Summer Sweetness

All our early summer sunshine and intense heat has produced a fantastic apricot crop! Richard and I just picked about 40 pounds of fruit, a few a little on the green side because the wasps and squirrels will be digging in soon. But they’re ripening nicely inside. We should have lots left for our gathering next weekend after I freeze some for smoothies. Our apples are doing well, too, although the bears are harder to predict than the wasps and squirrels. One of these days we’ll get a plum tree, and maybe pear and peach, too. Fresh fruit all summer long, pesticide free and no shopping required! Anyone have a good apricot recipe?

Not Bad For Half a Day’s Work

Richard’s friend George (at right) came over early this morning to help Richard continue with rock wall construction. I watched them work, George in the excavator and Richard in the Bobcat. Wow, now there’s an example of many hands making light work. When they quit in the heat just after noon, they’d pretty much finished the job. We’ll need to pack more gravel on top, and Richard wants me to fill in the chinks with smaller rock still, but the main job is done. (The rest of the wall around the fruit trees will be tackled in the fall when the weather is kinder.) It ended up using more large rocks and lies much more vertical than Richard could have done on his own. George has some impressive excavator skills. Even without a thumb on it, he was picking up rocks pretty effectively and positioning them without having to get out of the machine constantly. Richard, meanwhile, scooped up all the dirt removed from the bank opposite the garage and used that to fill in where the root cellar was. It’s definitely a sturdy wall. Not sure if it will be as easy to plant with rock garden perennials, but for now it should stay free of weeds except along the top edge, and that’s mostly grass between the apricot and the apple tree anyway. We gained four feet of room to manoeuver the car into the garage, and it should be easier now for Richard to level the ground in front of the doors so the water flows away from, rather than onto, the garage floor. Now it’s about 32 degrees outside so Richard and I are going to have lunch in the cool of our air conditioning. Tonight, George comes back with partner Diane for dinner – a thank you for all that hard work.

Rock and Roll

Our June heat wave has carried on into this month, and despite the powerful storm last Thursday, we only received about half a centimeter of rain, the only measurable moisture in weeks. It’s made for a particularly brown, crispy, and dusty yard. We compared photos from the past three summers and all were much, much greener. My gut says this scorching heat is going to stick around all summer. Lowering our water use is a high priority, and with the barn work done for the time being (while the concrete cures) Richard and I are focusing on ways to spruce up the property, get more usable space, and reduce the need for watering, weeding, mowing and other maintenance. The solution? Something our neighbourhood has no lack of: rock. The first project, my new flowerbed, used rocks from our own yard, but since then we’ve brought in two truckloads of much larger rocks and will probably need more. It’s a lot cheaper than landscape ties, blocks, or concrete and although more labour intensive, the final look will suit the already rocky landscaping and allow lots of flexibility for eventual rockery plantings. Richard is taking care of the heavy labour, leveling out the previously unused margins of our yard to make things like mowing the lawn, plowing the driveway and driving into the garage easier, and once it cools down in the fall I’ll go round with some divisions of creeping thyme, sedums, veronica, cerastium and hens-and-chicks and make all that stone a little more colourful. Other than my flower bed, which I finished on the 30th, all these pictures are of work done this weekend, believe it or not.