Posts Tagged With: spring

Peas and Potatoes by St. Patrick’s Day…

Last year, we had a series of 80 degree days in March. This year, we’ve had snow, sleet, freezing rain, regular rain, and mud. It’s freaking cold, and it’s also depressingly grey.

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and I did not get the peas or potatoes in. Why? Three reasons:

1. I spent most of the weekend talking about gardening at the Indiana Flower and Patio Show and the Indy Winter Farmers Market.

2. I just took down my rye cover crop last week. Rye can inhibit germination of newly planted seeds, so I’m giving it another week before I plant in beds that had the rye.

3. The soil’s still a bit too cold. For peas and potatoes, the soil temperature should be at least 40 degrees; 45 degrees is better. Mine’s still just a bit colder than that.

What do you mean, how do I know? I stuck a meat thermometer in the dirt. Don’t judge me; I washed it off after.

I’ll get these Irish-y crops in the ground next weekend, provided we don’t have yet another March snowstorm.

In the meantime, enjoy this completely unrelated picture of pansies filling the back of the truck last year:

Picking up pansies at the nursery last spring.

Picking up pansies at the nursery last spring.

Categories: In the garden, The garden year | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Spring Has Sprung

Oh, yeah, spring is here. We've had ridiculously warm weather, a perfect amount of rain, a bumper crop of weeds, and three cats who keep charging the door to get out and roll around in the dirt. Over the last month or so, I've:

–Planted peas, carrots, and radishes in the front vegetable garden.
–Pruned the fruit trees in the front garden (they are looking a bit more like small trees and less like fruit sticks).
–Grubbed roses and other unwanteds out of the bed behind the house, which I am planning to revamp to make it prettier and less labor intensive.
–Buried my old kitchen sink in my soon-to-be herb bed so I can plant in it and hopefully contain the worst of mint's aggressive breaks for freedom.
–Spread corn gluten in all the beds (except the vegetable gardens) and in the lawn (corn gluten meal is an organic corn by-product that acts as a pre-emergent herbicide and a fertilizer, but you can't put it near anyplace you might want to grow plants from seeds).
–Planted raspberry canes and asparagus, both in the back garden.
–Turned the compost.
And sundry other garden tasks I can't recall right now. I still have to do the once-a-year coop clean out, followed by dumping all that lovely poop-laden bedding into the compost piles so it can do my garden some good.
The girls are all doing fine and laying steadily. They are looking a bit raggedy, but I think that's from so much time indoors when the weather was nasty. They're loving the return of weed salad as I chuck my weeding proceeds to them. They're less crazy about the fact the cats like to sniff around the coop, but the cats can't get in, so the birds are learning to roll with it.
On today's agenda: finish some garden plans for clients and then get out to my garden. The daffodils need deadheading, and the front garden could certainly benefit from some edging work. Plus I can enjoy the perfume of the viburnum, which is in full flower next to the front door.
Enjoy your spring!

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Categories: Animals, foreign and domestic, The garden year | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The lusty month of May!

Happy May Day! Traditionally Beltane is a holiday celebrating fertility in all its stripes, which makes perfect sense when you take a look at what's happening in the garden. Plants are unfurling left and right, promiscuous weeds are attempting to take over, and the promise of warmer (and hopefully drier) weather is lurking on the breeze. So here's to "the lusty month of May," and the chance for us all to go blissfully astray!

In my garden, the tulips are in full bloom, including some gorgeous ruffled purple "Backpacker" tulips I bought at bargain basement prices at S&H last year. I also bought some fancy daffodils; they opened later than the others and are still blooming their heads off even as the geraniums are opening. The peonies are budding, the lilacs are starting to open, and the strawberries are blooming. 
I've created the new vegetable bed in the front yard with newspaper and compost. I think I'm probably going to have to weed along the path, though; I can see grass coming up there. All my fruit shrubs are in, and I'm going to fill in the maple tree/aronia/goumi bed with yet more strawberries. The fruit sticks are starting to leaf out, and once I get more mulch I'll circle them to make mowing a bit easier. I'm scouting for recycled brick to make a mowing strip around the big round bed too; it's tough not to fling mulch everywhere when I run the mower. 
I've started a load of tomatoes inside; they'll be ready for transplanting in a few weeks. I've also just started melons and summer squash inside. I've never managed to get a ripe melon by direct sowing, so this year I'm trying to get a head start.
In other news, Ginny's bathroom is finally functional! I have to add one more bit of trim, a threshold where the new tile floor meets the vinyl, and install a shower rod (as soon as I find one short enough), but then it's done. Huzzah! She's been really patient. 
The Chicken Coop Caper begins this weekend, with Dan and Mr. Roy coming out to kick a few tires and maybe get the framing done. Updates as they occur!  

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Categories: The garden year | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Spring Cleaning, Farm-Style

The BF and I spent Sunday doing spring clean-up at his place. It was only fair, since he helped me spruce up my garden, move the grill, turn the compost, etc. So I put on my trusty overalls, my '50s rhinestone shades, and a pair of work gloves to commence cleanup. See photo at left of me on the 4-wheeler. (I couldn't get the tiara to stay on.) 

