blk: (Default)
First ripe raspberry of the year was today, June 18, one day later than last year.

May flowers were purple and pink. The last week of May and the first week of June I have almost no flowers. Then starting in June I have orange and yellow from the daylilies and coreopsis. There's been a ton of rain lately which the gardens have loved. The weeds have also loved it, too. Yesterday I weeded some places that had gotten a little out of hand, including the painted sidewalk. I'd thought that the paver base and sand was supposed to keep stuff from growing there, but I guess some weeds don't need much.

I planted some chard plants late and just transplanted some teeny squash plants from the compost. They've gotten a late start but are still alive. I'll see if they're still around next month.

Orange lilies half blooming.
blk: (Default)
Today was a weekend day with no big plans and dry weather, which we haven't had in over a week, which means it was past time to mow the lawn.

I had a nice relaxing morning tea, then when the first of my neighbors started their power tools, I decided it was time. Changed into work clothes, slapped on some sunscreen, went outside. Here's about how it went:

If I'm going to mow the lawn, I might as well get some weeding done first. I touch on the herb and veg gardens (where nothing is growing yet except some potatoes and green onion from last year), then wander around to the side and front and get some other random weeds, including a couple large bunches of garlic mustard.

I note that there's a mulberry sapling that is aggressively growing into the peonies, and it needs to get taken out, but it's been there a long time and it's far too big to pull. So I get the loppers and cut it down. While I'm there, the dogwood really needs to get its dead branches hacked out, so I clear a bunch of that and also clean up some of the head-level branches. Then as long as I have the loppers, I also clean up some of the maple tree sapling weeds that are invading the hedges, and take out an apple branch that's hanging too low for my taste and also some roots that are poking up and being annoying.

Take a break for a bit of food and drink and more sunscreen, and I note that the bush next to our back porch is way too bushy for my taste. So next step is the hedge trimmers to aggressively cut back that one, then hack at the forsythia which is trying to invade the trampoline. Pause to clean up a bunch of the weeded and cut stuff into piles for the yard waste bags or for the chipper, then take the trimmers to the front hedge while Jim mulches up some of the branches.

The hedge clippings get put into a second bag with more weeds and the fresh mulch gets spread into the side hedges. I note that there are a lot of spaces where dead hedges have been cleared out, so I grab a shovel and dig up a few pieces of extraneous front hedge and transplant them into the spaces. Then on a whim I grab the weedwacker and refresh the edge on the sidewalks.

Finally it's time to mow the lawn! Whew.

I'm exhausted but not done until everything is cleaned up, so I pack up the last of the yard waste bag, put the last of the wood through the chipper, and sweep up all the various detritus and tree schmutz from the sidewalk and driveway. Then come inside, clean up, discover a strip of sunburn where my shirt didn't quite cover my waist when I leaned over, and collapse with a beer.

And that's how I spent 6 hours mowing the lawn.

Here are some pictures of the progress (afters only).

Front yard. Visible flowers, clockwise from lower right are: white azaleas, purple azaleas, columbine, a faint bit of pink phlox, more columbine (bluish) and a lone purple iris. Not visible, some spanish bluebells which appeared for the first time this year (I vaguely remember planting some mystery bulbs last year...) and red azaleas on the other side of the porch steps. The hedge is vaguely neat and the tree stump is half gone.

Back yard. No flowers currently back here, but the chives and the row of irises are about to bloom, and the raspberry bushes are preparing to fruit. This bush next to the porch bench is the one I trimmed back.

Side yard. Also no flowers currently here, but the lower left is the giant peony bush which has buds, a row of happy hostas, and the dogwood which I trimmed which will eventually get removed. Also a patch of spare irises and a bunch of weeds.
blk: (Default)
SOTY Apr 2017

OK Not actually on fire, but it definitely seems like everything is happening all at once around here. Spring jump-started in February (first crocuses in my yard, Feb 24!), then went back and hibernated for another month. Daffodils have been going at it for a while (and there are still some left!); hyacinth bloomed briefly (but poorly; these bulbs aren't happen) and I planted some more pink ones; muscari and phlox and apple blossoms were in full force last weekend; tulips are now blooming for the first time in years (previous years they get chomped by deer); pink azaleas just opened their first blossoms, and columbine looks to be nearly ready to open. Whew.

- First lawn (chive) mowing was Apr 9, and it needs it again already.
- Garden rosemary looks to have not survived last winter (surprising), so I took winter potted rosemary and put it into the ground in several sections, with one stalk going back into the pot for next winter.
- Dandelions and bittercress weed sections have been halfheartedly swiped at. Wasn't so bad this year. Totally ignoring the goutweed in the strawberries again.
- With the help of a friend and his chainsaw, Jim cut down the front apple tree, the one that's given us nothing but rotten apples the whole time I've lived here. Tree guy said it would not last another 5 years, so we decided to take it out now and hopefully give the other one a better chance. Maybe I'll actually try to grow some grass there now.
- Finished cutting down the shed maple which Jim did part of last year, and another corner sapling which was growing in a really bad spot. Then the three of us processed all the wood into manageable chunks or chips. This week I'm working on clearing all that stuff out of here.



Here's the front view of the house sans tree. There are also pink smudges of phlox, purple smudges of muscari (grape hyacinth), a few purple azalea flowers, and white apple blossom petals all over the ground.
blk: (flower2)
SOTY, June.

