Sunday, April 15, 2018

Today's Blooms, April 15, 2018

Spring is beginning to arrive.  A few plants are blooming but most are only budding.  The small white flowers of the Star of  Bethlehem,  Ornithogalum umbellatum, are thriving. They will fade, disappear and be forgotten until they are accidentally discovered later when I dig in the vacant spot.  The bulbs will travel with the transported soil to another bare spot where they will flourish.  What began as a very few little bulbs has slowly spread to many different areas.  They are considered invasive by many people, but I have enjoyed letting them increase. I may regret it one day, but now I like them.  

The Japanese Flowering Kwanzan Cherry tree was in full bloom but the recent storm blew most of the blossoms away!  As long as the wind leaves the shingles on my house alone, I will not complain too loudly.

Behind the two chairs is a spicebush which was gifted to me years ago.  The smell is awesome, a sweet peppery scent which will waft far across the yard.  When I first discovered it at a friends house, I asked for a small twig then placed it in water so it could root. What began as a tiny cutting has grown into a large bush.  It has almost finished flowering and I will miss the heavenly smell.

Morning Glory seeds and Moonflower seeds have been planted at the bottom of the arch.  If they don't germinate soon, I might need to replant.  My goal is to cover this arch with vines and blossoms.  Maybe this year I will finally achieve that goal.

The wild violets are just beginning to bloom.  They were planted as a groundcover in this area which is impossible to mow.  They are not shy about spreading and have finally become thick enough to choke out other weeds.

Only a few of the early columbines are blooming.  These are one of my favorite flowers and I wish they would hurry and spread to more places.  This is one plant I can't resist picking and bringing inside.

The hellebores just keep on blooming and blooming.  I love these flowers.

Ferns don't have flowers so I have decided to show the fiddleheads instead.  These were wild plants I transplanted from the backwoods to my front flower bed.

Last year I carefully worked hard amending the soil around my little lilac bush.  My hope was that it would flourish and grow larger.  It only put out a single little cluster of buds!  Seriously???? After so much special treatment, it gave me just ONE!  It was a beautiful bloom but was only ONE cluster.  This year it gets nothing else special.

Now for this month's garden fail.  The early sprouting hostas were frozen by the last freeze.  The others in the garden are fine because they are just now poking above the ground.  Since this one is surrounded on two sides by rocks, I think the ground warmed up too soon.  No problem, it will probably recover...or not.  Meh.

As for other problems, it seems trouble has arrived outside my kitchen window.

Yesterday afternoon in the pouring rain, Ping Pong the Great returned with some of his enemies in tow.  His kingdom changed over the winter and now it includes a rusted old basket holding pieces of discarded stale bread.  

Ping Pong the Great
The marauding invaders prefer the bread crumbs and ignore the delicious red flowers with the unending supply of sweet nectar.  However, this does not appease Ping Pong the Great.  He does not trust them and still eyes them with disdain especially since they have decided to roost on his treasured throne.

I am beginning to believe Spring might really have arrived.

All links mentioned above.

Shared with friends around the world on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for April 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Searching for Signs of Spring

Last night the temperature dropped to 32 degrees (Fahrenheit) and I awoke to another frost on the ground.  I am still longing for Spring to arrive but it is taking forever. Being discouraged from waiting so long, today I searched for hopeful clues and this is what I found.

The grass is turning green and beginning to grow rapidly.  Some of the trees are budding, others are still leafless.

The farmers were getting ready.  This one was cleaning out his barns and was spreading the manure on his fields.  How did I know it was manure being spread?  I could SMELL it...

... and smell it, and smell it as I drove slowly behind him down the country road.  

He returned to his barn which appeared to have an unending supply waiting to be removed.

The animals seemed to be aware the weather is changing and are becoming frisky.  This naughty little calf had escaped the fence and was dangerously close to the busy highway.  Realizing the hazards, I stopped at the nearest house to inform its owner.  

The gentleman who answered the door sighed when I pointed to the straying calf.  He informed me it was an escape artist who slipped under the fence often.  He had already put it back inside many times even though it belonged to his neighbor.  I offered to corral it in my freezer as a solution; he said he was tempted, but laughingly declined.  

The sensible matrons looked on disapprovingly at the mischevious fugitive.  

As I searched all day for signs of Spring, all I could think about was sipping iced tea while sitting in my swing.  However, it appears everywhere I looked everyone else was ready and waiting to swing into Spring also.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Aquaponics Dreams Delayed, part 2

On a cold March day, Reese closed down his aquaponics system so he could leave for his new job out of state.  We explained earlier about aquaponics and his dreams (click here).  Sadly, it was necessary to shut it all down since he is moving far away from home.

The first step was to open the drain and let the water run out of the fish tank to make it easier to catch them.  He still had all thirty of the channel catfish.  None had died.

The water in the sump tank, which is the lowest point of the system and provides additional water storage, needed to be pumped up and out.  No water could be left or it would encourage mosquito breeding.

Since it takes a while for about 600 gallons of water to drain from both tanks, posing for pictures for a teary-eyed Mom alleviated the boredom. 

Ain't he cute?
As the water poured from the open pump, it filled the surrounding hole around the sump tank.  This caused it to float up high which made it easier to pick up and dump out the remaining water.

The catfish were not happy about the water level dropping so they grouped together in a school.

To reach the fish in the bottom of the tank, it was easier to turn it over on its side.

Reese began scooping them out with an empty CD container because it was close at hand.  (That is code for "it was the closest thing in his pile of stuff that would hold water").  We don't have a fish net so it worked perfectly. 

They were surprisingly curious and would swim inside the case to check it out.  This made it easy to catch and dump them into a five-gallon bucket lined with a trash bag and holding an air stone.

The rest of the water was poured out of the fish tank by a big, strong, handsome man!  Oh, my!

Dirt was dumped into the sump tank hole to begin filling it back up.

He repeatedly said he was not crying but that the sun was in his eyes.  He also insisted he knew I would post the picture and say he was crying when he rubbed his eye.  A mother has every right to take advantage of her children whenever possible.

Then began a mad dash to the nearest creek to drop the fish in the water before the oxygen ran out of the water in the bucket.  Originally we thought we would put them in the river but decided there were too many fish in the small amount of water to travel far.

Don't rush me. I will not drive fast and get a speeding ticket.

This was the chosen perfect spot for their new home.  We all agreed they would be happy especially since they were raised in a hatchery and had never been in a real creek.

Home Sweet Home

Then he returned home, packed his truck and left today for another adventure.