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Now that you've had a peek at Melissa's Secret Garden, I'll have to post photos of Jacquie's. (I have to photograph it first, though.) Hers are very different from mine and Melissa's, but lovely, just the same. My eldest daughter, Dawn, studied landscape design and had beautiful beds when she lived in Ontario. She hasn't adjusted to the growing conditions in Georgia yet, but I'm confident she'll eventually create something terrific down there.
It's raining here today, so I won't be outside, which is probably a good thing because C is preparing to go fishing for pickerel (walleye) with several of his buddies this weekend.
We got all 40 lbs of seed potatoes (Banana Fingers, Yukon Golds, Cal Whites and Chieftains) in the soil, finally. That makes ten 40' rows. I may have bought too many, don't you think? We will share with family and friends, but I think I'll cut back to 30 lbs next year. I'm just not sure which variety to eliminate.
My teenaged tomato plants (21 of 'em - the rest were shared with family and friends) are nestled all snug in their beds surrounded by eggshells and makeshift cloches.
Our onions, peas and beets are up, and I put a row of Swiss chard and one of parsnips in yesterday after I transplanted more volunteer sunflowers and seeded my shade bed with amaranth. I still need to plant three varieties of beans, cucumbers, pumpkins and several different gourds. We sell the gourds at a roadside stand. I found a new variety of gourds yesterday. They resemble apples in shape. Had to buy a packet of seeds to try them out. Tri-coloured pears used to be our best seller, but last year crown of thorns took over. I also purchased a new, expensive hand trowel. It seems to me that I break the cheaper ones on a regular basis. I broke one of mine and bent one of Melissa's during our All Girls' Weekend.
I'm looking forward to having this weekend to myself. No meals to prepare! No interruptions! No working on someone else's agenda! I want to concentrate my efforts on edging up my shade bed and getting the last of the seed into my cutting bed, then weeding and mulching the beds at home. That is, if I survive the preparation for C's fishing weekend. I need to make several dozen of his favourite chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. That's the easy part. C tends to leave a lot of his preparations till the last minute then gets hyper about getting everything packed and ready to go. I'll likely have to help him search for some of his stuff and undoubtedly have to assist with putting new line on his reels, etc. He's just gone to town for some new swivels because he can't find the packet he bought last fall. Ah well, it's a small price to pay for three days of peace and quiet in my flower beds and, hopefully, fresh pickerel for dinner Monday evening.
For those of you who are interested, I've posted photos of Melissa's garden in my Miscellany Album. She has a small back yard, fenced on three sides, and she's made terrific use of all the space. The little pond contains about a dozen or more goldfish and koi.
Well, the All Girls Weekend was fun, very productive, and extremely satisfying. We didn't accomplish anything at all Friday evening - just ordered Chinese food in and talked, talked, talked. Yesterday we visited the Hort Society plant sale. I was a little disappointed because there weren't as many plants as usual, but I ended up buying two hostas at $5.00 each. Then we went to a local nursery where I spent the gift certificate my youngest daughter had given me for my birthday. I bought a fiber liner for my hanging basket, and sweet potato vine, wave petunias and phlox to fill it. I also bought a dandelion puller that works amazingly well. My girls loaded up on plant material as well.
We went back and unloaded my van, had left-over Chinese food for lunch and went to another larger nursery. Again, we brought home a van full of plants. Each of us worked on our various planters and were shocked when we realized it was after 8:00 p.m. and we hadn't eaten dinner. We had lovely fresh tortelini and hit the sack early.
We spent this morning working on my middle daughter's lovely 'Secret Garden' (will post photos soon) and split plants to be shared among us. Lunch consisted of an amazing roasted asparagus and goat cheese salad with fresh French bread and rhubarb crisp. This afternoon, we went to the farm and planted most of the stuff I bought in my shade garden and some of the shared plants in my holding bed. Then we cut some lilacs and asparagus and headed home.
It was so much fun sharing ideas, plants, love and laughter.
Didn't get much gardening done yesterday. It was hot and windy through the day. I did manage to get my hair cut and luxuriated for a few minutes while being shampooed. There's not much to compare with a professional who knows what (s)he's doing massaging one's head.
