Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Cold Front

This is our 3rd winter in South Georgia. It's sure different from Tampa. We spent over 30 years in Florida and are learning to adjust to south Georgia. It's amazing how different the weather is since it's only 275 miles north.

Here we are the week before Easter and we are getting yet another cold front. We have predictions of temperatures down to 32 degrees one night this week with day time temperatures in the lower 60's for a few days and then mid 70's by the end of the week.

We don't really mind because at least it's not tornadoes again! We have had more than our share of them in late March and so far in April.

We met out neighbors German Sheppard yesterday. He came to visit. He is very friendly and a bundle of energy. Evidently they have no problem letting him run loose. We took him back towards his home but this morning he was at the back sliding door looking in as if to say, "come out to see me." I guess we started something. We'll have to not be so welcoming. We don't want him hanging around and getting on the highway and getting hit by a car.

One thing I have noticed here is people let their animals run and don't believe in keeping them in the house. Spaying and neutering is not too popular from what I have seen. It's a shame.

Our seasonal Brown Thrashers are back. We have named them Ike and Tina. Tina has made a nest for the 3rd year in a row in exactly the same spot in our arbor. We don't know if it's the same pair or one of their children coming back to nest where they were raised.

Our Mockingbirds are apparently getting ready for their nesting season. Their mating habits are a little different. Each year after they raise their 4-5 broods, the parents and most of the children leave. It appears that the babies from the last batch stay and then the dominate one stays to make this his home and the others go elsewhere. It appears he chases them out. That is what we have figured from their history. We know the parents leave because the first year, our Mockingbird, we named Ivan the Terrible. He was the WORST behaved bird we have ever seen. He constantly chased all of the other birds and once even ran into the oak tree while chasing another bird. I almost hated him because he would never let other birds eat peacefully. He eventually mellowed out when he fell in love, and was way too busy when he started helping raise the children. After we saw what a good Dad he was, we started to become very fond of him. We know it was Ivan that left because the one that stayed was a much nicer bird. We will call them all Ivan and the female is Ivana. So now, our Ivan is here and I witnessed a little rift yesterday between 2 birds. I don't know if it was a mating dance or a territorial dispute. They fluttered around as if in fight, then both landed on the ground right in front of me and stared at each other, chests out. It looked more like to alfa males to me.

Spring Bloom
Tampa sure doesn't have the wonderful spring flowers like Georgia. Mom came to visit and was here at the peak bloom season for the first time. We took her to Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee. The Dogwoods and Azaleas were at peak bloom.

We discovered a beautiful pink and red blooming tree. Some of them had both colors in the same tree and were loaded with blooms. We stopped to take photos of one and noticed a lady working by the tree. She told us it was a Flowering Peach. She was nice enough to let us dig up some seedlings. Hopefully we won't kill them and will be able to have some of our own. They have to be the prettiest of all the flowering trees. The next few pictures are of them.

The Wisteria were exceptional this year. Everywhere you looked they were blooming.

The peak bloom season appears to be sometime after the middle of March.

We decided to scale down our gardening this year. The past few years we were way too ambitious and ended up with very little produce and a LOT of weeds. We have tried not to use chemicals and do it the organic way. This year we decided, less garden, more MULCH and hopefully less weeds. We have a lot of different items, but no green beans or lima's. We can get them cheap and in large quantities at Longs U-pick in Bainbridge, Georgia. They have great produce and it was $6.00 for a 5 gallon bucket. You have to pick it yourself, but we enjoy it. You feel like you worked for it! You can get enough so that you can can them.

We currently have planted the following: potatoes (in Georgia they are called taters), snow peas, eggplant, onions, spinach (probably too late in season), tomatoes, Jalapenos, green peppers, cayanne peppers,and corn. The corn went inside the chicken coop as the deer liked it too well the first year. We won't have much but we can also get that at Longs.

We have apples for the first time on our Anna apple tree. The Dorset apple it supposed to be a pollinator for the Anna but it has yet to flower or bud out. We bought another Anna that was flowering and self pollinated the Dorset. After we did that, we noticed their were small apples on the Anna. Some literature has said they can self pollinate and others said you need a pollinator. We don't know if it pollinated from something else like a neighboring crabapple or what. We don't have a lot of apples though, so maybe it helps to have another pollinator. Hopefully we well be able to have a few to eat before the insects, birds and deer get them.

Al bought 3 yards of mushroom compost to the garden, and tilled it all in before we started planting anything. We them put 4 yards of mulch on top. Of course it then rained heavy and a good bit of mulch washed away. We may have to get more. We're hoping the mulch will help with the weeds.

Our oldest peach trees have bloomed nicely and are loaded with peaches. We now have 5 peach, one nectarine and this year we planted 2 plum trees. We have 2 pear trees, one we just planted last fall. We planted more asparagus as it seems to grow well here.

This year the garden has plenty of rain, hopefully not too much.

We lost 4 of our 5 Dogwoods. They were growing like weeds and appeared to be healthy. After our 26 inches of rain in 3 days from Tropical Storm Faye, they started to wilt and lose their leaves. Then we noticed the bark peeling off and them the trunk splitting in half. We kept hoping some miraculous recovery but it appears they are dead. Such a waste.

The Spirea is doing well.