...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


the perils of early gardening

Maybe I got a little too zealous about getting seeds started this year?
Maybe my grow light set-up is super efficient?
Or maybe I was a little off schedule with my dates, but I don't think so...
I charted my plans out according to our last average frost date, and worked from there.
I've nurtured my sweet little seedlings for months now... 
I thought I did everything I was supposed to do.
Little did I know there was peril in being such a "timely" gardener.
It became apparent to me that my seedlings weren't thriving anymore.
They were beginning to "outgrow" their pots, and they were looking wilty and sad.
They were saying to me, "please, please... take us outside!"
So I listened to them. 
I began the process of "hardying" them off, which I've never really done before
since this is my first year growing from seed.
Then I ultimately planted them last week,
and I was so thoroughly tickled with myself.
Only now, come to find out we're having a frost/freeze warning at the tail end of May,
here on Memorial Day weekend,
well past the last average frost date for our area.
Well, poo!
So much for being diligent and timely.
I remember my father cautioning against ever planting tomatoes
before the first of June
and now I see why. 
Freak things like this. 
And with gardening tender plants,
I see now that it's better to be a little late than a little early. 
But all is not lost.  Now I just have to do double duty.
Since I don't want all of those months of work in the basement to go to waste,
I have to carefully tend to all of the tender things. 
Namely:  tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplants.
I started off covering with frost cover fabric from the garden store.
It's so thin and flimsy and blows up with the slightest wind,
even though I was anchoring it down all over the place.
I could see how it might be okay for, say, strawberries who winter over but need good mulching...
But I was worried about my little tomato and pepper babies
who really don't like to go below 50 degrees.  Ever. 
(We're talking possible major stunts in production...)
A lightbulb went off and I thought about all of the empty canning jars we have...
mostly from eating up apple sauce and tomato sauce all winter long...

And it's a great solution!
It provides a nice little mini greenhouse for each plant.
You can see them fogging up with warmth and moisture.

Most of the pepper plants fit in little pint size jelly jars,
but the tomatoes needed quartz size jars.
Good thing they weren't any bigger, or my jar job would not have worked at all.
They look happy now, don't they? 
Hopefully that will get them through!


lilac... mulch

Life is all about timing.
Some strong winds have been blowing,
and our lilac is beginning to shed it's blossoms...
All of this has added up to make a beautiful lilac blossom "mulch"
all around one of our front garden beds:

It will only be this colorful ever so briefly,
so we enjoy it while we can.


broody hen + duck eggs = ?

Our Buff Orpington hen has been broody for weeks now.
Buffs are notoriously broody breeds, and that's great if you have a rooster 
and want to hatch chicks regularly. 
But we don't have a rooster.
These eggs will only ever hatch if there's such a thing as immaculate eggception.
We were at a loss for what to do with our sweet little broody hen, and we kind of feel badly for her...
She wants to hatch something so badly, you can just feel it!
She's plucked out all of her chest feathers.
I guess one of the reasons they do this is because with the closer skin contact against the eggs,
it keeps the eggs warmer.
Needless to say, she's very devoted to her cause. 
 We worry about her being broody for so long...
My partner goes out to pry her off her nest every day to make sure she gets a little exercise, and some food and water because otherwise she just broods and broods the days away. 
 Whenever one of the other girls lays an egg somewhere in the coop,
she will take her beak and roll it all the way over to her special nest. 
She had almost a dozen eggs under her today! 

So, today we performed a great switcher-oo on her...
We took her off her nest, and put her outside. 

Then we collected all of the unfertile chicken eggs she had been sitting on and...  

 replaced them with fertile DUCK EGGS!!!

And then our little wanna-be-mamma went right back onto her nest!
I wonder if she could tell the difference?
Did she think, "Hmmm... my eggs look a little funny?  They smell a little different..."
It didn't seem to phase her one bit.
This probably sounds like a crazy broody adventure we're embarking on,
so we'll just have to wait and see what happens... (er, hatches). 
The lady who brought us the duck eggs
said that she's had other people do this before for her, and it works out great...
She said duck eggs are hard to hatch in an incubator,
and that broody hens seem to be one of the best ways to bring ducks into the world. 
Low and behold, the eggs she gave us are Buff Orpington duck eggs! 
It will take about 28 days, so stay tuned.
In exchange for our hen's brooding services,
we're allowed to keep half of the ducklings if we (or our hen) want to.
Maybe we should call them chi-ducklings!



Trillium is such a spectacular woodland flower...
The one growing in our little woodland is the great white trillium grandiflora.
I first saw trillium when I was in college,
hiking through some woodlands in Erie, PA with my friend Tracy,
who is an amazing naturalist, now wildlife documentarian. 
Whenever I see trillium, I remember her.

Trillium is a 'spring ephemeral' and is also sometimes called wake-robin or birthroot.
Its seeds are primarily spread by ants...
White-tailed deer love to eat them,
so we're lucky to have any given the amount of deer that pass through our area.

If you look closely at this photo, you can see some pollen on the right petal.
I'm not sure which bees are most likely to pollinate trillium,
but I can imagine a plump little bumblebee,
saddled down with so much pollen
that on its way navigating out of the flower,
brushes against the side of the petal and leaves a little dusting behind...