March 31, 2013 - Easter in the Garden

It was a busy day, between cooking the ham dinner (baked ham, scalloped potatoes, mixed veggies & coleslaw) and getting outside to enjoy the 75-degree weather!  I couldn't pass up such a lovely day in the garden.

The seedlings were still quite small, but with warm weather for at least the next week, I decided to go ahead and get the Hybrid Mix broccoli (5 plants) and Gonzales cabbages (6 plants) in.  They had been living outside for more than a week, so I think they will be fine.  If not, I can still direct seed them at a later date. Potatoes are planted to their left and right.

Next I planted 5 Golden Acre cabbages.

That leaves me with only a single flat of marigolds, leeks and leftover broccoli seedlings that are living outside 24/7.  

The next job was to trim back the Sweet Williams and hollyhocks, and get that mess all cleaned up.

 Then I pounded in the hose guides and defined my meandering garden path.  I hoed a few tiny weeds, and raked everything smooth.

It's all cleaned up and raked, from end to end.

After moving the old barrel to the corner of the fence, and filling it with good soil for future cucumbers, I did some daydreaming about how I was going to plant the East Garden.  I have decided to put a 16' strip, 2' wide, along the fence on the right.  That's where I can plant a bunch of my many, many pepper seedlings.  The corn bed will go on the left, approximately 16' long x 4 or 5' wide, with a path separating the corn and peppers.  There should be enough room at the far end for a couple of hills of cantaloupe, and the near end for carrots and bush beans.

I began running the garden twine for the peas, and got about half done before my back gave out.  There's always tomorrow.

The sugar snap peas are emerging nicely, but the shelling peas still have not broken ground.

I noticed the radishes I planted last week by the lettuce were showing, so I decided to plant another row bordering the parsnip bed.  I got about 62 seeds in this row.

I changed my mind on pulling some of the strawberries out of the bed to make room for the six new (different variety) plants I purchased.  Instead, I think I'll put them in these planters inside the Kennel Garden.  If I like them better than the old berries, I can root the runners and do a replacement later.

The raspberries are leafing out in this warm weather.

Flowers are blooming.

And the lettuces are growing larger.

My final gardening chore for the day was to heap composted manure all around and over the rhubarb plant, then make a little fence to protect it from the dogs.  It's not in the main garden, but next to the fence that keeps our dogs and the neighbor's dogs apart.  They love to trample that garden while sounding like they're all going to kill each other. work wasn't over!

The garden shed was a mess....again.  I cleaned it up, put everything away, swept it out, and it's lookin' pretty good!  Now it's time to sit down and relax with a cup of hot tea.

March 27, 2013 - Another Busy Day in the Garden

It was raining lightly when I woke up this morning, gray and gloomy but 50 degrees.  I convinced myself there would be no gardening today, but right after breakfast the sun came out!  It turned into a lovely, warm, sunny day, so I donned my old sweat pants and gardening gloves and headed out to the garden.

I couldn't put off planting the Yukon gold potatoes any longer, so I started digging holes in the bed I had tilled yesterday.  This potato bed wouldn't be as large as the one I planted last week, because I'm at that area of the North Garden where there are still old roots from the maple tree that used to reside there.  I still managed to get 28 hills of potatoes planted, and I'm sure that will be more than enough for us.

Next to the potato bed, I dug a 1' wide future cabbage bed.  I think there might still be room for a wide row of leeks, if the seedlings ever get large enough to plant.  That will be all that can be planted in that section though, as the big roots are right at the surface.  I set a couple of concrete blocks over the surface roots, and zip tied a garden sprinkler to them.  The oscillating sprinkler waters most of the North garden.  Moving on toward the east, I dug all the soil from the old barrel that held winter squash plants last year, and moved it out of the garden.  It will be repurposed as a container for cucumbers, up against the fence.  The soil that was removed was mounded right in the middle of that garden section, and will be planted with three hills of butternut squash in May.

Yukon Gold potato bed, framed in bright red yarn, future cabbage bed to the right, possible spot for the leeks, then the sprinkler setup.  The hose is coiled over the mound of soil that will be planted to squash.

