The daffodils are blooming!

The daffodils are blooming!

What a gardening weekend it has been! The big plant sale Bookman and I go to every year took place on Friday. We were up at 6 and on our way about 6:30 to pick up our wristbands. There are so many people who attend the sale on the first day they instituted a wristband system a number of years ago. The wristbands represent entry groups. They start handing them out at 7 and the doors open at 9. This way no one has to stand around waiting in line for several hours. We got our wristbands (group 3), and off we went to our favorite breakfast place. We arrived back at the sale just after 9 when they were letting our group in. What timing!

Plant list, pencil, and sale map in hand, I followed in the wake of Bookman who had our plant cart. He pushes the cart in front of him and clears the crowd and I draft along behind him, telling him what number plant in the herbs we are looking for and next we go outside and to the right for the fruit plants and plant number F030. As we get the plants from the

Sale plants and seed starting

Sale plants and seed starting

list, I check them off and they get added to our cart. We have this down to a science! There were two plants on our list this year we couldn’t get because of crop failures. One was a curry plant, the other was bloodroot. Next year. Even without those two plants we still got plenty. Our three-tiered cart was full and Bookman and I were giggling with happiness.

The day was cloudy and windy and dampish, not great to spend outdoors. So we put the smaller plants in the greenhouse and left the shrubs out. It actually worked out just fine that the day was not nice because our refrigerator is slowly dying. Instead of feeling guilty about time away from the garden, the afternoon shopping for a new fridge was not all that bad. We already knew what we wanted when we went looking so it was just a matter of finding it. And we did fairly quickly. Unfortunately the earliest it can be delivered is Wednesday but unless they can deliver it in the morning, we might have to have it put off until Friday. Good thing our current fridge is not dead yet.

Sale shrubs

Sale shrubs

Saturday dawned clear and dry. Since the sun is up early, so were we, another 6 a.m. morning. After a leisurely breakfast, we put on our gardening clothes and got started. I had already drawn a map of both front and back garden and put in where all the new plants were going so there was no, where do you think we should put this? We planted all the shrubs and fruit first. These included, black currant, red gooseberry, lingonberry, black raspberry (I had wanted red but the red were a crop failure so we chose black over yellow), Juneberry (also known as serviceberry or saskatoon), sweetfern, and winterberry. Something I learned about gooseberries that I did not know: the shrub has huge half-inch (1.27 cm) thorns all over it, thin like a needle and close together. Perhaps those thorns will keep the squirrels from getting at the fruit. Hopefully they won’t keep me from getting at the fruit too!

Next we planted herbs in our herb spiral: a new lemon balm, a new oregano, black cumin (we grew this last year too and the cumin is so good!), winter savory. We will be planting basil in there too but it isn’t warm enough to plant it out yet.

Then came front garden under the trees plants: cinnamon fern, ostrich fern, wild geranium, wild ginger, Dutchman’s breeches, rue anemone and ramps. This was followed up with fill in the holes in the front garden bed plants: button blazing star, showy goldenrod, heartleaved aster, and sky blue aster.

Are you worn out yet? There’s still more!

In the back garden again we planted in various locations: asparagus, nettles (of the stinging kind), self-heal, American spikenard, thyme, bee balm, butterfly weed, cardinal flower, blue cohosh, culver’s root, showy milkweed, mountain mint, yarrow, purslane, and scallions.

That wore us out.

Blueberry PH fail - needs to say 5!

Blueberry PH fail – needs to say 5!

It was nice enough to rain a little overnight, not a lot, just enough to give the new plants a good soaking. This morning was sunny and dry and again, up at 6 for another leisurely breakfast, a few indoor chores, and then back outdoors. Bookman made several runs to the free city wood chip pile while I prepped an already existing bed in which we planted horseradish and peppermint.

