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Friday, March 12, 2010

The Annual Spring Peeper War

I live across the street from a slight swamp.  In the late Winter, the Spring Peepers call constantly.  They started yesterday.  That's OK, because there are thousands of them and the sound is a sort of "white noise" a 100 yards away and on the far side of the house from my bedroom.

What is NOT OK is the dozen or so Spring Peepers that are attracted to the small pond outside my bedroom window.  They are individual callers and  drive me crazy, like the infamous Chinese Water Droplet Torture.  It's an individual thing; so people think the chirps soothing like rain on the roof, others go nuts.

I go nuts.  I can't sleep when it happens and it lasts about 2 weeks.  Before I retired, I was reduced to fitful sleeping in the guest bedroom (opposite side of the house) keeping several doors closed between the pond and me.  I even put acoustical ceiling tile in my bedroom window, but the shrill chirps came  right through the walls.

I confess it sometimes became so bad that I would sneak out at 2 a.m. and stalk the peepers, stomping on them.  I felt like an idiot standing outside in the middle of the night desperately hoping to stomp on a few poor little innocent frogs.

THEN, I got the bright idea of simply closing down their little dating bar.  No open water, no frogs.  No frogs, no noise.  No noise, good sleeping...

TA DA!!!

The side view:

I feel sorry for the little guys (and gals) I really do.  At least they are just the losers in the choice of water to "date" in, and there is an endless supply of frogs with better choices in locale (he swamp from whence they came across the street).

It started this season when I went to get my morning newspaper and heard all the swamp peepers calling.  I knew what was coming next.  So I looked around for a cover for the pond.  Last year, I used a big piece of plywood.  This year I found something easier.

I set my post hole digger across the pond.  The handles open up to make a stable support for a bucket.  The bucket provided height to make the rain drain away.  Various random objects sealed the edges so that the peepers couldn't crawl in underneath.  I trust that Skeeter and LC won't object to my temporary use of the grave markers.  LC always did enjoy annoying the frogs...

My friends sometimes laugh at my makeshift arrangements.  I prefer to think of it as "resourceful use of available objects".    LOL! 

Anyway, so far, not Spring Peepers ruining my sleep...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Seed Starting Success

Well, the seeds are doing well this year.  Partly because I have been making extra efforts to provide each flat with the best conditions for them.

One flat was all cole crops.  The cabbage, chinese cabbage, broccoli, pak choi, and raddicchio are all up (100% germination!) and I move them to the strongest sunlight each day and give them grow-light bulb light for several hours in the evening.  Best seedlings of those I've had in years!

Another 2 flats are bell peppers and tomatoes.  Those haven't emerged yet but are in the guest room at 70F and should emerge very soon.  When they do, they will get all the natural sunlight plus artificial light they can stand.

The flowers are more demanding.  The salvia and impatiens and wave petunias need "strong but not direct sunlight" so I move then around a lot.  They need up to 3 weeks of this, so I will stay on it.  I was relaxed about them last year and had no success, so I am giving them lots of attention this year.  Fortunately, the deck glass doors are south-facing and get maximum sunlight at this time of year.  Yet there is plenty of space that is ambient-bright not not "direct sunlight".

If that doesn't work this year, I will give up on all the seeds that "no cover and bright indirect sunlight"...



Doing my best this year with these "light-exposed seeds"...

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Yay!  First group of crocus blooms yesterday!  Daffodils are emerging.  Hyacinths are emerging!  I have 5 flats of various veggies and flowers started in flats indoors!

 I should mention that I didn't plant 5 bulbs in that pattern.  I plant in groups of 7-20.  That one is a small group where a few died.  If they had all survived, it would have been generally a circle.
I went around the yard and woods today looking for the first emerging Spring bulbs.  I mark them with landscaping flags so that I don't step on them while walking around.

Here is a picture of the flags so far.  There will be more to emerge, but those others aren't peeking up yet...

Most of those are bunches of daffodils 7-20 in a spot.  I think they average about 10 initially planted bulbs so I'm guessing I have 1,000 planted bulbs.  But many have multiplied, so I probably have about 3.000 stems.

And that's not counting the 1,000 that I planted in a dense bed farther back in the yard.  There are about 500 spots and they have multiplied for 15 years.  I think I actually need to thin them because too many stems do not bloom due to crowding.

I would guess that I had about 6,000 daffodil blooms last year and this year will be about the same.  It is impressive when most are in bloom at one time.  I have early/mid.late bloomers, but at the midpoint, there is a sea of blooms.  I like that!

I've given up on tulips.  They only last a couple of years around here and they last less these days than 20 years ago.  Global warming...

The hyacinths are more durable than tulips but less so than daffodils.  They are good for about 5-8 years depending on sunlight and drainage.  They don't like wet roots but tolerate it for many years.  But they die eventually.

The tulips and hyacinths also die out due to vole predation.  I have moles.  They don't eat bulbs, but voles use the mole tunnels and they do eat bulbs.  Daffodils are toxic to herbivores like voles but tulips and hyacinths are not.

I have planted more daffodils up along the rising backyard...

This year, I am going to identify pathways through the woods.  Plants in the way of the paths will be pulled or dug up and replanted.  Available spots for Fall plantings will be marked with paver stones set at ground level (I need to be able to mow down grasses and weeds).

I hope to get around to establishing paths using edging borders, landscape barrier cloth, and hardwood chips.

I can't wait for the daffodils to be in bloom in April!