Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beans in the backyard 2012, weeks 2 & 3

May 13

Close-up view shows a good example of the unfolded unifoliolate leaves 20 days after planting.

May 20

This week one can see the first set of trifoliolate leaves fully unfolded and the second set unfolding nicely.  Bean development is turning out to be more interesting than I expected.  I'm not sure which is more exciting, corn development or bean development, but I suspect the bean excitement is only beginning!

More food crops around the yard

Most of our readers are probably familiar with the unusual weather we've experienced this spring, and some may have first-hand knowledge of its effects on different crops.  I was especially concerned about our cherry tree as it bloomed in March, about a month earlier than normal.  Our temperatures were especially warm through much of March, but the inevitable freezes hit again in April.  Since our cherry crop was reduced at least 95% last year due to freezing, I was anxious our experience would be similar this year.

As you can tell from the photo above, we have a crop!  The blossoms had faded and fruit was beginning to form by the time the freezes hit our yard, so apparently the fruit is more robust to cold temperatures than blossoms are.  The crop appears to be about 70% of the size of a bumper crop, but we're grateful for even a harvest of that size.  We're hopeful the fruit will continue to mature without further damage from weather or pests.

The hops also got off to an early start this year, reaching heights by the middle of April that required almost three months longer last year.  As you can see in this image, the freezes damaged many of those early leaves, and even killed off the central leaders on many of the longer bines.  Because many of those early bines were stunted, I've allowed additional later bines to continue to grow in case the early ones die off.

Amazingly, some of those early bines are already producing cones in May.  We didn't see cones until late July last year, so I'm not sure if this is a consequence of a stunted bine, or an early start.  Regardless, the bines in general are more abundant and vigorous than last year, so it should be interesting to see if that correlates into cone production.

Finally, a stop at the raspberry patch shows some promise of fruit as well.  I haven't watched this fruit develop in the past, so I can't comment on how it's progressing relative to other years, but we are understandably hopeful for a decent harvest.  Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Beans in the backyard 2012, week 1

 May 6

We spotted Farmer Wagenbach planting something on April 23, and by May 3 quite a few of the seeds had sprouted and broken through the earth.  By the time our first measurement day came on May 6, many of the little sprouts were 1.5 inches tall, and they are definitely not corn plants.  The bottom photo was taken on May 8 since I neglected to get a close up image on the 6th.

After having spent the last few years studying corn, we now get to watch soybean plants grow and mature, right in our backyard!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg in April, Last Day

Our last full day in Williamsburg on this trip was atypical for us: we dressed in our "civvies" instead of our colonial clothes, and didn't even spend the entire day in the historic district.  Not that we neglected another opportunity to enjoy some of our favorite things about CW.

Fortunately, Patrick Henry was speaking in the Palace gardens in the morning, and the threatening rain didn't materialize to dampen our spirits.

As we've mentioned before, Mr. Henry is an entertaining and inspiring speaker that doesn't hesitate to speak his mind.  His emphatic gestures and well-chosen phrases make any topic interesting, and those topics are always educational as well.

After he had entertained questions from the larger audience, Mr. Henry also graciously conversed with smaller groups after his presentation.  I"m not sure who is enjoying this conversation more, Patrick Henry or Tim!

We enjoyed lunch together at Chick-Fil-A, and then spent as much time as we could bear at an antique mall on the northwest side of town.  Some of us could bear more time than others, so some of us returned to CW in the afternoon while the balance of our group continued antiquing until suppertime.

Back at CW we witnessed a Fife and Drum Corps march and a review of the troops on the Market Square Green north of the Courthouse.  Although we enjoy the Fife and Drum Corps, we were disappointed that we didn't see Thomas Baker at any of the performances all week.  That's the first time in a long time that we haven't seen one of the Baker boys perform during our visit.

Always a crowd favorite is the shooting of the muskets and cannon to round out the performance.  You'd think folks never get a chance to see 18th century weaponry in action by the way they flock to these displays.

We'll end our Colonial Williamsburg posts this time with a trip through some of the backyards along Duke of Gloucester Street.  Last March, Gretel and I had fun navigating our way through the paths behind houses all over town, so I thought I'd give you a little taste of what it's like to explore the "other side" of the historic homes.  It was good to be on vacation!