Copyright © 1997-2009 Demand Media. All rights reserved.
More beautiful weather here. Enough to make me moan with pleasure when I walk out into the golden warmth at the end of the workday.
A list of things...
1. The beans, cucumbers and squash finally popped up.
2. The zinnias are blooming. Pink and green.
3. Some of the nasturtiums I planted last weekend are popping up in the deck bed.
4. There are MILLIONS of little lady's mantles popping up all around the established ones in the deck bed. Man do they reseed easily!
5. Nasturtium, borage and tomatoes reseeded pretty well too from last season.
6. I got my pressure canner and coil cartridge for the stove and have it all ready to go for canning time.
7. Heard the robins SCREAMING out front near the nest we found in the doug firs. Found a fledgling hopping around and two adults DIVEBOMBING the hell out of it. I put him/her back in the tree to perch on a branch, but I don't know what happened to him/her. Hopefully, she's being cared for.
8. The basil in the ground is looking TERRIBLE. I should probably give up trying to grow them anywhere but in the greenhouse. Although, the basil in the containers looks good. Weird.
9. Gotta buy some row cover cloth to keep the bugs from eating my lettuce.
10. Mustard greens bolt almost instantly.
11. I don't really need millions of arugula plants. Just a few. But I do need TONS of tender lettuce for salads. Gotta plan better next year.
12. The cat mint has taken over in the deck bed. I might divide them and move some to the beds in the front.
13. The yarrow has bloomed and it is FIRE red.
14. The deer have re-established their coral bells and lady's mantle habit. They've munched them into flat-top shapes. That's okay, as long as they leave some for me.
15. There are already some tiny tomatoes on the deck plant.
16. Thirteen more wake-ups left until SUMMMMMEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!
I spent the morning (I have a personal day) creating my plant list for the bird garden. I think I finally found a relatively organized, quick way to get a wildlife-friendly plant list! Here's what I did. I started with this book:
has a really helpful plant matrix in the back. All of the plants are in the list because they're beneficial for wildlife, but Russell breaks it down even further into categories like: shade tolerant, produces berries for fruit, produces nectar for hummers, etc. Here it is:
>I just chose my 4 most important characteristics: 1. nectar for hummers 2. shade tolerant 3. fruit for birds 4. nuts/seeds for birds and highlighted them. Then I highlighted the dots in each column (shown above). Next, I put a check next to every plant that had 3 or more green marks. Finally, I crosschecked each checked plant from this matrix with a deer-resistant list and wrote a little "d" next to each checked plant. At this point, I had a list (the plants with the checks AND the "d's") to record.
So... I made up a chart like this with columns for shrubs/trees, perennials, ground covers, etc and filled in the columns with the appropriate plants:
I wrote a "D" or "E" next to the shrubs so I could make sure I had a good balance of deciduous and evergreen. I want at least SOME winter foliage and structure. At first, when I had added all the "qualifying" plants from the matrix, I realized I had very few perennials. So, I went back to the perennials section of the matrix and checked off any plants that had no less than TWO green marks. Since this included some plants that weren't shade tolerant, I marked those plants with "sun" on my chart so I'd know to put them in the sunnier sections of the bird garden. I, of course, made sure to crosscheck these with the deer-resistant list before I added them to my chart.
Now, I have a plant list to choose from when I go to the nursery. I'm actually wondering if I should add more plants in the shrub category that like more sun because I just looked out at the bird garden and most of it is in sun already and it's not yet noon.
I did end up going back out yesterday and planting some onion starts inbetween the basil plants. I planted 3 rows of white and 2 of red. I hope they're not too crowded with the basil to set nice-sized bulbs.
I've been reading Vegetable Gardening West of the Cascades and the author talks about these little bugs we have here in the PNW called symphylans (I need to double check that spelling later). He says they're often the reason gardeners out here have a few good years of veggie gardening and then the plants just don't grow/germinate reliably. These little critters live in moist soil and eat the new roots of plants. He said you can pull a plant out and see the little guys on the roots (they're 3/16" long) if you have an infestation. I wonder if I have these guys? My peas haven't been growing well and I just pulled a small one out to thin and examined the roots. I saw no sign of tiny little bugs on them. Wonder if I need to try shaking out the dirt onto a piece of paper and looking with a magnifying lens? By the way, it never occurred to me to eat the pea seedlings I thin, but I saw a recipe in a magazine that used pea seedlings in a salad. So, the seedlings I thinned I popped in my mouth and whoa. They are GOOD. Taste just like peas. I won't ever waste the thinnings again.
Anyway, I'd never heard anyone talk about these guys and the way the author went on, you'd think no one would be able to garden in the PNW without having symphylan problems. He said the only way to cure the problem is to grow in one place for 2-3 years and then let that area go to grass while you till up a new plot and use that one for 2-3 years, and continue rotating like that. I have raised beds, so that won't work for me. I've been veggie gardening in the same spot for about 6 years, and I'm still getting good harvests. Maybe they'd be better if not for these little guys.
I've put two fuchsia plants on the dining table on the deck and the hummers are constantly eating from them just a few feet away from me as I type right now.
It's another gorgeous day here. I'm tempted to go blow the rest of my paycheck on some of the plants on my list!
There's a lot going on in the Jardin de Deitz lately. The "Bird Garden" is really coming along. While I was at a late work function one evening last week, D made tons of progress on it. He lined the halves of the bed in rocks and then filled them almost entirely with our soil mix. The area looks infinitely better even WITHOUT the plants in it yet.
The left side bed will also be lined with rocks and we'll finish lining the right bed eventually.
The few plants you see here and there are just temporarily placed until we decide where to put them. I still haven't completed a plant list for these beds.
Here's the view from the opposite direction. The path is so nice and wide and curves in an appealing way. It's so exciting to see it coming along like this.
That big daylily in the front is a challenge. I don't want to get rid of it, because I need all the free plants I can get to fill out all this space, but it's not necessarily in the perfect spot. I might dig it up and divide it this fall. Then, I can spread it out amongst both beds.
The deck bed is beginning to come into its own, too. I'm finally really seeing its potential.
I've added more sedum to the sunnier south end and just today added a few little columbine seedlings to the shadier north end. The little viburnum in the very middle of this pic just won't get going! It's eventually going to be the biggest plant in that bed and right now, everything else is outpacing it! I also planted a bunch of nasturtium to some empty spots around the perimeter of the sunnier end. I used Empress of India, Lipstick, Jewel mixed colors and one other variety. I tore off the top of the packet of that variety and promptly lost it. Of course, the top was the only place the name was printed. The blossoms will be cream and deep burgundy. Moonlight? Something like that.
In the veggie garden I planted about 18 bean seeds, a few squash plants near the sunflowers, about 8 bush 'Spacesaver" cucumber plants and a few squares full of carrots. I bought yellow and red onion starts but I don't know if I have the space for 'em now. Also, I was reading in "Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades" by Steve Solomon about how most onion varieties out there won't set bulbs before our summer season is over. I've had some success with onions before, so maybe I'll put a few in the ground and see what happens. Maybe I'll intersperse them with the basil. The basil, by the way, is just barely hanging on after a cold night we had last week. I wonder if they'll make a comeback. I was really looking forward to making a VAT of pesto to freeze for the winter.I planted bibb lettuce and red leaf lettuce in a row in front of the peas. Which, by the way, are so tiny still. I don't know if I'll get a good harvest this year.
