Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Peas and toad lilies

Something is eating my peas!  The stems are all that are left - all the new leaves are being eaten right off.  What could do such a thing?  I looked for slug tracks but didn't see any.  I thought perhaps my beetle problem was gone since I started adding organic matter to the soil, to make it more moist, but maybe not?

Also today I:
  • Planted out cranberry bushes from Johnny's Selected Seeds - "Howes"
  • Planted out my own mystery cranberry seedlings from the grocery store cranberries
  • Planted out sweet alyssum seedlings
  • Planted out Lovage & Salad Burnet
  • Started seeds for lettuce, more spinach, swiss chard "bright lights",  and beets - "bulls blood" and "chioggia"

And, my Toad Lily is blooming today!  First ever!  Hooray for native flowers!  You can see the native virgina bluebells in the background.  So pretty!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sing a song

I forgot to mention the coolest thing that happened to me this weekend.  My next door neighbor has a 5 year old daughter that is just so cute - very precocious.  She learned about composting and nature on Earth Day and wanted to help me in my garden this weekend.  I figured - what the hey.  She slowed me down a little, but she was willing to take direction, and was just so darned enthusiatic.  The next day I also let her help, in the morning, and she also came out and helped me plant blueberries at the community garden.

So Saturday (I think) she comes running over to me - "Pam!  I have something for you!"  It was a card, with writing on it, and I thought, how cute, I got a thank you card from a 5 year old.

But her mom says, "Sophie, sing it like you did before!"

And I got serenaded, to the tune of "clemantine", by a 5-year-old:

"I love planting flowers!
I love planting flowers with Pam!
Pam is the best flower planter in the world!
Thank you Pam!  
I want to do it every day!"

It was awesome.  :-)

From spring to summer in 1 week!

What a glorious gardening weekend!  My serviceberry has begun to bloom, and it is so pretty!  

Mostly, though, I can't wait for the delicious sweet-tart berries! Mine taste like sour apple & watermelon jolly ranchers - I love them so much! I'll have to put a net over one of the branches so that I can fend off the birds and have some for myself.

You can see my birdfeeders in the background, kind of. I got a birdfeeder inside of a cage so I could keep the stupid squirrels and grackles and pigeons away. So far I've seen the black-capped chickadees, wrens, sparrows, and the downy woodpecker get inside of it. And I have a safflower feeder for the cardinals. I hope it works! My upstairs neighbor started out asking me to get rid of all the birdfeeders, but I think if this makes the pigeons go away she will be satisfied. They were pooping on her car.

The apple trees have started to bloom!  Oh happy day!  All my mason bees are out - all six tubes opened up!  I was worried some of them had been subjected to the Deep Freeze (our winter) for too long.  But no, they are awake, and peacefully buzzing away.  

I have also seen tons of bumble bees.  I hope one of them finds my Humble Bumble Home! 

What I need to know now is how long before I give up on my apple grafts?  I don't think any of them took.  All of the rest of the branches have leaves, but the grafts have none.  :-(  I have read up on techniques, and found one that was easier than whip-and-tongue, and I am going to try it next.  Fortunately, I ordered double the scion wood so that I could try again!   I would so much like for this to work!  I really want to expand my Frankentree to true monster-hood!!!

My bokashi been looks.... okay.  Actually, it looks utterly revolting.  But I think that's how its supposed to look.  It smells kind of sweet, which is odd.  Aren't rotting things supposed to stink?  But this smells like a super-sweet apple cider vinegar.  So odd.  I am told that is how it's supposed to smell when it's working properly.

It has a little white fuzz growing on it, which is apparently desirable.  And there is "bokashi juice" coming out the bottom, which smells just like apple juice.  I have used it to clean my drains, and also (diluted) to water my plants.  They seem happy.  I can only assume it's working.  I got the "food grade" bokashi liquid.  I am seriously considering trying some in juice.  It's supposed to aid your digestion.  I'm also considering giving it to my cat, because her poop STINKS!!!!  It's also supposed to help with that.  Although I do wonder if it's unethical.  Technically it isn't experimenting, because tons of people have done this, but I worry.  

