I have trouble focusing on just one thing in the garden.  This is an important time to be planting early spring vegetables and thinking about producing food, but I am also keeping my eye on the beauty of the flowers and taking a little time to clean them up and weed around the beds.  I love seeing the trees and shrubs starting to leaf out and bloom.  Even the lawn must be attended to a little.  In all the activity I am always watching birds and even what is crawling in the compost pile.  Like I said, I have trouble focusing and specializing.  I just dabble in whatever interests me at the moment.

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Serviceberry amelanchier laevis.  This native serviceberry is blooming now with a promise of sweet berries in June.  It grew so much this past year that I am guessing it is eight feet tall now and is solidly established after a slow start.

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Another native shrub – spicebush lindera benzoin.  It looks like this shrub could use some pruning, but the tiny yellow flowers are just starting to bloom.  There are no berries here, but it is a host plant for the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.  Actually, I think I might get berries if I had a second spicebush for cross-pollination.  You can see the serviceberry bush in the background.

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I spent quite a while yesterday morning cleaning up four strawberry patches I have around the garden.  First I cleaned out dead leaves and pulled up runners.  I moved some of the smaller plants to new locations.  I put down compost between the plants and watered it in then laid down straw from my ornamental grasses between the plants.  That keeps the strawberries off the ground and there are less problems with pests and diseases.  Can’t wait!

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Time to eat these onions.  This weekend I planted more onion bulbs, red potatoes, and seeds for peas, kale, pak choi, turnips, and lettuce.  I am also trying spinach again, which I have never had much success with.  These plants all do well in cool weather.  There never seems to be enough room for all the vegetables I want to plant, so I mix them in with the flowers or pull up more grass to plant more food.

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A project for the weekend was putting in two poles for laundry.  Previously we only had one laundry line.  Thanks Dan!!  The green side of me likes to limit my use of the gas dryer whenever possible.  In the background you can see the red leaves of the crabapple.  In the foreground the common lilac is getting ready to bloom.  On the left are the strawberries.  The yellow daffodils are still looking good, but starting to wind down in some areas.

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This is one of the later daffodils with white petals and a yellow trumpet.

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Another late daffodil with a peach colored trumpet.  I am glad to see these flowers multiplying each year.

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I started to turn the compost pile yesterday, but realized that the shovel I was using was likely to slice a lot of worms in half and kill other critters in the pile, so I went and got this pitchfork.  It is called a 5-tine manure fork.  Now I really feel like a farmer!  I need to finish turning the pile.  Parts of the pile were steaming but other parts seemed a little slimy, so it needs some oxygen.  We have gotten a lot of leaves blowing in from the neighbor’s yards this year, while I appreciated and added to the pile.

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I disturbed a nice worm while cleaning up the oregano patch.  The worms improve the structure of the soil and eat organic material like bits of dead leaves, then poop out worm castings, which are great fertilizer.

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Wild violets are blooming in the lawn and here among the ground cover plants.  Such a delicate design!  I am not sure what I will do to improve the front lawn this year.  I would like a nice organic lawn service to make it look good!  The back lawn, which I do not worry much about, is full of creeping charlie, my least favorite plant.

Notice:  At some point this blog will run out of storage space.  At that point I am thinking of starting a new blog that will refer back to this blog.  I guess I will do this when I have to and I am not sure when that will be.  I don’t feel like paying for the additional storage space indefinitely.

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New Potatoes

June 23, 2013

We have two varieties of potatoes planted here and there around the garden.  I had some growing in a container on the patio.  The foliage had wilted and with the hot weather coming we decided to harvest them.

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Red potatoes grown in a patio container.

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I decided to cook some “kitchen sink” vegetable soup, so I would have less cooking to do during the week.  Besides store and farmer’s market food items, from the garden I added potatoes, green beans, peas, parsley, and basil.

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I never seem to have that much success with peas, since it gets hot and dry here, but I picked 8-10 pea pods today.  Usually I just grow the snow peas and eat the whole pod, but I tried “green arrow” peas this year.

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The green bush beans are starting to produce now, but the pole bean runners are climbing the poles and usually produce a large quantity of beans for me.

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The leaf lettuce has been good this year.  I planted it here and there around the yard along with romaine lettuce and have been eating it almost every day. I just pick the outer leaves and it keeps coming.

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The first cucumber blossom.

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Ant swarm.  These ants were heading down the sidewalk and ended up in a bottleneck here.  I don’t mind insects when they are outside.  There are more mosquitoes now that summer is heating up though, so I have to remember the bug spray when I go out to harvest or weed.

Winter preparations:  I went online to the Territorial Seed Company and picked out some seeds to buy for my winter garden this week.  I am looking at two varieties of kale, tatsoi, turnips, and carrots as something I will buy from them.  I hope lettuce will work in the low hoop, too.

Mild and Dry

January 19, 2013

It’s definitely winter.  By Monday night the temperature will be down to -4 degrees F.  Nevertheless, right now it is 41 degrees and going up to 45, which is pretty mild for mid-January.  There is no snow on the ground and we have not had measurable snow in Chicago since last March.

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The crocuses have responded to the warm weather all over the yard, except on the north side of the house where there is no sun.  Dragon’s blood sedum in the background.

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Another grouping of crocuses.  I might put some leaves around these to protect them from the coming sub-zero weather.

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The rock moss does well in this weather.

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I ordered tomato and pepper transplants from the seed savers exchange.  I have always just bought these seedlings locally, so we will see how this works.  I might have a little more variety, plus they are organic.

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I ordered some seeds from the same catalog.  I might start growing lettuce inside soon in a sunny window.

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Dots of light on a winter morning in the city.  The days are getting longer, though!

I have not written much recently, due to being under the weather with the flu, and there is not that much to write about.  We are drinking lots of warm fluids and soups and dreaming about sunny days.