The wind calmed down after dinner, so I headed to the farm to get those rapidly wilting hollyhocks into the soil. Extended one bed slightly - just enough to accommodate the hollyhocks. That wasn't difficult. C had left a large block of styrofoam at one end of that bed. I'm not sure where that foam came from or how we will dispose of it. It's about 2' X 3' X 6' and ugly as sin. Anyway, I moved it over about four feet. The soil underneath was relatively weed free and easy to turn. The black flies were murder, though. I got those plants into the ground as fast as possible and still ended up covered in bites. My scalp took a real beating. The little monsters like to get into one's hair and feast away on one's head. I had planned on putting a few more rows of veggies in, but couldn't stand the thought of more bites, so checked on my tomato plants and scattered ground eggshells around them then high-tailed it for home.
I'm looking forward to our annual 'All Girls Weekend'. My daughters began the tradition several years ago to celebrate Mothers' Day and my birthday. The three of us spend the weekend doing whatever we want whenever we feel like it. NO BOYS ALLOWED! We indulge ourselves with fresh fruit and dips - chocolate, caramel, yogurt, etc. and other assorted treats. No dieting allowed. We generally spend some time cruising the local nurseries and preparing our hanging baskets and planters while we enjoy each other's company.
I need to get a few more rows of spuds into the ground first, though, so the last thing I should be doing at this point is blogging. Happy Memorial Day weekend to all my American friends! I look forward to hearing about your adventures next week.
It was lovely and hot here yesterday, so I finally got my tomatoes into the soil. Thank goodness!! They had begun to demand a drink of water twice a day. I always surround them with plastic ice cream buckets (with the bottoms cut out) to protect them from the wind and to concentrate the heat. Generally, I do this after I've finished planting all of them. It was incredibly windy, so I had to put the buckets around each one as I planted it in order to avoid the stress of the wind pulling at the leaves and the ensuing dehydration.
I try very hard for the sake of my sanity (which is tenuous, at best) to keep my mornings calm and serene. Mornings are my favourite time of day. First of all, I'm happy to greet another day full of promise and surprises. Next, I need to have my coffee and plan my day. Fortunately, C has a similar objective. He likes to read the newspaper uninterrupted while he enjoys his coffee. Most mornings we don't speak to each other, not because either of us is angry, but rather because we have a tacit agreement not to disturb one another.
This morning was anything but serene. Our dog, Clyde, bugged C till he tied him outside. I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat thinking of the tasks I need to accomplish today in random order: scrub down two bathrooms; arrange to have a prescription renewed; register with the appropriate agency for a new physician (mine retired), sweep the cat and dog hair from the stairs (it's beginning to accumulate like dust bunnies), do a couple of loads of laundry; determine what to have for dinner; and, when C gets home from work, plant more potatoes. While I sat silently trying to assimilate this list into some kind of coherent order, C gathered up his things and left for the job site.
Seeing C leave the premises, Clyde began to howl pitifully. He doesn't like either of us to leave him. I continued my ruminations, hoping Clyde would settle down. (He howls rather quietly, but I'm sure the neighbours don't appreciate it.) No luck! His mournful serenade continued. I decided I'd better bring him inside, but I was still in my pyjamas. I headed for the stairs, thinking, "Please, God, don't let anyone come by till I've swept these stairs down, cleared the bench in the foyer and given the floor the once-over with a mop." (I don't like to ask too much of the Big Guy. If I asked that no one comes by till the house is clean and tidy, I wouldn't have any visitors till the last of my veggies is harvested and my flower beds prepared for winter.)
In the meantime, Clyde raised the volume and frequency of his howling. So I peeked out the front door and, seeing no one on the street, decided to forego donning my work clothes in favour of putting an end to the howling immediately. Out the door I went, still in my pyjamas. I moved stealthily, determining that if I hurried I could be back inside without having been seen by any passer-by. I was especially fearful of encountering one of my neighbours who, in the 25+ years I've lived here, walks every morning in the most 'put together' way possible - clean and tidy, makeup on, not a hair out of place. You know the type - the absolute antithesis of most gardeners who focus more on the health and welfare of their flower beds than they concentrate on personal appearance. No sign of her!! I'm home free! Just as I unsnapped Clyde from his chain, I heard a car coming down the street. Oh well, Clyde always drags me back to the house at top speed. Not this morning! This morning he needs to sniff every blade of grass on the way! It occurred to me that I could probably slip between my neighbour's house and mine quicker than I could reach the front door. Nope! Clyde wanted no part of that idea and headed back around the house at full speed, dragging me behind. The vehicle slowed as it approached, no doubt to watch the spectacle of a chubby, old lady in pink pyjamas struggling to remain upright while being towed by a determined, strong hound.
