April 10, 2009: It Hurts So Good!

This wonderful gardening weather is getting to my poor old body. I do have to take advantage of these few beautiful days before the cold sets in again...and it will, it always does after I get all excited and plant things that shouldn't be planted for another two or three weeks. My week has gone like this:

Monday: I removed six more squares of compost to the melon barrel (layered with dried leaves), and will replace with regular soil to prepare for planting Dwarf Jewel Mix nasturtiums, as these flowers do not like rich soil. Sunny and 73F today, so I moved greenhouse plants outside for the day. They got about three hours of sun and the rest of the day in filtered shade with a very light breeze. They looked very happy tonight!

Wednesday: It was Mr. H's 74th birthday, so no gardening. Kids came for pizza, cake and ice cream. Two of them brought their dogs, so we had four dogs here and they all behaved well. Thank heavens for the pet door and the fenced back yard!

Thursday: Painted a large pot and a plastic milk box to use as planters in the garden. I used Fusion paint for plastic. The pot I painted with it last year held up beautifully through the winter. Everything has to be the same periwinkle blue, as I cannot find another color that I can use (like terra cotta, pale peach or a pretty pastel green).

Cleaned up the last of the leaves from the corner of the garden, and sprinkled everything well with house water, as the irrigation water has been shut down for repairs to the system.

Thinned the beets (3/19). Planted a row of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce next to the sugar snap peas. I used a plastic squirt bottle filled with cornstarch/water solution and added a few pinches of the seeds. Shook the bottle well and squirted it in a shallow trench. Reseeded a few spinach seeds where the first planting didn't grow, and seeded more mesclun to make that bed thicker. Although it's two weeks early, I planted two rows of Burpee's Stringless Green Pod bush beans along the edge of the raspberry bed. It was only 45-cents worth of Dollar Store seeds, so I figured it was worth a try. I will save my good varieties for planting in 2-3 weeks. Planted about a dozen Glorious Gleam trailing nasturtiums in the whiskey barrels with the blueberries. I put a milk jug over one bunch of seeds, but the others will be left to fend for themselves. I have others growing in the greenhouse if I need replacements. Planted three rows (48 seeds) Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach in east bed #5 where peppers will later be planted. The radishes in east bed #1 (4/3) have germinated, as have the carrots that were glued to newspaper squares (3/19). The carrot germination looks to be quite good. One of the raspberry canes has started to leaf out, the others have buds that are swelling.

My oldest daughter (a McDonald's manager) brought me 10 five-gallon pickle buckets from work. She say's they no longer get their pickles in buckets! She happened to have a bunch in the office, but they have been used for storing their french fry oil, so need a lot of scrubbing. The ones I've cleaned so far have dates on them, and are 10-12 years old. They are bright green! Won't they be complimentary to all the blue pots I already have? Not. But I'm sure glad to get them!

Today (Friday): Mr. H cleared out the brush he's been cutting down behind the garden shed (a large volunteer mulberry tree and four large lilacs). We got it all loaded onto the pickup, along with about 8 big bags of winter mess from the pine trees. Son-in-law had cleaned it all up and bagged it for us before we got home from AZ, so it all had to be taken to the dump. I had planned to use the pine needles as mulch, but it had too many branches, pine cones and general winter's mess to be of any use. The entire load got taken to the dump and disposed of. Neighbor had saved leaves for me while we were gone, so Scott, my youngest son, and I dumped them all over the back yard and mowed and rebagged them. It cut a dozen bags down to just three bags full for the compost.

Pruned back one of the massive junipers so we could get into and out of the corner area easier, and started pruning the second (even larger) one. Set up the big old composter in the center. I wasn't going to use it this year, as it didn't compost a darned thing last year. However, I decided it will be a good place to layer nothing but the chopped leaves, grass clippings and a bit of manure. It should give me some fine stuff for the garden by fall. The back corner is almost ready to receive some of the pickle buckets for planting tomatoes.

With the pickup empty, I decided to use the entire bed for the seedlings. I can drive in and out of the garage to expose them to weather....move them into sun or shade as needed, and shut the tailgate, if it's windy, to give them some protection, or even stretch a sheet of plastic across the entire bed if needed. At night (or during heavy rain or windstorms) I'll just drive them into the garage. They have already adjusted to full days of being outside, so I'll not use the lights or the greenhouse for them any more.