Next I went to work on the strawberry bed, cutting off all the dead leaves, and doing general cleanup.  I sprinkled on some fertilizer, then scratched it in with my long handled cultivator (which kept losing its "claw").

Strawberry bed cleaned up and fertilized.  Notice last year's broccoli at the end of the strawberry bed.  It was one long stem, with broccoli growing at each end, so I covered the center of the stem and held it down with the frogs on a rock.  It's loaded with shoots!

A bit of leveling, weed hoing and cleanup of the debris, and the North Garden was all ready for future plantings.  I hooked up the hose to the sprinkler and checked it out to make sure it was in the right spot for complete coverage, then called it a day.

As I exited through the east garden gate, I rolled it over my foot for the hundredth time.  Some day maybe I'll learn to keep my foot out of the way.  Then again, maybe I won't.

March 26, 2013 - Thank You, Mother Nature!

Finally!  After two weeks of *brrrrrr*, we got a day of lovely, warm sunshine!  I was champing at the bit to get out to the garden, so I grabbed my seeds, my gloves, my tools and a flat of seedlings and headed for "The Kennel Garden".

The Kennel Garden

As you may remember, Son John had given me that metal frame, knowing I'd find good use for it.  And I did.  It would be the perfect frame for attaching netting to keep leaf miners from my beets and spinach!  It also had ten 18"x18" squares already divided for me.  It's not a square foot garden, it's a square 1-1/2 foot garden!

I had put a lot of chopped up leaves in the bed earlier this year, so I moved the frame off of the bed, got my handy dandy little electric tiller out and made quick work of digging them in.  Then I replaced the frame and hauled in ten big buckets of composted manure, adding on bucket full to each of the ten squares.  I leveled and smoothed everything out, then set a sprinkler to run for 30 minutes while I took a lunch break.

Once the bed was well soaked, I began planting.  I planted one square with Olympia Hybrid spinach seedlings, one square of Space Hybrid spinach seedlings, and two squares of Tyee Hybrid spinach seeds.  Another square was planted with Paris Island Cos lettuce seedlings, then one square of Wild Garden Mix lettuce (teeny-tiny just germinated soil blocks).  Another square was planted with Ace Hybrid beet seeds, and another with Ruby Queen beet seeds.  Square #9 got an Ingot carrot seed mat, and square #10 was left bare for a second carrot mat (as yet not made).  Leftover Buttercrunch and Little gem lettuces filled in a couple of bare spots.

Tulle netting was attached with clamps to keep the leaf miners at bay.

Some of the seedlings are visible under the netting.

 Spinach and lettuce seedlings.

 More lettuce seedlings.

 There was just enough room at the end of the frame to put in a planter and two pots for planting future flowers.  Peas are planted on the outside of the kennel, on the left and on the right.  This end, on the outside, was planted with 6 seed mats of parsnips.  I planted them this morning, and had room for three mats each of Andover and Hollow Crown.  The small tomato cages are in a bed that will be the future home of a dozen or so sweet pepper plants.

 The Sugar Lace snap peas began emerging yesterday!  

I must get back to work, before it turns cold again.  I still have a row to till for future cabbages and broccoli seedlings, as well as another potato bed to prep.  Happy gardening, and may the sun shine upon you  :-)

March 25, 2013 - Overcoming Reader Woes

I've come to depend on Google Reader to keep up with all the blogs I love to read, so I was upset to find they are pulling it soon.  I've checked around and tried a couple of the other offerings, and have found two that meet my needs.

(1) The Old Reader

I tried this one first, but soon gave up on it, as it wasn't updating the posts and only showing about ten of the many to which I subscribe.  However, today (about a week after I first subscribed to it) I got an email from them saying "We are happy to inform you that we have finished importing your subscriptions.  110 feeds you imported should now be available."  Sure enough, they were all there!  Actually, they picked up about 20 blog entries from every blog to which I was subscribed, some going back a year or longer.  There is one place to click at the top to "mark all as read", so it didn't take terribly long to clear the entire page of all the old posts.

Pros: If this one updates as it should, it will be almost identical to the Google Reader we're used to.
Cons: Importing from Google Reader wasn't the easiest.

Right now I'm giving it two thumbs up.