On my way back inside, I noticed a box of wilting hollyhocks on my front porch. A friend had left them in exchange for several tomato plants I'd given her yesterday. Another item for my list.
I decided to pour another coffee and restore some serenity to my life. Unfortunately, I glanced at the hall mirror in passing. Oh, no!! My hair, which is generally one of my better attributes, was sticking out in all directions. Time for a haircut. Had to add that to my list.
I sat down and organized my list before reading the newspaper. That exercise was interrupted by a call from my step-son, who is dealing with a crisis involving his critically ill mother. Ten minutes later, all illusion of a serene morning having vanished, I added some items to my list that I need to do on my step-son's behalf.
Downstairs I went to start a load of laundry. Having accomplished that, I hurried up two flights of stairs to get dressed. Just as I removed my pyjama top, I heard a knock at the door. Discretion being the better part of valor, I tip-toed to the window to see who had come a-knocking. A close friend whose house always looks like a two-page spread from Better Homes and Gardens. Too bad!! As much as I like this woman, she was not gaining entry to my disaster area, so I sat down at the computer to share my tale of woes with my GG buddies instead. I'll call my friend later and arrange to meet her for coffee at a local restaurant.
It's time to tackle that list. Enjoy your day, everyone.
We didn't get any rain yesterday!! But the wind was oh so strong. Besides, my youngest daughter and her husband hosted a family birthday party for me, so I took the day off from gardening.
We got frost overnight again, and it destroyed part of my bleeding heart and wrecked some of my asparagus. I'm sure both will survive, but it was disappointing, nevertheless.
It was cool this morning, but sunny and there was no wind, thank goodness. Yesterday's wind knocked the snot out of my newly planted goat's beard. I hope it's a tough plant. C and I headed to the farm to get some more garden in. Both of my younger daughters and two of my grandchildren met us there. My grandson wanted to plant a row of carrots, so I prepared the soil and made the tiny furrow. My grandson sowed the seed and tamped the row after I covered it. He did a really good job for a hyper 8-year old. My granddaughter checked my supply of seeds and chose to plant a row of cosmos. We made fancy markers with each of their names on them before they wanted to visit the animals in the barn.
My grandson is afraid of Sadie, our goat, so she was let out of the barn to roam free. Unfortunately, she seems to like strawberry foliage, so she had to be returned from whence she came. Not an easy task! She led all of us on a merry chase before C managed to get her by the collar and put her back into the barn.
My children had other things to attend to and left shortly after the Sadie round-up. C had to visit a customer, so I was left alone for a little while. I used that time to transplant all the volunteer sunflowers from my perennial bed into a row of their own.
When C returned, we planted a few strawberries in spaces where those we planted last fall hadn't survived. Then we transplanted a bunch of raspberries. After that, we planted two 40' rows of potatoes. C dug the trenches. I cut and placed the potatoes. Then C covered them up and I followed behind, hilling them from the opposite side of the row. We're trying a new variety this year - Banana Fingers. They were recommended to us by friends who have eaten them but never grown them. Neither C nor I have tasted them. They were a little dearer ($6:99/10 lbs) than the more conventional seed potatoes I grow: Chieftains, California Whites, and Yukon Golds, each of which were $4:99. There were a lot of eyes. C thinks there is enough seed left for another row and a half.
I came home and had a nap, leaving C behind to plant another row of potatoes on his own. He's six years younger than I, but I still felt guilty leaving him to work on his own. He had a nap when he got home, too.
I had a delightful visit with my mom, and the 3-hour drive each way was a feast for the eyes. Unfortunately, my little Kodak EasyShare is not the appropriate device for capturing the beauty of the fresh green hues of springtime. Next year I'll have to coax one of my granddaughters, who is an accomplished photographer at 16 years of age, to come with me. She has a marvelous camera that will definitely do justice to the scenery. Another problem, however, is the fact that many of the best shots ought to be taken from the roadway. It's hard to see the forest for the trees once you get off the road. It's dangerous to take them ON the road.
Oh well, I'll post a couple of scenes. The trilliums were at their absolute best - thousands of them dotting the countryside as far as the eye could see. Again, my camera couldn't capture that panorama.
The curse of the near north at this time of the year is black flies!! They were so thick that I actually breathed a couple of them in. Yuck!! I'm covered in red, itchy blotches.
