MaryE's blog

2022 #136 Garlic is mostly planted
Posted on Oct 21, 2022 7:01 PM

I'm tired of planting! My knees hurt, my shoulder is sore and my hands are rough and on the verge of bleeding from the hard clay lumps of soil. I've been hurrying to get it all planted so have been pushing to beat the rain. I should have done some watering to soften it before trying to work in the peat moss and plant the cloves down a few inches into it. I wore out a pair of gloves! The showers arrived this afternoon just after I quit planting for the day and was watering everything. The ground is very dry so it is going to take a lot more water than just a few showers to get moisture down several inches. Adding the peat moss and mixing it into my mini rows took a lot of extra time and so did working with a sore shoulder. My kitty helps a lot, she rubs, tries to give my face kisses and likes to appropriate my kneeling pads for her own use. Today an owl was roosting in the big tree just outside the corner of the garden, quietly minding his own business while I was minding mine. Yesterday he moved from his roosting place to a post and watched a while from there.

Today I saw a hummingbird! I told him he had better get himself south right away. I still have the feeder up so he got a drink and hopefully also saw the lilac blooms on one of my bushes. Lilacs in October are either 5 months late or 7 months early. Very strange!

I picked a few of our plums today, ate a couple and decided they need frost before they will taste good. I think frost sweetens them. Our tree is loaded again this year.

This showery system is moving from northwest to southeast so we could be seeing snow on our higher mountain peaks as early as tomorrow morning.

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2022 #135 Garlic planting started today
Posted on Oct 18, 2022 6:55 PM

Yesterday I finished preparing the rows and had my hubby help me break the bulbs I had saved out for seed. I hope I guessed right on the amounts needed for the space I have. It's tricky estimating because some varieties have twice as many cloves as others and some are large and others are small. They are all planted the same way no matter the size except for the elephant garlic which would obviously be crowded with 6 inch spacing. Some of those will mature to at least 6 inches across the bulb in contrast to regular garlic which is about 3 inches at most.

Today I got all of one variety planted. I'm doing my usual pattern of 6 across the wide row, working on one side of the string I put down the center of the row and planting three from near the string to the edge, then moving down the row about 6-8 inches and doing it again. I don't measure, I just guess and sometimes have surprises when they come up. When I think I am nearing the halfway point of the cloves in my container I move to the other side so I have the same variety all the way across the row. Each end of the row has a marker with the name of the variety facing the row so I know what is planted between the markers. I'll leave a foot or so empty before starting the next variety. I'm adding some peat moss to the mini-rows and digging it into the soil so the cloves are in "friendly" soil when they start growing their roots. Each row has had straw rototilled into it but that hasn't started to decay yet so the excessive nitrogen is not tied up yet, however my efforts at breaking up the heavy clay layer under the rows has resulted in some of that being mixed with the top few inches of soil. I won't know how this is working until spring or maybe summer when I dig up the garlic.

It occurred to me a day or two ago that if I had bought bags of wood shavings instead of straw it would have been much easier to get it distributed and rototilled into the rows. DUH! Having never used wood shavings for bedding in animal pens I never thought of it. If there is a next time you can bet that I will.

We are having somewhat unseasonably warm weather so it is pleasant to be working outside. We are due for a change to something cooler with the possibility of showers later in the week. I hope the garlic is all in the ground before that happens. The ground is very dry so I will have to water the rows before I mulch with straw, then water it again to help anchor the straw into a mat that will not disappear in strong wind.

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2022 #134 The Doctor says...
Posted on Oct 13, 2022 10:23 PM

it's just pulled muscles and probably arthritis. I finally went to the walk in clinic today, came home with advice and a few illustrated pages of neck and shoulder muscle stretching exercises. Was advised to use heat, liniment and take ibuprofen to reduce inflammation . So I am working on all of that. The popping sounds/feelings may always be with me because I probably have arthritis in my shoulder as I do in several other places in my body. This is just amplified by inflammation which will go away in time. It's a relief to know that my shoulder is still intact.

