2020-05-22 log

I had just enough time after I got to a stopping point with work to:

  • prune back the Artemisia absinthium (again)
  • install two 50-inch x 8-foot handy panels for use as cucumber trellises (including driving t-posts)

Then it began pouring again… Sigh.

2020-05-21 log

Have I mentioned it has been raining? That it hasn’t really stopped? That another pounding torrential wave of it just started falling and woke up the guineas, who are now yelling from the coop?

It is Thursday night and it started raining Monday in the wee hours.

Water is standing at least 5 inches deep in some places, and is creeping up on where my Chamaelirium luteum planted last fall are currently blooming.

I have several low areas like this that pond for a day or so after we’ve had tons of rain for days. I’m not entirely sure what to do with them, given that they dry out and can become quite parched once we get to the part of the year where we won’t see rain for weeks at a time. These areas are far from convenient water sources, and I don’t like (and don’t really have the attention/energy capacity) to commit to regularly watering something long-term.

(It’s kind of sink or swim for most plants here at Snailshell Thicket. I try to remember to water newly planted things regularly, but I have too many other things to do than stand around watering things. Also I need to use cached rainwater for watering non-food, and sometimes I have to ration that carefully.)

Unsightly “temporary” fence for discouraging guinea fowl from running directly into the road. I guess I need to get on that…

One good thing about the completely sodden ground with rain like this is that it creates a brief window in which the most tenacious of roots and rhizomes can be effortlessly plucked from the earth. The sensation of an 8-inch long dock root sliding out of the ground is so satisfying.

Rumex crispus root harvested this evening. Perhaps another dock species is in there, too?

I need to figure out the best thing to do with these roots. I am almost out of Everclear and I think there might have been a COVID-19-related run on that to use as a sanitizer, so a tincture probably won’t work. Probably slicing and drying is the best bet. I really need to order some of the herb/flower meshes for my dehydrator.

The leaves of Lonicera caerulea (honeyberry) bead water in an interesting way

After work this evening, I…

  • did quite a bit of this lovely, buttery weeding during a long, only-slightly-drizzly break in the rain
  • chopped the tops off the stand of wild solidago to see if that’ll keep it from becoming quite so unruly by the end of the season. Experiments!
  • did some light pruning of some branches I can actually reach now that they are sagging with the weight of water
  • gathered/relocated some rocks surfaced by the laying of the fiber last week
  • enjoyed this display (below) from multiple angles, multiple times.
Lilium ‘Merlot’

2020-05-20 log

Again, it has been raining all day long. It is too wet to do anything outside, and I was hyperfocused on creating a new ETL process for work and worked way too long.

The big non-work thing of the day is: I PUT NINE GUINEA EGGS IN THE INCUBATOR.

We will see… I have no idea what their level of fertility or viability will be.

I made a spreadsheet that, when given an “Eggs in Date” on the “data” tab, populates the “days” tab to tell me when to candle the eggs, put them on lockdown, and expect hatching. You should be able to save your own copy of the spreadsheet and use it, if you like.

2020-05-19 log

It rained all day here, so I did nothing outside except animal care. I slipped in the mud outside the guinea coop when I took their food away after roost, and did an almost half-split to catch myself. I will probably be sore tomorrow or the next day.

Tomato seedling pickup was rescheduled.

2020-05-18 log

A big fluffy grey and white cat has been haunting my yard and tormenting Hermes. At 5:40 a.m. today, Hermes was up on his back legs frantically pawing at the inside of the bedroom window. That grey and white cat was on the front deck railing staring in. 

I chased the cat off, and am now apparently at a time in my life where I choose to stay awake at 5:45 a.m. because I can go ahead and do a puzzle and eat my dark chocolate Catalina Crunch with heavy cream and drink tea in a leisurely fashion and still plant out and mulch my winter-sown Lobelia cardinalis and Mentha pulegium (pennyroyal) before animal care and the workday.

Who am I?

Also, why have I accumulated so many seedlings that require consistently moist/wet soil when we consistently have summer droughts? (Probably because I’m buying seeds in late fall/early winter when half my yarden is a giant puddle?)

It was a grey and drizzly day, but I’m not sure we got rain-rain. I’ll have to check the level of the rainwater catcher tomorrow when it’s light.

After work, I potted up a couple of tomato seedlings to give away to a friend tomorrow (Green Vernissage and Siberian).

