Today was a wonderful day to take off and work in the yard. I’ve been telling myself for SO LONG that I will do something about the miserable, sad, overgrown, messy area around my mailbox. Today I made it happen. I picked up all the half-buried brick edgers, scraped away all the pieces of tarp, magnolia leaves, and junk, and put a new system of faux rocks in a ring around the mailbox. Next up: buying some nice new numbers for the mailbox, then in April transplanting part of the lantana in the backyard to grow in the circle. And maybe, just maybe, doing something to allow a morning glory to grow up and down the mailbox pole. We’ll see. One step at a time!
Moving to next project
By the time I got the mailbox done (and toting and hauling all those heavy bricks) I was pooped. And I had accumulated almost 10,000 steps by 10 a.m.! But I did have enough energy left to overhaul the bare hanging flower basket on the fence leading to the backyard.
My daffodils are already blooming! It’s time to plan out the rest of the garden for my backyard. And heck, I need to get some things re-planted in the front. First up: about 15 new bales of pine straw so I can properly edge all the beds in the front yard. And in April I’m digging up those poor dead hydrangeas in the front bed – victims of a zealous over pruning when I didn’t know any better – and replant some beautiful Encore azaleas.
The below plan is NOT to scale – but it gives you the general idea of what I have to work with in my backyard. I’m thinking of an entire bed of green beans (I have four raised beds) because I want to try canning at the end of the season. And I’m still working out where to put all the seeds I’ve bought and will be starting under the grow lamps very soon. In the flower bed at the right – there will be marigolds galore. Oh – I forgot to note the daylilies – they’re on the right just above the Iris.
It’s still only February 9, but for the past week these hardy yellow daffodils have been blooming. Today they looked especially nice. Here they are pushing up through the still unkempt raised bed.
Every time I see daffodils I think of William Wordsworth.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
Note to my new followers: If you’ve followed for Keto posts recently, don’t worry, more are on the way! But my blog also focuses on the books I’m reading, what I’m writing (coming soon!), and my rough attempts at gardening. Today is a gardening post; so if you’re here for the Keto, just check out the Keto category linked under Cooking on top menu.
Excited to think about spring planting
My first set of seeds is here! This year I’ll be starting several veggies from seed in the biodome under the grow lamp. This year I’m trying tomatoes from seeds. I’ll probably end up buying some tomato plants to put in as well – I’m not too confident in my capabilities of starting seeds. But hope springs eternal: I’m also trying basil and jalapenos from seeds, both of which I grew from small plants last year. This Thursday, if the USPS is correct, my flower seeds will be here: marigold, zinnias, black-eyed Susan vines and morning glory. My new vegetable picks for the 2023 season are cucumbers and bush beans. I can’t wait to watch those climb trellises or poles.
…leafing through the Parks catalog, looking for more garden tools to buy is one of the best parts about being a gardener in the winter.
Which reminds me – I need to buy a new trellis. Scrolling through the garden website or leafing through the Parks catalog, looking for garden tools to buy is one of the best parts about being a gardener in the winter. I’m sipping hot chocolate, watching drenched squirrels dashing around the backyard as the wintry rain splashes the den windows, wrapped in my Snuggie and toasty warm. Catalogs lay on my lap and the website is pulled up on my iPhone. My dog is lying on the rug in front of me, content to snooze. It’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon or evening. I’m mentally planning the rows of plants I’ll put in my current raised beds, and trying to decide if I should add one, two or three more.
It’s now time to weed, pray for lots of rain, and watch the garden grow. This morning while I was outside taking advantage of the cool morning air I thought of how Laura Ingalls Wilder described her husband growing up on the farm in New York State: a plucky little soldier in the battle of growing crops.
That feeling caused me to rush to get everything in the ground this year. Sadly, I wasted my herb seeds by sowing them directly into my pots. I didn’t start them indoors. No oregano, basil, chives, or parsley have poked their stems above the pricey garden soil I spooned into those five-gallon plant bags. I’m making a trip to the Home Depot in a few minutes to pick up little herb plants (if I can find them.) For goodness’ sake – it’s still May – surely there are a few left. There are so many lessons learned in my first attempt at serious gardening.
My neat bed with the jalapenos attracted an unwanted visitor this past week. Thursday during watering I made my way over to the bed with its pepper stakes and netting, strung to keep my dog from nosing about the freshly sown seeds. A four-foot-long BROWN SNAKE had trapped itself in the netting. I shrieked and jumped back. I wasn’t going anywhere near that varmint, so I certainly wasn’t going to pick it up. I called a nice young man to come dispose of it. It was HUGE.
Look again at the image at the top of the post: I re-purposed the pepper stakes to support the exploding potato plants.
I keep buying more large containers to avoid having to chop up the sod in my backyard.
