Sunday, July 1, 2012
Finish the stone path on the west side of the garden. I placed the stones a few weeks ago (and blew out my elbow in the process) but, I'm 4 flagstones short. So, I need to make a trip to the stone dealer and then do some re-arranging. I'm pretty certain I can get this project done this week -- since it will also help me accomplish my goal of grass elimination by July 4th!
Build the two-bin Composter. Yes. This has been on the project list for a few years now. I'm STILL using the temporary bins I threw together at the end of the gardening season in 2010. My tenant reminds me on a regular basis how unattractive the temporary bins are, so I'm pretty motivated to get this project accomplished.
Plant the annuals. Why do I always wait to mid-season to do this?! Oh yeah. There are other things to do, too! I picked out pink impatiens for the shady area and pale blue petunias for the sunny areas. I've decided I'm not planting the planters this year because I forgot to water them last year and they got crispy in short order.
Move Stuff Around. For me, this is akin to doing the laundry. You're never really "done." My azaleas aren't doing well where they are, and if I move them, there will be room for the big Ligs, which are currently in pots. The front corner is getting crowded, so I need to move the Siberian Iris. And, after the brick goes in, there'll be more room for hosta up front. (I also have to dig out the tulips in that bed.)
Since the weather forecast is for hot and steamy all week, I'll have to work in the morning and/or follow the shade. Guess I better start a pitcher of iced tea, too!
Saturday, June 30, 2012
|Old photo of Hawk in the birdbath|
But, it's not all sunshine and roses here at the Urban Farm, because ... as predicted... the Japanese Beetles are back. I hate those things. My neighbor bought a pair of leather gloves and has taken to squishing the JBs that are attacking her raspberries. I'm too squeamish for that and still plunge the dastardly devils to a soapy death.
This week brings my now traditional "Stay-cation in the Garden" week, and the list of projects is long! I'll post the list tomorrow and keep you updated on my progress.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Four years ago, I re-did the courtyard garden at his home. He lives in Chicago and I make regular trips to do his flower beds. (Like the Riverman, my dad will do veggies, but not flowers!) The courtyard had been taken over by yucca. They loved the sun and warmth they were getting in his courtyard and had spread far beyond their original plan. He wanted fewer of them and I wanted to give them a whirl in my gardens. Neither of us was sure they'd survive in Minneapolis, but I took six plants and stuck them in different locations in my gardens.
The Reader's Digest Condensed Version of the story is that the tiniest two of the six survived. And, just this year, they each got a flower stalk. And, just today -- on Father's Day -- they bloomed.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
It rained buckets this morning, but people came to buy plants anyhow. Our first customer/gardener was there even before the official start of the sale at 8 am! We had many things potted, but people yesterday wanted varieties we hadn't potted, so we dug -- in the rain. And, by 8:30, three of us were covered in mud. Somehow, Betsy remained mud free all day. We're not sure how she managed it. The sun came out around lunchtime, so we were caked in mud instead of slimed in it.
The farm where the Sisters grew up and have their gardens is being sold, so this is the last year for the gardens and for the sales. We don't know whether an agreement will be made this year or not, but the uncertainty -- and the amount of plants still in the gardens -- made us decide that this would be our last year. It's great to talk with gardeners who have some connection to the farm and watch their faces as they get plants from the gardens. It means something to them and we know the plants will be well cared for. I'm moving things around in my own gardens to make room for a few more Shady plants, too.
We have one sale left this year -- in mid-August. It's going to be bittersweet. (And, I hope it doesn't rain!)
Thursday, June 14, 2012
The other day, the Riverman and I were looking at the wedding registry for the daughter of some friends and I saw something that was on my garden list. "I've wanted one of those for a really long time," I confessed almost covetously. His incredulous response was, "Why?!" I gave him my reasons and we chose the gift for the couple (not the item I lusted after).
Yesterday after work, the "chore" was thinning the carrots. The Riverman arrived and did a tour through the garden before getting to the task of planticide. He kicked the hose, which was lying near the stone path, and said in an uncharacteristically grumpy way, "This thing is always in the way." I attributed the grump to a cold that's been hanging on for a couple of weeks and told him the solution was on the list and that if the plant sale went well over the weekend, I'd pick one up next week. He kicked the hose again and shook his head. Then, he said he forgot the elbow wrap for my tendonitis in the back seat of the car and would I mind getting it while he finished checking the crops. I walked to his car hoping the cold would subside soon. I wasn't sure I liked the grumpy Riverman.
