A weekend of "Weed'n Furour." That's German for "pulling lots of weeds." (No it's not.) Weeds are the menu this week, I've got the rose bed weeded, the North Border, and part of the South Long border. Also got under the big mugho pine off the deck and got that cleaned up. The Pachysandra I transplanted there last fall is doing so-so. I gave it a sprinkle of organic fertilizer pellets and watered that in. I'm hoping that will green it up and get it growing a bit better. The old adage about groundcovers: First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap, seems to hold true here.
What a surprise! Two years ago, I planted a few bulbs of Winter Aconite in the lower part of the rose bed. Nothing. This year, while weeding, I discovered one of them up and growing.... I've been planning a lightning raid to get more winter aconites. There is an ENORMOUS patch of them covering the verge of a country road near an abandoned house not far from here. Every late February I make a point to drive over there just to glory in the sight...a great carpet of yellow under the trees, over the hillside, down to the road. I'm determined to get some for my garden....I think I can dig up a clump or two from right along the road (the snowplow will scrape them down and destroy them there, right? So I'm really SAVING them.) I'm planning to go over early on a Sunday morning. The sad and frightening thing about this is I ACTUALLY HAVE A METHOD. I park the truck, pop the hood, turn on the flashers, jump out with my handy-dandy little fold up trenching shovel (the kind soldiers carry to dig foxholes), dig out the desired plant, toss it into the truck , shut the hood and go. If anyone drives by, the think I'm having "car trouble" and nobody notices the shovel. I tried blacking my face and wearing all black garments and gloves, but that seemed a bit much....
After 6 months of truly terrible winter cold, wind, and snow, the packaging tape I used to secure the greenhouse plastic is beginning to give way. That is no shame and I am very pleased. The next warm day we have I need to get down there and retape some seams.
TIP: I bought a container of deer repellant and was complaining that the attached sprayer did not work. It's a spray nozzle at the end of a long coiled thin hose that comes right with the container of repellant. I was told to put the jug on a cellar step and let the nozzle hang down to the next step (below the level of the liquid in the jug). It worked! Apparently these things need to prime themselves and this does the trick.
I'm debating whether to reseed some of my tomatoes. I know it's late, but I think it will be worth it. I had a bad start with the tomatoes this year; they germinated a lot faster than I anticipated and got very leggy by the time I got them under lights. They did pretty well, then a blight of aphids and whitefly. The bigger plants are still thriving, but I've lost some of the smaller ones. I only started a couple of the "lesser" varieties that I'm trying for the first time, so I think I may have some MIAs there. A long time ago, a friend told me that her PA Dutch grandparents actually DIRECT SEEDED their tomatoes into the garden in May and that the plants just came up and boomed along and did as well as any purchased plants that were started early. So, I'm going to try this in modified form and re-start some in containers. Will let you know how this works out.
I'm swamped: I've got more office projects than I can shake the proverbial stick at, so trying to get anything done in the garden has been a challenge. And MY GARDEN IS SWAMPED. After nearly 3 inches of rain Sun/Monday, everything is just saturated. This heavy clay soil is impossible to work when it's this wet, so I've been running out when I get a few minutes to pull weeds. One thing about saturated clay: dandelions and other long rooted weeds just slide out like they've been greased.
Its beautiful to see the waves of green sweeping over the land. Still no thunderstorms, so the trees are still mostly bare (My father subscribed to the belief that you need a good rumble of thunder to "wake up" the trees). But the green in the fields is enough to hurt the eyes: the winter wheat is so green it glows.
I'm pleased beyond measure with my poky little dog kennel greenhouse. I've got lots of stuff in it, but I need more table top room. I'm freecycling for an old picnic table or something. I'm also determined to get that tiny woodstove set up and working. Now if I can find the time...
Bought another gallon jug of deer repellant spray and doncha know, the darn spray nozzle thingy won't work. The thought of transferring that smelly stuff to another spray bottle is disgusting, but I guess that's what I'll have to do. (I can no longer eat Ceasar Salad dressing anymore...that repellant spray reminds me of it... ugh.