Container gardening gone mad
It was past time to plant the sweet potato slips I received from my new favorite binge-buying company, Park Seed Co. (Thow some sponsorship $$$ this way!) I still have a few more to plant – I am exhausted with planting. I’ve got so many lessons learned: prep the soil and containers in March – don’t plant then! (Except early spinach and lettuce.) In March start all the things that need to be started indoors, under the fancy grow light and biodome set I acquired this year from who else? Say it with me, Park Seed.* Then, in early April, start the real sowing of things that can be sown in the soil.
My original plan this week: dig up a patch of my grass the dimensions of the pallet collars I purchased last week. Remove all the grass, hoe up the dirt, situate the pallet collar, then fill with bags full of the best raised bed soil. Plant those slips, position trellis (already purchased) and voila! My crop of sweet potatoes, planted and ready for their five-month gestation in the good earth. I was shocked to learn how long it takes for sweet potatoes to grow.
What actually happened:
Have any of you recovered from the Covid-19 pounds (or more?) you must have gained? I haven’t. PLUS – I’ve stopped going to the gym as much as I should. Once or twice a week is just not getting it. Though I walk each day, it’s at the pace of a dog who strolls, stops, sniffs, inspects, and generally meanders. It isn’t cardio – it’s just enjoying fresh air.
In the image above, Podrick is inspecting the Iris. I’m so grateful a previous owner planted these beautiful bulbs. And I’ve managed to keep them alive – no credit to me!
It is thrilling to see the plants coming up. Now I have to search for YouTube videos on how to know when they’ve finished growing … I’ve never grown spring onions or garlic before – when are they “finished”? When do I get to harvest them? I just did a search – and I cannot believe how many wonderful gardeners there are out there who have posted helpful tips on when to harvest garlic – and how. The word on Spring Onions – 8 weeks after sowing. Which is in about 2 weeks … I think. Perhaps I should start writing down when I sow the seeds. Ah, improvement for next year, and anything else I plant this year.
Spending hours on Gardening YouTube
Since it is raining now I have the chance to look at YouTube videos (again!) Looking at gardening videos is now my favorite form of web surfing. One of my favorities is GrowVeg, run by a lovely British man. This morning he taught me the best way to take care of my newly sown carrots.
Thanks to this gentleman’s tutelage I’m now investing in pallet collars for my next raised bed, and to replace the broken-down bed I’ve currently jerry-rigged together with baling wire. Actually after perusing the available options I may not – Uline.com wanted $151 for freight shipping for 2 pallet collars! That was more than the price of the items. Home Depot doesn’t have them. Argh, back to Amazon.
I’m so excited about the potato plants coming up I had to take pictures to share with you all. After many more YouTube videos I quickly realized I should have poked more drainage holes in the bottom of the five-gallon buckets (another lesson learned) but at least I’ve put them up off the ground slightly, to aid in drainage. The plants look terrific.
I begrudge the time spent indoors on a day like today
The gardening bug bit me
This happened this past week, along with another gardening bonus: One day this week I walked my dog at lunch and came across my elderly neighbor raking good, brown dirt off one part of her lawn – onto the street. Just to leave it there, like trash! I hustled back to my house, dropped off the dog and took the wheelbarrow back to Miss Jane’s house to pick up some of that good dirt. It’s going into the base of my latest raised bed, to nourish my new plants. I haven’t yet gotten to the point of picking up dog poop to work into the garden, but if the price of fertilizer goes up any more, I just might. Fortunately, our local zoo sells “comPOOst” – produced by the rhinos, giraffes and zebras.
the first of many, many posts about my new favorite hobby, gardening
Hello, longer days and Goodbye, Seasonal Affective Disorder! Now it is time to get my hands grubby and dig into the dirt. I actual begrudge the time away from my garden to do this blog post. Because I feel behind, already. In two weeks my CSA farm in lower SC will deliver its first shipment; and I’m still starting seeds. Every day now I hear “hurry up, hurry up” in my head.
The first thing I planted: one type of spinach – which I started outside, and sadly, I think I started it too early. It has failed, so no picture. I started another packet of seeds a couple of weeks later (after the last frost) and they have LIVED. See how nice:
Back right, spinach. Middle row, carrots. Front left row, buttercrunch lettuce.
I’m so excited to see these grow. Last year, when I was just playing, I grew only two salad bowls’ worth of lettuce. It was nice lettuce, though. Right after the spinach-that-failed, I started spring onions:
Welcome to all the new readers who’ve joined and signed up for updates. For the past six or seven weeks, you’ve been getting a weekly post about my spiritual journey. I hope you all stick around as a pivot to a blog about my hobbies: baking bread *yum*; cooking all sorts of things and sharing recipes; volunteering at my church, reading, reading, reading, and reading some more as I balance two book clubs; writing something besides this blog; and finally, going deep on gardening this summer. I’ve bought so many plants, potting soil, seeds, and more that I can truly relate to this meme: