Wednesday, April 25, 2018

For the record

Today was a beautiful spring day - at last! I spent several hours in the backyard this afternoon. The dogs enjoyed the sunshine as well.

One task was prepping all the planters and big pots. Last year I tried growing tulips in pots (with near-zero success). Those pots each had an inverted pot inside, so I didn't have to fill them all the way with potting soil. Today I dug out the inverted pots and topped the old potting soil with new; later I'll add some finished compost to further freshen them. Two of the pots each received a red penstemon in the center, and two were planted with five 'Lucifer' crocosmia corms each. The fifth big pot will get some annuals later on.

Some of the pots from the garage hold perennial herbs - oregano, sage, thyme. I sawed off the bottom two inches or so of each root ball and replaced that with fresh potting soil. I emptied the potting soil from the remaining pots into the garden and filled them with all fresh. One now holds a cluster of parsley seedlings, the rest are waiting their turn for other herbs. Mmmm...fresh basil.

The rest of the seedlings continue to harden off on the deck. I potted up the three surviving hibiscus starts - I'm going to start some more. The dyers knotweed was so slow to germinate that I gave up on them. Premature on my part - today I separated them from their neighbors - they are growing but rather spindly from the competition.

I am giving up on the azalea, so I pulled it out today. It looks like the spicebush is a goner, too, thanks to those rascally rabbits. While I have seen forsythia blooming elsewhere, mine doesn't look very promising. But then I have been actively discouraging it.

I hope you are also experiencing some springlike weather!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Bring on the mulch!

I signed up for - local arborists will deliver wood chips to your house free of charge - but didn't want a delivery until I had a cart that my mower could pull. We went to Lowe's, Home Depot, Menard's, Tractor Supply Co, Rural King (where I bought some fresh flamingos!), but I just could not pull the trigger. I have several carts already, so I decided to try to rig one up to work with the mower.

Imagine my surprise when this...

... coupled with this...

... produced this.

It turns out one of my garden carts was actually designed to be used with a riding mower.

My usual MO is to purchase something and THEN find out I either already had one or found the one I had lost or did not need it after all; in all three cases, the receipt is lost, so I can't return it. Maybe my purchasing luck is changing.

All the pots in the garage are now on the deck, requiring only two trips and very little effort on my part. Whoo-hoo!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Nothing camera-worthy yet

The grass is green and buds are starting to swell, but not much else is going on in the yard... yet. I look at posts from previous Aprils and salivate. Must. Be. Patient.

Meanwhile, I'm doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some of my tasks are geared toward making mowing easier, like pruning the branches that repeatedly get tangled in my hair and reshaping beds so the mower can cruise by. I also continue whacking at the barberry, to give the gold mop more room. The inner wood of the barberry is *really* yellow - maybe I can dye with it?

My one-person, four-pet household doesn't generate much filler for the trash besides dog poop and used kitty litter. We can put yard waste in the bin, though, so my goal is to fill it up each week with the trimmings and such. We do have a compost site which I have taken advantage of in the past, when there were literally truckloads of yard debris to dispose of. I have also brought home compost and mulch from the site, which probably explains the odd undesirable or six that have magically appeared over the years. For now, the trash bin strategy will serve.

I'm anxious to harden off the seedlings, and this seems like a good time to do that. Maybe some withstand frost? I'll have to research that. Meanwhile, their beds can be prepared. On each halfway decent day, I try to spend an hour in the yard. My gardening muscles have atrophied over the winter. It's hell getting old.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Note to self - WAIT

I blame the weather. This year winter seemed interminable (and it isn't over YET!) To combat the February doldrums, I sowed some seeds. Now most of the seedlings are of a size for planting outdoors. Tonight's low is forecast to be 19 degrees. NINETEEN! Will winter ever end?!?

I repotted some of the more spindly seedlings, as they were root bound and depressed about it. I will probably repot more. I'm happy they are so robust but really wishing it were May, not April. That's assuming May will be warmer than April. A big assumption.

Actually, today wasn't too bad, once the temps climbed into the 30's, as there was little wind and much sunshine. I attacked the yucca mound, planning to try to do in about 3/4 of it. I got carried away, though, and whacked it all. The problem was the yucca was spreading, not only within its bed but to other beds. My fault, I fear, as once upon a time I witnessed a downy woodpecker pecking at the dry seed stalk, so I stopped removing the stalks when the blossoms were done. I never saw another downy woodpecker at the yucca, but many baby yuccas sprouted all around, presumably from seed. A friend told me once that she had tried tidying up her yucca by removing the dried lower leaves, but the plant died. I'm counting on that working here, as I removed ALL the leaves, green and otherwise, plus sawed off the crowns best I could. I'm hoping that will do the trick.

