Category Archives: Haiku

Survivors

When we moved in 5 years ago, we brought a blueberry bush from Michigan.

This very sad shrub sat on our deck in Michigan for 3 months. Then, it lived at my mom’s for a month or so while we waited to close on the house.

Then, it sat on our deck for another 9 months.

In all, it was neglected and forgotten for a little over a year.

Yet, still it survived. So…we planted it along with a few more in our new fedge.

None of the blueberries did well that first year, or every year after for that matter. In fact, we didn’t even know we still had blueberries until we started removing cages from the fedge.

We were certain that the cages were just protecting dead plants, so when we pulled them and saw live plants with actual tiny blueberries on them, we were amazed.

The Wonder Plant – Survived a winter in Michigan, a winter in Illinois and 3 years of neglect.

Another neglected plant we put in the fedge in 2013…it lives!

We ended up pulling three bedraggled but very much alive blueberry plants from the fedge. We potted them up and fed them acidic fertilizer and now we’ve only to wait to see if they will finally produce to their full potential.

I’m hoping that placing them next to the thriving one I bought at a bargain will encourage them to grow.

Bedraggled berries
Tired, worn out but not beaten
Forgive my neglect

Vigilant

This year, I won’t get angry.

I won’t throw a fit and stomp my feet.

I won’t let the Japanese beetles get the best of the homestead.

We’ve learned from our mistakes.

1). Using a “trap” to attract the beetles away from the plants ends up doing more harm than good.

Sure, the traps work as advertised, but they draw even more beetles to the property than would otherwise be there.

Last year, we filled several 5 gallon buckets due to the traps, but it made little to no difference in the damage they did.

2). Waiting until the beetles have overtaken every tree, bush and shrub means having and overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and frustration.

Last year at this time they were horrible. So far, they haven’t been as bad.

We are staying ahead of them this year. Every beetle we drown is a beetle that won’t reproduce.

Each morning and evening we go out on patrol. It is a family chore. We work together as a team.

Ray and I are armed with buckets of soapy water.

Joe and Jake are the spotters.

We are ahead of the game, at least for now.

Looking at pictures from last year, they are not as bad. There are fewer beetles and the damage done has been minimal…so far.

We will be vigilant.

We will stay the course.

We will win.

Back to the battle
Japanese beetles invade
We will win this fight

Under Construction

In January, we said YES! to helping the neighbors move a greenhouse over their pool to our backyard.

We made it this year’s big project.

In March, I wandered over and labeled the parts and then sketched the layout to match the labels. We thought it was going to be difficult to take apart and even more difficult to put back together.

All those pavers! All that dirt! All those posts!

In April, we pulled up, scraped off and stacked the pavers on pallets and used the skid steer to get them to our backyard.

And finally, at the end of May and into June, we transported the dirt and moved all of the pieces of the greenhouse over…not piece by piece, but section by section.

Now, the bones of the greenhouse are in our yard and our neighbor is ready to turn the pool back into a…pool.

It was over a week of heavy lifting, scraping and transferring to move the pavers.

Then, a week of hard work in sweltering temperatures to get the dirt out.

When it came time to move the rest of it, it took two days and a few friends to help carry the light but unwieldy parts.

Operation Greenhouse has come a long way since the beginning of the year, and now we are only a weekend or two of work away from using our very own greenhouse.

A greenhouse out back
Filled with produce of all kinds
A garden all year

The Raised Beds

We shoveled, wheelbarrowed and transported dirt this weekend from the greenhouse at the neighbors to our yard.

Because the greenhouse is, well, a greenhouse, the crew had to work early mornings and at dusk when the temperatures were not so high and the air was not so still.

Midday on Saturday, before quittin’ time, they brought the raised beds over.

I watched the skid steer lumber over the yard, that first bed in its metal arms and felt giddy.

Even with all the garden space we have, I’m excited about these raised beds. Most of them will go in the greenhouse when it is up, but a few will stay out along the deck holding lettuce, spinach and all the leafy greens.

Once we set up the first bed, I started preparing the soil. I raked in egg shells and vegetable fertilizer and watered it thoroughly.

