Six on Saturday – Housekeeping in the Garden – April 13, 2019

We’ve had a dry spell and there is not one soggy place left in our yard. I have a few housekeeping chores in the garden to do today (Friday) in anticipation of some predicted weekend rain. But I’m happy that the leaves have been pulled out of the azaleas and raked from the areas where perennials are shooting up. There is always that brief window of time before raking becomes impossible.

I pulled out seven azaleas that I lost to the winter wet conditions. Or perhaps a combination of late summer drought, then months of wet. Who knows. I’ll have to do some thinking about what to replace them with.

Chores for the upcoming week. 1. Clean out the fireplace and spread the ashes around the hostas. Thanks, Fred, for the suggestion. That seemed to work well last year to deter slugs. 2. Hook up the drip irrigation system and test it. 3. Explore my seed box and see what old seeds can be planted outside to see if I get germination. I hate to throw away seeds.

  1. I have started some seeds inside. The cord on the light support broke after two days. I took it apart, went to the local hardware store which helpfully had an array of cords and then tried to figure out how to thread the damned thing. A long piece of slender copper wire and 45 minutes of patience and I was operational again.

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2. A week ago I wanted to finally start some seeds. I couldn’t find all the parts to the heat mat/light gizmo so remembered someone told me they started seeds in egg shells. What the heck. I had all the parts and these were old seeds for Sun Gold tomatoes. A week later seedlings had emerged and I had found and repaired the rest of my seed starting equipment. It lives on the top of what is now called “brown furniture” but what we seniors call an antique sideboard.

3. The amaryllis bulb that I rescued from a red wax casing last year and then lost in the garage…was found a couple of months ago and planted. (There seems to be a theme here of me putting things away and then losing them.) This is the reward. There will be four blooms in total.

4. This is a geranium a friend brought me last week. It’s such an unusual color. I’ll wait awhile before putting it outside. In the meantime I’m enjoying the pop of color. I’ll try and take some cuttings.

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5. When I cleaned out the winter foliage from the window boxes in the front of the house, I found a lone tulip. It must have been planted by an industrious squirrel. I used to have a lot of tulips. Most have been dug up by the squirrels. This year there were a few coral colored ones near the hellebores. I’ll have to decide if tulips are worth the bother. If the squirrels don’t get them, the deer think the blooms are a delicious dinner.

6.  Last fall when I helped with clean-up at the Reading Garden at our local St. Michaels library, I pulled up a sucker on the Buckeye Bottlebrush shrub colony. It is always spectacular in the early summer with lots of white flowers. I’ll put these in pots until they are big enough to survive in a bed.

That’s my Six on Saturday, photos of my garden as it comes alive after what seemed like a longer and certainly a wetter winter than usual.This meme was started by The Propogator, a UK gardener.  This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Relentless Spring

Between the weather and doctor’s appointments (routine but time consuming) and writing there hasn’t been time to blog.  Or perhaps too many disjointed things to blog about.

Last fall a friend who was down sizing asked me if I wanted his plant/seed starting outfit. This was the real deal. Forty-nine inches across, 58″ high and two feet wide. Two shelves, two  feet wide.  Both shelves have heat mats and an array of four grow lights over each plant shelf. He also had vegetable plant supports and some gorgeous large ceramic pots. I took everything! What I can’t use this summer will go to another grateful gardener.

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We put the mini greenhouse in our storage shed behind the house. My idea was to put it in the garage when it was time to start seeds. Our garage has some heat, but it stays cool.  I wasn’t sure about the temperature once I got seeds started. It certainly is not greenhouse warm and putting the outfit in the garage entailed cleaning and reorganizing a space for it. At least a morning’s worth of work.

I knew I wasn’t going to get this project going if I didn’t bring all the parts into the house and start cleaning them up. We’d had a huge amount of rain and getting to our shed required knee high boots, but last weekend we brought everything inside.  And once there, I realized I had a corner where it could possibly live permanently. I could grow  greens all year long! The only problem (not yet resolved) was what to do with the wingback chair and ottoman from that corner. It has been relegated to our bedroom, but that’s not a permanent solution.  I love that chair so I’m not ready to send it to the thrift store.

My friend also gave me two bio-domes and plugs for seed starting. So yesterday I actually planted some seeds. They are on the top shelf of the mini-greenhouse on a heat mat. It’s still too early to plant most vegetable seeds, but there were some annual flowers that could go out in 6-8 weeks. I plugged in one heat mat but have to figure out how to set up the grow light timer that came with the outfit. That won’t be needed until I have germination so a few days of grace. I’ve never used bio-domes before and will be reporting on how I like them.

We’ve had so much rain it’s going to take a while for things to dry out enough to allow to begin spring clean-up. But daffodil bulbs aren’t bothered. They are right on schedule.

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Bok Choy in a raised bed survived the extreme winter cold we had and is looking perky. I never got around to putting a floating row cover on them.

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Every week I’m cutting back Knock-out roses along the drive and filling the trash can. I know it’s early, but these roses are incredibly hardy. I can see buds on the stems. Spring clean-up is easier if I can do a little at a time and the back yard is totally water logged.

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Spring will come whether I’m ready or not. I’m working on it.

 

Why Nova Makes Me Feel Like a Cockroach

We’ve been watching a Nova episode titled Black Hole Apocalypse. Here’s the log line from the PBS website: “Black holes are the most enigmatic and exotic objects in the universe. They’re also the most powerful, with gravity so strong it can trap light. And they’re destructive, swallowing entire planets, even giant stars. Anything that falls into them vanishes…gone forever.”

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I love Nova programs, but sometimes I feel like a dog listening to a human. Blah, blah, blah, Ginger. Blah, Fetch, blah. Especially the programs that are based on higher math. Math was never my strong suit. At Goucher College I was allowed to take an astronomy class instead of college algebra to fulfill the math requirement. Enough said! Note: I’ve never quite forgiven Goucher for taking away 27 art credits when I transferred there.

But this Nova program really made me aware of how many galaxies and stars and planets there are in the universe. Billions, trillions, way too many to count if we could see far enough. Our planet is an insignificant speck of dust among millions/billions of others. And it occurred to me that we are pretty much the cockroaches of the universe.  Somewhere out there another Mala Burt is writing the same book I’m working on. We think we’re special, but almost certainly are not. Note that I have enough ego to hold out some hope.

Alexander Pope said it best in his poem An Essay on Man.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be blessed: The soul, uneasy and confined from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

Pope probably wouldn’t have written that poem if he’d been able to watch Black Hole Apocalypse. Despite Nova, I have enough hope to be thinking about  starting seeds for my always optimistic and hopeful garden. But that’s another post.