Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hands almost too achy to type...

Hubby and i  got the garden area cleaned up a bit last week. No tilling yet, but we raked up the dry plants and the stalks from the cabbage family.  Made a small pile of it and burned it.

.And then i tackled the neglected front flower bed.  I should have taken a before picture but i was so intent on getting started i didn't think of it.

But this is how it turned out.  Four blueberries.  The same ones i got from Stark Bros last year  Two are Patriot and two are Blueray.  Both are fairly short at maturity, so they won't get in front of the windows- at least that is the plan.

This is the plant material i removed from it. Mostly tulip and daff bulbs, and iris roots. I'll miss my crown imperial frittilaria ,  but they are all going to my mom.
The rest was a striped grass that almost took over and weedy grass that escaped the lawn.

I dug it all out-  including the 2 roses,  i replanted  the maroon climbing rose right next to the hydrangea tree-  they should make a lovely pair when they are both in bloom.
Then i laid down landscape fabric to keep anything from reappearing and covered it all with mulch.

I made another small order to Stark Bros. and bought 3 lingonberry plants. They will go between the blueberries. I also got two different elderberry plants now that they are allowed- York and Nova.  They will go where the blueberries were.

I also plan to move one of the grapes more to the East of the fence so they get more sun. Elderberries can take more shade so they should be well off there.

I also got a dwarf Stanley prune plum tree.  That will go next to the hydrangea tree.

So i think that is it for now.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Its finally feeling like Spring.

It really is.  Yesterday was gorgeous, around 60 degrees, mostly sunny- but humid.  A few showers that didn't last long...  except for the mosquitoes, it was perfect.  We had a nice little Resurrection Sunday dinner at my parents' house.

Last night it stayed warm, temps only in the 40's, no frost.  My daughter opened the window in the room where my seedlings are staying, they need to get used to outdoor temps.

The seedlings are doing well.  One of the Sweet Chelsea seedlings looks nothing like the others.  I plan to set it off to the side in the garden and see what it does.  I'll get a picture later.

Hubby likes the idea of putting berry plants in place of the flowerbeds. It will save work for both of us. I'll miss the flowers, but i'll enjoy the easier upkeep. He's already bought me a few bags of mulch so i'll be ready to go as soon as i can.

It rained buckets on Saturday, so dad didn't get over to till the garden,  that will have to wait until next week.

I can't believe i may be able to plant in the garden in as little as 3 weeks!  It does not quite feel like it right now....

I hope i can keep a better handle on the weeds this year. I have been reading about weeding techniques using tools i already have- different shaped hoes.  I have scuffle, stirrup and the classic type. I should be able to take care of weeds well enough with no bending. Last year the problem was time,  i was unable to get out there to work.  I most likely will have the same trouble this year- but hoe weeding might allow me to be more efficient.

I think that's it for today!

Monday, April 18, 2011

April showers...

Not much to journal about today other than rainfall.   We got about 2 inches of it over the weekend. Temperatures stayed above freezing, but not by much.  There is no longer any snow or ice in the yard and the angle of the sun is moving in a way that the grapes are getting more direct sun.  The currants are on the brink of leafing out.  The blueberry plants are sporting ever-growing leaf buds,  the elder hasn't woken up yet, but does not appear dead- just slow.
The daffs are in full bloom, the crown imperials are budding and will bloom soon.  I have emailed my mom offering her all the flowers from both front beds so i can replace them with berry bushes.  I may move the blueberries to that area or get some other things-  the autumn olive that i  grew from seed is still indoors (about 10" tall) and will likely be planted in the side garden.  I need to start some goji, sea buckthorn, seakale and other berry plants... i have been saying i'm going to do this for months, eventually it will happen!

Hubby started to rake the garden debris into a pile in the middle of the garden to burn it. Though the rain had soaked everything and fire danger was very low, the wind picked up and we decided it wasn't a good day for it.  So we put the fire out halfway through.  If we could just get a day without this annoying wind, we'd be able to do it.

Its been chilly and mostly cloudy today, but the warmup is well on its way.  I have been checking the small asparagus bed daily now,  but nothing yet. Its likely too early.  The Welsh onions are perking up nicely and the chives at the corner of the side bed are coming up. 

I decided i should try blanching the rhubarb this year.  It seems to be the thing to do- so i'll give it a go. I bet it will be nice!  I used my 30 gallon, black rubber tub.  It won't blow over easily and is completely light-proof.

So that's it today!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Did i ever write anything about Phoenixworm Composting?

Its yet another form of Vermicomposting.  The insects are voracious eaters, multiply quickly but are harmless.  Its the larvae of a wasp-like fly, (no sting) called a Soldier Fly, that do the work.  They break down compost very quickly and excess larvae can be fed to chickens as a very nutritious treat (high in protein and calcium), making them multi-purpose. Another good thing about them is that they also consume meat and dairy- something that Red Wigglers cannot do. 

They are not expensive to try-  i have wanted to try them myself ever since i read about them last fall.  This is the most recommended online place that i have found.

A google search for them will show many articles about the specifics. Happy hunting!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A few days worth....


I took a few pictures yesterday, some things are waking up and i'm getting a first look at finding out which things survived the winter.

The comfrey crowns are definitely waking up.  They seem to have done quite well wintering-over in my last resort solution- a full bag of potting soil with holes poked in.

The roseroot seedlings that i didn't get to do anything with last year are still alive and beginning to wake up.  Its a type of sedum, the roundish lumps are hard to see...

The rhubarb is coming up, this means the ground is thawing.

