These warmer, sunny spring days are bringing out those pesky Asian lady beetles en masse. We always have some inside the house, this year it has reached infestation levels.
I’m not sure why there are so many of them this year and at this time, but it’s a bit crazy. I vacuum them up about 10 times a day, trying to keep the population under control. As soon as I put away the vacuum, there are just as many as I cleaned up. I’m guessing I suck up about 300-400 a day. We also have lots of stink bugs and wasps coming into the house. Those get sucked up as well.
Tuesday into Wednesday another big nor’easter hit us here in Maine. In fact, this one was classified as a blizzard. It’s still snowing outside the window as I write this post, but so far we’ve gotten about two feet of snow. We have a metal roof, which sheds the snow. Unfortunately, the vents for the dryer and gas water heater are about a foot off the ground on that side (we’re still trying to figure out why they were put there instead of by a roof that doesn’t shed snow).
The snow pile in front of the house has grown to be about tall as it’s ever been.
Before the two storms this week, we had pretty much no snow left on the ground. It was warming up and felt like spring outside. This is no longer the case, but I guess spring isn’t officially here until next Tuesday. I think it won’t be here in Maine for a few more weeks.
The last two years have been great for acorns in our area of Maine, which translates to a large deer and turkey population. While deer are beautiful creatures, they’re also destructive to a garden. This winter has been particularly rough. Almost every shrub and tree in my gardens have been browsed heavily.
They hydrangeas were hit especially hard, I doubt there will be any blooms this coming summer. Now I have to take extra care to protect plants. Next fall you’ll find me wrapping things with burlap, adding fencing around the garden, and probably spraying some things with hot pepper oil to keep them safe from browsing deer.
Do you have issues with deer in your garden? What’s your preferred method of dealing with their winter browsing?
HMM….. Where I lived in Ohio for many years there was...
The garden can be a bleak place in the winter and when you live in an area where it’s winter for at least half of the year, you want to make sure there’s something interesting in the garden during those winter months. The easiest thing to add to the garden for color and beauty during the winter months is red twig dogwoods.
I took this photo last week before the big nor’easter hit. These shrubs are lovely when it’s dreary and gray outside and they’re even more stunning when there’s snow on the ground. I like to prune my back every year because the new growth is the deepest red. You can also find yellow version of this, but I don’t have any of those in my garden quite yet. Around there, the deer don’t eat it either, which is a big bonus since they mow down everything else.
What’s your favorite plant for winter interest in the garden?
I’ve been dying indigo shibori flour sack towels for Seeds & Sundries, and while I had an indigo vat going, I decided to try to give new life to an old L.L. Bean Boat & Tote bag. It worked beautifully. These bags last forever, but being natural colored canvas, they stain and start looking a little rough around the edges. I simply dipped mine into the indigo vat twice, then rinsed and washed (by hand). The handles were originally black. I also have another one with pink handles (you can see it in the background) that I’m doing to dye and a few larger ones as well.
I used the same indigo kit that I used last summer with my nieces, this one from Jacquard is a great one for beginners. While you can (and I have) purchased the indigo supplies separately from Pro Chemical & Dye, this kit is a great way to get started. Overall, I’d call this project a success. I should have taken before photos so you can see just how dingy and dirty the original bag was. Perhaps I’ll remember when I do the next few.
What fun projects have you been doing lately? Have you been trying to find ways to make old things new again?
During maple sugaring season, all tea is made with maple sap. Sometimes, I dip straight from the boiling sap kettle, other times I boil it in my teapot (depends on how long the sap kettle has been boiling). It’s amazing how much sweetness straight maple sap contains.
It pairs particularly well with certain teas, like chai, rooibos, and hibiscus. The photo above is red rooibos tea brewed in sap, it’s wonderful.
This winter was particularly cold for a long period of time. We also had less snow than normal. A prolonged January thaw and early warm temperatures, mean the the boxwoods had a particularly rough time this winter.
The majority of my box has winter burn. It’s not really a big deal, they’ll bounce back. They just look a little sad for a while. For the most part, I don’t worry about it much. They key is to not prune the winter kill out too soon. Sometimes the plants bounce nicely. They need a good pruning this spring anyways, I’ll make sure to remove any brown bits that remain in May when I prune.
One of the things I love about hydrangeas is the winter interest they add to the garden. The dried blossoms look great throughout the winter, though this time of year they’re starting to snap off and tumbleweed across the yard during wind storms.
These are ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas that look fantastic in the summer. You can see the echo of their summer glory.
None of my other hydrangeas have any dried blooms left, they are all planted in areas that get quite a bit of wind. Only these bushes planted up against the house get enough protection.
Hopefully, as hedges grow and windbreaks are planted more and more of them will retain blooms throughout the winter to add some much needed interest in the garden.
What’s your favorite shrub for winter interest in the garden?
Sugaring season was a bit early this year, thankfully I got out and tapped the trees as soon as I did, it may not last much longer. The good thing about working from home is that I can be boiling sap while I work, the bad thing is that sometimes I get into a project and completely forget to check the sap every hour.
In the age of cellphones, I can now set my phone timer to remind me to check. As the syrup near completion, I check it every 15 minutes.
As it gets really close, it needs constant monitoring. Yesterday, I finished off 4 liters of syrup. That should be just enough for us for the year, we use a lot of maple syrup in cooking. If the sap keeps flowing, I’ll make more syrup for gifting and bartering.
What’s your favorite natural sweetener?
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