Sunday, April 5, 2009

Um, About the Rain

Sheesh. I really got what I asked for. A pretty much whole week of blinding, stay in the house rain. Right now, I'm chilling out in the library waiting for the first of the severe storms expected today to arrive. More rain. Ahem. The rain in question will usher in a blast of frigid air--we're expecting cooler temps all next week, with two nights dropping to or below freezing. Argh.

With the coming cold (and rain), I elected yesterday not to set any of my winter sown babies out. The cukes and squashes are getting pissy in their containers, though, so I may try to get some slightly larger pots (or make some out of newspaper) to transplant them into next week. I've just realized that there's supposed to be an intermediate step between the place you first sow your seeds and the place they'll stay. Oh. Huh. It makes sense, I suppose. I have plenty of used newspapers after the weekend, so I think I'll roll some pots tonight after the kiddies are in bed while Will is watching the Braves. There are a few different ways to do it, so I'll hopefully have a veritable armada of pots come Monday. (BTW, omalawsy at the last link, I have found another urban gardener and she rocks my socks off. I think I'll be spending all of today poring over her site and pretty being lazy as she talks about all the work she does.)

I don't feel all too upset about the laziness today, as I worked a good bit outside yesterday. Having abandoned my setting out plans, I elected instead to do some transplanting of various plants around the yard and beds. First up were the lavenders I've been growing for about a year in the transplant bed. I dug them all up and used them to line the walkway of the cottage garden. Darryl from Olive Forge told me last year that he thought they might be Spanish, and a quick Google proved this to be so. Spanish lavenders aren't typically as fragrant as French lavenders, but these particular lovelies have a wonderful, honey-tinged scent as they leaf and bud out in the spring. The two (rather straggly) plants that I had in the front flower garden greeted me every day with that scent and it made me smile, so I decided to haul them all out front. I was able to get eight plants from the original four or five. I hope they'll grow into a nice little hedge for me. Research shows that they just might, providing the very moist soil in the bed allows them to. (Research also shows me that the name comes from the Latin word "to wash," which makes me long for a bathtub deep enough to steep myself with a few sprigs of lavender...sigh...) Hopefully, removing a few of the bordering blocks to allow a path through the bed will help with drainage. I'll be trimming them back hard after the rain to give them a break from making flowers and to encourage root growth.

I've decided to turn the front bed from herbs (with the exception of the lavender) to straight flowers. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that I have yet to find an organic solution to blackspot and the Joseph's Coat is prone to it and I need to go ahead and treat the bed. I want anything I use in my cooking or home solutions to be organically grown, so I need to move the herbs back to the main garden. After the lavender, I took out a sweet grass I got last year from Olive Forge and a tiny itty bitty jewel weed that self-seeded (oh, I hope I find some more later in the season.) I rearranged the stokesia into an orderly cluster (stumbling upon a truly gigantic dark brown spider scurrying around with her egg sac tucked under her...yay, Mama!--also, *shudder*) and moved an aster from the path's edge.

Then back to the back to put in two rabbit-eye blueberry bushes. They're covered already with blooms and berries, so I have much hope for at least a handful of berries for a snack come early summer. (The raspberries also have a few buds on them, which makes me SMILE as we edge closer to the kind of self-sufficiency I crave. I'm hoping to get a couple more blueberry bushes, some blackberry brambles and maybe some self-pollinating kiwis next week--unless the nurseries say it's too late to plant. FRUIT! Woohoo!) Anyway, I put them in the transplant bed after removing the last small lavender and mulched them with the grass clippings Will swept out of the yard.

What few clippings were left were added to the Phase One composter (the aluminum trash can). I'm trying to be very good about chopping everything into smaller bits, because I've realized that has been the primary problem in my composting history. I also am more careful to layer dry and wet stuff. I checked on the contents of the Phase Two composter (actual tumbler-style bin that Will got me for my birthday) and was THRILLED to realize that (drummmmmrooolllll) I'm getting some compost!! I finally did it right and I'm so excited because that means that if all goes well, I'll be able to use it when I put my transplanted seeds in.

I was reading over some of my blogs from last year and taking into account the things I've learned. The biggest success so far this year is the sweet peas. The vines are so healthy and tall (worried about them come Tuesday and Wednesday night), I know I did the right thing by planting them so early. Next year, I'll do the same for the Swiss chard. The winter sowing/heat fiasco this year and the lack of seedlings last year taught me that they need to go in the ground at the same time as I do my lettuce and peas. Live and garden and learn!

Plans for the upcoming week (despite the fact that it's supposed to be really chilly):

  1. Figure out what to do with all this chocolate mint. (It's the darker green stuff bordering the beds.)I don't mind having a bunch of it around (it's my favorite mint to use in charms and cooking) and in fact was afraid I had killed it dead, but this is ridiculous!! I might try to encourage it to grow around the little flower bed/not very much used spot under the bigger crepe myrtle. We're thinking about putting a little zen fountain out there, so it might work nicely.
  2. Decide on the zen fountain. :)
  3. Finish trellising the Joseph's Coat.
  4. Fix the front bed gate.
  5. Repot the seedlings.
  6. Start working on the sidewalk bed--the foundation will be transplanted rosemaries. I'll fill in with a few trellises of mini-pumpkins and some inexpensive annuals for right now.
Off to do laundry and attempt some homemade graham crackers from the recipe over at Baking Bites.

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