Thursday, October 25, 2007

it's bloody cold here, she whined

It's fall. I love fall. I've always loved fall. So fall is good. I have been collecting leaves, mostly leaves which blow in from the neighbour's trees, and stuffing them in black garbage bags in an effort to turn them into mulch.

I pulled the tomatoes out and planted fall garlic. The rest of the stuff I purchased from Vesey's got here yesterday, so I have a dozen Dutch iris to plant, and some ferns, and some salvia.

This is all excellent, except I have no time...

Monday, August 20, 2007

the shrimpii have landed

I did get shrimp. Three. Three little Amano shrimp. They were originally kind of a stopgap measure, as the oto cats at the lfs were not for sale today (they're for sale tomorrow). So, instead, I got shrimp.


Seriously, and very pretty. Photos don't do them justice (which is fine because the camera is still out of commission) but they have this lovely dusting of gold and blue on the surface of their shells that isn't immediately visible, but under the right light it flickers a little bit and it's very pretty. Pleasantly surprised.

Once I'd got them temperature and water acclimatized, they were netted and tucked into the tank, and they have just taken off. They're eating like crazy. You can see their stomachs, and currently it has this green glow. I think I am in love. I hope I don't kill them.

On the other hand, I had to remove one of the Anubias barteri var. azfelli plants, as the rhizome had rotted. I'm not sure what happened there, whether I bruised it or what. But along with the Shrimpii I got a wad of java moss, and hopefully that can fill in some gaps. I'm told it will likely take over the tank, but at this point a little bit of taking over would likely be okay.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

life in the fish bowl

Something else I've managed this year is to get myself happier with my fish tank. I've found it stressful in the past, mostly because I had a pleco who needed a larger tank. And he desperately did. The thing was, I didn't have a larger tank.

So I got one this year, and holy cow has it made a difference. I'm much happier.

I finally, this summer, emptied the small tank and added plant-friendly substrate (Eco-Complete) and planted it heavily with all sorts of plants. Mostly plants advertised as nutrient sponges. Finally, last week I added two pearl gouramis. They're still very small, the two of them, but they are beautiful. Once there are batteries in the camera I'll photograph them. Currently there's a wee bit of an algae problem starting thanks to the fact that the lights are a bit powerful and I don't have enough vegetation in there yet. But that will be solved this week with a small group of oto cats and possibly a few Amano shrimp. Shrimp? Shrimps? Shrimpii?

Heh. I think, if I do get shrimp, I'll just call them the Shrimpii. Like succubi, but less sexy.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

where has the summer gone?

It's been a while. Yes, I know. Suddenly things just got busy and crazy and I didn't have time to update, but things are going well...

The tomatoes all survived, and I'm getting a litre of cherry tomatoes every two days. The beefsteaks are just starting to turn red, and I had my first one this morning as a toasted tomato sandwich. Best taste of summer ever.

The hot peppers are starting to go red too, and we've had a few of those. I think I'll dry a bunch of them, or maybe pickle some. Or make jelly. I haven't decided yet. The sweet peppers are plentiful, and I'll be able to start harvesting those soon, I think. They're all still quite green, but huge.

The beans came and went, and frankly, I just can't eat that many beans. I'll be taking them out and putting the fall garlic in there when the garlic arrives. I ate a lot of green beans, but I wasn't thrilled with the variety I planted anyways. They were supposed to be bush beans but they all fell over, and some of them just refused to grow. And the rabbits didn't help, by chewing them off as they came up. I'm just not that big a fan of beans, so I think the beans will be canned.

The onions I'll have to try again next year. Lots of them didn't grow. The shallots were great, and I'll order seeds next year I think, instead of putting in sets, which are relatively expensive. I don't know what I did with the onions but it didn't work out. I think many of them were attacked by [masochistic] squirrels and the others attacked by gall flies; some of the bulbs I've pulled up had maggots in them.

The flower beds are... well, the front is good, but weedy. Mulch will be necessary. I've ordered some 'May Night' salvia to put in where the lamb's ears are, since the lamb's ears are not attractive in that front bed. For the back, I ordered a dozen dwarf irises to stick in instead of the primroses, and some trout lilies for under the oak tree. And some ferns for fishy.

