Sunday, July 31, 2016

Mary Mary … How’d That Garden Grow?

Way back this spring I decided to turn a patch of grass in the front of the house into a wildflower garden.  I had this vision of masses of flowers so colorful and so thick that it would feel like I was looking at a painting by Monet.  We got rid of the grass, brought in top soil and wheel barrow after wheel barrow full of compost, and raked and smoothed until the soil was just crying out for seeds. 

I gathered all the seeds I’d saved, bought and been given, mixed them all together in a bowl, sprinkled them all over the soil, raked them in a bit and watered.  And waited.  And watered.  And waited.  And finally….lots of things began to pop through the ground and grow and the more they grew the more excited I got imagining how spectacular this garden was going to be.  So I kept watering and watching and waiting for blossoms.    I didn't do any weeding because I was afraid I might pull up a flower.  The plants kept growing and I kept watering, but nothing bloomed.  And then one day Dean said to me, other than those couple of poppies and the four volunteer tomato plants, there’s nothing growing here but weeds. I was crushed.  How could that be?  I thought I'd done everything right.  I'd given them good soil and made sure they had enough water.   Why wasn't that enough?  I had to start over.  We got rid of the weeds and I planted already growing plants to replace my flower-weeds and those plants are doing well – so far.  I’m still not convinced all those plants we pulled up were weeds.  I have a sneaking suspicion some of those "weeds" were really flowers, but that could just be my hurt pride refusing to accept that I was a complete failure as a seed planter.

I suppose I should admit that I was defeated by garlic starts also.  I prepared the soil, gently planted all the little green shoots of garlic, watered and waited and watered and waited.  And … nothing.  Not one garlic poked its little green head up out of the soil to say hello.  It was an even bigger failure than my Monet garden.  I know we didn’t need all 48 starts to grow.  It’s not like we live in vampire land and are changing out our garlic necklaces every day.  But not one?!  Really??

The onion starts I planted came up and looked good for quite a while until, one day, they just laid their little green bodies on the dirt and never stood up again.  It looks like the bulb is growing but the plant just lies there looking limp and lonely.  I suppose that’s not a total failure but I don’t think I can call it a success either. 

I also planted beets, a couple of types of lettuce and some mustard.  Really?  I planted mustard?  What was I thinking?!  Thank God Dean didn't realize it was out there until it seeded or he would have been trying to slip slimy green stuff in everything he cooked.  The lettuce was doing well until I pulled up the seeded-out mustard, which exposed it to the rabbits, who were ecstatic we’d planted it for them.  The beets look like they’re happy and producing baby beets underground but we haven’t tried digging them up yet.

My only real success has been the potatoes (once the turkeys stopped digging them up).  They grew like, well, like potato plants.  And produced potatoes.  Which we’ve been eating.  We have enough potatoes to see us through til the next millennium I think!

A guy at the local greenhouse said he’d heard that stringing fishing line around a garden would keep deer out because they can sense the fishing line but not see it, so I put it around the potato garden and it seemed to work.  No deer tracks.  No chomped off potato leaves.  Know why?  Because I discovered deer don’t really LIKE potato plants!  Oh, well.  It seemed to keep the turkeys from scratching the potatoes up which was even better.  It’s not there now though because the other day I tripped trying to get through it and ended up tangled up in a mess of poles and fishing line.  Once I got the line unwrapped from my legs I wadded it up in a ball and jammed it into the garbage.  At that very moment turkey heads popped up everywhere, their internal radar began emitting beeps and blips and they showed up  – this time with their little turklets in tow. 

I didn’t need to speak turkey to know what was going on out there.  Listen up my chicklets.  This area has just been opened up to summer grazing but don’t forget to come back here when it’s cold and snowy because last winter the guy threw out seed – lots and lots of seed.  Until that cranky lady made him stop.  Trotley?  Are you listening?  Trotley!  Pay attention!  Stop pecking your sister.  Now follow me everybody and I’ll show you where I found a nice selection of yummy slugs.

Even though I don’t really believe it’s going to work, I deer proofed the tomatoes up front using the same fishing line system. 

Can you see the fishing line?  No?  You must be part deer.
I figure if a fishing line system protected gardens from deer as well as an eight foot tall fence nobody would have eight foot tall fences around their gardens in deer country but what the heck.  It has to work better than the two systems Dean used last year.  The first system he tried was to plant six stinky Marigolds near the tomatoes because deer don’t like to go near stinky things.  Ha!  The second thing he tried was this: 

When he realized we actually needed to use the car now and then he added more old fencing, the wheel barrow, hunks of metal, empty metal garbage cans, a huge tree stump, car parts, and any other old, dirty, rusty and ugly pieces of metal he could find.  That pretty much worked but I held my head in shame every time I walked out of the house. 

The Marigold plants that failed in protecting the tomatoes from death by deer last year, succeeded spectacularly in reseeding themselves this year and exploded into a massive orange Marigold garden.  Even after transplanting dozens and dozens of them to other areas in the yard, pots and barrels, there are still hundreds of them growing and blooming.  My little volunteers aren't exactly the vision of a Monet-like wild flower garden I had this spring, but if I can get a garden like that without even planting a seed, just think what I can get if I ever figure out how to get any seeds I plant to grow!


