Monday, May 15, 2017

Another Gardening Season is Upon Us!

The garden is finally awake. Although a frost again last night makes me dubious about pulling out all the plants from the safety of the greenhouse and sunroom.

Since we were nudged up a zone to 6 several years ago, our last frost date should be May 6. But true to the bi-polar weather Spokane is known for, not everything is by the book.

So for now I scan the sky and check the weather station quite often. One might say obsessively.

But when you have been caretakers of thousands of seedlings for over 8 weeks it becomes second nature.

Heaven forbid if Hubby doesn't get his pickling cucumber starts or Daughter her lemon cukes and Snow berry tomatoes!

And the weather has sure run the gamut from t-storms with power outages, snowstorms, hail, and driving rain, with the sun-breaks that dazzle.

So even with the extreme weather conditions and the fact Baby got all three of us sick, we made it through our first garden show of the year, the Garden Expo, this Mothers Day weekend.
It was an enormous success and I got to see old friends, and meet new ones.

We were like a well-oiled machine rolling out our racks of plants from the horse trailer our dear friends so kindly lend us for this event.

In the old days we hand carried the myriad amounts of flats and pots from the parking lot to our space inside.

And the weather cooperated. It waited to pour down on us after we were loaded up after the show and on the way home!

A big thank you to all my customers and my family for their help.

Now if the weather will warm and dry up so I can tackle the weeding and lawn mowing. And so I can get my own garden planted!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Busy as Bees

With the coming of Spring, work has started up in the greenhouse. Cleaning and filling flats and pots with soil mix.

The snow has finally completely gone from the yard so work can commence outdoors as well.

Pussy willows have budded and need to be cut for future arrangements.

The lawn looks a bit sad. There will be a problem this year with lawn mold. The many months of smothering snow pack has caused this. Our snow came and stayed before the ground had a chance to freeze.

If you notice a rotting smell or pink, white , or yellow discoloration, this is what it is.

Lightly rake to remove the dead areas, being careful not to remove the grass roots. Just enough to fluff it up to allow air circulation. Don't compost this or feed it to your chickens or livestock. Dispose of in a garbage bag.

Wait till around May to apply your usual spring application of fertilizer, or a light topdressing of an organic compost, manure, etc. Fertilizing too early in spring can encourage lush top growth at the expense of root growth.

You should see results as the weather warms and the lawn continues to dry out.

Luckily, we seem to have minimal damage. I have raked off the few remaining leaves of Autumn and any dead growth.

Grass seed has been thrown down over some dead areas by the back garage door where heavy carts of chicken feed have been rolling all winter and caused the damage.

Every year I suggest the lawn replaced with a mulch walkway or even a gravel path but no solution has been agreed upon.

In the sunroom just off the office tomato and hot pepper seeds are up and heading out to the greenhouse. We are waiting for the second set of leaves to appear before transplanting the seedlings into bigger pots.

When we had a day without rain I managed to start mucking out the chicken coop. We use a deep litter method inside the roosting room and now all that 'litter gold' is going out on the raised garden beds.
I got all five of the beds on the south side of the greenhouse covered, including the two beds of asparagus and rows of rhubarb and the winter onions and chives.

It has been raining again so I need it to dry out before venturing back into the coop. Besides, My foot has been telling me I have been using it too much.

So I instead am in the greenhouse with a chair and am re-potting the seed geraniums, and cutting back the scented geraniums and potting them up into retail-ready pots.

I am also planting some succulent pots and wreathes, and planting on some birdhouse roofs.

The Swedish ivy hanging baskets are next. They missed their re-potting last year and just received a topdressing of new soil, so they will get a complete overhaul now.

The hanging tomato baskets are sown as are the petunias, and other basket flowers and various perennials. Also some herbs that need the additional time to germinate.

Somewhere I have put my seed potatoes that will go into feed bags again this year. I can get three years planting use out of those bags so it is a win win.

Onions are in as are the peas and beets. We are trying a white beet this year so no using the water for dyeing cloth! They promise to be a sweeter beet so can't wait to try them.

This is the time of year I wander around and take cuttings from everything. The angel trumpets have been blooming all winter in the greenhouse and I have taken some starts from them. If they look really pretty I will be offering them at Farmers Market this summer.

I need to find some more novelty planters to fill with succulents. And when it warms a bit more we will be making more hypertufa creations. Besides the troughs and pots I want to try the draped towel and doily containers. (more about that later, hopefully)

Sunday, Betsy took me to Home Depot and I purchased some replacement grape plants for the grape arbor. You may recall past pictures of the grape arbor with the hammock hanging below. What a wonderful place for a nap and being able to reach up and pluck ripe grapes is so decadent! Anyway, over the years because of lax pruning and tending, we have lost the green and purple table grapes. All that is left growing are the champagne and the concord grape. So Home Depot had their grape plants out so I purchased the replacements. If the rain and wind ever stops I will venture out to dig holes and plant them.

If I have time I want to go over all the houseplants and repot, prune, and rejuvenate them. This will probably be done right before I set them out in the shady area off the back porch for summer. They really benefit from being outdoors for those months before frost comes round again.

So off I go to do some work in the greenhouse.
It's always warm and moist in there and I love the sound of the rain pounding overhead.

My own little piece of the tropics!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Looking Towards Spring

I know it will come

It does so every year.

But this year I need to convince myself.

As with years behind me, there have not been glimpses of the coming Spring.

Grey remains of summers blooms in the flowerbeds.

Brown soggy patches of lawn.

Not this year.

Like layers of ancient glaciers, the first snow of the year is still here.

Instead of melting away, it has piled, showing every storm of winter.

Removing it has been tough.

we have run out of room.

It spills over fences onto the front lawn.

It has become a shroud around and behind the mailboxes.

The driveway no longer accommodates three cars wide.

It has buried the tether ball hanging from its pole. It has encroached up the sides of the RV.

It has drowned itself in the pond and raised the level up past the shoreline.

The chickens no longer want out of their dry confines. They can no longer scratch through and find ground.

Even our dogs no longer enjoy running outside to chase the squirrels and birds. We have to shovel a way out for them with each new snowfall. Or they will high center.

It just never melted between storms. It just kept accumulating.

But now it has started to melt. Now that means a different problem.

All that melted snow has to go somewhere. And it has.

Taking out driveways, over running creek beds. Flooding basements and garages and shops.

And the potholes! I have not seen them so widespread as this year.

But it is melting, and soon it will be gone.

And grey will green up.

And brown, mushy will turn firm and colored.

New life will emerge.

Thank goodness for Spring!

We have waited an eternity for you!