The grapes and blueberries are still under a snowpile.  I tried to speed up some melting by opening up a black plastic trash bag and laying it down. I hoped it would catch the sun enough to help,  it sort of did in the small spot it was placed
 We are expecting temps in the high 50's and possible rain,  so maybe the rest will be washed away.  That line is the only snow still on the ground in our yard.

Hubby helped me scrape away quite a bit of it and the edges which were packed by refreezing was breakable. We crushed it into chunks and tossed it into the dryer parts of the lawn.  We got a good bit of it cleared away.  Now that the landscape fabric is exposed, melting should speed up quite a bit.


thunder overnight and more later that morning
we actually were able to have the bedroom window open all last night
steady rain most of the day. Temps in the high 40's
The grapes are thawing out nicely.

We do have a crocus in bloom and the daffodils are  making decent headway. That's a good sign.
I managed to rake out the debris from the front and side flower beds Sunday. I think once the tulips, daffs and other things are done blooming i will dig them up and share them with my mom.  The iris and roses will go too.  Then i'll put down landscape fabric then mulch it.  I may put something in later in the summer after any weeds have been choked out.  I really can't put much in there right off because it is so full of weeds, which is one of the main reasons why it needs to be cleaned out entirely anyway.


Last night it stayed in the 60's over much of the state until well after midnight. Its in the mid 50's right now at about 10am.

Temps expected to reach mid to high 60's with plenty of sun and a dry breeze.
The grapes, blueberries, currants and elderberry are 90% free of the ice.  There is some ice behind them, but it no longer goes right up to the base of the plants.  Some of them are getting swollen leaf buds even though the ground around them is rock hard.  Today's expected weather should make a huge difference now that the black landscape fabric is mostly exposed.

According to the forecasters,  we shouldn't expect this weather to last to stick around for tonight.  We may get a rain/snow mix overnight.  We are only supposed to get around 40 degrees tomorrow and plenty of rain- better than snow!  Hopefully, Thursday will bring back temps in the 50's or better.  For the remainder if the extended forecast, we will stay cooler- 40's- and more rain toward the end of it.

So...the ground will have a slow thaw and things will remain quite wet. I'm glad the garden is on a mild slope, this will help it to stay drier than most other areas.  I'm hoping my dad will be willing to come and till it on the next dry weekend.  I'm hoping to have him till it at least twice before the final pass-through the day before planting.
I wish we had one of these. Then i wouldn't have to make my dad need to load his onto a trailer 4 times a year just for me.

Where last year was so unusually warm, this year is almost normal- perhaps a bit cooler.  It feels weird though- i spent so much time recording how spring was going last year i tend to remember it better than if i had not. So to me, it seems like things are way behind.  At this time of year i'm always close to chewing my nails off in anticipation no matter what the weather is, which means its not an accurate gauge.   I love winter, but after 4 months of being snowbound, its hard to not get excited about gardening for those of us who really enjoy it.

Both the tomato, eggplant and pepper seedlings are doing quite well. The Banana Legs tomatoes have sprouted and now look quite normal- so my apologies to Pinetree- it looks like the seed was fine. I bet this variety may simply be slower to germinate than the rest of what i have.
Many of the seedlings are getting into their first set of seed leaves. The peppers and eggplant are looking nice and stocky. The tomatoes are not spindly, but they are already getting tall, the lights are only about 3" above them and they have almost reached it.  The lights should be very intense, but it looks as if i will end up with some lanky tomato plants this year anyway.  So i'm making a note here to start things a bit later next year- perhaps a week from now would have been just as well.  Its ok. Now that i have a method and means to remind myself of these things, i can learn by it.


Yellow Crocus
Pink Bleeding Hearts are waking up
Roseroot sedum are green up and enlarging quickly
Rhubarb is really unfolding
Currants getting leaf buds

Blueberries are waking up

Garden looks a mess right now, hopefully not for long.

I have to get into my berry plant seeds and get them started or i'll never get large enough plants to use in the yard.  I have been putting it off because someone small and cute does not like to take naps and i am so tuckered out by the time she does, i end up napping too- and i have never been able to do that before. It just isn't right. I literally cannot stay awake at times.  Hopefully this goes away for the summer or the garden is going to be in trouble!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Still waiting for Spring

I'll spare the pictures of the snow on the ground. I just don't have the heart to take another photo of it.  We got about 10 inches of snow for April Fool's Day, much of it has gone but the ground is still 90% covered. It was cold Saturday and Sunday was chilly but sunny.  Today it is warmer, but cloudy and we are told it should rain the next two nights and be warmer- possible 60's toward midweek.
Last year had such an early spring that this year i'm not sure what to make of the weather. I hope we end up having a warm summer or this will not be a good garden year.

My tomato seeds are beginning to pop up and so far it looks like good germination.

poor dead Cherokee Purple

Except for the Banana Legs tomatoes.  This looks like signs of old seeds,  the first time i have experienced bad seed from Pinetree

Headless seedling on the left, often a sure sign of old seed. Low germination in general. I'll likely re-sow these.

The Cherokee Purple died of damping-off by the looks of it. Maybe the seedling was weaker than it looked. I haven't had damping-off in a long time. I wasn't able to afford sterile seed-starting soil this year, so for a 10 year old seed, it must have been a bad combination.

The Hoya flowers are opening

Unfortunately they are too high to sniff because they are near the top of a window that is at the sink- and i don't climb chairs or cupboards anymore.  I do catch a faint whiff of hyacinth-like scent with a bit of baby powder....i think its coming from the flowers.

Today we had rain, so the new snowcover is going away. I think tonight is going to be our first frost-free night in a long time- temps expected to stay in the upper 30's. Daytime temps forecast to be mid 40's to low 50's.  If the sun comes out it could turn out warmer.