I bought a hibiscus and a flat of pansies for Mom's Mother's Day gift. Duh! I should have realized that she would get a lot of plants for her birthday. Her living room looks like a nursery. Her United Church Women's Group gave her a hibiscus standard approximately 5' tall. The next time I visit, I'll move all her plants outdoors for the summer.
I bought the pansies to fill a pair of planters that hang from the railing on Mom's little front porch. It took me almost all afternoon Thursday to accomplish that task - something that should have occupied no more than an hour of my time. I was almost ready to throw in the towel before I was done.
The planters were supported by sturdy plastic brackets. Somehow (probably from the huge icecycles that form on her eaves) one of the brackets got broken over the winter. I drove to town and found two sets of metal brackets. Back at Mom's house, I attacked the job of assembling the 3-part brackets with enthusiasm - too much enthusiasm. I dropped two of the nut/washer/bolt assemblies through the cracks on her porch. This resulted in getting down on hands and knees and crawling under the porch in a fruitless search.
Mom has about 70 years accumulation of hardware items thrown together in numerous cans, bottles and other containers. (She never throws anything away.) So I began to sort through the stuff, searching for appropriately sized items. After an hour or so, I finally found enough hardware to put the brackets together. This time, I assembled the brackets inside. After putting them together the wrong way a couple of times, my enthusiasm was beginning to wane considerably. As it happened, the hardware I found from Mom's collection required different screwdrivers from those that came with the brackets. I had to use flat heads, Phillips and Robertson screwdrivers to get the job done.
Next I had to adjust the width of the brackets to accommodate her planters. Back to the drawingboard! That necessitated a search for the various screwdrivers I'd left hither, thither and yon all over the house. What a careless old woman I am! At least his time I put them back into the toolbox when I finished with them.
I finally got the wretched things hung over the railing, trudged to my van and lugged a 20-litre bag of triple mix up two sets of stairs to the porch. I couldn't find a trowel (I'd left mine at home), so I scooped the soil from the bag into the planters using an old plastic flowerpot - you know the kind - the ones used in nurseries - the kind that breaks every time you scoop more soil!!
As the planters got heavier, the brackets with curved sides began to slide up over the railing with square corners. Aaarrrgggghhhh!! Had to remove the planters from the brackets so I could screwnail the brackets to the railing. Then I had to lift the planters over the side of the porch and wriggle them into the brackets again.
I finally managed to pull the pansies from the flat and deposit them into the planters (while being eaten alive), but the broken plastic flowerpot was not longer suitable for filling in the spaces between the plants. I got an old spoon from the kitchen and began to finish the job when a strong wind began blowing everything around. No need to water the pansies in! Next came the rain! Soaked to the skin, I gathered up all the bits and pieces, swept the soil I'd dropped all over the porch and fled the scene. I wasn't able to take a snap of the final product.
My mother had better LOVE those pansies!!
Just a quick follow-up to this morning's entry: Following a long council meeting with considerable input from the public, Council unanimously denied Orica's application for temporary rezoning of the property it currently occupies next to Luther Marsh and the headwaters of the Grand River. Pursuant to Canada's Explosives Act, this mean they must cease and desist from using the site from June 12th until a decision is made on its application for permanent rezoning.
The fight's not over yet, though. Pursuant to the Municipal Act of Ontario, Council must make a decision on the permanent rezoning of the property within 90 days of the application. Orica's application for permanent rezoning was made March 31st. Hence, Council must make its decision on or before May 31st. I have to think that the application for permanent rezoning will be denied as well. The question at that point will be whether or not Orica decides to take the matter to the Ontaro Municipal Board. Inasmuch as Orica reps say it has invested 2.5 million dollars in the site, it's entirely likely it will take that route. On the other hand, given the determination of the citizens of our community to oppose it, Orica could decide to set up its operation elsewhere. Only time will tell. I'll keep you posted.
If you're interested in Orica's track record worldwide, query it on the net, using the keywords 'Orica' and 'accident' or 'environment'.
Finally! A nice sunny morning - temperatures still a little below normal, but promising, nevertheless. Unfortunately, I have no time to indulge in my favourite sport - gardening.
It's garbage/compost/recycling day here. I need to dump some tired goods from my fridge into the compost pick-up bin; ensure that I've rid the house of unwanted recyclables - newspapers, cardboard cartons, box board, along with the stuff I put into the bin every day; and lug all containers to the curb. I'm committed to the program, but that doesn't make it any easier.
