Friday, March 27, 2015

Flower Arrangement Challenge, March

I decided to look in new places for flowers. This is a trio of ornamental cherry and plum tree blossoms and the great structural sweet gum tree leaf blooms. I think they look like hops.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Building a Garden Fence, Part I

As the weather warms day by day, I am persistently reminded by the voice in my head that I must complete the vegetable garden construction soon. Kale, onion, and shallot plants now need a permanent home. I have visions of rabbits and deer munching on the lettuce that is beginning to sprout. The day job is now getting in the way of my plans. I don't have enough energy at the end of a school day to build planter beds or haul rock. Instead, work is mostly consigned to weekends, and as so many of us know, weekends simply aren't long enough. We continue on, though, weary but undaunted.

Turfman and I spent Saturday digging post holes for the fence. We had 24 to measure, mark, and dig. We were told in no uncertain terms by the woman working in Home Depot's tool rental department that I could not serve as the second person on a two-person auger. She rather sternly looked me up and down and said, "You'll get tossed around. You're too little. No way." So we rented the one-person auger, and Turfman gave his shoulders a monumental workout. We also gave ourselves an additional challenge: we had rented the auger for four hours, and the drive to Home Depot is 20 minutes one-way. We essentially started with 40 minutes less. At one point, we despaired of ever getting done.

Lest anyone think I just stood around watching, I did try to pull my own weight. I hauled the 4"x4"x8' posts from the truck to the garden. I lugged bags of cement. We decided it was best to set all of the corner posts so that we could run twine between them to mark where the other holes should be placed. Then we decided that we should set all of the doorway posts, too. In the end, I carried each post to its hole and checked it for level. Miraculously, we dug the 24 holes, set 10 posts, and returned the auger within the time limit. We were tired. Turfman's shoulders were aching, and I had a sunburn. But we made real progress. We set four more posts tonight. That leaves 10 left to set. Then comes the work of attaching the framing boards and the wire fencing.

It's starting to look like a garden

I've had the vision of this space in my head and on paper for some time now, but as we completed each planter bed and placed it, the garden looked less and less intentional. At times, it seemed a potential disappointment. It's surprising how the view has changed after this weekend. The posts now mark the boundaries and indicate where doors will be hung, and now the space feels right. I'm really excited to see the finished product.

Getting the gravel paths laid

Hopefully, everything will be in place and the garden complete by 17 April, which is our average last frost date. Then I can confidently plant the rest of the beds and begin tending my dream garden.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Caring for Seedlings and a Little Design Challenge

I apologize for the long gap in posts, but the Green B has been terribly under the weather. In fact, I suffered (and I really want to stress that word...I make suffering an art form, if I'm honest with myself) for two weeks, and I still have a few lingering effects at week three. I was not careful around all of my students who were coughing and sneezing and sweating all over the papers they were turning in. I should have worn a medical mask and rubber gloves and entered the classroom each time with grand bursts of Lysol, but I worried they might think me a little melodramatic. So I got sick and became melodramatic. I now feel as if I'm emerging, once again, from my germ-fueled hibernation.

This makes me feel all the more in tune with nature. After all, lots of things are beginning to come back to life around the property (which is still unnamed). We enjoy seeing all of the spring bulbs produce flowers and the fall-blooming Clematis plants in a sprint to produce leaves. Everything seems to have fresh, swollen buds waiting to burst open. We are even discovering that the previous owners may have planted some things that were not apparent last summer when we first arrived, so we'll be able to take full stock of what we have.

They're sparse, but we have a good show for our
first year growing them.

Things are also moving along in the productive garden. I received a notification email today that my seed potatoes are due to arrive from Seed Savers Exchange on Thursday, and a number of plants I've grown from seed are ready to be transplanted into the garden. I've been hardening off a lot of them now that the temperatures are getting warmer. 

A mix of seedlings getting a little time in the sun

Our average last frost date is in April, so some seedlings will have to continue waiting out the time indoors. By the time it's warm enough for these tomato plants to go out, they may be ready to produce. 

Principe Borghese and Moneymaker tomatoes under grow lights

We've been making progress in the vegetable garden, but I'm not ready to show everyone the full picture yet. In the interim, I hope that a photo of the garlic bed and the recently planted pea and lettuce bed will suggest that we are, indeed, working toward our ultimate goal. 

Let's hope that peas will soon start scrambling up the trellis
I made.

Speaking of goals, I've decided to set myself two little challenges this year. The first is a result of my reading a post on Margaret Roach's blog, A Way to Garden, about Debra Prinzing's books Slow Flowers and The 50-Mile Bouquet. Basically, she challenges us to take what's growing around us to make our floral arrangements. I'm horrible at seeing the potential of such things, so I thought this would be a nice way to stretch myself creatively. My first attempt is meager, but I hope to get better as the season comes into full swing. I'll try to do this every other week.

Flower Arrangement #1:
A duo of daffodils

The second challenge is to post on the alternate weeks something I've made in the kitchen from what's growing in the garden. This could get interesting. Or it could be an unmitigated disaster. We'll just have to wait and see.