Sunday, May 29, 2011

building with natural stone

chilton limestone steps and walls- eventually on top it'll be a patio
I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew, especially when it comes to do-it-yourself handyman projects.  Because of what I do for work, and because I've seen a lot of these type of projects done, I always overestimate my abilities when it comes to yard and garden projects.

This spring's big project is a case in point.  We have had an ugly area of our backyard just off of the back of our house since we bought the place 5 and a half years ago.  It was a sort of half-ass attempt at a patio in an area way too small for anything resembling a patio.  There was a level area for 7 or 8 feet, then a steep slope with a drop of about 2 feet down to the yard.  Someone had tried to make a sitting area out of it by placing irregular yellow limesone flagging on top of the same nice rich black soil that we grow our garden crops in.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

pop goes the raingarden

the raingarden pops in late may
 So I mentioned the ostrich ferns unfurling in the raingarden last post (and had a record number of comments on fern cuisine- thank you commenters!)  Today I took a look at the raingarden and could find few if any edible fern fronds left.  They've unfurled with a vengeance over the last week.  Of all the spots in the yard, the raingarden is always the one that surprises me most.

It's the last place for the snow to melt- it's on the north side of our stucco garage, and the hollow helps shelter the snow from what little sun falls there.  We had snow there into the middle of April this year, and the plants showed it.  A few ferns popped up, some volunteer sapling sprung back, and the virginia creeper picked up where it left off last fall.   But mostly it looked dead or at least disappointingly dormant for way way too long into the season.

Then this week- we had storms- lots of storms and rain.  We had a tornado that hit the center of the Twin Cities and tear up several square miles of North Minneapolis the same day that the massive tornado struck Joplin, Missouri.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The first garden-made meal of spring

the trillium grandiflorum and maindenhair fern adiantum pedatum again
No we didn't try to eat the trillium or the maidenhair fern.  I'm not sure, but I vaguely recall that trillium may be poisonous.  I doubt maidenhair fern is, but that's just too pretty to eat.  No- the first all-garden dish of the spring came as a surprise to me.

This is one of the reasons I love my wife.  She still knows how to surprise me.  I came home from work a bit late today, and she'd already been home for a while, so I went outside to play with the kids while she cooked dinner.

I came in for something or other after a little while and she told me to close my eyes- which immediately made me suspicious.  But she insisted, so I did close my eyes, and open my mouth and let her put something- food I hoped- in.  She told me to guess what it was.  What vegetable it was.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

planting again- this time in the community garden

enjoying the blossoms on the community gardens' plum trees

As if eighth of an acre isn't enough- we had to go and get a little plot in the community garden two blocks from our house.

This is the second year we've had a 10 x 15' plot there.  It's not big, but it does have the full sun exposure that our back yard veggie garden lacks, and makes growing tomatoes and peppers and okra a lot easier and more productive.

So last Sunday morning, I put the tomato cages, a shovel and our baby plants in my old wheelbarrow andwheeled it two blocks to the garden.  The fruit trees in the orchard were blooming, the sun was out, there were a few neighbors already in the garden, doing their thing.  It was a good day to be there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

rainstorms, rain barrels and the most hip state in america

little man takes it upon himself to keep the garlic watered

It looked like tonight was going to be the first big roof-shaker of a rainstorm.  The big puffy cumulonimbus were  coming in from the west and the sky was unnaturally yellow- then orange.  We waited a little bit to put the kids to bed, wondering if we'd have to head for the basement instead of the second floor.

But it passed quickly and quietly- now there's just a little rumbling off in the distance and the occassional pitter-pat on the window.  A good storm as storms go.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

how to make homemade wine

Gita and I squeezing the mashed fruit pulp to extract the juice
First I have to ask you to forgive me for posting photos from 2006, but I recently promised to post photos of home winemaking, and I haven't bothered to take pictures of the process for years, so here they are.  We are a bit younger and better looking in these photos, so I guess that doesn't hurt either.  It's amazing what a few years of having young children can do to a person.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

finally- a good day for planting

daffodils in the front yard

It was too good of a day today to pass up the chance to plant the veggie garden.  Yesterday was cold and grey and still had some snowflakes falling.  I had to go to the north shore of lake Mille Lacs yesterday morning, which normally would be a fun thing to do, but was completely miserable in the wind and cold.  The ice was off of the lake- but just barely.  Ice was still piled up in big surreal iceberg like chunks on the western side of the lake, and icicles were dripping on the roofs of buildings.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

may day planting

leonard messel magnolia beginning to bloom
Minnesota weather has never been very predictable and this spring is no exception.  We worked all day cleaning and cooking for our daughter's birthday party.  She's 4 years old now, and very proud of that fact, and also very excited about having a party just for her.

So we cleaned and cooked and did our errands while it rained cold rain for hours.  Then, just as the party was about to start- the sky cleared, and the sun came out, and we were wishing that we had cleaned up the yard a bit, because all of the kids headed outside to the swingset, and to play on the piles of rock (eek!).