Limp Tomatoes


Just Resting?

Just Resting?

I decided I needed to take some action and transplant our tomato plants.  I thought I might be able to get away with planting once and just popping them into the garden.  But they got too tall and leggy.  They were drooping over from their own height, so I had to move them to deeper soil.  I gave it a shot this afternoon.

I think they won’t all make it.  I have had trouble transplanting tomatoes in the past.  They grow so well in the foam cell jobbers and then hate it when I make them grow up and move out.  I think at least one will make it, probably two.  But two of the four I moved are questionable.  I left another three where they were.  I ran out of time.

They may wake up in the morning.  I tried to be gentle.  I tried to make sure they got just the right amount of water.  I used quality dirt.  But my thumb is, clearly, not as green as it might be.  It was pretty brown after I finished digging.

Here’s hoping that by morning the soggy stems will have perked up.  I would hate to lose future tomatoes.  I am afraid, however, that that may be the case.  Not to be pessimistic, but seriously, one of those puppies looks ill.  I hope it gets well.

Pumpkins Up, Frost on the Way

The kids planted pumpkins in their corner of the garden.  A couple of days ago they busted through the soil.  We were close to a frost last night.  My daughter covered the tender sprouts with plastic potting buckets.  She uncovered them this morning on the way to the bus.  While temperatures stayed above 32 degrees last night, tonight it looks like frost for real.  We have a freeze warning in effect since our average last frost date has passed.

I figure we are safe from frost around Memorial Day.  Apparently our average date for that is sooner.  Planting things like pumpkins this early is a risk.  It means remembering to cover young plants.  The only other plants coming up at the moment are peas and carrots.  I’m not worried about them.  The rest of the vegetables are still inside, or I planted them two days ago.  They are safe.

My daughter covered the pumpkins again tonight.  She and her brother will get some early squash out of those plants.  Later this week the weather should turn.  We might have temperatures in the 80’s.  That ought to get the cucumbers considering leaving the womb.  Hopefully they won’t have to worry about frost.

I planted a few things this past weekend–cucumbers, pumpkins, butternut squash, lettuce, summer squash–and I wanted to plant more.  The freeze warning for last night kept my ambitions in check.  Next weekend I will get on it.  That will be Memorial Day weekend.  I want to plant corn and basil but the soil just isn’t warm enough.  That will have to wait until June.

We also cleared a spot for an herb garden.  We cut down an evergreen shrub (I never learned what kind it was) that was just about dead from a fungus.  I want to plant rosemary and sage and thyme and chives.  And perhaps some other stuff.  I can’t wait to get things in the ground.  But I can’t do it all at once anyway.  Not enough time and all that.

So the pumpkins are safe, as are the herbs plants I never purchased.  I will go on a planting spree later this week.  Later this summer I want to be able to paraphrase the LoraxAnd then Oh Baby Oh how my garden did grow.  Of course, I will say it anyway, but it sure would be nice to be able to mean.

Full On Spring

Not Turkeys

Not Turkeys

A few days ago I noted that, from a distance, some newly installed culverts looked like turkeys.  I went and checked them out today and, as you can see, they are not turkeys.  They are not, as I also suggested, made of metal.  They are full on plastic.

Leaves Unfolding

Leaves Unfolding

The trees around here are not leafing out in all their spring glory.  This tree at the end of our driveway has been busting green across the blue sky.  The orioles seem to like this one in particular.

Flooded Fields

Flooded Fields

It rained like stink last night and yesterday afternoon.  We drove home from Burlington My great-grandmother in-law’s 90th birthday celebration)  in the rain to meet our babysitter. The children were asleep, lulled by the drops tickling the windows.  This morning the fields around and about were flooded.  The beavers and the geese are loving that.

Laplatte River Running High

Laplatte River Running High

The river was full this morning as well–more than your usual CFS flowing under the bridge.  Our friend Kathy came for the night but she had to leave before we took this walk.  She arrived just before 2:30 AM from a late flight to the Burlington airport.  She left about 10:30.  Only and eight hour visit and most of that asleep.  I trust she enjoyed the fine spring day with her daughter when she got home to the Upper Valley.  It would be hard not to enjoy this day.  It was full on spring and, I am pretty sure this is true everywhere, was plain old beautiful.

Waiting for Speed

I am in the office of Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, the folks who provide my internet service.  I was passing by and figured I would stop in and ask a question.  Our internet service is slow or intermittent.  Why not just ask?  They are busy so I thought I might squeak this in while I wait.  If they don’t get to me in a minute I am, as my brother used to say, outee.

