Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pretty in pink

I have so many photos of the flowering plants in my yard that I don't get too excited about wandering around the property, camera in hand. However, I don't recall the rhododendron ever blooming this heavily before. I'm glad I took this pic despite the windy conditions because the next day, after a frosty night, most of the petals lay on the ground in a pink carpet.

The fruit trees did arrive, as did the underground utility guy. I had to help him find the gas lines because 1) he was not aware that when my neighbor to the south installed a gas furnace, NIPSCo ran the line across a corner of my property, and 2) the utility maps shows the main line to the north to be on the property of my neighbors on that side of the house. I've lived here over 20 years and generally have the utilities marked every year, so I guess that now makes me the expert.

I'm not such an expert when it comes to transplanting fruit trees. Different instructions from different sources do not help, either. The trees are in the ground, hopefully at the correct depth given the root stocks. Now all I need to do is cut them back to where I want the branches to form a scaffold, in my case at about 24 inches, per Grow a Little Fruit Tree. Gulp! Since I finished planting last night in the dark, I have not made this cut yet, as I wanted to be able to see what I was doing. Today is wet and windy and cold, so I will gardener up and do it tomorrow.

By the way, here is what I planted:

  • Liberty
  • Wolf River
  • Pristine
  • Nova EasyGro
  • Black Gold Sweet
  • Balaton Tart
  • North Star Tart
  • Hedelfingen Sweet

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The fruit trees are coming, the fruit trees are coming!

Grandpa's Orchard sent me an email to let me know the eight fruit trees I ordered are on their way. I've been reading Grow a Little Fruit Tree in anticipation of this event, and growing a bit anxious myself about timing. The underground utility people are scheduled to mark the yard tomorrow, so then we should be good to go. Yippee!

I'm not excited about today's weather - still cold and windy. The past couple of days I've coped by potting up some of my indoor starts. The lettuce has been transplanted to "lettuce bowls", some of which are destined to be gifts. The peppers are in larger containers, where they can spread their feet until nighttime temps are over 50. The broccoli roots also have a bit more room now, although I hope to get them into the ground by May 1. And I made the first yarden trip of the season to Home Depot, for bags of garden soil and potting mix.

Otherwise, it is just more hurry-up-and-wait. *sigh*

Monday, April 20, 2015

First cut

Friday and Saturday were perfect for yardening, but I was out of town. Fortunately, Sunday's rain held off long enough for me to mow and trim. Once those chores were done, so was I. It is hell getting old.

The extended cool temperatures are extending the bloom season for magnolias and daffodils. The hyacinth and grape hyacinth are up and at 'em, and the rhododendron and forsythia popped over the weekend. Everything is slowly awakening.

I feel like I am already falling behind, especially in the vegetable garden, but this week's forecast is a reality check: highs in the 50's, lows in the 30's. With few exceptions, it really is too early to plant seeds or transplant seedlings. In the meantime, there are plenty of other tasks to keep me occupied while I wait.

Inside, the seed starts are doing well. The population under the lights include Black Eyed Susan vine, broccoli, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, zinnias, marigolds, hollyhocks, calendula, Mexican sunflower, basil, parsley. I decided to give the fish emulsion a try despite my misgivings, and the fishy aroma did not affect the cat.

And that is about all for now.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

I see asparagus

This past week as been the epitome of our fair city's nickname, Fort Rain, Windiana. The temperatures have not been all that bad, but when combined with the wet and the wind, being outdoors was just miserable. Today, however, is beautiful.

The only edibles in the garden so far are garlic, rhubarb, and as of today, asparagus. Inside, I have broccoli, lettuces, and peppers started. I plan to transplant the lettuce plants to "lettuce bowls" for myself and as gifts for friends.

The Meyer lemon is producing tiny green lemons, but the plant is starting to look a bit peaked again, presumably because of my neglect regarding fertilizer. I top dressed the pot with some potting soil formulated for citrus. Other options on hand are: fish emulsion (which I don't like to use indoors because it stinks, plus the cat may find it irresistible) or manure/compost tea, which if odor free, would work. Or I could shell out some bucks for something more appropriate.

For some reason, lumber labeled as being 8" wide is actually closer to 7", which I find not quite deep enough for my raised beds, especially for potatoes. The plan is to double the height of three beds each year. Today my (handsome *and* handy) SO brought power tools and accomplished that task.

The movable fence has not yet been erected for the season. I wish I didn't need it - I love having a clear view of the garden. Finn does an admirable job limiting the rabbit, mice, and vole populations, but he won't take on woodchucks.

Having a higher vantage point now helps, though. Pots are coming out of hibernation along with patio furniture. I'm looking forward to morning coffee on the deck.

Current bloomers are daffodils, hyacinth, and something tiny and white that I can't identify. Inside, the mother plant for the coleus has been decimated, and nine babies are establishing their root systems. I'm also starting black eyed Susan vine inside this year, as last year they did not germinate very well outside; unfortunately, they aren't doing very well inside, either.

Monday, March 16, 2015


Today was the first day of real yardening for 2015. I exercise during the winter - walk 10,000+ steps most days, shovel snow, cross country ski, hike, mix in yoga and physical therapy and this and that - but it doesn't seem to matter. None of it prepares me for the bending and stooping, the grasping and pulling, the lifting and lugging that yard work and gardening entail.

Today I focused on the ornamental grasses in the front yard. Usually I saw away at them with one hand tool or another, until my right hand blisters and cramps. This year I decided to take my new hedge trimmer to them.

This is not my first hedge trimmer. Its predecessor met its demise when my SO borrowed it last summer. He kindly replaced it with a better model (this one rotates). But this is the first time it occurred to me to use it for cutting back the grasses. No blisters! No cramps! It's a miracle! Now if it only magically swept up the trimmings and flew them to the compost pile. Bippity boppity boo!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Finally, a very nice day, as evidenced by neighbors walking dogs, pushing strollers, riding motorcycles and bicycles and skateboards. There is still snow on the ground, but it's giving way. Hopefully it will be completely gone before it rains on Friday.

The birds were a bit of a disappointment this winter. Regular visitors included a pair of cardinals, several blue jays, a junco or three, rarely a woodpecker, but otherwise it was sparrows and finches. The squirrels scavenged under the feeders. Since they came in singles, I was not sure if it was the same squirrel or several, but it had to be more than one because one was missing the fur on half its tail.

Today I heard a constant (and annoying) chirping, which I assumed was a bird on the roof. Eventually, I realized the noise was coming from my attached garage, and again assuming it was a bird, I opened the garage door so it could fly out. But the noise continued. Using inhuman stealth, I managed to crack the mudroom door open enough to see it was a chipmunk. But why would it not leave? I tried scaring it out, without success. Then I worried it had been hibernating in the garage all winter and was now attempting to attract a mate! Eventually, the chirping stopped, so it either departed or went back to sleep.

I took advantage of DST and spent some time outside this afternoon. Daffodils have broken through on the south side of the house. I dragged the mower through the snow, from the shed to the garage, so I can have it serviced. And a lot of pooper scoopering occurred, another sure sign of spring.

Monday, March 02, 2015

March impatience

It feels like it has been a long winter, but after perusing March blog entries from previous years, I see that 2015 is no different. Despite my wishing it were otherwise, gardening will just have to wait a few more weeks.

I've been reading up on Stoicism. One of its cornerstones is to differentiate between what you can control and what you can't. The weather definitely falls into the latter category.