ravensgarden: (snakeflowerR)
[personal profile] ravensgarden

The 11th was spent running errands after the tornado, so no gardening. I got home about 4pm and my neighbor C stopped by. He wanted to apologize for not coming by to burn the pile he set up, he said I got supplanted. *grin* His pastor called when he was on his way out to me, and said that a relative of a church member could not get to his house because of the damage the tornado did to it. I told C he did not have to even explain, an emergency is an emergency. He said when he got “there” the guy had people all over helping him, there was another tractor with a backhoe, and someone had called in one of the gas companies with their heavy equipment to move the debris out of the way to get to the house. He said he stayed because he said he would help, but wondered out loud how to find the folks that had no one to rely on. Those are the ones he wants to help. Had a good discussion with him about that.

I told him I had to get my taxes done the next day at 10:30, but whenever he was free was good for me. The dogwood in front of the cabin and the one behind the cabin have bracts opening up. They are still in the green/yellow phase, so not “flowers” yet, but I will have a few blooms this year from my beloved dogwoods! YAY!
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April 12

What a DIFFERNCE a day makes!

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I was surprised when I heard neighbor C’s tractor just before 9am turn into my drive. He has never been here before 10, as he has to take his step kids to the school in Clinton in the morning, then care for his father/mother after. He usually shows up around noon, and I had told him I was busy at 10ish the day before.

He was here to burn. I walked out to help, told him I could reschedule my taxes to his reply of “no, no, you need to get that done” and his continued “don’t you need to go soon?” until I left. I suspect he was waiting for me to be gone so he could bonfire up the place (I am afraid of big fires) to get that separated half burned quickly. He had loaded the pile with plastic crap (he said it helped it burn hot, plastic catches quick and burns hot to start a bonfire – I did not know that!) and cooking oil then ran a line of gasoline out from the pile a bit to light like a “fuse”. It caught…

I left to get my taxes done. Cost me all of the remaining money I have for the month, and I am going to have to make payments to the IRS, but she did save me money, in the way she “claimed” my house sale. I don’t owe either state anything. I am grateful… POOR, but grateful!

When I drove in the driveway an hour after I left, half the pile was burned, some of the secondary pile was gone, and neighbor C had taken his leisure in the BBQ area. The best seat at the house btw.

We worked like demons for the next six hours. I had told him previously that I was scared to burn something that big, that if it had been broken into smaller piles, I would have burned it myself. He said that he did not think the entire thing would burn at that time. He continually expressed surprise at how hot a fire this was and how fast it was burning. He originally thought he could spend the day and burn the pile he separated from the dirt.

At the end of the day, all of it was burned. He had to move a pile of the dirt at one end in order to dig out some of the deeply buried trees and stumps, but other than that it was him pushing wood on the pile, me picking up stragglers and tossing them on the pile, and both of us trying to stay a comfortable distance from the inferno, and to limit sunburn. He was more successful than I. I am crispy red.

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He found out while here that I HATE cedars. He was trying to avoid damaging any of them, but when he found out the plan was to eliminate as many as possible, he started running into them. He TRIED to knock one over repeatedly and has unearthed it somewhat, but it is still standing.

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He put the too large to burn stumps artfully around the meadow edges, and actually put quite a few in the fire to see if they will burn. He was amazed at how hot it was burning.

He left at five telling me that he had to fix a leak on his “blah blah I have no idea front of his tractor* but would return after that to move the rest of the dirt. It does not look like much from the burn pile side, but when you walk around the back, even though he moved a large pile while burning, there is at least four feet of pure topsoil stacked up in the former meadow.

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I get angrier and angrier as I SEE what those guys did to my property. He also suggested that he dig a drainage in back of my property to divert water from the house.

He knew from talking to me that I had to dig a drainage ditch with a shovel to protect my house because of what the backhoe guy did, and I took him back to show him the original drainage on the hill, what was left of it. He looked and said if it was originally there, then he could easily dig it back and if not use the “crap dirt pile” to build a ridge to protect the house from all the water running strait down the hill at it. I appreciate that kind of observation, but really, I feel I need to start paying this guy. He does this as a side business for money!

