Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February's Garden (2018)

February's garden was desolate at the beginning of the month.  Almost everything had been picked or was sitting dormant not growing.  Then this past week, the sun decided to shine, the temperature rose to the upper 60's and all the small stems sprang back to life.  Every day it is possible to see new growth on each remaining plant.  The hoop house coverings were removed because the temperature has not dipped below 30 degrees for a week.

This area will be plowed first so these vegetables have almost all been picked.  It has been a winter garden spot for two years in a row now and needs to be rotated.

Most of the collard plants died from some type of stem rotting disease.  The few remaining are either immune or extremely healthy.   It was a big mistake to plant collards in the same spot for two years straight.  I knew better than to do it but risked it anyway.  All will be harvested soon and this area will be plowed under.  Nothing in the collard family will be planted here for a few years so the ground can heal.  I will probably plant beans, flowers, herbs or may let the area lie fallow.

The rows by the back fence are doing great. They were harvested down to nothing and are now growing fast after only a few days of sunshine. This area will be the last to be plowed so harvesting will continue through late Spring.  I will focus on using other plants and save these back two rows for later.

The small experimental bed beside the shed has done better than expected.  I have not harvested much from it because many of the plants are mustard greens.  We don't care much for them but I have a hard time throwing away any seeds.  This bed is all the odd leftover seeds which were dumped into the soil.

This picture shows how effective the hoop houses are at protecting the plants.  The seeds were planted down the whole side of the shed but the hoop house was only a few feet long.  It was a short piece of fabric left from last year's garden.  The bare area in front of the hoop house below was planted with the same seeds at the same time as the plants under the hoop house.  They all died but the plants under the hoop house are thriving.  It amazes me how anything can survive the winter. 

Now is the best time to be in the garden, the plants are quickly changing, there are no irritating bugs, the weather is warming, and no backbreaking work is required.  It's nice to go out, sit on a stool and only pick. 

Enough different varieties survived through the winter to keep our meals interesting.  I tried to label everything but don't promise I am correct.  Since I grow so many different things, I get confused, the labels get moved and some things were still too small to identify.

Garden Sorrel
Morris Heading Collard

Danver's Half Long Carrot
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
Ford Hook Swiss Chard
Superschmelz Kohlrabi

Southern Giant Curled Mustard Greens
Vates (?) Collard Greens

Miner's Lettuce
Elephant Garlic

French Sorrel

Brunswick Cabbage

Yahoo!  Life is great!  Only 20 days until Spring arrives and I am ready with my new hairdo.  Today the weather is perfect and I am soaking up the sunshine with my pack members.

If only the bright sunshine did not hurt my eyes. Life would be perfect.

Problem solved.  No matter what, I am always cool.

Last Month's January Garden (2018)

Last Year's February Garden (2017)

Also shared on Wildflower Wednesday

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Shelbyville, Tennessee, Back to the Future

Yesterday, we visited the local town of Shelbyville, Tennessee, "Walking Horse Capital of the World."  It was a beautiful warm Spring day - which never happens in February.  The weather should be cold, wet and dreary but when the sun started shining, we had to travel.

There was a lovely, Saucer Magnolia tree on the square which was blooming early.  It was facing south and surrounded by heat retaining bricks which may be what altered its timeline.

While window shopping, I decided to investigate an urban legend about the courthouse located in the middle of the town square.  The story claims it was used as a backdrop in the filming of the movie, "Back to the Future."

This is supposed to be the clock tower that was struck by 1.21 gigawatts of electricity from a lightning bolt.  

The town square does resemble the movie, but then again, so does almost every other town square in small-town America.  However, there were no Deloreans or hoverboards parked anywhere in the lot.

There was also not enough road in front of the building to get up to 88 miles per hour, but roads won't be needed in the future.

Being determined to discover the truth, I am not a slacker, I searched for Hill Valley.  Instead, I discovered Fisherman's Park on Duck River located right outside of town.  In the distance, the clock tower rises above the treeline.

