Thursday, May 21, 2015


I'm glad I held off on transplanting the tomatoes, as the other night the temps dropped into the 30's. Not very springlike and definitely not tomato weather. This weekend looks hopeful, though.

Meanwhile, some things prefer the cool weather, like lettuce. I have tried growing it in containers before, but this year is the first time it has done well. I made "lettuce bowls" for those near and dear to me, using hanging planters so the yummies can be kept out of reach of wascally wabbits.

Peas also like cool weather, and for some reason, sparrows like pea plants. Last year they pretty much ruined the pea crop, so this year, when I noticed the damage, I dragged out some netting I bought 15+ years ago and had never used. This bit of ugliness is doing the trick, but it will also probably cause problems when the growing plants become entwined in it.

Infrastructure-wise, my SO and I finished putting up the movable fence, and we hope we won't have to move it again. The new panels are a result of shifting some beds to widen paths, plus adding another "column" of beds. I consider this array to be complete (famous last words).

The first set of fledglings are flying the nest. These robins seemed to be a single parent and an only child - no other family members appeared. If the battery in my camera had not chosen to poop out, I might have caught a shot of mom/dad feeding the youngster a worm.

The orchard is off to a good start, with one exception. There are even a few blossoms. Planting something new is always an experiment subject to gross error, but so far, so good.

The south side of the house has gone through a few permutations. Currently, there is a motley assortment of perennials, including catmint, which seems bent on taking over the world. I may just let it duke it out with the hysop, bee balm, coneflower, and whatever else is there.

Not so world-dominating are the rhododendron in front of the house. Of the original three plants, only one and a half remain. I hope this year's display is not its swan song.

The sidewalk bed looks very full this year, mostly due to the volunteer violets and columbine. I added calendula and alyssum to help out. And now that it is full, I've seen some new (to me) sedum I would like to add.

Too many plants, not enough room.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Lately, I have been congratulating myself for not starting my garden transplants too early. My rule of thumb regarding tomatoes and peppers is to transplant them only when night temperatures remain above 50 degrees. That is usually mid to late May. So, of course, we are experiencing those ideal temps NOW, when my plants are still a bit too bitty for transplanting.

Peppers, tomatoes, marigolds, calendula, hollyhock, Mexican sunflower, basil, kale, parsley, zinnias

Also, the garden fence is still not in place, so I am loathe to transplant the broccoli or plant anything a woodchuck might favor. And it is raining, which makes it difficult to do much of anything outside besides let the seedlings harden off. So maybe it is a good day to hit Home Depot and purchase some supplies, pot up the tomatoes, and hunker down until the sun shines again.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Pinks and Blues

Except for the dandelions, the yellows of spring are starting to give way to the pinks and blues. Like the rhododendron, these bloomers are outdoing themselves this year. Apologies for the quality of the pictures (and please excuse the weeds).

If I have one major gardening regret, it is that I don't seem to have a central location for the proper names of the denizens of my yard. (And I'm too lazy to look them up.)

Redbud (one of three)

Sand cherry bush (with deceased asplenifolia to the left)

Grape hyacinth

Volunteer violets

Creeping phlox

Bleeding heart

This little vine is not blooming yet (obviously), but it deserves mentioning because, quite frankly, I had given up hope that it would survive. This poor thing has been planted and transplanted and eaten by bunnies in its short life. And yet, here it is. Life will out.

Clematis Niobe, risen from the dead

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One of the fun parts

Like most activities, gardening has fun parts and not-so-fun parts. I consider planting/transplanting to be a fun part, even when it leaves me almost crippled the next day from all the bending and stooping.

Before one may plant, one must prepare. In my garden, this means trying to get the rampant thistle, creeping Charlie, feral mint, and quack grass under control, at least in the garden beds proper. This means more bending and stooping, as well as digging. Ugh. Like brushing the cat, weeding is never ever completely done, but at some point, one must put the seeds and seedlings into the ground.

Here is what went in most recently:
  • Onion plants
  • Seed potatoes
  • Pea and snap pea seeds
Prep work for all this included: increasing the height (thereby the depth) of the three potato beds; and erecting trellises for the peas and snap peas (and pole beans, to be planted at a later date). Also, a cage protects the onions from being dug up by the cat (Finn thinks the garden is his bathroom).

As you can see, the fencing is still in progress. There will ultimately be more vegetable beds, so I need a couple more fence panels before we can properly contain the garden.

I topped the fruit trees, so now they basically look like 2-foot-high sticks. One of the cherries appears to be DOA - stunted root system, no swelling buds - we'll see if it proves me wrong. The rest appear healthy and on the verge of breaking dormancy. Fun!

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.