Friday, March 26, 2010

Stick a snow shovel in it...


Yesterday it was cold and rainy there was just shy of 1/2" in the rain gauge by late afternoon. Sprinkles persisted, but around 8:30 last night heavy wet snowflakes started flying in the cold North wind. Temps this morning in the mid 20s and I had to shovel almost 3" of ice-encrusted snow off the deck to get to the bird feeders this morning.

Ah well, a temporary setback, I'm sure. Gotta admit, it's very pretty out there (unless you ask the robins - they seem a little annoyed).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stick a fork in it....

...and a rake, shovel, hoe and tiller. It's done.

Saturday was another nice day so I spent it working in the gardens. At one point I watched these 2 geese walk from 44th street green all the way down to the creek and start up toward the clubhouse, honking for right-of-way when an unwary golfer should stray too close.


I've been here over 7 years now and the autumn needle shed from the golf course pine trees have been inconsequential. But last fall it seems they were saving up and *whammo* - tons of needles everywhere. I considered just mowing over them but then I got an idea. I took a little time (watching out for the rather assertive geese) and raked them all up.

Any guesses as to what I did with this piney bounty? Anyone? Anyone? Okay, you in the back. What's that? You got it, exactly! Been reading the blog, haven't you! LOL


That's right, I used it to mulch the asparagus bed. What's not to love? Needles don't mat down and restrict air/water flow like leaves. They don't stay wet and encourage mold (especially the icky slime mold) like wood chips. And the price was right! I love it when something that occurs in the yard finds a good use in the yard.

And since I had a little left over....


Earlier in the day I'd turned and combined 2 compost piles into one, thus freeing up the front bin. So it was a no brainer (good thing...mine was getting tired) to stash the bonus mulch. Unless I use it in the asparagus bed later in the season, this extra will top off the bed when tucked in for the winter.

It's been a busy week. Here's the recap:

Vegetable seed starts under lights in the basement.
Potted up all dormant cannas, elephant ears, dahlias & fuchsias.
Sowed 35 jugs of WS perennials and set jugs on the deck.
Gathered up a winter's worth of fallen branches.
Cleaned up all the flower beds - cutting back dead material.
Raked up beaucoup pine needles.
Weeded, fertilized and mulched the asparagus bed.
Tilled 7 beds in the vegetable garden.
Turned 2 compost piles.
Hauled out and set up not only the garden bench but also 4 deck chairs.
Transplanted a variegated hydrangea.
Planted a gift pot of tulips into the garden.
Divided (and planted) the Walkers Low cat mint and Johnsons Blue geranium.

*woof*

Now that all the heavy grooming (and groaning) is behind me, I can retreat to the house and the comfy chair for some well-deserved rest. It's hard to believe the last week of 'winter' was so very nice. Looking ahead it's supposed to rain Monday and only get up to 47 on Tuesday. Go figure. But it doesn't bother me...I'm ahead of the game at this point - and all done by the 1st day of Spring. Wow. How often does that happen? :-D

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Toiling at tilling

The weather stayed fine yesterday so I rummaged through the shed (*oof* - stuff is packed like sardines back there), found my trusty electric Mantis tiller, and tackled the vegetable beds. (And knowing I would need a few sit-downs, I brought out my garden bench.)

First off, let me wax poetic for a moment about the little tiller. My late brother bought it for my Mom back in the mid 80s. Mom gave it to me in the early 90s. I've used it every year. It's a little beat up and rocks have taken their toll on the drive casing, cracking it ever so slightly. But as long as I keep squeezing grease into it whenever I hear the bearings, it's always good to go. Over 25 years old and keeps on ticking, uh, tilling. They just don't make stuff like they used to, huh?

Anyway, I tilled up all the beds, one at a time. I, myself, am not faring as well as the tiller. My ankle is now much less stable than last year and it's getting very difficult to brace myself with it and guide the tiller. Hopefully by the time the ankle gets seriously compromised, these beds will be loose and loamy after so much compost and leaf litter. (Now if I'd just stop making new beds alla time!)

I would till up one bed at a time then sit and rest my ankle. The yard was dotted with foraging robins but only one seemed to succumb to the fragrant lure of fresh-tilled soil. While I rested he (she?) would run over and chow down on whatever worms or insects were exposed. Then I would do another bed and rest again. We did this for the 7 individual beds in that garden (used to be 8 but last year I filled one with peonies). When I fetched the camera I was glad to see that it had stuck around for me to snap this pic. Hey Robby - smile!

I gotta say, ankle and all, no matter how big the job or how long the hours, a little friendly companionship sure makes the load lighter. :-D

* * * * * *
Vernal Equinox - it's officially SPRING!!

It's finally here - Spring. It's a big boost to the spirit knowing that the days will be longer and things will start growing again. Huzzah!

Today dawned bright and sunny, the last day before colder wetter weather gets here for Sunday and early next week. So today I could just sit on the deck and survey my handiwork, sip a cool drink and flip through garden magazines...

Yeah, right! Waste a day like this? I think not. Look out yard, here comes trouble...! :-D

Friday, March 19, 2010

Darn good dirt


Yesterday was another lovely day. I did morning chores then had a long lunch with friends. But around 3:30 (like I said, a loooong lunch :-D), I found myself out in the back again, looking for something to 'putter'. I wandered toward the asparagus bed. Oh good grief! It was just chock full of weeds. Drat.

I really dislike weeding, and I mulch wherever I can to help control that, but I've not found the right mulch for the 8x8 foot raised asparagus bed yet. *sigh* Man, there were lots of the low-growing kind that mat up and spread flat. Oh well, up and in I went. I started pulling.

