Sunday, March 29, 2015

If it's Spring, it Must be Project Season

Even tho cold still has us in its firm grip, it truly is spring now and we are promised warmer weather next week.  It should be in the upper 60's already, but we are promised lower 60's for the next 10 days.  That's a start.  Inevitably, then, it's time for the project list for spring. 

With my "sneaking away from work" time curtailed because I am already training my replacement, I will have less time to work in the garden until June.  But I still have one large project planned and two smaller ones.   First the smaller ones:

Clean up the bed of hellebores:  We have just let the hellebores spread unimpeded for the past 15 years.  There are hundreds of volunteers each year.  So far I don't have any weird colors from the cross pollination, so i am very happy with the situation.  Originally i had heuchera and tiarella in this bed, as well as the monkey grass, but the former have disappeared.  This year, I plan to dig out all of the money grass and clear the way for the hellebores to take over the whole bed.  Not so much a project, as a recognition of "che sera, sera".

Improve the cutting bed:  I've never really had the time that I should spend on the cutting garden, and it may be June before I really get to this, but I want to expand and improve this bed.  I'm going to make it a little wider and put some pavers down so I can step across it more easily.  Soon i will have a source of stones to put around the entire bed as an edging - to better define the bed and to keep some of the grass out.

And, the big project:  I'm going to pull out the pond - also known as "the local heron's feeding grounds"; move the sitting area to the future former pond area; and put in a raised tomato bed where the glider is now. Whew!  This will take several weekends.

First, I need to drain the pond, but it has been way too cold and wet to do it yet.  Normally, I would have done it this weekend, but with soggy ground, I don't dare pump 75 gallons of water into the garden.  If it stays dry all week I can do it next weekend.  The water is full of "fish nutrients"  [wink, wink!] so even if i had another way to dispose of the water, i would want to use it to water and feed the perennials.  
With the glider here and facing east (right) one can look down the length of the main bed.  From May to fall it's full of flowers, birds, butterflies and bees.  It will be a great place for a glass of wine now and then.

Then, obviously, i will need to fill in the hole.  I have most of the clay that came out of it still in a mound behind the compost piles, and will use some of that in the bottom of the hole, but at least the top 12 - 15 inches will be the good "webb dirt" that I have made over the last couple of years.  That creates an additional sub-project ... getting rid of the ground hog.  

As far as I know, he [or she] is still ensconced under the good dirt that is left in the compost.  Am calling the county agent on Monday to see if s/he has any suggestions.  At this point, i am thinking of running water down the hole and making him move ... or swim.  Am a little concerned about this approach.  Anyone got a suggestion, or even better, actual knowledge about how to encourage a ground hog to move on?

Assuming I can free up that dirt, i'll fill the hole and then move the pavers from the right side of the walkway over to the the left side and make a new sitting area.  There is actually more natural shade on the left (now that the crabapple tree is gone) so it will be a more comfortable place and more likely to be used.  Then I'll put a 4 x 4 raised bed in for additional tomatoes this year.  Already have the corner braces, so only need to make quick run to the lumber store and many bags of compost to do the bed.  Hope to have it done by the first of May.

I plan to put a new fence along the shed and have ordered some lavender that is supposed to do well in our humid summer climate to plant along the fence along with some daylilies that I can move from over-grown clumps.  I think it will look pretty by next year. 

All those stones that are currently around the pond will someday be around the cutting garden.  As i recall it's more than 1,000 pounds of rock, so will take me several days - and many, many trips in the garden cart, to move!

So, what projects do you have planned for this spring and summer?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

At Last!

No need to tell you it's been a weird winter and spring seems reluctant to appear - you've had your own issues wherever you are.  It just is what it is this year ... just like last year and the one before.

Today, I finally took trowel in hand and actually planted something!  The ground is just the right temperature for the leafy greens and early herbs - specifically Romaine lettuce, flat-leaf parsley and basil.  And, they seem to thrive in this raised bed.

There is also this lovely little trio of arugula plants that wintered over.  I was able to pick leaves even in the snow, and after a little clean up of old and dry looking stems, they are ready to keep on going.  I suspect they will not survive our hot and humid summer, but is a certainty that I will plant more this summer.

And, of course, no veggie (or herb) garden would be complete without its own little anti-rabbit fence.

Otherwise, a few things are already up and perky.  This is the bed I renovated last fall - removing years' worth of creeping euonymus and ivy.  I planted Creeping Jenny  ( Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea') and Tete a Tete daffodils, and the plan seems to be working.

The daffs are in full bloom and the Jenny is coming up.  This area will take irrigation, since the elm tree sucks up all the moisture, but I have found a system that I think will work and is not too expensive, so will be ordering it in the next week or two.

[Have you noticed that DIY irrigation has become much more available, with many more choices, and at reasonable prices?  While I would love to just call someone in to do the entire yard, it now seems like a silly waste of money give all the alternatives.]

This front bed is full of little bulbs - mostly crocus and the Tete a Tete daffodils right now, but I just planted snow drops last weekend - three varieties - and have been putting all my hyacinths out there after I've finished with them inside.  Several came up early this year and, except for some cold damage to their scapes, they have done well.  I have several more to plant this weekend.

The blueberry bush is simply covered with buds!  Like 100 times more than ever before.  I've had trouble with the birds getting all the berries in past year, but have a plan for a much larger netting cover this year, so maybe ...

This morning I just happened to pass a Big Orange Box Store and a few small perennials fell into my basket.  It's supposed to be cold tomorrow, but Saturday looks good for digging a few more holes. 
Although I am finally in the mood to blog, I am finding that my job is interfering this spring.  Am already training my replacement, so it's more difficult to pop outside to check on progress in the garden and to take photos.  And, most of the real digging will have to take place on weekends and be more weather-dependent. 

A small price to pay for the retirement date that is looming not-very-far over the horizon!  Am sure you will forgive me. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Counting Down ... Finally!

Thirteen weeks from today.  Ninety-one days from tomorrow.  

In three months I am retiring!  

When I set the date - nearly two years ago - i bemoaned the fact that I still had so long to wait, but a very wise woman [a blogger friend in Arizona] told me that "anyone can do 24 months".  And, she was right.  I did move the date up by three months, but even counting that, the time has flown.

Am I excited?  absolutely?

Am I nervous?  Not at all.

Am I worried about what to do?  Never.  I have plans, plans, plans.

Obviously, the garden is high on my list of priorities and i have three projects slated for the outside. 

We'll be turning the current office into a library/music room, so that's a big indoor project.  I hope to take some classes at the community college.  

And, i have a lead on a community group that is working on voter registration.  Virginia is one of those states that has recently enacted legislation that requires more complicated voter ID, so i would like to help people complete the necessary paperwork.

That should be a start ... don't you think?
Two more days and this awful February will be gone.  Two more weeks and we should start seeing signs of spring.  It's time to get back outside, and to start blogging again.  Be seeing you soon!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

This morning I awoke to this:

and this: 

and this.

It all started Presidents' Day with snow, followed on Friday by the coldest temperatures I've ever seen.  

Then snow and more snow.  Some of it dry and fluffy and some of it wet, but still fluffy.  All of it cold!

At lunch time I heard the crunch of someone shoveling snow ....

... in my driveway.  Our across-the-street neighbors (who are enjoying a snow day) were shoveling our driveway!  I guess that officially makes us the "old people down the street", but i have to admit that i really appreciate it. 

I see muffins in my immediate future - muffins to take to those big, strong shovelin' men.

Even the garden benches are not available today.

They sit cold and forlorn waiting for spring.  Soon, i hope, soon.  Hope conditions are improving wherever you are!