I let my cat (Aiko) out into my garden this weekend, so she could enjoy the sun with me.  First thing she does?  Pee on my hay.  Bad cat!!!!  *sigh*  Why do we love these ridiculous beasts so much?  Then she proceeded to get her leash totally wound up in the patio chairs, such that it took about 10 minutes to detangle her.  But letting her run loose is about as good as throwing her in front of a car myself, at least in my neighborhood.

Also this weekend, I met Daphne for coffee this weekend, and to show her my community garden plot. She was very nice! It was almost like meeting a doppleganger - she does jewelry work, she likes scifi, likes board games, and enjoys talking about gardens. Very funny. Oh, and she saved me from the ticks! Thank you so much! Did I mention I had a phobia of ticks?

As far as the community garden goes - I found out this weekend it's full of ticks!  Tom (my husband) bought some industrial strength tick repellent, and so far I think it's worked.   We spent about 5 hours down at the community garden this weekend, unloading and working on raised beds.  I SERIOUSLY underestimated the amount of work this would take!  We got about 1/3 of the way done.  I would show you a picture, but my camera broke!  I'm getting a new one, so I'll take some good pictures then.  Anyways, we got almost done with the first huge raised bed (4' x 15').  And Daphne - you were right!  There wasn't enough room to walk with both those 4x4s end to end!  I ended up sawing about 1' off the end of one of them.   Next time it will go much quicker, since everything is unloaded.  We're heading out there Tuesday to try and finish up the raised beds, since I get out of work early for the doctor.

I have decided my husband and I are the tortise and the hare.  He pushes himself as hard as he can - he even lapped me unloading wood from the car (and taunted me as he passed, no less), but before we were done with the work he was panting and resting in the car with the a/c on.  Meanwhile, slow and steady, I was plugging away.   It's definitely hard work, especially with the 85 degree weather we had this weekend!  I only lasted about 45 minutes longer than he did.  

We met one of the other community gardeners, an active older lady named Merita (or maybe Merica), and she asked if Tom was my son!!!  Doh!  He does look rather young.  But I hope I don't look that old!  It was funny.  She seemed nice, rather embarrassed about it.  Tom and I had a good laugh over it - it's not the first time.  She also showed me her asparagus, which reminds me that I need to by for the new garden!

Also this weekend I dug up tons of seedlings and divisions for the Arlington Garden Club plant sale.  I think I must have about 60 little plantlings for the sale!  And it costs me nothing!

The AGC plant sale is May 9th, from 9am - noon, at the Jason Russell house on Mass Ave.  Proceeds go to civic plantings in the town of Arlington.  I will have the following plants for sale.  Garden club members will have many more!
-Old-fashioned Lilac (lavendar and very scented)
-Black-eyed Susan
-Bee Balm (red panorama shades)
-Purple coneflower
-Marigold seedlings
-Zinnia seedlings
-possibly hierloom tomato seedlings, if they grow fast enough

Hooray for spring!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day!

A friend of mine has written a wonderful blog post about why economy and ecology are incredibly linked, and how the current economy prices energy and polluting goods the way they are because it takes too much for granted.... It's a good read!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More seeds started!

I started some warm weather seedlings last night!

Red Brandywine - slicing
Tommy Toe - cherry
Peacevine - cherry
Glacier - slicing
Federle - paste - 

Peacework Bell
Chocolate Bell
Garden Sunshine bell
Alma Paprika
Golden Treasure banana (sweet)
Sangria hot ornamental

Diamante Celeriac
Redventure Celery
Sage, culinary

Honey scented Alyssum "Summer Peaches"
Snapdragons "Chantilly"

And I'm also trying out some dyers plants
Indigo (blue)
Madder (red)
Weld (yellow)

I'm excited!!!

I also bought a cart for the community garden, and some extra landscape fabric to help control the weeds.  And a collinear hoe, which is supposed to be easier to weed with.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Community Garden

I'm so excited about my community garden plot! I spent about an hour today trying to get it cleaned up. Here's a picture before I started:

What, you say? It looks like a giant field of weeds, you say? Totally overgrown? Nah..... it's nothing a whole ton of paper mulch and compost won't fix! Oh, and a few raised beds.... I guess I have my work cut out for me.

On the plus side, it's a nice large garden! With very fertile soil! And cute baby bunnies that I scared the bejeesus out of. Of course, they also scared the bejeesus out of me, too! But I got better once I realized they weren't giant furry spiders coming to kill me. I swear, I have become such a city girl!

It will be an adventure to have a garden in the almost-wilderness like this. I've been living in densely populated areas for so long, I've gotten quite paranoid about bugs and things in the brush! Time to get back to nature!!!

On the home front, the onions are all planted out, as well as the rest of the leeks and scallions. The first batch of leeks did not fare so well. I had a hard time today getting the onions out of the celpacks. I hate those stupid plastic things. Next year I'm buying a soil blocker! I think part of the problem was the coir peat. It doesn't stick together on its own at all.

My garlic is up, and apparently I planted it EVERYWHERE. I shall have much garlic this year. Also up is my rudbeckia, rhubarb, asters, columbines, phlox, monarda, astillbe, scilla, just about all the perennials! I even have one clump of tulips blooming! The rest are up but not yet in bloom.

Also, I think my mason bees have started to come out! I think I saw them today - small and black with a cute little white patch on the face. They were soooo interested in my mason bee house from last year, which gets more sun in the afternoon than the new one. Although, on closer inspection of the photograph, it looks more like the leaf-cutter bees. It's hard to tell because they move so fast! I guess I'll find out when the nests are built. I did notice the tubes that didn't get in the deep freeze had been opened. I hope all the bees make it out!

I hope there are more days like this! I enjoyed it so much!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Community Garden!

So I finally tracked down a community garden!  I now have garden plot E5 at Dunbrook Meadows in Lexington.  The gardens are off the Allen Street entrance, and you can see them in the sattelite image on google maps.  
My plot is all the way at the top right next to the trees, in the top left.  It's very squishy and wet - the whole meadow is very boggy.  I will be putting in some kind of raised beds.  I don't think the plot is as shady as it looks - the sattelite image was taken early in the morning, and mostly the sun will be coming from the south (down on this map).

And today, it's supposed to be almost 70 degrees!  Yay!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Interesting article on sustainable food production

Found this really interesting article on sustainable food production that I thought people might like:


Friday, April 10, 2009

Seed Potatoes

My seed potatoes, and all of my other seeds that I ordered from Wood Prairie Farm this year have arrived!  I ordered a sampler pack of Rose Gold, Caribe, Cranberry Red, and Carola.  I wanted All Blue, but last year my taters got early blight (which happens late in the season), so I didn't want any late season taters.  The Rose Gold was sooooooooo good last year!

Pictures soon!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Today was a very fine day for working in the garden! Nice and (almost) warm, not too windy, the sun was out... it was great. I went ahead and planted out all my lettuce and arugula. Then the wind picked up, and I got all worried that maybe I hadn't hardened them off enough. So, I put a row cover over them. I got the hoops from Fedco, they're so cool! They're just 6 foot springy steel that you can bend and insert at any angle. I put the agribon row cover over it, and used "earth staples" to hold it down. It held up fine in today's wind. I hope my lettuces do okay!!!

I also tried my hand at grafting my apple trees - that is, splicing two different kinds together to make a frankentree! I've never done that before. Now's the time for it - the apple trees haven't *quite* woken up yet. I ordered scionwood (again, from Fedco) and used a "whip or tongue graft" from "Grafting Fruit Trees - A Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin". Useful little book. Basically you cut the dormant twigs at an angle, then notch both of them so they fit together tongue-and-groove style. I tied them together, so they have a snug fit. Then you have to wax them over so they don't dry out. That's what that nasty-looking yellow blob is. It really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be! I did 3 grafts today - "Chestnut", "Keepsake", and "Macoun", from Fedco. I put them on my made-to-order Frankentree that I got from Raintree last year. I hope I get apples this year!!!

The onions are next to be planted out, along with the rest of the leeks and the scallions. So far the broccoli is growing well. One of the baby kales died, but I kind of mangled it before I planted it out, so I think that's mostly due to my clumsyness!

The mason bees haven't emerged yet. I guess it's still not quite warm enough. There was a spider hanging out by their box, though, it made me a little worried! I'm sure they'll be fine.

So many buds and baby leaves today! Gooseberry, serviceberry, even my roses are starting to show leaves. I just can't wait!!!