Saturday, May 31, 2014

First strawberry!

And by the time I picked this luscious berry about 15 minutes later, something (a robin?) had taken a few bites out of it. I ate it anyway.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Transplant day

Today was GORGEOUS outside: temps in the low 70's, sunny, a light breeze. Just perfect, which worked out well for me and my outdoor plans: transplant ALL the plants I started inside that had not yet felt real dirt on their toes.

The nighttime temps are supposed to stay above 50 (except for one possible 48 degree night midweek), so I transplanted the tomatoes and peppers. I also discovered I cannot count - I needed 12 Roma plants, but somehow grew 14. Actually, I grew more than that, have given those extras away already, so I gifted the extra 2 to my next door neighbor (while standing in a sea of thistle - I'm a good neighbor/bad neighbor).

The cukes, zukes, pumpkins, and squash I started inside all found new homes. For the first time ever, I did NOT plant them in hills. In the past, I would always dig a hole, fill it with uncomposted this or that, build a hill over it, and plant seeds in that hill. While the plant roots worked their way down to the garbage, worms converted it into castings, and you could literally see the difference when the roots reached that black gold. But now my garden beds are full of horse manure, so I don't see the advantage of my previous method. We'll see how *that* turns out.

Quite a few, but not all, the marigolds made it to the garden. I also planted sweet corn, with the idea of later planting pole beans to climb the corn stalks. We'll see how *that* turns out, too.

With the transplants out of the way, I filled up most of the holes in the cement blocks that surround the new asparagus and strawberry beds (ran out of potting soil). I'll let the soil settle a bit before planting, although I did start some zinnias in pots for later transplanting. And I weeded that sea of thistle I was standing in earlier, uncovering some hostas and columbine.

And then I pooped out, which is why this post is barely coherent.

(BTW, the Rose of Sharon is *finally* leafing out, but the butterfly bush looks kaput.)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Not your average spring

My rule of thumb regarding tomato transplants is to wait until the nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees before moving them to the garden. Today's high is 50. According to Weather Bug, I *might* be able to *think* about transplanting tomatoes next Tuesday. *sigh*

It's not just the tomatoes that are in a holding pattern. There are other warm weather fellows like peppers. Also, I decided to try starting members of the squash family inside this year; like everything else, they look leggy and impatient.

What is already in the garden looks fine: garlic, onions, broccoli, peas, snap peas, new beds of asparagus and strawberries. The potatoes are finally showing up; I was afraid they had rotted underground. This past week, over 3.5 inches of rain has fallen, but the raised beds are handling that just fine.

The non-vegetable beds are also doing fine. I'm pleased with the way the bed by the front sidewalk has filled out, despite the (not unexpected) loss of the delphinium and several coreopsis. A volunteer columbine and several violets are helping out.

The hosta bed is full, per usual. I found something to plant in the back that would add height to this area, and I hope I made note of it somewhere because right now, I can't think of what it might be. Maybe black cohosh?

I thought I had lost all my bleeding heart, so last year I bought one. It is doing quite well, but so are some others scattered around the yard. You can't have too many, in my opinion.

One item on the to-do list is to remove the old fashion lilac bush. Frequently, as soon as I consider getting rid of something, it blooms its little heart out. The lilac is no exception.

My scheme to avoid purchasing coleus for the front porch box worked out just fine. In fact, I have yet to visit any nurseries this year. I picked up a few herbs at Home Depot, but otherwise nada. There is plenty to do without adding to the plant population right now.

How does your garden grow?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Not your average sparrow

There are usually a lot of sparrows and finches hanging in my backyard, but one pair caught my eye. So handsome! So different! So shy! After a bazillion attempts, I finally captured a few decent shots of the white-crowned sparrow.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Cheaper than therapy

The gardener's day involves going out in the yard with nothing to do, and several hours later, you still aren't done. That happened to me today. It all started with hauling bales of peat and bags of compost from the garage to the backyard, and ended with a lot of weed pulling.

This morning, it looked like an indoor day: gray sky and sprinkles and an uncomfortably cool breeze. Potting up some of the transplants kept me gardeningly engaged. Eventually, the clouds broke up and the sun warmed things a bit.

Even though I planted some herb seeds inside yesterday, I also purchased a replacement rosemary and some new basil, so they needed to be transplanted. Yesterday I mowed, picking up grass clippings; today I artfully arranged them around the onions and recently transplanted broccoli plants. Some watering also occurred.

And then there are the weeds. The weather has been less than inviting for much of this spring, but the thistle, creeping Charlie, and quack grass are oblivious. I see evidence of bindweed and spearmint about to explode, too. I tackled several beds yesterday, a couple more today. Once the garden plants are established and more mulch applied, it shouldn't be quite so bad. At least, that is what I keep telling myself.

The new clematis made it through the winter, but when I tried to show it to my SO last night, we discovered it had been decimated, presumably by a rabbit. I circled the remaining tiny stalk with chicken wire - hope it recovers - and double checked the chicken wire around the newly planted blueberry bushes on the south side of the house. Where is Finn when you need him?

Sometimes I wonder WHY I garden. Despite the labor and the setbacks, I do enjoy mucking about in the dirt. And I *love* walking out the backdoor and harvesting my lunch right from the good earth.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

My SO and I just returned from a weeklong "family obligation" vacation to New England. I left my garden and seedlings in the care of my daughter and everything survived. It helped that it stayed cool for the duration of our travels and even rained a bit.

I managed to get one mowing in before leaving, so the property did not look abandoned upon our return. Most of the daffodils are done (and they did not put on much of a display to begin with, thanks to the extremely cold spring weather). The rhododendron popped, as did the service berry.

The "old" asparagus that I thought had succumbed to the winter temps has broken through, and I have been enjoying a daily dose. It is amazing how tender it is, fresh from the garden, even the grossly thick stalks. I'm glad I planted more this year.

I am also glad the Meyer lemon appears to be recovering. It did not bloom this year, which is fine with me because I was not going to let it bear fruit anyway. I just need to be more careful about watering and feeding it, so next year it can once again be fruitful.

(BTW, in the process of finishing the garden fence, I moved the bird feeders. Later, I saw the squirrel sitting on the fence, looking longingly at the now too distant feeders. Foiled!)