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Today was one of those gorgeous days that make me feel happy just to exist on this planet - sunny and warm with billowing cumulus clouds overhead. I need to remember to start wearing a hat and/or sunscreen.
It's a good thing the weather put me in a good mood, because C is pushing his luck again. I spent the morning tidying my house while he headed for the farm. By the time I got there, he had gotten too close to my sunflowers with the tiller and planted four more rows of potatoes from some of the small ones we had remaining from last year's crop. That makes eighteen 40' rows of potatoes, folks! What in heck are two old people going to do with that many potatoes?? I'm going to have to sneak pails full of them into the back seats of my friends' vehicles when they're not looking! There are still five 5-gallon pails full in my cold cellar. I had asked C to bury them under the compost heap.
As well, he decided that we don't have enough carrots and beets in the ground. I still have seed for both, but had decided that two rows of beets and three of carrots were sufficient. Oh no! He secretly bought more seed and in went another row of beets and two more of carrots. At harvest time, C expects me to distribute them all over town - particularly to the widows of some of his deceased friends. That's a pleasant pastime because I get to visit, but it's also the time when I need to be in my kitchen canning and freezing produce for our own consumption. It's a good thing I love the man, or I'd compost HIM!
I planted cleome, asters, zinnias, and celosia in my cutting bed. I know it's late, but the soil has been cold and damp up till now. I've never planted annuals from seed before, so this is a learning process. Wish me luck.
I spent some time edging more of my shade bed, but forgot to take my camera with me. Will try to remember tomorrow. I also planned on taking a photo of some of my favourite imperial irises. I also have violet ones, pale yellow ones and a Japanese variety, but nothing can hold a candle to imperials in my books. My oriental poppies are getting ready to bloom. I hope I can find a nice day to photograph them when they do. I consider poppies and peonies to be the tarts of my garden - a little over the top - like Dolly Parton - absolutely gorgeous despite their short shelf-life.
Enough gardening talk. Back to mundane chores. I need to start a load of laundry. Take care, everyone, and happy gardening.
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.