Sunday, June 3, 2018

The good and the bad

I won't call any of it ugly.

I'm going to start with the bad, because that's what I keep thinking about.

It doesn't look like I'm going to be eating any peas fresh from the garden this year. We basically went from winter to summer and did not have the spring weather peas need. The plants are small, scraggly and getting chewed on by something.

There might not be any beets, either.

This one is part my fault, part weather. I forgot exactly where I put the seeds and didn't water the whole area. The seeds were five years old, too. So, bad germination, and then straight to summer heat. There's still a chance I'll get a few.

The eggplant had a rough start. I planted two plants, and the next day one of them was pulled completely out of the ground. The other one was leaning. This is it a couple days after my rescue attempt:

It's looking better, now, so I think it may survive.

I don't have any pictures, but the broccoli is anybody's guess at this point. The plants have grown well, but I don't see any heads starting to form.

The last thing I'm going to complain about are zinnias.

I've planted them for several years, and never had any get eaten. This year, I put five plants close to the raised beds, and they're being demolished.

One of them disappeared entirely. I might have to leave the garden helper outside some night and see what happens.

Now for the good.

The heat loving plants are doing well.

I don't have a great place for the cantaloupe, so it's in the one un-fenced raised bed. Last year, after the plant had grown a bit and I thought it was safe, the rabbits ate every leaf off, so this year, I'm going to have to figure out how to keep it fenced longer. That's not so easy with a sprawling plant like a melon, but I'm going to figure it out.

The tomatoes and peppers are also doing well, but I forgot to take pictures of them.

The other thing I'm very happy about are the native plants that I planted last year and then neglected. I did lose some of them, but others are doing well.

I really should remove the grass between these plants on the slope.

smooth penstemon and poppy mallow
I think I planted six Joe Pye, and five came back.

Joe Pye
The lilies I transplanted from my mom's yard are growing and spreading.

Not all of the nasturtium seeds I planted have sprouted, but quite a few of them are growing in this bare corner.

Most of the perennials I put in this new area last year came back, and some have already spread quite a bit.

As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that there are more good things than bad. Maybe I should start focusing on them instead.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I've been busy

I know it's nothing compared to some gardeners, but I have been busy the past few weeks. Between working, trying to walk the new (to us) dog every day, and garden work, I haven't gotten in the habit of blogging again, but I'll get there.

I made good use of my new seed starting stand and started more seeds this year than I ever have. I also had very good help.

Delilah (the cat) had to inspect my soil.

Very thoroughly. Clearly, Glory (the dog) didn't care.

Things I started indoors: broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zinnias, marigolds, snapdragons, tassel flower, amaranth, St John's wort, cantalope and basil.

As of today, only the basil and cantalope are still inside.

onions, broccoli, radishes, and 1 volunteer lettuce
eggplants, tomatoes and volunteer sunflowers

onions, peppers, broccoli and beets

peas, peppers, cucumbers and nasturtiums
tomatoes, zucchini, onions and nasturtiums
I had a wonderful garden surprise this spring. Last year my rhubarb plant disappeared. It was so gone, that I wasn't even worried about machinery driving over it when the wall was being built. This spring, however, it came back!

It's so big that, if I had been expecting it, I probably could've cut some and made rhubarb pudding. Oh well, that will have to wait until next year.

I've been working on some other garden projects, and taking pictures along the way, so I hope to be posting those pictures soon. Right now, however, I've got to go walk the dog.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


As I have every year since 2013, I created an online plan for the vegetable garden this year.

In light of some of my failures last year, I simplified a bit this year. First, no lettuce or cabbage because we end up not eating either of them. I'm also ignoring the garden planner's schedule for carrots. Every year I plant them as early as I can, because that's what the planner and seed packet say, and then I have carrots in summer, when I really want them in the fall. This year, I'll be planting them later, about the middle of June. We'll see how that goes.

I'm planting more broccoli in place of the cabbage because broccoli is something we can always eat. I generally freeze it and like to use it for broccoli cheese soup in the winter.

I'm trying two new things this year: Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. A lady I work with has grown Brussels sprouts for a couple years. She says you have to plant them later so you can harvest them after we get a frost. I'm taking her advice and will be starting them inside in June to plant out in August.

I wanted to try asparagus again this year, but can't quite bring myself to dedicate the space to it. I know it will do better in the raised beds, but it takes up a lot of space. I have recently thought of an area in the other gardens where it might survive. I need to think on that one a bit, although I know time is ticking for getting it planted.