Now the bed looks open and inviting, so of course I am contemplating what I can plant there going forward. There is a purple leaf sand cherry and a blue false indigo at either end. Maybe a dwarf butterfly bush between them and/or yellow flowers like coreopsis, daylily, or Profusion zinnias? And maybe I will reshape the bed to make it easier to mow around. Suggestions?

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

April showers and a few flowers

My SO and I were in Kansas City last week, where we thought there might be some signs of spring. No such luck, except for a magnolia. On our way out of town, I spotted some daffodils and forsythia. A winter weather advisory for the region was on our heels.

Not much blooming at home, either. The earliest clump of daffs are showing but the rest are lagging behind. The pink hyacinth are also blooming. I gave up on crocus because of rabbits but they keep trying to make an appearance, along with something I don't know the name of.

While surveying the yard, I discovered the bark is peeling off my 'Winter King' hawthorn tree. Yikes! But some research reveals that this is normal, part of the tree's winter interest. Whew!

The seedlings (that I planted WAY too early - most are large enough for transplanting) survived my absence although it looks like a certain someone did not water them. Right before I left, a few items arrived from Gurney's and Breck's: one 'Prairie Fire' crabapple tree, two red penstemon crowns, and three 'Lucifer' crocosmia corms. I was a little worried about the crabapple, as it needed to get in the ground before it broke dormancy, but I had no choice but to wait. I planted it yesterday, and one branch bud looked ready to pop, so I hope it does okay. It's getting plenty of water today.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Slow spring

I was hoping there would be more indicators of spring in the yard by now, but the weather is not cooperating (per usual). Nothing is blooming, not even the snow drops. Nothing more than last time is showing above ground. At least the rain/snow has stopped, for a while.

Inside, the seedlings are doing well. I gave them each a pinch of coffee grounds because I have a vague memory of reading that was a good idea. Today I thinned some of them and gave them each a pinch of granulated compost.

I did purchase a Havahart Above Ground Electric Fence Kit, from Lowes, to limit the dogs' ability to tear up the yard. I knew there would not be enough wire or posts in it, but Lowe's did not have any 17-gauge aluminum wire that was not coated, so a subsequent trip to Tractor Supply Co was required. I love roaming through TSC, looking at all that exotic-to-me farm stuff. In another life, I lived in the country and was even a stringer for the Farmer's Exchange for a few years, so visiting TSC is also somewhat nostalgic.

Today I broke open the Havahart kit and discovered right off the bat that the instructions are woefully inadequate. Thank goodness for YouTube. The kit in the video, though, is better than the one I got: it came with a tester and fence posts with a sharp end and integrated clips whereas my kit has no tester and the posts are green PVC pipe with holes for (included) cotter pins. Pretty cheap. While at TSC, I purchased more wire and some fiberglass posts with integrated clips; I think I'll get more posts, as I'm afraid the ones in the kit won't be tall enough for Legs (a.k.a. Clio).

As I'm sitting here, I'm thinking I just may return the Havahart kit to Lowe's and purchase the rest of what I need from TSC. Live and learn.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Good-bye February!

My annual complaint, that February is the longest month of the year, is about to be stashed until next winter. I find myself thinking the worst is over, but it really isn't, despite the bulbs popping up here and there. March usually brings one more snowfall.

Naturalizing Daffodils

Yesterday I did some more yardening, pruning back the hydrangea, cleaning out this and that. I tend to work on particular plants, like the catmint and milkweed, instead of beds. There is more to do, of course, but it doesn't hurt to get a head start.

Pink Hyacinth

I did find a pair of hand pruners that disappeared last year, far from the area I thought they would be, oddly close to where my SO found his missing Fitbit. I'm also rediscovering my gardening muscles. All that winter walking does not help with the bending, stretching, lifting.

Pink Snow Crocus

Inside, most of the seedlings have germinated, even the 'Luna Red' Hibiscus! A germination heating pad helps. Right now, the only holdouts are the Japanese indigo (dyers knotweed) and the parsley.

Early Snow Drops

I ordered an electric fence to limit the dogs free space. I also bought them passes to the city dog parks. We went to Camp Canine at Johnny Appleseed Park yesterday, and they zoomed to their hearts content before my SO and I took them for a walk along the River Greenway behind IPFW. Today they are still tired.

Robin's nest from last summer

This morning's rain has given way to a little sun, so maybe I will venture outside again, before the rains return. Happy yard cleanup!