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Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

These past several weeks I’ve been focussing on the upcoming 2011 Trumansburg Farmers Market season [June – October, Wednesdays 4pm – 5pm].  Vendor applications have been sent out and received from “season vendors” for pavilion and tent spaces.  There will be a total of 37 spaces lined out in the Village Park, located at the corner of State routes 96 and 227. At this time there is room for “day vendors” who participate on a “on-call” basis when a season vendor is absent, or are finished for the season. Word on the street is that folks are looking eagerly looking forward to a market season full of fresh local produce, food products, and hand-made crafts. And “world supper food”. The local music line-up is scheduled for each of the 22 market days from 5pm – 7pm, with a few musicians joining us for the first time!

The 2010 Trumansburg Farmers Market season wrapped itself up nicely with warm weather and good attendance... thanks to the new community-built pavilions and gazebo, and the generosity of our local musicians.

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First daffodils

Last weekend we called up Soil and Water and asked them, “Do you have any fern left?” and they said, “Six bags,” and we said, “We’ll take them.”

On April 23 I’ll drive over to Dryden and pick them up. The Soil and Water Conservation Service is a part of the USDA. They sell herbaceous plants and shrubs every spring at very low prices.  The ferns come in bags of ten plants, five species in pairs.

We bought four bags last year and the survival rate was pretty good. It actually might have been 100 percent. Sometimes when you plant a fern it will just sit there for a year before deciding to send up some greenery.

The offending Potentilla

We’ve got a Potentilla bush right in front of our front stairs that I have been wanting to move every since we moved in. It isn’t an Abbottswood, because the flowers are yellow, not white, but it has pretty much the same habit. It is planted right at the corner between the walk to the front steps from the sidewalk and the walk that wraps around the east side of the house. It is annoying to brush up against, shovel snow around and mow around. It needs to get a new home. That will happen this month sometime. It is still a little wet right now and it still might snow again.

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We didn’t have a lot of snow this winter, but we had snow often and it was bone-chillingly cold for weeks in a row.  Changes in the weather were often accompanied by howling winds. The white pines and Norway spruce on the north side of the house took a beating this year; there were limbs down all over the place.

Overproduction of cones is not a good sign.

Overproduction of cones is not a good sign.

The pines in particular are in rough shape. The needles have been yellowing and falling off for at least three years now and there are a troubling number of mushrooms coming up under the trees. It could be that they don’t like cars driving over their roots all the time. It could be that they have got some blight. Or it could be that they are just getting old. Because they are probably at least 80 feet tall and less than 10 feet from the house, we have been talking about having them taken down. It will be a real shame because they add a lot of character to the property.

The spruces are far less majestic and arranged in a line extending from the corner of the back deck. The pines may actually be shading them out, so they at least may benefit from their removal. Left standing there on their own though, they may look a bit scraggly.

Two years ago we planted four hemlocks. Two of them are under the pines and next to the spruces. Hemlocks are happy to grow in the shade of other trees, while pines and spruces are not. In the best case scenario these 10-foot high trees will be 15 or 20 feet tall when the pines have to come down.  The other two hemlocks are out in the open and have been growing much more quickly, so when the pines go, the hemlocks formerly under them are likely to really take off.

We have a large box-elder on the northern boundary of the property. These soft maples grow quickly, but do not live long. We’ll have to have our tree guy do a clean-up of the dead limbs this year. It is a majestic, spreading tree, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I outlived it.

One of the pines is at left and the spruce branches hang over a little hemlock.

One of the pines is at left and the spruce branches hang over a little hemlock.

Along the western boundary on Bradley Street there was once a continous row of sugar maple trees. They were the result of a Progressive Era planting campaign throughout the village. Since they were all planted at the same time, they are all entering into senescence at about the same time. When the trees were planted, nearly all the roads in the village were dirt and there were far more horses around than cars. The advent of paved roads and winter salting has done these shallow rooted trees no good at all. In addition, their roots have thrown the flagstone sidewalks all over the place. Many of them have already been removed and many other have been liberally trimmed. The village is in the process of seeking state aid to replace these street trees.

In a couple of weeks, when the twigs and pine cones are not still frozen to the ground, it will be time to get out there and rake. The village DPW comes around once a week on Mondays to pick up yard detritus. You have to make sure everything is less than four feet long and you have to tie it up so that they can throw it up on the truck easily. Anything smaller has to go into a paper (not a plastic) bag. Trumansburg is on a schedule with the other villages and towns in the county; the grinder comes around periodically and reduces all this yard waste to something like compost, which residents are then invited to go scoop up and spread around their shrub borders.

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After researching how to create a meadow/wild flower garden (out of a former Scottish Highlander cow pasture at MacKenzie-Childs in Aurora, NY) I decided to try an experiment at home. In the east side yard of our bed and breakfast, McLallen House, located in Trumansburg, NY near Ithaca, on the west side of Cayuga Lake in the central Finger Lakes region, the wild garden experiment began in August 2006. A perimeter strip was mown around the garden area and the interior plants were allowed to grow, develop flowers and set seed; in November, everything was mowed to about 5 inches, and my collection of old seeds (annuals and perennials) was sown directly onto the garden area. Plant hardiness zone 5b.

Year One (2007): In late April, mowed perimeter grass strip and two walking paths through the garden which is loaded with yellow Celandine flowers – plants die-back in summer. In June, the Village zoning officer phoned about a neighbor’s complaint that “they aren’t mowing their lawn” (sure enough, it was the same person who led the charge against our winter-season, acoustic house concerts – that’s another story!). I submitted a garden maintenance program with a list of sown seeds. He paid a visit and we walked the garden area; he was satisfied that it was a garden in the making. Much of what flowered that first year was a variety of grasses, asters, rudbeckia, phlox, dandelion, butter-cup, Queen Anne’s lace, pre-existing planting of oriental poppies, day lilies, and sweet woodruff..primarily a fall season floral display. In August, I drove ten minutes from our house, along Searsburg Rd (County Route 1 to Seneca Lake), and dug up and transplanted ragged robin plants collected along the road of the Finger Lakes National Forest, and Bill transplanted the butterfly bush from the north-side of the house. For spring season flowers, in fall, we planted 1,000 mixed daffodil bulbs in the garden and wood hyacinth bulbs in the lawn. We finished planting the bulbs on a warm Christmas day.

Year two (2008): In April, Bill mowed the perimeter and the two walking paths through the garden. The daffodils bloomed from mid – late April through May along with existing young red bud trees (Cercis canadensis: some planted and some self-seeded). June 1st: Dug up clumps of existing, rampant Celandine (intent is to control invasive growth over time) and planted clumps of Euphorbia, Ajuga, Geranium subcaulescens, Solomon’s Seal, and lily of the valley from Mary Fanelli’s in New Hampshire. Mowed another tributary path to get closer to other plants under the Hemlock tree. In other dug-out Celandine patches: sowed seeds of Cosmos ‘Sensation Purity’, Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’, and Helianthus ‘Autumn Beauty’ with the purpose of letting them germinate in-situ. When they’re plug-size, they’ll be replanted in new dug-out Celandine patches through out the garden.

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