I spent most of the day at Champlain Valley Union High School.  I was a community panelist for Grad Challenge.  All seniors have to do a Grad Challenge project and this is the day when they all present to faculty, students, family, friends and a community panel.  It give me a chance to learn about some new things.  Today I learned about the following:

  • Cosmetology, including the dangers of dying one’s own hair from a box kit
  • Child care at a home day care
  • Building a coffee table
  • Yoga positions and why one might practice
  • Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity
  • Working with kids at the King Street Youth Center
  • Making a film about Civil War reenactments

The idea is that seniors get to choose what to study and get a chance to speak publicly about it.  I think it is great preparation for what they may need to do after high school.  I saw a few people I know and got to contribute a little to my community.  Everyone passed just fine, even the students who were really nervous.  The presenters have the tough job.  For me it was easy.  Sit and listen, learn some new stuff, give some feedback.  Not a bad day’s work if you ask me.

And so I wait to get some more speed when I get home.  I’m not sure how long that will take.  I still have to pop into the hardware store to buy a new rake.  Ours fell apart, broke, sits in pieces with no hope of repair.  I’ll need it to do some planting tomorrow.  I won’t need much speed for that task.  In fact, I hope it takes some time.  I could use a little reflection on the week, and I haven’t taken up yoga yet.  Maybe this summer…

Wind and Rain

Apparently a tornado hit Vermont this past Saturday.  That doesn’t happen all that often–once every couple of years or so.  Of course, the next week there were reports of tornadoes in Florida.  That is a little more common, I guess.  Hopefully we won’t have any twisters around these parts for a couple of years.  As odds go, we won’t.

Today wasn’t twister weather but it was windy.  Way windy.  More than one friend reported that the interstate was treacherous.  Driving myself today I experienced the strong winds.  It was two hands on the wheel driving for sure.

On the way to school it was a little less windy.  I said to my son that it would be a good time to fly a kite.  He then said that he would be flying kites with the other children at school.  He was convinced that they would, even though they don’t have a good spot for that activity.  After school he reported that no kites were flown, but the wind did knock him out of the sandbox and he “fell down hard right here” as he pointed to his hip.  Plus wind blew sand in his eyes.  He recovered nicely.

I made the mistake of leaving a mini propane bottle on the back deck this morning.  It blew off the deck sometime today and landed on a rock.  It got dented.  That doesn’t seem safe.  No harm done so far, however.  Just in case we have an explosion, I moved it to the other side of the house.  Safety first and all that.

It did rain today, quite hard at times.  I did not water the garden because of the rain, but with the wind drying things out in between showers, the beds probably didn’t get much hydration.  There is always tomorrow.  I’m not going out there now.  A tree might fall on me.  That would be unfortunate.  How would I read books to the children from outside, pinned under a tree?  How would I finish the beer I started?  How could I finish my crossword puzzle, what with rain spoiling the pages?

I’m telling you, this weather is rough.  A guy needs to be careful with this wind and rain.  The children and I spotted a bright orange oriole in the apple tree this morning.  It was our first of the season.  I hope it and it’s kin are careful out there.  I wouldn’t want it to be our last sighting.  That, too, would be unfortunate.

Turkeys and Culverts

Driving home on this beautiful spring evening I saw a turkey prancing its way across our neighbor’s exquisitely mowed lawn.  It made me wonder if any turkeys were at our place.  They haven’t been around much these days.  I was afraid they would eat the freshly planted peas.  Didn’t happen and I’m glad of it.

After I passed the trotting bird I looked across the field on the other side of the road.  I could see all the way to the river to where the one lane bridge crosses it.  Along the road I saw some dark objects.  Having just seen a turkey, the first thing I imagined was that those dark objects must be turkeys.  Except they were perfectly lined up, tucked into the side of the road.  And they were perfectly round.  Not turkeys.

It turns out they were culverts, which I figured out just by letting my brain get over its immediate assumptions.  Haste makes waste there, Brain!  Trucks have been in and out the past few days hauling dirt and gravel and all kinds of other stuff, like long steel corrugated tubes.  Next to the bridge, where the road sometimes floods, the town crew raised the road and tucked culverts underneath to let the water flow.  Smart.

Next month I will plant corn.  Last year the turkeys pulled it all up.  Twice.  Once I plant again I bet they will come back around.  They figure these things out.  Call them turkeys if you will but they are crafty bastards.  Smart.  They will be back to get my corn again.  You can bet on that.  Unless they are too distracted by the culverts to remember.  Could happen.  But I won’t plan on it.

Phoebe in the Garage

A couple of months ago our garage door broke. Well, the door itself didn’t break. The door got frozen to the ground (snow melted, water ran under the door, water froze) and then we tried to open it. It was a simple yet dumb mistake. One of the cables on the door opener snapped. It can still marginally operate, albeit unsafely, with one cable, but lately we have just left it open.

Lately means the last month. This has made things easier in some ways. We don’t need to worry about the other cable snapping while we take our time actually getting the thing fixed, for example. But it has created a couple problems as well.

