Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Sunday, April 10, I didn't have time for a walk in the woods.  We were  working hard weeding in the garden.  When we pre-weed before planting we put on a cover mulch to keep emerging weeds down to a minimum.  If the weeds make it up through the mulch we give a tug and they are easily removed.  Our mulch of choice in the spring is Wood Chips, in the fall we prefer a deep cover of straw.  Yes, straw adds weed seeds but it also mats down to provide a very thick dense cover.  It is easy remove to allow the ground to warm in the spring (taking the wind born seeds with them).  It goes straight to the compost pile.  Chips in the spring are nice because when we decide to use the bed we can till the chips in.  They help with the drainage in our clay.  

It was over 85, and the humidity made it miserable.  Including the fact we have not had the gradual introduction to this type of weather.  We headed down to the chip piles with our "Rooster".
On the seat is our dog, "Honey".  She loves to ride in the rooster.  She sits up like a firehouse dog, fearless as we drive head long down the steep drive.  Her story is here:

 The Rooster, got his name for the obvious reason he is red.  What is not so obvious he is a real scrapper, always running around.  It is a small dump bed truck similar to a golf cart;  eleven horsepower, not four wheel drive.  I can't use it in long grass, the grass will wrap around the crank shaft.  I love using it.  It's small enough to go into garden areas my diesel truck won't.  I can take it across the pasture without putting ruts into the ground.  It uses less gas than my car or truck, running up and down the hill to the house is "greener" using the Rooster.  Of course the greenest way and healthier way would be for me to walk.  It would be a 1/2 mile round trip.  I usually have my hands full or have to retrieve something from the house which would require the dump bed to carry it.  At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  LOL

Long handled round point shovel (so you won't get a back ache stooping over)
Kitty litter buckets (twelve fit perfectly in the back of the rooster).  The rooster has a dump bed but if you fill the bed you have to empty it and take the contents to their destination.  Filling the buckets accomplishes that. (Plus they are 5 inches taller than the bed giving you more room for more chips)

Garden Rake, not a leaf rake, to rake the chips back in the pile when finished.
Spading fork, I don't know if it's its name but it is a 4 tined flat bladed fork.
Bucket containing: Drinking water, brown jersey gloves, camera, clippers
Mantis Tiller:  Needed, the piles had not been disturbed since fall and the elements caused it to be packed and difficult to break up with the fork.  


Our very used Tiller.
This is not a commercial.  We have no association with the company except for the fact we have owned 3 of them.  Not three at one time, but replaced the first one, two times.  The company has a great replacement policy.  If you return your "past repair" broken machine back to them you can get a refund towards the purchase of a new or reconditioned machine.

Our first mantis was purchased at an auction for 60 dollars.  It worked fabulously till we learned a lesson the hard way.  We loaned our machine to a "friend".  We have no idea what happened to it but it was returned with the motor frozen.  We were heart broken and started to inquire what it would cost for a new one.  That is when we found out about the money back policy and the reconditioned units.  Our "New" machine (we purchased a re conditioned one) arrived and we used it for years and it was falling apart.  Screws wouldn't hold together and the cover for the air filter was broken.  We knew we would have to plan on getting a new one.  This all happened when the bottom fell out of the economy. 

We must have a guardian angel.  We have a farm gate by the mail box.  When Hunny came home from work he stopped to open the gate and he called me. "Why did you leave the tiller down here by the gate?"  I said, "I haven't been to the gate much less leave the tiller there."  He said, "I'll be bringing the mantis up with me."

When he got out of the car he did indeed have a tiller in his hands.  It was a very new looking tiller and it had no tiller blades on it.  We gassed it up and tried to start it and it was frozen solid.  Someone left it knowing we garden and thought maybe we could fix it. We couldn't fix it but we did scavenge it.  We took our engine and exchanged it with the other engine.  Gassed it up and voila  a "new" mantis for us.  It has been two years and the only thing I can say is I wish I had two of these at one time.  Then Hunny could be tilling too.

 Before we arrived at the chip piles there were surprises on the drive.  The first plant I spied I was disappointed.  I had almost missed it's blooming.  We don't have a large population on the property.  We were greeted by Sweet Williams.

Woodland Phlox Phlox divaricata
I hadn't thought about transplanting these to another area (I have done it with wild geraniums).  Being there are so few I'm thinking about heading to the waste areas along the road and potting some to relocate them to our woods.  I have seen them growing in other places in the same place as May apples (which we have in profusion).  Their requirements are: part shade,  average to moist conditions.  This fact puzzles me because they are located in the gravel along side of our driveway and at the steep edge of the creek in the very dry clay and rock "soil".

Across the drive from the Sweet Williams was a patch of tiny white flowers with pink tones.  Upon closer inspection there were two different plants. This is very poor soil.  I don't think you could even scrape up soil.  The clay and the rocks were covered with leaves but no soil to speak of.  Nestled among the leaf litter on the ground were Spring Beauties and False Rue Anemones

Claytonia virginica
Purslane family (Portulacaceae)
Wow,in the purslane family.  Who would have thought.  The leaves have nothing in common with the purslane I pick in the summer.   That puslane is delectable steamed or leaves stripped from it and put in cream cheese with chives for a great cracker spread.  Spring beauty corms are edible but there is not enough there to warrant the destruction of such delightful spring surprises.

Enemion biternatum
 False rue always has 5 petals while rue has a variable number from 6 to 12. The leaves of false rue are much more deeply divided. The leaves are compound and are divided into 3 groups. Each group has 3 leaflets and each leaflet has 3 lobes. Flower stems divide with each branch having a flower. False Rue blooms about the same time as Rue, and sometimes in the same area .

Living rurally has many advantages but I know from when I lived in a suburban area that each of you can find little vignettes (microcosms of returning wild growth).  Just look where you walk

Thanks for taking a walk with me.

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Containing articles on cooking, crafts, quilting, stories, ect.
New article on "The Wedding quilt"
Not a garden blog.  There are articles which have nothing to do with creating or gardening. 
There are blogs on the new born baby kittens we found and are mothering.  It is a blog where I will sometimes voice my opinions which will always be environmentally friendly.

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