This is the summer I'm going to attempt to do some canning to preserve the harvest. I haven't had the guts to try it till now, but here we go! On ebay, I found a coil element cartridge to fit in my Jenn-Air modular stovetop. It's a really cool stovetop. You can plug and unplug different cartridges. We have two ceramic burner cartridges that are in most of the time. I can unplug one and replace it with a giant griddle one, or a grilling one or in this case, a coil one that will help the pressure canner get up to the right temps fast enough. I also found a pressure canner that had great reviews on Amazon for $88 (including shipping). With 11 tomato plants this year (I usually plant 4-6), I will be canning sauce and salsa like crazy. I also plan to can the green beans. That's one veggie I like canned much better than frozen for some reason. I might even try pickles if I have an overabundance of cukes. I have enough dill to do pickles, I think.
Here are some things I've been thinking about:
1. I'm amazed by how much my lady's mantle reseeds. There are tiny lady's mantles ALL over the place!
2. The deer haven't munched on the deck bed plants at all yet. Are they going to find them again one night and eat every last leaf? I might not survive that.
3. How important is it REALLY to pinch off blooms on a plant you're going to transplant so it focuses its energy on root production?
4. Why isn't my barrel composter getting my compost nice and hot? It's not cooking at all. I wonder if I need to add more brown or green material? How do I know?
5. What's eating my lettuce?
6. I wish I'd planted sweet peas this year. They are so lovely. I guess I still could.
7. The lilacs smell so incredible right now.
8. My asparagus spears are so tall now. I wonder how tall they'll get before they stop growing. I read that some can grow up to 4 inches a DAY! I think by next year we can harvest a few spears. That'll be their third summer.
9. We caught a coyote on our wildlife cam in the woods the other night checking out the remains of a roast chicken carcass we left out there.
10. I want to plant runner beans again because the hummers loved them last year, but I'm not so sure I really loved the beans for eating so much.
11. I planted too much arugula and mesclun mix and not enough REAL leaf lettuce for nice hearty, crunchy salads. Most of the mesclun mix that germinated were mustard leaves. Not my fave. The spinach I planted barely germinated and is growing VERY slowly.
12. The zinnias in the veggie garden are about to blossom out. Can't wait to see them all blooming.
13. I'm going to cover the basil with plastic at night until the weather really evens out. I don't think they can take another cold night.
14. Friday we went to Lake Sacagawea in Longview Wa. I think it's just possibly the prettiest lake/park I've seen in a long time. The rhodies were all blooming: coral, red, pink, yellow. The lake was lined with yellow iris and lily pads lined the water's edge. Huge grass carp were lazily floating right under the lily pads. Just incredible. I could've stayed there all day. If it weren't a 30 minute drive from my house, I'd go there everyday.
15. We put out the cushions on the outdoor daybed, the hammock and the cushions on the outdoor dining table chairs. It's officially summer now, even if the equinox isn't quite here, yet!
16. Only 15 more schooldays left. I'm alternately freaking out and blissing out about that. There's always such a rush at the end of the school year to accomplish way too much in too little time.
I don't know what the heck to call this garden in the front of our house I wrote about last time. It's been so many things. For a long time we called it the "herb garden" because that's what it was when we first moved in, but the herbs are long gone. I'll think I'll call it the bird garden because our feeders are all located in this area and we want to design it to attract as many of them as possible.
So, anyway, the bird garden used to look like this:
We had this area covered in black plastic over the winter to kill/prevent weeds.
From this direction, you can see the many little planters we inherited. The planter boxes that I DESPISE. If that fence were not there, you'd see, right beyond it, that area in the front of the house that is covered in black plastic in the previous pic.
So, you can see how incredibly ugly this area is. But it has potential. So, we pulled out all those boxes and the two California lilacs you can see peeking over that fence in the middle. We yanked out those fences too. Next, we dumped some gravel down the middle of the "black plastic area" (without plastic now, of course) as a large, curving pathway and on either side of it, we're dumping tons of soil mix to make beds. We're not going to even attempt to plant right in the ground. It's just solid clay here. So, here's how this area looks now.
In this one, you can see the California Lilacs we later pulled out. They weren't looking good and they blocked the view to the feeders.