At any rate, counter clockwise from the mouth of the spring, what I can SEE now in the meadow area:

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I have been watching this plant come out and grow for months now in the shady area behind/above the driveway flowerbed. I don’t know what it is, even if it is invasive, but I LOVE it!

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Saturday, April 13

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Worked for about three hours restarting the fire, and moving the unburned stumps and trees, and adding wood from the edges, but the hot coal pile is really too large to deal with right now.

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I raked some of the coals out from the pile to let them cool, so I could walk up to the middle to keep burning. I am hobbling; sun burnt to the max, and gave up about 11am. I will either leave it to go out on its own, or deal with more tomorrow. I feel like I need to take advantage of such a hot fire to pile stuff from all over the property on it, but it is just too large to manage right now.

The wildlife is freaked right now with the suddenly open space. The birds are not feeding, and only the two aggressive “untrained” squirrels that come up to the house are out there. I keep hobbling out to chase them off from the sunflower seed feeders. There are sunflower seeds in the critter feeder and on the ground under that feeder, but it may be too close to the fire for them.

It is hot. It is sunny, there are no leaves on the trees yet, and I need to stay inside for the rest of the day.

Tax day

As the leaves come out I am trying to ID my trees. I am finding that a LOT of what I thought I “knew” last summer in the drought was incorrect. I may not have a red oak as one of the four trees in my “yard” and I know now that I do not have a hickory. The brilliant red tree from last fall is a tupelo, or a black gum, and I really should have recognized that because I saw the “gum berries” on the patio in the fall and that color is the ONLY red like that anywhere!

I am not sure about my two oaks, they are different, but I think they are both in the white oak family. I am thinking I have a lot more oaks than just red and white. I will have to let the leaves mature, then start collecting and counting lobes on leaves and stuff to figure it out.

Part of the problem is that the leaves on an oak are varied on each tree, so you have to take a random sample of leaves and only “count” the majority.

These are Identification Guide photos of some of the common oaks in the white oak group:

Bur Oak:
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Post Oak:
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White Oak:
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Here are Identification Guide photos of some of the common oaks in the red oak group:

Northern Red Oak:
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Shumard's Oak:
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Pin Oak:
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Southern Red Oak:
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I know I have a red oak or an oak in the red family somewhere in the woods in back of the house, because a sprig of baby leaves fell on the compost bin. Problem is everything is so tall and none of the oaks have leaves close to the ground, so I can’t really SEE what they look like to tell them apart. Oaks are hard to ID unless you can get handfuls of their leaves in the spring when they are still intact. For example, I was IDing oaks last year based on dead leaves. The two pictured here are clearly southern red oak, but I have not seen any tree with those leaves coming out.

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Of course, I can’t SEE a lot of the leaves.

I do have something that looks to be a northern red oak, and one of those is out back in the “yard” but I am really not sure.

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If you look at the sprig of leaves coming out in the lower right third of this photo. It looks like there are both northern and southern red oak leaves on that tree.

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A problem is that although it is fairly easy to tell the difference between a red oak group and white oak group, the leaves are varied on the same tree. These are some of the red oak group leaves I have seen:

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And this one that seems to have both red and white oak group leaves on the same tree at this point in time.

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The white oaks are a little easier, but still I have what I think are three different varieties.

I KNOW this is a white oak:

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But this one right outside the back door looks like a shumards or a post oak:

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And this one is a white oak group… but WHAT?

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Of course, complicating the oak matter further is that Arkansas has at least a dozen oaks that are not common around the country. The ID comparison guide I am using is out of the University of Tennessee (EXCELLENT guides btw) so it is incomplete for this state.

I have a little stand of red maple that I need to dig some of the babies out of and put out in the little copse of winged elm trees in between the “yard” and the road up top.

I am having the devil of a time ID two small trees on the property, one has really delicate simple oval finely serrated leaves that are not glossy, and that is the problem.

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This tree is everywhere so I could start cutting it out, but I would like to know what it is first. I think I am going to have to wait for flowers and fruits before I can ID a lot of this stuff. The other small scrubby tree has teeny little leaves.

