Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Swan Lake

My husband likes to take me for drives, and on Saturday we finished up out at Tolo Lake. The colors were stunning and vividly autumn. The site at the lake was awesome, floating and at rest were the migrating swans. I'm not certain, becasue I couldn't get close enough to tell whether they are Tundra Swans or Trumpeter Swans. They are both known to migrate through here.

Tolo Lake was a meeting place for the Nez Perce Indians. They camped here, collecting bulbs on the Camas Praire. It is named for an Indian woman who ran to the Florence Mines to tell the news of the war breaking out on the Salmon River in 1877 when White Bird's band and Chief Joseph's band fought the U. S. Army. The lake is about 35 acres just west of town about six miles.

The Canada Goose in the center gives us a comparison of size. It is typically 16-25 inches long whereas the Tundra Swan is 36" long and the Trumpeter Swan is 45" long.

Even in this close-up there is not enough information to make a certain identification. Nevertheless, it was a unusual and exciting site to see. On Sunday they were gone and replaced by Snow Geese.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gone, but not forgotten...

Gazing from my studio to the garden I see bare beds, empty tomato pavillions and vacant spaces for which I am planning already. However, the rememberance of what was there is always with me in more than memory, but in pictures too.

Here are: Calendulas, Buckwheat, and Zinnias with Tomatoes in what was the peas early on. I'd already forgotten about the Zowie Zinnias and Caliopsis. We don't have early pollinators so I always plant buckwheat early to draw them in for the tomato blossoms. Buckwheat reseeds itself and it easy to pull up if it is in my way. It is beneficial to the soil, drawing minerals from the deeper regions closer to the surface. AND! it is a lovely white bloom in the garden.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Bloomin' Garden!

The tomtoes are dead and gone, the squash baskets are empty, but these little beauties are still blooming! They are:

...a Petunia surrrounded by Michaelmas daisies, one double bold pink Hollyhock, some tiny yellow and gold Marigolds, and three little button-like wine-colored Knautica Macedonicas.

Friday, October 17, 2008

More Gardening Options

My "Squash Baskets" were built out of 'sheep fencing' which is wire fencing with 2" X 3" holes and 4 feet tall. I had used it for compost piles cutting it to 12' lengths, pulling it into a circle and fastening it to hold garden/kitchen refuse, leaves and rabbit doo. When the compost was finished I cut them in half (so they are only 2' tall) and placed them in the yard between trees so they'd get some shade, but not too much.

I filled them with the finished compost, adding more so they'd be full and planted squash seeds. We don't water our lawn, so by July when the lawn doesn't get mown, the squash can run all around the yard as much as it wants. Watering can be tricky, but a 3-gallon bucket with holes in the bottom and filled once a week usually works just fine.

I also have the "Porch Option". Last year my gardening friend, Rachel, helped me hang bird netting from the porch roof down to the containers. I'd planted Scarlet Runner beans and Climbing Canary Nasturtiums. The colors were stunning, although not apparent in the picture. The containers shaded the porch too much; I won't do it again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tomato Pavillion Part 2 (the "how-to"part)

In colder climes, where I live, it is prudent to cover the garden beds in order to warm up the soil and get tender plants out early. Later in the season (about mid-August) it is necessary sometimes to cover the bed in order to prevent frost damage!

The picture above is one taken of Marshall Bean's garden, from whom I got this idea. He does his a bit differently than I, but the picture shows the framework with the tomatoes pretty well. Below is a picture of my garden with the 24-inch pathways and the 30-inch beds. It is late July, and the tomato plants look vigorous. The framework is tall enough for my 4-foot tomato cages.

My dear husband cut rebar to 24-inch lengths for me. I pounded 12 inches of each piece into the ground along the edges of all the beds at 30-inch intervals. Then I placed a 9-foot piece of pvc pipe on one piece of rebar and bent it over the bed to the other side and onto the other piece of rebar. You can see in the picture above that the bed on the left has 1-foot pieces of pvc over the rebar that isn't used for the pavillion. This is done on all beds so that I, and my visitors, don't injure or impale ourselves on the exposed pieces of rebar.

I make my garden beds about 30 inches wide (because I'm not 5' tall yet) with 24 inch paths between . I lift out 8-12 inches of dirt from the path to put on the bed, raising it some. Then I fill in the path with deep layers of straw. When it rains in the spring I can still walk out in the garden and plant early greens and flowers due to the deep straw pathways. We have sticky, impenetrable clay soil which does not absorb water well.
Each bed is about 20 feet long, and I use electician's tape to attach a twenty-foot piece along the top to tie it all together. And then I covered the framework with heavy plastic for the pavillion.
Pvc pipe comes in 20-foot lengths, so I cut 1 foot off each end and used those to cover the rebar on the beds which don't have the pavillion over them. Over the squash beds I have a shorter framework using 6-foot lengths of larger, more pliable black pvc pipe. These are merely to get the squash started early in the season. Later they sprawl outside the framework, so I cover them with inexpensive sheets and bedspreads from the thrift store. This keeps the frost off until about 25 degrees, which it was this year in late September.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tomato Pavillion, part 1

The tomatoes are tucked inside today because it was below freezing last night. This first pic is of my own pavillion. The next one is at Marshall Bean's where I got the idea. I use heavy plastic for the cover; Marshall uses a 'frost blanket' like "remay".

We both use larger black plastic pipe pieces about 3 inches long and cut down the side for "clips to hold the cover in place. The wind usually blows my clips off, so I've modified my "holders" by using chunks of wood stratigically placed along the bottom to hold the plastic in place during windy days or nights.

The next blog will show the Making of the Pavillion, how I laid it out, and exact instructions for the set up.