Friday, May 28, 2010

Prune Juice

 Today I was appointment-free, what a relief.  The morning was spent walking the doggies for a mile and then planting perennials that should have been in the ground a month ago.  The temps today were in the 80's again, so I did not plant any annuals yet.  I know, what am I waiting for?  The 90's??

 The waterlilies are starting to bloom already, probably brought on a bit sooner by the warm weather

The hose and I were constant companions today too, trying to keep everything watered.  I sure hope we're not in for another drought again. 

Carl came home from work for lunch at 12:30PM (beef vegetable soup that I threw together last minute) and over our meal we discussed what we should attack next.  The trouble with spring/early summer is everything is happening way too fast and though I have 101 other things to do right away, some things won't keep, namely Pine Pruning.

One good thing about spruce trees is you can prune them any time of the year, even in January if you've got cabin fever, own a pair of snowshoes and are sufficiently deranged.

Pine trees, on the other hand, have to be pruned when their candles elongate and just before the needles start to form.  If you wait too long, you've lost the opportunity to make the tree a bit fuller and limit the growth.  We have an abundance of pine trees in this yard, Scotch, Mugho, Limber, Stone, White, Japanese, Red, Austrian, etc. and they all need tending.  I lost count after 30.  Joel started pruning a Mugho pine the other night and was keeping track of the cuts he had to make.  He lost count after 200 and he wasn't even 1/4 done. Suffice it to say, we made a whole lot of cuts today.
We have been able to hold three white pines by the Quarry garden down to about half of their normal size for the last seven years or so by pruning them every spring.  This is a labor intensive job, and one we don't do for any other reason than to see if we can keep them a bit smaller.  The trees by the Quarry need a ladder and/or the Super H tractor with the bucket extended to get to the top of them.  

Yours truly, up a ladder

Who is that bag lady up in the tree??

We've been trying to thin the branches out a bit so the trunks show, at least on two of the trees. 

Big pile of branches

We haven't really got a clue how to 'cloud prune' but we're trying to learn as we go.   These poor white pines are our guinea pigs.  I've been weighting some of the branches in an attempt to have them grow at different levels.  


One tree we do NOT prune is this one, Bristlecone Pine, since it has a very slowwwww growth rate.

We wrapped up the pruning by 7:30PM and then set to work edging the front road bed and began hauling up some hay from the mulch pile.  A neighbor of ours was out for a bike ride tonight and stopped in to see the gardens.  I could tell she was a bit dismayed with all the chaos here (and so am I) but I think she realizes the chaos is necessary.  She did say she thought the Elephant Berm was attractive, so all was not lost (but then, what's she supposed to say?  'Are you people out of your minds????!')  

After our visitor left it was almost dark.  I enlisted Carl's aid in rounding up the hoses and grabbed the Dixon and did a rapid mowing job on the lawn.  I have a feeling we may be in for more impromptu visitors this weekend and if there's one thing I've learned in this gardening frenzy, if the lawn is mowed, it makes the rest of the joint look just a little less tacky.  


There was a lady in her 90's who used to come out from town with her friends; she just loved our yard and wanted to share it with anyone she could kidnap for an hour or two.  She herself had seen our place so many times she used to just bring people out here and she'd park her car in the shade and read a book while they toured.  

Regrettably, she passed away this spring;  I miss her.  Memorial Weekend would be the weekend she would start bringing her 'tour car' here.  One year while we were building the Quarry garden, she stopped out by herself to see what was happening.  I still remember her dismay when she met me in the backyard (devoid of any annuals and with an unkempt lawn) and said, "Oh! What happened?? It's not pretty!!"  

She was right, it wasn't pretty, but I assured her it would be later on in the season.   It's not too pretty right now, either.  But we're givin' it all we've got.  

Carl and I had to give the hens their medicine for their legs tonight too, the last thing they (or we) wanted to do, but it's best done in the dark.  Chickens can't see at night and don't put up as big a fight.  We have to dispense a tiny amount of liquid medicine with a syringe right into their mouths and I'm getting really good at having them open up and say 'Ah'.  

We got in at 10PM and skipped supper altogether, though I did make some popcorn.  We had a tough time getting the 'prune juice' off our arms...pine pitch is very sticky, and it gets everywhere and then the dirt adheres to it and you look even worse.  I had some in my hair, ouch...makes combing it out a real pain.  

Joel just came home and took a few pictures of the northern lights and the Quarry in the light of the full moon-- this one turned out about the best:

Well, dozing off again, time for this day to end.  Thanks for reading!  



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