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Three days later there is still smoke coming out of the burn pile. That is unreal.

The soapy water I was spraying on my peppers and tomato seedlings has killed the peppers. I am going to have to start over, and was going to plant the seeds in the larger peat pots that I intended to pot the little small cubes of the peat seedling starters yesterday, but we have another cold front coming through, that will drop the night time temps to almost freezing again on Thursday. I don’t want to bring them or the dirt in the house; I think the fungus gnats are what was in the soil of those seedling trays. I want to use potting soil and keep everything outside if possible. That way no hardening off. I have all five varieties of basil outside and one celery.

Don’t know how to handle that really. Oh and more daffodils are blooming all over the place:

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I have five or six Iris buds up. One had to be tied to the chicken wire of the front porch. It refused to stand up by itself.

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I have been researching ground covers and found one that repels mice, ants and fleas. I have a mouse problem, so I want to order seeds and sprinkle them around the house. I have never been a fan of pennyroyal, but if the mices will avoid it I am game.

My little violets that were planted with the vinca on the side of the house are blooming. I keep forgetting to go back there and get pictures. They are blooming in the pots of elaeagnus too.

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It was nasty and “misty” most of the day, with no real rain, but I got out and planted the creeping phlox in the front stacked stone flowerbed. I divided it into two pieces, but found a separate sprig after so planted that as well.

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The forecasted rain keeps getting pushed back daily, it is hot and dry and covered with pollen. The few dogwood blooms I have this year, have opened.

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April 16 to 20

Finally had another front move through that dropped our nighttime temps. Is this the last one? I HOPE SO! No tornadoes formed in this one, just heavy rain and loads of wind and wild thunderstorms. I brought the herbs, seedlings and three amsonia I had ordered onto the porch to protect them.

Of course as the front got closer I took the opportunity to plant flowers. Letting nature water newly planted stuff was too good to pass up. I put the six purple verbena around the base of the south side (driveway side) of the storm shelter hill.

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I just dug out little pockets in the slope, plopped some top soil in the hole and planted the verbena in the hole and filled with topsoil. The rocks I took out of each pocket hole I put on the “downhill” side of each hole to help hold the soil and plant in place.

Some day the storm shelter is going to be beautiful!

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The texas green sage pot is a self watering, and it got too much water during the storms and I had to poke a hole in it to let some of the water out. It was not draining enough by tipping and pouring it out. That was the first really good soaking it got this year, so I hope it blooms.

With all the rain on Thursday I noticed a bit of a water retention problem around the shelter path.

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It is holding water in one corner. A paver is supposed to go in that slot, and I don’t know if the ground will shift if it holds water or not. I could put a drain pipe underneath it, but I think a puddle there would help the dogwood tree and the tupelo at the edges of the natural stone patio. Tupelo is one of those trees that likes regular soakings.

Several Iris varieties are blooming or starting to bloom. I missed my irises last year. Jacaranda in the stacked stone flowerbed will bloom shortly, and in the driveway garden the white with green veins and a small purple from Wisconsin have both bloomed.

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I need to keep an eye on that purple. It is very small right now, and if it stays small I need to plant it around the natural stone patio.

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It is hidden in that flowerbed.

Friday morning it was close to freezing and the smoke was very visible coming out of the burn pile ashes. There is still hot coals in that pile under some of the larger logs. A WEEK after it was lit! I need to see if I can rake out from under those logs to stop the burning.

Also blooming is a bushy thing that I have tried to remove from around the big mama pot.

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It is not in my data base of wildflowers, so I don’t know what it is. I still need to get rid of it from around the pot, as I need to plant flowers there. Whatever it is it is all over this property.

Today I meant to clean the dirt I need to fill my raised bed, but didn’t get to it. I did manage to get out and plant an ice plant on the edge of the natural stone patio. I planted it in a gap, then surrounded it by small rocks to form a single plant “raised” pocket to contain the dirt. I really like the way it looks.

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Some of the basils have their first set of true leaves, so I need to get those planted in the herb pots, and get the big mama pot planted for the year as well.
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