March 1, 2014

"Backslider"

Backslide: : 1. to start doing something bad again after you have stopped it. 2. to revert to a worse condition :  retrogress.

Back in September,  I vowed to bring this blog up to date and began a fairly intensive review of what had occurred in the garden over the past 9-12 months since I had last posted.  See (Rewind Parts 1-6) which I accomplished over a 3-4 week time frame.  Once this was accomplished, I promised myself that I would not regress and get behind in the blog again. Famous last words!  I have not written a word or posted a picture since Oct 13th. Am I a liar, or just lazy?  Have I kept silent because nothing worthwhile seems to happens in the garden this time of year, or am I so depressed by the bleak landscape of winter that I cannot find the energy or inspiration to comment. Maybe the seemingly endless progression of  alternating winter/spring/winter with the biweekly polar vortexes that alter the temperatures from 70 degrees one week to 20 degrees the next and has both nature and my body in a perpetual state of flux.  Could this be the reason for my regression?  Nah, I'm just lazy!

So, once again I will endeavor to fall back and review what has transpired in the garden and on the  home front since my last post.


OCTOBER:

The end of October we make our annual pilgrimage with several friends to the Driftwood Inn in Mexico Beach, Florida for a long weekend to relax and partake of some good seafood and a few beers and good wine with friends.






New yard art at the Inn



The beach at sunset



In the Garden: Did some clean up and composting of spent vegetables. Planted garlic and perennial onions in the garden.



Harvested gourds for drying out and storage. Note: Never plant gourds in the garden again. It's like kudzu, it runs everywhere.




Discovered "Mr. Maple" in the yard.



Found new use for empty planters.



November: 

Traveled to Hartselle, AL. to visit Rosewood Nursery to check out selection of trees for future Allee for driveway entrance.  Very enjoyable visit with owner Barry, who took me on a guided tour of the nursery and recommended several different trees that will do well in an Allee.  My favorites are October Red Glory and Autumn Blaze Red Maples. I hope to combine the two varieties to extend the color in the fall for a more dramatic effect.



Rosewood Nursery in Hartselle, Al.



Entrance to Nursery


Autumn Blaze Red Maple



Driveway entrance for future Allee

In the Garden:

Some of the fall vegetables ready for harvest.


Broccoli



Collards


Savoy Cabbage


Brussel Sprouts

December:  Nothing really going on in the garden. Finished harvesting the broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage . Really enjoyed the Savoy cabbage. Mild sweet flavor and very pretty. Will definitely plant more next fall.  Still continue to harvest tons of collards.  



Christmas cactus was very pretty this year.


January: Arrival of the polar vortexes made it necessary to provide additional protection from the cold for the chickens. With the help of my lovely wife and daughter, we insulated the coops with plastic sheeting which created a "greenhouse" effect inside the coop and a barrier against windy drafts.  We also treated all the chickens for bronchitis as we had a few to come down with colds and were sneezing quite a lot. The medication seemed to do the trick and all recovered nicely. 



My helpers,  Cynthia and Mary Kathryn.


The insulated coops


In the past 18 months we have lost two chickens to predator hawks, the latest victim was in December just before Christmas. After insulating the coops,  we decided it was time to move the chickens to new ground and made a plan to cover the coops with netting to deter further hawk attacks. 



Netting over the coops

I am happy to say the netting has worked great so far.  We attached aluminum pie pans and streamers to the netting as an extra deterrent.

On a sunnier note…..

To escape the polar vortex, we escaped to more tropical climates by taking a late January cruise to the Islands of Grand Turk, San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Marteen, St. Thomas, and St. John's.

Departure from Ft. Lauderdale

Grand Turk

San Juan Fort


Old San Juan

Rainforest waterfall

Rainforest

St. Maarten's Harbor 


Old Street 



Plant lined alleyway

St. Thomas


St. John's


Trunk Bay,  St. John's

Trunk Bay Beach

Overlooking Trunk Bay



February:  While we were on our cruise, Alabama had it's first winter storm with ice and snow that effectively paralyzed the areas of Alabama affected by the storm. While we do not care for ice, we did miss seeing the snow. Much to our surprise, we were treated to another dose of winter with  snow later in the month.




 The pool cover made the pool look like a skating rink.






Snow covered limelight hydrangea






The end of February we attended the home and garden show at the Civic Center. One of the guest speakers was Ahmed Hassan from HGTV's Yard Crashers program. He spoke and then held a panel discussion with local landscape and plant experts from local businesses. Very enjoyable and informative.








Thus ends our journey of regression. I will try, but do not promise to make a better effort to keep this blog current and up to date. Hopefully, with the advent of Spring just around the corner, it will inspire me to be more diligent in my endeavor. Nah, probably not!!!