But, my consternation disappeared when I got to the car and saw in the back seat not the elbow wrap but the hose reel box from my garden list! I think I actually did the happy Snoopy dance. It might sound silly, but we are neither great shoppers nor gift exchangers -- the Riverman and I -- so I was touched that he shopped AND chose something so meaningful to me -- something I'd been denying myself because I could "make due."
Have you waited a long time to get something for your garden? Post a comment and tell me about it.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
|Magnifica (pink) and Sir Thomas Lipton (white)|
Then, to make room for the new raised bed for the Urban Farm project, I needed to move one of my old Magnifica shrub roses. The young couple who bought the home across from me is starting with a clean palate, and I offered it to them. They accepted. So, the Riverman and I dug out the old rose and planted it in its new location. (We had to use a burlap sling to get it from the ground to the wheelbarrow!) We were afraid it wasn't going to make it, but it looks like it'll come back now.
Do you have a favorite plant? Have you had to move something cherished to make room for something new? Post a comment and let me know.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
My friend, Sally, has a rule that if you hear something (or it comes up) three times in a certain period of time -- a day or a week -- for example, you need to pay attention to it -- and maybe take a lesson from it. I follow this rule, too. And, the thing that popped up three times this past weekend was the word "lush." It was the word people used to describe the gardens. Because I live on a corner, lots of people walk by and lots of people comment on the gardens. But, it's rare that I hear the same word or phrase more than once in a weekend. "Great," "Pretty," "Coming along," "Gift," are the most common. But over the weekend, the overwhelming comment was, "It's so lush."
It surprised me because it's not a word I'd use to describe the gardens. I still think of them as a work in progress. And, I know I tend to see the weeds and holes and room for improvement more than I see the things that are working. I got out my thesaurus and double-checked the synonyms -- verdant, luxurious, abundant, flourishing. I looked at the gardens again and thought that they were, indeed, lush.
I'm still trying to figure out what I'm supposed to take away from this phrase. Is it that I need to look with fresh eyes at things? Am I to slow down and experience not only the gardens but life in all its abundance? Is it something else?
Do you also pay attention to "the rule of three?" If so, post a comment and let me know!
Monday, June 11, 2012
I bumped into a fellow gardener at the local garden center early yesterday morning. He was buying insecticidal soap because of unidentified worms on his heirloom tomatoes. I said something had eaten a few holes in my Brussels Sprouts, but couldn't find any sign of the pest -- even after having carefully examined every leaf of every plant! He said they're sneaky that way.
And, it seems like you can't go anywhere lately without hearing about bunnies--and not in a good way. They are decimating gardens everywhere--except here at Auntie K's. Neighbor Nancy lost everything except two pepper plants. It's odd that all the gardeners who have bunny damage also have dogs or cats. "They're useless," one friend lamented. I shrugged and said that now that Monty's gone, all I have is the neighborhood hawk to keep the bunny population under control. She said, "well we have coyotes and we STILL have bunny damage!" I laughed as I conceded that her coyote trumped my hawk.
What are the garden pests you're dealing with this year? Post a comment and let me know!
Sunday, June 10, 2012
I'm astounded at how full the raised bed looks and how lush everything seems! We've got weensy peppers and tomatoes and the peas are just starting to blossom. The onions are doing really well in their special box. We've eaten a handful of strawberries already (now that I added extra squirrel protection) and there are more to come. The raspberries will be ripe any day now, and we're seeing color on a few blueberries.
I think a few things have suffered from a little too much lovin' in the watering department. Two pepper plants lost blossoms and the cukes and squash ended up with a few yellowing leaves. We've held off on the watering for the last couple of days and they look like they're starting to recover. Whew.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
In an earlier post this year, I mentioned the variety and number of birds we saw -- just sitting on the deck above the Mississippi River. I didn't mention that we saw a couple of hummingbirds -- which are among my favorites.
The Riverman asked if there was something you could do to make the hummingbirds visit. I said there were a number of plants that are attractive to hummingbirds and that we have many of those plants in the garden. Then, I mentioned that there are special feeders for hummingbirds. His eyes lit up and asked if we had one. I said we didn't but could get one. We put it on the west side of the house -- just outside the sunroom -- so we can see it while having coffee. And, to my surprise and delight, two days after I hung it, we had hummingbirds! I haven't seen them for a few days. I don't know if it's because they've moved on or if they're coming at times when I'm not around. I know they'll be back when the Monarda blooms, so I may just need to be patient.
p.s. It looks like I'm having trouble with the scheduler for my posts! I'll try to be more diligent about checking that they're actually live rather than trusting the scheduler.
