Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just had to paint this...

When I saw this photo of 8 month old Millie I was inspired to paint her. It's such a typical "What have you got for me?" expression.
I put Fancy, the rooster in behind her, just because he's a great looking rooster and I'm very fond of him. The lighting was tricky because it's inside the chicken house with a window on each side. So basically I made it up as I went along.

Acrylic, 11"x14" Title - "What ??"

I love my chickens.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hoop houses on the first day of SPRING

Crazy warm weather this past week, wonderful to be outdoors doing projects and gardening. We haven't had a drop of rain or snow in this part of New Brunswick for a month or so. I have never been able to till before the middle of april before, climate change is being so kind to me. So I've been building raised bed/hoop houses to get hardy plants out as soon as possible.

They are made of 2x6, 32" wide and 8 feet long with hoops made of 72"long scraps of pvc pipe, 3/4 or 1" diameter. At the Re-store I scored a great pile of large sheer curtains for a dollar apiece and sewed them into fitted covers to go over the pvc piping. That will keep the abominable little flea beetles off the plants they like to devour and also provide a bit of wind protection.

I've been saving cardboard to put between the rows to keep the weeds down.
The covers are held in place by 3" pieces of pvc pipe split end to end and pried open to use as a sort of clamp that snaps over the cloth and hoop.

A peek are rows of little chard plants set out in the first bed, with radish seeded in between. The flea beetles love radish leaves, so this year when the plants emerge, the bugs are out of luck.
At night I pull a strip of plastic over the rows to protect from freezing, altho the lettuces , spinach and chard in there can stand a bit of frost. If the temperature gets really low (what used to be normal) I can throw some old comforters over the top of the plastic.
Rain is coming tomorrow, so I can at last settle to some indoor work, knowing the whole garden is tilled and the first plants are growing. It just blows me away that its only March , here in zone 4b!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Grafting an apple tree

My most treasured books are a 4 volume set of Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide from 1928, reprinted in 1935. Volume 3, "Fine Fruits for Home and Market , together with practical and helpful illustrations - Useful and valuable tables of requirements ", opens with
"In the abundance of the yield is the joy and glory of the husbandman." All in the most elegant of fonts.
I love the illustrations, simple clear line drawings and photographs of farm workers wearing cow-paddy caps in magnificent greenhouses or with horse drawn field equipment.
The section on grafting prompted me to have  a try at improving the two wild apple trees near the garden. They are young trees that have lately started bearing some really poor fruit, so I had an idea I would try to graft some scions from an abandoned yellow transparent tree just down the road.
The manual gave several methods so I tried them all, with a few additions such as bolstering a diagonal join with a small screw.
The challenge was to keep the grafting wax liquid enough to apply , with a cold wind blowing.

The bigger branches, I lopped off with my reciprocating saw.
Of course I dont know if any of these grafts will take , but out of 7, even a couple would be rewarding. Time will tell.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Signs of SPRING!

Sign # 1 : The urge to tackle really awful renovation projects. Here I am just a blur of scraping, scraping, trying to get that 10 year old wallpaper off. Someone please render me unconcious if I ever think glue + wallpaper border again.
The sign of a very true who will help you strip wallpaper , without being paid. I put this on to cover the previous owners horrendous green paint. Now I can't stand the busyness...there's such a LOT of it ...sigh.
Sign #2: Too much solar heat in the greenhouse. Time to open those summer vents at the top of the wall.
sign #3 : Other half doing yardwork. A lot of kindling blows down each winter off the big linden trees.
sign #4 : Happy hens who want to be outdoors pecking and scratching all day long now that the ground is all bare. Fancy, (the rooster at the back) one of last summer's chicks, has grown up to be such a handsome fellow.
sign # 5 Seedlings popping up, mmmmmm the earth smells so good!