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

♪ I Love A Parade ♩ ♫ ♥ ♥

This year three little hummingbirds found my feeders.   The largest is a shimmery green.  There is also a smaller less colorful bird as well as a really tiny one.  If I’m outside when one of them zooms toward the feeder I can hear the humming vibration of its wings beating furiously as it pokes it pointy beak into the feeder attached to my front window.  Now and then I see it perch on the edge of the feeder or on the tomato cage nearby but only for a few seconds before it zooms back to the feeder to drink the clear sweet nectar it needs to supply the energy to keep those wings beating.

Sorry that's the best picture I could get.  Most of the time all I got was a blur of wings.

I’ve been feeling a little hummingbird-like recently.   As it’s gotten hotter outside my body’s been vibrating with energy as I water half an acre of grass, five flower and one vegetable garden, one hanging flower pot, six barrels of flowers, eight flower pots of peppers and tomatoes as well as four fruit trees, a raspberry plant and a grape vine.  On top of that I've been lovingly and faithfully watering eight seven five three two one itty bitty blue spruce start I got as part of my Arbor Day Foundation membership (which I accidentally joined thinking I was joining the Audubon Society).  I can't figure out what's been happening to them though.  They were doing great for weeks, growing and getting new little bright green buds and then, one at a time, one day they would be green and healthy looking and the next they would be crispy and brown. 

I'm sorry little spruce.  I did my best for you.

All my hopes are pinned on you my little spruceling.

All that watering, death, and lawn care takes it out of me so, like my little hummingbirds, I also need to drink sweet nectar so I'll have the energy to keep going.   Mine just happens to be red and comes from a box. 

I miss that automatic sprinkler system we had in Casper but we are on an irrigation ditch system here.  The up side is the water costs next to nothing.  The down side is we use a pump which we have to turn on and off manually.   Even though Dean was in charge of watering the lawn and gardens in Casper, somehow I have become the watering specialist here in Sheridan.  Dean used to just turn a dial and leave.  I drag out the hoses, set up the sprinklers, turn on the pump and start watering ... move the sprinklers ... water ... move the sprinklers ... water … until it’s time to turn off the pump, roll up the hoses and put away the sprinklers.  It takes me about a day and a half to water everything and that takes a lot of energy.  But I look at this duty as my own personal challenge because no matter how hard I try, at some point while I am moving or adjusting a sprinkler, I end up with the business end of the sprinkler pointing straight at me.  Just once I would like to water everything and stay completely dry, although onsidering the number of times that creek water has hit me square in the face, I suppose I should just be happy I haven’t come down with Giardia … yet.

The whole town of Sheridan was vibrating with energy last week because it was WYO Rodeo week.  There were activities every day of the week, not the least of which was the rodeo, but Friday (according to the five people I overheard) was a national holiday.  Because Friday Friday was parade day.  The WYO Rodeo Parade is no ordinary parade.  Okay.  It is.  But the night before the parade is definitely not ordinary.

Yep.  The evening before the parade people bring out their chairs, set them up, rope them together, leave them, and show up the next day with their “perfect” spot for parade viewing reserved. 

Parade Day begins with a pancake feed downtown where for a mere $5.00 all are welcome to stand in a half block line, get a plate of pancakes, slather on syrup and sit elbow to elbow outside with a few hundred of their closest friends. 

Dean and I skipped the pancakes and sat in a local bakery where we indulged in a cup of smooth, mellow coffee and a mouth-watering, artery-clogging pastry while we watched as preparations for the second event of this big day were completed – the Sneakers and Spurs Rodeo Run/Walk.  We didn’t see anybody running in spurs but one little girl put on her best tutu for the event. 

By the time the last person staggered across the finish line most of those reserved chairs were filled with people because now it was time for the Bed Race where groups of people decorate a bed and push it down the street just so they can have the honor of saying they decorated a bed and pushed it down the street faster than anybody else. 

Dean and I did not have a reserved chair to sit in for the race but we did manage to find a section of curb where somebody had chalked “reserved for no chairs” so we settled in and had a perfect view of the bed race. 

Before the parade began I noticed a guy in the building across the street hard at work mudding a wall.

“Poor guy has to work on this national holiday,” I told Dean.  It turned out that when the parade began, that guy and his fellow worker had the best seats in the house. 

And then it was parade time! 

As in all parades there were cowgirls and cowboys.

There was the color guard.

There were bands.   

There were floats.

And of course there was what no parade can be without dancing fruit.

Because this parade was in Sheridan Wyoming, home of the oldest polo field in the United States on which polo has been played continuously and because native American dancers and drum teams had come for the Indian Relay Races and the First People’s Pow Wow  … there was a lot of finery and a lot of horses.  Lots and lots of horses. 

Of course, being the political year it is, there were also a few political statements. 

(It's hard to see but the left fake dead person says BLM and the right says EPA. 
The above two photos in no way represent the views of the blogger. 
As in SERIOUSLY guy running for Congress?!
Could your "float" BE any more tasteless and offensive?)

An hour and a half later the march of the street sweepers signaled the end of the parade.  If Dean and I were younger, the next night we might have gone to the culmination of all the week’s activities  – the street dance.  But it didn’t begin until after the rodeo ended (which was about an hour past my bedtime) and was scheduled to go until 2 in the morning.  I have a feeling a lot of golden nectar was consumed that night because with all that dancing I bet those people expended as much or more energy as my little hummingbirds.