Saturday, March 30, 2019

Idling in Neutral Gear

Weather report:  39ºF (that's at 12:00 noon), very windy. Rain ended, changing to snow flurries this morning.

After two solid days of gentle spring-type rains, the garden is mucky ground, a quagmire to suck down the gardener's soul.  On top of the rain, a cold front came through the Flint Hills this morning in front of a terribly brisk wind.  The clouds are moving away finally, with brief sightings of sunshine that should slowly take better hold on Sunday.  I don't know yet if it will be warm enough tomorrow to visit the garden tomorrow.  Perhaps next weekend.

The bright spot in my garden today is the peak bloom of my Pink Forsythia (Abeliophyllum distichum 'Roseum'), bearing the hope of coming warmth even as it keeps its petals tightly wrapped to protect its floral genitals from the cold wind.  Every year, I appreciate it more, the delicate blushed flowers and odd fragrance the harbinger of its more brash, yellow cousins.  As a landscape shrub, Pink Forsythia leaves a lot to be desired, but its brief shining moment at the front of my peony bed is ample apology for its lack of beauty the rest of the year.  At least it has the grace to take on its sparse dark green summer foliage and fade into the background the rest of the growing season, effortless to care for and disease-free in the bargain. 

I note again, for the record, the two to three week late spring this year.  Compare today's bloom, if you will, against that from my blog entry of March 6, 2016.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Late Spring Planting

Weather report:  77ºF high today. The ground temperature is 58ºF in my vegetable garden.  Very windy in the open prairie, and partially sunny. It was, in fact, windy enough that a county-wide ban on prairie burning was instituted last night continuing through today.   My first daffodil of the year, blooming just today however, reacted to the wind with cheerful defiance.

 I took advantage of the warm weather to finally get a little planting underway.  Forget about St. Patrick's day as the optimum starting day for a Midwest vegetable garden;  this year I thought it is still too cold to get a quick start on anything in the garden, so I've procrastinated a full 10 days. I left work a little early today on the excuse of a trip to the optometrist for new glasses, which also "accidentally" morphed into a visit to the nearby market for onion plants and seed potatoes.  Then, after supper, I dashed into the garden to plant the onions ('Candy' and 'Super Red Candy') and peas, anticipating a moderate chance for thunderstorms here over the next two days.  For eatin' peas, I planted Burpee's 'Burpeanna Early Organic' shelling peas, and I also put out a row of old-fashioned flowering sweet peas.  The latter, from south to north, were Heavenly Goddess Mix, Summer Love Mix, and Sweet Dreams Mix.

It was then up to the house to cut the seed potatoes ('All Blue') and set them out to dry and callus over the cut surfaces.  If it rains tomorrow or Friday, I'll wait until Sunday to plant them, the latter being the next decent day in the forecast.  Saturday, for those who are wondering, is supposed to be a high of 46ºF and a low of 26ºF.  Too cold for me to garden.  Too cold also for the worms that were disturbed during the planting tonight.  These guys weren't in any hurry to move so I covered them back up and wished them well.

In other puttering, I planted a 'Caspian' Feather Grass (Calamagrostis arundinacea var. brachytricha) into my ornamental grass bed.  The Calamagrostis sp. grasses are dependable performers  here on the prairie and I'm expanding their territory in my garden beds a little at a time.  'Caspian' is supposed to have pink-brushed flower spikes and "interesting yellow foliage" in the fall.  We'll see.

Finally, I repaired and bolstered my vegetable garden perimeter defenses, meaning that I repaired the bottom two wires of the 7-strand electric fence that I had left undone this winter.  I didn't need these two low wires, respectively 3" and 6" off the ground, to keep the deer out of the strawberry bed this winter so I had disconnected them when I replaced an end post last fall, frantically connecting the top 5 strands to keep the deer away.  Since the lower strands will be needed to keep the rabbits away as soon as the peas sprout, I fixed it all up and then demonstrated a nice brisk spark coursing through the lowest wire at the end of the line.  Let's see you hop through that, Mr. Rabbit.  Try it, I dare  you.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

In the Garden, At Last

Weather report:  High 55ºF, blustery, overcast with the look of winter coming back.   However, ProfessorRoush just doesn't care.  He's back from a relatively short vacation and, while it may not be a great day to kneel on the wet and cold ground to clear the winter debris from beds, there are still things that can be done.  Done if the will to garden is strong enough and the gardener's soul has enough fortitude.

