Sunday, May 15, 2016

Clean up time- May 15, 2016

The Siberian Iris have begun to bloom.

It is the weekend. Maybe we can have another fire in the fireplace. Actually, we have mostly used up the firewood. I mentioned a fire because it is cold again. (Cold is always relative.) Yesterday when we went to the farmer's market, it was 42 degrees with a 25 mile an hour wind. It was sunny and would have been a nice day for March. We did not linger.

I have thought of a new date to remember. We know about the frost free date. That is the date when the almanac tells you there is no danger of frost. In Iowa it is about May 10. I have now determined there should be the furnace free date. That is the date, you could figure this one out, when the furnace is done for the summer. We are not there yet.

Julia reminded me of the summer, perhaps 10 years ago when we were in a CSA. That year, like this one so far, it took a long time warming up. With a CSA you pay a fee at the start of the produce year. You get a share of whatever the farmer has that week. We had visions of lots of tomatoes and cucumbers. Instead there were turnips and coarse greens (think collards and kale - lots of kale). We have not been in a CSA since. Nothing here should be taken to disparage the idea of a CSA. They are a good idea and can really help the grower. But in a cold summer you need to limit your expectations. That year there was some rhubarb, which came with a recipe for rhubarb upside-down cake, with cornmeal in the cake part. That recipe was, as we say, a keeper.

The garden story of the week is about the pond. It is a little pond. It will freeze solid with a cold winter. This is not good for the goldfish. (The alternative involves electricity, which everyone agrees would not be a good idea for us.) So the dozen goldfish get rounded up in the fall and go down the block for the winter, where there is a deeper pond. They come back in the spring. Or more accurately, their fish equivalent (in board feet or board inches) come back. This winter most of the fish down the block did not make it. Who knows the explanation. I needed to acquire more fish. After internet shopping I realized I was looking for cheap goldfish, probably small. I have learned these are called feeder fish. I am not sure who they feed. I found a store and went and got about 20 little fish for $7. I released them on Wednesday.

We had a person over to the house to replace the ropes on some of the old double-hung windows. It is hard to find such a person, but we did. He was looking out the window at one point and told me how nice it was that we had a pond with a....
While I watched it stuck its head down into the water,...wait for it...eating feeder fish. Saturday, much to my concern, it was back. At least it was not 2 ducks. I know what that might have meant: duck homemaking.

So I chased it away, with visions of Farmer McGregor dancing in my head.
I should tell you that I did see 2 very quick-moving fish later that day.
We got some replacement fish this morning.

It is sort of an in-between time in the garden. The garden actually does not look its best. The beauty of the bluebells is gone. Someone walked by this morning and told me how good the garden had looked a month ago. I was not sure how to respond to that.
The spent foliage is now ready to be swept away, along with the dandelions that have gone to seed. It seems so counterproductive to weed a dandelion with a full seed head. You know the moment you touch it hundreds of seeds will go all over the place. Maybe if there was a little vacuum cleaner you could place over the seeds - to suck them all away.

On the positive side it is a time when you can work for a hour and really make a difference. You just must not think about the other 95% of the garden you have not worked on yet. I start on the front sidewalk area first.

You may have noticed that the hosta are up. It is their time. They do not look any better than they look now. It has helped that it is cool and there has been rain. As we took a drive in the country yesterday we noticed how very green everything was. The grass. The trees. The locust trees are almost yellow. There were even little corn plants up just enough to see the patterns in the field. The combination of rain on Friday and sunshine the next day was hard to beat.

There is not that much blooming at the moment, in this in-between time. The Siberian Iris have started. Here are a few pictures, from the last few days. Or in the case of the pink tulip, deteriorating in an interesting way.

This little beauty, a Siberian Iris, came from a friend probably 15 years ago. It is always special when you can associate a plant with a person like that.

These yellow Siberian Iris have been doing better these last few years. They grow in partial shade. So much of my garden grows in partial shade. Those plants probably would do better with more sun.

It is time for alium. What a great shade of purple.

This is the first Iceland poppy. I grew them from seed again this year. I am still finding the places to plug in the last few plants.

This piece of art is a tulip.

The lupines are starting.

That's it for this week.

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