My lack of organization last year caused me some stress and failures, so I created task lists for myself this year. This is my planting schedule:

The story this year for everyone, as far as I can tell, is that spring is LATE. Even though the dates for planting out the broccoli, onions and peas have passed, it'll still be at least a few days before I get that done. We've been in the 60's-70's for the past three days, during the workweek, but this weekend we have winter storm warnings. While the plants could probably survive the cold temperatures, I haven't had time before now to do any planting, and I'm not going out there when it's raining/sleeting/blowing.

The above schedule also shows that I have missed some seed starting dates. That has nothing to do with weather and everything to do with the fact that I took a road trip last week. I don't like making D babysit too many seedlings, so I held off planting several things. D kept the broccoli, peppers, snapdragons and St. John's wort alive while I was gone, and I have plenty of time this weekend, in light of the crappy weather, to get the other seeds started.

I also have a master task list going. It's the one I think is most important. Last year, I was so overwhelmed by the sheer number of things I want and/or need to do throughout the entire yard and garden that I hardly knew where to start. I created this task list so I could at least experience the joy of crossing things have and knowing I was making progress.

As the season progresses, more things will definitely be added, but it has already helped me get a few things done I might otherwise have forgotten. Quite a few of those tasks are weather dependent, so it could be awhile before I get to cross anything else off.

With my plans in place, I'm so ready to get outside, but I will have to satisfy myself for the time being, as so many other gardeners are, with indoor planting.

Monday, March 26, 2018

New seed starting set-up

Last winter I came into possession of this:

It's an A/V cart from a local grade school. For over a year, I've been planning to make it into a seed-starting station, and couple weeks ago I finally did.

The cart is equipped with its own power strip and extension cord and is roughly two feet long on each side.

My plan is to be able to use the second and third shelves for trays of plants. To do that, D and I drilled holes through the top two shelves and attached 1 by 4 lumber to the undersides. Then I screwed little hooks into the lumber.

I bought four two-foot-long LED light fixtures, thinking I'd have two fixtures for each shelf. The light fixtures came with their own hanging cords, but they weren't long enough to get the lights close to the seedlings, so I added some chain extensions.

With the extensions, I can move the fixtures up and down as needed.

The cart can hold two seed trays on each shelf. I have a pretty small garden, so I may not need to use the bottom shelf for seedlings, but it's a great place for storage, too.

I now have one tray on the middle shelf with broccoli and pepper seedlings, and I planted some flower seeds yesterday in a second tray. It might be a good thing if I don't need the bottom shelf, because the light fixtures are pretty narrow, so I'm currently using two of them for each tray, instead of the one I originally planned.

At any rate, planting is underway, and I really like my new set-up. Maybe I'll remember to take pictures of it in use one of these days.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Gardening season is back and so am I

After getting overwhelmed last year, and still having so many ideas and projects for the garden this year, I decided to make a task list. There's almost nothing I like better than to cross things off a list. It's still a little cold to get much done outside, but I have managed to complete a few tasks.

I wanted to add some compost to the raised beds this year, so last weekend I went to the garden center and bought 24 bags.

I bought three different varieties, so I had to do a little math to figure out how to divide them up.

I have to admit, I had some help getting them from the truck to the back yard. After that, though, it was all me.

One of the varieties I bought was mushroom compost. It had more worms in it than I've ever seen in a bag of compost.

It's not much to look at, but I know how much work went into this:

After a week of cold, wet weather, I was able to get back out there this weekend, and I broadforked the four smaller beds.

You certainly don't need a gym membership if you're going to haul compost and wield a broadfork.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Last but not least

The most exciting project of 2017 was one that I didn't even do...The Wall. I will be paying for it for a while, but at least I didn't have to build it.

How it looked before, starting at the house, curving toward the west side of the lot and then running north:



I forgot to take pictures of the finished wall, so this is where it ends. I got a little bit of grass planted before it got too cold, but not the entire area, so that is still on the to-do list. Also, due to a little misunderstanding between us and the builder, we need to have him come back out and cap the top. Other than that, I couldn't be happier and I don't have to worry anymore about the wall collapsing, and my front yard ending up in my back.

The stairs are by far my favorite part. Now I don't have to climb the wall to get on top. Moving the rest of the rocks will be much easier this spring.