They came right up. Even the tough ones (like dandelions and tree seedlings) yielded to just the slightest persuasion from my trowel. The soil was so crumbly, so friable that I could practically dig with my fingers. It was dark and rich and looked like chocolate cake. And the scent -- oh my gosh, just heady with humus and earthworms and a little vinegar tang from last year's leaves. If I were a worm I'd be chowing down by the handfuls for sure! And worms that didn't live here would be calling in for take out...

I love this time of year when the soil isn't frozen and isn't baked. It isn't dry and it's not soggy. It's just perfect!

OK. After I weeded the bed yesterday, I topped it off with a big dose of Preen to help prevent new weed seeds from germinating. Now today I'm thinking it might be just the time to tease up the beds in the vegetable garden. Earlier this morning I had meandered over there with my coffee and peeked under the leaf mulch. The worms peeked back. Oh yeah. It's a plan.

Dirt - a gardens best friend. :-D

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clip art

Another nice day. Into the 20s again last night, but the birdbath thawed out pretty quickly once the sun hit it. Found a couple of crocuses in bloom. I don't seem to have much luck with them. Seems I squirrel dozens and dozens of the little bulbs every Fall, but don't get much show the following year. I wonder if the squirrels and/or chipmunks eat them. Anyway, when any do make an appearance, they are treasured like little jewels.

Yesterday I meant only to do a little puttering around the yard. The weather was gorgeous, warm with a robin's egg blue sky overhead. After a few hours of puttering I eventually managed to collect all the downed limbs and branches and got them piled up. Then I groomed all the beds, cutting dead stalks. I also trimmed back all the butterfly bushes. Goodness! Some of those branches were over an inch thick. And talk about tough.

Now things are looking much more tidy. I'm excited to see that some of the new perennials from last year have survived (probably thanks to the 14" of snow blanket they got). I'm seeing hyssops, feverfew, butterfly bushes, potentilla, lavender, hollyhock and much more. Watching last year's WS plants come back this year will be as exciting as watching this year's WS seeds sprouting in jugs.

Gardening. The gift that keeps on giving! :-D

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sorry, sorry

Yesterday I was practically whining that when I'd finally gotten around to sowing perennial seeds in jugs it wasn't winter anymore. After all, we've had above freezing temps for almost 2 weeks now and even today is forecasted to hit 60!

But last night Ma Nature must've heard me. It got down to 25 and this morning everything is frozen. Wow. I had no idea I had such influence! LOL Now look what's happened.

My bad.... ;-D

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First WS jugs


What is with me this year? Why is it taking such an effort to get into garden gear? Pretty soon I'll be kicking myself all around the yard for not being more pro-active on all this seed stuff (let alone berate myself for not having started over a month ago!). *sigh* Maybe I'm getting old. Or cranky. Or both. Hmmm. I need a good tonic!

Anywho -- for all the glory details of today's W'sowing, pop on over to the Propagation page. Check it out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Potential!


Goodness gracious! I haven't posted since March 5 and at that time the snow was really starting to melt. We all worried about the days and days of rain that had been forecasted for this area and the potential for flooding. But no rain at all for the whole week. Instead sunny days flirting with 60 degrees and above freezing at night. The garden beds beckoned, but I'm holding off, even for clean up. Too squishy out there right now.

The snow just vanished. At one point a friend and I drove down to her cottage in Atwood. We were gone only 2 hours. When we returned we were amazed at how much had melted. And remember. We had nearly 14" on the ground! Within 2 days it was all gone except for the slush piles on the north side of buildings and where the plows had dumped mounds of the stuff. I still have just a little on the north side, but honestly, it's all gone now. Even the gutter glaciers are history.

Yesterday and last night we finally got some rain, almost an inch. But it was slow and steady and soaked right in. Great for the gardens! You can see it's still dark and overcast here on Daylight Saving Time day. And while it will take a bit for my brain to adjust to this, what's really getting used to is how dark it is at night. For weeks and weeks the snow illuminated the night. I could see nearly everything in the yard and beyond either due to moonlight or just scattered light pollution from Canton. Now it's dark at night.

Winter was turned on like a switch - lots and lots of cold and snow. Then the switch turned off and we're in high 50s with 40s at night. Spring has arrived? Really?

Ha! Don't you believe it! Ohio springs aren't for wimps. It's the most untrustworthy, bipolar season of the lot. Rain, snow, ice, hail, heat, wind.... we get it all. So, fasten your seat belts. It's gonna be a bumpy ride. Woohoo.

P.S. I've updated the Plant Propagation page -- finally!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Hope!

What a sight for sore eyes!

The pic says so much. Snow is melting. There are shadows (2 days of bright sunny skies). And though I've fretted about the bulbs this Spring because of the hard winter, the daffs and crocuses didn't seem to mind. They are all pushing up through the snow and leaf mulch.

These past 2 days sure have brightened up the house as well as my spirits.

Spring isn't that far off now, so I'll be heading down to the basement this weekend. I've procrastinated far too long with regards to my winter sowing. I've got all those jugs, all those seeds and all that potting mix just waiting to meet up with each other. And the deck no longer has 2 feet of snow on it. Plenty of space for WS jugs now.

Time to get this garden stuff in gear. Stay tuned.... ;-D

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Deer friends

Now that the weather has settled down and some melt has taken place, the deer are coming out of the golf course behind my property.

These four browsed on the pine tree tips and paid much attention to a spot under an evergreen where the turf was exposed. They've been back there now for a couple of hours and we gaze at each other through the kitchen window.

I enjoy watching them this time of year, but I do not encourage them. I've had summer's where most all of my veg plants were eaten to nubs by these tawny beasts.

Still, they are beautiful, graceful creatures so I cannot feel ill toward them (unlike groundhogs - honestly, don't even get me started! ;-D )