The first problem is the trash. We don’t generate all that much trash. We recycle or compost most things. Our trash consists mainly of plastic packaging. But some stinky stuff gets in there. It isn’t much but it is enough, apparently, to attract some critters. I found the small bag I placed in the garage a week and a half ago torn asunder yesterday. Some critter decided it was worth rumaging through the plastic packaging to lick the residue.

The second problem is the phobe. I like phoebes. They are one sure sign of spring and their songs always make me smile. I heard one this morning and its call seemed to echo more than usual. It sounded quite lovely, actually. It echoed, however, because the bird was in the garage. It flitted among the rafters but it didn’t seem to want to leave.

It was still there this afternoon. Or at least it was back this afternoon. It sort of freaked out my daughter at first but then she thought it was cool. A bird in the garage! What a treat. Again, it didn’t want to leave, despite the wide open door. My fear is that it will build a nest and then we will get the door fixed (not that we have been exactly hasty in making that happen) and it will have a tough time with the in and out of things and it will have chicks and they will all die of starvation because mom can’t bring it any bugs.

Poor chicks. OK, there aren’t any chicks yet. I saw no signs of a nest. But it could happen, right? I suppose even it that scenario really played out the phoebe mother could poke through the trash for what it might find to feed the youngsters. That might work.

We don’t have a third problem yet. At least not that I am aware of. But that could happen, too. We should get the door fixed and we should get a trash bin and we should stop buying things with so much plastic packaging. Save the phoebes!

At least we are saving electricity by not using the garage door opener. That’s something isn’t it. Plus, we get to see the phoebe up close, even it we are about to slay its offspring by fixing something we should have repaired months ago.

Three Things

1. We just got back from Connecticut this afternoon.  We headed down Friday for a family visit.  We celebrated Mother’s Day with my mother.  My mom is pretty awesome.  Not everyone can say that so I am lucky.  I didn’t give my spouse much of a Mother’s Day.  She misses her own mother in this day.  As do I.

2. We finally mowed the lawn this afternoon, when we got back.  It was too long and too wet but it had to be done.  Mowing the lawn.  What a drag.  It is nice to have a lawn but I keep having dreams of beautiful walking gardens with flowers and herbs.  One of these days I will get on that.  Shady bowers and scintillating scents and reading spots and peaceful corners.  That is what I’m talking about.

3. It was almost hot a couple of days ago.  When we stepped out of the car down the road to get gas (we were afraid we might not make it the two more miles to home, that is how low we were) we shrieked with chilliness.  It was in the 40’s.  Tonight it will get close to freezing.  Two of the three peppers I planted finally sprouted.  They won’t go in the ground for a couple of weeks.  If we are lucky we will get no more frost.

Rained Out Again but Enjoying the Rain

My daughter has been participating on a T-ball team (sort of like baseball, except they have the option to bat off a T).  So far she has had only two practices.  Four have been scheduled.  Two have been rained out, including tonight.  The kids are supposed to have a game next Tuesday.  That will be interesting.  Most of the kids don’t know the rules;  they do not know, for example, that touching the bases is part of the deal.  But it’s really about having fun anyway.

Instead of going to T-ball, my children played in the rain instead.  First, on the way home from my son’s school, they played with the windows.  They put them down to clear off the rain, which worked for all of three seconds.  Then they decided to put them down every time a car passed.  They got pretty wet but they were laughing so hard I figured it was OK to let a little moisture into the vehicle.

By the time we got home they were all fired up to run around outside in swim suits.  So they did.  They got soggy and muddy, playing in puddles and sliding down the slide.  They were soaked and dirty when they came in, just in time for a warm dinner.  They really wanted hot chocolate, to get cozy as they put it.  We waited until after dinner for the hot chocolate, then curled up by the fire with jammies.

Soon it will be time to head up for showers and bed.  The rain will likely continue into the evening.  I love going to bed when the rain falls.  I even enjoyed walking out to meet the bus this morning, listening to the rain on the umbrella and smelling the new blossoms.  Lilacs and apple blossoms are out now and the air smells sweet when the rain falls.

I don’t have to water the garden these days.  I just have to sit and watch the rain fall on the soil.  The children know that rain means the garden gets enough to drink, so they are happy when the skies gray and spill over.  Plus, they get to romp in the puddles.  So we had no T-ball practice today, but we all enjoyed what we got anyway.  We’ll get back to the field next week.

Flowers Talking to Each Other

Leaning Left

Leaning Left

Leaning Right

Leaning Right

Gathered Round the Tulip

Gathered Round the Tulip

I look over and see the daffodils, beautiful in their fleeting spring display.  They seem to be leaning in and listening.  They are circled, with open petals.  It turns out they are gathered round a lonely tulip.  The tulip is battered, its leaves and petals chewed by some critter.  It has a war story.  It survived the rodent and lived to tell about it.  It blooms several years in a row with no help from any daft gardener.  It is a tough bulb, a hardy flower, the rough character in the flower bed.  It is a leader.  So the daffodils lean in to listen.