A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Looking up at the world

I've been experimenting with different camera angles around the yard, and some of my favorites are shots that look up from the ground.  Here are a couple shots of ferns.

And here, I'm looking right down a fallen tree trunk:

Looking up at a large pile of fallen branches:

And a waist-level view of some shrubbery:

Video: Goose wandering into the creek and swimming

Most of the time, when I approach the creek, if there are ducks or geese on or near it, they fly away as soon as they spot me.  But on this occasion, I stayed back so that the goose either didn't see me or paid me no mind.  The result was this video:

Wildflowers in the Yard

My yard began to fill with purple and white wildflowers around the middle of May.  I remembered seeing these wildflowers in the yard last year around this time when I looked at the house as a prospective buyer.  The yard was one of the big selling points for the house.  Here are a few photos of those wildflowers:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Planting Vegetables - My First True Garden Experience

Until this spring, my experience in the garden consisted of clearing out the weedy overgrowth that I inherited from the previous owner.  But now that it's been cleared out, there's room for me to plant some things and hope they grow.  And considering my lack of gardening experience, that's about the extent of my gardening skill.

I was hoping to give my green beans, carrots, and sunflowers a good start, and so I bought a seed starter kit.  When my parents were in town for a weekend to help out around the yard, I let my mom plant the seeds and cover them with plastic, which, I had read, helps to give them a good start.  I kept them upstairs in the loft, on a table by the window where they got plenty of light.  Within a couple of weeks or so, the plants had sprouted up.

Then it became a matter of deciding when to move them outside.  The first step was to weed the planter boxes in the garden to make room for them.  Once they were clear, as above, it was a matter of following the weather.  By the time I had finished clearing the planter boxes, there was a forecast of a very cold night, with potential for frost.  I held off on planting the starter plants.  It was a good thing, too, because there wound up being a frost.  But then I was busy with work and other obligations.  I didn't have time to mow the lawn, much less plant anything in the garden.  I had time over Memorial Day weekend, but another cold night was in the forecast on Sunday night.  I held off, and it's probably a good thing, because my weather station recorded a low of 31 degrees early in the morning.  So finally, on Memorial Day, I moved the plants outside.

First, I dug a hole:

I filled the hole with some water:

I removed the bottom of the seed starter containers, then I placed the container with seeds in the hole:

Finally, I secured the container in place by filling the hole and covering it with topsoil.  Now, it's up to me to keep the plants watered and weeded so that they'll grow!

Mowing Decisions and Laziness

When the grass gets too tall, it's time to mow.  There's really no question about that. But there's this thing called real life that gets in the way, and sometimes you have to wait for time to get the job done.

But inevitably, just when you have time to go outside and mow, nature intervenes:

A downpour can be over in 15 minutes, but if it happens around dinnertime, as it did last Wednesday, the ground is soaked for the rest of the evening, and it can still be damp the following morning.

And nature has a tendency to get stuck in a pattern, as it did last week.  It rained again on Thursday.  And Friday.  So I had to wait until Saturday - a whole 12 days after I had last mowed - to get outside.  Needless to say, the lawn was pretty scraggly-looking.  The front lawn was covered in dandelions, and the backyard was just too tall. 

But then, a little over an hour later, the lawn had been restored to a nicely-trimmed appearance.  I'll have to be a little more careful about the weather forecast next time and make sure that I don't get caught in this scenario again!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Photos from the Dock: Direct Sun Edition

I went outside after dinner to take some photos and see how high the creek was after some thunderstorms rolled through last night.  My weather station reported 0.68" of rain.  I timed it right, as the sun was directly across from the dock, in an opening between trees.

I wasn't the only one enjoying the gorgeous weather...a couple of ducks were enjoying a swim.

I wasn't quick enough on the trigger, but a third duck flew in, quacking away, and drove the other two ducks around the bend, farther up the creek...and farther from me.

By the time I finally got around to taking a picture.  (I tried to shoot a video, but by the time it started recording, the ducks had flown away.)  You can see the ripples on the surface of the water that the ducks churned up in their excitement to get away.

The creek had been running low for most of the week - we haven't had much rain lately - but after last night's thunderstorm, it's come up close to the dock again.   In the photo above, you can see the high water mark from earlier this morning, a couple of inches above the water level.

As I said above, the water had come up to within a couple of inches of the dock.

The creek's edge has greened up quite a bit since my last batch of photos from the dock.

The position of the sun made for some really spectacular photos.

Here's a better shot of that high water mark:

Some of my favorite photos are the reflections in the creek:

The sun settled right into the notch between the trees:

With the sun directly across from the dock, my shadow was climbing the steps:

One last shot of the creek:

Snow in May???

As I was walking around the front yard today, I looked down and noticed what looked like small white pellets - snowflakes???  But it's been warm this week: over 80 the past two days.  So definitely not snow.  I looked up and found the source:  little white flowers on the tree.  The picture below is a bit blurry, but look for the splotch of white in the center of the photo.

Greening Up!

It's been a while since I've posted, but the yard has been busy with growth over the last five weeks or so.  I've mowed the lawn once, and it's due for another mowing...tomorrow, if the weather allows.  The more natural areas of the yard have quickly sprouted up in the past couple of weeks, as you can see above and below.

Last month, I took some time to clear out some of the many raspberry plants here in the back of the yard, and it's a good thing, because now this patch is pretty densely packed with plant life.

You can see the raspberry canes that I've pulled up to the left in the photo above.

I've also cleared out a lot of the downed branches from this area, but there's still a big fallen tree there in the middle that I need to cut apart with a saw.

Many of the plants that have grown in this part of the yard are ferns.

Looking back across this same area from the opposite side, it doesn't look quite as dense...but the denser vegetation is there, toward the background.

Here's a look at that denser area of vegetation.  I think there's plenty of food here for the groundhog.

Along the side of the yard, the thorny plants have greened up as well.  I took some time to trim them back a bit before the leaves grew in, and I'm glad that I did.

This looks like a comfortable thicket for little critters to hide in.

But in the long run, I'm considering removing the thorny plants in favor of something that won't grow so aggressively.

In the center of the picture above is a big, overgrown thorny plant that I'm planning to take out or at least trim back.  It's actually several plants grown over the same area.