I did basically nothing in the yard since the previous SOTY, but things have happened. The irises bloomed from May 8 until about a week ago. Chives bloomed until last weekend, then faded. Columbine still have a few flowers left, so they've lasted basically all of May. The first of the lupin flowers came into full bloom absolutely beautifully over Memorial Day weekend, i.e., when I was gone and couldn't appreciate it fully. Then when I came back, the younger teen had mowed the lawn (badly) and all the flowerstems had been bent in half and were mostly gone Sigh. Fortunately, I just saw a few additionally flowerstems starting up, so I may get a few more soon. Peonies just started blooming a few days ago and are lovely and heavily scented. Potatoes are flowering, as are the kale and brussels sprouts from last year, which I should probably pull up. But they're kinda pretty.

In edible things, strawberries are ripe! I found some edible ones yesterday, although bugs are really busy getting to them first. Boo. This may be a problem. Cilantro has shot up ridiculously and started bolting, and I never ate much of this batch. I guess that means it's time to sow another. Parsley is also huge and I think starting to flower? This is only the second year I've had parsley so I don't actually know what it does. Basil is not thriving but is still alive so I'll keep waiting and hoping. Raspberries are still green fuzzy things but they are healthy and it looks like there will be enough to satisfy daily snacking desires when they ripen. Blueberries have a few green berries, but not many. I suspect they are not getting enough sun, which means I need another round of apple tree trimming. Lilies are just showing teeny buds, but are still a bit small to be edible. All the tomatoes I planted in early May are growing happily, and one of them has flowers. The brussels sprouts seedlings are unfortunately extremely tasty to something and may not survive. I have squash volunteers GALORE. Still will be a while before I know what they are, though.

Continuing the war against the bindweed, as it continues to strangle all my flowery plants. Goutweed is very annoying in the garden but isn't taking over in the other places, so I mostly let it be. Saw some thistles out that I need to dig out soon.

Thing we have done:
  • Bought a small vertical storage shed that we found on sale at Lowes and just exactly fits on our porch and around the shelves we were using, so now we can have things on shelves but also dry. Maybe I'll be more likely to put away tools properly now. At least some of them aren't rusted to hell yet.


Yeah, that's about it. Nice month. Gotta keep it up and try not to kill anything.
blk: (flower2)
SOTY: Spring.

I had a free weekend all to myself this week and really nice weather, so I decided to work on the yard. My decision on what to do was primarily driven by looking at the calendar and noting that next weekend is the bi-annual city yard waste pickup, so I figured I may as well make the most use of that as possible (given how near-useless it is already).


blurry house pic

So on Saturday morning, I picked one of my dead bushes to cut down and dig up. This one was a decent effort, given that it was only about 95% dead, and so the roots were still pretty firmly in place. After I got it up, I went ahead and cleared out the space where it was, spread down mulch, re-planted a few bulbs that I had put aside while massacring that section, added a few more, and now it looks a lot nicer. Then I had to bag everything up, which was nearly as much work.

After that I decided it would be a great time to muck out the compost pile and pull a bunch of compost for the garden. This was super annoyingly difficult as a) it had been overful since last summer and overdue for this, b) thanks to spring thaw and a lot of rain it was all pretty soaked and mucky, and c) there's a pretty good system of roots that have grown through the bottom of the pile, which makes it a challenge to dig out the good stuff. I'm also a little worried parts of the bin are going to collapse soon, being made of half-rotted wood that has taken a bit of a beating. I really don't want to deal with replacing it, but that might be on the list for eventually. It was a pretty filthy job, although fortunately (since it's a healthy compost pile) not a terribly smelly one, as far as dealing with decomposing things goes (I only fell into it once). The garden got a nice layer of muck, and the rest of it fit back in the bin much better.

After THAT I showered and changed, had a nice lunch at Pittonkatonk, rode into Squill and got myself a well-earned massage, then went late to the seedling swap party and got plants for my garden. I slept extremely well.

Sunday I planted all the seedlings I got. Main garden has tomatoes (four different kinds), jalopenos, brussels sprouts, as well as the existing potatoes, peas, bolting brussels sprout, and a squash that was really eager to get started. Herb has huge swaths of cilantro which is looking lovely, several basillings which I hope to not kill, a small rosemary which hasn't done much yet, and oregano, chives, and parsley from last year.

After that, I figured I had hedges to trim, but as I was getting out the trimmers I noted that another of the dead bushes in the backyard was actually 100% dead (being held together by vines and weeds), and would be super easy to pull up (and it was). And once I had the loppers out, I could just go ahead and trim all the deadwood off a couple other bushes out there, and THEN get the electric trimmers and trim the living stuff. Bagging up all of THAT ran me out of yard waste bags, so I declared myself DONE with that crap and mowed the lawn to finish (because grass). I now have 9 yard waste bags ready for pickup next Saturday, and some nice empty space where dead bushes used to be. And hopefully I will sleep very well tonight as well, as I tried and failed to nap today.

Current flowering: the first iris bloomed today! Chives are poofy, columbine is fully open, phlox is still hanging on. Pink azaleas are finishing up, red is still going, white is just starting in earnest. In the blurry house pic above, you can kinda sorta see all of the above except for the chives (although the phlox is pretty hidden). In the side yard, the peonies have a ton of buds out. Those should be nice, soon.

Things I have done:
  • Took down 2/3 dead bushes. Feeling particularly accomplished about this one. The last one is only about 85% dead, and tiny, so I may let it go for a while more.
  • Tossed and spread compost. That was awful but I'm glad it's done. Should probably happen again in late summer so I don't overflow the heap again. Note to self: don't do it right after a lot of rain. I pulled out several chunks of squashlings; gave some away and planted some in various places. We'll see if any of it survives.
  • Trimmed hedges. That should last another couple months.
  • Mowed. Yawn. This was at least the easiest part this week, after the rest of it.
  • Planted things! Now I need to remember to not kill them.


