Pine warblers: i'd been mistaking them for goldfinches the past few months. There ARE goldfinches at the feeder: right now a male, coming into breeding plumage, is feeding away on sunflower seeds. (Does anyone ever visit the fancy finch feeder? Rarely. Squirrel proof and unattractive to birds. Grumble grumble.) But someone suggested my blurry photo of what i thought was a female goldfinch was a pine warbler. I scoffed. But the yellowish bird at the feeder the next time i looked had a small black bill, nothing like the thick triangular seed cracking bill of a finch.
I skipped Meeting and Meeting for Business yesterday. I will need to reengage with community, but at the moment, there's a weariness i get from some of the family care i'm engaged in right now. I wonder if this meeting always had waiting worship whether i would be attending more regularly.
It was a beautiful day and eventually i stopped lingering at the computer. Less lingering and more wrestling with decisions around shopping for my mother. Eventually i found pants that i think will be suitable for my mother, to replace the many many pairs i packed up on Friday. Christine and i strolled around enjoying the spaces we have curated from the overgrown wildness we moved to in 2016. The sun was blazing war despite the cool air, and i realized that i would rather visit my mother during the bright part of the day and then work outside in the shadows.
I took Mom a thermos of tea and a serving of cake. Our little picnic was a pleasure. I was able to show her before and after photos of her study so she would understand what i did in her space. To my relief, she was appreciative.
At home, i got the chipper fired up while Christine began lopping down some of the thicket area to the west of the driveway. At the end of our work, i felt the garden has sufficient chips for the moment. Tonight i'll chip, and the results will go to mulch around the fruit and nut trees in the orchard. Leaves raked up in the autumn provided some initial mulching, but it's far from sufficient for the summer growth season.
The garden is organized somewhat like an E, with the top of the E facing North and the long "spine" of the E facing west and the house. Border rows wrap around three sides, like the outside lines of the E, except my garden has gaps on the long border so one can enter the garden on either side of the center divide. The upper and lower white space of the E i refer to as "the squares." Each square has three rows running east to west.
Right now the top of the E -- the borders, north square and the center divide -- are all well tended. I'd shoveled out the soil from between the rows onto the rows over the fall months. I mulch as i can in between the rows, and all that mulch had pretty much disintegrated and blended with the clay. This winter i mulched the isles in the square with pine straw. Brown pine needles, it turns out, aren't the source of acid that i'd been taught. I hadn't enough pine straw for either side of the center row. I'd gotten cardboard on the ground, and with the chipping yesterday, managed to get the cardboard covered. It looks tidy at the moment: Christine is delighted. I am dubious it's enough to keep back the weeds of summer, but it's better than nothing.
The south square of the E has two rows of potatoes. They're planted in the clay with a thin layer of newspaper and then some old plants -- marigolds and holy basil -- and autumn leaves on top. When it comes time to hill the potatoes, i will dig out the isles. I ought to sharpen the shovels before then. With soil on top of the autumn leaves, they will decompose quite quickly in my worm-populated clay. I remain amazed at how quickly leaves and duff decompose in the heat and humidity.
I kept that end of the garden fairly well mulched over the winter, keeping back a decent amount of weeds. I added some of the greener chippings as mulch -- the twiggy bits of branches, including the autumn olive that is already leafing out. The nitrogen content might be enough to compost a little more quickly.
I finally had a decent amount of worm castings from the household worm bin. It wasn't fully digested, but it was black and rich. I plopped blobs of the thick black goo down the top of the row i plan to use for tomatoes. Right now Austrian winter peas are growing as a cover crop there. Hopefully it will be rich and delightful for tomatoes. I missed tomatoes last year - something nibbled on the plants and ate the fruit. I assume some combination of curious deer and squirrels. I also think the soil was too poor for the tomatoes to thrive. The volunteer tomatoes from the previous year (2017) grew out of the rich compost i used to build the hugelkultur. Hopefully this row will be satisfactory for tomatoes with the pea and worm contributions.
No rain in the forecast for a week!
8:30ish 2 AMGO, mNORC(g), CAWR, TUTI, CACH, MODO(g), WBNU 9:45