Garden Report: June 11

Today a nice guy from Sonic (not the fast food place) came out and hooked up our new high-bandwidth connection. We'd been hosting our server in a colo (colocation facility; basically a place that has a lot of bandwidth and reliable power where you can pay to keep your server), but they had lots of connection failures then suddenly and without notice shut the facility down. Nice, huh?

So rather than find another colo, we moved the server to our basement. Which is why the website has been slow and unreliable for the last several weeks. Because we were running over our home DSL line, which was really not up to the task. We ordered a faster connection for home, but unless we wanted to pay 50% more to get speedy installation, we had to wait a couple weeks. That was OK, but it meant a couple weeks of really dodgy site performance. Sorry about that.

Noel spent much of the weekend preparing the house for the install, including running the wires and putting in a punchdown block. It's all kind of subtle, though, and about as interesting as before/after pictures of a mowed lawn, so no photos.

In the meantime, I did a bunch of things in the garden. Most notably, I moved the chicks out of the basement, where they were making a mess of the place, into a little dog-crate habitat in the chicken yard.

Chicks in their habitat

They've been next door to the big chickens for a while now and they seem to be getting used to each other, but I'm still not putting them in together yet. Grace is still making baby peeps, and I want them all to be behaving like big chickens before I take down the barrier.

I'm about to start a major renovation in the chicken yard. I need to sift through a bunch of compost to build the planting beds under the deck, which is going to require huge amounts of work. I'm thinking of building an electric sifting table, which is basically our soil sifter with an electric vibrating motor attached (the sort used to make a concrete vibrating table for casting pavers). This should be interesting.

Pumpkins growing everywhere

Hey, we have pumpkins growing everywhere in the yard now. Like in the compost. I blame the scrub jays, who like to plant things around the garden. They are also to blame for all the little oak seedlings that pop up everywhere.

Pumpkin in the daylily bed

These pumpkins are growing in the daylily bed. I'm letting them go because they are actually more decorative than the daylilies.

Giant lily finally blooms

In the lily department, that giant oriental lily finally started blooming. The thing is only about seven feet tall, so it looks more like an air-raid siren than a flower, but I'm sure it would smell great if I could reach up that high. Our local hummingbirds seem to like it, at least.

Hydrangea hedge

Just when I was thinking things might start to die down -- we got started a month early so it stood to reason we might lose the rush of flowers a month early in exchange -- things really lit up again. The hydrangeas burst into bloom, and even the two small ones that were doing poorly seem to have recovered enough to put on a show. They mostly just want to be weeded regularly, I guess.

Some kind of Clarkia

We've had a mini heat-wave here, and several things in the swath are not looking too good. Not so this clarkia whose name I forget (it might be Clarkia williamsonii). I like clarkias a lot, but have had only mixed success in growing them (they like more neglect than plants get in my watered areas, and less than they get in the unwatered areas). Except this year, when the two clarkias I planted are doing quite well.


Speaking of plants whose names I can't remember, this little blue job has recently come into bloom after a couple weeks of teasing us with buds. It turns out that having the big containers out front on the automatic watering means a parade of blooms out there. Now I need to get more serious about actually designing the arrangements in them, I guess.

Black Phoebe

For the last several months we've had this nice little Black Phoebe hanging out in the garden. They eat flying insects and I am going to be optimistic and say he's not just eating bees (he sings the male Phoebe song, so I assume he's a he). Actually he mostly hangs out over the very swampy bits of the back yard. He especially likes perching on the tomato ladders that we use as plant stakes, or on one of the potted fig trees.

Hive A and Hive B with labels

In the bee yard, I stopped feeding Hive A because they don't need it any more. Hive B still can use a little syrup, because they are smaller, though they build nicer comb. (That plain wood box is a feeder box, by the way. Maybe this winter I will paint the feeders as well as the regular boxes.)

I halfway suspect that the size difference between Hive A and Hive B is caused by drift, which is when Hive B bees go into Hive A by accident. On a bee forum I read that you can help the bees drift less by putting identifying marks over each hive entrance. Noel picked up some reflective letters from the hardware store and we placed them on each hive; they're different colours and different letters, and we put them in different spots, and we will see if that is enough to make the difference. We're also going to move Hive B a bit over to the left, into a sunnier spot. Bees prefer to live in the shade, but tend to be a bit stronger as a hive in the sun.

posted by ayse on 06/11/12