 And besides, I have a Dutch crocus blooming!  And Scilla!!! One single crocus so far but I'm sure that more will come soon.  In my records going back to 2005, I don't specifically note the first Dutch crocus every year, but in only one year, 2014, was my note of the first crocus later (3/25/14) than this date.  In 2006 and 2012, I saw these blooming on 3/6 and 3/8 respectively.  So, right now, I'd estimate spring at around 2 weeks later than normal.

If crocus and scilla are the first signs of life in my garden this year, they are not alone.  Today, as you can see from the pictures posted here and below, early peony buds are breaking ground, and the ornamental Alliums are up and healthy.  I must get the Alliums protected from the deer soon!

I can already see that there are one or two minor drawbacks of my plan to post more often  so that you can experience my garden activities with me  each time I garden:  some of the posts are going to be long!  And the photos will be smaller to account for space concerns, but if you click on them, you'll be able to see the detail you desire.   Today, I spent about 4 useful hours total in the garden.  And what did I accomplish?

I started by planning to mow down my "rain beds" of prairie grass near the house so that they will green up faster and allow some extra sun to the early prairie forbs.  Mowing, however, was a longer chore than I anticipated as I started with a "surprise" flat rear tire on the tractor that had to be fixed first.  You can see Bella, above, running in the taller grass, but here is a photo of the back yard before mowing:

 And after:  Already I feel better!  One spring chore off my checklist!

Then, I moved on to clear debris from the asparagus bed and weed it.  I'm sorry, I didn't think to take a picture until I was halfway through clearing, but the photo at the left will give you an idea of what it looked like when I started.

And the photo at the right will show you where I finished; the asparagus bed is mulched with around 2 inches of aged straw that sat out all winter.  That should help suppress the weeds!  The next green things I should see in this bed are some delicious asparagus spears rising above the golden straw.

Other than the usual puttering around that includes picking up the occasional down limb or blown-in-city-trash, my last major accomplishment of the day was in keeping with my goal to garden smarter this year.  For the benefit of others who have the same problem, this is my solution to "pole-migration" in my shade-house over the strawberries.  You see, my shade house is on a slight slope from front to back.  I've noticed over the last couple of years that the long poles that run on each side, and to which the canopy is stretched, have a tendency to slowly slip from their sleeves out the lower side, extending sometimes past the electric fence and out of the garden.  Up until now, some occasional pounding with a hammer every few months would shift them back into place.  I noticed today, however, that one pole was very very far (as in 8 feet or so) out of the canopy sleeve, leaving it in grave danger of ripping off in the next wind.  So, I got a length of good old, stiff #9 baling wire, made a hook in one end to place into the pole, and then wound it around the upright so the pole...hopefully...won't be able to migrate.  A minor brain-storm to fix a now-minor but potentially major problem.  Let's hope it works.

Sorry about the long post, but it was a good few hours in the garden today!  I'll leave you with the promise of these deliciously burgundy-colored herbaceous peony buds, just breaking ground.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Slow Starts

ProfessorRoush promised all his readers this year, that he would post as he gardened; keeping you alongside for a year on the prairie.  Well, March 10th here, and this picture represents my first garden activity of the new year; the indoor planting of 3 anemic Walmart-sold daylily starts, Hemerocallis 'Final Touch'.  There are two other miserable starts of  Hemerocallis 'Naughty Red' in the pan beside these.  These are not what I really wanted to start the garden year with, but the five starts were only $10 total (well, $10.90 with tax).  Apparently I'm so desperately starving for the touch of dirt, even that of mere packaged potting soil, that I could not resist these spare excuses for live plants.

It must have been the 45º weather and sunshine that thawed out my gardening core, even if it hasn't thawed out the earth.  Our last snow is gone now, except for a few small remnants in deep shade, but the garden is a swamp of muck; puddles of melt water and two-inch-thick messy mud over still frozen subsoil.  There will be no digging nor drainage of the snow melt until that ground thaws beneath.

The starts above are safe for the present in the basement window, where I hope they will green up and survive until the ground thaws and the risk of frost is gone.  That will be sometime in late July, likely, at the rate things seem to be warming.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...