Friday, June 8, 2012
The first regular visitor this year has been a baby bunny. I was worried that the bunny would get the blueberries or some of the strawberries, but when I've seen him, he's been munching on Elmer's fallen leaves or on dandelions. Go bunny! (Yesterday, I saw a bigger bunny and thought "the crops" might be in danger, but so far, so good.)
The oddest -- and most enjoyable -- visitors to the gardens this year has been the trio of mallards! Two males and a female have been hanging out in the neighborhood -- wandering from yard to yard. Many mornings, I find them under a tall hosta or the big arborvitae. They watched us plant "the crops," and although they quack if we get close, they must sense we're not a danger to them, because they just waddle a few feet and nestle in again!
Do you have usual or unusual visitors in your garden? Post a comment and tell me about them!
Thursday, June 7, 2012
And, the plant of the hour is the lily -- both lilium and hemerocalis! Maybe they bloomed together in past years and I just don't remember. The only lilies left to bloom are the Monte Negro in the front boulevard garden. The Martagons finally bloomed this week. (A friend's bloomed weeks ago.)
And, my beautiful pink lily bloomed this week, too. (The year I got it, it was 4 feet tall. The bunnies got it the following year and the squirrels nipped it off last year.) But this year, the creatures left it alone and it bloomed. It's shorter than it was the first year, but I'm grateful that it bloomed -- at any height!
The Stellas are popping out -- adding a burst of color to the corner garden. As we walked through the gardens this morning, the Riverman asked about the pretty yellow flowers and I told him their name. He was very excited that a flower had the same name as his mom. He looked at them again and said, "I think she would have liked these."
How is your garden growing this year? Flower by flower, or color by color?
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
And, because of this oddball combination, many of the plants in Auntie K's Garden didn't make it. The azaleas, which struggled from the very beginning, are toast. (Actually, I see a few green leaves, but I'm not sure about their overall health.) One of the veronicas didn't make it, either. But, the plant that suffered the most was the lavender. Of the five plants on the sunny south hill, two of them survived. The other three are crispy critters. They just didn't survive the lack of snow and the frequent freeze/thaw cycles we had.
I'm so sad about this loss because I love walking by the lavender and feeling it and smelling it. I'm starting over in those three spots with tiny plants, but it looks a little uneven now. And, you can bet your bottom dollar that regardless of what "they" say the winter will be like, I'm going to cover the lavender with a winter blanket of straw.
Did your garden suffer any losses this past winter? Or was I the only gardener caught off guard?
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Tonight, I made some progress toward my goal. I used some of the old flag stones from the kitchen walk to make a path/walk from the west hill to the front door. I had avoided this project because my original plan was to take out the grass and level everything and put down sand, etc. and that seemed daunting. But, after I made the "walk" the other day by the raised bed, I decided to do the same thing in the front yard. I just put the stones on top of the grass and tucked some heavy paper underneath as a weed block before covering it with mulch. Voila. Instant path!
Well, sort of instant. It was heavy work hauling the stones from the back yard where they've been stacked for the last couple years. But, it wasn't as difficult laying it out as I anticipated. I've got some stones left, which is a good thing, because I want to have a similar path on the west side of the house going to the hosta hill.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Neighbor Nancy came by early to see the new “path” I put in next to the raised bed. She admired the irises that were blooming nearby. I thanked her and said I had some short ones I needed to either move or get rid of because they weren’t happy in their current location. She perked up at the word “short” and said she was looking for one more short thing to add to her boulevard garden. “Sold,” I said. “I’ll dig them out for you later on.”
Nancy hadn’t met the couple who moved in across the street from me, and they were out in their yard, so I walked over with her to make the introduction. On the way, I mentioned that I also wanted to get rid of some Spring-blooming anemones that had begun to take over one of my shade gardens. She said another neighbor was looking for some and I should call her. I made a mental note to do that later.
As we arrived at the new couple’s house, the woman dumped a load of old bricks into a collapsible dumpster. After I’d made the introductions, I told the woman I was looking for some bricks for a project in my yard and asked if I could rescue the old bricks from the dumpster. “Of course!” she said enthusiastically. “If I’d known you were looking, I would have brought them over!” I brought my wheelbarrow and garden fork and hauled home 3 wheelbarrows of bricks!
