|Mark 4 - By Zach Engelman|
The last predicted snowfall never arrived in Springdale, Arkansas. Instead we had some 15 degree nights and warm, sunny days. We will reach 70 degrees tomorrow and Sunday. No snow has accumulated at any time this winter, but last winter was snow and ice. We did have plenty of rain, so we are not facing drought, as some areas are - like Denver.
Robins were here and plentiful the last week, and the ice cream truck made its rounds through our neighborhood at the same time.
Apart from planting more peas and carrots, I have to wait for spring. Our helper wondered about the flavor of peas - he does not like them from the grocery store. I explained - that is why people should grow their own. Peas - like corn - will turn their sweetness to starch, a process starting as soon as they are picked. Fresh carrots are great too, because thinning the plant yields tiny carrots that can be eaten. If the soil is not clingy, they can be eaten on the spot.
Carrots remain sweet when picked, but they lose that great crunchiness from being fresh.
Carrot scandal - baby carrots are not really baby carrots at all. Mike Yurosek figured out that carrot waste could be trimmed down to baby size and sold, so they created a market instead of throwing away tons of carrot waste.
Crepe Myrtle Watch
My crepe myrtle project for last year included:
1. Using the Lyle Lovett trim, with all the fuzz (leaves and flowers) on top. The woody stems below increase the variety and color of the plant.
2. Adding solar lights.
3. Surrounding the base with wood and leaf mulch.
4. Placing red wiggler earthworms at the base.
I built a fairly high teepee of mulch around the base, and kept renewing it with grass, leaves, and wood mulch during the autumn. The teepee has flattened into a circular blanket of organic matter, which is very good for the bush. Soil creatures love the moisture held in, the food on top, and the blanket protecting them from sun. For example, earthworms are not dug into the soil. They are placed on top and instantly burrow underneath - they cannot tolerate sunlight.
I would like to prune a little, but pruning wakes up the roots and leaf production. I would rather keep the roses and crepe myrtle dormant in February. Harsh weather will nip the fresh green growth but not affect the dormant stems.
The Maynard G. Krebs in me contends that the dormant plants are gaining more from this approach than from all the meddling done by anxious and ill-prepared gardeners. Once spring starts, I will use pruning to reduce the roses in size, get them budding again, and to wake up the crepe myrtle.
More Solar Lights
The trees and two sides of the fence have white solar lights. I added tiny lights to the fences, and those lights have many modes to extend the life of the battery. I had some flashing going on at first, but that made the yard look more like a used car lot. Now there is a slow fade in and out of the fence lights.
The last string to be used has colored lights. If all goes well, these will wrap around the dead trees, and the vines will grow around them.
Splashing and Feeding at the Jackson Bird Spa
The area between two trees (unwisely planted close together) is ideal for bird feeding and bathing. They have plenty of suet and some meal worms to eat, a file cabinet for seed, and four places to bathe and drink.
If I can find a shallow plastic pan or pool, I will use that to increase the water available. In case anyone wonders how popular this bird spa is - the pans are dry and befouled (befowled?) at the end of each day. In the sunlight the birds cavort, splash, drink, eat and entertain us.
We leave the bedroom window open to hear their happy burbling, with a feeder and even more suet inches away. Sometimes a starling will be flying in for some food and spot me watching, "Reverse thrusters. Abort! Abort!" And he flies away. They are quite content to eat with me inches away, and I enjoy hearing them from so close. This takes time, because birds are always suspicious at first.
Cardinals are the most wary, so I was pleased to have a male inches away. He thought over his options and left, but not before looking me over.
|This Bella Vista squirrel dominated our feeder at times,|
but we had Blue Jays nesting in the bush and
cardinals feeding all winter.