(2)  Feedly

When I couldn't get The Old Reader to load the content, I tried Feedly.  It was a breeze to get the subscriptions imported, just one click on the main page and no import/export to fool with.  It has options for how you want your page to appear, but I've fiddled with them and never have got anything close to the Google Reader of which I'm so fond.  However, it does work well enough and  there have been no problems with updating.

Pros:  The ease of transferring all of your subscriptions.
Cons:  It just doesn't have the look I'm used to, I'm such a creature of habit.

If you are a Google Reader user, I'm sure you would be happy using either of these programs.

March 21, 2013 - "Spring" Chores

Our earlier beautiful weather turned cold and windy, putting a stop to the outdoor garden chores.  That gave me time to fully recuperate from planting 45 hills of potatoes at one shot, and I have promised myself I'll not be so ambitious with the next bed!  Since it's too cold for me outside, I've turned my attention to the indoor chores of caring for the seedlings and making seed mats.

Indoors, I have a flat of peppers and tomatoes.   I'm only starting seeds of Sungold, Black Cherry and Una Hartsock tomatoes (all cherry tomatoes), as I plan on purchasing my main tomato plants this year.  I'm going buy determinate varieties, and only 8 plants total.  Last year I way overplanted all of my tomatoes, and they were so crowded the yields were not good at all.  I'm going back to better spacing, and shorter (easier to manage) plants.  I'll also keep at least 2 of the Sungold and 1 each of the Una Hartsock and Black Cherry, and the other cherries will go to Son John.

Another full flat of peppers, some with 2 plants per cell.  I counted over 90 pepper seedlings, and they are still popping up!  Both of my sons and Daughter Amy want pepper plants this year, so that's probably not going to be too many for all of us.  Varieties I planted this year are Early Jalapeno, Grand Bell Mix, Happy Yummy (sweet & hot), Horizon Orange, Quadrato Rosso D'Asti, Red Marconi and Quadrato Geallo D'Asti.

No more room in the flats for the overflow of basil, parsley and one last cup of peppers.

Out in the garden shed, where it's much cooler, I have lettuce, cabbage broccoli and leeks growing under lights.

Also 36 cells of mini-marigolds.

 And a flat of spinach with very poor germination (20 of 72 cells so far).  I will be doing direct seeding of the spinach as soon as I can get the bed prepped, hopefully sometime this week.

On Tuesday I did take time to plant a bed of the lettuce seedlings, as I was running out of room under the shed lights.  They're difficult to see in this photo, but they are looking quite healthy, and with yesterday's rain and temps heading into the 60s next week, I expect them to really take off.  The garlic, behind the lettuce bed, is about 8" high now.

Today I'm staying inside, toasty warm, making carrot and parsnip seed mats.  

March 19, 2013 - What Made You Smile Today?

I was doing my usual blog reading this morning, when one blogster asked "What made you smile today?".  Well, I'll tell you what made me smile, though it also brought tears to my eyes.....

Bless you, Malala.  We should all have just half your courage.

March 17, 2013 - Happy St. Patrick's Day!

One of these things is just like the other!

Alicyn at age 1, March 17, 2010

Alicyn at age 4, March 17, 2013

You'd think her mother could at least buy her a new shirt, LOL.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

March 15, 2013 - Slow Down, Old Woman!

That's what Mr. Granny told me this morning.  Just because I moaned and groaned and went to bed at 8 last night, then could barely get out of bed this morning.  Forty-five potato holes dug proved to be too much for one day's work.  I slept for 12 hours, got up and had coffee and Tylenol, then went back to bed with a hot pad on my back, and two hot little dogs at my sides, and slept until noon.  By the time I downed a ham sandwich and a cup of tea for lunch, I felt human once more.  I still have another forty-five potato holes to dig, but I think I'll do fifteen a day rather than all at once!  And I think I'll give my back another day of rest before I start.

March 14, 2013 - Today in (and out of) the Garden

I took the entire day off yesterday.  I was feeling muscles I didn't know I had after wrestling the heavy leaf sucker/bagger around for half the day on Tuesday.  I recuperated enough to get a bit done today.