Carried 6 buckets of dirt (no compost) to fill the rest of the holes I had dug earlier for nasturtiums, and planted 6 squares of Jewel Dwarf Mixed, five seeds per square. Also planted 4 cabbage, 4 broccoli and 4 cauliflower, along with one square of Daphne's Dill and one square of Dan's dill with the cabbage. House water had to be used for sprinkling again, as we still do not have the irrigation water turned on. My front yard is getting really dry.

Leaves were dumped all over the back yard, mowed and bagged. It reduced twelve bags of leaves to three bags of leaves with grass clippings for the compost bin. Notice the junipers on the left side of the photo. I still have a LOT of pruning to do on the big one!

Stay tuned for more photos on Seedling Saturday!


  1. Oh, you know I know the feeling! I finally finished my garden today, in 92 degree weather with like 75% humidity. Nearly killed myself with heatstroke, but I was determined to finish. Tomorrow I'll turn in some fertilizer, and water it all real well, then maybe by Sunday I can actually plant something in my garden!

  2. Oh Granny, I had to LOL when I read about using the whole truck bed just for seedlings. How extravagant! (and what a brilliant idea to boot!) Nice that your neighbors saved the leaves for you too. Wish I could get a hold of a good leaf source. I think I'll "help" my neighbors with their maple leaves next fall. ;^) Looking forward to seedling Saturday. And of course a very Happy Birthday to Mr. H!

    Oh I've been meaning to ask, why do you cover your carrot seeds with a board?

  3. Wow, sounds like you've been busy! That's great. Well, happy unbirthday to your hubby! Glad you enjoyed yourselves.

    I love the idea of the pickup. How creative! Can't wait to see pics.

    Happy Easter!

  4. My goodness have you been busy. I see why you haven't had time to post.

    The yard people have started mowing the grass again around here. The neighbor across the alley has a bag sitting there that must be filled with leaves and grass that's heating up inside the plastic bag. As soon as nobody is looking, I'm going to rescue it from the alley. It'll make a nice addition to the compost pile.

    I'm so jealous of your yard space. I wouldn't get anything done during gardening season except playing in the dirt if I had that much space.

  5. You sure got a lot of work done. I had to laugh at the pickup truck as a seedling bed. The image is very amusing.

    I didn't realize anyone used anything but pails for pickles. What do they use now? My green pickle pails are dark green, which I was very happy about. If you don't like your green, you could always paint them like your blue pot. Then they would all match.

  6. SB, I started out with a sweatshirt on, then stripped it down to a T-shirt. It was absolutely perfect weather for hard work. I'll bet you're anxious to get those first seeds into the soil.

    Jenn, I was so happy to get home to those dozen bags of leaves! I always leave before they fall from the neighbor's sycamores, so I had asked her to save them for me. They did all the work, I reaped the benefits! I cover my carrots with a board to keep the seeds from drying out, which can be a real problem with their germination. You could also use a piece of burlap like Daphne does. You have to really watch and get whatever you use off at the first sign of germination.

    Sinfonian, pics will come today.

    Cheryl, someday I'm going to talk Mr. H out of another three feet or so of that lawn. I could put one long 2' bed all the way along that little back fence!

    Daphne, my daughter said the pickles come in a case of "smaller containers". She didn't elaborate, just said no more pickle buckets. I thought about painting some, but at $4-something a can for the paint, decided I could live with the green, I just won't be putting them in the main garden. Behind the shed is out of sight, and I have a place on the other side of the yard for 4-5. I might use two for hanging plants, if so they will get painted.

  7. Granny - I'm glad you mentioned that about the nasturtiums. I didn't know they didn't like rich soil. Good idea on the mobile seedling containment. I'd leave the radio on for them - probably some heavy metal music, that way they'd be really hardened off. Ha!


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  9. EG, nasturtiums grow more leaves but fewer flowers in rich soil. They make a pretty green plant, but I want the flowers! The ones I planted in the barrels with the blueberries will have to deal with rich compost, but hopefully the ones in the garden beds will give me some color.

    Only HARD rock for HARDening those plants!

  10. Sounds like you could work circles around me. Your yard is looking very nice and green. Our lawn is still mostly brown.

  11. Dan, every muscle in my body aches today! I think I'll take a day off.