Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Getting Started....


This past Saturday, I spent an entire day in the garden....hurray!  Spring-like weather has been a long time coming this year.  It was a lovely day with no wind (which is always a biggie in my books when it comes to comfort) - perfect for getting out and doing a few things in the garden.

The ground is still rather soggy and there are sections on the north side of the house where the snow has not completely melted away, but we are getting there.  The first task on my list was removing the straw from the garlic and asparagus beds & I managed to get this done…sort of.

We had quite a lot of freezing rain and ice buildup this winter and that was evident when we peeled back the top layer of straw….the bottom layers were encased in ice and frozen solidly to the bed.

Each bed was left with a few inches of straw, frozen to the bed

I removed what straw I could & the rest of the ice will hopefully melt over the next week or so as we are expecting temperatures to be above freezing on most days.

The straw is still in really good shape, so I’ll be re-using it as mulch, but on different beds.  I’m being cautious about not using the asparagus bed straw in the same beds since we had issues with asparagus beetles last year.

We bagged the straw and placed the bags next to the beds that they are going to be used in.  The asparagus straw will be used to cover the potato bed and the garlic bed straw will be used to mulch the asparagus bed once the harvest is over.

Bags of straw, ready to cover the potato bed
once I get the tubers planted in a couple of weeks

At the top of the to-do list this year is adding compost to all the beds.  Spring is such a busy time in the garden that I normally add compost in the fall, but the trip with my mom last September significantly reduced the amount of time I had for fall tasks.  This meant that adding compost to the beds got pushed to this spring.

Although I do have a 3 bin compost system, with 21 raised beds (including the asparagus beds) it doesn’t produce nearly enough compost for my needs, so a couple of trips to pick up a load with the trailer is always necessary.

Getting the trailer out, however, was not as straight forward as it should have been.  In order to move the trailer out of its winter storage area, we have to use the lawn tractor and, as usual, we had issues getting it started.  Every year, we seem to go through the same thing – we should know by now that the tractor battery has to be removed in the fall & stored inside over the winter.  This never seems to get done and then we have to trickle charge it for a few hours to get going (and stay charged).  This time, however, our trickle charger wasn’t working either 😖.

While my husband took charge of the tractor situation (which basically ate up the rest of the day), I took advantage of the good weather by clearing out most of an overgrown bed at the base of the hill.

Now, I know that I shouldn’t be working in any of the ornamental beds until the ground has dried out a bit more, but this particular bed has been on the to-do list for years.  I’ve made a start of it a couple of times over the years but never got around to finishing, so it’s essentially been an overgrown jungle ever since we moved here.  The way I saw it, I would rather get started, even though the conditions are not ideal, than not get to it at all.

The "Jungle Bed" (behind the nectarine tree) in 2015

Our springs in the last few years have been (very) short with barely a few weeks transition between winter and summer.  With over a dozen ornamental beds and the mile high list of garden tasks that are best accomplished in early spring, I have to take advantage of any “gardening-friendly” weather we get.

The "Jungle Bed" in late fall 2018...still a right mess.
I did a bit of cutting back in the spring but then never got back to it

The "Jungle Bed" now.  A lot has been cleared out including
numerous buckthorn saplings/trees as well as wild grape vines.
There is still one buckthorn & the stump of another on the chopping list,
both of which need a chainsaw for removal (which is hubby's purview)

I managed to clear out a lot of the bed including a few invasive honeysuckle type shrubs (the exact name escapes me now), numerous buckthorn saplings/trees as well as wild grape vines.  The thing about this particular bed is that it is near the property line and the "Jungle" provides a lot of privacy from the neighbours, whose pool you can see in the background.  In order to maintain a bit of that privacy in the short term, I've left the larger honeysuckle type shrubs that line the back of the bed in place.  All of them will be removed once I've purchased their replacements, hopefully in May.

In the meantime, there is still a lot to do to finish up this bed & get it ready for some plant material.  Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be edging, adding compost and lining it with newspaper and mulch to keep the weeds down.

So that was my glorious day on Saturday.  Then came Sunday which was chilly...not a bad thing, as it turned out, since I was sore….VERY sore.  Yup…I overdid it.  That’s what happens when you go from zero to 60 in the garden.  Just as with the battery fiasco, I should know better by now.  But it was the ONLY really good day in a week-long forecast that either called for windy, cooler weather or rain.  So, even though I needed some recovery time after the fact, I’m glad I did what I did.

By the way, we did eventually end up getting the trailer out and I got the first load of compost.

Only a gardener would look at this and smile....

It was a chilly, windy day – not at all suitable for working in the garden (‘cause unlike Sue & Martyn, I’m a bit of a weather wimp), but I forced myself to pick up the compost so that I would be ready to go at the next sign of good weather.

According to the weather forecast, that won't be until this Friday...hopefully the rain holds off.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

12 comments:

  1. That was a good day's work, Margaret

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    1. It felt great! It's very chilly today (-2C!) but tomorrow the temperature once again rises so I'm hoping to get back to it once the predicted rain comes to an end :)

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  2. You made great progress on your jungle bed! I routinely get struck with a bug and launch into a major project before I can talk myself out of it but chipping away at a problem area usually helps me get going on anything I've put off.

    P.S. Compost is always beautiful in my book.

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    1. Thanks Kris! It's tough going sometimes, especially when there is so much to do...when I'm knee deep in one project, my mind often goes to the 5 others that are waiting. In the past few years, I've made a concerted effort to prioritize and not get side-tracked. I'm not always successful, but each year I do get a little bit closer to reaching my self-imposed goals for the season, which is a win in my books :)

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  3. We are still having to wear lots of layers to get out and carry out our gardening tasks. Just buy some effective thermals.

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    1. Sound advice Sue - now if we could only do something that would stop the dang wind :)

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  4. You are a weather wimp? Hard to believe. Your spring is so short, I would fail utterly as a gardener in your place because I'm so accustomed to the very forgiving mild weather here. I keep putting off spring tasks because there's no need to really rush. But I'm also just not motivated to really go for it this year. I think I need something of a break from the garden. Last year was so difficult and I just don't need to go through that again. But that load of compost does make me smile. :)

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    1. Ha! I have a sweet spot when it comes to the weather - 55-75F. If it's less or more than that, I'm complaining :) Lucky, lucky you on your leisurely springtime pace! I've never not been in a rush during the spring...it just seems to go from nothing to full steam ahead in no time with a mountain of stuff needing to be done all that the same time (i.e. once the weather is above freezing most days but before everything starts growing at breakneck speed). I'm hopeful that one of these days, I'll figure out the secret to a more leisurely pace (short of moving!) May be wishful thinking, but still :)

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  5. Goodness me you did so well, and I can understand that you were feeling sore.
    Take care but happy gardening too :)

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks Jan - A little bit of next-day soreness is more than worth it when you have a satisfying & productive day in the garden :)

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  6. Looks like a good day's work. Surprised to see all that snow gone. Such a pleasure to have a whole day in the garden.

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    1. You said it - this year we are certainly off to a rough start with many more "bad" gardening days than good. Tomorrow looks to be a good one so I'm hoping to get back out there.

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