I need to take my van to a nearby town for an emissions test so that I can get a new sticker for my licence plate before the current one expires. While there, I want to purchase some strawberry roots to fill in some bare spots in our newly transplanted (last fall) patch. I'll meet my youngest daughter and we'll go together to the garden centre where we'll both purchase other plants as well. Neither of us needs more plants, but the "I wants" will set in.
Just time enough to get home and prepare a cold supper for my husband, before heading off to a council meeting scheduled for 6:00. If I'm not there by 5:20, I'll have to stand through what promises to be a very long meeting. Along with a large segment of our community, I'm opposing the rezoning of property adjacent to one of the largest wetland preserves in Ontario and the headwaters of a major river for the purpose of storing explosives used in the mining industry. I'm not opposed to the operation, per se, but to its location. A spill of ammonium nitrate could contaminate the marsh, the river and various aquifers necessary to clean drinking water throughout southern Ontario. I can't believe that the local, provincial and federal governments have even considered allowing it to operate in its current location, but each agency seems to pass the buck to the next. Duh!! I'm afraid it's a case of one agency being afraid to step on the toes of another. In the meantime, each of them has lost sight of what is critical to our environment. No decision will be made this evening, but I'll likely rant on about this in future.
I'm heading up to visit with my mom early tomorrow morning, so you won't have to read about my frustrations with the process until later in the week. I'll try to appease you by taking and posting those photos of the fresh greens of the near north on my journey.
More rain over the past few days has kept me out of the garden. We had frost overnight. I'd been bemoaning the fact that my annual seeds haven't germinated. It looks, now, like that was a good thing. More frost forecast for tonight.
Yesterday, a contractor who hires my husband to pour concrete foundations for him came by to get a price on another job. Actually, I think he dropped in because he was lonely. He lost his wife to cancer in January. Bev had been a healthy, active woman all her life, and one of the founders of our local walking trailway system and an avid gardener. The disease took her quickly - just a few weeks after the diagnosis. Her death was a huge loss to our community and devastating for her husband.
Bill stayed a couple of hours, and I was happy to share his memories of Bev. We talked about our gardens. Bill always maintained a sizeable vegetable garden and left the flower beds to Bev. But this year he intends to care for her flower beds and create a new one in her memory. What a lovely tribute. I can't think of much that would have pleased her more.
This morning dawned sunny and warm. My favourite weather forecaster, Frank Ferragine on Breakfast Television, warned of the possibility of pop-up thunder storms, but that seemed highly unlikely. So after getting the morning’s chores out of the way and feeding my dear hubby, I grabbed my treasure trove of seeds and headed to the farm.
Ever since I acquired Dick Raymond’s book, ‘The Joy of Gardening’ several years ago, I’ve wanted to try his ‘wide row’ method of planting. C has steadfastly resisted, preferring to stick to tried and true methods, but I finally convinced him to try it as an experiment.
The dreaded tiller has been in the repair shop since my last mention of it. When the repairman called to say it was ready, I asked what was wrong with it. “Water in the gas,” he responded, being a man of few words (unlike yours truly, who tends to ramble on.) Who wudda thunk – just because it sat outside all winter? C intended to put it into the shed, but never got around to doing it.
Now, C absolutely hates putting seed into the ground without going at the soil one more time. That, and the fact I had virtually bullied him into trying the ‘wide row’ method, caused him to be a little grumpy. Well, actually, a LOT grumpy, but he helped me prepare the 15’ row with a minimum of grumbling. I planted half the row in peas and the other half in beets, scattering the seed randomly but fairly uniformly. I’ll share photos when the plants emerge from the soil. Hopefully, the block planting will be beneficial to the peas, making them better able to withstand the wind.
That was enough experimentation for C. He prepared two conventional rows for me and I planted them with yellow beets. We’ve neither grown nor eaten yellow beets, so I didn’t tell C about this new variety. I’ll report on his reaction after we’ve eaten some.
By this time, his good humour restored, C went to weed the strawberry patch while I turned my attention to cleaning up my holding bed yet again. Those darned weeds just keep a-comin’. After I got that bed weeded, I decided to attack the weeds in my new lasagna shade bed. They’re few and far between, but I’m a fanatic about getting my flower beds weed-free in the spring. I firmly believe that it saves a lot of work later. I planted some lily-of-the-valley (I hope I don’t end up regretting that.) and finished edging the first ‘link’ (the area between each of the spruce trees). Yahoo! Only five more to go!