City Hall should have some answers.  Surely they would know the history. 

Celebrating the First 200 Years
Shelbyville was established in 1810 on 100 acres of land donated by Clement Cannon (1783-1860), local manufacturer and veteran of the War of 1812.  The city was named in honor of General Issac Shelby (1750-1826), statesman and noted Revolutionary War hero who led colonial forces to victory at King's Mountain.  The town was formally chartered on October 7, 1819.

There was no mention of future historical events on the plaque.

Nobody calls me chicken - I marched into City Hall and asked: "Does anyone know the truth?"  Alas, it was only a legend told to gullible buttheads.  "Back to the Future" trilogy courthouse scenes were all filmed at a Universal Studios' Backlot and the building was also used in many other movies.


Friday, February 16, 2018


The above picture was taken by Roofer Reese when he was up on top of our house repairing the damaged shingles a few months ago.  The leafless tree on the right is a Bodock / Hedge Apple / Osage Orange, Maclara pomifera that has been on the "to-do" list for a while now.  It is entwined with a Hackberry tree on the other side of the fence in the field close to the drive where we park our cars.  Over time, it has grown large enough to drop hedge apples and thorny branches in the driveway plus it could possibly damage a car if toppled during a storm.  Both needed to go.

We call it a "Hedge Apple" because the female trees produce large round inedible fruit.  Squirrels love to eat them and have spread seeds everywhere.  I don't have a picture of any of the fruit that fell last Fall because they are rotted.

The branches are covered with sharp, dangerous thorns. They easily puncture lawnmower tires, soft-soled shoes, and the thorny branches are always dropping onto the ground.

Before barb wire was invented, they were planted close together and trimmed into hedges to keep livestock fenced in. Nothing wanted to crawl through the sharp thorns. This one is on the back side of our property.  A few years ago Bill cut it down right above the fence top thinking it would kill the tree; instead, it sprouted into many smaller thorny branches. 

I have two more growing in my flower bed area which is why I must always wear shoes when walking in my garden.  Forget running barefoot through the grass.  Both trees plus a third one beside the power line to our house are on the "mile-long, someday in the future, to-do list."

In the front area of my flowerbed.
The second one is in the back of my flower bed also close to our power line.  We can't fell it because it might hit the telephone pole, so we made the best of a bad situation and put an orange target on its back.

The orange spot is the target.
Bill likes to sit on the porch in a rocking chair and shoot at the spinning target on the tree. The other side gives me the creeps whenever I walk past.  It glares angerly at me as I work in the yard.

We were once told a country legend that chainsaws will shoot sparks when cutting the wood because it is so hard.  We laughed at the teller of the tall tale - we don't laugh anymore. Bill has seen the wood spark when cutting it. The grain of the wood is uneven, almost like a crooked spiral so it won't split apart and an ax will bounce off.


 One down, a zillion more to go.

My Hero, Lumberjack Bill
Cutting them down was the right decision because the area where the two trees were touching did not look healthy.

Bodock / Hedge Apple Tree

Hackberry Tree
Cutting it down was the easy part. The Hackberry tree will be used in the woodburning stove next year, but not the Bodock.  It produces a black, smelly smoke; not something we want to burn inside. Each section must be small enough to be lifted and tossed on a bonfire.  The fire will be sitting on the stump and that should, hopefully, kill it.  (UPDATE:  It did get rid of it.)

A new chore has been added to the list - mend the smashed fence so Scooter can't get out.

Good riddance
"Woe is me." moaned Scooter.  "Everyone was outside watching Dad cut down the tree but I was locked inside the house.  I could only peer helplessly through the window.  Pack Leader was afraid I would get hit by the falling tree.  Mom was worried I might get chilled since it was cloudy and I have a new haircut.  She made me wear my new sweater, wrapped me up in a blanket and left me in the warm, cozy house all by myself.  I was neglected, lonely and had to watch the sunset alone."

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UPDATE:  A year later, we hired two lumberjacks to cut the trees down in the front yard.