05/25/2023 Thursday shenanigans and winecup looking

On the left is this year’s soil to bring the level up. To the right is last year’s winecups!
A baby two leaf senna in one of the caliche planters!

05/27/2023 backyard before and after

All the pulled invasive dayflowers and bermudagrass was piling up on the path by the mini prairie.
Since we had guests coming this evening for an outdoor meal I swept everything and pulled up some of the endless maple seedlings that were sprouting too. This shows off the tepary beans starting to climb the trellis too!

03/19/2023 tomatillos having a hard time

Both of two varieties of tomatillos have died of damping off fungus. Here’s a second try (in a different container with fresh soil) of tomatillo verde. Going to try to keep them drier this time by keeping them at the windiest part of the tray (where fan mainly hits). Been rotating all the other seedlings through to get them evenly moist but these friends seem to be more delicate.

03/05/2023 more compost business

After moving the new soil to the garden yesterday, Paula wanted to move and layer the newer pile today.
She put layers of leaves between layers of kitchen waste. Now we’re ready for more on the empty side!
We put this compostable takeout fork in at some point and it didn’t compost. Apparently some compostable items require higher heat compost than our “cold” method.

02/05/2023 peppers growing

Before, a tall pepper seedling in a big yogurt container.
After, with new potting soil up to near the leaves. We did this to all the peppers and ground cherries. This is my experiment to reduce transplanting stress by just letting them grow more roots in place since these can root from stems.

The excavation of a path and that weird berm

12/30/2022. I’ve scraped a bit of soil and leafy debris off the concrete area that extends as far as the rock wall of the garage does. Right now, water drains from here back towards the house. There’s also a foot tall berm along the fence (a few pavers on top of it) visible in the background, which is very inconvenient for walking on. This is the western edge of the “prairie” area but in summer is mostly a tangle of invasive dayflower and a big mulberry stump’s stems.
12/30/2022. Paula and I got a bunch of concrete shards and small rocks out of the pile around the bird house pole from the previous picture. These work ok as a border for front yard raised beds. I have also taken to putting our nicer actual rocks on top of them for better viewing. This pile needs distributing now but I can do that gradually.
01/02/2023. after the previous rock shard excavation, before stump removal.
01/02/2023. Paula axed the mulberry stump. We could have left it, but it is not conducive to water draining away from the house here. She also pulled a lot of rebar up. We think a few owners past probably used them to hold up landscaping timbers.
01/04/2022 Paula has energy and unexpectedly cleared the whole berm.
01/04/2023. She also pulled many old rebars up, again.
01/05/2023. Paula continued to enjoy perfect cool digging weather and nice soft earth to move. She put this rain barrel in its spot and worked on leveling and grading. I need to order pavers so we can put the path in before seeding with our prairie grasses and flowers.
01/07/2023. Briar helps us measure to see how many concrete pavers we need for the fence path.
01/10/2023. The concrete pavers for the path plus concrete block edges arrived. Briar examines.
01/12/2023. Blocks are in place, but need leveled and then filled with soil too. the goal for these blocks is to guide more water flow towards the path and away from the garage.
01/21/2023. Got all the blocks leveled shortly after this photo.
01/21/2023. A start on pavers along the fence. I know a better surface would be created by putting sand and other crushed base under the pavers, but for the next few years I’m going to have this as good enough.
01/23/2023. The pavers don’t quite fill the gap to the fence so for now I’m leaving alternating gaps for drainage.
01/23/2023. A view from the other side. The goal is to get the path three pavers wide everywhere, but the majority of mud is covered now. (Cleaner dog toes.)
01/25/2023. Snow on the path!
02/06/2023. I put the last pavers in the past except a few spots where old rebar stuck up.
02/07/2023. We spread saved up wildflower and grass seeds before a few days of gentle rain.
02/07/2023. This spot is under the eaves so it gets less wet, so I hope it will still be ok for buffalograss.
02/11/2023. Need to sweep, but I moved all the empty pots to the little bamboo shelf.
02/11/2023. Paula and I moved soil from the north side of the house, where it was inexplicably piled up against the wood siding, into the concrete block hollows. the final step tomorrow will be moving some widow sedum, nutall’s sedum, juniper leaf, and fern leaves (in case I missed any spores) into these blocks. That’s all for this project!

01/28/2023 purple cliffbrake fern spores

Mom gave me some native Great Plains fern spores recently and on Saturday, Paula and I sort of followed these online directions to start our attempt at germination.

The containers have all been run through the dishwasher at some point. Then I stirred up potting soil (“seed starting mix” chosen because someone gave me a bag of it and I wanted to use it up) with water to create the sloppy mud the above webpage describes.
Microwaving the sloppy soil to sterilize it, sort of.
We did reach temperatures higher than the instructions suggested for sterilization,but didn’t microwave for a long time. So I’m going to say “we’ll see” and move on.
While the soil cooled (Paula set it outside to help it along), I started trying to coax spores from the undersides of the fern leaves using the dissecting scope at 1x and very fine forceps. Turns out there’s a lot of stuff in the big brown spots. I didn’t do the 10% bleach wash suggested in the directions.
I suspect these round spots (circled in red) are the spores and the other little bits are debris from the brown sporangia.
I had to go but Paula kindly finished the process by dusting all the spore containing dust onto the very wet soil surface and sealing it up. It’s now sitting in the guest room with the baby peppers and patient basil. The light there is on and off 12 hrs a day.