Monarch Butterfly Festival

September 19, 2010

This was the first year I made it over to the Monarch Butterfly Festival at Lake Katherine.  It was a fun family event.

I waited in line to get in the Butterfly tent where I took this picture.

While waiting to get in the butterfly tent I enjoyed listening to this lady talk about this brown Tarantula.

This morning, in my own yard, I was about to take a picture of the parsley before bringing it is to dry or freeze, when I saw this swallowtail caterpillar.  I have been watching all summer for these caterpillars that eat parsley and this is the first one I have seen.

When picking tomatoes today I almost missed this well camouflaged tomato hornworm.  I am still looking for a praying mantis, but have not seen one this year.

Here is the September view from the window.  I hung up a few hydrangeas to dry so I can enjoy them all winter…

It is a little early for the goldenrod “fireworks” and for the asters, but I couldn’t resist putting in this shot, since I watch the colors changing from the window each day.  The little sliver plant in the center front is called a curry plant.  It is not really used for curry, but it smells just like curry.  The purple basil, which is starting to flower,  is holding up the asters.  I saw a Cedar Waxing this week and wonder if they will come to eat these berries on the Viburnum bushes.