And, as I was dumping the last load of bricks, Teresa, the anemone-seeking neighbor walked by on her way home from an errand. I pointed out where she could dig and told her to take what she wanted. She was thrilled to get them! And, to my surprise and delight, she said she had too many strawberries and would be happy to dig some for me.
It was definitely a day of “one gardener’s trash is another’s treasure,” or “one gardener’s weed/cast off is another’s sought after gem.” Mia’s trash-bound bricks became my garden treasure. My unhappy mini irises were Nancy’s glad addition. And, Teresa and I traded things we each had “too much” of. I love days like that!
Do you have a story about a great garden trade? If so, post a comment and let me know!
Sunday, June 3, 2012
In the veggie bed, I noticed another tomato and a few more peppers but no new ripe strawberries. (I did get to eat one yesterday!) And, in the flower beds, the yellows are coming out now that the blues and pinks are fading--coreopsis, primroses, and stellas. The martagon is *just* getting ready to bloom. (A friend to whom I gave a clump a few years ago said hers started blooming on Thursday, so I've been on the lookout for them.)
Have you had plants come up in unexpected places? If so, have you left them or returned them to their "proper" location? Post a comment and let me know!
Saturday, June 2, 2012
You can see where this is going, can't you?! Yep. I got home and found the berry expertly snipped off and the hull in the bed. The berry was gone -- completely. Something had gotten it through the netting! There are two more berries nearly ripe. I hope by the time I get home this afternoon I will be able to taste one!
Friday, June 1, 2012
|They are lonely but otherwise fine|
Sunday brought deluge part deux – which we watched from the sunroom. “The crops” survived the strong winds and the 1.25 inches of rain. Whew! The forecast shows some fairly dry days, so I’ll be watering again today.
I was struck by the role water played in our vacation. We canoed in it, saw birds over it, heard the frogs in it, and were dazzled by fireflies near it. Sunday, when it was so steamy, we drank lots of it! But, we also heard the sump pump going off pretty frequently and worried about “the crops” getting drowned from it.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
Because of the slope from the cabin to the river, the deck feels like it’s actually IN the tree tops. I had the distinct feeling of being in a tree house! It was so restful. And, the bird watching (and bird listening) was fantastic. We counted several birds from the deck and several more from the canoe when we were able to get out on Friday morning.
The most amazing bird encounter was when a mature Bald Eagle swooped directly over our canoe. It was so close I actually ducked! From the tree house, we saw a Wren, who was busy building a nest near the deck; a Blue Jay, who chased a squirrel in a nearby tree; several Woodpeckers; several Orioles; some Red Winged Blackbirds; and a yellow Finch. And, on a hike we did Thursday afternoon, we saw several Bluebirds!
I did have my camera, but wasn’t quick enough to capture digital images of these winged creatures so I will need to be content with the vivid images in my memory.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I continued thinning later in the week – but, knowing how sad it made him to discard the little seedlings, I tucked the thinned plants in among the Brussels sprouts and beets and watered them in. The next morning, they looked great. "Hooray," I thought. "More radishes for salads and veggie juice."
|Peppers with redistributed radishes|
When we looked at the beans last night, he asked if they needed to be thinned, too. I told him they did. Hmmmm. I wonder if he’s scoping out places to tuck in the thinned out beans.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
|Riverman Plants the Raised Bed|
In Early May, we went to the local garden center and picked out some seeds and seedlings. The following week, I cleared some space for the new raised bed (8 x 4) and on Mother's Day weekend, we built and filled and planted the bed.
|Squash and Cukes|
Monday, May 28, 2012
But, it wasn't all losses. 2011 brought new love, which is exciting and life giving and wonderful. We share a love of the outdoors and we spent much of the summer hiking, biking, or canoeing. (He's known as "the Riverman," but I think this year, he might be better known as "the Farmer.")
With so much change, I was pretty emotionally spent and didn't feel I had it in me to blog daily -- or even less frequently. And, so, Auntie K's Garden lay fallow.
I'm back at Auntie K's Garden, and perhaps you will be, too. Or, maybe you've just found us! Earlier this year, the Riverman and I decided to do some urban farming at Auntie K's garden. So, in addition to the posts about the flowers and bugs and weather, I'll keep you up to date on the Urban Farm.