Showing posts from May, 2016

The Year of Tomato Troubles

If you’ve been reading this blog for even a little bit, you’ve probably noticed how much we love tomatoes . One of the purest joys of summer is a nearly endless stream of fresh tomatoes, eaten warm from the vine with little to no preparation. Our favorite food is in jeopardy. We always start our tomatoes from seed during the winter, and we usually end up repotting them to give them more room to grow before setting them out in the garden. This year, however, our seedlings remained teeny-tiny for weeks. They sprouted quickly but then appeared to be stunted. This is actually one of the biggest  ones Kirk set out last weekend: If you’re thinking that’s too tiny to transplant, you’re probably right, but we did it anyway because they were just wasting away in the seed flats . Our hope was that some would begin to thrive in the richer soil of the actual garden. This looks to be true for the one above and for a handful of others (notably the Paisanos), but we lost a whole lot

The Sweet Smells of Spring

Despite the cold, slow start to our spring, flowers are blooming all around us. Many of the flowers I've planted this year were selected for their scent in addition to how they look, and now it's clear that this was a great decision: Catching the scent of flowers on the breeze is one of the best parts of being outside in the springtime. Here's what's blooming now: Irises , which smell like violets. Actual violets (which, unsurprisingly, smell like violets). Chamomile , which smells like apples. Stock , which smells like cloves and baby powder (which is to say, they smell wonderful enough to make me break my rule against fuchsia flowers). A close-up of the white stock shows how nice they look, too. The lilac is a bit past its prime in the looks department, but still smells great. Sweet woodruff , which smells like vanilla and fresh-cut hay. Heliotrope , which smells sort of like grapes or fruit punch.

A Little Benign Neglect

Our chickens were all kinds of out of sorts this spring, pecking each other bare and refusing to lay. Though we tried several interventions to get them to stop, we gave up entirely a couple weeks ago and decided to leave them to their own devices. And we were rewarded: Here are Abigail, Rachel, and Martha, all squeezed into the nesting boxes trying to lay at the same time. We are suddenly back up to four eggs a day, though we don’t get them all unless we are very quick: That dark brown egg is one of Lizzy’s though it’s been pecked apart. I presume she does this herself, because she is (still) stupid and terrible. The other chickens seem to think so, too — just the other day I saw Louisa Catherine oh-so-casually reach over and pull a big beakful of fluff out of Lizzy’s behind and then spit it out with contempt.  Even with the loss of an egg every other day or so, we’re definitely back where we should always be at this time of year as far as production is concerne

Progress in the Orchard

Over April vacation (so about three weekends ago now) we finally planted our new apple trees . It was a fairly long day that required first removing several of the older fruit trees that were either dead, dying, or unproductive enough to have lost their place: The biggest tree we took out was the apricot, seen above in a state of partial completion. It's a shame that this tree never actually bore more than a handful of fruit , because it was well formed, but oh well.  Once the old trees were removed, we planted the new ones in new holes, creating some more space as we went. Here's the new Winesap in the ground: All of our new plantings are cocked ever-so-slightly into the prevailing winds, which should give them a little extra purchase and hopefully eliminate the need for staking .  Once all four new trees were planted, we were left with a rather pockmarked front lawn of bare patches where old trees (and straight-up dead patches of neglected grass) wer