C went to harvest some more asparagus. I was leaning on my shovel, admiring my handiwork, when the skies darkened, the wind picked up considerably, and I felt the first large drops of rain on my shoulders. “Oh, well,” thought I. “I’m not made of sugar nor salt, so a little rain won’t hurt me. I’ll just pull a few more weeds before heading home.” The thought had barely passed through my brain when a tremendous thunder boomer sent me scurrying out from under those tall spruce trees. (‘Scurrying’ is probably not the appropriate word to describe the way a chubby old lady runs for cover, but I really like that word.)
C had considerably more foresight than I. He hates to get wet, and had headed to our truck when he felt the first drop. He had the good sense not to laugh, although I noticed him struggling to suppress a grin at my hasty retreat. I should have given more credence to Frank’s forecast.
So much for gardening for a while! The soil will likely be too damp for a day or two. Maybe I’ll actually get around to cleaning my stove and fridge.
I spent most of the time I was weeding and edging my shade bed yesterday thinking about how fortunate I am and how much I have learned about life from working in my garden.
Like many of my plants, I'm a survivor, and all the stronger for having survived. I survived the angst of my teenaged years, a bad marriage and subsequent impoverished state following divorce, the loss of my home to a tornado and the awful period of rebuilding, the blending of two families (probably my most difficult trial), and a couple of heart attacks. Taking a lesson from some of my plants, I sunk my roots deeper and trusted that God would see me through all these difficuties. And, despite the fact I rarely attend church and am not a deeply religious person, He did.
I live comfortably in a beautiful rural area of this country - close enough to Toronto to be able to enjoy urban delights from time to time without having to be away over night. The community where I live is much like the bar on Cheers 'where everybody knows your name' and cares about your well-being. (Another lesson from my garden: Plants growing closely together are better able to withstand the wind. And, although most of the people in this area are WASPs, I recognize that, like plants, we don't have to be exactly the same in order to co-exist. In fact, variety adds spice to my garden.)
I learned, too, that kids are like plants. If they have strong, healthy roots, they will develop into strong, healthy adults, each contributing something unique to the family. Like plants, they may encounter set-backs, but that root system will enable them to endure and grow stronger.
I also learned that every day above ground is a good day, that truly, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and that death is inevitable, but a life well-lived is a beautiful thing. How's that for platitudes? I guess they've become platitudes because they're all true.
I just uploaded a few photos I took today in order that I can track my progress over the summer.
There are photos of the shade bed I created using the lasagna method. As you can see, the straw at the west end of the garden was piled too high and hasn't decomposed sufficiently. I need to add more compost and pony poop.
I'm disappointed in the photo I took from the opposite end. I didn't capture the top of the bed where I've worked the remaining straw into the soil. I have considerable difficulty seeing the image on a digital camera on sunny days, so I frequently just click and hope for the best. The spruces really stand straight up. It was the photographer who was on a slant.
The violets and lady's mantle were planted less than a week ago and look as though they've established themselves well.
There's a photo of some of my tomatoes in the other album - Pets n flowers.
This is a really magical time in Ontario. The trees are beginning to leaf out and the wonderful shades of green are spectacular. I need to head north to see my mom soon and I must take my camera so I can share the colours with you. I hope the camera will do justice to the freshness of mid-spring awakening. Hopefully, the triliums will be in bloom and I can get a shot of the forest floor, dotted with them. I'm really fortunate to be surrounded by so much beauty and promise.
My lilacs, both here and at the farm, are sprouting leaves, too. The fruit trees at the farm show similar promise of wonderful things to come. I'll have to watch them carefully, though, because I didn't get the dormant spray on in time.
Fresh asparagus to die for! Mmm, mmm, mmm! Our first taste of spring. Nubs of rhubarb are poking through the ground, and I'm looking forward to some yummy pies. A man from Michigan told me that it's called 'Pie Plant' in the area where he lives. The rhubarb at the farm flourishes on the edge of my new shade bed, so I chose to leave it there. I like the appearance of the lush leaves, anyway.