Things to do:
  • Watch out for volunteers, now that the compost is turned and spread. Figure out which ones I want to keep and which to kill.
  • Figure out what my living shrubs are and how I'm actually supposed to maintain them, since doing nothing is probably not actually very good for them, but basic maintenance is probably less work than ripping out dead stuff.
  • Plant grass? Am I going to try this yet again? Maybe.
blk: (house)

fuzzy shot of fuzzy bee in the azalea

Bad blk, waiting a whole month in the springtime between SOTY posts, when so much changes in this month.

We've already gone through the daffodils, hyacinths, muscari, apple blossoms, and tulips. Pink and red azaleas are out, and white is just starting. Creeping phlox is still in bloom, and my flower garden is just starting the columbine. I see buds for the chives and the irises, for next month, as well as buds for raspberries and blueberries for later. All the trees have leaves again and look so much bigger.

Things I have done: (mostly maintenance)
  • Weeded - various things, at least the parts of my yard that have nice things growing where weeds are disruptive and/or invasive. Unfortunately it's a losing battle against bindweed (which wants to choke everything else) and goutweed (which takes over my strawberries) and the bittercress (of which I found huge swaths of in the grass, some of which was already spraying seed everywhere). I still prefer to get rid of various things in the flower gardens, or thistle wherever, and a few others which I don't know what they are but I know they are annoying.
  • Mowed - a couple times, actually, including making a teen mow, which may be more difficult than doing it myself. The first mowing of the front yard is pretty much just wild allium. Scents the air quite nicely. At least there are more green things growing in the front yard, although very little of it appears to be grass that I actually like. Sigh. My seeding efforts last year all failed, and I don't know if I care enough to keep trying.
  • Planted - just a few things, like basillings in the herb garden and an onion that was already half growing. I'm going to a plant party next week where hopefully I'll come home with a bunch more unwanted (by other people) seedlings. Very few of the seeds I planted have done anything. Quite likely they were spoiled seeds.
  • Mulched, with more wood chips that Xuth created by chopping down more of the tree behind our shed. All that's left now is the main trunk(s).


Things to do:
  • Toss and spread compost. I discovered a huge clump of volunteer squash seedlings in there the other day. I'll probably kill most of them when I toss it, but it needs to happen soon.
  • Get rid of (mostly) dead bushes. This one might take all summer for me to get up the motivation to do it. Ugh.
  • Trim hedges. Darn things just keep growing.
blk: (axial)
Happy first day of spring. It has been snowing all day. Today I'm thinking about spring cleaning. Well, just cleaning. And it happens to now be spring.

LJ: I decided that I could convince myself to write more if I worried less about making things fit for public consumption, and also if my f-lists reflected the reality of LJ these days slightly better. So I went through and removed a whole bunch of names - basically accounts that don't appear (to me) to have logged into LJ in well over a year. And I may be writing more locked posts sometime. If anybody actually reading is not added and wants to be, let me know. There are some LJ-ers I miss a lot. Most of them I have contact for elsewhere. Some not. I wish I liked FB for more than just fluff.

Yard: Yesterday I filled the back of the CRV with huge piles of branches, sticks and other deadwood, and then shoved two bags of other yard waste in the front seat, and dropped it all off at the yard waste collection site. Pittsburgh sucks for not having this be a regular curb pickup. Unfortunately, I was dumb and didn't use a tarp, and now the car is full of dirt and debris. Oh well, it was also due for a cleaning. I'll get to that soon.

Closets: I'm using the excuse of a friend's upcoming clothing swap to get rid of stuff I don't wear. This is a very overdue cleanout as I have been nearly overflowing my allotted storage spaces for a while now. So far I have three large bags full of mostly me-sized things, mostly in very good condition. If anybody I know wants to come by and go through it first, let me know. Today's cleanup involved the lingerie box. My roll against nostalgia flopped and I failed to get rid of my fishnets and corsets, even though I'm not sure I know how to wear them anymore.

House: This is the part where I accept that this is an ongoing and neverending project and just keep on hacking away at it. But I absolutely have to stop procrastinating because the state of some of the places around here has my anxiety at annoyingly high levels. Currently I'm working on my desk and closet. Future small projects include pantry, bookshelves, gaming consoles, kitchen cupboards, drink shelves. Future big projects include camping supplies, laundry room, underporch, and the rest of Jim's space, which will probably mostly be done by him. This summer will involve Justin's bedroom(s). Balancing out my (and the family's) packrat tendencies from my "must get rid of all STUFF" anxiety reactions is an interesting and tiring endeavor.

Office: I'm moving offices at work, after merely not quite 6 years in one spot. However, my current office hadn't been cleaned out before I moved in, nor before my officemate moved in 2 years before me. Last week we dumped a huge amount of stuff into the hallway for trash pickup. I pulled out the books that looked like they might possibly be of interest to someone, either for technical value or nostalgic value, and set them out in a more traffic'd area. This weekend I stopped by and took a trip of personal stuff out with me. I'm really looking forward to having a view of the outside world during my workday again.
blk: (flower)
Holy crap I can't believe it's already time to do another State of the Yard post. But spring has basically suddenly sprung itself upon us and my yard is telling me that I can't ignore it any longer. So here is SOTY 2016, #1.