I stole all the guinea eggs out of the coop and sorted them into:

  • laid during dewormer egg withdrawal (marked with a wax crayon X, and to be put out for my nocturnal anti-tick crew: the opossums)
  • fresh but too dirty to incubate (set aside to be washed and Instant Pot hard “boiled” to make pickled eggs)
  • fresh, pretty, and clean (for possible incubation!!)

I began data collection on incubator temperature and humidity constancy, and if that looks good, I hope to put a batch of eggs in on Wednesday (maybe even tomorrow night?). I am still waffling on how many eggs to put in. This will be my first time attempting egg incubation and I have no clue what the fertility or hatch rate is going to be.

I am sure this whole process is going to be heartbreaking but also fascinating.

2020-05-17 log

  • random weeding, pruning, trimming
  • hosted outdoors-only, socially-distanced guest for garden tour
  • planted out 5 basil seedlings
  • added mulch-containment ~6″ chicken wire fence around south-side-of-house-bed, connecting all the way around the big redbud, finally creating one big bed border
  • curbside pick up of 16 8-foot steel-core garden stakes and 50 4-foot bamboo stakes at Lowe’s
  • finished mulching within the newly created bed area

The little chicken wire fence sort of ruins the neat visual effect of the Victorian trench, but is necessary to have any hope of the mulch staying in place, given that there are at least five chickens free ranging at any time.

The bed that used to close around the back of the fig and spirea is now connected with the bed around the big redbud.

Green frog sitting on burdock leaf
Green frog sitting on burdock leaf

Six on Saturday #1

The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six and find links to the blogs of other participants.

Here are mine:

One Eryngium giganteum flower has ripened

Cercis canadensis ‘The Rising Sun’ is still quite small, but is already stunning.

A deep burgandy colored lily flower
Lilium div. 7: Oriental Hybrids ‘Merlot’ obligingly opened this morning

Salvia ‘Amistad’ purchased last year at the NCSU Arboretum is already blooming

Sambucus nigra (elder) flowers are forming

As various birbs run through the Baba Yaga Elder bed, The Skulls of Men are frequently rearranged. Serendipitously, this skull sniffs at an Echinacea purpurea flower that is forming

2020-05-16 log

Finished cutting down the unruly holly. Again. This time I won’t fall for the idea that I can keep it trimmed into some semblance of something attractive.

Prepped area between corkscrew hazel and redbud for final conversion into bed.

FINALLY located some 50 inch by 8 foot handy panels. They are in Burlington and there are only 4, but I just paid for them online and will go pick them up after I drop a thing off in Mebane. I need these for my cucumber trellises and they are as hard to come by as toilet paper at this point! (Update: got 4 for the price of 3 because one was bent!)

Errands including the above and a big trash drop off and getting some vegetables and dairy products.

Today marks the first outing I make in my new-to-me truck! It is fabulous to be able to throw big feed bags full of old carpet and other crap I dug out of the ground in the back of a truck instead of in the back of my enclosed car. I never know what crawled into one of those bags while it was sitting in the shed waiting to be taken to a waste management drop off center!

Ordered this book: https://www.botany.one/2020/05/how-do-plants-work/

Planted 3 cardoons and 3 more plugs of cilantro

Made some chicken wire rings to protect the tomatoes I’ll be planting out tomorrow.

2020-05-15 log

As of this evening, I’ve had a headache for over 24 hours, so I took it easy.

  • mowed the grass
  • deadheaded some irises
  • neatened up the edge of the front shade bed and the big redbud bed
  • planned where to plant some things tomorrow
  • looked up whether I need to deadhead peonies (yes)

Hyoscyamus niger flower
Hyoscyamus niger (henbane) I started from seed this winter has produced flowers

Royal purple guinea fowl runs through pink and purple plants
Inkpot the royal purple guinea hen passes between a very purple-foliaged Huechera and Tradescantia pallida

Very small snake on the ground
Very small snake found under a tarp. Bermuda grass rhizome in foreground for scale.

2020-05-14 log

I have two remote social engagements this evening and am exhausted.

I have decided to sit in a chair outside and enjoy the evening, rather than try to do things in the yarden.

Here are some images from today…




Lazarus the guinea fowl
The bounty of wintersowing
Cannas at the golden hour
Seen at lunch