Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Something I accomplished

Between the weather and my less-than-stellar gardening habits lately, weeds had started taking over my ornamental gardens.

The worst was probably the mailbox area. It's low on the priority list of areas to revamp, so I haven't put much effort into it at all. After the monster morning glories last year, I decided to go with something more demure this year and planted sweet peas. Needless to say, there's a lot of empty area, and it was all full of weeds.

The perennial bed along the driveway wasn't much better.

I had several perennials not come back this spring, so there are more bare areas in this bed than I expected, and the weeds moved in.

Last but not least was the herb garden. The dill went crazy this year...

and the sage and thyme have been blooming for weeks...

but the weeds were doing just as well.

Last weekend I couldn't take it any longer, and I finally cleaned them all up. With daytime highs in the upper 90's, I had to get started early. I worked 4 hours Saturday morning and another couple hours on Sunday. After I was done, the beds looked much better.

I'm not a fan of plant islands surrounded by seas of mulch, but it's not a great time of year to plant perennials, especially since we're in week two of high temperatures with no end in sight. Also, I live in the city, and I don't mind conforming a little to the urban standard. As long as my neighbors don't expect me to water the grass.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The gardener might be slacking, but the garden isn't

I've mentioned before how I am just not focused squarely on the vegetable garden this year. Luckily, the plants are chugging along without me. A couple weeks ago, I picked peas and broccoli.

First pea picking
Second pea picking

I had enough peas that I froze 3/4 pound. That isn't a lot, but for me that's pretty good, especially since we ate quite a few fresh. I froze the broccoli and ended up with a little over two pounds.

I picked onions yesterday.

It's a little early, but not as early as last year. I tried a new variety, but I can't remember what it is (that's how bad I am this year!). I wasn't unhappy with the copra hybrid I had grown for several years, but didn't have anything else to order from the company I got them from, so I tried this new one. They are more "flying saucer" shaped and not as round as the copra. They are now lying on the deck, covered by a sheet, and we'll see how they look in a couple weeks.

A walk around the garden yesterday morning showed me that I have plenty to look forward to.

I was inspired by the variety of peppers that Dave at Our Happy Acres grows, so I tried two new varieties this year. I also didn't manage to give away many extra plants, so I ended up planting nine pepper plants. All the seeds came from Seed Savers Exchange.

Jimmy Nardello
Sheepnose pimento
Napoleon sweet
The tomatoes are also putting on fruit. This year, I decided to give up on Amish Paste, which I've grown for three or four years, because I just haven't been impressed with it. Instead, I tried this one:

Speckled Roman
It joins the other three varieties I've grown for the past two years:

Italian Heirloom
Nebraska Wedding
Mexico midget
Sorry for the focus on that last picture. I blame the sun.

Last, but not least, is a first for K's Garden...eggplant!

A friend inspired me to try eggplant. He said he would grow them even if he didn't eat them because they are so pretty. The plants are definitely not quite what I expected, but both of them have at least two little fruits on them right now. I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to eat eggplant. Baba ganoush comes to mind, but I'm going to do a little research. This variety does not grown really big, they are kind of long and slender. Perhaps grilled?

One last picture, just because zinnias are so pretty.

Monday, June 19, 2017

What on earth have I been doing?

From the looks of the blog, nothing. Luckily that isn't true. I have been pretty busy, and the plants are growing along fine in spite of me.

So what has happened since I last posted?

1. I transplanted some "ditch lilies" from my mom's garden to my yard. They're part of the long term plan for less mowing.


It got hot after I planted them, and they suffered. I finally trimmed them up a bit, which I should've done right away, and they have so far survived.

I won't declare victory until next year. This photo illustrates why not mowing is the end goal for this part of the yard:

Much too steep.

2. I picked some radishes...

and decided to try roasting them.

3. I got some grass started on "the pit".

June 18, 2017
For reference, this is what it looked like when we moved in.

August 2015
We got rid of the swing set right away, and the area has been an empty gravel pit ever since. Well, empty except for the weeds that grew all over it last year.

One of our many projects resulted in extra fill dirt, so we spread it over top of the gravel.

April 14, 2017
We then added a couple yards of compost. No pictures - it was hard work and D did a lot of it while I was out of town. Then, I spread grass seed and started watering, right when the temperatures soared into the 90s. I'm pretty impressed we got as much germination as we did with those temperatures. Our temperatures have come down a little bit, so I have added more grass seed to the empty spots and will see if we can get the whole thing covered. The hope is that some kubb matches can be played there before the summer is over.

4. The entire garden is planted, and growing.

I made sure to thin the cucumber seedlings.

Only one on each side.

One of the potatoes looks sick.

Cantalope - a first!

There is even more going on, but this is long enough, so I'll save the rest for another day.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Creeping Charlie 1, K 0, Ants 58,000,000

I loved the way my raised beds looked last year, with the mulch walkway around them, lined with stones.

I've always liked raised beds with paths between them, and I certainly was glad to have less area to mow. Unfortunately, my yard is about 40% creeping Charlie, and creeping Charlie knows no boundaries. Mulch is no barrier, because creeping Charlie spreads above ground as well as underground. It pulls up easily, but by the time winter rolled around, I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of maintaining mulch paths in the face of creeping Charlie. Short of using noxious chemicals, or putting a couple pigs in my backyard, I don't foresee winning the war against creeping Charlie. Trimming around all the stones wasn't exactly a picnic, either. So, the practical side of me won out, and I've started deconstructing my mulch walkway.

As I removed stones, however, I was startled by the sheer number of ants that had taken up residence under them in the past year. Almost every stone I pulled out revealed a writhing mass of ants, and many of them also had piles of what I'm assuming were eggs. I felt somewhat bad, so some of the rocks I just tilted a little, so the ants would start moving, but wouldn't be completely exposed. By the time I was done, however, I had given up caring. Besides, some of those little ants have been exploring my kitchen, so I think we're even.

I'm doing this the very lazy way. At this point, I've simply rolled the rocks out of their places so I can mow (and the ants can move). As I get around to it, I will move the rocks to other areas of the yard. We have several spots that show signs of erosion, so I'm going to use some rocks in those spots to help with drainage. I don't think I'm even going to remove the woods chips. They'll break down soon enough, and the creeping Charlie is already working on covering them.

Hopefully, by the end of this year, it will all be green around the beds again, and I can simply mow right around them. Sigh. I have to admit, it will be nice to not need to pull weeds out of the path every time I go out to the garden.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Complete chaos

Maybe it isn't that bad, but I feel like I am completely unorganized this year. The other areas of my life are crowding out the garden in my brain, and I keep forgetting what I'm supposed to do next. Despite the forgetfulness and life chaos, however, I have almost everything planted, and it's starting to actually look like a garden again.

The garden beds west to east/left to right:

Broccoli, onions, carrots and one pepper

Peas, two tomatoes and room for cucumbers
Radishes, beets and room for green beans
Cabbage, struggling lettuce, onions, four peppers
The new bed:

Five tomatoes, two peppers, two eggplant and garlic, if it lives
Last but not least:

Two potatoes
Four potatoes
The potatoes got their first layer of straw on Monday.

When I was labeling the garden beds above, I realized that I forgot I still needed to plant green beans. Oh well, the seeds don't know what day it is.