I had a tree person come by last week and trim my much neglected apple trees. He was really careful and seemed to know his stuff and I'm pretty sure he didn't charge me nearly enough for the amount of time he spent on them. He says they could use another trim in another 6 months, which I'm happy to agree to. He pointed out that one of the trees is sick/diseased and should be looked at by a bigger arborist company, so that'll happen this week.


before (kindof, closeup of croci) and after cleaning the front flower garden

Tons of green things are sprouting, and the crocuses are blooming! The flowers appeared at least a week ago, and I have patches of lovely purple all over my gardens. And one (just one) white. No yellow. Maybe I should invest in some variety? Their appearance and the really nice weather on Fri/Sat inspired me to do a whole bunch of cleaning up of dead things and weeding and some trimming. I was going to do more today, but the rain un-inspired me. Well, thanks to DST I have plenty more time after work this week, so I can afford to space it out a little. No point in getting myself burnt out on yardwork when we technically aren't even done with winter yet. I also discovered that SOMEONE has been nibbling at my tulips, which were chopped down right to ground level. I'm blaming rabbits. Maybe sprinkling some cayenne will deter them?

Mini daffodils look like they're going to bloom any day now, and hyacinths maybe not far behind. I <3 flower season!

Things I have done:
  • Filled a bag and a half of yard waste from clearing out dead leaves and brush and dead stuff from flower garden, mint patch, side yard patches, and herb garden.
  • Got apple trees and blueberries trimmed, and trimmed back my raspberries and perennial herbs. Parsley and rosemary (and maybe kale?) look to be not dead. Oregano and chives are growing again.
  • Weeded random bittercress (not much) and wild alliums (tons) from front flower gardens. I suspect weeding the alliums is a losing prospect, but it at least makes things look nice for a week or so.
  • Transplanted a few random yard crocuses to bare patches in the front garden.
  • Transplanted my potted rosemary to the herb garden, since it looks like the rest of the month will be fairly mild. Hey, I kept a plant alive inside for ~3 months! Woohoo! (This is a new victory)

Things to do:
  • Clear the rest of the dead stuff from the side yard, tie up the loose sticks, and take all of it to the yard waste recycling.
  • Take out the rest of whatever bush I have in the front yard that is almost totally dead. Maybe replace it with something else pretty.
  • Start planting things.
blk: (flower)
I found a single ripe raspberry yesterday on the new bush. Delicious!

Several more are green, despite it only being in its second year. Strawberries have been fruiting, although not super heavily, but enough for a snack every other day and a supplement to smoothies. I think my patch doesn't get enough sun anymore. Made a kale salad that was delicious, and it's almost ready for round two. Blueberries are not ripe yet. The mystery squash in the garden are growing huge and shadowing out other plants, oops. Applets are falling in the front lawn and should start getting collected soon.

In flowery things, the daylilies on the side and back started flowering a few days ago, and the front ones look only days away. Alas, I did have almost an entire two weeks with no flowers in my front yard. I may have to remedy this. Hostas are starting to put up stalks which should be flowers soon. Peonies are done blooming. Spirea has some tiny white and purple flowers.

In weather things, we have had ALL THE RAIN in the past two weeks. Our May precipitation was under average, and currently in June we are over or at average in just the first 15 days (4.26 in; avg is around 4, depending on where you look). It's meant no yardwork for a couple weekends, which is OK with me because I got a lot done two weeks ago.

Things I have done:
  • Planted pavers. Yay, this project got done! I researched the right way to plant pavers, spent an afternoon digging a hole, filled it with rocks, leveled it, and put pavers on. A couple weeks and a whole bunch of rain later and it's looking like one of them is a teeny bit lower than the others and collects some water in heavy rains, but mostly it seems to be working. I suppose I'll figure out when the ground freezes if I actually did it right. Doing this project gives me a lot more confidence for the sidewalk planting I plan for later in the summer. Added a picture post for this here.
  • Planted plants. Put some clover by the pavers so hopefully the dirt will not just wash onto them. Also some more clover in the front yard to replace the stuff that died (oops, seedlings really don't like to be dry) and moved more mystery squash from the compost to some spare earth.
  • Dug up dead bushes. Well, yanked them slightly. It turns out dead bushes don't have much in the way of a grip on the ground. Those places look much better now.

Things to do:
  • Turn compost. That hasn't happened yet because of SO MUCH RAIN so it is currently soggy. Going to wait until we have a break in the wet.
  • Transplant irises. Probably next free weekend. That will look so much nicer. And free up some garden space to grow something edible.
  • Plant a sidewalk. I can do this thing! But probably not until next month.
    blk: (cmu)
    As much as I am dearly loving the warm weather, I am going to be glad when this season of construction is over. Or at least moves further away from me.

    This morning on my ride in I detoured around Frew Street, as it was closed for something. These days I park my bike a building away due to construction on the wean patio for the culmination of the Scott Hall project (prepping the mall extension. At noon on my way to yoga I had to backtrack through Doherty Hall to a different exit as the front doors were closed temporarily. I had to change clothes in a nearby bathroom as the University Center locker rooms are closed during construction of the expansion. On the way out driving tonight I drove slowly over a couple freshly milled spots on Beechwood, pre-repaving. Earlier this week on the way to dinner I waited for Jim to navigate around the construction on Forbes Ave (in prep for the upcoming Tepper Quad, which had turned into a full road closure due to a water main break. Then we rode past the east liberty transit center mess which has been in the works for a couple years now. Last weekend I detoured my run around the north entrance to Frick Park, which is closed for the new Environmental Center.