I spent the morning taking most of my tomato seedlings out of my mini greenhouse and putting them in front of a sunny window. About a dozen have been at the window for a couple of weeks now, having grown too tall to stay in the greenhouse. Soon I'll start the hardening off process - putting them outside on mild days and bringing them back in at night. We're still getting overnight temperatures of about 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
Every tomato seed I planted has now become a vigorous 'teenaged' plant - tall and gangly. I'll be glad when I can put them into my garden, but I won't be able to do that for a couple of weeks yet. When I do, I plant them horizontally: I pick back all but the top tuft of leaves then put the plant into a foot-long trench horizontally. I hold the growing tip up and cover the rootball and bare stem with soil amended with compost. Roots develop all along the buried stem and I find that my plants are stronger and require less water during dry periods. In order to protect them from the strong winds in our area and to concentrate the heat, I save and scrounge all the 1 gallon plastic containers I can find (We buy ice cream in those containers.) and cut the bottoms out of them. I tuck the bucket around the plant and shore it up with soil so it won't blow away. When the plant has grown taller than the bucket, I remove it, leaving the hollow around the plant to collect the rain, and replace it with a cage. I save my eggshells all year, break them up with a quick pulse of my blender and scatter them around my plants in order to keep slugs at bay. I've been using this method for more than ten years with unrivaled success.
I wish I could say I've been as successful at starting herbs from seed. I planted six various herbs in peat pellets, but have only been successful with parsley and basil. I doubt I'll try again. I like to try starting various plants, but it's a lot of work and, other than the tomatoes, I'll simply buy them from a nursery.
Similarly, I've tried to start caladiums indoors this year, but haven't seen any sign of growth yet. I haven't given up on them yet, because I have no idea how long it takes them to form plants.
Well, I'm going out to work in my beds here before heading to the farm to plant peas and lettuce. Happy gardening everyone.
We didn’t get to eat asparagus, though. Being the greedy person I am, I decided to wait one more day so we could have more of the delicious stuff.
After we got the onions in, my husband (hereinafter referred to as ‘C’ since he wishes to remain anonymous following yesterday’s rant) tried long and hard to start his tiller. Didn't happen. God is good! No plants were harmed through C’s over-enthusiastic use of said machine.
Meanwhile, I went back to cleaning up my holding bed. Virtually every plant over-wintered successfully: daffodils, day lilies, irises, perennial geraniums, hydrangeas, bluebells, dianthus, stonecrop, chives, forsythia, spirea, and even some heritage rose bushes. I’ve never been successful with roses. The person who gave them to me said she had actually tried unsuccessfully to kill them off. There has to be a lesson in that.
I was especially excited to see two peonies popping through the ground, discards from another friend’s bed. I adore the outrageously gaudy appearance of peonies, but there’s no room to accommodate them in my flower beds here at home. I once planted a pair of them on either side of a ‘telephone tower’ (those ugly brown aluminum things that are scattered throughout urban areas) at the edge of my lawn, but someone cut a cable and the linemen trampled all over them when they came to make repairs. (No, that time it wasn’t my dear husband.) I’ll have to protect them from the wind (and the tiller) with tomato cages later.
When we build our new home at the farm, I’ll have plenty of plant material to start my foundation plantings and the berm I’ve been designing (and revising) in my head for the past couple of years.
My attempt at making a ‘lasagna bed’ has met with mixed results. The only shady area on our farm is a curved row of spruce trees that border the lane between the barn and our vegetable garden. Winter before last I came across an article about creating a new bed using the ‘lasagna method’. “Aha!” thought I, “the perfect solution to making a shade bed at the farm!” I spent all summer long digging out the most persistent weeds – burdocks and dandelions – then section by section between the trees, laying down several thicknesses of newspaper that had been soaked thoroughly to prevent it from flying away and to accelerate its eventual decomposition. I covered the newspapers with a generous layer of compost, then a layer of spoiled straw, then a layer of pony and goat manure (It’s a good thing I value their droppings, because neither creature is good for much else.), and finally another layer of straw. Then, like Rumplestiltskin, I waited for Mother Nature to work her magic, turning straw not into gold, but into soil. Dreams of my beautiful shade bed made our long, dreary winter more bearable.
Well, Ma N did a fine job at the top end of the bed. But as she worked her way towards the bottom, she was prevented from accomplishing the desired result by an over-enthusiastic top layer of straw. I managed to circumvent the decomposition process by piling it on too deep. So I spent much of the afternoon turning the stuff over, bringing the wonderful rotten stuff to the top in preparation for another application of compost and pony poop. Hopefully, it’ll be ready to plant by fall, but if not, I’ll have another winter to design that end of the bed in my head. I must remember to take my camera with me so I can display my new, if far from complete) shade bed to all and sundry.
