Sam came up over the weekend and brought Acer 'FranksRed' which is my memorial tree for Frankie. It's about a 14' sapling, and was really root-bound. We dug it in outside the herb garden in the front field where I can see it easily from the computer, kitchen, and front porch. I spread out a bag of steer manure, laid out a flattened cardboard box, and covered that with wood chips to keep the weeds at bay. Gary ran a hose out to it so I can keep it hydrated. It is right in line to block the neighbor's runway lights*, and is just starting to leaf out. Sam also cleared out the choking crabgrass around the katsura tree and I gave it a similar treatment.
*I sure don't understand the propensity of night lights on our road. I think we are perhaps the only people who don't have a mercury vapor come-on-at-dusk light. The people directly in front of us and the ones behind and to the right are both lit up like Christmas trees, they must have at least a dozen lights all around their houses and yards. What are they afraid of? I much prefer the light of the moon.
Back when the herb garden was a huge vegetable garden, I had a good patch of asparagus. It wasn't the most productive (and I know it takes time) but I liked the ferny look when it bolted. I've decided to plant the inside south border of the herbs with asparagus, and alternate the outside border with vegetables and/or flowers. This year will be spuds, and I may also add some nasturtiums throughout the whole bed for color.
So, today I cleaned out what will be the asparagus bed. As with all the beds in the herb garden, it involved a lot of 'sodding' rather than weeding, which sure gets heavy. I do like the grass paths, but they tend to encroach on the herb beds throughout the season and I have to be pretty diligent about only allowing the paths to be about 22-24" wide. That allows me to run my baby electric lawnmower around the paths in two swipes.
Note to self: last year I planted spuds and sunflowers and have now read they don't do well together. I can likely confirm that as neither did well for me and I usually don't have any problems with either one. Wonder why some plants don't get along.
Dandelions are in full bloom, so time to plant spuds. Dug up the south border of the herb garden and bought a bunch of random spuds from the feed store. Interestingly, they have about 10 different half barrels of spuds, most were .99 per pound, with some more fancy expensive ones. I just picked 3-4 of each of the .99 barrels - red, white, yellow, and some fingerlings. Was chastised for not putting them in separate bags, apparently for inventory reasons. I asked why they couldn't just order more or note when each batch was sold out, and the clerk went on a rant about the new corporate mentality -- the buyers never set foot in the store, they only go by computer input. He's actually my favorite clerk, I think he hates the new management as much as I do. (Why do they sell door knobs at a feed store? And why can't we have the useful carts back?) Anyway, I apologized and will hopefully remember to somehow separate them out next season without ending up with 7 super-duper paper bags with 3 spuds in each one. I guess I'll just go get them, carry them inside, weigh them, then put them in one bag. I don't care one way or the other what I grow, I just want a nice variety.
I'm considering trying asparagus again on the other side of that bed. Haven't grown that for ages, although I do think it grows better in eastern Washington. Even if it's not real productive, it's a nice feathery look when it bolts.
Also planted out a hydrangea from the PNW exchange, and watered everything else. It was a record breaking warm day, up in the 70s.
Making progress. Got most of the left side done, except for the top which needs to have the grass edge cut in. It's starting to fill in nicely, and I added a couple things from the PNW swap. Put in a couple patches of strawberry begonia from Julia, which she says will spread out quickly. At some point I really need to get a camera again, I like to snap photos of ongoing projects to keep me motivated.
Weeded the thyme and around the perimeter of the patio. Julia gifted me a flat of sempervivum seedlings which I plugged in here and there. They do real well at the edge of the patio, pretty much pure gravel. And it softens the edge. I may let some grow in the cracks, although I don't know how much foot traffic they can take. The cracks get filled with moss during the fall/winter, but that then shrivels up when the sun starts being on it. I caved and have started spray painting the adirondack chairs. I really liked them just stained, but they just didn't weather well. Spraying them is much easier, I should be able to just give them a spring tuneup once I get them coated. I went with 'claret wine' which is about the same color as the house doors.
Interestingly, I planted a St. John's wort in the relaxation station of the herb garden, assuming it would spread out. It was a bit fancier than the regular one, and so far has kept to itself. On the other hand, the vervain has absolutely taken over the chicken yard, and they don't mess with it for some reason. I'm torn over letting it just continue to colonize (the birds end up making paths through it) or trying to dig it out. It so far has not been a problem in the herb garden, likely because it pull it out when it pops up where I don't want it. Other plants they seem to leave alone are blue fescue (surprised me), feverfew, nettles and of course thistles and burdock. I planted sweet cicily, daylily, and comfrey just outside the fence, the chickens peck at those but so far haven't killed them.
On a side note, my camera bit the dust (again, I have no luck with electronics). So no photos. I should figure out how to use Gary's cell phone, but then I'd also have to figure out how to get them from his camera to the computer. So, probably not happening. I'll just buy another inexpensive point-n-hope.