    And this is just the few things I've directly encountered in the last few days, and is not counting the several other construction projects within a few miles that I know about but haven't been as affected by. I realize that all of these things are either necessary or are building new awesome things or both, and I believe the results will be awesome. But I will be glad when some of them actual complete.
    blk: (avatar)
    Let's see if I can do SotY posts on a regular schedule this year.

    Within the last two weeks of flowers, I've had purple, then red, then white azaleas bloom, and are still full now. The apple blossoms rained petals and are pretty much all done now. Muscari is done but lithodora is still pink. The columbines are all open and lovely, and the lupin is just starting to build blooms. Irises are also in full flower, and chives are just starting. I have a lot of purple in my yard!

    For non-flowers: it is cilantro season! I cut enough for all of us to load on tacos last night with some leftover. Next week I'll put another bunch in a pasta salad. Mint is growing happily and plentifully and oregano is already trying to take over the world. Strawberries are still perky and I'm seeing a few small green berries. Asparagus is tall and fluffy now. Brussels sprouts have teeny yellow buds. I wonder if they'll seed for this year or if I'd have to collect them for next year? Potatoes (both the blue ones from this year and something from last year) are sending up dark green leaves. After spreading compost on the garden I have a couple volunteer squash-like things and one tomato that looks like it survived yesterday's frost.

    Things I have done:
    • Moar weeding. Mostly just keeping the bindweed and goutweed from strangling or suffocating the strawberries for now. Dandelions are mostly over with. Garlic mustard all got pulled.
    • Planted things. Acquired new basil to replace the stuff that froze, and also got some kale. Still hoping to get more things from friends.
    • Turned compost and spread several buckets of dirt on the vegetable garden. Should do this again next month.

    Things to do:
    • Pretty much everything from last soty.
    • Kill some of the oregano.

    Hrm, that's about all I can think of.
    blk: (flower2)
    First of may, first of may, another SotY post today

    I swear I have other things to write about, but I feel like there are so many lovely botanical changes coming so fast that I want to keep track of, I want to do these more often.

    Shortly after the last post, all the crocuses went away, but within a week were replaced by tulips opening up. With the hyacinths falling over, that means I had almost a week of just yellow in my yard. Perhaps I should expand into different colors. Not to worry! A week later the muscari and lithodora started purple and pink, and the apple blossoms started peeking out. The daffodils are gone now, but just yesterday I saw the first bloom of the purple azaleas, and today the first columbine flower. The front yard is littered with apple blossom petals. I get lovely flower whiffs every time I go outside and frequently when I am biking around. I love it!

    In non-flowery things: cilantro volunteers are popping up all over the place, although they're not quite usable yet. Strawberries are looking perky. Hosta plants that I completely forgot I transplanted to the side of the house last fall are all growing nicely. I should probably mulch out that area so I can not worry about the grass. Three asparagus patches are growing, two that I planted last year and one from previous which is finally producing edible stuff. Brussels sprout plants are sending up lots of stems which look like they are going to be flowers.

    Things I have done:
    • Cleaned driveway. Well, swept/shoveled ~3 years of dirt and debris from half of it, which makes it look muuuch nicer. That was a LOT of work, and I only got a small blister.
    • Regularly weeded invasives. Dandilions and bittercress are well under control. Bindweed and goutweed I pull when I see it trying to choke things but that's all, because it's a lost cause. I realized yesterday I have a few patches of garlic mustard that I should probably deal with before it becomes a problem.
    • Mowed. Twice, actually. First time was mostly for the leaves, which went into bags and the compost pile, and second was last week and was regular old grass growth.
    • Acquired a new lawnmower. The old one was ok but underpowered and the collection mechanisms were nigh unusable and that's a feature I want to use occasionally. Agonized over whether to go another corded electric or try for a battery powered one but decided on a cheaper electric for another few years. Have to give it a maiden run this weekend, then can give the old one away.
    • Planted things. I planted a rosemary, which is happy, and blue potatoes, which haven't done anything yet, and basil, which then got decimated by the surprise late freeze last week. Oops. I also transplanted hedge offshoots into the main row to fill in some gaps.
    • Acquired a new hammock. Also sawed a limb off which was getting in the way. It's nice. This one I think I'll try to take better care of and hope it lasts for longer.
    • Seeded bare ground (part 1). Trying a bit of clover on a few small spots to see if it takes.


    Things to do:

    • Turn compost pile and spread compost on gardens. Need to do this now rather than halfway through the summer, like last year. Est: this weekend
    • Acquire more plants. Need more basil. Probably more herbs? Also kale, pepper, and maybe more brussels sprouts. Est: May
    • Seed more yard. Ongoing. Est: May
    • Plant pavers by shed. Est: May
    • Transplant irises from their dense ignored patch in the herb garden to along the wall. Supposedly the best time to do this is after they bloom, which means I can put it off for a few months. Est: July
    • Trim blueberry. Keeping on the list so I don't forget. Est: July
    • Sidewalk. Est: Later.
    • Remove dogwood tree. It's not very healthy, and it's in the way. It was planted by former owner to hide ignored side yard. Est: Later.
    blk: (flower)
    Hey, it's time to do State of the Yard posts again! Yay!

    Springtime seemed to come suddenly in the second week of March. The first croci in my yard appeared on March 18. Somewhere around April 1 the next flowers bloomed: some mini daffodils ("Little Gem"?) I acquired from a sale easter pot last year. A week later, and most of my regular daffodils are also blooming. Wild alliums are out in full force. Forsythia is bright and shining. Hyacinths are... well, they're supposedly blooming, but the few I have really don't look very happy. Ah well. Two of my aspargi clumps have sent up shoots! But only two. I was worried last year that'd I'd lost half of them to the winter; it's looking like I lost more than half. Boo.