Once the bed was ready, I planted:

  • 2 rows of kale
  • 1 row of spinach
  • 6 rows of four different varieties of lettuce
  • 1/2 row of lavender
  • 1/2 row of rosemary
  • 1/2 row of basil

I labeled everything, but as I don’t have much luck with labels staying in one spot (ahem…cats and kids), I also drew a map.

The “MG” stands for marigolds. I planted 3 rather sad looking specimens down the center and plan to get a few more to add this week.

I might be a little “off-schedule” with some of the varieties I planted, but it is definitely not too late to start a garden.

Most garden centers have a seed starting schedule specific to your area/zone that is based on the average last frost date.

All those greens, broccolis, cabbages, beans, brussels sprouts and other cool season crops can continue to go in the ground from now through mid-August.

So don’t give up if you think it’s too late to start a garden! Plant now and you’ll have fresh garden veggies for the fall.

Fall gardens are best
For yummy sides and salads
And the taste of sun

Day of Dirt

Yesterday was a day of dirt.

Digging.

Shoveling.

Crushing.

Ray and a team over at the neighbors started transporting dirt from the greenhouse to our yard.

Joe and Jake helped by stomping and crushing the pile.

Meanwhile, I dug holes and transplanted raspberries and seaberries out in the swales.

There are seaberries coming up everywhere in our fedge. They run under the ground and pop up in, around and between other rows.

The root system runs wild under the ground from plant to plant. This means that when you dig one plant up, you usually end up with two or three all strung together.

It wasn’t until I’d dug up the third plant that I’d noticed the nodules.

All of those bumpy white nodes that look like a cluster of eggs are packed with nitrogen. They are just waiting to spread and feed the plants and trees around them. Pretty cool!

After all the raspberries and seaberries were in their new homes, I mixed water with some Superthrive, a liquid multivitamin for plants, and gave them a good soaking.

By the end of the day, I’d transplanted 10 raspberries and 8 seaberries and we had a large chunk of dirt in our backyard.

Playing in the dirt
In the hot summer sunshine
Gives me a warm glow

Life Skills

For the past couple of weeks, Joe has been asking if he could learn how to start a fire. My first reaction was to say “maybe when you are a bit older”.

But I then I thought, he’s curious and interested so why not now?

He’ll learn more and retain the information better. And, he’ll learn the safe and correct way to start a campfire. 

Away from buildings, with water handy and the safe guidance of daddy.

Last night, Ray gave Joe and Jake their first lesson in building a fire.

He explained the why and patiently answered questions.

He guided them and he reinforced being safe at every turn.

He quizzed them throughout the process to make sure they had listened and understood both the dangers and reasons behind the safety guidelines.

He also explained what a fire needs. Air, heat and fuel.

I enjoyed watching him teach a lesson. The boys might have learned how to build and create fire from me or someone else, but watching them work with Ray and listening carefully to every word was amazing.

He was patient and the boys had fun.

They learn by doing and they were so proud of the end result of the lesson.

“Look at the fire we built!”

When the fire was roaring and ready, we all sat around the fire while the boys roasted marshmallows for us.

The boys could not stop smiling.

Fire play is so fun
With Daddy to guide the boys
Eyes bright and amazed

Rain Damage

Mulch does a great job retaining moisture in the soil. It’s why we try to heavily mulch around all of our plants and trees, and why our spades so easily lift the soil.

But…too much water can be detrimental to plant growth and root development.

Over the past week or so, we’ve accumulated more than 4 inches of rain in a very short time.

All this rain has been great for the swales and pond, but almost too much for our kiwi and my sole lavender plant.

The leaves are turning black and curling inward. We are not sure exactly what is going on. It could be fungal or bacterial or signs of root rot from all the moisture in the ground.

Plants need oxygen, water and sunlight but due to all of the rain, all of the air holes that are normally present in good soil are full of water.

It could be something fungal or bacterial, but I don’t think so. If that were the case, it would be spreading faster than it is.

Also, the same symptom is affecting my lavender that is too far away for a fungus to spread leaf to leaf.

We are worried, but not overly so. I’d really just like to figure out what is causing these blackened edges.

The kiwi fruit continues to develop and looks healthy, but it would sure be a shame if we weren’t able to finally harvest the fruit.

We’ve been patiently waiting for four years to taste that first kiwi…and I’m not all that patient.

