Friday, April 30, 2021

Day Two Progress

 Moving right along. They poured the concrete footings and have plenty more concrete bags in my garage (safe from rain) and will be adjusting the sidewalk to a right angle instead of a curve. Where that cardboard box is, that concrete will be cut away and the new part poured in its place. 
The material for the deck itself has yet to be delivered. It is a compostite like Trex and will be a light gray color. Never needs painting. Can't say the same for our back porch. It was perfectly painted when we moved in last Sept and now the paint is leaving the surface, more with every rain. It's like tempera instead of deck paint! 

I don't know why there is a gap in the middle there...

Anyway I am still so happy and especially so since we had a good soaking rain last night. Whatever happened to April showers bring May flowers? I fear we may have a dryer than normal Spring.
I'm thinking of diving up my pool beds into fourths, like pie wedges. I have sticks and string and that may make me feel a tad of control over what gets planted. First seeds in last night, Sugar Baby watermelon. 

Introduced in 1956, 'Sugar Babywatermelon is a type of icebox or picnic watermelon. It produces small fruits that are 7 to 8 inches across—just the right size for fitting in the fridge or a picnic basket. Red flesh has a high brix value, which measures sugar content.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

At Last!

O Boy! The workers finally showed up Wednesday and began framing the deck/porch/gigantic flower planter, whatever this is. They'll be back today to finish the cross beams and then the deck part and the planter boxes will commence. I am so glad I changed my mind about the size of this project. If I hadn't I would be pretty disappointed at this stage, but instead, I am overjoyed.

One of the things I love about living in the South is the front porch. It is so friendly to be sitting out and waving at the passersby. And we have sidewalks, so we have oodles of folks to wave at. I am looking out my bedroom window as I write this and watching people do a double take as they see this begin.

Perhaps there would be a less expensive way to get rid of that horrible Houttuynia cordata. I hope they follow through on the promise to lay down a weed barrier, and take out those landscape bricks while they're at it. 
In garden news, Dave mulched the hosta bed and it looks tremendous, if you don't notice the frost damage on the hosta leaves. I will be cutting those off today.
And then there's my experimental garden. I moved everything to a flat spot outside the fence, where it is easier to run the hose. 

I have more composted manure at the ready to fill the pools and maybe some of the bigger black bags. I have not given up on the bag idea after all, since all of a sudden with the warmer days and nights, the tomatoes and the one remaining pepper (Giant Marconi) have perked up and are looking a bit enthusiastic. The brick circle will be planted today with beans, peas and one sage plant. Woowoo!
Here's the view from my window.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Gardening

Starting with the good. The new white clematis is flourishing. Huge white flowers! Wow. So happy. I am kinda crazy about clematis and now that we have four, I am pretty darn excited. My sister's new husband just sold his old house and moved all the garden supports and trellises to their new house where they might have languished were it not for me swooping in to 'borrow' them for the duration. Nearby is the opening peony. Sweet! The first of many to open in the coming weeks. I am so glad this is not a super multi-petaled version. No caging for this one. 

 On the north side of the house, which is supposedly the shade garden, except for strong morning sun, are two more light lavender clematis. One was half price because it had some broken stems, but the majority was doing fine I so I bought it. In this bright sunlight it is difficult to see the subtle light purple of these blooms. In this bed we have just started to mulch, so it's looks will improve by the end of the day if my managerial skills hold up. I am having Dave do the mulch spreading. 

 The Bad. My darling new Ostrich Fern was bitten by our recent frost, which also hurt a lot of the new annuals I have planted. Pooh! Still, this will survive, alto it may look awful for some time. 

 The north side bed with bags o'mulch ready to spread. Lotsa Hosta, and heuchera, one brunnera, the fern and the clematis is at the end. I really love shade gardens, and hope this one will fill in over the coming years. I had to make myself space the hosta far enough apart so that there won't be crowding and I won't have to transplant them for a long while. 
More Bad. I am losing confidence with the baggy garden, or maybe the pools, I can't decide. Actually it is the cold nights and uneven watering that may have killed off some of my tomatoes and peppers. Some, but not all. In fact one pepper is doing amazingly well, but the frost may be why my bean seeds rotted in the bag. O well. I have many more. But the slope of the yard means all the water runs to one edge and the bags get either too much or not enough water. Grrr. So...I am moving the whole thing in the coming days. And I may just fill the pools with soil and use the bags only for tomatoes, garlic, onions and peppers. Well two big bags have potatoes in them, so maybe I will keep using those too. O I just don't know...but suddenly it got hot, even at night so it's a toss up what may work now. 

In the meantime, I made another bed from landscape bricks and will plant my green beans in this one. It is less deep than the pools but sits on the ground so the roots may have a place to grow. We can only hope. 

So if you sense a bit of disappointment, yes, I am. Plus my front porch/deck was supposed to be started yesterday and nothing happened. No one showed up and no one called to say why. Typical. So I took out my feelings on the inside of the house and really cleaned, washed floors, vacuumed and even washed the slip covers on the couch. Satisfying!
OK off to buy more dirt! Yay!