    Things I have done:
    1. Fill a bag of yard waste. I had done a decent job of de-leafing last fall, but winter and wind means piles more get stuck up around things. Additionally, I finally got around to trimming the dead growth from the coreopsis and the sedum.
    2. S&D the bittercress while it's still early and I can defeat it. This year is looking pretty sparse on that front! Gardens not terrribly overrun.
    3. Plant cilantro and basil seedlings. I was too lazy to grow my own so I got some from geagle and dumped them in the ground. They are still alive.

    Things to do:

    1. Mow. Not so much the lawn but the leaves and the wild onion, so I can bag it easier and also get a nice layer of mulch to dump in my compost over the mounds of un-decomposed food that's been sitting in there all winter. Est: Today!
    2. Clean off driveway. Now that the dead car is gone, I can do something about the old mounds of dirt and leaves and debris that has been covering the driveway, hopefully in time for people to play on it during pie party. Est: Today!
    3. Acquire plants! I neeeeeeed rosemary. And I'm mentally planning what vegetables to grow. If I was smart I would have planned two months ago, but I'm not. Fortunately I have several friends who are better gardeners than me who have spares. I'm currently craving kale, blue potatoes, and more brussels sprouts. And probably a pepper or two for Jim. Est: Next week through May
    4. Seed bare spots. We have a lot of them. Also the side of the house is nothing but weeds. I tried to grow grass last year and it mostly really didn't do well. I think I will try clover this year. Do something with the strip by the driveway which is mostly dirt and mud. Est: May
    5. Trim blueberry. I forgot to do this last year and now it is huge. I think I will wait until after it produces berries this year, then hack it back down to size. Est: July
    6. Plant rocks at shed entrance. It's basically a pit of mud and a leaf collection area. I think if I put some pavers down that will help it a lot come next winter. Est: Later
    7. Plant a sidewalk. We need a walkway between the sidewalk by the road and the sidewalk by the house. This will take planning. Est: Later
    blk: (avatar)
    I was intending to do a SOTY post earlier than one month after the last one but a whole lot of nothing has been happening except for things growing, especially the weeds. I am successfully growing large numbers of ugly, invasive weeds that are eager to spray their seeds everywhere. It's rather disheartening. At least the mint is also happy. Other things, weirdly, seem to not be growing. For example, a couple of my tomato plants. They're not dying, either, they just seem to be the same size as when I first planted them as seedlings. That little spindly plant is not going to be producing any fruit. I dunno. Some of them are doing well, and the Brussells sprouts are getting pretty big. Hoping I've just been impatient and next month I'll have a happier report. I suppose technically it's not actually summertime yet.

    Past stuff: Plenty of things happened last month, but so far June is not terribly exciting. My cilantro and basil started great, but both started bolting in the last week of May. I've been pinching off the basil and I think I'm delaying it successfully, but the cilantro is a lost cause. I think if I seeded more right now I might get another batch, so I might try that. The columbine and azalea partied beautifully for the last couple weeks of May, then dropped off. The lupin was a lovely pink for several weeks, but has finished up entirely and now just has green seedpods.

    Current stuff: the strawberries JUST started producing actual ripe berries. I suppose I can't be TOO disappointed, as half of the patch are new plants I put in this spring, and probably aren't up for much, but I was hoping for more out of the rest. Spirea plants have purple and white flowers, and coreopsis yellows are just starting to open.

    Future stuff: I checked on the blueberries and discovered one bush (the small one, with the tiniest berries) looks to be totally dead. The others will probably be ripe in a couple weeks. Lilies have shot up stems and buds, and probably are a few weeks out from flowering. Applets are between nickel and quarter-sized in circumference, and are starting to drop.
    blk: (flower2)
    State of the Yard - May!

    Columbine blooms are open! They started a couple days ago, just as the last of the muscari is dropping off. It turns out I have small patches ALL OVER the place. I am planning to offer bits of it to friends at the seedling swap this weekend. That, along with the mass of lithodora and one of the azalea bushes means plenty of pink and purple this month.

    In upcoming, the front irises are purple buds, and the other azaleas have white and red buds. The lupin really took off this year and I see the green start of its buds. I don't know if I will get multiple colors or just one this year, as I'm not sure I have more than one plant. Peony bush is back with a vengeance and looks healthy. Apple trees have blossomed, blueberry bushes have blossomed. Teeny raspberry bush is slightly bigger than the few sticks it was last year. I have an accidental tree in the corner that I don't know what it is but I suspect it needs to be cut down.

    Apart from the basil seedlings which got half chomped, the rest of them are doing well. I found things which looked a great deal like tomato seedlings in my flower garden, but now that they are taller I think I was mistaken. I don't know what they are, though. The planted grass is actually looking like grass.

    I think it's late enough into spring that the things that were going to come back should be back. Which means it looks like, weirdly, I lost half my asparagus, as several of them are showing zero signs of new stalks. The large spirea against the back porch looks half dead and needs to be aggressively trimmed. Marigolds look have not successfully reseeded. Surprisingly, thyme seems to be not growing yet, although I'll give it another while before I am sure. Chard is not returning. Sad but not surprising.

    Maintenance is back on summer schedule. Regular mowing. Hedge trimming soon. Attempting to keep up with the bindweed, at least among the strawberries and vegetables. Mostly resigned to letting it climb the lilies.

