Plants in Pots

PlantsInPots_smallShannon wanted something pretty to look at when she was sitting on the back porch, so I got some big pots that were on sale at Costco, and she spent Sunday filling them up.
All in all, it turned out to be quite an eclectic grouping. She decided to go with perennials in the center that would serve as thrillers, with the annual fillers and spillers planted around the edges. If you look hard, you can see she even put a spruce in the middle of the last pot. All of the perennials were things she found in pots around the property, and the petunias, lobelia and such we bought at Wilco for four for five dollars.

Take that cable TV!

antenna_croppedNo, this isn’t some sort of new garden hoe, it’s my retaliation against cable TV. It’s called a bow tie antenna. Why it’s called that should be obvious. I built this UHF antenna last weekend out of scrap wood and metal hangers. The only thing I had to buy was the matching transformer to hook it up to my TV. (I had a spare cable in my electronics junk drawer.) I haven’t had a chance to test this yet, but the claims are that it’ll bring in stations 13 to 69 from a distance of up to 60 miles. There is also an option of building an aluminum foil reflector to mount behind it, but I’ll see how this works first. If it does, I stand to save about $1000.00 a year on cable bills. So, between this antenna and my Roku 3, I should be able to park myself in the recliner, have a glass of wine, and watch a show or two when it’s too wet to work outside. I’ll do an update after I’ve had a chance to check this out. I’ll probably mount it in the spare bedroom that Shannon built in the garage.

The Swale

swale_cropped

I had a swale put in last fall, so with all of the rain we’ve had lately I went out to see how it was doing.

A swale is a shallow water catchment device (a ditch) that is dug on contour – that means that the bottom of the swale is level along its total length. This allows the water to sink into the ground instead of running out of either end. Its purpose is to capture water flowing downhill and put it into the water table and hydrate the landscape. This hopefully will decrease the need for irrigation.

My land slopes from west to east, so the swale lies on the west side of the property. Now, one might think that in the Pacific Northwest there is no shortage of water, but our summers can be extremely dry. The swale will create an underground “plume” of water, which can take up to seven years to mature.

Quince

quinceThis is my second year quince tree. It’s already flowered this spring, so maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some fruit off it this year.

I chose to plant a quince tree for several reasons. First, it’s a fruit that isn’t commonly found in a grocery store. Second, it’s well-suited for the climate up here. Third, it’s self-fertile, so I only needed to plant one. And finally, it makes a great wine.

The quince is related to apples and pears, and in fact looks a bit like a pear. The fruit matures in late autumn, though it blossoms in early spring. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of it then. The fruit is left on the tree until after a good frost, and then is bletted (That’s a nice way to say it starts to rot.) It softens and sweetens the fruit.

Quinces are popular in many parts of the world, with Turkey coming in as the highest producer. They are also found in parts of New England, having been brought over by 18th century colonists.

Water Chestnuts

WaterChestnuts_croppedOn a recent episode of the Survival Podcast (to which I owe more than you’ll ever know), they talked about growing water chestnuts. Now, I love water chestnuts, and when I found out how prolific they are, and that I could grow them in a couple of old coolers that I have, I was sold. I’m not sure that we have a long enough season up here to get them to harvest, but I’m going to give it a go. I’m starting them in pots now (April) in the garage under lights, and when the shoots are about 6″ long I’ll transplant them into the coolers, with soil and water; the soil being completely immersed. Other than not letting the water get stagnant, there’s no attention that I have to give to them at all – my kind of plant!