Sunday, June 18, 2017

At it Again

V´s been at it again.  This northeast side of the house has always been a damp, weedy patch.  The original house wall collapsed entirely along here, therefore the retaining wall was built and drainage installed along the house foundation.

Unable to stand the eyesore anymore, V decided to get out the gravel.  He dug up the weedy turf, laid down cardboard.  Set aside a few beds.  Built a raised bed for the climbing rose Ghislaine de Feligonde, and then planted the rest.

Still to come are some slate flagstones for a path, a couple more shade loving plants and a few more sacks of mulch.  We left a corner by the downspout to try a rain barrel arrangement of some kind.

He´s a keeper.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The June Garden

Everything is growing apace.  Had a very nice first flush from the roses.

Seed starting was dismal, again.  I got less than 50% germination from the tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos.  So no poblanos or jalapeños this year either.  Herbs were a disaster as well.  Some dill survived, but the purple basil looks very iffy.

These are the only survivors of the tomato seedlings.

These were the peppers and tomatillos.

The three herb/dye plant/flower beds are now finished.  I´m using the third for the indigo and cutting herbs like parsley, cilantro and chives.  Some potted roses will be moved here in the fall.

The winter squash found a home in the hugel raised bed.  The Sweet Meats were no shows. Some look a bit yellow, so I´m not sure they´ll thrive.

Elsewhere, got the purchased courgette/zucchinni starts planted (0 germination from seed) and rather optimistically placed things for them to climb when the time comes.

If the cucumbers all do well, I´ll be swimming in pickles.  Had almost total germination success.  Unfortunately, that was the tray I tipped over and it also had some melons, so there may be some interesting mixes when they start growing.  The front area is now planted with more carrots and red onions and peppers.

I planted more carrots because some critter is eating them from below.  Sneaky varmints.  I assume voles.  But letting Breo in the garden to look would be courting disaster.

The tomato starts I bought are doing well.  I´ve since planted the pitiful solitary tomato and 2 tomatillos.  One tomatillo, could be green or purple, got one of each, didn´t last even 24 hours.  I came out in the morning and it had vanished from it´s planting spot.  A mystery.

Potatoes have been hilled twice and will get a third pass this week.  Haven´t actually found many pests beyond the first potato beetle as I spot check them.  Beyond are the melons.  Everyone shook their heads when I mentioned I was planting melons, but they were actually a huge germination success and I didn´t want to waste them.

We have achieved peas!

And we finally ordered next winter´s firewood, which V managed to stack in 2 days.  He´s a wonder.

Whew!  They´re predicting a heat wave through the weekend, so I need to get on top of some weeding.  Also thinking about having a go at pickled walnuts.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Breo Report


this is Breogán, chief of security, reporting from operation Fogar de Breogán, or ... my house.

Commandeering the glowing screen thingy after the shocking lack of reports on my convalescence.  I´m now 13 days post surgery for my torn anterior cruciate ligament.  The injury was sustained on duty while in pursuit of a suspected intruder of the fluffy tail variety, and left me limping and unable to adequately fulfill my duties.  Rapid pursuit was out of the question.  I could barely confront strangers who approached the compound perimeter.  Constant vigilance!

Fortunately, my team have mostly stepped up and are coping during my recovery.  The female staffer is a keeper.  By that I mean housekeeper, groundskeeper, gate keeper and bookkeeper (while I am monitoring evening neighborhood movements, she reads a book.)   She is also the keeper of the bones, which I am gratified to note, have not been lacking.  With my movements strictly curtailed, I would go stir crazy without something crunchy to snack on.  Despite my injury, buried bone rotation policy is strictly enforced on an ongoing basis.  She also monitors my bandages, and provides physical therapy in the form of tummy and back scratches which are greatly assisting in my recovery.  Perhaps that´s the reason for blog-silence.

The male staffer is the operation´s PR person.  I deduce this from the hours he spends talking loudly on the phone and looking at the glowing screen.  But, to his credit, he has stepped up patrol frequency, at least as far as the patio, and continues night shifts which started when I first came home from the operation. In addition, he has provided activity objects which allow me to hone my crushing, rending and tearing skills.