    Almost smoothie (strawberry) season!
    blk: (house)
    omg it's been too long since I've posted and I have so many things to say. But mostly not now.

    First State of the Yard post for 2014!

    It was a late spring this year, and yet some things are tracking really closely to last year at this time. The daffodils have been blooming for a while, and this week I have muscari, lithodora, and yellow tulips that I bought at a sale last week. I mowed today for the first time this year, and parts of the lawn were actually long enough to need cut, although other parts were mostly just for mulching up weeds and dried leaves and wild allium.

    Apple blossoms are appearing, and the pink azaleas look to be pretty close. Asparagus has been slow so far, but I finally saw the tip of a new stalk yesterday, so eventually it will come back. I found what looks like a few zillion cilantro seedlings in the herb garden, and about a half dozen tomato seedlings in my front flower garden (???).

    When spring did come, it seemed to happen all at once, and last weekend we were finally in town and done with Carnival and weather was good, so I've been working at a bunch of stuff. In the past couple weeks, I've raked out and cleared dead stuff from the herb garden, planted new basil and rosemary (two basils have been completely nibbled so far), dug up a pile of some kind of weed, dug up a bunch of purple irises for redistribution next to the new retaining wall; raked out the front flower garden, dug up a ton of wild onion, planted some yellow tulips, dug up and moved the spirea bush I never liked, planted some purple hyacinths; raked the vegetable garden, planted some tomatoes and brussels sprouts seedlings (which have not been nibbled up yet), dug up the jungle of what I think is goutweed that had utterly taken over half my strawberry patch, planted new strawberries, uprooted a bunch of dandelions, trimmed the dogwood, and planted new grass in a large section of the front yard. Whew.

    I seem to have mostly won the battle against the bittercress (!), as I've only seen a few stray plants here and there so far this year, and pulled them all before they seeded. I seem to be pretty doomed in my war against the bindweed, as it is already poking dozens of tendrils up around the vegetable garden, ready to start choking the plants there. Sigh. Steady dandelion patrols is keeping them under control pretty well.

    Still to do: spread the leftover christmas wreath into the strawberries, spread other mulch into the flower garden, plant something along the side yard (clover?), plant more things into the vegetable garden, move the rest of the creeping iris patch, and line the new front flower patch. Bigger projects for sometime later (hopefully this summer) include building a walkway next to the driveway, installing rain barrels, repairing the compost heap, and removing the dogwood tree completely.
    blk: (flower)
    State of the yard post, late spring.

    Last month:
    Columbine flowered for almost all of May. Turns out I have two patches of dark purple and two patches of light purple. Might want to split those next year. I gave away two small starter patches. Irises bloomed a lovely purple in time for my parents to visit. Azalea bushes spent about a week each blooming pink, red, and white. Hedges started growing like crazy and I attacked them fiercely after they didn't listen when I nicely asked them to cut it out. This other flowery thing that I remember planting from seed last year but have no recollection of what it is started blooming pink (see pic) [edit: lupin].

    This month:
    Absolutely none of the things I planted came up this year, except for the lettuce, which is growing well and I've been snipping it off for salads. I suspect my seeds are all bad. So we acquired seedlings instead, from the store and from friends, and now the main garden has five different kinds of tomatoes (including some that were garden volunteers so I've no idea what they are, but probably the same type) and jalopenos. Cilantro reseeded itself splendidly, and that's nice and bushy and starting to bolt. We added in a couple new rosemary plants as it wasn't certain the big one survived. Swiss chard and marigolds both reseeded, and got transplanted to more useful locations. Garlic I forgot about is big and floppy and green and scaping. Radishes look to have reseeded (or I missed digging them up last year). Strawberries are berrying, but the crop is really quite wimpy and disappointing this year so far. Planning to try a pine needle mulch.

    Around mid-May I noted that some new guests had moved into one of the apple trees in the front yard. I was a bad neighbor and climbed up every few days when it looked quiet to check on the progress. Just earlier this week I saw a birdling standing up on the edge of the nest. The next day it was empty.

    The front yard is starting to fill with tiny applets which have fallen off the trees above them. In another couple weeks I'll make it another job for the boys to pick them up and compost them, as it gets messy when they turn to mush and get stepped on. Hoping that the large numbers on the trees will translate into Too Many Apples again in the fall, because that was a lot of fun last year.

    Upcoming:
    Blueberries are tiny and green but should be pickable within the month. I noticed a few squash-type things growing in the compost that I might transplant somewhere. Lilies are just growing their buds and should be in full bloom sometime next month. Neighbor says her mulberry tree is ready for picking, so we might try to do that this weekend.
    blk: (flower)
    Approximate state of the yard post, mostly for my records, since I found myself going back for years to try to figure out when things bloomed in the past.

    Earlier this month:
    The yellows start things out, with daffodils and forsythia starting their blooms. Most of the perennials have green stuff showing. The war against hairy bittercress starts up again. Chives growing quickly.

    Last week:
    Muscari blooms purple. Lithodora starts to bloom pink. Tulips in other yards bloom, but mine don't seem to have. Mowed the lawn for the first time this year, although the front yard long parts were primarily wild onion. Cut and ate my first homegrown asparagus stalk (yum). Began the yearly battle against the dandelions. Herb garden spontaneously re-sprouts little cilantro dicots. Oregano is already fully bushed out.

    This week:
    Apple blossoms appearing! Sampled a few more pieces of asparagus. Bittercress looks mostly under control as I haven't seen any new ones in a few days. Bindweed attacking the garden with a vengeance, grr. Mint appearing in impossible places. Our young birch tree, which had lost a few limbs to wind/snow last winter, suddenly dropped a big section of its main branch without provocation, which makes me think it's actually dying. Likely going to get a cherry tree to replace it, if we can get our act together soon enough.

