It's a big area to cover, especially with wood chips which we haven't hauled at all this year, so I'm trying the hay experiment here in earnest. If the hay and pine needles work, this will be great and save us the bother of loading and hauling chips for miles.
One nice thing about the white pine needles is the unifying look of the beds. Other years we would get wood chips from the free garden waste facility and depending on who dropped off what, you got varying sizes, wood colors, etc and always the possibility of a tree which had been diseased being chipped--which could bring the disease home to spread in your own garden.
The pine needles look the same and they have a pleasant reddish color to them. Not the flaming orange/red color of dyed custom wood chips (I'm not a fan of the color nor of the odor of those commercially available mulches) but the color definitely does show up from a distance. I did a price comparison online for pine needle mulch--at $27 a bale we would have spent over $4000 just on mulch. I am glad we have our own free needles out back AND that Ann was enjoying loading and putting them down in the garden beds!
The rudbeckias are just a mass of yellow now, especially the ones that overwintered and/or reseeded themselves. Every year I plant a hundred new seeds of several different kinds and plant youngsters in the gardens to replace those that will inevitably succumb to powdery mildew. This year I am going to pay strict attention to the mildew situation and see if it is worse in wet weather or drought. Ironically, drought years seem just as bad for the onset of the mildew as wet years. There are a few remedies for the problem, some commercially available chemicals, but I dislike using them (though I do use a 3 in 1 systemic spray on the shrub roses). One year I tried a solution of skim milk and water, said to 'cure' the problem, but with poor results...maybe I started too late, or maybe the milk should have been chocolate?
Once the mildew takes over, I yank the sick ones out and then there's a slight lull in bloom until my new seedlings kick in. With any luck at all, I will have a second crop of bloom somewhere until frost which will then reseed for next year.
The only drawback to the seedlings is they come up in random places. I do transplant many of them, but they aren't real keen on being moved, sulking for weeks afterward if the roots are disturbed too much, so for the most part, I let them grow where they want. Mother Nature often has a better sense of design than I do anyway.
On Friday afternoon, Carl and I went to the greenhouse in town and I bought some more petunias to toss in the gardens here and there, two flats worth. Everything is 40% off and I want to see if anything will start to bloom on the Pachyberm and soon, because it is so bland right now. I have this 'vision' of Wave petunias spilling down the hillsides amongst the rocks, transforming the entire berm into a large, pink and purple sight to see. Hopefully, not an eyesore....but to those gardeners out there who cannot stand petunias, the sight may well be offensive. Earwigs, slugs or some other unknown pests have been happily munching on many of my flowers all season, especially the petunias, and I used some of the 'rose & flower' systemic spray on them last week. I'll see if it deters the 'chewers'.
Carl had to rebuild the circulating pump for the quarry pond on Friday, so we'll see how much the water in the quarry will clear up. I finished planting the petunias and then went back to work weeding. Ann came over after she was done with work and hauled some more mulch for some spots we missed. Joel and Dave were both out and about, so it was just the three of us working in the yard.
Our renter was baling hay all day Friday and Saturday (beautiful second crop alfalfa, no rain on it!) and there was the distant noise from the tractors in the field, but as I was weeding, I kept hearing a sound reminiscent of hot air balloons. I said something Carl, but he didn't hear anything other than the tractors. I went back to weeding, but then suddenly, over the woods across the road, appeared a huge hot air balloon just about brushing the tree tops. They landed in our hayfield just east of the house.
Hay and balloons, never a dull moment
There is a rule, I guess, that they cannot fly too close (within ten miles or so) of a major airport. We are about ten miles as the crow flies from the airport, so this is about as far east as they can go.
The balloon's crew showed up to load up and they were on their way. We have grown rather used to hot air balloons due to the fact that every year in August Seymour has a hot air balloon rally. They have never landed here, though, due to the wind not being in the right direction for our land, but we usually 'chase' them and have helped the pilots load up on more than one occasion which is great fun.
After the hot air balloons took off, we had some company, Cody & Briana and their nephew stopped in. We decided to have a bonfire and some food and fireworks ensued. Dave & Kayla had a bunch and so did Cody, so we were blowing stuff up for hours on end. Around 2:30AM everyone went home. By the time I got everything in the house and ready for bed, the eastern sky was lighting up. I should have stayed up, but I was tired!
The next morning, Cody & Briana were here and we all headed to the Pike River near Amberg. Carl and I took our original black canoe and Cody had the other one; Briana and Joel were in kayaks. Ann had to work, which is too bad, for she would have loved the trip. The Pike is a beautiful river with incredible scenery. At the end of the run, Carl decided he wanted to go farther downstream, where the whitewater gets more intense. 'Loyal' wife that I am, I bid him a farewell, thanked him for almost 32 years of marriage, and blew him a kiss. Joel and Carl proceeded downstream and the three of us scurried along the shore dodging poison ivy (which is EVERYWHERE!) and tried, in vain, to see what would happen. All we saw was the two of them disappearing around a bend in the river.
We went back to Cody's car and waited downstream at the next stop for Carl and Joel to show up. We stood in the woods (and it was a hot day, around 88 degrees) swatting mosquitoes and wondered if we were at the right place when Carl finally came floating into view. One look at his wet clothes and then the canoe told me the 'rest of the story'....this wasn't a smooth float trip.
Going through the rapids, Carl had trouble with the waves coming over the side. The canoe filled up with water and made it nearly impossible to navigate-lucky for Carl, Joel was there to help him out. The hydraulic pressure on a 17' canoe full of water is incredible and that was what bent the braces in the canoe so badly. Lucky for Carl, he was on the upstream side of the canoe when it got plastered on a rock-being on the downstream side between a rock and a canoe has been known to be fatal.
Back safe and sound in the driveway, waiting for repairs.
Yesterday, Sunday, was a hot one too, and I spent the day first mowing our lawn and then Mom's. I love to mow lawn, though we have to do some creative pruning at her house to do away with the tree limbs hanging down. I was wearing half of her spruce tree needles by the end of the day. There was a Scotch pine dying by the end of the tractor shed, so I called Carl when I was done mowing and we pulled it out by the roots with the 574. I sort of dragged the tree home, but it was on the forklift teeth, chained at an awkward angle and the right rear wheel of the tractor was being dragged by the root ball and all too soon, I smelled hot rubber. Leave it to me to burn rubber with a tractor.
Shortly after the tree adventure, it began to rain and Carl and I sat on the porch and watched it pour. We often have had visitors remark on how nice the screened-in porch is, and sadly enough, we rarely do enjoy it, but it is nice to get away from the bugs for awhile. Since the rain ended our working outside, we cleaned up and headed for the video store. We were looking for the next season of the show we've been watching, but it was already out. We picked out three movies and, after stopping at Mc D's, drove home.
Dave & Kayla and her mom stopped in around 8:30PM and Dave demonstrated the dry ice method of blowing up pop bottles and then they were going to Green Bay's fireworks next. They had picked up Mom too, but she decided against going if it meant she was going to have to walk much. She stayed here and watched 'It's Complicated', one of the movies I picked out. We took her home by 11PM and met Joel coming home from his party. We decided to watch one more movie 'Men Who Stare at Goats' and that was about the end of the day.
Another 4th of July is past. Today, since we are all home, we decided to go canoeing again, but it is raining. Hard to say what will happen, we are creatures of impulse.........you never know around here.