I’ve been splitting the perennials in my shade bed at home and moving them down to the farm. After years of struggling to grow in sticky clay, they’re luxuriating (along with a bumper crop of earthworms) in the new soil Ma N created at the top of my new bed. Thus far, I’ve planted five hostas, some wild violets, a couple of astilbes, several small bleeding hearts, a couple of clumps of lady’s mantle, and four clumps of silver mound that miraculously made it through the winter virtually bare-rooted in a pot above the ground. The silver mound nagged at my guilty conscience all winter long. A friend gave it to me late in the fall and I just never got around to planting it. How ungrateful! Early this spring, I moved the broken old plastic pot to my garage door intending to throw it on the compost heap at the farm. When I was about to put it into the back of my van, I noticed some new growth at the base. Lo and behold, I split it up into four sections and planted it in my new bed where it has thrived ever since.
Well, my friends, I hope I haven’t bored you with this long entry. Having typed it out twice, I’m definitely bored. Happy gardening to all, and to all a good night.
Just spent the last half hour composing today's lengthy entry and hit 'Save Draft'. Got a notification that I wasn't signed in (I was so!) and then "Whoops - didn't know what page you were referring to" or some such language.
Am going to do a quick experiment to see if I can create my ramblings in MS Word then copy into my blog. Please bear with me.
Took a couple of days off from gardening due to the weather. We are getting an inordinate amount of rain this spring.
Got up this morning, raring to go! Just a smidgen of rain yesterday; and today promised to be sunny and warm. I wanted to get my onions planted at the farm. My husband was eager to get started at it, too, so I gathered my sets up and headed out. I hadn't showered this morning and I had dressed in my ratty old gardening clothes. No one would see me down there.
When we arrived at the farm, I was dubious about planting. The soil appeared too wet. It was really windy and my hubby thought that if he tilled, it might dry sufficiently to get the onions in. He got our little tiller going, but it was difficult to operate in the damp soil, so he decided to borrow a friend's tractor (The friend had already put his cultivator on.) and do the entire garden quickly.
While he went off to get the tractor (I knew it would take a long time because friend and hubby love to discuss the weather, the state of the economy, the price of wheat, beans and hay, any new equipment a neighbour may have acquired, the prospects for a prosperous harvest, the declining behaviour of teens these days, etc., etc., etc. You get my drift.), I cleaned up my holding bed. There was a lot of stinging nettle, so I used latex surgical gloves. That was a successful experiment. I'm not good with most gloves, but these worked well. Most of my plants over-wintered well. I worked away digging out old sunflower roots and lugging them to the compost pile, getting dirtier by the minute.
Back came hubby with the big tractor and cultivator. First he ripped up an old strawberry bed from which I had intended transplanting some of the healthy runners. Oh, well! Next, he came booting over near my holding bed (which isn't a bed unto itself, but rather the upper corner of our vegetable garden). Before I could place myself strategically to protect my perennials, he had managed to rip two of them out. That man is a disaster with any piece of machinery powered by gasoline!
Eventually, hubby finished cultivating with no further mishaps. I continued weeding and getting rid of the sunflower roots. I had taken my gloves off to open a soft drink and forgot to put them back on. Ouch! I hate stinging nettle with a passion. Brushed hair off my face with my filthy hands and managed to get soil well distributed throughout. Soil is definitely not an appropriate hair care ingredient!
I was just thinking longingly about a nice hot shower when I heard a vehicle come up our laneway. Customers often stop by to purchase hay, so I simply went about my business behind a large shed, assuming hubby would attend to the matter, an no one would see this unkempt, filthy old lady. Wrong!! My cousin and her husband were passing and decided to stop by when they saw our truck. Not only did I look awful, I'm sure I didn't smell very nice, either, not having showered then slugging away for most of the day. I'm sure our visitors left wondering if I was short of soap and water.
I didn't get any onions planted so will have to try to get them in tomorrow. (The forecast is for rain Wednesday through Saturday.)
The bright spot in my day was finding asparagus almost ready for harvest. Can hardly wait to enjoy it tomorrow with Hollandaise sauce. Mmmm! Mmmm!
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