I'm going to build a bed all the way around this corner of the house (far right of pic) that sweeps from the deck to this porch, too. Gotta figure out where to put those whiskey barrel planters, now. They're full of hosta and ferns.
Oh! We also added a bunch of hosta and bleeding heart to some empty spots in between the rhodies by the front door. You can see them there, in the middle of the pic. I think if I had to grow only two plants (not including veggies), I'd grow hosta and ferns. There's something so lush and cool and yet welcoming about the combination of the two. If I could only plant two kinds of veggies, it'd be tomatoes and cucumber. If I had to plant only two kinds of herbs, it'd be basil and cilantro.
This is a fun game. Anyone wanna play, too? If you could only grow two...veggies, perennials, herbs, flowers, etc, what would YOU grow?
Since this was the first nice day we've had since the birth of Jesus, I finally got some work done today. D and I worked all morning on the front of the house. This area has been a bone of contention and an irritation for us since we moved into this place 7 years ago. Back then it was a jumble of herbs just barely peeking out of weeds you normally don't see the likes of outside of a Vietnam jungle. We since have cleared it entirely and have done something different with it almost every year because we've had NO IDEA what to do with it. One year it was wildflowers (also mostly weeds by the end of the summer), one year it was sunflowers, a few years we grew pumpkins. I knew I wanted to create some sort of naturalistic garden with seating and maybe a few winding paths since it's bordered by some really nice young douglas fir trees already. I just couldn't quite figure out how to get started. There were also these annoying little raised beds everywhere. TEN of them, to be exact and I hated them. It was crowded and hard to get a wheelbarrow through all of those boxes. So, we FINALLY got a plan SORT of in mind. We've decided to pull out all of the boxes and the little fences that bordered some of them and pull out the old California Lilacs in middle of it all (they were old and smack in the middle of the way), and split the large square space up into two large, approximately kidney shaped beds by building beds up (the ground underneath is pure clay). We're going to run a wide gravel path through the middle of the two beds. Then, I'm going to install a large, curving bed that will go from the side of the house with the deck to the porch on the other side of the deck. I wish I had a diagram of this. I'm starting a plant list for this bed. I'm going to start with some large shrubs/small trees and work my way down to the low-growers. Our focus is shade-loving, somewhat deer-safe, bird-friendly plants. We'll add a bench and maybe a few birdbaths/feeders along the beds. I'm thinking some of the plants will need to be hosta, astilbe, vinca, bleeding hearts, and hardy fuschia.
I also got to work in the veggie garden. I put in 7 tomatoes, and a bed FULL of basil. Purple, Thai and sweet.
Pictures to come.
I've been having some...difficulty...hardening off my little seedlings because every time I get some nice weather and haul them all out of the greenhouse for some hardening time, we get either gale force winds, or pounding rain showers. That's a little too extreme for their first times out of the greenhouse. I was thinking about these "babies" of mine and how their lifespan is a little like a human life span. I've "given birth" to these little critters, and I keep them warm, fed and watered until they grow to the point that they join the real world (go out in the ground) and then they produce babies (I'm a grandma!).
Let's see, the new lilac in the potting shed bed is blooming for the first time. Smells wonderful!
The lettuce is coming along even though something is (as usual) eating giant holes in every leaf.
The peas are slowly coming up, but they AGAIN have tiny bites in their leaves.
The deck bed is evolving.
All the purple fountain grass I put in last summer didn't make it through the winter. I didn't realize they were annuals here. So, they're out. The red currant didn't make it either, but we don't know why. I pulled it out, too. I've added a few more sedum because I love them and the deer don't seem to. For some reason, the deer are leaving the lady's mantle and heuchera alone when last year they munched on them daily.
To the potting shed bed we've added some bee balm, butterfly bush, yarrow and salvia.
I have little patience for attaching pics to this blog these days, so I'm pooped. More later.
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