Monday, April 28, 2008

Trellis for hops

I built a trellis today for vining plants, especially the hops plant I bought. I don't think I'll try making beer this year, but it's definitely on the list for the next few years. I also planted seeds for Moonflower and Morning Glory, so we'll see what happens with those.

In other gardening updates, I finished planting the potatoes and realized after I was totally finished and was mulching that I mis-read the directions on how far apart to space the rows. Doh! Oh well.

I also did some mowing for the mulch and planted some of the pumpkin seeds. I am much sunburned after two days of that non-sense. At least the weather cooperated to let me do it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More planting, more weeds and grass

Here's a couple of pictures of the flowers in the yard right now. The tulip was there when we moved in and I moved all the other flowers out of that area of the yard, but apparently I missed one.

Here are two flowering shrubs in the yard. The yellow one is Forsythia (I think) and I don't know what the pink flowers are.

Here's the Rhubarb (again), the newly planted potatoes (looking like little gravesites), and the rows of lettuce. My husband says the lettuce looks like a poorly done black-top patch job on the highway. He's right.

Here's a picture of the garden in progress. For comparison, I've included a picture from about this time last year. There was a lot less grass last year. But, I guess that's to be expected: last year I had just tilled the earth for the garden for the first time. This year, the grass has had a year to come back. Note to self and others: tilling under grass does NOT add lots of organic material to the soil, it just makes the grass pissed off when it comes back up.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Plants survived

The plants in the garden survived the slightly sub-zero temperatures this past week, even though I wasn't here to cover them. (Well, sub-zero if you're trying to learn Celsius like I am.) Most everything I have planted out so far has sprouted and since the last frost date is this coming week, I think it's safe to start putting the seedlings out on the porch in the afternoon to harden off.

I went around and put bamboo stakes in the garden to mark off the different areas and did some minor weeding today. It rained all morning (which was good for the garden), but it meant that the soil was too wet to really do anything major with it. The seed potatoes arrived before I left on vacation, so I'll get those in the ground next.

Some of the other bulbs are sprouting and blooming in the front yard. I'll get some pictures for next time. Next on the purchase list are: container dirt (for growing mixed baby greens in), trellises (for both the climbing flowers and the climbing veggies), and some proper mulch for the front yard garden. I'm planning to plant most of the flowers in the front yard around where the old pine tree was. I like having flowers up there; it gives me an excuse to go into the house using the front door, which I prefer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Paper Mulch

So, since the whole sheets of paper as weed control mat weren't working, I got to thinking about why grass clippings make pretty good mulch. Here's a picture of the mulch after a winter of sitting on the ground.

I thought about why the grass clippings didn't just go flying all over the yard like the sheets of paper did. Well, grass is wet (making it heavier for longer) and it kind of interlocks over itself so that when it dries it makes a kind of mat. But, it's early April and there is no grass from which to get grass clippings. And, I need mulch now!

Then it hit me: I could fake grass clippings with shredded newspaper, if I got it wet. So, I shredded a stack of papers (about three inches high) to get about a kitchen trash bag's worth of shreds. Then, I got it wet by pouring water on them and tossing them around to get soaked.

Once I had my "mulch" I put it on the garden. I tried a very small area first and it seemed to do okay. That is, it didn't fly around or turn into confetti all over the yard, and it seemed to keep the dirt underneath moist. So, I did the above amount today. We'll see how that goes, but I'm hopeful. Grass clippings will be better, but these will probably do until I can get some. Also, I'm not sure how the ink in the paper will affect things; it may or may not be bad for the soil, I just don't know. I only used newspaper, not that glossy stuff they use for ad fliers, so it's probably okay.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tips for being a successful weed

Try to disguise yourself as a desirable plant. For example, here is common mallow next to mint and lemon balm. In these pictures it maybe easy to tell them apart, but I'm here to tell you, at this time of year, it all looks alike.

Alternately, try growing as close as possible to the desirable plant. If possible, try growing up in between the branches of said plant. This will make the gardener so nervous about uprooting her beloved plant that you'll escape being yanked.

For the first year, anyway.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Newspaper as weed control mat and cold weather friends

Some pretty flowers coming up and blooming.

I've heard from several sources that you can use newspaper as weed-control mat. That has not been my experience. For me, it's just like littering that was more controlled in its location. I offer these photos as evidence. Maybe they need to be secured somehow, but I couldn't figure out an eco-friendly way to do it.

The daylillies are coming up, whether I want them to or not. We were overrun with daylillies when we first moved in. I've been slowly moving them to other places in the yard, but yowza, there were a LOT.

And the Michigan transplant Rhubarb looks like it's coming back! Yay! I wasn't sure it would, but it looks like it's going to make it. And a bit more organized with the direct sowing of seeds than I was last year. I need to get some popsicle sticks to use, but the plastic things were handy from last year. I sowed broccoli and half of the spinach, because they like cold weather better (or so says the seed package).