Primarily, my duties now consist of supervising the female staff as she excavates and providing alerts, should vehicles or individuals approach.  Although long range reconnaissance is impossible at this time, local patrols and perimeter checks continue on a regular basis.  Communication channels remain open with auxiliary outposts in the surrounding territory and alarms duly repeated as necessary.  Constant vigilance.

The stitches came out Friday, and a case of rash has precluded more bandaging.  The vet staff have been universally impressed with my physique and forebearance.  The now regulation applications of sticky stuff on and around the injury are a constant temptation to self-cure by licking.  I know I´m not supposed to take measures into my own paws, and when I can´t help myself, the staff bring out the collar of shame.  I hate that.  So undignified.

I fully expect to begin extending patrols for longer distances next week.  In the meantime, I am happy to report that I was finally provided with a sofa worthy of the name on which to recover.

A cordial wag of the tail to my canine comrades.  Keep to the Mastiff code.

Signing off,

Breogán, Bonecrusher, Cats Bane and Celtic Cur.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

More May Showers

Last few days have been very wet.

But I did manage a personal best, fitting 8 bags of manure in the car.  And they let me have it for free because I shoveled out the stall myself.

Now waiting for the ground to drain to keep digging. 

Friday, May 5, 2017

May showers, May flowers

Finally had a few showers, mostly during the night.  There was a downpour with some hail earlier this week, which didn´t help people with grape vines who suffered a frost a week ago, but didn´t do any damage here.

Seeds still germinating.  The squashes have been potted up, waiting for new beds which will require a trip to the horsey place for manure.

Got the tomato panels up and some RAF and some Santiago black tomato starts planted.

Gave up on the parsnips and turned the bed that will be peppers.  Ate the garlic scapes in a scramble and a stir fry.  Now, enjoying fresh salads, too.

Calima bush beans transplanted.

And FINALLY the potatoes showed. Whew!

Iris are still going.

Don Juan looks spectacular.  Unsurprisingly, I´m a little in love with him.

V couldn´t wait and planted some annuals in the beds around the old oven.

An unknown rose, fighting with the old grapes for a space.  Unfortunately, no scent.

The unknown pink rose that climbs the crabapple.  She smells really good.

Breo enjoying a sunny break.  Judging from the dirt on his nose, he´s been in the veggie plot again.  Must arrange more secure fencing.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

Lots in flower.  April, in general, was very warm and dry.

A good year for iris, which are some of my favorites.

Don Juan is the first rose to bloom.

Oddly this year, first came the daffs, then some tulips, then the crocus, and now more tulips.

Seeds update.  Great germination from the sweet peas, also the calima bush beans were almost 100%.  Some of the squash are up and getting true leaves.  But the tomatoes have barely made an appearance, the peppers not looking spry, and nothing on the tomatillos or the indigo.  Have since sown more indigo, cucumbers, zucchini/courgettes, herbs and flowers.

In the garden, my neighbor gave me a sack of sprouted potatoes so they went in.  I checked the early reds and found only a very few with eyes showing, so I replanted those and composted the rest.  So much for early.

Onions planted last weekend.  Mostly the local ¨chata¨ which are a little squat, but great keepers,  and some regular Spanish onions too.

Peas are up, lettuce thinned twice.  You can see the nasturtiums that overwintered on the wall. I´ve tried transplanting volunteer seedlings, but they all seem to die.

Breo ¨helped¨ thin the carrots, so they´re uneven but coming along.  No sign of anything resembling a line of parsnips.  Seriously considering planting peppers here and trying the parsnips again early fall.

Ripe strawberries.  Two of them!  That´s one more than I got last year.  Birds must be busy doing something else this year.

And the currants are showing fruit!  Is that early?

Found ants had set up housekeeping in the bagged soil.  Made some worm tea for the seedlings. 

Hoping to get the panels for tomatoes up this weekend. Scapes on the garlic have to be cut and made into something delish.

In ¨Sprung¨ news, Breo has been limping on and off since January so we finally took him to the animal hospital in Lugo for x-rays and a diagnosis.  We´re told he has a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his knee (ACL).  This is apparently quite common in large, active dogs.  He´s taking anti-inflamatories.  Surgery is expensive, but left alone the joint will get arthritic and since he´s only 4, that hardly seems fair.  So, he´s scheduled for surgery in May and we will have to think of ways of keeping him absolutely quiet, no jumping on furniture, no racing to bark at tractors or passersby.  Any suggestions would be welcome.