Sunday, April 4, 2010

Random Musings

This has been a FANTASTIC weekend.  Yesterday I posted pictures and just briefly mentioned what was going on in my garden.  Today I have more details.

Last year we didn't grow much in the way of vegetables, we didn't know where the sun fell best on the property.  This year we decided to put in a single raised bed in the back yard.  Expanding slowly.

I have some shrubs planted nearby that will potential grow to shade this area so we just used some 1 x 6 lumbar (NOT treated wood), connected at the corners to create a 6 foot by 3 foot bed.

I bought three types of soil and amendments to try and make some good soil.  I'm not sure yet whether I like this mix but I didn't like any of the single bags for texture and nutrients (photo deliberately out of focus to "hide" the brand names).

It should be safe from deer and rabbits but we had to put up a barrier to keep our dogs out.  So up went a simple chicken wire fence.  I need to come up with a better solution for a gate, though.  Right now it's a plastic fencing (so we don't cut our hands every time we want to get into the veggie bed) but we had to up tacks to fasten the bottom edge down after the dogs found a wonderful new place to dig.

The big shrub at the back of the area is a black raspberry bush.  It's inside the veggie fence so maybe the dogs won't get all the raspberries this year.


One of my plans for the front yard is to replace the grass between the front bed and the foundation bed with a narrow brick walkway.  Where the path will turn to go down the side yard I thought would be a good place for a focal point and that a bench might be a good option.  It will give me a place to sit and enjoy the garden.  We hauled this bench from out patio set around to test drive it.

Here's the bench.

Here's the view from the bench.  I think it'll work.  Now I need to start watching Craig's list for some free (or very cheap) bricks.

The big excitement this week has been the return of the Garter Snakes.

These beneficial little snakes will eat slugs (yipee!), mice (woo-hoo!), insects, birds, frogs and pretty much anything else small that they can fit into their mouths.  I believe that they hibernate under the siding in an area in the front out our house (shhh!  Don't tell the neighbors!).  Last fall I spotted a lot of them in one part of the foundation bed and even saw several crawl up under the siding.  This spring I've seen several in the same area of the foundation bed so I think they spent the winter there.  It's a really good place for snakes to hibernate, nice and climate controlled.  As long as the home belongs to a Biologist and not some snake phobic person who would freak out (several of the neighbors, hence the please don't tell them bit).

I just hope the renovation of the front beds and the painting of the outside of the house this summer don't discourage them from coming back next year.  How many of you can say you share your house with a garter snake hibernaculum?  (ok so I was cheating and a lot of your don't know what a hibernaculum is, much less how to pronounce it!  What can I say?  I like to stand out from the crowd.  A hibernaculum is a place where animals hibernate.  Snakes hibernate communally in groups of one or more species.)

A little Biology lesson. 

Eep!  I found out yesterday that the front wave of the Ruby Throated Hummingbird Spring Migration has already reached parts of Pennsylvania and Connecticut.  Wow.  I cleaned off and hung my feeder.  I seldom see them early in the season but I make sure my feeder is out so that if they are moving through the area it will be available for them.  Eventually I should get known as a good spot to fill up when they're passing by.  The 7-11 at The Edge.  Your choice of sugar water or, well, sugar water.

You want to know how the fish are doing?  How kind of you to ask!  The eggs have finished hatching.  It was fun to watch the little guys trying to wriggle out of their eggs.  I didn't remove the eggs from my main tank so the fry (baby fish) are on their own.  My lemon tetras sometimes manage to grow up without any outside help so we'll have to wait and see if any of these survive.  They are very, very tiny.  Fortunately I have a heavily planted, ecosystem tank so there are lots of hiding places and lots of microorganisms for them to find and munch on.  (We did a microscopy lab earlier this semester and I took a jar of tank water in to lab and found lots of little things swimming around.  Very cool.  Yes, I am a Science Geek and I am Proud of it!)

Pirate (mother) with hatching eggs.  I tried, really I did.  I pulled out my macro lens and everything but I just couldn't get a good picture of the little wigglies.  I can see them in this photo but only because I know what I'm looking for.  They are right near the eggs that are furthest to the right.  Those blurry little things above the leaf.  I swear there are Angelfish fry there.  Really there are.

Thanks for putting up with the random musings.  I'll try to get a single topic post up soon.  Something well thought out and thought provoking.  It'll make you laugh and cry and change your religion.  Now I have to go work on a lecture on photosynthesis. If I make a lot of head way tonight I can go back out in the garden again tomorrow!


  1. Good post. I can say that I share my home with a big black snake that lives in the crawl space. We welcome him and have had one living there in the past.
    Honey bees arrive this Sat. woo and hoo

  2. Ooooh, snakes! I was wondering if they were up yet! Please send them to eat the slugs in my asparagus bed!

    I'm adding snake features to my garden this year. They LOVE rock piles!