Real farm clean up is completely different than here at the Fraudulent Farmstead. Here I bag trash, chop up brush for my mini-brush pile, toss weeds into the compost heap, and mow the yard in about 6 minutes flat. There, we began by picking up deadfall from the trees, throwing them into a trailer hooked to the 4-wheeler. We disassembled a rotting firewood pile, also chucking that stuff into the trailer. Then we drove the 4-wheeler to a spot about 2 miles away, where we dumped all that debris into a gully. The theory is that it will all rot down, and in the process, it helps control erosion in the wash. 
The BF's mom got out the most amazing riding lawn mower I've  ever seen to cut the nearly 4-acre lawn. We dug weeds and unproductive brambles out of the bed we're going to plant with raspberries, in part so that the BF could get to some old pipes sticking out of the pole barn. They ran to the hog waterer (hog waterer!) when the pole barn was a hog house. Then the BF used a torch to cut the pipes off. We also used the 4-wheeler to pull down an old fence and haul that wood to the gully.
Let's review, shall we? 4-wheelers, riding lawn mowers, and acetylene torches. Farm clean up is WAY cooler than here in the city.

After a considerable amount of labor, I crashed, leaving the BF to his last job: screwing the tin roof back down to the pole barn in a couple of spots. Fortunately, he didn't fall during this process, as I was not conscious enough to dial 911 had he rolled off the roof.  
Throughly caked in dirt and pollen, we headed inside for showers. (The BF informs me that according to farmer tradition, I should not wash my overalls until they can practically walk by themselves.) We rode the 4-wheeler over to the BF's mom and step-dad's place for steaks on the grill. It was a hugely productive and shockingly fun day. The BF says that if I keep up this way, I might have to drop "fraudulent" from my screen name.
Above, I bond with the BF's cattle dog, Dutch.

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Categories: The garden year | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Ready, Set, Garden!

Spring has officially sprung here at the fraudulent farmstead, even though the weathermen say we're going to have snow this weekend. I say they told us we were going to have blizzards that never happened on three separate occasions, so I'm choosing to believe they don't know what they're talking about.
No doubt about it, spring is here. The grass is greeening up nicely, and the first tulip of the season has arrived. I planted loads of cheap bulbs from Lowes last year. Every fall I think I don't need to plant so many, but every spring I'm glad I did. Especially since the tulips peter out after a year or two.
But not the daffodils! These clumps get larger every year. Plus, they're toxic, so the squirrels don't eat them. The squirrel mafia in my neighborhood love tulip and crocus bulbs almost as much as they love cat food. 

Another sign of spring: Lou's cat house has moved to the back garden. When the weather warms up, the cat house starts to smell, shall we say, a little ripe. Don't feel too bad for Lou, though. The BF helped me move all the outside furniture out of the garage, so Lou can now lounge on the cushioned wicker furniture on the front porch.
Last Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. The BF and I worked for several hours.  When he asked me where the grill was supposed to go, I said, " Well, it usually goes right where that composter is." In order to place the grill, we had to find a new home for the Biostack. 
We broke down my old heap, including the pallets, which are now in the garage waiting for inspiration to strike. The heap was half-full, which I was thrilled about. The BF figured I had more compost than I knew what to do with, which any gardener will tell you is impossible.
 We spread that compost all over the back garden beds, then raked the huge leaf mould pile out to cover the shade bed. And then we moved the Biostack to where the old heap had been, a task that involved loading the garden cart and two trash cans full of compost-in-progress, disassembling the bin, reassembling the bin in the new spot, and forking all the compost-in-progress back in.
Then the BF did something brilliant with some old brick that ensured the grill did not sink directly into the soil when we moved it into its spot. We topped off the day with kebabs on the grill (the BF does a mean marinade) and dining amid the fruits (and flowers) of our labors. It was a damn near perfect day. Above, Miss Kitty checks the placement of the grill.
It was supposed to storm this afternoon, but instead we had a beautiful, breezy day with passing clouds. After a morning spent beating my income tax forms into submission, I rewarded myself with an hour in the garden. I saw the first bee of the season. He was sleeping in the hyacinth at left.
I transplanted the strawberry plants out of one of the raised beds into a border. I'm going to try my hand at some potatoes in that bed. I bought seed potatoes and onion sets at the Rural King in Monticello, which might just edge out Lowes as my new favorite store. I also got a fantastic pair of Carhartt overalls, which I love with an unreasoning passion. And yes, they are the boys' version.
In other news from the potager, the tomato seedlings have their first set of leaves, although not their true leaves yet. The peppers and eggplant are slower to break through, but I'm checking every day.
The hostas in hosta alley are just starting to crown. I'll be moving some of them to the shade border to make room for my enormous potting bench. You can see at left the watering cans, trash cans, and hoses that already reside there, as well as Miss Kitty checking things out.

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Categories: In the garden, The garden year | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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