I'm making some progress on deep digging the garlic rows and removing all of the roots and weed seed pods and such, plus breaking up brick sized chunks of clay that my big manure fork tines manage to penetrate if I stand on the fork and rock it from side to side. All of this will improve drainage, allow for deeper roots and hopefully tie up some of the excessive nitrogen as the straw breaks down. I haven't shredded more straw, thinking to do a lot of it all at once in a few days.

We still have not had frost. Today I moved my pots of geraniums into the greenhouse and will start popping the rest of the geraniums out of the barrels, a job that doesn't require much care so it should go quickly. They will be in boxes with minimal care until after Christmas when I will start reviving them for next year's color show. Some of the plants are just too old to do well anymore but I can start more cuttings from them.

A few days ago I hydrated some peat pellets and planted chard, kale, lettuce, and spinach seeds. The lettuce isn't up yet and germination on some others is spotty due to my seeds being old except for the kale. I should have bought more lettuce seed before the seed racks were put away. I have several seed packages but had not thought about checking the dates. Oops! A neighbor probably has some she would share with me in trade for some bags of salad greens this winter. All of these plants will be grown in an in-ground bed in the greenhouse. I started them in the house because the greenhouse still gets pretty hot even with shade cloth. Last year I was late starting them and this year I might be too early.

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2022 #133 Slow progress
Posted on Sep 30, 2022 6:06 PM

Every day my shoulder is a little bit more comfortable and I am able to use my arm a little more. This is going to take time and I know that I could set back the healing by being in too much of a hurry. Today I noticed that I have a stiff and painful neck. It's probably been there all along but not noticed because my shoulder was hurting more. I'll considering seeing a chiropractor if it is still painful next week but this does seem more like a muscle problem instead of something out of place.

Today I checked the pears because there are some on the ground. They are still firm so I called a neighbor who will come to get them for canning. Pears do not ripen well on the trees as other fruits do. Last year I canned a lot of them and she gives me raspberries so it's a good trade. She has tried to grow pears and can't. I have not had success with raspberries. She will also take home those mantis egg cases because she says she has seldom seen a mantis at her place. When she comes I want to show her the sticky wasp traps because she had a lot of wasp nests in barns and other buildings that she is unable to reach. Hubby took our traps down today and I counted the wasps stuck to one panel on each of the hexagons in three of the traps, then did an estimate with simple multiplication and came up with an approximate total of about 700 wasps for all 6 traps along with a generous sprinkling of flies, gnats and moths. A few grasshoppers also blundered into them.

We got a few short rain showers this afternoon that totaled 1 10th of an inch. I hope we will get more. A very bright rainbow has now faded away. I enjoyed it while it lasted.

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2022 #132 Well, now I've done it
Posted on Sep 26, 2022 10:22 AM

Did you know that a rototiller can pull you right off your feet and land you face down in the weeds? It can, and it did. Ouch!

I'd been shredding straw with the lawn mower and putting it on the garden rows I had previously worked with the big fork. I decided that since I had already disturbed the soil layers by bringing up some of the clay pan I might as well run a tiller over the straw to mix it with the soil. It was working nicely and then the tiller tines hit a very hard clay shelf at the end of the row, the tiller jumped ahead and I went down. Hard! My right shoulder might not be the same for a long time. I have it in a sling and am doing everything with my left hand, but that does not include any rototilling. And wouldn't you know the weather is ideal for garden work! Today I will do some digging with the big, wide fork, just using my left hand. Slow work but I can at least be doing something.

Those Daikon radishes I planted a week ago have started coming up. It's nice to see something green in the yellow and brown crispy garden! The Virginia Creeper vine on the yard fence has mostly red leaves now, a change that happened in just the past 2 nights. We haven't had frost yet but it has been close a couple of times. The plums are turning purple, they look pretty. Grasshoppers ate most of the leaves from the orchard trees but have left the fruit alone. Our hummingbirds are gone and I am only seeing an occasional wasp. When I take those wasp traps down I will count the wasps on a few panels of the sticky traps and then estimate by the number of panels and traps. I'll bet the total will be in the hundreds!

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