Now, I know you all are going to say, weeds! Those both grow like weeds! Yes, that is the idea. This bed sits outside our back fence next to our garage on the alley. This bed is one of our oldest garden beds and is impossibly weedy no matter how much we mulch and dig. We fight grass and creeping charlie and a rogue horribly tart raspberry that made an escape from my neighbor’s yard a number of years ago. I’ve tried growing hardy prairie grasses and other native plants in this bed. The only things that have survived are a goatsbeard, a sedum, and a very tall Indian grass next to the gate which inevitably flops over and gets in the way of the gate. There are also three small, very stunted prairie dropseeds (grass). The grasses are going to be moved to a sunnier more out of the way place in the garden. Didn’t do that today, that will be next weekend. What I am hoping is the horseradish and mint will indeed grow like weeds and cancel out the other weeds. Fighting weeds with plants that grow like weeds. I’ll let you know if it works!

The rest of the day Bookman spent going in and out. He was pretty worn out but he also has been making vegan lasagna with

Mushroom garden

Mushroom garden

three kinds of vegan cheese all day. Dinner is still an hour and half away, but I’m going to bet that it will be delicious! I pretty much came indoors for bathroom and water breaks and to eat, the rest of the time I was outside prepping the veggie bed for planting. Actually, I’ve already got part of it planted with two kinds of garlic (planted last fall) and peas I planted about two weeks ago. The peas are coming up. I was so happy to see their green faces.

Our veggie bed at the moment is a sort of sideways “s” and we decided to reshape it as an “m” because getting to the backside of the s-curve was annoying. My bed prep included edging the bed we had — clearing back mulch and pulling out

Getting the veggie bed ready

Getting the veggie bed ready

grass that was creeping into it. Then outlining the beginning of the new “m” which means part of the old s-curve that had been planted is now path. While I was at it I started outlining other areas that have been planted, defining bed and path so nothing gets stepped on by accident. I didn’t get the second hump of the “m” dug into a bed yet, too tired. I’ll save it for next week. It shouldn’t be too hard since the area has been wood chipped over for a year.

One of Bookman’s outdoor periods included digging a brand new bed for corn. Last fall we put cardboard down over the spot we planned on digging the bed. The idea was the cardboard would smother the grass and decompose to make a nice mulch. Ideal world. The grass was mostly dead beneath it and some of it did decompose but it didn’t work how we envisioned it.

Future cornfield

Future cornfield

Black plastic on the grass in fall is the best method after all it turns out. But Bookman dug the grass out of the bed and planted the corn. I cut a length of row cover fabric, we spread it out over the bed and weighed down the edges with pieces of rock. The squirrels will not be eating my seed corn this year!

Also at the sale we got tomatoes, peppers, malabar spinach, and eggplant. We have not planted these yet. They are sitting warm and snug in our little greenhouse for another week or so. Even with all the planting we did this weekend, our average last frost date isn’t until the 15th and the spring has been cool enough and the temperatures up and down enough that I want to play it safe and not risk frost getting to my heat-loving veggies.

Tiny bush cherry blossoms

Tiny bush cherry blossoms

I know I’ve already gone on way too long, but just two more things. First, my two little bush cherries are covered in blossoms that are just starting to open. They are pale pink. I don’t know if I will get cherries or not since the shrubs really are quite small. Also, Walter, the crabapple is covered in flower buds. Hopefully Bea the honeycrisp will follow suit. Fingers crossed.

Finally, a funny. Saturday I was out in the back garden, walked around from the side of the house and swerved into a branch from the witch hazel. “Oh, I’m sorry!” I said tuning slightly around to look at the branch when I apologized for running into it. And then I kept walking, up to the deck and into the house. While I was taking off my wellies on the mat I realized I had just apologized to a tree for bumping into like I would if I had bumped into someone on public transit. When I told Bookman he laughed at me. I laughed at myself, but upon reflection find nothing odd about talking to a tree. Later that day I also hugged Melody my silver maple, and Bookman caught me talking to what I was planting as well as the plants I was placing it near. Yup, I’m becoming that kind of gardener and I like it.

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