Inside I planted 36 cells of dwarf marigolds, 4 containers of sweet basil (2 seeds each), 4 containers of Sungold tomatoes (2 seeds in each), 2 containers of Una Hartsock tomatoes (2 seeds each), 2 containers of Black Cherry tomatoes (2 seeds each).  That takes care of all the cherry tomatoes I'll be planting.  I hope to get 2 nice Sungolds and one each of the others, any remaining will go to Son John.

Outside I dug up and amended potato bed #1 (3' x 12') and planted 45 Red Norland potatoes.  Fifteen of them were some I had saved from last year's garden.  They were perfect egg-sized, and already showing green sprouts.  The other 30 were the 2 1/2 pounds of seed potatoes I had purchased.  I think I'm going to have a glut of potatoes this year, as I still have a bag of self-saved Yukon Golds, as well as the 2 1/2 pounds I had purchased.   That's one of the problems with getting old.  If I had remembered I had two bags of saved potatoes, I wouldn't have bought so many!  Once the Norlands were planted, I transplanted 8 Red Sails lettuces that were outgrowing their cells.

I used the moisture meter to check the onions, and they were dry, dry, dry.  I packed out 4 gallons of water and gave them a good drink.

That was enough for one day.

**I just signed the petition "Kraft: Stop Using Dangerous Food Dyes in Our Mac & Cheese" on  I don't eat the cr*p, but many, many children do.

It's important. Will you sign it too? Here's the link:


March 12, 2013 - Windstorm Cleanup

I was so concerned about getting all of that windstorm mess cleaned up, I could not get to sleep last night.  My mind was too busy picking up pine boughs and pine cones, then wandering off to digging the potato beds!  I remember looking at the clock shortly after 5:00 AM, before finally dozing off for a whole 2 1/2 hours of sleep.

This morning I called my daughter and asked if she had someone who I could pay to come over and do the cleanup.  Luckily, before she had a chance to call around, youngest son Scott called, and I threatened talked him into coming over to help me out.   It cost me a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, but he did a good job of raking while I manned the leaf sucker/shredder, and it only took us a couple of hours to have it looking halfway decent again.  All that is left can easily be picked up with the lawnmower.

Much cleaner than yesterday!

Still a lot of work to do in the front, where they dug up my flower beds to install the sewer connection.  I have to replace a PVC line, riser and bubbler in the small (front) bed, remove the planters and dig out the longer bed.  Quite a bit of soil was tossed in there, so now the level is higher than the driveway.  I want to dig it down 3-4 inches for drainage, and put in bark mulch and some small evergreen shrubs.  The planters will be moved to the front of the garage.

I finished cleaning up behind the shed, and dug compost into the lettuce bed.  I have to cage my lettuce, or the sparrows eat it all.  I have lettuce seedlings that are almost ready to transplant, so now their little bed is all ready for them.  

I finished up my gardening/cleanup day by sweeping out the shed.  I've worked hard enough this week.  I'm tired.  I think it's time for a day off.  Mr. Granny can take me somewhere for a nice lunch tomorrow.  I deserve it.

March 11, 2013 - The Thatched Roof

(Second post today, see the first one here)

Before John left, after finishing the fencing, Mr. Granny talked him into cleaning the pine boughs off of our roof.  It really looked like we had a thatched roof after that big windstorm!  I was going to climb up there and do it myself, but Mr. Granny said "Absolutely not!" and refused to hold the ladder for me.  I'm kind of glad, as I wasn't looking forward to walking all over that roof!

 The pine trees are messy, but we've never had a mess quite this bad.  Of course, the next door neighbor lost three big pine trees, so this is minimal compared to the damage she had.

This was all from the south side (front) of the house.

The back side (north) was almost as bad.  The shingles are stained from the wet pine needles.  Hopefully a good rainstorm will take care of that.

Lots of cleanup to do, so I hope we have good weather tomorrow.  I'm too tired to tackle it tonight.  And I have to go wash the dog poo off of my shoes.  If there's one pile in the yard, you can be sure I'll step in it.  :-(

March 11, 2013 - The Happy Gardener

John and I finished the fencing today.  The garden is now safe from the dogs, and I have a great big rolling gate that I can open wide enough for the garden cart or wheelbarrow to go through.  I'm one happy (but tired) gardener!