This year has been instructive; I can see where we're going to need to make changes (ie. salvia vs. lamb's ears; mulching) and I'm getting a better idea of how much work is reasonable to expect from myself. I basically have tonnes of time in spring and I'll have more in the fall, but I'm going to have to try to plant a garden that will mostly run itself during the summer months. I think I can do it. I have lots of ideas. I love that I've got years to do it. It's an exercise in patience and I think I'm actually winning...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

the squirrels were busy

Whew. Spent a weekend away birding, and that was good, although very cold. Came back to find my peppers all wilty and my rhubarb bed dug into, not to mention many of the beans. But a bunch of the shallots popped up while we were away, and the tomatoes are looking good, if a little sulky.

I also spent some time Friday deadheading and weeding through the giant spirea in the front bed. It is huge. I'm thinking that next spring I will have to do a major cutback; it's dying in the centre, but I don't think it's beyond hope yet.

New birds for the backyard are a chestnut-sided warbler, redstart and red-eyed vireo. I really think we need to plant a thicket in the back of the yard, even just for this month.

Also, the first visitor to the birdbath was... a squirrel. Drinking. Meh. At least someone's using it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

the tree was from two doors down

More bird additions (this will slow down as spring finishes):
  • house wren
  • white-breasted nuthatch
  • hairy woodpecker
  • grey catbird
I bought a giant plastic fake-terra-cotta saucer to use as a birdbath this year, for seven dollars. I might get up enough energy to go set it up today; but if not, I'll do it tomorrow. Or Friday.

We've been working a lot in the garden. I made the mistake of planting my lovely tomato seedlings out on Monday. Yesterday there was a hell of a storm, which left the front yard looking like this:

Despite my stupidity at planting the tomatoes immediately before this storm, they all survived except one, which actually snapped off the night before. The shallots and onions are starting to grow, and the rhubarb is looking spectacular. One of the things I did Monday was mulch the raspberries on one side of the yard, and trim them up so they're not too crowded. Looking good. I still have beans, carrots, beets, cilantro, and fennel to plant, and then I think I'm good for a little while. May do a later planting of fall veggies, and this fall I want to dig the fourth and final veggie bed so I have it for next spring.

We're getting a lovely Lee Valley reel mower second hand, to take care of the grass; that comes tomorrow. And I have the tools I need to prune the forsythia so it's a little bit under control.

Things are coming along.

Friday, May 11, 2007

more birds

Let's add:
  • nashville warbler
  • chimney swifts
  • wood thrush
  • great-crested flycatcher
The brown thrasher was singing like a madman again this morning. It was a lovely morning to be in the backyard.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

the birds

And here's where we start the overlapping thing. But, lists of the birds etc. I see in my backyard naturally belong here, so let's have one, shall we?
  • starlings, house sparrows
  • house finches
  • goldfinches
  • robins
  • crows, grackles
  • juncos
  • chickadees
  • cardinals (nesting pair hanging out next door)
  • blue jays
  • mourning doves
  • sparrows: chipping, song, and white-throated
  • flickers
  • brown thrasher
  • warblers: black-throated green and pine
and new this morning, a female rose-breasted grosbeak was squeaking away. Every time I go out there and see or hear a new bird, I get this stupid grin on my face. I love it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

entry the first

This may end up being a very bad decision, to give bluepixie a sisterblog. I may end up never posting on bp again. Or, I may end up never posting on either of these again. But I've been hankering after a way to post things specifically for my backyard and so here we go. Let's call it an experiment. Also, I have to figure out how to post stuff here so that I like it, so it's like a double guinea pig. As such, I'm not actually telling anyone this site exists yet. If you've joined me from the vast sea of the internet, welcome, and yikes.

Let's see how the image engine works here:

Okay, sweet. That was easy. Also, the above is a tulip from my garden. They're done now, but were beautiful about a week ago.

Here's the thing -- I know a fair bit about gardening, I think, but it's all book learning and a few small things I've picked up from my grandmother over the years. This is the first time, now that we have a house, that I get to test my knowledge and see how it works in the real world. It's going to be a grand adventure and I'm really quite excited. The fact that the excitement has stayed with me since we moved in is a good sign.

And that's it for now. Soon I'll be posting about the vegetable garden, which is my big project for this year and which I'm really, really pleased with so far.