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March 29, 2019

Spring!

Spring has arrived with beautiful weather and loads of work!

Well for the last two weeks Spring has blessed us with gorgeous weather: warm sunny days and cool nights, a little breezy sometimes, a bit of rain here and there just to keep the earth moist and the plants and shrubs happy. 

The azaleas ALL bloomed already and faded away.  Seems to me that 20-30 years ago they would bloom only in April but the last few years definitely in March.  The dogwood, the Japanese magnolia and teh Carolina Jessamine had bloomed even earlier (Carolina Jessamine is a very interesting medicinal plant for alleviating pain but also toxic, not to be trifled with, beautiful yellow flowers though and grows like mad). Often the first one to bloom in early spring. 

Now the irises in the ditch and near the waterhole are beginning to bloom as well. The Loiusiana Blue Flag iris have propagated themselves over to my neighbor's ditch, he's quite happy about that. Of course. Another very useful plant.  
I am growing Taro as well, one day when all our ecoomic hopes are lost I'll be able to dig up the roots and survive on Taro chips (like waffle cut French fries) and taro leaf (like spinach) and Wild Potato vine . 

Of course I also have the fruit trees;  The pomagranate is blooming already, and the satsuma, ah well at least 10000 buds soon to bloom on that one. When it does bloom, I will certainly swoon, for the aroma is simply heavenly.  

The camellias bloomed through winter and are finishing up, various species blooming at different times so since I have 9 of them it's nice to have pretty much continuous flowers somewhere in the otherwise bare landscape.  

BUt I was mentioning spring work! ah, yes, this is the month when everything needs done and all at once.  All three of the raised veggie beds needed turned over, manured, spread with a thin layer of wood ash and then planted and mulched!  I put in 12 tomato plants, a half dozen banana sweet peppers & Gypsy peppers (my favorites) and 3 Japanese eggplants  which do very well in our hot summers.  Not quite finished with the planting, I will of course add some lettuces, red leaf and romaine both, some green beans too..those are nice in a stir -fry and did fairly well in past years.  

Apart from the veggie beds , the fruit trees had to be re-mulched and fertilized, and the gardens generally cleaned up of fallen tree limbs and various winter debris. Our esteemed gardener left us in fall (he moved to Oregon) so we had to find someone else to cut the grass and help out and for a while the whole grounds liked like a well over-grown meadow, plenty of flowering weeds!  And huge piles of leaves here and there but now all put back in some semblance of order. 

The house also needed spring cleaning and that is another full time job with animals in and out all through the winter. We had a mild if rainy winter so the birds were able to stay on the front porch which was visquined and has its own heater. The dogs of course did their very best to drag lots of mud and debris into the house daily. We do love them ! 
Brushing dogs daily is so good for them but it also really really saves on cleaning time. It's amazing the bush you get out of a great Pyrenee's tail on a daily basis! Imagine if all of that was dragged into your house.  

We still have the window coverings in the shed but have already switched the winter blankets for the spring and summer ones in the dog houses and crates.  Our poor washing machine (nicknamed Lazarus because it goes "dead" at least once a week then decides it's going to do a few more loads) has been hard at work, day in and day out, except for its occasional death of course.  

So between the inside work, the washings, the gardening and all, it's really a mad month of march.  but when the weather is good as this blessed year it is enlivening and a happy time. The days are longer so the birds are able to enjoy the aviary and flying about later in the day, the dogs get to stay out too and it's not so hot yet so they frolick and chase each other between long naps in the sun.  It is a delight to see everyone playing and enjoying the return of spring.  

Once we have clearly established the end of the cold nights, the visquine will come off the windows in the shed (dog habitat at night, door stays ajar for them) and from tehe front veranda.  A new screen door may be gotten onto the shed and for our back door too (the old one has been shredded by Eva and Renaud!) 

I always give myself some dates and goals : Heavy gardening such as preparing the beds and mulching and most of the planting gets done beginning March 19th, fertilizing and pruning should have been done before that.  BY April 22nd , Earth Day I want to have the gardnes looking beautiufl so I can celebrate even on my own, alnd the dogs and birds' habitats spruced up and renewed.  

Then and only then we are ready for the long hot days of late spring and summer..