Garden and bees; Workshop and Spinning Guild next weekend

7/2/11

Volunteer plants are often the strongest. Take this cucumber, for example: it decided to sprout in my planter on the deck amongst lavender (which isn’t competing well), a miniature rose, begonias, catnip and verbena. Showing its appreciation for the environment, it has produced a very large cuke! Here it is, hanging down over the side of the planter. If you look closely, you can see three more tiny cukes on the vine amongst the yellow flowers. I’m delighted! Bees are flocking to the catnip blossoms beside it, a serendipitous accident.

I saw my first honey bee in weeks yesterday on the white clover in the pasture. I don’t know where they’ve gone, either, but I was so glad to see him I stepped around to be sure I didn’t annoy him in his labors. We have many other sorts of very large bees on our flowers and vegetables, and none are aggressive. I haven’t seen hornets yet–I really could do with some predator that would pick those off. Suggestions anyone?

I love these cool nights! I can cool the house by opening windows in the evening, usually by 9 p.m. the temperature out and in is about the same, around 80 degrees, and it goes down into the 60’s at night. Katydids sing me to sleep! What a blessing. I can even get outside and do some gardening early in the a.m. before the heat drives me back in.

The tomatoes the deer ate down to sticks have revived, most of them. Dirk improved the fencing, and all the herbs growing at one end of the garden probably don’t taste good to them–OK with me! My tomato plants in the upper garden are bearing. The poor assaulted ones in the lower garden are again shooting out flowers, now a month behind. Peppers in the upper garden are delicious–banana and large yellow ones. Lower garden they look pretty sad, after being chewed back. Disappointing, also, because one of those eaten pepper plants had a lovely maroon pepper on it, only about 25% of the size it would have been if not converted to deer food–deer left his mouth outlined on it. I guess he didn’t like the flavor and spit it out. We put what was left in an omelet. I hope those peppers will come back. The cukes were not interesting to the deer, and they’re bearing nicely up on strings of baler twine. I love the fresh veggies, but this year it has been rather a challenge to keep my plants alive between drought and deer. The big rain we had early this week was such a blessing. The ground is still damp, and plants and weeds alike are thriving. Easy to pull the weeds with the soil damp, however. And the big mystery squash plant appears to be a butternut squash, but it might have reverted to gourds–has happened before–the first one to ripen will dispel the mystery. If it’s a squash, I’ll be delighted!

I’ll both have a spinning workshop here next weekend, and host our Twisted Threads Fiber Arts Guild second-Saturday meeting. It’ll be a good experience for new spinners to be encouraged, watching a few experienced ones spin. I’ve offered to do a Round Robin. We’ll see how many different sorts of spinning wheels turn up. We had one in spring in Raleigh for the 3rd Thursday meeting at the Thompson Crafts Center on the NCSU campus. Someone sets a timer, and spinners go from one wheel to the next, spending about 5 minutes on each. I have plenty of roving here, and cotton for a charka, in case one of those turns up. That should be fun. Also I’ll get another of my fleeces washed, which will be a plus. I always do a fiber-dying demo as well, and have collected a large amount of dog hair from Emily, our Great Pyrenees, who guards the sheep. I’ll wash and dye some of her fur at the same time. Emily prefers the great outdoors to the barn any day except in a downpour, so her heavy coat, useful in winter, is really excessive about now. I collect a pillow-case full every year from her, as I used to from Siobhan.

The sheep spend their days doing as little as possible in the barn, with fan, shade, salt to lick, plenty of water, occasionally ice blocks in their water bucket–that’s the best I can do for them. We trim trees they like around the edges of the yard, areas where 8 young sheep and a goat used to munch them as they grazed, years back, and bring bundles of greens to them most days. With the forest thriving, minus the ruminants, there’s plenty to trim. The hay is lasting a long time, too.

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Filed under dogs, gardening, sheep, spinning workshops

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