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February 5, 2015, 11:41 am
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Busy gardening!

Most of the food garden is planted. Huzzah!

In the square foot garden have 4 types of corn, 2 types of peas, 2 types of lettuce, 2 types of spinach, 2 types of tomato, 2 types of peppers, watermelons, purple broccoli, pumpkins, nasturtium, marigolds, basil, parsley, celery, radishes, chives, onions, garlic, thyme, pole beans, and chamomile. I have also planted a sunflower in one of the large pots we bought last year as it’s previous resident (a hollyhock)  didn’t survive the winter.  On a sad note, between the cats using the apple tree as a scratching post last winter and the expanding and contracting bark, the grafted parts of the apple tree Chris bought are all dead.  The base tree is still alive, and budding leaves, but he thinks it is likely a crabapple tree.  We plan to dig it up one of these days 😦   However, my border of happy strawberry plants and the red raspberry bush have returned in full-force.  The wild black raspberries are already starting to form flowers.


This photo was taken a few weeks ago. These strawberries have already begun to form little berries. ❤

In the flower department, I am looking for more places to plant irises. I have somewhere around 50 plants living in a shady spot where they don’t bloom as well as the others. There are also several I’d like to take out of my wild-flower bed. Although I’ve sold a few orders of rhizomes at $9.50 for 5, it hasn’t really made a dent in the number of plants I need to relocate. A few days ago, I moved a clump of about 20 flowers out of the shade to around the base of the mailbox. I dumped  some collected rain water over them  and have since left them to fend for themselves.  If they do well without much watering,  I’ll plant another ring of them at the base our address pole.


Some of my irises are preparing to bloom

Also, there is a spot of death in my iris bed where I suspect a low point in the garage roof causes wet, almost boggy soil after rains. The spot of death has already claimed two hyacinth plants, a few tulips,  and a host of irises.  Even my wildflowers seem to dislike the soil extremes. I’ve bought some dutch iris bulbs for that spot as I read that they will tolerate the wetness and apparently will even grow in standing water… we’ll see how they do.  I’ve also sown two milkweed (also bog-tolerant) there to attract monarch butterflies with seeds gathered from my dad’s place last winter.

The landscape zone near the front stairs is growing my three butterfly bushes. They are doing well despite dying back all the way to the ground after the harsh winter. However, something seems to be eating the leaves of front-most bush.. I suspect it may have been a white moth caterpillar as I noticed a fully formed one hanging out in the vicinity earlier this week.  The large barrel contains the afore-mentioned  sunflower and I’ve sown baby’s breath around his feet. Beside the barrel are two happy hollyhock plants, in the future they are all going directly in the ground and the large pots will be for annuals only. In front of the barrel I will be planting my lavender plant once it has hardened off. I’ve also added two gladiolas in-between the hollyhocks  planted yarrow in front of the hollyhocks.  I’ll take photos when more of my plants start to grow.


Here’s my buttery bushes from last year. The potted plant behind them is the bush tomato currently in my greenhouse closet.

The other landscape zone near the garage will have to be expanded as the large pot became more of rain-barrel last year, drowning the hollyhock I attempted to plant there.  We’ll be moving the pot forward and out of the drip-line and as it is a somewhat shady spot, I’ll be planting  pansies, poppies, and nasturtium in it.

Some of my perennial wild flowers are returning, including blanket flowers, plains coreopsis, and wallflowers. I see several places bachelor’s buttons have self-sowed.  I’ve replanted covolvus as well as sweet peas and  I’ll be putting in some scabiosa, candytuft, 3 more gladiolas.  I am also considering replanting parts of the lawn overrun by weeds with chamomile in the sun and spiderwort in the shade. The trick will be waiting for a day without wind!

Project: Pretty up the Place

This year Chris and I have been experimenting with Square Foot Gardening. At first, this idea was, frankly, not on my agenda. However, since caring for a bed built in this fashion as well as three other beds built with more traditional means, I’m a believer.

When I moved here, the only flowers on the place that I was aware of were two clumps of irises which had been untended for an estimated 10 years. A clump of purple irises resided by the machine shed, and were mowed weekly, and a clump of yellow irises were allowed to grow and bloom by the garage. The yellow irises grew at the end of what used to be a flower bed, but had since been mostly overrun by weeds.

I dedicated my first summer here to digging out the weeds there and poking fun at Chris for his bed of nettles and tall grasses. I had learned the hard way (when I attempted to fix the overrun flower beds at my aunt’s house) that one really has to dig a good two feet into the ground to properly remove nettle roots. Given only a spade as a tool, and working alone, it took quite a long time. I only managed to dig up and replant half the space with iris bulbs thinned from the existing clump. Occasionally, Chris dubiously regarded my work and said he hoped it would look nice.


They’re only bendy because it’s really windy here

Lo and behold, come this spring, it did. He was impressed with the thick and attractive foliage from the irises, and apparently was reassured about my gardening skills. Together, we dug up the rest of the bed of nettles and tall grasses and I planted it full of irises. The yellow ones I separated last year bloomed for us. There are three colors in the bed, ( a friend traded me purple and yellow for some pale white-blue blooms) so hopefully they will cross-pollinate next year and give us some new colors. Sadly, some tulips and hydrangea planted in the same bed seem to have not appreciated the sun and wind.

Once I’d finished planting those, I decided to put in a bed of flowers on the side of the house. We dug it up and made it happen, discovering a rose bush in the same location that had presumably been mowed for 10 years. In the bed, I planted some daylilies which I had discovered wilting in the shade under over-grown bushes


Now on an improvement kick, Chris and I examined the front yard where there used to be “scraggly” bushes next to the house. With dreams of a vegetable garden in the location, we started digging…and discovered lots and lots of rocks. We discussed some options, when I suggested raised beds and planting more flowers there instead.

Chris didn’t give up on the vegetable garden idea, and did some research on growing produce in raised beds before settling on Square Foot Gardening. He ordered the book, which followed him everywhere for quite a while. He modified the design slightly to make the space only two feet wide so it could sit against the house. He bought wood, weed mats, and special dirt. Occasionally, I dubiously regarded his work and said I hoped it would look nice.


This is the first half of our square-foot garden space.

Lo and behold, later in the year it did My favorite part is the complete lack of weeds! The worst I deal with is the occasional mushroom. We eagerly tried planting a few things out of season which are looking sorta..crispy, but most of our plants really like the space. I planted some flowers in the space including lavender, marigolds, hollyhocks and scabiosa. I finally read the book. Although Mel Bartholomew is a bit of self-promoter, I cannot fault his method. It takes many of the same principals from growing plants indoors and applies them to outdoor gardening. We now have a plan for our tiny little garden next spring. It will be 48 square feet packed full of more than 21 different kinds of plant.

We have few tweaks to make to the space. We’re looking for containers suitable for composting. Nets for vining plants are being delivered theoretically sometime next week. We also plan to move the hollyhocks to barrels beforethe end of season… which shouldn’t much of a problem with this method. In fact, I’ve already rearranged a few of the plants. Since the addition of three new beds (to cover half the length of the house) I’ve relocated bush 4 bush tomatoes and a “Jack Be Little” pumpkin plant.

In addition to the Square Foot Garden and flower bed we also shored a side walk and put in a strawberry border, and planted a red raspberry bush.  Shortly after planting the red raspberries, we discovered wild black raspberries had colonized a section of land behind the tractor building.  I haven’t even mentioned any of my indoor plants! Project: Pretty up the Place is in effect!


The butterflies love our yard now!