Dark blackened edges
Curling leaves, rolling inward
Due to soaking rains

A Frog’s Life

One cold, windy and sunny day, Joe got up and wanted to grow some frogs.

“Mom, can we collect some tadpoles from the pond and grow our own frogs?”

High off the success of hatching our own eggs, we put are mud boots on, grabbed a glass jar and trekked out to the pond to collect a few tadpoles.

“We might not see many since it’s so cold,” I told Joe.

We saw just a few more than I thought we would.

“Our pond is going to have all these frogs!?”

“Well, not all of them will make it,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” Joe said. “Predators.”

Joe wanted to collect a jar-full, but I convinced him that we should start with 5.

He dipped the jar into the shallow end and carefully lifted it out.

We ended up with 10.

The boys wanted to rush back inside and put them in the fish tank. I wasn’t so sure that Bubbles and Fannytail would appreciate that, so we went in and researched how to care for tadpoles.

We picked a shallow container and covered the bottom with gravel. Jake picked out a few bigger rocks for when the tadpoles grow into froglets.

Then we filled it about halfway up with some of our filtered water and poured the 10 tadpoles into their new home.

A couple of the sites we looked at said that they would eat fish food. Since we already had it on hand, that is what we sprinkled in for now. It’s not an ideal diet for frogs, so I ordered some frog food.

It takes 12-16 weeks for the tadpoles to develop into frogs. We are not sure how old these little guys are so we may see frogs sooner…or later.

Tadpoles in a jar
Metamorphose into frogs
In a month or 4

Second Step: Patio Pavers

We’ve taken the next step in Operation Greenhouse Transport.

We’ve labeled the poles and posts, now it is time to get started pulling up the pavers and transferring them to our house.

Even though I am SO excited that we are getting a greenhouse…I was dreading this part. Pavers cover the ENTIRE floor of the inground pool the greenhouse was built on.

The. Entire. Floor.

We trudged over to the neighbor’s to get started. The boys in tow.

“Should I bring my tools?” asked Joe.

“I don’t think we’ll need them for this step buddy.”

Once inside, I stifled sigh.

This was going to be a big job. It was going to take a long time.

Once we got started though, it went pretty quickly. We got into a rhythm.

The boys and I pulled up the pavers and scraped the dirt and sand off with putty knives so they would stack easily. Ray did the heavy lifting and hauled them over to stack them on the ledge of the pool.

Our neighbor opened up one of the sides, and Ray handed the pavers out to him to put on a couple of pallets we brought over.

By the time we left, we had removed about half the pavers. Half!

I headed home to start dinner and Ray stayed a little longer to chat with the neighbor and pull up a few more pavers.

The boys and I were tired and dirty, but we felt a sense of satisfaction with our work.

“Well, I guess I didn’t need my tools,” said Joe.

The greenhouse is close
And we will transport it soon
Excited for fall

Pretty and Useful

I’ve added a few more flowers to the garden. Today I planted marigolds, alyssum and salvia. At $1.50 a six-pack, I couldn’t resist.

Not only are all of these flowers pretty, they are also useful to detract pests and attract beneficials.

The marigold’s job is to keep bean beetles, squash bugs, thrips, tomato hornworms, and whiteflies away from my produce. Also, I like the splash of deep yellow breaking up all the green in the garden.

I’d never encountered a thrip or a whitefly, so I hope they continue to stay away from the garden. Thrips suck the life out of plants and munch on the fruit. Ick.

Whiteflies are teeny tiny and feed on the undersides of leaves. I don’t think we’ve had a problem with this and I want to keep it that way.

The alyssum smells good, smothers weeds and attracts the aphid-eating flower fly, which looks more like a bee than a fly. What more could I ask for from a flower?

I tried to plant salvia from seed last year, but had no luck. It’s job is to attract butterflies and look beautiful. It is also said to attract hummingbirds and we have a few that hang out at our house.

I planted two in every section of the herb spiral and one or two in each section of the kitchen garden. I’ll also put marigold seeds down, but for some reason I cannot get many of them to grow. At least not quickly enough to be of any use.

I did get a pretty big marigold to grow from seed in the herb spiral last year. I let it go to seed so hopefully I’ll have another one this year.

Flowers so gorgeous
A natural pesticide
Pretty and useful