It's been a while since my last blog entry. I have been busy putting in my rain garden. Why a rain garden? I have a few practical reasons:
1. in the spring, there are a couple of areas in the yard that tend to get marshy and hold water.
2. we also tend to get moisture in a corner of the basement
3. it's supposed to be an ecological smart thing to do to help ease the burden on municipal storm drain systems.
So, I'm hoping my rain garden helps in all three of these areas.
I dug out a trench leading from the rear corner downspout on the house, over toward a low area that runs along the side of our yard toward the back. Then I dug out the garden part, about 12 inches deep. We have really hard packed clay type soil. Over the years, the ground settled down too much next to the house (which I think contributes to the water in the basement) and the yard really needed to be regraded. So, all that hard pack dirt I dug up, I broke up and redeposited it next to the back side of the house, so the water would drain away from the foundation. On this I planted fresh grass seed.
I lined the trench with plastic pond liner and filled it in with rocks, so the water would travel over to the garden spot. I filled in the dug out garden with a mixture of sand, compost, and spaghum moss. Then I planted all sorts of plants, many of them spring flowering bulbs. I planted a section of it with black flowering and black folliage plants, and this is my "Gothic" garden. Weird, I know, but my teen daughter thought it was a cool idea. We will see what it looks like in the spring.
We have a lot of squirrels in our area, and they love bulbs. I had read somewhere that if you use chili powder when you plant the bulbs, they will leave them alone. So, I had some dehydrated and powdered habanero peppers from...well, it could be last year, or the year before, but at any rate, it was getting too old to use in food so I mixed some in the holes when I planted my bulbs, and sprinkled some more on top when I finished planting. Lets hope that keeps my bulbs safe, some of them were rather expensive.
I still have more work to do. I have to decide what I want to do for a border. I want to get a bird bath to set in the middle of the round section. I also need to get an arbor for my climbing rose that is next to the new stuff I planted. It doesn't seem to want to stay on the fence any more. I need to make up my mind on the border soon, the other stuff could wait until spring.
Besides working on this, I also spent a day digging sweet potatoes and tending to stuff in the vegetable garden. We got about 1 and a half bushels of sweet potatoes. Yum! We had one sweet potato plant that really went crazy, with some of the vines going out over 20 feet. It was such an amazing size, I thought I gotta save that, so after I removed the sweet potatoes, I brought the vine in and put it in a pot, at the top of the stairs and draped the vines over the hand rail. Well, for a few days, it seemed it might be a wasted effort, as it seems I shocked it and all the leaves started to dry up and drop off. I removed the dead leaves, and lo and behold, I have new leaves growing, so I think it might be o.k. after all. When the vines fill in again, it's going to look so awesome!
We already had a couple of hard frosts, and the zucchini still has not given up, although the squashes aren't growing very fast. I should put them out of their misery and call it a season.
I made a batch of basil jelly. It came out good, but very mild in flavor. I still have some basil, so I may try another batch using a different recipe and see how that comes out.
The leaves have been keeping me busy too. I swept my patio clean of leaves yesterday, and today when I stepped outside, It looked as if no one had cleaned out there in ages! Oh, well, the trees are about halfway done dropping their leaves, so eventually, that job will be done too. Lets just hope the leaves finish falling before the snow starts! I'm not really expecting snow for a while yet, but you never know. Last year we got an early snow fall.
I took a day off of yard work and gardening. Just a little ways north of us is an area where there are a lot of apple orchards and cider mills (about 15 miles or so). I invited some family members over for a trip to the cider mill and orchards. So we spent a day picking apples, choosing pumpkins, and petting farm animals. Oh, and drinking cider and eating doughnuts. All the kids really enjoyed themselves, and some of them had never been to a cider mill before. I, uh, kind of hurt my back picking the kids up so they could reach the really tempting apples high up. I think I pulled a shoulder muscle. It could have been cumulative, all the digging I was doing for the rain garden. Anyway, I spent a day on the sofa with the heating pad. So I guess I actually took a couple days off of yard work and gardening.
Yep, this is truly Indian Summer. The temperature around here has been really unseasonally warm, for at least the last week. Usually, this time in October, we expect temps in the upper 60's or lower 70's at best, often cooler. All this last week, though it has been in the upper 80's. Of course, the warm weather wont last, so I have been doing my best to get done what I can in the garden. The warm temps have fooled some of the plants, though, into putting out more blossoms and fruit, so I hesitate to rip them up yet. I put a Rose of Sharon in last fall, and I wasn't expecting it to bloom until next year, but guess what? It has blooms. I might be mistaken, but isn't Rose of Sharon a spring blooming shrub? The zucchini is still (of course) putting out more fruit. It takes a hard frost to kill that. I was all set to yank up the cucumber vines, until I discovered more blooms and tiny cukes on them. I had harvested all the ripe butternut squash, and was going to pull those vines, too, but it also had tiny baby squash and more blooms. The few green bean plants I hadn't pulled yet are setting more blossoms, too. So, as an experiment, I think I'll leaves these be for now, and see how far they get before a frost hits them.
The compost area that I emptied last week was filled again this weekend with chipped and shredded tree trimmings. We plan to use this as mulch after I pull up the plants. I also got a lot of yard cleaning done. I am still wondering how I am going to go about setting up my "rain garden". Hubby is on overtime, 12 hrs. p/day and the days are getting shorter so it is already dark when he gets home, so I can't count on help during the week. He apparently made other plans for the coming weekend, so I don't think we will get a chance to start it then, either. I suppose I will have to try to get what I can ready, the plants are ordered and on the way.
Well, It's been a week since my last blog. I have been one busy bee, I managed to can my beets, bake a couple batches of zucchini bread, make my salsa, empty the compost pile, keep up with the vegetables and run all my errands that had to be done. Whew! And dinner with the in-laws was very nice. I sent home some zucchini with them, and they brought me some fresh apples.
It has been rainy the last couple of days, so I haven't been able to spend as much time in the garden as I would have liked lately. But all that rain seems to have extended the life of my tomato plants - can you believe they are putting out still more blossoms?!? The rain seems to have revived some of my green bean plants, too. I still have quite a few hot peppers and the zucchini shows no signs of giving up any time soon.
I am getting anxious to get the winter squash. It is such a long wait for those to ripen, and it looks like I will have enough to last me until next year. I also can't hardly wait to dig the sweet potatoes, but the vines are still growing like crazy. You can't tell with those how much you'll get until you dig them. The suspense is driving me up a wall!
We are supposed to have nice, warm weather this coming weekend, so I hope to spend a lot of time out there.