The heat is gone; we topped out around 87 on Friday, high on Saturday was 84, Sunday it was down to around 53, and today (Monday April 16) it's only about 43F at 2:30 pm. We had tremendous rains overnight; my rain gauge says 2.6 inches in about 12 hours! It's starting to clear now, but needless to say, its too boggy to go outside in the garden.
Very sad day: Our oldest cat Alvin, 20 years old on April 1, passed away this morning after a brief illness. He fought the good fight to the end, but I'm glad he's at peace. He was a great cat, and we're missing him sadly. He's been laid to rest next to his old sweetheart Pixie, who passed away 2 years ago at the age of 14. They were an inseparable couple from the first moment they laid eyes on each, he as a youngster and she as a kitten. (It evolved into what we jokingly called a "Macbeth and Lady Macbeth" relationship....Pixie was always trying to encourage Al (who was a very mild and gentle guy) to be "Top Cat" around here by taking on whoever currently held the title. He never did. )
We've had two days of very hot weather, with highs nearing 90F. It's supposed to cool down and produce some rain starting tomorrow (Sunday). I've moved just about everything out to the greenhouse, including all the elephant ear and dahlias and most of the cannas. Most of those are not in pots/soil yet, but I figured just getting them out of the cold basement and into the light and warmth would be a good start. I'll start putting them into soil starting tomorrow.
I just watched the most amazing time lapse video of a garden coming to life. It's only about 4 minutes long, but it's breathtaking. I highly recommend it: https://youtu.be/m6Uw2DJ9Md8
Today was a garden day. I got a load of laundry up on the line by 8 a.m., then got right to work finishing up that big South Border Extension project. There was still a pretty large area of grass to dig out and now that's done. From way below the garden shed in the West up and around the shed, along the north side of the veg, along under the big old antique apple and all the way up the hill to the Top Border, the bed is now completed. It's now a nice unbroken, sweeping line instead of jigs and jogs and broken bits of beds and lawn. It took more or less all winter. There's still an area to be dug out near the garden shed, but that will wait until warm weather because I want to pave that section. I wanted to get the rest done so I could begin planting in it.
All the sods from this morning's work went into building up the "dip" at the end of the driveway, where the asphalt ends. Now there's no longer a drop off there; I will need to get some nice sifted topsoil in to even out the lumps and bumps of the sods, but it's a big improvement and I was surprised to see that most of the sods are actually "taking" and turning into nice green grass again.
Before calling it a day, I also got the central circular bed in the veg cleaned up (mostly just raking out the dead lamb's ear...I swear that stuff looks like dirty paper towels this time of year) and also shoring up the edging so it's a circle again. Then I dug out a big patch of couch grass from the perennial border in the veg...that's been one of those little jobs that I've been meaning to do forever and now it's done. In the process, I lifted a clump of daylilies and divided it. One half back into the same spot, the other out into the newly extended South Border bed.
I've decided to follow Aspenhill's lead and start making up a weekly To Do list. But first I think I need to take a pen and notebook outside with me and just wander around jotting down all the things, big and little, that I need/want to do. The bigger things I usually remember, but those little details that I really would like to do...things like lifting that clump of daffodils and dividing it...I forget by the time I move on because something else catches my eye. I think jotting it down would really help.
You know, sometimes being a haphazard gardener has it's own rewards. This time of year, I am constantly being surprised by stuff coming up where I had no idea anything was growing. I spotted three nice clumps of phlox down in the rose bed and only then remembered that way back in the fall I got them, more dead than alive, on a clearance table! They are up and growing beautifully ...I only wonder what color they will be! Also, and this one is a real mystery, there's this perfectly GORGEOUS blue flower (just two blooms) growing in the little Crescent bed by the deck. I have NO IDEA what it is or where it came from. I am racking my brains but really can't remember buying/planting anything like it. I sort of looks like a bright blue geranium. What the....?