    Upcoming:
    Columbine stalks reaching up and will probably flower next week. Pink azaleas look nearly ready to open. The white ones follow, and the reds after that. Still waiting to see signs of the other edibles I planted, although I saw a few dicots in the compost earlier today (before I tossed it).

    I <3 spring!
    blk: (spring)
    The calendar can't fool me; today was totally spring. I'm NOT LOOKING at the forecast for later this week.

    I've been thinking for, oh, at least the past 12 months or so that after 6+ years of riding around and 2+ years of mostly daily commuting on my current Craigslist find, it was time to gift myself with a New Bike. I wanted something that I knew was fit to me and I knew was good quality and would last, and ideally would be lighter and wouldn't take as much regular fiddling with. So last week I went to Big Bang Bikes on recommendation from an acquaintance at CMU. Glenn the owner is a really nice guy who seemed to know a bunch about bikes and never made me feel stupid for not knowing anything, patiently explained all the adjustments he was doing, and fitted me to a bike that felt nice. They didn't have the exact bike that I wanted in stock so I had to wait until one came in.

    Today I went down and gave it a test ride, and decided it was pretty much all that I wanted. [livejournal.com profile] xuth gave me the thumbs up that it was a quality bike, and Glenn offered a fairly hefty discount, so I ended up walking away with a super early birthday present to myself. I am now the new owner of a really nice new Trek 7.4 with disc brakes and it's PRETTY. Also fun to ride. Still have to transfer over all my gear but for today I'm enjoying how light it is.


    on the north tip of herrs island

    Then we came home and decided it was too beautiful of a day and after all I needed to test out the bike so we dragged the boys out and dragged all their bikes out and dug up helmets and water and bike carriers and eventually piled everything into or onto the car and headed down to the bike trail. We meandered around, crossed a few bridges, went around Washington's Landing to shove some local history at them and take a picture to appease all the friends and relatives who say I don't take enough pictures, then to Pizza Sola for dinner, and finally back to the car, totally exhausted. Ended up being 15 miles total.

    Now I am thinking of acquiring some yarn to make new helmet hairfalls that will match the blue trim on my new bike...
    blk: (spring)
    There's no question, spring is early and it's definitely here. The clocks flipped forward to give us more evening daylight, and the weather has been hovering around 70s and sunny for the past week, with occasionally thunderstorms rolling through. And it feels GOOD.

    The only downside is that with all this awesomeness comes the desire to GET UP AND DO STUFF and there is, of course, never quite enough time to do EVERYTHING that I want to do. But here are some of the things I've been up to:

    biking
    I am biking to work nearly every day, which isn't much but it's something. I've gotten the commute down so that my biking time is about similar to my optimal bus-riding time, but much more reliable and flexible and less crowded. I made myself awesome helmet bling. I have another entry to write on biking eventually.

    Sunday a week ago was nice and sunny and I had plans to go rock climb as well as do a cat feeding for a friend, so I decided to bike there. I'd nearly forgotten how pleasant it is to just ride around, not having a deadline and a preset route and a work destination. I'd also forgotten what it was like to be able to go miles without a big hill to push up. Then I had to come home from Shadyside, but a waffle and ice cream stop on the way home made it worthwhile.

    running
    After my biking trip out that day I tossed on some shorts and went out for a run, because the day wasn't over yet and because I could. I've done that a couple other times in the past recent while. I'm delighted that I can go exercise outside and not worry about cold or ice or darkness. Also I have this idea that I could maybe possibly do a triathlon this summer. I haven't done any longer runs this year yet because so far I'm finding it hard to find the time (see requirements: warm, daylight), but I figure I can concentrate on getting my 5k down to a time I can be proud of would be a fine accomplishment (instead of feeling snail-ish).

    There's a nice almost-exactly 5k loop around Schenley park that starts and ends near by office. I am hoping to do that one more regularly over the summer.

    gardening
    OMG it's outdoors growing time already. Last year I started seeds indoors about now, but it's nice enough out that I decided to go ahead and risk planting some of my cooler seeds out there, so in the past week I've cleared out a bunch of garden spaces, and yesterday got peas, cilantro and some leafy greens into the ground. I've also been working to clear out the dead brush from the front flower garden and then working to eradicate the hairy bittercress which has started invading sections of said flower garden. I think it might still be possible to keep it from taking over, but it's work.

    Daffodils are blooming wildly, other plants are leafing out nicely. Mutant green onion and last year's swiss chard are greening. Asparagus may have survived, as I saw a couple teeny stalks yesterday, but will have to wait and see on the rest. Compost is starting to send up some green things. Need to turn it soon, then wait. Considering the millions of tomato seeds I composted last year, I'm expecting to get a full crop of volunteers. Anybody who wants some, speak up and bring over pots in a few months.

    remodeling
    The bedroom remodeling project is progressing at a reasonable pace. There have been a lot of decisions and a lot of spending money, and will be still more to come. Most of the parts are ordered and just need to be put in place and finished. Hopefully not too much longer of sleeping in the basement (and storing my dresser in the living room). Pictures are being taken and there will be a review post eventually.

    Of course, while we had the dumpster here and the nice weather outside, [livejournal.com profile] xuth got it in his head to Do Something about our back porch railing and benches that are splintering and cracking, and tore them out yesterday. Now this means he needs to put something back in their place before we have guests over on Saturday...

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