Monday, April 19, 2021

 Hurray!! Help has arrived. They were supposed to show up Tuesday but came on Friday. Can't complain because they did the job and made me so happy. 
The job, part one was to fit the metal edging around the driveway peony bed. 
Part two, fill the holes left from moving the peonies. One could easily fall into those holes and break an ankle. 
  Part three, amend the soil, get rid of the Houttuynia cordata and clear the debris from the north side of the house, the site of my shade garden. This would have taken me all day, and yet they were done in 45 minutes. So thankful! There is nothing so delicious as an empty bed of dirt, with plants at the ready to fill it. That will be my job today, with Dave's help, I hope. Hosta, heuchera, one big brunnera, one big ostrich fern and two flats of impatients. Yay!!

 These are hyacinth beans growing under a trellis on the south side of the house. Watch this space. They will get HUGE. I was first introduced to this plant from a blog reader, who sent me seeds. Wow! Lucky me! Here's an idea of what they can do.

 And our first opening white clematis. Thrilling.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Pre-Sprouting Seeds

Sometimes I like to pre-sprout my seeds before putting them in the soil. These are French fine green beans, my first time to grow them and I am excited. There are a ton of seeds in a packet, but which will sprout? What if it is too cold to put them in the dirt? I've had seeds turn to mush if they are cold and wet. Not this time. It is already warm enough and I decided to give the patch a head start with this tried and true method of pre-sprouting. Get two small plates, a wet paper towel and pour on the seeds. Cover with the second plate and place near a sunny window, or just in a warm spot.
In two days lift the top plate and see what sprouted.
Pretty cool huh? Ready to pop in the dirt and cover and let the growing begin.
 I'm at the local Walmart super store almost daily and have to check out what has come in and looks enthusiastic. I call this rescue gardening. Can't let sprouted bulbs or roots sit in these bags for long, knowing they will die if not immediately given refuge. I brought home these potato starts and they have been sitting waiting for me to plant them, growing greener in the bag ever since. Shame on me. But they are going in today, since I now have more composted manure for their home. But while I was searching the floor of my pantry in hopes of finding some Kosher salt, I found this stray potato tucked behind some bags of rice. Musta fallen out of a bigger sack. Talk about enthusiasm! Theorhetically potatoes are sprayed with something that is supposed to prevent eyes sprouting. I guess this one didn't get the memo. Into the garden it will go.

Super huge grow bags, which I ordered before I got my Walmart blue bags. I tried to cancel before they got shipped but was minutes too late. They are 20 gallons each and I have ten. Wha? 
 Here's a size comparison.
Of course they do not need to be filled to capacity, just deep enough for the plants that will be in them. The soft sides can be rolled down to let in more light, so perfect for things like green beans. So I am glad to have them. 
Today I am expecting my garden guys to arrive, actually hoping to see them any minute. They will prepare the beds on the north side of the house, removing clay and adding composted manure. I am anxious to begin my shade garden there with these Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Hosta. Not nearly enough, I know. 

I've harvested and eaten some of these lettuces already. One of the romaine was pulled out by a squirrel, even on the porch we are not immune. grrrr. So in it's place I put a sprouted nasturtium which has yet to emerge. 
My patience has been rewarded in this set of six packs. A cucumber and sugar snap pea have shown themselves. I know you can't see them, but I am recording their debut for future reference.

OK, I am going out right now and digging a spot in the peony bed for these perennials. Four Hardy Geraniums. Yay!

Friday, April 9, 2021

Bursting into bloom

Both of our cherry trees are in full bloom and it couldn't be more gorgeous. What a blessing! To think we just got to have these as part of the house deal. Wow. I saw some sapling versions of these trees at Lowe's for $249 a piece. Gulp. So thrilled to have them grace our yard every spring. 
In the kiddie pools I have planted some peppers, Grand Marconi, Big Bertha, and Coolapeno. I've grown all of these before and have had good yields. I still need Poblanos, but will have to wait until the weather gets hotter. In the same pool is the half price Gerbera Daisy. 

My friend Patsy has had hers overwinter, and she lives up on a mountain top, so I guess they are hardier than I expected. Great! I'll keep my eyes open for more, greedy little gardener that I am.
In another pool I have four tomatoes in the bags, plus some extras that I will share. German Johnson, Black Krim and two Celebrity.  The extras are all Celebrities. I'd rather get them as 6 packs than bigger plants, and  in a few days they are all the same size anyway. I am using Patsy's shredded newspaper as mulch. 

The my new shade garden plants arrived and I am so happy to have them all. Hostas, heucheras, heucherellas, and hardy geraniums. And one oddball. Jack Frost Brunnera. 

 Here's a special newbie, Wu-la-la a sport of the humoungous Empress Wu which I had take over my last garden. This one is slightly different in the leaf, with a lighter green edge, not all that visible in this picture.

 And finally I am so happy to have Boom Chocolatta Hardy Geranium to add to my collection. The flowers are blue (my fave) and the leaves will darken to almost black. So dramatic.
I've also planted Hyacinth Bean seeds, cucumber and Sugar Peas. In the front garden in the peony bed I planted two Baptisia varieties and a Black and Blue Salvia one of the most vigorous and floriferous members of the sage family. Here's an example: It gets this crazy in one season. Woowoo!